How To Miss Your LH Surge With OPKs

I’ve noticed the last couple of cycles that my LH surge has been much shorter. This month has been the shortest so far and I wanted to post some pictures to show how easy it is to miss your surge if you follow the traditional instructions.

OK, so opk tests tell you to check once a day from a few days before your expected fertile window. I tend to test around 2pm as you don’t have to use FMU.

So here are today’s and yesterday’s opk tests:

opksurge

Both are clearly negative, right?

So, if I was going on these alone, I’d be assuming my surge hadn’t happened and then I would get a temp jump and say WTF? I ovulated without even getting a surge this month!

But then look at what happens when I test more than once every 24 hours:

opksurge2

There’s my positive – in the middle at 7am this morning. Note that these tests are now dry, and the lines were all darker when they were read within the limits. The middle one was clearly positive this morning (although it does look borderline now).

So there you go.

How can you make sure you don’t miss your surge?

  1. Test daily, at the same time, from around 6 days before you anticipate ovulation.
  2. As soon as you see a line that is slightly darker than the first test you took, test every 4 hours (3 times per day).
  3. Don’t worry about how much you drink, or how long you hold: I’ve drunk litres of water before testing and tested an hour after the last go and the surge still shows.
  4. Remember that the surge may happen 2-3 days before ovulation, or as little as 12 hours before ovulation.

Two and a half years of opk fun condensed into one post.

Have fun!

At The Preschool Gates

As I waited outside preschool this afternoon to collect DS2 (the only mum there without a baby in a buggy), I had the opportunity to listen to this conversation:

Yeah, I wanted mine close together. 20 months between them. What’s the age gap between your three boys?

Three years each time.

Oh yeah, that’s good. Time for another soon, ha ha!

Ha ha ha! No I don’t think so.

You won’t have any more then?

No. I just feel like I’ve been really lucky, you know. I don’t want to push my luck. When I was doing the night feeds with my third, I was like… I can’t believe I’m doing this again, ha ha ha.

Ha ha ha. Yeah. We’ll probably wait til this one is at preschool before we have a third.

And so it went on.

Two women, one with three kids, one planning three kids, not a hint of trauma or worry between them. They just get pregnant, and out they come 9 months later.

How lovely it must be to be like that.

Sometimes I wonder what the gods are playing at up there, sticking conversations like that in my day when I’m trying to get my shit together.

My Monthly Oestrogen Crashes

Every month, I get two brief periods where I basically just want to cry all the time. The first is (naturally) just before my period. The second is (annoyingly) in the immediate days after ovulation.

I’ve worked out that these are probably due to the dip that we all get in oestrogen levels at those times, but knowing why I want to cry at everything doesn’t stop me from wanting to cry at everything.

I got a brief positive opk test this morning (late!), and it’s CD14 CD15 (I can’t count), so I’m guessing I will ovulate tomorrow. Or tonight at the earliest. Which means by the end of tomorrow, I’m going to want to put my head in my hands and cry over everything.

Which is a shame, because at the moment, I’m feeling super-duper lovely and the last couple of weeks have been really good.

I talked to DH about calling it quits.

I told him I’m a much better mother to older children (as opposed to babies) and that now our youngest is 3 I’m feeling more and more reluctant to go back to the beginning all over again. I really am not very good at the mind-numbing baby stuff. And I have to be honest and say I am selfishly loving the bit of free time I’m getting now both boys are at school/preschool each week. I could write more fiction! I could write that app I’ve been working on! I could write some software! So much potential.

I am in all honesty cultivating the idea that I could walk away with a smile and say we’re done. I never thought I’d get to this point. The bitterness and anger and loss – it has seemed insurmountable at times.

As far as my soy experiment goes, I’ve had barely any ovulation pain this month, which is a good thing (I don’t think pain of any kind is supposed to be a regular fixture). I haven’t noticed anything else so far. Maybe they didn’t do a damn thing, who knows.

Anyway, I might be back here in a few days, sobbing my heart out for a baby, but at the moment it’s all good.

The joys of being a woman.

I Have Stopped Saving Clothes

Since my youngest started growing out of his babygros, I’ve been storing everything away for number 3.

