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It’s Stork OTC Time!

If you follow me on Instagram (AdorkablyHappy), then you saw this pic on the 2nd-Positive OPKs! 

That means Stork OTC time!!! In my last post, I shared with y’all how someone from Rinovum…the makers of the Stork OTC…contacted me about my previous review. And how happy & grateful I am that they contacted me. 

***Full disclosure: This review is made possible by a free Stork OTC that was sent to me. I am not being paid for this review. And I was not asked to give anything other than my honest opinion, once again, on the product.***

So the first thing I noticed right away was that the design on the box changed. There’s now a baby bump greeting us. (And when I shared this pic on my Facebook wall…it was immediately noticed by some of my fellow TTC buddies. lol) But, after all, that is the goal, right?! So I kinda like it. 

Another thing I noticed…I don’t remember the old box having this, if it did…The side of the box has some helpful information about the use of the Stork OTC. Which is kinda neat. It helps to give you an idea going into it of what is involved. I don’t know if it’s like this for anyone else, but I know the first time seeing the box and not knowing a whole lot about what was inside or what was involved was a little overwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, I was very excited & I had read several reviews. But the Stork OTC isn’t cheap, and I was worried I was gonna mess something up. 

Again, I got a giggle out of the warning that the Stork OTC is NOT intended for contraceptive use. That makes me laugh EVERY time. I mean, every time! 

So, y’all know I’ve told you that I am a tad strange. That I think/worry/obsess over things that most people don’t. There was a slight hold up in the delivery of my package. And the temperatures were crazy high that week. I worried about what the heat might do to the Conceptacle sitting in a hot vehicle for half a week or being out in the heat if the package was simply dropped off inside my property fence. (I live in the country, my driveway is long & bumpy, they don’t always come to the house for deliveries.) But my mind was eased when I saw that you could store the Stork OTC in temperatures between -22 and 130 degrees F. 

Once you open up the box, everything stayed the same. You’ve got instructions in both English & Spanish. There’s an insert thanking you for choosing the Stork OTC on one side & a code for the Glow app on the other. The applicator with the cervical cap holder inside & the Conceptacle which contains the cervical cap are in a plastic enclosure thing that keeps them separated. I think it is important to note, the Stork OTC is not a sterile device. Wash your hands before handling the Conceptacle at all stages of use. 

If you haven’t already watched the “how to” video, you can watch it here. I highly recommend watching it at least once. It’s very basic, but helpful in getting to know all the parts of the Stork OTC. Because it is a single use device…you can really never be too prepared. 

Putting the Conceptacle on was a little bit easier this time around. Although, it still wasn’t quick and simple. You need to pinch the tip to remove air, just like with a condom and unroll it on to an erect penis. And because it takes a little work to get it on…continued stimulation for him may help keep him happy-therefore making it easier to go on. It may look like a condom, but it’s very different. It’s not made with natural rubber latex, it’s silicone. It is definitely seems thicker than a condom. According to hubby, it seems to have a tighter fit than a condom. And there’s no form of lubricant on it. So it’s “dry” for lack of a better word, and that makes it a little fumbly putting it on. (In my last review I referred y’all to the condom/banana scene in the movie “Never Been Kissed”. That is still a very fitting visual aid. Nothing popped off, but it took a minute to get a handle on it.)

So don’t get frustrated if it’s less than romantic getting the Conceptacle on. You’ll get it. No pressure, don’t stress…just roll with it. Stay patient and in the moment. Keep the mood as light as possible. 

Because I didn’t noticed that much EWCM, I decided to use a small amount of PreSeed. Last time we didn’t use any because in the how to video when it talks about insertion of the applicator, it said not to use lubricant. I understood that to mean no lubricant at all during the process. But after following  the Stork OTC (storkotc) on Instagram and reading more about it, we felt like using PreSeed…a TTC friendly lubricant while we did our thing…was ok. (The FAQ section of the website, storkotc.com also addresses it.)

