Sunday, April 30, 2017

Tomb Raider and TTC

These past few weeks I’ve been obsessed with Endurance mode on Rise of the Tomb Raider. As other reviewers have pointed out, Endurance is much more what we expect from the series: Lara Croft surviving against ridiculous odds as she fearlessly explores and plunders ancient structures. It’s challenging, nerve-wracking, and has led to marital shouting matches in our household while Junior pretends to play the game with "his" (Wii)  controller. In short, it’s a fun family DLC!

***But actually: Endurance has moments of blood and violence. Parents can avoid exposing their small children to scenes of Lara brutally knifing men in the neck by sniping distant targets and explaining that they’re napping, or resting, or whatever lies work on your offspring, I don’t know.

In Endurance, Lara is in the Siberian wilderness to claim the prizes hidden in crypts before members of the evil organization™ Trinity can. She has limited supplies and two pressing needs: hunger and warmth, represented by meters. If she starves or freezes, it’s game over. She can stave off hunger by eating berries from small bushes, hunting game (birds, squirrels, rabbits, deer, and hogs), raiding Trinity base camps, or launching a first strike against bears, lynxes, leopards, or wolves. For warmth, she can build a fire, huddle near an enemy barrel fire, or carry a lantern around. Gathering wood, paper, bolts, oil, poison mushrooms, and ore is mission critical because they help upgrade gear and weapons.

But during all this I wondered: why does Lara need so much food? Why, just last night, I stepped out of a crypt, starving, to find two bear carcasses just waiting to be skinned and processed into jerky. But five minutes later – a mere half day in game time – she’d polished off over 30% of all that meat! What gives?

And then it hit me: Lara is pregnant! Of course! She’s eating for two!

Which brings me to the real point of this blog post: hubby and I have been trying for baby number two for almost a year. This is called TTC (Trying To Conceive). Lara's pregnancy (that I made up) is especially obnoxious because she has succeeded (she hasn't) where we have not (sad!).

But my own expectations play a part in the bitterness of my disappointment. You see, we conceived Junior one month after I went off birth control. So last year, when I felt ready for another little one, I figured all I needed was a free app that’ll predict my next period and therefore inform when we should “have relations,” and boom! instant second baby.

Fast forward 11 months later and with higher stress levels, but no bun in the oven. What happened? Did my uterus shrivel up and die after the November election? Did hubby’s testes go on strike due to his overexposure to politics news? Who knows? I asked my OB a couple of months ago if I should come in to see her and she said to schedule a visit after I turn 35 (which is soon!).

So in the meantime, I decided to get proper technological support for TTC. I deleted my ghetto app with all the annoying popup ads (Med Cycles, if you must know) and downloaded three highly-rated ones: Flo, Clue, and Ovia. Hubby thought I was taking the average of all the apps, but really I got one per failed cycle. After Flo let me down I got Clue, and when that resulted in a nothing burger I got Ovia.

Anyway, this is the data set I've been feeding my apps:

  • All period dates from the past 100 years 
  • Basal body temperature (BBT) 
  • Ovulation prediction kit (OPK) test results 
  • Cervical mucus (CM) (delightful!) 
  • Cramps or other pain

This is all helpful because, for instance, I was concerned that I wasn’t even ovulating (anovulation). In February-March I kept testing negative, right up to when I was supposed to get my next period. But I'd gotten the flu during that time, which probably messed everything up. I can't be sure, because after I missed my period I stopped using the kits, thinking I was preggers. NOPE.

So it was such a relief this month to see the smiley face on my ClearBlue digital OPK and the dark line on my generic CVS strip:

LH surge detected!!! It's go time!!!

So at least one egg still came out to play. Whew. And it's so important to know when that little lady is about to make her journey because there's a limited window wherein swimmers can pounce. An egg pops out 24-36 hours after the LH surge is detected, but it only hangs around for 12-24 hours after that (per American Pregnancy).

It takes two to tango, you remind me. Indeed! I assure you that my chosen mate is young (men become less fertile around their fifties and sixties), doesn't smoke/do drugs/drink like me a fish, and hasn't had caffeine in months. However, he is under a lot of stress at work...

In other words, I'm not 100% sure which one of us to yell at.

Meanwhile, Junior's contribution to the process consists of waking up too early in a spirited attempt to disrupt correct BBT measurements, as well as generally making sure his parents get stressed out at least once a day, e.g. by sticking his fingers on the chopping board while mommy is slicing up fruits.


BONUS SECTION: App mini-reviews

Clue was included in a study of 50+ ovulation apps and was found to be one of only four apps to be accurate. I like its simplicity, clean UI, and ability to choose which data sets to track. It also does not care about feelings. Love it.

Flo is the prettiest, with an intuitive UI and helpful articles that pop up depending on data entered. But it's been wildly inaccurate. For instance, during this cycle, it predicted ovulation on cycle day 10 -- and my cycles are typically 29-36 days. It recalculated after I entered a positive ovulation test on cycle day 22, so it's not completely hopeless. Syncs to Fitbit/other health trackers.

Ovia is probably the best in terms of sheer data power. It asks for as much information as possible, e.g. BBT, weight, blood pressure, mood, CM, OPK tests, pregnancy tests, etc. It calculates a "fertility score" based on data entered. It also syncs to health trackers, because at this point, third-party developers can consume my data, why not.


So did it work? you ask. Thank you for asking, dearest reader. No, not yet. My unmistakeable PMS symptoms have tormented me these past few days, and I await the arrival of Aunt Flow (AF). I take solace in the fact that the start of my newest cycle is yet another data point I can feed my apps to enhance their accuracy.

So, like Lara Croft, hubby and I are in our own Endurance mode. We must navigate the wilderness (my uterus), hoard supplies (vitamins), and kill any bad guys encountered (caffeine, alcohol, stress, etc.). May the odds be ever in our favor.

This concludes my strained analogies and mixed pop culture references, as well as this TMI blog post.



This post brought to you by spring's alternating rain showers and sunshine!

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