Fed Up February

As you may or may not have noticed – being that my only loyal fan is my husband – I haven’t written much recently. I seem to go through this every year at the end of January and February, I get fed up and give up for a few months. I get fed up of my job, of my company, of my colleagues, of my house, my car, my town, my hair, my dogs, my husband (shhh) and this year I can add trying to conceive to that – just everything. I’ve taken to calling it Fedupruary, I know snappy isn’t it!

Fed Up February

The thing is I have no real reason to be fed up of my life, I have a decent-ish job in a nice-ish company, a house that we own and not rent, my hair is just fabulous so shut your mouth, my dogs are gloriously cute little troublemakers and my husband actually isn’t that bad I suppose. However trying to conceive, that I just can’t seem to square off in my head and I think that is what is what is dragging me down so much this year. Because of this dragging me down I can’t seem to make any of the previous statements cheer me up, I just brush them off and come up with some crappy excuse.

Anyone who has tried to conceive will know that there are good times and bad, no matter the length or difficulty of your journey. We are coming up to our ninth cycle, although I’m praying it will be our last it more than likely will – with one early miscarriage, which was just frankly pretty darned shite. The last month or so I have really struggled to want to carry on with it all, of course I still want baby but to actually want to carry on with this shitty journey is something all together.

Fed Up February

So what do I do?

I can’t carry on feeling like this, I will only feel more and more crappy and eventually start to seriously damage my mental health. So I follow the lyrics of a Kelly Clarkson song that I clung to as a teenager –

“I’m forced to fake

A smile, a laugh every day of my life”

Depressing isn’t it? But I learnt a long time ago that the only way to I could get past things was to barrel through them, get up and put a smile on your face and go do the thing you really can’t face. It takes time but eventually forcing the routine helped me to start to feel like me again. So that’s what I’ve done.

MumsnetI’ve gone back to Mumsnet and to my lovely group of ladies that I chat to on a regular basis – all complete strangers that I feel I share this journey with so intimately I kinda missed them whilst I’ve been shut down and avoiding it all.

I’ve planned a trip away with my husband, I am so excited that I’ve spent a fortune on new clothes and shoes obviously. Lion King is going to be awesome! Although I haven’t picked an outfit for that yet… Hmm, more shopping?

Finally I’ve forced myself to write this sort of self-pitying and self-indulgent post and get back to writing!

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The painful painful joy…

The moment a friend calls, messages or arranges to see you and then goes on to present you with that grainy black and white blurry image, the first picture of their soon-to-be bundle of joy. Oh it is lovely, heart warming and exciting isn’t it?

That is, unless, you are on the trying to conceive journey yourself.

Then your heart starts to sink, your throat starts to tighten and the corners of your eyes to start prick. Your head is going into overdrive, trying to calm yourself down, present a strong front, don’t cave, be a grown up.

Then it is just straight painful, in more ways than one.

First, there is the selfish kick that takes over you, the jealousy that they got the thing that you want the most. Their hopes and dreams had been answered, but yours haven’t. This feeling is almost overpowering as it engulfs you that the thing that you have been hoping, trying and praying for has come to someone else.

Secondly, you feel like a horrible person as instead of being excited for your friend and loved one you have jumped straight to thinking about yourself. When actually, you are very happy for your friend, that they have now got the chance to embark on such fantastic journey and welcome a new little person into their lives.

You want to go through this journey with them and enjoy each minute. You want to look at little socks and scratch mitts with them without breaking down inside wishing it was you and not them. So what do you do? Do you tell them? Do you bottle it up inside? I suppose the answers to these totally depend on who the person is to you.

The alternative is of course, when it isn’t a grainy blurry photo but instead a teary phone call or a white face at the door asking for help and advice. Then of course, you really do have to pull yourself together and support your friend through their feelings and decisions, because right now what you want and what you think doesn’t matter. That’s the way it should be, because as painful as it is for you talking about this; getting pregnant is a personal thing and you can’t pin your hopes, dreams and feelings on other people’s experiences.

Anyway, the reason I wanted to write this post is just to show that you are not alone and it is totally normal to feel these things. When you are trying for your own child, no matter how long you have been trying, it is always difficult to deal with the totally messed up mash of emotions when a friend or family member tells you that they are expecting. The best way I have found of coping in these situations is to let myself wallow for a small period of time, assuming that the person hasn’t told me face to face I can have five minutes to cry it out, or sulk like a proper grown up. If the husband is feeling particularly loving I might get a hug and a consoling pat, as a Yorkshire man that’s about as effusive as he gets. Then I log onto MumsnetMumsnet or Babycentre and talk to some of the longterm groups I am on, or just have a nosy at other people’s posts and stories and this helps me feel a bit more normal, reminds me that other people feel like this. Then I focus on the positive, my friend/family member is soon going to be welcoming a squishy little bundle that I can coo over and spoil.