I don’t normally use PreSeed, but I am glad I decided to use it for this. It definitely made the Conceptacle less noticeable for me. Still knew it was there…but that may have more to do with the fact that the hubby and I have been together 15 years and the only time we’ve used anything “condom like” is when we’ve used the Stork OTC. So there is definitely a different sensation & reaction to it. 

If you decide to use a lubricant with your Stork OTC, be sure that it is TTC friendly! PreSeed is what we chose. But AstroGlide makes a TTC friendly one as well. Just be sure that you’re getting the one designed for TTC The reason for this…most lubricants are not sperm friendly. That is the complete opposite of what we want. So double check to be safe!!!

After we did our thing, getting the Conceptacle off was easier than getting it on. It is easier to take off from a still erect penis, you just roll it back down. You do have to be careful getting the cervical cap out of the Conceptacle. Keep it upright, and only touch the sides of the cervical cap. Don’t put your fingers inside the cervical cap when you’re trying to get the Conceptacle off from around it. 

It was so much easier to place the cervical cap on the petals of the applicator this time. It wasn’t hard the first time, but everything is easier the second and third time around.  The purple thing is part of the cervical cap holder, there’s one on the other side too. The petals are the white pieces that are on either side of the yellow tab. You remove the yellow tab and set the cervical cap evenly on those petals. Once you’ve got the cervical cap on the petals, you click the two purple pieces of the cervical cap holder in place, keep the applicator upright, and pull back the plunger on the bottom of the applicator. That closes the petals around the cervical cap. 

I let hubby hold the applicator while I got my pillows propped up so that I could lean back in the proper position comfortably. And I got situated. Just like last time, insertion was no problem. No issues there. There was a little pressure, nothing too bad, I wouldn’t even classify it as uncomfortable-simply noticeable, once it was placed against my cervix. 

The first time I used the Stork OTC, when I pushed the button with the two dots to release the plunger, that plunger released quickly. This time, I knew not to let my thumb get caught. lol There was a little bit more pressure, just temporarily, when the plunger depressed. I made sure it felt comfortable and then clicked the button with the theee dots to release the cervical cap holder from the applicator. Then I removed the applicator and had hubby throw it away. 

We chose, just like last time, to leave the cervical cap in for the full 6 hours. (It can stay in 4-6 hours.) Since we used this one around bedtime, I set an alarm on my phone to make sure that I didn’t sleep through the 6 hour mark. 

I know you can get up and move around as soon as you remove the wand. But I have to admit, I laid in bed, scrolling on my phone while binging “Friends” on Netflix as background noise for about an hour and a half. Then I got up, finished up some laundry while doing a face mask…there is always laundry to finish up it seems…and then went to sleep. I could feel the presence of the cervical cap holder. It wasn’t uncomfortable, again simply noticeable. No big deal. Once my alarm went off, I got up went to the bathroom and removed the cervical cap & holder by pulling on the pull string. Easy peasy! 

Here’s a pic from the last review showing you what the cervical cap, holder & pull string look like once you remove it. So now we wait. Hopefully I won’t go too stir crazy during this TWW. 

While there is more effort into using the Stork OTC over Soft Cups & PreSeed…I definitely think that the Stork OTC is the one to use. I’ve tried both, I prefer the Stork OTC. TTC is just not what Soft Cups are designed for. Yes, it’s more expensive and maybe I’m overthinking it and relying on a label too much. But seriously, sometimes store brand biscuits aren’t as good Pilsbury. 

I love the Stork OTC. I love that it’s designed for couple like my husband & I. We have male factor issues thrown into the mix. And having the ability to do cycles at home, medicated or non-medicated, either in between IUI cycles, in place of an IUI cycle, or even in conjunction with an IUI cycle…is amazing. It gives us more options. And when you’re looking at a $1200 IUI cycle, gratefully we only pay half that after insurance (but still), you need options! 

For less than $100 (I paid $79.99 plus tax and shipping for my first Stork OTC using my Walgreen’s app), you get a little extra help for the swimmers. When you have motility concerns, that’s a big deal to be able to do. Our swimmers like to freestyle it during the backstroke competition & they apparently get lost easy…they need all the help they can get! 

