Summer Blog Break

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Hello, blog friends!  Today I realized that it’s been a whole month since I last posted on here.  Aaaaand, let’s be real: it’s summer. the weather’s great. the sunshine is currently slaughtering months’ worth of Seasonal Affective Disorder’s influence on my brain. I’m outside doing things every day.  Bemoaning Blogging about fertility stuff just isn’t on my radar.  I’ve completely dropped off posting (although not stalking… never stop stalking) my other social media feeds.  So it’s fitting that I take a break from the blogosphere as well.

Besides, I really have nothing new going on in Fertility Land.  Jake and I just had our 7-year TTC anniversary—or whatever you want to term it—last month.   We’re currently in negotiations about doing another stim cycle.  “Negotiations” essentially involve me convincing Jake to agree to another IVF.  Buuuut, we’re also in the process of preparing to buy a new house, so I kind of have to decide if I want a house or a baby more at the moment.  It’s a tough call because both would be stellar, but neither are free.  Well, baby making should be free…

Anyway, unless something radically awesome (or awful) related to fertility/infertility happens in the next eight-ish weeks, I’ve decided to step away from this space til after Labor Day.

Cheers to sunshine, flip-flops, and (vegetarian) BBQs!

 

 

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Clearblue Fertility Monitor Review

As promised, here’s the skinny after wrapping up my first cycle of using my new (well, new-to-me) Clearblue Fertility Monitor.


Background

A fertility monitor is more advanced than ovulation prediction kits.  A FM measures and compares both luteinizing hormone and estrogen, as opposed to strictly an LH surge. The FM is also more sensitive and accurate.  And, a bonus for me—there’s no test/control lines to squint and analyze. Huzzah!

Using a fertility monitor is easy enough (although I still recommend reading the entire instruction booklet. Considering the financial investment of the monitor, you’d better believe I read that booklet cover to cover!).  You simply power the monitor on first thing every morning of your cycle to determine two things: 1. Whether the FM wants to be fed a test stick; and 2. Whether your personal fertility chances that day are low, medium, or high.  You POAS (must be FMU), insert the cleanly capped stick into the FM, and wait five minutes.  The display then shows one of the following:

  • 1 bar = low fertility.
  • 2 bars = medium fertility.
  • 3 bars = high (“peak”) fertility, replete with a pic of a tiny egg.

If your cycle ends in a BFN, pressing the monitor’s only button (aside from the power button), tells it that a new menstrual cycle has begun, and the whole process repeats.


First Use

A FM learns your individual cycle over time. I hope this means that it requires less test sticks over time too, because I went through ten of those suckers this cycle alone ($)!

After receiving my monitor in the mail and giving it a thorough cleaning, I reset its internal computer, which you should do when buying a used one.  A reset means it knew nothing about my cycles, and we started out our very intimate relationship as strangers.  The FM asked for its first test stick on CD6 and required daily testing until it was finally satisfied on CD16.

The FM provides not one but two days of high or “peak” fertility. Unlike OPKs, the positive window for the first peak day lasts 24 – 36 hours (as opposed to 12 – 48 hours for OPKs).  I liked this narrower window because it really helped me to pinpoint the exact day I was the most fertile.


Convenience

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The actual fertility monitor. 

Clearblue’s fertility monitor is palm-sized and discreet.  There’s no wording or other markings on the monitor itself that could give away its function to someone who stumbles upon it.  This makes me feel comfortable traveling with it or leaving it in the cabinet when guests use my home restroom.  However, I have an older model; the newer monitor pics I found online look very different than my monitor, pictured above.  The monitor could also easily slip into my pants pocket or purse, if needed.

And, as mentioned above, the most convenient part is not having to interpret test lines!


Fertility Monitor vs. Ovulation Prediction Kit

Eventually, I may reach to the place where I replace my OPKs with the FM.  That said, I took no chances and still used Wondfo OPKs my first cycle.

I began OPK testing on CD10 and received a positive on CD11.  Conversely, the monitor begin testing on CD6 and gave me the first of two positives on CD12. Clearly, one was wrong.  But which?  I wonder—absent blood tests and a few dates with an RE—how to know.  I wish I’d bought this monitor during my days of visiting infertility docs, as it would’ve been handy to know which test was right!  One day’s difference might not sound like a big deal to an outsider, but, since the ovulated egg is only solidly good for twelve hours, that one day can make or break a cycle.

To be safe—and much to Jake’s delight—-we took no chances and TTC’ed on CD9, 10, 11, 12, 14, and 15.


Consensus

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Clearblue advises that you not interpret your results based on the test lines.  But I still do anyway, because I’m fanatic like that. 

Being that I’m gearing up for cycle number two, the monitor failed in that I didn’t get pregnant.  It’s not entirely the monitor’s fault though: all it can do is advise me the best day to have sex.  It’s no miracle worker.