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Well meant trying to conceive “help” and “advice”

As most people can attest, when trying to conceive, when you are pregnant and when you have kids is a joyous time. Your closest friends and family, work colleagues and even strangers on the bus will share their experience and know how with you – whether you want them to or not.

Have you tried? yep

We have not told many people that we are trying, however there are a few people in each of my social circles who have either figured it out or who I have confided in that we are hoping for our own little bundle of joy. In doing this I have learnt a lot about my friends and their hidden, secret selves, the secret selves who have a doctorate in fertility specialisms, who know everything about everything and you must listen to what they say and follow it to the letter! Or god help you as you will never be blessed with a child.

I’m sure you all know just what I mean… and have experienced just this!

Most people are happy and excited for you and as such eager to help see you on your way, others lean more toward the smug-I-know-better-look-at-me-and-my-perfect-kids end of the spectrum. (Can you tell I’m losing patience?) Angry OvarySome of the gems I’ve received have been hilarious! From advice on positions, technique, products to *ahem* enhance, diet, weight , personality types, drugs, even the fact that owning dogs makes your eggs shrink!

Some of the advice has been genuinely helpful, reassurance and relatable experience, however to my dismay most of it has been prescriptive and judgemental. The assessment of myself and my husbands every move, weights, dispositions, diets and general attitude to life. And this is help and advice which is not welcome, not helpful and just downright rude. 

But perhaps the most painful has been the criticism of how I am coping personally. As a type A organised personality I like to know what is happening when, organise it, plan it, prepare for it and god no surprises. But I know, trust me I know, that this is not possible when trying to conceive as it just doesn’t work like that. However, I am coping by understanding, reading, researching and tracking things, this is what helps me sleep at night and not stress all day. It’s great if relaxing and just enjoying a whole load of Russel Brand style sex helped you, honestly it is and way to go girl.  But please, don’t tell me off or make me do it your way and I won’t make you do it my way.

RELAX!

So, I say this with respect and gratitude, and probably for couples everywhere, I appreciate that you are excited for us and hopeful and want to help. But unless I ask? Please don’t give me advice or tell me the way that I am coping is wrong, I’m coping and getting on with my life and that takes strength every day of this journey.

(Also I solemnly swear that when I’m a smug-I-know-better-look-at-me-and-my-perfect-kids you have permission to shove a sock in my gob!)

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How/Why Do I Track Body Basal Temperature (BBT)?

DISCLAIMER – I think it’s really important that I put this at the top. I am not a doctor, I do not have any medical training and everything in this post is purely anecdotal from my own experience and things I have researched myself. 

Okay, still here? Good. Well as you know we are trying to conceive our first at the moment and have been trying for around 7/8 months now and its kind of passed the exciting stage and is now more in the difficult “why the hell isn’t it happening?!” stage… With that in mind I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learnt along the way as they may help someone else and today I am focussing on charting body basal temperatures, BBT or temping for those who are used to the short hand.

I started off all excited and eager and to help pay into my need to understand I threw myself into researching what happens when you are trying to conceive. In particular I was shocked about how little I knew about how my own body worked and wanted to know more about this and how I could track what it was doing each cycle. Temping was one of the first things I started to do because it was cheap and easy and it helped to feed into my need to control know what is going on. So here goes with my explanation on how to help you get started and what you can learn.

The Thermometer

Firstly get yourself a good little BBT thermometer and you do not need to spend a fortune, you actually get them pretty cheap. This is the one I bought, click here for the link.

BBT Thermometer

I like this one as it is pretty handy, it holds the record of your temperature until you take the next one. This is a handy little feature as it gets difficult to read it at stupid o clock in the morning each day, this will make more sense in a minute. It has a very easy to use large on/off button, helpful for half asleep movements, and has a little beep when it is turned on, when it has finished taking a reading and when it is turned off. It also comes in a handy little clear plastic clippy box which helps to keep it clean and stop me losing it between my pillows.

Something important to check is do you use celsius or farenheit? Make sure that you get the thermometer with the correct read out or one that comes with options. Personally I use celsius just because farenheit is total gobbledegook to me.

Right, so, have you got your handy little thermometer? Now to get started. There are lots of good websites out there to help you guide you through things a bit better than I can but here is my layman’s description.

