how the hell did you get pregnant
September 26, 2009 11:30 AM   Subscribe

My husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for about 15 months. Not sure what to do and would LOVE to hear about people's experiences of getting pregnant after trying for a long time. What route did you take? What worked for you? Do's and Don't's? (I have read "Taking charge of your fertility" so please don't recommend this :) ) Many many details inside.

I am 31 and he is 32.

We have been trying since mid-08.

I have been pregnant twice before with a previous partner - I had terminations both times because I wasn't ready and our relationship was a total trainwreck. That was in 2003/04.

My husband and I --who I should mention are both fit and healthy, eat well, live well, good weight, don't drink a lot, not too stressed, etc--
went to get checked out -

My system all looks fine - no blocked tubes, no scar tissue in the uterus (a possible problem from abortions) etc. Also I have been using an ovulation monitor ("Persona") and am pretty certain that I am ovulating. My cycle is very regular.

My husband's sperm analysis revealed that his count is high, motility is good, but morphology was not great. It wasn't terrible, but the abnormal rate was higher than what would have been good. The fertility doctor didn't say it was a problem exactly, but that it MIGHT be...

He told us about the procedures we could undertake - starting with fertility drugs (Clomid), then failing that, doing a "wash" - insemination to get the sperm past the hostile vaginal environment into the uterus.

We haven't done anything yet, are still just "trying naturally". I have read "Taking charge of your fertility". I know all about cervical fluid and it's importance. I know when I'm ovulation thanks to the monitor I use, and also because I can read my body's signs. We time sex carefully. (it's oh so fun...)

So my idea about why we are not getting pregnant is that either I don't have enough fertile-quality cervical fluid (I remember it gushing out of me when I was younger, I barely notice it now, and I know there is less when you get older) or my man has not enough normal sperm, or a combination of both.

Obviously we'd prefer not to have to go with drugs or insemination, but will if nothing else works.

So I would love to hear about your fertility problems and how you overcame them! Please share stories! Did you use herbal remedies or acupuncture to make you more fertile? Any tricks to increase the cervical fluid? (--I have read that an ingredient in Robutussin, "Gaifenesin" loosens the fluid, have you tried this?)

Or if you used fertility drugs, how did that go?

I would love to hear any stories about your fertility issues and how you dealt with it.

--->>>Oh and as an aside, one of my fertility issues that I am finding very hard is being utterly overcome with jealousy and sadness everytime one of my friends announces she is pregnant. It's killing me! I try so hard to be happy for them, but ultimately I think more of myself and my woes. I hate this because it feels so ugly, and I feel so alone in my jealousy and bitterness. Please, please tell me if you struggled with this and if there was anything you could do about it.

thank you. (I am not posting this anonymously because I want to be able to respond, I opened a new account specifically to discuss this.)
posted by saturn~jupiter to Health & Fitness (30 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
If you think the problem is cervical mucous quantity, have you tried something like Pre-seed or egg whites as lubrication? They're supposed to be especially sperm-friendly. I have not tried this (have never tried to get pregnant), though.
posted by needs more cowbell at 11:38 AM on September 26, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks n.m.c. - I don't have a problem with "vaginal dryness" during sex, I think those things lubricate without harming sperm, but they don't actually increase fertility. I don't use any sperm-harming lube.
posted by saturn~jupiter at 11:43 AM on September 26, 2009

My wife's ovulation lagged a few days behind the physiological cues one looks for to determine ovulation. Essentially we were doing it on the wrong days. We bought a Clear Blue Fertility Monitor, and got pregnant the next month. After we were done with it, we gave it to some friends, and they got pregnant as well. YMMV, but it seems to have worked for us.
posted by Crotalus at 12:05 PM on September 26, 2009

I can't really speak to what fertility methods we tried-we knew what our issue was and went straight to IVF (successful on the first cycle), so I haven't ever been on Clomid or done any sort of inseminations.

