Two Years and Counting

April 30, 2008, 1:57 pm
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As of today, I’ll be consuming copious amounts of herbs in pill form each day for a month. I gave in and decided to try the herbal route as well as the acupuncture route. I figured today would be the day Dr. I. would talk to me about the herbs. I guess she didn’t want to start me off with too much too early, which may be why she didn’t mention them for last cycle. She said she’s had women get pregnant just using the herbs, so I figured what the heck. They do add a little bit of $ to my total bill each week, but they’re still less than any meds the RE would put me on. Plus, they’re natural, “organic” versions of those meds. There are four phases of the herbs. I take five pills twice a day (that’s 10 pills!) today through Saturday, then Sunday I’ll start phase two. That’ll be four pills twice a day, for a week. We didn’t talk about phase three and four.

Have any of you tried herbal medicine for IF? I’d love to hear any stories from anyone who has used herbs.

I did call my RE to let her (or her nurses, since I never actually talk to her) know I’m taking the herbs. I figure it’s good to let them in on what extra things I’m doing.

I’m trying really hard not to look too far into the future. I keep feeling like I need to nail down in my head what our current plan is, how long we’ll do acupuncture, if and when we’ll do another IUI, and if not, what we’ll do next, what Dr. H. will tell us in our appointment on the 12th, etc. But worrying about all that will do nothing. Nothing. It won’t get me pg any faster, it won’t make anything happen any differently than it’s already going to happen. This whole journey has been such a lesson in letting go of control…and I don’t know how well I’m doing in this lesson.


April 28, 2008, 10:36 am
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Today is CD 2 for me. I started my period yesterday. (It didn’t flaw the wonderful weekend at the beach however, except for wicked cramps yesterday.) The longer luteal phase plan didn’t work out like Dr. I wanted it to, but she has another couple of months to see if she can get that worked out. Our plan is to stick with the acupuncture for the next two months and skip the ART doctors. M and I do have an appointment with our main doctor, Dr H, in mid-May to reevaluate and see what she thinks our next steps should be. I’ll let her know that we’re sitting on the sidelines for a little while and may or may not jump back in the game with her. My sincere prayer is that God allows us to conceive while we’re “on a break” (keeping with the acup though) thus allowing us to get pregnant without meds or IVF. That’s where I am right now, and I pray he’ll honor that.

April 24, 2008, 2:08 pm
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I had another appt with the acupuncturist yesterday. I told her about already having felt my tell-tale cramps that always signify my impending period, and I showed her my screwy chart. She wasn’t too happy with it, as I knew she wouldn’t be. Her idea was to get my temperatures to stay relatively stable—and high—during my LP. Previously, they’d made the jump up after ovulation, but they kind of see-sawed up and down in the high temp range. She wanted a big jump, and then a fairly steady line. She put the needles in places that would help stimulate the kidney yang—which in eastern medicine is similar to the progesterone in western medicine that keeps your temp up in the LP. Since this has been my first cycle with acup, we both were interested in seeing if my LP looked different this time. Nope. It’s gone up, down, up, down. The “down” temperatures have still been higher than my follicular phase (above the “coverline”), but they haven’t stayed stable. She took one look at the chart and said, “Wah.” She said it could be worse, but definitely could be better. I was sort of hoping for a, “Oh, look at this, and this—definitely shows you could be pregnant!” However, she didn’t say, “Oh well, better luck next time,” which I was thankful for. She just said we’d wait and see.

Yesterday morning, my temp jumped back up to 98.4, and today, I did notice that it was higher than it’s ever been—ironically, it was 98.6—isn’t that what a human’s normal body temperature is supposed to be? Maybe the acup did something good yesterday. But the high temps only matter if there’s actually an embryo in there. I’m telling myself that judging by this cycle’s history, I could very well be back at 97.9 tomorrow, and to not get too attached to that high temp. Oh, how life is dictated by my purple plastic thermometer!

We’re leaving for the beach tomorrow at noon. Oh, remember how I said one of my two week wait distractions would by my Thursday night tv shows? Well, our lovely satellite tv decided to go out this week (last Friday, actually) and the people didn’t have an opening to come check it out until Monday! So we’ve been tv-less all week…which has actually been really nice. I’ve gotten to work every day this week much earlier than I usually do. This whole time, I’ve just thought I’m a slow person, but it turns out that I can get ready for work pretty quickly when I’m not distracted by the Today show! But now that it’s Thursday, I’m pretty bummed I won’t be able to veg on the couch with The Office, Grey’s Anatomy, LOST, and ER tonight. I can’t be too bummed though, because I think we can watch these shows online, so that’s very nice…except for the commercials we won’t be able to fast forward through! (It sounds like I watch a whole lot of tv…but really, all my tv takes place on Thursday night. I don’t regularly watch anything else.)