A little while ago, in the light of still not having managed to have a baby, I sorted out the loft and got rid of over half of the stuff I’d put away. The rest sits patiently above our heads, neatly packed in boxes.

Since then I have postponed sorting through the boys current clothes because it was a decision I couldn’t face. Save the good stuff this time? Or not?

DS2 has been getting bigger and bigger and his drawers fuller and fuller, packed with things he doesn’t wear anymore.

Today, as my sense of self is being gradually restored by some much-needed me-time while the boys are at school and preschool, I realised I could face it.

I sorted through both of their chests of drawers and made a huge pile. Not to keep, but to recycle. I didn’t save anything.

You have to draw the line somewhere, right?

I think given DS2 has just turned 3, this is a good place for the line.

And it’s a small but important step in gradually letting go of one dream and hopefully making space in all our lives for a new one.

Not that I’m giving up just yet.

Letting go? Gradually. Giving up? Oh no ;-)

Soy Isoflavones, Oestrogen and Depression

So this cycle, which I’m thinking is probably (?) going to be my last shot before I put a lid on all this broodiness (supposedly), I’m finally giving soy isoflavones a go.

I’ve resisted them for years. Years! Why? I’m not even sure now. Because they operate in the same way as clomid. And I ovulate like clockwork every month. And (hows this for stats), I worked out that over my total family-building time, I have a 61% success rate of falling pregnant in any given cycle if we have sex at least twice in the three days before ovulation. Yeah – I actually work out stats on my own fertility for fun.

Anyway, clomid tends to be for helping absent ovulation, or irregular ovulation, but it’s also used with success in regular ovulators, giving your hormones a boost and (in theory) helping your eggs along.

So why the hell not. I’ve tried everything else under the sun* (apart from assisted conception), so why not throw some soy in there too.

I’ve taken 152mg (non-GMO) for 3 days (CD2 – CD4).

It’s actually recommended for 5 days, like clomid, but 5 days seems like a long time to be messing around with my hormone levels.

And not only that, but soy has made me the weepiest woman in the world.

Yes, I have cried at everything for three days straight.

Soy (just like clomid) works by binding to your oestrogen receptors. But is is inactive, which means that your body thinks your oestrogen levels are really low. This increases a hormone called FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) which tells the ovaries to wake up, make some eggs and produce some more oestrogen.

Once you stop taking the soy, your oestrogen levels rise up quickly and strongly, in theory giving you a great ovulatory experience.

It also has a knock-on effect the following month (which is why many people get pregnant the month they stop taking clomid), and results in extra oestrogen for the cycle after you take it.

Anyway, the effect of having inactive oestrogen in my oestrogen receptors has made me so sad. Honestly – I am just DEPRESSED. Luckily I stop taking them tonight, so I should be back to normal tomorrow, but it’s made me think.

I get really down just after ovulation and just before my period – both times when oestrogen dips. And I’ve really struggled with low mood since having children (probably a bit of undiagnosed post-natal depression).

And it made me wonder if my oestrogen has always been a bit on the low side.

My periods are shorter now than they used to be when I was younger.

Maybe I’m on the first step of the staircase to menopause?

Well, whatever is going on, once I’m done with the soy, I’m going to try and put all this out of my mind and focus on other things.

 

*Vitex, maca, n-acetylcysteine, prenatal vitamins, DHA, vitamin D, flaxseed, green smoothies, extra water, vegetarianism, primal eating, exercise, no exercise, laughter, meditation, visualisation, lunaception, wishing, hoping, giving up caffeine, giving up alcohol, going gluten free, going chemical free, testing, not testing, trying, “not” trying, sperm-friendly lubricant, progesterone, baby aspirin and anti-histamines.

101 Days Until I’m 40

We’ve arranged our first EVER overnight babysitting. My in-laws are driving two hours to stay at our house and one of the main reasons I can JUST ABOUT trust someone else with my children is that for the most part, they will be in school and preschool, so it’s only pick-up, feeding, bedtime and drop off that needs doing.

I don’t know why I have such trust issues (actually, I do: it’s because of the depression, psychosis, and total lack of normality in my own family).

But at least now the boys are bigger (and can tell me all about what goes on), I feel a little less like I have to BE THERE FOR EVERY SECOND IN CASE SOMETHING HAPPENS TO THEM.

