When the time came to thinking about starting a family, I didn’t share the plan with anyone but close friends and family. I didn’t want the pressure of sharing on social media and get opinions or advice from anyone. I also wanted to share the experience with my husband. Although I appreciate when influencers and bloggers share what seems like EVERYTHING on their platforms, I am not that person and truly need to keep some things for myself. When I shared my news of being pregnant and expressed my love to others in the TTC (trying to conceive) process, I figured I’d share my experience.
Now before I get started on taking a deep dive, I want to mention a few things. I am no doctor or expert; all of the information I will provide is based on my research and recommendations from my personal doctors. Everyone is different, and you should always consult with medical professionals. I also want to mention that although I felt our journey was long, it really wasn’t. We technically did not struggle with fertility issues. The definition of infertility is, “Not getting pregnant despite having carefully timed, unprotected sex for one year.” We were one month off of being diagnosed with fertility issues, so I want to be mindful and respectful of those who have had and continue to have infertility diagnoses.
We began our journey in December 2019, and honestly, I figured I’d get pregnant right away. We took our European vacation the month before as a ‘pregnancy-boom’. As our 4th month approached of no pregnancy, I decided to start using ovulation strips and taking things more seriously. I heard once you started with the strips, you get a bit obsessed with them… It’s true. I also made sure to update the two apps I used to figure out exactly when I was ovulating. I used the apps, Premom and Clue. Although you should never count on the app to know when you are ovulating, it is helpful to understand the general time and plan from there.
After a few months of using the apps and strips, I was getting really frustrated and confused. Naturally, everyone but me seemed to be getting pregnant but me. Each announcement was a jab and it was extremely frustrating to feel not in control of my own body or understand WHY it wasn’t happening for me. I was going through all the steps but it wasn’t happening and I had no control over that.
As the summer of 2020 rolled around, I decided to begin seeing an Acupuncturist regularly to really take a deep dive into my overall health and fertility. I started going to regular acupuncture (every other week). My Sister is an Acupuncturist, and although she is not currently practicing, she recommended going to the clinic she used to practice at, Orchid Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture. They specialize in infertility and women’s health in the Milwaukee area, and I cannot recommend the clinic enough. I began my journey with Rebecca Jankowski, who has been practicing since 2006. We went over my whole medical history and created a plan which included when I should come in for sessions, overall health changes, and incorporating Chinese herbs into my diet.
In addition to trying a complete gluten-free diet for a month (reset my gut), and a few other added supplements recommended by Rebecca, it was great to have someone to speak to. Not only did she help with my physical health, but we constantly discussed my anxiety and mental health. I was able to voice my concerns and frustrations and get positive feedback and real-life advice. If I fell off the wagon with something Rebecca recommended, she didn’t scold me but kept me accountable and reminded me of the end goal, getting pregnant in a healthy way.
Not only did acupuncture and Chinese medicine significantly impact my journey, but it has also taught me a lot about my body and overall health. Chinese medicine is SO interesting to me now, and I have a whole new mindset on how my body works as a woman.
A good friend of mine told me to take charge of my fertility and not waste time if I was serious about trying to conceive. So, at about seven months of trying, I went to a fertility clinic recommended by Rebecca, my Acupuncturist, called Vios Pulse. The clinic is located in Wauwatosa, WI, and was super easy to work with and schedule the initial tests. For only $99, you get a three-part initial test to see where you and your partner are with your overall health. Then, as all of our tests came back normal, the Doctor recommended we continue trying until the end of 2020. If we were not successful, additional tests should be performed at the clinic to see what we would need to move forward.
Old Wives Tales
As I continued my journey with tracking my ovulation, acupuncture, and Chinese herbs, I also incorporated old wives tales into the mix. Now, there are PLENTY of old wives tales when it comes to conceiving and who even knows if any of them work. Here are few things I tried:
- Pineapple core during ovulation
- Musinex during ovulation
- Preseed lube during ovulation
- Drink this tea during ovulation
- Brazil nuts post ovulation
- How long were you trying before getting pregnant? 11 months.
- Did you take any fertility drugs? Not necessarily fertility drugs, but I did include supplements recommended to me by my Acupuncturist. I do think the consistent Chinese herbs has a large play in my successful conception.
- How did you handle self care during the hard time? It was very hard at times, but tried to stay positive. I reached out to other women who I knew had a difficulties conceiving and joined a few Facebook groups of ladies trying to conceive. It was great to complain, ask questions, and share feelings with like minded women going through the same thing as I was.
- Were you on birth control prior to trying? Yes. I was on birth control for over 15 years and do think that played a large role in not being able to conceive for 11 months.
- Did you know you’d have a hard time conceiving before trying? No. I asked my doctor in the fall of 2019 if there were anythings I could do to prepare for trying and she said just start trying and we’ll take it from there!
- Did either of you change your diet to help with fertility? I would say trying the gluten free diet helped me feel a lot healthier and I had way more energy. I only did it for about a month and half, but did try to cut down on gluten and caffeine for the next few months.
- How to talk to a friend about their difficulty with fertility. Is it okay to bring up and ask them? Check in with them! Each person is different, but I really appreciated when my friends asked me questions and checked in with me. I was disappointed in friends who knew I was struggling and never asked. Although it may feel taboo to ask or talk about, you can really make someone feel like you care when you ask them a simple, ‘how are you?’
- Do you do natural family planning? Tips? I will from now on. I don’t know too much about it, but will definitely be looking into it in the future rather than getting back on any form of birth control again.
Fertility and trying for a child is one of the most stressful things in life that you can do little to control. Whether you are trying for your first of your fifth, infertility sticks with you and is so unexpected. Stay positive and find a solid group of friends to lean on. Have any other questions, feel free to ask!