In early January I wrote the article “How do you know you are ready for kids?”
The article brought to life some rich comments and conversations with several people in my network. I will be honest and say that all my responses came from women but of varying ages, ethnicities, and professional lives. I’ll give you some highlights I gathered from their responses to my article:
· Readiness can arrive when you have 100% confidence in your partner to co-parent and be dependable no matter what your relationship may or may not come to.
· Personal accomplishments may be a factor before feeling “ready” to have a child.
· Having a partner that can and should carry a minimum 50% of the workload of parenting is key and a blessing.
· The entire process of childbirth will change you forever.
· Consider mentally preparing for childbirth.
· Sometimes the answer is that, No, I don’t want kids and that’s okay.
· Being married first was a societal requirement someone finally came to terms with not being a personal requirement. Solo parenthood is a journey any birther may choose to take, and that’s okay.
· I’m not sure but would like to know
Let’s review that last one. Some people came to me in my DMs curious about my article and my choice to take the Modern Fertility test. The comments affirmed for me that I’m sharing a story that isn’t easily found or told. We see the aftermath of this journey by way of: “I’m Pregnant” ultra-sound announcements, or sex reveal videos. We might also see the story of someone who found out they could not have kids, or the couple who suffered a miscarriage or infant fatality.
I have personally seen all those stories from people in my network over the last several years. But the story I was missing was how do you prepare for being pregnant? How do you prepare for conception? I’ve read enough now where I understand getting pregnant is not as easy as the movies make it seem. And yes, sometimes it can be that easy but its important to honor that everyone’s journey is different. I’m hoping that by sharing my journey I’m filling a gap for someone or perhaps someone is choosing to live bi-curiously through my experience and that’s okay too.
I own that I’m a planner. It’s how I function and how I find peace. I like to research, ask questions, and plan accordingly. So in considering pregnancy and fertility and birthing I have dug deep!
Taking the test
Since I am actively on birth control, the Xulane patch to be specific, my Modern Fertility test came with only one sample card for me to put my blood on. The sample would be used to measure my Anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) and Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels. If you are NOT on birth control than they will also test 5 additional hormones in your blood that all help speak to your fertility. My birth control impacts those other hormones so the results would not be reliable. Some people elect to come off birth control prior to taking the test, but it’s a personal choice. For me and my body the AMH is the most important hormone to know about.
Here are some definitions from Modern Fertility —
AMH = AMH is produced by your follicle. The more AMH they produce, the more eggs you likely have. AMH is the most important hormone for measuring Ovarian Reserve over time.
TSH = TSH is produced by your thyroid gland and regulates thyroid health.
Needle and pain afflicting adverse Stephanie followed all the suggestions on how to get your blood flowing before pricking your finger. I did not want to have to prick myself twice, which may be required if not enough blood comes out the first time. So I turned on some soca music, did jumping jacks, danced around my living room, boiled hot water just to let the steam hit my fingers, and then I ran my fingers under very warm water for a full 2 minutes. I gave Phillip the camera and took lots of deep breaths before finally pricking my finger. I honestly had to laugh at myself because it really wasn’t that serious in terms of pain.
Modern Fertility Results!
I was able to track my sample on its mail courier journey all the way to the Modern Fertility Lab in California. I got my results one week after I put my sample in the mail. Results tend to come out on Tuesdays and then every Wednesdays they have private webinars aka “Egginars” with their resident fertility nurse Jill Kerwin, RN, BSN. The webinar is great, and they really do answer all of your questions. Nothing is TMI with Modern Fertility communication and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that level of free transparency. In their Slack community their resident nurse has a dedicated channel and holds office hours to answer any more questions you may have or think of later.
I’m happy to report that things are normal (for the most part)! What does that mean for me? Well, it means I have nothing *at the moment* to be concerned about.
For my age, 28, my AMH is normal. To know the rate in which my eggs are disappearing I would need to test the same time next year. This rate can be different for everyone. My thyroid report is normal though it is higher than recommended for a pregnant person.
My results from Modern Fertility said, “TSH levels above 2.5 may be monitored or treated before pregnancy.”
In my shallow level of research, I found that many things can contribute to raising your TSH levels like stress. On a blood test two years ago my TSH levels were 1 point something. So, it has increased since then. I’ll find out what may have been the cause when I see my doctor next and determine what I may need to do between now and when I start trying to conceive.
What else did I learn
· Menopause can be hereditary. My oldest sister didn’t transition until her late 40s and my mother didn’t until after 50. According to Modern Fertility, I may reach menopause around the average age of 51. With the track record in my family, it’s likely that is true. It also means if I want to really postpone pregnancy the odds may be in my favor. However, that is not my preference.
