Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My 'gift'

Every year for Christmas, baby Jesus gives me my period. I am sure you will think I am exaggerating or simply lying, but the truth is: I start my period on Christmas Day, every year. Every. Single. Year.

And lest ye think this year was any exception, I assure you it was not.

After the miscarriage, I really thought that the next time I got pregnant I would just know it. But what's ended up happening is I have known that I was pregnant for the last two months in a row, only to discover, I don't actually know jack.

Well, what I know now is PMS symptoms and pregnancy symptoms are absolutely identical. I even get nauseated during PMS. It's really the best.

My sister had her baby about two weeks ago now. As I hold little Ava and feel unequivocal love and tenderness toward her, I can't help but think some kind of magic baby dust has to be floating in the air and if I just hang around her long enough, I'll get to have my own kid.

A more likely story is I'll have to break out my trusty Machine -- the most expensive ovulation predictor known to man -- and give that sucker a whirl again. It makes baby-making really romantic. In Opposite Land.

A friend remarked last night on the dwindling of entries here on Tired & Stuck, and I could only say:  I think the three of us are getting tired of saying the same thing over and over again. This is not one of those things that gets easier as time passes, unfortunately. It's harder to think about every month. It's faith-breaking and has that deep-in-the-pit-of-your-stomach feeling you get when something is unjust; not right; unfair; straight-up wrong -- and there's pretty much nothing you can do about it.

True: there are worse tragedies in the world. We know it, and we have perspective. But when your heart wants something so bad -- your brain can't reason it away. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Holiday Guide for the TTC Crowd

I don't need to tell you the holidays are hard.

Something about our childhood memories colliding with our adult hopes wraps us up in a strange nostalgia. We miss the past and we miss the future.

We miss those who aren't with us. We miss those who have never been with us ~ like the cherub-cheeked children we imagined in our life.

And it's not just the trying-to-conceive crowd. Plenty of people feel sick to their stomachs for the entire month and a half between Thanksgiving and New Year's. Plus, Christmas (as much as I love it) is about the birth of a child.

I suspect part of the problem is that while we are simultaneously missing the past and the future, we are not at all celebrating life as it is right now.

I refuse to let my child-free status tap the joy out of the most joyous time of the year. I'm not saying it's easy, but choosing to have a good time is the first step to having a good time.

So, here's my guide for how to survive.

1. Skip the holidays. Extreme this may be, it's a legitimate survival approach for those suffering raw emotional wounds, like a recent miscarriage. If 2011 delivered this kind of disappointment, I'm not going to tell you to deck the halls and have a good time. Hunker down in a dark room with movies and ice cream and magazines. Keep your phone nearby and your friends on speed dial. We send our love and prayers and hope to see you happier in the New Year.

2. Say no. December's dance card fills up quick. It's OK to sit out a few songs. Only go to the events you know you'll enjoy. I typically avoid large parties with lots of guests. I say no to the big parties, so I can say yes to the smaller gatherings with my closest friends.

3. Don't spend the holidays with anyone to whom you have to explain yourself. Families are complicated, and some families are more complicated than others. If yours has a habit of bringing up painful topics as dinner discussions, tell them in advance that all fertility talk is off limits. Or make alternate plans.

4. Know what you're going to say. Even when you are picky about which events to go to and who to spend your time with, someone is bound to ask you, "Do you have kids?" "Are you planning on having kids?" "Have you thought about seeing a doctor?" "How is it going?" "Are you still trying?' Etc. Etc. John used to joke, "We had kids, but the economy got bad so we sold them." Or, he would say, "No, we don't have kids. We play board games at night." At this point, I usually respond with an abbreviated version of the truth.

5. Consider putting "trying" on hold until the New Year. If the disappointment of not getting pregnant is going to ruin your Christmas, I suggest giving yourself a break from peeing on sticks.

6. Music. Maybe it's just me, but happy songs make me happy. Sad songs make me homicidal. Pump up the volume accordingly.

7. Create new traditions. Sleep in. Drink cocktails. Get away. Last year, John surprised me with a night at the Fairmont right before Christmas. He knew I had always wanted to stay there (and the rates are surprisingly low in December). It was a great treat and something we would be less likely to do if we had kids. 

8. Spread holiday cheer. Infertility is no picnic, but it could be worse. Giving back gives me clearer perspective. Shop for charity. Volunteer at a shelter. Collect canned food or blankets or coats or socks. Visit a convalescent hospital or the lonely neighbor on your street. You can't help but be happy when you make someone else happy.

If you have a holiday survival tip, I'd love to hear it.

xo! Christina

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Eventually I'll stop talking about miscarriage. Not today, obviously.

Here I am to pour another cup of cheer into your day by talking about miscarriage! Ho, boy. I am a real hoot to be around these days.

Honestly, this is a good day, if you don't count how I almost cried while I was taking a walk this morning. Which: I have kind of come to accept that I am basically going to cry every day for essentially no reason, so it is what it is. I was listening to a song that made me ... happy and sad at the same time, so I got all teary-eyed.

I finally got my period! Again! Continued proof that life is cruel and disgusting; am I right? These post-miscarriage periods are real doozies, lemme tell you. I'll be sitting quietly, and, well ... you recall the scene from The Shining when the blood pours out of the elevators? That is essentially what is happening in my pants. I have bled through almost every pair of pants I own. I sprint for the bathroom. I want to yell: Clear the decks! Hoist the mainsail!

Don't ask me why you would hoist the mainsail. I know nothing about boats and/or sailing. Maybe instead I should yell: Stop the presses! Seeing as how my background is in journalism and I feel the unwise need to tell you every time I buy a new box of tampons.

I think my friends are coming up for air after the miscarriage. It's like the dust has cleared and they're creeping carefully out of the bomb shelter to see if it's safe to venture out. A few friends have surprised me this week by reiterating to me how sorry they are for what happened. They are telling me they're not sure they made it clear early on. Believe me, they made it clear in the beginning. There's no way to properly express your horror or grief about things like that, honestly. When these things happen, it makes us all helpless. All we can do is stand together.

I have very good friends. They are over-thinkers (as I am). Perhaps most women are. I'll return home from a gathering and replay each conversation I had with each woman, turning each word and each raised eyebrow over in my mind to make sure nothing was misconstrued and there's no possibility that anyone had their feelings hurt. I can't tell you how many times I and my friends have spoken later and said: You know that time we were talking? I didn't mean this and I hope you didn't take it like that.

Maybe my friends are just worried about their reactions to the miscarriage because I won't shut up about it. Consider this my very public journal. I keep a journal, normally. I kept one during the pregnancy, and when I miscarried I wrote: Having a miscarriage.

That was it. There was something about putting ink on paper ... I didn't want to literally spell it out there. That journal is for my secret, innermost, darkest thoughts, and I haven't as of yet been able to talk to even myself about that.

I feel sorry for my friends, in a way. Especially the pregnant ones (because of survivor guilt). They don't want to mention the miscarriage and they don't want to ignore it. They've got to touch on the topic to show they care but they don't want to make me feel like shit, either. The ones who know but weren't technically in-the-know because other people told them assume that I don't know they know (confused yet?) -- I see the wheels turning behind their eyes -- they're searching their minds frantically for cheerful things to discuss. They pity me and treat me kindly, and I'll take that, for now.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


I think one of the hardest things to remember when dealing with infertility is to keep your sense of humor; if not about being infertile, at least in general. Luckily, I have my husband to remind me.

