Pros: Can really be helpful to determine ovulation if you don't have a regular cycle
Cons: may be hard to read, and doesn't mean you can just get pregnant.
If you have never had to pee on a stick, you haven?t lived. I have practically turned this into an art form, in my pursuit, along side my persistent husband, to get ourselves pregnant.
I have peed on ovulation sticks to determine when the ?right time? is, and on pregnancy sticks to eagerly see if this would finally be ?the month.?
I have thrown all my sticks away, as I cannot stand it anymore. I go to the ?facilities? now stickless, but at least I have some dignity in tact.
But let me back up. I think this ordeal is worth sharing with my friends at Epinions. I am sure countless others have ?been there? but I feel sharing my story for the sake of those who have yet to go through this, will make it easier for them to face all sorts of barriers and frustrations in their pursuit to have a baby.
Almost 2 years ago, my husband and I got married. As I was 39 at the time, we decided not to wait to have children and ?got on the job? right away?after settling into 3 months of marriage. In the beginning, it was great. No need for birth control! How great was that?!
Then one week later, I got laid off from my job, and we had to make the difficult decision that ?now? was not the time. I needed to find work and not knowing how my body would react to pregnancy, I couldn?t see job hunting under those conditions. (?Yes, I am very interested in being hired by you, sir, but could you excuse me a minute? I think I?m going to be sick?? Yeah, right.)
So from February 2000 until December 2000, we suspended the baby attempt while I looked for another job. In the middle of that time, I turned 40, and I just couldn?t celebrate. I had no job on the horizon, and I could hear the ?clock? ticking louder and louder.
Finally, I landed a job in December, and after waiting two months to acclimate to the job, we decided to start trying again. No problem?how hard could this be? After all, teenage girls do it once in the back seat of a car and presto. Baby on the way. But we have a fairly small car, and the back seat wasn?t my image of a love nest, so we opted for a more romantic setting.
After two months of disappointment, I decided on the recommendation of a friend to try these ovulation predictor sticks. I have always been erratic cycle-wise, and I just wasn?t sure when ovulation might be occurring. All you had to do was pee on the stick and if, in the test window on the stick, your line was as dark or darker than the base comparison line, it meant you were 12-36hrs away from ovulation. Time to hit the sack.
?Oh sweetie?.Sweetie?SWEETIE!!! Wanna come to bed? You?re tired? You can?t be that tired, Sweetie??
And the dance began again. I was always told ?never tell your husband you are ovulating because that will kill the romance." Well, I knew it was ovulation time, but I guess if I didn?t tell him that fact, it could make it romantic and spontaneous for one of us, right?
A few more months go by. I am, on one hand, grateful for the ovulation sticks, as I can fairly easily read them (other people say they have difficulty reading the results), and have learned that my ovulation can occur anywhere from day 12 to day 24. (Try hitting a target like that in the bullseye?) On the other hand, I am exhausted from staring at the little window on the predictor stick for what seems like hours (it?s only a few minutes) to see if ?it?s time? based on my line versus the base line.
It got so routine, I began to put ?pee on stick-day 10, day 11, day 12, etc.? in my palm pilot, and so on, with a reminder to ?do it? during the peak time. Not exactly the romance we experienced as newlyweds, and not exactly the way I expected to try to make a baby. (Is there something inherently fertile in the vinyl of the back seat of car? Still, I refuse to go there.)
So I see my doctor to get her advice. She tells me to try for another month or two, and if nothing works, to go on Clomid, a prescription medication which basically causes extra eggs to be released, and makes those eggs superman strong. I am hesitant to take any drug, and this one is known to cause fibroids to grow in size if you happen to have them, as I do. I don?t love that idea, so I wait.
A few months later, nothing doing. I am sent for an FSH test (checks the hormone levels in your blood), and the results are very good. A small sigh of relief. My husband gets his ?boys? tested. All is well on that front.
Next, I am to take an HSG test (Hysterosalpingagram), where they insert a catheter into the uterus (which doesn?t hurt) and then shoot clear dye in there to see if the dye will flow through the fallopian tubes to ensure there is no blockage. That part I did not enjoy, as it really made me cramp up. Not to mention it is very hard to find a female doctor who performs this procedure for reasons that are beyond me.
After that procedure (which I wish someone had told me to take Advil an hour beforehand), they tell me it is likely I will get pregnant, as this often clears the tubes and voila, the body gets pregnant. I am hoping they are right as I am also taking Clomid for the first time. How could I go wrong?
Again, I get my period, and am devastated. My doctor tells me to go to a specialist who can do more for me. And gives me his name. Again, I ask if there isn?t a female doctor she can recommend?there isn?t. My doctor tells me to focus on what is important and just go to this guy who is supposed to be great. Dejected, I relent.
I go to a place called RMA and meet with Dr. Barry Sandler. He is very warm and kind and I feel a lot more at home than I expect. First, we just talk. He tells me that 10 months of trying isn?t really considered ?infertility? (a year of trying is the classic definition) but he understands given my age, that it likely feels just as frustrating.
I tell him my saga to date. I tell him about my huge ovulation range and that I have been peeing on these fabulous sticks. I tell him about the FSH test and the HSG test, and that I have been on 50mgs of Clomid for a second month now. He asks if the Clomid has dried me out (?yes, it?s nice to meet you, too, how nice of you to ask about my vaginal fluid on our first get together??). Yes, it has (I hadn?t realized that it might do that, but apparently it does that to 25% of women who take it.)
So now, I am faced with more fertile eggs and the Sahara Desert for the little soldiers to travel through to get to them. Wonderful.
