Reposted from Google+
Another personal post, but one I’ll make fully public: I’m pregnant! (I don’t yet have any children, so this is a first.) I’m due July 2nd. I’m struck by how such an event is simultaneously extremely normal and yet extremely important. Given the mundane nature of it, you’re of course welcome to skip the remainder of my post.
There’s a number of general knowledge things I didn’t realize about this process beforehand that I may as well note here, for those who are not yet already quite familiar with it all.
- A very faint line on a pregnancy test is a positive result. Unless you’re messing around waiting for the test to dry out and form an evaporation line, the only way that line got there is you have some hCG hormone — and pretty much the only way you’d have that is being pregnant or are taking a drug with hCG in it (which your doctor would presumably tell you about).
- Traditionally people aren’t public about this until around the end of the first trimester (12 weeks), when the risk of miscarriage has passed. Miscarriage rates are around 15-20% (even higher rates if people monitor hCG from blood rather than urine, where you can detect the pregnancy earlier). This means the expecting individual has almost certainly known about the pregnancy for a while before making the announcement public (in my case since around Oct 25) — I’ve gotten some questions like “did you tell your parents?” (my parents have known for many weeks now) or “was your alcohol avoidance the last two months preemptive?” (no, my weird behavior was because I knew I was pregnant).
- The “weeks” people measure includes two weeks before the embryo is fertilized! As a biologist this is really weird! That’s because before people monitored ovulation, they had to date things from the last menstrual period (“LMP” in ob/gyn lingo land). On top of it, implantation takes around another week after fertilization, so it’s physically impossible to detect pregnancy until around 3-4 weeks. The urine test works at about 4 weeks (2 weeks post ovulation).
- Morning sickness is, of course, a misnomer. It occurs any time and as far as I can tell there aren’t any particular triggers (making me not a fan of the “protect from toxins” theory). And of course, it usually fades around 12 weeks, just when you’re finally public and able to whine to people about it! Ah well.
- Oh yeah, the egg is only fertile about a day. The sperm is fertile for a couple days. So monitoring ovulation isn’t that great for timing things, because you could be too late.
- I was doing basal body temperature anyway to try to detect ovulation (see personal bits later). To get this method to work, I had to do it the same time every day (as noted by others). It did work for me, but that’s a small sample size.
- They can pinpoint your due date quite accurately by measuring the size of the embryo. This is pretty cool! In my case they predicted exactly the date I predicted based on my ovulation monitoring — July 2nd.
And then the personal bits. We had been trying for a while — at first merely tentatively (went off birth control) then gradually became more serious about it. There was a major issue though — my periods were far apart, usually a couple months. I then went for a stretch of 6 months without a period this spring/summer. Ovulating 2-4 times a year is a bit of a problem for any attempts to get pregnant.
As my periods had been far apart in high school, and because I’ve always struggled with my weight, I was pretty sure this was “polycystic ovarian syndrome” (a diagnosis more of symptoms than cause; as I understand it the name refers to the build up of unovulated eggs, forming lumps on the ovary). PCOS is a common hormonal issue with various contributing aspects, one of which is weight. (It surprises me how many people don’t know that a female being overweight/obese is a major cause of low fertility.) I scheduled an appointment with my GP, then an OB, and in the meantime made a strong effort to lose a bit more weight over the summer (from a BMI of 31 to 29.5). After the weight loss my periods came back (although still around 6-8 weeks apart) — although if they hadn’t, it’s still extremely treatable with a drug injection that induces ovulation. So this is why I was monitoring my ovulation, because I was otherwise totally in the dark regarding the timing (measuring from “LMP” doesn’t work for me).
This is the first grandchild for both of our parents (I have three siblings, Chris has one), so it’s also an exciting first for the families.