Hemnet – your best friend and your worst enemy

We are trying to find an apartment in Stockholm to buy. We are currently just renting a place temporarily here, and need a new home by March 15, otherwise we’ll be homeless. In Stockholm there’s like a 15-year queue for a first hand renting contract so most people buy a place here. The website where all the apartments are available is called Hemnet, and it is truly addicting. We probably check Hemnet about 10-15 times a day and I dream about it every night.

Every day a bunch of new apartments come out on Hemnet.

They usually have a public viewing about a week or so later where probably close to a 100 people visit. After the viewing, people start bidding for the place and the highest bidder gets it. All this goes very fast, so you have to make your decision within a few hours. If you really like a place, you can ask to see the apartment before the viewing and if you bid a good enough prize, the sellers might choose to take away the apartment before the viewing and you have avoided the competition. If the apartment goes to the viewing, there are usually several people interested in the place, which drives up the prize in the bidding.

Hemnet - NaturalCycles

During the 10 days we’ve been in Stockholm so far we’ve seen about 15 apartments and we’ve placed a bid on 3 of them. One of the three went away before the viewing after a bidding battle between us and another couple. Unfortunately the other couple won the battle.

As true scientists, we wanted a way to quickly quantify how “good” an apartment is. We therefore came up with an equation that takes into account:

  • Location
  • Prize
  • The monthly fee
  • Floor
  • Prize/m2
  • Perks (such as if it’s from around the 1900’s or very modern, or if it has a balcony) and
  • Size (m2) (the closest to 85 m2, the better as this is our preferred size)

Now every time a new apartment comes out on Hemnet that fit our criteria, we put into our Google doc table with the ranking system.

Tomorrow is a big day on Hemnet and we’ll visit another 5 apartments. Hopefully some of them are as nice as our ranking suggests and we can get it for an acceptable prize.

I miss the red and green days!

My favorite color is blue. I like having everything in blue. If I could decide all of the styling, I would have made everything blue on the NaturalCycles website.

It doesn’t work, though, since our users usually have red (fertile) and green (non-fertile) days and the styling of the web site changes accordingly.

Blue days in NaturalCycles stand for pregnant days, and as I am currently half way through my pregnancy, I am in the middle of an ocean of blue, blue and yet more blue days. In principle I should be very happy about all the blue, but to tell the truth, I really miss the red and green days.

Red and green days - NaturalCycles

I guess what I miss is really the diversity. I miss the excitement of ovulation day, after a period of red days, knowing that green days are around the corner. The green days used to feel special, a luxury, something to treasure. Now every day is the same and waking up to check what temperature I have does not have the same kind of meaning as before.

Red and green days - NaturalCycles

I also used to enjoy the subtle changes from cycle to cycle, as my body had been longer and longer without hormones and as NaturalCycles received more and more statistics from me. Will the yellow days eventually turn into more green, as they usually do with more data?

Red and green days - NaturalCycles

What is more fun now, is of course to track the development of the baby, how the movements are getting stronger every day and how the belly is growing.  But I do look forward to getting back to feeling how time passes by going from red to green and green to red.

When and how to suspect infertility

How long it takes to conceive is a common question and hot discussion topic. On average, for any given month, there’s a 30% chance of conception for a couple that’s trying. This number decreases if you are older, especially after 40, and if you smoke, etc. On the other hand if you know when you ovulate, for instance with NaturalCycles, and manage to time intercourse, the chances are higher. 95% of pregnancies happened when the couple had sex either on the day of ovulation or the two days prior to ovulation.

On average it takes a couple 6 months to fall pregnant, but what is hidden behind this number is the fact that for most couples it goes faster and for a few it can take significantly longer. About 15% of couples have trouble conceiving, but only 5% of those are truly infertile. This means that 95% of couples will be able to conceive naturally if they time intercourse well and have a little patience. Especially if you are a bit older, it’s important to time intercourse on the most fertile day in the cycle.

Infertility causes - NaturalCycles

Credit: Wikipedia

When a couple tries to conceive and doesn’t fall pregnant, it can be due to several causes. Maybe they simply didn’t time intercourse right or the woman was having an anovulatory cycle. If the conditions of sperm meeting egg were good, there’s a chance that no high-quality sperm made it up into the fallopian tubes and managed to fertilize the egg. But even if the egg did manage to get fertilized, it still has to travel down to the uterus and get implanted about 9 days later. One common problem is that the woman’s luteal phase isn’t long enough for the egg to have time to implant in the uterine lining. This condition is called the Luteal Phase Defect.

If the egg gets fertilized and implanted, the risk of having a very early miscarriage, also called a “chemical pregnancy”, is high. This is your body’s way to getting rid of a fetus that is somehow damaged or has chromosomal abnormalities. Most women do not notice if they’ve had a chemical pregnancies unless they’ve already seen a faint line on a pregnancy test followed by menstruation a few days later. If you use NaturalCycles, you would see it as a delayed menstruation and hence a longer than usually luteal phase. How common chemical pregnancies actually are is hard to say, since they usually go unnoticed.

