October 30, 2015

Our TTC Journey

Our TTC (trying to conceive) journey began at the end of August (2015). It is now the end of October and I am still waiting for the ovulation window, which begins in November. This would be our third attempt.

I went into TTC thinking that we would get pregnant right away. A few people we know got lucky on the first try and hey, we are young and healthy, maybe we will too, but I guess not. I should have known when my doctor said she hoped to see me again in 6-12 months (the average amount of time it takes a couple to get pregnant) that TTC is not as easy as it is made out to be. It's all about timing. 

There is only a five-day window where you can get pregnant and your chances are higher on the day before you ovulate and even higher on ovulation day. The problem is knowing when you are going to ovulate, and that involves charting (NFP or Symptothermal Method), which I have been doing for over a year now, or expensive ovulation tests, haven't used them yet and don't plan too unless nothing happens after a year, but then it might be fertility problems. 

I thought TTC would be fun, but it seems like work and a lot of waiting. Waiting two weeks for the fertile window, waiting another two weeks to take a test, and then if it's negative, the cycle of waiting starts again. 

Sex used to be spontaneous and fun. It happened when you were in the mood, but now that we are TTC, it feels like a chore. You have to do it at least every other day (every day if possible) in order to make sure you hit that ovulation window, and even if you did, it doesn't guarantee you'll conceive, and then you have to start all over.

Plus we were planning on trying for a girl, but we are slowly not being as strict as before since that can make conceiving harder, and the idea of having a boy is starting to grow on me. I still dream of having a daughter, but we can always adopt later and go the two kids route instead of one, but we'll see what happens.

It is just getting to the point where I wonder if all of this is worth it. Maybe instead of actively trying, we should just go with the flow, don't worry about the charts or the timing. Plenty of people seem to end up with unexpected pregnancies that way, but we are going to actively try this month (I would love a July baby!). Maybe third time's the charm? Wish us luck!

October 16, 2015

Why Have Children?

Why, as a society, are we expected to fall in love, get married, and then have children?

There is the obvious, biological reason: In order to keep our species going, we must reproduce.

However, the world is already overpopulated as it is (this is debatable, but I personally believe we could benefit from a population decline), so the need to reproduce isn't as strong anymore. Sure some people need to procreate in order to keep our species going, but not as many as before.

So why have kids? The decision is personal and varies for everyone. My husband and I just recently started trying to conceive. We have been married for three years now, and have been together for a total of six years. We have a home, we have enough in savings, we don't expect any big changes, so why not add a baby?

We want a child for the experience, and it would also be a strong bond between us. We created this life together and we will have to raise it and take care of it together. We also have pretty good genes, are well educated, and make a decent amount of money, so we are able to support a child. The world could also benefit from our child as they would have a good start in life and we will do our best to educate him or her. If well-educated people stop having babies, then our world will end up very much like the one in the movie, "Idiocracy."

We also understand babies are a lot of work so we plan on just having one for now. Plans may change depending on how things go, but for the moment we will stick with one unless somehow we end up with twins, triplets, etc naturally. We are prepared to handle that as well.

Having children also introduces us to a new social life. We will become part of the parent club! Most of our friends and family have already joined this club and we can't wait to join! Apparently, two cats and a dog do not count as an entry into this club, although I think they should as they can act like toddlers sometimes.

Now there was a time where I was pretty adamant about never having kids (my husband knew this when we got married, it was not a deal breaker for him), but after being married for a year to the love of my life, things began to change. I began to feel differently. Maybe the reasons I didn't want kids were wrong?

I think to claim that my childhood was unhappy is a bit harsh, but it was not a childhood I would want for my children. My parents fought a lot. It was full of yelling, spankings, threats, etc. It is hard to think of good things without remembering a bad thing that goes with it, but the thing that probably hurt me the most was that they would blame us. They would say things like "you kids make us fight" or "if it wasn't for the kids..."

So I grew up with this notion that kids cause unhappiness and broken marriages (though threats of divorce were common, it never happened, my parents are still together and seem happier now that we are out of the house). For me, that was a pretty good reason not to have kids.

Finally, a year ago, I began to do research on having children and read every book available in the library about having kids, not having kids, how to baby proof your marriage, etc. I looked at articles online and read opinions on forums. I had many talks with my husband, asking him why he would like one, if we should have one, etc.

What I discovered was having children is a lot of work and many couples go in without this realization. They aren't prepared (blame society for this, they love to sugar coat raising children). AS a result, couples blame each other; they forget about the marriage and focus on the kids, and that is a huge problem.

