Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pregnancy Tests

I used to go months and months and months without taking a pregnancy test. They weren’t even a staple in my home. On the rare occasion I peed on a stick, it was kind of a big deal, like I really thought I was pregnant.

Back then, I didn’t mind waiting an extra few days or even a week and just wondering if I might be “expecting.” I would keep my suspicion to myself for a day or two (OK, more like 4 hours), then I would tell my husband and best friend. The suspense was exciting.

In fact, I didn’t understand when my friends would tell me they would test every month, sometimes every day until the result was positive or they got their period. I liked letting my imagination run wild. I liked thinking about telling my parents the good news and making big announcements to family and friends. It was fun.

Well, let me just say, those days are done. I no longer take a pregnancy test because I think I’m pregnant. I don’t bother getting John’s hopes up either. Now, I take a pregnancy test as a way of clearing up brain space so I don’t accidentally calculate possible due dates.

By the way, today (Wednesday) is Day 32, I’ve been spotting since last Tuesday and I spent $17 at Walgreens to confirm what I already knew. I am not pregnant. (This sounds a whole lot whinier than I actually feel.)

I think I’m going to start buying these things on Amazon. Let me know if you have a favorite source.

In other news, a few weeks ago I said I would start exercising in May. May is only a few days away and I still need to figure out a plan – a doable, painless plan. (Again, I’m open to suggestions.)

In the meantime, I’m sending lots of love to you and your ovaries. xoxo!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Little Needles in My Face

Oh, and in my hands. And my feet. And my shins. Yeah, and my belly.

That's right. I have started acupuncture, and it ins't half as gruesome as I thought it was going to be.

Wait, I don't mean gruesome. I mean expensive, ineffective and boring.

I had acupuncture once before when I was going through infertility treatments. It was like being in an Instacare, I felt nothing, they explained nothing, and the entire time (despite being told to "relax") I was tense and trying to look at the needle that had been stuck in the center of my forehead.

This is a completely different experience, and I don't just mean this clinic is more like a spa than a bus terminal. Not only am I able to relax enough not to try and sneak a peek at my Hellraiser appearance, but I actually fall asleep. I NEVER fall asleep in so called "relaxing" situations. Not in massages. Not in facials. Not while lounging. My acupuncturist says the fact I am dozing off is a sign it's working. Well, I'll be the judge of that when and if I see two lines on a pregnancy test, but for now I am just grateful for the naps. Honestly, after my last appointment I was kind of disappointed I didn't get to go again the next day. That's how refreshed I felt.

So far, I have only had two treatments, but I have signed up for three months. My acupuncturist says the location of the needles will move depending on the stage in my cycle, and that after one full cycle she is going to start me on some herbs as well. I can't tell you how excited I am to add that to my daily potions and pills. Wait, yes I can. I'm not very excited at all. I'm going to take them though, because I figure if I've done this much, what's a few herbs?

I mean, I already faced the needles...

Thursday, April 21, 2011


I really want to write a proper post about the birth of my dear friends’ baby girl.

I want to tell you all about the miracle and surprise of the pregnancy and the wonderment, pain and beauty of their daughter’s arrival. (The first journey took 14 years of marriage, the second, roughly 36 hours of labor.)

I want to tell you about this little girl’s perfect heart lips and thick dark hair, about her dimple and how she was already blowing kisses to the camera.

I want to tell you about how her arrival instantly transformed a wife and husband into a mother and father.

I’m afraid I’ll never, ever give justice to this family’s amazing love story. I know for sure it’s not a story I can tell tonight. (Mostly because I just got home from baby girl’s birth and I’ve had less than 3 hours of “couch” sleep.)

For now, I just want you to know she exists. Her life is proof that miracles happen, prayers are answered, and nothing is impossible for God.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


I don't know what cycle day this is. Isn't that wonderful?

I haven't taken my temperature a single time in the last week, haven't peed on a stick, haven't turned on The Machine, haven't worried about it. It's basically like being a normal human being again.

My previous cycle fucked with my head big time. I'd taken no fewer than three pregnancy tests by the time my period decided to show up on Day 30, even though I instinctively knew I was not pregnant. When it finally arrived, it was a huge relief. I just want to focus on my health this cycle by exercising and eating right and taking a mental vacation from the constant obsessing over temperature fluctuations and peak fertile days.

Not to mention the notorious two week wait, which kills me every month.

I'm not able to completely get away from all things baby-related. Babies and the things that come with them are everywhere. Saturday night I dreamed my sister and I were both pregnant and giving birth at the same time. Sunday morning a friend announced the birth of her sister's baby. Today a friend of Christina's is in labor -- a woman who deserves this baby, big time, after trying for a decade.

