Thursday, July 28, 2011

Baby Steps to Babyville

It’s been three weeks since the surgery. I would say things are mostly back to normal other than the fact that a.) At times, I still feel more tired than usual, and b.) I’m not sure when I’ll get my period again. So, what’s next in this great adventure? Well, the day of the laparoscopy, John and the doc talked while I was still asleep. Even though everything went great, the doctor wanted to send us home with a prescription for Clomid.

Now, I don’t have anything against Clomid expect everyone I know who has ever taken it felt mildly to severely crazy while on it, and most of them didn’t end up pregnant. Life is hard enough, so I would prefer to avoid adding any unnecessary mood swings to the mix, if at all possible. I fully acknowledge I might change my mind about this at some point, but I’m not at that point. Knowing this, John turned down the good doctor, which probably doesn’t happen all too often because John said he seemed surprised.

I trust this doctor, so I wanted to discuss his recommendation for Clomid a bit more during my follow up. I expressed my concerns, and he sent me home with two prescriptions. One for Glumetza (Metformin) and one for Letrozole, in case the Glumetza alone doesn’t work.

It’s nice to know I have these options, but after a lot of thought, I’m not ready to take either right at this moment. For some reason I had it in my head that Glumetza (which is supposed to treat insulin resistance in women with PCOS) would be the equivalent of a baby aspirin.

Then I started googling the evil Internet. It’s possible I wouldn’t have any side effects, but if I did, it would most likely be in the form of nausea and/or diarrhea. Call me crazy, but if I’m going to take drugs, I would like them to make me feel better not worse.

I’m not even going to discuss Letrozole, which is supposed to be like Clomid but more mild. Wikipedia says it’s used to treat breast cancer, and after I saw that I really didn’t want to know anymore. Honestly, before I start pumping my body full of powerful drugs, I would like to know if the surgery alone does the trick.

So, it’s back to natural remedies for now.

I’m going to give my body a chance to fully recover and wait until my next cycle begins (the doctor warned the laparoscopy would likely throw things way off). Once I’m back on track, I might wait one more full cycle before starting the Glumetza. 

In the meantime, I’m focusing on significantly improving my diet. (That tiny bit of cancer has me drinking wheatgrass and green smoothies.) I’m going to keep the supplements simple and focus on just taking my prenatals and fish oil. The authors of Making Babies stressed those were the two most important. Well, most important other than the most natural remedy of all ~ the fun part. (Wink. Wink.)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A two-month trial

Firstly, a public service announcement: If you guys are into fertility stuff and aren't watching Giuliana & Bill on the E! network, you should be. It's nice to see someone who has genuinely struggled to conceive go through the same things us "normal" folks go through, ie. when everyone you know is pregnant/has children. But more importantly I saw a preview for an upcoming episode in which she mentions the very book that Libby, Christina and I are following in an attempt to conceive naturally -- Making Babies. I am really curious to see what she thinks of the book and if she applies its principles in her life. If she wants my unsolicited advice, she probably needs to gain just a little bit of weight.

Anyway! You might recall that last week my doctor told my husband and I that everything is normal so far. Further tests on me might reveal the very issues that have been preventing me from conceiving, and my doctor's recommended that I go see a specialist if I don't get pregnant this cycle. 

I, however, have thought about it and decided that I am going to wait until October to submit to further testing. It's only a couple months away and gives me a chance to try to establish some really healthy habits and truly employ the Making Babies recommendations. I chose October because that's my birthday month. I'll be 33, and will probably be more than ready to have more blood drawn, etc., if I haven't managed to conceive naturally by then.

Meanwhile, my cycles have thrown me a couple of curve balls, just when I thought I had them figured out. The last one was longer than expected, and this time I think my cycle has even confused The Machine (my way-too-expensive Clearblue fertility monitor). For a few months I reached peak fertility on Day 17, and ovulated on Day 18 or 19. I assumed this cycle would be exactly the same, believing I'd achieved an actual regular cycle, which was more than welcome after a year of playing Who knows when I might ovulate?! Not to mention: Who knows when I might start my period?!

So The Machine was telling me what it always does on Days 10-13: Low fertility. My toilet paper was telling me a different story  -- a lovely tale of fertile cervical mucus. Which was confusing, but had happened before. I expected a reading of perhaps elevated fertility on Day 14, but instead The Machine suddenly bounded straight to the top of the chart and said I had reached my peak fertile day. *ALERT! ALERT!* That's what it always feels like when I see that I've reached my peak fertile day --- drop everything, including your drawers! Get busy!

