I'm a newbie here, and was encouraged by the women over in Queer Conceptions to start a new thread to get the wisdom of those TTC, those currently pregnant, and those thrilled mamas. There were a few folks who chimed in to say they would also be interested in the conversation.
I had no idea what to title this, since I certainly don't want to sound judgey with a "things I would do differently" or "do-over" thread. So mods, feel free to editorialize as needed.
My wife (34) and I (38) are about to start TTC, and we have been ravenously reading everything we can to learn more about the best process and how to optimize our chances (ironically enough she's a PhD specializing in biological development - just wasn't focused on the human kind). We've had 3 separate meetings with our (very LGBT-friendly) doctor, have picked out our (frozen, WTBK) donor, and have set up a meeting with an in-home midwife to start planning for our first IUI at the end of February. We have the "Ultimate Guide to Pregnancy for Lesbians" book (I keep emailing with Maia and they've been saying Stephanie Brill's new book is coming out in May 2012. Then Nov 2012. Not sure where they're at now).
Although I'm 38, I'll be carrying, and have been charting as well as evaluating CM (although for the love of Mike, I don't know how y'all touch your cervix so easy. Is this board part Cirque de Soleil?!?).
That being said, there's all sorts of stuff we are coming across that we hadn't seen in our readings. For example (and I realize this is a medical option so I apologize - not trying to pick something conflict-y to start) - the idea of doing an ultrasound to get the O timing just right, in combination with a trigger shot. While we were aware that time was not on our side in terms of age (which is why we skipped straight to IUI), after realizing we could purchase a pretty decent used automobile for the price of 2 vials + 2 IUI's per cycle, we're even more inspired to really get this right.
SOooo..... my questions to everyone:
- What are your current "best practices" every month? (e.g., how many times a day do you use an OPK? Do you also use saliva ferning tests? Do you inseminate with two vials or one?)
- How has what you're currently doing shape-shifted from what you started doing when TTC, and why?
- Other advice?
I know this could be a challenging topic, and I'm not trying to pick at scabs - I promise. I welcome learning about medical and non-interventional methods. My wife is a PhD biologist so we will want to consider both sides of the coin to make the most informed decision for us.
Many, many thanks in advance for your generosity ladies, and apologies for the tome.
me (38) + wife (34), one fabulous fur-son. Newlyweds starting TTC Feb 2013 for our first baby!
Hello! All very good questions. I really wish I would have tried harder to temp 2 years ago when I started tracking my periods/ovulation. We started inseminating in November 2012 and that was the first month I temped. Having 2 years worth of temps would have really helped me pinpoint when ovulation occurs. Our first try we inseminated at 7 and 26 hours after positive OPK. The second try we inseminated at 30 hours. A few weeks ago I found out that I ovulated at 48 hours after first positive opk so this month I will inseminate at 48 hours unless we are able to do the trigger shot. The last couple of times we tried to do the trigger shot I got a positive OPK before the mid cycle ultrasound so I had to scramble.
Originally we were doing 2 inseminations but my RE wont do two and we want monitoring so we are sticking with once a month for now. Since we are trying to do the trigger shot again this month I will just use OPKs to keep myself sane. Last month I got a positive OPK 4 days earlier than I usually do so we weren't able to trigger. If I wasn't doing the trigger shot I would test 3 times a day from day 11 forward since I typically surge day 17-19. Another helpful clue for me is I always get EWCM two days before my LH surge. I never noticed this pattern until last month but looking back at the last year it has been like clockwork.
In my dreams I would find a known donor that I could get unlimited fresh sperm from. Frozen IUI timing has to be so precise it makes me a little crazy. Fresh sperm is my dream.
And so are the boys!
Chorltes - To follow up on what I said over on QC, and considering your age, this would be my advice: If your length of periods vary by more than a couple of days (as mine do), or if you have trouble pinpointing ovulation, then I would push for the ultrasound method if I were you. But if your cycle is regular and easy to track, it may not be necessary at all. About checking the cervix - I found it a challenge also. If you haven't already, you can try squatting down on the bathroom floor.
