Feeds:
Posts
Comments

If there’s one thing that this Two Week Wait has taught me, it’s that I really need to work on my patience. So many women wait months, if not years, to conceive, and here I am in my very first cycle acting like a two-year-old. But what can I say? I’m excited.

So far, though, no real news. As in, no positive pregnancy tests to report (but many, many negative ones). It’s now two days before my missed period, and despite the disappointing single pink line, it’s been a promising few days: I think I am experiencing some pretty clear pregnancy symptoms. I could, of course, be wrong, but a few things have occurred that make me think I might actually be making a baby.

It started on Wednesday night, when Michael and I were grocery shopping to prepare for our trip to the country on Thursday (which, by the way, was lovely: we took our dog canoeing for the first time!). While we were out, I noticed some twinges that felt like menstrual cramps, but they were mild and I assumed they were digestion-related. Later on, they got more pronounced and much more easily recognizable as cramps; it was seven days past ovulation, so I guessed (or shall I say, hoped) they might be implantation cramps. Then, about a half hour after we went to bed (I couldn’t sleep), I had the strangest experience: I felt strong warmth irradiating from my uterus. Seriously. I know it sounds crazy, but it felt very real. It really felt like something profound was happening in there. I got incredibly emotional and almost woke up my husband. I felt like I was getting pregnant.

The next morning I awoke and the feeling was gone. Immediately, of course, I began doubting myself. I went through the whole day thinking, “You did NOT feel warmth irradiating from your uterus, stupid.” Not to mention the fact that “heat irradiating from abdominal region” is not exactly a recognized early pregnancy symptom. But I also couldn’t shake that feeling of certainty. At the time, I just knew what I was feeling was real.

Thursday went by without any symptoms. Then, Friday afternoon, I noticed that my breasts were tender. I didn’t think too much of it because I knew it could be a PMS symptom, but on Saturday and Sunday they got worse. And now I am certain that this isn’t PMS. If it is, it’s super evil mutant PMS. My boobs are WAY more tender than they ever have been; they literally feel bruised. And that, I am certain, is a pregnancy sign.

Finally, today, I’ve been feeling bouts of nausea. I realize it’s a bit early for morning sickness, and part of me thinks I’m inventing the feeling, but it’s pretty strong. After breakfast I wretched but did not actually throw up; after lunch I felt queasy for a good half hour. I also felt weird after I exercised. Since I never get nauseous (well, except when I’m hungover), I think this could be what I’m hoping it is.

Still, I must await that positive pregnancy test. Until then, I know nothing for sure. After all, pregnancy isn’t the only thing that could be causing these symptoms. My baby-yearning mind could be, too.

Just a quick post today—I’m still alive and no, I haven’t gone insane! I’ve been wrapping up a bunch of loose ends as hubby and I are taking a long weekend together in the countryside starting tomorrow evening. I’ll try my best to post tomorrow, but can’t promise it.

No news on the pregnancy front. Just waiting for that BFP! (That’s big fat positive to those of you who, like me, are struggling with some of this pregnancy lingo.) I’ll be bringing plenty of tests with me on our trip and hoping for the best. Other than my husband, you will be the first to know!

Also, two things I learned today about breastfeeding that I want to share: apparently the government has just ruled that health insurance companies must provide free breast-feeding counseling to new mothers. Hooray! And for those of you that haven’t already heard, the new health care bill will require employers with more than 50 workers to provide working moms with break times and private rooms for pumping. Good news all around for moms-to-be.

Finally, I want to point you towards the Healthy Child Splendor in the Grass Blog Carnival, which features some great posts about protecting children from toxic chemicals in the great outdoors.  I’ll admit I’m a little biased, as my post Fleeing the Flea made it into the mix.

Until next time, ciao!

It’s now day five in my Two Week Wait, and I’ve turned into a completely irrational being. I’m paranoid: when my husband chose not to wash his hands on our way out to dinner after taking out the trash, I silently fumed and worried about whether his germs would affect our potential unborn baby for half an hour. I’m unrealistic: Although I know that my egg hasn’t even arrived in my uterus yet, I took a pregnancy test a few minutes ago, which was, duh, negative. And now, I’m overanalyzing: I’ve come to the conclusion that based on what are probably some pretty shaky statistics, my egg has almost certainly been fertilized.

Do I have pregnancy symptoms? Nope. Do I think I’m definitely going to get pregnant? Uh uh.