What I can tell you about is the sadness and envy. It's completely normal and natural to feel like this, especially when it seems like every.single.person. you know is popping up pregnant. I don't know if you've shared with friends that you're trying to conceive yourself, but when the emotions get overwhelming it's ok to back off from the baby crazy people for a while. Sending a gift to a baby shower while not attending is ok. Your friends will understand. This website was very helpful and I found a lot of support there while undergoing my fertility challenges. It's targeted towards IVF but has other boards as well as a huge amount of information and links that you might find interesting.
posted by hollygoheavy at 12:07 PM on September 26, 2009

(I'm not a medical professional of any kind, or a parent, or for that matter, a woman, so this will probably be of limited utility.)

The stuff in Robitussin of which you're thinking is called guaifenesin. It's in Robitussin and other cough syrups because it's an expectorant--the idea is to promote the production of more and thinner mucus so it's easier to get it out of your lungs. The Wikipedia page says that people have decided that if it works on the respiratory system, it should work on the reproductive system as well. Stands to reason, but the studies seem to indicate the effect is slight if it exists at all.
posted by tellumo at 12:10 PM on September 26, 2009

I never managed to have a successful pregnancy, and didn't have a hard time with the initial conception, just the quality.... So, I can only answer your question of how to deal with the sadness and jealousy. You first need to give yourself a break - what you are going through is incredibly stressful, and it's perfectly natural to feel jealous, frustrated and sad when others do what you have been trying so long to do. Let yourself feel bad, and realize that it doesn't make you a bad person. You're in a tough place right now, because you are still trying, but a part of you is grieving for your failures to conceive. My best advice is to acknowledge the hurt but keep the hope.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:16 PM on September 26, 2009

Go on vacation.

posted by IndigoJones at 1:03 PM on September 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

2nding going on vacation. Vary what you are doing to get preggers. You could inadvertently be doing something nobody can see yet. Change of place, change of pace--that might help you get pregnant because you'll be avoiding your regular routine.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:23 PM on September 26, 2009

How often are you having sex? What times during the day? Are you on a set schedule? Then throw it out the window. Sounds like you need to relax, de-stress and change it up a little bit. When the mood strikes, do it. Try not 'trying' for a little bit and just have fun.
posted by dragonette1 at 2:54 PM on September 26, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks all, appreciate your stories and support.

For IndigoJones and Ironmouth... the thing is, I am on a vacation! My husband and I have been travelling around North America in a van since the beginning of August. It is AMAZING. We love it. We did this last summer as well, when we started trying. We barely have a routine... so I don't know how we can change it...

-dragonette1- we have sex a bunch of times before and during my ovulation. probably 3 times, during that window. and then sometimes "just for fun" when it's not the "key time". we're not on a set schedule. I know the whole "relax and stop trying" theory... but shit, it's so hard to stop thinking about something so important to you.
posted by saturn~jupiter at 3:05 PM on September 26, 2009

I am almost certain our second son was conceived on a night during the full moon. We were also on vacation, too.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:29 PM on September 26, 2009

I had my first miscarriage at 18, the second at 19, and at 20 I was told I'd never conceive naturally. Devastated is not even the word. I've had 15 years to deal with that, and it still bothers me, a lot.

--->>>Oh and as an aside, one of my fertility issues that I am finding very hard is being utterly overcome with jealousy and sadness every time one of my friends announces she is pregnant. It's killing me! I try so hard to be happy for them, but ultimately I think more of myself and my woes. I hate this because it feels so ugly, and I feel so alone in my jealousy and bitterness. Please, please tell me if you struggled with this and if there was anything you could do about it.

I struggled with this horribly, and actually poisoned a couple of good friendships because I was overcome with grief and jealousy. I just couldn't stand being around people who were pregnant or had small children, it hurt me so deeply.

What did I do about it? I suffered emotionally for years and years, and like I said, let go of some good friendships because when they would complain about being pregnant or complain about their kids misbehaving or whatever, I would be screaming inside, "I WOULD CRAWL OVER BROKEN GLASS TO HAVE THAT PROBLEM!!!" but I could only say, Oh, that sucks. I couldn't even be a good friend, I was so consumed by it.

Now, 15 years later, I can (because I have been forced to) appreciate what being "child-free" means.

