1st Doctor’s Appointment

So, you’ve taken the pregnancy test and gotten your YES, what now?

The first thing I did after taking my at home pregnancy test, even before I decided to tell my husband the good news about finally getting pregnant after months of trying, was make a doctor’s appointment. I had experienced the disappointment of not being pregnant for several months now, but it didn’t seem as real for my husband. I didn’t want to tell him I was pregnant in all my excitement and then have to go back and tell him it was a false alarm.

No use in us both being miserable if that turned out to be the case.

At the doctor’s appointment, it is pretty much like doing the test at home. You pee in a cup, the doctor comes in, he tests your urine and tells you pretty much right away. No waiting for results, no biting your fingernails. Easy as pie (which isn’t as easy as it once was).

Now, the doctor will give you a smile and a once over (as I look like I am more seventeen than twenty-six) and he will tell you that you are in fact pregnant. There will be a pause as he looks over your paperwork and then he will ask you about your cycle, if you know when your first day of your last period was, and such things to determine how far along you are.

Something that I didn’t know before trying to get pregnant is that they count the pregnancy from your first day of your last pregnancy. I was thinking I was two weeks pregnant based on my ovulation, but they would count that as six weeks pregnant. It is all a little bit confusing, but this is how they have done it for countless years, so who am I to question the scientific reasons behind it?

After you find out how far along you are, you will be sent for blood work to ensure everything is good and so they can assess your needs through your pregnancy. Then he will ask you the question that always has my mind going completely blank: “Do you have any questions?”

I of course stared at him for a few minutes before smiling and shaking my head. I drew a complete blank of course. However when I got home, I sat there kicking myself as a list started to write itself in the back of my mind.

“Can I still drink coffee?”

I am an avid coffee drinker. As a writer who typically has several short stories and novels in the works, I tend to be up late, brainstorming, writing down thoughts. This means that before I got pregnant, I was drinking three, maybe even four cups of coffee a day. The thought of giving it up entirely made my knees weak and had me chomping on my lower lip.

Yes, if you are a coffee drinker you can still have 200mg of caffeine a day. This is the equivalent of a small order of coffee a day. If you have a coffee at home, a mug is fine. If you are like me and love the frozen coffees in the summer a large Ice Cap from Tim Horton’s only has 150mg of caffeine in it. Their ice coffee is 160mg in a large.

I decided in the long run to cut out coffee while I was pregnant all together. Life as a mother is all about sacrifices and I could surely sacrifice my cup of Joe for the baby I have been working hard to get. Now before you turn your nose up at me, I have my reasons. One, you can get a cup of decaf that taste surprisingly just like coffee. Unfortunately I can’t get any cold coffee beverages out as they don’t come in decaf, but I made the choice because I realized just how many other every day things I consume have caffeine in them.

Iced tea, teas, chocolates and anything else with chocolate in it. That was probably the thing that made me go “Uh-oh. I have to cut out caffeine somewhere then.” No chocolate chip cookies, brownies, muffins. All the little things start to add up, and fast.

Is there anything I can’t eat?

Almost anything is fine in moderation. The one red flag that seems to go up is pre-packaged sandwich meats and hot dogs. Now the main reason these are shied away from is because of Listeria, which is really rare but you are more likely to get it when you are pregnant. I don’t think this would be as much of a problem if there hadn’t been that recall a few years back. These things are fine to eat if you heat them up to a temperature that kills the bacteria causing listeria. For me, I just skipped the sandwich meats and made sure to cook my hot dogs until they were practically bursting.

Is there anything physically I can’t do that I was doing before?

In the first trimester, your little poppy seed is so protected in there that you can carry on with your life as though you’re not even pregnant at all. You can lift, jump, run, whatever your heart desires. I even fell down the stairs at my moms townhouse, rode down about fifteen steps all the way on my bottom and the baby was none the wiser.

How much weight am I supposed to gain?

In the first trimester you aren’t supposed to gain any weight. You are supposed to keep your calorie intake the same as it was pre-pregnancy. This was something I didn’t know and I had to look into. My first trimester was pretty rough and I ate very little because I spent most of my time doubled over my toilet. Every day I was worried the baby wasn’t getting enough. Had I known this, I would have avoided a lot of stress.

How much throwing up is normal?

Unfortunately the term Morning Sickness is called that for some unknown reason because if you are like I was, it will happen around the clock, all the time. Basically, as long as you stay hydrated you are fine. I was trying to force myself to eat something, but no matter what I put in it came back up.

