I have trouble swallowing pills. I always have. I would (and still do) take children’s chewable painkillers over swallowing a pill. When I was on birth control pills, and those are super tiny, they would often cause me issues and I’d find them stuck in my throat. Yes, it’s always been that ridiculously hard for me to take pills. That was never really a huge issue though, I just always got chewable or liquid antibiotics, rarely took painkillers anyway, and just avoided vitamins.
When my husband and I discussed starting a family, I wanted to do everything I could to give the new addition to our family the best start possible. No, I don’t just mean breastfeeding when they are born, I mean from the very beginning. I did plenty of research long before we even considered getting married and knew I wanted to be off of those synthetic hormones they have in birth control. It was a few years before that happened, however, as my husband (then boyfriend) was concerned about the odds of me getting pregnant. I had researched for hours on that, but I let it go. Now, however, was a different story. I went off of birth control in December of 2009, and knew I would never pick up those synthetic hormones again. I bought some bulk ovulation test strips (that worked really well, mind you) from Amazon.com for cheap, and also tried taking my temperature daily to chart my cycles. (I was very irregular before going on the pill, so I had no idea what my cycles would be like.) That was a pill cut out of my life, but I knew I wanted to be off of that pill and get everything out of my system for at least 3 months before we even considered trying for a child.
In March of 2010, it had officially been 3 months off of those hormones. I had long since given up on tracking via temperature as I was on overtime and kept forgetting to check as soon as I woke up. The ovulation test strips were working well, and I was able to see that my luteal phase (the time between when I ovulated and when I started bleeding) was too short to actually sustain another life. I chalked this up to still getting back to normal after the pill, and disregarded it. The hubby and I discussed when a child would be ideal, and we decided to start trying in August of that same year. I started taking 400 to 800 mcg of folic acid daily in March just in case there was a pregnancy a bit sooner than planned, and started shopping for a prenatal that I could swallow. Thankfully, the folic acid pills were super tiny and weren’t really an issue. They also were void of any flavour, so it didn’t matter if I got one stuck or something. The prenatals were not going so well.
I searched high and low. I wanted the best possible vitamin, but one I could swallow too. I started looking into the chewables, but quickly steered away from them as they all contained artificial sweeteners and those are pretty much asking for trouble. If you want more on those, that’s an entirely different entry since right now it would take me too long! Let’s just settle at I am very much against the usage of artificial sweeteners and I think they are ‘death’. Yep. I feel that strongly about them. So, anyway, I checked natural food stores, local grocery stores, vitamin stores, Trader Joe’s (one of my favorite stores ever), etc. I found nothing. Let me rephrase that: I found nothing that was not GINORMOUS. Trader Joe’s had signs on all of their vitamins and pills that had a drawing of the item at actual size except for the prenatal. I asked about it and they opened a package for me to see. They were huge. I felt very defeated. My search had gone on and on, and I found nothing. It was only early April by that point, so I still had time. I kept taking my folic acid and continued doing research.
Later that month, I encountered a very interesting site. It was called Baby Hopes. They carried these prenatals, called Pregnancy Plus Prenatals, that seemed to be the smallest I’d seen yet, though still large compared to a birth control pill (and we already know those gave me issues!). Still, this might be my best bet. They showed them compared to a penny and they seemed the most doable out of everything, so I ordered them. They had zero calcium in them which is why they were so small. Apparently the calcium was what made them gigantic horse pills. I had no problem finding a calcium supplement I could chew, though it took me a while to find one I liked.
We got the pills later that month or early in May. (Hey, it was 2010…. within a few weeks is pretty darn good!) I was excited to take them and find out if it worked. I first tried them on their own. Before I actually get into this, I’d like to explain a little something. I’m what you call a “super taster”. Some of you may have heard of it, others might know what one is without realizing they have their very own label. Basically, I have very heightened taste buds that pick up on things many people don’t notice. This makes me an incredibly picky eater, as even the slightest thing can ruin a meal for me. I once was turned off by a meal because I took a bite of a dinner roll that I could tell had been set on a counter with raw broccoli earlier that day. Yes, I’m that sensitive. I like broccoli, but I don’t like dinner rolls randomly tasting like broccoli! All that being said, if I like a recipe, it’s generally a really good recipe! Back to the pills….
So I set the vitamin on my tongue, determined to try it on its own since it had a coating to help it be ‘easy to swallow’. As soon as it touched my tongue, I gagged. Great. Stupid taste buds. I waited a minute, grabbed a glass of water and had it ready to chug. I dropped the pill way back on my tongue (thinking it would take a second for me to taste it since different parts of the tongue taste different things) and started drinking. I was wrong, I tasted it immediately. It tasted like it smells…. Vitamin-y. Yes, I totally just made that a word. I was trying to chug the water, but unsuccessfully. I was trying not to gag as I drank and as the pill kept refusing to go down. It was stuck. I thought I might get it, but I gagged up a bunch of water and that blasted pill right onto a plate in front of me. I was not pleased. I decided to try applesauce. No luck. I cooked pasta JUST TO TAKE A PILL. I tried hiding it in the pasta, which worked great since it never touched my tongue…. But the drink of water washed the pill out of the pasta and onto my tongue. I gagged the stupid thing back up.
I tried a variety of things, but all with no success. I decided to take a break for a bit. I noticed my luteal phases still hadn’t gotten better by May, so I mentioned it to a few friends online and they suggested taking B6 (100mg/day). Those, too, had a strong vitamin-y taste and made me gag. However, they were smaller, and I was able to gag them down, but still hated it. I didn’t take them daily. In fact, I only took them a few times a week, but it made my luteal phase normal for that next cycle.
In the meantime, my husband came up with an idea to get me to swallow the pill. It was a silly idea, but it sounded like it might just work. I got out a condiment dish and poured a tiny bit of magic hardening shell for ice cream in it. Then I dropped in a vitamin, coated that with more hardening shell (to make sure I get all sides covered), and then put it in the freezer. I waited about 5 minutes, then got a drink ready. I got a toothpick and carved out the chocolate-covered pill, plopped it onto my tongue and grabbed my water. SUCCESS! *gasp* My hubby had a brilliant idea! It worked! The chocolate didn’t melt quick enough for the pill to ever actually touch my tongue, so I never gagged. It was brilliant! It sure did take a long time to make though. Well, at least, in mid-May 2010, I found a way to take the prenatals. Good thing, too…. Late May, 2010 I got pregnant with Bobble.
So, albeit time consuming, it was success. Sometimes I would forget it was in the freezer and my husband would be kind enough to wake me up and make me take my vitamin (If I didn’t take it at night, I got an upset stomach), but I was able to swallow it. I found a great calcium supplement (unfortunately that was after my pregnancy, but I still took calcium during my pregnancy), and I found a healthy chocolate hardening shell recipe (again, after my pregnancy) on Pinterest. I have yet to try that recipe, but fully intend on trying it soon so that I can have it perfected for the next time around!
I was going to post pictures of this process, but wasn’t sure if it was really needed or if there was even any interest in seeing pictures of the vitamin-making process. I’ll take some and post them if there is enough interest.
Disclosure: The products mentioned above were purchased by me. I was not compensated in any way from any of the companies mentioned above. My opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own.