FET Prep Week 7: Food Plan, Medical Debt,  Post-op Follow-up, & Imagining Motherhood

FET Prep Week 7: Food Plan, Medical Debt,  Post-op Follow-up, & Imagining Motherhood

If you’re anything like me when you get back from vacation, it’s hard to get back on track with pretty much everything. When I got home my biggest priority became getting enough sleep while I got back into the work routine, it’s still a work in progress. For some reason I’ve been wide awake tossing and turning in bed for hours each night since I’ve been back. My house has a massive laundry monster sitting on the counter that needs to be put away. But hey, at least it’s all clean clothes. My biggest priority now is making sure I am getting the nutrients I need for this upcoming FET, while also continuing to exercise despite the fact that I still want to hibernate while it’s cold out.

 

Catch-up on Previous FET Prep Posts

FET Prep Week 1: 3.5 months until FET

FET Prep Week 2: Supplements, WTF Email, & Increased AMH Level

FET Prep Week 3: You say Future Tripping, I say Future Planning

FET Prep Week 4: Bad News from SIS Test

FET Prep Week 5: Surgery, Depression & Trip to Nevada

FET Prep Week 6: Relax! You’re on Vacation.

Countdown Until FET: 67 days (as of 2-17-2020)

 

Food Plan

If you’ve been following my previous FET posts you know that I’ve been trying intermittent fasting. Well it kind of worked, until I seemed to have hit a plateau. I lost a few pounds fairly quickly but then the scale was not budging at all. You know the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Well I think my intermittent fasting was “broke” and I needed to figure out something different. 

I think this is a critical time to make sure I’m getting all the nutrients I need. I’m going to focus on getting more fruits and veggies in my life and less processed food. Ideally, I’d like to have a green smoothie for breakfast, salad for lunch, and a healthy dinner. I think that’s a reasonable plan to help up my nutrient intake. I want to get back into the routine of using the MyFitnessPal app to track my calories. It’s not going to be the end of the world if I don’t meet my weight loss goals before my FET, but it would be nice to drop some more pounds.

 

Medical Debt

So I’m happy to report I’ve been getting some more hours at work and have been able to pay off a pretty good chunk of one of my larger medical bills. Last year I was at work when I started having my fifth miscarriage. I was working the overnight shift. I called my doctor in that early morning and she urged me to leave right away and go to the ER, mostly because her office wasn’t open yet and she couldn’t see me. Part of me regrets listening to her advice because if I had just waited another five hours I could have seen her at her office and maybe avoided the nearly $3,000 ER bill. 

My previous reproductive endocrinologist had a completely different approach and told me it was okay to naturally have my miscarriage at home, and to just call if there were complications. But now I had the second RE telling me the exact opposite and almost yelling through the phone that I needed to go to the ER right away. Sometimes it’s hard to know the right thing to do, and maybe I did avoid an even worse scenario by going to the ER. But I still feel like that $3,000 bill could have been avoided. Even though these handful of remaining medical bills are a s***ty reminder of my miscarriages, what I do feel good about is knowing that I’m keeping up with my bills. They aren’t paid off quite yet, but I hopefully will have them paid off soon. 

 

Post-op Follow-up 

My local OBGYN went over my hysteroscopy results on Wednesday. He showed me pictures of the inside of my uterus and the scar tissue he removed. “You see that there, you had some extra scar tissue just kind of floating around.” I’ve got to be honest, I am so weirded out by seeing those pictures. “Would you like to keep this?” he asked me about the photos. “I’m good,” I said. I don’t need a macabre reminder of this royal pain in the ass scar tissue that keeps returning, causing my FET to be delayed. 

He said I should contact my Seattle fertility clinic about the next steps to prepare for my FET. He seems to think that I won’t need to do a repeat SIS. I hope not, because this last SIS was $1200. I just sent off a message to my clinic’s patient portal asking about the next steps. I really hope I can stay on track with my April FET timeline. But it’s not the end of the world if my schedule gets thrown off. I was originally planning on doing this FET April of last year. But Mom was diagnosed with cancer and I wanted to help in whatever way I could to be there for her after her surgery. It was a high stress time, so we decided to postpone the FET. And then later in the year I had my miscarriage from natural conception which caused a major complication, I was being told I was at risk of developing uterine cancer. My doctor said I absolutely should not get pregnant for six months. So here I am now, two months away from being out of the absolutely-no-baby window.

My doctor had some really kind words for me with this visit. He said, “You have been through so much. Much more than any of my other patients. I’ve never seen anyone handle all of this with so much grace.” He really emphasized the word grace. I thanked him and said, “Some days are definitely harder than others. It is what it is. But I just try to keep moving forward.” It was really nice to hear someone acknowledge my struggle and tell me the way I am dealing with it is admirable. He wished me well with my upcoming FET and said, “I hope next time we meet we’ll be making plans for your baby’s delivery.” 

 

Imagining Motherhood

I’ve been dealing with miscarriages and infertility for four years. When I think about what it will actually be like to be a mother (biological or through adoption), it seems almost unimaginable. I’m so used to this struggle and not having kids, that picturing myself as a mother seems kind of surreal. I’ve been told by different people over the years that I would be a great mother. It simultaneously melts my heart while also putting me in a state of disbelief because I have zero experience with being a mother. How is it that everyone so easily envisions me as a mother, but I’ve somehow developed a mental block of actually seeing it come to fruition?

I used to imagine what it would be like to be a mother. Picking up the kids from school, doing craft projects, going sledding, teaching them the alphabet and on and on. I had so many dreams of what my kids and I would do together. But with each pregnancy loss and each year that went by, I think I stopped myself from dreaming so much. As a couple, we decided to stop thinking about baby names until I reached the second trimester. But I never ended up reaching the second trimester with any of my pregnancies. Recently a friend of mine asked what baby names I’ve thought of for my future kids. The question totally threw me. What were those names? It seemed like so long ago that I had them picked out. Now I can’t even remember them? I had to actually take a full several minutes to try to recall the names I used to always have ready to rattle off quickly for both boys and girls. 

Some people say you should visualize your dreams often to help them come true. But sometimes doing that can be painful and actually counterproductive. These days I try not to get ahead of myself and I only think of the next step I need to take. I used to play out all these scenarios in my head of “If A happens I’ll do B. If B doesn’t work I’ll do C” and on and on until there are no letters left in the alphabet. I’d say I have run through the whole English alphabet of possible scenarios, and now I’m using other languages’ alphabets. It can get overwhelming to think so far ahead, and I find it much easier to cope if I look at what’s right in front of me. I find comfort in the quote from E.L. Doctorow, “It’s like driving at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

 

Mini Victories for the Week

Messaged Seattle clinic about next steps for FET.

I’ve been replacing coffee more with tea instead.

Monthly hCG results are still negative and I’m happy to report no signs of GDT.

 

Work in Progress

Go grocery shopping for more healthy foods.

Break my hibernation mode more often with daily exercise.

Clean the house more to create a more zen and relaxing environment.

 

This post may contain affiliate links. You can read the disclosure here

 

Want to find out how fertile you are?

The Modern Fertility test is an affordable test that shows your hormone levels and gives you an overall picture of where you stand with your fertility. I recommend taking this test at least every 9-12 months to keep track of your hormone levels. What hormones will be tested? Depending on the type of birth control you are on they can test up to eight different hormone levels which may include:

AMH (Anti-mullerian hormone)

FSH (Follicle stimulating hormone)

E2 (Estradiol)

LH (Luteinizing hormone)

TSH (Thyroid stimulating hormone)

FT4 (Free thyroxine)

PRL (Prolactin)

T (Testosterone)

Order your test today.

Modern Fertility Test – Women’s Health Hormone Test You Can Take at Home – Not Available NY, NJ, RI

 

FET Prep Week 6: Relax! You’re on Vacation.

FET Prep Week 6: Relax! You’re on Vacation.

Even though this vacation to Nevada has been really relaxing I wish I would have planned it for a couple weeks earlier. The first reason being that this particular January has been exceptionally cold in Alaska, and I wish I would have gotten out of our cold snap sooner. The second reason I feel like I planned my vacation a little too late is the timing of it fell within the crucial three-month window prior to FET. The three months prior to FET are important for building up a thick uterine lining to improve the odds of embryo implantation. I’m not aware of definitive evidence that stress in and of itself causes implantation issues, but I do believe that stress can contribute to poor health decisions (i.e., drinking, smoking, overeating) that can in turn affect implantation.

I tend to get stressed when I travel at times. A delayed flight, waiting in a crowded airport, and squishing like sardines into the ever-shrinking plane seats are just some of the typical stressors when flying. But now the news is talking about the threat of coronavirus. To top it off both of the airports I went through (Anchorage and Las Vegas) had confirmed cases of coronavirus. I later learned the news seemed to overinflate the actual severity of the issue, using dramatic language that might lead viewers to believe it’s an epidemic, knowing that helped put my mind at ease somewhat. A few years back the major risk to pregnant women and women TTC was the Zika virus. I think if you want to play it as safe as possible don’t schedule a vacation during your three months prior to FET, unless it’s a ‘staycation’ or you are traveling for your actual FET.