Babies are always floating around in my thoughts, strangely. I used to swear I didn't want children, and I didn't! Children really, really frightened me. Holding babies scared the living daylights out of me. But somehow, time passed and the next thing I knew I was gazing lovingly at adorable babies in strollers and imagining rocking my own fat little munchkin to sleep.

My mom reminded me of my lack of desire to have kids the other day. I said, I know! She said You need to take it back. I said, I do! I take it back! 

Maybe the universe needed to hear me say it out loud. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Too Far

I have been dealing with depression for most of my life, and have been on some sort of anti-depressant for more than 20 years. For the most part I accept that this is who I am, and that if I want to have a happy life, or even function in the day to day, I am going to have to be on some sort of medication. Of course, then there are the times that I totally decide to mess with it. You know, like when I read a book that tells me if I want to get pregnant, I should probably go off the drugs.

When I first read the passage in "Making Babies" about getting rid of anti-depressants and other medications, I dismissed it. I knew from experience I couldn't go off my anti-depressants and be okay. I knew that it wouldn't be good for me, it wouldn't be good for my family, and it definitely wouldn't be good for any fetus that needed a safe place to incubate.

But I kept thinking about it. I kept wondering if, all these years, the key to getting pregnant was just getting rid of the meds. I started to get angry; feeling like my depression had already taken enough from me, and now it was taking my ability to have a child. I decided it was time to take control. I went off the meds.

The first few days were okay. I was a little lower, but not that bad. I told myself the supplements, and lack of wine, were probably balancing out the medications. I was sure I had found the magic bullet, and that everything would be fine.

Then I crashed.

I didn't just crash a little bit. I crashed hard. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING caused me to either burst into tears, convince myself I am a horrible person, or make me irrationally angry. On top of that I was dizzy and nauseous, and felt kind of out of touch with everything. It was like being a little bit tipsy, but without any of the fun. Despite all this, I thought if I just go through the physical withdrawal, I would be fine.

I finally returned to my senses on Friday. Ryan (my husband) came home, we were getting ready to go to dinner -- and I couldn't stop crying. I had no idea why I was crying, or what I needed to do to stop, or even if I ever wanted to stop. I was just crying. Ryan was very understanding when I told him what I had done, just asking if next time I made a decision that affects us all if I wouldn't mind consulting him first. He pointed out that the whole reason I wanted to take this approach instead of going back on hormones was that I wanted to remain sane, and do this on my own terms.

I'm back on the meds now.

It may be that my history of depression is contributing to my infertility. I have read studies that say the longer you are on anti-depressants, the more likely you are to have problems conceiving. I had been on them at least 15 years before I even thought about having a child. So, if that's the case, I am going to have to deal with it, and move on.

I just need to keep reminding myself that all children deserve to have the best parents possible. I am not the best parent I can be when I am crazy. I am not a good parent to my Meg, and wouldn't be a good parent to any child I would conceive.

So, let's hope the supplements, the diet change, the exercise, the acupuncture, and the visualization will balance out the pills.

I mean, doesn't it seem like they should?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Opposite of Lift

I went treasure hunting at Borders bookstore. The one by my office is going out of business, and anything left is 70 to 90 percent off. I love bookstores even though I’m a terrible reader, always randomly starting and stopping prose meant to be read from beginning to end.

I found several things worth buying, but I was most excited about Kelly Corrigan’s “Lift.” I think it was the last copy left, and I’ve wanted it since it came out last year.

I only know Corrigan’s work through clips of readings and video essays I’ve seen on YouTube and the Today Show. But I consider myself a fan. Her writing is simple and deep and funny and tender.  

“Lift” happens to be a tiny book perfect for a terrible reader like me. It’s pretty, too, with a beautiful green butterfly on the cover, and the title obviously implies one will feel good while reading it.

Anne Lamott wrote a review on the back, and the quote before the book even begins is lovely: “All things want to fly.” ~R.M. Rilke

There is absolutely no way I’m not going to love this book. I’ll probably memorize it, I thought. And I bought it for the grand total of $3.40. What could be better?

What I didn’t know until I got home, cracked the spine and began to read is that “Lift” is about motherhood. It is written as a letter to Corrigan’s two daughters, Georgia and Claire.

While I’m quite sure it is as beautiful and inspiring as I imagined, it was not what I expected. Not at all. It felt like a slap in the face. I was inclined to throw the book across the room, but I didn’t. I just stared at its gorgeous cover in disbelief.

Pretty book, you are not meant to be read by me. Not right now anyway.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ready for my month off

I just ... cannot ... wait!

It might be the PMS talking, but I am so over all of this ovulation-tracking, temperature-keeping, cycle-watching bull shit. In case it's not completely clear, I am absolutely pissed off about this whole thing and would dearly love to punch someone -- maybe myself -- in the face.