Which means we have booked a very nice suite in a spa hotel, and dinner at a very posh restaurant. And in the day time I’m going to find some kind of activity that we can do (all less than an hour’s drive from home, of course, in case I need to rush back).

I am actually looking forward to it.

I also have a cream, beaded, strapless dress that I’d like to wear (oh it is just so lovely!), but at the moment I’m still too chubby round the middle from pregnancy to get back into it.

However – I’m still exercising every week (and loving it, weirdly), so I’m hoping to drop just enough weight to get back into that dress – and if I don’t, I’m going to buy myself a lovely new one anyway ;-).

I thought about parties, and friends and whatnot, but at the end of the day, what I really want to do (and given it’s my 40th, that’s what it’s all about), is spend the day doing something super-relaxing and gratifyingly indulgent with my husband. I think having finally accepted that I am introvert and that’s OK, I don’t feel the need to impress everyone by having a massive party for my 40th birthday.

For the second half of my life, I intend to be a lot truer to myself than I have for the first half of my life.

Hurrah for turning 40!

The Beginning and The End

Profound title, huh?

I’ve had a real week. My oldest has gone off to school for his first day at Reception today. He looked so grown up and responsible in his uniform and it is a HUGE milestone for me. It’s the start of real memories of my own childhood and the start of what will be a formative and enormous part of his life.

And next year my youngest follows straight after him. In a year’s time I will have no babies in the nest any more.

Part of the reason I always wanted my children close together is because I wanted them to go through all the stages together, and so as a family we could do things together that wouldn’t entail dragging along a grumpy teenager and a grumpy toddler. And also for me – because I like to get things done and the idea of going back to baby things after getting my older children into school… it’s a bit odd for me. But that’s just me. I know it’s different for everyone.

I have a huge desire to be a big part of my son’s life in a way my own parents weren’t – to be there for him after school, to talk about his day, his friends, and his homework (assuming he’ll want to do all that!). I don’t want a newborn distracting me from the importance of my sons striking out on their own. I know this won’t make sense to many of you, but to me, that window of having all my children close together – it’s almost closed.

And for the first time ever, I really feel it. I don’t know if I can even explain it in words, but unlike any other point in the last 2.5 years, I feel like this path I’ve been on, my quest for a third, is disappearing, getting overgrown, vanishing under my feet. There’s not much path ahead – I know it deep in my heart.

I didn’t want to get here – I didn’t intend to walk the entire length of this route and see all this heartache and misery before realising with such clarity that it actually doesn’t go anywhere after all. I couldn’t have known that when I set out, but despite that, I am still glad I made the journey. I MISS with all my heart the baby boy that I lost in March. So much. But he was, really, my last chance and for whatever reason, he didn’t join us.

This might all sound sad and miserable, but I want to stress that I am not overcome with grief – I am, in a way, faintly surprised to find myself here. The path goes no further, all I can see ahead is green fields and the sensation of everything we’ve been through is a kind of wonder that it really happened that way at all.

It’s a kind of Oh well. 

It’s a kind of Oh, the path stops here.

It’s a kind of Oh. This isn’t the way after all.

Inside me, there is a little tiny flame of freedom, which I am carefully guarding. A little part of me that knows moving on can mean finding happiness in other ways. It’s small – believe me. I still flinch inside when I see pregnant women.

But it’s there.

My little light to guide me to the signpost that points somewhere else, when I am ready to pack up and go.

Today is CD2. My period arrived yesterday evening in its usual flood, soaking through my knickers and trousers in the space of fifteen minutes.

And in the cupboard, are the soy isoflavones I ordered last week. For trying this cycle.

My heart isn’t in it. But I’m relieved actually.

So, I’ll take them, probably just for a couple of days, and then I will test out “moving on”. I don’t really have any expectations left (I REALLY thought it was going to happen last month, but it didn’t).

We’ll see where this month takes us. I might chart, I might not.

And perhaps next month we see what it’s like to not try at all.

Because I don’t want to turn 40 with a heart full of tears.

Fairly Certain I’m Out

Given the Complete Radio Silence I’ve had from my uterus in the first half of this two week wait, I’m 99.9% certain I’m out this month. I know my body so well by now (and have been pregnant so many times, sigh), that I just kind of know when it hasn’t worked.

