Things I have tried, Month by Month

Let’s hope there aren’t too many months listed here by the end of this journey! Here is a brief recap of things that we have tried during each month of TTC.

Month One

  • Vaguely tried to hit what I thought was ovulation, but in retrospect was probably too early. I didn’t know very much at this point. I also got sick, and we closed on a house and moved within a span of 3 days, coincidentally right around the time I should have ovulated. I think this delayed ovulation a bit, and I shouldn’t have expected for this to be our month with so much going on, but it was still disappointing when my period finally arrived, about 3 days later than I expected.
  • Prenatal vitamins and iron supplements (I discovered earlier this year that I am pretty anemic…no surprise given a long of history of being vegetarian and not being careful to eat enough nutrients, coupled with an even longer history of disordered eating and exercise habits).

Month Two

  • Prenatal vitamins and iron supplements
  • Tried OPK strips, with little success. I thought that maybe I saw a positive around CD 18, but when I saw a true positive the next month, I don’t think that what I saw was actually positive. So I probably either missed the LH surge this month, or (I fear, perhaps) I never had one.
  • Even so, I don’t think timing was an issue this month unless I never ovulated. Went a little crazy researching anovulatory cycles.
  • Possibly only 10 day luteal phase…went a little crazy researching luteal phase defect.

Month Three

  • Prenatal vitamins and iron supplements
  • ClearBlue Digital Ovulation Detector (worked very well and made it clear when my LH surge was!) combined with OPK strips, which allowed me to see what a true positive OPK should look like. Sad that I probably missed it last month, but hopeful and encouraged that at least the cheap strips can work.
  • Researched cycle syncing eating and exercise, tried a few recommendations. Specifically reduced running mileage from about 25-27 miles per week to 20 or less. Especially tried not to run as much around ovulation and implantation since long distance running seems to have a fairly direct connection to fertility issues in some women. Hoping I don’t gain too much weight trying to get pregnant, before I gain more weight when I get pregnant!
  • Vitex to correct possible luteal phase defect. In retrospect, this may have been a hasty measure. I suspect, but do not know, that my progesterone is lower than it should be. The first half of my cycle seemed great–I got a clear positive OPK which suggests strong LH hormones, and I seem to have ovulated on CD 14 or 15, which is textbook! BUT the second half of my cycle I felt much lower energy, and the days leading up to my period were kind of hellish. Serious bloating, cramps, nausea, and I got a weird case of (TMI) the runs which is very rare for me. Might not have been the vitex, but it certainly didn’t feel right so I have decided to discontinue that unless a doctor recommends it later. On the other hand, luteal phase seems to have been 12 days, so hopefully that continues even without the vitex.
  • Tried red raspberry leaf capsules and B-complex, for maybe a day or two, and ended up feeling awful so I also stopped that. But it may have been the sudden cocktail of supplements, rather than any particular supplement that made me feel this way.
  • Ate pineapple core for 5 days of my luteal phase to aid in implantation. Not so bad! I’ll do it again next month if for nothing else than because I like pineapple and it was nice to eat a different fruit than usual. 🙂

Month Four (the plan)

  • Prenatal vitamins and iron supplements
  • ClearBlue ovulation detector plus OPK strips
  • Daily basal temping and charting on Fertility Friend app (to make sure I am actually ovulating and when)
  • Keep running mileage around 20 miles per week or less
  • Eat pineapple core during luteal phase
  • Relax and enjoy my life. Make plans for the future like I’m not planning on getting pregnant and staying home with my baby for a few years. Try to get a new job that I like better and has a shorter commute. This might be a long ride.
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God’s Sovereignty is Not Always Comforting

It should be, and in many ways, it is. I am comforted to know that God saves me regardless of my undeserving sinful state and my inability to have faith apart from Him. I am comforted to know that there is a plan for the world from the beginning of time that will not be thwarted no matter what things look like on earth right now. I am comforted to know that even my greatest mistakes and willful sinful actions can not change God’s love for me or His plans for my life, and that all things work together for my good because I am called according to His purposes.

These are the big things of life, the things that I could not change or control even if I wanted to. And I don’t want to! I want to rest in the knowledge that God is in charge and I am most decidedly not.

But this is not always comforting in the moment, especially when I want something to happen and it doesn’t seem to. Having a baby, for instance. I believe that God alone gives life and has the ability to take it away when He sees fit, and that is a very hard fact to deal with since He did, in fact, see fit to take the (very young) life of the child I never got to meet. He decided to give it for a moment, and then take it away. And He has not seen fit to give us another child yet to replace the one that was lost.

I believe that He can do whatever He desires, and so I am now left with the question…how could He desire this? Doesn’t He love children? Isn’t becoming a parent a noble and worthy calling, and a good part of the point of marriage? Many Christians try to let God off the hook by saying that He does not will for these things to happen and they are a result of living in a sinful world. All true points, of course. But this is the same God who entered into the world He created as a man, born to a virgin, who rose from the dead and lives forever. Don’t tell me the God who did all of those supernatural, reason-defying miracles can’t form a healthy baby in my womb through the very natural means that He created. He is bigger than that.