I came home from having brunch with some friends yesterday, one of whom recently had a baby, and is now having a miserable time breastfeeding. No, not miserable, misery would probably be a step up from what my poor friend is suffering. I was telling Ryan about what was going on, and he asked why she doesn't just switch to formula. "Well," I said, "I guess it's like me not wanting to give up on the pregnancy thing. My body is SUPPOSED to do this. It's SUPPOSED to be an intergral part of who I am as a woman."

Ryan nodded, and took that in. Then, he spoke: "Why don't you let her use your boobs then and you can borrow her uterus?"

Damn, I love that man.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The long cycle

I guess my cycles are still evening out. I am on Day 34 of this cycle and Aunt Flo has made no indication of her impending arrival, unless deep, dark rage is any indication.

Oh, rage is an indication? Huh.

A few days ago I took a pregnancy test, just in case. It was negative. I gotta say, this is the first time in over a year that I have seen a negative pregnancy test and not needed to either eat a vat of chocolate sauce or punch something. I felt mild disappointment and overwhelming relief.

The doctors said I would be scared to get pregnant again, but they were wrong, because the way I am feeling about getting pregnant again is something akin to horror. Terror, you might call it. Things would be very simple if my husband and I decided we didn't actually want to have children; I'd send him in for a vasectomy (he's going to read this and be like what the hell?) and that would be the end of that.

Unfortunately, it appears that we both want children even more now than we did before. Which is a problem, when paired with my severe fright about getting pregnant again. I can't even really talk about it, or think about why it scares me so much ... accessing that dark and smelly pit in my brain is such a disgusting thought. I really see it that way -- it's like I'd have to swim in tar, maybe go meet Gollum somewhere down in a dank, pitch black cave. This has begun to make exactly no sense.

I kept saying we'd wait until January to try again. Then I said we'd wait until I lost 15 pounds. Then I said we'd wait until April. If I keep pushing the try-again date back, eventually the pit of tar will dry up and go away, right? I'd thought it was gone, or at least on an extended vacation, until last week when I suddenly began to think of my baby. Who thinks of a first-trimester miscarriage as a baby? This cannot be a healthy line of thought.

Of course if I keep pushing the try-again date back, my fertility will lessen. Women who miscarry are most fertile in the three months following a miscarriage. It declines after that. I can't spend another year doing this; I might lose my marbles, you guys.

Yeah, I'mma try again. It'll need to be sooner than later. There's exactly no reason to wait, other than that dark pit.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I've said it before and I will say it again

If you know you want babies some day, try to have them earlier than later. And please, let's stop keeping secrets from each other about how difficult it actually is to get pregnant when you're not in your 20s anymore.

The following was posted on SFGate's Mommyfiles blog by Amy Graff. 

Many women misinformed when it comes to fertility

Let’s say you’re a newly married, perfectly healthy 30-year-old woman. You and your husband have stable jobs, a three-bedroom house, a Golden Retriever.

In other words, you’re ready to start having kids.

Easy peasy, right? You’re still young. You’ll get pregnant quickly, as the women on television sitcoms do. You’ll soon be changing poopie diapers.

Not so fast. You’re probably not as fertile as you think you are. It could take awhile. That middle school sex-ed teacher who convinced you that you’ll get knocked up anytime the truck drives into the garage was wrong—and he never told you that fertility decreases dramatically with age.

But don’t feel badly about your ignorance. The results of a recent fertility awareness survey reveal that most women think it’s much easier to get pregnant than it really is.

For the study, presented at the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, 1,000 women ages 25 to 35 were asked 10 questions about fertility, and most of them flunked the test, according to MSNBC.
Questions about the likelihood of becoming pregnant across different age groups were answered correctly by only 8 percent of participants. Most women assume a 30-year-old woman has a 70 percent chance of conceiving per month and that a 40-year-old woman has a 60 percent chance. But really a healthy 30-year-old has a 20 percent chance and that number drops to 15 percent at age 40.
Survey respondents also thought it takes an average 20-year-old two months to get pregnant, when it really takes about five months.

What’s more only 31 percent of respondents realize that increasing age is the single strongest risk factor for infertility.

These numbers are troubling because infertility is a huge problem in our country, and 7.3 million women in the U.S. struggle with it. This figure represents 12 percent of women of childbearing age, or 1 in 8 couples, according to the National Infertility Association RESOLVE. You can’t help but wonder if these statistics would improve if women had more accurate information about their fertility and opted to get pregnant sooner rather than later.

Holly Finn, a 43-year-old woman who has suffered from infertility, told MSNBC that she has a simple message for women ages 26 to 34: “Start having babies now.”

Why are women so clueless about fertility?

The researchers behind the study think women are simply misinformed.

Sex education in America focuses on prevention. In middle and high school lessons are focused on preventing pregnancy and STDs. There’s no talk about fertility and how it decreases with age. Many women don’t learn this lesson until they’re 40 years old and step foot inside an infertility clinic.

What’s more, many women in their 40s are successfully using infertility treatments yet they’re secretive about their use of IVF, and this leads other women to think it’s easy to achieve parenthood later in life. And so when a 40-year-old woman tries to get pregnant and fails, she’s shocked.

“We were not at all surprised,” says Barbara Collura, executive director of RESOLVE, told MSNBC. “This is what we experience every day.”


Monday, November 21, 2011

Now What?

Nothing demotivates me like the sight of a negative pregnancy test.

I know it shouldn't. I know I should reassure myself with the statistics, let myself know that I am on the right path, and that all the steps I am taking not only are for fertility but overall health. I should remind myself that the acupuncture and some of the supplements are helping with my anxiety. That watching what I eat and exercising are things I should be doing anyway. That getting in touch with my body through BBT charting and OPKs is a good thing to do.

I know I should be doing all of those things.

Instead I just want to drink a box of wine, put on my sweats and eat icing from a can. Oh, and warm my hands over a fire of all of the fertility books I have bought. It wouldn't be a small fire.

I will tell you right now there is nothing about how to overcome this feeling. That one they leave you to figure out on your own.

So, that's what I'm doing right now. Oh, and trying to determine if the four pounds I have put on is from the prometrium, or from pity eating.

I'll let you know how it goes. I think if I figure it out maybe I'll write a book of my own. "Kick Yourself in the Ass: A Guide to Dealing with Infertility When it is the Last Thing you Want to Do" is now the working title.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I'm not sure how I would feel about this last year and everything that happened during it if it weren't for the Internet.

In real life, I have a couple of friends whom I've struggled alongside to get pregnant. We all have our own very individual, unique issues, and having these couples in my life has produced sanity for me. I just can't imagine being the only one of my friends dealing with this. And while I wish my friends didn't have these problems, I selfishly am glad I know people who get it. Everyone says it and it's true: You don't get it unless you've been there.

