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

 

Coutdown 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

 

 

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Movie Review: “Private Life”

Movie Review: “Private Life”

Private Life (2018)

Writer & Director: Tamara Jenkins

Length: 2h 3min

Watch on Netflix

HopingForBaby.com Rating: 5 out of 5

Heads up, this review contains some spoilers so go watch the movie first on Netflix.

Damn! “Private Life” dives right into the deep end, with all the raw emotions that come up with infertility, IVF, and egg donation. It was funny at times, but mostly poignant (in a good way). Rachel (played by Kathryn Hahn) and Richard (played by Paul Giamatti) are in their 40s and have done multiple IUIs and now have to try out other means of artificial reproduction.

Rachel is categorized as having “advanced maternal age,” a medical term for women over 35 years old. Now they’ve reached the point of needing to do IVF due to Richard’s very low sperm count, plus he only has one testicle. Richard has to endure the cringe-worthy surgery called TESE (Testicular Sperm Extraction). I had preconceptions of what men go through during the IVF process and how they have it “easy.” But after learning about TESE, I take that back. The movie didn’t show the TESE surgery, just Richard holding an ice pack on his crotch afterwards in the hospital while Rachel was lying next to him, post-surgery from her egg retrieval. There was a bittersweet solidarity between the two of them in that moment. 

But infertility has a way of wedging in between couples, and they inevitably have both minor and major fights. I watched this movie when it was first released in 2018, prior to my IVF procedures, and then I decided to watch it again after two rounds of IVF and only one resulting embryo. The first time I watched it I thought it was depressing. But the second time watching it I was shaking my head in agreement with many of the scenes. I genuinely liked how real it is, unlike some of the YouTube infertility couples that seem so glossy and keep me wondering, “Okay…but how do you really feel?” 

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Credit: Medium.com

Richard and Rachel face facts and realize that IVF probably will not work for Rachel again. They decide to look into egg donation. Initially they were considering an anonymous donor but then decided to ask Sadie, Richard’s step-niece (not biologically related). Rachel thought this might be a good idea because she wanted it to be someone they knew. Sadie is a 25-year-old college drop out, unemployed, and has time on her hands to help out her step-uncle and step-aunt. Sadie undergoes the same egg retrieval process Rachel already went through before, minus the embryo transfer. Sadie learns she is a poor responder to the medication and that she has incredibly low egg count for her age. Her egg count is on par with a woman in their 40s. Had she not decided to be an egg donor she might not have known about her fertility issues. Sadie’s mother Cynthia (played by Molly Shannon) was totally against her daughter doing the egg retrieval. I like how this conflict erupted during Thanksgiving, because there’s no better time to have angry disagreement than on Thanksgiving Day. Although Cynthia was never on-board with her daughter’s decision and she comes across as not understanding, I think Cynthia just wanted what was best for her daughter.

On the surface, this movie might seem like a downer. But I found “Private Life” to be refreshing with its fearless exploration of what happens not only to the couple experiencing infertility but also the extended family. It’s also about grieving, over and over again. Richard and Rachel had to grieve for every failed IUI, failed IVF from both Rachel’s eggs and Sadie’s eggs, and also a failed adoption (birth mother got their hopes up then disappeared). It’s an accumulation of grief over time but also a testament to their perseverance, and perseverance does not have to be pretty. It can be furious, depressed, hopeful, and mournful. It can be also be found in those moments of caring for our emotions independently, rather than relying on our partner to build us back up. It can be found in sharing what we really think, even when we know it will hurt our partner to hear it. 

But perseverance can also be found together as a couple through the shared experience of loss and moving forward with whatever happens next. I think “Private Life” showed all of the above and ended beautifully with the scene of them in the diner, waiting to meet a birth mother who might adopt to them. We don’t know how Rachel and Richard’s story ends, other than seeing the spark of hope come back into their eyes as they patiently wait. 

 

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

 

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Featured Image Credit: https://southasiansnews.com/2018/10/02/private-life-a-movie-about-a-marriage-in-crisis-offers-a-new-depiction-of-infertility/

 

Early Preparation for FET

Early Preparation for FET

As time has gone on, I’ve learned to take things one step at a time with my infertility journey. I used to get way ahead of myself with planning and anticipating all the different scenarios of what could go wrong and all the various solutions. Yeah, that was no way to live. I was so stuck in my head all the time. I didn’t take time to just breathe. 

I chose to wait until I was closer to doing my Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) before doing research. As long as everything goes according to plan I’ll be doing my FET around April or May of 2020. My OBGYN told me to start preparing for the FET by trying to get in as healthy of a state as I can. I needed to face the facts; I’m 40 pounds overweight, I need medication to manage my blood pressure, my eating habits suck, and I have a Ph.D. in couch potato activities. I need to make some changes in order to help my little embryo have a chance. I don’t want to make things harder on my embryo.