When do I do it? (ooh err)

So the not fun thing about temping is that it must be done at the same time every day after at least 3/4 hours sleep. It also must be done before you move, sit up, talk, have a scratch, take a piss or jump on the bed like a child to wake up your husband – I know totally unreasonable isn’t it. This to me is the worst bit because I usually wake up at different times throughout the week and kept forgetting to sit like sleeping beauty with the thermometer sticking out of my gob. So! I have an alarm set every morning with a different tune to my normal alarm, it is also at least half an hour before I have to wake up on my earliest morning. At first this was a total ballache but now ive gotten into a routine – alarm goes off – turn thermometer on – stick thermometer in gob – wait for the beep to signify it is finished – turn it off and put it back in its box – go back to sleep for as long as possible – then when I finally wake up I can turn my light on and read my temp in my own time.

I know everyone has their own morning routines and I tried for a while to avoid the earlier alarm as I hated it, but I just kept forgetting and in the end it was the best option for me.

Why can’t I do it when I visit the loo when I get up?

Well some people do and it works fine, however in my experience and from what I’ve read this isn’t the most reliable way to do this. When I tried doing mine in the loo after waking up my temps were all over the place and it wasn’t at a consistent time every day which only made things harder. Medically speaking moving or talking in any fashion will change your bbt, this is why it is so important to do it after a long rest period and before moving, Also going from a nice snuggly bed to a cold bathroom will inevitably affect your temperature.

Why does it need to be the same time every day?

Honestly? I don’t know, I probably have read it but that bit of information hasn’t stuck in my head. But what I can tell you from experience is that if you don’t stick to the same time each day it really does mess with your chart. If you work shifts there are some really good websites out there with better advice than I can give. But if you are just like me and hate alarms and morning in general this is one of those things you will have to suck up if you decide to temp.

Right so I’ve not moved and I’ve done it at the same time each morning, now what?

Okay, this is where it starts to get interesting and help you see what is going on. Firstly decide how you want to track your temperature; you can do this on paper with downloadable and printable charts like this one.

Celsius_Basal_Body_Temperature_Chart

Or you can use an app on your tablet or smart phone to record your temperatures. Because the key thing is that you should record them and plot them out on a graph, this is where you will start to understand what is going on and how your own cycle works. I’ve used the babycentre, Ovia and Fertility Friend apps on my phone and settled with FF just because it suited my needs best but there are lots of options out there so find one which suits you best.

When it comes to tracking your temp you can be as involved or stand offish as you like. Most apps/graphs will give you an opportunity to record other things as well; such as any symptoms, cervical mucus or cervix position, when you’ve had sex, when you’ve had your period, any tests you’ve taken. But these are all things for another post! But do have a look around and see what your options are.

Okay, I’ve taken my temp, plotted it on my graph/app now what?

Now you wait and see what happens, your temperature will tell you quite a bit about where you are up to in your cycle. Here is the basic guide to what it will usually do.

For the first half of the month your temp will generally be low, in celsius terms it usually ranges from 36.00 to 36.40 depending on the individual but it can go up and down.

During ovulation your temperature will drop significantly and be followed by a quick rise that will continue to rise and stay high for the rest of the month. Usually your temp drop has to be followed by three days of higher temperatures to be confirmed as ovulation. 

After ovulation your temperatures will stay high until you get your period or confirmation that you are pregnant. If the former happens your temperature will plummet to the pre-ovulation temps around the first day of your period, if the latter happens your temp will stay high or even continue to rise. This after ovulation, pre-period time is often referred to as the two week window/wait or more medically correct as the Luteal Phase.

I have included my chart from my first month of temping properly, as you can see it stayed high and I stopped temping on day 32 – this is the day I got a bfp (big fat positive pregnancy test) but unfortunately I had an early miscarriage and started temping again in August. It is however my most “typical” chart. You can see I had ovulated on day 15 and my last temperature was taken on the day I got my bfp and so stopped temping for that month. 

My July Temp Chart

And just for you to compare below is my chart from November, test yourself see if you can figure out when I ovulated etc.

My BBT Chart Nov

Now I am conscious that this post is getting really long so please do bugger off whenever you feel like it! I just want to clarify a last few bits that I asked all the time when I first started –

What are the red horizontal and vertical lines on everyones charts?

These are the cover/base line and the ovulation mark respectively. The horizontal line is called the cover line and is based on your typical pre-ovulation temperature, this is used to help you confirm ovulation and track your post-ovulation temps and predict if your period is on its way. The vertical line is to show the differentiation between the first and second half of your cycle clearly.

