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When it comes to fertility, I've been incredibly lucky. I conceived each of my three children within a month or two of deciding, "Yeah, let's do this." But this time around? I've been TTC for six months so far and still, no dice.
And I blame breastfeeding.
See, kid number three was particularly attached to the boob. And breastfeeding – especially when done exclusively, on-demand, for the first six months – interferes with the release of the hormones needed to trigger ovulation.
In other words, the more a mom nurses, the less likely she is to ovulate. Makes sense, right? Every once in a while, though, you'll hear those "horror" stories of EBF moms unintentionally conceiving a few weeks after giving birth – all because they banked on breastfeeding as a natural contraceptive. (Spoiler alert:vIt's not 100-percent effective.)
One thing I've kept telling myself since September is that plenty of women have gotten pregnant once their nurslings started breastfeeding less often. But for me, apparently, breastfeeding is a rock-solid, reliable method of birth control until my kiddos are completely weaned. It doesn't matter that my toddler has been eating table food with the rest of the family for nearly a year. Or that I had started my period (sans ovulation, obviously.) Or that I had dwindled down nursing sessions to one or two per day. Nope. Evidently, my body refuses to ovulate if there's any hint of residual breastfeeding.
Still, I remained hopeful. Here are some confessions of a "fertile Myrtle" who has been TTC for six months:
Every month, I'm convinced I'm pregnant. How annoying is it that PMS symptoms and early pregnancy symptoms are so similar? Bloating, fatigue, constipation, mood swings, ugh. It seriously messes with my head. (And with my ego.) Mother's intuition? There's none of that here.
I don't want to think about how many pregnancy tests I've gone through. I usually stick with cheapo $1 tests. But if my period is a week "late" (which it is often, because my cycle can be irregular,) I'll spring for an "early result" test to put my mind at ease. Yeah, not doing that anymore.
I ordered maternity clothes. Okay, so there was a sale at a particular store, on top of various rewards and perks I had accumulated. So I had to, right? Because if I do get pregnant soon, I'll desperately need summer maternity clothes. So it's totally normal and practical, right? Right?!
I bought more baby gear. With a multi-level house and three kids already, I've learned you can never have too many places to safely plop a baby. So I picked up a discounted bouncer and a play gym. Which is fine, except, guys, I'm not even pregnant. I think I need an intervention.
I'm happy to report that my toddler is finally 100 percent weaned. So at least I'll be able to rule out breastfeeding as the culprit if this whole TTC business still doesn't pan out. I guess we'll see what happens next.
Images by iStock, Michelle Stein
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.