How our practices evolved: We never used ferning. We used a lot of opks -- 2 or 3 a day near ovulation, though 1 a day is fine earlier in the month. We learned that opks are not a place to scrimp, because you can miss O. We always used one vial per month because I read a study that said a second vial didn't make much difference in a clinical setting. I temped endlessly, but once we went with the u/s method, I didn't have to deal with that anymore. Another issue we had at the beginning, when we were trying at home, was that we had to return the tank within 7 days to the bank, and sometimes my O was late enough that that became a problem. We were constantly worried about the sperm thawing and about getting charged big bucks for a late tank.
... due in late June.
First, if you're going by your fertile signs, I would use OPKs with temping so you know in advance how early they change for you. I wasted 2 vials on my first attempt because I didn't realize how freaking early OPKs change for me (of course, this was back when ID release could be had for $150 a vial. If I could go back in time I'd have rather paid 2002 prices for all my sperm!).
All my pregnancies were comceived with 2 insems/cycle. DP's ovulation was much harder to pin down and we went the ultrasound/trigger which was cheaper than a second vial. Her regular OB did it all.
1. I wish I had done a month of OPKs + temping before I had inseminated (we do not use any medical interventions, yet). Learning about when the surge happens in the cycle and how long before O has been invaluable.
2. In my opinion, temping the WHOLE month is also important. Even in the TWW! The whole picture shows you when you O'd more accurately. If you don't temp than it can incorrectly indicate ovulation.
I wish I had temped more early on, I would have learned so much more about my cycle.
3. I got SO STRESSED during insem. time and after. I had no idea it would be SO much. Now I am learning to manage and breathe.
I wish I had gone to the fertility clinic a couple years earlier instead of hoping that acupuncture and herbs would help fix my terrible cycles. I don't know that they ever helped at all, and certainly not reliably enough to justify wasting money on sperm. I am only 30, but I was ready for a baby two years ago and I am frustrated that I wasted that time, energy and money.
This is such a great thread! I'm learning loads. Thanks for starting it, chortles.
- I track my daily BBT and CM. I've been doing this for over a year on paper, and only recently began putting all the info into Fertility Friend. I think FF is a great tool and maybe wish that I'd begun using it sooner... But maybe I'll end up preferring my analog charts in the end, because they're very satisfying to flip through. Yes, I am nerdy like that.
- I use cheap OPK strips that I buy in bulk online. My clinic is doing U/s monitoring, though, so I don't depend on them. Starting on the first day of EW CM, I test my second pee of the morning at 10 am (ie. wake up at 6am, urinate, drink at least a cup of green tea and a cup of water over the next couple hours, hold it until testing at 10am), and then usually in the evening too if I'm feeling like it.
- I sometimes check ferning, if I think I'm near O but nothing's come up on the OPK yet (or if I'm bored). I use a simple microscope I've had since I was a kid, and it totally works! I know of others who've tracked ferning using a cheap microscope from a thrift store... It's fun. I like to take photos of the patterns (just holding my camera up to the eyepiece) so I can see exactly how they change day to day.
- For most of the past year, I've had acupuncture once a week at a community clinic ($20 per treatment, in a room with many others also being treated, it's a common system here)
- I also listen to the free fertility meditations from anjionline.com (Anyone tried the paid ones? I'm curious!)
- I wish I'd started sooner. I knew something was wrong with me, that my irregular cycles weren't just a fluke, but didn't actively pursue it until DP and I made the commitment to get going on the baby-making. I wish I'd seen my irregular cycles as something to investigate for my own interest and health, as opposed to something that was only relevant in terms of conceiving. If I'd learned earlier that I have PCOS, I could have worked at fixing it with diet and maybe drugs specific to that condition. I mean, I still could do this! And am lucky to have very few PCOS symptoms overall. But since I'm with the fertility clinic, and want to get pregnant right now, I'm just taking clomid to make me ovulate and not dealing with any other potential aspects of the condition... Which maybe aren't affecting me anyway, since I'm mostly asymptomatic. But still. I wish I'd looked into this.
