cafe mama

entering the mind of the married mom

My fertility is so lunar - August 17, 2004

from the "you needed to know this, right?" files... I've been charting and calendarizing my cycle for a while now, ever since I stopped breastfeeding Everett. I'm one of those rare mamas whose ovulation stops completely during breastfeeding, even up to the twice-a-day point.

So when I restarted my cycle it was totally and completely up to my body to decide when. I haven't used those artificial hormones that destroy your body (otherwise known as birth control pills) for three or four years, and so nothing was going on externally from my body's own whims. I wrote everything down in my journal, and started to use the ovulation calendar so I could be accurate without having to keep it down in a book. I read Taking Charge of Your Fertility, an excellent guide for reading your body's signs to learn when you are most likely to be fertile.

[Slight tangent]: Taking Charge is a very useful book when it comes to describing, in detail, what's happening with your entire reproductive system. It diagrams your organs, gives you tools to use to predict the date of your ovulation so you can plan a pregnancy, or avoid one, it shows extraordinary detail when teaching you how to, say, diagnose your cervical fluid (not discharge! never call it discharge). It also has a lot of perspective in learning about infertility problems - basically, if you are having sex during your fertile time, and you don't get pregnant for six months, you need to look further than time, place and manner of intercourse. Where the book falls down is in helping you deal with things like, I'm breastfeeding and none of this cycle stuff is on schedule, or, my son is sleeping in my bed and I never, no never, have three hours of sleep in a row (she counsels that you MUST have had three consecutive hours of sleep before taking your temperature in the morning, and not have gotten up - try that with a screaming 18-month-old and report back).[end of tangent]

Once I had all this cycle stuff figured out, I got pregnant immediately. Then came the miscarriage and I figured my cycle would be totally disrupted. I opened my ovulation calendar again. The doctor told me I could expect at least six weeks following the miscarriage before my next period. But what d'ya know, three weeks later, exactly when the calendar said it should happen, there was my period again.

And here comes the weird part. I'd been reading The Red Tent, a soulful quasi-historical tale of Dinah, the only named daughter of Jacob/Israel and sister to Joseph (of the Bible). I was fascinated by the stories of the red tent, where the women went together to bleed each month, and in the discussions of pregnancy. The women knew they were pregnant when the moon came and went with no blood. I wondered if their cycles were perfectly in time with the moon - after all, they all bled together.

My cycle came, and I ovulated during the new, sliver moon. My period came, and I bled during the full moon. And yes, I was emotional and hormonal and a little crazy when the moon was full. And energized and focused during the new moon.

And so it goes. Today I saw that silver sliver of the new moon on the horizon. The signs match up - I am about to ovulate. It's time again, time to start dreaming of a new child. When the full moon comes and goes, I'll know.