When it first started to become clear that getting pregnant wasn't going to be as easy as I'd believed it would be, I must have said something somewhere on the Internet about it. And Libby saw what I said and, maybe jokingly, said she and I should start a blog about exactly this problem. I roped Christina into joining us, and here we are almost 9 months later, all of us battle-scarred and -- there's no denying it -- pretty pissed off.

But what I didn't know until we started this blog was about the entire, enormous community of women out there who call themselves infertiles and blog about the things they go through. The things I've been through pale in comparison. It ain't nothing compared to five failed IVFs. Can you even imagine?

For the several weeks that I was pregnant in the summer, I read their blogs and wept. It was probably survivor guilt, although there's no denying what they have to say is heartbreaking. And I follow so many of them out of fascination and a sense of sisterhood, that when I became pregnant, I noticed when other self-professed infertiles became pregnant at the same time. Look at us! Pregnant together! There was something really bonding and strength-building knowing myself and these women were pregnant together and would have children around the same ages.

Then about half the infertiles began to have miscarriages. Why? I wondered. I read their profiles. Multiple miscarriages, been trying to get pregnant for ten years. Stuff like that. Unexplained infertility. (Few phrases enrage me as much as "unexplained infertility." It's the biggest load of bullshit out there)

And some kept their babies. They're coming up on five months now, getting over morning sickness, starting to get their baby bumps. That would be me, too, I can't help realizing when I read their updates. I'd never wish otherwise for them, but I still feel raw and wounded when I think of how it could have been me, too, with a viable baby.

I think the infertiles of the Internet (and other wonderful friends) kept me sane during the darkest times. There's just something about knowing other women have been through it, and whether or not it's just in my mind, I sensed a warmth, a cushion of support that, in my mind, was the collective voice of these women holding me up. It can't be overstated -- this kind of support is life saving. It'll never take away the hurt you naturally have to go through, but it will make it easier to endure, and easier to see the light on the other side.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Progesterone Pain

Progesterone is a bitch.

The past two weeks have been filled with symptoms that had me absolutely sure I was knocked up. My boobs ached. My nipples would not be "at ease." I had light cramping in my lady zone. Smells were really bugging me. I was overly emotional. I seemed to be pudging out.

However, two pee sticks have confirmed I definitely do not have anything growing in my uterus, except maybe mold; and a quick Googling of "prometrium side effects" told me just why I have been feeling so funky. Oh, and since I took the last dose on Saturday the effect have been lessening. I don't think that's supposed to happen with pregnancy.

Still, I'm glad that at least the progesterone is doing something. It gives me hope that is is helping with something my body previously wasn't doing correctly. Now, we just have to get it doing the other parts correctly as well, at the same time, and voila, I will have good news to report.

Or maybe I'll just start playing the lottery. Sometimes it feels like those odds are better...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


My husband's hair dresser knows about the miscarriage because she also recently had a miscarriage and these days when someone we haven't seen in a while asks: "How are you? What's been going on?" here's an approximation of the answer that runs through our heads: "Miscarriagemiscarriagemiscarriage."

Sometimes, if it's too much information for that particular person, we just say "same old" and proceed with some how's-the-weather kind of conversation.

Anyway, Liz, the hair dresser, knows about the miscarriage. She told him at his last appointment to be wary of my reaction when I finally did get my period because it's kind of like a reminder of the whole incident and can be pretty emotional.

Living in denial, as I tend to do on a regular basis, I viewed the impending period as exactly what it was. Just another period. And then it arrived and turned out to be more than that.

My reaction wasn't even conscious. I wasn't even necessarily that disturbed that this was an extremely heavy period -- heavier even than the bleeding following the miscarriage, and heavier than any period I've ever had, period. (heh)

I think it disturbed me on a subconscious level. I was exhausted, and sad on a different level ... It was sadness and a real hate of me. My inner monologue: God, sometimes I just hate myself. What in the hell is wrong with me? Why can't I get it together? If I could just live in the woods by myself for maybe six months, maybe I could stop hating me, stop hating everyone else, stop being such a sucky, boring, repetitive asshole. I hate everything. Why is everyone so annoying and demanding? The holidays are coming. Is there any way at all that I can opt out of the holidays? God, why do the holidays all have to be so close together and suck so bad?

I'm a real joy to live with. Just ask my husband.

I believe I'm pulling out of it. 

Some women say the only way they can handle this post-miscarriage span of time is to immediately become pregnant again. That would be a great distraction, and I totally get that. More power to them. I won't do it until I'm ready. Good and ready.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Me & G

As you may or may not remember, after my laparoscopy, John and I decided to hold off before trying Glumetza. We wanted to give my body a chance to recover, and we wanted to see if the surgery alone might do the trick.

Three months and three cycles later, we felt ready to give the Glumetza a try.

I was a little worried about the potential side effects. The super friendly Internet advised I might be in for "gastrointestinal upset."

I’ve been taking the Glumetza for about 2 ½ weeks, and I definitely feel weirder than usual. Nausea and stomach aches come and go. But it hasn’t been that bad, and I’m hoping it gets better.

Glumetza (Metformin) is actually a diabetes medication, and I’m wondering how I could better support its effectiveness through nutrition and exercise.

I know what I should be doing --- avoiding sugar, refined carbohydrates, caffeine and alcohol. I just have trouble doing what I know I should do.   

In the meantime, I’ve been walking about four times a week. I’ve been taking Vitamin B Complex and Chlorophyll pills every day. And I’m looking for a prenatal that doesn’t smell or taste disgusting.

Any suggestions?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The way of things

We are status quo since the miscarriage. Since then, I've had many bottles of wine and many delicious mugs of coffee, read almost the entire Sookie Stackhouse series, and pondered my next move.

And actually, I haven't had a period yet. It's been over five weeks. I could be pregnant again, but I think it would be a long shot. The internet tells me it could be a long time until I get a period again, which is just fine, I say. I was never fond of the Red Tent. The internet also tells me there is no medical reason to wait for a period to try to conceive again. But I still want to wait.

Another thing I've been doing: Working on weight loss. I say "working on" instead of "losing weight" because while I've lost a few pounds, I don't feel that I have enough momentum to say "losing weight" yet. Maybe after 10 pounds. If I feel that I have that momentum by the end of the year, I may wait a few more months to try to conceive again, so that I can get to my desired weight. This isn't purely selfish: I believe the excess fat is affecting my hormones. And, it will be easier to carry a baby if I'm more fit.

I have other projects in the works, as well. I'm finishing my novel, which will be done by the end of the year. The other option is for me to walk into the ocean and drown myself, so probably I'll be finishing the book. And, we're working on a few home upgrades that have yet to get liftoff. I'd feel so much better about getting pregnant if all this stuff were behind me.

I admit I'm a little scared of pregnancy now. I know statistically everything will probably be OK if I get pregnant again soon, but ... Ugh. I just don't know if I could handle it if I had another miscarriage. And I don't want to be pregnant. I know it's basically impossible to have your own natural child if you don't get pregnant, but oh lordy. I didn't enjoy the small taste I had. That sentiment is either selfish or reasonable. Maybe both.

Anyway. Those of you that have miscarried: How long did it take your period to show up? How long did it take you to get pregnant again? Tell me your stories. Tell me pregnancy is better in later trimesters. Tell me it's beyond worth it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The age factor

I'll be 33 years old next week. It's shaping up to be one of those birthdays that gives you chest pains because you can't come to grips with the fact that your body continues to age despite your lack of accomplishments.

I'm not saying 33 is old, guys. But what I've absolutely come to accept is that as it relates to fertility, my age is not ideal. I know people older than me are having babies every day and I haven't reached that evil age cutoff of 35, when your eggs suddenly turned into powdered milk. But science is science. It doesn't matter how healthy you are or how awesome your skin looks -- every year that goes by is another year older, and your eggs are as old as you are. You don't make new ones. It's a real bummer.

All of the eyebrow-raising from my doctors used to irritate the living hell out of me. They'd ask if I was planning on having children soon. Ages 27, 28, 29, and 30 slipped by, and I told the doctors I wasn't planning on it. And they, without fail, told me that the sooner I did, the better.

There is a section in Making Babies titled "Be Aware of Your Age." This section also irritated me to no end; if I had a time machine, maybe this section could have helped me. Nonetheless, it cuts to the chase immediately: "If we had to pin fertility on just one factor, the most important would be age. The older you are, male or female, the more likely you and your partner are to have problems conceiving and carrying a pregnancy." The book goes on to say "the best advice is to have children sooner rather than later." Sounds familiar.

Here are some more fun statistics from the book.

Women under age 25 have a 96 percent chance of conceiving within a year. That figure drops to 86 percent between the ages of 25 and 34. The odds decrease again for women at age 35, with further drop-offs at 38 and again at 42.

Beginning when men are in their mid-30s, miscarriage rates start to rise, enough to double by age 45, at which point about one in three couples with men age 45 or older had a pregnancy ending in miscarriage, regardless of the woman's age.

All of this kind of information used to bug me. How dare my doctor, or some book, or anyone for that matter, try to tell me when and how I should use my reproductive organs? I wasn't ready to have a baby and that was all there was to it. Should I have gotten pregnant and had a baby just because it was the right thing to do, biologically?

The short answer to that question is Yes. I never, ever imagined I would be the kind of person who said something like this, but I'm going to say it now and I'll keep saying it to anyone who listens:

If you think at some point you will want children, have them now. Have them in your 20s. You will never be physically, emotionally, or financially completely prepared for children. You will never take that trip to Italy before the kids get here. You won't lose the weight. You aren't going to be glad some day that you spent an extra three or four years indulging yourself by doing whatever you wanted instead of changing some screaming baby's poopy diaper. Have them now, if you can, and then your eggs can get old and turn into powdered milk. Have them now and maybe you won't deal with miscarriages, drugs, needles, IUI, IVF. The story of the 40-something movie star who gets pregnant with twins is a delusion, my friends. God only knows how many rounds of IVF she paid for. How much money and grit do you possess? How much heartache could you potentially save yourself?

Thirty-three isn't ancient, even in fertility years. The doctors still call me "young and healthy." They expect I'll be able to get pregnant and carry a baby to term, and I expect the same. But I admit I hear a clock ticking in the background. I admit I wish I'd listened more thoughtfully when my doctors advised me to think about having children sooner. It might have saved me some trouble.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Waiting for the Flood

It has now been 48 days since my last period.

Longer than Noah was out at sea.

Longer than Jesus was in the desert.

Longer than "The Playboy Club" was on the air.

I'm not pregnant. I've taken several tests and each one has glared at me with a single line.

I would like to say this is unusual, but it really isn't. I have had cycles that have been longer, though not by much. I was getting hopeful though that things were getting more normal. The six to eight cycles before this one were average, or even on the short side. I felt I was finally getting a handle on exactly what was going on, and when. And with the new progesterone development? I was actually starting to get my hopes up!

Now this.

If this doesn't prove that my body is just messing with me, I don't know what does.

If only I could trade it in for another model. You know, one with a working reproductive system.

Oh, and maybe longer legs.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


It got better, although I feel nervous about feeling better. Like a diaper commercial might send me into a twenty-minute crying jag. This hasn't happened; I'm just saying I feel like I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Maybe it's just like waiting for the other baby to drop. That sentence makes no sense. But you know how everywhere you go, there're babies? And how I almost left a cart full of groceries in the frozen food aisle when I saw a baby the day after my miscarriage? It's like that.

I cry pretty much anywhere, unapologetically, and not because I'm sad but because the emotion of almost every situation feels amplified at least five times. And yeah, babies make me sad for the time being.

On the other hand, having a few months off from trying to get pregnant is a relief, for lots of reasons. One being that it gives me a chance to try to be healthier, and lose weight. Lately I've been holding up my own clothes and thinking, Wow, this looks really big. It seems like there's no way a piece of clothing so large would fit on my body, but it does, and most often is even a little snug. That's not how I want to feel about my body when I get pregnant.

You learn a lot about yourself, your family, and your friends when you're going through a rough patch, and that's been interesting, too. Sometimes people are afraid to speak to you when you're at your lowest. Or afraid to speak of The Big Bad thing you're going through. I get it, really. And sometimes people think you should probably be over it a lot sooner than you're over it. I get that, too, although I think that attitude sucks. And then some people catch you off guard with how wonderful they are.

You know, selfishly I wish I could have life both ways. I enjoy my life the way it is; baby-free. I get to do what I want, when I want, without a second thought. That's fun! I know I don't take advantage of that the way I should, but to the extent that I do, it's enjoyable. But then I also really want my own chubby baby. I want to know what color eyes my baby would have. I want to put up cutesy decorations in the baby's room and sing Journey songs as lullabies. I want to carry my own cute baby around in the grocery store in one of those hippie slings like the women who've been torturing me all year do.

I can't have it both ways, obviously. So I'll enjoy it the first way for a while longer, and then hopefully the second way at some point down the road.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Next 3 Months

Let’s be real. I’m not going to promise to give up caffeine or alcohol. And I can’t guarantee I’ll remember to take my vitamins every day.

But just because I can’t manage to do it right all the time, doesn’t mean I can’t do better. When it comes to my health, I know I can do better.

One idea I really liked from the “Making Babies” book was to think of the three-month program as a premester – the very first trimester.

But honestly, I don’t like focusing on making my body “baby ready.” As exciting as pregnancy would be, having it as a goal is kind of a downer. I would rather think about making my body healthy and strong and “life ready.”

Regardless of whether I have a baby, I do have a life and I have this body for living it.

Lucky for me, this Saturday, October 1st, is the perfect time to start a new premester. We have exactly three months left in the year, three months to prepare for 2012.

It’s actually a little bit thrilling to think about the next 13 weeks as wide open space for making dreams come true.

What do you want to accomplish before the year comes to an end and the next one begins?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How I did it

I'm not sure how many people might be interested in how-to-get-pregnant advice from a person who did finally manage to get pregnant but then miscarried. Nonetheless, that is what this post is about today.

First, I'll just say that most of what I did was on the advice of the book we've been following -- Making Babies. I have no idea if the things I did actually led to conception or if they might work for you. But I believe it can't hurt to try. 

-  Over the course of a year, I went completely organic. Organic meat, dairy, and fruits/veggies. The book says: "Eating organic allows you to avoid the pesticides, chemicals, synthetic additives, and other agents contaminating so much of our food supply and wreaking havoc on our health. ... In terms of fertility, many agricultural chemicals, as well as the hormones given to animals raised for their meat, milk, or eggs, affect hormonal balance. ... Some studies even show that organic foods boost fertility." One study showed that men who ate a diet free of pesticides had sperm counts more than twice as high as those of a group with a nonorganic diet. 
-  I went on a 21-day raw vegan cleanse about a month and a half before I got pregnant. I’m not positive, but I imagine it’s possible this reset something in my body. The cleanse I followed is in the book Crazy Sexy Diet. It promised to get rid of the acids in my blood, detoxify my body and balance pH. Balancing pH is a big deal in Making Babies, too. As a reminder from one of my previous posts, pH is the measure of acidity or alkalinity in a substance, including our bodies. Making Babies says your cervical mucus needs to be alkaline in order for sperm to survive long enough to fertilize an egg. If it's too acidic, it kills sperm. Furthermore, Making Babies says alkaline foods that will create friendly cervical mucus include fruit, vegetables (especially leafy green vegetables) sprouts and wheatgrass. Acidifying foods include meat, dairy, grains, alcohol, coffee, and artificial sweeteners.
-  I took holistic, organic prenatals and B-complex vitamins, flax seed oil, baby aspirin and chlorophyll. The holistic vitamins I take are by New Chapter and available at Whole Foods. Disclaimer: They are extremely expensive. Here's what Making Babies says about some of the supplements I take: "B vitamins are important for the release of the egg and for implantation and embryonic development, making them particularly important in phases 3 and 4 of a woman's cycle. A deficiency of vitamin B has been linked to anovulation (lack of ovulation. ... Vitamin B6 helps the body produce progesterone and metabolize excess estrogen." Additionally, the book says, B12 can improve low sperm counts in men. Flax seed is considered an essential fatty acid, which is crucial for healthy regulation of hormones throughout the body. This supplement (any supplement that has a good combination of Omega 3s and 6s) is considered the most important supplement you can take after a prenatal. Chlorophyll helps build red blood cells and its "high magnesium content ... boosts enzymes that restore the sex hormones. In fact, American farmers have been known to give their cows wheatgrass to restore fertility." The book also says chlorophyll helps build up the uterine lining. I take this supplement in liquid form, mixing it with water. Lastly, there's baby aspirin, which I often take on the advice of my cardiologist because I have an enlarged heart valve and arrhythmia. However, Dr. David, one of the authors of Making Babies, says he advises most of his patients to take baby aspirin because it can improve blood flow to the uterus and placenta and prevent clotting that can interfere with implantation. "Many women have problems with implantation that are hard to detect or pin down, and aspirin can help. It is not likely to hurt the mother or fetus." David advises women stop using aspirin after the first trimester. You should consult your doctor before beginning a daily baby-aspirin regimen.
 -  Around the time that implantation likely took place, I was doing a lot of walking (at BlogHer). The book says "...the newest research shows that moderate exercise actually benefits fertility. One finding to emerge from the Nurses' Health Study was a reduction in the risk of ovulatory infertility with exercise. Hitting the gym three to five times a week could bring the risk down by as much as 25 percent or more." There are really too many benefits of exercise to mention here. The book does say you shouldn't exercise too intensely, as that can cause you to become anovulatory.
-  I’d quit eating/drinking all artificial sweeteners. I’d switched to using agave nectar in my coffee and if I wanted a soda, I had one every few weeks – a real, full-sugar soda. "The artificial sweetener aspartame has been linked to infertility and birth defects, as well as cancer. Everyone would benefit from avoiding it. While you're at it, skip all artificial sweeteners -- they make the body too acidic." 
-  I cut out tons of gluten. My husband found out he is sensitive to it a little over a year ago, so we really don’t have any in the house. There's nothing in Making Babies specifically regarding gluten, although the book does advise that people with my fertility type cut back on carbs.
- I cut way back on caffeine and was drinking one cup of coffee in the mornings. "Caffeine can decrease the flow of blood to the uterus, which can interfere with implantation. Too much caffeine may increase the risk of clotting and miscarriage. ... Coffee is acidic and can make the body and the cervical mucus acidic, too. Several studies have concluded that coffee (with or without caffeine) diminishes fertility. A recent large Dutch study determined that four cups of coffee a day lowered a woman's chances of having a baby by more than 25 percent." Yikes! 
-  I sat in the sun for 20 minutes a few times a week, starting in the spring, to get more Vitamin D. This vitamin protects sperm and eggs against genetic damage and supports the production of estrogen. "In some cases, bumping up vitamin D intake to adequate levels can restore ovulation in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome." If you're curious about your vitamin D levels, ask your doctor to test you! My last test showed a severe deficiency. 
-  One evening on the cycle we conceived, we did our “business” and then I went to sleep right afterward, without getting out of bed.  We also conducted some additional business after ovulation, which is a bit unusual for us but may have been the success factor in this case. This follows my friend Michelle’s dad’s method to an extent, although this was before she’d told me about his method. Click here to visit the post about his tips. 

What I didn’t do, but thought for sure I would need to do in order to get pregnant, was lose weight. I can't help but wonder if I was in better shape if things would have turned out differently. 

I had also completely abandoned tea when the weather warmed up. I’d been drinking raspberry leaf tea for a while but gave that up in the spring. I think I'll re-incorporate that. I'd actually started drinking lots of it before the miscarriage happened in an effort to stimulate the uterus to do its job. While I don't know if it helped, everything did go really well.

In any case, I hope that this helps someone out there who's not sure what might be preventing herself from conceiving. Here's to having fun trying, and trying again.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Trust Your Gut

I officially have low progesterone, and one fewer doctor.

I also have a renewed commitment to trusting my gut.

I had promised myself to only do what felt right following our foray into assisted reproduction. Too many times I had let myself be talked into or out of things by someone in a white coat to whom I was paying a large amount of money. I promised myself that this was my body, and my money and if I was going to try to get pregnant again it would be on my own terms, and only with things I wanted to do, that I really believed would work.

Then I met my naturopath and that all flew out the window.

Looking back now, I can admit that I was uneasy the first time I met her. Without so much as a history taken she had me try progesterone cream, and said things like "you can feel it working already, can't you." I didn't know what I was supposed to feel working, but I agreed. After all, I had been told this woman was really good at treating women outside of the bio-medical model, and the book she had me read before the visit really spoke to me. Also, I wanted to believe this would be the magic bullet. I didn't even mind that the first consult was 4-hundred dollars and that she didn't take insurance. I told myself any unease was because I just didn't understand her methods yet.

For the more than a year under her care I was on Metformin, progesterone, spironolactone, and a thyroid drug. For all that time I went to see her every two months and she would tell me how much better I was looking, how much more energy I had, and how my body was aligning itself. When I had a problem she would tell me it was a cyst and give me a progesterone shot. For more than a year I saw no real changes in my body, or my reproductive health. Still I agreed with all her assessements when I sat in her office. I wanted to believe.