I completely forgot to reset my monitor on CD1 this month, mostly because I stowed the thing away weeks ago and am not yet in the habit of resetting it monthly.  However, if you’re forgetful like me, there’s a way to override the FM’s computer and catch it up to your current cycle day.  Good work, Clearblue, for making an option ‘B’ for women like me who space out on these kinds of things!

VERDICT:  I think I’ll keep using the monitor for the next few months.  When/if I: (a) stop TTC, (b) get tired of buying test sticks, or (c) get pregnant, I’ll either resell it online or give it away.

Overall rating: A.

Circle + Bloom Giveaway

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Nearly three years ago I purchased Circle + Bloom’s IVF/IU Mind-Body Program meditation set, which is a 4-CD set of meditations for women going through ART.  As it turns out, C+B accidentally included two disc “1’s” in my order.  When I wrote to notify the company of the error, C+B generously sent me another full CD set as a replacement—not just a replacement disk, but the entire set!

Now I have two (well, 1.75) once-used C+B sets collecting dust on my bookshelf.  Since I spent good money on them—and since I now regret my very secular purchase of something I disagree with on a spiritual level (meditation)—it’s time to re-home these babies.

Which brings me to this post.  I’m going to give away both sets to two people who can use them.  Each set is valued at $59USD.  Now, I haven’t opened the disk cases in quite awhile, so I can’t say for certain who will get the set with two disc-ones, but, hey—it’s free!  All I ask is that you are someone who currently follows my blog or I follow yours.  If you blog anonymously and enter the giveaway, I promise promise promise not to reveal your identity EVER.  Because #1 that’s totally uncool, and #2: then you’ll know my identity too—leverage!

So, hey: If you’re down for possibly scoring a free C+B meditation set, submit the form below.  I’ll draw two random winners on June 1, 2018 and mail the set to you.

Peace.

 

Liebster Award Entry

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I don’t know whether these blog awards are real or not, but, seriously, who really cares if there’s an actual award waiting on the other side?  It’s always a fun honor just to be nominated.

My beautiful friend AKL over at Baby Wanted: an IVF journey has nominated me for a Liebster Award.  AKL is one of the realest, funniest, and sweetest bloggers I’ve met since I began blogging.  Please check out her reads!  Thanks, AKL for the ‘nom and for writing such kind words about me!  I’m so glad we’ve connected.

HERE’S THE RULES:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and link to their post.
  • Answer the 11 questions they asked you.
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers, with your own set of questions.
  • Tag your chosen 11 bloggers, and don’t forget to tell them as well!

 

These are my answers to AKL’s questions:

1. When did you start blogging?

March 2015.

2. Why did you start your blog?

Jake and I were having a tough time getting pregnant, and I felt so alone in trying.  I had no clue there were places online for people like me until I discovered fertility blogs.  I’ve always expressed myself best through writing—although I don’t claim to be particularly stellar at it—so blogging sounded very healing.  It was also the desire of my heart to help other women in this sojourn and hopefully be a source of encouragement.

3. What do you do for your day job?

Paralegal by day, ninja by night.

4. Where are you located (city, country)?

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

5. What has been your biggest regret in your life? 

There is no scenario in which I’d ever answer this question honestly.

6. What has been your greatest achievement? 

Graduating from college.  I don’t come from college people.  Growing up, there was zero expectation of ever attending college.

But because I lived fully on my own by age 18, I qualified for some program where the state paid my tuition; that got me through some college.  Later, through God’s provision via the generosity of a well-off in-law, I was able to complete my degree.  It took 8 years to get a 4-year degree, but I’m immensely grateful just to have finished.  It was only through the Lord’s sovereign arrangements that college happened for me.

7. What advice would you give to your 18 year old self? 

Don’t be so angry, don’t be so independent, don’t be so protective of your heart in that suit of armor you wear with spikes on the outside and ice on the inside.  Your decisions in life matter, YOU matter.  Things aren’t gonna stay this way forever, hun—this too shall pass.

8. Do you have a special or unusual skill that perhaps people don’t know about ? (I can sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in Japanese)

I can sense when a cop is about to drive past.  Seriously!  I’ll just be walking down the road and I’ll think to myself, “A cop is going to drive by.” Like clockwork, one immediately does.  Craziest thing, this is.  But also useful. 😉

9. Where is your favorite city to visit?

My own—there’s always something going on in Philly.

10. How do you motivate yourself?

Whatever needs doing, I simply DO IT.  Doesn’t matter if I feel like doing it (I usually don’t) or if it can technically wait until tomorrow (it usually can).  Through God’s grace I have been given a strong sense of personal responsibility.  I’m tough, I have a can-do mentality, and am steadfast in whatever I put my mind to.  The simple act of starting something is all the motivation I need to finish it.

11. What do you hope for most in 2018?

It would be cliche to say a baby because, well, this blog….

In 2018 I most want RESTORATION: in my life, in my marriage, for my family, my health, my relationship with God.  In whatever form that happens, as long as it’s moving toward restoration then it’s headed in the right direction.

