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Choosing Happiness Despite Circumstances

Choosing Happiness Despite Circumstances

In one of my infertility groups I read a post from a woman who struggled with multiple miscarriages and failed IVF rounds. She sounded exactly like how I feel, occasionally sad and confused about what will happen next. She asked a very profound question: “How do I get my happiness back?” So many women in the group seem to relate happiness with the end result of a baby. But she asked this question relating it to what she herself can actually do, regardless of whether she continues or discontinues her fertility treatment. A new daily goal of mine is to continually work on creating happiness for myself and from within myself. You are setting yourself up for disappointment if you rely on external events to bring you happiness. In other words, it is still possible to be happy and content even if you cannot create a family right now.

 

I wrote the following response to the woman’s post about her question of how to find happiness through all of this: 

 

Sometimes taking a break from planning fertility things, even if it’s just for a month or two can bring much needed peace. I’ve experienced a lot of loss and disappointment as well: 5 miscarriages and 1 failed IVF round. So many of us are right there, feeling exactly like you are. I feel the same way too. Your honesty with your post helped me to feel less alone. Take the time to take care of yourself and do the things you enjoy, whether it’s going for a walk, listening to music, journaling, talking with friends, etc. I need to do the same as well. Even in our uncertain times we can make choices to build ourselves up, even if we have to drag ourselves out of bed to enjoy the world outside. For me, doing the opposite of how I feel sometimes helps. If I want to binge watch TV or oversleep beyond what is normal, I try to force myself to go for a drive or be out in nature. The other day I was depressed and only wanted to zone out in front of the TV but I instead went out for a hike. I saw for the first time in my life a mountain sheep very close. Had I not forced myself to get outside I would have missed out on that amazing experience. For me that was a taste of what I could be missing out on if I continue to sit inside and be depressed. I hope you can push yourself too to find what helps you heal.”

 

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A rare find, mountain sheep watches us as we hike.

 

Thank you for reading. 

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Book Review “It Starts with the Egg” by Rebecca Fett

Book Review “It Starts with the Egg” by Rebecca Fett

HopingForBaby.com Rating: 5 out of 5

 

Rebecca Fett, writer of “It Starts with the Egg” knows her stuff for sure. Fett is a microbiologist who understands how the body functions on a cellular level. When faced with her own infertility issues she used her education and research skills to have a successful birth, and shared her extraordinary amount of information for other women to use in her book. She has held the top selling rank on Amazon.com in the Reproductive Medicine category. I’m a member of multiple infertility groups on Facebook, and I continually heard about this book over and over again. The women were very enthusiastic about the book and it was always highly recommended. Many women who spoke endless praises of “It Starts with the Egg” were saying that they were able to finally make their dream of having a baby a reality.

 

I will not go into detail on all of the topics covered because all of the information and credit goes to Rebecca Fett. Whether you get it from the library, book store, e-book or audio format (I personally love Audible), you have got to read this book. The book is organized into categories for the particular type of infertility issue that one might be facing. For example, I have low ovarian reserve and I’m doing IVF, so I choose to follow the Advanced Plan in her book. There is also a plan for those with PCOS. Some women have been facing infertility for unexplained reasons for a while but they don’t want to do IVF, there is a plan for that as well. Let me also add that you MUST speak with your doctor about your treatment plan and don’t solely rely on the book, because you may have a medical condition that is affecting your infertility that could easily be tested for. In other words, you may think you have “unexplained infertility” but perhaps a simple blood test will explain what is really going on.

 

I was honestly in a very low place before I started to read this book. But this book has given me a lot of hope because it gives great tangible advice that someone can start right away to improve their odds of success. For example, there is a plethora of information on supplements Fett shares, rooted in case studies that show positive correlations for success. 

 

If you are unable to get a copy of her book right now, I recommend checking out her website https://itstartswiththeegg.com where there is information relating to supplements and other product suggestions. One major change I did right away was to get rid of my plastic dishware and replace it with either glass or stainless steel items. This was the first thing I did and I felt a sense of accomplishment knowing I was taking the first step in reducing my use of products that can have  endocrine disruptors, which can impact fertility. From there, I also changed my make-up and beauty products that had high levels of dangerous chemicals. I recommend using the “Think Dirty” app that allows you can scan the barcode on beauty and cleaning products and shows you if it is dangerous or not. I’ll be doing a more in-depth post in the future on that subject. I’ve been eating healthier and following the food suggestions outlined in this book as well.

 

So all the talk is true is true ladies! Rebecca Fett has gathered so much information and created an excellent resource for those of use struggling with infertility. This book has actually inspired me to research even more health-related topics. I guess you can say I’ve become quite the health nut this past month. Another added benefit of following her advice is that you are lowering your risk for major health related issues if you follow the dietary suggestions. Reading her book has empowered me to make real changes and was it was the catalyst for me to begin living a healthier lifestyle. You’ve got to read this book!