Then I asked her for the progesterone level test. She said no, not until another consultation. And my eyes flew open.

I went to the web and actually looked up all of the drugs she had me on. While they can help, the levels she prescribed were too low to do anything. I also learned that no one really prescribes progesterone cream for an imbalance because the dose is too low and delivery inconsistent.

After I was done banging my head against a wall screaming "damn it, what happened to trusting yourself" I called my regular OB to see if she would order a progesterone test. She did. No big deal. When it came back low she called in a prescription for progesterone pills I will start on next cycle. No big deal. And she did it all without trying to convince me she was right.

Even better? I didn't have to convince myself.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A miscarriage primer

There is a lot of information about miscarriages on the Internet. And a lot of misinformation, unfortunately. As I expect many women who are preparing to miscarry naturally do, I scoured the Web for any and all information that might be available.

If the Internet was to be believed, I could expect the worst pain of my life -- worse than real labor! -- in addition to vomiting and probably passing out unconscious on the bathroom floor.

What I think is probably true is that miscarriages are different for every woman. I'm certain a lot of it has to do with how far along the pregnancy was.

So what I'd like to do is explain, without reserve, the details of my own miscarriage in case there is a woman out there who is going through this same thing and is, perhaps, a little terrified by what she's read on the Internet.

Now for starters, I'm not going to leave out the dirty details that I feel lots of Internet miscarriers leave out. That is to say: I had diarrhea every day for 10 days before the miscarriage. This may not be normal, but this was my experience. 

I'd been spotting off and on for almost two weeks before I started bleeding, like a period. The bleeding began four days before the miscarriage.

The evening before the miscarriage, I was feeling pretty good but there was definitely a tightening in my abdomen; some cramping that I could feel growing stronger. I went to bed around midnight. 

I woke up at 3 a.m. with strong cramps. It felt like very strong period cramps. I knew this must be the beginning of the miscarriage, and I got up to go sit on the toilet. First there was more diarrhea - joy! About twenty minutes later, the first chunks of uterine lining slipped out.

Now, what I guess I hadn't anticipated was how that was going to feel. It felt larger than I expected. I didn't look at it; I just flushed it. And then I cried for a good ten minutes.

I'll interject here to say that while the cramps were painful, and the contractions did ramp up over the next three hours, at no point did I feel the absolute need to take the Vicodin my doctor had prescribed. This was not the worst pain of my life, and I am sure real labor will be worse. That being said, the embryo had died at 6 weeks, 4 days, so it was small.

So over the three hours of the main part of the miscarriage, I had contractions in waves. I would sit on the toilet, push out a chunk or two, get up, walk around, drink some water, lie down for a few minutes, and then repeat. The worst part of the whole thing was probably the back labor -- a deep ache in my lower back that was very uncomfortable.

*Note -- I think staying well hydrated during this process helps keep things moving.

I did finally take a look at what was coming out and I'm sorry if this grosses you out, but it looked like pieces of offal. Chicken liver and such.

At 6 a.m., I was too exhausted to continue. I was still cramping, but the cramps had leveled off to a level I thought I could probably sleep through. And sleep I did, until noon, getting up once to change my pad at 9 a.m.

Throughout that day I had some cramping, especially in the early evening, when it got so bad I did consider taking the Vicodin. Luckily, after about two hours it had stopped.

On Monday I was feeling physically pretty good. I still had some niggling aches in my lower back, but it wasn't constant. I decided I felt well enough to run some errands. About 30 seconds after I walked out of the house, I felt the amniotic sac slide out.

I am quite certain it was the amniotic sac because it was large -- about the size of my hand -- and grayish in some areas. Parts looked veined, if you can believe it. In all honesty the thing creeped me out so bad I could barely look at it. Another reason I'm quite sure this was the amniotic sac is that the cramps stopped right away. Everything I've read on the Internet has said the sac is the last to come out, and as soon as it does, the cramping stops.

I have an appointment this afternoon for an ultrasound. I fervently hope everything came out. I can't have gone through all that, only to then need a D&C.

Physically, I'm feeling decent. No more nausea, thank goodness. I do still feel a little fatigued, which is probably to be expected, and I've unfortunately developed pupps rash -- a rash pregnant women sometimes get after labor. It's quite itchy and annoying.

Emotionally I am relieved. I feel that now that this is hopefully behind me, I can move forward. Not just with trying to conceive again, but with other areas of my life. This experience has helped me reevaluate the way I've been living, and it's lighted a fire under me to be more ambitious.

As far as when we will try again, I don't think that emotionally I can do it right away. My current plan, barring any unforeseen change of events, is to wait until January to try again. I hope that by then I can get to a healthy place where I feel completely ready to embark on this journey once more.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Ragey is a word I learned from Erin. I’m not sure if it has been officially added to Webster’s, but my personal definition is angry + crazy. To me, ragey is more than being mad. It’s being mad + slightly to severely unhinged. Thank God this is not how I feel all the time. It’s not even how I feel most of the time. But it is how I have been feeling for a couple of weeks.

I’m pretty pissed off, and I can’t fully explain why. Everything feels like an injustice. Everything feels like a struggle. Libby’s experience with her doctor makes me want to scream. Erin’s miscarriage makes me want to cry. Circumstances in my own life (related and unrelated to fertility) make me want to scream and cry.

The other week I had a full-blown, can’t-stop-crying, teenage-like breakdown in front of my dad. It was ugly and embarrassing, and he asked me twice if I was on my “monthlies.”

I have a friend whose primary symptom of pregnancy is emotional outburst, so after spending a day in tears, I took a pregnancy test. Negative. Since I still felt ragey a week later, I took another test. I’m only slightly exaggerating when I say I could hear the test scream NEGATIVE. It was so rude I felt like slapping it across its face.  To my credit, I managed to refrain from brawling with a pee stick and just threw the stupid thing in the trash. Two days later, I started my period.

One of the most annoying aspects of trying to conceive is how similar the symptoms are for PMS and early pregnancy.
  • Moodiness
  • Tender, swollen breasts
  • Fatigue
  • Backaches
  • Headaches
  • Acne
  • Weight gain
Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. I love being a girl, but I look at this list and shake my head in disbelief. How do we manage to put up with all this B.S. every month? It’s unbelievable.

I’ve decided I want a surprise pregnancy. I want to be so detached from my monthly cycle and my body that I don’t even notice I’m pregnant. You know, like those women who go to the bathroom at a rest stop and practically deliver a baby in the toilet. It doesn’t matter that they’ve never taken a prenatal in their life and that they’ve drank alcohol and caffeine and maybe even smoked every day of the last 10 months. Their baby is perfectly healthy and they didn’t even know it was growing inside of them.