I can go anywhere at the drop of a hat. I never need to find a sitter. I can sleep in. I can do all sorts of adult activities that would be extremely difficult, if not impossible to do with a child. All of my money goes on me and my own hedonism. I can go out dancing every night if I wanted to. I can read a book or a magazine all the way through with no interruptions. I can say yes to every invitation to do something, without hesitation. I can take a never-ending bubble bath. I can jump in my car and go to the store without it being a major operation.

I offer that it might be helpful to focus on not what you don't have (which I know, is the only thing you want, I know that, babe) and instead focus on how free you are right now."Child-free" does has its advantages.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 3:38 PM on September 26, 2009 [7 favorites]

The fertility forum at this website has much discussion of both practical tactics and emotional coping strategies (and support). You have to register to read much of it--very worth it.
posted by hoppitamoppita at 5:59 PM on September 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

My wife's ovulation lagged a few days behind the physiological cues one looks for to determine ovulation. Essentially we were doing it on the wrong days. We bought a Clear Blue Fertility Monitor, and got pregnant the next month. After we were done with it, we gave it to some friends, and they got pregnant as well. YMMV, but it seems to have worked for us.

Crotalus, what do you mean by this? Was she having the LH surge and then ovulating a few days later rather than 24 hours later? I'm curious because I'm doing IUI right now and the ovulation predictor tells me I'm about to ovulate and I go in for the IUI and then it takes several days for my temp to go up. So, I'm wondering if the LH is taking longer to act and I'm doing the IUI too soon?

But I don't see how the Clearblue would help with that because it seems to measure estrogen and LH and seemingly therefore give you more time in advance of ovulation, rather than helping tell when after the LH surge it actually happens...
posted by Maias at 6:07 PM on September 26, 2009

I switched from Advil to Tylenol after many months of trying. My OB/GYN pointed out that ibuprofen is an anti-progesterone that you shouldn't take when you trying to conceive. You're not supposed to take it when you're pregnant for the same reason. When you're trying to conceive, it can prevent the egg from properly implanting. About two months later, I turned up pregnant.
posted by onhazier at 6:46 PM on September 26, 2009

Response by poster: thanks so much for sharing Grinxtdr. For some reason it makes me feel so much better hearing about other womens' jealousy and bitterness... even though it sucked for you. I'm not alone :)

You are right about how good it is to think of the luxuries you have sans children. I definitely try to think of this.

Maias - were you trying for a long time before opting for the IUI? have you been trying that method for long? mefi mail me if you care to, I'm curious :)
posted by saturn~jupiter at 6:51 PM on September 26, 2009

We were trying for #2 for about 13 months, I believe what did the trick was varying the frequency of baby-making shots-on-goal. Even though we were in tune with what we thought was the ovulation cycle, after over a year of trying it makes you (rightly) wonder what isn't working.

We had several... um... incidents regarding conception before and thought that it was be easy as 1-2-3. Turned out that for #2 nothing is as easy as it seems.

Hang in there and best of luck.
posted by scooterdog at 6:57 PM on September 26, 2009

My wife ovulates infrequently (sometimes as low as 6 times per year). She took her basal body temperature every morning to check when she was ovulating and we tried to conceive for years without success. (All of the tests showed that both her and I didn't have anything physiologically wrong which would prevent conception.) So then we went the fertility drugs route. She got pregnant with twins on her first dose of Clomid.

So obviously, my suggestion is quit foolin' around (cymbal crash) and start some kind of fertility treatment. Because look at it this way -- you might keep trying for another year or two without success, and then if you start fertility treatments that might take another year or two. No sense in putting it off.
posted by puritycontrol at 6:59 PM on September 26, 2009

Boxers, not briefs. No booze or cigarettes for her. Have sex everyday. Enjoy (this last one is the high hurdle, and may require vacation).
I wish you all the luck you can manage.
And lastly, be careful what you wish for.
posted by From Bklyn at 9:35 PM on September 26, 2009

saturn~jupiterPoster: "For some reason it makes me feel so much better hearing about other womens' jealousy and bitterness... "

Oh, hi! I burst into tears at work when a friend sent me an e-mail saying she was pregnant (at a time when I wasn't, and I very much wanted to be). An on-line support group is just the thing: you can vent about your happy, happy, friends and their happy, happy babies and grrrrrrr stupid babies....

