Tag: infertility

Guilty Pleasures

I’m becoming concerned that I may be the only one who does this one thing… or at least, the only one who’s still trying after




who still does this thing.

It’s sort of embarrassing.

It’s just… my thing.

It’s maybe a normal thing for any of-age woman dreaming of having a family of her own, and totally a normal thing for someone who’s expecting to become pregnant soon.

For a nearly five-years-deep infertile who alternates between hope and hopelessness on a month-to-month basis?

Probably not healthy.

Either way, it’s my thing.

My guilty pleasure.

And I think I should admit it to all of you…

*deep breath*

Here it is:

Every month, regardless of natural, medicated, or completely wonky cycle, I calculate my approximate ovulation date.  Then, once I’ve ovulated, I enter this information into a due date calendar – you know, on the off-chance that I actually do get pregnant – and that’s where the madness starts.

Let’s say I got pregnant this month (hahaha)… My due date would be May 14th; just a hop, skip, and a jump from Mother’s Day!  How sweet is that?

I’d round out the first trimester in early November, which would be an amazing time of year to start sharing with the general public news of our impending bundle of joy.  We’d know the gender by Christmas, and it would make the holidays so special.

I wouldn’t need to make one single New Year’s resolution, because I’d have everything I’ve ever wanted.

I could have maternity photos taken around Easter, and what a cute theme that would be what with all of the eggs and bunnies and baby chicks.  Oh, I can just see it now!

Oh, and don’t forget the pregnancy announcement itself – I would love to have early fall photos taken at the end of September or beginning of October, maybe in a pumpkin patch.  Maybe a graphic designed to announce our “little pumpkin” sent to family and friends, or posted to Facebook… I don’t even care how cheesy that is.

And don’t even get me started on my baby-naming dreams.  I have lists, people.  LISTS.


Almost every month, I allow myself to wallow in these lovely, pastel-colored pipe dreams.  And, without fail, every month those dreams are stomped, deflated, and left for dead until the next ovulation rolls around.

Am I the only one who does this?  Is it a sick fascination brought about by endless hoping for pregnancy and too much time spent on Pinterest?  Is this a subconscious way for me to keep hope alive, or a way for me to escape from the reality of the situation, sticking my head in the proverbial sand?

I have no idea if this is normal, and I have no clue how to stop it – or even if I should stop it.

All I know is that I have these black and white dreams, and every month, I give them color.

Every month that color gets washed away, and I get to start fresh the next month…

Whether that’s healthy or not remains to be seen.

I guess at least I’ll always have a pocketful of creative ideas for my friends and family members who find themselves expecting their own little bundles. 

Oh, you’re having an Easter-time baby shower and need theme ideas?  I’m your girl!

Maybe one day I’ll be able to use one of my grand ideas for myself…


One day.


I would never… but still… HAHAHA!



Review: Teamotions Brand Loose Teas


I’ve been meaning to do this for a while – starting a series of reviews of products or services I’ve used for the benefit of others who may be researching whether they will be a good fit in their infertility journey, or in life in general.

Here we go!


Can we take just a minute to talk about the power of tea?

Yeah.  You heard me.  Tea.

It’s amazing, and I love it.  Black, green, white, red – just steep it and serve it!

There’s something comforting about drinking a hot cup of tea (or a cold glass of iced tea, for that matter!), and there’s something I can’t describe – the comfort of a special morning routine, maybe – about having that moment to yourself to breathe in the steam and aromatics from the beverage you’re brewing just for you.

It’s peaceful, and some days it’s the only peace I can find for myself; having a moment of peace each day can be vital for someone who is struggling with infertility, loss, and the everyday stresses that come along with TTC.

Anyway, not being a coffee drinker, I’ve loved tea for a long time, but last year after my miscarriage, I discovered this company, Teamotions.  They have created specific teas and herbal blends that help assist your body and mind in recovering from different types of stress – grief, loss, tension, exhaustion, etc.

The teas contain adaptogens, which are non-toxic, natural substances that create a nonspecific response in the body.  Basically, they assist your body in doing what it naturally should be doing, and they do it without medication or hormonal treatment.  Adaptogens are our friends!

Besides being an amazing company that participates in many charitable events and whose foundation came from the devastating loss of two dear babies, the teas themselves are well thought out, and most importantly, DELICIOUS.  My favorite is the Achieve Clarity, which is a vanilla Earl Grey (that, sadly, I can’t have right now because it’s caffeinated.  Boo.), and the husband loves the Enjoy Rest, an apple cinnamon chamomile.As far as ease of use, I will say that these are loose teas – not your grocery store tea bags.  If you want to brew a proper cuppa, you’ll need to have a tea strainer or small pot with a straining insert.  You can also buy reusable cloth tea bags in your local home goods store or online, if you want to simplify your life a bit.  As for me, I am a loose tea user from way back, so I have several pots at home.

Here’s my routine:

When I get up in the morning, I fill up my electric kettle and get some water boiling, which only takes a minute or so.  I choose my tea (I have them all.  I’m that obsessed.), and scoop the recommended amount into my tea strainer.  Once the water is hot enough, I’ll pour it over the tea and fill the pot, put the lid on, and let it steep while I get ready for work.