- We will be doing only one vial, IUI, with a clinic, where they don't do two vials
- We only bought two vials of our first donor; if neither work, we'll move on to another donor, whom we'll try up to two times as well; we've got four donors selected, and after that we'll need to reconsider our options. With the monitoring and IUI, I think we're pretty likely to get the timing right, and so our thought is that if it's not working, the problem could simply be that the sperm and my body aren't a good match, and so it's better to try different sperm.
- We aren't attached to our chosen donors. Our mantra is, "The right donor is the one that gets us pregnant". We haven't paid for long-form info sheets or photos of any of them, and aren't going to until there's a baby who'll someday wanna see it.
- We plan on having more than one kid and do not intend to use the same donor for them. If it works out that way, it'll be fine, but it's not something DP and I are particularly wanting. As I'll be carrying the pregnancies and DP will be a non-gestational parent who will not be biologically related to the kids, we don't see the need to put more weight the bloodlines in our family.
- Regarding these last two points, this obviously isn't how everyone feels, and that's cool! I'm just saying how it is for DP and I, and I really recommend having many many many difficult conversations about all sorts of related topics long before the fertility drugs and/or pregnancy hormones make it very hard to!
- Brill's book "The Queer Parent's Primer" is a bit old but still excellent for getting one to think and talk about how one envisions life with kids, family values, etc.
Keep the info coming, all!
Thank you all for your generous replies!
DarcySD - I hear you. I've been tracking menses for years and somehow couldn't get past the "don't wanna deal with beeping early in the morning" thing to supplement it. I even had the #$($ BBT and the TCOYF book. I think I justtified it by saying "well, I like wine, and wine throws off the charting, so if I reealllly have to pick one right now....". It's only now I'm realizing how selfish that was. Le sigh. I also hear you on the fresh sperm - we lamentably don't have any KD who would be a good option, so a WTBK donor is a great fit - except for the price. I love idea of 2002 price rollbacks!
prettyisa - I hadn't heard that about baby aspirin - while I'm not on Clomid I'll keep it in my mind. We've been debating a lot about how many vials to buy as well - some of our friends are now on their fifth donor (!) in one year because they can't buy upfront, and while they're pretty zen about it I think I would lose it.
outdoorsy - thanks for the insights! My cycles do vary, so you're giving me good thoughtful points for talking to my doctor on Monday - we have our last appt before we begin TTC, and it will be an u/s just to check the plumbing, etc.
scorpioma - good advice - we're planning to start OPKs as soon as I start work next week. But I'll admit, part of me is getting nervous about starting in February - it just doesn't seem like DW and I have enough data. Granted, we're both scientists, so we operate by yee olde "if some data is good, MOAR MUST BE BETTAH!", but still it's a bit unsettling. And yes, I have reluctantly "embraced the beep", every day.
mrsandmrs - I'm sorry you're feeling so frustrated about past experiences. I have good friends who feel acupuncture worked for them, but we're all just big bags of chemicals and electricity in the grand scheme of things, so what works for one certainly won't work for all.
granite - what a great response! You've given me a lot to think about, and actually I'm sure DW would freaking adore it if we got a microscope for observing ferning :) I'll have to go look up the fertility mediations now - that's been one of the things I've been planning to take up to reduce stress and anxiety and overall prepare. Your last few bullets are really resonating with me, and I think will trend a great conversation with my wife.
me (38) + wife (34), one fabulous fur-son. Newlyweds starting TTC Feb 2013 for our first baby!
oh yes, regarding PCOS-like conditions, I wish I had gone on metformin the first time my doctor softly recommended it instead of being resistant to it for six months. I have no idea why I did that and I really regret it!
me (38) + wife (34), one fabulous fur-son. Newlyweds starting TTC Feb 2013 for our first baby!
I never got too much into suppliments, but considering that we ended up needing to do IVF, I don't know that I'm the best to answer what helps in that regard.
And so are the boys!
chortles, being scientists/biology folk I am sure this feels like a big experiment... My DP is a researcher (sociology PhD) and is always "collecting data" as well, ha! It can make the process more "fun."
