Tag: Chinese herbs
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“Sooo… How did this happen?”

Since dropping my little 14 week bombshell, I’ve had numerous comments and questions, both here at the blog and in real life, to the effect of:

“How did this happen?”

“What finally worked for you?”

“All this time and it was getting drunk that did the trick, huh?”

“Did you conceive naturally or have some kind of treatment?”

“I told you to just stop trying!  See??”

…And so on.  🙂

I figure I should probably let you in on the not-really-so-secret series of events that led to this amazing, if unexpected development.  Here we go…

1.  Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine.  And not just dabbling with it – full-on hardcore living the lifestyle that meshed best with my Chinese diagnosis, which included reading books, giving up cold drinks and food for months, spending three hours driving round trip weekly to appointments, spending money on said appointments, supplements and herbs, lying on a table with tiny needles sticking out of me at regular intervals, and learning to have the kind of patience that only five years of infertility can really teach a person.

I’m serious about the patience thing.  I gave my life, diet, medicine cabinet, and pocketbook to this process over the course of eight full months of treatment before I learned that I was pregnant.  That’s eight solid months of prepping my body to do something in a healthy way it had never been able to previously; eight months of retraining my hormonal system to operate correctly and release healthy eggs; eight months of helping blood flow where it should, increasing my intake of whole foods, and improving and repairing my body with the right kinds of supplements.

It sounds like a lot,  but spread over the course of time, it was relatively simple to integrate the changes into my everyday life.  The part that wasn’t simple was the part where I had to learn to let go completely, learn to trust a soft science verging on straight voodoo, and learn to let the positive changes come to me over time rather than as instantaneously as taking five days’ worth of Clomid.

So that was the biggest part of what worked.  The conundrum is that the researcher in me may never be satisfied with why it worked, because there are just so many unknowns about TCM.  I’m working on just accepting that things just are, rather than asking how they got there.  It’s a process,  but I’ve got a pretty good distraction to keep me occupied while I figure things out.  😉

2.  Time.  I know, I know… We all hate to hear “good things happen to those who wait!” and “it will happen if you just give it time!”… I hate it too.  Even now.  But I’m telling you that for me, the journey to this point had to happen the way it did for me to arrive at the solution.

Five years ago, you would not have been able to tell me that if I invested in some kooky Chinese voodoo that I’d likely conceive in eight months’ time.  I would have laughed you right out the door and promptly marched over to my RE’s office for pills and shots that would obviously work faster.  It’s funny, but I look back at how much younger I was then.   Not just in years, but in life experience.  I’ve learned more than I can even comprehend, about medicine – traditional and alternative, my body, and myself.

Time gave me a new outlook on life, and taught me about loss, letting go, and still having a full life.  I think coming to that conclusion was so freeing… McStabby might say that reaching this conclusion unblocked some meridians or some crap, and maybe he’s right.  Either way, getting to that point made a big difference for me, mentally, physically, and emotionally.

3.  Heredity?  My maternal grandmother passed away when I was 15, long before I was even thinking about having babies, or about my reproductive system in general.  I can’t ask her the questions I want to ask, but if I could, I would ask if she knows why at her young age, and in the generation of Baby Boomers, it took her and my grandpa five years to have their first baby – my aunt.  I’d also ask if she knows why it took another seven years after that to conceive my mom.

No one seems to know, and maybe she didn’t either.  Maybe she struggled like I did, and maybe her five year journey will mirror mine.  There’s no way to know, and that’s frustrating, but it’s a bit heartening to know that despite obvious setbacks – whatever they were – she had two beautiful girls who grew up to have families of their own.  A happy ending to a mysterious tale…

4.  Straight-up Voodoo.  Surprised by this one?  Don’t be.  Something in the universe – besides my fallopian tubes – aligned perfectly in order for this miracle to have happened the way it did, when it did.

There are several factors that I think played into the voodoo aspect of this nearly immaculate conception.  One was the fact that just a few months back, I was speaking with the RESOLVE representative about starting a support group.  One of the questions she asked was how I planned to handle the situation that would arise should a group member get pregnant, and then further, what if I, as the support group host, were to get pregnant.  I laughed at that, but she said “You know, you’d be surprised.  It happens much more than you’d think!  There’s just something about taking this step that seems to launch many women into their path for resolution, even if completely unexpectedly…”  Hmmmm.

So aside from the RESOLVE voodoo, there’s also the fact that a coworker came to me around that same time and asked me to join his soccer team, to which I also laughed.  I mean, have you met me?  I’m not exactly athletic.  Or coordinated.  Or anything even remotely close to what should appear on or near a soccer field.  I also don’t know how to sports, so there’s that.  Anyhoo, he said that all of the girls he’d had join his team typically dropped off within a month or two because they kept getting pregnant.  He felt like maybe if I joined as an “honorary member”, that this would dramatically increase my odds.  I thought it was silly, but I agreed to an honorary membership where I didn’t have to attend or participate at all, and could still say that I was part of this cursed/blessed team composed of men and very fertile women.  I’ve also had to drop off the team since joining.  Another hmmmm.

There were several other hmmm-inducing factors that may or may not have played into this blessed event, including the fact that I’ve loved Christmas and the whole holiday season my whole life, and that I’ve always dreamed of a Christmas baby.  Too many weird little bits all falling together at one time to make me think that this baby is anything but perfectly timed for me, for us, and for this weird little life we’re stumbling through.

So now that you have a little insight into what probably and maybe led to a healthy, happy pregnancy after more than five years of heartache, I’d like to share a short list of things that I know for a fact didn’t work:

1.  Going on vacation.  Yes, I had been out of town for a night just before this happened, but no, that’s not what actually did the trick here.  Don’t be silly.