I started drinking lots of Gatorade and Powerade. It kept my electrolytes up and kept me hydrated.

A new question pops up every single day, and I have come to the conclusion that we can’t know all the answers. Our parents had babies with a lot less information, and their parents before that. Even though I feel like I know nothing, I know a lot more than my mother did, just like my doctors know more than hers. Every day we learn something new.

Even if you don’t have all the answers, chances are, you will be fine and hopefully nine months from now, you will have a healthy, happy baby.

But if you’re like me, and a bit of an over-worrier make a list. Write down all your thoughts and bring it to you to your doctors appointment.

Early Signs of Pregnancy

When you are someone who is trying to conceive, something you will find yourself on the web searching for a lot is Early Signs of Pregnancy. Every woman is different, and every one of our bodies is different. Although there are some of those articles and blog posts that give you a list and also have you wondering when you scroll down to the bottom “If what I am feeling isn’t on this list, does that mean there is no chance I am pregnant?”

We know ourselves and even the most oblivious of us knows our body. We know when we are feeling a little under the weather long before that cold starts flipping switches in our immune systems. We know when it is going to rain based on that trick knee, or wonky shoulder. We know just by how we wake up in the morning if we are going to have an off day. We sense these things in a way that can’t fully be explained, or maybe it can and I just haven’t been reading the right blogs or scientific reports.

In the beginning, when I was already pregnant but had yet to take the test, there were things I noticed, changes in myself that didn’t quite fit the lists that I had been reading. I thought I would share some of these early symptoms with you and hopefully, if they are ones that fall into play with subtle changes in your body, you will be a little more hopeful as you journey towards the stumbling of parenthood.

First and foremost, I noticed that no matter what I had been eating that day I had an obnoxious amount of gas. I was taking prenatal vitamins at the time and thought that this explained the rise of gas. Every body farts, we all let some slip in moments when we are alone or are sure they will be silent. These, let me tell you, were something to be embarrassed about… not that I personally was. Although, I am sure my husband wishes I was a little more nonchalant with my passing of gas in the early stages.

Honestly, I would wake up farting, and let out these trombone type farts all through the day. When I wasn’t releasing gas, I was bloated and cramping. A build up of gas I couldn’t quite get rid of causing me to almost double over. It was a lot. Thinking back, I don’t know why a light bulb didn’t go off in my head hinting that maybe there was a hormonal reason for it, a little pea in there shaking things up from the inside. Especially since before all this I wasn’t a particularly gassy person.

Gas was definitely the first symptom and it is one that has stayed with me along the way.

My second symptom was pressure in my lower abdomen.

I am someone who has always slept on my back. I tend to roll onto my sides before I wake up early in the mornings, but my preferred place is on my back. Now before bed, I like to lie on my belly. Usually reading, playing sudoku or other things to help me shut my brain off before I go to sleep. I noticed that those moments had become less and less comfortable.

It suddenly felt like my stomach was hard, like there was pressure there. Sure, this could be explained by the new build up of gas. I could have been bloated and lying on my stomach was making me hyper aware of just how bloated I was. However, it was something that was constant, something I felt every night for the first few weeks after conception.

This early on into the pregnancy, there is no way you could feel that tiny little sesame seed of a baby in there, but your body is getting ready for all the changes. The hormones are running marathons through your body and making changes to the way you normally function. I would account the stomach pressure to any number of these things, but it was a symptom that was again missing from a lot of the sites I was reading.

One of the symptoms that you won’t be celebrating and will probably cause you a great deal of grief and sad days is something you thought you had under control but will come back through your pregnancy in full force.

Acne.

Unfortunately this is another symptom that has stayed with me. I had terrible acne in my teens, it was the main reason for bangs even though I had a mass of curls. When I was fifteen, I started birth control to help me keep it under control. Sure, I still got random pimples here and there through my life. Unlike what they may have told you in health class, acne is not just something you experience through puberty and it can stick with you well into adulthood. Yay!

It started with acne all along my hairline. It wasn’t my usual spot for pimples, which again should have clued me in. Along my jawline seemed to follow. No matter what cleansers I used, what facial treatments, what masks, they just kept popping up all over my face like weeds.

The main three symptoms I experienced early on were the gas, the pressure in my stomach and acne. These symptoms seemed to start a week or so before my expected period and I became more aware of them after I took the pregnancy test.

