Things I’ll Never Try Again: Juicing Detox

I’m not one to fall for fad diets. Usually these kinds of trends are so transparent in their gimmickry that I laugh in their very face and wonder how people can so easily be duped. Paleo? Atkins? Raw food only? It Works? The Hcg diet (for realz, it’s an actual thing)? Psssh….  Everyone knows that these passing diet crazes are little more than mega money makers conjured up by some faceless corporate giant in order to make heaps of cash from unsuspecting consumers. Not me, though: I am exempt from falling for such blatant sales pitches. Right?

Wrong.

Because then… sigh….. BECAUSE THEN… I went online the other week and stumbled across the subject of raw juicing. It seems that turning produce into juice will apparently detox the body, provide natural energy, boost weight loss, and, in general, turn followers into Super Woman (or man, if you please). The more I read on the topic, the more juicing seemed worthy of a shot. In my ongoing quest to naturally overcome my infertility and prime my body to accept conception, a juicing detox seemed the next logical step. I mean, who doesn’t need a detox every now and then, fertile or otherwise? I failed to see how juicing could NOT be good for you. Onto that bandwagon I jumped, full speed ahead.

I decided to start slow with a three-day juice cleanse, which consists of 5 juices per day + 1 meal of fruits and/or veggies; the only beverages allowed are water and caffeine-free tea. Then I’d work my way up to a three-week cleanse followed by a month long cleanse. The whole concept was totally up my alley: I’m already a vegetarian, I own a juicer, and summer produce is at its peak right now. Perfect! Why not concoct weird liquid produce beverages in my spare time?

So I went out and bought all this:

produce
Glug glug.. bet this is making you thirsty!

 

Then I dug this guy out from storage in the far recesses of my basement:

juicer
This actually is a pretty wicked $50 juicer for the money. Just sayin.

 

I cleared off my kitchen counters and went to town! I juiced yummy juices:

orange
Not just pretty… tasty too!

 

…and dead nasty juices:

green
Ever wanted to know what drinking a bell pepper tastes like? Try one of these and wonder no more!

I hope this doesn’t ruin the ending for you: As you can probably tell from this post’s title, my plan didn’t work out too well. It didn’t take me long to begin wondering how someone could stand drinking this crap for three whole days, let alone three weeks or an entire month. Cause, man, I was strait up starving while I “cleansed!” I mean, like, seriously famished! And when I’m hungry I get cranky angry. And  missing consecutive meals plus sudden caffeine withdrawal are surefire migraine triggers for me. Not a good combo.

By the end of the first day I was hungry, irritable, hard core migraining, and fatigued. All told, I juiced four of the five recommended drinks and made it through exactly one of the three cleanse days. I’m not proud of the fact that I—as usual—plowed enthusiastically into some niche health idea, only to fizzle out in the end and not follow through. Nor am I proud of the fact that I actually briefly bought into the idea that drinking liquefied produce would somehow “cleanse” or “detox” my body. I guess we all fall from grace sometimes.

Silver Lining: There actually are some legit delish juicing recipes out there (caveat: I don’t recommend juices containing raw onions or peppers. Some things should never be drank. *shudder*). Since there’s no practical way I could cook all the produce I’d purchased before it turned, I’ve instead been making lemonade out of lemons—so to speak—and have begun juicing one juice each day as a midmorning snack at work. But as far as subsisting on juices and vegetables? Not so much. Everything in moderation, my friends.

Next up in the series of personal health fails: That time I went gluten free.

 

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Update: The Good and the Bad

Do you want the good news first, or the bad news?” Blech. I don’t like when someone asks me that. It makes me feel so… put on the spot. That said, I almost always pick good news first. I mean, who wants to be disappointed right off the bat? Not me. So, reader, while I won’t ask that question of you today, this is kind of a  good news-bad newsy post. Just to clear that up.

goodnews.jpg

Today I’ll also start with the good news: the weird intermenstrual bleeding I had all last month is finally gone! And before I tell you why, can I just say how much nurses freakin’ rock?! Seriously, they will tell you the crap that no doctor ever will.

My fave nurse from the clinic, who has been a reproductive medicine nurse for so long that she might as well be an unofficial RE, told me during a follow up phone call what my doctor never did—that the reason for my mystery bleeding was actually quite simple: My lining was, for reasons unknown, like ridiculously thick. So thick, in fact, that it reached the point where my uterus physically couldn’t handle any more lining. In response, it shed itself down to a thickness that would be able to support a pregnancy. So, thank you, uterus! You did your job well… albeit majorly freaking me out in the meantime. And thank you, Nurse, for giving me the real skinny and easing my anxiety that I’m not some strange medical anomaly. Even though I didn’t get this info from the RE himself, I trust Nurse and her explanation makes complete sense.