Just before I leave, I pour the hot tea into a big metal travel mug that will keep it hot for the better part of the morning.  Sometimes I add a teensy bit of honey or a splash of almond milk, but the teas themselves are really delicious on their own, too.

That’s it!  Not difficult, and well worth the extra three minutes of effort every morning.  If you’re unsure about brewing your own loose tea, there are directions on every canister and on the Teamotions website.

And if you’re concerned that you may not have the right equipment, everything you need can be purchased on their website, in your local Bed Bath & Beyond, or in a specialty mall store like Teavana (that place is like heaven…).  You don’t need an electric kettle if you have a glass measuring cup and a microwave, and you don’t even need a special tea pot and strainer if you have a fine mesh sieve.  Just place the tea in the bottom of a bowl, pour the hot water over top, let steep for a few minutes, and then strain through the sieve into your mug of choice.

I should mention, and I hesitate to even include this, the only factor that may be a detriment here:  the cost.  These teas are slightly more expensive up front than what you may be used to paying in a grocery store.  For example, a box of twenty Tazo green tea bags goes for around $8 on Amazon.com, which means you’re paying roughly $.40 per cup.  With Teamotions, a canister costs around $15 and brews 32 cups, costing you around $.46 per cup.  You will also probably pay for shipping to get the tea to you, and you may choose to invest in products with which to brew the tea, which would add to the cost overall.

The nice thing about loose tea is that you can usually get two brews out of one teaspoon of loose tea.  I don’t usually have time to do this during the week, but in the evening and on weekends, I frequently brew a pot of tea, drink it all, and then pour another pot of hot water over top of the once-used leaves to brew them again.  It’s a slightly weaker pot versus the first one, but still good nonetheless.  If you do this, you can stretch that canister of loose tea so that it’s a less expensive option in the long run!

Teamotions costs significantly less than loose tea from Teavana, and far less than loose tea from Republic of Tea, even if you factor in the shipping cost.  It may be pricier than your grocery store Lipton bag, but really you’re getting what you pay for here (and for what I’ve gotten from this brand, the price is extremely reasonable).

If you’re looking for something special to add to your daily routine, a way to relax in the evening, or just something yummy to drink that’s not terrible for you, I would highly recommend checking out this brand.  You won’t regret it!


Advocating For Things About Which I Know (Almost) Nothing…

When it comes to politics, I’m Jon Snow.

Yes, sweetie, that’s where baby Direwolves come from…

There are a lot of things I know a little about, and there are a few things I know a lot about.

Politics is one of the things I know I should know more about, but I’m afraid to admit that I just don’t.

I know nothing.

For me?  Politics = Football.

I know I learned about this in high school, but it just didn’t stick for some reason.  Maybe if politicians wore tight pants and bent over a lot, I could feign enough interest to at least eat a hot dog whilst watching politicians politick it up, or whatever it is that they do in this mythical “Capitol Hill” place.

Alas, the part of my brain that could be called upon to comprehend the passing of bills and laws (or even remember the old Schoolhouse Rock songs about which) has been taken over by knowledge of all things Infertility.  Sorry Congress, ain’t nobody [with aging ovaries] got time fo’ ‘dat!

Recently though, these two topics have found a way to intersect, and miracle of miracles, also draw my interest.

In May of this year, a New  York senator introduced the Family Act of 2013.  There’s a lot of politicky wording involved and I’ll admit that I glazed over several times while trying to decipher the fine print, but RESOLVE has broken it down so that my hormone-addled brain can understand it easily:

What is the Infertility Tax Credit Bill?

The Family Act, S 881/HR 1851, is a bill in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives that would create a tax credit for the out-of-pocket costs of IVF and fertility preservation for those diagnosed with infertility. It was introduced in May 2013.

This sounds amazing, amIright?

The catch is that in order to get this thing passed, we need to get more attention directed its way.

THIS, my lovelies, is where you come in.

*looking at you shrewdly while steepling my fingers in a Mr. Burns-esque manner*

I need YOU to write a letter to your US Senators (there are two!) and your House Representative asking them to support this bill.  It’s super easy, I promise.  If it weren’t, I would have lost interest already.

Here’s whatcha do:

First, read this whole thing.  It’s not long, I swear.  *cough*that’swhatshesaid*cough*

Then, go to this site to email your Senators.  There’s a form letter already written up, but if you throw in some personal details about your infertility struggle and expenditures, or those of someone about whom you care greatly, these letters will have more of an impact.

After that, go here to email your House Rep.  Again with the personalization of the letter – we want this to appeal to the heart these politicians have, despite the rumors that they are very Grinch-y folks.  That’s simply not true (not always, anyway).

Awesome!  You’re almost done!

Last thing you do?  Share this process via email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, or whatever way you can think of to get the word out.  There’s even a spiffy “share” toolbar at the bottom of this page to make your life easier.

So that’s it.

If you followed the steps above, you just helped make an amazing impact.  Not only did you participate in POLITICS (ohhhmigosh breathe), but you are now an advocate for the Infertile Masses whose biggest barrier in building their family is a financial one.

Everyone should have the right to try every path they wish to parenthood, and just because someone lives on a very tight budget shouldn’t exclude them from having children of their own.  This bill being passed could go a long way to helping that dream become a reality for so many, the same way that the adoption tax credit has helped many be able to bring children into their family that way.