 

Thank you for reading. 

Catch up on past entries by clicking here for the archives page. 

ENTER TO WIN THE LATEST HOPINGFORBABY.COM CONTEST.

 

Check out the website https://itstartswiththeegg.com/ to learn more about improving egg quality and how to get the book “It Starts with the Egg” by Rebecca Fett.

Improve Fertility by Purging Plastics & My Allergic Reaction to CoQ10

Improve Fertility by Purging Plastics & My Allergic Reaction to CoQ10

If you haven’t heard about the book “It Starts With the Egg” by Rebecca Fett, then you are about to have your mind blown. I’ve heard nothing but positive reviews on this book. It is jam-packed with so much science on the subject of improving egg quality. I plan on doing a full review of this book after I finish reading it, but I couldn’t help but share one thing I did today, as suggested from the book. Fett suggests getting rid of BPA plastics in the home. I tossed practically every single plastic item we owned including utensils, dishes, cups, Tupperware, etc. I’m sending it all to the thrift store, instead of the landfill. Someone might as well get some use out of it, for those who don’t buy into all the hubbub about plastics.

 

To his credit, my husband actually brought up the idea of getting rid of the plastics a while back, but I didn’t really buy into it back then. I kind of thought it was a bunch of [pauses to look up synonyms for “crap”] baloney, bunk, drivel, foolishness, idiocy, bunkum, claptrap, hogwash, poppycock, ridiculousness, rigmarole, tomfoolery, twaddle, ludicrousness. Oh man, the English-major nerd in me got a kick out of that one, “poppycock” being my favorite. Claptrap coming in a close second, only because I’ve never heard that word and I think claptrap sounds like total balderdash.

 

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You don’t realize how much plastic you use until it’s all laid out.

 

So whether you believe all the vilification of plastics these days, the science does seem to show a correlation between high levels of Bisphenol A (BPA) found in many plastics we use with higher rates of infertility. I’ll leave all the overwhelming evidence for you to read in the book “It Starts with the Egg.” Since my fertility seems to be equivalent to aligning all the planets not only in this universe but simultaneously in every other universe, I might as well try another method to help improve my odds. I’ve only read a portion of the book so far, but Ms. Rebecca Fett finally convinced me with a slew of detailed information on the subject. I managed to pack up two garbage bags full of plastics. The only stuff left to replace are the water filter, the coffee machine, and measuring cups. I’ll also need to get some replacement spoons for cooking food, either wooden or stainless steel.

 

I’m reading the second edition of the book where she addresses the subject of how some of her readers became a bit obsessed with avoiding toxic items after reading her first edition. Some toxins are simply unavoidable in our environment.  Many women were following her advice like the be-all and end-all fertility bible to the point where some were developing neuroses trying to rigidly follow her advice. Which is understandable in a way, because many of us are doing everything we can to make our dream of having a baby possible. The bigger issue at play, we are trying to gain a sense of control over something that seems largely out of our control. Essentially what I am saying is to find credible sources, like your doctor and science-based studies, and make the changes where you can. At least that way you can look back and say that you tried everything possible, within reason.

 

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My dog stares warily at the plastic turkey baster while I gather up all the plastic dishware in the house.

 

You can’t always follow the advice you read online either, you have to talk with your reproductive endocrinologist. The internet is fraught with terrible advice. I could write an entire post on pro-pineapple and anti-pineapple opinions amongst those of us on the infertility boards. I find it kind of odd that the pineapple is the symbol for fertility, while there are articles showing inconclusive evidence on this, and others that flat out say to avoid the fruit. But that subject is for another time. Maybe this book will address the Great Pineapple Debate and I haven’t reached that part of the book yet.

 

Another thing to consider is the fact that well-substantiated medical advice on a particular subject may in fact be the exact opposite of what is good for you as an individual. Everyone has jammed CoQ10 down my throat, not literally of course because that would be rude as hell. I was using one brand of CoQ10 for a while, but they ran out of it at the store. No big deal right? I bought a different brand sitting there on the shelf that everyone online raved about and even my doctor recommended. I took the new brand of CoQ10 pill the same way I took my old brand. I didn’t think anything of it, but within 30 minutes both of my arms were almost entirely red and itched like crazy. I broke out into hives, for the first time in my life. I thought maybe it was the new soap I used since I do have sensitive skin. But sure enough when I tried the CoQ10 a different day (minus the soap) I broke out into hives again. Hives don’t seem too conducive to a successful conception if you ask me. I called my doctor and told her my ordeal and she believes that it is likely I’m allergic to one ingredient, most likely one of multiple oils in the pill, and that it would be better to switch back to the other pill once it’s available at the store. Needless to say, I stopped taking that brand entirely. The moral of my story is that your treatment should be individualized to your body, and you shouldn’t feel the need to follow a cookie-cutter approach, especially when everybody and your mother says “it’s the absolute best.”