Things to ask yourself if you suspect infertility:

– In your NaturalCycles account you can see how often you have anovulatory cycles or very long cycles (> 40 days). This might be due to a hormonal imbalance that could be fixed. Show your doctor your cycle information.

Infertility - NaturalCycles

– Check with your NaturalCycles account how long your average luteal phase is. If it is shorter than 9 days this might impose problems for the fertilized egg to implant. Consult your doctor on this, as taking extra progesterone can prolong the luteal phase and help you conceive.

Infertility - Luteal phase - NaturalCycles

– Be aware if you frequently have chemical pregnancies (early miscarriages). You would see this as a positive pregnancy test followed by menstruation a few days later or a delayed menstruation with a longer than usual luteal phase.

– If nothing seems to be wrong with you or your cycle, remember that about half of infertility problems originate from the man. Nowadays one can buy very cheap sperm count tests to try at home. Here’s an example. So you can make a first test together in peace before you need to go to the clinic and spend a lot of time and money.

One thing to remember is to not to worry or stress too much about this. As I mentioned before, only 5% of couples are declared completely infertile and more than 50% of those will respond to fertility treatments. Don’t rush to the IVF clinic to go through the most expensive and emotionally exhausting treatment right away. Try to conceive naturally first, and follow your cycle closely to see if there’s indeed a problem that is easy to fix.

Cern-Forscherin erfindet Anti-Baby-Formel – 20 minuten

20 Minuten – Cern-Forscherin erfindet Anti-Baby-Formel – News

15 weeks pregnant

I’m now 15 weeks pregnant and the first trimester already feels far away.

I feel so much better after the start of week 14. No head aches to speak of and only some nausea in the morning. Life is good! Another thing is that I got a shared office at TechnoPark here in Zurich for the rest of the year. When I worked at home before, I got quite nauseous when looking too much at the computer screen (even before I was pregnant!). I think it was due to the lack of light. It is much better here.

15 weeks pregnant - NaturalCycles

Here is my belly at 15 weeks. Not huge, but definitely there. I’m wearing Raoul’s pants since most of my jeans are too tight by now. The belly will probably start growing faster from now on. The baby is currently about 9 cm (3.5 inches) and will reach about 15 cm (6 inches) in a month or so, which is a 70% increase.

We got the test results back from the nuchal scan, which shows a probability of chromosomal defects. It measures the liquid in the baby’s neck with ultrasound and combines it with a blood test from the mother and the mother’s age. The lowest possible score is 1/40 000 and the highest is 1/2. Since I’m 29 years old I cannot reach the lowest nor the highest score. Our result was 1/8000, which is about 0.01%. I think that’s pretty low for an almost 30-year-old mother, where the average is 1/800, so a factor 10 more. The probability that something else goes wrong, at birth or before/after, is probably higher, so no need to worry about Down’s Syndrome from now on.

Another test result we got was that my blood type is RH negative. If our baby is RH positive, my body could develop antibodies against it, if some blood is exchanged between us, which could reject a future RH positive fetus. This is not a disaster though and no need to panic. They will test the blood group of our baby shortly after birth and if it’s RH positive, they will give me a shot of medication that will prevent my body from rejecting the next fetus. Problem solved.

Next visit at the gynecologists is already next Thursday. It’s the third ultrasound already at week 16. I think they do more ultrasounds here in Switzerland since people here pay for everything. But I don’t mind, it’s exciting to see our baby again. We’re hoping that next time we’ll be able to see if it’s a boy or a girl. One can tell for the first time between week 16 and 20, so we could be lucky or unlucky. It’s of course not important, but we’re still curious to get to know the little one a bit more.

Accuracy of perception of ovulation day in… [Curr Med Res Opin. 2012] – PubMed – NCBI

Accuracy of perception of ovulation day in… [Curr Med Res Opin. 2012] – PubMed – NCBI

Will quitting the pill disrupt your cycle?

I get a lot of concerned questions from women who are coming off the pill, or other hormonal contraception, and starting to use NaturalCycles as a birth control. How much will the hormones affect my cycle? Will NaturalCycles be safe and take the pill into account? How many green days (no need for condom) will I get? For those who are not familiar with NaturalCycles, it is a natural contraception, which analyses your body temperature, and optionally ovulation test data, to determine when you are fertile (red days) and when you most definitely are not fertile (green days).

Contraceptive pill

How much will the hormones affect my cycle?

