TTC in KSA

*Warning – this post is about my experiences while trying to conceive.

*You’ll find hyperlinks within the text that connect you to helpful websites.

Before I begin I would like to say thanks be to God for everything and every situation.
الحمدلله على كل شيء
الحمدلله على كل حال 
ِEverything happens (or doesn’t happen) at exactly the right time based on God’s plan.

Y and I had waited a long while for the paperwork to come through making our marriage legal here in the Kingdom. By the time everything finally happened both of us were more than ready for our family to grow and so our TTC (trying to conceive) journey began.

It was August 2015 and we were in Ha’il just after our wedding celebration with the family. While driving around the city in the car I looked at Y and said, “I want to ask you something.” He smiled at me as he usually does when I say something like that and replied, “What is it?” I’m not sure if I thought there was a chance he might say no or if I just felt more comfortable shyly bringing up the topic as a question instead of a request. “Can we start trying to have a baby?”

I was nervous about the whole thing. I was afraid that for some reason I would not be able to get pregnant. I had been on the birth control pill from the time I was 16 or 17 (for severe menstrual cramps) until I was 22. That September (2013) I started feeling very strange about the chemicals that I had been putting into my body for so long and decided to start praying Istikhara (prayer done while seeking God’s guidance) in order to make the decision to continue or to stop using them. After a few days of prayer and a couple of dreams I made the decision to stop taking the pill and to use other methods of birth control. This led me to start researching fertility awareness methods.

My first cycle off of the pill made me remember why I had started taking it in the first place. The cramps came on slowly and before I knew it I was on the sofa in the fetal position moaning and groaning while I waited for the Advil I had taken to kick in. It took me a few months, but I finally figured out how to deal with the pain and carry on with life.

In the meantime I tried to read as much as I could about understanding my body and my cycle. I started communicating with other women on a forum”waiting to try”.

I also bought a basal body thermometer started recording my temperature each day before I woke.  I downloaded an app called WomanLog and started keeping record of my cycles. It would take the temperatures that I entered each day and arrange them into a graph. Seeing the patterns form was an educational experience and also made me feel a bit more confident in my own fertility. It would also predict ovulation and the day that my period would be expected to arrive. I continued to temp and use the app for a few months until I moved to Saudi and started work.

Fast forward back to that moment in August 2015 when I had asked Y that key question. With my husband’s confirmation I once again started charting my basal body temperature (BBT). That’s all I did that first month. I charted and patiently waited for the arrival of my period. By the end of the month Y was away on a business trip. Before he traveled I had asked him to pick me up a couple of pregnancy tests just in case. The WomanLog app had predicted that my period would arrive the day before and it hadn’t shown up, so that morning I decided to use one of the tests. A faint line appeared and I was over the moon. Unfortunately, the next morning I was spotting and the second test was stark white. It hurt, but something about the whole thing gave me some hope and I got myself ready for the upcoming month.

After a couple of months of trying without success I started looking to understand different aspects of my fertility like cervical fluid, mood and other symptoms of ovulation or upcoming menstruation. I had reopened my account on the forums and downloaded a book called “Taking Charge of Your Fertility”. I also downloaded another app, Fertility Friend, which was quite detailed and a little more user friendly for TTC than WomanLog.

During that time I visited a dermatologist for the acne I had been having since I arrived in Saudi. He suggested I see an OBGYN to check for any hormonal issues as I told him we were TTC. The OB that I saw ran some tests and said that my prolactin levels were slightly high. She prescribed me some medicine and told me to check back, but when the pharmacist told Y that she had made a huge mistake with dosage I decided not to go back to see that doctor again.

Another month went by and I was still concerned that something might be wrong with me (which seems so silly looking back now). A friend had suggested another doctor in a different hospital. That doctor reassured me that 3 months wasn’t long, but that they would take blood and do an ultrasound. Everything came back normal and she told us to just keep trying. I was fine with that outcome and her suggestion.

Then I started hearing about ovulation tests from women on the forum. My cycle wasn’t super regular and I thought that perhaps our problem was our timing. Y had another trip coming up, so I had him being me back a couple of ClearBlue ovulation prediction kits. For the next few months I used the kits, desperately trying to follow the directions and to understand the test results. They were complicated with these test readers that gave different types of symbols. The tests couldn’t be read without the reader, so looking at lines meant nothing. I think they were more frustrating than helpful.

That frustration made me start to pay more attention to my cervical fluid. I’m not going to explain too much of this topic here on this blog, but basically a woman’s cervical fluid changes throughout the cycle. Different textures or consistencies can indicate non-fertile and fertile periods. I found it to be extremely interesting and perhaps it was what helped me to better understand the correct timing for Y and I.

8 months later I started to relax about the whole thing. I was still charting my BBT and monitoring my cervical fluid, but I had given up on the ovulation tests (perhaps just because I had run out). I started drinking a large cup of red raspberry leaf tea everyday (I’ll write another post about RRLT, ان شاء الله.) I was also using all of my different apps at that point because they would give different suggested dates and times and at least then I felt like I was covering all bases.

On March 30 (day 27 of my cycle) I took a pregnancy test. I thought I could see a faint line. I didn’t let myself get excited. The next day I took another test (a different brand than the first) and there was an obvious faint line. This is when I started to get my hopes up. I waited a day and took another test on April 2nd, then again on April 4th and again on the 5th. The line on the last test was as dark as the control line. On the 7th I made an appointment to see a doctor and have bloodwork done. By April 11th, when I had blood taken a second time, the doctor confirmed that my HGC levels had sufficiently increased and that I was pregnant. الحمد لله ربّ العالمين

WEBSITES/APPS:
BabyandBump
– [website] – (forums)WomanLog – [app]FertilityFriend – [website + app]OvaGraph – [website + app] – (companion to Taking Charge of Your Fertility book)


PRODUCTS
*Something that I’d like to point out is that I didn’t find many of the TTC products that I was looking for here in KSA. I brought them with me (or Y brought them) from the US.
Digital Basal Body ThermometerTaking Charge of Your Fertility – [book]Clearblue Digital Ovulation TestClearable Advanced Digital Ovulation TestWondfo Pregnancy Test Strips – (These are cheaper than buying tests from the store, so you won’t feel as bad about testing early or getting negative results)
71-vckamg-l-_sx522_

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
 – (I used TeaGschwender brand) — Bought this in KSA
img_7979
Nature’s Made Super B-Complex Supplement – (I didn’t mention this, but I also took this vitamin on and off while TTC. I believe I was taking it the majority of the month when I conceived. — If I remember correctly I did the same with a prenatal multivitamin and folic acid, but I can’t remember which ones I took as I I think that I purchased them here in KSA — Vitamins & TTC)
nm-2734-l200-super-b-usp_380x468

If you’re reading this while TTC — I pray that God gives you ptience during this process and that He bless you with an easy pregnancy, natural labor/delivery and a healthy baby.

الحمدلله


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