Tag Archives: prenatal vitamins

Planning To Start A Family

16 Jul

One of the best things about having this blog has been meeting and coming to know others who want to start a family and talk about that journey. In fact, I just got this from my ask box on tumblr:

Hey there. Through mutual fangirlness of Grey’s I started following your tumblr and twitter and from there found your blog about trying to get pregnant. Basically I am asking you for any advice that you have. Me and my fiancee are planning our wedding and we know that in the next 12-24months we are gonna wanna start trying to have a baby. We just want to know if you or your Mrs have any advice, anything we should think about before starting any preparation. Thank you.
Susie

It can be a very intimidating road and I have been asked by lesbian couples a few times where to begin. I decided to write a post with what we thought was some good advice. This is a very personal process and decision so undoubtedly your roadmap will vary but this should give you some things to think about.

Since I’m mostly asked by other lesbian couples, this is tailored to them.

Start Saving Money – It is never too soon to start a “baby fund”. Really, never.  Sit down with your partner and look at your finances and figure out how you will afford getting pregnant, doctors visits, birth, adoption, legal fees, all of the things the baby will need and even child care eventually. Don’t overwhelm yourselves, but it’s a good way to financially commit to this decision. Even if you don’t earmark the costs specifically, trust me, you will be able to find some way to use that money and the earlier you can start socking it away, the better. Starting a family is especially expensive for same-sex couples and can be even more so if you live in a state where you cannot be legally married.

Live In A Stable Environment – Is there room where you currently live for kids? If you will need to move then that’s another cost that you will have to plan for. Some people feel like they need to own a home before they are ready to have kids, but I don’t necessarily believe that. You should know that you live in a place that will work to raise a family. If you start somewhere less optimal and get stuck there for an extended amount of time, it helps to know and like the school system that you are in. Think about your own education too. If you have educational goals that you are still working on, try to finish them before you start trying to conceive that way you can focus on your family when the time comes. It also goes without saying that you should feel like your relationship is stable and your partner is someone you want to raise a child with. Talk to your partner about marriage if you haven’t already done so. If one or both of you would like to be married or have a wedding before you have kids, that’s obviously another large cost you may need to plan for.

Talk About What You Both Want…A LOT – There are a lot of decisions to be made in this process and it’s intensely personal. Talk about why you each want a baby and if they are good reasons. You have to be ready to give up a lot and put your children’s needs first. Talk about the process: ICI, IUI, or IVF? Known donor or anonymous? Would you like your children to physically resemble you? Who will carry? Would you prefer to just adopt? We spent many evenings talking these things over and revisited some of them many times. You should know what is important to you and to your partner and what you can compromise on. A lot will depend on your budget and some things may not go exactly as planned. For us, we decided that we were going to start this process with the least evasive methods possible and take more aggressive steps forward in six month increments only as needed. Other friends I knew decided that IVF was a better choice for them and they began with that. Of course, you’ll need to work with a doctor before you can determine what your best course of action will be. You should have discussed these things enough to know your general preferences as a couple before discussing it with a Physician though.

Get A Good Lawyer – We found a great family law attorney and worked with her to get our medical power of attorney, wills and living wills in place years ago. If you do not live in a state where you can be legally married, these are very important to secure your rights and wishes. You may want to find an attorney that specializes in gay rights and adoption. We also used our attorney to create legal agreements between us and our known donor. These protect him as well as us and our child legally to the best of our ability and we would not have dreamed of trying to conceive without them. It’s likely that you’ll need a good attorney to complete an adoption or second-parent adoption for you in this process as well. Some lawyers specialize in adoption only. If you know same-sex couples in your area that already have kids, they are often the best to ask for a referral.

Educate Yourself – Read books and surf the internet to try to find resources. One of the best books I read early on was The Ultimate Guide To Pregnancy for Lesbians. The book has a lot of other resources listed in it and it will give you A LOT to think about. If nothing else, it was a really good tool to get us asking ourselves those important questions about what we wanted. As we talked about our choices, my curiosity about all of the options grew deeper. Learn about artificial insemination methods, sperm donors, adoptions and pregnancy as much as you can now. You’ll be glad you took the time to become informed proactively when you have to start calling the shots.