The cycles of many women, although they had been many years on hormones, just directly go back to normal. Some women are only mildly affected, like for instance myself. I had the Implanon (the hormonal implant in the arm) for 10 years and after taking it out, my first 2 cycles were 5 weeks long, then a few cycles were 4 weeks and then back to 3.5 weeks, which is normal for me. Some women are unfortunately highly affected. The worst case I saw was a woman who quit the pill last summer and started measuring for NaturalCycles. Her first cycle was 108 days and since the time between ovulation and the next menstruation usually stays the same for one woman, she ovulated on day 97. Her next cycle was a bit shorter; about two months, and the one after that about 6 weeks. Basically it took almost a year until her cycle was back to normal.

The research that has been carried out on the subject has different conclusions, much depending on who was financing and/or performing the studies (one should not forget that the pharmaceutical industry has a very strong lobbying business). One interesting fact that I read is that the hormonal treatment that affects the cycle the most is the combined oral pill, which contains both progesterone and estrogen. For women using the combined pill, 50% got severely affected for the following year after stopping the pill. This was clear from a study performed on women quitting the pill in order to get pregnant and the majority of women who had been taken the combined pill had more difficulties to get pregnant. The good news is that after a year of being free of hormones more than 90% of the women had gone back to having regular cycles.

One conclusion to draw from this is that it is important to quit the pill quite some time before one plans to get pregnant. Not only due to the decreased chances of falling pregnant, but also to give the body a break for a while. It’s clear that being on a constant dose of hormones, is very disruptive and unhealthy for the body. If this is followed directly by pregnancy, which is an even stronger dose with lots of hormones, it might be even more difficult to find a balance again after the pregnancy and breastfeeding is over.

Will NaturalCycles be safe and take the pill into account?

Yes, definitely. When you set up your personal account with NaturalCycles, we ask you if you’ve recently been on the pill, for how long and when you stopped. NaturalCycles will then be extra cautious with your cycle and it knows that it’s very likely that you’ll start off with longer cycles, due to delayed ovulation, which will get shorter and shorter with time. So there is no need to worry, just be patient and confident that your cycle will eventually go back to normal.

How many green days (no need for condom) will I get?

How many green days you will get of course greatly depends on how much your cycle is disruptive by the use of hormones. If your cycle directly goes back to being somewhat regular, then no problem, you will get a nice amount of green days. If your cycle is very disrupted and you almost never ovulate, then the green days will be few. In that case, on the other hand, it is still very useful to monitor your cycle and confirm that it is slowly improving with time. The woman I mentioned above, who had a very disturbed cycle after quitting the pill, only had 25% green days her first year using NaturalCycles. 25% is still better than nothing and it’s nice for a couple to not have to use condoms 100% of the time, which is the other option when quitting the pill.

Overall, it is a big decision to quit the pill and to change birth control, and there is no guarantee that your cycle and body will just continue as nothing happened if you have been taking hormones for years. It’s nevertheless important to give your body a chance and to try to take the healthier path for the future.

Elina on the beach at sunset

Welcome second trimester!

Yesterday I entered the second trimester.

I’ve been thinking that this is some kind of magic threshold where I’d suddenly feel a lot better and life would get easier. The last three weeks I’ve had a constant headache that’s been worse than anything I’ve ever experienced before. On Monday, when the headache reached an unbearable level, I thought that there’s no way I’ll feel better during the second trimester, being only a day away. I was however also very tired from our intense weekend in Stockholm and I basically crashed on Monday evening and slept 10 hours, with only one peeing break! Then on Tuesday morning, when I entered week 14 and thus officially the second trimester, the headache was miraculously gone! I felt so much better and it was such a relief. Although still a bit nauseous, I’m thinking that maybe entering the second trimester is some kind of magic threshold after all.

pregnancy status, second trimester - NaturalCycles

As you can see from my NaturalCycles‘ pregnancy status above, the baby should be about 7 cm (3 inches) this week. Ideally I should have gained about 2 kg (4.4 pounds) during the first trimester, but the last weeks I’ve gained weight at an alarming speed and in total I’ve put on 3 kg (6.6 pounds). I’m hoping that the nausea will soon completely disappear and then I don’t need to eat all the time to feel better. Also, in the second and third trimester the body needs an extra 300 calories a day, which might balance things out for me.

My baby bump has also been steadily growing (see picture from yesterday). Not sure how much of this is actually baby and how much is the extra kg, but let’s hope it’s the baby 🙂

Baby bump second trimester - week 14 - NaturalCycles

I still have 4 pairs of pants that fit (although one pair is Raoul’s that I’ve stolen) and dresses work well together with my maternity leggings from H&M. The leggings stay up by being tighter on the upper thighs and just below the breasts, which leave extra room for the belly.

I’m excited to see what the second trimester will bring! I’m hoping to feel better of course, but also to feel more connected with the pregnancy. So far I haven’t really realized that there is a baby inside of me, but I’m hoping that as it grows and I start feeling its movements, it becomes more real.