Cycle 1: Short, Sweet, Surprise

February 25, 2012

For the past three years, I used the Mirena IUD as my form of birth control. I absolutely loved the experience (except for the 5 seconds of horrible pain when they put it in). I had no break-through bleeding, no symptoms, no periods whatsoever and felt very normal all three years. And the fact that it cost me $25 once as a co-payment was the best part. Not only was it long-term and super effective, it was cheap. I will definitely look into getting one again when the time comes to choose birth control post-partum. Previously I had been on birth control pills and the Nuva Ring for a total of 10 years of birth control.

My maternity insurance (which cost us an extra $71/month) kicked in on August 1, and I scheduled the appointment to have my IUD taken out on September 14. We weren’t really in a hurry because life was still busy and we were in the process of buying our house.

September 14 arrived and it felt like such a big day!

Even though I knew it would likely take a while to conceive, I felt that the moment they removed it I was a new woman. The feeling of womanhood increased 10 fold when the next day I got my first heavy period in a really long time. When I was younger, I almost enjoyed getting my period. It made me feel connected to womankind.

So when it arrived for the first time in 3 years, I was happy. And I got to try out my newly purchased Diva Cup for the first time! [Caitlin wrote a post on menstrual cups! Read the comments if you’re curious.]


[Source Healthy Tipping Point]

I found it a bit difficult to use (and a bit messy!) BUT, I loved it right away. I loved how inexpensive and reusable it was compared to tampons and pads. My first period started the day after my IUD was removed and lasted a full 7 days with about the same personality that it had when I was in high school.

My first cycle lasted a predictable 27 days. I wasn’t sure if I had ovulated, but since my period came back right away (even if it was a withdrawal hormone period), I assumed I was.

That first cycle, I was actually convinced I was already pregnant! It had been years since I had experienced a normal PMS. Back in the day, I used to get breast tenderness, some bloating and some moodiness. What I experienced in early October was much stronger than I remember! Sites like Two Week Wait only convinced me further that I was pregnant, as I shared many of the same symptoms as women who were, like backaches and a little nausea. I even felt faint once! Since I didn’t get pregnant that month, I have no idea why I had such strange symptoms. Going off the IUD? Psychological pregnancy? I was visiting my grandmother in Baltimore and wonder if my mom and I had shared a cold because I found out later she had similar symptoms – perhaps I was just sick.

When I got home from Baltimore, I started taking pregnancy tests – cheap strips I bought from Amazon – but they were all negative. I started to read about conception and learned a semester’s worth of female anatomy and menstrual cycle material in one morning. I was tracking symptoms very loosely on a Android app called My Days. It predicts ovulation (for a typical cycle) and lets you input notes each day. As I learned more about cervical fluid and other fertility signs, I started jotting down notes and symptoms there.


One morning – cycle day 27 – I got up and prepared to take a pregnancy test and found…my period. For a moment, I didn’t believe it. Was it implantation bleeding? How could this be when I had so many symptoms!? Turns out, I was definitely not pregnant. And very naïve. I was surprised, but also not surprised at all. Why on earth would I think it would happen so fast!?

Next post: Cycle 2: Declaration Of Ovulation

{ 70 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Maria @ Sinfully Nutritious February 25, 2012 at 7:28 am

I used the good old copper IUD for four years, it was heaven when it was removed. I loved not worrying every month, but, I had horrific cramps, 10 day heavy periods, and unbieveable bloating. I am still searching for the best hormone free method, but the copper IUD was just too much for me.

Also, you mentioned insertion, I got mine after my friend who told me that she did not feel the insertion. Boy was I surprised at how painful those 5 seconds were! It was worth it for awhile, but I am trying to be mindful and keep my body clear of hormones. Glad you had a good experience.


2 Tabitha (From Single to Married) February 25, 2012 at 7:39 am

I remember that feeling so well! Every month the thought that “this could be it” and to be disappointed when it wasn’t. We’re actually going through that right now as we try for baby #2. 🙂


3 Amelia February 25, 2012 at 8:03 am

So excited to read about your experiences!! I wish my period would have come back that easily after bc, however I was on Nuvaring, not an IUD. It’s been 5 years and still no menstruation.


