Tag: The Infertility Cure
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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

Eastward Bound

Hello, my lovelies!

I wanted to give you all a quick update on how Plan G is coming along (because I know you’re all on the edge of your seats.  Ha.).

First, as far as diet goes, I’ve been doing very well.  I’ve never been terribly disciplined in general about things like this, and expected to struggle more with these changes; however, so far so good!

I’ve been almost completely gluten, dairy, sugar, and soy-free for 16 days, give or take.  I say almost completely, because it’s hard to eliminate foods that may be contaminated with gluten, and since there’s no proof that I have Celiac Disease, I’m not going that far.  I eat gluten-free products as often as possible, and I avoid anything with wheat ingredients, so I’m probably like 98% gluten-free.

I’ve been really good at avoiding dairy, with the exception of butter in some dishes.  I tried a little shredded cheese on my baked potato yesterday at lunch, and felt like crap afterward, so I can see that avoiding dairy is a good thing for me.

Sugar is so hard to give up.  I crave it.  I want to rip open eighty-nine Pixie Stix and pour them down my throat.  I haven’t done that, though.  I’ve found ways around the sugar cravings.  I eat fruit, staying with the recommended options for the Spleen Qi diet and away from tropical, high-sugar content fruits like bananas and mangoes.  I also eat a lot of nuts, and throw a few raisins in for that salty/sweet combo I love so much.

I’ve managed to steer clear of white sugar altogether, as well as the dreaded high fructose corn syrup.  I do put a tiny bit of honey in my tea sometimes, but the cinnamon concoction I drink most of the time has a natural bit of sweetness, so I’m not derailing all of my progress when I have it.

Soy is also surprisingly hard to eliminate.  I’ve stayed away from soy for years due to its estrogenic properties, but looking closely at food labels is an eye-opening experience.  There’s soy in pretty much everything!  Preservatives, oils, fillers… All from soy.

I don’t whip myself if I ingest a food with a soy ingredient, but I also don’t consume it regularly.  I figure that’s probably good enough.

I’ve been concentrating on “warm” foods and beverages, following the Spleen Qi dietary recommendations.  It’s not all that difficult, as I prefer warm drinks and warm foods anyway, but I’m finding it hard to drink enough water without being able to add ice.  It’s taken almost two full weeks, but I think I may have trained myself to be able to drink room temperature water in larger amounts.  Blech.

I’ve also been taking PILES OF PILLS.

Supplements, mainly, and some herbs and vitamins.

I’ll post a detailed list soon, but the basics include my regular prenatal, Maca root and royal jelly twice daily, l-arginine, CoQ10, B-12, B-6, and fish oil all daily, and vitamin D3 three times a week.  I also just started taking Vitex, although I’m concerned that I might be taking too many things… I’ll find out soon enough.

After finishing Randine Lewis’ The Infertility Cure, I started putting much of what she endorses to work.  All of the dietary and supplemental changes I’ve made have been directly because of her book, and I’ve also adopted her recommendation of femoral massage.  Femoral massage is a technique recommended to certain body types to help increase blood flow to the pelvic organs by compressing the femoral artery for a short time, and then releasing it.  I do this twice daily from CD3 to ovulation.

Another recommendation I’ve decided to try is Maya Abdominal Massage.  It’s an interesting concept, and there are many who praise its benefits, though there are not a terribly large number of practitioners throughout the US.  Oddly enough, there’s someone right here in the Toledo suburbs that is experienced in Maya Abdominal Massage, and I have an appointment set up with her in early September, during a time which should fall toward the end of Aunt Flo’s visit.  This was the recommendation made by the masseuse, and I’m inclined to believe that she knows what she’s talkin’ ’bout, Willis.

Wow, that’s a lot of changes in a few weeks!

But wait!  There’s more!!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately, probably because of Dr. Lewis’ book and other books and articles I’ve read lately, that I should get a more thorough workup from an Eastern medicine practitioner.

You may remember that I tried acupuncture and Chinese herbs previously, but only lasted about a month before I stopped both altogether.  I believe it was a combination of not feeling like my acupuncturist had much experience with infertility (read: none), and feeling the pressure to move forward with medicated cycles.  It was also highly expensive, as I was having acu treatments once per week, regardless of progress.

Despite all that… maybe TCM and acupuncture deserve a second chance.

I have been doing research for a while now, and found Master of Traditional Oriental Medicine in the Detroit suburbs, a little over an hour from here.  He operates an integrative medical center with a naturopath and holistic doctor.  Even better news is that he’s open on Saturdays, so I have a consultation set up with him in just a few days!

Here’s how I know this guy is good:  First of all, he has been doing this for 20 years.  Just infertility, for 20 whole years.  Before that, he was the staff acupuncturist at the oncology center for a large local hospital system.  Secondly, I emailed the office to have them contact me to schedule an appointment, and he called me himself, less than 30 minutes later.

We talked for maybe 10 minutes, and he said that he’d read in my email about my infertility journey so far.  Color me impressed that he actually retained five years worth of info crammed into one short email!  He asked me a few questions, and then he said something that I’ve been speculating about for years:

“Most of my patients with unexplained infertility turn out to have an issue in the follicular phase.  For you, it seems like it might be too long, causing egg quality problems and causing the endometrial lining to be out of sync, possibly even causing a Luteal Phase Defect.”

Then he said this:

“I am confident that I can get your follicular phase straightened out with very specific herbs and acupuncture once per month in the follicular phase only.  I know without even meeting you, I’m that confident.  When you come in on Saturday, I’ll fine-tune a program for you, but my track record with women that have the same symptoms as you has been excellent.”

And then:

“Rest assured that this process will improve your fertility.  Have faith, and be confident.  I do, and I am, and you should too.”

Well jeez.  How can I not think that this guys knows his stuff with confidence like that??

I’m excited about these next steps.  More excited than I’ve been in a long time.  I haven’t even really wanted to say this out loud, to be honest, but I have such an overwhelming feeling of confidence in this process that I probably should share it with all of you.

I think this could work.

I think that this natural approach could tweak my body back into alignment.

I think – no, I believe – that what I’m doing will make a difference.

I even believe that these changes, treatments, and steps in the Eastern direction may be my ticket to motherhood.

You guys…

I might not need to have IVF.

There’s a chance…

This might work.

This could be it.

Stick around…

2013 might be my year after all!

Status

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.  😉

 

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