I was told by Nurse (although, again, not by the doctor!) to expect what’s called a “withdrawal bleed” after ending the Provera I’d been prescribed for the IM bleeding. A few days later, my primary doctor also warned me to expect this same unpleasant side effect. I’ve not had any withdrawal bleed since stopping the Provera, so I’ll count that as a win. It’s not like I was looking forward to any extra bleeding. Hopefully, this whole fiasco is a closed chapter that I can now put behind me.

badnews

Now, bad news time… Okay, technically I can’t say it’s “bad” news, so, please, chillax. And it’s nothing related to infertility, either. So, not “bad” bad. But still sucky.

Here it is: osteoarthritis.

Yep, an old people thing… I have it. To a moderate degree. When I think of arthritis, visions of wrinkly old people and prune juice and nursing homes dance before my eyes. So it was a real shocker to have to change my mindset and include myself in the arthritic crowd.

See, about every three months or so I will awaken to intense pain in my thoracic and cervical spine, chest wall, and shoulders. It’s so extreme that I can barely move. And oftentimes when this happens I literally can’t get out of bed the entire day. The pain feels like it’s in my bones and thus isn’t relieved by muscle relaxers or heating pads or the like. After a few days of residual soreness, the pain eventually leaves. A few months pass and I kind of just forget all about it.

But one random morning last week I woke up to this same pain, and it was BAD. I made a same-day sick visit appointment with my primary doctor. He was extremely concerned by my symptoms and told me that I had the worst range of motion in my neck and spine for someone my age that he’s ever seen. Nice, huh? I had blood work drawn and, later, x-rays taken at the hospital. The verdict? Osteoarthritis, or OA for us in the acronym-loving infertility community. Contrary to my preconceived notions, people can get OA when they’re younger. Since onset occurs gradually though, it’s not usually diagnosable until middle age or older.

What this basically means for me is that I will treat with a rheumatologist (or an orthopaedist, the choice is mine) to manage the arthritis, though I can’t completely get rid of it. The disease itself is incurable, which on the surface sounds kind of crappy. But really, I’m actually not upset about it. In a way, I’m even relieved to have an answer for something that’s affected me for the past two years. So it’s okay. Ish. Okay-ish.

One of the first things I wanted to know from my doctor about my OA medication was whether it would affect my fertility in any way. Kind of insane, no? Looking back on this conversation later, I am taken with how much infertility has hijacked my life. When it’s to the point where I’d consider skipping a much-needed medication if it meant any potential reproductive harm (fortunately, it doesn’t), that’s some serious lack of balance. This whole OA business is a wakeup call to me that my “health” as a whole consists of way more than just my ability or inability to reproduce. Being the stubborn person that I am, sometimes I need a good slap in the face such as this to get myself back on track.

The gold standard treatment for OA is regular movement and exercise. I have to admit, I was skeptical when I heard this. It sounds completely counterintuitive to exercise a super painful area of the body, but yesterday I did a lot of swimming and noticed a marked improvement in my pain afterward. This tells me that I must return to exercising regularly if I want any relief. And if ya’ll knew me in real life then you’d know that I HATE to exercise… like, totally loathe it. So, thank you, weird old people disease, for helping me to get my butt back in the gym.

There is always a silver lining.

Always.

 

 

 

Intermenstrual Bleeding

RBC

Last month I took 50 mg of Clomid, unmonitored, on cycle days 3 through 7. I didn’t exactly expect it to work, but I had an extra script lying around and figured, meh, why not? While the Clomid failed to help to get me pregnant, it did give me some seriously painful cysts. I then had a particularly hellish period and figured that was the end of it.

Except that it wasn’t the end of it. This current cycle that I’m in—the one following the failed Clomid attempt—I’ve had intermenstrual bleeding 13 out of the 19 days since my period ended. If you’re wondering what intermenstrual bleeding is, because I’d never heard of it until this week myself, it’s “Vaginal bleeding that occurs between a woman’s monthly menstrual periods.” The causes of it can range from the benign to the frightening (thank you, Dr. Google). Every website I visited on the topic said that IM bleeding should be evaluated ASAP.

{{TMI WARNING!}}  My IM bleeding ranged from both bright and deep red to various shades of brown to nearly black, and was accompanied by both small, dense clots and large, goopy clots. Yuck fest. I ovulated super early on CD 12, and then the IM bleeding picked up serious speed: as in, I just kept bleeding and bleeding and bleeding… but it was definitely not a period. The bleeding became like whoa heavier after sex. I eventually began to avoid sex altogether because, aside from Carrie-esque blood everywhere, intercourse was also painful. To top things off, the bleeding would intensify after—errrm—using the restroom, in which case streams of blood and clots would flow for hours afterward. Scary stuff for anyone, especially for a gal who’s had two ovarian cancer scares in the past. Okay, TMI session over.

