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Monday, September 12, 2011

On Getting Pregnant

WARNING: Grandma should probably skip this one. Heck, that goes for anyone who doesn't want to know that I have sex and occasionally drink alcohol. For anyone actually trying to get pregnant, this is my collected knowledge.

Let's be clear. I've spent a great deal of time learning how to AVOID getting pregnant. But over the course of a few months, I actually learned a lot about how to get pregnant, and the weird part was that, at least at my age, it's a little harder than you'd expect.

First, there are details. As it turns out, almost all lube is toxic to sperm. Some kills them dead. Others just make them immobile. Little did I know that all these years I'd frequently had an extra line of defense. This led to our first surprise in that we had some time off between quarters around the holidays, and we entertained ourselves with the teen boy's fantasy world - sleeping late, lots of sex, movies, video games, and hanging out with friends. Honestly, we were just a little surprised when our activities did not lead to what seemed inevitable if you behaved like that as a teenager. But there we were. So, I started doing a little research, and quickly figured out our likely issue.

A quick trip to Amazon showed two options: Pre-Seed or Conceive Plus. I figured we'd order that now, and be able to use that next time around. This led to an Amazon fiasco where my little purchase was shipped from Belgium, got held up in Customs in New York, and made it's way to me after 29 days. So, we kind of missed that window just a bit.

Getting back into the game in February, our last shot before the dreaded December 7th and January 1 due dates, I'd just started temperature tracking. This is one of those weird things that you hear about and it seems too weird to be true. Every morning, you wake up, and first thing, before you budge an inch, take the thermometer off the nightstand and check your temperature. (Some say you need to do it at the same time every day, but just when you wake up is fine.) Sure enough, I am 97.0 degrees when I wake up for half of the month, and overnight it jumps to 97.8 and stays there for the rest of the month. We didn't have even a full month of data in February, so we didn't really know when the right timing was. Beyond that, this was also when Pixel got sick, so our attention turned to him, and to not shaking the bed, rather than to our future planning. Tracking temps did help us successfully miss the December 7th and January 1 due dates though, so that's good!

Then there's other things, like yes, a guy makes sperm all the time, but it's like product rotation at the grocery store. What he's shooting today can actually go back up to 3 months. So that hot tub trip that killed a good number of them may actually hold down sperm counts for quite some time, rather than just a day or two.

Then there's stress. Stressed out and you may not ovulate. Stressed out and you don't produce as many sperm. Tricky that.

Then there's the basics that don't apply to us: don't smoke, wear boxers instead of briefs, and start taking a multivitamin with at least 400 mcg of Folic acid right away. Then, give up alcohol. Yeah, both of you, just while you're trying. Also, drink lots of water and avoid dehydration.

But then there's that temp tracking thing. Now that we were ready to tackle this project again in May, I had 3 months of data! So, you look for the day of the spike, and plot it out. There are online tools to help do the math. Once you know it for the next cycle, put it on the calendar. We did! (Which led us to question just how many people we'd shared our Google Calendar with... la la la.)

They say to try for 3-5 days before the temp goes up and 2-3 days afterwards. We adopted a metaphor about this one night: milkshakes. Now I like milkshakes as much as anyone, but say for example you're required to drink a milkshake every single day for 8 days straight. By then end of it, a milkshake, no matter how good they can be, just doesn't sound all that appealing.

There's some debate about whether or not it's best to try every day or every other day. I can't speak to that, but we tried to split the difference and pretty much hit it at least every 24-36 hours. The temp spiked on the predicted day, and we'd done our due diligence, and continued for 3 more days. For better or worse, we'd actually started a few days early since it was a nice lazy weekend and we were just in the mood. Little did we know that 10 days later how much effort drinking a milkshake would be. It's okay. It's good to know your limits. We're a two or three times a week, maybe a little more, maybe a little less, kind of couple. Ten days in a row was... daunting.

