Obviously, you have to time the conception based on the woman's cycles. That's the thing that comes up in all of the comedies and dramedies. Everyone knows that. And everyone knows you have to cut back on caffeine and give up your antidepressants and sleeping pills. Even melatonin isn't allowed. Oh, I miss my melatonin!
It can take up to NINE MONTHS for birth control to leave some women's systems (source: Emily Oster). Others might get pregnant after missing three pills in a row. But there's no way to know which category you'll be in until you spend up to nine months trying to conceive, and if it doesn't work for the following few months, then you know it wasn't the birth control built up in your body's reserves.
Did you know that to find your ovulation time, you need to take your temperature every day with a special thermometer? And you have to do it before you even sit up in bed, because that would mess up the results? If you don't, you have to watch out for other physiological changes, like dull cramping on one side only. I didn't buy the special thermometer, so I was just looking out for the cramping all of the time. It got pretty confusing, though, because I do a lot of ab workouts, so I have a lot of cramping in that area on and off throughout the month. So that's a mess.
And then there are the pills. You need to start taking prenatal vitamins THREE MONTHS before you intend to get pregnant. They taste like chalk, they're huge, and they're expensive. I just bought 218 prenatals on sale for about $60.
Calcium supplements are a must for me being semi-vegan, and those are no big deal. But I can't take them with the prenatals because there is some kind of interaction between the ingredients in the prenatals and the calcium which can block the latter's absorption into the bloodstream. So one pill in the morning and one pill at night, every day, for the entire time you're trying to conceive. My doctor said that for healthy couples under 35, this can be as long as seven months, which is almost the amount of time it takes to carry a baby to term. It's really frustrating to keep taking the pills and to know that any pill you took more than 3 months prior to conception was a waste of time and money.
But the calcium and the prenatals are NOTHING compared to DHA. DHA is critical for neural development. And it tastes like sea algae. Because...it's sea algae. It literally makes me gag every time I take it. Even if I can clear my tongue, the taste buds in my epiglottis still get it. I've been taking it every morning for five months, just in case. You never know which month you're going to conceive, so you have to be ready all the time. It's expensive, about $0.50 a pill. I found an alternative liquid form that only makes me choke a little bit, but that one is $1 a day.
Okay, the pills are annoying. But the real issue is working out.
I like to have a routine at the gym, it looked like this: Monday is spin, Tuesday is bootcamp, Wednesday is hot yoga, Thursday is U-Jam, Friday is weights. Rest on the weekend and repeat. However, exercise that elevates your core temperature isn't allowed when you're pregnant. You also can't work out so hard that you couldn't have a conversation. So that rules out Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday's plan. Being outside of boot camp, taking it easy on the treadmill while my classmates and teacher walked by, was one of the most awkward things ever. I wanted to yell at everyone "two week wait!" but I couldn't. Because that would be insane. Instead, I consigned myself to looking lazy during every real and imagined two-week wait (which is the time between ovulation and a positive pregnancy test, or the alternative).
Oh, and of course there's no alcohol during the two-week wait. That leads to everyone asking "are you...expecting?" and me having to awkwardly demur. So many drinking opportunities were missed during times that I wasn't even really pregnant.
But you know what? The expense and the self-denial were all worth it. I'm so excited to be pregnant! Also, I'm lucky it only took us five months. Some couples try for years, and I can't imagine going through this for so long. There were plenty of disappointments, and plenty of false alarms. In fact, every time I type in a physiological symptom to google, it adds "early pregnancy sign" automatically because it knows me. It turns out everything from chapped lips to aching feet can be an early pregnancy sign, which made me kind of crazy.
Anyway, my advice to women thinking about doing this is to know that TTC (trying to conceive) can be painful, frustrating, and expensive. But once you have that PPT (positive pregnancy test), the rest is easily forgotten. They say that childbirth floods a woman with so many feel-good hormones that she will want to do it again despite the pain, and that's how I feel about TTC. It was ridiculous, but it was worth it.
Me and Amir in early pregnancy.