Completely freaked out and not knowing who else to call, I emailed my RE, Dr. C. Within minutes of my email, the clinic called me to book a scan and blood work for the very next morning. Bonus awesomeness points to Dr. C! Not that he really needed any more awesomeness points: the man is a medical rock star.

Fortunately, my scan was overall normal. The cysts were gone. Dr. C did point out a couple pools of blood on the u/s screen that shouldn’t be there, but I never did get the location of where the blood was pooling. His take was that I either had a cervical infection or an ectopic pregnancy due in part to the Clomid. So, yeah: maybe something minor or maybe something completely terrifying! The results of my blood work would be what would solve this mystery. My blood was drawn and I was released to spend the rest of the day awaiting the results.

It’s been over 3 months since I’ve had the pleasure of awaiting an important results call from the clinic. Sheesh, did I ever not miss that feeling: carrying my cellphone everywhere, even to the bathroom, so I wouldn’t miss the call. Obsessively checking my phone for missed calls in case it magically turned itself to silent mode. Staring at—but not having any appetite for—lunch due to frayed nerves. You guys know what I’m talking about… I was a nervous wreck at work waiting for the clinic to call. Luckily I was able to wring my hands in relative privacy by closing my office door and only speaking to Boss when needed. Some days it pays to be queen, or, at least, female. Boss senses when I’m having medical girl issues and gives me a wide berth.

After what seemed like an eternity, the nurse called with my results. And much like the ultrasound, my blood work was also normal. So, no weird hormonal changes, no infection, and no ectopic. Confusing, right?

The consensus was that I should begin taking medroxyprogesterone, a/k/a Provera, to induce a [real] period.  I didn’t get much of an explanation about why I’m taking Provera, but I think it’s supposed to help reset my natural cycle. I’ve only just begun taking it and so I have no way of knowing yet how it will affect me, nor do I know if it’s supposed to make me start bleeding or stop bleeding. Does anyone have experience with this drug?

I really want to blame all this craziness on the Clomid, but I can’t prove that it’s the cause of things. Either way, I’m staying faaaaar away from that stuff from now on. If the Provera resets my cycle and I have no more IM bleeding, then good. If the IM bleeding continues, I’ll need a referral from Dr. C for more comprehensive testing. Praying that this medicine will take care of things.

Update to follow.

 

 

 

Kicking DOR Out The D-O-O-R

antonym

The results are in from my most recent AMH test, and they’re certainly not what I or my doctor was expecting.

If you didn’t catch my last post, I’d had an AMH blood test drawn the other week during a visit with Dr. C. This test was to follow up from my June 2015 test. At that time my AMH score was 0.62, which is pretty low. My clinic doesn’t like to see results less than 1.2 for women my age.

If you’re not familiar with AMH, it’s basically just a blood test that doctors use to measure a hormone called anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) in a woman’s body. The test is still somewhat new-ish. The results give your doctor an idea of how many eggs are left in your ovaries. As with most things in life, more eggs are better than less eggs. Low results are also called/diagnosed as diminished ovarian reserve, or DOR. (I’m really trying to be better with the whole acronym overuse thing. I realize that not everyone speaks the language of the fertility-challenged).

I found an online chart here that was pretty helpful in explaining results:

Interpretation

AMH Blood Level

High (often PCOS) Over  3.0 ng/ml
Normal Over  1.0 ng/ml
Low Normal Range 0.7 – 0.9 ng/ml
Low 0.3 – 0.6 ng/ml
Very Low Less than 0.3 ng/ml

My gloom-and-doom consult with Dr. C the other week didn’t really add a whole lot of hope for the results I was awaiting, especially his prediction that my AMH would be even lower than last year’s.

So when this year’s reading came back at 1.39 we were all pretty stunned! My number had more than doubled since last year! To the normal range. Normal! The nurse who gave me my results over the whole was noticeably surprised when she compared my new results to last year’s. When I asked her if they saw this kind of thing a lot, she was like, “Umm, weeeeell, not often. But every once in awhile we’ll see this happen.”

How has it doubled? I don’t know. Some studies suggest that low vitamin D levels contribute to lower AMH results. Supplementing with DHEA and CoQ10 is also thought to help improve results. All these vitamins I’ve been taking this year must be making a difference.

