Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Desperate Measures

I'm making an appointment with my OB/GYN.

Yep, that's right, my old fashioned, medication loving, likes to tell me to just "relax," has no diet tips except Weight Watchers, has never stuck a needle in me except to draw blood, and who wouldn't know what to do with herbs unless they were on a salad OB/GYN.

I need to know what the hell is going on.

I mean, in some sense, I know what's going on. My naturopath OB has been treating me for PCOS with hormones, and was the one who diagnosed the cyst. However, I am now starting to feel like it is getting worse, or that something is going on in my body that shouldn't be. For the past three months I have cramped and heavily spotted on the days I am ovulating, or immediately after. My stomach is always upset. I am having hot flashes and nausea.

Not only do I feel crappy, but its making it hard to stay on the program. When my stomach is upset? All I want to do is eat carbs. I definitely don't want to swallow herbs or supplements. The spotting is doing to my mental state what the stomach woes are doing to my physical one. Every time it happens I think "what's the use, I obviously can't make babies" and go pour some wine.

I am not going to my traditional OB/GYN because I don't trust my naturopath or my acupuncturist. I think I have paid them both enough money to show my faith. It's just that I already know how both of them want to address this problem, and it isn't working. I need a perspective from someone who has been with me from the beginning of all of this, and who isn't afraid to throw a little western medicine at it. I mean, if this cyst needs to be removed, I want to know it now -- not when it bursts.

Maybe a third perspective is just what the doctor ordered.

I really hope so.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Welcome to the fiery hell of my vagina. Stay awhile?

I've been doing an excellent job of ignoring my diet for the last few months.

Making Babies states quite clearly that fruits and vegetables are the best things to eat if what we're trying to do is conceive. Which we are.

It does not say tri-tip steak and cupcakes, or martinis and cheese logs. Unfortunately.

About a week ago, I discovered a book called Crazy Sexy Diet. It advocates a raw, vegan, gluten-free lifestyle, among lots of other very hippie-esque practices like meditation and "dry-brushing," and -- dear god -- enemas.

Normally this is exactly the kind of book I would curl my upper lip at in horror. I am a meat-and-cheese eater, and always have been. I'd never planned to give those up.

But where Crazy Sexy Diet hooked me was the chapter about pH.

pH is the measure of acidity or alkalinity in a substance, including our bodies. I faintly recalled a paragraph about pH in Making Babies -- something about it being important. I'd torn desperately through the book in about two days when my Amazon delivery arrived a few months ago, so my recall of all its recommendations is sketchy at best. I decided to revisit that section.

And what it says, of course, is that 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's buh-bye sperm, see you in fiery acid hell.

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*. Hello breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I'd been trying to lose weight by eating low carb, so that did away with a lot of grains, but didn't do anything about all the animal protein I've been eating.

So the more I read about the benefits of a raw vegan diet, the more I became convinced that I should at least try it out. There are a lot of very interesting and convincing details in the book that I won't go into here -- that's why there's an entire book on the subject. Suffice to say this kind of diet is supposed to make you feel and look awesome.

So what I'm going to do is try CSD's 21-day cleanse, which is supposed to eliminate the acids being stored in the blood. It involves lots of juicing and blending of vegetables, and lots of salads. When that's over, I may go back to meat, but probably not dairy because, if you believe CSD, it's basically the root of all evil. But it'll be OK if I go back to eating meat occasionally, or have a martini or a slice of bread. The idea is to be balanced -- to eat enough alkaline foods to balance out the acidic ones.

If you're interested in trying something similar out, just keep in mind that raw veggies are important -- cooking them acidifies them. Also, excessive exercise is acidifying, so keep it mellow. No problem, right? Lastly, if you go meatless, make sure you're popping a vitamin b12 pill.

I start the cleanse next Tuesday, and this week I'm detoxing off of coffee, dairy, meat, processed food and sugar. I'm already mostly gluten-free. This is all just in time for my "fertile window" -- I'm on Day 14 of my cycle and haven't reached my peak fertile day yet. But, I'm hoping the changes in my diet are making my lady bits less acidic.

I don't imagine the 21-day cleanse will be easy, but I am really eager to see how I look and feel. I've been having a lot of trouble losing weight, and my skin has been looking terrible. Not to mention I've kind of been feeling lousy overall.

And if this is the magic bullet that results in a baby? Then I'll know I should have been eating this way from the very beginning.