Catch-up on Previous FET Prep Posts

FET Prep Week 1: 3.5 months until FET

FET Prep Week 2: Supplements, WTF Email, & Increased AMH Level

FET Prep Week 3: You say Future Tripping, I say Future Planning

FET Prep Week 4: Bad News from SIS Test

FET Prep Week 5: Surgery, Depression & Trip to Nevada

Countdown Until FET: 69 days (as of 02-15-2020)

Taking it Easy

You know the type of vacations where you are go, go, go non-stop with so many activities and you have a specific plan for each day, well I chose not to do any of that for this one and it has been working out pretty well. Although we’ve been busy, it’s been nice to not be the ‘planner’ and to just go along with whatever everyone else wants to do. This vacation, I chose to just let go and take it easy. I’ve been to Nevada a few times before and already saw the major must-see things, so I didn’t feel the urge to create a must-see list this time around. I just let my husband and mother-in-law plan the events.

I think this vacation has been a nice balance of relaxing and also going to different events. It’s nice to go to bed and not have to set an alarm for the morning. It felt like such a luxury to be able to sleep in as long as I wanted. There were only a couple days that were warm enough to be outside in the sun since we’ve been here. It’s been crazy windy, so much so that they actually have a high wind warning in effect. The wind is so strong it sometimes shakes the house. It was kind of funny to see about 40 tumbleweeds whip across the street at the same time. Not a good time to go for a walk and catch a prickly tumbleweed to the face. No thanks. I’ll stay inside until it dies down. It’s also been cold outside most of this week, in the 30s and 40s mostly. I learned this cold snap in Nevada was pushing down from Alaska. How typical, just when we try to leave Alaska’s cold weather it follows us.

 

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This wind is redonkulous! One of the many windy days on our vacation.

 

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Okay this one turned out better, with less wind whipping my hair around.

 

So although the weather has been crappy most of the week while on vacation, we still had fun doing other things. We saw Shin Lim, the magician, at his Vegas show. Normally I am not into magic shows, but this guy I swear is a true wizard. I saw him on America’s Got Talent, where he showed a card to the camera and somehow was able to make the numbers on the card actually change. Here is his show on AGT where he does that trick at the 20:00 minute mark. How in the actual eff did he do that? I was definitely impressed with his show in Vegas. I won’t give away too many details of the show, but it is definitely entertaining and I highly recommend you go check him out.

I also went to my first Tournament of Kings show, and I nearly s**t myself several times when the pyrotechnics went off. I felt like an idiot with how many times I screamed with each burst of fireworks. You definitely won’t fall asleep with this show, I’ll tell you that! So if you aren’t familiar with the Tournament of Kings, it’s a show where the performers act out a medieval storyline. The audience sits circled around the actors as they have epic battles using swords and also do jousting with real horses. 

 

 

We did some other cool things on our trip too. We drove to Mount Charleston. I didn’t expect to see snow in Nevada, so that was pretty cool (cheesy pun intended).

 

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Of course we went to a handful of different casinos and tried our luck on the slots. Well, I mostly watched Kurtis try his luck on the slots. I’m not much of a gambler. The first time I ever visited Vegas years ago I had very little money. I would go from casino to casino and sign up for their players club card, where you would get free plays on the slots. It wasn’t worth much, maybe $10-$15 but it was still fun to try it out and not worry about losing money. I did a little of that this time also. I tend to enjoy playing bingo more than slots. The first time I ever played bingo back home I won $1,000, beginners luck of course.

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Keeping up with Supplements While on Vacation

I am not being super strict about following a diet while on vacation, although I could have been. I had a very laissez faire approach with my FET prep while on vacation. Although I did try to consistently take my supplements.

Here’s what I did to help me stay on top of taking my supplements while on vacation:

Reuse old prescription bottles for free pill organization.

Take a marker and write on the cap when you plan to take your medicine. For example I wrote “AM” on the ones I take with breakfast and “PM” on the ones I take with lunch. Since I am also taking L-arginine multiple times throughout the day I decided to create my own travel bottle specifically for that supplement. 

Set phone reminders to take supplements.

Most supplements for FET prep recommend taking with a meal. But if you are not yet in the habit of remembering to take your pills after you eat, setting an alarm in your phone can be really helpful to make sure you don’t miss your dose. You can remind yourself in other ways like putting a post it note on your mirror or refrigerator. Do whatever works for you.

Keep a snack in your purse at all times.

This snack should be your designated backup in times when you cannot have an actual meal with your supplements. For example, if you are going on a long road trip or flight and you are unsure of when you will be able to have a meal with your supplements, that snack in your purse will help you to stay on track with your supplement schedule. 

 

The Game Changer

I plan on adopting in the future, whether I have a biological child or not. And I’ve considered adopting through the foster care system. But what is one of the biggest obstacles that keeps so many people from starting the path to becoming a foster parent? I’d say it’s becoming attached emotionally to raising a child who after some time ends up going back to their biological family. I can honestly say I am not ready at this point in my life to handle that possibility. I’ve read articles and memoirs from foster parents who say it was one of the most painful experiences of their life. Some said it was as painful as grieving the death of a loved one.

I’ve been visiting my husband’s family in Nevada this past week, and my mother-in-law was a foster parent. I explained to her that one of my hesitations for becoming a foster parent was that I didn’t know if I was emotionally ready to handle getting attached to a child that would end up leaving back to their biological family. But she explained that she learned that some foster parents choose to only foster children whose parental rights have been permanently relinquished, and are therefore adoptable. That right there, was a total game changer for me. I did not even know that was an option. I thought it was inevitable that as a foster parent you had to expect that possible loss, I didn’t realize you could avoid that whole scenario altogether. Now it’s just a matter of finding out if that option is available here in Alaska too. The plan for now though is to continue trying infertility treatments until I turn 35, which is over a year from now. 

 

Mini Victories for the Week

Kept up with supplements while on vacation.

Got more sleep and relaxed more this week.

Asked more questions and did a little more research about the foster care system.

 

Work in Progress

Contact the Seattle Clinic to find out if I need a repeat SIS before my upcoming FET.

Reduce caffeine intake from 1-2 cups down to less than one cup next week. Eventually completely cut out caffeine sometime soon.

Get back on a 1200 calorie per day diet.

 

This post may contain affiliate links. You can read the disclosure here

 

Want to find out how fertile you are? The Modern Fertility test is an affordable test that shows your hormone levels and gives you an overall picture of where you stand with your fertility. I recommend taking this test at least every 9-12 months to keep track of your hormone levels. What hormones will be tested? Depending on the type of birth control you are on they can test up to eight different hormone levels which may include:

AMH (Anti-mullerian hormone)

FSH (Follicle stimulating hormone)

E2 (Estradiol)

LH (Luteinizing hormone)

TSH (Thyroid stimulating hormone)

FT4 (Free thyroxine)

PRL (Prolactin)

T (Testosterone)

Order your test today.

Modern Fertility Test – Women’s Health Hormone Test You Can Take at Home – Not Available NY, NJ, RI

FET Prep Week 5: Surgery, Depression & Trip to Nevada

FET Prep Week 5: Surgery, Depression & Trip to Nevada

The beginning of this week was really difficult for me. I had my surgery to remove some scar tissue from my uterus. Both my local doctor and my doctor in Seattle require my uterus be clear of all scar tissue before I can proceed with my FET in April. I’m hoping this will be the last surgery I need until then. I felt some really low lows this week, but I’m happy to say at least this week ended well.

Catch-up on Previous FET Prep Posts

FET Prep Week 1: 3.5 months until FET

FET Prep Week 2: Supplements, WTF Email, & Increased AMH Level

FET Prep Week 3: You say Future Tripping, I say Future Planning

FET Prep Week 4: Bad News from SIS Test

Countdown Until FET: 81 days (as of 02-03-2020)

Follow us on Instagram and Facebook for photos of our trip to Nevada and my other FET Prep photos. 

 

Hysteroscopy Surgery

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Bored Julie takes selfies before surgery. That teal hairnet though!

On Monday I had my hysteroscopy surgery, to clear the scar tissue from my uterus. My most recent miscarriage in September resulted in this third surgery. Three subsequent surgeries for only one miscarriage, and that doesn’t even count all the other surgeries I had before those three. When I woke up from surgery I remember saying to the nurse how painful it was, and it was more painful than the other ones. They gave me some oral pain medicine after the surgery but it didn’t kick in until I got home. Normally with my other surgeries I request hydrocodone, but this one I chose not to. My doctor said Ibuprofen should be good enough. 

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Waiting for surgery in my snazzy surgery socks. 