2.  Getting drunk.  Again, soaking one’s membranes in cheap vodka will not increase one’s fertility.  That’s just stupid.  I did it anyway, but still… stupid.

3.  RelaxingHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  Shut up.  Never.  Relaxation doesn’t make your ovaries function any more than taking a nap cures cancer.

4.  The “just stop trying…” tactic.  Come on.  Be serious here.  I may have taken a bit more of a passive approach to things over the course of the last few months, but that was largely because Chinese medicine somewhat forces you into a state of patience.  Changes don’t come overnight, and neither do solutions.  Once I embraced that fact, I was able to calm myself enough to see the positives that were coming to me over time.

That being said, I never, ever, EVER stopped trying.  Even in those last few months where the husband and I had been talking about how fulfilling a life could be without having children, I still knew when I was ovulating.  Even after I had laid down the thermometer and stopped letting temping and charting rule my mornings, I was always very aware of when I was fertile.

The month we conceived, the “encounter” was timed, at least on my part and at least mostly consciously.  I actually felt more pressure that month than I had in quite a few, as I held April’s fertile days as my last-ditch effort.  I had made the decision that it would be my last month of really trying, and that the next month the husband and I would just… be.  I don’t know if I would have been able to just stop cold turkey like that, but as it happened, it didn’t matter… surprising though it was at the time.

I didn’t stop trying.

I couldn’t.

And for all of those efforts – for all of the reasons, both logical and completely illogical above – what do I have?

My little Hail-Mary Jelly Bean, due on Christmas Day.

As much as the journey sucked , there’s absolutely no way I could ever argue with that timing.  It’s completely perfect, and completely worth every minute of struggle it took to get here.

*****

So while I’d love to tell you that this miracle child is being brought to you by booze and irony, do you want to know my answer to the question, “How did this happen?”

 

I never, ever, EVER stopped trying.

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Acu-Believe It!

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013.  CD17, 1DPO.

Have you guys seen the movie Pitch Perfect?

Because if you haven’t, I don’t know if we can be friends anymore…

 

Anyway, this post is brought to you by my love for this movie.

And acupuncture, herbs, and all things TCM.

So really, a very strange combination of things…

Aaaaaaaaanyway…

Here’s the haps, gurlfrands.

Progress is being made in a big way over here, and I am about to get all OMG YOU GUYS HAVE TO TRY THIS on you for a minute.

So the first cycle I met with Dr. McStabby, I was about halfway-ish through the month, so his treatments couldn’t have had much of an effect on my cycle length at that time.  That was my August cycle, and I ovulated on cycle day 21 that month.  Auntie Dearest showed up ten days later.

September, the first full month of treatment, I ovulated on cycle day 19, and had an eleven day luteal phase.  Still not the greatest, but you know… progress.

And here we are in October, the second full month of my TCM treatment, and I just ovulated.

On cycle day 16, you guys.

SIXTEEN.

That’s amazing, right?!  I mean, in two months’ time, acupuncture and herbs, along with some dietary and lifestyle changes, have effectively moved my ovulation date up almost a WEEK!!!

Needless to say, I’m pretty stoked, both that this treatment path that I regularly refer to as “Chinese voodoo” is a legitimate, medically effective way to impact infertility, and that my body is responding – and responding well!

Now, I have to point out that many women need to follow the dietary and lifestyle guidelines, take their herbs consistently, and see their acupuncturist at least once a week for a good three or four months to see noticeable changes like this, so if you’re considering trying out the TCM lifestyle, plan on committing to at least six months of treatment.

Some women notice changes right away – there are several women in my FertilityFriend acupuncture group who became pregnant within a month or two of starting treatments!  That’s great, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not the norm by any means.  The average woman in that group who has gotten pregnant using only acupuncture and herbs, has done so in the third or fourth month of treatment, sometimes later, but noticed some differences, even small ones, sooner.

The fact that I’m in line with the rest of the class as far as noticing these differences makes me feel pretty spectacular.

Oh, and you know what else makes me feel spectacular?

NOT BEING LOADED UP ON HORMONES.

NOT EATING ALL. THE. THINGS.

NOT BEING HATEFUL AND RESENTFUL OF PREGNANT WOMEN.

FEELING SPECTACULAR MAKES ME FEEL SPECTACULAR!

Sorry for the OMGALLCAPS type-yelling.  I’m just excited.  You can’t be mad about that, right?

Right.

And if you are…

So really the reason for this post was to let you all know that if you’ve been banging your head against a wall with infertility treatments for a year, two years – God, four and a half years – maybe it’s time to give this a chance.

If you’re like me, and you have the horrifying plague known as Unexplained Infertility, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine are very real, very effective treatment options.

Infertility isn’t always the end of the world…

…And Western medical treatment options aren’t the be-all end-all, either.

Look around, call around, and see what else is out there, especially if you feel like you’re not making any progress with meds and ART.

This could be the “silly little thing”, the “Chinese voodoo” that works for you!  You could be the girl in that story about “The Girl Who Tried Everything, and Then She Turned To Black Magic…”  

YOU COULD BE THAT GIRL.

Yes, ma’am.

Give it a shot (pun. intended.)… You could be a TCM success story!

And as always, thanks for reading!

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The State of Things

This post should be subtitled, Are You Bored Yet?

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So, there’s not really much new around here to report.  I feel a little bad about that.

I mean, for the past almost four years, I’ve been in a constant state of upheaval, immersed completely in the chaos of doctor’s appointments, ultrasounds, and fertility meds.