Luckily, you're also supposed to lie still, not bound out of bed to the shower, to help the little swimmers get where they're going. An enforced lazy snuggly nappy time was just lovely.

Then there's the annoying waiting phase. You wait 2 weeks and see if anything happened. If it did, great! If not, start over. You're back at the starting line. Oh, and in the meantime, if you treat yourself to a nice glass of wine or a mai tai, you're spend the next 9 months wondering if you inflicted harm on your new little person, so no alcohol at all until you're bleeding!

Which led me to write a post I never ended up actually posting in mid-May on Project BorG:
People keep asking what I've been up to lately. There's been a bit of this and that - working with Arielle on the 4th of July Parade stuff, prepping for Erik and my birthdays, getting the Gaskells mailing list up and running, taking some Google certification tests, using The Daily Plate to lose weight (down 14 pounds since Christmas!), running off to Los Osos to see Ray and Rae's new place and talk wedding stuff, keeping Stanford Ceili running, and generally enjoying the whole new world created at home with two happy (drugs are awesome!) kitties. But it feels like there's something missing from that list. It feels like there's a big project looming out there that I keep working on but not really talking about, and that's taking up the bandwidth usually occupied by a big future state project, but this one doesn't feel like normal.

I realized that it was Project BorG. Unlike most projects where I work to a defined conclusion and that all of my efforts necessarily support (to greater or lesser degrees of success) that final culmination. In this case, I don't know which combination of actions will actually bring this project to a conclusion (or to it's next phase, I suppose). I can try to do all the right things, but ultimately, there's rather a severe lack of control here. And a lot of waiting. I hate waiting. It's do all the right things, then wait 10 days to see if it worked. If it didn't, do it all again. It's very very odd, and not the way I like to run my projects. I can see why so many couples go utterly bugnuts during this process. There's so much effort and anticipation that it's hard not to let that turn into disappointment. So, ultimately, my current focus is on not going crazy in this process. Also, I'm trying to decide if I can take this out of uber-project status mentally and emotionally and let myself have an alternate uber-project that I can invest in and talk about. While no one really wants to hear about your dieting plan and how that's going, it's perhaps unsurprising how many more people really really don't want to know about your efforts to have a baby. Baby making is boring even to people who do want to talk about sex, which is already an extremely limited subset of folks. Oh sure, I could wax on for at least an hour on all the stuff I've researched and found out and tracked and so on, but really, not even my mom wants to hear it. What's worse, even if the project is a potential success, you don't get to talk about the potential success with anyone for at least 3 months, which kind of kills the "Woohoo! Go team Woodbury!" aspect of it. By the time anyone else says that, I'll be kind of over it, well ensconced in the next phase of the project.

So suffice to say, it's weird. Really weird. And I'm still wondering how exactly this ended up sounding like a good thing. But now that it is a good thing, can we just get on with it already?


There were other things, like start earlier in your cycle if you want a girl, later if you want a boy as the boys swim faster but the girl sperm last longer. Or there's eat acidic things for a boy or take calcium to get a girl. Or make sure the woman has her orgasm first if you want a boy or second for a girl. Theoretically, these can change the ph and tilt the odds in favor of one over the other. I will note that Athena very helpfully gave me a bottle of calcium supplements, knowing I wanted a girl. Erik thought this was dirty pool, but luckily didn't believe it had much of a chance of working, but here we are having a girl, so who can say whether that's chance or something more. Personally, with Erik being one of 3 brothers and his dad being one of 2 brothers, I didn't think we had a shot at a girl. I'm just thrilled we lucked out. After watching me get stabbed for amniocentesis, Erik said that it was okay that I won that little victory. I was taking the hits for the team on this one and if I got the girl I wanted, that seemed more than fair.

So that's basically it. If you've got questions, feel free to ask. I can probably point you to an online resource or something. Because now, now I know way too much about this. Hopefully it's useful to someone.

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