Hello lovely! So glad to see you here again.
I’ve been thinking about fertility, and fertility signs, tempting, and all those lovely topics that some of us obsess about when we’re thinking about, and hoping to have a baby in the near future. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t learn almost anything about fertility tracking before getting married. (If you’re read my introduction, you’ll know there was a lot I was naive about) A friend introduced me to the concept of Basil Body Temperature tracking. This was just after she learned that I was engaged to be married. For three months (our engagement was three months long) I took and tracked my temperature and recorded it on www.fertilityfriend.com and I watched in awe as my chart developed and I learned to pinpoint the day my body ovulated.
Fertility, the early days
Interestingly enough, as I look back on my earliest charts it is VERY apparent that I was a newbie at it. Many days I had missing temperatures because I forgot to take it in the morning. No other fertility signs were included. Cervical mucous? Nope. Cervical position? I was totally ignorant of what that was. And at this time I’d never even heard of an OPK (Ovulation predictor kit) to check the hormone rise that would trigger ovulation.
If any of this is as new to you as it was to me, then check out this article by Kindara about FAM (Fertility Awareness Method). It’s a way better description than I could write, and more thorough. Some people use this method to avoid pregnancy, and others like myself to achieve it. Either way, NOT taking hormonal birth control, but still being fully aware and in control of your fertility, is a very freeing way to live!
My learning curve
After learning and charting and becoming aware of my body’s clear signs of fertility I was very happy with this method of tracking my fertile signs. We got pregnant. My sweet baby boy Noah was born. I naively assumed my fertility wouldn’t even skip a beat after the birth, and I waited (not so patiently) for my period to return. One month, two months, three months… Yes. I was VERY naive.
Three months postpartum, I told my husband, “Maybe I’m pregnant already?! We might have another baby on the way.” Of course, I wasn’t pregnant, and those dozen-or-so pregnancy tests I took every other day for a few weeks were a waste of money. I had no idea that nursing my baby would keep my cycle from returning for close to ten months. (Did yours return much earlier? Or maybe later?) What I did know is that taking my temperature first thing in the morning had become a near impossibility. Between my son’s night nursing, and my mommy-fatigue, there was no way I could consistently get good readings that would tell me anything useful. (If you want to know more about what the guidelines are for taking temperatures accurately are, here is an article by Kindara about BBT)
When my period returned I was elated! We could start trying for our next baby. (Yes, ten months is kind of early for some… But I had always wanted a whole bunch of children, and we got started after I turned 30. My clock was ticking!) Now that I knew ovulation would indeed be coming in the near-ish future I took up temping again and did my best to remember in the mornings. A change I made was to start temping vaginally instead of orally. It seemed to be less likely to fluctuate with small changes (air temperature in the room, whether I slept with my mouth open, etc.) and gave me an overall more consistent and helpful chart.
Then I got to thinking… The *reason* taking your temperature shows ovulation is because the hormones produced after ovulation (progesterone) cause a rise in body temperature. That rise is present all day long. Why can’t I take my temperature in the evening before bed instead???
Testing my theory
I’m not a scientist. But boy do I love a good theory to ponder, and doing small experiments to understand ideas better. I started keeping two charts. One in the morning on fertilityfriend, and the other in the evening on paper. Both with the same thermometer, and both vaginal readings. Over several months I was elated to find that my evening temperature readings were just as accurate in pinpointing the date of ovulation as the morning readings (in other words, I consistently got the same day for ovulation — sometimes the evening temp would show ovulation that the morning reading hadn’t, but without fail the next morning reading showed ovulation had occurred.)
Eventually I had to stop my experiment because I got pregnant, and there was no point in charting anymore.
Testing my theory again
My daughter Keziah was born, I nursed her, and impatiently waited for my fertility to return again. Around six months postpartum I started charting again, this time vaginally in the evening and not in the morning at all. I would put the kids to bed, get into bed myself (baby in her own crib, not with me) and make mental note of the time. Then I’d read quietly on my tablet for at least 30 minutes to allow my body’s temperature to get to a reasonably low “at rest” state, then I’d take my temperature and record it.
Just before nine months I noticed the pattern shift, lower, then spike! I guessed I was ovulating and was absolutely thrilled to be right!!! Five days later I started to spot and bleed. At first I thought it was implantation bleeding and that got me very excited. But a week after the bleeding I tested and got negatives on the pregnancy tests. Two weeks passed, still negatives. Eventually I realized it was my period, not implantation, and my luteal phase was very very short. (Five days is NOT long enough from ovulation to period for a baby to implant. This is called luteal phase defect. Here is a blog post that explains it better.)
After accepting that the bleed was actually my period, I continued to track my temperatures (at night) and continued to watch for my next ovulation. It came around day 23. Out of curiosity I posted a few questions about taking night temperatures on a women’s charting forum, and immediately got a lot of heat. “You *cannot* temp at any other time of day than first thing in the morning. Your temperatures, and therefore your chart, will be compromised and inaccurate.” No one would even entertain the idea of evening or night time temping. I also was assured that I could NOT be sure I had ovulated, based on my non-conforming-to-the-rules-of-bbt-temping.
LOTS of people asked questions about how to temp if they worked third shift, or didn’t have consistent blocks of sleep… But again, no one would even entertain the idea that a consistent evening temperature reading after a quieting-down-routine could possibly yield a chart that could be useful for fertility tracking.
That cycle, even with a late ovulation, I got pregnant. And then very quickly lost the baby. It was devastating to me, but didn’t seem to have anything to do with my charting method. Once my body had recovered and returned to normal cycles we continued to try for our next baby. I never went back to morning temperature readings. They were too difficult for me to consistently remember, and my evening charts were so much more complete, accurate, and helpful!
Several women I met and befriended heard my story of evening temping and decided to try it for themselves. At least one decided to “double temp” (morning and evening) and kept two separate charts. As far as I know, they too found the evening temping to be accurate enough to show ovulation had occurred. I don’t know if they switched over permanently, or if it was more for entertainment to them. What I *do* know, is their evening temping (after a period of being quiet and still) did correctly and consistently show the rise in temperature that indicates ovulation has occurred.
If you are anything like me, and you enjoy tracking your own fertility your own way AND for whatever reason you find it too difficult to consistently take your temperature in the morning, I encourage you to dabble in “doing it your own way.” Dare I call it “unassisted bbt temping?” Although, technically bbt (basil body temperature) is the lowest temperature your body reaches each day. This, instead, is comparing your at rest body temperature. Would that make it “Unassisted resting body temperature tracking?” URBTT — doesn’t sound like an acronym worth tossing around. But it might be worth trying for yourself!
For those of you who don’t think I’m completely crazy, blessings upon you. Perhaps someday you’ll try my crazy little experiment for yourself. It’ll save you waking up to an insanely early alarm. No more fumbling to find your thermometer, and hoping you pushed the button hard enough to start taking a reading. If that takes some of the stress out of your fertility tracking, then I will be a happy lady. Glad I could share an idea that helped you. 🙂
Planning to test my theory again
As I’m writing this, my youngest is almost 9 months old. My heart is already looking forward to welcoming another baby into our lives… I’m hoping my fertility’s return is just around the corner.
Waking up early to temp is simply NOT going to happen any time soon. So I’m contemplating getting a thermometer again, and evening temping. With three little kids, aged 4 and under, my husband and my “practicing for a baby” isn’t as frequent as it once was. I’m confident that my charting will help us bring that next little one into our lives sooner rather than later.