And now?

Now I just… am.

Honestly, I don’t know what to do with myself sometimes.  For years, this blog – my whole life, really – has been all about infertility.  I suppose it’s a healthy adjustment that I’m focusing more on my general health, my relationship with the husband, and my actual life, than on the shortcomings of my reproductive system, but still… it’s a big adjustment.

Because I don’t want anyone to think that I’ve fallen away from blogging about every twinge and poke in my abdominal cavity, and sharing every TMI moment in my life, I figured I should at least put together a small update on what’s been up with me lately.

First of all, you read about my recent experience with Maya Abdominal Massage, right?  Well, I’m going to continue with that, once per month, for at least another two months.

I’ve also decided to start trying to get a relaxation massage once per month as well.  All of this “extra” stuff that’s not covered by insurance can be expensive, so I’ve turned to Groupon for deals on the massage end of things.  It’s not such a huge undertaking when you’re getting a reduced rate.

Acupuncture is going well; Dr. McStabby surprised me at the last appointment with an e-stim acu-treatment.  Basically, he places the needles as usual – some in the legs and feet, a few in the arms and hands, and a few in the belly – and then he hooked up these little tiny electrodes to a few select points, primarily in my ankles and belly.

For the record, these are not my legs.

Now I know it sounds scary, thinking that there are electrical impulses being sent into needles that are puncturing your skin, but I swear to you, I didn’t feel a thing.  If anything, that treatment was the most relaxing one I’ve had so far, and I even was able to fall asleep a bit on the table.

We talked before I left his office about herbs – I had run out of one of the daily decoctions I take – and he said that after I run out of one formula he has me on, which is apparently a sort of “reset” formula, he’s going to start me on a new blend that will really help “pump up” my egg maturation.

This is pretty much what my herbs look like before I mix them into warm water – a cross between brown sugar and powdered makeup. They taste about like that, too.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what this new blend will do for me!

However… I do find myself getting a little antsy sometimes.  Still.

What can I say?  I’m a creature of habit!

Every time I get that way, I have to stop and tell myself that this is the first full cycle I’ve been employing acupuncture and herbs.  My body is still adjusting to the diet I started 6 weeks ago, and it will take some time to see results from that.  It will also take time to see changes from the acupuncture and herbs themselves, and as I always hear/read, it can really take three to six months to see these expected changes.

Some days I feel like I did when I had my first Clomid cycle, so many years ago.  I was certain that those five little pills would get me pregnant immediately, and I was highly disappointed when that, and the subsequent cycle, did not turn out as I had expected.

Now when I have friends who start fertility meds for the first time, I see that hope in them, too.  It makes me a little sad, thinking how naive I was, and what a rough road these friends may have ahead of them.  I always hope for the best, say a little prayer for them, and give them my most hopeful and encouraging smile while telling them what everyone always told me:  you need to be patient; the first time isn’t always the charm.

Funny.  After all this time, I still need to take my own advice.

And so, while I am very hopeful that acupuncture and herbs may be my miracle treatment path, I am still working on the learning curve.  I have to tell myself every day not to chart my temps like I want to, and sometimes I give in to the temptation to analyze my temps when I know I shouldn’t.  I have to stop myself from checking OPKs every day, and I know it will be the same with HPTs later in the cycle.

Obsession is not conducive to relaxation, and relaxation is conducive to conception.  I keep telling myself that.

Sometimes, though, I think that the stress of forcing myself to relax might just kill me.  Ha.

I’ve seriously Googled “relaxation techniques”, and contemplated buying a relaxation how-to book for my Kindle…

Clearly I need some help with this whole letting go thing!

And so, in the meantime, I’m working at improving my natural compulsive tendencies, while also working on my stress response.  I try to remember to breathe deeply, and I try to take time for myself every day.

All the while, I try not to try too hard.

It’s all very… trying.

I guess the important thing is that while I’m working at not trying so hard, I’m still my same determined self.  I am having a little trouble finding that happy balance – if there is one – between determination and acceptance, but I think that eventually I’ll get there.

Until then, I’ll keep blogging away, sharing any exciting news and probably mostly relatively sedate information I have along the way.

It’s not likely to be very intense around here any time soon, but I guess that’s just the trajectory I’m on.  Frantic, impatient, compulsive, totally obsessive Tracy needs to take the backseat for a while.

It’s time for a more peaceful approach to readying my body – and my mind – for potential parenthood.

I hope you’ll keep checking in with me throughout, and I promise to post random craziness now and then, just to prove that I haven’t really changed that much.

Thanks for sticking with me, friends.

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Maya Abdominal Massage

Hi friends!

Since starting down this road to a more natural way of improving my overall (and hopefully reproductive) health, I’ve incorporated dietary changes, specific supplements, home care techniques like femoral massage, Chinese herbs, and acupuncture.

It’s only been three weeks with the herbs and acu-treatments, and about two months with the diet and lifestyle changes.  So far, so good!

While reading The Infertility Cure, and doing some research on natural ways to help improve fertility, I came across a handful of articles on Maya Abdominal Massage, or Arvigo Massage.

The premise sounded interesting, and complementary with the TCM route I’m already on:  The techniques work to restore the body to its natural balance by correcting the position of organs that have shifted and restrict the flow of blood, lymph, nerve and chi energy.

After reading more and researching practitioners in the US, I found that there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of them in the Midwest; however, there is one right here in the Toledo suburbs!  Score!

I checked out the massage studio’s website and did a little review check on the practitioner, and once I was satisfied that I wasn’t going to be seeing a quack, I made an appointment.