And, prayer. We’ve been regularly praying over my ovary, and I believe that our (and others’) prayers have made this tremendous difference. Thank you, Lord. I mean, c’mon, vitamins can only do so much.

I don’t understand all the science behind these tests, or even what exactly our new normal means for us going forward. I just know that it is a tremendous feeling to, for once, celebrate by sharing some good fertility news.

Here’s to ever upward in this baby-making quest.

 

The Meeting (and the due date)

About six weeks ago, Dr. C left me a voicemail: “I’m really disappointed to hear about how things went this cycle. Let’s chat,” he said. I’m pretty sure this was code for the fertility blogger’s infamous “WTH meeting” I read about from time to time (and that’s “What-The-Heck” in case you’re wondering. No swearing here!). I never wanted to go to one of those. So I did what I do best and put it off.

After several weeks of dragging my feet, I finally I got around to calling the clinic back. Even then I took my sweet time, scheduling the meeting out weeks in advance. I wasn’t alone in not wanting to go: Jake sure didn’t, either. He saw no point in meeting with Dr. C, and I understood his feelings. I had this mental image of us walking the walk of shame down the hallway to Dr. C’s office, passing by all the staff who would give us pitying looks because they knew why we were there.

Of course, it went nothing at all like that. Jake eventually warmed up too, and in the end he told me the meeting was actually worth having.

Even though we covered a lot of ground during our 30 minutes, it also felt like we didn’t really get anywhere. I asked Dr. C every single question I’d had during the past nine months. He graciously took the time to answer each and every one. Toward the end of the meeting Dr. C said that, even though I’d given him quite a workout, he appreciated patients like me who come in armed and ready. He also half-jokingly offered me a job in his practice.

drfake3
Stock photos lie. This is not how a WTH meeting looks.

Since you guys know how much I love lists, here’s the highlights:

AMH/DOR/Egg Quantity: My AMH was 0.62 a year ago. I had another AMH panel drawn during my WTH visit. The results will take several days to come in.  Last year, Dr. C conservatively figured that my low AMH could’ve been due to my having one ovary. This year he changed his opinion and said that my score wouldn’t have made a difference, because whether I had one, two, or three ovaries (who has 3 ovaries????), DOR is DOR is DOR.

Egg Quality: Besides my low egg reserve, there’s also a quality issue of my remaining eggs. I again declined Dr. C’s suggestion of using donor eggs. It’s important to me to be biologically related to our child, and using donor gametes goes against my beliefs. After the meeting, this whole egg quality thing had me feeling pretty bad about myself: Did my “bad eggs” make me directly responsible for all our losses? I’m only 34. Aren’t donor eggs something for older women? Why is this even something a doctor is talking to me about?

Pelvic Adhesive Disease: Dr. C kept throwing this term into my diagnoses until finally I had to ask what exactly pelvic adhesive disease is. Here’s the lowdown: Endo adheres your insides together. After surgery to remove the endo adhesions, new scar tissue forms from removal of the endo adhesions themselves. This new scar tissue adheres your insides together yet again, resulting in PAD. It’s like an ever-spinning wheel of adhesive insanity! Of course Dr. C couldn’t prove it diagnostically at our meeting, but the fact that my ovary hurts, oh I don’t know, ALL THE FREAKING TIME makes him think PAD is a culprit, along with recurring endo. Hooray.

Laparoscopy: It makes sense to me—and I said so, too, bluntly—that all this IVF/ART business is like putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound. As long we ignore the endometriosis factor then we’re not really treating my fertility issues, we’re just trying sneaky backdoor methods to get me knocked up. Since IVF is tabled for now (donations welcome!), Dr. C gave me a referral to a local gyn surgeon he highly recommended. This would be my fifth surgery and third laparoscopy. It might seem counterintuitive to have surgery because of the whole PAD thing, but surgery is the option I’m most in favor of. Jake and I have a lot of discussing to do before I make the final decision, since there’s a few things going on in our personal lives with work, school, moving, etc. that might make having a lap a bit tricky right now. We will see. And, of course, I’ll let you guys know!

IUI: I’d always been told that IUI for endo patients is a total waste of time and money. However, Dr. C feels that that’s not necessarily true if the IUI is done soon after a lap. In that case, the endo is gone so it’s no longer a factor. Until we’re able to do another IVF, Dr. C suggested Clomid IUIs with injectables following the lap. It seems like we’d be going backward to move from IUI to IVF back to IUI.  I’m 50/50 about this option, but leaning more toward “no.”

