Merry Christmas! Let me tell you a little story. It’s a story about navigating NFP and Marquette while on a family vacation. Think of it as a cautionary tale – a tale of what can happen if you don’t do a little advance planning about your testing routine while you’re away from home on vacation. I’ll end this post with some of my hard-earned wisdom—5 tips for having a merry Christmas while using Marquette.
We spent last Christmas with my side of the family. I left with my three little kids a couple days before my husband, who had to work right up until Christmas day. My parent’s house was full. 17 people with 1.5 bathrooms. Not ideal for anyone, I’m sure, but I was determined to keep up my testing routine over the holidays. I’m a Marquette instructor. It’s my job to do this right! I was in the preovulatory phase of my cycle, and knew that I needed to test my pee each morning, without fail.
On the first day of Christmas …
On the first morning of our trip I woke up early with my three kids. After a short night of sleep, my kids were hungry and getting a little whiny. Even still, I managed to semi-quietly wrangle them to the main level of the house and asked them to sit quietly outside the bathroom door while I undertook my daily urine test. I really didn’t want to wake up the other 13 people in the house, all of them still sleeping.
As you probably know, once you’re done testing your urine, you have to wait about 5 minutes to get your results. I didn’t want to leave my fertility gear lying around, so I waited in the bathroom while the Clearblue monitor ran its test. It was a long 5 minutes. By the end of it, my kids were yelling and had woken up half of the house. It was a lovely way to start the day.
I got my test done, but it wasn’t pretty.
On the second day of Christmas…
The next day I tried a different approach. I brought my kids into the bathroom with me. I hoped that they would just be able to sit quietly while I did my test. Umm, no. How could they sit quietly when all this interesting stuff was going on? They watched, intent, while I peed in a cup and dipped my plastic “toy” into it. Cue the questions. My four-year-old went into full-on interrogation mode. “Why do you get to pee in a cup when I’m only allowed to pee in the toilet? Why is pee yellow? Can I have a piece of candy too?” (Four-year-olds can be hard to follow, but anything wrapped in a pretty purple wrapper is probably candy, right?)
The five-minute wait dragged on. My three year old was thirsty, and saw “apple juice” on the counter. Tantrum city when I denied him his “apple juice.” And so we woke up the whole house again. I walked out of that bathroom a humbled woman, and avoided the awkward looks from all the other adults in the house.
Again, I got the test done, but it wasn’t pretty.
On the third day of Christmas …
On day three I swallowed my pride. I asked my dad to watch my kids while I tested my pee. At this point (after the “apple juice” tantrum) the cat was out of the bag. Everyone knew what I was up to, so at last I finally got to test in peace.
After all that work, did the monitor catch my peak reading on day three, as I expected? Nope! I did catch peak that cycle, but about a week later than usual (and in the comfort of my own home, may I add).
Which brings me to the real topic of this post … my top tips for keeping yourself sane while practicing Marquette over the holidays. I learned some things last year. Let me share my wisdom.
5 Tips for Surviving a Family Vacation with Marquette
1. Pack like a pro
Practicing Marquette away from home means packing a couple extra things with you. Here’s your packing list
- Your Clearblue fertility monitor
- One monitor test stick for each day you’ll be away, along with a couple extras to cover you in case of delays or other unexpected schedule changes
- Wondfo LH test sticks (if your instructor has recommended you use them)
- A cup for urine collection. A urine specimen container (like the one they give you at the doctor’s office) is ideal, but anything that’s watertight works well. Disposable cups can also work, but think ahead about whether you’ll feel comfortable leaving evidence of your testing in the bathroom garbage can.
- Spare batteries
2. Pack it in a large-ish toiletries or cosmetics bag
Do yourself a favor and buy a large-ish cosmetics bag. How big? The ideal size will fit your monitor with the test stick inserted, your stash of sticks, and a collection cup. With all your Marquette supplies safely stashed away in something as innocent and discreet as a cosmetics bag, you’ll be able to leave the bathroom while your monitor performs it’s test in the bag, with no one the wiser. Genius.
3. Have a plan if you’re collecting pee throughout the night
If you anticipate needing to collect your pee throughout the night, bring along a collection container with a lid. If you’ve already purchased a cosmetics bag that can hold all your supplies, it will be easy enough to collect some urine in the cup overnight as necessary, close the lid, and pack it back into the bag.
An alternative approach is to scope out your bathroom situation and find somewhere in the bathroom to hide your collection container overnight. Under the sink, behind the toilet paper, perhaps? If you go this route, however (and I speak from honest-to-goodness personal experience) remember to take your pee cup home with you. No matter how close you are with your family, “I left a cup of pee under your sink” is always going to be a very awkward conversation.
4. Don’t forget to chart
Sure, charting can be something of a chore, but it’s so important to have a full record of your fertility signs during the holidays. It’s a very common time of year for women practicing NFP to notice irregularities in their cycle (see tip #5). Knowledge is power. The more consistent you can be about testing and recording your data, the better advice your instructor can give you if your cycle is a little unusual.
5. Prepare for cycle irregularities
We all experience some level of stress over the holidays. Stress has systemic effects on your body as a whole; it can disrupt your hormone balance and alter your normal fertile rhythms. Many women experience delayed ovulations over the holidays. The same type of stress can prompt a return to fertility for breastfeeding women in cycle zero.
What should you do about stress? Try as we might to relax and enjoy the joys of Christmas, for many women at least some level of stress over the holidays is inevitable. But Marquette is a very robust method of NFP. A delayed ovulation really isn’t that difficult of a situation to navigate; the objectivity of the method usually makes it quite clear that you’re experiencing a delayed ovulation. Just knowing ahead of time to expect the unexpected helps.
My advice is simply to follow the method, test and chart consistently, and don’t hesitate to get in touch with your instructor when you have questions or if you need help interpreting your chart. (I, for one, work holidays!) I promise, you won’t be the only one reaching out this holiday season for some help navigating an unusual cycle! We’re here to help.
Merry Christmas, everyone!