I try to remember that it is not a formula, considering sometimes people get pregnant just on accident or even when taking poor care of their bodies, but doing everything we can (without feeling overwhelmed) and simply doing the best we can, hopefully will be good enough.
granite, thanks for the detailed response! so cool to hear what others are doing.
I also use the cheapie OPKs from saveontests.com, which save us money! Excellent choice...
We do have Clear Blues that we use only to confirm.
re baby aspirin -- Did you mean low-dose aspirin? It seems that is commonly called baby aspirin since it's a baby dose but not actually for babies. It's a blood thinner and is sometime prescribed for recurrent miscarriages. I think the idea is that blood clots in the lining could prevent implantation. I guess a nice smooth lining is best. I did take it my last few cycles just in case. I suspected that I may be conceiving but not implanting properly. We tried 9 times and had 1 early loss.
Towards the end I also started taking CoQ10, royal jelly and B6. The first 2 are for egg quality and royal jelly is good for fertility in general. The B6 I think helped with my spotting. You should definitely start at least folic acid before you try, 3 months before is best. I also took fish oil, evening primrose oil and vitamin D. The D just helps your body make hormones. I also did acupuncture, yoga and listened to meditations to help reduce stress. We did 2 IUI's each cycle. I consulted with the midwife at Maia Midwifery, they literally wrote the book we all talk about.
I wish I had given up on OPK's earlier. They drove me crazy and caused a lot of unnecessary stress. With my monitoring I probably did not need to use them anyway.
The last cycle my doctor recommended metformin even though I do not have PCOS or irregular cycles. She said it had better success rates than Clomid, but they weren't really sure why. We also switched donors. I also stopped taking vitex completely that cycle. I don't know what worked or made the difference, but all the stars aligned.
It's impossible to know everything before you start. I had taken classes, done lots of reading and charting, seen my doctor and had testing, consulted with the midwife and lots of other things to prepare before we started and it still felt like each cycle we were confronted with something new and unexpected. With all my preparations, it still took me almost a year to get pregnant. I hope all that preparation helped somehow, but I'm not sure. The crappy (and expensive) truth is that you learn something important with each cycle and that helps you reach your goal.
Married to a wonderful woman since 2010. Baby boy C arrived in June 2013!
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Neat, seraf, thanks for sharing! And yes, I just saw the latest pics you posted to QP&P: Your sons are adorable, and really look each like you and Sarah!
I have a couple things to add to my (already lengthy!) post above:
- For 8 months, I took 4 capsules of "Pregnancy Prep" everyday, as recommended by the naturapath whom I saw a couple times. You can find this product online; It's mostly vitex. I stopped taking it after I started Clomid, because I think it interfered with that drug. I also ran out, and it's expensive! And unlike many others who've taken it, it didn't have any drastic (or even noticeable...) effect on my cycle.
- Since way back when I was still just talking about TTC (2011?), I've taken vitamins/supplements daily: fish oil, folic acid, vitamin D, vitamin B complex, vitamin C, selenium, and now also iron (because I'm too low, according to my fertility clinic)
- I cut down coffee to decaf once or twice a week, though I still drink a cup of green tea and a cup of black tea every day, and drink a few glasses of wine throughout the week.
- I mostly avoid gluten, though as I write this, I've got homemade pizza in the oven! But my naturapath said not eating gluten will increase fertility more than anything else (?!!)
Wow, these are all great responses. I feel like I'm learning a bunch and also getting to know everyone better because I get to hear about kind of a summary of their "highs and lows"
I really want to second what Pokey said about learning something new every cycle. I feel like that has been really true for us too. Sort of like college -- college is crazy-expensive and at the end the only physical thing you have is a piece of paper. The knowledge and experience gained are incredibly valuable and even if that is all you have at the end of a cycle, it is still worthwhile progress.
I tried acupuncture when we were TTC our son and am going again now that we're TTC #2. I feel like it is AMAZING for my stress level. I've read a few studies that show increased conception rates. I think for me though, the biggest draw is how it affects my stress level. If you can find something that calms and centers you it may or may not make the process shorter but it will certainly make it a lot more sane. It is easy to underestimate how stressful it will be.
Right before we started TTC #1, I went to an herbalist and started taking a few supplements that were meant to increase my fertility. They TOTALLY messed with my textbook-normal cycle and I learned that there is such a thing as doing too much to be prepared. An "if it isn't broken, don't fix it" kind of thing.
Charting BBT is really amazing. I wasn't that "into" it at first but now I can't imagine going without this tool. If possible, it would be great to chart for a few months and use OPKs to see how they correspond to your actual ovulation date before TTC. If you're not familiar with BBT charting, fertilityfriend.com has a bunch of info. They also published a free book for the Apple iBooks app called Charting Your Way to Conception that is something like 380 pages of fantastic info on charting and goes into detail explaining 80 different common chart patterns.
As for your question about OPKs -- I feel like it depends on how regular your cycles are as to how many days you need to check. If you are fairly confident that you can pin down ovulation as being typically on day 14 for example, I guess I'd start testing once a day around day 9 or 10 (roughly 3pm each day) and then increase the number of tests as it gets closer to the predicted date or if you see a change on the OPK. During "high alert" days - I use one just about every time that I pee. I have caught a surge that had already declined the next time that I went. With the "cheapie" tests, you can watch the line get closer and closer to positive but sometimes that true positive test will only show up for a few hours (in my experience but everyone is different). I use a digital test to confirm the "cheap" test (and have found that they don't always match up). FMU (first morning urine) is actually one of the few times that I will not use an OPK because the urine is too concentrated and doesn't tend to be accurate. I feel like I read somewhere that women don't tend to start to surge while they are asleep anyway.
Phew, I think that is it. Thanks for starting this post. I love reading what others have written and I'm going to check out saveontests.com right now - great tip!
LindseyW, speaking of stress relief, we had just heard about studies with clowns and IVF when we were trying for Shay. While we were chilling in bed post insem, we read at damnyouautocorrect which makes me laugh so hard I cry and drool on myself and worried I would squirt the sperm back out. BOOM, Shay. DYAC got me pregnant.
Yes, seraf, I totally know what you mean! DP and I live on the other side of the country from both of our birth families, and have each done so for over a decade... We've created our own chosen family here on the coast. That aside, I was raised by four parents: My genetic parents split when I was little and each remarried soon after, and I consider my "steps" as equal parents to the "bios", because they've known me nearly as long... To be honest, I don't know that my stepdad feels the same way about me, but I'm certain my stepmom sees me as fully her daughter. Family is what we make it. Aww, I'm all full of warm fuzzies now!
1. We were never convinced that acupuncture worked for us when TTC #1, so we're skipping that this time (at least to start).
2. We're starting chiropractic care now, but that is really more to reduce pain in pregnancy rather than to help with TTC.
3. We're planning to do just one IUI per cycle. I know that there are strongly mixed opinions on this one, but doing more than one per cycle adds lots of additional stress and expense and we weren't sure it increased our chances. We tried one, two, and three per cycle when TTC #1.
4. We're having my wife take milk thistle and a B-complex, but that is to reduce her risk of morning sickness. She is also taking folic, D, and a prenatal, but we did that when TTC #1 too.
5. At least for the first few months, we're planning to have our RE do an ultrasound when we get the positive opk to help with timing. I don't know if that is really necessary, but we did it the cycle we got pregnant with our son, and maybe it helps.
6. LIke last time, we're using the clearblue fertility monitor in the morning (which we definitely don't think is worth the cost if you don't already have it. We would just use a second opk), opks in the afternoon, temping (as well as we can with a baby who doesn't sleep through the night), occasionally looking at saliva ferning, etc.
That's all I can think of right now!
M (30), D (30) TTC #1 since October 2010. 13 unsuccessful cycles--no meds (2 m/c). First medicated IUI July 2012: BFN. Second medicated IUI: BFP! Triplets! Actual Due Date: May 17...GOAL: April 5th!
Sawyer, Elliott, and Miles arrived on March 24th @ 32 weeks & 2 days.