Looking for books to help you through your fertility funk? Here are a few that I used to bring me back when I was teetering on the edge of baby-crazy. You know what I’m talking about. ‘Crazy Baby-Making Lady’ is pretty much like the ‘Crazy Cat Lady’ equivalent. Except we can smell our own HcG spikes and talk to our uterine linings instead of to Fluffy the calico. But I digress..
Move over Kindle, in my house books have prime real estate. I love the smell of them. I love the soft whir of their pages as they brush against my thumb. I love that whether it's Nancy Drew or Freakonomics I feel smarter and..well.. sleuthier when I open one.
Here’s the top 4 I still use as my go-to fertility reference:
The Fertility Journal by Kim Hahn and the editors of Conceive Magazine
If you want to feel vaguely in control during your cycle, and especially during the molasses-slow ‘2 week wait’, this book/journal is for you.
With this great tool by my bedside, I woke up every morning, recorded my basal temperature, thoughts and symptoms, doctor’s appointments, if I’d had sex, if the sex was good, well you get it… it was a very hands-on approach to things and I really liked that it was all contained in one place. It even had a little folder that I could keep all my folded temperature charts in. I kind of felt like I had a new toy.
Plus, each section gives you fertility advice, and asks you little questions that keep you in touch with yourself and the fun parts about conceiving rather than the clinical process.
Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom by Christiane Northrup, M.D.
I bought this 800+ page book years ago when my cycles weren’t regular. I have since devoured each page again and again as a kind of strange estrogen-fueled gospel. If you are even vaguely interested in the connection of your body, mind, and soul, this book is for you. This book focuses on alternative therapies, sure, but it also talks about the empowerment of being a woman in connection with our health.
Suggestions for treatment go from the conventional western, to diet, to chakra cleansing and on into dream interpretation. And there's no need to look for a section on fertility, the whole thing is like a giant paginated uterus filled with womanly secrets. For reals.
Natural Solutions to Infertility by Marilyn Glenville PhD
This is a great introductory book for couples that are venturing into the realm of fertility issues or if you're just being vigilant about pre-conception wellness.
It starts off with the basics to good health – how to cut out the bad/yummy stuff from your life – broaches the topics of infertility in a way that doesn’t scare the crap out of you, and then follows up with a 4-month pre-conception plan. At just under 250 pages, it doesn’t make you feel overwhelmed. Which is good, because after you give up caffeine and alcohol you're bound to be a little anxious in the first place.
We Can’t Have a Baby! By Patrick Hewlett MB, BS, FRCSC
This is one seriously hardcore infertility book. No joke.
It’s a 400-page bible that is cut and dry, straight to the point, and surprisingly one of the most comforting books out there. Now be forewarned — it has no bedside manner or sympathy for your plight. But I actually had the pleasure of working with Dr. Hewlett to bring my amazing Baby Girl into the world and now when I read it I can totally hear him narrating. Yes, that is a little weird. But it’s also sort of cool.
In our first meeting he said with conviction: “It’s not if you will have a child. It’s when.”
His book is exactly the same. Practical, straightforward, and full of promise.
Highlight? The 12 year old in you will be smirking the whole way through. Especially when you get to sections on ‘scrotal cooling devices’.
Oh come on, tell me you didn't just giggle.
It's surprising what a simple comfort a bunch of bound pages can be. Whether it’s a book, the internet, your community, or your doctor, getting in touch with the kind of knowledge and support you need to get through the tough times is key. Remember to keep reaching out.
Hang in there, and..
I remember feeling totally jipped by Mother’s Day while I was trying for Baby Girl.
I knew I wasn’t a mom yet but come on. No wine, no soft cheeses, no caffeine, no sushi..and I had to sit there as my family toasted every freaking mother on the planet adding sweetly-intentioned supportive comments like ‘..and soon, God willing, Kat will be a mother too..”
The applause and clinks of glasses softly blurred the sound of my head hitting the table repeatedly. Kill. Me. Now.
I know you know what I’m talking about. Maybe you’ve been there. Maybe you’re there now. Maybe you don’t want to admit it, but don’t worry, I’ll admit for you..
The ‘Mother’s Day Honourable Mention Club’ sucks.