I read (years ago, no idea what it's like now), which had an e-mail offshoot for those of us who weren't pregnant yet, as well as some other newsgroup: Something like that.

Good luck!
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:06 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

There are tons and tons of infertility and/or TTC (trying to conceive) blogs out there. They are written by queer people, people with kids, people without kids, people after cancer, people with sperm issues, people with staying pregnant issues, everything. My best advice is to poke around this giant list of TTC blogs. Spend some time going through some of those blogs, and find a few that speak to you. Not to give you huge amounts of advice, but to see that your situation AND your responses are really valid and quite common.

These folks will understand why it is hurtful to keep hearing people telling you things like: just relax; go on vacation; try to cherish your childfree status; I'm pregnant (ad nauseum). There are also the IUI and IVF blogs that will show you a bit about what that scenario is like. Good luck. I know it's an incredibly emotional process and honestly, the scars of infertility are sometimes quite deep -- the experience does change some people, even after they have a happy baby.
posted by barnone at 9:41 AM on September 27, 2009

Response by poster: thank you so much for your support everyone - especially the women who've had the same problems and suffered the same heartache/jealousy/bitterness etc. It's heart-warming to feel supported by "total strangers".

also thanks for the tips. I don't smoke. drink a little. does drinking a little really make a difference? I drink maybe 3 times a week, never more than 2 drinks. I don't really want to not drink for ...however long it takes to get knocked up...
posted by saturn~jupiter at 10:48 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Barnone, I'm really sorry if you think my advice to "cherish your childfree status" is/was hurtful. After 15 years of suffering, I think I have the right to suggest it. It is literally the only thing that makes me feel better about it all (in real time), and I understand the OP's pain like it was my own.

The blogs are amazing and I regret not linking them, they helped me immeasurably.

Crying in relief for finding people who know exactly how you feel (which is awesome) doesn't do jack for me in the moments when I feel like my friends, family, co-workers, and strangers are in my face with their happy baby stories. You can't really say STFU to a happy baby story and, for me at least, leaving the room makes me feel even worse, like I'm a pariah, and I have no place in their joy (which hurts me personally, I like people to have their joy).

I can recall that, yes, on the internet, I can go vent about how horrible it is to even step foot out of my house, knowing that I will be confronted several times a day by people who treat their kids like shit, who didn't even want to be parents. But the notion of "childfree" and what that encompasses has helped me be stronger in the face of the happy baby story.

posted by Grlnxtdr at 11:28 AM on September 27, 2009

My wife and I went through this four years or so ago...trying on our own over a year, watching all our friends and coworkers get pregnant, followed by several rounds at the fertility clinic, we eventually through in the towel (and syringes, medicines, and uncomfortable procedures) and decided to adopt. We're now the proud parents of two of the best kids in the whole wide world, and we wouldn't have it any other way.
posted by larsks at 12:29 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]

There are a couple of reasons to avoid alcohol. The first is that birth defects associated with alcohol (such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) can happen within the first 3-8 weeks of conception. That's often before you know you're pregnant.

The other is that high intake of alcohol is known to cause reduced fertility, and some studies indicate that even a moderate amount of alcohol decreases female fertility. Drinking during pregnancy is also associated with the risk of miscarriage and premature birth.

You may or may not harm your baby and your chances of getting and staying pregnant. That's the risk you take. It's a pain in the ass to avoid drinking for so long, but in my experience, it's well worth the peace of mind.

(I miscarried the day after I found out I was pregnant, after having tried for about a year. It was early, and there was nothing more I could have done to prevent it, but it was still awful. Which I guess is my way of saying that even early-term miscarriage really sucks, and I'd have done anything to avoid it if I could.)
posted by moira at 1:48 PM on September 27, 2009

Grinxtdr: you're right that a shift in perspective is really helpful. I am glad you found your peace with it all. None of that was easy, I'm sure, and my comment wasn't really directed at you in particular. More of the generic "dude, just enjoy not having kids. They're a PITA!" stream that often gets thrown at those dealing with infertility.