I went to work the next day and did some physical work cleaning. But after one hour of cleaning I started to feel really wiped out and was hurting, I think I overdid it. Normally after my surgeries I take time off work, but I decided not to this time because with my SIS procedure and now this hysteroscopy, among other bills I just could not justify not working. I absolutely had to continue working to pay all the bills coming my way. I also had to clean up the house a bit before we left on vacation, and pack. I did a whole lot of bitching and crying this week from the intermittent pain. 

I called my doctor’s office Thursday to ask for some hydrocodone but my doctor was out for the weekend. I could not get the medicine at all due to me needing to leave on Friday. I learned that narcotics can’t be called in to a pharmacy due to needing the paper copy to be brought in-person. So right now I only have ibuprofen to help with the occasional pain.

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Kitty cheering me up after my surgery.

 

Depression

I’ve been dealing with a low-grade depression since September, when I had my most recent miscarriage. But with this surgery I had this week and all of the stress that comes with this process, my depression really reared its ugly head. I haven’t felt that deep of a depression in almost a decade. I think it was just an accumulation of all the miscarriages, fertility treatments, and the large amount of debt that accumulated so quickly this previous week. 

I was stressed, angry, and not getting enough sleep. I was working every day of the week after my surgery, despite the pain. I was feeling so incredibly overwhelmed and really feeling like there was very little hope of pulling myself out of it. As much as I wanted to lie in bed for the next month, I decided to do the exact opposite of how I was feeling. I pulled myself out of bed and slowly got started cleaning. I cleaned the house during the hours that my ibuprofen was working the most. I made some progress and took a step back to look at the progress. It felt pretty good to get at least something accomplished even though I felt like garbage. That was the first little glimmer of hope I had.

My to-do list was still long but I was determined to knock out one thing at a time. One-by-one I completed most of the things on my list that I wanted to do before my trip. Instead of forcing myself to get everything done, I chose to put off certain things that could wait until later. I think for anyone that is feeling overwhelmed or depressed, start with one simple task. Then prioritize just a few other tasks. Don’t worry about doing it all, because if you don’t set realistic expectations you’re just setting yourself up for failure. In the end I was able to do about 90% of what I needed to before the trip, not too shabby. 

I also got the call back from my doctors office and my nurse explained to me that they found out it was simply scar tissue and not uterine cancer. I immediately felt a huge wave of relief. This is the second time they were concerned about me developing uterine cancer and I have gotten the all clear. I’m feeling very lucky and grateful right now.

 

Trip to Nevada

I had a true turnaround with how my week was going. I went from feeling so depressed at the beginning of the week, to feeling so happy and centered by the end of the week. The timing of my trip could not have been any better. As soon as my butt was in the seat of that plane I breathed a sigh of relief. My only regret with planning this trip is I wish I would have planned it for about two or three weeks earlier, due to the weather we were experiencing in Alaska. 

January is notorious for being the worst month to live in Alaska. It’s one of the darkest and coldest times of year. We had a cold snap where it was -10 to -18 at times. Although December is the darkest month, with winter solstice having about 5.5 hours of sunlight, at least there are the  holiday festivities and it is not quite as cold. In addition to my good old fashioned depression, I might have some Seasonal Affective Disorder as well. As soon as I felt the Nevada sun warming my pale arms from the window of my plane, I felt like I was starting to come back to life. 

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During our hike in Tecopa, California I found these stacked rocks. 

We are visiting Kurtis’ mom and step-dad in Pahrump, just outside of Las Vegas. We’ll be staying in Las Vegas near the end of our trip. Saturday we drove out to Tecopa, California, which is not that long of a drive from Pahrump. We visited a farm where they grow dates out in the middle of the desert. Kurtis and I hiked a trail right next to the date farm. It was out in the desert, surrounded by mountains and ancient riverbeds. I have always loved the desert. I feel like I am on Mars, it’s so drastically different from Alaska. I don’t think I’d last a second out here though if it was in the middle of the summer. But it was a comfortable 70 degrees on our hike, the perfect temperature I think. 

We finished up the week with Super Bowl Sunday. Kurtis & I are fans of the 49ers so it was a big deal that our team made it to the Super Bowl. Even though our team lost, it was still fun to watch. We wore our 49ers shirts and watched the game with his mom and her friends. Kurtis is a die-hard fan. He will yell and scream with excitement for every touchdown, field goal, and any gain of yardage. When his mom’s friends left a little before the end of the game Kurtis said to me, “I hope I didn’t scare them away with my yelling,” I just laughed and said “You probably did.” Back home he would watch the games every Sunday, Monday and Thursday and be yelling at his players, the other team, and the ref’s. Even when I wear my noise-cancelling headphones I can still hear him whooping and hollering. I’m not sure if they actually make noise-cancelling headphones that truly block out all the noises of a superfan. A week or so before the Superbowl I showed Kurtis some YouTube videos of sports fans losing their s**t. I told him, “I’m happy you aren’t like those crazy guys.” We thought those videos were hilarious and we had full-on belly laughs with tears watching these. Amazingly there is a treasure trove of many videos of fans going ballistic, I highly recommend checking those out if you need a good laugh.

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Kurtis & I before the big game.

Mini Victories for the Week

I did not take any time off from work after my surgery. Gotta pay those bills!

I went from being emotionally overwhelmed, to feeling a lot better by the end of the week.

Got out hiking in the sun.

Chose not to have alcohol at all this week so I can stay on track with my FET prep.

Keeping up with most of my supplements.

 

Work in Progress

I’ve been a little lax with how I’ve been eating this week. I’ll allow some wiggle room with how I’m eating, so as not to stress myself out while I’m on vacation.

Opt for veggies as much as possible while on vacation, including salads, and veggie side dishes. 

weight

 

This post may contain affiliate links. You can read the disclosure here

 

Want to find out how fertile you are? The Modern Fertility test is an affordable test that shows your hormone levels and gives you an overall picture of where you stand with your fertility. I recommend taking this test at least every 9-12 months to keep track of your hormone levels. What hormones will be tested? Depending on the type of birth control you are on they can test up to eight different hormone levels which may include:

AMH (Anti-mullerian hormone)

FSH (Follicle stimulating hormone)

E2 (Estradiol)

LH (Luteinizing hormone)

TSH (Thyroid stimulating hormone)

FT4 (Free thyroxine)

PRL (Prolactin)

T (Testosterone)

Order your test today.

Modern Fertility Test – Women’s Health Hormone Test You Can Take at Home – Not Available NY, NJ, RI

 

FET Prep Week 4: Bad News from SIS Test

FET Prep Week 4: Bad News from SIS Test

As per usual, my original treatment plans get tossed out the window because my body decides to go rogue. I would be more surprised if things actually went according to plan, ever. Sometimes the universe seems to throw every obstacle in my way. It’s hard not to think these challenges are designed to test my limits constantly. I know it’s not the end of the world, but damn, give a girl a break! Before I jump into everything that happened this past week, let me proudly announce that I did not lose my sanity, at least I have that going for me for the time being.

Countdown Until FET: 88 days (as of 1-27-2020)

 

Catch-up on Previous FET Prep Posts

FET Prep Week 1: 3.5 months until FET

FET Prep Week 2: Supplements, WTF Email, & Increased AMH Level

FET Prep Week 3: You say Future Tripping, I say Future Planning

 

Bad News from SIS Test

My IVF clinic in Seattle requires I have a SIS test completed prior to my FET. If you don’t know, SIS stands for saline-infusion sonogram. I absolutely hate doing these, I’ve had to do this maybe three or four times and I would take surgery with anesthesia over this any day. I’ve always had pain doing my annual PAP smear. The SIS test uses a speculum, just like with a typical PAP smear, but then they put in a catheter to fill up your uterus with saline, or salt water. At the same time they use a transvaginal ultrasound wand to look inside the uterus. It feels like you have to pee while also feeling similar to moderate menstrual cramp pain. Some women have no pain with their SIS test, but everyone is different.

The SIS test I did on Thursday was just as unpleasant as all the previous ones. What made it worse was knowing ahead of time I would need to pay $1200 for this test. So there I am lying on the table, looking at a white blob on the screen. The doctor had her hand on the catheter wiggling it around the blob, pushing on my stomach rapidly over and over again (not a pretty sight if you have some extra pounds on the belly), and telling the ultrasound tech to move the wand around all over the place inside me. “Maybe if we take the catheter and push on it, it will break it up. It might just be a blood clot, let’s try to push into it to see what happens.” Tap, tap, jab, jab, ouuuuuch! “Okay, that hurts!” I told her. She apologizes then asks me to try moving my knees out, then rolling on my side. But now matter what any of us three women did, this blob remained immovable.

“To me it looks like it might be an adhesion or scar tissue, I don’t think it’s a blood clot because it’s not moving. But I’m not sure exactly what it is. I will send these images to your doctor in Seattle and see what he says,” she tells me. This could very well throw off all of my plans for my FET. She explained I would probably need a follow-up SIS, or surgery. Both are expensive and I don’t have the money for either, I’m still trying to pay off my other medical bill from my recent miscarriage. 