Hope you all have a good weekend.

Where I am today
April 21, 2008, 3:35 pm
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Admittedly, today has become a bit of a downer. I’ve had cramps today, exactly one week prior to my period’s estimated time of arrival, if it arrives this cycle—and I’m now convinced it’ll come…yet, I’m still sitting here eating this darn pineapple. I guess it’s hard to totally give up on hope.

It’s easy to spout things like, “The timing’s just not right, there’s a reason for everything, it’s just not God’s best for us right now, etc” when there’s a chance I could be pg…but I find it harder to take comfort in those things when I find myself at the same place in my cycle that I was last month…and the previous 15 months. But I have no choice but to keep telling myself those truths. I have nothing else but that.

I’ve gone through a range of emotions on this ride, but what I feel today is anger. I know several people pregnant with their third child right now, all within just a few years of my own age. In my selfish, untrusting, “just let me get this off my chest” moments, I get angry that God decided, for whatever reason, that we won’t get pregnant easily, and that I’ll be literally surrounded by glowing pregnant women everywhere I go: walking through the neighborhood, at work, at church, at community group, having dinner with friends. I’ll never claim to understand the mind of God, but this one thing has me so stumped. I know we would be—we will be—wonderful parents. I don’t know why God won’t let us get a start on that chapter of our lives.

It feels good to get that off my chest.

God and Acupuncture
April 18, 2008, 12:52 pm
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Eating 3-4 slices of pineapple twice a day has proved impossible for me. That’s a lot of pineapple! I ran by the store and picked up 6 slices of fresh pineapple as a trial run, to see how I like it. I can get it down, but it’s not pleasant. I have a thing about foods with strange textures, and for some reason, pineapple bothers me. That and it’s just too sweet for me. I’m all for sweet stuff, but pineapple is a bit much. So far, I’ve eaten one slice, which is probably equal to one cup, each night. And I tried to eat the core, which is where most of the bromelain is supposed to be concentrated, but it tastes like what I’d imagine a tuft of really tough grass would taste like!

I’ve also had the no dairy thing in the back of my mind and have tried to cut down on that. I’ve accepted that I won’t be able to cut it out completely, and honestly, I don’t think it’s necessary. There are a lot of good and healthy food plans out there, and I don’t know many that tell you to skip dairy altogether. I can cut back on it, skip the ice cream, not eat as much cheese, and start drinking something else for dinner sometimes, but I’ll keep it around. I enjoy it too much.

As for the exercise, I’m still a little stumped. I’ve just walked this week with M and our dog. I think I’m going to call the clinic and ask a nurse there what she thinks. I don’t want to secondguess Dr. I (the acupuncturist), but I feel like I may need to take some of what she says with a grain of salt. Maybe not such much for exercise (she does have a point when she said when you do weights, you’re compressing everything in your abdominal area, and you don’t want to compress that area when a follicle is trying to grow) but maybe some of the more general health things. She’s more of a holistic, alternative-health type doctor, and while she truly has cleared the way for many women to get pregnant who otherwise had had no luck (and what I’m hoping she’ll do for us), I don’t know if I need to follow ALL of her health advice. For example, will skipping dairy help me get pregnant, or does that have to do with her idea of what everyone needs for good overall health? Am I supposed to eat warm foods in order to more easily get pregnant, or is that just an overall health thing, and something that will keep me from being so cold?

Those overall health things sound good (afterall, I’d like to not get cold so easily!) but right now my focus is on getting pregnant, and also staying as healthy as possible…within a certain comfort zone.

I will note this one thing about acupuncture. Other than the obvious larger than usual follicle and thicker lining, I’ve noticed a bit of a change in my mood…I think. It’s hard to tell, really. I’ve just noticed that I’ve felt generally lighter and less encumbered these last few weeks. M has even commented on it. Now, I’ve been praying a lot about my acceptance of things that are out of my control, and I definitely don’t want to overlook God answering my prayers. Maybe it’s a combinaton of both God and acupuncture. That would be an interesting book title!

Distract Me
April 17, 2008, 3:41 pm
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My Distractions During This Two-Week Wait:

1. I’m feverishly working through And Then We Came to the End, a book about the culture of an ad agency in Chicago. The author must have worked in an office setting prior to becoming an author, because his observations about life in t he office are so accurate. He’s even mentioned things, small things like everyone saying “Thank you” at the end of a meeting, that made me realize there actually are other offices that are as strange as mine is.
2. M and I are walking our dog most days after work. I’m not really sure what I’m allowed to do as far as exercise, but I can’t cut out walking. I mean, women all through history have gotten and stayed pregnant while continuing to work in the fields, the kitchen, the house, factory, etc. Surely walking my dog isn’t too strenuous of an activity.
3. Tonight is the next NEW episode of The Office and ER. I think tonight’s episode of The Office will be better than last week. While funny, I can only stomach so much of Jan’s psychosis and Michael’s inability to stand up to her. Tonight they’re back in the actual office, which is where most of the hilarity happens anyway. As for ER, I’m mystified as to why I watch this incredibly depressing show. I think it’s just a matter of loyalty. I’ve been watching it since 11th grade and I feel like I know these characters (the ones who’ve been around a while, anyway) and the actual ER so well, I have to see how it all plays out. I can’t quit this close to the end.
4. I think we’re going to our nephew’s first tee-ball game Friday night. Nothing like watching little tots swinging at tee-balls and running the wrong way around the bases.
5. This weekend is planting time. We’ve waited as long as we can to make sure there are no more cold snaps, and I think we had our last one last weekend. We need to plant annuals in our front porch containers and window boxes. It’s always fun for me to pick out spring flowers. The temperature Sunday is supposed to be 80°, so that’ll be wonderful!
6. Next week, LOST comes back on Thursday nights, as does Grey’s Anatomy. I don’t watch a ton of tv, but I always look forward to Thursday nights, especially now that the darn writers’ strike is over.
7. Last but not least, we’re headed to the beach next Friday at noon. A little slice of paradise for the weekend. If I start my period around 11 or 12 days after ovulation like I usually do, I’ll start while at the beach, so at least I’ll have sunshine and water to soften the blow.

I’ll Be Picking up Pineapple on the Way Home
April 16, 2008, 3:31 pm
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I haven’t picked up The Infertility Cure in a few weeks, but I remember that there was a fairly sizable section on what foods to eat and avoid when you’re dealing with IF and using TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). I was curious as to why Dr. I. hadn’t prescribed any certain foods for me to eat or stay away from, other than the yams I was supposed to eat prior to ovulation (which, I admit, I didn’t eat.) I guess that was because I was still in my follicular phase, and apparently luteal phase is more important. She definitely gave me the food restrictions today!

First things first, I had the IUI yesterday. It took the shortest amount of time of all of the IUIs. My appointment was at 1:00, and I was back in my chair at work at 1:39! How about that! Dr. H, my assigned doctor there, actually did the procedure. M’s post-wash sperm count was 13 million, which we were happy about. Since we didn’t think we’d be having the IUI this week (or at all) we hadn’t abstained for the usual three days, so we actually figured the number would be a bit lower than that. The procedure took all of about 15 seconds, then I was left to read my book for about 20 minutes. That, and silently will those swimmers to reach their destination and get nice and comfortable. No cramping last night, which was nice.

Today I had my third acupuncture appointment. Boy, did I hve a lot to fill her in on. She was flabbergasted by my up and down chart, and the fact that we did the IUI yesterday, rather than last week like we figured it’d be. I asked her if there was any correlation between my first cycle acupuncture and the first cycle that was out of the ballpark weird, with very late ovulation. She said she didn’t know for sure, but that the acup. could definitely be responsible for the larger than usual follicle and the extra thick and triple-layered endometrial lining. I told her this was the first time the nurse actually commented that my lining was triple-layered, so I don’t know if it was ever triple-layered before. Dr. I said that’s what you want just prior to ovulation.

So, onto the food restrictions. She said I need to eat two slices of pineapple three to four times a day. I can probably swing eating a little pineapple, although I don’t particularly like it. It apparently has an enzyme called bromelain, which is supposed to somehow aid in implantation. Has anyone ever heard of or tried this? From what I’ve read on the internet, it sounds like the pineapple core is where the bromelain is. And we all know you should trust everything you read online! 😉 The internet also has answers ranging from “Yes, I ate it twice a day and got pregnant!” to “No, it doesn’t help anything, if an embryo is viable it’s going to implant regardless of what fruit you eat.” I don’t know what to think about it all.

She also said I should not eat dairy. Now, this is a problem for me. I consume a fair amount of milk and cheese, and I love them both. I’m not completely clear on the problem with dairy, so I’ll read back in the book to check on that. She did say that this is for the whole cycle, not just in the luteal phase. I could try to scale back the dairy consumption, but I’m not sure if I can cut it out completely.