4 Carly February 25, 2012 at 10:25 am

Not to sound like a troll, but you should really be looking into this. Not having estrogen in your body (created by growing follicles in the ovaries leading up to ovulation) can lead to osteoporosis! Think woman post-menopause. Even if you aren’t trying to conceive, it is definitely something you want to look into. We develop our bone density until mid to late 30s, and from there we just work to maintain it!


5 Amelia February 25, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Carly, I appreciate your concern however I have been to multiple doctors and can reassure you that my estrogen levels are within normal limits. There has yet to be a medical professional that can find the reason why my body no longer menstruates. Trust me, not a day goes by that this isn’t on my mind!


6 Carly February 25, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Good to know! I had a 10 mo time span with no period (I have hypothalamic amenorrhea) and didn’t go to the Dr because I was scared. Then I finally did, but my hormone levels are so low that they put me back on BC until I was ready to ttc! I get worried whenever I hear others not getting their period. Because as you and I both know it is NOT normal!!!!


7 Jennifer February 25, 2012 at 8:23 am

I did the same thing. While we were trying, I would record my temps every day and obsess so much about every little thing I felt. It was as if I was trying to convince myself each month that I was pregnant. As frustrating as that was, I miss that. 🙂 I think that is just all part of the whole experience.

You are such a great writer. 🙂 Have a safe trip!


8 Roxanne February 25, 2012 at 8:30 am

It happened too fast for me. The first month nothing, the second month pregnant. I wish I had been more careful with my birth control pills. There is something to be said about being too “young” even though you are old enough!


9 Emily @LivingLongfellow February 25, 2012 at 8:55 am

I’m not having a baby or even thinking about it currently, but the beauty of the photography on your blog keeps me coming back daily (sometimes more than once). The addition of this blog is no exception. I appreciate your honesty, and love that your photos aren’t doctored-really natural. Thanks for keeping it real. So excited to follow you on this next step in life.


10 KERF February 25, 2012 at 4:47 pm

Thank you!


11 Stephanie @ Legally Blinde February 25, 2012 at 9:28 am

Wow, I can’t believe you only had to pay a one-time co-pay of $25 for the IUD and didn’t get a period for 3 years! Btw, I wanted to let you know that in my Google reader, the blog’s name comes up as “feed/” whereas with KERF it comes up as “Kath Eats Real Food.” Just wanted to let you know in case you hadn’t discovered this. Have a great trip!


12 KERF February 25, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Oh darn, we thought it was fixed! The feed was doing that yesterday, but both me and another reader had ours fix itself. Perhaps the internet is just slow to propagate? Let me know if you try it again and it’s still broken


13 Stephanie @ Legally Blinde February 26, 2012 at 9:37 am

Hi Kath, I wanted to let you know that your next 2 BERF posts (Cycles 2 and 3) also came up in my Google reader with the “feed/” title. I was hoping it would fix itself overnight, but I guess not 🙁 Wish I were more tech-savvy and could help you out!


14 KERF February 26, 2012 at 10:45 am

I think you have to unsubscribe and resubscribe to fix it. Did you try that?


15 Stephanie @ Legally Blinde February 26, 2012 at 1:18 pm

I just tried that and it worked – thanks! (And thanks for helping while you’re traveling; so nice of you.)


