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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. 

An App Is Just An App

(So this post might be a rambling one, that seems to have no real point. But that’s kind of the day I’m having. So, Happy Women’s Day! lol)

I know I’ve said a few times before that I am a *BIG* temp pusher when it comes to TTC. My app of choice is Fertility Friend. I’ve used several apps, but that is the only I’ve stuck with. For me, it’s the most accurate. But it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

The tracking apps can be used in several different ways. It can be a date tracker, where all you put in are the dates each month when your cycle starts. It can be a BBT tracker, where you track your basal body temperature each day to confirm ovulation. You can use them to track daily cervical position, cervical fluid/mucus, symptoms, and OPK testing to help track your fertile window. Or you can do it all. As you might guess…I do it all. (Well, except cervical position. Haven’t gotten that down.) 

But, I’ve learned the more information you put into it, the more accurate it is. And the longer you use it, the more accurate it is. It learns your patterns and can help predict better based on them. 

For example…if all you use it for is a date tracker, it gives you a projected fertile window & expected period start date based on what is “average” for your cycle length. Which, can be WAY off for you specifically. So, I always say to use them to their fullest. Especially if you’re using a paid version of the app. 

But I have also learned that no matter how much information you put into an app…it’s still just an app. Life will always be life. It can alway surprise you. 

Five of the last six cycles have been medicated. So I didn’t do OPKs during those cycles because of the scans I was having to track progress. But when we decided to go unmedicated this cycle while we worked out some things in preparation for IUI, I decided to go back to the full on crazy OPK testing lady that I use to be. Hence, the outrageously nutzo test stash pics you’ve seen. 

Now, typically during an unmedicated cycle, my usual cycle length is average 32 days and I ovulate sometime between CD16 & 19. The rule of thumb on OPK testing, if I remember right, is to start testing 16 days before your period is expected. It’s another rule that’s based on dates only…so it’s based on a 14 day luteal phase being the “average”. My avareage luteal phase is 13 days. And, I have been known to have an occasional wonky cycle where I’ve ovulated on CD10 or 11. So I decided to start my OPK testing on CD5…just to be safe. And it’s not like I don’t have enough tests to cover a couple weeks worth of testing, should I need it. 

So, based on what Fertility Friend knows of my cycle…after years of using it, this was my OPK Optimizer for this cycle. And it lined up pretty much with what I was also thinking my cycle would look like. But because I’ve had those crazy cycles before…

And I’m glad I did. Because my cycle appears to be going rouge.What a difference 24 hours makes. Positive OPK on CD10. Which puts me most likely ovulating some time today, CD11. So, while my cycle history suggests that I’m “Probably Not Fertile”…everything else says otherwise. Now, again life can still be a factor. I’ve had cycles where I’ve gotten a positive OPK, complete with fertile cervical mucus…and not ovulated with that surge. Sometimes I surged again within a few days. Other times, it took weeks before I surged again. So, I may not be in my fertile window after all. I won’t know until I get those beautiful crosshairs at 3DPO confirming a temp shift. 

But the point I’m trying to make…in an extremely long way…is that an app, even with a lot of information, is still just an app. It’s a guesstimate. And there’s a good chance that I could have missed my fertile window if I solely relied on the suggestion it made. It’s still just one tool available. And you should take everything into consideration. 

So follow your gut! If you think you need to start testing early, start testing early. If you feel like you should test until you get that confirmed temp shift…test away! This is your journey. And it is unique to you. So don’t worry about not doing it the way someone else does it. Do it the way you need to do it to feel like you’re doing it the optimal way for you. The most important thing is to make an informed decision. That way you KNOW you’re making the right decision for you. 

***The OPK Optimizer is a relatively newer tool to Fertility Friend. I have a paid subscription to the app. I am not sure if that is tool strictly for the paid subscription or it’s available on the free version as well.***