Family Planning as a PhD Mom

Here’s a secret… I had been planning to start trying to make baby #2 in the first week of January. I had kept it from the blog. We had been updating our donor contract, gotten our donor on board, I’d been collecting syringes from the pharmacy, and taking a prenatal vitamin. But then my PhD progress threw a wrench in the works.

I finally got my dissertation data last week, and it was not all that I hoped it would be. It was OK, but not enough to constitute a dissertation. So, my advisory committee and I decided that I needed a second study. A new study, a new ethics application, another 400 people recruited, another big batch of data collected, and a whole new story to write up about it. My original plan was to be finished writing in spring, and defend early summer. My new plan is to finish writing in summer, and defend in fall. So conceiving in January would mean I could be defending my dissertation with a fresh baby on my boob – no thanks!

The new plan is to start trying to conceive in MAYBE March, skip April (we’re too busy in December to have a December baby), and resume in May. I’m bummed out for many reasons…

Fertility tracking

I have re-downloaded Fertility Friend, the ovulation charting app that helped us to inseminate efficiently the first time. I tried taking my temperature this morning for fertility tracking, but the battery was dead in my basal thermometer. I’m surprised I even kept it after we made one baby and deciding we were one-and-done. I bought a new battery and plan to start charting temps asap, but it’s very different this time around. In case you haven’t used temperature charting before, the rules are simple but tough to follow: take your temp IMMEDIATELY upon waking, at the same time every day, and put your daily temp on a graph to watch for the rise in temperature associated with ovulating. These days, I sometimes wake up in my bed, sometimes in Avery’s, sometimes at 5am, sometimes at 7am, and I’m up through the night, too. I don’t think I can depend on just temping.

So today I bought the digital ovulation monitor that I used last time for our actual inseminations. It’s a $50 device that comes with 10 ovulation tests, and it’s another $40 to get all the refill test strips I would hopefully need throughout our next round of TTC. It’s expensive, but what I like about it is that it distinguishes between the days leading up to ovulation and the actual day before ovulation (when the lutenizing hormone peaks). It’s really, really handy for the at home inseminating families who don’t have ultrasounds or meds to guide them. When I got the hang it of it last time, I was able to give our donor several days notice for the upcoming ovulation/insemination. And it’s better than temping for me these days, with the #momlife that I wasn’t living last time we conceived.

So that’s where we are with TTC right now. We’re tracking my cycles, and planning a get-together with our donor and his wife for early in the new year to talk about it. We hang out with them a lot, but always with kids in tow, which doesn’t give us the space to talk about making babies… This time we’re coordinating a childless double date, and I’m excited for multiple reasons!

Working backwards from baby

My wife and I have been waffling on when to have baby #2 (and some days we even go back and forth on whether or not to have another child at all). But it seems that we really thought about timelines for the first time last night – when do we want to HAVE baby #2? When’s the best time to disrupt the flow of our lives so that it will cause the least waves?

Originally I had thought that I’d love to be done school and have a job first, so I could get a paid maternity leave. But the issue of disrupting my professional trajectory is a very real one – when I had Avery I completely lost my passion and drive for my PhD and my CV has become outdated and unattractive to potential employers. If that happens again, I will not want to be newly employed by a company I hope to stay at long term when I go through my “mothering-is-everything” phase. So we have decided (and I say that word without strong conviction) to aim to have a baby shortly after I’ve defended my dissertation. Since I aim to defend in early summer 2019, and we don’t want any more birthdays in July and August (there are 7 immediate family birthdays in these two months already), we’re looking at trying in January. BUT I highly doubt that will happen because I haven’t been tracking my cycle and we haven’t even talked to our donor about it, let alone get our donor contract renewed.

Suddenly it feels like 9 months is a long time, when I don’t want to be sitting around between PhD and career for longer than I need to.

Ready for a newborn again

I was going into this baby #2 thing a little reluctantly. I still felt overwhelmed by my first year and a half as a mother and couldn’t imagine doing it all over again. I was totally content with my one, perfect child. But my wife wanted another baby, and I wanted to give that to her. I knew I would love another baby and wouldn’t regret it, but I also knew it would be HARD.

But then I weaned my toddler from breastfeeding and suddenly I find myself CRAVING a baby again. It’s amazing what hormone changes can do to your mindset.

We’re still pretty distant from starting the process. My wife is going to give me the signal when she’s ready for an IVF consultation. We have talked about which clinic to use, but haven’t chosen one yet. When we do finally get that consultation appointment, we would move ahead with the process (because IVF is government funded in Ontario (so thankful), there’s a wait list and we’d want to get on that list pronto). However, there’s also a chance the the consultation will scare my wife off of reciprocal IVF altogether, in which case we’d wait a while and do things the way we did to make Avery – at home. It’s still all very much up in the air as to when we start and what method we’ll use. We haven’t even spoken to our donor about it.

I can feel myself getting antcy now. It all feels so familiar…