The Surprising Way That Charting Helped Me Get (and Stay) Pregnant

Photo: Getty / The Bump
Photo: Getty / The Bump

I didn’t get pregnant quickly like I thought I would. Who knew that after years of trying to prevent pregnancy, I would actually have to try really hard? (Not me.) I’ve been pregnant five times and have two kids, and I’ve learned a ton about my body and conception along the way.

Like most couples, we started out with a la-tee-da “if we don’t prevent it, it will happen” mentality. When nothing happened, I researched how fertility really works, and I discovered something no doctor or friend told me — trying for baby around day 14 meant nothing to me when my cycles lasted anywhere from 25 to 60 days!

I’m obsessed with spreadsheets, so it was easy to commit to daily charting. It gave me something concrete to do, and I loved knowing exactly when to say those three words every man longs to hear: “hoooneeeey! I’m ovulatiiiiing!” I felt totally in control. However, I would soon learn that while I could do the right things at the right time, Nature was still running the show.

Once I knew how to time our efforts, I got pregnant quickly. It was a long cycle, and it seemed forever to wait, but what a prize! We were typical giddy new parents to-be and told everyone who could hear us our good news. Then the most shocking, out-of-nowhere thing happened — I had a miscarriage. I felt so suddenly…empty. And wicked angry. I mean, what the hell, I did everything right?!

Fortunately, hope can be stronger than pain, and within a few months I was ready to try again. Certainly the odds were for me this time! I tracked my cycles and on another particularly long cycle, we conceived again. I was right to be cautiously optimistic, because once again I lost the pregnancy.

A long period of charting, worrying and obsessing ensued, filled with irrational contempt of other pregnant women. I felt somehow they took my chance to be pregnant away from me, and I was beyond jealous. I tried taking time off from charting, but it made me too anxious. Charting made me feel proactive.

Then I saw a pattern. My failed pregnancies were on cycles that were over 50 days long, and I thought maybe my uterine lining was too old by then to give baby everything he needed. I never proved this out with a doctor, but it made sense to me. We decided we’d only try for a baby when I knew I was ovulating before day 20. When I got pregnant a third time, my doctor put me on progesterone, and  I ended up passing the 6 week marker, then 16 weeks, then 40…and I finally (finally!) became a mother!!

I’ll never know if it was my long-cycle hypothesis, the progesterone, that baby had all the cells he needed, or a combination of it all. But deep down, I truly believe learning about and getting in tune with my body led to my son being born.

How has charting helped you with trying to conceive?

Plus, more from The Bump:

How Babies Are Made

5 Things No One Told Me About Getting Pregnant

How to Keep Babymaking Sex Hot