By the way… I made this appointment almost a month ago.  It turns out, should you also decide to book an abdominal massage, that reputable therapists recommend having ab massage done right about the time your period ends.  They don’t want to massage too close to ovulation, too close to the first couple days of your cycle, or at all in the luteal phase.

Makes sense.  No problems there.  Appointment made.

I should note that I was sure to run this idea by Dr. McStabby, because his treatments are my top priority and I don’t want to disrupt anything he’s doing with some whimsical South American belly rub.  He said that in his opinion, anything that increases the blood flow to the abdomen in my case is a good thing.  He wanted to be sure the massage would only  be done pre-ovulation, about which I assured him that it would.

The only word of warning I received from the acu-doc was that I may not like someone massaging my abdominal region.  At first I thought he meant that I wouldn’t like the way it felt physically, which I admit was a concern, but he meant something different.  He told me that many times, women tend to push their stress, anxiety, anger, and emotions down into the abdominal region, which is why we see IBS so much more in women than in men.

He said that men tend to only push emotion down to their heart, which is why we see outbursts of temper, fighting, and heart attacks more with men, and IBS, nausea, and nervous diarrhea more with women.

Acu-doc also said sometimes with abdominal massage, the manipulation of that area can cause some of those emotions to become… dislodged, causing a surge of feeling that might come unexpectedly.

Now that struck me as odd, especially as a girl who is so NOT a crier… but I still went ahead with the appointment.

Okay, so onto the actual appointment day…

I showed up to meet the therapist in my work clothes (because I’d just come from the office), but had brought a bag of other things like sweat pants and a tank top.  I wasn’t sure how much I would be wearing or not wearing, considering the very different clothing requirements for a traditional relaxation massage where I’m almost totally nude, and my acu-treatments, for which I am fully clothed in comfy lounge-wear.

As it turned out, the therapist and I met for a bit before the massage started.  We went over the pile of paperwork I’d done, the questions oddly similar to those asked by the acu-doc.  She asked me specifics about my diet and digestion, and asked me for details on my miscarriage, which I provided.

After that, she left me alone to get undressed – the clothing requirements are exactly the same as a relaxation massage – and climb into a soft, heated massage table-slash-bed.  Very cozy.

Once she came back into the room, I was made to feel very comfortable; the therapist said that this was the start of a relationship between her and I, and that I should not feel any anxiety in asking to be more comfortable within the studio.  I was in control of the lighting, music volume, and temperature, and could ask for extra blankets or anything I needed to relax.

She also said that I could talk, fall asleep, or ask as many questions as I liked… which is nice, because I ask a lot of questions.

*cough*understatement*cough*

After we had talked a bit, she placed some heavy towels over my chest and shoulders, and over my abdomen, after which she pulled the bed sheets down to expose my belly, but nothing else.  Before she did anything, she used her hands to feel for any hot or cool spots in my abdomen, saying that she can sometimes feel where trouble areas might be.

…Very interesting.

Once she started the massage, it was very gentle.  She felt around for the locations of my different organs, pointing out where my anatomy was to me.  I liked knowing where things are…  It’s very different from your high school anatomy class when it’s your own body!

She asked me some really spot-on questions, too!  She asked if anyone ever told me I had a tilted uterus, and I said YES.  She said that not only is it tilted backwards, but it’s also tipped to one side, causing one of my ovaries to be sort of out of place as well.  This coincides exactly with what every ultrasound tech who’s ever wanded me has said!

Again, very interesting!

She said a lot of her focus would be on bringing my uterus back to where it needs to be.  She said that having organs out of place can absolutely cause blood flow and circulation issues, so once this is corrected, overall circulation in the body will improve as well.  She did say that femoral massage, and acupuncture and herbs will be a big help in this as well.

So far, so good.  I didn’t mind the feeling of someone massaging my abdomen, and it was actually a bit relaxing once I got past asking a thousand questions.

Some parts were weird, though.  The therapist kept referring to my uterus as a “she”, and telling me that I could talk to “her” and tell her that I am trying to conceive, and that “she” would listen…  Uhh… okay, lady.

She also did this weird rocking motion, sort of rocking my whole abdominal region, and said that it was actually the pulse of my body trying to “unwind” some areas that were all wound up…  Again… very weird.

She also asked me more about my miscarriage – how long ago it happened, how many weeks pregnant was I, the details of the actual miscarriage, did I have a d&c, etc…  She said she could tell that I need to make peace with the loss, and she did this weird thing where she put one hand above, and one below my belly button and sort of pressed down gently.

She said she felt like the baby was a girl… and I said, so did I.

Of course it was too early to really know, but that was always my feeling.  At that point, I cried, even though I am NOT a crier.  AT ALL.  But maybe she was right about needing to make peace…

She did confirm what the AP said about women holding emotion in their digestive region.  Funny, because every time I am super stressed or nervous, I have terrible diarrhea, nausea, and most of the time, vomiting. I lost 10lbs before my wedding, completely because of the stress of it, and I spent the morning of my wedding day running to the bathroom.

Maybe there’s something to that theory…

After that part, she went into a more thorough exploration of my whole abdominal area. She felt around the bottom of my rib cage, along my sides, and down as far as my pubic bone, taking stock of the locations of organs.

Another interesting thing:  while she was massaging, she said she felt a few little bubbles pop, like bubble wrap, that she was sure were adhesions.  I told her I’d always wondered if I had endometriosis, and she said that I might, but that she felt that she had broken up at least 3 decent sized adhesions with the massage.

Part of me doubts this is possible, but then again, who knows…?

