Saturday, January 5, 2013

Grapes and Horses

I woke up early this morning because I was having a weird, end-of-the-world, zombie Apocalypse dream in which my husband and I were trying to load the pets into the Range Rover and get the fuck out of town. Don't know if this is a result of the two week long trip we just took with our pets (crazy) or because my husband is obsessed with end of the world movies/tv shows/etc. Annnnyhow. I woke up with my heart racing looking for my survival gear (yes, my husband has packed me a kit of survival gear to keep in my car) and then realized that I was wide awake at 5:00am. Which means when my alarm goes off in two hours I won't have had 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep. For those of you (all of you??) who are experts at temping and charting, you will know that three hours of uninterrupted sleep is some weird Golden Rule of temping. Right up there with, Brush Your Teeth twice a day (I don't always do that), Wash Your Face Before Bed (I never do that) and Remember to Wear Clean Underwear (this I always do!).

Being a bit of a scientist, I understand the reason for this Golden Rule of Sleeping is to create a baseline, decrease confounding variables, and overall decrease your variance in your data. Ok. Got it. But the heart-pounding-terrified-of-Zombies-awake-at-5:00am Me wasn't thinking very scientifically. I just thought "Oh shit! Now I broke the damn Golden Rule."

So I took my temp (97.5) and went back to sleep.

Two hours later, I took it again (98.0). Hmm. Very different temps. (Don't fuck with the Golden Rule, I guess).

Now I know that the increase in temp was likely due to the heavy blanket my husband put on me (how sweet) because I was cold sometime between 5:00 and 7:00. But of course, my mind starting going crazy trying to decide which temp was more accurate, which should I enter into my chart and which would mean I was pregnant, damnit!

Then I came to my senses. What am I thinking? I am 3DPO and my temps do not matter one tiny little bit. Even though people say, "Oh wow, look at that beautiful temp rise!" I have read time and time again that it doesn't matter what the hell your temps do during the two week wait. You're either pregnant or you're not. And staring at your temperatures to try to read a secret message isn't going to change anything.

Soooo....I entered a temp (the first one, 97.5, if you're desperately interested) and vowed to get on with my life.

How did I do that, you might ask? Well, if you'll remember (as I'm sure all of you dedicated fans will), I vowed that if I was Not Pregnant in January one of the things I would do is get back into horseback riding. I had taken some time off for the Holidays and was starting to miss it. In fact, horseback riding and wine are my two main consolations for not yet being pregnant. Because they are two things I know I will have to give up for awhile once I am.

Now, you might think a 31-year-old woman riding horses sounds a little silly. I've heard it all:
"But if you've been riding since you were 10, don't you know how to do it by now?"
"Ohhhh does that mean you go out and ride down the trail?"
"Wait, it's not like it's that much exercise, is it?"

And so on and so on. It makes me think of one of those pictures that were so popular on Facebook for awhile.

You know the ones? Well, this one is pretty accurate, actually. I ride Dressage (note the picture of what I think I do and picture pretty white horses dancing in place and you'll get the idea). Dressage riders are always learning and progressing and many never get to even ride the upper level movements. In other words, it's complicated.

Right now you're probably wondering what this horsey-stuff has to do with getting through the Two Week Wait in one piece? Well, for me, horseback riding is an escape. It turns off my brain and relaxes my body. It helps me to sneak away from reality and is seriously better than going for a spa-day.

Sometimes I get frustrated with it because I no longer own my own horse and I'm not riding competitively like I used and I can't ride as often as I want so I'm basically not...progressing or moving forward at all. I'm just...maintaining. But then, I go out, I smell the horses, I see the mountains, I use my body (not my brain) and I just...forget. It's wonderful. And guess what else? The effect lasts. Here I am, 6 hours later, and still not freaking out about whether I put the right temperature into my silly little chart. So if riding just once a week won't bring me back to the competitive horsewoman I once was and it won't bring back the rock-hard abs I once had (seriously I had a six pack...who said horseback riding isn't good exercise??), at least it helps my sanity.

It brings me closer to the person I want to be.

So, I'll keep riding. And I'll keep dreaming about the day that I can own my own horses again and in the meantime, I will work on being content with what I have. And, I won't give a damn about little things like 3 degrees of difference.

I will leave you with a picture of the horse I rode today. She was once 1st Level California Dressage Champion. Now she's a school horse. I bet she's not stressing over it.


  1. Hmmm, this is one of the reasons why I don't chart. I studied Biology + Veterinary Medicine and all the knowledge is making me crazy, not making it easier. I figured if I started making graphs and shit I would only freak out even more, by being so, so conscious about it (which I already am). What I need is to think *less* not more.
    My cycle is very very regular and I know and feel when I ovulate (I double checked this with ovulation kits, and now that we are going through IUI's, with the trans vaginal ecographies). I rely more on the mucus (as you probably know it should be transparent, a bit fluid, and elastic, like egg whites) and on how I react, after all that's how we do it on cows and horses and it works.

    Anyhow, I read somewhere that temperature charting to predict ovulation is inaccurate because the change in temperature only occurs *after* you have ovulated, and by then you are almost certainly too late, since it is better to have intercourse *before* ovulation than after (to give the sperm cells a head start in the long swim up and to make sure they are there when ovulation occurs, since sperm can live approx. 36 hours (sometimes more) but the egg has a lifetime of only 24 hrs).