One of the things that I have enjoyed the most about this experience is the customer service. Since getting in touch with them, the people at the Stork OTC/Rinovum have been the absolute best! You can contact them through email at: support@rinovum.com 

*Again, my only connection to this company is as a consumer. I, nor anyone in my family, is employed by them. I am not receiving any financial compensation from them. They sent me this Stork OTC based on my previous review. They did not ask that I give anything other than my honest opinion.*

I Will Not Stop Talking About Infertility…

…so don’t even bother asking me to. 

Wow! The plan for this week’s blog post was SO different than what it has become. I guess I can just save that one for a later time. 

So let’s back up a second. Yesterday I downloaded Resolve.org‘s Listen Up toolkit for this year’s National Infertility Awareness Week. It’s next month, April 23-29…the 29th is my birthday. After I downloaded the toolkit, I created an album on my personal Facebook profile and added all the photos to it. A little while later, I was “gently” asked to maybe not focus so much on infertility because it may make some people a little uncomfortable. 

So after I calmly removed myself from the conversation…telling them to forget my name and blocking them is “calm”, right?!…I sat and stewed for a while. 

Infertility is a disease. Just like cancer, diabetes, heart disease. Why do we welcome and encourage awareness for those things, and ask people with infertility to sit a corner and stay quiet?

When a friend is going through a divorce, what do we tell them? We tell them we’re here for them. We tell them to talk about it. We tell them it’s natural to grieve the loss of the relationship, the loss of the future. We tell them it’s not healthy to keep all those emotions bottled up. We tell them we are their friends and that’s what friends are for. 

Why do I not get that same level of understanding?! And the…well, I’ve never experienced infertility and that’s why I’m uncomfortable with it…is kind of lame. I’ve never been through a divorce. I still don’t tell my friends who are going through a divorce to leave me out of those conversations. I’ve never had cancer…I still talk to my friends while they are going through chemo. 

My husband lost his mother more than 20 years ago, I lost my father less than 5 years ago. Him knowing what it’s like to lose a parent didn’t make his hugs to me more comforting. It didn’t make his presence by my side more important. Just like my arms, when he lost his father a year and a half ago, weren’t a place of solace because I knew what it was like to lose a daddy. All that mattered was that we were there for one another, we were by each other’s side, when we needed support. We didn’t have to understand in order to comfort. 

Because when you’re going through something difficult, all that matters is that you are surrounded by people who love you. They don’t have to know what to say, what you’re feeling, what journey lies ahead of you. They just need to support you through it. 

I talk about infertility, because so many people don’t even know what it is. There’s this idea that if you want to get pregnant and you don’t get pregnant that very first month you try, it’s infertility. Or that infertility can be “fixed” by simply getting a massage to help you relax or a different kind of underwear. (By the way…don’t talk to your friends about their spouse’s underwear. You want to talk about uncomfortable.) 

Not talking about it, doesn’t make it go away. It doesn’t make it less painful. It doesn’t. And while you may be more comfortable not hearing about it, someone you love is still suffering alone. 

1 in 8…that’s how many people suffer through infertility. 1 in 8 have a disease that’s not contagious, but no one wants to be “around” it. Can you imagine how isolating that can be?

My life is a messy kind of happiness. It is full of loss, full of cuss words, full of hospital stays & surgeries. It is financial worries, broken plans, and plants I can’t always keep alive. It’s full of love, full of faith, full of hope. It’s fur baby snuggles through out the night, a marriage working on it’s second decade, it’s Christmas tree lights hung year round. It’s kisses followed by death threats and some times death threats followed by kisses. It’s beautifully crazy. It’s not easy, but it is amazing. 

It’s not fair to ask me to share only the happy. To only share the inconsequential. If I can share when a recipe goes right, or when flowers are randomly brought home…why shouldn’t I share when I have a bad day trying to conceive a child? It’s not fair to only be a friend during the good times. 