He suggests insemination, but doesn?t push it on me. He explains that this way, the soldiers get right to the battlefield where the eggs are, so the desert conditions thereby don?t matter (well, ok, he used more medical terminology than that, but that was my loose interpretation?)
I think about insemination?not exactly the bastion of romance. But then I think about our end goal, and our sex life of recent months?
?Honey, you want to come to bed??
?Aren?t you tired??
?Yes, are you??
?Exhausted. Are you ovulating??
?Yes, I think so.?
?So, you wanna??
?No, do you??
?No, I?m tired.?
?So are we going to??
?Yeah, I guess so??
And all of a sudden, insemination doesn?t seem so inappropriate. I talk it over with my husband, and he?s ok with it. The man should get a medal through all of this. He has been a trouper from the very beginning. We decide to do the insemination and then go it ?naturale? the next day, so we can never be exactly sure if it was the insemination or a night of passion that does the trick should we be so lucky. I am hopeful, but disconnected from the whole thing by this point. I cannot take anymore disappointments, and the only way I cope is to just not think about it. Or at least not be hopeful. It is all I think about.
What they did was to check to see if there were any eggs in my ovaries (a vaginal sonogram, which does not hurt, tells us there are 3 on one side, one on the other), and inject my butt with something to make them release the next day. The next morning, the insemination takes place. ?Honey? gets to have a romantic time with a cup, and submit his soldiers for ?washing? to get rid of dead sperm and take out the hormones from his seminal fluid, which apparently should not be in the uterus and do not enter the uterus under normal fertilizing conditions. I picture doctors with rubber gloves and a bottle of Wisk. I am sure that is not how they do it, but it mystifies me as to how it is done.
An hour later, they inseminate me. Similar to the HSG, they insert a catheter, and then put the sperm in there. One big difference to the HSG is that the insemination does not hurt at all. And they only require you lie there for about 5 minutes. I won?t even tell you how long I have been lying in bed ?after? to make sure the boys don?t escape. And did I mention that a different doctor did the insemination (did it occur to me to ask if my doctor would be on call the next day for the ?big event?? Another male doctor walks in and 5 seconds after meeting him, we are up close and personal. Did someone say dignity? I don?t even remember what that word means, but he was very nice.)
I ask this doctor, ?of the 3 eggs on one side and the one on the other, how many will get released?? He replied, ?All of them.? To which I quipped, ?Well, I am willing to pay for private school for 2 of them but you?ll have to pay for the other two, if it comes to that.? He said, ?fine.? I guess you have to have a sense of humor amidst all this every day. He also explained that only 8% of women have a multiple pregnancy when they take Clomid. Only a NY city woman would think, ?Oh, G-d, it can?t be twins because it is so hard to get twins into private school.? I must be losing my mind, but that was my first thought. And my next thought was that 8% chance of rain, means that you need an umbrella, but we digress.
Meanwhile my husband is boasting that he has 1million and five soldiers. I think of my four innocent eggs. It hardly seems like a fair fight.
Two weeks later, peeing master that I am, I take out a pregnancy test kit and pee on the stick. It works the same way as the ovulation stick. If no line shows up, you?re not pregnant, if there is a line, you are.
It is negative. I am beyond devastated?I have now very precisely been fertilized and it has not worked. I am now for the first time feeling it will never happen. And all the while, about 5-6 friends have had a baby in the last year. I am so very happy for them, but I wonder how they were able to do it, when we have been so unsuccessful.
I do what comes naturally to me. I pick a fight with my husband. And I mean a DOOZY of a fight. Screaming at the top of my lungs. Ok, shrieking. All I need is for my head to spin around and have pea soup come out of my face and I am the living Exorcist sequel.
I hate those freaking sticks. The ovulation sticks, the pregnancy sticks, I just want to pee in peace.
A week later my period has still not come. I go to RMA and the nurse tells me to take a blood test even though Mr. Stick says I am not pregnant, and we can go from there based on the results.
Later that day, the phone rings. My husband answers, and it is the nurse from RMA.
He hangs up the phone, and comes over to me.
?Honey, you?re pregnant.?
I am stunned. I stare at him for a second, unable to take in what he has said. I burst into tears. All the numbness melts and I am a basket case. We are both crying.
That was three months ago. Save for a small staining scare at one point (which is apparently very common, but I did not know that at the time), all is well. And only one egg in there. Which is fine by me. I don?t know if I could handle more than that.
The little bundle is to arrive in April.
I thought about my four eggs, and my husband?s 1 million and five soldiers. The way I see it, the one egg ran a diversion to allow the other three to escape. I see that as a victory for my eggs, given the odds. I tell this to my husband smugly. He looks at me like I am insane.
And no more sticks to pee on. [For the record, I probably used the pregnancy test a few days before my body produced enough hormones to show up as positive, so if you see a negative, and don?t get your period, either take it again a week later, or just go get a blood test which is much more definitive.]
I dedicate this epinion to my friend, theeye, who has been a great cheerleader throughout, and I hope that she didn?t hear the news during the break fast at her house the other night after Yom Kippur. I wanted her to hear it from me this way. I thought it would be most fitting.
Postscript: on April 9th, 2002 Mr. and Mrs. Crankybeer were blessed with a 7lb 13oz perfect little boy. All of you said it would be a girl. Even my mother secretly bought a cute little dress because she "knew" it was a girl. I had dreamt it was a boy and nobody would listen to me. "You're having a girl," they said dismissively.
Ha. Look in his diaper if you don't believe me. I told you so.
His mommy and daddy love him more and more every day. One more smile or giggle out of that precious little face and I will have to bite his little cheeks...
PS. I just saw the ovulation sticks at COSTCO for like $21, which is way cheaper than the $27 I paid every month.