So again, I implore you – please do this.

For the sake of everyone getting a fair shot at a family.

For the chance to make a big difference in so many lives.

For the chance to make new lives a possibility.


For me.

For you.

For the rest of the barren, broke, and buckled-down-optimists among us.

One minute of your life could mean the fulfillment of hundreds of thousands of dreams.

And really, politics aside, that is the American Dream… isn’t it?


So you’ll do it?


We shall show our appreciation in the form of a 2015 Baby Boom.

Thank you.

And you’re welcome.


The Most Worth-It Thing

Most of you have probably heard that late-night TV host and SNL alum Jimmy Fallon and his wife Nancy recently announced the birth of their daughter, Winnie, via surrogate.

In fact, a lot of you probably heard it from me.  I’ve kind of been posting it all over Facebook.  I can’t get enough of the story!

It’s not that they had a baby that interests me… people do that all the time.  It’s not even that they used a surrogate, which is fine – good for them.  And, shockingly, it’s not even the name and how they chose it that draws my attention (although I do love to hear a good name story!).

The part of this story that’s really resonating with me is that they, as a high-profile couple, struggled with infertility for years, and are now being publicly open about it, and in that, giving hope to others who are also struggling.

No, they’re not the first famous couple to be open about their struggles, and I know there’s a lot we can address here on the flip side.  We could dissect the situation down to details, like the fact that yes, they tried for a long time, but they had the money to do that because they’re rich and famous.  And yes, they kept quiet about it while it was going on, but again – they’re famous.  This might have been the only privacy they were able to have in the situation, and to only be open about it after the fact doesn’t make it any less meaningful that the struggles occurred.

We could tear this whole thing apart, and miss the greater good that’s being done here…

I feel that we should really applaud Jimmy and Nancy, and others like them who are in a place to speak out about the trials that so many of us face on a daily basis.  They could use their fame-platform to say anything, and they choose to bring awareness to the infertile masses, and put a face on a common issue that’s too often seen as taboo.  They’re doing it in a very casual manner, but it’s garnering lots of appreciation in our sub-fertile little community.

By giving a few interviews and saying a few loving words about his new family, Jimmy is shining a light on infertility, fertility treatments, and third party reproduction, and on how commonplace those really are.  He’s saying to the whole world that there are so many that have to fight for a family, and that there’s nothing wrong with taking that fight as far as you’re able to succeed.  He’s saying that there’s no shame in getting help to build your family, and that people from all walks of life sometimes have to walk this same path to parenthood.

More than anything, though, he’s saying in his interviews the encouraging words we hear all the time, but because he’s been there in the trenches like we have, they mean something.

He’s offering us all a little hope, and that’s something we can use some help with from time to time.


“We tried for a long time — five years

I know people have tried much longer but if anyone out there is trying and losing hope, just hang in there. 

Try every avenue, try anything you can do. 

You’ll get there .

You’ll end up with a family. 

It is the most worth-it thing.”


Spleen Qi and Me

In my previous post, I outlined my plan for changing my lifestyle, according mostly to the standards set in Dr. Randine Lewis’ The Infertility Cure.  I’m still researching the many different facets of this new lifestyle, and have realized that I will be constantly tweaking things to make it work for me, but I’m ready to give some further details on what will probably become my focus, at least for the rest of 2013.

For now, because it’s the biggest part of what I’m doing, I will let you in on the dietary changes I’m making.

The Spleen Qi Diet

Based on the questionnaire in Dr. Lewis’ book, a little of my own research, and the “diagnosis” given to me by my acupuncturist back in February, my main ailments in the Eastern world are a deficiency of Spleen Qi and Kidney Yang.  I also apparently have some small involvement from Liver, Blood Stasis, and Cold Uterus.  These Eastern diagnoses are related closely with Western diagnoses as well, and Dr. Lewis’ previous life as an RE helps her to be able to tie the two together for people like me who need a little science with their voodoo.  :)

Some of the symptoms outlined in the book that pointed me toward these diagnoses were not things I would have thought had anything to do with my reproductive capacity.  Things like “Are you always colder than others around you?”, “Are your feet cold at night?”, and “Do you typically have low blood pressure?” were part of the questionnaire.  There were also myriad other questions about my digestion and the appearance of my tongue.  Strange, but the inquiries led me in the right direction, toward an apparent problem with my Spleen Qi (pronounced “chee”) and Kidney Yang.

Now, that’s not to say that there is anything physically wrong with these body parts of mine in the Western-medicine sense, but according to Eastern philosophies, certain deficiencies in the body can cause all other systems to derail.  “Nourish the soil to grow the tree” or something like that.

If you think about it that way, it makes a lot of sense.  If your whole body is not running optimally, then a lack of energy or blood flow in one area could be pulling energy from another area.  Since reproduction is not a vital process for survival, the body can pull energy away from the reproductive system to keep the other systems functional.

According to my Eastern diagnoses, I need to alter my diet to help battle the Cold and Damp caused by deficiencies of Spleen Qi and Kidney Yang.

Sooo… what in the world does that mean?

Basically it means that I need to avoid certain foods and dietary habits that may be inhibiting my body from doing what it wants, and needs to do.