Let me explain. Here are two statistics I’ve read recently: #1. Women my age who are trying to conceive have only a 15-20 percent chance of getting pregnant in any given cycle. #2. 70 percent of fertilized eggs do not implant in the uterus (typically due to genetic abnormalities), according to What To Expect When You’re Expecting. If both statistics are true, then only 10-15 percent of women like me who don’t get pregnant can pin their failures on fertilization problems; the rest are the result of implantation failures.

I also have no reason to think that my egg hasn’t been fertilized. My husband and I had sex every day in the five days before ovulation; his sperm, my doctor says, are plenty rambunctious; and my fallopian tubes are clear. How, I ask, could his sperm not meet my egg?

The real question, then, is whether the egg successfully implants. And unfortunately, that is anyone’s guess. I’m trying to limit my risk factors as much as possible—I’m exercising, I’m eating lots of fruits and veggies, I’m limiting my exposures to chemicals, and I’m not smoking or drinking. But who knows if these will have any influence on my success or not. Here’s hoping.

In the meantime, I’m on the lookout for my next irrational behavior. I have a sneaking suspicion it might involve eating too much ice cream. So much for eating healthy.

Every pregnancy book and website regales tales of women who “knew” they were pregnant as soon as sperm met egg. Naturally, as I’m ending week one of my Two Week Wait, I’m over-analyzing every little thing my body is doing in the hopes of finding some evidence of pregnancy, too. My breasts are tender! Wait, they always are. My moods are all over the place! Eh, it’s probably just natural post-ovulatory hormone changes.

This make me wonder, though: are these gut feelings scientifically plausible? Is it really possible for a girl to “know” she’s pregnant, even before the egg implants in the uterus?

Call me cynical, but I don’t think so. Based on the reading I’ve done, a woman’s body doesn’t really know it’s pregnant until implantation occurs, which is typically 5 to 10 days post-ovulation. After conception, the egg starts dividing and traveling down the fallopian tube, but no pregnancy-specific hormonal changes take place (as far as I know—please correct me if I’m wrong!) until that egg attaches to the uterine wall, at which point the blastocyst splits and the developing placenta begins producing human chorionic gonadotropin, or HCG, the so-called pregnancy hormone. (That’s not to say that hormonal changes do not take place during these two weeks—there is a normal progesterone spike after every ovulation, which could be responsible for PMS, among other things.)

I’m not saying that women who claim to have immediate pregnancy symptoms are lying. Rather, I think that their symptoms are attributed to something else (some are perhaps even psychosomatic). I also suspect that many women who get these “gut feelings”  turn out to not actually be pregnant—but we don’t tend to hear about them.

Disagree? Have you experienced pregnancy symptoms in the first week after conception? I’d love to hear your comments.

Dirty cleaners

In one of my earlier posts, I talked about the importance of choosing safe personal care products. We come into regular contact with plenty of other chemicals, too—among them are our cleaning products, and as you might suspect, they are not all created equal.

According to the GoodGuide, a guide to safe household products developed by Dara O’Rourke, a professor of environmental science, policy, and management at UC Berkeley, some toilet bowl cleaners contain bromine, a suspected endocrine disruptor that causes liver, gastrointestinal and neural toxicity; many disinfectants contain 2-phenylphenol, a chemical that California recognizes as a carcinogen; and laundry detergents often contain phosphorus and 2-propanol, which, according to a 2006 study published in the Lancet, can cause neural and respiratory toxicity.

But you don’t have to resort to baking soda and vinegar (though that is certainly a safe option). There are nontoxic cleaners out there, and many of them are available at regular grocery stores. The problem is, you can’t necessary determine safety just by looking at the label—many so-called “green” or “natural” cleaners aren’t particularly green or natural (there are no regulations in place for these kinds of claims) . I’d recommend checking out the GoodGuide, which also has a handy iPhone app; another resource is MIT’s Green Alternatives Wizard, a database that provides safe alternatives for known chemicals and chemical processes.  And if you do have to use potentially toxic cleaning products from time to time, ventilate your workspace and wear gloves. Better yet, ask your husband to do the dirty work for you: just this morning, mine was kind enough to battle the mildew that was building up on our shower curtain. Sometimes, all you have to do is ask.

The Two Week Wait

Time for an update about little old me: according to my trusty ovulation predictor kit, I ovulated yesterday (hooray!), so now begins the very long Two Week Wait. I’m not quite sure how one passes this time without going absolutely bonkers, but we’ll see (and perhaps I will go bonkers; stay tuned!).