 

Surgery Scheduled

The following morning I get a call from my local OBGYN who explained that he spoke with my Seattle doctor and they felt the best option was to go ahead with another surgery. They didn’t think it was a simple blood clot based on how it looked, they thought it could be scar tissue or something else, but they wouldn’t know for sure unless they did a pathology test on it to figure it out. It’s the “something else” part I’m concerned about, because both doctors have explained to me I am at risk of developing uterine cancer. So I’m hoping it’s just scar tissue. 

They will be doing hysteroscopy surgery. Essentially that’s where they put a little hysteroscope, or camera, inside to actually see what’s going on in there. “It will either be a diagnostic surgery or an operative surgery, depending on what I see” my doctor explains, “If that tissue is still there I’ll go ahead and remove it, then send it out to be tested. We want your uterus to be absolutely clear of any tissue, polyps, or fibroids before your Frozen Embryo Transfer. Because you only have one embryo right? Yeah. So if the embryo tries to implant on that tissue you could have a failed FET or another miscarriage.” I agreed that it sounded like there was no other option but to remove it, whatever it is. 

Thursday and Friday I had to answer about half a dozen different phone calls from my doctors office, the surgery center nurse, the financial department for the surgery center, then the financial department for my doctors office. “We’ll need $3200 the day of your surgery” the receptionist told me from the surgery center. Mind you, this didn’t even include the doctor’s fee or the anesthesiologist fee. Oh yes, let me just fork over thousands of dollars I keep lying around. Yeah, right! The weird part is the surgery center never expected everything up front like this before. I told her there was no way I could do that and asked about a payment plan. Apparently they no longer do payment plans, so I had to apply for Care Credit. I’ve never used medical credit before, so it’s all new to me. I got approved for the amount of the surgery, so I am hoping everything goes without a hitch on the day of the surgery. Then it would only be a matter of monthly payments to the Care Credit company. 

 

Bills, Bills, & More Bills

In a single week I’ve accumulated $5,439 in debt. F**k my life! 

  • Car repair for exhaust leak, needed new catalytic converter and gasket (my car sounded like it was going to blow up): $539 
  • Natera (pathology report from last miscarriage): $400
  • SIS bill (Pre-FET ultrasound test): $1200
  • Hysteroscopy surgery estimate: $3300

Plus add in the bill I’ve already been paying on…

  • 2019 ER visit for miscarriage: $2500 remaining (that’s after the $1000+ I already paid down)

Grand Total of Current Debt = $7939

Yes, it’s a lot of debt at once. And I may have downed three glasses of Merlot quite rapidly when I got home the other night when I did all the math, but when I pull back and look at the big picture, it’s not that bad. I’ve been dealing with miscarriages and infertility treatments for going on five years now, and to only have just under $8,000 of debt is actually kind of impressive. I know other women who owe upwards of $40,000 all the way up to $100,000 in debt for infertility treatments. Yes it definitely throws a wrench in my plans for the year and I’m still kind of panicking, but perhaps I’ll use that stressful energy into finding a solution. 

My original plan was to pay off my previous ER bill (and my only bill prior to this week) before my FET, then I’d be golden. I could have been pregnant, and off work to reduce stress for my high risk pregnancy. I could have just chilled at home baking a little bun in the oven. I would have had some money in savings to pay smaller bills like my phone and car insurance. But all the bills started rolling in this week. But this week my dream of being a stay-at-home preggers wifey just exploded in my face.

So what the hell am I going to do next? Well if my pathology report from this upcoming surgery shows it was simply scar tissue, I’m hoping I will still be on track with my FET date of mid-April. I talked with Kurtis about how I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to get a second job during this critical three month time before my FET where they emphasize the importance of reducing stress. A new job would definitely add to my stress level. Luckily, my current work schedule is very flexible. I can work as much as 40 hours per week or as little as one shift per month, since I am an on-call staff member. 

I talked about with Kurtis about a tentative plan after the FET, I plan to work the minimum amount of one shift per month for the first trimester, that is if I’m lucky enough to actually get pregnant. Then after I pass the first trimester I’ll probably work more. It’s risky to be working, especially considering my history of miscarriages. Even just writing those last few sentences, it just doesn’t sit right with me. It essentially boils down to a question of “Are you willing to risk your pregnancy to pay bills? Or do you need to just accept that you will be in debt for a while?” I’m already looking at the trajectory of this year and it’s looking like our dream of buying a house this year is out the window. It’s sad, and it sucks, because both Kurtis and I made plans for it to happen this year. If infertility was personified it would be that mean schoolyard bully who relentlessly pummels you into the ground. On the flip side, I keep getting back up to fight back. I hope you are at least putting your money on me winning instead of that asshole Infertility. 

Speaking of money, if you want to help a sister out, you can donate to us to help pay down our medical bills. It would be much appreciated. Every little bit helps. 

 

Mini-Victories for the Week

Completed SIS procedure this week. 

Local OBGYN was able to quickly get me scheduled for surgery first thing next week.

Did 18/6 intermittent fasting a few days this week.

 

Work in Progress

Surgery scheduled Monday for hysteroscopy.

Need to cut out alcohol completely now that I am in my 3-month window before FET.

No caffeine whatsoever. This past week I transitioned from coffee to tea, now need to cut out caffeinated tea.

Did some stress eating with all the new bills and upcoming surgery, need to be careful not to do this for this next week.

weight

 

This post may contain affiliate links. You can read the disclosure here

 

Want to find out how fertile you are? The Modern Fertility test is an affordable test that shows your hormone levels and gives you an overall picture of where you stand with your fertility. What hormones will the test? Depending on the type of birth control you are on they can test up to eight different hormone levels which may include:

AMH (Anti-mullerian hormone)

FSH (Follicle stimulating hormone)

E2 (Estradiol)

LH (Luteinizing hormone)

TSH (Thyroid stimulating hormone)

FT4 (Free thyroxine)

PRL (Prolactin)

T (Testosterone)

Order your test today.

Modern Fertility Test – Women’s Health Hormone Test You Can Take at Home – Not Available NY, NJ, RI

 

Documentary Review: “One More Shot” (2018)

Documentary Review: “One More Shot” (2018)

Year Released: 2018

Length: 1 hour 25 minutes

Director: Noah Moskin

Stars: Maya Grobel & Noah Moskin

Cinematography: Gabriel Peters-Lazaro

Watch on Netflix

HopingForBaby.com Rating:

5 out of 5

Spoiler Alert! Some of the topics discussed in this post contains spoilers about events that happened in this documentary. Go watch the documentary first on Netflix, then come back to read my review. 

Overview of the Documentary

If you want to go beyond the science and actually see how fertility treatments affect people going through that process One More Shot is an excellent film to start with. I watched this before my egg retrievals as well as after. I felt like this helped prepare me to know what to expect. The second time I watched it, after the egg retrievals I could not believe how much of it was so relatable. So many of the emotions and conversations in this film were also what I experienced along the way. It mostly follows a couple, Noah and Maya’s, on their journey to parenthood using infertility treatments. They also interview other couples and a single woman that experienced infertility. This documentary was the first time I heard about embryo donation, also known as embryo adoption. The movie covers IVF using one’s own eggs, donor eggs, embryo donation, traditional adoption, and using a gestational surrogate. 

Noah and Maya met in college and fell in love. They are an adventurous couple who seemed to have it all, except they were having a really hard time getting pregnant. Maya learns that she has Diminished Ovarian Reserve, which greatly reduces her chances of having a child. Noah gets tested as well and learns that his sperm quality is good. But after trying for two years to get pregnant they decide to go for IVF. They have their friend Gabe help film their journey with infertility treatments.

Tough Decisions

Financial concerns are one of the biggest obstacles couples will face when seeking out infertility treatment. Noah and Maya were feeling very defeated after their first round of IVF failed, using Maya’s own eggs. But to add insult to injury, Noah lost his job, making affording their next round of IVF nearly impossible. At the same time their doctor was advising them to consider other options, such as egg donation. One of the most difficult decisions someone can make is when to stop trying trying fertility treatments using their own eggs or sperm. So what did that look like for Noah and Maya?

Doctor Najmabadi delicately explains some of the factors that contribute to when people decide to stop trying with their own eggs. Dr. Najmabadi explains this as, “we have limited resources of emotion, time, finances . . .” and that if they wanted to increase their odds of becoming parents they should consider the next step of using donated eggs. Noah seems interested in this option and during a discussion with Maya he says to the camera, “But if she can’t have hers I don’t feel that necessarily negates me having mine.” He is talking about using his sperm with donated eggs, so the child would still be genetically his, although it would not be hers.

