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Trying to Conceive: It’s Not Always Easy – 3 Babies, 3 Stories

Trying to conceive #TTC via @chgdiapers - my experiences

Post contains affiliate links. We all took health class, right? Making a baby is so easy you can do it by accident. Yeah…not so much. I used to think when I was ready to have babies, I’d have babies, but it wasn’t that easy! This post has been on my “to write” list for years and I’m finally writing it. Based on the subject, there will be a bit of “TMI,” there’s no getting around it, so you are forewarned!

I always wanted to have babies and just figured when I was married & wanted to have children, I’d have them. I had no idea how many months (years) I’d spend hoping to have a baby, or how many different things I’d try along the way. I have a few SUPER fertile friends (one who had 2 babies, followed by twins, followed by another baby, not planned, all with one ovary) and I have some little jokes, including a “super ovary woman” song. 😉 Despite my struggles, I’ve kept a sense of humor. I realize how fortunate I am to have 3 children, and that my 15 months, 18 months and 6 months are nothing compared to couples who have tried for years to have one baby. Even so, I thought it might be interesting to share my experiences!

My husband and I were young (19 & 22) when we got married. I was working full time, and my husband had graduated with a B.S. the month before we got married. He had a hard time finding a job in his field so he was working as a fast food restaurant manager until he could find something better. Honestly, he was making decent money but it certainly wasn’t his ideal career. (12 years later he has an M.S. and has a job in his field making many times what he made back then!) I had been on birth control for long/heavy/painful/irregular cycles for a few years & remained on it after we got married since we weren’t ready to start a family. Interesting side note (now that I’m a big fat, home-birthing hippie, ha) that docs prescribe birth control as the “cure all” instead of trying to figure out what’s actually going on.

We ended up deciding that even though he didn’t have the best job on earth, we were ready to start a family. I went off birth control pills and started using the Clear Blue Easy fertility monitor (then called Clear Plan) which I bought used on Ebay. I spent a small fortune on the test sticks but never got a “peak” day. I realized later that it was likely because my cycles were too long & irregular. Going off birth control, by cycles were around 42 days apart & gradually got closer together, but they were too far apart for the monitor.

After about a year of trying, it was getting to be too much for me to handle emotionally. Too many negative tests and getting my hopes up. I ended up going back on birth control for a month out of a desperate “forget it, I’m done!” feeling. The next month, my husband’s grandfather passed away and “TTC” went on the back burner. Guess what? A few months later, I was pregnant. I was working an 8-5 desk job, and my husband was still working odd hours as a manger, so sometimes we talked on the phone during the day. I’d been having some cramping the week before (which I had never experienced outside of my cycle) and told him on the phone that I would test that night because I thought I might be pregnant. I was. He told me later that he just knew I was because I had never said I thought I was pregnant before. He was right but I hadn’t thought of it that way!

We never told anyone we were “trying,” partly because it seems icky (LOL) and largely because I didn’t want to be asked constantly about it, nor did I want anyone’s opinions on whether or not we should be. So many times people say “just relax, stop worrying about it and it will happen.” That advice is the most unhelpful ever but that’s what worked for us. DD was born 9 months after DH’s birthday. 😉

Our daughter turned out to be a very “high needs” baby, toddler and child. We had heard so many people talk about how they struggled to conceive their first & were “surprised” by a second. We did not want that to happen, so we waited until we were ready to have another, like that day, before we tried. Unfortunately for us, we were not one of those people.

Right away I started charting with a (now defunct, I think?) site called MyCycle. After many months of “trying” I joined several infertility, TTC and secondary infertility groups online. I also used ovulation test sticks and quickly realized that even though the instruction says “as dark as, or darker,” mine were only “positive” when much darker than the control line. Based on all my research, I tried taking Vitex and Evening Primrose Oil supplements, watching my chart to make sure I started/stopped them according to my cycle.

I went to see a Nurse Practitioner about my issues and expressed my concern about my “secondary infertility.” She was highly dismissive, saying that I was still in my 20’s. When I said I didn’t want my children to be 4-5 years apart, she “pfftttt” me that my daughter was only 2.5, and that I could come back, get clomid and get triplets. Um, no thanks.

Through all of this, we again kept our “TTC” a secret, but we were continually asked when we were going to have a baby, and our daughter begged for a little brother or sister. It hurt so much to be asked, but I just smiled and said we didn’t know. Every time I heard someone complain about how hard it was to have “2 under 2” or “3 under 3,” I wanted to cry.