(*Regarding artificial sweeteners -- after reading Crazy Sexy Diet, I stopped using Truvia in my morning coffee. Although it's derived from stevia, which is safe and natural, it contains other chemicals and sugar alcohols that are bad for you. And if you're using Splenda or Sweet N Low or whatever, please read what a doctor from the Hippocrates Health Institute says about those: "Artificial sweeteners are potent nerve toxins and should never have been approved as safe for human consumption." I've eliminated my favorite gum from my diet because of this, and I haven't had a diet soda in months, since Making Babies also decries artificial sweeteners.)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Taming The Tiger Known As Stress

I have no doubt that the fight-or-flight response is useful when facing life-or-death danger. Problem is my brain can’t tell the difference between deadline pressure and a wild-animal-is-about-to-eat-me-alive danger. My stress button is broken.

This became really clear last year when my anxiety train jumped its tracks. I started to worry, and I couldn’t stop. I often woke up in a panic and couldn’t sleep.

Once when talking with Erin about this, she asked what my anxiety felt like. I think I responded, “It feels like the hands of fear are grasping my heart and won’t let go.” I wasn’t exaggerating. It was terrible.

Thankfully, I’m mostly better now. Circumstances changed and so did my perspective. But I still feel crazy waves of stress hormones flood my body on an all-too regular basis. (I’m sure you do, too. We’re kind of a stressed-out nation.)

In addition to making me feel sick to my stomach, stress hormones --- namely adrenaline and cortisol --- also screw with fertility in a major way. Our bodies were designed to not get pregnant while under chronic stress. Our bodies don’t know that today’s chronic stress might mean too many emails in the inbox, not an actual lack of food, water and shelter.

Anyway, I’m trying to let my body know everything is OK. It can stand down, take a deep breath, relax. If police officers, fire fighters or medical personnel aren’t needed, it’s probably not an emergency.

My latest remedy for stress is beauty. I’m consciously surrounding myself with as much loveliness as possible.

By beauty, I mean simple things, like a clean kitchen, a well-fitted sweater, a cup of fresh berries, a piece of jewelry or a pretty scarf. I might even start painting my nails.

The idea is to embrace any tiny luxury that can relay to my panicky subconscious that the world isn’t coming apart at the seams. I mean if I was really about to be eaten alive by a tiger would I worry about the dishes in the sink, would I take a moment to apply lipstick or arrange a flower in a vase?

I think on some level all these little gestures signal times of peace and cue relaxation. My overly-stressed body and mind need to hear loud and clear that the future is bright and needs babies to fill it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Not Getting the Picture

One of the key components of the "Making Babies" program is visualization. During each phase of my cycle I am supposed to visualize what is going on inside of me. I am supposed to see the eggs ripening, and the lining of my uterus thickening. I am supposed to see the egg fertilizing and making a comfy nest in my womb. I am supposed to see my body welcoming a new life force and nurturing it.

Yeah, I don't see any of that.

It's not that I don't want to see it, I really do. I would love to mentally will myself into getting pregnant. It isn't that I haven't tried it either. Every time I do try it though, my mind wanders. I start trying to picture the eggs forming, and then all of a sudden I wonder if I am picturing my ovaries correctly. Maybe I'm focusing on the wrong one. Maybe what I am picturing is not an ovary at all but my gall bladder. I don't want things growing in my gall bladder, then I wold have to have surgery. What if it's an alien growing in my gall bladder? Oh, I really should put "Aliens" on our Netflix cue. Or do we still have the DVD? No, I think we loaned that to someone and lost it. Who stole our copy of "Aliens?"

See? Lost cause.

Also, I always wonder how long I am supposed to visualize. Is 30 seconds enough? Do I need to do a full half hour? Is it something I need to check in with periodically all day? I need parameters to know when the visualizing is enough to knock me up, but not enough to bring about multiple births.

Oh, and did I mention that the visualizing is supposed to be relaxing? Yeah, it's a key component of the "de-stressing" part of MB. You know, because there really is nothing stressful about trying to have a baby, or following a program with a million parts, and powders, and pills, and diet changes.

If only the visualization came in pill form. I could just add it to the others.

I can picture it now.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Tired Part of Being Tired & Stuck

I’m adding sleep to my to-do list. I never realized how tired I actually am until I started reading Making Babies. This may be in part because I was running on caffeine. I also don’t consider myself to be low-energy. Actually, I was surprised when “Tired” came up as my numero uno fertility type – until I read the description.  