Your marriage should always come before your kids. Your spouse is going to be with you till death, your child will leave you and move on with their life, sometime between age 18-30 (hopefully by 30!). By putting your marriage first, you show your children what a good marriage is and hopefully, they learn from your example and go on to have great marriages as well. Your children will also give you more respect and learn that they can't pit one against the other, no "but dad said I could" or "but mom said it was okay" etc. You should also the avoid the "go ask your mom/dad" scenario as well because then the kid will come back with "mom/dad said to ask you" and that's just asking for trouble. All decisions should be made together or you should plan ahead on what is and is not okay to avoid this kind of situation.

You should also never fight in front of your children. Arguing is fine, after all, you can't sugar coat everything; they need to learn how to deal with confrontation, but yelling, screaming, hitting, crying, etc is not okay. My parents got this wrong. My husband and I luckily never fight and rarely argue. Now a baby might disrupt that, but we plan to work as a team and set time aside to talk it out. It's us against the baby and that is the way it should be.

And that leads to my next fear. That I'll end up like my parents. Everyone's worst nightmare right? I guess if you had really awesome parents, this might not apply to you, but I know plenty of people who fear they will end up just like their mom or dad. I want to do things differently, but whether or not that happens, will take a lot of willpower.

We tend to do things the way we were taught, hence why child abuse is a vicious cycle. I grew up in a time where spanking and hitting your child was okay, but I feel that is wrong. There are better ways to deal with disobedient children. It's the 21st Century after all! My husband had a better childhood, in my opinion, so I think with him on my team, we can do things the right way and avoid my parents' mistakes.

Doing the research also gave me more confidence and realized that I was only hurting myself, because the truth is I would love to have a baby with my husband, to have that special connection. I would love to experience being a parent, to watch our child grow, to experience childhood from a different point of view. And so that is how I changed my mind and why we would love to have a baby, hopefully sometime next year!


Attribution: Image used in blog post photo does not belong to me and was found on MorgueFile. 

October 2, 2015

Pregnancy Myths Debunked - Part 2


4) You can't have caffeine, at all, when you are pregnant


You can have caffeine when pregnant, the question is how much?
"Experts have stated that moderate levels of caffeine have not been found to have a negative effect on pregnancy.  The definition of moderate varies anywhere from 150 mg – 300 mg a day." (source)
Most will say that is about two 8oz. cups of coffee, but depending where you get your coffee, that might be less. Emily Oster provided this cheat sheet in her book, Expecting Better:
  • Starbucks brewed coffee, 8oz.: 165 mg
  • McDonald's brewed coffee, 8oz.: 100mg
  • Starbucks latte, 16oz.: 150mg
  • Black tea, 8oz.: 14-61 mg, depending on the strength
  • Greent tea, 8oz.: 24-40 mg, depending on the strength
  • Coca-Cola, 12oz.: 35mg
  • Mountain Dew, 12oz.: 50mg
However, even her numbers differ from the American Pregnancy Association's site:
  • Starbucks Grande Coffee (16 oz) 400 mg
  • Starbucks House Blend Coffee (16 oz) 259mg
  • Dr. Pepper (12 oz) 37 mg
  • 7 Eleven Big Gulp Diet Coke (32 oz) 124mg
  • 7 Eleven Big Gulp Coca-Cola (32 oz) 92 mg
  • Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Buzz Ice Cream(8 oz) 72 mg
  • Baker’s chocolate (1 oz) 26 mg
  • Green tea (6 oz) 40 mg
  • Black tea (6 oz) 45 mg
  • Excedrin (per capsule) 65mg
This can make it hard to track your intake and then one begins to wonder if it is necessary at all?  The reality is there is no known safe limit of caffeine. Why? Because nausea messes with the data.
"We know that nausea is a sign of a healthy pregnancy. At the same time, it also causes women to avoid coffee. But this means that women who drink a lot of coffee are probably those who are not experiencing nausea. These women are more likely to miscarry. But you might be wrong to conclude coffee causes miscarriage; it may well be that lack of nausea causes both miscarriage and coffee drinking." (Emily Oster - Expecting Better)
Another problem is most studies focus on coffee consumption and not tea or cola, other sources of caffeine (though not as much). These are "less consistently linked with miscarriage" (Emily Oster - Expecting Better). So if caffeine was really the problem, wouldn't tea have the same impact as coffee? Could it just be nausea messing with the results? Or maybe there is something else in coffee that affects the fetus?