One of the biggest decisions they had to make next was who was going to be their egg donor. They considered an anonymous donor at first but then asked Maya’s sister Hana. Maya was somewhat concerned about people’s perceptions of the situation and said at one point, and joked about how some might consider it a “freak show” with her future child’s aunt also being her genetic mother. They figured that the child would be genetically Noah’s and still be able to continue Maya’s family genetics, even though it would not be genetically Maya’s. Maya was also concerned about her sister’s well being through the egg retrieval process. All three of them had open and candid conversations throughout the process.

A Family Effort

Maya’s parents were involved in helping the couple save up for another round of IVF. They too had hopes and dreams of someday being grandparents. The documentary shows her parents walking around the house trying to find valuables they could sell so they could help out their daughter. Some of the things they considered selling were rare photos of Marlon Brandow, a letter from Elmore Leonard, an autographed baseball from Bob Gibson, and two Andy Warhol paintings. They did end up selling some items and they talked about how it would be worth it in the end if they could help their daughter have another chance at having a child. Her parent’s efforts as well a grant they won from Baby Quest helped them to fund a second round of IVF using donated eggs from Maya’s sister.

Maya’s sister took decided to step up and help Maya and Noah by doing an egg retrieval and donating her eggs to them. They were able to retrieve 16 eggs and 10 fertilized. Sadly half of those fertilized eggs allowed two sperm to enter the egg. As Dr. Najmabadi explains to them, “it shows a lack of proper function of an egg.” They decide to implant three of the embryos but none of them implanted and therefore the round of IVF had failed.

Emotional & Bittersweet

This documentary is definitely a no-holds-barred raw and emotional perspective on what it’s like to do IVF with one’s own eggs, with donor eggs, and donor embryos. It’s an incredibly personal and intimate look on what it takes to get through infertility treatments, which is one of the hardest things a couple can do in their relationship. Some of the hardest moments they filmed included the phone calls from their doctor’s office about their results from their rounds of IVF. Maya’s crying was gut wrenching to see because you can really feel her pain. And Noah did all he could to support Maya during those times by just holding her while she cried through her pain. Noah seemed to be the quintessential supportive partner. He gave her so many shots, came to her doctor appointments, gave her many hugs, and did not shy away from tough conversations.

Even though there were some really sad parts to the film there were also some very sweet and humorous moments they shared together. At one point they went to a doctor appointment and as they were waiting Noah felt compelled to grab the ultrasound wand and treat it like a karaoke mic. There were some other funny parts as well. Sometimes people consider trying non-traditional methods outside the typical Western Medical treatment model. I am open to trying different things that may work. But I found the process Maya went through absolutely hilarious, I found myself laughing out loud when she was hung upside down by her feet while she dangled from the second floor of their home. Another time she was slapped with large leaves and spat on by the Oaxacan healer. But hey, I’m not going to knock alternative methods if others believe it could work. And think of it this way, if it makes you feel better and reduces your stress level, why not try it? Some scientists believe that by simply having someone talking to you, being attentive, and physically touching you (i.e., acupuncturist, massage therapist, other alternative healers) this could help reduce stress and may contribute to improved fertility rates.

I loved that they were able to look at the positive side as well as not shy away from the sad parts of the process. They did have some happy news at times during the film. After Maya found out three of the eggs had fertilized from their donor eggs from her sister she got excited but then caught herself for a moment, and considered the possibility of it not working. But she was quickly able to let that thought pass and not let it push her happiness down. I like how she said, “In this moment I feel happy and that’s okay.” I remember feeling that same way at times, getting happy news, considering the possibility it may not work, but then choosing to be happy anyway. I really like that it showed Maya making that decision to be happy, despite not knowing what the future might hold. Although the stakes are so high with infertility treatments. If you are also doing fertility treatments remember to allow yourself to be happy when you get good news, instead of worrying about things that may go wrong. I know it’s easier said than done at times. But why be tense throughout the whole process when you can allow yourself to really feel those moments of happiness. 

I loved this documentary for many reasons. I loved that Maya and Noah didn’t shy away from their emotions and were open with each other and the world. I felt like it was so brave of them to express what they were going through in such detail. It helped me to become more prepared for my IVF treatment ahead of time, and I found it relatable in so many ways. They interviewed other people experiencing infertility, to get a wide variety of perspectives. This was such a great touch to the film because it showed viewers there were many paths to parenthood. I’ve watched this documentary several times since it’s been released. I feel like it’s one of those you can watch again when you are feeling down and want to see others who have been where you are now. This documentary doesn’t just show the struggle of infertility, it also shows hope. 

Featured Image Credit: http://www.onemoreshotfilm.com/

This post may contain affiliate links. You can read the disclosure here

Want to find out how fertile you are? The Modern Fertility test is an affordable test that shows your hormone levels and gives you an overall picture of where you stand with your fertility. What hormones will the test? Depending on the type of birth control you are on they can test up to eight different hormone levels which may include:

AMH (Anti-mullerian hormone)

FSH (Follicle stimulating hormone)

E2 (Estradiol)

LH (Luteinizing hormone)

TSH (Thyroid stimulating hormone)

FT4 (Free thyroxine)

PRL (Prolactin)

T (Testosterone)

Order your test today.

Modern Fertility Test – Women’s Health Hormone Test You Can Take at Home – Not Available NY, NJ, RI

FET Prep Week 3: You say Future Tripping, I say Future Planning

FET Prep Week 3: You say Future Tripping, I say Future Planning

I always like having a backup plan in case my original plan doesn’t work out. It helps keep me sane. Even though I believe in taking one step at a time, I also believe having a Plan B. It’s so important for being able to keep the momentum going and headed in the right direction. What if you want to try IVF again but your partner does not? In this post I write about this exact situation that my husband and I found ourselves in. Openly communicating how you both feel might be really difficult if you are on different pages. It does not necessarily mean there is no way to compromise either. Keep reading to find out how I may have found a good compromise that might work for us if this upcoming FET does not work. This post will also cover some of the changes I’m working on to help lower my weight in preparation for my FET.

 

Catch-up on Previous FET Prep Posts

FET Prep Week 1: 3.5 months until FET

FET Prep Week 2: Supplements, WTF Email, & Increased AMH Level

 

Countdown Until FET: 95 days (as of 1-20-2020)

 

18:6 Intermittent Fasting

So right off the bat, I don’t recommend fasting for everyone. But I talked with my doctor and for my particular situation intermittent fasting could help me kick-start some weight loss. I need to lose some weight to get closer to a healthier BMI. It’s been about a year or so since I’ve done intermittent fasting. There are a lot of misconceptions about intermittent fasting. I’ve known people who did intermittent fasting to shed a lot of weight. One person I know lost about 100 pounds doing intermittent fast over a one year period. It all boils down to doing your research and listening to your body. 

Twice this week I did 18:6 intermittent fasting, which means that 18 hours of the day no calories are consumed while six hours of the day you can eat calories. The longest I went was three days. Going three days without food when you are obese is not as extreme as some might tell you. What’s more extreme is having to deal with the deadly effects of obesity including high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. Unfortunately I’m currently dealing with high blood pressure and need medication. My goal is to eventually not need the medication, but this may be a long road to get there, but I have hope. 

I used to be prediabetic, which is a really scary thing to be told by your doctor. But I am happy to say I was able to lose that dreadful label. Obesity is no joke, and I think finding a doable eating plan can give people hope. For me, an 18:6 intermittent fasting plan is more doable. The goal is to avoid taking in more than 1200 calories in a day and use intermittent fasting to increase ketones activity and hopefully boost weight loss. But I’m not perfect, there were a couple days this week I didn’t track what I was eating. Although I don’t think it was an extreme amount of food, I still should have been tracking. Even if this whole weight loss endeavor is a ‘two steps forward, one step back’ kind of thing at least I’m still moving forward. 

 

HCG Test Results

Once again my hCG results were zero for the month, and I am very happy about this. If you are new to my blog, you might be scratching your head right now and asking, “But don’t you want to have a positive hCG result for a pregnancy?” The short answer is no, not right now. In a nutshell, my last miscarriage was due to a partial molar pregnancy and my doctor advised me to not get pregnant for six months due to risk of Gestational Trophoblastic Disease (GTD), which could turn into uterine cancer.

I have to get a blood test monthly to ensure my hCG levels remain negative for the next few months. It did rise slightly at one point early on and I needed a second surgery. But ever since that second surgery I have been so happy and relieved that my levels still remain negative. I only have three months left of my monthly blood test. Then after that I hope I will be doing hCG testing for a positive pregnancy test (post-FET) rather than hCG testing for potential cancer. I still find it so bizarre that it’s the same test but used for two entirely different purposes. 