Create A Supportive Environment – The internet became my best friend. I found comfort, support and a lot of good advice in the blogs of other couples who were going through this process. Often, I found links from there to other blogs (I’m a bad blogger and never set that up, but they are out there). Talk to others who are going through it. I also created a good little support system for myself on twitter and that has been amazing! We ended up having a community that was rooting for us and picked me up on some pretty dark days. It was nice for me to have a bit of anonymity sometimes so that I could be honest and vent. But, there’s a dark side to the community too. You will inevitably watch others reach their goals before you do and that can be hard. I liked using the internet because I could turn it off when I had to escape. Some people prefer the comfort of talking to their family and friends about the conception process instead. I would just caution you to choose your audience wisely. Not everyone may approve, understand or have positive words for you and you should trust your gut about who will listen and be supportive in a way that you need when you are fragile. Communicating how I felt at times was very cathartic and some days when I was depressed about it I just couldn’t stand friends asking me how it was going. But everyone reacts differently. I wanted to tell my Mom what I was going through but I didn’t want her to know too much so we could hopefully surprise her with news one day and I was SO glad that worked out. I guarantee you will go through so many more emotions than you can anticipate. Find those who you can come to on good days and bad alike.

Get Healthy – If you’re planning on getting pregnant, or supporting your partner through a pregnancy you should be healthy first! Your body mass index should be in an optimal range for your best chances at fertility and if you have weight to lose or gain, a year in advance is the best time to do it. Try to achieve your optimal weight (and stay there) for at least 6 months before you start trying. If you smoke, quit now. It’s one of the best adjustments you can make for your whole families’ health. If you plan to quit drinking coffee and soda while you are pregnant, wean yourself off the caffeine about six months beforehand too. The morning sickness will be enough on its own without the caffeine withdrawal.  Start taking prenatal vitamins 6 months to a year before you plan to conceive to prevent birth defects and find out if any medications that you are on are safe to take during pregnancy. If they aren’t, try to find ways to get off of them in that year prior. I also found it was helpful to find out your blood type if you aren’t sure. If you are the one trying to get pregnant it’s important to get familiar with your menstrual cycle. Track it and try to learn about your body’s ovulation signs. Maybe even buy a basal body thermometer and start taking your temperature or use ovulation strips. Anything that helps you get the hang of when you will be most fertile. I found that keeping the info in a fertility app on my phone was easiest. Getting in shape goes for your mental health too. If you have baggage or emotional issues, consider getting therapy and working through it. Be the best person that you can be before you start bringing more people into this world.

Find A Good Doctor/Practice – You have to be comfortable talking to your doctor about your relationship and your plans. If you want to get pregnant, you should make a preconception appointment with your OBGYN (or take time during your regular appointment) to talk about it. If you have irregular periods, I’d advise doing that a year out. My doctor put me on birth control as an attempt to help my endometriosis subside and give us better chances before we started trying. That was a six month process and if I hadn’t gone so far in advance, I would have felt a little disappointed by the setback. It’s also a good idea to have regular STD testing done even if you think you have nothing to worry about. Most insurance covers them anyway and they will probably be required before any type of insemination. If there is anything to find out and treat, you’ll be glad you did it early. Talking to a doctor that doesn’t specialize in same-sex families can be a bit awkward at first, but you have to be willing to speak up and you should have a good feeling about your doctor and their bedside manner before you decide if you want them to handle your pregnancy.  This all makes sure that you have your ducks in a row and it will ease that transition from TTC into pregnancy when the time comes.

Make A Baby Bucket List – This process can take a while and sometimes, there is just nothing to do while you wait. We found it helpful to make a list of things that we wanted to do before we had kids and things that we wouldn’t be able to do for a while after. Go to Vegas, jump out of a plane, stay in bed all weekend, etc. (Okay, so I chickened out on the jumping out of a plane thing.)These are just examples of things that helped me feel like we were doing something for us that didn’t directly involve, doctors, lawyers or trying to get pregnant. Enjoy your lives, have fun with your partner and bond while you check things off your list. You’ll be able to look back one day and treasure that time before you were Mommies. I promise, doing those things will give you an escape and help you feel less overwhelmed. They’ll also make you feel even more ready to start your family.