Apparently certain foods encourage Cold and Damp.  Sugar and dairy, for instance, encourage Dampness.  Certain foods and drinks, like salad and iced beverages, encourage Cold (um… duh.).

So what do we do?  According to the Chinese philosophies, “What is cold, heat.  What is dry, water.  What is damp, dry.  What is hot, cool.”

Pretty to the point, those ancient Chinese physicians, eh?  If you’re making a big pot of soup, you don’t want to slow down the cooking process by throwing an ice cold smoothie in there, I guess.  Metaphors are fun.

For me, this means that I’m avoiding cold drinks and salads, citrus fruits and tomatoes, dairy and sugar, alcohol, caffeine, fried or greasy foods, and raw foods.  One other food I’m starting to leave out of my diet is gluten.  It’s going well so far, but I know that it will get complicated from time to time.  It’s a lot of pressure to even say “gluten-free”, so I’m just taking that part one day at a time.

I’m drinking a lot of tea – not that it’s much of a change from before, just different types of tea and herbal blends – and that is supposed to “warm” my system, which helps with digestion and blood flow.

I am loving this Good Earth cinnamon tea; it’s caffeine free, and is naturally a little sweet.  It tastes like drinking Big Red!  I’m also testing out this Traditional Medicinals ginger tea… Hoo-boy!  Ginger is STRONG.  I like the way the tea feels after I drink it, but getting it down tastes like drinking chemicals and pepper.  I might only have that one occasionally.  Cinnamon and ginger (along with nutmeg, cardamom, and clove) are “warming” dietary inclusions, so I try to cook with them when possible as well.

I also get to include lots of foods that I love in my diet.  I’ve been able to eat more root vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, potatoes, and parsnips, and I can have grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oats.

Last night, I made polenta for the first time!  Not bad!

Proteins are encouraged, but in small amounts, and always organic if possible; the hormones used in most meats is one of the bigger reasons for hormonal imbalance today.  One thing I’m excited to start cooking with is lamb.

Many fruits are discouraged because they’re either “cooling” dietary items, or because of the high sugar content; I love bananas, but they are out for now.  I can still have yummies like peaches, cherries, and other berries, though it’s better to have cooked fruit than raw fruit for digestive purposes.

There’s a lot to this diet, and if you want to read a more comprehensive list, there are good ones here and here.  The biggest thing with the Eastern philosophy is to not let a lifestyle change so dramatically affect your day-to-day that it causes you stress.  These changes need to be implemented for at least three to four months to see a real difference, so it’s important that you ease yourself into these changes, and not get stressed out because of them.

Stress, in Chinese medicine, is actually a physical ailment.  It can, and does, have an impact on many systems in your body, and there are many, many different ways to battle stress from the Eastern perspective, including acupuncture, massage, acupressure, and breathing techniques, just to name a few.

While I’m making these changes, I’m also trying not to be too hard on myself.  Last weekend, I had a few adult beverages.  Yes, alcohol is a no-no, but hey – they were gluten free!  At lunch today, I ordered hot tea, but all they had available was caffeinated; I drank it anyway because, hey – I’m warmin’ up my uterus, y’all!

Ya win some, ya lose some, right?  One tiny dietary misstep isn’t going to derail the whole train.

So there.  The long, detailed dietary plan that’s just one piece of getting my “soil” nourished so that my “tree” can grow.

Or whatever.

It might sound like voodoo, but if it helps me feel better overall, and possibly gets me pregnant, then I will do it.  I already like a lot of what I’m doing, like drinking warm beverages and eating warm foods; I don’t know if you know this, but I shiver like a chihuahua in rooms where most people are comfortable with the temperature.  Maybe in time, I’ll notice even bigger changes…

I’ll get into specifics on the rest of what I’m doing soon, but until then –

Namaste, dudes and dudettes.

May the Spleen Qi be with you.

Spleens are cute! Who knew, right?


Plan G

Yes, Plan G.

Because Plans A through F didn’t quite pan out…

I figure that since my last medicated cycle was in May, and since then, I’ve been planning on having a surgery which has now been un-planned, I should probably update you all on what exactly it is that I’m doing with my reproductive life.

First and foremost, I’m going back to nature.

Nothing is structurally wrong with my reproductive system that any doctor, nurse, intern, or ultrasound tech can see, so that leads me to deduce that whatever IS wrong with my reproductive state, likely got there by some fault of my own.  Whether it’s environment, diet, lifestyle, or some combination of those, I am starting out by working to get my body into the best reproductive shape possible.

Most of my Facebook friends who have had their kids already are now posting nonstop about their Couch to 5K, ColorRun, or Zombie vs. Vampire Mini-Marathon training.

I don’t run, per se, but I am going to start training.

I’m training my ovaries to respond, my uterus to be hospitable, and my overall endocrine system to just plain GET IT TOGETHER.

That leads me into the Phases of Plan G.

*cue the Rocky theme music now*

Phase One – Information

  • I’m currently devouring every book about infertility and natural ways to improve fertility that I can get my hands on.  Most of it is information that we all have known since our first Clomid cycle,  but there are some juicy little tidbits in the “Natural” sections of some infertility how-to’s.
  • Thus far, the best book I’ve picked up has been The Infertility Cure by Dr. Randine Lewis.  Dr. Lewis started out her career as an RE, and through her own battle with infertility, found her way toward Eastern medicine, acupuncture, and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine).  I’ll post more on this topic later, but let’s just say that this approach seems to make the most sense to me and my situation, and for someone with Unexplained Infertility in general.