Implantation Issues: This one’s a biggie. Since no one can see implantation happening (or not happening), it remains this mysterious, elusive, intangible thing for doctors. I  walked away from the meeting feeling like I didn’t get a lot of answers about possible implantation issues, as Dr. C couldn’t offer any real solutions. After three losses, Dr. C feels that implantation is definitely a factor to investigate… somehow. But there’s not much to be done diagnostically that I haven’t already done. Basically, the implantation issue went nowhere and I’m not thrilled about that. To be revisited.

MTHFR: Along those lines, we reviewed my RPL panel and Dr. C espoused how unremarkable it was. Here’s where I could use some serious input from you guys: When I asked Dr. C why he didn’t include testing for MTHFR on the panel, his response was (literally), “It doesn’t really make a difference.” This didn’t sit well with me. That can’t be true, right?! Anyone? I mean, there’s entire websites dedicated to MTHFR. I really, really wish that REs took RI more seriously. It’s to their patients’ detriment that they don’t.

Scratching the Itch: Last year I had asked for an endometrial scratch prior to starting IVF. Science is iffy about whether ES helps prime the uterus for an embryo, but it certainly doesn’t hurt (scratch that, it does hurt, physically, a lot. Pun intended) to have the procedure done anyway. He wasn’t opposed to it last year, but Dr. C eventually talked me out of having it done. During our meeting, though, he recommended I have an ES done prior to doing IVF again… You can’t even begin to know the depths of my frustration when I reminded him that I’d asked for an ES last year and we didn’t do one!

The Miscarriages/RPL:  All Dr. C could tell us was that m/c #2 was likely due to an abnormal embryo, and that m/c #3 could have been another abnormal embryo or an implantation issue alone or both. We did ICSI last time around, but not PGS. Dr. C recommends PGS for any future IVFs. I have reservations about the reliability of PGS and I don’t believe it doesn’t harm embryos (science says so, too!), plus I have moral issues about destroying embryos that don’t pass the PGS test. This is one thing I’m really firm on. Since I never had any miscarried embryos to biopsy, there’s no telling. Again, a more thorough RPL panel might have helped here… Maybe one that included MTHFR.

Okay, wow, now that I’ve written it all out it seems pretty clear to me that we need to get a second opinion (or a fourth, really). Dr. C is the third reproductive endocrinologist that I’ve treated with, but I’m not so dedicated to the practice that I won’t get another opinion. REs don’t know how a patient will respond to IVF the first time, and it can take a few cycles to get the right protocol down; I totally get that. I guess the whole purpose of a WTH meeting is to go over things, try to come up with what went wrong, and make plans to change what needs to be changed the next time around.

With that said, I’ve looked into RI treatment with Dr. Braverman. I even went so far as to start dialing his number for the free consultation. I mean, logistically it’s somewhat doable: Braverman’s office is only 2 hours away. Boss would even work with me for all the time I’d need to miss from work. There’s a semi-local clinic where I could be seen for non-NY appointments. But, it’s all so stupidly expensive and my insurance covers none of it. Another door closes.

With no real solutions, I feel I’ve basically said nothing this entire post up ’til now… except for a whole lot of “maybe’s” and “I don’t know.” Which is pretty much how I feel about things too: maybe this, maybe that, and I just don’t know.


 

Finally, it wouldn’t be right for me to end this post without making mention of my due date… well, one of them anyway. I’ve added the due date to all the other tough moments of being in the fertility trenches. I like to think of them as a collection of battle scars. As scars become layered on top of each other, they form a thick skin. And a thick skins helps us toughen up and soldier on, even when our insides are all soft and battle-weary.

June 9, 2016 would’ve should’ve been my due date for pregnancy #2. Instead of a baby on June 9, I got my period. Seriously. Jake sent me a beautiful bouquet of flowers at work that day to let me know he didn’t forget either, which meant so much to my heart. I think about it every single day and I will always hold a special place in my heart for the little person who should be here with us now, but is in Heaven instead. I love you, S.W., and You Are Missed.

In S.W.’s memory, this charm hangs from my rearview mirror, for when I look back while still moving forward.

mcheart

  Peace.

 

 

 

10 Things You Might Not Know About Me

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Today’s post is a break from infertility talk and has absolutely nothing to do with baby making. Since there’s more to my life than just my struggle with infertility (and it’s a slow day at work), I thought I’d take a moment to let you get to know me a little bit more. Here’s some randomness about yours truly:

