Lucky Socks. Special diet. Visualizing. And foot warmers? Nope, these aren’t the tools used by competitive skiers. These are the tips, tricks, and superstitious routines of women trying to conceive (TTC).
I admit, even before making my first doctor’s visit, I trolled the web for any and all advice to help my chances. From supporting many friends, I’ve seen that TTC can be emotionally exhausting. As a single woman needing to rely on doctors and donors, it’s also expensive. The fewer cycles I need to conceive, the better.
Unfortunately, there’s no fertility potion, super sperm, or voodoo magic that can guarantee a BFP, or big fat positive. But there are plenty of old wives’ tales, some scientific research, and a few just-for-fun practices that I am totally willing to try.
Warm and funny: Apparently sperm and eggs are particular about the temperature at which they like to meet and multiply. While I understand the science behind not frying these puppies in a sauna or hot tub during the two week wait, some sites seemed to have some wonky ideas that take it a step further. More than one mentioned avoiding cold beverages. I like herbal tea and can live with room temperature water for a couple weeks, so why not? But my favorite was the blog that insisted on keeping one’s feet warm because “warm feet=warm uterus.” Really? For me, having cold feet at any time of the month is a torture worse than water boarding. I wear socks to bed in the dog days of August. So throwing some feet warmers in my slippers on cold nights is a bonus regardless of whether it works.
And since I’m wearing socks anyway . . . why not have a little fun? The best thread I’ve read by far on the Single Mother’s by Choice boards is the one titled Insemisocks. Yup, that’s short for insemination socks, and that’s not even the funniest part. Women not only don their adorable lucky socks on the day of their IUIs and IVFs, but a number of them go right ahead and snap a picture of them still in the stirrups. While I’m more comfortable snapping my sock-selfie in the privacy of my home while fully clothed, I’m still willing to partake. Anything that brings laughter to me and others (like the smirking nurse who gets to see them) is okay by me.
Sticking Power: After showing off my fab socks each cycle, there are supposedly a few foods that will assist in implantation of the embryo. In less clinical terms, I’m eating pineapple and nuts in hopes of turning my uterus into a tiny Velcro vessel. The pineapple ‘trick’ calls for taking a ripe pineapple and cutting it into five sections, keeping the core. Eat one section a day starting on the day of your procedure (or the day you get down to it, if you’re doing this the natural way) and bam, Velcro. The thought is the bromelain in the core increases your sticking power, but there’s no evidence this is anything more than a delicious old wives’ tale.
Another nutrient that reportedly has similar benefits (with a little more science behind it) is selenium, which is found in many nuts, particularly Brazil nuts, but also in cashews, walnuts, and Macadamia nuts. So once the socks come off, I’ll be snacking on some mixed nuts and pineapple chunks. I suppose a virgin piña colada would break the “no cold drinks” rule, though, huh?
Head games: One TTC tip mentioned in nearly everything I read, from the scientific sites to the mom blogs, was to try to relax. Whether it is through visualizing the cells in your body beginning to grow into a baby, doing yoga or meditation, or having acupuncture or Reiki treatments, you need to try to chill. This is much easier said than done, I’m learning, but managing stress is important for everyone, TTC or not.
If you can afford to get some trained help in this area, studies have proven acupuncture can increase one’s chances of conceiving. Having never had it before myself, I think it might actually increase my anxiety on the day of an IUI unless I get the chance to try a session or two ahead of time, so I’m passing on this one for now. Luckily, though, I have a close friend who’s trained to perform Reiki, another form of alternative healing and relaxation. The few sessions she’s done have been wonderfully calming and comforting, something that’s good for the soul, baby on board or not.
Since Skyping the Stork and telling him to make it quick apparently isn’t possible, I’m left with these other options: eat well, stay warm, laugh often, and stress less. It’s no magic bean, but until the time is right and the real magic begins, it’ll have to do.