 

CNY Consult Scheduled in May

So although my husband is not too keen on talking about a backup plan if this upcoming FET does not work, I am very much the type of person who prefers to have a Plan B. It helps to ease my mind knowing there is a plan in place for when things don’t work out, and that’s honestly how I think I’ve managed to keep my sanity over these years. I find that I am able to bounce back more quickly with a backup plan. My husband sees it differently, he said, “You’re future tripping. You’re expecting it [the FET] to fail before it even happens.” I don’t see it as expecting failure though, I see it as being realistic about the odds of it not working and choosing to plan ahead just in case it doesn’t work. My doctor said, “there is a 40% chance it will not work, and there is a 60% chance that it will.” The odds are in my favor, but there is also no guarantee.”

So what does my Plan B look like? It’s a phone call for my initial consult with a prominent doctor at the CNY clinic in New York. He is one of the most highly recommended doctors I’ve seen on the infertility forums and he is at one of the most affordable clinics. I chose to schedule my initial phone consult with him in mid-May. I chose mid-May because by then I would know for sure whether my embryo implanted from my FET. If it did not implant I would have that appointment all set up just in time to move forward. I knew the wait time for a consultation with CNY can be months out, so I decided to lock in my time now. 

 

When Egg Freezing Makes More Sense

What do you do if your husband or partner says they might not want to do IVF again? IVF is physically, emotionally, and financially one of the most difficult things a couple can go through. My husband has mentioned that if this upcoming FET does not work he doesn’t think he wants to pursue further IVF treatments. But I feel very strongly the opposite way. Some women run the risk of resenting their spouse for giving up before they are ready. This can lead to major regrets later in life. If you have a low AMH level it limits the amount of time you have left to have biological children, and if you change your mind later on and decide to do IVF it could be too late. So what’s a girl to do? If in your heart of hearts you feel very strongly that you are not ready to completely give up on doing IVF, I recommend an alternative solution. 

I decided a solution to my current predicament is to consider freezing my eggs. I could do a few egg retrievals, freeze those little eggies, and take the time to focus on my marriage and other goals I have. I see it as a win-win. I would be preserving my potential fertility while allowing room for other things in my life, rather than being fully consumed with infertility treatments back to back with no break in between. Even the idea of freezing my eggs and taking a year off to actually live my life seems like a nice option. We need to find some sort of compromise, and I think egg freezing can be a good one. Egg freezing isn’t just for single women, it’s also for couples like us who need a break and still want to preserve their fertility for the future. If you are in a similar situation, I’d suggest doing some research on egg freezing and consider whether this might be a good idea for you. The same goes for my male readers as well, consider freezing your sperm at a younger age to help preserve your fertility, if your partner is saying they need a break from doing IVF.

 

Mini-Victories for the Week

Reduced gluten intake somewhat (less wheat bread).

Did 18:6 intermittent fasting a couple times this week. 

Set up CNY phone consultation with the doctor I wanted.

 

Work in Progress

Go shopping to buy more veggies and some fruit. Fresh preferred, frozen…okay, canned…meh (but better than nothing).

Consistently track calories daily.

Don’t overdo the exercise like I did this past week. Try to aim for consistency with one hour daily, six times per week.

weight

 

 

This post may contain affiliate links. You can read the disclosure here

Want to find out how fertile you are? The Modern Fertility test is an affordable test that shows your hormone levels and gives you an overall picture of where you stand with your fertility. What hormones will the test? Depending on the type of birth control you are on they can test up to eight different hormone levels which may include:

AMH (Anti-mullerian hormone)

FSH (Follicle stimulating hormone)

E2 (Estradiol)

LH (Luteinizing hormone)

TSH (Thyroid stimulating hormone)

FT4 (Free thyroxine)

PRL (Prolactin)

T (Testosterone)

Order your test today.

Modern Fertility Test – Women’s Health Hormone Test You Can Take at Home – Not Available NY, NJ, RI

FET Prep Week 2: Supplements, WTF Email, & Increased AMH Level

FET Prep Week 2: Supplements, WTF Email, & Increased AMH Level

This week was crazy, for different reasons. Crazy productive, crazy stressful, and also crazy exciting. That’s a lot of crazies! I want to make this FET Prep weekly series more reader-friendly so I will break down the week’s highlights by topics, then go over my mini-victories for the week, and finally things that are a work in progress. I’ll also include my weight loss ticker near the bottom of my posts as I am trying to get to a healthier weight before my FET.

 

This post may contain affiliate links. You can read the disclosure here

 

Supplements

So I sent a message to my fertility clinic asking about supplements and other suggestions they have for me. I got kind of an underwhelming response of very little info on how to prepare for an FET with supplements and diet. I’m surprised at how little it is compared to what I’m reading and when I compare notes with what others have said helped them have a successful FET. In a nutshell it says, take a prenatal and eat healthy food. I find the lack of information in that message to be really dubious. 

updated dr response

Screenshot of the response from my clinic for recommendations of supplements and food suggestions to prepare for FET.

I did my own research on the supplements that may help thicken the lining of my uterus, therefore increasing the chances of my embryo implanting. Check out page 183 in the second edition of It Starts with the Egg to read Rebecca Fett’s suggestions on supplements. The vitamins I plan on taking will probably vary from what you need, so buy the book and then check with your doctor. 

Prenatal – Thorne Basic Prenatal (with at least 800mcg of methylfolate)

Vitamin E – Solgar (600mg/day or 900IU/day)

Vitamin D – Nature Made (4000-5000IU/day)

L-arganine – Solgar (6g/day)

Bio-quinone Q10 Gold (400mg/day: 200mg at breakfast and 200mg at lunch) 

Low-Dose Asprin – Kirkland Signature (81mg/day)

5-MTHF – Thorne 5mg (this supplement is specific to my needs, due to my MTHFR gene mutation) 

IMG_20200110_185600

The WTF Email

So my husband was considering discarding his sperm that is stored at our clinic. He had concerns about continuing to pay for it, especially after our clinic increased the prices this year. He had mentioned this to me recently that he was thinking about stopping the payment and having the clinic discard it. I heard him out and thought he was going to think about for a bit. I mentioned to him in the past I could take over the payments in January 2020. Thursday my husband took the initiative to call them and tell them he was going to stop paying and to discard the sperm. I didn’t know he was going to do this, thus resulting in a s**t storm of epic proportions that ensued.

The first problem, right off the bat, is that he was choosing to discard sperm from two years ago. They say the younger the sperm the better your chances of a successful live-birth. He’s approaching his mid-40s, which I’m learning from different sources is when sperm starts to decline in quality (Better Health Channel, 2017). The second problem, my recent miscarriage was related to a sperm issue which we had not experienced at all in the earlier years of our infertility. After everything I’ve been learning these past few weeks I thought I should step up and take over paying for his sperm storage bill, since he is helping with a lot of other bills. But I was too late, he had already made the phone call to stop his payments and discard the sperm. He sent me a text to let me know.

I sent a few panicked texts to him explaining why I thought this was a bad idea. I told him I was willing to take over payments. So I called the clinic right away and explained that we did not want to actually discard it and that I would take over the payments. I had to print off an automatic payment form, fill it out, yell at my printer for 10 minutes because it refused to scan it in, then I figured out to just take a picture of it with my phone to send it in. I spent the entire afternoon either on hold, playing phone tag, responding to messages from the financial department, while also responding to messages from my medical team. I even double checked that my embryo payment plan was still on track as well, since no change was suppose to happen with that. Their patient service representative reassured me, “Yeah you look good to go with your payments, I don’t see anything due yet for the month for your embryo storage.” I finally took a breath and thought I had everything sorted out.

But then the next morning I open my email and see a message from the clinic that looked like they were going to discard not only the sperm but also the embryo I have in storage. That right there was my what-the-f**k email, as in what the actual f**k is going on to where they would even think it’s okay to send me that email after I emphasized in a voicemail message, and through their online messaging portal, and verbally over the phone with two representatives that I did not want any sperm discarded and now they are lumping in discarding my embryo.

consent

Screenshot from the “WTF Email.”

I was beyond pissed, but I gathered enough composure to calmly send out another portal message, then spoke to a representative on the phone who then transferred me to leave a voicemail for the financial department. I later received a portal message that said essentially “disregard that email.” They then said, “Please fill out an updated payment form for your embryo storage” which totally contradicts what they told me yesterday when they told me everything was current. All of this just adds to the reasons I am not going to do any future IVF cycles with this clinic after my upcoming FET. I have only one embryo out of two rounds of IVF, that’s reason enough to give them the boot.

Increased AMH Level

On a completely different note, I finally got some of my recent blood test results back from my local OBGYN office. In December I decided to check my different blood levels, which are some of the ones the Modern Fertility test looks at. For the end of 2019 I opted to get the tests through my doctors office because I already met my out-of-pocket maximum so these tests would be free. But any other time I would have ordered the Modern Fertility test because it is way cheaper than testing at the doctors office. My doctor was out of the office but my nurse relayed the results to me. Here it is:

December 2019

AMH 0.63

FSH 15.8

Luteinizing hormone 9.4

Testosterone 13

Prolactin 22.4

Estradiol 17.6

Compare that to…

January 2018

AMH 0.19

FSH 0.5

Prolactin 12.0

My AMH (Anti-Müllerian hormone) level went up from 0.19 to 0.63 which I am really excited about. I’m so happy I could throw a party. I never thought it would increase at all, so to see it increase blew my mind. I feel sorry for anyone who does not deal with infertility and therefore does not understand the significance of this event. I’d say it’s equivalent to Jesus walking on water, or at least that’s what I tell myself.