16 KERF February 26, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Yay! I think it was because I changed the title 2 days ago when I realized it was blank and it took a day to fill in


17 Kelly February 25, 2012 at 9:36 am

Hi Kath! Love your new site! Being pregnant myself, it’s so nice to read about other’s experiences. One thing that I’m curious about is your experience getting health insurance. I know it’s personal and everyone’s situation is different – but just wondering if you’ve ever thought about a post addressing that topic! I’m considering making the move from corporate america to staying home after the baby is born and just curious what your experience has been! Thanks! 🙂


18 KERF February 25, 2012 at 4:48 pm

I will write a post on health insurance! Most companies probably have maternity included


19 Angel7 February 25, 2012 at 9:37 am
20 Marci February 25, 2012 at 9:39 am

I think it’s really nice you’re writing about how you got pregnant. For me, that was a very frustrating time with so many questions of “am i normal?” It took us four cycles, which looking back was quick and average, but it was even depressing to not know why it wasn’t working. No one talks about it, and you’re not taught how to get pregnant! It was even awkward to ask friends for me. I wish it weren’t so taboo! I also used an iPhone app called iPeriod and Ovulation Predictor Kits to help us know when was the right time.


21 Carla February 25, 2012 at 9:51 am

I love that you are writting about your journey! This is so exciting as a long time KERF reader. It’s like a behind the scenes. Your skin looks so great, besides drinking lots of water and eating well, what else do you do?


22 KERF February 25, 2012 at 4:49 pm

I use Alba Sea Minerals and Bare Minerals make up – thanks!


23 Carly February 25, 2012 at 10:21 am

Kath, as one who is struggling with infertility (went off BC in April 2011) I COMPLETELY understand how it feels to read into EVERY possible symptom! I chart religiously and have learned more about my body in the past year than I had in the 28 years prior. I must say, I really like the honesty you are putting out here! On your regular blog you seem so conservative, almost unrealistically (from a reader’s standpoint). So, it is awesome to see you a little more raw and talking about real life experiences that aren’t so conservative that really connect with your readers more because we can relate. Keep it up!


24 Em February 25, 2012 at 10:31 am

It’s refreshing to read your posts – I love that you’re so open and honest about things that can be [unnecessarily, IMO] considered taboo by some people.

I’m 24, in medical school, recently married, and got a Mirena IUD last August. SUCH a great decision! I love the thing – no babies while I’m in school for sure! I’m less bloated than I was on the pill, and no scariness after accidentally forgetting to take a pill after a few hours. However, even though I more than did my research on its effectiveness AND safety (read: effect on fertility) in nulliparous women, every once in awhile I get nervous that I’m doing some kind of damage to my uterus by allowing a foreign body to live there for 5 years. I know that’s unreasonable given that many people get pregnant faster after removal of the IUD than stopping the pill, but I’m still glad to hear that you successfully used it and had no trouble conceiving! I had a few very light periods when I got it, but now I have none — not a bad thing at all. Funny though, I know exactly what you mean about actually liking to get your period when you were younger; I couldn’t wait to get it in middle school and definitely felt like a woman when it started happening!

Thanks for writing!
Em K, MD (almost)

PS to other commenters concerned about hormones, I agree about not wanting to pump more hormones into our bodies. I ended up choosing Mirena as a compromise; It does release a progesterone-like hormone, but only locally within the uterus; blood levels of the hormone are not much higher than they are in people who don’t use hormonal BC. I didn’t want the heavy periods and cramping that some get with a copper IUD, nor was going without bc an option at this time in my life.

PPS since I am a poor graduate student, I got the IUD for next to nothing at planned parenthood. They have a partnership with an organization that donates IUDs and you pay about $125 for the insertion. If you have crummy health insurance that doesn’t cover BC (like mine) this is a great option! 🙂 $125 for 5 years of no pills and no preg scares is pretty cheap.


25 KERF February 25, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Thanks Em!


26 Jessica I February 25, 2012 at 10:36 am

Kath, do you mind sharing what insurance provider you use? We are researching individual plans, and only one provider offers maternity coverage at all- for about $425 extra a month!! And it doesn’t kick in for 12 months. I know rates can vary by state (we’re in GA) but I am looking for any info I can get!


27 Allison K February 25, 2012 at 12:13 pm

I am also wondering, what is maternity insurance? Is this something that is offered when you are self-insured as opposed to receiving insurance through ones employer?


28 KERF February 25, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Anthem of Virginia (blue cross blue shield). I’ll do a post on insurance soon!


