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I must admit, I was (and still am) a little hesitant to write about this subject on my blog. On the one hand, it seems like such a private and personal subject to me; on the other, I know that I am not the only person I know going through fertility struggles and maybe sharing my journey will help someone else who is going through similar issues. So, here I go...
Conceiving baby #1 was easy. Well, NOT EXACTLY EASY, BUT once we figured out when to do the deed, we only had to wait about 38 more weeks for little Elias to join us in the world. We spent several months looking at a calendar and "trying" to conceive with no luck. Then, after some friends told us that they used fertility sticks to conceive all three of their children, we bought some:
We used the sticks on the first day we saw a little smiley face on them, and THEY WORKED!!!
So, when we decided to get serious about having baby #2, I got back on Amazon and bought the sticks again. We were not so lucky this time. Maybe, I thought, it is because I am a few years older now, over the hill in terms of prime baby making age. I remembered that, at 36, I am still a few years younger than the average age of a woman who gives birth at the hospital where my son was born. And, moreover, I was assured that I am healthy and have no fertility issues. BUT, I do have a fertility issue...a big one: I can't seem to get pregnant.
So, I upped the anti and bought a fancier advanced fertility monitor (see below). Still no luck! I questioned whether extended nursing of baby #1 was to blame. Research suggested that, because I ovulate and menstruate regularly, it is probably not.
I read about secondary infertility (apparently it is a thing). Ultimately, I decided that, before I go ahead and rip the "baba" (baby #1's name for the boob) away from the little guy or head to a specialist who might suggest pumping me with drugs, I would dig a little deeper and make a few more efforts to optimize my health. I realized that, there are a number of changes that I needed and wanted to make to my lifestyle and health before conceiving another child anyway.
So, we hit the pause button on the attempted baby making, and I made some changes, big and small, over the past 45 days. So far, here is what I did. Some of these things may seem like obvious changes, others questionable. I don't know what the answers are but figured I would document the changes, how they make me feel, and the results, if any.
1. I gave up my 2-4 cups of coffee a day (I know, gross) and replaced them with a morning matcha latte. This is one of my favorite brands:
2. I cut out stevia and other refined sugars. Some research suggests that stevia, in high doses, can act as a form of birth control. And, we all know (or should know) that refined sugars can do a number on our hormones, amongst other nasty things to our bodies and brains. When I want a little sweet in my matcha, I opt for a drizzle of raw honey or maple syrup.
3. I tried to replace as many chemicals as possible with natural cleaners. I purchase a lot of my household cleaning supplies on Thrive Market (more on Thrive below) because I trust that they sell the most natural options out there, and I can usually find some good deals that save me some $$$!
4. I carved out time for my self-care. I have been attending at least one public yoga class a week and reincorporating daily meditation into my routine. IT FEELS GOOD. And, I am reminded about all of the amazing things happening in my life RIGHT now. And, more importantly, I am taking the time to enjoy them. The result, my usual high stress levels (one of the biggest causes of infertility) are coming down. I feel better about myself, inside and out. WIN-WIN!
5. I started taking prenatal vitamins. (My last OB-GYN told me to start taking them at least a few months before planning to conceive.). My favorite brand:
5. I carved out time for me and my partner. As much as we just love soaking up as much time as we can with our little guy, we also love and need to spend time without him, nurturing our relationship with each other.
6. And, finally, I researched fertility boosting foods and made an effort to include them in my diet. Each month, I place an order with Thrive Market, an easy place to purchase many of the fertility boosting foods on my list at discounted rates. Some of my favorites are hazelnuts, maca, beans, cauliflower, bee pollen, green smoothie concoctions, and (when I am craving something sweet) dates! My favorite food fertility snack (also just a great energizing snack in general)!?
BLACK MACA [ENERGY BALLS]
- 2 tsp Black Maca Powder
- 1/2 cup Hazelnuts
- 1 cup Pitted Dates
- 1/4 Cup Cacao Powder
- 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
- Almond Flour, Bee Pollen to taste
- Optional: Soak hazelnuts in water overnight.
- Place al ingredients EXCEPT almond flour and bee pollen, in a high speed blender. Blend until ingredients form a sticky paste.
- Roll mixture into balls; roll balls in almond flour and bee pollen (optional).
These energy balls are 100% family friendly in my house! EVERYONE loves them!
My favorite brand of black maca (and the bag from which I adapted the recipe above):
*Warning: Some labels say that black maca "contains a chemical known to the state of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm." Other sources say that this information is outdated and/or that black maca is known to increase potency in men and improve hormone balance and libido in both men and women. All I can say is, do your research before you makes these snacks or make any other changes to your diet and lifestyle in order to increase fertility or induce any other results! At the end of the day, there is definitely no one size fits all answer to any of our issues, right!?
P.S. If you feel uncomfortable, consider removing the black maca powder from the recipe and maybe replacing it with flax seeds or chocolate protein powder or almond flour. We try not to overdo them in our house but love to snack on them from time to time -- with and without the maca!
Results of making the changes listed in this blog post!? So far, I feel GREAT. As for whether that results in baby #2...to be continued...