Wednesday, January 26, 2011

anxiety

there's not a lot of substance to this post, i just need to vent an anxiety.
i just had a 37 day cycle.
thirty. seven. days.

i understand that this is not abnormal (i've always tended to have 30-32 day cycles rather than the average 28), and it doesn't mean there's anything wrong with me. in fact, in the past it's been great - the longer i can go between bouts of mood swings, breakouts, cramping, backaches and bleeding the better, as a rule!
but now that we're doing the babymaking, it's not such a blessing. we have such a limited window of opportunity with our donor. we've really only got from may to august (or september depending how cycles and travel plans coincide) to get knocked up. that's not a lot of goes.
the bottom line is, the longer my cycle is, the fewer ovulations fit in that window.

what if it's not enough...?

Monday, January 17, 2011

tracking

we're not at insemination stage yet (i am so impatient to get there!), but we're tracking my fertility signs in order to get a good idea of my peak fertility point each month. the better acquained i am with my unique signs and patterns, the better our chances of choosing the right time to inseminate will be.
this is a more complex endeavor than you might imagine. and it requires tools. allow me to introduce them to you...

first up, we have beaky the speculum:

beaky lets us monitor my the way my cervix changes over the course of my cycle. a soft, open cervix means that i'm likely to ovulate soon, or that i have very recently ovulated, and that it's a good time to inseminate.
i thought i'd be able to manage monitoring my own cervix, but a combination of a really long torso and some genuinely crappy eyesight means that using a mirror and at torch to peer in there only allows me to see a pinkish cavern away off in the distance. no cervix in sight.
luckily s is handy with a camera, so while beaky is propping me open (in oh-so-elegant and dignified a fashion), s sets the camera to macro and takes a photo, which i can then peer at and examine at leisure. having photos of how my cervix changes over time is actually really good, and having a record is very informative.
sharing this process with s has meant we've had some genuinely unique and hilarious bonding moments as a couple!
incidentally, i had a bit of trouble finding a speculum - most of the ones available in australia were through sex shops that i didn't really want to buy from. in the end, i ordered one from the feminist women's health center in the united states.


another indicator of ovulation is basal body temperature (bbt). monitoring this also involves sticking things up my vajootz, but is a much easier process. basically, as soon as i wake up, the thermometer goes in, and it takes my waking temperature. i then record and graph this. a rise in bbt is indicative of the hormonal change that happens with ovulation.
the thermometer is a noisy, beepy thing that wakes s up in the morning, but she is very patient about it, and tries to ignore it.


yet another indicator of ovulation is an opk, or 'pee stick'. this detects the hormonal surge that comes with ovulation. there are heaps of different kinds, but i use the paper ones because they are far less expensive than other kinds, and you can buy them in bulk (i get mine from here).



being an anally retentive nerd-type, i have a spreadsheet on which i track all of this information, and also note other things that are relevant to my cycle, including:
  • phase of the moon
  • blood presence and type
  • colour and texture of vaginal mucus
  • mood changes
  • headaches 
  • appetite and cravings
  • cramping
  • skin changes
  • breast changes/soreness
  • sleep changes and dreams
if you want to see a master copy of the chart, and download and modify it for your own purposes, you can find it here. obviously you should consult other resources (such as your doctor, and books about fertility) about how best to interpret the data you gather.