The important things about these two lines are that every app produces them in a slightly different way with slightly different meanings, IE. dotted lines/dashed lines/solid lines mean different things so it is important to check which yours uses and what the different meanings are.

My temperature fluctuates a lot either above/below the line pre ovulation, is this a bad thing?

Nope, it is pretty normal for most women. As you see in my chart this happens quite regularly. Now if your temperatures are massively rocky up and down, despite following all the instructions on how to take your temp properly and this is consistent each month it could be something to ask your nurse practitioner or GP about. Certain medications can cause this, as well as conditions like PCOS – but like I said I AM NOT A DOCTOR so please don’t freak out or panic – it is always best to ask a professional.

Can I confirm I am pregnant through taking my bbt?

NO! Any site that says otherwise is lying to you. The only way to get a positive confirmation is with a test. Unfortunately. If you are in the tww and desperately looking for answers, I feel your pain but step away from the pee stick and the thermometer and go do something to keep yourself busy! Unfortunately temps can stay high until the day of your period and there is just no way to be sure so do not count on them!

This is genuinely just my take on temping and why I find it useful, this journey is a long, complicated, difficult and exciting one with lots of ups and downs. The most important thing is to try to stay as healthy as you can. I don’t mean physically here, I mean emotionally and mentally; I am one of those people who needs to know and understand all the time to help me cope and so temping is a great option for me. However, if you stress and obsess and worry maybe you should step away and find another way to distract yourself because it can become very easy to pin everything on that little digital read out every morning and have your world come crashing down when it isn’t what you expected or things happen that you weren’t expecting.

Also and I mean this seriously, get yourself on one (or several) of the great ttc forums out there – mumsnet, netmums, babycentre etc etc the advice, comradery and support you receive there will generally be the best you can get.

Right, I think that is everything I can think of but if you have any questions please do leave me a comment or go look at some of the great advice out there from proper advice websites.

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New Years Resolutions?

Last year I wrote a post about my new years resolutions, to get healthy not thin, this is still sort of the plan but less of a dedication and more of a general way of life. This year I’m not really sure if I want to make a resolution, or if I did what should it be?

Getting healthy was all part of my excited, looking forward, eager to get started and become a Mum kick. A year on a bit of that has faded, who am I kidding? A lot of that has faded. I think everyone goes into the process of trying to conceive eager and a little bit blind to reality. The number of times I exclaimed “I know it could take a while and there might be issues, but I’m ready for that” and I honestly thought I was. I thought I was prepared and ready for all that it had to throw at me. Boy was I wrong. So SO wrong.

The emotions of this process are inevitably exaggerated by the associated hormones, as well as the undeniable longing for this something. Most people don’t tend to have any problems when conceiving, even if it does take time, so in theory it is pretty much guaranteed when you start trying. So why is it not easier to achieve? Why is there not more research? Why do I only have a 1 in 5 chance of getting pregnant each month – even when I do everything right? Even when I follow my new years resolutions and behave and be healthy and follow all the tips. I don’t know and neither does my doctor, it’s just life, it’ll happen, just relax and enjoy it…

Trying not to sound like I’m on a downer is difficult when reality sets in, because I am still positive and keeping my head up and excited about what the possibilities are each month. But it is undeniably a shit process and generally makes you feel shit at least once a month, no matter how proactive you are and how much positive thinking you do.

With all this in mind I think instead of focussing on new years resolutions, what I am going to do instead is focus on the way I think and act. I’m not going to let the “LOSE weight”, “only eat salads”, “no sugar diet”, “become ‘healthy'” police bully me into a resolution I don’t want. This will be an effort in and of itself working in education, if you have ever worked in education you will understand the madness that takes hold every January.

So what I will do?

British Book Challenge 2017

Well I will focus more on doing things that make me happy like reading, a lot. This is why I have signed up to the British Book Challenge 2017 and have a lovely great big stack of books ready to get stuck into. This will also help to keep me distracted – even in the dreaded two week wait! I have also set myself a personal goal of aiming for 52 books read by this time next year.

I will also blog more, writing is something I’ve always enjoyed even if I’m not very good at it! This will also hopefully help me improve my confidence levels as I focus not only on book reviews but clothing reviews as well. This will mean *gulp* photos of me on the tinterweb for all sorts of people to gawp at and recoil in horror, well I hope not but you get the picture.

THINK POSITIVE AND RELAX. Ugh just writing that I can feel my blood pressure rise, but its a good thing to commit to I suppose. Not so much in that it will “help” us get pregnant, more that it will help me to deal with disappointments and the down days.

