Drop it like its hot.
My husband had a bad cold a few days ago and he thought he was running a fever (don’t they always?! they sniffle and it means FEVER, EMERGENCY, WAHHHH). Anyway, so he asked if we had a thermometer. I quickly responded that we didn’t besides Tess’s, which we use rectally, so he probably didn’t want to use that one. But THEN, a random flashback came out of nowhere and I remembered we did. I looked in this random pouch under my sink where I kept my extra fertility stuff, and found it. It’s an old school thermometer that makes an annoying AF beeping sound when you use it. It was really weird that I was brought back to a time I hadn’t thought about for the past 20 months. I had entirely forgotten about the whole thermometer fertility thing altogether. Then I started to feel really sorry for my old self. I’ll tell you why….
The thermometer brought me back to the days of obsessively taking my temperature to determine if I had ovulated. Some of you at this point will know exactly what I’m talking about, others will have a vague idea, and some will have no idea. Some may be like “wtf, isn't that the old school way, why didn’t you just pee on an ovulation stick?!” To the ones who know exactly - hang in there, you’re not alone. I know what it feels like to roll over in bed at 3, 4 or 5 am and instead of feeling elated that you have a few more hours to sleep, you feel anxious that if you don’t take your temperature THAT second, it may be an inaccurate reading and you’ll never know if you ovulated or not. I’m writing this to basically shout out that there’s an entire UNIVERSE out there for us TTC or IVF sisters. Naturally, I feel compelled to talk about it.
When you’re trying to get pregnant and you don’t, you start to become a mini scientist. You start to learn about the reproductive system in an entirely new way. Your knowledge on the female body is NO joke. You start to read your body for signs of fertility, one sign being your body temperature. For those of us who don’t have a regular cycle, or don’t trust our cycle, or don’t know if its something in our cycle preventing us from getting pregnant, we pretty much don’t think about anything besides what day of the month it is and what that means. Peeing on sticks to determine when we may ovulate isn’t gonna work for us. Peeing on an ovulation stick is for the regular folk who wait for the day it shows a smiley face and have intercourse that day and the next three and know that somewhere in there, they ovulated. Nah ah. We can’t trust that sh*t. We may get a bunch of smiley faces, no smiley faces the entire month, or a smiley face that doesn’t mean that we’ll ovulate in the next 24-48 hours. So we whip out the magic stick to tell us - the thermometer. The science says that once you ovulate, your normal basal body temperature (basically your body’s resting temperature) rises and stays higher the rest of the month until either pregnancy (remaining high for the next 9 months) or period (and lowering back down again). This is the ONLY sure way of knowing you ovulated. Insane right?! who knew?! It’s an absolute fact, that unless you have your own ultrasound machine, you cannot be sure you ovulated unless your basal body temperature rises. Tell this to a desperately TTC girl, and she becomes more obsessed with her temperature than Tess is with bambas.
Here’s what you do when you’re naturally trying to conceive and you want to make sure to have sex at the right time. You take your temperature every single morning, FIRST THING when you wake up. The only accurate way to determine your basal body temperature is to take your temperature right when you open your eyes. It’s like your baseline temperature, if you wait too long after you wake up, it won’t be accurate. If you take it after you pee, it won’t be accurate. I mean, it needs to be the MOMENT you wake up. So you may open your eyes at 5:50 am (Tess’s new wake up time - insert girl emoji with hand over her face here) and want to doze off till normal human time but you can’t without taking your temp. The thermometer also needs to be stored at room temperature and it can’t be out with the air conditioning blowing on it, that matters. So I stored mine in the clear case it came in on my nightstand. I’d roll over, take my temperature, wait for the annoying beeping, and have to turn on the light to read it.
Every. Single. Morning.
The number reading would dictate my mood for the day. If it was the same temperature and didn’t rise, I’d have anxiety that I wasn’t going to ovulate, or that I had to have sex every single day until I did. If it did rise, I would either be giddy because I timed sex correctly or depressed if I missed the boat. This was my morning for 6 months.
I didn’t miss a day. I became so dependent on this temperature reading that even when I did medicated cycles and trigger shots to ovulate, I would still take my temperature to make absolutely sure that I ovulated. If the temp didn’t rise after a trigger shot or IUI, I’d call my fertility doctor crying and claim I never ovulated. Even when he’d assure me that my basal body temperature wouldn’t be accurate because I was taking hormones. I couldn’t trust my body without it. I needed proof.
I feel sorry for that person who did that. I feel sorry I didn’t have more faith, that I didn’t trust the process more. I feel sorry that there are so many other women out there in that same state, waking up at 5 am, feeling horrendously alone, squinting in the light they’re forced to turn on to reach for the thermometer. The ones who are huddled under their blanket, trying to hide what their doing from their spouse, and who are trying to make sure the beeping doesn’t wake them (you can’t get up and go to the other room to take your temp because that would throw the reading off). I feel so sorry for the girls who are so exhausted but need to wake up and write down and record what their temperature is; and for the ones who forget to write it down and who are so tired that they forget what the temperature was. I feel sorry for the ones who don’t have accurate temperatures and who inaccurately think they ovulated. The reason I feel sorry is because I wish I had a way to tell you in that moment that you’ll get out on the other side. That knowing when your temperature rises just gives you this sense you’re in control of something that, truthfully, you’re not. By the time your temperature rises, you’ve already ovulated so it doesn’t tell you anything besides that you may or may not have missed the boat that month.
Aside from using temperature to help you find out your cycle patterns, take this advice…
Drop it like it’s already hot. Stop. Step back. Get the extra sleep. Or, better yet, next time you wake up early and anxious about your cycle, give your spouse the best alarm clock of his life :)