29 Jessica I. February 25, 2012 at 6:44 pm

Anthem of Georgia is the only one who does offer it in our state (for the $425 extra). You guys are lucky in Virginia! 🙂


30 KERF February 25, 2012 at 7:08 pm

I can’t believe it’s that much extra!


31 Michelle @ Turning Over a New Leaf March 26, 2012 at 7:45 pm

I’m just impressed you can get it at all! There is no such thing as an individual maternity insurance for purchase in Texas. The only way to have maternity insurance is to be covered by a corporate group plan. The only way any maternity costs will be covered is if I have a medical emergency. Completely healthy pregnancy? Nothing. This is why I’m going to join a Medishare-type group fairly soon.


32 Stephanie C February 25, 2012 at 6:58 pm

We have maternity (in CA with Blue Cross) and it’s ridiculous the amount we pay.


33 Allison K February 25, 2012 at 10:37 am

Prior to getting pregnant, I was using Natural Family Planning as a birth control method. We succesfully prevented pregnancy for 10 months. Prior to opting for this method, I read “Taking Charge of Your Fertility.” That book was EYE OPENING! I had no idea what my body did each month, beyond what you get taught public school sex ed. I knew NOTHING about how my cervix changes, or cervical fluid. It’s really quite fascinating. I think all women should be taught these things about their bodies.


34 TrailSnail February 25, 2012 at 11:46 am

I agree, that book taught me so much!


35 JessicaE February 25, 2012 at 2:18 pm

my husband and I used this method too! We prevented pregnancy for 3+ years this years and I loved not having any hormones from birth control in my body. I highly recommend it as well.


36 Kathryn February 27, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Just wanted to add some support for these methods! I’m a big proponent of NFP – it was our only method for 7 years and when we decided to get pregnant with #2 it happened on our first cycle of trying. We’re back to NFP and are pretty sure that we’ll stick with this until we are done done with babies. Hormones are not an option for me and I love the fact that NFP is a “couple” method rather than just something that I’m doing to my body.


37 Michelle @ Turning Over a New Leaf March 26, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Fertility Awareness Method, FTW!


38 Emily February 25, 2012 at 10:40 am

It’s crazy how things happen. In August I had a miscarriage that seemed to last forever, got my period right away in October and got pregnant that month! I never ever expected it to happen so fast like that, but I think this pregnancy was meant to be and the other wasn’t 🙂


39 Jennifer February 25, 2012 at 11:20 am

Hi Emily,

I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your experience. I had commented on one of Kath’s original pregnancy posts that I recently miscarried at 5 weeks. It was a really sad time, and I’m taking this month off to get my cycle back to normal and we are going to try again next month. Hearing stories like yours give me hope that the next time will be OK! 🙂 This was my first pregnancy and I’m just scared that I’m never going to be able to enjoy pregnancy again b/c I’m going to be constantly worried something is going to go wrong!


40 Emily February 26, 2012 at 10:29 pm

Hi Jennifer,

I totally and completely understand what you mean! It’s rough, really really rough. I’m so sorry you’re going through it. I agree, I’m just now 20 weeks and feeling comfortable that this pregnancy is ok and healthy. On the bright side, I think I’ve learned to think twice before posting too many pictures online or even talking about being pregnant too much, you never know who’s trying to conceive or going through a miscarriage at that point in time! I think I also cherish this pregnancy more than I would have the last, because I know how quickly things can change and what a miracle it really is. Keep your chin up, and it will happen before you know it!


41 Sarah February 27, 2012 at 2:08 pm

I’m in the same boat. I had a miscarriage in January at 9 weeks after trying off and on for a couple of years. Under the advisement of my doctor, we took the cycle after that off (avoided sex on fertile days) and are hoping to start trying again this cycle. Jennifer, I feel the same way, I am afraid I will not be able to enjoy the next one as much after having my heart crushed but I guess we really won’t know until we get there. We had just started telling people a few days before we found out about the miscarriage (it was “missed”) so I think I will wait until I’m out of the first tri next time. But I still find myself hopeful. Thank you both for sharing, it’s not something I’ve really been able to do much before this.


