Trying To Conceive? The Best Advice

Pregnant lady looking happy and smiling

Did you know that today is National baby making day? The truth is, many couples decide around new year that they are ready to start a family or add to their existing one, and some even set it as a goal or resolution for the new year ahead. So with fresh motivation today is one of the most popular days to conceive and technically get pregnant. 

However, whether you are reading this in January or any other time of the year, trying to conceive is not as easy as some people expect it to be. Sure there are couples out there who are lucky to catch fairly early on in their TTC journey. Other couples take longer for a variety of reasons. Some need some extra help.

It isn’t an easy journey to start with

The trying to conceive journey is not plain sailing, and at times, it can end in heartbreak. But, to keep things positive, it is an extremely exciting time in your relationship. To decide to start or add to your family can feel like you are about to embark on the next chapter of your life. So are there any things that you can do to help the journey along? 

While there are no guarantees that these things are sure fire ways to get pregnant, getting yourself in the best possible shape or in the best position doesn’t cause any harm. So here are some of the best tips to help you on your TTC journey. 

Trying to conceive? Maybe change diet. Strawberries are good for it

Image source – Pixabay

Eating the right foods

Yes, believe it or not, your diet can play a big part. There are foods that are worth adding to your diet or increasing your consumption of if you are serious about conceiving and getting pregnant. These foods include leafy greens which are spinach, broccoli and Kale. Other foods include oranges and strawberries and beans and nuts. These foods in particular contain folic aside which is a great vitamin to have as part of your diet and recommended throughout the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. Other foods to indulge on is things containing calcium, such as milk, yoghurt and cheese. Also iron is important which you can find in lean meats. Going for a balanced approach is key, but ensuring you are getting all of the essential nutrients to nourish your body is an excellent platform to begin with. 

 Trying to conceive? Exercise more regularly. Woman walking up a hill

Exercise or being more active

While you may not want to start some gruelling exercise regime, getting more active can be a great way to naturally get your body in shape for pregnancy. It includes things like walking more or maybe staring light exercise classes or taking up running. Funnily enough, in 2019 I had started the couch to 5k with some friends and happened to be in really good shape. Something I had not prioritised for a long time. low and behold, 2019 was the year that I got pregnant again but I was also able to get beyond 12 weeks so there may be something in it. If you just want to increase your activity focus on how many steps you take each day. This can be a great starting point. 

Get to know your cycles

I know this one can be tricky, but getting to know your period and menstrual cycle can be a great way to indicate the days you are ovulating and more likely to conceive. I never realised there was a window of opportunity before my husband and I began trying for a baby a few years ago. Our son was a surprise so we had never had to do that before. I used a few different applications on my phone, some of which are free, and it can give you a great indication of your fertile window. Also you can now do ovulation tests at home which can also help you to understand the best days to “try”.

Trying to conceive? happy couple, no pressure, enjoying their lives

Take the pressure off

The one piece of advice I wish I had listened to sooner than I did was to take the pressure off. I can admit that I got consumed with which days to try and what was going on with my body. Which means that you can easily forget that the whole “baby making” process should be a fun and loving time in a relationship. The more pressure you put on yourself, the less likely it will happen. Last year I had actually given up hope. Having had a lot fo tests done and investigations into why we were taking time to conceive and then unable to keep a pregnancy, I cam to the conclusion that we were done. But then our little miracle happened. Enjoy the process, be excited and happy about the next chapter, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself to make it happen. 

trying to conceive? Pregnant lady posing in a garden

The year that changed me

In 2019, it happened to be the year that I began to take better care of myself. There was a reduction in the amount of alcohol I drank in the week. I exercised more regularly with walking and running, and I ate well. It wasn’t about sacrificing anything or deny myself anything that I wanted. But I also took better care of myself physically. Having said that I also worked hard on my mental health. Anxiety can be troublesome for me, and I can often have days where I feel low and down.

Practicing self care and taking time to understand what was causing my anxiety helped. I learned to be grateful for what I had, the life I was living and have a more positive outlook on life. It certainly didn’t happen over night, but I do think that working on myself was a factor into getting pregnant once again and getting to the stage beyond twelve weeks and beyond. 

Let’s hope that some of these tips and advice helps you if you are hoping to conceive. Leave me your comments and tips on what worked for you. 

My Babyloss Story – Ectopic Pregnancy

Back in 2015 the thought of baby loss hadn’t crossed my mind. I wasn’t aware of an ectopic pregnancy or what it was, and had minimal knowledge on miscarriage and loss. I’d had a baby that went to term, and all was well. But we knew we wanted to add to our family and as little as a year after Logan was born we thought we would try once more. My plan was to have children close in age. I wanted the nappy years and the lack of sleep to be a consistent period of my life. Hoping that I wouldn’t get used to a normal routine only to be thrown back into sleep deprivation once more. That was my plan, but the reality was somewhat different. 

