Conception Journey…Trials and Tribulations

This post continues from here.

The first ovulation test was done. Errrrr, what do these lines mean exactly? OK, so they should be the EXACT SAME colour, right? One shouldn’t be paler than the other. Oh, one’s a test line, I see. How confusing. I have a test line and another line, but they aren’t the same shade of pink. Ovulation ain’t happening in the next 48 hours. Cool, I’ll try again tomorrow.

Tomorrow comes, same results. And the next day, and the day after that. You get the picture. So does this mean I’m not ovulating? Bugger. Not what I was expecting, but this was the first cycle I was trying this, and we were still trying to get pregnant nonetheless. Maybe I just hadn’t done the test right.

Needless to say, this continued for a good few cycles. The tests were never really conclusive, I was not sure I was doing them properly, either at the right time in my cycle, or at the right time in the day. Some days the lines were close in colour, others they were complete opposites. I’d take pictures of the lines and send them to Bobby to see what he thought. He couldn’t tell either.

I look back at this now and I realise how much unnecessary stress I was putting on myself! I really thought the tests would guide us a bit more, help us pinpoint the days I was ovulating but they seemed to be doing anything but. I swapped brands, trying the Tesco ones instead. I had a bit more luck with these, the two lines very often seemed more similar, and I’d convinced myself I must be ovulating. But still no pregnancy.

Bobby showed a massive amount of interest in this part of the process. I’m lucky, he wanted to be involved, he wanted to know what was going on with my cycle, to know when we should start trying etc. He asked me question after question, and I have to admit, it made me feel more pressured. Not because he made me feel bad, or that he put that pressure on me. I pressured myself.  I felt like I should be the expert on this, I’d done the research, I’d read the guidance out there, I should know what’s what. But I didn’t know. I wasn’t an expert. I’m just me, and I just want us to get pregnant, and I was failing.

By now we were approaching Summer 2012, and it was over a year since we’d started trying. I kept repeating ‘It can take up to two years to get pregnant, don’t worry’, but I never really believed it. Not really. I’d started imagining something was wrong, that there was a reason I couldn’t get pregnant, and it scared me. It really did. Obsessed is not the word I would use to describe how I was feeling, because I’m not that kind of person. But it was on my mind, all the time, and I knew that wasn’t healthy. I needed to change my outlook on this whole situation, and my behaviour.

I ditched the ovulation tests. They’d never given me any confidence anyway, and all it felt like I was doing was staring at stick for answers. What I should be doing, is stop the worrying, and start enjoying the journey again. So I let it go, and it was a wonderfully easy thing to do, and it lifted both me and Bobby in spirits. I started thinking positively about the whole thing, and took a lot of inspiration from my older sister Yvette, who at 37 had just had her second child. It gave me hope that time wasn’t running out for me, that all I needed was to focus on my health and happiness, and let this happen on it’s own timetable.

Suzy Signature

Working Mother Guilt

I returned to work when my daughter was 9 months old. I had 10 months Maternity Leave, needing to finish work early because of Pelvic Girdle Pain (sometimes referred to as SPD). I was later diagnosed with Joint Hypermobility Syndrome which explained some of the difficulties I was having physically, but more about that in a later post.

When I went back, I was desperately sad that I would be spending far less time with my daughter but I knew I needed to return to work and having agreed to go back part time on three days a week, I felt I was doing the minimum. I was reassured knowing that I still had 4 days with her – I was fixated on the fact that she was with me over 50% of the time so it was fine.

At first, it went really well. Adrenaline saw me through the first couple of months and I felt like I was Super-Woman! I was being really efficient at work and then I was being fun-mommy on my days off and (sort of) keeping on top of the house. I felt brilliant! Then my spark went out. Good lord, I was tired.

I was working long hours Tuesday-Thursday to try to fit in 5 days worth of work into the 3 days I was in the office. I realised I had to do that as it is very difficult to work from home with a toddler who wants to press all the keys on the laptop and draw over all of your files! My husband works in retail so often works weekends so I was finding that I was doing 3 or 4 days of solo parenting after 3 exhausting days at work. Something had to change.

After a great deal of time deliberating, I decided I had to go up to 4 days. My work was suffering and I was so tired and stretched that I was getting super grumpy with Hubby and I didn’t have the energy to have exciting adventures with my daughter. It seemed daft to be doing all that extra work and not being paid for it too.

