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  • Writer's pictureJenny Ingles, CFCP

4 Ways Your Vacation Can Mess Up Your Chart

Woman sitting on a beach under dried leaves

It's that time of year again. The kids are out of school, the office is a bit empty, the barbeques are, well, barbequing, and people are traveling. While it seems like charting should be the same whether you're at home or at some hotel, Creighton Practitioners know all too well that vacations are one of the most common causes of charting irregularities. Last year, Daria tackled the complexities of travel and charting, and last month Natalie gave 3 practical tips for summer charting. Today I want to revisit these issues and discuss 4 ways your vacation can mess up your chart, and then give you some practical tips for dealing with them.

  1. Stress. Ah, stress. That thing that can send charts into a tizzy. Whether your in-laws are coming over for Christmas, someone in your family is sick, or you're preparing for a relaxing (or not-so-relaxing) vacation with the family, stress can wreak havoc on your hormones. While not all women will have stress-related delayed ovulation, a fair number of us do. What causes it? Stress hormones. These "fight or flight" hormones send signals to our brains that say, "Hey, now is not an ideal time to get pregnant," which then causes the brain to delay the production of estrogen and, ultimately, ovulation. So while you're busy planning for, paying for, packing for, and traveling to that vacation, your brain is saying, "Whoa there. Let's put a pause on this whole ovulation thing until you're not so stressed out." That means that your usually predictable Peak Day can be delayed by days or weeks only to return once the stress passes. For some women, that could be during the vacation, and for others, it could be once they return home and things are back to normal. How do you deal with it? Be aware that you're going to be (or are) traveling so expect a delayed ovulation. Simply keep making your observations and if you're avoiding, stick to Pre-Peak instructions in case you do have a delayed ovulation. If you don't remember what a Double Peak is, or what the Double Peak Questions are, then schedule a follow up with your practitioner before your vacay so you know how to chart it.

  2. You forgot your chart. Yikes. There's nothing quite like getting to your hotel room and realizing that your chart is still tucked away in your bedside table drawer. While this seems like a pretty straight forward thing to handle, you'd be surprised how easy it is to make a mistake when that paper chart isn't there. One tendency is to say to yourself "I'll just keep a mental note and add it to the chart when I get home." In Creighton world, we call that "Achieving Related Behavior" which is just a fancy way of saying you're trying to get pregnant. The reason? It's very easy to forget about observations (or entire days), or to mush observations or days together and then write down the wrong information once you return. And if there's some intimacy on your vacation, then you don't have the chart there in front of you to make a proper decision. So what's a girl to do when she opens up that suitcase and discovers that she's missing her crucial fertility tracking equipment? One option is to grab a pen and paper and just write down the date, observation, and stamp color then transfer it when you get home. If you prefer using your phone, start a new note on your phone and keep the same info. You could always ask your practitioner to set you up with our Web Based Charting system so you always have your chart with you (unless you go somewhere with absolutely no way to connect to the Internet). If you're like me, I make a list of stuff to pack before heading out. Next time, you can add "CrMS chart" to that list.

  3. Not making observations. I get it. You're on vacation. You don't want to make observations all the time. Or maybe you're hiking or camping and using the bathroom means finding a secluded spot behind a tree. Or maybe the vacation is such a whirlwind of activity, and because you're out of your routine, you simply forget to make observations. Whatever the reason, not making observations means that you don't have all the information you need to chart accurately. How do you handle it? First, if you didn't make observations for a day, mark that day as fertile and do a 3-count (if you also don't have your chart, see above). Going forward, plan for the chaos. I like to keep those small, pre-folded tissue packets (like the ones that go in school backpacks) in my pocket in case there isn't a bathroom or you're at some ruins in Italy and they don't provide toilet paper, or toilet seats for that matter (ask me how I know about this), so that you always have a way to make observations. If you're truly struggling to remember to make observations because of the change in routine, try putting a ring on a finger you never put rings on as a reminder to make observations. It's similar to tying a string on your finger, just a bit more sophisticated. We are adults after all. Whatever the case, try to get back into your observational routine as quickly as possible.

  4. Not writing down your observations at the end of the day. If you aren't writing down your most fertile sign at the end of the day because you forgot your chart, see above. If you have your chart, but keep forgetting, you should know that it's VERY important to write it down at the end of the day, every day. I've audited several pregnancy evaluations for unintended pregnancies over the years. One of the number one reasons I've seen for unintended pregnancies is skipping this instruction (and if you're curious, using the 3-count is another). Why would skipping this instruction cause an unintended pregnancy? Similar to forgetting your chart completely, it's easy to forget about an observation or remember the timing of it incorrectly and thinking it was one day when it was actually on another. Observations, like days, melt into one in our memories and, for whatever reason, not charting at the end of the day enhances that problem. So how do you deal with it? If you're going to bed later because you're on vacation, just set an evening reminder on your watch or phone around the time you think you'll be going to sleep. Also, ask your husband to help you remember.

There you have it. The top 4 ways your vacation is messing with your chart. Before I end this blog, I want to give a nod to international travel - especially over the international dateline. I do this often and it makes charting interesting. This fun trip through time sometimes results in creating one LONG day or results in a day completely disappearing. If you find yourself in this situation, keep making observations as normal and make a note on your chart if you have a long day or a missing day.

Now that you know what to expect with your chart from your upcoming vacation, you can prepare for the potential problems and plan accordingly.

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