  1. I have an eerily good sense of direction. If I’ve been there just one time, chances are high that I can find my way back again, sans map. This fact about me Jake does not like because he is textbook male directionally challenged. Pre-GPS days, this made for some very interesting road trips.
  2. Feet totally skeeze me out. And by feet, I mean all feet. I do not discriminate. Baby feet, kids’ feet, women’s feet, men’s feet—all are equally gross. But especially man feet: I absolutely cannot stomach the sight of a big, ugly, hairy, crusty, scuzzy man foot nakedly oozing and sloshing out the side of a pair of sandals. See what I mean? Eww-ness.
  3. I am a total and complete grammar snob. Some people think it’s snotty if I notice (not necessarily point out, just notice) their grammar mistakes. Other times, though, my snobbery is to my advantage. I’ve spent the last eight years working in law firms and I am the go-to gal for proofreading. I’ve edited some mean briefs in my day, and am haughtily proud of my skills.
  4. I get déjà Vu, like, a lot. Oh—did I already tell you that? Seriously,  the frequency of how often I have déjà vu seems way higher than average. I don’t know why I’m like this, but it’s happened to me regularly (as in a few times a week) for as far back as I can remember. Jake is constantly having to reassure me that we haven’t already had a conversation/gone to a place/met a person etc. Unfortunately for me, my déjà vu is limited to really mundane, everyday life-type things and I never get déjà vu about any major life events or anything cool like that.
  5. I have an adopted sibling. The first time I met my oldest brother I was 31, he 41. My mother gave him up for adoption after becoming pregnant unwed and fresh out of high school. My brother spent years looking for his birth mother and any siblings before he finally found us. And while he was disappointed to learn that our mother had long since passed away, he was elated to find my other siblings and I. There is something uniquely indescribable and Lifetime Movie-esque about meeting and getting acquainted with a long-lost sibling as adults. I realize how often many people’s bio fam searches end in dead ends, so I am truly thankful to have this opportunity to get to know my brother and nephews.
  6. I am a cat person hiding under the cloak of being a dog person. They say that cat people and dog people have completely different personality traits, and I would have to agree. A livescience.com article reads : “People who said they were dog lovers in the study tended to be more lively — meaning they were more energetic and outgoing — and also tended to follow rules closely. Cat lovers, on the other hand, were more introverted, more open-minded and more sensitive than dog lovers. Cat people also tended to be non-conformists, preferring to be expedient rather than follow the rules.” I have both pets cats and a pet dog and I love them all equally, but if I absolutely had to choose between them, my instinct is to pick my cat. Since “cat people” get bad reps and I don’t want to be known as the crazy cat lady, in public I pretend to be more gaga over my dog. People seem to relate to me better if I regale them with stories of Puppy and not Grumpy Cat. Inside, though, my secret non-conformist, introverted self is thinking, “me-freakin-ow, baby!”
  7. I went to an alternative school. Traditional high school didn’t agree with my rebellious teenage self and I was on a bad road to nowhere. Enter alternative school, a/k/a “bad kids school” (but not really). I spent my last three years of high school attending a super tiny, very open, liberal, do-as-you-please school located in an old-fashioned schoolhouse with the same three teachers each year. The key word is attending: if I wasn’t for this school, I never would have made it to graduation. I’ve come a very long way since then and I owe so much of it to my alternative school experience. People often raise an eyebrow when I tell them I went to an alt school, but I’m not ashamed of it one bit. I’m proud of where I come from and how far I’ve come, and this school was the start of getting me on the right track.
  8. I’m a PK. Never heard of a PK, you say? It stands for Preacher’s Kid. Yep, my dad is The ‘Rev. Life is interesting (and as a teenager, sometimes embarrassing) when your dad is the local Baptist minister. Only other PK’s can understand PK kid problems, because the struggle was real. As an adult, I can look back and be grateful for the experience, but trust me when I say that life is totally different when, by virtue of your father’s job, your family’s life on constant public display.
  9. I geek out on I.T. stuff. You know your company’s resident I.T. Guy? The one whose first response to a technology crisis is “Did you reboot?” The one who no one talks to cause, well, he’s kind of a nerd? Well, I totally dig talking to the I.T. guy! Computers fascinate me and I love nothing more than tinkering around with software and figuring out how exactly it works. Back when MySpace was cool, I used to spend copious amounts of time rewriting the html text on my backgrounds to make them do different things. I randomly teach myself the “guts” of software we use at work so I can understand how it works. If my current career ever starts to fall flat, I think I might just have a future as the I.T. Gal. On the other hand, I hope you guys don’t stop reading now that you know I’m a closet nerd!
  10. I can’t sleep without my stuffed bear. Now I am glad that this blog is anonymous, because there’s not many people in real life that I would admit this to! About fifteen years ago Jake gave me a giant stuffed animal bear as a gift. Since then, that bear has survived seven home moves, had its nose chewed off by Puppy, and endured multiple runs through the washing machine. Oh yeah, and I simply cannot (and literally cannot) sleep without him. When we go camping with family or visit Jake’s family, I tell them that the bear is Puppy’s snuggle buddy, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Yep, I am in my mid-30s and still sleep with a stuffed animal. There’s nothing sexier than that.