As soon as you’re pregnant, people begin to swarm you with attention and advice. You’re part of the inner sanctum. If you're sporting a bump, it’s like Mother’s Day kicks off the entire ritualistic hazing ceremony of being a mom. But until you get that Big Fat Positive, you are sitting at the kiddy-table of life, my friends. And it can blow.
So here are 3 things you can do to celebrate that you are about to embark on the most sleepless and amazing period of your lives...but you haven’t arrived there yet.
If you have just gotten your negative and have cramps that make you sound like Zuul (think Ghostbusters) then break out the vino and order in the slinkiest sashimi you can muster. You can drink guilt free and forget about Listeria. Break out the good stuff and enjoy every second.
Wine expert Susan Sterling (Sterling Wine Consultants, Foodnetwork.ca’s Grape Notes, Naked Wine Show) says “Go big or go home. Get out a bottle of something serious and/or exotic. Brunello di Montalcino, Amarone, classed-growth Bordeaux, Chablis, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, or one of the proprietary white blends that have come along recently, i.e. Conundrum. It’s time to get out whatever bottle (or bottles) you’ve been saving, waiting for the right moment. This is that moment.”
Go on. Get a little crazy. Get down and dirty without looking at your ovulation chart first. Have a night of it. Do it on the kitchen floor. Recreate 91/2 Weeks, get your Hentai on, and break out the vintage porn if that’s what does it for you. Get wild. You know why? Because I very much doubt that you will ever find out what is actually going on Behind the Green Door once you are a mom. Chances are your date nights — especially of the steamy variety— will be a little less, um, available to you for a while. So blast the Isaac Hayes and remember that a night of flagrante delicto with your partner is going to be way more satisfying then a card, chocolates, slippers, or gift certificate could ever be when you have your Sleep Doula on speed dial. You. Are. Welcome.
Biting your nails during the 2-week wait and feeling like you can’t do anything ‘crazy’? No prob. This Non-Mother’s Day do yourself a big favour. Grab a bucket of your favourite snacks, park yourself in front of the TV so you can watch hours of your favourite guilty-secret type programming—mine was watching Jem and the Holograms, Twin Peaks, and Season 5 of old-school 90210—and let yourself sleep in the next morning until you naturally wake up. When you open your eyes and hear blessed silence, and don’t pull various action figurines and kitchen utensils from under your pillow and/or ribs, you won’t really know what you’re not missing. But savour every moment just the same.
Finally, whether you’re a mom or not, remember this: Motherhood is a state of mind.
It’s about nurturing, growing, loving, inspiring, and being there for the ones you love.
You deserve to celebrate yourself no matter what.
You should feel 110% comfortable with your fertility specialist, because you are going to spend some very intimate moments with them. That is in all likelihood, an understatement. If you have a first appointment looming in your agenda, here’s what you want to ask before you get down and dirty.
Will you be taking any samples at my first appointment?
Some doctors just want to ask you about your cycle and the history that has brought you to their office. Others want to drain you of all blood. The difference between the two experiences is quite noticeable. If you don’t know what you’re in for, ask them what their approach is, and if you should eat a meal before coming to see them. Trust me. If they’re taking samples, you want to keep your blood sugar up. And you may also want to pack a bottle of water and a cookie in your purse just in case. (Garlic and holy water optional.)
Do you have ultrasound technology and/or a lab on site?
It may not make a huge difference to you, but it certainly does make things easier to know how much running around you’ll be doing. No matter how dedicated you are to baby-making, the process can also be crazy-making. When you’re up at 5am so you can drive downtown and be poked and prodded at 7am—albeit for an amazing cause—some people feel happier knowing that their clinic is equipped with all the amenities. Alternately, as long as you know that you are going to have some running around to do, you can mentally prep yourself for going to a few different places to get the job done. Last stop? Starbucks.
Do you have any counselors or support staff I can talk to if I have questions?
If you’re returning to fertility treatment after a long time trying, or a loss or other trauma, it’s a good thing to know what kind of support you have available. You may not actually use it, but it’s important to take stock. Some clinics actually have staff who specialize in both individual and couples’ counseling. And support staff doesn’t just mean someone who will listen to you as you dissolve into a puddle. It also means staff who will answer your questions about basal-thermometers, when to come in on day 10, and how to transport your partner’s sperm sample. Seriously. Because unless you’re part of a very odd contraband ring, chances are you are going to ask. Or at least, I hope you do.Stay Positive!