Phase Two – Diet

  • Based on the reading I’ve been doing, and based on information I received during my first acupuncture consultation, I’m going to rearrange my diet to accommodate the particular deficiencies I seem to have.
  • I’ll go into more detail in a future post, but the majority of the changes are in the temperature of the foods I’m eating and drinking, followed closely by inclusion foods and beverages which promote a “warm” system, while excluding “cold” foods and drinks.
  • Interestingly enough, I’m finding that many of the foods my particular type needs to exclude are already foods which I’ve found that I don’t tolerate well, or which cause sickness or reaction.  Some of these foods are dairy products, citrus fruits, and tomatoes.

Phase Three – Supplementation

  • I’ve been taking prenatal vitamins for five years.  FIVE YEARS.  While I will continue to take a basic prenatal daily, I’m also going to try some supplements about which I’ve read some decent research.
  • A future post will go into further detail on research findings on the usage of Maca Root and Royal Jelly, but for the sake of giving you complete information, these are the two that I’ve recently added to my regimen.
  • I’m also taking, as I mentioned, a daily prenatal vitamin, a high quality fish oil supplement daily, vitamin B12 daily, and vitamin D3 twice a week.

Phase Four – Relaxation

  • I know, I know; relaxation won’t get you pregnant, but stress can, and often does, have an affect on egg quality.  It’s not much, but I’m committing to taking my lifestyle down a notch where possible.  This won’t be possible in the workplace, but I’ll do what I can to de-stress at home.
  • Ideas on relaxation and stress reduction include, but are not limited to, monthly massages (or more frequently!), yoga, meditation, spending more time actually talking and hanging out with friends, having a beer now and then, and reading trashy fiction under a blanket with hot cup of tea regardless whether the laundry is done or not.

Phase Five – Activity

  • This is where things get controversial.  I don’t exercise.  Like, at all.  I don’t play volleyball at the beach, I don’t do crunches when I wake up in the morning, I don’t go to Zumba class with my girlfriends before our morning mimosas (who actually DOES that?), and I don’t run unless something is chasing me.  Or unless there are bees.  I freakin’ hate bees.
  • I’m thin, and don’t need to – and really shouldn’t – lose any weight.  That’s why exercise is hard for me.  I need to work up a sweat without burning too many calories.  Not so easy, is it?  That’s why this whole activity thing is Phase Five, and not Phase One.  I need a little time to research my options on low-impact, low-calorie-burning exercise that can be done somewhat conveniently, because if it’s inconvenient, I’ll lose interest.

Phase Six – Existence

  • I’m going to live my life.  On purpose.
  • I’m going to make a concerted effort in my friendships, familial relations, work relationships, and marriage.
  • I’m going to put the husband and me first instead of putting Infertility ahead of Us.
  • I’m going to make more phone calls (texts, emails, carrier pigeons) than I receive.
  • I’m going to work to live, and not live to work.
  • I’m going to take back as much of what Infertility has taken from me as I possibly can.
  • I’m going to use the things Infertility has given me – hope, strength, resolve – to push myself further in life.
  • I’m going to pursue my other dreams; the dreams that I forgot about when I found out my family dreams might not come true.
  • I’m going to learn be Me again.


So that’s Plan G.

Obviously the whole Six Steps to Pregnancy! thing only works for those who don’t need all six steps (well…and crackheads), but this is what I need to do right now.

Not being in the throes of a medication-frenzy leaves me open to a mad case of the crazies, so having purpose each day really helps.  And hey, if those purposeful steps happen to improve my health and well-being, then even better!

Oh, and if they actually help to improve my reproductive capacity…?  Well then my book will be out in nine to twelve months.

Watch out, Dr. Lewis… If Plan G works, there might be a new author in town.  ;)



Hurry Up and Wait

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013.  CD18, 2DPO.

Howdy, friends.

I hope you all had fantastic Summer Solstice SuperMoon weekends!  …I know I did!

I’m drowning in work these days, so this will probably be a pretty short, stream of consciousness-type update.

Here goes…

I wrapped up the follicular half of my cycle over the weekend, which was a blessed relief.  I actually got a positive OPK – a blaring positive! – without a trigger and everything!  Despite the length and multiple hardships of this journey, it’s nice to know that my body occasionally knows what to do on its own.

Based on OPK results (I had positives on Saturday and Sunday mornings), and temps (they stayed low all weekend and SHOT up on Monday morning!), I am guessing that ovulation took place sometime on Sunday.  The husband and I timed things fairly well over the weekend, despite the fact that we spent Saturday night sleeping on an air mattress at my parents’ house.

Speaking of which, we had a nice weekend out in The Homeland with my family.  We had some family photos taken on Saturday out at the property where my grandma lived when she was alive.  It’s nice out there… it feels like home.  Very nature-y and full of wildlife, like deer, foxes, owls…

…Coyotes, bobcats… and bears.

Yeah.  Bears.

Apparently my dad has seen a black  bear in the area on and off over the years.  We were lucky not to encounter said bear while we were out there taking pictures, but our idiotic dog found a large pile of bear crap and immediately rolled around in it.