Mini-Victories for the Week

Almost completely stopped adding sugar to coffee.

Drinking less coffee now down to just a few times a week.

Taking my blood pressure pills more regularly (thanks to phone alarms 😊 )

Created a daily checklist for FET prep that includes each supplement, cups of water, exercise, etc.  I will probably add more to the list if I learn any other things that may benefit me on a daily basis.

IMG_20200110_144949

Contacted fertility clinic to set date for FET in April.

Eating healthier than I normally do, including more veggies. Nom nom.

Resolved the “WTF email” I mentioned earlier without losing my s**t.

Stopped using my old coffee maker that had a lot of plastic components and tried our new french press. Plastic + heat =  toxic chemicals. Will be stopping coffee completely by Week 4 of my FET Prep, exactly 3 months before FET.

coffee maker

Work in Progress

Reduce gluten products from my diet.

Continue to incorporate more fruits and veggies in my life. 

Put peanut butter out of reach and a note on it to persuade me from using if I do reach it. Done and done. Now I just need to make sure I don’t crawl up there to reach it this upcoming week. Peanut butter is my kryptonite.

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weight

 

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Dealing with Depression & Infertility

Dealing with Depression & Infertility

A list of helpful resources for depression, anxiety, and PTSD, can be found at the bottom of this post.

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Imagine your circle of friends getting smaller and smaller as they begin to have children, but you are still struggling to have your first. Your Facebook feed is full of baby pictures. One day you decide to unfollow their posts, but still remain friends with them. You do this so you don’t have to see the onslaught of picture after picture of the life you wish you could have. Baby’s first Christmas, baby’s first steps, baby’s first hair cut, followed with posts from their mother saying “You will never know true love until you have a child” followed by #momlife. You realize that you are an outsider and you do not belong, you can easily see how others draw the line in the sand of parents and non-parents. 

 

You go through phases of stopping social media altogether. It works for a while. But then you decide to join some infertility groups on Facebook. Over time you realize most of your feed is now instead filled with other women like yourself. 95% of the posts are filled with anxiety and depression from others with the other small 5% boasting “Possible trigger…BFP!” with a picture of their positive pregnancy test. You feel happy for them but also sad after years trying to have a baby. So you begin to unfollow the infertility groups as well, because it also becomes depressing. Maybe it’s time to take another break from social media altogether you think. You are trying to do what’s best for you but you wonder if you are isolating yourself more.

 

In real life, you feel you’ve been conditioned not to talk about your infertility or pregnancy losses. When people bring up the subject of “Why don’t you have kids yet? Don’t you want kids?”  You attempt to explain why you don’t have kids yet, almost everyone frowns, looks down briefly, and looks back up with a smile and says, “Have you thought of adopting?” They always say it as if they think they are the first person to suggest this idea to you. When you explain the average cost of adoption being $40,000-$50,000 and how you are nowhere near being able to adopt, they then say nervously, “You can do it. You’ll have kids some day” then they change the subject because they didn’t realize their small talk conversation relating to kids was headed in this direction. No one ever seems to consider the possibility that someone can’t have kids. And  later interactions they will continuously ask you, “How’s the baby thing going?” Now take that one person who does this, and multiply it by nearly everyone else you know. That’s what I experience on a daily basis. Sometimes I have no energy to respond further than just saying, “same.”

 

There are three types of people who ask about my infertility; 1) Those who genuinely care about my well being and want to check in with how I am doing, 2) those who bring it up as small talk but quickly become visibly uncomfortable, break eye contact, 3) and rubberneckers. I call them rubberneckers because they seem to get some weird satisfaction knowing my life is sh**ier than theirs. Another definition of a rubbernecking is “a human trait that is associated with morbid curiosity” (Wikipedia, 2020). Sometimes rubberneckers masquerade initially as people who care, but you can always find their true nature with their responses of “Wow, I’m glad I didn’t have to go through all of that! My pregnancies all went so easily. Let me show you pictures of my kids” or “I’m so happy I’m blessed with kids” and these types of statements are usually punctuated with laughs and smiles. The insinuation being, “I’m blessed and your not, so my life is better than yours.” Yeah, those are the most cringe-worthy conversations. They seem to be looking for a moment to boast about their life. Why even ask about my fertility issues if you just want to boast about your kids? I’d rather you just start off a conversation by boasting about your kids and not even ask about my fertility issues. Honestly, even the nicest people are rubberneckers and they are doing so unconsciously. I usually chalk it up to just a clumsy interaction. No one is perfect and people don’t always know how to navigate a conversation as delicate as infertility.

 

You want to be open about what you are going through because you’ve heard that talking about your infertility can be helpful, but few people know how to talk about the subject without it getting awkward. Finding support from friends and family can actually be quite difficult for many of us for this very reason. You learn ways to navigate conversations away from the subject of infertility by asking them questions instead that are focused on their life, because that seems to be what most people would rather be talking about anyway. Sometimes you are able to successfully change the subject completely and you smile inside knowing that psychology trick worked quite well and you are amazed at how easily people are distracted. They probably didn’t care that much anyway if they were that easily distracted into a different subject. Every once in a blue moon when you read people’s body language after the question, “How’s the baby thing going?” you see that they really do care. They are making eye contact, they aren’t distracted by anything else, their eyes don’t narrow as if you are being interrogated, their facial features actually soften, and everything else about their body language is open and ready to listen. This is a rare and beautiful moment that happens maybe once every few months. 

 

It’s hard to find support through infertility and those real heart-to-heart moments are so few and far between. But I know I can always turn to my people in the infertility forums. Although the forums can be quite depressing at times, they are the ones who truly get it. Dealing with pregnancy and infant loss is traumatic, so it’s no surprise that many of the posts in those groups are incredibly sad. I do feel happy when I see they finally post pictures of their first baby, but I quickly ask myself “When is it going to be my time?” Over time I’ve learned to be genuinely happy for them and ask that question less and less. I’ve learned to compartmentalize in a way of, “that’s their life” and “this is mine,” it helps somewhat. 

There are some images burned in my memory I cannot erase. I have nightmares all the time. Nightmares of another miscarriage happening to my body. Nightmares of a stillborn baby. Nightmares of the infant in my dreams being the color blue and I’m running around screaming for someone to help but everyone just stares at me, offering no solution. Every single dream that starts off hopeful with a pregnancy or a baby ends badly, because that’s the only thing I’ve known in real life. 

I was losing sleep from my nightmares. I was waking up almost every night in the middle of my sleep. I was functioning on 3-5 hours of sleep daily for months, despite trying sleeping pills. On top of all of that I was convinced for months that Kurtis would leave me if my upcoming FET didn’t work. I finally talked with him about it and he said he wouldn’t and he’d be happy with biological or adopted children, and even if we choose to live child-free. But at times when I talk to him I can also tell that it is emotionally just too much to deal with in the moment, so I’ve been trying to handle it myself.

 

My OBGYN apparently could see I couldn’t even muster pretending to be optimistic. He asked how I am handling everything, if I am seeing a therapist, what I am doing to cope, etc. He went so far as to ask if I wanted a prescription of antidepressants. It’s not everyday that an OBGYN offers antidepressants. I let him know that I’ve been seeing a therapist occasionally to talk about my infertility for a while now, which seemed to give him some relief. Up until my OBGYN asked me if I was depressed I feel like I was in denial of my depression. Deep down I think I knew I was depressed, but I was going about life like I wasn’t. But here I had my OBGYN in front of me, looking very concerned, saying he was ready and willing to give me a prescription. I told him “no thank you” and explained I would rather treat it through natural means since I used to get severe migraines from antidepressants. I had tried literally a dozen antidepressants in the past and each of them made me want to shoot myself more from the physical pain than I had already wanted to from the emotional pain. Needless to say I absolutely needed an alternative to antidepressants. My doctor suggested increasing my activity level and exercising more and to also “get out of the state, go someplace warm.” I most likely have Seasonal Affective Disorder on top of my depression, so the idea of getting the hell out of cold, dark Alaska sounded great to me.

 

I followed my doctors advice and I booked a trip to Nevada to visit with my husband’s family and to help boost my mood. We’ll be going here pretty soon. I am so happy to be getting out of the state since the temperature has been steady this past week around -10 degrees (that’s Fahrenheight, for my foreign readers). This is the coldest and darkest time of the year. I am so ready to get the f**k out of this state and bake under the Nevada sun. 