“Tired people are a bit like flat tires. The deflation is not a permanent condition, but as long as they are out of air, they just can’t be their usual selves. Tired people are, above all, tired. “ ~Making Babies

Other key qualities of a tired person may include:
·         Comfortable in the role of coach potato
·         Often feels cold, especially their hands and feet
·         Often has dark circles under their eyes
·         Has trouble concentrating and little motivation
·         Digestive complaints
·         Puts on weight easily, especially under stress
·         Long cycles, late ovulation and spotting

Check. Check. Check. I hadn’t read the book since we first started this journey, and I feel like I’m seeing this information with new eyes. And it’s giving me a new motivation.

Not only is being Tired a hindrance to healthy conception, frankly, it’s no way to live. In fact, it would be really great to fix this tired thing before becoming a mom. The way I hear it, once that happens, you’re destined to be exhausted for the rest of your life.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


It may be folly to feel encouraged by a fortune in a fortune cookie, but sometimes you just feel like the universe is speaking to you.

For example, a couple of years ago, the day before my husband and I were about to embark on a two week road trip, I received a fortune that read: Need some adventure and enjoyment? Take a vacation.

More like advice than a fortune, right? But accurate, nonetheless.

Last week we received these two fortunes:

Your present plans are going to succeed if you stick to them. 

... and, more importantly ...

Your household will soon be showered with unexpected blessings. Congratulations.

I take this to mean I am going to simultaneously publish my book and get pregnant. It's nice to know the universe is on board with my plans.

And speaking of plans, I'm back on the "let's get pregnant" program, ready to pee on a stick when The Machine tells me to, trying to remember to take my temperature in the mornings. The fact that I have remembered to take my temperature only once is an indication of my much more relaxed attitude about this whole thing this cycle. The month of bliss was very helpful mentally (although, as I suspected, the month of bliss was not fruitful the way it has been for some infertility bloggers. I admit I'd hoped it might be the magic key).

And I have to admit something else. I wonder if other people dealing with this same thing ever feel the same way: I am starting to feel like it's kind of useless to even try. This is illogical, I know, but even when we're doing everything right, when and how we're supposed to do it and I'm taking my supplements and going on walks and eating my vegetables -- I still have this hollow feeling of doing something that will lead to nothing. Maybe it's just because that's what's been happening every month -- a lot of nothing. I'm just used to all of this resulting in the same thing every month: my period.

All of my surmising is probably irritating some of you who wish I would go to the doctor, already. I'm going to, I swear. My new health insurance starts in June, and then I'll be making that appointment. Then I suspect I'll have a whole other story to tell.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cup o' Mud

I've replaced my morning coffee with a steaming cup of dirt, and yes, I can tell the difference.

Okay, so it isn't technically dirt. It's herbs. Expensive herbs! Herbs that are supposed to kick my reproductive system into high gear, and improve the impacts of the acupuncture! Herbs that are specially formulated for me, and my energies! Of course, none of that changes the fact they are herbs that make chicory look like an appetizing alternative.

Really, I don't remember eating dirt as a kid, but this is what I picture it tasting like. I mean, this is a little spicier than dirt, so maybe it's the dirt that people would serve to company on on Christmas visits, but it's still dirt nonetheless.

My acupuncturist told me the best way to drink the herbs is to put them in as little water as possible, so I wouldn't have that much to drink. Yeah, that is exactly the opposite of what anyone should do. Just a little bit of water makes it into a paste. That means not only do I get the full effect of the taste, but I end up with a nice herby film all over the inside of my mouth. NOT GOOD.

Obviously, my acupuncturist never drank Slimfast when it first came out and was like drinking quicksand. The procedures I followed then are exactly what I follow now. First, more liquid than needed. That gives the powder more of a chance to dissolve. And if it doesn't dissolve in the first cup? Fill a second. Never, never, suck the sludge. Rookie mistake. Second, always be stirring. The second the liquid stops moving, the powder starts congealing. And once that happens, you might as well just spackle a wall with it rather than drink it. Third, take long constant sips so you never actually have it in your mouth. The minute the liquid stops, you will taste it. That is the last thing you want. Oh, and fourth, drink it topless, because with all of this going on you are bound to dribble it on your shirt.

I just hope these herbs work better than the Slimfast did. I think they will though. After all, not even Slimfast tasted like dirt...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Fighting Kind

Well, nothing new over here.

I spent the last week thinking really hard about taking my supplements but never quite got my act together. I also sent a few desperate texts to Erin about my carb-centric diet and an urgent need to lose weight. And, of course, I’m still not pregnant.

But that sounds so negative! And I really don’t want to be negative – it’s against my nature. I don’t want to get caught in the fertility-focused trap of only seeing what isn’t in my life.