Once it was almost over, she said that she felt I’d made great progress, and that my uterus had shifted a lot and felt like it wanted to move back to its natural location.  She also said that my next AF may be a bit strange, maybe with more or fewer clots, or maybe some discharge that looks like coffee grounds.  Apparently that’s completely normal, and just the body’s way of “cleaning house” and preparing for a healthy new start.

Just before she left the room, she taught me some self-care techniques to use at home. One was a way of breathing from the belly instead of the lungs, which I’m having a hard time mastering.  Another is a way to keep better posture in mind throughout the day, so as not to compress the organs and give them room to do their thing.

She talked to me about water intake and said that the naturopathic way is to take in half your body weight in ounces each day; so if you weigh 150lbs, you should be drinking 75oz of water each day.  She also said that chugging water won’t do you any good unless you really like to pee.  The best way, apparently, is to take 5 or 6 glugs every half hour or so throughout the whole day.

She also taught me some self-massage techniques:  one is just a very simple circular massage starting around the belly button and getting wider over the whole abdominal area.  The other is a sort of “scooping” motion that starts right above the pubic bone and is said to help encourage the uterus to come back into position.  That second one is not to be practiced after ovulation.

After that, she brought me some water and a peppermint patty (yay!) and left me to get dressed.

I have to say, I felt pretty good after the massage.  Loose and less tense, in the way that you feel after a relaxation massage, only it wasn’t my shoulders… it was my abdomen.

Some of it was a little strange (okay, some of it was really strange), but I think you have to take the weird with a grain of salt.  It was more good than weird, and I really liked the therapist.  She was very warm and pleasant, and although I have a hard time wrapping my head around some of what she said, I do think it will be beneficial to keep seeing her.

She recommends once-a-month treatment for at least 3 months to see a real difference, and the cost was only a tiny bit higher than I’d pay for a relaxation massage, so I’m going to keep with it.

Will this help me conceive?

I have no idea. 

Will it maybe help me to relax a little, encourage blood flow to my pelvic region, and make me feel like I’m actively contributing my own health and healing?

Yes.

It might be a little weird, but I’m giving it a shot.

Like the acu-doc said:  If you feel like it’s doing you some good, then it probably is!

 

*****

If you have any questions about my experience with Maya Abdominal Massage, please feel free to comment below, or email me directly, and I would be happy to help as best I can!

*****

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Dr. McStabby and the Path to Enlightenment

On Saturday, I had a consultation with a new acupuncturist-slash-Master of Traditional Oriental Medicine (MTOM); one who specializes in treating infertility, as well as complementary Eastern treatment with Western medicine.

Much of the two-hour appointment was what I expected, having seen a local acupuncturist and TCM practitioner back in February and March.  There were some aspects, however, that I certainly did NOT expect.

First and foremost, for a practitioner with nearly twenty years of experience working with infertility patients, my expectation was that Dr. McStabby would be, like… old.

He wasn’t.  Or at least he didn’t look old.

He’s young (or young-looking at least).  And easier on the eyes than the old dude I was expecting, I might add!

So that happened.

Don’t fret, though; I can control my (tragically low) libido, and he’s married to his partner at the practice.  His wife is the (perfectly beautiful [and perfectly fertile]) naturopathic doctor who he works alongside in an integrative medicine model.

After getting my bearings in the presence of the new doctor, I was escorted to the office to fill out a little paperwork while he attended to another patient.  The fact that he even has Saturday hours makes my hour-and-twenty-minute drive a little easier to manage.  The fact that he doesn’t work on a schedule for his own convenience, but a schedule that revolves around his reproductive patients, is so amazing to me.

That’s two points for Dr. McStabby!

Once the paperwork formalities were out of the way, we started to chat about my charts; he asked me to bring in every chart I had.

Oh goodie!

PS, I have FOUR YEARS WORTH, so that was fun.

Mainly he just looked over the charts for my non-medicated cycles, so that narrowed it down a bit.  He noted that I naturally have a longer follicular phase, and a shorter luteal phase, and then we talked more about the big list of questions I’d filled out before I came in.  Most of the questions on his list were the same as those that were in The Infertility Cure, so I was comfortable answering them and providing details when prompted.

We talked a bit about my period, my digestive habits, my diet, and my sad, low libido.  He asked about the husband, and I provided him with a copy of his most recent semen analysis – to which he said, “Oh wow.  He’s just FINE, isn’t he?”

Ha.  Yes.  Yes, he is.

After we had discussed pretty much every single function my body had performed for the past five years, he got down to business.  Dr. McStabby started talking about how he wanted to get me back to a natural state since I’d been on meds for sooo many cycles in the past, and therefore, I’d be taking an herb every single day to start getting my hormones regulated.  He also said that my periods shouldn’t be so difficult, and gave me another herb that I’ll take CD1-3 only each cycle to help be sure the blood was flowing clearly out of my system and not backing up or stagnating, like some theorize can cause endometriosis.

He talked more about his chosen treatment path and methods, and things were all sounding very familiar.  Then he referenced his mentor…

He studied under Dr. Randine Lewis, the author of The Infertility Cure.

Hot Doctor also referenced Jill Blakeway and Sami David, authors of Making Babies (which I just finished!), as colleagues of his who he has deferred to when he’s had a particularly stubborn reproductive issue with a patient.

So, in the first half hour I was there, I learned that my new Acu-Doc has an extremely flexible schedule, knows his business when it comes to diet and nutrition, values continuing education and informed patients, and has worked with the three authors/doctors who spurred me down this path to begin with.

Game, set, match.  You’re a winner, Doc!