It took a while to conceive

It took a while to conceive, but eventually in september 2015 I got a positive pregnancy test and I was overjoyed. But the truth of the matter is that something didn’t feel right from the start of the journey. I don’t know whether I had a feeling, but it didn’t feel right. I can’t explain it. 

However, for about two weeks things seemed to progress, but I didn’t seem to have many symptoms. In fact I felt fine, but I just put that down to the early stages and it not being that far along enough to start having the signs. 

When I started to worry

My first worry was spotting and bleeding, and at this point I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. I managed to get in touch with my GP and attended an appointment that day. They referred me to the early pregnancy unit, a place I never knew existed. A department that unfortunately I have attended more times than I would like. I headed to the hospital, and the procedure of the early pregnancy unit began to take full force. It started with blood tests, and a discussion about how I was feeling. There was no heavy bleed, just spotting, and the first HCG results came back as a positive sign. 

I went back a few days later only for my results not to rise as much as they should have, and they advised the devastating news that in this case I was miscarrying. I had no idea what to expect. It just feels like a blur to look back on. 

The irony of this time of year is that during baby loss awareness week, which is between the 9-15th October, this was happening. It was the 15th October 2015 that I put on social media that we were miscarrying. 

Not the end of the story

However, that sin’t the end of this story. I was still having my HCG levels monitored and fate the 15th I went back and there was a slight rise in the levels, something the staff could not explain. They had told me i was miscarrying, so how was that possible? I went in for a scan and they described it as a pregnancy of unknown location. That It was either over, and the hormone levels hadn’t dropped, or it was something else. 

I was due back in on the 18th October 2015, a Sunday, for another HCG blood test, but the night before I felt terrible. It was in pain on my left side, and I had no idea why. I assumed it was an after effect of the miscarriage, or the last element of it. I’d struggled all night with the pain, thinking that there was no point talking to the doctors because I was there the next day anyway. I didn’t class myself as an emergency, and I certainly didn’t listen to my body. Something I do regret now. 

surgical management of an ectopic pregnancy

Not knowing it was an ectopic pregnancy

I went into hospital, the pain was unbearable by this point, and they could see that the colour had drained from my face. I was rushed down for a scan, and they focused on the area causing me pain, my left side, and there it was. A pregnancy. In my left fallopian tube. This is what was called an ectopic pregnancy, and what I didn’t realise, is that it can be life threatening. That day I was booked in for emergency surgery to remove the pregnancy and that was the end of it. 

Ectopic pregnancy was something I knew nothing about, but pain in your abdomen, shoulder tip pain, miscarriage signs like spotting and cramps, and also fainting can all be signs that it is an ectopic pregnancy. 

There is nothing that could have done, nothing I could have done differently. It is just one of them things. During the surgery my left fallopian tube was removed. Had I have listened to my body at the time, then perhaps I would have had a different outcome. Who knows! 

ectopic pregnancy - view from the hospital window

Four years on

This pregnancy four years ago was the start of the journey to conceiving, and further losses. It is a monumental time in my life where I was changed irreversibly. I still think about it, the grief never goes away, but you do learn to deal with it and move forward with your life. After all, I had my husband and two boys to think about.

The one thing that raising awareness for ectopic pregnancy can do is to help others feel less alone, and maybe sharing my story with you will help you to feel less alone. It is also good to raise awareness so that more people will feel comfortable in asking for help and reassurance should they need it. 

Pregnancy – The First Trimester

 

I’m pregnant! To be able to say that feels like a dream. But I am finally there and I am currently 17 weeks along. The journey has been rough. It started nearly five years ago. Logan is now six, and we wanted to have another child close in age. Having already got our eldest who is 14, the bigger age gap can be quite present at times. However, I can finally right about this pregnancy first trimester and how I have been feeling.

A little background

As the story goes, it didn’t go that way for us. And four years ago I had an ectopic pregnancy. Our first loss. Getting pregnant didn’t seem to be happening as easy for us, and I didn’t see a positive pregnancy test again until May and then September in 2017. However they resulted in miscarriage. These are things I know I want to talk about further, but for now I felt like it was best to give a little background. Since the last loss two years, I have been under the recurrent miscarriage clinic and had a lot of investigations done as to why this is possibly happening. There is no definitive answer. But I have a uterus dydelphis and so the hospital have said it could be that. I will go into more detail about that but for now, this post is all about the fact that from October 2017 until July this year, I had no joy. But it is finally happening. I got the positive pregnancy test.

So how have I been feeling?