And there is a reason for all of this, I am sure. I may never really get to know why. Actually, I’m pretty positive that even if I think I know why, I will never truly know. For His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways, higher than our ways…this is just the uncomfortable reality of being human with a sinful nature that wants to be God.

This is His way of developing patience and hope and humility within stubborn and hardened hearts. It doesn’t make the breaking any less painful. But it does produce the faith that is refined by fire, more precious than gold.

Bittersweet Beginnings

It has “only” been three months of trying to conceive a child after our loss.  I say “only” in quotations because anyone who has been on this “Trying To Conceive (TTC)” journey for even a single month knows that the Two Week Wait (TWW) is pretty much the definition of eternity and three months might as well be before the beginning of time.  Time has a way of s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g out indefinitely when you are hyper-analyzing every single twinge and fluid your body produces.

(BTW, The body is just as fickle a friend as time when you are TTC.  I don’t think that I’ve ever had nausea as a symptom of PMS.  The past three months have been practically nonstop feelings that I am about to vomit.  It’s truly…fascinating.)

The hardest thing about this endeavor, trying to have a child, is that it is absolutely out of your control.  Hardly anything else in life requires as much utter dependency and faith.  I mean, sure, in truth, everything is uncertain and nothing is in our control.  I do believe that God is absolutely sovereign and can make the best-laid plans fail and the most unsuspected miracles come to be.  He is GOD, after all.

And yet…it is a unique struggle.  When I wanted to get married, I kind of felt this way.  I mean, I couldn’t just make a man who wanted to marry me fall out of the sky, and moreover a man whom I wanted to marry, too.  It took faith, and I believe it was God’s providence that I did meet my husband, as faltering as our steps may have been and still are.  However, I had some degree of control over this kind of situation.  I COULD choose to give myself in marriage to anyone who would have me, just to get married, and I’m sure that if that were my intention I could have found myself married soon thereafter.  If I had gone to a singles group or used a dating app or hung out at enough bars or posted an ad on Craigslist or what have you, I have little doubt that I COULD have married SOMEONE just about as soon as I set my mind to do it.  (Not that that’s a good idea.)  And if I wanted to change jobs, I could apply to enough jobs to, sheerly by the force of numbers, get an interview and find myself in a new position.  Same for if I wanted to buy a house, move to a new city, make a million dollars, or any variety of challenging yet possible things for humans to do.  The means are already there.  I simply need to apply my will and enough force and diligence to make things happen, and EVENTUALLY, it is almost guaranteed to happen.

Things are different when trying to have a child.  In one way, the means are already there, quite obvious and simple.  Do…the things you do when you want to make a baby (and often when you don’t want to make a baby).  But can I, by my sheer willpower and force and frequency and endurance, create life?

That is something that I simply cannot do.

I do not have it in me.  Not in myself, anyway.  God creates life.  God uses us to create life.  But it is His to create.  (It is also His to take away.)  And this fact utterly humbles us, reducing us to beggars, really.  That is what makes it so hard.  If I beg enough people and do enough of the right money-making and saving and investing actions, earning a million dollars is fairly certain.  I can beg God for the rest of my life for Him to create the life of a child within me and He might never give it, and there is nothing that I can do.

That is not to say that I believe that that is what God will or wants to do.  I earnestly do believe that God will give us a child and that I will be a mother and my husband will be a father one day, and probably relatively soon.  But it still plagues me in the wake of God’s deafening silence on this matter.

“Why did You give us a child, surprising us and thrilling us, and then take it away so suddenly?”

(Silence.)

“Why do You command us to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, and then when we try to do just that, You make us wait and struggle to fulfill what You told us to do?”

(Silence.)

“Why did I conceive so effortlessly the first time when I was not trying at all and had no real knowledge of how my body worked, and now that I am tracking my cycles and actually have an idea of when to time things and trying to use God-given scientific knowledge to do things the right way, we have not been successful?”

(Silence.)

“Did you give us that glimmer of hope and joy earlier this year just to tease us?”

(Silence.)

“ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING?!?”

And the silence continues.

So, only three months since we have officially begun “trying.”  It’s incredible to think that even in the first cycle of “trying” I did not really even know what the signs of ovulation were.  Such an important thing when you are trying to make a baby.  I have learned so much in such a short time.  (And we have done quite a bit in such a short time, as well…if I were looking at myself from the outside I would probably tell myself that we were crazy for expecting to have a kid right now!  But of course it doesn’t feel that way once the desire is in your heart.)

My hope and prayer is that my story will encourage even one heavy heart, and that one day I will be sharing the news that God has been gracious to us and given us the child we so long for now.  This is the beginning of a journey that I suspect will bring so much more than a baby (or two or three) one day down the road.

Until then…we wait, we hope, we pray, we grow, we humble ourselves before God who alone gives life.