Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A two-month trial

Firstly, a public service announcement: If you guys are into fertility stuff and aren't watching Giuliana & Bill on the E! network, you should be. It's nice to see someone who has genuinely struggled to conceive go through the same things us "normal" folks go through, ie. when everyone you know is pregnant/has children. But more importantly I saw a preview for an upcoming episode in which she mentions the very book that Libby, Christina and I are following in an attempt to conceive naturally -- Making Babies. I am really curious to see what she thinks of the book and if she applies its principles in her life. If she wants my unsolicited advice, she probably needs to gain just a little bit of weight.

Anyway! You might recall that last week my doctor told my husband and I that everything is normal so far. Further tests on me might reveal the very issues that have been preventing me from conceiving, and my doctor's recommended that I go see a specialist if I don't get pregnant this cycle. 

I, however, have thought about it and decided that I am going to wait until October to submit to further testing. It's only a couple months away and gives me a chance to try to establish some really healthy habits and truly employ the Making Babies recommendations. I chose October because that's my birthday month. I'll be 33, and will probably be more than ready to have more blood drawn, etc., if I haven't managed to conceive naturally by then.

Meanwhile, my cycles have thrown me a couple of curve balls, just when I thought I had them figured out. The last one was longer than expected, and this time I think my cycle has even confused The Machine (my way-too-expensive Clearblue fertility monitor). For a few months I reached peak fertility on Day 17, and ovulated on Day 18 or 19. I assumed this cycle would be exactly the same, believing I'd achieved an actual regular cycle, which was more than welcome after a year of playing Who knows when I might ovulate?! Not to mention: Who knows when I might start my period?!

So The Machine was telling me what it always does on Days 10-13: Low fertility. My toilet paper was telling me a different story  -- a lovely tale of fertile cervical mucus. Which was confusing, but had happened before. I expected a reading of perhaps elevated fertility on Day 14, but instead The Machine suddenly bounded straight to the top of the chart and said I had reached my peak fertile day. *ALERT! ALERT!* That's what it always feels like when I see that I've reached my peak fertile day --- drop everything, including your drawers! Get busy!

In any case, I was a bit concerned. How did I not have the estrogen surge that would indicate high fertility before reaching my peak fertile day? And why was my peak fertile day three days before it has been for the last few months? I turned to The Machine's instruction booklet. Which, by the way, was written by idiots. I won't mince words. The Machine is very easy to use, but in reading the instruction booklet you'd think you were being trained to detonate a nuclear missile.

Lo and behold, in the FAQ section, I found this question:

My monitor changed straight from Low to Peak Fertility this cycle. What does this mean? 

The booklet (un)helpfully answers:

This may happen occasionally, for example when a rise in estrogen is detected on the same day as your LH surge or if the Monitor does not detect a change in your estrogen before you LG surge. This can happen if you miss a test, or perform a test incorrectly, or if you have a very short cycle following longer cycles.

I did not miss any tests, or perform any tests incorrectly, nor did I have a very short cycle following longer cycles. I guess I just have to be satisfied with the blanket answer that the rise in estrogen was simply not detected until the LH (lutenizing hormone) surge. Which pisses me off because I want to know WHY. Is it possible there is an underlying issue that would cause something like that?

I guess these are the kinds of things that good little girls who let doctors poke and prod them get to find out. So I guess I'll be finding out sometime around October. 


  1. The ovulation detector and pee sticks and temperatures have turned the whole process into a science experiment. I can see how that would make it even MORE addicting because you're following through from start to finish on this procedure and eager to see results.

    I don't know how accurate this is, but I found this blurb online about the Rancics (DON'T CLICK IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW WHERE THEY CURRENTLY STAND ON THE FERTILITY TOPIC):

    Also- I don't know how you can hold off until October to continue testing! You're much more patient than I am. If I were able to get the answer to my likelihood-of-getting pregnant, I would be there ASAP. Unfortunately, I'm stuck in Waiting Limbo. Ughhhhhh.

  2. Tilte - I'm not sure I can explain this so that it makes sense, but I'll try. As far as waiting a couple months to find out, I think part of the reason is complete denial that there could be something wrong. Another part of the reason is fear of finding out. And another part is mental exhaustion on the topic. After trying for so long, there are just moments when you don't even want to think about it any more.

    And I think in some dark part of my brain I am still holding out hope that this will happen naturally, without needing any more tests. I don't even know how I can hope that any more, but I do.

  3. Could those instructions have meant that THIS cycle is shorter because last cycle was longer?? I have refrained from getting the monitor because I was having success with OPKs but it seems like it would be good info. Of course, we are in a break before the major intervention starts and wow--you were right about how nice it is not to have to do all this crap! p.s.--I agree on the "she could gain a few pounds" thang.

  4. Wildology - those instructions could have meant ANYTHING, frankly. They were written by drunk monkeys, I think. I would say that The Machine was a waste of money, but my problem was that the OPKs were telling me I had an LH surge for like 10 days. Of course, I WAS using the cheapest OPKs on the market ...

  5. I completely understand needing to wait and hoping it will happen naturally. I think I lived in that place for about 3 years. This journey is a lot about trusting your instincts. You will know when you're ready to find out more and whenever that is, the timing will be perfect.

  6. I have been reading the blog for a while but never commented, but now I just needed to comment! I think the fertility monitor is nowhere near as clever as Clearblue claims...I have used the monitor for three months and every month it has gone straight from Low to Peak. Extremely annoying, my OPKs gave me more warning than this (they at least faded in)! However, I don't think this says anything about my estrogen levels, because I have plenty of EWCM and my lining has always been fine when my dr did scans. In your case I would say that since you ovulated at CD18-19 before, the monitor expected you to do so again and was not giving you a high, but then suddenly your LH peaked and you got a peak reading. Or maybe your estrogen surged a little faster than usual this month. In my case I think the stupid monitor should be used to my cycles by now and at least give me one day of High before Peak, but apparently no...(I actually visibly saw the estrogen line being a little lighter the day before my Peak, but my monitor did not agree)

  7. Thanks Christina. :-)

    Lise - I had the same experience with the OPKs -- the lines would gradually darken until I hit the LH surge. Since my cycle was irregular, The Machine did ask me to test up til today (Day 17) and it did say I am back to low fertility. Yeah I am definitely not convinced this machine is the end-all-be-all as far as OPKs are concerned. I'm starting to think I should just be checking my cervical position every cycle. *shudder*