The first Monday was so tough. I sobbed in the shower. I sobbed when getting dressed. I sobbed into my cheerios. I felt so guilty. I felt like I chose Mondays for ME. I wasn’t strong enough to make 3 days work. I wasn’t strong enough to manage 3 days at work, 4 days with my daughter. I was choosing work over her.

The rational side of my brain said don’t be ridiculous. A happy mother is a happy child. However, the emotional side of my brain kept arguing back and making me doubt myself. I’ll keep fighting it. This is best for all of us. It’s best for all of us. It’s best for all of us. If I keep saying it, the rational part will win over the emotional part, right?

I honestly have so much respect for single parents! In fact, I just have respect for ALL parents. We are all just doing the best we can and no doubt will continue to feel guilty about everything!

My aim is to ensure that I keep to normal office hours on the 4 days I am in work so that I can make the most of the couple of hours in the evening before my daughter’s bedtime and for our 3 days together to be fun. Fingers crossed I make this work.

How are you balancing things?

My beautiful baby & fur-baby

My beautiful baby & fur-baby

Clare Signature

Conception Journey…The first stages

This post follows on from here .

The first stages of baby making are easy peasy. A doddle. The sex is fun, you are both so incredibly excited about the possibility of getting pregnant, it’s just such a wonderful time. Other than the restrictions of your monthly period, there’s no stress, worries or even calendar consulting. We were so pleased with the decision we’d made to step forward with our plans for a family, it buoyed us through a good many months of trying.

And that’s how it should be, right? A promising, exciting time. When you should let Mother Nature do her work, while having loads of incredible sex along the way. It’s one of the most natural things in the world, a primal instinct to bring another life into the world, to create a family. And should you be lucky, you will be blessed with a baby, in due course. And that’s what we believed, we hoped and we wanted. It will happen, give it time. Don’t worry darling, we’ve only been trying for six months!

I’m a doer in life. Once I’ve made a decision on something, I crack straight on with it. No messing around, let’s get it done. So once we were at the winter of late 2012, I thought maybe I should do a bit of research on ovulation, and the best time in your cycle to get pregnant. I’d already got a great app on my phone which I always tracked my cycles with, but Clare recommended trying the iPeriod app as this also predicted your ovulation dates, and also had a monthly breast checker reminder. So I put in my data, and was intrigued by the dates it was suggesting would be the best time to get pregnant. I still use this app now.  I also read about your body temperature changing after ovulation, so I went a bought a little thermometer, and religiously took my temp at the same time every day, noting it my app.

We focussed our baby making time around the ‘green week’ as it’s called on the app, making sure we were trying at least every other day. I was taking my temp, but wasn’t really noticing a spike around my so called ovulation days. I did a bit of research online and boy, did I get scared. Not a good idea, FYI. The forums I found were filled with so called experts on ovulation spouting facts and tips like they were gospel. Luckily, I have a pretty sensible head on my shoulders, so I avoided the forums and went to professional sites to see if I could get any advice. The temperature recording was something they recommended doing, although they all talked about the Body Basal Temperature, which I wasn’t convinced I was doing properly with mine. A lot of them recommended trying ovulation kits as well as the temperature charting.

Off to Boots I went, and found they offered two ovulation kits, the Boots own brand (£10 approx) and the Clearblue one (£16 approx). I opted for the Boots own brand, it contained around 7 tests, thinking I’d only need them for a couple of months, and then I could always try the more expensive one if I wanted.  I read the instructions, understood what I needed to do, and when I needed to do it, and waited for the right time in my cycle to start the test.

Around 11 days into my cycle, I decided to do the test. Of COURSE it fell on a work day. The test involves peeing on a stick, leaving it 5 minutes and then going to see what the results say. I work in an incredibly small office, and not only was it difficult to smuggle the test into the loo without anyone seeing, I then had to go back in the loo five minutes later to see what the score was. I felt SO self concious. In all honesty, the guys who I work with were paying zero attention to me, and even if they were, wouldn’t have a clue what was going on anyway.

So there you have it, my first ovulation test was done. How had I gotten to this point? I was so convinced it would just happen for us, it was a struggle for me to think that maybe we needed a bit of help. Oh, how little I knew.