Yes, infertility can be uncomfortable for those that are blessed enough to never face it head on. But that level of comfor comes at the expense of someone you love. And being silent about infertility makes me uncomfortable. And I’m not willing to do that. 

Crocheting To Pay For IUI

So about a week ago, I finished this blanket and shared the pic on Instagram. And I got a DM asking if I could make a blanket for someone. 

It got me to thinking. 

After 5 unsuccessful rounds of Clomid in a span of 6 months, my RE (reproductive endocrinologist) said we needed to move on to IUI (intrauterine insemination). IUI is where they take the sperm and insert it directly into the uterus using a catheter. You can do it with Clomid or with medication you self inject to stimulate follicle growth. Unfortunately, my insurance doesn’t cover artificial insemination of any kind…or the injections. That means, that most of the cost of IUI will be out of pocket. We are applying for a program that could help cover part of the cost of the injections. (My RE prefers IUI with injections over IUI with Clomid.) But without qualifying for the program, IUI with Clomid is our only option. And even then, we only have enough saved up to do about two rounds. 

So…I decided to start making baby blankets to sell for the specific purpose of paying for IUI. Well, not just baby blankets, throws too. Maybe some hats, scarves, and fingerless gloves. But mainly baby blankets. I’ve got an amazing friend who has generously offered some of her knitted projects to sale as well. 

Over the past week, I’ve been fasting. During my fast today, I made a decision. After we get our rainbow, I’m going to continue to crochet to pay for IUI. It just won’t be for my IUIs. It will be to help others pay for their IUIs. And, should I become pregnant before needing IUI…the money I’ve already made & have received as donations to help cover the cost of my fertility treatments will go to help pay for someone else’s. 

The truly exciting part is that I already have an order! My first order was a throw size version of this baby blanket I’m working on-

If you follow me on Instagram and/or the blog’s Facebook page…you’ll be able to see the blankets (and other items) as they become available. I’m AdorkablyHappy on Instagram and the link to the Facebook page is in the right hand column of the blog. And you can message me on either account for pricing information. 

I’m really hoping that this takes off. I think I might even be more excited about the future of it. Of being able to help someone else. Even if it’s just a little bit. Because it truly sucks when the cost of fertility treatments becomes the reason someone’s journey ends. So, I’m hoping that we’ll be able to help someone very soon. 

A Few Things I Know

When It comes to TTC, social media can be a tad bit overwhelming. There is a lot of information floating around. And while I don’t pretend to know even half of what I should know about TTC…over the past decade and a half of actively trying, I’ve learned a little. 

So, I thought I’d share a few things that I’ve learned, that I wish I had known from the beginning. 

  • The March of Dime recommends that you start taking a prenatal vitamin, containing folate or folic acid, at least 3 months prior to actively trying to conceive. Folate helps prevent neural tube defects.

I was also told by my doctor that a man can take a Folic Acid supplement to help prevent neural tube defects as well. Not to mention that it can help with sperm count for men with issues. 

  • ALWAYS TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE TAKING ANYTHING OVER THE COUNTER! 

Even vitamins and supplements should be discussed. Things like Vitex and Maca Root can be amazing! They can be extremely beneficial. BUT, only if you need them. Vitex, which I see recommended a lot, can cause more harm than good if you don’t truly need it. And just because something is natural doesn’t mean that your doctor would have the same treatment plan regardless of if you’re taking it or not. So please, especially when trying to conceive, discuss everything with your doctor!!! They can also make sure that everything you take is safe to take during pregnancy. My primary knows all about our TTC journey and knows that if it’s not a Class B prescription…I’m not taking it. So we always go for pregnancy safe medications. 

  • OPKs (ovulation predictor kits) alone can not tell you if you’re ovulating. Temping can not tell you when you’re about to ovulate, it only confirms ovulation. 