42 KERF February 27, 2012 at 4:40 pm

I’m sorry for your loss Sarah.


43 Heidi Bundles Of Hugs February 25, 2012 at 11:03 am

I remember those days all too well. I remember getting that BFN on pregnancy tests or seeing the dreaded period. I always felt so sad and worried having children may be more difficult than anticipated. Luckily my hubby and I didnt’t have to wait too long before we got the good news that we were pregnant. I have a beautiful 18 month old and we’re expecting our second! I love reading your journey so far and look forward to following all your up coming experiences. I’m sure most of us moms can relate on some level.


44 Kate February 25, 2012 at 12:29 pm

Kath–THANK YOU for being so upfront and honest and for sharing so much. You may not realize how many women you are helping. I love that you love being a woman. I have always loved that you kept your last name (To each her own….but I admit one of my bigger pet peeves in life when women “give up” their names to have the man’s….my word….drives me crazy…I do have a male friend who gave up his name and took the name of his wife…..but he is only one I know who did that). I love that you liked getting your period because it connected you to women and I love that you wanted to see what was in your menstrual fluid. You are refreshing and wonderful. I love that your child is going to have such an enlightened mama.


45 Krista February 26, 2012 at 9:00 am

Wow, I feel so bad for those kids who grow up with backwards, uneducated, ignorant women who take their husbands’ names. They must really look at their mother’s as weak individuals who hate being women.

Kath, I know this comment probably won’t get posted, but if you allow a comment to go through that offends and insults women who take their husbands’ names, I hope that you will at least consider allowing a rebuttal.


46 Emily February 26, 2012 at 10:33 pm

I don’t think it’s considered backawards, uneducated or ignorant to take your husbands name. I wasn’t very connected to my maiden name, or close to my dad’s side of the family, and frankly, looked forward to changing it and creating my own family. If that means I’m ignorant, then so be it! 🙂


47 kc February 25, 2012 at 12:31 pm

I’ve been lurking on KERF for years but this is my very first comment. I’m so glad you started this blog to track your journey. I love reading pregnancy journals. Like you, the first month I got off birth control I was convinced I was pregnant (I was using My Days too!). Oh, how little I knew! I really appreciate the honesty you’re writing with here and look forward to following along.


48 Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga February 25, 2012 at 12:38 pm

Kath thanks for being so very open in this, you’re not mincing words and I love it…and can more understand now why you wanted a separate site from Kerf…diva cups and oatmeal are two very different topics 🙂

Those first cycles off your birth control are pretty profound in any woman’s memory I think…the “what if I am pregnant…” thoughts, and then the 2 week wait, and all the other emotions. Please keep sharing your journey!


49 Jessica February 25, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Great post! I’m a Paragard IUD girl myself, and although I’ve loved it since the first day it was inserted, I also *dream* of the day I get it removed because that means BABY time! 🙂 My fiance and I just got engaged and plan to try not long after we get married, so not long now. I will be reading BERF bordering on obsessively 🙂


50 Steph February 25, 2012 at 2:01 pm

My first reaction was “Oh my god Kath showed us how often she had sex!!”

Ten seconds later I thought, really that’s it?!

Thirty seconds later I realized it was the app store photo, phew! haha 😉

I have always heard copper IUD’s cause heavier period symptoms, but the Mirena seems like a good alernative. Good to know!


51 jane February 25, 2012 at 5:20 pm

hahah i thought the same thing-too funny. i knew the blog would be personal, but i was thinking woohooo that IS personal lol


52 Rianne February 25, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Thanks for the tip about the android app – I’ve been looking for a good one. I totally agree with Kate’s comment above. I know you started this blog as a keepsake for yourself and to share and help other women, but you probably didn’t know how MUCH it would help other women. The wisdom that we have to share with each other is amazing. 🙂 Have fun on your trip and you definitely have the pregnancy glow!