Getting pregnant could be a little more difficult for me than for some. My whole life I’ve had irregular cycles; my first period was induced at age 17, at which point I immediately went on birth control. My doctor suspected, at the time, that I might have PCOS, but there was little discussion of what that might mean—I was just told that the Pill would regulate everything until I wanted to get pregnant.

When my husband and I got married last year, I went off the Pill to see what would happen. As I feared, my cycles were all over the place; sometimes I’d get my period every 6 weeks, other times every 12. In March, my concerns led me to a reproductive endocrinologist, and let me tell you: it was the best thing I ever did. My doctor gave me a battery of tests to figure out what was going on. First came a vaginal ultrasound to look for ovarian cysts (I have them), followed by blood tests at several points in my cycle to determine if my sex hormones and insulin levels are normal (they are), as well as a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) to confirm that my fallopian tubes are clear (yes!). Finally, just to be thorough, they checked my husband’s sperm to see if they were healthy (indeed, as he assured me, they are just fine).

After all this, my doctor concluded that I probably don’t have PCOS. Despite the fact that I have cysts on my ovaries and my cycles are irregular, my hormones and insulin look pretty normal, I’m not overweight, and I don’t suffer from hirsutism (excess hairiness). (As an aside, this whole experience made clear to me just how vague the PCOS diagnostic criteria are; my doctor said that it’s often a matter of opinion.) Ultimately, she said, I should be plenty fertile: It just might take me longer to conceive since I don’t ovulate regularly.

Imagine my joy, then, when the little pink line on my ovulation predictor kit appeared on Tuesday. It was day 24 of my cycle—I had been testing for 12 days straight—and boy, was I ready! Now we just have to wait and see what fate befalls my little egg. Will it find a mate and become my future child? Or, more likely, will we be doing this all over again next month? Check with me in two weeks to find out—if my husband hasn’t committed me by then.

Fleeing the flea

I’m a light sleeper, which means I wake up pretty much every time my dog has an itch. And in the height of summer flea season, that happens a lot. But as much as I don’t want our pup to suffer—and I certainly dont want him to develop Lyme Disease, which is very much on the rise in the U.S.—I’m also loathe to use harsh chemicals to keep him insect-free, especially now that I’m trying to conceive.

Many brand-name flea and tick treatments contain organophosphates and carbamates—chemicals that, according to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), disrupt enzymes that transmit nerve signals in the insect brain. Problem is, the pathways that these chemicals affect also exist in dogs and in humans. So anytime you take in a whiff of your pup’s flea treatment, it’s potentially affecting you and your unborn child—and according to recent research, we’re inhaling these whiffs all the time. In January, researchers publishing in Environmental Research reported finding traces of the chemical propoxur, a carbamate used in many flea and tick treatments, in the stools of 23 percent of newborns, and in the hair of 21 percent of pregnant women tested.

How do these chemicals harm us and our children? As for us, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention admits that “long-term exposure to organophosphates can cause confusion, anxiety, loss of memory, loss of appetite, disorientation, depression, and personality changes.” Yikes. But it’s far scarier to think about exposing your unborn baby. A 2007 study published in Pediatric Blood & Cancer reported that rates of a rare leukemia were twice as high in children who had been exposed to propostur prenatally, and a 2005 study published in Neurotoxicology reported that women who were exposed to organophosphates during pregnancy were more likely than other women to give birth to children with abnormal reflexes. (I’ve previously addressed why chemical exposures in the womb are especially dangerous.) Since these chemicals have the potential to affect the developing nervous system, young children are also likely to be harmed. (To find out if your flea and tick treatment contains these chemicals, check out the NRDC’s GreenPaws Product Directory.)

How, then, to keep your pet flea- and tick-free? Many people swear by herbal oil-based flea treatments, but some dogs and people are allergic to them, so test them out carefully. (The herbs that are least likely to cause problems are cedarwood, lemongrass, peppermint, rosemary and thyme.) If you want to steer clear of topical solutions entirely, comb and bathe your pet, wash your pet’s bedding and vacuum your house regularly; often, that makes all the difference. And hey, while you’re at it, send a quick email petition to major pet stores asking them to stop stocking these dangerous flea and tick treatments—it’s hard to find a good reason to keep them around.

*Note added 7.15.2010: This post will be part of the Healthy Child Blog Carnival, an effort by Healthy Child Healthy World to help inspire a movement to protect children from harmful chemicals.*

Other carnival posts: