Sunday, April 24, 2011

Meet my new best friend...

(If you're coming from ICLW, you can click here for my welcome post and to learn a little bit more about me and my "issues." Thanks so much for visiting!)

Drumroll please.....

TA-DAAAAAAAAAAAAH! *cue trumpets*

MAN did I have a crazy Easter Sunday. Was single-handedly coordinating an Easter egg hunt for about 500 kids complete with 10 staff to place and direct, donut giveaways, crafts and a cowboy-boot wearing Easter bunny. Top it off with an absolute deluge of rain ALL DAY and the afore-mentioned egg hunts being moved inside to a long and narrow corridor...yeah, it was quite a day.

I got home and found out the family Easter dinner had been postponed until next week due to the weather (most of us have to drive at least and hour to get there).

Due to the f**king gophers under our house, we have no hot water. What we have instead is warm water. I am a bath person, and I was so achy and exhausted after all day on my feet that I decided I would fill up the bathtub as far as it would go with warm water, and then boil pots of water on the stove so I could have my bath. Mr. M. graciously helped with this. As I was hugging him thank-you, I let out a yelp. My boobs were tender.

"Maybe I'm ovulating," I joked somewhat bitterly, too used to an empty circle on the test to really hope.

"Have you peed on a stick today?" he asked.

One flush and five minutes later, I approached the OPK with fingers doubly crossed (and yes I literally doubly crossed my fingers)...

...and saw my first smiley face!

After the ear-splitting shrieks, happy tears, jumping up and down and mandatory call to my mother, I climbed into my warm, full bath and gave thanks.

I ovulated! The chemo didn't kill my ovaries after all! And I those signs I was wondering if I was imagining (cramping, sore boobs) were REAL!

"I don't know what to say," Mr. M. said, grinning.

"You can say 'Bow chica wah wah,'because that's what's happening in this house later!" I replied. *winkwinknudgenudge*

So. Excited. I know it's a small victory, but it's a victory nonetheless.

All right, off to leave some comments for ICLW!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Why hello ICLWers!

I just barely squeaked through the deadline to sign up for April's ICLW, and I'm glad I did!

About me:
I'm a cancer survivor - I had Hodgkin's Lymphoma at the age of 17. My treatment was pretty easy compared to what some cancer patients had to endure. I married my husband, Mr. M., in November of 2006 and we decided to have kids after about five years of marriage.

At my yearly OBGYN checkup (4.5 years of marriage later) this winter, I asked about my cancer treatments causing infertility problems. I was sent for some tests and got the phone call no woman wants to get - bad news. I was diagnosed with high FSH before we had even started TTC.

It was shocking and more than a bit disheartening to know BEFORE the fact that we have a rough road ahead of us.

My OBGYN referred me to a high FSH-friendly RE in my area, who unfortunately didn't have an open appointment until June 16. So now, we wait. In the meantime I am buying fertility books like a madwoman and trying as hard as I can to increase my fertility naturally. I have given up caffeine, alcohol and the hot baths I love, as well as running and exercising vigorously. I've started the S.outh B.each diet and am trying my hardest to keep those high glycemic index carbs out of my system.

I'm still really new to this whole thing, and I very much appreciate anyone who takes the time out of their own heartbreak and stress to send a little bit of encouragement my way. I would love to join this tight-knit, supportive community of bloggers!

So thanks for stopping by!

How do I know?

Am I ovulating? How do I know?

Today is day 16 of my first birth control-free cycle, and I've been charting my BBT and doing an OPK every day. So far, no noticable drop or rise in temperature, and no smiley face on the OPK screen. :(

I have, however, been feeling kind of crampy in my lower abdomen for the past two days. Am I just imagining this? The cramps feel pretty darn real and aren't really like period cramps. Should we go ahead and do a BD even though I have no idea how long my cycle is going to be?

This is all so confusing and overwhelming. It's so strange to be doing things backwards - to KNOW that I'm going to have problems conceiving before we have even tried.

Still waiting for my smiley face...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I Quit.

Today, I quit.

Mr. M. was away at a work dinner last night, so I had the couch, the TV and the refrigerator all to myself. A dangerous combination if ever there was one.

I started off well enough. I took the puppies for a little walk, cleaned our bathroom for the plumber tomorrow (LONG story involving gophers and broken water lines) and settled on the couch with a bag of baby carrots and a jar of spinach dip. I just kept eating and eating, and before I knew it half of the bag was gone.

A little while later I decided I needed something salty and I watched in horror as a large part of a bag of Sun Chips dissappeared from under my questing fingers.

An hour later the cold pizza in the fridge was calling and even though I was full after two thin crust slices, I ate the third and last piece. By the time Mr. M. got home I was in total misery.

I know I stress eat. It's not exactly bingeing but it's not healthy for me, mentally or otherwise. Especially not with my infertility diagnosis.

So today, I quit. I quit comforting myself with food. I quit eating when I'm not hungry. I quit making little excuses to cheat. I quit reaching to food to fill the emptiness inside.

I quit failing. No more. I will do this and I will increase my fertility before we meet with our RE on June 16.

I mean it. I am Iron(wo)Man.

In other news, out of the blue I am sleeping SO well and I have no idea why. It sure as hell isn't due to lack of stress! There are so many variables in my life that have changed. Here are my theories:

1. No more birth control pills. Could the hormones have been affecting my sleep patterns somehow? I was on them for seven years and have had sleep problems off and on.
2. No more hot baths before bed. I've been either taking showers or just "warm" baths when I generally prefer my baths HOT. Maybe that was jacking up my temperature or something.
3. Low carb diet. Maybe the total lack of sugar and caffeine and the resulting lower levels of insulin in my system are making it easier for my body to turn itself off.

Who knows?

So far, I've had zero comments on this blog. Is anyone out there in the Blogosphere actually reading? I sure hope so. It doesn't feel great to be speaking to an empty room.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My First POAS

So on Friday I peed on my very first stick ever! Super exciting, I know. For some reason I had it in my head that I was supposed to do it first thing in the morning, like a pregnancy test. So I blearily stumbled to the bathroom first thing, and after a curse word-filled fight with the box and the test stick, I did it.


I put the damn stick in backwards. Note to self: next time, read instructions FIRST, then take test.

So I've been POAS (correctly) every day since then. Today is actually day 14 of my cycle, so now is when I start to get really nervous. There are so many variables. This is my first cycle since stopping my birth control pills, so I have no idea what the cycle length is going to be. Also, with my high FSH, I don't know if I will actually ovulate at all, which is nerve-wracking. So today's post-work POAS is going to be a little more nerve-wracking. And the longer I go without a smiley face, the more upset I will get.

I guess there's some part of me that is convinced that somehow, I will ovulate AND get pregnant on the very! First! Try! and I won't even have to mess with this whole thing.

It could happen. Right? Maybe? In Neverland?.......Bueller?

In other news, I lost about seven pounds during my first two weeks on the S.outh B.each diet and am fitting into clothes that I definitely did NOT fit into last summer! Since the very first strict two weeks I've been trying to stick to the more moderate program, but I keep slipping up in little ways during the day. It's frustrating to me because I KNOW that following this plan will help me become more fertile, especially if it takes some more weight off of me. Why can't I just recognize how important it is and just stick with it?

My A.mazon order and FORTY fertility sticks arrived, and along with it came a fertility yoga DVD. I had visions in my head about getting up before work every morning and doing yoga, but until we clean out our back bedroom and I can do the yoga without two "helpful" dogs in my face, I don't think it's going to happen.

Had my first experience with what it's like to have (extremely mild) morning sickness today. I tried some new prenatal vitamins that came with a DHA/EPA supplement. I took them with my fruit and yogurt smoothie and five minutes later was bolting for the work bathroom. I didn't vomit, but MAN did I feel rough. After a couple of short minutes it passed, though, for which I am grateful.

That's all for now. Here's hoping for a smiley face!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Last Blue Pill

Well, here it is, folks. The last birth control pill I will take in a very, very long time. Maybe ever.

Looks pretty innocent, doesn't it? One little tiny pill that has been (theoretically) preventing me from getting pregnant for years and years. Last Sunday was the first night in almost eight years that I didn't take a pill.

I'll admit a significant amount of bitterness about the whole thing. In college, Mr. M. and I practiced doubly safe sex - I was on the pill and we used condoms every time. I used to tremble a bit every time my period was due and think about how horrifying it would be to accidentally get pregnant while we were still young and in college.

After we were married, we quit the condoms but I kept taking my pills faithfully, determined not to get pregnant until we were "ready." After all, we were young and had all the timw in the world, right?

Only now here I am, in my late 20s and about to start trying to get pregnant. And before we have even done an birth control-free baby dance once, I am completely terrified about not being able to get pregnant. Was me early testing and diagnosis of high FSH a good thing? Will it help me to understand and make sense of any future problems? Or is it a curse on my mentality, adding to my stress and lessening the chances of getting pregnant naturally? If I hadn't known about it when we started trying, hadn't had the stress and sadness weighing on me heavily, would it have happened naturally?

I know many of you out there might be rolling your eyes at me, and I understand. I can in no way relate to those who have been trying to conceive for years; who are competent experts at giving themselves shots; who have suffered through tests and procedures that I can't bear to think of; who have cried buckets of tears and spent sleepless nights mourning the babies who didn't make it. I'm just a newby - an infertility virgin, if you will.

But I'm here, and I'm terrified.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Worse than buying condoms...

It's 6 p.m., my meeting has ended wonderfully early and the one and only thing on my mind is a cup of (skinny, decaf) coffee. I pull through the drive-through at S.tarbucks, order my caramel macchiato, and wait. I know it takes time to make a cup o' joe, so after some in-car gymnastics to reach the book bag stashed behind my seat, I pull out a fertility book, Making Babies, and start flipping through the vitamins and minerals section.

My barista is cheerful and young with long red hair and a genuine smile. "Whatcha reading?" she asks. Oh, well, I don't know her and probably never will. A wry smile twists my mouth as I hold the book title up for her to see. It surprises her.

"Oh, well, that's fun, I mean not the having them part but the making them part, right?"

I shrug.

"Well, have a great day and good luck and I hope you do make a baby!"

It was one of the strangest conversations I've had to date.

On to the drug store. My list of pre-natal vitamin requirements in hand, I head to the supplement section. Which is RIGHT by the prescription drop-off/pick-up place. Oh God, I hope I don't see anyone I know. I search and search and search but cannot find a 3x a day vitamin with the nutrients I need. I do grab a bottle of Evening Primrose Oil (an essential fatty acid) before heading to the "Family Planning" section.

Rows and rows of lube and condoms face me as, face scarlet, I bend down to check out the ovulation predictor kits and pregnancy tests on the bottom row. There's a guy checking out the cold medicines (or maybe just me) behind me and I feel like he's watching me. Oh, God, I hope I don't see anyone I know.

Tests in basket, I search in vain for a BBT (basal body thermometer). I'm going to ask the pharmacist to stop my birth control subscription anyway, so I ask him if they have any of them.

"Basal what?" he asks me and the rest of the waiting public loudly.

"Basal body thermometer," I reply, as he shrugs and turns to a co-worker. She's female and my shoulders sag with relief, because SHE knows. Except she doesn't. "A WHAT?"

IT'S A THERMOMETER THAT TELLS YOU WHEN YOU'RE OVULATING SO YOU CAN GET PREGNANT! I want to say, but don't because Oh, God, what if I see someone I know?

Finally an older (female) pharmacist takes pity on me and points me in the right direction. But they're out. Super fun.

I take my purchases up to the counter and find a good checker - youngish, female and no one else hanging around. Sheepishly I put my vitamins, pregnancy kits and ovulation predictor kit on the counter. Luckily she doesn't comment as I swipe my card. Then she smiles at me.

"I'mma tell you a secret," she says, not lowering the level of her voice. "When you ovulate, your discharge changes (gestures in her crotchal region)."

I am stunned by her discussing cervical mucus in public. "Uh-huh, I've read about it," I mutter.

"And another thing. When your period starts, that's the first 14 days of your cycle. The LAST 14 days are when you can get pregnant," she said.



Bag in hand, I high-tail it out the door and down the street to the next pharmacy, where I do find a BBT thermometer (and a new Self magazine to help me feel better).

What a ridiculous day.

I don't want to run into someone I know while buying pre-pregnancy stuff. I can just imagine all the questions that I don't want to have to try to answer, and all the complicated explanations I will have to give about why I'm buying this stuff when we haven't even started trying yet. Sheesh!

AF (Aunt Flow) should arrive tomorrow, which means that tomorrow morning I will take my first BBT. This is exciting stuff, folks!I downloaded the Making Babies BBT chart (which you can do for free here) and am ready to go!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

My first nightmare...

It shouldn't be surprising to most that I haven't been sleeping well since this high FSH drama first started on February 18. I suffer from insomnia off and on, but this round has been worse than usual. Usually I struggle with falling asleep but am fine once I finally conk out.

Now I have both - problems falling asleep and problems waking up during the night. A lot.

I have spent so many night tossing and turning, trying to medicate or meditate myself to sleep. Trying to still my racing mind and slow my pounding heartbeat. Every night I try, and every night I fail.

Last night I had my first nightmare about infertility. I had spent a lot of yesterday reading a blog about male factor infertility (which is very poignant and you should check it out here -

I dreamed that we had a sperm analysis (SA) done on Mr. M., and the results came in and said he had fat, bloated sperm that barely moved.

In the dream, I was devastated. I was sobbing and he was withdrawn and SO dissappointed. I knew deep down in my heart that he would never be able to get over it.

I woke from the nightmare with a gasping sob lodged in my throat and a horrible tightness in my chest, covered in sweat.

Just the first of what I am assuming will be many nighmares.

Sorry about the grumpy South Beach Diet post yesterday. I can tell I am losing weight and am feeling nice and cleansed of the craving for carbs (with the exception of coming home last night and watching my husband eat delicious, greasy PIZZA while I nibbled on a salad like a rabbit and who wouldn't want to kill their husband if they were in my shoes).

Super busy every night this week with the planning committee for my big charity function on Saturday. At least it is keeping me from staying home, bored and hungry!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Infertility and the South Beach Diet

I'm going to just come right on out and say it, folks.

I'm overweight.

There it is, in all its plus-sized glory. I've always been overweight (no, not obese) and have struggled my whole life with finding a. a weight that makes me feel comfortable with myself and b. ways to learn to love myself that have nothing to so with weight.

That being said, when we had our meeting with out OBGYN a couple of weeks ago, I asked if losing some weight could help me in regards to future infertility treatments. Remember, my first appointment with the RE isn't until June 16. She said that yes, it always helps, even though I'm not a person with a lot of weight to lose.

*Editor's Note: At 5'8" and 191 pounds, I beg to differ! But I digress...*

Anyway, the OBGYN said that the best diet for infertility is the South Beach diet. She said that Phase 1 is really hard, so I should probably just start with Phase 2. I had heard of it before but didn't really know what the program entailed. So when I made my frantic and determined dash to the book store, I added a paperback of the SBD to my stack.

I dove in right away, and the program looked pretty good! In case you're not familiar with the program, it involves three phases: Phase 1 has you cut out ALL high glycemic index carbs, including any type of bread or grain, all fruit and fruit juices, and all sugar, alcohol and caffeine. Supposedly, during Phase 1 you can expect to lose 8 to 13 pounds in the first two weeks! Sweet! Phase two adds back in small amounts of whole grain carbs and fruits, as well as allowing for an occasional glass of red wine. During Phase 2 you are losing weight at a healthy rate - about 1 to 2 pounds a week. Phase 3 is the "maintenance" stage where you adopt the diet as a permanent lifestyle change to help keep the weight off.

One of my good friends decided to try it with me. I had a dressy charitable event coming up in two weeks and losing 8 to 13 pounds sounded pretty darn good to me! I hit the protein and vegetable sections of the grocery store HARD, and off I went!

Let me tell you something about Phase 1. It. Sucks. Balls.

For one thing, there is no flexibility with breakfast. You either have tofu (YUCK) or eggs. I'm not a fan of eggs. After morning of choking them down, I finally figured out that I can stomach them best scrambled with mushrooms and Canadian bacon.

Secondly, I lost all of my energy. Cutting all those carbs out caused me to crash, and while I recovered from that initial crash I still spend time each day feeling weak, dizzy and totally out of it.

Finally, you are SO restricted in your food choices that it makes eating out almost impossible. I was "that girl" scraping the breading off of her chicken at Olive Garden and "that girl" asking for veggies with no oil.

But dammit, I am a stubborn person, and I haven't made it this far only to give up! I am currently on Day 9 of the first phase, with only 5 more days to go until my dressy charity event. I plan to put on my fancy dress and heels, grab Mr. M. and immediately have a BIG glass of red wine. I will also probably eat whatever I want that night and move on to Phase 2 the next morning.

ALL of my fertility books support a healthy diet as a way to naturally increase your fertility. During the LONG wait before my RE appointment, it feels great to know that I am actually DOING something to help myself. That includes charting my BBT starting this week (to see if I am actually ovulating), using OPKs, taking prenatal vitamins and EFAs (essential fatty acids), and trying as hard as we can to conceive naturally.

It may not be a lot of fun for me right now, but I just focus on a picture in my mind:
Me, sitting on my back porch with a plate of cheese and crackers and a BIG glass of wine...

watching my children play in the grass in front of me.

That dream is worth any amount of personal sacrifice or discomfort to me.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Gathering my courage..

We had the first appointment of the day. The waiting room was full of pregnant women, happy couples and moms with young kids. Mr. M. sat beside me and I found my heart breaking a little that we weren't here for a joyful reason.

We were led to the exam room at about 9:30. I sat on the uncomfortable exam table while Mr. M. sat in the one extra chair, looking uncomfortable and nervous in his dressy work clothes. We waited. And waited. And waited some more. At first we made small talk. At one point he came over to rub my back and hold my hand. Eventually we drifted off to a nervous, agitated silence. The tension in the room was so thick it was almost suffocating.

At about 10:20 (yes, FIFTY minutes later)the doctor came in to speak to us. I'm very lucky in my OBGYN - I absolutely love her. She is very straightforward and honest, but great at giving support and comfort at the same time.

The news wasn't surprising. The high FSH levels worried her, so she went ahead and referred us to a Reproductive Endocrinologist in our area, one who is "high FSH-friendly." Some REs won't accept patients with high FSH because they lower the success rates of their clinics.

Mr. M. stayed solid and attentive through the whole thing, and even asked a few questions I hadn't thought of. After she had left the room, he came to hug me and I noticed that he was trembling. I was overwhelmed with tenderness that this experience was as emotional for him as it was for me.

As soon as I got in my car (he had to go to work) I called the RE for an appointment. The OBGYN said she wasn't terribly hard to get in to see. She's not, unless you consider having to wait almost three months "terribly hard." After I scheduled my appointment I had a lovely little breakdown alone in my car, so frustrated with having to do more endless waiting.

Then I straightened my shoulders, dried my tears, and promptly went to the book store to buy every book on fertility that looked like it might be helpful. I repeated that at two more bookstores until I was satisfied.

I'll tell you more about what I'm doing to help increase my fertility and my chances of conceiving in my next entry, as well as my list of helpful books. I suppose the journey has officially started. Wish me luck.