The first trimester has been amazing, but it has been tough and there is no point in beating around the bush with that. I think the main issue I worry about is sounding completely ungrateful for this pregnancy. The anxiety has been immense. I guess that is to be expected. There will always be a worry about loss again. It’s happened three times before, and some days I couldn’t believe that it wasn’t happening again. 

To help me through those first 12 weeks the recurrent miscarriage clinic prescribed me with progesterone pessaries to be used twice a day, morning and night, and also Tinzaparin sodium injections to be administered into my stomach once a day. Injections are not my thing, and even though I have had millions of blood tests and injections alike, they still give me all of the fear. This was a big hurdle for me, to actually administer those injections myself, and I managed to do it. 

What symptoms did I have?

The symptoms have been there. I struggled with sickness in those early weeks. It wasn’t necessarily always being sick, it was more the feeling of sickness. I think it can be best described as a similar feeling to an intense hangover the morning after a big night out. The sickness, the heavy head, the dehydration but not able to stomach much. The weariness and how it can make you feel not quite there. I hope that makes more sense. It did start to fade around week 14, and thankfully since, I have only had the odd off day.

The tiredness in this pregnancy first trimester has been a big one for me. It is something that I am still struggling with now. I seem to feel tired first thing. But it doesn’t stop me from getting up and as the morning starts I seem to regain energy and can be very productive. But come the afternoon, I can hit a brick wall and all of a sudden I feel exhausted. Some evenings I climb into bed and I am asleep before I even know it. 

Every twinge gave me a panic

I will be honest, every twinge, any little cramp or anything of that nature had red flags going up in my head. Twinges and cramps can be completely normal parts of pregnancy first trimester as things are changing in your body. But it certainly doesn’t stop you thinking the worst. I did have these sorts of niggles throughout the first weeks, but with no sign of spotting or bleeding I tried to put the worrying and anxious thoughts to the back of mind. 

Last of all, I really struggled with headaches. I remember this from my first pregnancy with Logan. The headaches are at the front of my head and they just get more intense as time goes on. Again this is something that has faded off now, and I am hoping it stays that way. 

The mental impact 

Mentally, throughout this pregnancy first trimester, I was surprisingly positive. I was very fortunate to be monitored from the moment I had my positive pregnancy test. I had HCG blood tests done, a scan at just over 5 weeks, and then continuously being monitored and checked. The scan at 5 weeks did give us something to think about. As I have two womb chambers, there was a shadow in the other side which they thought could have been another baby. Twins. But two weeks later it remained that way and we were confirmed with one and a heartbeat. Which was a relief and miracle in itself. 

I have just tried to put the past experiences behind me, and to really take care of myself and I have a fantastic support network around me for that. Maybe I was in a better place physically and mentally before I even got pregnant. I know I have made some positive changes to my lifestyle this year and perhaps that had a positive effect. I was ecstatic, scared, but the happiness overshadowed the feelings of worry and I just took each day as it came as a blessing. Now 17 weeks on and I am still doing the same. 

I will be back with some more updates and hopefully revealing the gender of this little baby. Look out for more posts. 

Reward Charts, Discipline And Making The Right Choices

If you haven’t seen on my Instagram yet, the latest news for our family is we are finally expecting a child after a very long journey. I plan on writing up a full post about the first trimester and sharing some thoughts about the whole experience, but for now this blog article is about an entirely different subject. Reward charts and discipline. 

My little boy is now six years old, and he is thriving and loving life. Just as he should be. However, these last few weeks and months I have begun to notice a shift in his behaviour. He was pushing buttons and testing boundaries, he was ignoring warnings and just doing what he wanted. I’d shout, I’d threaten punishment, but the truth is, this didn’t even phase him. Why? Because he knew I wouldn’t follow through. 

Changes needed to be made

A while ago we took Logan to the doctors because we found that he was developing certain tendencies and twitches in his behaviour at home. The doctors advised us that he had what she described as a “Type A Personality” and that he thrives off praise and being told he is doing well. It made sense once we thought about it as we knew he loved to hear he had done well and and continued to do something just to hear that praise. 

We realised that negative language didn’t work well with Logan, and that he was more in tune with positivity. So we changed the way we dealt with things, and for a while it worked. But the main issue specifically lay with me, I was too soft. 

I will admit that I am the type of mum that likes an easy life. It’s a busy day anyway, and if I can get things done quickly, avoid confrontation and arguments swiftly, then I will, just to get through the day. However, the problem with that was Logan realised that he could get me to do anything, and that really he was never told off for doing naughty things. 

Things need to improve

With a baby coming next year, I realised that things needed to change, and so I got thinking, chatting to friends and family, about ways that I can encourage better behaviour, a nicer environment at home and more independence from Logan. So I came up with a few methods and to be totally honest with you all, they are working. I thought I would share with you what I have been doing but do check out my Instagram page and also IGTV for a video discussing this in more detail.