 

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All the plastic items from our kitchen that are ready to go out the door.

 

I went off on a tangent there, but what I am saying is to do your own research of credible sources. Most importantly, you need to exhaust all your testing options to rule out a medical condition that could easily be fixed. But if you’ve ruled everything out with all the blood tests and ultrasounds, why not try something simple like getting rid of your plastics? Because you don’t have anything to lose.

 

Thank you for reading.

Catch up on past entries by clicking here for the archives page.

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Check out the website itstartswiththeegg.com to learn more about improving egg quality and how to get the book “It Starts with the Egg” by Rebecca Fett.

Movie Review of “Instant Family”

Movie Review of “Instant Family”

 

HopingForBaby.com Rating: 5 out of 5

 

“Instant Family” is based on the true story about the couple Sean and Beth Anders, who foster three children and shows their process of adopting children from the foster system. Although I am not a foster parent, I believe this movie did an excellent job anticipating and answering a lot of questions for those of us who are considering fostering. This movie is geared more to the perspective of foster parents as opposed to the childrens’, some critics point out. But for someone like myself, who is interested in fostering, I found the movie to be very helpful and inspiring. Some reviewers had expectations of this movie to have more comedy, but I believe this was due to how the movie trailers were marketed. If you set aside the movie trailers and look at the movie itself, it is a great movie with both comedy and drama.

 

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This movie shows one couple’s story from the beginning (the idea to foster) to the end which was a successful adoption. The movie had a very special opening day, on National Adoption Day. The movie includes many light-hearted and comical moments as the couple bumbles through parenthood for the first time. There are also heart-wrenching moments where you could feel the pain of the children as well as their new foster parents who struggled at times. What seemed to greatly benefit the couple was the foster parent support group they attended. There they shared the frustrating moments, gave candid advice, and of course laughed at each others expense at times because they knew all too well what they were going through.

 

The support group was one of the most important aspects of the movie, in my opinion, because I didn’t realize before that such a resource existed. I am brand new to the idea of considering fostering, so I am still learning what is available to assist foster parents. In the movie they quickly went over the required training including First Aid CPR, basic parenting skills, and showed scenes of them preparing their home. The movie did a good job showing the general process of fostering a set of siblings, including the highs and lows. I highly recommend this movie to anyone considering fostering, because I know it helped me to become more open to the idea than I was before.

 

Click here to read the review I did on another way you can build your family with IVF called “Baby Makers: The Fertility Clinic (IVF Documentary).”

 

Thank you for reading.

Catch up on past entries by clicking here for the archives page.

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Image Credit: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7401588/

 

Results from 2nd Round of IVF: All Things Considered

Results from 2nd Round of IVF: All Things Considered

As you may have noticed from reading the entries just prior to this one, it was during Thanksgiving of 2018. So I’m considering this entry a super condensed version of the last six months (November 2018 – May 2019). But first, I want to give you the results of my 2nd round of IVF:

 

8 eggs retrieved

4 eggs mature/fertilized

3 abnormal embryos (genetic issue would have resulted in miscarriage)

 

As heartbreaking as it was to hear that all three of my embryos were abnormal, I tried to think of it another way. Instead I told myself, “I avoided three miscarriages.” Miscarriages are traumatic and costly for the subsequent surgeries. I have literally lost count of how many surgeries I’ve had because some surgeries were to correct the original surgery. I did the math. The cost of the surgeries and procedures after every miscarriage from natural conception equaled the cost of about 1.5 rounds of IVF.

 

So in my particular situation, the more “affordable route” doesn’t really exist if I want a child that is biologically mine. One of the biggest reasons I chose to do IVF is because I wanted to avoid the physical and emotional pain of miscarriage after miscarriage after miscarriage. So maybe now you can see why I would reassure myself with the comment I mentioned before, “I avoided three miscarriages.”

 

I received that sad news in December 2018, and two months later on January 2019 I lost another pregnancy from natural conception, and I needed yet again another surgery. I was working two jobs and my hours were anywhere from 50-75 hours per week. I threw myself into work to stay busy and keep my mind off my emotional pain. I desperately needed to occupy my mind with something all the time. I was also taking a college class.

 

In the beginning of 2019 my Mom found out she had cancer again. My husband and I decided to wait on doing our Frozen Embryo Transfer from our first round of IVF so I could help my Mom. In March three people I knew died in a single week. I began to deeply contemplate what was important in life and began considering cutting back at work. The thing that stopped me from making changes was the high cost of my medical bills I still owed from the last IVF round and the surgeries from my past miscarriages. Our original plans were to do the Frozen Embryo Transfer in April 2019, but Kurtis and I decided to put the brakes on our plans so I could focus on helping Mom.