It’s too bad that no one uses “Top 11” lists, but if they did, my #11 would have to be my love of lists. I really love making lists. I even love making lists of lists. But this list has to end some time, so I’ll just sneak this #11 in real quick and we’ll be done.

And now you guys know some of my junk AND you got a reprieve from fertility talk, all in one post. And to that I say, you’re welcome.

Say Your Prayers, Take Your Vitamins, and You Will Never Go Wrong

 

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“…say your prayers, take your vitamins, and you will never go wrong.” -Hulk Hogan

It’s been three weeks since I last posted on here about our most recent early miscarriage. Since that time, I’ve started and deleted something like ten different blog posts. As I literally and figuratively run back and forth between deciding what to do next in my seemingly never ending fertility quest, all my thoughts get jumbled up together and I can’t focus on one post that actually makes any sense. Yeah. That’s where I’ve been at. Even though I’ve been all over the fertility map, I did manage to rein myself in and stick to just one topic in this post. Which is how I hope to be able to keep all my posts… But I make no promises!

I’ve also been at a place where dealing with yet another loss/failure has its tentacles wrapped pretty tightly around me. It should make sense that, coming back to my blog after a hiatus because of the m/c, that that’s exactly what I’d write about. But things “making sense” is not the theme of my life these days. And I can’t find the right words for how I feel because of what’s happened. So I’ll save it for another day. If ever.

Anyway, I immediately jumped back on the TTC train after this latest loss, as I did with the previous loss, too. There is no “waiting three cycles to try again” for this chick. Time is not on my side, so I won’t waste even a moment trying to get pregnant again. This doesn’t mean that I’m not fully grieving our losses, or that they meant so little to me that I can easily pick myself up and brush them off: just the opposite is true. But I also can’t afford to wallow in inactivity, because I’ve already been at this TTC thing for five years now and something’s gotta give. That’s 60 months that my biological clock’s been ticking, and time waits for no (wo)man, right?

Back at TTC means I’m back with all the accessories that come along with it (though, really, I never completely stopped). This includes fun stuff like BBT charting, rolling over in a semi-awake state early each morning to grope around for my thermometer. And even though my cycles and luteal phases are still all kinds of jacked up, I busted out my OPKs and religiously POAS (or, in my case, a Dixie cup cause I have terrible aim) first thing in the morning several days per month. I brew a few gallons of red raspberry leaf tea to stick in the fridge and drink every day of the week. I eat ovulation-implantation-friendly foods. I avoid alcohol, which I pretty much did beforehand anyway, and nicotine, which becomes easier as time goes by (*pats self on back*). Even my beloved caffeine has gone by the wayside, as I drink only 4 – 5 cups per week nowdays. There’s countless other little things us TTC-ers do in the name of getting pregnant, but you get the idea.

How much good does any of this stuff do me? Not sure. None of it’s worked for me yet. Maybe these things are just busy work, like when the teacher’s absent and the sub needs to find an easy way to keep the kids occupied. Either way, I keep doing them because it’s practically become ingrained in my DNA.

Now add to this list my latest craze: Vitamins.

I’ve always believed in vitamins to help treat medical conditions, and have taken them religiously for some time. Some docs doubt that vitamins do much to help, but Big Pharma isn’t the only dog in the game when it comes to fertility, IMO. Recently I’ve stepped it up and have gotten Really Serious about my vitties. Here’s what I take (Jake takes some of these things, too) every day:

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Just look at that plate of fertility goodness!

But first off, I am NOT a doctor or an herbalist or anything even close to that. I do, however, work in the legal world, which I guess is why I think it’s important to state the obvious here and mention my complete non-medical prowess first. So, please, do your own research before starting a vitamin cocktail.

Multivitamin: I buy Ultra Preventative X which are a fabulous multivitamin that consists of 8 pills per day/serving. Sounds like a lot, but when you realize they contain: Vitamins A, C, D-3, E, B-6, and B-12; PLUS thiamine, riboflavin, niacin/niacinamide, folate, pantothenic acid, calcium iodine, magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, manganese, chromium, molybdenum, potassium, lutein, lycopene, zeaxanthin, inositol, choline, PABA, boron, vanadium, L-cysteine, betaine, bromelain, glutamic acid, L-Methionine, rose hips, lemon bioflavonoids, red wine proanthocyanicins, pine bark extract, hesperidin complex, rutin; AND organic root powders of beet, carrot, black currant, blueberry, broccoli, concord grape, green cabbage, collard greens, mountain cranberry, kale, parsley, pomegranate, raspberry, spinach; PLUS garlic, cauliflower, spirulina, chlorella, green papaya extract, blackberry, celery powder, black radish, apricot, green tea extract, and apple pectin you also realize that it’s totally worth gagging down 8 pills in one sitting!

