Something I’ve heard quite a lot after sharing our miscarriage story, and first blog post, is “I can’t wait to read more blogs!” The only problem is…. I had no idea what to write. It’s a little intimidating to follow-up something that is such a deep sharing of self. I’m incredibly lucky to have a beautiful life, not filled with deep or painful memories that need exposing to the world.
So what to write?
I started a few posts. Sharing about this upcoming pregnancy. But every time I sat down to write I got sidetracked by another woman reaching out to me. From text messages to messages on Facebook or Instagram, from women I’m incredibly close with to strangers I’ve never met — sharing their secrets into messages to me and we just connected.
It is actually quite astounding, the sheer amount of wonderful women (and men) who reached out after reading our story and to share their own story. Women exposing their own deepest infertility fears, to their own experiences of loss, and I realize that we are not alone. There is a large silent majority all struggling with their own personal journey.
And I welcomed the messages. The chance to share things that didn’t make it to that first post…like how I dealt with my anger before I really dealt with my anger. Steps I took to try to get pregnant. Experiences in my own life, with my mother, to overcome infertility fears. And I found myself sharing these same experiences over and over again. And while I welcomed the chance to tweak each response to the unique and wonderful person I was talking to, I realized I now have an opportunity to share with the silent majority who maybe didn’t reach out.
So instead of just a post about me, I’m making this a post about them and answering those concerns. It’s not a complete “How to Get Pregnant Guide”. It doesn’t deal with every possible fertility issue. These are just the steps to naturally getting pregnant that I have experienced with and thought, why the heck not share it.
So without further ado…
Taking Control of Your Fertility (After Loss or While TTC)
*TTC: Trying to Conceive
After the miscarriage, I mentioned I struggled with my anger. How I repressed that anger because I felt that I shouldn’t be angry at a situation that I had no control over. During that time, before I allowed myself to feel that cathartic anger, I channeled my negative vibes into a different direction.
Control. It’s a funny term. For many it means confining, bossy, and oppressive. For me it meant empowerment. It meant I have control over my life, my body, and my health. Because I was unable to control the miscarriage, I found control elsewhere.
So I decided to “create” and master a fertility diet (and by create I mean I took the wonderful pre-done research I found and combined all the lists and information I read into one long list!). The diet is pretty easy. Don’t eat crappy food, eat real food. But I wrote it out and posted it on the fridge. And I swear to you– reading it and reminding myself why I was eating the healthy food felt amazing. Every bite of food I had off that list felt like I was a step closer to creating the perfect environment to get pregnant again.
I would’ve included a picture of my terrible fridge poster, but I’m highly certain my penmanship is straight up illegible. So here we are with the fancy shmancy printer friendly version for your printing and viewing pleasure:
The Fertility Diet for Him and Her:
I didn’t mention this on the list but I do very much try to keep it organic. If you’re on a budget I suggest focusing your organic purchases to meat (which I buy frozen at my local HEB Texas Grocery store or my Wild Salmon frozen from Costco), and learn about the Dirty Dozen.
I also attempted to take the stress out of this list by not burdening myself to stick to it 100%. I still had one cup of coffee in the morning with my indulgence of creamer. But I switched the coffee to 1/2 caff. I chose to stop drinking alcohol at home and only drink socially.
I also challenged myself to keep my diet 80/20. 80% clean, 20% don’t worry about it. I do this by cooking clean and not stressing when we eat out. This works for us because we cook about 80% of our meals at home. If you’re someone who doesn’t cook you’ll have to really pay attention to the foods you order. Or check out one of those neat food programs like HelloFresh or Blue Apron.
Luckily, I’ve always found the more you eat healthy, the more you eat healthy. Your body doesn’t crave the crap food as much so it’s not a difficult transition when you’re eating out. I’ve found that green smoothies and Kind Bars to be great snacks between my larger meals. By not being starving come meal time, I was much more easily able to master the healthy diet.
And please do some more research! There are some foods I’m sure I missed, or maybe purposely left out when I made the list because they’re not things I eat…whoops! Don’t be afraid to eat off the other person’s list either. It’s all good eats here!
For the prenatal vitamin, my doctor recommends using a trusted vitamin company and not just grocery store brands. Most vitamins are unregulated and there’s just crazy junk in them–no one needs 1,000% their daily value of vitamin C. I have a monthly mail subscription for VitaMed that my doctor recommended.
So channel any lack of control you may be feeling while trying to get pregnant into:
- Eating fertility foods (aim for organic)
- Working out!
Get the Fertility Blood Pumping
I’m not a runner…or really a huge workout person. I go through boosts where I rock it out at the gym, but most days I simply control my waist line by controlling my diet. But one work out I absolutely love, can do at home, and really doesn’t have me panting for breath, yet I feel stronger at the end? Yoga.
The reason that I suggest yoga over any other workout (and not at all dissing other workouts! It’s all positive) is because often getting pregnant can be a very stressful time in a woman’s life. Yoga not only relieves stress in the body but also relieves the mind. More on why yoga’s good and key fertility positions here. But really most of these positions are actually covered throughout a basic yoga class.
