Trying to conceive
For those reading who are not yet moms, I hope this provides some helpful tips and insight as you think about starting a family.
Wanted to start a family is a wonderful thing. This means you have found the man of your dreams, and the two of you agree you are read to bring a human being into the world. While it might be pathetic, I had a rule when I was dating someone that I wouldn't go past the two month mark without knowing two things about the person. First, did they want children (and if it was no or I am not sure we usually didn't get to month three) and would they be okay with them being raised Catholic. I remember having this conversation with my now husband. We were in my apartment when it came up. He was very quick to say yes on children. He hadn't really thought about how many (and ended up leaned towards a low number) and wasn't nearly as comfortable as me around them (as he never had babies in his small family) but he did want them.
Then I thought to myself "here comes the hard part." Arnie was Jewish and I knew this from the first day I met him (I always say he as a stereotypical Jewish look and he gets mad at me, but really the name gave it away). But I really hadn't gotten a good sense of how religious he was. I knew he didn't go to Temple and he knew I went to church each week (one time bringing me breakfast as I walked out...so cute), but as far as importance of religion we never really talked it until that conversation. Amazingly it went fast and smooth. He said he knew how important my religion was and would support me raising me children in it. He also pointed out he would not convert and wanted the children to understand his faith and how it was different from mine.
So anyway, back to having children, my point is be sure to have those hard conversations before it is too late, meaning before you are married. Ask the tough questions...how many, religion, will you work or not, who will care for them, how far apart in age, when to start trying and so on.
We started talking about kids about six months after we were married. We were loving life in Europe but knew we wanted a family. At that point I had been in my assignment at work about nine months and they typically last around two years. I knew I wanted to take a long leave and the best planning would be to have me go out on leave around the two year mark. This happened to coincide with around our one ear anniversary. So we would start then. In the end we ended up starting to try in September of '01 (two months before our anniversary). We had no luck the first month and I happened to have to go to the UK for some consumer research. I always tried to stock up on toiletries there because I could read the label and they were OTC (over the counter) versus in Belgium where you had to go to a pharmacists for anything (even Tylenol).
I picked up an ovulation kit and pregnancy test while I was there. We used the ovulation kit and I got pregnant the next month, it was the best thing on earth. No guessing, tells you exactly when you are ovulating. Sadly we lost that baby the next month. We were on a long weekend away with friends who had visited in Ireland for our one year anniversary. We came back and the next day I lost the baby, right after our one year anniversary. God was very nice to us and I immediately go pregnant the next month while in the US visiting family. I was scared to death that something would be wrong with the baby because I didn't think it was good to get pregnant that fast, but my doctor reassured me it was fine. Ben was born 38 weeks later on September 6th.
The next two were a whole different story, but another good lesson to learn. I was home with Ben for ten months, so able to breastfeed the entire time. He really didn't have any formula until after ten months, so my body didn't have a period for the entire pregnancy and breastfeeding time. I weaned him for a couple of weeks and then returned to work. I had a very lite period the week I went back to work, but nothing normal. The next month I didn't get a period, so I thought my body was still figuring itself out. Then I started to throw up and kept throwing up. After much pushing from my husband I finally took a test (still left over from Europe) and was pregnant...we were bitten by the "stop breast feeding and immediately get pregnant bug."
As I was educated after the fact. Your body goes into massive egg production after you have been breastfeeding. Almost like putting it in overdrive, it over produces eggs to kick start itself, so you are really fertile. Needless to say I was in SHOCK. We new we wanted our kids close in age, but I wasn't thinking that close. Because I had taken ten months off with Ben, it ended up I was only back at work three weeks when I got pregnant, and would leave for maternity leave after only nine months. I then took four months off (so they could hold me job) and Arnie took four months so we could keep Claire out of daycare until she was six months...my hero.
Now that we had two a little less than 18 months apart, we decided to try to keep the next two that close. This time it was planned. I would have been in my role for two years so a good time to go out. Again I breastfeed Claire for about ten months. I would pump at work in a room they made for the five moms who had had children (it was great). I made it to nine months and then on the tenth month we conceived Sarah, again working like a charm.
I know we were very fortunate in that we got pregnant fast the first time, so we never had the stress build up that can often happen. They say stress is your worst enemy when trying to conceive. But more so then not having stress we used technology with the ovulation kit and biology with the natural cycle of our body to help us on our journey. We ended up with three kids in three years and three days, and love it that way. It was tough and I hated only having four months home with Claire, but now that they are getting older and experiencing everything together, I am so glad our little surprise happened and God taught me a bit about how the female body works.