This is really only tangentially related to being a mommy - the road to getting there. Which funnily enough, starts out with the road to making sure I didn't get there before I wanted to. Yes friends, this is a post about birth control.
I've never been on any form of hormonal birth control. Everyone who I know who has, has had some sort of problems - bleeding, bruising, skin problems, weight problems, and there was that one time we had to take my college roommate to the hospital because they thought her birth control may be causing her liver to fail. It just didn't sound like something I wanted to put my body through.
So for *mumble mumble mumble* years, I resorted to condoms for birth control. Which wasn't an issue for me, since condoms do things that hormonal birth control doesn't, like protect against STIs and STDs.
About 5 years ago, I heard about a book called "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" and picked up a copy. It was life changing. Mostly because I was terribly ignorant about the whole menstrual cycle. I actually thought the egg hung around waiting to get fertilized for weeks, until it got flushed out of the system with the uterine lining. That's not what happens. The egg can only be fertilized in one, 24 hour period. Meaning, there is only one day during the cycle that you can get pregnant. Given that the sperm can live for up to 3 days, that means there are only 3 days during the month when sex can lead to pregnancy. Crazy, right?
The book also talked about the fact that the length of cycles can vary. Most health classes teach about a 28 day cycle, with ovulation on day 14 and then your period 14 days later. Which is not the case for most women.
So what's the import of this information? With the knowledge about your actual cycle - when you ovulate based on individual body signals as opposed to counting days, you know what 3 days during your cycle sex can lead to pregnancy. So if you're looking to avoid getting pregnant, you don't have unprotected sex during these days. If you're looking to get pregnant, these 3 days will give you your best chance.* This method, known as the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM), uses the signals your body gives that are related to your cycle - body temperature, cervical fluid, cervical position - to keep track of your actual cycle.
I kept track of these signals for a full year, charting them on an online site, Fertility Friend, before I felt comfortable enough to use it as our primary form of birth control.
And armed with that knowledge, we used this method to conceive Thatbaby. In fact, the month Thatbaby was conceived we were running a fertility test. We decided we were ready to have a baby, but didn't want a baby born during the holiday season - November or December. So we decided to give it a go that month, and if I didn't get pregnant we were going to take a 2 month break on trying to conceive. And we thought as long as we were just starting out, we might as well see if this FAM was all it was cracked up to be. We had unprotected sex one time that month, the day I ovulated. 2 weeks later I was greeted with 2 lines on a pregnancy test. And 9 months later we welcomed Thatbaby into the world.
* There is a lot about getting pregnant that is out of our control. Fertility issues plague many couples, both for explained and unexplained reasons. This post is not trying to make it seem like getting pregnant is easy - it isn't. And simply charting isn't going to guarantee pregnancy. But, with all the pregnancy factors that are out of our control, I think charting helps with the factors we can control.