It came to a head on Monday, when I was going about my day and noticed suddenly that my breasts hurt. A LOT. I will sometimes get tender boobs when I'm about to start my period, but this was new pain. This was aching, throbbing, swelling ... you get the idea. I thought, Well? Perhaps in spite of all of the symptoms of PMS (including ragey face acne and a lower basal body temperature and a cleaning frenzy on Sunday) -- perhaps it's pregnancy.

You know what comes next. I pee on a stick, the stick laughs in my face, and then I eat a bag of tortilla chips.

Fuck you, ovaries, and the vagina you rode in on. 

So, as I've mentioned before, I like to have a plan when I'm coming to the end of a cycle. A plan for the next cycle. And the plan this time, as I also mentioned last week, is to Not. Do. Anything.

No ovulation tracking, no temperature-taking, no thinking about it, no discussing it, zip, zilch, nada. If someone asks me about it, I will say as politely as possible that I am not talking about anything even remotely related to my malfunctioning gonads for one month and can they please ask again next cycle. Thankyouverymuch.

I can't wait. Can't, can't, can't, can't wait!

What I am going to do over the next month is lose a bunch of weight. I've said before and still believe that my weight is throwing everything off. It's obviously healthier to be pregnant when you don't weigh a bajillion pounds, anyway, so let's get this show on the road. I'm tired of dicking around.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Feel the Burn

I am now on more supplements than probably any other person in the world, and I have heartburn to prove it.

It is always there. Not horrible, just enough to make me uncomfortable. Like a marble of burning in the back of my throat. I can't wash it away with water, and I can't swallow it down with food. Pepcid gets rid of it, but since "Making Babies" suggests avoiding all unnecessary medications I am trying to only go that route when it gets really bad.

I have never been a person who is bothered by taking vitamins. I could even take them without food and not have a problem. Of course, in the past I was taking gummy vitamins, or Flintstones chewables, not exactly the array I am taking now. I thought maybe it was just the combinations I was taking, or one certain vitamin or supplement, so I tried taking them each out one at a time, but that didn't work. Removing magnesium made it slightly better, but the burn still remained.

I tried changing my eating habits too (I mean, even more than I already have), seeing if removing things that are acidic, or creamy, or spicy might help. Nope, nope, and nope. No matter what I ate, or didn't eat, the burn lived on.

It's weird, because the book doesn't mention anything about possible heartburn. They talk about all the health benefits of the program, but not the possible side effects that could derail the whole thing. I really have been wondering how many women have given up on this whole program just because the supplements are too hard to swallow.

I am going to keep swallowing them though. All of them.

After all, if this works out I hear I will be dealing with plenty of heartburn later. Might as well gear up for it now.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Incentives, Part 2

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing … that’s why we recommend it daily.” ~Zig Ziglar

Behavior modification is not my favorite. I spent most of this last week trying to think of some really good incentives to help keep me motivated. Gold stars aren’t going to cut it.

So, I made myself a little chart (it’s really more like a daily journal page), and I listed out all my supplements and left space for writing in what I ate that day. I also created a space for writing in my caffeine and alcohol consumption, both of which I do not plan to kick completely out of my diet. And at the bottom of the page is a section for recording any exercise.

I’ve decided to focus on supplements and healthy eating in April and to hold off adding exercise until May. One new thing a month might be all I can handle.

I’m focusing my efforts on weight loss. Like Erin, I think this could really improve my fertility. Unfortunately, I have this annoying habit of losing and regaining the same 2 pounds every week, which needs to stop. Right now.

I’ve decided I’m going to pay myself $10 for every pound I lose. After the first 10 pounds, the price will go up. At first I was thinking of rewarding myself by buying a bottle of wine, but that might be counterproductive. Anyway, I’ll set the money aside and when I hit 10 pounds, I can spend it on whatever I want.

Regarding the supplements, I need some tiny reward I can give myself daily for a job well done. I’m thinking if I take all my supplements one day, then the next day I can buy myself a KeVita or Kombucha. These drinks are super healthy, but I definitely think of them as a treat. On the weekends, maybe I’ll get a latte.  

I need change to be slow enough that I stick to it but the results to be fast enough that I stay motivated. Plus, I need to be able to cheat without derailing my diet. Yes, I'm hoping for a miracle.

(Fair warning: Not everyone loves my funky health drinks as much as I do. You may think they are grosser than royal jelly.)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

How to know you're really, really not pregnant

I'm only on my third month of tracking my basal body temperature, but it's been long enough to show me something is completely whack.

I think pictures will speak better than I can to illustrate what's going on here, so please take a look at these three cycles I tracked and tell me if they even look like they're from the same person. 