Seriously.  He went from frolicking in the wildflowers like some Laura Ingalls Wilder shit, to rolling, and covering himself, in bear excrement.

Oh, and for the record?  Bear shit is possibly the worst-smelling thing you can imagine.  Probably worst than you can actually imagine.  It defies logic how badly our dog smelled after his odoriferous roll in the grass.

Luckily enough, we weren’t terribly far from my parents’ house and bathtub, and after a ten minute long, very smelly drive, we were able to give him a bath in every chemical imaginable and defeat the horrifying odor.

Thankfully, or it would have been an exceptionally  L  O  N  G  four-hour drive home!

So that was my weekend.  Wildflowers and bear shit and rolling in the hay.

This was the idyllic scene just before my dog bounded through  here, covered in the excrement of a large omnivore.

This was the idyllic scene just before my dog bounded through here, covered in the excrement of a large omnivore.

Gooooooood times.

Now that I’m back to reality, I made a call to Dr. F’s office today, attempting to move up my laparoscopy…

No go.

My meeting with the good doctor still stands at July 25th, a whole month away, and at that time, she will schedule my lap surgery.  The nurse I spoke to today thinks that it will be in August, but she couldn’t be sure.  I expressed my need to have this surgery completed before the summer ends, so I’m hopeful that they get the point.

I’m eager to get this thing over with, and I keep getting told to wait a little longer.  Gah!

Of course, I’ll continue to call for cancellations.  I’m not one to give up, you know.  ;)

So that’s that.

The rest of June and the first week in July will be spent in TWW Hell.  I’ll probably attempt another Femara cycle in July since I have nothing better to do than wait around.  And hopefully August will bring a surgical solution to the mystery issues with my girly bits.

Yay, summer!




Drifting Forward

Apologies, again, for yesterday’s heap of venting.  Sometimes you just need to put it all out there, read it over a few times, and become accountable for your own life.

And sometimes you just need to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, put on your big girl panties, and deal with things.

Which I am now doing, thankyouverymuch.

My doctor is on vacation, which I know isn’t easy for her to do… I would hate leaving my patients in the hands of others; luckily, she works in a large practice with several other very competent physicians, and they are helping me work through all of the WTF?, NOW WHAT?!, WHERE DO I GO FROM HERE?!! crap I’m currently spewing into the universe.

More accurately, the lovely nursing staff at the University of Michigan Center for Reproductive Medicine is fielding my emails, running around and asking doctors to make decisions for me, and generally just patting my hand and giving me virtual hugs to make me feel better about being a crazy person with busted junk.

I love them.  I need to send them flowers or a fruit basket or something.

Anyway, they talked another of the doctors there into letting me continue on with a Femara-only cycle.  No monitoring, no trigger – just pills and OPKs and old-fashioned mattress-dancin’.

(And shhhhhhhh… don’t tell, but I have a teensy bit of Gonal F left in the fridge that will spoil if I don’t use it.  So I probably will.  It’s too small an amount to make much of a difference, but hey… why not, right?)

Based on past results, I have very little faith that this will be my miracle cycle.  About that much, I am realistic.  I’m not doing this because I think it will get me a baby…

I’m doing it because it feels like doing something, and I  need that right now.  It’s something to hold onto, and a way to feel like I’m less drifty and floaty in the miasma of space and time.  It gives me a bit of an anchor, and something to obsess over for the next month.

Next  month is going to be a whole different story…

July will be my laparoscopy month.  When my doc gets back from vacay, she will call to schedule my surgery for me.  I estimate that it will be scheduled for around July 12th, but I’ll know more in a couple of weeks.

I’m super nervous about having surgery.  I haven’t had to be put under for anything since I was like four, and that freaks me out.  I have faith in the doctors, though, and know that this is one step I have to make, regardless of where I’m headed next.

Worst case scenario – they find nothing, and the surgery was a waste.  At least I will have gotten it out of the way, as most  docs require it before moving forward with IVF.

Best case scenario – and I know this sounds twisted – they find some serious endometriosis in there.  I don’t want to have endo, believe me, but if they find it, they can remove it.  If they remove it, there’s a good chance that I will feel so much better physically.  Maybe my periods won’t leave me gasping and sobbing on the floor for the first three days of each cycle, and maybe – just maybe – removing the potential escaped endometrial cells will help my hormones shift back to normal and let me go on with the business of making babies.

Maybe.  It’s a gamble, but there’s no way to know until I try.

I suppose that’s why they call it an “exploratory surgery”.

So that’s where I am.  Not so much adrift as I was yesterday, because now at least I have a distant shore in sight.  I don’t know what I might find there, but it’s the only bearing I have, and I’m taking it.

Ahoy, bitches!

I know how you feel, Tom. One day at a time.


Adrift: A Novel

Monday, June 10th, 2013.  CD3.

Warning:  Word Dump to Follow…

Business first, I guess…

If you follow the blog’s Facebook page then you probably already know this, but my last-ditch effort IUI hybrid injects/Femara cycle was a bust.

If you’re keeping tabs, that’s five IUIs, four inject cycles, 15 medicated cycles, and Godknowshowmany natural cycles that have failed.