    I always wanted to ride horses, during high school I took lessons and I was getting quite good, but it was demanding and I didn't have time anymore. Lucky you :)

    My "happy-forget -about-everything-and-relax" method is baking, it has exactly the effects you describe on my mood and anxiousness.

    Here is the link to the article and the actual information, in the slideshow:
    3. Basal temperature charting does not predict ovulation.

    An older method of tracking ovulation involves taking your oral body temperature each morning before getting out of bed. This is called basal body temperature. This method is used to spot a rise in basal temperature, which is a sign that progesterone is being produced.

    The main problem with using this method is that your temperature rises after ovulation has alreadyoccurred. This makes it more difficult to time intercourse at an optimal time for conception.

    A better method is to use over-the-counter urine ovulation predictor tests which test for the hormone that prompts ovulation,(luteinizing hormone (LH). )

  2. Thanks for all of your input. I think that for me, because I used to collect data in grad school, I enjoy having as much data as possible. Although we'll see if it starts to drive me crazy.

    I start temping after birth control to watch my cycles regulate again. I realize it can only tell you after I've ovulated, but it helps to tell me what my body is doing and when it's doing it. I'm also tracking CM so I have a good idea when I'm about to ovulate. Not to mention just paying attention to my body, as you said.

    For some reason, I feel like the OPKs might drive me more crazy than the temping. Which I know, doesn't make much sense. Ha. But after I feel like I've become more regular I may ditch the thermometer for peeing on some sticks. We'll see.

    I agree riding horses is "demanding." That's the problem with it. Not as easy as some hobbies. I'm jealous of you that you can bake. I totally can't. But I love to cook. There is totally a doesn't require as much science and "following the rules." Ha.

  3. good luck with the TWW (as long as we're in acronym land...) and so glad you're riding. For the last 10 months I put off doing things I liked - running in road races, training for a sprint triathlon - because "oh-my-god-i-might-get-pregnant." Of course, I didn't and I ended up missing the things that made me happy. Definitely good to have a release!

  4. Well, about charting, in a way I guess I am *afraid* of what I might find out. What if I keep getting pregnant and I'm losing these hypothetical imaginary babies all the time? That is information I would rather not know, since I or the doctors wouldn't be able to do anything about it anyway. Let's suppose I had a short luteal phase (which I haven't, they checked for that): the treatment we are following now includes progesterone supplementantion as a complement, to be sure you are covered on all bases.
    And I guess I want a part of this process to remain somehow magical, what with all the clinical procedures making it so cold.

    One of the things I love about baking is that it is truly like Science, Chemistry (my favorite) in fact. I just got a scale and a thermomether so I can tackle "complicated" processes and it just feels exactly like the lab (which I miss). I also like the precision it requires because it means there are factors and variables I can control (through repeated experiments and a forgiving husband that will eat anything I make). I like to actually understand what happens to ingredients and their role in the process as they transform into something different. It is magic that you can get to understand.

    BTW I was meaning to ask you... if you don't mind answering, what is your field fo expertise?

  5. I have always harboured a secret ambition to learn to ride, but it is not a cheap hobby where I live and there always seems to be something more important to spend my pennies on. One day though.... one day....

    I used to chart but it made me crazy. We are on to IUI now anyway so they will do all of the monitoring for me. I would advise temping to locate ovulating and then putting that thermometer down, it was the post O temping that got me all flustered.

  6. I'm 2dpo today or maybe 3dpo. Positive OPK on Friday. I'm here in the trenches with you!

  7. I'm glad horseriding is helping! YAY! I love your posts. It takes me back and I sit here and nod yes as I read them.
    If you ever get sick of the temp/charting (or your batteries die like meeeee) I did the Billings Method the month we got KU and it is verrry easy. It's fertility-awareness based and it helped me a lot! <3

  8. So, as I read all of your comments about the advantages of not-obsessing over my temperature, I found myself getting a little defensive. As in a bratty, whiny voice saying "But I waaaaant to!" Ha. And that's when I realized. Yep. That's probably good proof that I should put down the thermometer.

    That being said, I want to continue to monitor myself for just a few more months to make sure my cycles are fully regulated off of birth control. What can I say? I don't do well with uncertainty.

    Amanda - I still find the "magic" in it, because every time my body does something it's "supposed" to do. I say "whoaaa." This whole thing has been so exciting for me.

    Luna - I know, isn't it sad that horseback riding is so damn expensive? As a girl, I grew up in Montana and we had three horses literally in my backyard. Not so expensive there.

    Sarah - Wait, you're a lawyer AND you run triathlons? Wow!

    Janet - Great! Keep me posted!

    HiLLjO - Thanks for the tip. I googled that method and it seems I am already watching most of those signs. Probably pretty soon I will be able to just watch my body naturally.

  9. I think it's a really great idea to chart your cycle...especially early in the game so you can learn what your body is doing. I charted, tracked CM and eventually used a CBFM. It was a valuable experience...and one that allowed me to figure out that something was more than likely wrong earlier rather than later and off I went to the specialists. I guess I'm one of those "would rather know than not know" types. Bleh.

    But I hear you...less than 3 hours of sleep would lead to an inaccurate temp and used to ruin my whole day, as sad as that was! LOL! Boy oh boy I don't miss those days I'll tell ya. Ho hummm. ~wink~


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