 

I’ve also been exercising more and eating better than I normally do. I am slowly starting to lose weight. I feel like exercise helps me feel a little better initially afterward, but I think I need to exercise twice daily to continue to elevate my mood. I do think that movement and nutrition are some of the best ways to help you pull yourself out of depression. I’ve been watching funny movies, listening to music, talking with a therapist, and having open conversations with family about my depression. 

 

I know I’m not the only one dealing with depression combined with infertility and pregnancy loss. Some days are absolutely terrible for me, but I still go about my day and do the things I need to. Sometimes my house is messier than I like because I’m curled up on the couch watching a marathon of comedies to help boost my mood before I start the dishes and anything else I need to do. Sometimes I’d rather rest in bed under the warm blankets and listen to music rather than going out. I know that this depression will pass eventually, because it always does. 

 

For those of you reading this that are also dealing with depression, whether severe or minor, I suggest you at least talk with a professional, such as a therapist. If you are seeking spiritual support in addition to a therapist consider speaking to your pastor or ask if they provide spiritual counseling at your church. Have an objective person to help you figure out the best ways you can cope. Consider temporarily taking medication if you are able to. If you try one way of coping and it doesn’t quite work, try another one. Each day will be different, so you might need to try different coping strategies depending on what is going on. Eventually I plan on writing more about coping strategies. But at this current moment I need to cope with a cup of coffee, cuddling with my dog and cat (I’m pet sitting a kitty now!), and watching the overly bubbly morning newscasters giggle about things that aren’t even that funny, because for some reason that makes me feel good too…mirror neurons I suppose.

 

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Are you currently experiencing depression, anxiety, PTSD or other similar symptoms with your infertility and you would like someone to talk to? Here are some resources for you:

RESOLVE HelpLine: 866-NOT-ALONE (866-668-2566) (United States)

SAMHSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: 1-800-662-HELP or 1-800-662-4357 (United States)

Fertility Network: 0121-323-5025 (United Kingdom)

BICA – British Infertility Counselling Association (United Kingdom)

List of Suicide Crisis Lines (Worldwide by country)

FET Prep Week 1: 3.5 months until FET

FET Prep Week 1: 3.5 months until FET

Some say preparing for a Frozen Embryo Transfer is like preparing for the Olympics. The three months prior to the actual transfer are the most important time to make healthy changes to increase the chances of an embryo sticking. Some books tell you to go dairy free, gluten free, processed-food free, and everything-but-fruit-and-veggies free. Limit your toxins, eliminate foods that inflame, don’t paint your nails, don’t eat deli meat, don’t do this or that, or anything really. Just sit in your little safe bubble at home, without any makeup on, without deodorant, and eat rabbit food for three months. If you have any OCD tendencies prepping for a FET is enough to make your head explode because you so want to follow the advice to a T, but if you followed it all you might just lose your marbles. But others with a more laissez-faire approach may tell you, “It was so easy, you basically just show up and bloop they put the embryo in.” 

So how can you not lose your mind through this process? And where do I fall on the diverse spectrum of those preparing for a FET? I’d like to aim at the more reasonable approach, using the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of the time I’d like to follow my plan, and 20 percent of the time I might allow some wiggle room. I know myself. I know that if I go full bore at first I’m probably going to throw in the towel more easily because it’s so vastly different from how I normally live. But by already allowing myself to have some wiggle room with how I eat, exercise, and use beauty products, I am eliminating the excuse of it being “too much.” Because it’s not too much if you have reasonable expectations.

My goal is to follow the Mediterranean diet at least 80% of the time. From what I understand it’s basically Pescatarian with occasional meat other than fish. It includes fruits, veggies, fish, healthy oils, and avoiding processed food to name a few. I was Pescatarian in 2019 for about four months but I was still eating processed food. In the book It Starts with the Egg by Rebecca Fett she writes about studies that have shown a correlation between following the Mediterranean diet and increased fertility. I need to learn more about the specifics, I have a general idea of what to expect. 

As far as exercise, I’d like to aim for 30-60 minutes per day, six days per week. I was working overnight shift but I recently stopped to improve my overall health. I think this will make it easier to have a regular workout time now. I’m thinking of working out first thing in the morning before work. I have a treadmill at home I use a couple times a week but I plan on using it more often now. I paid ahead for a punch card to go swimming, which I haven’t done in a long time. I’m looking forward to getting back into swimming. Fall and winter time I tend to slip into hibernation mode and I exercise less, and I need to break out of that cycle. 

I woke up on New Year’s Eve with a bad cold. I spent most of the night in bed with my head under the covers grumbling at the sound of popping fireworks and went back to sleep. I didn’t have any exciting plans for the night anyway so I feel like I didn’t miss much. When I reflect back on 2019 it was just okay. It wasn’t terrible, but it could have been better. Honestly, it was a challenging year dealing with two more miscarriages and more surgeries. I realized I’m a lot stronger than I thought, having dealt with this for several years. But this year I want to focus on some healthy coping habits that will help me deal with whatever the outcome is from this upcoming FET.

 

I saw a post on facebook I liked relating to New Years Resolutions…

 

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I decided I wanted to do a similar New Years Resolution and came up with this instead…

 

This New Year

 

And to be more specific I came up with the following hobbies to pursue for myself:

Mind: Write a novel.

Body: Train for my first “running” 5k.

Creative Spirit: Learn how to make at several pieces of jewelry.

 

I’ve done 5k’s but I’ve never actually ran in them, I would always walk in them. But this time I want to try my hand at running it. Training for a 5k and maybe a 10k later on will help me get in shape for my FET. I decided to set a weight loss goal I would like to achieve before my FET. My goal is to try to lose 20 pounds before mid-April 2020, which is currently a little over three months away. 

 

 

So much of my life revolves around trying to have a baby. But if I start to pursue other hobbies I’m passionate about, I think it will help me to have a better year. I’m hoping 2020 will bring more growth and that each of you will also find something this year to lift your spirits. Happy New Year!

 

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Book Review: “Empty Arms” by Pam Vredevelt

Book Review: “Empty Arms” by Pam Vredevelt

HopingForBaby.com Rating: 3 out of 5

If you’ve experienced pregnancy or infant loss Empty Arms: Hope and Support for Those Who Have Suffered a Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Tubal Pregnancy by Pam Vredevelt might provide you with some comfort as you go through the grieving process. She writes about her own experience with grieving the loss of her baby and how it impacted her life. She turned her pain into something greater than herself, by helping others through their grieving processes. Vredevelt found meaning and purpose through providing counseling to others through her own private practice. In her book she talks about how important her Christian faith was to her as well as other people in her life as they dealt with their loss. 

I liked that she talked about different coping skills that she found helpful as well as what other women found to be helpful. Anyone dealing with grief wants to learn different ways to move through the grief and not let it debilitate them. Some of her suggestions included talking to someone who they feel could understand, listen to uplifting songs and podcasts, find a project or hobby to keep you busy, and slow down your routine so as not to overschedule yourself. The biggest coping skill she discussed was studying the Bible. Personally, I am not that religious, but I feel that people who are Christian might get a lot out of this book. She provides Bible quotations that some might find helpful as they cope with their loss. For those who are struggling with their faith and asking “Why did God allow this to happen?” they may find the Biblical quotes give them guidance and help heal their pain.

I think if you are a devout Christian and have experienced pregnancy or infant loss, this book may be just the thing you are looking for. But if you practice any other faith, are agnostic, or atheist and you feel aversive to Biblical references this book might be a difficult read for you. For a woman who is currently grieving and under a tremendous amount of stress, I would probably tell her to wait a bit before reading this book because it may come across as Pollyanna. The author essentially explains that seeing the big picture of God’s plan can help someone cope. But when someone is in the depths of their grief this big-picture thinking may not provide immediate comfort. 

I felt like there were parts in the book that were overly graphic, relating to the details of miscarriage. Why go into so much graphic detail? I feel like the graphic detail isn’t helpful and can actually be harmful for readers who are really struggling to cope. The author shares her own experience as well as other people’s stories which go into such vivid detail. A single experience of trauma is enough, readers may not want to hear multiple stories of trauma on top of their own. My advice to readers who choose to read the book is if you feel parts of the book are too difficult to read, simply skip ahead a bit. Or you can wait until you feel like you are able to handle these stories. 

Overall, I felt like this was a good read because it covers a lot of ways to emotionally heal, mostly on a spiritual level. Sometimes our biggest struggle to healing is trying to understand why our baby died. This book attempts to explain on a spiritual level why something such as pregnancy and infant loss happens. Even if you are not Christian there are good nuggets of advice that anyone can benefit from. This book may bring you much needed peace. 

 

“Empty Arms: Hope and Support for Those Who Have Suffered a Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Tubal Pregnancy”by Pam Vredevelt

 

“Empty Arms Journal: 21 Days of Good Grief Exercises for Healing After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or the Loss of a Baby” by Pam Vredevelt and Yvonne Parks.

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