· Prenatal vitamins came up in conversation a lot in my research and in the Modern Fertility Slack community. Funny enough, my primary doctor also shared her daily vitamins on her IG stories and one of them she listed was prenatal vitamins. So immediately I wondered is she pregnant or preparing to be? Lots of people were wondering too so she had some follow up posts explaining. Generally, she recommends all people of age with menstrual cycles should be taking a prenatal vitamin for the Omega 3 DHA which support brain and neural development and prevent preterm labor and more. The vitamins don’t have to say prenatal (if you are not trying to conceive) but you’d essentially want to find a vitamin that has the CDC recommended dosage of Omega-3 DHA.
· Consider vitamins for your partner. It takes 2 to make a baby and if a couple is having trouble it could be in the sperm. I’m not actively trying to conceive but I’ve read threads in the chat community where vitamins were used to help improve their partners sperm. Sometimes that sperm can’t be improved and in that case fertility specialists may be better suited to help find a possible answer.
· After reviewing your results, my Modern Fertility account provides me a timeline based on when I took my test and when I think I may want to have a child. The timeline tool is another free resource by Modern Fertility that you can play with when trying to determine when and how many kids you may want to try for. The timeline will also tell you projected risks that come with the time frames you select.
1. More Research. After deep diving for several weeks on newly suggested educational Instagram platforms on birthing, natural births, and pregnancy stories, I feel like I finally have my head wrapped around the multitude of ways pregnancy and birth experiences may be like. I also learned so many new things about my own anatomy! I’ll be transparent, I’ve never watched a birthing video, but now I’ve seen several and regularly since they show up in my Instagram feed! I even know what a cervix looks like *news to me*! I learned there really isn’t a right or wrong way for a baby to come out and that its up to the birther to be a self-advocate and listen to their intuition. I know it seems small or silly, but we don’t actually learn this in school and my mother definitely did not tell me any details about how she brought 5 kids into the world. Exposing myself to this education has brought me from *cringing and closing my eyes* to *WOW, okay so my body can do that?!* and *what a mentally, emotionally, and spiritually deep experience to have!*
2. Schedule Dr. Appt. I made an appointment with my OBGYN here in Atlanta. I learned what questions to ask her to help determine if she’s someone who can support my potential birthing plan even if I don’t fully know what that is. Modern Fertility gave me a report of my results to give to my doctor too so that she is in the loop. I plan on discussing with her a potential timeline for me to get pregnant. We also must discuss when and how I should get off my birth control and how my PCOS may be managed without it.
3. I ordered vitamins! I tried out several subscription-based vitamin companies like Nurish, Persona, care/of, and Ritual. I ended up choosing Ritual for 1 main reason — less pills. Its nice to get a personal selection of pills but I also don’t want to have to take 5 pills every day. Ritual has everything I need in the form of 2 uniform pills. Ritual has a prenatal vitamin and a woman’s 18+ multivitamin. The prenatal sells out quickly and is high in demand, so I decided to just get the women’s multivitamin because it has the right amount of Omega 3s DHA that the prenatal has and shares most the same ingredients. Since I am more than a year away from trying to conceive, I did not want to hog the prenatals from someone who may really need it right now. If you want to try Ritual get $15 off your first order with my referral code.
4. Phillip got vitamins too! We decided to get the Men’s 18+ multivitamins for him too. I shouldn’t be the only one building up the nutrients in my body. We both should be in that habit. I also found a “prenatal” vitamin for men called Conception Men that was recommended in the chat community. The reviews for them also show it improved general wellness and energy too. We have no reason to believe that Phillip needs these. But when we are ready to try to conceive (#TTC), I figured why not put everything in our favor ensuring our bodies have the natural nutritional boosts it needs.
5. Stress Management for me. I’m looking into adding adaptogens into my diet/system to help me manage my stress and prevent my mid-day slump I tend to get during the week. I’m working on working less, but until then adaptogens should help me naturally return to homeostasis and prevent me from entering a mental crisis mode for too long. Stress can deteriorate the parts of the brain we need for learning and memory. My short-term memory has been consistently getting worse and my desire for learning is there, but the energy is not. Books put me to sleep now its awful! So, we’ll see how adding adaptogens to my diet will help. I plan to try this brand out soon — Peak+Valley.
General note — I almost always consult with my doctor when I introduce supplements to my diet. All the supplements I am looking at adding do not have fillers or additives. Holistic wellness is important to me and my ancestry so it’s a no brainer to look to the food of the Earth to improve my health and wellness. I am excited to lean more on natural remedies and connect with what the elements have to offer.
Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts or questions. Feel free to leave a comment or message me on Instagram. I encourage you to satisfy your curiosity any way that you can!