I felt pretty good about the consultation at that point.  Not only was this doc legit with his experience and studies, but he seemed to take a personal interest in my case.  I’ve so often felt like “just another chart” to the scores of doctors and nurses I’ve seen in the past, but this guy was different in his approach, and that alone made an impact.

We also talked a little bit about the emotional aspects of infertility.  Acu-Doc commonly refers patients to see a therapist to help out with some emotional blocks that they may have built up.  He said he would be happy to refer me if I so chose, but for now I should just work on making myself aware of how much of the emotional baggage we carry as Infertiles can cause depression and pent up anger.  He recommended the abdominal massage (that I already have scheduled, thankyouverymuch!), and said that many find the process to be an emotional release for them, as women tend to bury their emotions in their abdominal regions.

Then we talked about stress.  “Infertility causes infertility,” he said.  What he means is that the stress of infertility can wreak havoc on our minds and bodies.  Obviously it’s’ not a simple thing to just let go of stress, but working to lower the levels of stress in one’s life can make a big difference.  My job is sometimes stressful, but that can be managed.  My home life is not stressful at all, minus the infertility aspect and all that comes along with that.

Dr. McStabby said that he’d like me to continue charting my temps for this month and next month, and then in October, he will probably ask me to stop cold turkey.

*sound of me picking my jaw up off the floor*

There’s a method to the madness, he says.  Don’t worry, he says.

Then he says this:  “The other thing I want you to do is going to be a little scary, but you need to trust me.”

…Uh oh.

“I want you to just…”

OH MY GOD, DON’T SAY IT.

“…just stop trying to get pregnant.”

OH NO HE DID NOT.

“I know that sounds counterproductive, given what we’re trying to accomplish here, but I think intimacy with your husband needs to be a bigger priority.”

*sound of me running down the stairs to the basement of the building to retrieve my jaw*

I mean, he’s right about a lot of that.

Do I purposely plan SexyTime around ovulation?  Yeah.  Am I ever really in the mood after ovulation?  Not really, no.  Is that all hormonal?  Probably not.

Do I perhaps have a bit of a mental hangup (read: control issue) related directly to peeing on sticks and checking my cervical mucus?

Yup.

So, I get it.  He’s trying to get me – the marriage, really – back to a more organic point.  He conceded that because the husband does some crazy shift work, that timed intercourse really is probably the best way to make this happen, but that hormones and pheromones can help that process along just as well, if not better, than OPKs and ultrasounds.

He also said that he is confident that I will be pregnant.  It’s not a matter of if, it’s just a matter of when.

God, he was so confident.

I didn’t even know what to say to that.  I’ve heard “there’s no reason you shouldn’t be pregnant within X amount of time!” soooo many times, and been disappointed many times over.  Something about the way he said it though…

He believes it.

It’s hard not to buy into that kind of belief, you know?  I might be a sucker, but I believe it, too.

At that point, we moved into an acupuncture treatment room, and I was given what he called “a very mild treatment” because I’m in my luteal phase.  My future treatments will primarily involve the follicular phase, but for the first month, he’d like to see me probably once per week just to help my body get back on track.

The treatment was perfect.  No pain, which I was anxious about because of past treatment experiences, and all in all very relaxing.

I left feeling relaxed, with my little tubs of herbs and a bottle of vitamins for the husband to take, and went on to have lunch with some good friends who live in the area.

Not a bad little Saturday, honestly!

So that was Acupuncture 2.0, and I’m feeling pretty good about it.  I’ll be seeing Dr. McStabby quite a lot over the next month, and I’m looking forward to seeing some results in how my cycle reacts within the next couple of months.  I’m also looking forward to hearing more statements like “…if you’re not pregnant by then, we may add this to your treatment…”

I’m feeling good.  Confident.

This is the path I’m supposed to be on, and for the first time, I’m sure of that.

This all feels right – like something that’s been falling apart for years is suddenly starting to come together.

And who knows?

If Acu-Doc’s “just stop trying” advice rings true, I may have to rename this blog after all…

Status

What To Do, What To Do…

Friday, March 15th, 2013.  CD3.

So with this “lean PCOS” diagnosis, comes a whole line of decisions yet to be made.

On the one hand, I am having acupuncture, and am using a line of Chinese herbs to help regulate my cycle (which is regular in its timing, but irregular in its awful, terrible, painful heaviness).  My acupuncturist is skeptical of some of the Western treatments for PCOS, and feels that since I am of a healthy weight, and am maintaining a healthy diet, that she can regulate my cycle and hormones to a natural balance with the use of herbs and acupuncture alone.

On the other hand, my new RE has offered Metformin.  While I don’t appear to be insulin-resistant, there are many studies showing that Met can help regulate the balance of androgens and estrogens, which is a large part of my problem.  My testosterone levels are a bit high, and my estrogens are a bit low, which I’m sure is causing crappy eggs to emerge.  The husband’s swimmers are turning up their nose at said crappy eggs, or they are attempting to fertilize and failing because they are just so damaged.

Metformin could help over the course of a few months… And so could the herbs and acupuncture combo.  What about combining the Eastern and Western treatments?  What about adding Pregnitude, which sounds like a more natural alternative to Met?  What about adding supplements to my already hefty list of pills?  I’ve heard good things about the combination of CoQ10, myo-inositol (one of the ingredients of Pregnitude), and L-Arginine?

If I was younger, I would try each for four to six months until one of them worked, but let’s face it – I’m not getting any younger, and neither are my eggs.

Oy.  So many choices.

I sometimes wish that I was the type of person I used to be.  The type of person who could just take the doctor’s orders without question and proceed happily.