Change Your Lifestyle – There was a time when we used to spend every Friday and Saturday out drinking with friends and dancing at the club. Even though I got very bored of “going out” I felt like if I was sitting at home on a weekend, I was lame. That may not be your speed, or maybe it is right now but you may want to work on changing that before you end up pregnant. Sometimes this just happens as you get older anyway. We started making a conscience effort to stay in watching movies at home on Friday nights if we didn’t already have plans. We spent more time with our own families and friends that already had kids and things naturally calmed down. It shouldn’t be nearly as much of a culture shock for you if you adjust slowly. We felt as though we had a group of friends in our lives that focused heavily on drinking and created more drama than they were worth so we sort of intentionally drifted out of that scene. We made new friends and we know that they will be there and want to spend time with us, even when there are kids in tow. Look at who you keep around you and if it fits into what you want your life to be.

Give Yourself Time – You have to be ready for anything once you start trying, but also patient enough for it to take a long time, especially if you are dealing with reproductive issues as we were. People are having kids later and later now and some of them fear that dreaded age 35 when your fertility begins to decrease. Find the balance that works best for you and don’t rush. The bottom line is that nothing teaches you patience and to expect the unexpected like having kids. Know what you want but try not to set unrealistic expectations. It can be a hard and scary process and I learned that sometimes things that you think won’t happen to you, do. It’s also the single most rewarding thing you might ever do with your life. Try to relax and enjoy every step of the way.

We hope this helps you and send our best wishes for starting a happy, healthy family!

E, the Mrs & Sprout 🙂

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Sometimes You Need The Funk

1 Jun

I have a confession to make: I’m a bad blogger. For some reason I feel like I should only be writing here when we have new things happening, which isn’t always the case. There are so many in between moments to this process and so many feelings that go along with them that even though I think weekly “I should blog about that”, I just stop myself. I’m going to try not to limit myself to that anymore.

This month has been filled with disappointment, (yet again) and also a lot of discontent and what I’ve just generally been calling “funk”. My wife was out of town for almost half of the month. She had a work trip that ran into some vacation with her family. As soon as she got back from that we started house-sitting/dog-sitting for my parents while they are on vacation. We haven’t been in our own house together for about three weeks now and everything feels very out of whack. Unfortunately, I started ovulating while she was still out of town and had to try to make a baby on my own a few times. The logistics aren’t fun. Trust me. Luckily, she did make it home for the last one. If this month works, we’re telling ourselves that THAT’S the one that took.

As far as our process goes, it hasn’t changed much. I’ve been trying some natural “remedies” and things like that to try to increase our chances. Even if it’s not helping, it can’t hurt. Besides, those little things help me feel like I have some teensy bit of control and that I’m changing up our experiment a bit and not just banging my head against a wall doing the same thing every month. First, I switched to plant-based prenatal vitamins. There’s all kinds of controversy over whether this is hogwash or not, but I figured that if I was putting these supplements in my body, I preferred to reap the benefits of higher quality ingredients. I threw the drug store cheapies out the window. Next, I kicked coffee all together. I was drinking decaf or half-caf but I’ve stopped that completely. The best part is that I don’t miss it. I’ve been drinking at least one cup of organic raspberry leaf tea everyday. It’s supposed to help thicken the uterine lining (so a little embryo has a better chance of hanging on) and assist with hormone levels for a more regular menstrual cycle, plus it’s tasty. It’s not caffeinated and I’ve replaced my morning coffee with that. Can’t hurt, right? I also drink one cup of decaf green tea in the afternoon for the antioxidants.

Another major and sort of related thing I changed was the transition to more sustainable feminine products. (Warning: If you guys don’t want to talk about “happy period stuff”, skip this paragraph.) I’d been doing more research about personal care products and things we use that are not good for our bodies and our endocrine system and bleached tampons and pads were definitely high on that list. I went online and I bought reusable cotton pads and a DivaCup about 3 months ago and I can honestly say, they’ve changed my life. It was a bit of an investment, but it’ll save money in the long run and I think my cramps have been severely decreased with the use of the menstrual cup. In fact, I used to opt for pads and now I much prefer using the cup because it’s that good. For those of you still scratching your head about this, basically you just use a cotton pad instead of a disposable one, wash it and use it again. Instead of a tampon, it’s a small silicone cup that’s inserted and every 12 hours you take it out, dump it and put it back in. I haven’t actually found it to be as gross or archaic as my initial reactions led me to feel. The cup lasts MUCH longer than a tampon ever would with no risk of TSS or nasty chemicals leaching into my body. I can’t even feel it once it’s in properly and last month, I actually forgot I had my period at one point. I’m forever a changed woman. If you’re squeamish about your own body functions or can’t stand the site of your own blood, these things may not be for you. One thing this whole TTC process has taught me was to learn and own my body. If you’re into that, this may be something for you. I was actually kind of fascinated by the fact that the inside of the cup has notches like a measuring cup and I’ve been able to learn what kind of volume is “normal” for me during menstruation. Again, not for the squeamish but I think that’s kind of cool.