And if they choose to stop trying to pursue parenthood in all formats, feeling at peace with being childfree will be especially helpful. But right now they want a baby. A comment like yours from your perspective DOES come from experience. But those who are experiencing infertility will come across those words, "embrace your childfree status" from a huge variety of people: exhausted and trying-to-be-lighthearted parents, insensitive morons in the coffee room, meddling relatives. Not all of them (or close to none of them) with the background like yours that makes a comment like that more grounded and based in experience.

So it can be helpful to people to read how others have dealt with that scenario, or your best friend going through an abortion in the middle of your infertility, or your cousin's unplanned fourth kid, and realize, yes, walking out of a baby shower if you need to, does and will happen. Telling them at this moment, to embrace their childfree status doesn't mitigate that stress no matter which way you cut it. They're not 15 years out.
posted by barnone at 2:17 PM on September 27, 2009

Barnone, I agree 100%, the blogs and message boards are wonderful and therapeutic and like I said, I regret not mentioning them. (In the thick of the other part of the question).

Yes, you can walk out of a baby shower (or better yet, politely decline to go) but you can't walk away from every happy baby story, it's impossible.

I know it's trite, I know it gets thrown in your face, I know it doesn't mitigate the stress completely, nothing will. But it helps, a little. For the time being, while they are trying, in the face of the dreaded baby story.

Yes, my advice comes from a place of long wrought pain and understanding, not a flippant response, and I thank you for making the distinction.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 3:11 PM on September 27, 2009

We started trying at age 30. After no success, tests showed that I have polycystic ovarian syndrome. I ovulate, but my cycles are very long and erratic; I charted per TCOYF for years. Eventually I did four Clomid/IUI cycles - got pregnant on the third, but miscarried early.

During those depressing, drug-addled months, my husband and I were proceeding with a home study to adopt domestically. We decided to adopt no matter what happened with the fertility process. With insurance only covering some of it, and only so much money to go around, we put all of our eggs (ha!) in the adoption basket; I was so stressed from dealing with infertility that I just wanted to get away from it. (My doctor said that the next step would likely have been injectables with IUI, then IVF.)

We found a local non-profit adoption agency that we liked; our profile started being shown in December 2006; and in July 2008 we were chosen by a couple to parent their soon-to-be-born twins. The wait was hard, but it was only mental and emotional, whereas the four years I spent trying to get pregnant were also physically hard. I love my kids and I don't spend all day thinking about how I didn't give birth to them. I know adoption isn't for everyone and has plenty of challenges, but it is working for us.

My advice to you would be to take care of yourself and look out for yourself. Infertility sucks. You are not a bad person for wanting a child and feeling desperate to do anything to have one. And your fertility issues are your business; you don't owe anyone an explanation or have to answer people's intrusive questions if you don't want to.
posted by candyland at 7:54 PM on September 27, 2009

Response by poster: I really appreciate everyone's input on here. thanks for sharing everyone.

Grlnxtdr and Barnone - I completely understand where both of you are coming from. Being told to enjoy your childfree status by someone who hasn't been able to have kids is completely different from being told the same thing by exhausted parents. There is a huge distinction. and it IS actually something I think about, all the things I enjoy that I couldn't enjoy right now if I had a baby.
posted by saturn~jupiter at 9:10 PM on September 27, 2009

I'm on month 18 of trying to conceive our second child. I seem to have some sort of luteal phase defect. I've done 4 rounds of timed intercourse with Clomid and 2 rounds of Clomid with IUI. I am now doing TCM (traditional chinese medicine) which consists of herbal teas and weekly acupuncture. It seems to be increasing the number between ovulation and the onset of spotting; and is helping me in a lot of other areas (drastically reducing the frequency of my migraines, for example) but so far hasn't produced a baby. I will probably give up soon and try to move on with my life pretty soon.

I feel your pain. I don't know that anything can really help with the emotional pain of it except give to talk with other people in your situation and to give it time.
posted by echolalia67 at 7:47 PM on September 28, 2009

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