My Favorite Fertility "Tips" From Others
I know this part so well. I linger in the shower purposefully, not wanting to face the day yet. When I emerge and wrap myself in a towel, my husband opens the door and reaches his arms out to me.
"We'll get through this," he says. "Just like last time."
Sure, we will. We will survive. Not how I want, though, and with what feels like a blast of ice to my heart.
It's month 17 of no conception, our anniversary month, one month after the fertility tests came back and said what I dreaded: Everything was normal. I'm totally fine. Then why, dear doctors, do I not have a child?
People in every part of my life have answers to this question for me. My friends, family, coworkers, dental hygienist, chiropractor, and even strangers on the internet have offered up advice. Some of these are people I love and respect, and their advice lingers. Some of these people have no idea how infuriating their "advice" can be. So here are my favorite pieces of advice that I have been given in the past 17 months:
#1: You should chart your cycle and know when you ovulate. Done. Agreed. The best advice I have received by far is to know everything that's going on with my body. I have an app and a $400 fertility monitor. Unfortunately, something hasn't clicked.
#2: Watch what you eat. This is really important, and it has changed my life for the better. My husband and I went totally organic. The food is much better! It tastes better, cooks better, keeps longer... but I break the diet with some things I crave. (Sour Patch Kids, Gushers and Fruit Roll Ups. Don't judge me.) The lack of hormones and artificial crap in the meat, dairy, and vegetables I used to eat could have an impact on my own hormones. So they've been deleted from my diet.
#3: Reduce the stress in your life. Wow did I need to do this!! Experts say stress plays a huge part in fertility. When I got overwhelmed with everything, I started going to counseling. I also see a wonderful chiropractor who does soft tissue to help reduce the physical stress I carry. But the biggest thing I did was leave a job and a career that made me feel horrible and worthless every day. I also eliminated several people from my life that caused me anxiety. I'm a better person for all of these things, and I can honestly say I have never been happier.
#4: Manage your chronic illness. I have TMJD, which means my face, neck, and jaw hurt on a daily basis. It is chronic, which means it will never go away regardless of the therapy I do. I can improve my condition, but doing so with pain killers is not helping my chances of becoming a mother. I have found that massage therapy, yoga, and low-dose Tylenol on bad days really helps. Some days really suck, but I'm better and I can actually eat now (yay!).
#5: Gain some weight. I know most people are the opposite, and losing weight if you're overweight while trying to conceive can help. I had a major problem when I was undergoing therapy for my jaw. It hurt to eat so badly that I lost a significant amount of weight. It's not healthy to be underweight or overweight while trying to conceive, and I have now added a measly 8 pounds to my frame. I'm proud of it, but would still like to gain more. Think it's weird to read those words? I'm so comfortable in my own skin and with what my husband thinks about me that I am excited to add more curves! (And a baby bump, dangit.)
#6: Stand on your head after intercourse. This was by far the most hilarious piece of advice that I have received. Guess what....I tried it. Super sucked. Didn't work, either.
#7: Get tested. I got my hormone levels tested last May, and again this June. both of them revealed that according to medical testing, I am completely normal. Now it's my husband's turn, but the urologist can't see him until mid-August. After that, we will have to pay out of pocket for all fertility related testing because our insurance doesn't cover it. Crowd funding...garage sales....extra night shifts for Cody...whatever it takes, we'll do it.
#8: Go on Clomid. This is the only piece of advice I haven't followed. It scares the crap out of me. I know not everyone reacts the same way to medications, but I have heard some dreadful things about the mood-altering side effects and menopause-like symptoms. However, at this point I am willing to try anything and am on the verge of calling my doctor to start. My only fear is I get three cycles with it and then it's on to more serious and invasive forms of fertility treatments. I guess there's only one way to find out if it'll work.
#9: Stop trying. Did it. And this was the most obnoxious and frequent piece of advice we received. First of all, for the first six months of trying, all I did was make note of when I should expect my period. I tried it again for three months this year - no charting, no monitors, no apps, not even marking on my calendar when my period should come. It didn't work. I'm tired of people who say we should stop trying and it will happen because 9 months of not trying didn't work for us, which is a sign that we may need more help.
#10: It will happen when it's supposed to happen. This isn't necessarily advice, but people say it all the time. I understand and fully agree that things happen when they are supposed to. However, my biggest fear is that I sit back and "let life happen" and I'm 50 and childless. My husband and I have decided to take a proactive stance regardless of how others feel. In the end, I know we are supposed to be parents.
Am I supposed to have children with no medical intervention? I don't know. Is there a child that needs me to adopt him or her and that's why we haven't gotten pregnant? Maybe. In August we will know more after Cody gets tested. I may finally cave in and call my doctor about the Clomid. I haven't decided. Until then, we will enjoy our 2nd anniversary in Maine, and try not to think of this as yet another month without our yes.
It will come, and it will be sweeter than any yes we've ever had.