After a year or so of “trying” my husband and I had a talk and agreed that while we would attempt to figure out/correct what was “wrong,” we would accept that perhaps we were meant to have an only child, or that the plan was for us to adopt. I have no problems with anyone who decides to pursue fertility treatments, but we decided as a couple that we didn’t want to go that route.

I had been to the doctor several times in all this, and talked to my doctor about my weight since I was very physically active, and had lost all my pregnancy weight and then some. I had blood tests done including prolactin, thyroid & more (after my second was born, I had different thyroid tests done & it turns out my thyroid was low.) There was absolutely no reason why I wasn’t getting pregnant. I went a full year without getting a period. My doctor prescribed a progesterone withdrawal challenge. Nothing. A month of birth control. Nothing. She noted that my body fat was very low due to all my physical activity, and suggested I try to gain 5 or 10 pounds just to see what happened, and I did.

I also decided to cut out all artificial sweeteners & hydrogenated oils from my diet. Though I ate very well, my coffee creamer was a guilty pleasure, along with an occasional other treat. I scoured labels & skipped it if there was any “partially hydrogenated oil” in the list. I wrote a paper in my business law class in 2006 about nutrition & the law & found that it is legal to list “0 trans fats” if there is less than .5 gram of trans fats per serving. However, with teeny tiny serving sizes, it is so easy to consume a tons of trans fats from “trans fat free” foods. (Big reason why I always advocate whole foods, but hey, most everyone consumes pre-packaged foods sometimes!)

I finally got a cycle in July 2008. At the end of August (I was around CD 42-48 and should have been well into another cycle) I took a blue dye (the + sign) pregnancy test, as was my habit to test regularly, and it was negative. A few days later, I went to the dentist and had x-rays. A few days after that, I took another (pink dye) test. I can’t remember why I did, I guess I just had a feeling. It was positive! Side note, that negative blue dye test was now positive in the trash can, but of course “invalid” since it was beyond the 10 minutes I’d waited to read it. Luckily my son was born with no issues from the x-rays. 🙂 In the end, it was 18 months from “trying” to pregnancy…I thought for sure it would be less than the 15 months it took to have our first!!

We were pretty certain we wanted to have a third child so we decided we didn’t want a repeat of our prior experiences. I never wanted to have children 4 years, 3 1/2 months apart! We decided we wouldn’t do anything to prevent pregnancy and I had been on treatment for my hypothyroid for a while at this point. My son loved to nurse and I didn’t get my cycle back until he was 15 months old. I immediately started tracking my cycles with MyFertilityChart. I realized later that I’d chosen the most “conservative” chart method. My husband was traveling for work a lot at the time, and I knew that I would be ovulating while he was gone. I thought for sure we’d “miss it” but 2 weeks later, 2 pink lines! After just 6 months of trying. 😀 I was elated.

my fertility chart

At this point, my youngest son is almost 2 years old and my cycle still hasn’t returned. He nurses constantly throughout the day and co-sleeps, nursing often at night, so I assume that’s the reason (so funny to go to the doc & answer the “last menstrual cycle” question, ha.) I was very conflicted about having any more babies. I just didn’t feel “done.” Right now I would be OK with not having more children. Since my kids were so far apart, I’ve been doing the baby thing for almost 9 years and I’m looking forward to my kids growing up and becoming more independent. I’m looking forward to sleeping at night, alone and showering daily, without anyone joining me. Eating regularly and so forth, LOL.

I don’t really have anything to chart, but I still have a premium My Fertility Chart account with the “avoid” option selected. While I’d be content to be “done” I’d also welcome a 4th baby, and my husband is on the same page.

Have you ridden the TTC rollercoaster? If you’ve taken the ride more than once, was it different each time?

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Maria is an aspiring "fit mom" of 3 children, writing about cloth diapers, going green, and her life as a single mom. Maria works with many companies within the cloth diaper industry and beyond, providing social media management, product development, and other services.
  • Theresa Hover
    January 16, 2016 at 10:07 pm

    It is encouraging to read your story. We have been trying for 8 months for #1, and it’s getting discouraging. It’s nice to hear success stories from couple who also had a long wait. Thank you for sharing.

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  • Amye
    November 20, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Curious to know if your husband was ever tested for low sperm counts or mobility? This is so often over looked as a cause.

    • November 20, 2013 at 12:36 pm

      No, it was pretty clearly me since I wasn’t even menstruating for a long time.

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