In any case, I was a bit concerned. How did I not have the estrogen surge that would indicate high fertility before reaching my peak fertile day? And why was my peak fertile day three days before it has been for the last few months? I turned to The Machine's instruction booklet. Which, by the way, was written by idiots. I won't mince words. The Machine is very easy to use, but in reading the instruction booklet you'd think you were being trained to detonate a nuclear missile.

Lo and behold, in the FAQ section, I found this question:

My monitor changed straight from Low to Peak Fertility this cycle. What does this mean? 

The booklet (un)helpfully answers:

This may happen occasionally, for example when a rise in estrogen is detected on the same day as your LH surge or if the Monitor does not detect a change in your estrogen before you LG surge. This can happen if you miss a test, or perform a test incorrectly, or if you have a very short cycle following longer cycles.

I did not miss any tests, or perform any tests incorrectly, nor did I have a very short cycle following longer cycles. I guess I just have to be satisfied with the blanket answer that the rise in estrogen was simply not detected until the LH (lutenizing hormone) surge. Which pisses me off because I want to know WHY. Is it possible there is an underlying issue that would cause something like that?

I guess these are the kinds of things that good little girls who let doctors poke and prod them get to find out. So I guess I'll be finding out sometime around October. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Keep on Keepin' on?

I am the world's laziest perfectionist.

I think that I should do things absolutely to the letter perfect, immediately. When I don't? I like to quit.

You think I'm kidding don't you?

The short list of things that I have quit after not mastering them instantly includes: guitar lessons, Yoga Booty Ballet, Vietnamese language lessons, anything Jillian Michaels related, knitting, vegetable planting, short story writing, pie baking, and origami.

For the long list you have to contact the Library of Congress.

I am trying really hard not to quit "Making Babies."

Every time I slip and have a glass of wine, or don't stuff my gob with spinach and flax seeds for a meal I think "what's the point" and total abandon the plan. Then I abandon it some more. Then I try to get back. Then I slip again. Then I figure what's the point of doing this at all because I am not getting pregnant because I am obviously not following everything closely enough and I am obviously a huge failure and my uterus is obviously not organic or and chi balanced enough to grow a child in anyway so why even bother.

I have never quit self-hatred. I think if it were a course of study I would have at least a masters degree.

I don't really want to quit. I need to focus more on one mantra in the book "eighty percent is perfection" and know any small changes I make are still changes. I need to let myself slip, and then not push myself down afterwards.

That may be the hardest part of this whole thing.

So, here I go again.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Results: Round 1

I had Day 3 blood work last week and on Friday my doctor's office called to say what I knew they would: Everything looked normal.

Then my husband submitted his own "sample," amid much angst about his manliness, and the doctor's office called Tuesday to tell me what I knew they would: His sperm is normal. 

Now they want to schedule the next round of testing on me, which I imagine will include more blood work and an ultrasound or something of the sort. I haven't scheduled it yet. I'm waiting ...

I know Day 3 blood work means next to nothing. It means I haven't entered into early menopause, which is fabulous news. But it doesn't tell me anything else, at all. I hope Christina will not mind when I tell you that she has had Day 3 blood work done more than once, and all times it returned normal. This in a woman who has PCOS and endometriosis.

It occurs to me that I should send my doctor information about basal body temperatures I've tracked over the last six months or so, and clue her in on my own suspicions about progesterone deficiency. I will. I'm waiting ...

I guess I feel like I'm at a fork in the road. The road I most certainly will go down involves lots of poking and prodding. The road I want to go down involves naturally and happily conceiving a child without thinking too hard about it. These early tests are a bit deceiving, I think, in offering hope that everything could be normal, and it simply hasn't happened yet. A few more months might be all it will take.

Making Babies says that in any given cycle, a normally healthy couple has a 20 to 25 percent chance of conceiving if they're having sex two to three times a week. Chances do not go up just because you try over and over, month after month. I've never been known to be extremely lucky. Perhaps the coin is just landing wrong every month.

If I have to continue down this the path of medical testing, I'd like to be in optimal health. Is it wrong for me to wait a couple months until I feel optimally healthy? Is it realistic for me to believe I will ever be healthier than I am right now?

I hope it is.