REWARDS CHART

To be honest I have tried a reward charts in the past and they have given me varied results. They worked well, but not as well as I had hoped. I realised that I may have been over complicating them in the past, so I tried a more simple approach. At Logans school, they use a reward charts system and give out “dojo’s” for good work and behaviour, the difference is the teacher decides what is worthy of a Dojo. So I applied the same principal with gold stars at home.

There are many things he can get a gold star for. Eating his meals, getting dressed himself, good behaviour, kindness etc. At the end of the day myself and his Papa will chat with him and decide how many he has earned that day and what for. We may even highlight it at the time if we think something was worth a gold star. His aim is to get to twenty stars on his reward charts and he earns himself a prize. He’s loved this, and is already working out what he can do to earn more gold stars and his behaviour has improved. 

DISCIPLINE

There are a couple of things that I have changed when it comes to discipline. I usually would get to a stage where I would shout, which didn’t leave me feeling good or actually make any difference with his behaviour. Sometimes I would threaten things like taking an iPad away etc and then never following through with it. It was doing me no favours really. So having chatted to friends and family, I decided to try out one technique. 

If Logan is doing something wrong, I would give him a warning. If he continues then the punishment would be thirty minutes of no technology. The TV goes off, he can’t use any of his devices, nothing. He can play with his normal toys, he can do his homework, and read etc. But tech is a no go. This actually felt like it could be a punishment for me as well as Logan, as the TV is always on in our house. Guilty!

Surprising results 

However, it wasn’t so bad when I did actually have to follow through. He moaned a bit, but then he just got on with it. The thing is, since that one occasion I haven’t had to do it again. The warning seems to be enough at the minute. 

We will also take away gold stars from his chart if he misbehaves. So we do have the choice between the two options. I guess it depends on exactly what he is doing to govern the type of punishment or discipline he will get. 

In conclusion

Overall these things have helped our home life and routine, and also improved Logans behaviour. He will always be an energetic lad. The one thing I have realised is that all children are different, and that not every child is angelic and as well-behaved as I once thought. It’s good to talk. Because let’s face it, motherhood can be lonely at times. 

Let me know what systems work for you in your household. 

Attendance Awards In School: Is It Right?

My little boy has just finished Year One. We are all set and ready for a fantastic summer holidays and preparing as much as we can for Year Two. I am well aware that this next school year is going to be a tough one for Logan. With SATs and extra milestones he needs to reach I’m going to have to help him at home as well. Hopefully to ensure that he isn’t falling behind or losing the enthusiasm he has for school simply because he is struggling and not enjoying it. School have a lot to focus on. With targets and levels they need to meet I understand they are under pressure to get the results, and attendance is one of the areas that they need to get to a certain level.  Our school encourages classes to have at least 97% attendance each week. So I am guessing that this could be around the target in which they need to meet.

Praising attendance

Each week our school has an assembly, and every year is given their percentage for attendance, and the kids love it. They all want to reach that 100% goal and earn a badge for their year. This is great encouragement, and attendance in school is extremely important. But, there is one thing that seems to be a big trend amongst schools these days, and that is awarding children individually for 100% attendance.

I don’t agree with it. 

There will always be times in your child’s school life when they are unwell. They don’t ask for it, they certainly don’t enjoy being ill. In many cases, our school included, if a child is ill then you are encouraged to keep them off school. This avoids the illness spreading and causing further absences. There was a prime example earlier this year, our school was hit with the vomiting bug, bad! At least 40% of the school was effected and because of this we were advised to keep out children off school. Until a full 48 hours had passed since the last sickness. My son ended up with it, in fact we all did, and it was pretty horrific!

We didn’t manage it

My son didn’t get 100% attendance this year, he ended up on 97%. The percentage in which our school aims for. He wasn’t rewarded for that, I don’t expect him to be, but why should a child be rewarded for 100% just because in-theory they were lucky to not have to experience the illness?

Now don’t get me wrong, I think attendance in school is extremely important. But it is down to your own parental opinion. Some people are happy to take their child out of school and have unauthorised absences for one reason or another. This isn’t about judgement. It may even Be worth it to take my son out of school in the future. But I don’t think that awarding children for 100% attendance is the right way to go? At this rate, children who become aware of the award system will push themselves to go into school when they aren’t well, and they may even get worked up and upset because they have had to have a day off. Is that really fair on them and their mental wellbeing?

In conclusion

Award systems work well in most scenarios, and even with attendance I think it can be a good motivator, but I don’t think 100% should be the target, it should be awarded for the school reaching their target.

What do you think about attendance awards in school? Do you think they work? I would love to know your thoughts.