That all comes to fifty months of failure under my belt.  That means that if my baby-making efforts had been successful at the start, I’d have a preschooler at this time.

My infertile journey is a walking, talking, potty-trained small person with a personality at this point.  Beat that, suckers!

Aside from the high levels of crazy I’m currently emitting, I’m also reasonably devastated.  I had a lot of hope for the countless changes in diet, lifestyle, and medication to make enough of a difference for this to have worked.

Maybe it’s too soon for all that change to have kicked in…

Or maybe it just won’t ever make a difference.

As the husband and I laid in bed on Saturday night talking about how shitty it is that we’re in our fifth year of progeny non-production, I could hear the frustration in his voice as he asked “When do you think these doctors will figure out why this isn’t happening?”

Oh sweetie.  I wish I knew.  And it breaks my heart that you’re now feeling what I’ve felt for so long…

I don’t know where to go from here.  I still haven’t heard back from the nurses on what Dr. F would like me to do now, whether that be further testing (which I’ve requested) or more medicated cycles (which I doubt, considering my track record).

I’m adrift.  No direction, no solutions, no options.

Well, not exactly NO options…

I’ll tell you what I told the husband:

At this point, every test I’ve had in the past four years has pointed to me being the problem.  For most of that four years, we didn’t know why.  At least now we have a vague idea, but thus far we haven’t been able to resolve anything.

In my mind, this all comes down to an egg quality issue.

No matter what the cause, something is happening with my eggs that’s causing them to either develop poorly, release weakly – or not at all, be of a quality so poor that fertilization doesn’t occur, or be of a quality so poor that when they do fertilize, they don’t develop properly into healthy embryos.

The basis for this hypothesis comes from a few things I’ve picked up through the years.

First, during natural cycles, I tend to ovulate weakly, if at all.  That has been proven with a combination of temping, varied OPK results, and ultrasound monitoring.  For this, we use a trigger to help force the mature follicles release the eggs, resulting in a stronger ovulation.  As to why I am not ovulating in a normal, healthy fashion… Well, that points to some sort of hormonal imbalance, and likely a poor quality egg that’s not triggering the body to ovulate on its own.

Second, even during medicated cycles wherein I am monitored closely and respond perfectly, pregnancy does not occur.  It stands to reason that the odds of anyone getting pregnant in any given month are between 20 and 25%, but considering the number of good-response medicated cycles I’ve completed, I should have seen some results by now given those odds.  That leads me to believe that the healthy sperm are just not finding anything worth fertilizing, or that there’s something wrong with the egg itself that causes it to not be able to be fertilized at all.

Third, I have had one cycle that resulted in pregnancy, but also ended in miscarriage.  During this hybrid Femara/Menopur cycle, I didn’t respond as well as expected, taking twice as long with the injects as I was led to believe would be necessary.  It’s true that not everyone responds the same way in every cycle, but that month felt a great deal like forcing my body to do something it was patently against.

Now, in that cycle, I spent five days taking Femara, ten days taking 75IU shots of Menopur, triggered with one decent-looking follicle and one just-okay follicle, and managed to get pregnant with the good ol’ mattress-dancin’ method.  Aha!  The swimmers can swim, and they can do what they’re meant to!  Check one unresolved question off the list.

My first beta was very low, which was a warning sign in retrospect, but I was told not to be terribly concerned.  Second beta was also low, but had doubled in the appropriate timeframe.  Then, at just before six weeks, I had some minor spotting that lasted only a few hours.  Again, I was told this was no big deal, and all was well.

A few days after that, I had what I can only realistically describe as a panic attack.  I don’t know what brought it on, I just knew that something was wrong and that I felt… off.  The doctor saw me right away, and found that my heart rate was high.  I was sent into the ultrasound room for a quick peak with directions to stay hydrated.  The ultrasound didn’t show much… that was the third warning sign.  By six weeks, a heartbeat is usually visible, but at 5wks6days, there wasn’t really even a definable embryo there, only a black spot where it should be.  I was sent home with instructions to come back in a week for my regular ultrasound, and not to worry, as my uterus is tilted in such a way that I might have some trouble with early ultrasounds.

Everyone knows how this story ends – the next two ultrasounds show little, if any, growth.  Development was not on track, and eventually started to revert.  No heartbeat was ever seen, let alone a fetal pole.  I miscarried, given the diagnosis of a missed miscarriage.  I think, to this day, that it may have been more accurately diagnosed as a blighted ovum, though I suppose a missed miscarriage can BE a blighted ovum.

Basically, a blighted ovum occurs when a fertilized egg implants, but development is slow, stops, or never starts due to a chromosomal abnormality.  This typically occurs in either the sperm or the egg, and since we know that the husband has super-swimmers, we can reasonably assume that this is the fault of my shitty eggs.

In order to prove this hypothesis, we need to complete an IVF cycle.  In order to examine my eggs closely, we would have to go through the whole process of stimming, retreiving, fertilizing, and observing the growth of the embryos.  If I have truly shitty eggs, they may not even progress into viable embryos, but there’s no way to tell until we’re fully invested.  It’s a big risk, both emotionally and financially.  To dump nearly $15K into something that has only a 50 to 60% chance of working is like savings account Russian roulette.  And that 50 to 60% is only if my eggs manage to fertilize properly, develop appropriately, survive a few days in a petri dish, and then implant in my uterine lining they way they’re meant to.