As an attempt to get back into shape a bit more I’ve been trying to get to the gym 4 to 5 times a week but that hasn’t been as easy. I’m teaching spin classes but forcing myself to workout otherwise has been hard because I’ve been in this thing I call “my funk” now for about  a week. Maybe it’s because everything has been so disjointed lately, or because I’m worried about being disappointed again by our doctor or our next pregnancy test, I’m not sure. It feels like I’ve slipped into a little bout of depression and the hardest part is that I don’t want to be pulled out of it. I’m a pretty “glass-half-full” type of person overall but lately, I feel like if I don’t just sort of allow myself to be here with these feelings for a while, that they aren’t going to go away. Staying in bed in my pajamas for a week or so sounds really nice. I’m just sad and frustrated and I’m not going to let anyone tell me that I have to be anything other than that right now. Sure, overall I’m still optimistic and very grateful for what we DO have. I know that we are not yet to the point of swirling down a dismal pit of despair…but lately, I feel really wounded by this whole process and I know I’m completely valid in that. It’s difficult to convey the sentiment that you’re unhappy and you just need to be left that way. It’s not that I don’t appreciate having people that want to cheer me up in my life or KNOW what the bright side is. I do. I just don’t want to look at it right now. I need sunglasses.

I’ve been trying to do little things for me that won’t hinder our goals but that are completely unrelated to trying to conceive. I don’t want to spend too much money on these effort because it looks like we might really need significant funds in the near future. I tried to think of things that I really used to enjoy and that I might not have so much time for when kids come along. Like tap dancing. I used to be pretty good but then I quit and hadn’t even had tap shoes on my feet for about 9  years until a few weeks ago. I signed up and went back to classes and it’s been pretty awesome. I don’t know anyone else. There’s no expectations of me other than to show up and have fun. At this point, my class is mostly older ladies and I like it that way cause I tell you what…those gals are no BS, that’s for sure. This is their “me” time and they don’t let anything wipe that smile off their face for a full hour each week. It’s kind of nice to have that influence of pure joy and silliness, even from the ladies who don’t have high aspirations to be amazing dancers. They don’t care! I’m actually a little advanced for the class that I’m in but if I move up, I might lose this group and I feel like they’re pretty good for me right now. I’m content to stay grinning in the back row for a while.

My snazzy new tap shoes. They’re fun 🙂

In other news, some of our woes with our donor seem to have calmed down. He and his partner have bought a new place and are moving about a half hour away from us. It may minorly complicate things since they won’t be 10 minutes away anymore, but I think it’ll just take more planning. It’s more likely that we’ll have to be all be in the same place for a while instead of being able to make “pickup runs” on days that we’re trying. I don’t know that we’re actually going to be using him for that much longer anyway so I’m not going to stress about it.

Our next appointment with the Reproductive Endocrinologist practice (but with a new doctor this time) is in a few weeks. This doctor is the one who primarily coordinates shipping and transactions with the Cryobank, which we will have to start using if we are going to switch to IUI. We have some donors “favorited” in our account online, but we’re not purchasing or making any significant moves until after we talk to her. The wife and I have actually been discussing going straight to IVF and I’m looking forward to talking about that with the doctor a little. The possibility of it not working and the costs scare the crap out of me, but I’m worried about doing month after month of unsuccessful IUI only to deplete our funds available for which we could have just gone ahead with IVF. I really don’t know what to do. I like the fact of possibly having frozen embryos available for another egg transfer down the road in a few years if we decide to do this again. Part of me is actually thinking that could end up costing less in the long run…Thoughts? I know a lot of you have been through IUI and IVF already and it’s not a cut and dry decision. Do you have regrets about not trying IVF sooner? Talk to me in the comments.

As far as this month’s efforts we’re about halfway through our two week wait right now. One more week and I’m sure if we find out something positive, you’ll be hearing about it! To be honest, I don’t feel anything “different” and am not too hopeful for this cycle so far. Maybe it’s just my mood lately, who knows…the universe could surprise us. That would be nice!


E & The Mrs.