She told me to consume warm foods and drinks. Fruit should be room temperature, water shouldn’t be cold, and no ice. She said this is because I have a kidney and spleen deficiency which makes me cold a lot of the time. This is true. I can’t tell if this is for general health, or if it’ll actually help with getting pregnant. I’m sure there are things that are good for overall health, but for right now, I’m pretty much concerned with what’ll help me get pregnant. I know that sounds narrow-minded. I do want to be healthy overall, and I’ll take steps towards that goal, but I’m just not sure if I can completely cut out dairy and cold things. I will try though.

Another problem for me is my size/weight. And I know many of you will gag as I say this, but it is an issue for me, so I will spell it out. I’m a thin person. I’ve tried to gain weight over the last year, in the hopes that it would help me in the getting pregnant department and make me more, I don’t know, suited for pregnancy, I guess. I started going to B.ody P.ump at the Y twice a week, which I love (it’s a weights class, not aerobics, and I wanted it to help me gain muscle, which it has) and I started incorporating some whole milk dairy products—or at least some with a bit more fat. I use 1% milk sometimes instead of fat-free, and buy whole milk ice cream instead of low fat. (As a side note, it is my opinion that Breyers makes the best vanilla yogurt. It only has about five ingredients, and they’re all natural. No xanthan gum or anything else that is made in a laboratory.) I also try to eat more regularly throughout the day. The only other exercise I do is walking—not power walking, per se, but not just a stroll either. Over the past year, my weight has stayed exactly the same. I don’t know if the exercise I do is canceling out the extra calories, or what. But the strange thing is, when I lay off the exercise (thinking I’ll try consuming the extra calories without the exercise burning them off), I actually lose weight! I’m completely backwards, I tell you.

So, I’m at a loss. I try to eat some dairy foods with a bit more fat, but Dr. I says I need to avoid dairy. She says I’m thin and could stand to gain a bit of weight, but she tells me to lay off the B.ody P.ump (until I get pregnant and have a child) and “saunter” instead of fast walking. I feel like I have a pretty good grip on healthy eating habits, what to consume and do if you need to gain weight, but a) it doesn’t seem to work on me, and b) it doesn’t help in the getting pregnant department.

I asked her if she had any recommendations as far as what I can eat to try to gain weight. She said carbs are ok—pasta, potatoes, sweet potatoes. I’ll stick to my oatmeal in the morning. I’ll try to eat some nuts or something as a mid morning snack. She said to eat soups (they’re warm), so I can do those for lunch, or leftovers from dinner the night before. My dinners are fine—we eat healthy and obviously the food is warm, so I’m ok there. I’ll have to skip my ice cream and nutella after dinner though.

There are a few things about this cycle that are different than previous cycles (aside from the obvious late ovulation), and I can’t help but think that maybe they mean this cycle has a better chance of working. Like Dr. I said, we’d like for me to have a 14 day luteal phase, but hopefully it’ll just keep going on and on and all these instructions will be a moot point because I’ll be pg. That’d be best case scenario, but I’m not holding on to that thought tightly.

I did ask her if she sees many IF patients, and if many of them get pg. She said she sees lots of IF patients, and just recently, she had four patients all get pregnant in the same month, one with a single pregnancy, one with twins, one with triplets, and one with quads! That made me ask her about the incidence of multiples. I said I was glad I was still in the realm of a single pregnancy, not being on meds and doing IUI instead of IVF. She surprised me by saying she finds that more multiples are born to women having IUIs than IVF. (Those IUI women are on meds, however.) The reason is that when you stimulate the ovaries through meds, then do an IUI, which gives you a chance of fertilizing everything in there, it’s easier to end up with multiples. With IVF, doctors and patients can decide how many eggs to fertlilize and/or how many embryos to transfer, so you know what you’re getting. At my clinic, the doctors have a policy to rarely transfer more than two, in order to make it safer for the mother and babies.

This had never crossed my mind—that there’s a large chance of multiples on IUI + meds. It makes sense to me now, and honestly, makes me even more wary of going the IUI + meds route (which is what I think they’ll suggest next time we go back to talk to the doctor in May, if this cycle doesn’t work out.) If I ever decide I’m ok (personally, not in general or for other people) with IVF, I know for a fact that we will only fertilize two eggs. I will not allow a possibility of triplets or more for me. Given my size, I don’t think it’d be healthy for the babies or me. I’d be ok with twins, but God willing, I’ll just take one at a time!