Of course, I’m not serious. If that ever happened, I’d get ragey over the fact I missed the joys of pregnancy.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


To get this out of the way and prevent the paragraph-skipping your eye is going to want to do unless I just come out and say it, I’m going to just come out with it.
I was pregnant, and now I am not.
I found out I was pregnant about four and a half weeks ago. When I got an ultrasound at seven weeks, things didn’t look great. At eight weeks – last Thursday -- the fetal heartbeat was gone.
With that out of the way, I’ll now start at the beginning.
First of all, I’m sorry I couldn’t tell you right away. The reason I didn’t is because of exactly what happened. I couldn’t live out the joy and tragedy for a live audience. I’d planned to tell everyone after my seven-week ultrasound, if everything looked good. Since it didn’t look good, I kept quiet.
You might remember that Christina and I each took pregnancy tests before leaving for BlogHer in early August.  I was on cycle day 23, and had ovulated around day 15 or so, if The Machine was to be trusted. The result of my test was negative. Not even the faintest line. I proceeded to the airport and had two glasses of wine to calm my flying jitters, then another on the airplane. Then another that evening at the expo, and then a giant margarita at dinner.
For the entirety of BlogHer, I was ravenous. I ate so much I gained two pounds in the few short days we were there.  The first night I slept terribly, but the next two nights I dropped into a deep sleep and had strange, vivid dreams. By the end of BlogHer I felt deeply fatigued and when I got home, I crawled into bed and took a long nap.
I continued to feel extremely tired and have strange dreams. The night before I got my “big fat positive,” I dreamed I had a baby but kept forgetting to take care of it. In my dream, I awoke and remembered I’d left the baby in the living room, and I scrambled out of bed to get it. When I got there, a raccoon had somehow gotten into the house and scratched the baby’s face. I awoke – for real – in a panic.
My husband had forbidden me to take a pregnancy test until my period was abnormally late, and as it happened the date I took the test was on his 35th birthday. I used an EPT test and the plus sign showed up immediately. I started shaking. I looked at myself in the mirror and recognized sheer terror. I’d been trying to get pregnant for so long that I’d never actually envisioned a positive pregnancy test. My husband was elated.
More symptoms started cropping up. Nosebleeds, sore breasts, sensitivity to smells, cramping and nausea. Fatigue and crazy dreams continued to be a mainstay.
And then we went to the first ultrasound. I was seven weeks along. The ultrasound tech showed us the embryo and the fluttering heart. She congratulated us and sent us on to the doctor. We sat in the waiting room, grinning ear to ear.
And then the doctor congratulated us and told us the baby’s due date would be April 22 – our wedding anniversary. But, there was a caveat. She said the fetus looked to be only about six weeks, three days old, and the heartbeat was lower than she’d like, at only 80 beats per minute, so she had us schedule another ultrasound for the following week. She said it could be a fluke and she advised “cautious optimism.”
I already felt optimistic – after all, I’d just seen my baby’s heartbeat. So I smiled and asked the doctor if I could proceed with asking her the dozen or so questions I’d written down. And she said: “You know, let’s wait until your next appointment.”
At this point I realized two things. 1) My doctor is kind of a bitch. 2) She didn’t think the baby was going to make it.
I, of course, jumped on the internet immediately when I got home and found a study that concluded that six-week-old embryos with heartbeats of 80 beats per minute die within one week of the first ultrasound 61% of the time. Even if the heartbeat returns to normal, there is still a 25% chance of fetal demise in the first trimester after such a low heartbeat reading.
This was devastating news. I crawled into bed and cried.
We kept busy over Labor Day weekend. There was a lot going on and we met friends and family for various gatherings with smiles plastered on our faces. My symptoms had begun to fade. The nausea wasn’t nearly as bad. My breasts didn’t hurt at all. And then I started spotting very lightly. I warned my family not to be surprised if I delivered bad news after the next ultrasound. They’d all been so excited when we told them about the pregnancy. My sister is almost six months along and the cousins would have been close in age.
At the next ultrasound, a male technician stared quietly at the screen, perhaps deciding how best to word what needed to be said. I could see on the monitor there was no flutter; no heartbeat. I just stared at it, dry-eyed. My husband didn’t make a sound. The tech said he was sorry for the bad news and sent us on to my doctor, who sat us down to inform me of my options for the next, essential step.
There are three options. 1) Wait it out and miscarry naturally. 2) Insert a pill in my vagina to induce miscarriage. 3) A D&C (abortion) to remove the fetus.
All three are terrifying, but I chose the natural option. My doctor wrote me a prescription for vicodin and I imagine when the time comes I’ll pop a couple pills and spend some time on the toilet. She likened the process to a “mini-labor.” If it doesn’t happen on its own within a couple weeks, she wants to do the surgery.
I am ok, if by ok we mean that I am getting up in the morning and acting mostly human each day. I am a little shell-shocked, and pretty bummed out. I feel a bit of low-burning rage in the pit of my stomach, and I would kind of like to break something and maybe scream a little bit. For now I just sit silent, thinking about how this happened, what must happen next, and what should happen a couple months from now.
The doctor says we can try again once I have a normal period. This probably means we can try again sometime in November, providing I haven’t been committed to a mental hospital (I kid! You have to laugh, or you’ll cry). I admit the thought of trying again makes me want to vomit. But this is still so fresh, of course I feel that way. Also, I still have nausea from the pregnancy, to add salt to the wound.
The good news is that in all my google consults, I discovered another study that says women who get pregnant within six months of a miscarriage have a greater likelihood than normal of having a healthy pregnancy.
And the other good news is that throughout all this, we found out one important thing: I CAN GET PREGNANT. This is pretty astounding.
This is probably enough to have said about all this – more than enough, likely. I’ll be dealing with the fallout for the next couple of weeks and I’m sure I’ll write more about that. In the meantime I’m being as much of a hermit as I can and trying to feel sorry for myself only in the shower or when the lights are off and I’m trying to fall asleep. Miscarriage is something normal, something everyday, that has happened to almost every mother I know. I know this. They made it through and I will, too.

Monday, September 12, 2011


I am beyond annoyed.

I have been tracking my basal temperature, and it appears that every month, after the spike showing ovulation, it falls off. Goes of a cliff. Enters an ice age. What does this mean? Well, it could mean many things, including a progesterone deficiency. The one thing that during all of the poking and prodding that was done to me -- I was never tested for. After all, they reasoned, my luteal phase was long enough, so the progesterone had to be there. Of course, as we all know from MB the length of the luteal phase is just one of the markers, a progesterone deficiency can still exist, even if there are a full 14 days after ovulation.

I was sure it was a break through! My acupuncturist thought so too, and said I should call my doctor and see if she would order a test. I decided to call my naturopath, who has ordered testing like this before, sure she would help me out. I had an appointment already scheduled, so we could discuss the results.

She refused to do it.

She said she doesn't order tests just because an "acupuncturist" has a theory. I told her about the basal charting. She said we could discuss it at my next appointment. I said by then it would be too late because according to all the books it needed to be tested seven days after ovulation. I said it would be another month down the drain. She still refused. Oh, then she asked if I was trying to get pregnant. I guess she has short term amnesia.

Now, I know that doctors can't just order tests whenever a patient wants them. But when a doctor is working on a certain problem with a patient, and a test could help get to the bottom of it, shouldn't they be interested in having it done, no matter where the idea came from? Especially when the year of other medications they have prescribed haven't made any difference?

It made me wonder if she was just waiting to get her fee for the next appointment before she would help. Yep, that's how distrustful her response has made me. It also makes me want to dump all the pills she has put me on, at some cost, down the toilet. And it definitely makes me wonder if I want her involved in this process any more.