Your best bet is to use the two in connection with one another. It’s not uncommon to surge and not ovulate. You can build up for a LH (luteinizing hormone-the hormone that OPKs test for) surge and then back off. You can get a positive OPK, indicating a surge, and not ovulate. And you won’t always get the “pre-O temp dip” just prior to ovulation. So you can’t wait for that dip to BD (baby dance).

I have had my fair share of cycles where I’ve gotten positive OPKs…complete with EWCM…around the time I was expecting them, and didn’t ovulate with that surge. There was no temp shift to confirm ovulation. So, I’ve learned to test until I get my temp shift. Because some of those cycles, I surged again within 5 days and ovulated. Other cycles it was another month before I surged again and ovulated. So I totally classify myself as a *BIG* temp pusher. lol

Speaking of OPKs…

  • We always have some level of LH in our system throughout our cycle. So, for the most part there will always be a second line show up on your tests. That’s why a positive OPK is only positive when the test line is as dark or darker than the control line. 
  • It’s not uncommon to have a surge of LH (a positive OPK) prior to AF. 
  • A pregnancy test will be positive…no squinting needed…before a positive OPK is from hCG and not LH. 

LH and hCG (pregnancy hormone) are very similar in composition. Think of them like twins…and hCG wears a hat to stand out. A pregnancy test looks for the hat. It won’t give you a second line if it doesn’t detect the hat. Since the OPK isn’t looking for the hat, it’s looking for the basic compound, the OPK will pick up on hCG. 

And the reason I say that you won’t need to squint to see a line on your HPT, and the reason that I say an OPK will be positive, is because most pregnancy tests are 25mIU. Coincidentally, most OPKs are also 25mIU (at least, from everything I’ve been able to find out about the sensitivity levels of OPKs say most are). Which means that the line on your HPT will be there. Since hCG is stronger…because of the hat…and we always have some level of LH in our system, the OPK will pick up on both. It will be positive. 

But because it’s not uncommon to have a surge in LH prior to AF, you can not rely on a positive OPK as a sign of pregnancy. And keep in mind that not all HPTs are 25mIU. First Response Early Results, FRERs, are designed to detect any level of hCG over zero. The Clearblue Weeks Estimator can detect as low as 10mIU, even though it’s technically listed at 25mIU. So, if you’re getting a positive OPK and think it’s because you’re pregnant, any HPT should give you a line…but those two should definitely give you answers. 

  • It takes 70-90 days for a man to produce sperm. 

I didn’t know this until hubby had his first sperm analysis, SA, done. So that’s why SAs are typically done about 3 months apart. It’s also why it takes so long to see the benefits of changes in medications and supplements when it comes to count, motility, and morphology. Total side note…we also learned that something as simple as a low grade fever the day sperm production started can cause issues to show up on a SA. So try not to stress out too much if you get a wonky SA. Wait to worry until a follow up SA confirms there’s an issue. 

  • Pre-Seed has a pH level of 7.2-7.6. 

It’s designed to match our naturally elevated pH level during ovulation. The reason for this is because the normal pH level of sperm is 7.1-8. 

  • An evaporation line, evap, is a line that appears on a test after the time frame given in the instructions of the test. 

Some tests say to read the test before 10 minutes. Others say to read before 5 minutes. An evap occurs after the time frame as the test dries. It can be pink!!! Or blue, if you’re using a blue dye test. The point is, that it absolutely can have color. Evaps are not just grey. They can be thin lines or thick lines. If a test doesn’t have a line at the time limit, do not trust anything that shows up after the time frame. Even if it appears only a few minutes past the time limit. Test again in 24 hours. (I’m HORRIBLE about grabbing a test out of the trash even though I know I shouldn’t. So I totally get how hard this one is.) 

  • A good support system while TTC is a must!!! Your tribe will get you through!!!

Ok, I think I’ve droned on long enough. I’m sure there will be more posts sharing things I’ve learned. And if you’ve learned something you’d like to share, please leave a comment. And to close out, since it looks like today is going to be CD1 of an unmedicated cycle where I’ll actually be using OPKs again…I stock piled my test stash again. And of course, I had to share. I told y’all before I’m a tad nutzo. lol And the sad thing is, I had destashed like 150 tests during my Clomid rounds.  I’ll be ordering The Stork OTC tomorrow! And next cycle we’re probably on to IUI. 

