When my husband and I decided we were ready to stop preventing pregnancy, we had high hopes I’d get pregnant fast. We stopped preventing pregnancy in November and hoped to be pregnant by Christmastime. This was ambitious and possibly even impossible, depending on a few factors, but I didn’t know that at the time.
There was a lot I didn’t know in the beginning, so we researched along the way. We went through phases of “not preventing” pregnancy and “actively trying” to get pregnant. And after several months of not preventing a pregnancy, I did feel a pang of something when someone I knew would announce a pregnancy. Jealousy? Disappointment? Sadness? It may have been a little bit of each of those.
Because we were finally ready for a baby, we wanted to be pregnant and get the show on the road. But, life doesn’t work like that. Everything happens at the time it’s supposed to, and I couldn’t be happier with how our timing turned out.
I share our story of getting pregnant for a few reasons. First, I like to be transparent because I think it’s how we connect with each other. Second, I love our story, and I want to share and document it. And three, I hope it may comfort or help someone when they are ready to expand their family.
Our first night trying to conceive
Our first night no longer trying to not get pregnant was a Thursday night in early November 2017. I told doll that I wanted to do our best to remember the night we conceived, though I knew this would be tricky. So, I decided to make our first night not preventing pregnancy special. I slipped into my wedding dress, like I do on our wedding anniversaries, and made a very simple dinner of rice and beans.
When doll got home, we sat down to eat dinner at the table, with me in my wedding dress. I remember the giddiness between us. We were excited and into each other and ready to start “practicing.” We couldn’t get that dinner down fast enough.
Keeping a sex calendar
After that Thursday night, we wrote a two to four word description with a star by it in my calendar of each time we had sex. When we did get pregnant, we hoped this calendar would allow us to pinpoint the night we conceived.
A refresh on the male and female reproductive systems
We each did a lot of Googling in those first couple of weeks of wanting to conceive to understand how to increase our chances of conception. But, I’ll be honest—I basically knew nothing about getting pregnant.
I never really realized that sperm were cells, nor did I truly realize how small the conception window was each month. From what I researched, I learned that I would ovulate one day in the month and that sperm could live inside of me for up to five days. So, we didn’t necessarily need to have sex on the ovulation day—we needed to have sex around the ovulation day.
We also considered how frequently we should have sex. If we had sex every day, the sperm may not fully be able to replenish themselves before the next time we had sex. We decided that having sex every other day would help our chances, but we didn’t realize that was easier said than done.
They say most women ovulate around day 14 of their 28 day cycles. However, because my cycle varied between 28 and 34 days, I didn’t know when I ovulated. Some websites said women could ovulate as early as day five or as late as day 20 of their cycles, (hence the women that get pregnant on their period).
I quickly realized that if we wanted to get pregnant quick, we’d need some help figuring out when my body ovulated.
Tracking my period and ovulation
Shortly after decided we were ready to get pregnant, we bought an ovulation and pregnancy test kit from Amazon. The kit was a good deal—we got a lot of tests for under $20, and the kit had good reviews. We’d always said we wouldn’t go the ovulation testing route. But, since we were so ready, we decided we’d do what we could to speed up the process.
Tracking my period wasn’t new for me. I had been tracking it for a while with a red dot on the calendar in my phone. This helped me know when I could start expecting my period each month, as it always varied.
However, ovulation tracking was a new experience for me and us. The goal of ovulation tracking is to pee on a test at the same time each day. When you get a positive ovulation test, it means you likely ovulate/ovulated within 24 hours of that test.
I took ovulation tests for about two months, though I certainly missed days here and there. It was difficult to be consistent with the timing and taking of the test each day. When I did think I got a positive ovulation test, it put pressure on us to have sex, which took the fun out of sex. Sometimes we’d have the sex, and sometimes, I’d be tired or we wouldn’t be into it, so we’d just mentally say, “Eh, better luck next month.”
However, the positive ovulation tests could be confusing. I recall having two tests that appeared “positive” one month.
Tossing the ovulation testing and sex calendar out the window
After a couple months of ovulation testing, we decided it wasn’t working for us. Instead of ovulation testing, I started estimating when I’d ovulate based on the halfway point of my cycle. I’d put two “dancing man” emojis on the potential ovulation day in my phone’s calendar. Then, I’d add one dancing man emoji to the days around ovulation that I figured we should have sex.
However, after a couple more months (this puts us in February 2018) of ovulation guessing, I stopped. We decided to just have fun with the process and not put so much pressure on ourselves. We agreed that we were okay with “letting it happen on its own.” Plus, this whole “free sex” thing—you know, not pulling out—was new and fun for us. Since it was new, it spiced up our sex life, and we were enjoying it.