Vitamin C: 530 mg. I buy Ester C Plus which also has added pycnogenol, rutin, bioflavonoids, Quercetin, Echinacea root, and beta-carotene. Vit-C can help regulate luteal phase defects, which I apparently now suffer from. It also is somehow important for follicle growth and, once you’re pregnant, to nurture the corpus luteum. In men, Vit-C helps improve sperm count and motility. While Jake has no male-factor IF problems, added Vit-C isn’t going to harm his sperm, either. Like anything, of course, too much Vit-C can be bad. But if you use some common sense and don’t, say, down an entire bottle in a week, then Vit-C can have some real fertility benefits.

DHEA: I take two 25-mg. pills once a day. DHEA helps a woman’s egg health by converting itself into testosterone (say whaaa?!), which somehow helps chicks like me who have DOR. I don’t claim to understand how this works. In addition, DHEA is purported to help lower the m/c risk.

Co-Q10: One 400-mg. pill twice a day for me; one 100-mg daily for Jake. Co-Q10 is to male and female fertility what peanut butter is to jelly, what dog is to bark, what… okay, you get it. Co-Q10 is actually an antioxidant that reduces free radicals in your body. It is great for helping with egg quality and sperm motility. To really let your body absorb the Co-Q10, you’ll want to buy the ubiquinol  version to get the most benefits and not the more commonly sold ubiquinone form. Dosage is important too: the 800 mg that I currently take is obviously more expensive to buy, but to take only 100 or 200 mg as a female is basically a waste of your money.

Vitamin D: 5,000 iu daily.  I buy this Vitamin D. I add Vitamin D because I have had my levels tested by my primary doc every four months and they were always low. I added Vit-D to my regimen in January and my latest blood work levels all came back within the normal range. Low Vit-D levels are very common for vegetarians, so my reasons for adding it isn’t related at all to my fertility cocktail. From what I’ve read, something like 40% of women have low Vit-D levels. If you live somewhere nice and sunny, then your levels probably aren’t as low as those of us who suffer through dark, unsunny winters.

In the fertility world, Vit-D does something I don’t fully understand with receptor binding that helps with estrogen production in women and testosterone in men. It also affects uterine lining for pre-embryo implantation. In men, Vit-D helps develop sperm cell nuclei and helps maintain semen quality and sperm count.

Fish Oil: Grrrrr….okay, in my defense, the only reason I’m taking fish oils right now instead of my more preferable flaxseed oil tabs (see vegetarianism blurb above; I heart my pet fish) is because Jake bought a big expensive bottle of fish oils that have been sitting in the pantry and will expire soon, and I can’t stand the idea of wasting all that money. Once the fish oil bottle is gone though, it’s back to flaxseed oil for me! If you geek out on things like metabolic enzymes that convert omega-3s and types of amino acid sources (yawn), you can read up on the differences between fish and flax oils online and how taking them helps with fertility. As for me, well my brain hurt just typing about it.

Low dose aspirin: One 81 mg./day. I started baby aspirin with Dr. C’s blessing during my FET but I wish I’d done it much sooner. It’s not a vitamin, but I’ve read up on BA therapy for IF and decided that the pros outweighed the cons and that I’d stick with it long-term. The last thing I need are blood clots to impede with trying to get pregnant. Plus, BA helps reduce inflammation (important for us endo sufferers), improves blood flow to the uterus, can help thicken uterine lining, and can really help with implantation and in the first trimester in general. I’m considering having another laparoscopic endometriosis cleanup surgery done soon, and, if I do, I’ll need to stop the BA before my surgery. But until then, I’ll stick with the BA because it has so many benefits.

L-Arginine: One 700-mg. daily. L-Arginine is an amino acid that has a ton of fertility benefits: It increases sperm quality, increases protein levels for vegetarians, when used in IVF can assist with poor responders (that’s me!), aids in making cervical mucous, and increases blood circulation to the uterus and ovaries. Jake and I are both taking this one in the same dosages.

That ends my list. I hope that, over time, all these added vitamins and amino acids and supplements will help with getting pregnant naturally. There are no more IVFs in our near future (that’s a post for another day), so all I can do is look for alternatives to medical intervention. That, and pray. Like the title to this post, there’s been a lot of praying going on lately. I hope that this list can help someone else who’s in the same boat as me. Anyone with some fertility vitamin success stories, please post them below!

Peace 🙂