I’ve got a fever. And the prescription is more baby.
I have two beautiful children, who were both conceived very easily (and surprisingly), but my husband and I desire to have a third child. Making sperm and egg collide this round has been quite the challenge, though, and after nearly two years, I’ve yet to become a swollen expecting she-beast who craves chili cheese tots at midnight.
Husband and I are both healthy and have no obvious problems that would prevent me from becoming pregnant, so the term, “Unexplained Infertility” keeps floating around. I hate when things can’t be explained. Like that blue/black white/gold dress fiasco. Unexplained things make me stabby.
So, my OBGYN recommended that we participate in Natural Family Planning. This is when a woman checks her cervical mucus each day, charts her observation and then determines the window in which she is ripe for the picking, so to speak.
Disclaimer: I’m about to type the word mucus more than an ad writer for Mucinex. Please forgive me.
Why does the type of mucus you produce even matter, you may ask? Well, sperm need a specific type of mucus to travel. Just like you need a vehicle to reach Epcot, sperm need a vehicle to reach Egg. Consider mucus your sperm's minivan.
If you decide to start charting, you are required to go to a class where an instructor will teach you all about cervical mucus, peak days, semen, progesterone and glands. You’ll even receive a book with large and colorful illustrations of the different types of cervical fluid that are present throughout a woman’s cycle. It’s a really interesting read if you’re into picture books of phlegm that ultimately came out of an unknown woman’s birthing hole.
It’s okay to go get your barf bag now. I’ll wait…
Anyway, when it comes to talking about sexual things, I’m like a 15-year-old boy. I can’t make it through one of my monthly charting meetings without snickering or cracking a “that’s what she said” joke. I know cervical mucus is a totally natural thing, but who can watch a PowerPoint presentation about it and not gag and/or laugh? I just can’t do it.
It’s like watching a cat throw up. I know cats throw up. You know cats throw up. But when we actually witness a cat throwing up, we are a little bit uncomfortable, frightened and possibly reminded of a family member’s dance moves. It’s kind of disturbing and funny all at the same time.
Bear with me.
So what does cervical mucus charting actually entail? Each time you go to the bathroom, you wipe your hooha and check the toilet paper. If your TP is dry, then you aren’t up for baby making. If your TP is damp, well, you should observe specifically what kind of mucus you have. Some is sticky. Some is tacky. Some is stretchy. Some is gluey. Some is disgusting. Some leave you cowering in the corner wondering why in the hell you are doing this.
Side note: If you have anything resembling glue coming out of your crotch, you should probably seek medical attention. And Elmer’s.
Once you’ve determined the consistency of your sample, you write down your observation. This is where I run into trouble. I refuse to use a pen before I’ve washed my hands. So I have to wash my hands and then chart my observation, but sometimes I can’t remember what my observation was after thoroughly scrubbing my hands. I get really frustrated that I even have to think, "I better wash my hands before using this pen to write down my mucus consistency," so I forget about writing it down and I go drink wine.
But NFP isn't just about checking your cervical excretions.
Natural Family Planning is also centered on strengthening the relationship between couples. Husbands are encouraged to “get in on the fun” and help observe the lady’s “product” in order to better understand the female anatomy and all of the weird secretions our bodies make on a monthly basis. It is supposed to promote bonding and stuff.
However, luckily for my husband, I refuse to ever utter the words, “Honey, would you mind checking this toilet paper? Does this look clear, cloudy or lubricative to you?”
I shudder at the thought.
And so does he.
I’ve been charting for several months, and I still find it to be gross. I still find the meetings awkward. I still have a hard time referring to anything other than egg whites as having an “egg white consistency.” I struggle now with wondering if anyone will ever shake my hand again after reading this. (I scrub my hands thoroughly, remember?) But, I have to admit that I'm learning that women are a wonder to behold. Before charting, I really had no idea what our bodies go through each month in order to prepare for conception.
It’s sort of become like a really weird game.
You know when you watch The Bachelor and you have a strong premonition about which hoe-bag will receive a rose? And then the hoe-bag who you predicted would receive the rose actually receives it and you’re all, “I knew it! I just knew it!”
That’s kind of how it is with charting cervical mucus. Based on the patterns that develop each month, you’ve already determined that your observation tomorrow will be “shiny, clear and lubricative.”
When the TP reveals your prediction, you’re all, “I knew it! I just knew it! What do I win?”
Hopefully you’ll win a baby.
If you are having a hard time conceiving, or you desire to get off birth control and still know the proper time to have sex without the possibility of becoming pregnant, I encourage you to research Natural Family Planning.
Yes, it’s awkward. Yes, it’s taboo. But yes, millions of women do it.
And yes, I think it works.
Hopefully a positive pregnancy test in my future will confirm just that.
Now go wash your hands.