So with those sort of new years resolutions and as I technically still have one day of 2016 left, what to do? I know! Amazon book sales…

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Our first christmas since it all started

I can’t help but reflect today that if things had been different I would now be 6 months pregnant. With a nicely rounded belly, well even more rounded, and a little one wriggling around in there somewhere. Not getting to enjoy a baileys or bucks fizz tomorrow morning, but instead nesting and prepping our house for the soon to arrive little one. But all that changed after an early miscarriage in August – lovely happy way to start a blog post I know, but please hear me out!

Instead we are now on cycle 7 of trying to conceive. This Christmas Day the only rounding of my belly will be due to a few too many sprouts and spuds. I’m not going to lie that is a painful thought, I would much rather have the above scenario if I am perfectly honest. But as I have found out, getting pregnant is not as easy as the nuns at my Catholic school made it out to be (I have definitely done more than sit on a man’s knee).

I always had immense sympathy with those who struggled to conceive, the years of stress and anxiety, doctors visits and needles only to be followed up with a slim chance of hope. How did they cope? I have no idea, they must have the patience of saints. But what I never really thought about were the people in the middle; those not quite far along enough to have to get tests, but those for who sitting on a knee once or twice doesn’t quite do it either. As we are now in that position, I can tell you its no fun! Each day is a rollercoaster of emotions, hormones, disappointment and excitement.

It started with excitement and planning, book buying and research. Now each day can vary wildly from high hopes and convinced that our bfp is coming today, to sheer disappointment and sometimes guilt. I know that it is no one’s fault, no one can do anything more than just keep trying and try and stay positive. In fact, being negative and stressing is just about the worse thing you can do – but for gods sake please do not tell me or anyone else who is trying to “just relax and it will happen” you are likely to end up on the receiving end of their flying fists.

My grouchy Yorkshire husband is still the calm one, the one who reminds me that it will happen, the one who makes me smile and keeps me moving forward. In the end, this is why we are on this journey to bring into this world a little piece of him and a little piece of me – hopefully this little one will have the sports talents of the Vunipola brothers and Anthony Joshua or the creative talents of Tolkein and Austen.

So! Moving on from the gloom and doom, instead of ‘we are now’ how about ‘we are only‘ 7 cycles in and ‘I am only‘ 27 and we are still excited and committed to bringing our own little geek into this world. Because, in the end thats what this process should be – exciting!

Also, I feel it is necessary to send a great big thank you to all the women (and men) of Mumsnet who have accompanied, helped, encouraged, laughed and cried with me so far on this journey.

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Starting the journey…

So today was a definite turning point in my life. My husband and I have been discussing for a long time when it is best to start a family and we have finally come to that time!

Soo eeek lots of cheesy metaphors etc!

Today was the day I decided to really get started, I have been trying to get booked in to the doctors to discuss having my contraceptive implant removed so that we could move forward. But I swear its like the whole world was trying to stop me! (Maybe I’m destined to give birth to some kind of evil spawn who will destroy the earth) Anyway, my GP had literally no appointments, not this week, not next week, not next month. Never! NADA! NO MORE APPOINTMENTS! So I contacted my local sexual health, family planning clinic. They were closed until later on, so I waited patiently and called when they were opened. Nope the number had changed please try this other number. GRRRRR. I ring the next number and guess what!?

“Our phones are currently being updated, we are not sure when we will be available please call back later”

I mean seriously? How difficult are you going to make this? And I know if I think this is difficult I’m in for a big shock, but still very frustrating.

I decided to take it into my own hands, so off I popped to my local sexual health clinic and registered for the drop-in appointment. This is where it started to get scary, as I had gone after work by myself I suddenly clicked – this is the next step into my future. A big scary but exciting future! So I started to frantically message my husband asking him to please calm me down and tell me that this is what we wanted. And yes I was going to have a lovely bruise but it will be worth it when we get to get started on the next addition our family. (Two beautiful beagle boys don’t forget!)

Just in time for me to be all psyched up and ready for it the doctor calls me in, we go through my information and why I am there and then I click. This is just the pre-appointment. I need to attend another appointment to have my sticky implant actually taken out. I should know this right!?

Oh well, so I now have the appointment for two weeks away and I am pretty excited! I have joined Mumsnet Forum and I am getting loads of tips and advice, researched books such as “Dad’s Guide to Pregnancy For Dummies” for my caveman other half and now just need to find a way to try and stay calm and relaxed…

That’ll be easy enough right?

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