Day of Hope

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One of my biggest supporters is Ashley from Pee On A Stick Freak. Sometimes I think she believes in me more than I do. lol So the other day, she was helping to promote my blog, Twitter, and Facebook page and asked me if I call my site a fertility site or an infertility site. I told her I call my site an infertility blog.

Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely am all about promoting fertility.  Everything in my being is focused around TTC and trying to improve my chances of having a baby. But I spent years running from the word “infertility”. It scared the shit out of me, if I’m being honest. And then I was officially diagnosed with it. I can no longer hide from it, it caught me.

infertile adjective: not fertile; unproductive; sterile; barren: infertile soil. 

(Thank you dictionary.com for making it so heartbreakingly blunt.)

Everything about infertility sucks! At least for me, I can’t speak for the entire world. It’s isolating, by definition…unproductive and barren. It’s a waste land of emptiness that you walk through. And you feel like you’re walking through it alone. Even though you’re not. My wonderfully supportive husband walks this path with me. He anxiously awaits the lab results, knows more about charting a menstrual cycle than he ever wanted to, and can tell you the sensitivity level of First Response EArly Results home pregnancy test. (For those of you wondering…they’re quantitative nor qualitative and are designed to pick up any amount of hCG in your system over the level of zero, per the manufacturer. I called them myself.) So, I am not alone on this journey, but at times I still feel like I am.

I’m in TTC groups online, and we all talk about the things that we are doing to try to get pregnant. And we do the “get to know you” games, like post the 12th pic in your camera roll. We talk about where we’re from, what our favorite color is, what’s your hobby to keep you busy during the TTW…two week wait, the time between ovulation and testing time/period. But even in the most supportive and loving groups, it’s rare to see anyone actually talking about infertility. It’s the elephant in the room…we all know that the majority of us are in these groups because we’ve had issues getting and/or staying pregnant, but we all ignore that particular aspect. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll see the occasional post about wanting to quit, or someone struggling at the moment with their emotions, and we all know that we can absolutely reach out for support when we need it, but for the most part the posts are mostly upbeat & casual.

So when I say I’m not alone, I mean I am surrounding by loving and supportive people.

I consider myself an incurable optimist. I always look for the silver lining. There is always something beautiful in a situation. You just have to want to see it, and sometimes you have to really search hard for it…but, it’s always there. So I completely understand not wanting to ruin the mood of a group by posting something sad. No one wants a Debbie Downer at a party. And no wants to be one. But sometimes, in the process of keeping a happy mask on, we isolate ourselves even more.

Infertility is a struggle. And it’s scary. It’s something that not everyone will understand or know how to talk to you about. It can be uncomfortable for someone who has never experienced it. But it will ALWAYS be uncomfortable if we never talk about it. It will ALWAYS be something that isolates us as long as we allow it to by only dealing with it inside our own heads. As long as we try to hide from it, it’s going to continue to be a taboo topic to bring up and discuss openly about.

I don’t know if I will ever have a baby. I want it more than I can even begin to describe. My heart and soul ache for it. But the reality is, I don’t know if it will ever happen for me. I know that I pray this new doctor will be able to help us. I pray every day. And my prayer is that I will one day overcome the word “infertility”. But in order to do that, in order to truly overcome the word, I first have to acknowledge that it is my current reality. It is, unfortunately, a part of my life. And ignoring it won’t change that.

So, yes, this is a blog about infertility and what it has done to my life. And I’m proud of that…because one day, hopefully, I will be able to say that I kicked infertility’s ass! In every way possible…not just by having a baby. So for now, I am not going to let infertility rule my life with fear. I will not let it isolate me, I will not stay quiet about it. I will own this!

So on this Carly Marie Project Heal Day of Hope, I am breaking the silence surrounding infertility and offering my support to anyone who is struggling with it. You are not alone!