This first cycle, I started on Day 10. Which - I know - not ideal to give you the big picture, but it does still show a lot of wild temperature ranges. If I had to guess, I'd say I ovulated on Day 17, if I ovulated at all.

 This is the second month I tracked, and so far the most "normal" looking chart I have, even with all of the roller-coastering happening in the luteal phase. In this cycle, it looks like I ovulated on Day 14, but the temperature kept spiking and dropping, indicating a possible progesterone deficiency.

And here I am on Day 22 of this very special cycle. I ovulated (maybe) on Day 17, followed by a big temperature drop - probably not a good thing. This is probably considered a monophasic cycle, since the temperatures are all very similar; as you can see, they're all hovering around 98 degrees. There's a distinct possibility in this cycle that I did not ovulate at all.

Temperature charting makes trying to conceive rather frustrating. Because on one hand, I've got The Machine, which is basically shouting at me: YOU'RE FERTILE! HAVE SEX NOW! I SAW THE RIGHT HORMONES SO YOU REALLY ARE GONNA OVULATE, YUP!

And so I do. And then I see ovulation occurring on the chart, which is great. And then the next day the temperature drops and from there on out starts doing its customary boomeranging.

So again, I ain't pregnant. I say this with 98 percent certainty. I don't feel pregnant (although I know, I know, I'm only five days post-ovulation) and my chart is saying "not gonna happen this cycle, sweetheart."

Which is why I've decided that after this cycle, when the certainty of non-pregnancy has reared its ugly Red Head once again, I am stashing The Machine and the thermometer and the charts and all that other crap in a cupboard somewhere and I'm going to ignore it for one cycle. I'll continue supplements, but that's it.

Otherwise, my brain is going to break. Or my heart. Or both.

I've been advised a couple of things, by multiple people.

The first is to relax, which I know all of us who are trying to conceive hate to hear. Relax and it will happen! Look: I am so relaxed that in order for me to be more relaxed, I would need to take tranquilizers and sit in the back yard with a pitcher of margaritas. I work from home, doing stuff I love, I have the best husband in the world, etc. But I get the gist of what they're saying -- they're saying Stop being so hard on yourself. Stop worrying about this for five minutes and think about something else. So I'm gonna. For one cycle.

The second piece of advice I've received is: Go to the doctor. So, look. Eventually I will go to the doctor. But seeing as how I have a deep mistrust of doctors and I suspect that my cycles will start to even out once I lose more weight (7 pounds and counting!), I just don't want to yet. I still have this hope that this will all happen naturally and I won't have to deal with medication or needles or any of that. That may not be the case, but I need to spend the time to find out on my own. Additionally, my insurance is changing so right now's not a good time to be going to the doctor or getting pregnant, anyway.

So I'm really looking forward to my Cycle of Freedom. I'm not going to check for cervical mucus. I'm going to have sex when I want to, not when that infernal Machine tells me to. I'm not going to take my temperature and obsess over spikes and dips. Instead, I'm going to let Jillian Michaels beat the shit out of me during the 30-Day Shred. I'm going to resume my 5K training. I'm going to keep eating fruit and vegetables as though they were absolutely the most wonderful things I'd ever tasted pleasegodineedacheeseburger.

And at the end of that cycle, I'll pull out my stash of fertility helpers and start peeing on sticks again and taking my temperature every morning and checking my mucus and maybe, oh, maybe, my body will behave.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Switching Off

I need to step away from the computer.

Well, not just the computer. The cell phone, the radio, the television, and the Kindle all need to go off too. Actually, any electronic device now needs to be put in the "off" position, until my ovaries are ready for take off. At least, they need to be off for as much time as possible, according to the "Making Babies" program.

Turns out, according to the program, that electronic devices, and the heat and other emissions from them are very drying. They zap the moisture right out of you. So, if you, like me, are already "dry" and trying to moisten up (I know, I know, TMI), the less time you spend around electronics, the better.

Did I mention I work in a television station where I surrounded by electronics all day long?

Did I mention that I sleep with my phone and sometimes my laptop?

Did I mention that I blog, read blogs, and Twitter like I'm getting paid for it?

Yeah, this is going to be easier said than done.

I am working on an action plan, though. I can't really get away from it at work, so I am going to try and cut down at home. No more computer or phone in bed. Only two hours of computer time a day MAX. Once I have read everything currently on my Kindle, I am switching back to books. Oh, and when electronics aren't on I am unplugging them so they are emitting nothing.

I have a feeling this may be a withdrawal more serious than the one from giving up wine. And that was ugly.

I guess I will just have to figure out another way to spend my time after Meg goes to sleep. Maybe my husband can help me think of something...