Not a single twinge or cramp at all, boobs are still asleep, so nothing is going on in there.

Had a big chat with DH last night about it all. The length of time we’ve been trying, my impending 40th birthday, how everyone keeps asking me what I’ll be doing for my 40th (peeing on a stick, probably), etc. etc.

All highly depressing.

I’m actually angry at my body for failing this month – I really thought it was going to work. I really, really thought this was going to be it.

Now I feel like I’ve been conned.

Anyway, DH suggested I try soy isoflavones (natures clomid, right?). I’ve avoided this for 2.5 years because I didn’t think it would help me, but to be honest doing what I am doing isn’t helping me, so why the hell not?

DH’s reasoning is that maybe a push for ovulation, especially if we got >1 egg, would increase the chances – kind of like two months condensed into one. Maybe one of those eggs would be a good one, rather than having to wait each month for just one egg (that in all likelihood is a crap one).

Yeah, I’m not sure about the logic either, but what the hell.

So, off I go to the internet, and I’ve ordered some high quality, non-gmo soy isoflavones this morning (from Solgar), ready to use next cycle.

BIG SIGH.

In other news, we have decided to ask for vegetable gardening things (raised beds, trowels, organic compost) from all our relatives for Christmas because next year we are going to grow as much of our own as we can (in our teeny, tiny back garden). I’m very excited about the prospect of growing something (since growing a baby seems to be impossible), and kind of like the idea of all that fertile soil and lush green produce that I’m hoping we’re going to get. Hell, I’m even thinking of setting up a worm farm.

Halfway Through The TWW. Or Maybe Not.

It should be 7dpo today, but I’ve increasingly felt that wasn’t quite right (it was Fertility Friend’s calculated date). I went back to my chart and had another look at my notes and I think it is a day out. Two reasons: I had ovulation pain the day after (and it always stops straight after O), and I had a temp dip at 5dpo, but most cycles I get a pronounced dip at 4dpo. Something to do with the way my body works I guess.

Anyway, I settled on manual override yesterday and set ovulation day to the 20th August, so I am 6dpo today and not 7dpo.

I’m a bit miserable about it as this cycle is already taking FOREVER.

Not only that, but it was DS2’s 3rd birthday at the weekend and I had the usual family stress to deal with. My own family wanted to visit at a different time of day to my in-laws, so we had people over from 9am to 9pm. That aside, my mum’s short term memory loss seems to be getting really bad and I’m worried she’s going to need to move into a care home environment. Things with my Dad have been a little strained and everyone in my family forgot our wedding anniversary (is that normal? I don’t even know whether to be offended).

I am so sad of always being disappointed by my parents not behaving like ‘proper’ parents. I know this rests with me and I need to remove my expectations, but it’s hard.

On top of that my oldest starts school – proper infant school – next week and I am feeling tearful and emotional.

It is such a huge milestone, like the end of my motherhood boot camp, and I wish I’d done some some things better and some things different and I’m worried about the friends he’ll make, how good his teacher will be, will they see his strengths, and all the usual stuff that probably every mother worries about when her first goes off to school.

And of course, it makes it so, so apparent that I have failed to create the close-aged family I dreamed of (I wanted them all at home before the oldest went to school).

Sigh – anyway, gotta go, my mother-in-law is calling round this morning. Will write more soon.

Is It Really Only 4dpo?

I didn’t intend to write so much during this two week wait, but for some reason it seems particularly agonising.

I can’t work out if it’s just because I haven’t got much else to do (which actually isn’t true, but school hols means I’m spending most of my time being ‘just’ a mummy).

Or if it’s because I have this feeling that it’s going to work this month (just like I did last month, ha ha).

Well, today I’ve been gazing at my Fertility Friend chart and telling myself that charts tell you nothing.

I’ve had triphasic, I’ve had high temps, I’ve had all sorts and still had BFNs.

But if you compare THIS month with my DECEMBER chart (when I got pregnant and it lasted just over 10 weeks), it looks like this:

chartcompare

That similarity is just a TOTAL COINCIDENCE.

I know that.

I’ve looked at it and gone, YEAH WHATEVER.

I have.

I really have.

Is it still only 4dpo?

Sigh.