 

In April I had a migraine almost every 2-3 days, my stress level was increasing to the point where it was unbearable, yet I pushed on. I kept helping Mom, kept working both jobs, and kept going to school. My body was screaming at me to slow down. Around 4am on Easter morning I had to leave in the middle of my shift at my overnight job, because I was having one of the worst migraines of my life. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the worst pain in my life, I would say I was at a solid 9. I crawled into bed and told Kurtis, “I feel like I’m dying” and that’s how I truly felt. I didn’t want to go to the hospital and have yet another bill, so I hoped that sleep would help me.

 

Later my husband asked if I wanted to go to Easter brunch but I just couldn’t do it. Shortly after he left I started to really take stock of my situation. My pain was still a 9 out of 10, the sleep didn’t help, and I remembered my Grandma had strokes at a young age. I confirmed with my Mom later that my Grandma started having strokes in her 30s, and I’m 32.

 

And then I had a flashback to the day I noticed the enormous bulk-sized Excedrin bottle that sat on the desk of my high school Spanish teacher. I remember thinking, “she must have really bad migraines like I do too.” Two days after I saw that bottle on her desk we had a substitute teacher explaining to us that our teacher had a stroke and she would likely never be able to teach again. I heard that her stroke so strongly affected her that she was unable to recognize her students. Several months later I saw her in a store parking lot with a cane in one hand and a man stabilizing her other side as he helped her into the passenger side of the car.

 

I’m on blood pressure medicine that also acts as a preventative medicine for my migraines. At this point I was very concerned my blood pressure was high and maybe I was on the brink of having a stroke. A few years back I was on a birth control pill that elevated my blood pressure so much so that I was told by my doctor, “You are at stroke levels.”

 

So back to Easter 2019, my brain feels like it’s going to explode and I decide I need to go to the hospital. I took an Uber and left a voicemail for Kurtis that I was on the way to the hospital. They had put me on a cocktail of four different medications by IV line. I was very slowly beginning to feel better. I had a washcloth over my eyes almost the entire time I laid there in the hospital. Kurtis had forgot his phone in his car during brunch so he came right to the hospital when he heard my voicemail. I lied there wondering if this summer was going to be like the one I had about ten years ago where every single day that entire summer I had a migraine.

 

My co-worker was one of the three people I knew that died in a single week. He was only six years older than me and had a heart attack. Although I don’t know the circumstances that lead to his death I thought about him a lot over the month leading up to this terrible migraine I was having now. I was in a lot of pain and I also had a lot of fear. The doctor was asking me questions about my stress level, the type of work I do, and what is going on in my life that might be triggering these migraines.  The doctor said my blood pressure was very high. I told her I was on blood pressure medicine and she suggested I should double my dose, otherwise I will most likely continue to feel awful. On top of all of that I’ve been having stomach issues and grew concerned I was developing an ulcer. It has been a real domino effect that all came crashing down at once.

 

On that hospital bed I made the decision to make some major changes in my life. I quit one of my two jobs, and I recently reduced my hours at my main job. I also finished my class, somehow amazingly not dropping out this semester. I’m exercising more. I began to make changes with how I am eating (a work in progress). I saw my regular doctor, got a referral for massages for my neck pain (related to tension headaches), and had my first appointment with a nutritionist where I asked a lot of questions about the types of foods to eat and avoid to help with my blood pressure. I’m starting to feel better but I still have some headaches and had a couple migraines, but I’ve still been able to function okay. I’m on double to dose of blood pressure medicine, another to prevent migraines, and another to deal with a migraine the moment I start to get symptoms. I’m also happy to report Mom is now cancer free.

 

All things considered these past six months, I’ve dealt with a crazy amount of stress that I didn’t realize until my body decided to throw the towel in. I honestly feel that I was so focused on staying busy after the failed IVF and the miscarriage right after, that I had ignored my body’s signals that I was headed for trouble. My best way of coping (staying busy) turned out to make things way worse.

 

So here I am now, facing everything that went down and finding other ways to cope. I’ve been listening to music and binging on Netflix. The two weeks I was off work after my massive migraine I binge-watched the entire series of Nurse Jackie, an awesome show by the way. I couldn’t remember the last time I truly sat down and watched several shows in a row. Normally binge-watching is considered unhealthy, but in my case it was exactly what I needed to chill out.

 

How does all of that relate to my infertility journey? Imagine if I did the Frozen Embryo Transfer during all of that stress, there’s no way it would have been healthy for our little embryo. So our one and only embryo waits on ice for a while longer until I can get feeling better. I’m thinking in a few months I’ll head down to finally do the Frozen Embryo Transfer.

 

If you’ve read this entire post, thank you. If you skimmed it, I don’t blame you. So there you have it dear reader, you are all caught up on the whirlwind that is my life.

 

Thank you for reading.

Catch up on past entries by clicking here for the archives page.

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