Well no one really knows, and because of that, we choose to be over cautious:
"Due to conflicting conclusions from numerous studies, the March of Dimes states that until more conclusive studies are done, pregnant women should limit caffeine intake to less than 200 mg per day. This is equal to about one 12 oz cup of coffee." (source)
However, Emily Oster decided for herself that the evidence wasn't enough for her to stop drinking her 3-4 cups of coffee a day and she had a healthy baby girl. You may decide differently.

For me, I only drink one cup of coffee in the morning per day and then I might have a cup of tea later in the evening, so I probably don't have to worry about going over the 200mg per day safe limit, for you, you might or you might not.

But you can have caffeine, you just might want to cut back though if you drink more than 4 cups a day (that much caffeine isn't good for you in general):
"Evidence on more than 4 cups a day is mixed; some links are seen with miscarriage, but it is possible that they are all due to the effects of nausea."  (Emily Oster - Expecting Better)

5) You can't clean the litter box if you are pregnant


Now here is one that you might not mind at all. It's a good excuse to shove the dirty job onto your husband (luckily, it's already my husband's chore, so I don't have to worry about this one). But for those like Emily Oster, whose husband refuses, or for those who don't have a partner, you can clean the litter box. There is no need to get rid of your cat!

What's the fear with cleaning the litter box? It's a parasite called toxoplasmosis (mostly found in uncooked meat, which is why you have to make sure your meat is well done when pregnant, no more medium rare steaks!). Toxoplasmosis can be found in cat feces, but your cat probably is not infected.

Your cat only gets infected if they eat something that contains toxoplasmosis, such as raw meat, so if you never feed your cat raw meat and you never let your cat outside where he or she can catch and kill birds/mice, your cat most likely does not have toxoplasmosis.

What if your cat does have toxoplasmosis? Well, you still don't have to get rid of your cat. You'll just have to take some precautions:
"Ensure the cat litter box is changed daily. The Toxoplasma parasite does not become infectious until 1 to 5 days after it is shed in a cat's feces. (source)
Avoid changing cat litter if possible. If no one else can perform the task, wear disposable gloves and wash your hands with soap and warm water afterwards." (source)
Another precaution is to avoid getting a new kitten or cat when you are pregnant. Adopt one after you have the baby. Also avoid contact with stray cats (probably best to do in general, you have no idea what diseases they might have!). (source)

If you don't plan on having a baby anytime soon, just keep your cat an indoor cat. It is safer for them in the long run. You don't have to worry about them getting hit by cars, running away, getting diseases, etc.

Now the good news is: "Once they are exposed once, they typically acquire immunity and are not exposed again. These means you're at risk if you're exposed to a cat during the first exposure. If your cat is old, regardless of whether it lives outside, it probably has already had this." (Emily Oster - Expecting Better)

In the end, you are not likely to get toxoplasmosis from cleaning the litter box:
"... one study of pregnant women in Europe compared those with and without toxoplasmosis infection and looked to see what behaviors were more common among women who were infected. They found no evidence that cats matter: women with this infection were no more likely to have a cat at all, clean a litter box, or have a cat who hunts outside. This might be puzzling given that we know it is possible to get this disease from cat feces. However, it seems likely that most people with cats do not let them hunt outside, or, if they do, their cats have already been exposed and have immunity."
You are more likely to get toxoplasmosis from eating raw meat or gardening:
"... although cat litter seems to have little risk, there is significant toxoplasmosis risk from gardening. That study in Europe that was reassuring on cats did find a strong association between toxoplasmosis and working with soil. This suggests that if you are planning to garden while pregnant you should use gloves, and possibly consider a mask to avoid inhaling any particles."(Emily Oster - Expecting Better)
For those who are worried that they might have toxoplasmosis or would like to know if they had ever been exposed before getting pregnant, there is a test you can take:
"If you are planning to become pregnant, your health care provider may test you for Toxoplasma gondii. If the test is positive it means you have already been infected sometime in your life. There usually is little need to worry about passing the infection to your baby. If the test is negative, take necessary precautions to avoid infection." (source)
In conclusion, you are probably safe to clean that litter box, just wear gloves and a mask, and wash your hands afterwords. You can always get your cat tested, which will probably be the only for sure way to know if you even need to worry. If your cat has never been infected, just make sure you keep him or her indoors and do not feed him or her any raw meat. You might also want to take other precautions, such as wearing gloves when cleaning the litter box, just to be safe.

Sources

Attribution: Images used in blog post photos do not belong to me and were found on MorgueFile and Canva.