A lot of women are probably hoping for some sign, some hint towards their baby before their expected period. Hopefully, some of these fall true for you!

Big Fat Positive

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If you have ever been trying to get pregnant, I am sure you think of the pregnancy test as a nemesis of sorts. It’s you, a full bladder early in the morning, and a test that can either make all your hopes and dreams become a reality, or can shatter them yet again for another month.

The amount of nervous energy vibrating through your body is enough to power an electric car for a cross country road trip. Your heart is racing and you tell yourself that this is it, this is the test that will change everything. You’re so sure of it, you can feel it in your bones. Yet, there is that voice of doubt in the back of your mind, whispering that these thoughts are ones you’ve had before.

Taking a deep breath, you take the test. There is no use prolonging the inevitable, and for all those nerves you are feeling, your bladder could care less. It’s about to burst and if you let it, you’ll have to wait for tomorrow for another chance at the test.

Personally, I waited a whole week past my scheduled period before I took my fourth pregnancy test. There were a few reasons why. First, I was feeling more than a little defeated. After the first month, my body was changing due to the stress and anxiety that trying to conceive was causing me. All my hours were spent thinking about it, planning for it, hoping for it. Naturally the second month, I took the test the day after my expected period… or at least attempted to. As soon as I sat down on the toilet, took the wrapper off the test, I felt it and with it the immediate sadness that at the time seemed so overwhelming.

The third month I waited four days. Again, I got an unexpected visit from my dreadful Aunt.

By the time the fourth month came around, I had lost a good dose of my positive attitude. Even though I was already a week late, the negativa voice was so much louder.

I think a lot of the things we see in movies about pregnancy, a lot of the talk about pregnancy that makes it into the storybooks and onto the screen leaves out a lot of the depression and heartache that plagues you. They leave out a lot of the struggle, the dark moments that make you just want to fade away into the shadows of your mind where the shimmer of hope can’t reach you.

Why? Seeing these things would be so relatable and I feel like it would help a lot of us as women, feel like getting pregnant isn’t always easy, and it’s okay to struggle, it’s okay to ask for help, it’s okay to tell your partner and your friends how sad it all makes you sometimes. These things don’t make you any less of a woman, and they won’t take anything away from you when you finally do become a mom.

The helplessness you feel that sometimes overcomes you, it eats away at you a little bit. It breaks you down in a way that makes you wonder if you lack the strength you will need to be a mom, and maybe that’s why you haven’t been given that YES you so desperately want.

I’m here to tell you I went through it, I experienced it all and I am still here. And I can promise you that whatever comes later, I will push through that too, just like a lot of you will.

The day will come where you get that big fat positive test result, or you get that letter telling you a baby is waiting for you. The day will come when you become a mom and no matter how small or weak you felt during the journey to get to that moment, you will never feel more strong.

Nothing worthwhile in life ever comes easy. And the joy and happiness you feel from the moment you know you are going to be a mom will be enough to make you forget all of that darkness.

No one really tells you how to get through the hard times in your life. All they really ever seem to tell you, is that eventually you will get through it. We all pretend we know what we are doing. We pretend to know the way, to hold the map of the years we have left behind us. In truth, most of us are amazed we got here in the first place.

I can’t give you any tips on how to increase your chances of getting pregnant. I’ve been through it, and honestly, I couldn’t tell you what it was that finally got us that positive test result we had been hoping for. It’s like I stumbled through it all blind and have finally broken through this thickness of trees and can see a beautiful view of what’s ahead.

Will I pretend to know what’s in store for me? Isn’t that all part of the gig?

Trying To Conceive

Alright ladies, if you are like I was when I was growing up, everyone you knew who was having babies were people who were surprised by their pregnancies. I grew up in a more low income area, and unfortunately teen pregnancy was something that happened often. I remember thinking to myself when I was in my pre-teens: “Geez, it must be really easy to get pregnant!” This, as well as many other personal reasons, is why I didn’t lose my virginity until I was nineteen years old.

If you are one of these lucky ladies that experienced an “oopsie” that later became one of the great joys of your life, CONGRATULATIONS! However, this is not the case for a lot of women. As many Fertile Myrtles that are walking around out there, many of which are in my own inner circle of friends, there are just as many, if not even more women out there who are struggling, hoping, and praying that whatever they are trying will work for them this time.

I can’t speak for everyone, I don’t know personally what it is like to get knocked up without even having to think about it, or the stress, heartbreak, and long road of fertility treatments, or even about the new sciences that are involved in IVF. What I do know is that after my husband and I got married this summer, the thought of a baby was on my mind more prominently than ever, and I had this thought that without the birth control, all I had to do was let nature run it’s course.

To be fair, we didn’t try for very long. From the time I got it in my mind that we would get pregnant to the time we did was four months. For those who have been trying for years, you are probably rolling your eyes at me. I am not saying it’s really long, but as many women know who are trying, every day feels like an eternity. I had lived most of my life with this idea in my head that all it really took was one time, because for most of the people I knew, that’s all it really did take. I never thought I would have to try to get pregnant. I think for a lot of women, that’s a sad realization.

So this is the narrative of someone who got pregnant naturally after a few months of trying. The apps are super helpful. If someone were to ask me before I got married how long my cycle was, or the state of my vaginal discharge, I would have raised a brow at them and wondered how in the world any of that mattered. When you are trying to get pregnant, not only do you need to figure those things out, but you need to keep track of these things every day. Discharge, basal temperature, weight, diet, these are all things that impact your fertility. Certain apps are better than others at this, and what I ended up doing was downloading all the free apps the Apple Store had to offer and using them all for the first month to determine which was more accurate. In the end, I ended up sticking with OVIA.

There are truly too many things to keep track of and the apps help minimize the stress a little bit.

Trying To Conceive forums are both a blessing and a curse. After my first month of trying and still getting a visit from my awful Aunt Flo, I quickly flocked to the forums to see if there were any tips to make sure the next month, my Aunt would stay elsewhere. The plus side of the forums is there are thousands upon thousands of women in these blogs that give you reassurances. It makes you feel a little better to know you are not the only one and that helps you feel normal in your struggle. On the downside, it is a little bit like falling into a rabbit hole. I would find I would go to post a single question and look up at the clock to see an hour and a half had passed and instead of getting my answer, I had a dozen new fears and worries.

Having sex every day isn’t ideal. The common consensus is that you should have sex every other day or every three days. Sperm can live inside you for up to five days, and your partner will need time to replenish. This was probably our biggest mistake.

Having sex on a schedule removes the intimacy and maximizes on the stress for both you and your partner. Sometimes the need for a baby is so desperate and the idea, that little voice in the back of your mind that tells you it may not happen gets louder and louder every day. The louder that voice gets, the more you think about the schedule and sex becomes less and less about you and your partner and more about the end game. There was a time when I forgot he was the love of my life and not just a donor. Although sex is necessary to make it all happen, it’s important to keep the intimacy present and even add a little more fun to your nights when sex is on the calendar.

A negative test doesn’t mean NO forever. You pee on the stick and wait, practically holding your breath for the full three minutes it takes you give you your yes or no. It’s a miracle you don’t pass out from lack of oxygen. The whole time you are trying to tell yourself it’s no big deal, and that no matter what the test says, you will be fine. Yet, once it says no, you can’t help but be crushed. The first time I got my negative test, I felt like I wanted to draw the shades, climb back into bed and sleep until someone magically brought a baby into my life. I would love to tell you it gets easier as time goes on, and by the second or third negative test, you will be seeing things a little differently.

Sorry ladies, no such luck, at least not for me anyways. However, I would like to think it’s yet another way life is toughening us up, preparing us for the time when we actually do get pregnant and later, when we get our bundles of joy.

There are probably about a hundred other things involved in trying to conceive, especially because I am just skimming the surface of conceiving naturally. I’ll stop here though, as I hope there are some women reading this who are just starting their journey and I don’t want to make it seem like it’s daunting.

I will leave you with this thought though. Do you remember back in High School in health class? How they went over the reproductive organs and basically told us that if we had unprotected sex we would either get an STD or end up with a baby? All it takes is one time. That is what they used to tell us. I wish they had been a little more honest with us and prepared us a little better for adulthood. Maybe had they gone over all the scenarios, I would have been better prepared in my own.

No matter how you are going about all of this, just know that a journey is not a sprint. Anything worthwhile in life takes time, energy, and commitment. Whether you conceive naturally, with a donor, with fertility treatments, with IVF, or if you get your bundle of joy through adoption, just know that if you really and truly want to be a mom, put your whole heart into it and it will happen.

Until then, just pretend you know what you are doing.