We didn’t decide to stop adding our sexual encounters to the calendar, but we eventually stopped keeping track.
In early spring 2018, I decided that I was ready to stop freelancing and transition back to full-time work. I accepted a full-time position in the summer of 2018, which I was ecstatic about.
I continued to track my period because that is something I always do, trying to get pregnant or not.
And for almost all of 2018, we were just enjoying life and having sex when we felt like it. I prematurely took a few pregnancy tests here and there, thinking “this month could be the month,” but they were always negative.
Deciding to start trying to get pregnant again
In December of 2018, I told doll we should start “trying” to get pregnant again. (For the record, he says he doesn’t remember this conversation at all.) Because we hadn’t used protection—birth control or condoms—in about eight years, we always had the “something could be wrong” thought in the back of our minds.
Were we just really good at that pull-and-pray method, or was there an underlying condition? I told doll that doctors require you to actively try to get pregnant for about a year before they would consider a fertility issue may be present. And since we hadn’t been actively trying for the last nine or so months, we were just pushing ourselves back in that timeline.
So, I decided to start tracking my ovulation again in January 2019.
Tracking ovulation again and celebrating my 30th birthday
In January 2019, I added my dancing man emojis to my phone’s calendar and started counting down the days until my 30th birthday celebrations. We planned a trip to New York City January 31 through February 3, so I’d get to celebrate turning 30 (February 1) in NYC. Then, the weekend after we got back from the trip, we had planned a local birthday party in Nashville with some of our friends.
The dancing men emojis fell several days before our trip.
I’m a sentimental and spiritual person, and I had lots of reflections during those last few months of my twenties. Once we decided we’d be in NYC for my birthday, I had this feeling I wouldn’t be the same when I returned home. I remember thinking about how I’d leave my twenties and enter my thirties in one of the most magical cities on the planet. It felt like the perfect way to end one decade and start the next. It felt like I’d leave some intangible piece of my twenties somewhere in the atmosphere. And, it felt like I’d be plucked out of Tennessee, dipped in magic in New York, then placed back down in Tennessee, but I wouldn’t be the same after.
On January 31, doll and I trekked to the top of the Empire State Building, so I could turn 30 on top of NYC at midnight. Entering my 30s with my life love on top of the Empire State Building was truly a magical experience, unlike any I’d ever had and one I’ll never forget. I remember the winter chill biting at my face, my adrenaline kicking in full-force, kissing my honey at 12:01 a.m. on my 30th birthday and watching the city thrive below. I remember standing alone, saying a prayer aloud and turning around to see doll quietly standing behind me.
The rest of that night was sensual and intimate, and I can remember every detail vividly. The rest of our trip exceeded all my expectations, with my sister and her boyfriend flying in from LA to surprise me in NYC.
The following weekend, February 9, was my local birthday with our friends. We had the best time—going ice skating, hanging at our house, going to dinner and renting a party bus—and I felt like the luckiest girl in the world to get to have two birthday celebrations.
Finding out I was pregnant
February 14, 2019 was just like any other day, except for it was Valentine’s Day—and it was also the day we found out we were expecting our first little.
I took a pregnancy test that morning because Valentine’s Day had a dancing man emoji on my calendar, yet my period hadn’t come. I can still see myself in the guest bathroom, reacting with disbelief and excitement when that test returned a positive result. (My calculations told me I was four weeks pregnant, which ended up being correct.)
I spent the day taking more tests, bursting with excitement and waiting for doll to get home so I could tell him the news. And, I can still the see expressions on his face as I watched his life change before my eyes.
The conception timeline
We stopped preventing pregnancy November 9, 2017, and we believe we conceived February 1, 2019—on my birthday in NYC after I turned 30 on top of the Empire State Building.
When we Googled how many weeks before your missed period you conceive, the conception date tracks back to a few days before my birthday. I had two dancing man emojis on my January calendar. One of the emojis was close to that calculated conception date and possibly could have been right and could have resulted in conceiving in NYC. (However, I don’t think our success that month was due to ovulation tracking. I believe it was simply our fate.)
With all the chaos and packing leading up to our NYC trip, there wouldn’t have been an opportunity to conceive earlier in that week, unless ovulation happened earlier in January than we think.
But because of the magic I felt that night when the clock struck midnight on my birthday, and because of the calculations we’ve done, we believe I got pregnant in NYC. And if that’s the case, my intuition was right, I was different when I came home from that trip.
I had been dipped in magic, and I would never be the same.