That’s a whole lotta really pricey ifs.

And so, that’s where we are today.  I have great sperm at my disposal, we know that my body is hospitable enough to carry a pregnancy, at least in the very early stages, and I respond well to medications.

I also have a mystery hormonal issue that is causing my eggs to stew in an imbalanced mixture of stuff that’s causing them to mutate into worthless cells that kill my chances at pregnancy month after month.

I’m doing everything I can to help my body make better eggs.  I’ve improved my diet, I take like thirty vitamins a day, and I regulate my insulin levels with dietary changes and medication to help balance my hormones as best I can.  I get plenty of rest, I stay hydrated, I relax as much as possible.  I am proactive with my health, and make sacrifices left and right to get my body into fighting shape.

I realize that most of what I’m doing takes time to make a real difference in egg quality.  Studies show that Metformin itself takes four months or more to see a noticeable improvement in quality, and I’ve only been taking that for 2.5 months – and at that, I have only been taking the full dosage of the original formula Met for one month.  I may not see improvement in my eggs until early July at the earliest, realistically sometime in August or September… Or possibly even later.

Another concern I’ve had is with my recent estradiol numbers around ovulation.  They were rather low, and I have heard that can be an indicator of low egg quality.  Would I be a good candidate for estrogen priming?  Maybe.  Do I want to bring this up to my doctor and sound like a crazy person so early in our relationship?  …Maybe not.

Anyway, I’m obviously spinning out of control here, which we have all learned happens when I have no set plan in place.

This is why I am attempting to get my freaking doctor on the phone – I need a plan.  I need details, and a schedule, and a PLAN.

Here’s what I have so far:

Laparoscopy – I need to have one.  More and more, I think that this pain gets worse each month, and even if they find nothing amiss in there, I will likely need to have had a lap to start the IVF process anyway.  Might as well get it out of the way during the summer months.

DNA Karyotyping – The husband and I both need to do this.  I don’t know whether insurance will pay for the testing, but it’s getting done one way or another.

Genetic Screening – I especially want to have this done to find out whether I have some form of MTHFR.  That, and I probably need to do the CF screening to move forward with IVF, despite the fact that there’s no family history.

Autoimmune Testing – I’d like to have this done locally, but I know that most doctors don’t want to touch immune issue infertility with a ten foot pole.  I’m going to ask my current RE, however, if she can run the basics at least.  From there, I can at least get an idea whether I need to pursue further testing or treatment with one of the immunology bigwigs.

So that’s where I am.  I have very little information at hand, but I do have a lead.  I’m going to continue to take care of myself, and to press my doctors for more information and more testing.  I’m going to keep trying, month after month, whether it’s with IVF, plain old Femara, or just the good old fashioned bump n’ grind method.

Apologies for the giant word dump.  Sometimes you just need to take one.





I Freaked Out For Nothing, As Usual.

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013.  CD12.

At my dildo-cam appointment this morning, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I have one plump follie (who I have subsequently named Dudley, if you’re interested) measuring around 20mm.  I also have a couple of little guys on the left measuring 15 and 13mm, but the doc was doubtful that they’d catch up much before Saturday.

Oh right.  I suppose I should let you know what we’re doing…

So we also decided to go forward with an IUI on Saturday.  This cycle hasn’t been ideal in my mind, but the doctor thought it looked pretty great.  I would  have liked more than one mature follicle, but hey – it only takes one, right?

The husband and I will drive up on Saturday morning for his “appointment”, and then go have a nice breakfast in Ann Arbor somewhere.  After that, we’ll go back for my baby-batter injection, lie on the table with my hips in the air for 20 minutes, and then head out to the cottage for some rest and relaxation.

And then in two weeks, we’ll be pregnant.  RIGHT?!

Fingers are crossed for that part, anyway.

One thing I’m a little concerned about is the timing of the IUI… And yes, I knoooooow that I shouldn’t question the doctors, especially since they were right the last time I freaked out about my sad, lagging follies and thin-ish uterine lining (which caught up to 12.5, by the way!), but it’s really hard not to question their 36 hour rule.

I am supposed to trigger tonight around bedtime, and the IUI is scheduled for around 9am on Saturday morning… In past IUI cycles, I’ve triggered anywhere from 12 to 36 hours before the IUI.  The shorter timeframes were because my labs apparently showed that I was trying to ovulate on my own, but I always feel like I ovulate around 24 hours after my trigger.

I could be totally wrong, of course, and may or may not be basing much of this assumption on my BBT, which I have been told is not accurate once you’ve triggered.

Still though… Can anyone out there ease my mind about trigger timing?  Are the broad majority of women triggering and then ovulating 36 hours after – no earlier, no later?  That does not seem plausible to me, but it’s what I’m being led to assume.

Either way, the husband and I will ensure that our bases are covered, timing-wise.  We’ll take matters into our own hands (heh) at home tonight, IUI on Saturday morning, and we’ll attempt a bit more “intervention” Saturday night and Sunday.

You know, just to be sure Dudley doesn’t get away.

So anyway, that’s what’s going on all up in my business.

What’s new with you?  :)



Are You There, Stork?

It's me, Katie.

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