I’m a very private person when it comes to certain topics, so this was a hard decision for me to make. After a lot of thought I decided I want to share my journey of weaning off birth control and trying to get pregnant. There is a ton of information out there, but so far I have yet to find anyone with the same symptoms that I went through. Trust me! I was Googling DAILY to try and understand these changes. I figure if I can document my story and it can help at least one person through the transition, then there has to be some value there.
I started birth control at age 17. Like many of my peers birth control was used for a variety of reasons (e.g. better skin, regularity, not getting pregnant for those having sex). I was lucky and never had issues with birth control. A lot of my friends went through weight gain or major mood swings and it took them longer to find ones that worked for them.
Fast forward to 18 years later and age 35. My husband and I decided we wanted to start a family. We both would like at least two kids and already being 35, I knew I wanted to give myself some breathing room to hopefully be able to get pregnant twice before age caught up with me.
My honest initial thoughts…I’m 35 years old and I’ve been on birth control for 18 years!!!!!! How in the world is this going to work?!? What if I waited too long? What if it took longer than I wanted or we had trouble conceiving? What if there were complications because of my age?
I’m not going to lie. These thoughts were very much present on a daily basis although I tried to tune them out as best as I could. As much as I wanted to be one of those nonchalant women who didn’t have a care in the world when it came to trying to conceive…I’m am not one of those women. I’ve wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember. It was always something on my list that I knew I wanted. The timing was never quite right until I met my now husband. So once all the stars aligned, I started to worry about how easy this process was actually going to be for me.
I had my annual OBGYN appointment in August and our wedding was in September. Knowing that we were going to start trying to conceive right after the wedding I discussed all of this with my doctor. She advised that it could take about 3 months for the body to get back on track after stopping birth control and while there was no risk in starting to conceive right away, it might be for the best to wait 3 months. I did as any impatient wanting to get pregnant woman would do…I chose to ignore this advice and start trying right away. If there was no risk, then what was the harm?
Month 1 of stopping birth control brought a few changes I wasn’t completely prepared for, except for one. A few days after stopping, I immediately had a period. No surprise there! For those of you who have been on birth control, you know missing a pill or two can easily make this happen. Right after this I just felt sick for about a week and a half. I was nauseous, dizzy, and really tired. I could tell my body was detoxing and it was not a fun time.
After that week and a half I started to feel normal again. I was able to get back into my routine without any symptoms of feeling sick. I started my next period right on time. It was a tad lighter and one day shorter than I had been used to while on the pill. The fact it started when it was supposed to left me feeling positive that things were regulating well.
At first I was against using a tracker because I did not want to put “stress” on myself of trying to get pregnant. I shortly rethought this idea and decided it would be very beneficial to keep track and figure out if I was having regular or irregular cycles, mood swings, etc. Information can be very beneficial and the only way to gather this data is to track it. I would like to add a little disclaimer here, because I don’t think a lot of women fully understand these apps. The apps start based on general data for the majority of women. We all have different cycles though. So the app is only as good as the information you feed it. Another reason why it’s good to use a tracker. The more information you put in, the more accurate it becomes for you as an individual and the more you learn about your body’s cycle.
The tracker showed me when my perceived fertility window would be. We followed those percentages on the days when I would most likely be ovulating. About a week later I miscarried. I didn’t even know I was pregnant, so I hadn’t developed any kind of emotional attachment. My body just quickly rejected it and that was that. Unfortunately, the miscarriage threw my body into an uti and I had to go on two sets of antibiotics to get rid of it.
This month was the weirdest for me. About a week after this fertile window I woke up feeling extreme nausea. It lasted off and on (mostly on) for about 2 weeks. I was also experiencing a ton of fatigue. I did not have any cold symptoms at all and was convinced that I must be pregnant. These must be symptoms showing before I would test positive with a pregnancy test. Makes sense, right? Who feels weak and nauseous for over two weeks, but never develops any real cold type symptoms?
To top it off I was late. This is where I really started to get excited that maybe I was actually pregnant. Three days after I was supposed to start, my period arrived shattering my hopes. It also brought on another uti. What the freck?! Three uti’s in a couple months span was not what I thought I was signing up for.
At this point I started to take another look at what was going on. I was convinced that my hormones were out of balance from coming off of birth control after so many years. It made sense that the fatigue, nausea, and multiple uti’s were from hormone imbalance and my concentration needed to be on figuring out how to fix that. My old roommate is a naturopathic doctor and I decided to reach out to him. He suggested these hormone balancing pills along with a few other changes I could make in my diet like eating more cabbage. My diet already consisted of Paleo, so this was an easy addition for me.
I also decided to invest in ovulating strips. Remember my disclaimer above? The app is only as good as the information you feed it! I wanted to see how accurate it was at predicting when I was ovulating. By using the strips, I discovered that I was ovulating 2 days earlier than the app was telling me. I recorded this information in my app knowing that it would help predict the following month even better.
Two days before I was supposed to start my period I got the usual cramps. I was convinced I was prepared to go into the next month armed with more accurate information on how my body was working. I was going to move forward in the process of balancing my hormones until my body decided it was prepared. But my period never came. Three days later I tested positive.
I was very fortunate. It only took us 4 months to get pregnant. Once I was pregnant I scoffed at myself for stressing that it could take a long time. I know so many women, some very close friends of mine, who have struggled for years to conceive. I had no idea when we started what our journey would be, but I’m grateful that it happened sooner than later.
If you are trying to conceive and aren’t really the go with the flow type of gal either, I highly recommend using a tracking app and ovulation strips. Learning how your body is working, if you’re regular, ovulating the same time, etc. is all going to help you to achieve your goal. If it takes longer to conceive and you end up going to the doctor for further testing, you are also armed with that much more information to pass on to them.
My sex education growing up was so focused on abstinence and birth control that when it came time to try and conceive I realized that I actually had zero clue of how the process worked. Obviously I had the basics, but I didn’t know that the window each month to get pregnant was really kind of small. I also didn’t understand how much of a detoxing process years of putting birth control into my body would be. With starting birth control at 17, I honestly couldn’t even remember if I was normally regular or irregular. It had been so many years of the pill dictating what my body should do that my natural process was completely foreign to me. Personally, this process has really opened my eyes to the importance and value in having a deeper understanding of how your body works.