In case you missed it, here’s part I (click to read).
Once Ben and I decided to put our faith in the innate yearning to create, things began to shift. I thought getting pregnant would be simple: decide to reproduce, have sex, get pregnant. I didn’t realize it would be such an emotional process for me.
I’ve never been a fan of placing artificial hormones in the body, especially birth control [I took it for a few months in college and had the worst mood swings and headaches you could imagine – my body is super sensitive], so I didn’t have to worry about stopping the pill or anything. My cycles were consistently a perfect 28 days, so I saw no need to worry.
Once we actually started “trying”, I began researching conception and learned that there are only a couple days each month in which we could get pregnant – and that we had already missed it for the month of May. This totally shocked me, as I was always told that I’d immediately become pregnant if a condom broke [thanks for that, sex ed!].
Since May was out from the start, when we left for our summer trip across the US I thought we would for sure get pregnant because we’d have such little stress. Little did I know Ben would end up dislocating his elbow, I would have to drive across multiple states with an expired drivers license, and we would be sleeping in random beds for over three weeks. Not to mention the fact that I wasn’t totally in control of what I was eating or how I was exercising, and that we must have spent an entire week just travelling in cars, trains, planes, etc. Needless to say, that trip threw my cycle off course [42 days!] and we didn’t get pregnant then.
Once we got home from our trip, Ben and I were still planning on pregnancy, but we also threw ourselves into half-marathon training. To balance things out, I started seeing my Chinese Herbalist and Acupuncturist, Carrie. I’ve always appreciated Eastern medicine and knew that I wanted to go about pregnancy the natural way. I also picked up a copy of Taking Charge of Your Fertility and started charting my temperatures [because I’m Type-A like that].
In August 2011, I was told by three different practitioners [of different trades] that I needed to (1) start eating red meat and (2) stop over-exercising. They all said that my blood felt a bit deficient and that it would greatly help in circulation, especially because I was borderline anemic and also because I was working out so hard. The idea of eating beef terrified me – I hadn’t had a piece in over 7 years – but something about it resonated with me deep down, so that night I went to the store and bought a cup of Maui Cattle Company free-range, organic chili. I shocked myself as I gobbled up the entire cup.
Because we have ethically-raised, organic beef right here on island, eating red meat turned out to be easier than I thought it would be. The over-excising part, on the other hand, was no easy feat. After years of working on being fit and losing weight, I felt like I was on top of my game. I honestly didn’t feel as though I was over exercising because (1) I felt nowhere near skinny, (2) exercise energized me rather than depleting me, and (3) I felt strong and knew that I wanted to stay healthy and active during pregnancy anyway. Why should it matter if I put in more than 12 hours of cardio + weights per week? Tons of people do it.
Truth be told: for years I felt like something had been wrong with me. How could it be that I ate healthier than anyone I knew, exercised like my life depended on it, and still I was unable to reach my goal weight after so many years? The numbers were all pointing to loss, and I knew my calculations. Aside from the borderline anemia, there was no reason for me to not be losing weight. One of my biggest reasons for wanting to lose weight was to be at a healthy weight when I got pregnant. I knew there was an emotional aspect that I must have been missing, but I was getting really frustrated with the process, so when my acupuncturist and chiropractor told me to lay off the exercise, my frustration grew exponentially. I kept thinking, they just don’t understand.
As it turns out, they do understand. And they knew what my body needed more than I did. My chiropractor and I visualized healthy, happy eggs floating through my perfectly adjusted body, and my acupuncturist gave me invaluable insight.
In September I started taking Chinese herbs to help with my blood flow. They made a difference for me immediately – I noticed that my toes and fingers were no longer always freezing and that I had more energy throughout the day! It was around this time that my (pregnant) acupuncturist/herbalist Carrie also brought up the over-exercise thing again.
During an especially emotional visit with Carrie, she asked what it was that kept me exercising to the degree that I was, especially when she felt that my body was sustaining itself at its healthiest and most productive weight. She asked why I keep pushing to lose more weight when my body obviously didn’t want to give up anything else. We talked about societal norms, personal expectations, a constant need to be better/more, and the difference between looking good and feeling good. She told me that all the high-intensity stuff makes it tough for an egg to stick around. And then she asked me to think about what I am prioritizing, and why.
At that point, I figured I’d meet my practitioners half-way by swapping out the high-impact running with swimming and slowing down on the kettlebell swings [which involve lots of hip-thrusts] and other high-intensity workouts for the last two weeks of my cycle. I wasn’t going to completely give up my active lifestyle, but I wanted to show myself and my future baby that I was willing to do whatever it took to be the healthiest Momma possible.
When my period showed up near the end of September, I was devastated. I knew it took a few months to get pregnant, but I felt like I was doing everything right – acupuncture, red meat, herbs, chiropractic, slowing down on exercise – and it was so emotionally draining to constantly think about conceiving. There must be something wrong with me.
By the time October rolled around, I felt so defeated that I told Ben I was done charting my temps and trying to conceive, at least for this month. I just needed a month to relax and try not to care about making a baby, and since it was our anniversary month, I wanted to focus on us. Just the two of us – having fun and being a young married couple. We went on hikes every weekend and connected on a profoundly deep level that month. We also went beer-tasting, drank wine at weddings, and made love whenever we felt like it, without placing any emphasis on elevating legs or basal temperatures. It was blissful.
Whether it was the lack of stress, connecting with Ben, the herbs, finally changing up my exercise routine, the addition of red meat, or a combination of everything, we’ll never know. But something clicked in October, and by the end of the month, when I least expected it, we got our positive pregnancy test.
[How I found out at 3:57 in the morning? You’ll just have to wait and find out ]
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