Suzy Signature

Wedding Wednesday – Suzy’s Guest List

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The Guest List is very tricky terrain, very tricky indeed. Before you start to compile your guest list you need to remember two things:

  • It’s YOUR day, you and your partners. No one else’s.
  • You will never please everyone.
So, with that in mind, you need to start with your first draft guest list.
We wanted to start with the maximum number of people we would like to be at our wedding, for both day and evening. We wrote separate guest lists, and included everyone we would like to be there. We did this because we felt it was important to know the biggest number of guests who we might invite, so that when it came to budget and venue choices, we would know where to start from.
We then compared lists, and I absolutely didn’t get huffy when my husband forgot to put my great aunt on his list! Seriously though, it’s good to do them separately so you try toinclude everyone, and there’s no danger of forgetting any loved ones.
Next, we marked all of those who featured on both guest lists as definites-ish. I say ‘ish’ because before you’ve even chosen the venue, you can’t have an absolute definitive list of guests, it’s just not possible. At this point we totalled up all our ‘definites’ and then looked at how many others didn’t feature on both lists.

 

Now onto the frank discussions on the guests who didn’t make both of our lists at this point. Culling is such a vulgar word, but it really does fit the activity so well in this case. Long past work colleagues, distant relatives your partner has never met, your parents next door neighbours….you get the jist. So now we had a better idea of our guests, and ball park numbers. One thing I would say though, if you have a group of friends you would like to invite (for example old uni pals), be mindful of whether you will invite their partners or not. I think it’s only fair to be consistent with your guest invitations, to avoid any unnecessary hard feelings.
Allocating day and evening guests came next, for example, close friends were included for the day, and other friends for the evening. This doesn’t have to be definitive at this point, but when you go to visit or enquire about venues, your guest numbers are quite important so you need to know roughly where you are with it. And remember, it could all be subject to change, nothing is set in stone!

 

We didn’t do anything else with the guest list until we had decided on our venue. The reason for this is we didn’t have a very big wedding, with 60 guests for the day and a further 40 guests for the evening, and we pretty much knew the split at this point, and we would revisit it again once we had decided. However, you may decide to work on finalising the guest list before you make the decision on the venue, whatever suits you best.
Part of revisiting the guest list was going through it with our parents. We wanted to make sure they were happy with what we’d decided, particularly because they were contributing to the cost of the wedding. We had a few additions, and a few guests put down for the day instead of the evening, but we were all happy in the end.

 

However, I know this isn’t the case for some weddings, and this is where I refer back to the two things you need to remember above. It’s so important to stick by them, and be as accommodating and willing to compromise if you can to keep your loved ones, and most of all you and your partner, happy. From the tales I’ve heard, the couple getting married are usually in agreement (which, let’s face it, should be the most important thing), and it’s the families who get all upset because certain people aren’t included. Explain your reasoning, and be honest, if it’s because of budget, say so. There’s nothing wrong with admitting your financial constraints to your family. If it’s because the venue has maximum numbers, explain that too. This is one of the reasons we went through this with our parents after we had picked the venue, it felt to us like the guest list was a little more non-negotiable because we’d already made the commitment on the venue.

 

We decided to send Save The Dates out once we had booked the venue because our wedding was on a Friday and we wanted to make sure that our guests could get the time off work if necessary. We had a few guests at that point confirm they unfortunately couldn’t come, so of course we looked at changing the guest list again. We did the same for when the wedding RSVP’s came back too, as sadly some of my aunts and uncles were not able to make it to the wedding. While we were naturally disappointed some of our guests couldn’t make it, it did mean we could invite some more people in the end.

 

Children

 

Children at a wedding are a wonderful thing. They are the first ones on the dancefloor, you’re guaranteed some cuteness in your photos and they will look adorable all dressed up for the day. However, as my friends always remind me, they are hard work for the parents. Also, some venues are not child friendly. So a little more thought does need to go into deciding on whether to invite children to your wedding.
We looked at it a couple of ways as we knew there would be some children at our wedding – my sister had two children and we had already decided on who the bridesmaids, ushers and flower girl would be (all under 11). Did we want to go all out and invite every child of every guest that was coming? The venue wasn’t particularly child friendly, and only had a limited number of rooms for guests to stay over, so we thought there would be some limitations on that front. We also asked our friends who had got kids how they felt about having their children invited as well, and we were met with a very resounding NO from them all! It’s a long day to be running around after your kid and entertaining them non stop, and they all said they’d like to come and actually enjoy the wedding, get dressed up and have an adult conversation! So for some guests, we knew no offence would be taken by not inviting the children.
Other than immediate family and the wedding party, we made the decision that no other children would be invited. I have to say, I think we got the balance just right, with 9 children coming in total. We entertained them just fine by putting on some garden games and activities.
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I hope you find these points helpful when working on you guest list, would love to hear your thoughts!
Suzy xx