In no particular order, my nominated 11 bloggers are:

Delayed But Not Denied – Because my real-life friend seriously needs to get back to blogging.

Ditch the Bun – Infertility warrior cleverly disguised as a librarian.

In Pursuit of a Family – Because you always write such beautiful posts.

Be Realistic: Plan for a Miracle – Because you sojourn alongside me… from across the pond!

The Sky and Back – Because I miss your blogging.

Bloomin’ Uterus – *Only* the best endometriosis blog on the planet.

Dubliner in Deutschland – Overcoming infertility in a land far from home.

GeeksTravelingInJapan – Also battling infertility in a land far from home.

Woman With Endometriosis – Endo awareness proponent.

Hoping to be More Than a Dog Mom – From one dog mama to another.

Tales of a 30 Year Old Nothing – Because she’s real, relatable, and hilarious.

 

My 11 questions to the above bloggers:

1. Imagine that the blogosphere suddenly disappears—for whatever reason. What do you do?

2. What characteristic do you not possess at all?

3. Why did the chicken cross the road?

4. How do you face critical problems?

5. One thing about yourself of which you are most proud?

6. The happiest moment of your life?

7. A word which you hate to use?

8. What is your dream job?

9. What villainous character do you most admire, and why?

10. Item on your bucket list that you would be MOST upset if you didn’t accomplish.

11. If you could have lunch with any famous person, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you order?

 

 

 

 

Mug Exchange

This year I participated in my third TTC mug exchange (a monumental effort seamlessly executed by fellow blogger Chelsea at Trials Bring Joy).  Each year I’ve been matched with a wonderful partner: women who are kind, gracious, hope-filled, and who—unfortunately—emphasize with this sojourn called infertility.

This year’s mug exchange was no different.  This year I was matched with a lovely mug partner who lives in a neighboring state. While our routes to mamahood are taking different paths and our medical diagnoses are very different, we still walk side-by-side dealing with the same struggle.  Although she’s not a blogger so I can’t link to her site, I hope that she’ll take it up as an outlet and a means to connect with other IF women.

I was so blessed to come home yesterday after being away all weekend to find this package awaiting me!

I got a handmade mug, pineapple socks, a 60-day devotional written by fellow blogger Caroline (In Due Time), and a huge book of fertility facts.

Now I regret not posting pics of the last two years’ mug exchange; but trust me, they were just as good.

The women who make up the online infertility community never cease to amaze me.  There is strength in numbers. 

Ecc. 4:9-10.

The Slow Demise of an Infertility Blog

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My 2017 New Year’s resolution to step up my blogging started off with a genuine burst of determination. Then—carrying on the tradition of 90% of New Year’s resolutions—it plummeted before winter had even ended. Now I think that my blog is growing stale, sitting stagnant, full of crickets, or any other euphemism that fits the bill. I begin drafting posts only to have them linger, eternally unfinished.

Mostly I’m unsure about what to write. I’m not in the throes of treatment, nor am I pursuing adoption or surrogacy. It’s just the same old “natural” TTC (for lack of a better term) over here at Marixsa’s crib. No major updates to report. We’re closer to our dream only in the passage of time.

I’m still on the bandwagon—or perhaps it’s a roller coaster—of teas and supplements, OPKs and basal body temping, timed intercourse and pineapple cores, ad nauseam (also known as the stuff that I gleefully gave up for most of April and May, though in vain).  I just cannot seem to stop: well, either can’t or won’t. I’m a creature of habit, and these small tasks and meager efforts have been my habits for so many years that they’ve become like my friends. Or maybe they’re not all that friendly after all… I’ll settle for frienemies.

None of those things is worthy of its own blog post. And, aside from February’s surgery, the only real noteworthy TTC changes I’ve made this year have been:

  • Switching to half-caff coffee.
  • Adding serrapeptase to my supplement regimen.
  • Limiting alcohol to one 5-oz. glass of wine 2 days a week… three days if things get stress-y.
  • Convincing Jake to add DHEA to his supplements.
  • I’m looking into adding maca root for both Jake and I.  I read (mostly) good things about it. It may or may not screw with my thyroid though, so I’m still uncommitted.
  • I’m also investigating adding wheatgrass powder for me. It’s so hard to know what’s just a fad and what’s for real when it comes to supplements touted to help fertility. I’ll be stalking online forums and perusing scientific studies before deciding to sink big bucks into yet another supplement.

Does all this give an idea of where my lack of blogging is coming from? Or are you totally snoozing yet?

So, I soldier on. I pray and trust the Lord for a pregnancy in His perfect timing, which lately has been taking a greater priority over anything I can do on my own for a pregnancy. I drink my teas, swallow my pills, live as healthily as possible, and—much to her delight—keep pestering my doctor about my mystery bleeding. I continue living my life as fully as possible, loving those around me, growing and learning and laughing.

What else is a girl to do?

As for pestering my doc about the mystery bleeding, update to follow in a few weeks on that. Having a biopsy next week and completely unsure where we’ll go from there.

Peace to you all. ❤