The truth is I have a pretty great life, not perfect, but great and full and fun with an abundance of lovely people. While I can’t make myself pregnant, I can make the most of my current situation.

I’ve long held the belief that real change comes from a place of kindness. And kindness is pretty much the opposite of “I must, I should, I have to.”

To an outsider the idea of struggling to take vitamins must seem so lame. Even the voice inside my head says, how hard can it be? But that is not the voice of a friend. When a friend is struggling, we don’t sit back and point out all their flaws and shortcomings and screw ups. We take them where they are and offer comfort and encouragement. We help them find a new path.

This quote has been circulating all over the Internet this week:
"Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."
~Alice Walker

All of us here are fighting a battle and creating a new path. Let’s not forget to be kinder than necessary to ourselves.

The end of bliss

The end of my month of bliss is rapidly approaching -- I'm on Day 27 as I write this on Tuesday. I admit I checked my Period Tracker app to find that out, but checking an app is a lot less involved than charting temperatures and peeing on a stick every morning.

I gotta say that I sure felt a lot less stressed out about the baby-making thing this month, even with the announcement of my sister's pregnancy. It was really nice not to even think about it. And really throwing myself into the bliss, I even pushed diet and exercise aside and instead have been drinking loads of coffee and wine and eating giant chunks of white, processed carbs at every meal. So needless to say, weight loss didn't happen this month -- quite the opposite, I'm sure, if my tight pants are any indication.

If all of the Just Relax-ers were right, all of this relaxing and not thinking about it should have resulted in a big ol' embryo in my uterus, right? I almost want to not be pregnant just so I can flip the Just Relax-ers the bird. Reality tells me there's no way I'm pregnant. I'm experiencing my customary pre-period cramping and acne flareup. Nothing smells weird. My boobs don't hurt. It's business as usual over here.

So because of that, even though my month of bliss really was blissful, I am kind of looking forward to getting back to consulting The Machine about ovulation and popping the thermometer in my mouth first thing every morning in order to chart my temperature. But with a new attitude.

The month of bliss was educational. It helped me realize I don't want to live life constantly looking at the calendar and worrying about cervical mucus and Is this the month?? I'm going to try not to do that during the next cycle, even though I know that charting temps and peeing on sticks inherently causes that kind of behavior. I need to not obsess. It becomes all-consuming and ruins everything.

Part of me still thinks that if I just keep charting and peeing, I'll end up pregnant. I hear all the time Oh, it took So-And-So's cousin a long time to conceive too, and I wonder, Was she charting and peeing on sticks, too?

Another part of me is pretty sure I need a doctor to run a few tests to figure out what's going on. Once I have my new insurance card in-hand this month, my husband and I will be making separate appointments to have our equipment checked. I have a feeling that then, we'll know what we're really dealing with.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Same Old, Same Old

In the past eight weeks I have had three and a half periods.

For those of you without access to a uterus, that is a lot.

In March I had periods exactly two weeks apart. Then, I had 24 blissful days of non-period, and then what can only be described as a "whopper." I would say more, but you really don't want me to. Last week I had spotting EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. It was nothing to write home about (if anyone actually writes those kids of letters), but just there.

I figured that my body was maybe resetting itself. After all, I've changed my diet, thought about exercising more, am taking more pills than Charlie Sheen, and paying a woman to stick needles into my face. Wouldn't all that be enough to make my cycle go a little screwy? I figured it would soon right itself and help me on my way to reproductive bliss.

How wrong I was.

Today I went to see my gynecologist, just to check in since I am making all these changes, and to talk about the weird periods. She decided to do a quick pelvic (again, not saying more), and discovered that my lady bits weren't making changes, but instead were making an ovarian cyst.

Yep, an ovarian cyst, just like all the previous ovarian cysts that led me to buying this book and making all these changes in the first place.

So, what do I do now?

I don't know.

I just don't know.

Part of me says try harder. Part of me says this is over.

Most of me wishes this was just wasn't so complicated.

Oh, and that I would stop having so many damn periods.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


My birthday is next month. I’ve never been one to have a life plan or to hear the tick-tock of my biological clock. But I’m writing about fertility on a weekly basis. So, I’m thinking about it more than ever before.

This is probably a good thing since I would otherwise actively not be thinking about it in hopes that this whole not-getting-pregnant thing would just go away. Ignoring problems always solves them. Right?