If you don’t like yoga or if you’re unsure of yoga or maybe you’ve never tried it. Check out the YouTube channel Yoga With Adriene. Her 30 days of yoga really work you into the program and do not take up a lot of time at all (maybe 15-20 minutes; they do vary). My husband, toddler and I actually started doing these videos together at home! (Here’s Day 1 of 30 Days of Yoga)
Oh and get a good yoga mat. I had this old thin mat I was using forever and my husband complained when he had to use it. Or maybe he complained because it was pink. Who knows! Anyhow I’m sure Groupon has some good ones listed, but I found I really liked these Sivan Extra Thick Mat’s from Amazon. This summer we bought one for me, Chris, and my FIL . We also got a cute kid one with a rocket for Colton (not cushy like ours but he enjoys it). It’s a great way to encourage family workouts!
If you’re a total yogi expert you’re probably far superior in yoga mat knowledge (and more) than I am, but as a novice this is what worked as a great start to this healthy habit. It was free, we used our YouTube app on our Apple TV to watch the video in our living room. We even chose to take our yoga outside on nice mornings. It’s a great way to start the day!
Get Technical With Your Fertility
I’m sure many of you that are far into your fertility/TTC journey are already using this, but the popular Glow App is amazing for tracking fertility dates. I truly believe using the app is how we got pregnant both times so quickly.
Anyhow before Glow it was pretty much like “Hey sexy time for fun, awesome! Hope I get knocked up!” only you tried that and you didn’t get knocked up.
And that’s because you pretty much only have a 5 day window every month to get pregnant. On all those other days, your chances of getting pregnant are a little under 3%. That kind of blew my mind!
So what the app does for you is it helps you track the days you should be getting intimate with your partner. It’s particularly helpful if you’re irregular.
Personally I believe that if you’re pretty regular, skip the ovulation tests for a little bit because at first they’ll just be adding an extra layer of stress and management to your TTC routine. But if you’re irregular maybe check out ovulation tests from the get-go and chart the days you ovulate to see if there’s a pattern you can identify (I believe the app helps you track ovulation tests and their results!). I have not delved into ovulation tests so I’m by no means an expert in this field. Continue your research on this!
Social Media is also a great resource believe it or not! I created an Instagram account solely for documenting my TTC food journey.
I used popular hashtags to be discovered and connected with other #ttc women. I used these same hashtags to find other women and read their advice and things they were doing to conceive: #postmiscarriage #ttcafterloss #fertilityfoods to name a few. Posting my meals kept me on track with my fertility diet. I also felt a sense of community in sharing these meals and that they could maybe help other women be inspired in their own fertility journey.
If you’re a private person but feeling alone or in need of support during your journey I couldn’t recommend this route more!
Conquering Fear of Female Infertility
So for this section I’m pulling 100% from my mom and her experience. At the age of 43 my mom and my stepdad, who had been together for a long time, decided to really try for kids. I didn’t ask the details of how long they tried–I really didn’t want to know. But they consulted a fertility expert who confirmed that their infertility issues lied solely with my mom and that there was 00000% chance that they could get pregnant.
But my mom is a research junkie (if you’re wondering where I get it from…lol.). She found a book she loves called “The Infertility Cure” . She said it was the most eye opening book she had read. And she read many books.
So 1. Read that book
What is DHEA? Something our bodies produce naturally. But as you age you stop producing as much. What DHEA can do for you, is increase the quality of your eggs. Enabling you to actually stay pregnant. Check out an interesting article here about DHEA, what it is, and how it can be used for fertility.
My mom took 25 mg, 3x a day for 4 months. The fertility specialist said there was no harm in taking the DHEA, but obviously consult your doctor. It is not something you want to do for prolonged periods of time at that dosage because it is affecting your hormones. Side affects are not completely unheard of and I’m not a medical professional. For my mom’s age, physicality, and condition, her doctor approved of her DHEA plan–even if she thought it was a hopeless path.
But by taking a total of 75 mg/day for 4 months my mom got pregnant in the 4th month. AND 2 years later, taking the same DHEA my mom AGAIN got pregnant–in the 4th month. So that’s how my now 9 year old sister and 7 year old brother came to be. My mom said she got quite the thrill when she went to meet a friend for lunch who worked next to the office of fertility specialist she had previously consulted. My mom says she’s never seen a woman in quite as much shock as they said hi– while my mom was holding her 3 year old’s hand and carrying a baby carrier in the other.
My mom also indulged in acupuncture in addition to her DHEA. It should be noted that she teaches a cycling class every week so is physically fit and eats healthy.
She does have a thyroid issue but it’s maintained. I would like to reiterate that before anyone starts taking a new supplement they should consult a doctor. And get a full blood diagnostic to make sure there is nothing else in your body out of balance that may impede you ability to get pregnant. I did and found I was anemic and severely depleted in Vitamin D. I also don’t process folate properly. The things you learn! Luckily well-researched and trusted vitamins were the key to solving my vitamin deficiencies.
Is That It?
I’m not an expert. I’m not someone who particularly struggled getting pregnant. I’m someone who struggled with a loss of control after loss and during my journey to get pregnant with our second baby. And in my effort to gain control I indulged in lots of research. So this is me sharing that research. A lot of it is self-evident. Maybe it’s redundant. But it’s here for you and hopefully in some little way something I said helps you! If it hasn’t just remember–this isn’t the end all. If your doctor doesn’t have the answers–find another doctor. Read books. Talk to other women. We likely all have a different experience to share on this crazy quest to parenthood.
So what else can you do?
Laugh. Have sex for fun. Drink champagne on a Tuesday. Tell yourself everyday that life is beautiful.
Remember, we are all on our own journey and just because your journey doesn’t look the same as someone else’s doesn’t make it any less beautiful and special. Don’t subscribe to what others say is “normal” and create you’re own happy normal.