So, what do you think? Am I being a baby? Or is she being unreasonably unhelpful?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Drinking like a pregnant person

For starters, I have to share one story. Over the weekend someone asked me if my husband and I are planning on having children. I accept that people are going to ask me this even if they barely know me, as was the case this time. It's simply something humans do, inquiring after each other's procreational intentions. My blanket response is: "We're working on it," which is what I said this time. The person asked me how long we'd been working on it. I said, "A while." She said, "Oh, then you should stop trying! Then I'm sure it would happen. You know, because of all the stress that builds up in your body."

I think I said, "I know, right?" But I was thinking of an infertility blog I sometimes check in at that's titled, "Just Stop Trying And It Will Happen." The title is obviously hyperbolic and represents one of the infertility community's most detested pieces of advice. That, along with "Are you sure you're doing it right?"

Our favorite response to this one is: "You mean the penis is supposed to go in the vagina?!"

So anyway. That's not what this post is about today; that was just a little anecdote to whet your appetite.

What today's post is about is how I've stopped drinking caffeine and alcohol. In the circles I hang out, this has not gone unnoticed. I love me some wine. And coffee, for that matter.

So let's start with coffee. Here are some bullet-pointed nuggets from Making Babies:

- Caffeine can decrease the flow of blood to the uterus, which can interfere with implantation.
- Too much caffeine may increase the risk of clotting and miscarriage.
- Coffee is acidic and can make the body and the cervical mucus acidic, too. Several studies have concluded that coffee (with or without caffeine) diminishes fertility. A recent large Dutch study determined that four cups of coffee a day lowered a woman's chances of having a baby by more than 25 percent -- comparable to the damage done by smoking, being overweight, or having three or more alcoholic drinks a week.
- Some studies have linked coffee and low sperm count.

And alcohol:

- Some studies show even low levels of alcohol can cut fertility by as much as one-half.
- One large study concluded that women who had fewer than five drinks a week were twice as likely to get pregnant in a given six-month period compared to women who drank more.
- Another study demonstrated that men who drank alcohol regularly took twice as long to get their partners pregnant as men who didn't drink at all.
- Alcohol is toxic to sperm, and overuse can reduce sperm quality, increase abnormal sperm, and lower motility. Men who drink have been shown to have lower sperm counts and lower testosterone.
- In women alcohol can be  a risk factor for ovulatory infertility.
- Alcohol also interferes with the body's ability to absorb nutrients from food. That includes zinc, which is key for male fertility in particular.
- Alcohol interferes with the action of folic acid as well, which plays an important role in the maturation of an egg for ovulation.
- Alcohol acidifies the body, including the cervical mucus. If the mucus gets to acidic, sperm can't survive in it, and so can't reach the egg.

These are good things to remember, that I'm constantly "forgetting." It's so much easier to just take some extra supplements than it is to turn down a glass of wine at a party; believe me, I know. But the payoff just might be worth it. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Is Diet Pepsi Keeping Me Barren?

I have a love/hate relationship with Diet Pepsi. By that I mean I love it, and I hate it when anyone suggests we should part ways. Despite that, about once a year I try to stop. The reasons are usually the same: Aspartame causes cancer and all kids of health problems, giving it up will help me lose weight, or it's a bad habit for my daughter to emulate.

I usually last about 24 hours before I go crawling back.

I tell myself that lots of things cause cancer, that I only drink two day and there are lots of other things I can do to lose weight, and that it's not like I'm smoking it in front of Meg.

This time though? I've been off it four days and counting. The reason? Aspartame totally messes with your pH balance.

As anyone familiar with the MB program knows, getting the pH balance right in your body is the holy grail. Practically everything that is done with diet and supplements is about making the body not too acidic -- yet I have been sabotaging that every day just because I can't leave my fizzy lover behind.

The body's basic pH is 7.0-7.3. That's when it is firing on all cylinders. Aspartame's pH? 1.5. I have been pouring acid into my body while trying to make it perform a function (reproduction) that needs balance. According to the Aspartame experts in order to rebalance the body after the acid in one 12 ounce can of diet soda, a person has to drink 256 ounces of water. I would drink two Diet Pepsis in a day -- on an average. And I know I was not drinking 512 ounces of water. I know that because I don't have a hump and camel breath.

So, I'm off it. I actually haven't even been tempted by it this time. I think because if this is the thing that is keeping me from getting pregnant, I'm really pissed at myself. I mean, we were spending thousands of dollars every month on fertility treatments, and I may have been voiding them because there was a Pepsi machine in the lobby. Yeah, I know that probably wasn't the only reason, and that one little thing like that doesn't make all the difference.

But what if it does? That's all I can keeping thinking about.

Of course, now I think about things like that with a cup of tea in my hand.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Life is Cake

“To our knowledge, flourless chocolate cake is the only dessert that is named for a missing ingredient.” ~The New Best Recipe cookbook, page 862

Being childless sometimes feels like being a flourless chocolate cake. You’re defined by what is missing in your life and your identity can be pigeonholed into one category ~ infertile. Never mind all the rest. Never mind all the tiny ways you try to make this world a better place. You’re not a mom, so it doesn’t matter.

This is as ridiculous and as untrue as telling a flourless chocolate cake it’s not decadent because it lacks dry ingredients.

Yes, John and I would like children, but my mind tells me: Be happy now. Do not wait. Nothing is going to get any more perfect than it already is.

It’s true certain circumstances are easier to live with than others. But a lot of circumstances are easier to live with than we let them be.

This applies to the fertility struggle as much as it does to any struggle. And I don’t want to be defined by my struggles. I want to be defined by my joys. I want my mind to be so jam-packed and overflowing with everything good and right in my life that all the negatives are pushed to the back corner, where they can be properly ignored.

I wonder if flourless chocolate cake ever longs for more than its rich ingredients of chocolate, butter and eggs. I’m thinking not.

Of course, we are not cake.

And sometimes not having a baby (or fill in the blank with whatever is lacking in your life) is harder than I would like to admit, and it’s hard to know what to do when you feel disappointed or left behind. A few years ago I noticed most of my friends were having their second child. Now almost everyone is welcoming their third or fourth.

Sometimes I feel like I’m never going to catch up, like I’m so far behind I’m not even in the race.

This feeling is not limited to children. There are several areas in my life I find just as frustrating as infertility, and all of them have the tendency to make me feel inadequate and stupid.

You might be wondering how something so obviously out of my control as infertility could make me feel stupid. This is where I will show you the ugliness of self-blame:

We should have started trying sooner, before I turned 30. We should have had our lives more together so we could have started trying sooner without fearing we would end up on welfare. We shouldn’t have worried so much about being ‘ready’ to have children. (By the way, we never became ‘ready’ we just stopped worrying about it.) 

This train usually crashes somewhere around: I should have done my high school summer reading because slacking in English is clearly when my life took a turn for the worse.

The fact John and I are childless really isn’t a turn for the worse. It’s just not what we imagined. I bet flourless chocolate cake is not what a lot of people imagine. When done well, it’s surprisingly and undeniably delicious.