Anyway, I’m thinking about what I want to accomplish in this next month. The last two weeks have been rather fertility unfriendly. For sure I knew I was off track when certain bodily fluids returned to less shocking colors. Too few supplements. Too much caffeine. Way too much sugar. (I think crack-cocaine is the secret ingredient in those mini-Cadbury milk chocolate Easter eggs with the candy shell. It just doesn’t make sense that they are so much better than M&Ms even though they are essentially the same damn thing.)  

So I’m back to getting myself on track. I’m going to print up some of my incentive charts and start again. Tonight, I even went for a swim in an effort to add exercise. (Is there anything more humiliating than putting on a bathing suit?) And I’ve decided that before my next birthday, I’m going to at least call the doctor’s office and make an appointment. I think my last annual exam was in September 2009, so it’s time.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What's important

What I never want to happen is for anyone to tell me they are pregnant with a heavy heart. No one should feel guilty or anything but elated for themselves and the child growing in their womb when they find out they have conceived.

My honest feelings about friends who get pregnant are a jumble of jealousy, happiness, sadness, disappointment in my internal reaction, and worry for my friends. I make every effort to express only positive, congratulatory emotions in regards to new pregnancies. I don't construct strange rules in my mind, restricting friends from announcing their pregnancies or births on facebook or not calling me with their happy news -- the world doesn't revolve around me and my inability thus far to get pregnant.

So does that change when my sister tells me she is pregnant?


Is it harder or easier to hear news like that?

It's harder.

Would I ever wish anything but ultimate happiness for my sister, her husband, and their future baby?

Never, not in a million years, ever, ever. My sister had a miscarriage the night before my wedding five years ago, and still managed to be my matron of honor. Shortly after that, she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. This will be a high-risk pregnancy. So in the infertility world, she has done her time; paid her dues. She deserves this.

But I still couldn't write last week. I found out Monday, and on Tuesday, when I would normally draft my post for this blog, I couldn't do it. I wasn't thrashing and crying and moaning and wondering Why or When or How; I was just numb. I don't even understand my own reaction, so I had to turn away from the numbness and focus on something else.

I will be an aunt, and my husband an uncle. My parents are elated -- this is their first grandchild. Yes, as the oldest daughter, I'd have loved to give them their first grandchild, but I can't expect everyone to wait and wait and wait as month after month the pregnancy tests are negative.

And as I am in the middle of my month of bliss -- my month off of peeing on ovulation sticks and taking my temperature and charting every damn thing that comes out of my vagina -- I am finding that I am enjoying life more. Shocking, I know. Remove an obsession and life gets put into perspective again. I almost feel like Kids: Who needs em? If they happen, awesome. If not, guess who has two thumbs and is taking a trip around the world?

That might be an exaggeration.

My new insurance kicks in mid-month, and then I'll be returning to an OB I really like, to have a long talk and figure out what exactly is going on here.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Needling Question

Every time I tell someone that I am having acupuncture, they ask the same question. I probably don't even need to tell you what it is...

Oh c'mon, you know what it is. Say it with me: "does it hurt?"

The answer? Kind of.

I mean, if someone is sticking you with a needle, you're going to feel something. You're actually SUPPOSED to feel something, that's how the acupuncturist knows she's hit the right spot. It isn't really a pain though, it's more like a jolt. Not pleasant, but not horrible. And once you've felt it, and it's clear the needle is in the right place, it goes away and you don't really feel anything -- at least nothing painful. Instead you just start feeling incredibly relaxed, and very heavy in your body. I always feel it in my hands first, like they are filled with sand and sinking into the table. Then the rest of my body falls with them, and I drift off to sleep. I know from the clock that I am only asleep for a short time, but it feels much longer. Oh, and if the needles are electrified? Then the sleep is even deeper.

Yeah, that's right, sometimes she runs a current through the needles. Specifically, she does it when I am supposed to be ovulating. I think it's a way to threaten my follicles into behaving. You know, a "keep being difficult and I'll turn up the juice" kind of message. Really though, I don't think they would be that threatened. It's more buzzy than shocky -- kind of like a "personal massager." And I wasn't kidding when I said it makes me fall into a deeper. She hits the switch and I am gone. No dreams. No twitching. Almost like I'm under anesthetic.

The fact that I fall asleep, and that I feel such deep relaxation during and after acupuncture gives me hope that the "Making Babies" program might work. When I started on the supplements I didn't really notice a big difference -- except heartburn. When I changed my diet I didn't really notice a big difference -- except missing wine. When I tried, and failed, to do the visualization (a topic for another time) -- I almost chucked the book out the window. The acupuncture though, it makes me think the authors of Making Babies might just know what they are talking about.

Or maybe I'm just a masochist and never knew it...

Either way, I love those needles.