53 chelsey @ clean eating chelsey February 25, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Question: I have never heard of Maternity Insurance. Do you know (or anyone else know) if that’s something everyone has to add onto their plan?


54 KERF February 25, 2012 at 4:50 pm

If you have it through your employer, you probably have it already. Since I’m self employed we have to do more a la carte style


55 chelsey @ clean eating chelsey February 25, 2012 at 8:01 pm

I do have my insurance through my employer – I’m sure it’s included – thanks!


56 Sonia the Mexigarian February 25, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Quick question: were you drinking alcohol normally during this time? Or did you stop all together just in case if you concieved? Or did you keep drinking until you found out you were pregnant?

Just curious. Trying to determine if I should continue to drink as usually since we aren’t trying to concieve, but are slowly going into the mindset ‘if it happens, it happens’ . . .


57 KERF February 25, 2012 at 5:48 pm

I slowed down a lot the second two weeks of each cycle, but honestly the more I read in the research, the less worried I am. I think you can feel comfortable drinking until you get a positive test.


58 Christina February 25, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Slightly off topic…Maybe it’s just this area but in my friends and my experience doctors don’t like to give IUDs to someone who’s never had a child. Did you have to do any convincing to get yours?


59 Andrea (@FrSeed2Stomach) February 25, 2012 at 10:23 pm

they’re all the rage now, Christina. I have the same one Kath had and at least three of my 20-something girlfriends have it, too (none of us have children). I think there’s another one with even less/no hormones that’s gaining popularity among young single women, but I forget the name of it. My doctor had no problem when I asked about it, and neither did any of my girlfriends. It might be worth asking again, but there are a lot of factors that help a doctor determine if you’re a good candidate or not (not just whether you’ve had kids).


60 KERF February 25, 2012 at 11:11 pm

Totally agree with Andrea. When it first came out they recommended it for moms because their cervix was… More stretched!? But lots of younger women have them now. My doctor didn’t blink an eye but told me it’s a little more painful for those who haven’t given birth to gave inserted.


61 Ann Dunaway Teh February 25, 2012 at 10:17 pm

Just ordered my Diva Cup! So glad to know about it! Thanks! Love the new site.


62 HW February 26, 2012 at 2:33 am

I hope you had more sex than the app store default photo that’s just sad


63 Lucy February 28, 2012 at 6:37 pm

You should be very careful to recommend an IUD to your readers! Most doctors only recommend them to women who have already had children because they are known to cause infertility in some patients!


64 KERF February 28, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Not so! Many are recommending to all women now. But yes, everyone should talk to their own doctor.


65 Lisa March 2, 2012 at 2:49 am

Just had my second child and had Mirena inserted about 8weeks postpartum and have tons of side effects.Making an appointment to have it removed. My hormones are all crazy and my sex drive is non existent. I also do not do well with pills. Just wanted you to have another pov.


66 Kat March 27, 2012 at 8:25 am

because we all want to believe that we’re the “out of the ordinary” couple that gets pregnant on the first try. I am the SAME WAY!


67 Jenny May 29, 2012 at 11:37 am

Kath, or others that have the IUD,
Did it hurt as bad to get it removed as it did to have it inserted? I found it to be very unpleasant, but totally worth it!


68 KERF May 29, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Didn’t hurt the slightest bit to have it taken out for me!


69 Patty November 28, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Rereading these posts now that it’s time! So very helpful.


70 Kayla June 4, 2013 at 10:24 am

I recently stumbled upon your website and have been addicted ever since! You are such an inspiration and I love how you share your emotion and real feelings dealing with ttc. I’m going through a rough patch now. I actually just got off the phone with my doctor to go take tests for infertility. I’m 24 and my fiance is 27. We’ve been ttc for almost a year and It seems three. I track everything and every month I think this is the one and still a negative test:/ I still have faith and I know it will happen one day I’m just wanting to be a mother more than anything in this world. Its such a beautiful thing. Thanks for sharing and being such an angel<3


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