In February I will be starting Bebo Mia’s Fertility Specialist Certification. Over the years, I’ve learned lots and become passionate about fertility and want to do more to educate and support other women in their fertility journeys. I really think this course will be a good springboard into doing more of that.
I thought I’d share a bit about my own fertility journey and how I came to be so interested in and passionate about all things fertility.
I grew up in a family, like many in my generation, in which sex, reproductive anatomy, and sexuality were not frequently or openly discussed. My mom told me about periods when she noticed hormone changes that clued her in to the fact that it was on the horizon. I’m pretty sure none of the following words were part of that conversation… ovaries, eggs, ovulation, cervix, or vagina. I knew there would be blood and that there were products to use to keep said blood from getting everywhere… that was about it. Sex ed in school taught me the basics of how menstrual cycles work, but still, I entered my adult years knowing relatively little about my body and all of the amazing intricacies of it.
When my husband and I were dating, we talked about the possibility of future children and knew that we both wanted them (although there was a slight discrepancy in the number each of us thought we wanted). We also agreed that we didn’t necessarily want to have them in the first year of marriage. So, that left me looking at birth control options. I felt pretty strongly about not going on hormonal birth control, simply because I didn’t want to be putting synthetic hormones into my body and disrupting my natural hormones. In researching non-hormonal methods of birth control, I came across some information about the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM). I was intrigued. I borrowed “Taking Charge of your Fertility” by Toni Weschler from our local library. I learned SO much and dove right into charting my cycles, taking my basal body temperature, and getting more familiar with my cervix. And… it worked. I successfully avoided getting pregnant in our first year of marriage!
All of this knowledge was helpful when we decided we did want to get pregnant. I knew when I typically ovulated (spoiler alert… not all women ovulate on day 14 of their cycle like your sex ed class may have led you to believe) and I knew my body well enough to recognize the signs that I was nearing ovulation. I got pregnant on the 4th cycle trying. My cycle returned 7 months after Charlotte was born. At first I felt a bit ripped off…. I’d hoped to have longer without my period, but I soon realized that it was actually a good thing as it meant there was the possibility of having kids close together. I wasn’t consistent with charting temperatures or any other fertility signs (super not easy to do when you have a young baby that does not sleep well). After just a couple of cycles, we starting trying to get pregnant and again got pregnant after only 4 cycles, right around Charlotte’s first birthday. After Nathan’s birth, my cycle took 11 months to return. Soon after that, we decided we were open to having a third baby, but with two small children keeping me from sleeping well, honestly, the “trying” was pretty haphazard at best. After a while, we decided to stop trying and hold off on thoughts of a third baby for a bit.
Now, for the better part of 2018, we’ve been trying to get pregnant again. I’ve gotten back into charting temperatures and checking for fertility signs. It’s no longer a haphazard attempt, and yet here I am, 10 cycles later, still very much not pregnant. Now, I realize that 10 cycles is nothing, really, but when it only took 4 to get pregnant the first two times, it’s enough to leave you wondering if it’ll ever happen again. I understand that there are couples who try for many years to get pregnant. I honestly can’t imagine how difficult that is. But, I do know this… every period brings with it some amount of disappointment when you’re trying to conceive. Infertility, whether primary or secondary, is hard.
We don’t talk much about infertility in our society, leaving women often feeling alone in this journey, despite the fact that 1 in 5 couples are dealing with fertility problems. Through this journey though, I am discovering how much sharing experiences with others can make a difference. A good friend of mine is also dealing with secondary infertility. She’s been trying to get pregnant for over a year. Supporting each other on this journey, sharing each other’s disappointments, and having somebody who “gets it”, has been fantastic. I want other women to have that support. I want women to be educated about and empowered by their bodies when it comes to fertility. I want to start conversations about fertility. I want to help couples find solutions where they may be found and find peace where there seem to be no solutions.
Keep your eyes open for more information about fertility support services in the early part of 2019. In the meantime, if being part of a fertility support group or having one-on-one fertility education/support is something you’re interested in, send me a message!