So that's that. Round 1 is done. Round 2 is imminent. My brain is tired and needs to figure out what it's willing to do, and when. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Modern Medicine

I showered, shaved my legs, flat ironed my hair and dressed in the biggest, cutest sweats I own before John and I headed out the door at 5:30 a.m. last Thursday. We arrived before the surgery center even opened, so we snapped a few photos of ourselves outside. I was, shockingly, not nervous, not even a little bit.

My laparoscopy was scheduled for 7:30 a.m., and I was wheeled into the operating room at 7:45 a.m. The surgery lasted 2 hours. I was afraid I would wake up in pain, but I didn't. I woke up to the sound of John and the nurse talking. As I was coming to, I could feel John holding my hand and rubbing my shoulder. He told me later that every time he rubbed my shoulder my heart rate would increase on the monitor.
The doctor told John the surgery went great and our chances of conception are excellent. He removed endometriosis, drilled on my ovaries, checked my fallopian tubes (which are clear) and removed my appendix. I knew prior to the surgery my appendix might be removed if it had endometriosis on it, but I was still surprised to find out I had undergone an appendectomy. When I asked the nurse if my appendix had endometriosis, she said it was sent to pathology, which I thought was slightly odd.

I expected to be sent home 2 hours or so after surgery, but I had to wait more than 7 hours because they won’t let you leave until you pee the required 100 ccs. Not that I minded. I alternated between sleep and conversation and wasn't at all aware of the time. I was barely in any discomfort at all.

By the time we left the surgery center, it was after 5 p.m., and we had to stop at the pharmacy on our way home. We hit rush hour traffic, and I kept my head in a barf bag (which I had packed just in case). I never threw up, but I felt nauseated the whole drive.

When we arrived at my parents' home (where I have been recovering), the real fun began --- horrifying pain shooting through my right shoulder and neck. Big thanks to those who warned me about this crazy kind of gas pain. It hurt so bad I bit my other arm. The pain lessened significantly every day and it wasn’t constant, but it lasted about 5 days. It really was the absolute worst part. 

The good news is the percocet not only helps with the pain, it helps you forget the pain even happened. Of course, it gave me a huge headache so I switched to ibuprofen Saturday night. I also had to remain on a liquid diet until Saturday morning because you can’t eat until you pass gas. (Anyone else see a trend regarding my bodily functions? I am still waiting to poop.)

Other than that, the recovery has been extremely smooth.

I saw my doctor on Tuesday. He confirmed a diagnosis of stage 3 endometriosis and PCOS. I asked him if he found endometriosis on my appendix, if that is why it was removed.

“No. What I found on your appendix was much worse,” my doctor said.
“OK,” I replied.
“Your appendix had cancer on it.”

Do not be alarmed. What was found was a teensy, tinsy, 4 mm smidge of cancer. Had this spot of C been 2 cm or bigger, it would be a different story. Still, hearing a doctor say the word cancer makes you want to run out and eat something healthy.

I’m also in awe of the perfect timing of it all and thankful to God for modern medicine.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Better never than late

I had this whole thing written about how my period was really late this month and I took a pregnancy test and for a second I thought it was telling me I was pregnant and then I realized it was negative and then I woke up in a puddle of blood the next morning, but let's just skip over the woe-is-me bull shit, shall we?
Because while I am pissed off and I do feel sorry for myself, I don't need or want you feeling sorry for me, because oh my god. That makes it even worse. 

And also, fuzzy baby heads make me want to drive off a cliff. But that's neither here nor there.

The new news, other than NOT being pregnant (again, shockingly) is that in a couple of days I get to have my very first fertility tests and holy shit am I ready to find out what the hell is going on. It's only a blood test, so I'm trying not to expect too much, but still. It's Step 1. If nothing shows up in Step 1, I might go on a bender, but then I'll proceed semi-calmly to Step 2, whatever in holy hell that is.

Sidenote: I did not mean for this post to be as angry (if not angrier) as last week's. This was going to be the hopeful post. So: sorry. 

Anyway, if my doctor doesn't suck, I should have results by this time next week. I might have a clue by this time next week. Which would be so radical and new for us.

On the other hand, we may have nothing. Which would be the same as it ever was.

Meanwhile, I've been realizing that I've all but abandoned the principles laid out in "Making Babies." The only things I'm still doing are taking supplements and tracking ovulation.

The book calls itself "a proven three month program for maximum fertility," but at no time since I bought this book in February have I adhered strictly to the program, or even eighty percent to the program, as the book advises. How can I possibly expect maximum fertility, in that case?