Not so.  Not anymore.

I’m the person who asks questions with every recommendation.  I’m the person who brings such a disturbing amount of knowledge into the exam room that the doctor asks what she can do for me, rather than telling me what I’m going to do.

Now, instead of orders, I have options.

Rather than making up my mind, I am going to the internet for help.

I know we talked about this recently, but can anyone out there shed any light on lean PCOS and the effectiveness of Metformin vs. Pregnitude vs. TCM and acupuncture vs. egg-quality-improvement supplement cocktails?

Help, internet!  Help!!

 

Status

Acupuncture 2.0

Thursday, March 7th, 2013.  CD22, 5DPO.

 

I know I said last week after my first acupuncture appointment that I would have to withhold judgment until I’d had a few more sessions, but I feel like now, after my second session, I’ve had enough experience to know how I feel.

I am loving acupuncture.

I was skeptical at first, but last night’s session was wonderful.  Yes, there was still some pain in spots, but it was only momentary, and I was relaxed enough to fall asleep, which I never thought would happen!

Another thing I’m really going to like is that each treatment session begins with a friendly chat with Tamara about how the past week has been going.  I like her, and it almost feels like therapy.  She’s down to earth, and she isn’t preachy.  She encourages me without being smug, and she seems to be happy with my progress after only one treatment.

She was impressed with my pretty positive OPK, and happy to hear that my libido is waking up a bit.  I also told her that last weekend I was able to spend two full days doing nothing but reading and drinking tea at my leisure.  I guess I never realized how hard it has become for me to actually sit still, and I don’t know if it was the acupuncture or not, but I’m glad I gave myself a couple of days off!

After the treatment session, I went home feeling amazingly relaxed.  I made myself a yummy steak, eggs, and sautéed spinach dinner, and then cuddled up on the couch with some warm tea and American Idol.

(Side note:  Does anyone else want to toss Nicki Minaj off a tall building, or is that just me?)

Just as Tamara said last week, I was wiped out after my treatment again.  I was in bed super early and slept like the dead.  I am still feeling a little fuzzy around the edges today, but I do feel rested and peaceful.

I also picked up a new week’s worth of herbs yesterday.  Evergreen Blossom Phase 4 is the herbal blend meant to be taken the week before Aunt Flo arrives.  It helps support blood flow in the uterine area and Tamara says it will help my cycle to ease up a bit.  She thinks that the reason that my periods are so heavy and painful is because the blood is not flowing in that region as it should be.  She asked if I ever have clotting, which I definitely do – always – and she said that is a definite sign.

I’m hopeful that this formula will help me be able to feel human while Aunt Flo’s in town, but the absolute BEST part about this new herbal blend that I’ll start taking this weekend is that it’s not something I have to drink!

Capsules!!  WOO!!  😀

OH!  And I started a new book by Randine Lewis, The Infertility Cure: The Ancient Chinese Wellness Program for Getting Pregnant and Having Healthy Babies.  I’m only a short way in at this point, but it’s all very interesting and working well with the TCM path I’m on right now.

So while I have no idea if this path will help me with my overall goal of having a healthy baby, I do know that it’s helping me relax and focus in the short term.

Which is something I need.  Badly.

In other news, I have quite an active few days ahead of me!  Two of my BFFs are coming to town this weekend and bringing their little ladies with them, so we will have a houseful!  I think it will be lots of fun, and it’s something we really need to do now, since one of these gals is having her second baby in a couple of weeks, and the other is moving to Japan!

After a fun weekend of girl time, I’ll be starting next week in my new position within our company.  I wish I could tell you what my title will be, or whether or not this is considered a promotion, but I honestly can’t.  At least not right now… My role is going to be different from any other position in the company that exists right now, and it’s partially up to me to help define what I am going to BE and DO around here.  It’s a great opportunity for growth, and an even better one to put my creativity to use on a much larger scale than I have been able to thus far.

I’m excited about this transition, and will be sure to update once I know a little more!

Also happening next week is my appointment with my new RE, Dr. F!  I’m a little nervous for the appointment, not because I’m new to this process in the least, but because my records from Dr. K probably won’t be delivered to me in time for the consultation.  I won’t be going empty-handed, as I have copies of all of my records from the AMIGOS study, and I have been sure to at least record the test results I’ve been given, even if I don’t have an official hospital record of them.

Honestly, I’m less worried about what she thinks of my test results, and more worried that she will say that it all looks normal to her.  I’m worried that she won’t think it’s necessary to do any further testing, or that she will say that acupuncture is a waste of my time and money.  I’m worried she will be like Dr. K and not listen when I tell her that something is wrong…

I know these are irrational fears.  I chose this doctor because she has a reputation for looking at the whole patient, and treating the issues first instead of going straight for the big guns.  I guess this will give me another thing to talk to Tamara about at next week’s acu-therapy session!

Whew!

Anyway, apologies for the short novel of a blog post here.  Sheesh.

I’m not sure if I’ll be posting again for a few days, so I hope you all have a fantastic weekend!  🙂

 

I don’t care that it’s not relevant to this post – there just aren’t enough LOST memes in the world.

Status

Don’t See That Every Day…

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013.  CD17.

OPK

Sorry for the crappy phone pic – I was just so excited!

That, my friends, is a VERY positive ovulation prediction test.

You might be thinking, “Big fat deal!”, but what you don’t know is that the odds of me getting a flaming positive like that one in a non-medicated cycle are very slim.  I don’t know why it is, perhaps what the doctors have told me is a “weak ovulation”, but my hormones don’t like to rise and fall very impressively on their own.