So I'm going to start over, at the beginning. Initially I tore through the book so quickly, searching for answers, there was no way I fully absorbed all of the information in it. 

"One in eight couples in the United States has trouble getting or staying pregnant ... Right now more than nine million American women seek treatment for fertility issues every year, and their partners need treatment, too."

This book was like salve on a burn when I first cracked it open and read those words. I think it's time to read them again.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


A word of advice: The words “bowel prep” are not your friends.

As part of pre-op, today (Wednesday) included a light breakfast, a clear liquid diet and three enemas. Other than the day-long ban on caffeine, the enemas were clearly my favorite part.

I think I asked everyone I spoke with today if they’ve ever had an enema. I called my friend, who used to be a nurse, twice for advice on self-administering the thing.

But I still never felt I quite got the hang of it, so I’m hoping the results are good enough for surgery work.

Other than that, today was just a mad rush to get things done. Nothing like a long to-do list to keep the mind occupied.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Day 26

Every now and then my husband and I will be sitting around talking about this silly fertility thing and one of us (usually me, because I'm a masochist) says: What if we can't have kids?

Like, if the doctor tells us: You have no sperm. You have no uterus. You cannot naturally have a child.

My husband always says: Then I'm buying a car.

And I always say: I'll go on a trip to (fill in the blank. Usually Spain or Italy). Sometimes I say I'll get more cats. Sometimes I say I'll get a real job. Non-mommies are supposed to have real jobs, in offices. Right?

Then I'll usually ask: What about adoption? And we both kind of look at each other with a Meh look. Adoption is wonderful. Is adoption for us? We don't know until we've exhausted every option.

These conversations are all extraordinarily premature, but I like to think worst case scenario so I can prepare myself in case it really is the worst case scenario. For starters, we don't know what the problem is, and once we do know I imagine there will be options like medication, surgery, IUI, and IVF.

Which I don't even want to deal with. Part of me feels like if I can't conceive a kid completely naturally, that I don't even want to try medication and all the rest of it. Which is crazy talk, I know. But do you ever just get completely sick of even thinking about it? Sick, bitter, tired, etc.

Infertiles are always joking about their situations. Someone on Twitter the other day said something like: I should have been a teenage crack whore. The implication being that then getting pregnant would have been a piece of cake. 

I should have been Casey Anthony. I should have been the woman who lives behind me who cusses and screams at her kids every day. If I had cancer, I'd probably be able to get pregnant. If I were an alcoholic this would be a non-issue.

If you think about that stuff too long, you'll probably start feeling how I feel right now: nauseated and sad. No one ever said life was fair or easy, and actually, I specifically recall being told by various sources throughout my childhood that I wouldn't always get what I wanted and that would have to be the way things were, period.

Today is Day 26 and my period will probably show up some time in the next four days. I hurt my shoulder over the weekend and before I decided to take an ibuprofen, I remarked to my husband that pregnant women are not supposed to take ibuprofen. We agreed that I am not pregnant. No need to pee on a stick to confirm it; we just know it. I took the ibuprofen.

Day 3 of the next cycle, I'll finally be getting my blood taken. My husband will make a "donation." Part of me hopes for a diagnosis. Most of me thinks everything will come back normal. All of me is tired of thinking about it.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


The "Making Babies" diet is not the easiest to follow in the summer. Hell, it's not a picnic any time, but during the summer there is a special problem: you are supposed to eat or drink almost every warm.

That's right. Nothing is supposed to be iced, or frozen, or deliciously crisp. It is all supposed to be at least slightly cooked in order to get the nutrients oozing out and into your blood. Cold things stop that ooze, and make your body work to get the nutrients out.

I don't know about you, but I hardly ever want a nice warm bowl of soup, or a hot cup of tea when it's 96 degrees outside.

I am trying my best to trade off though. If I eat warm veretables I let myself have a class of ice tea. If I eat something like gazpacho (with crab, yum), I try to make sure that not everything else in my meal is cold. Oh, and I try to drink warm tea in the morning every day while I can still fool myself into thinking it's not going to be a scortcher.

It's strange, because before this I had never thought about the way food was preapred making a difference in anything. I mean, I knew things that were deep fried, or dripping in sauce weren't exactly health food, but I figured a salad was just as good as steamed veggies. Better even in some cases.

I guess it all has to do with what you are trying to get out of your food. A size 2 bikini body? Stick with the salad, and make your body work to get it's nutrients. A baby? It's all about the heat.