It’s also pretty awesome that I’m getting a positive OPK this early in a natural cycle… I typically don’t see this until closer to CD23!

So now I’m wondering, what’s with this sudden burst of enthusiasm from my endocrine system?

Is my body having some kind of resurgence of its natural cycle after having been on meds for so many months in a row?  This one I doubt a bit, mainly because last month was my first off-meds month and I’m honestly not even sure I ovulated.  I definitely didn’t have a positive OPK, and I tested for ten days straight…

Is it the dietary changes I’ve made, trying very hard to exclude caffeine, sugar, dairy, anything processed, and yes – even gluten, that has helped to even things out so quickly?

Is it the Chinese herbal dirt-ass-and-foot tea I’ve been drinking in strong doses twice a day for what… four whole days now?

Is it the one acupuncture treatment I’ve had thus far that’s made such a difference in this cycle?

I really don’t know why this cycle seems to feel better, more normal, than most, but I do know that I’ve felt very full in the pelvic region since leaving the acupuncturist’s office.  That’s not something I typically feel unless I’ve had several days of injectable meds and I know that my ovaries are full of ripe follicles ready to burst.

I have no way of knowing if what I’m doing in the off season is helping me or hurting me, and I realize that this might all be a coincidence.  It’s enough of a difference, though, to encourage me to keep at it!

Day by day, folks… day by day.  🙂

Status

Acupuncture

What does it feel like to have twenty needles sticking out of your wrists, ankles, knees, belly, and ears?

Well, yesterday I found out.

I wish I had taken a picture, but maybe another time…

For those of you unfamiliar with acupuncture, here’s a Wiki definition:

Acupuncture is an alternative medicine methodology originating in ancient China that treats patients by manipulating thin, solid needles that have been inserted into acupuncture points in the skin. According to Traditional Chinese medicine, stimulating these points can correct imbalances in the flow of qi through channels known as meridians.

Here’s a play-by-play of how my first appointment went:

I arrived a little late because the weather outside was frightful.  In truth, it was straight-up Apocalypsing out there, and the acupuncturist, Tamara, understood.  Typically you don’t want to be late for this sort of thing and show up all stressed out.

When I first met my acupuncturist (is she a doctor?  I’m not sure!), she immediately made me feel welcome and comfortable.  She has a really down-to-earth personality, and doesn’t take the Eastern medicine thing too seriously.  I mean, she’s serious about what she does, but she knows when to insert an appropriately placed eye-roll to help you realize that she isn’t trying to be the lone white girl raised by Chinese herbalists.

She offered me some spicy chai tea (so I loved her immediately, of course), and we went to her office to chat about my medical history.  We talked for probably 45 minutes about everything I’ve ever been through physically and emotionally.  When it came to the fertility portion, we talked about it all.  She even asked me to see my BBT charts!  I wasn’t expecting that, and had not printed them off, but I am to bring them along next week so she can review them.

I was swept up in the newness of it all, and forgot to ask a lot of questions… oh, but I will!

After the interrogation portion of the appointment, Tamara asked me to hop up on the table and lie down.  She looked at my tongue and made some notes in my file (again, I would have liked to ask questions about that!).  She took my pulse in several spots on my body and then started sterilizing the spots where she was planning to put needles.

She talked to me about my diet and what I had eaten and drank that day, and started inserting needles into my feet and ankles.  I didn’t feel anything but a slight ‘tap’ most times, but there were a few needles that felt really twinge-y, some of which Tamara adjusted to be more comfortable.

She put a few needles in my wrists, and then she put one over top of each ovary, and one in the middle of my belly.  One more in the middle of my chest, one in each ear (!), and I thought she was done, but no… She put one last needle in my shin-area, and that sucker HURT.  She said it was because I had a blockage, but I didn’t ask what that meant because at that time, something else had started to happen.

My ovaries were on fire.  It seriously felt like there were electrodes hooked up to my egg-baskets.  Tamara said that was a good sign, and asked if it was too uncomfortable for me to relax for a bit, but I put on my big girl panties and dealt with it.  She left the room to let me “relax”, and said she would be back in a bit and that it was okay if I fell asleep.

Ha!  Sleep?  Yeah right, lady!  I have needles stuck all over me!!

She was gone for maybe fifteen minutes, and I did start to feel myself relaxing.  She had also put a warming light right over top of my abdomen, and the heat was making me feel fuzzy.  I didn’t doze off, but I did close my eyes and rest a bit until Tamara returned.

After she checked my pulse some more and removed the needles, we talked a bit about Chinese herbs.  I agreed to give the formula she suggested a chance, and after taking care of the financial aspects of the appointment, I headed back out into the cold to drive home.

I was informed before I left that I would be very tired and probably sleep really hard, which turned out to be completely true.  I was also very tired and sort of foggy-feeling most of today.  Even as I type this now, I am feeling very fatigued behind my eyes… I was told that this is normal and should last a day or two.

I am planning on seeing the acupuncturist once a week for the foreseeable future, and I’ve started taking herbs twice a day.

The herbs are interesting… there’s a specific formula for each week of your cycle.  I mix a couple of tiny spoonfuls with warm water, plug my nose, and drink it down.

They taste like dirt and feet and ass.  Not pleasant AT ALL, but I’ve done crazier things in the name of conception, so why not dirty-foot-ass tea?

So that’s that.  I know some people think I’m crazy for doing all of this, and some people think I’m crazy for waiting this long to try!  I honestly don’t care what people think… I just want to do whatever I can to get my body in order and as ready as I am for a take-home baby.

Parenting is all about sacrifice, right?

Might as well start now.

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