This week I’ve been shifting gears and focusing more on my health. I have been sticking to a 1200 calorie a day diet and have already lost two pounds in four days. “Girl, you need a salad, not french fries” I’ve been telling myself. For those of us with the MTHFR gene mutation it is incredibly important to eat extra folate, which can be found in dark leafy greens. And as I’ve been eating salads more lately I do feel better. I feel full and also just generally happier because I know I didn’t eat crappy food. I have been trying to reign in my cravings and replace them with healthier habits. I’m hoping I can lose a good amount of this weight before my FET next year.

I still need to do more research on specific ways to improve “stickiness” for a successful FET. I’m sure that last statement may have elicited some confused looks from people who don’t know what I mean by “stickiness.” But for others who have done an FET they are probably nodding their heads in agreement, “oh yeah, you gotta improve your stickiness.” Essentially what that means is doing all you can to improve your uterine lining’s thickness to where it creates the best opportunity for the embryo to “stick” resulting in a successful implantation of the embryo. “About 20-30% of healthy embryos that arrive in the uterus do not implant, on average” (Pacific Fertility Center, 2014). So although the odds are in favor of a successful implantation, there is still a somewhat high chance of a failed implantation. Hence the reason I am focused on improving my “stickiness.” 

 

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Many women opt to wear lucky socks to help them stay positive during the FET procedure. Credit: The Journey Starts Here

 

The stakes are higher for me too, since I have only one embryo that resulted from two rounds of IVF. As long as I know I did all I possibly could, I will be at peace with whatever happens. Honestly, because I’ve experienced so much loss along the way I would be blown away if this actually worked. I am hopeful but also realistic of my chances of success. Even in the healthiest of women, there is still the chance that the embryo will not implant. In those cases, there is still a lot of research that needs to be done to determine what causes failed implantations. Based on the various articles I’ve read, there often times just isn’t an explanation due to lack of research and studies on the subject. IVF is still a fairly new science with the first IVF baby born in 1978, and there is still much to be discovered. 

In the past I’ve briefly glanced at what women were saying worked for them for a successful implantation. I’ll tell you what, this is a hotly, hotly debated subject in infertility forums. Some women say don’t eat pineapple at all, while others say you have to gnaw on the pineapple core at a certain time. Others are convinced the order of french fries they ate immediately following their FET did the trick, while others say “No it’s just before the FET that you need to eat fries” or “No, no you shouldn’t eat any fries at all before or after the FET.” To me it all seems a little absurd the back and forth and the “my way is the right way” mentality. 

Part of me wants to be a troll and ask, “What about during the actual FET procedure having my husband feed me fries at one-second intervals while I tap my head with my one hand, rub my belly with the other, and everyone in the room chants like Buddhist monks?” But I feel like my attempt at a joke might actually make someone chime in and say, “Yes that worked for me. I did it and now I have my baby girl.” To me it is all confusing, conflicting, and downright silly at times. There are so many variables that go into a successful implantation that we don’t know about yet, and some that I’m sure only God currently knows. We just need to do the best we can to be as healthy as we can. Most of all, you’ve got to consider your source. Listen to your doctor, read scientific journals that have done researched-based studies on the subject. Don’t just take Susie Q’s advice because she is convinced that the 2-hour handstand she did after her FET was what worked. But then again, maybe Susie Q might be on to something with using gravity’s assistance to aid the embryo’s journey. Joking aside, take the time to do your own research and determine what is best for you. I’ve got a lot to learn on the subject and I will be doing posts on implantation in the future. If you are also at the stage where you are preparing to do your FET let me know what you are doing to improve your chances of success.

Comment below to Today’s Question and receive bonus entry to the current contest.

Today’s Question: 

What is the craziest piece of advice you’ve heard for improving implantation? In contrast, what is the best piece of advice you’ve learned about for improving implantation?

 

Check out my previous posts by going to my archives page.

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MTHFR Gene Mutation Test Results

MTHFR Gene Mutation Test Results

Today’s post will make more sense if you read my last one. So rather than recap everything again that lead up to these results you can go ahead and read that one by clicking here. I may have called the clinic three times to ask about my results over this last week. No one seemed to have a time frame for me of when to expect the results and they said, “This test takes a little longer.” 

 

Finally my doctor called when I was in a Wendy’s drive through with my Mom who was driving, I was visiting her that day. I had my phone up to my one ear, and my finger in the other ear trying to block out all the unusually happy workers inside who were all laughing hysterically about something for what seemed like five minutes straight while I was on the phone trying to hear what he was saying.

 

“You tested positive for the MTHFR gene mutation,” he said. He went on to explain some details that I wasn’t able to grasp in the moment, probably due to a combination of not hearing him and not actually processing all the info. I had to call him back later to actually write down what he was trying to explain to me. He said I have the “MTHFR gene mutation C677T heterozygous single version.” He thinks that some of my miscarriages may have been caused by this gene mutation. Essentially, when you have a MTHFR gene mutation your body cannot process folate well, which is an incredibly important vitamin that helps the baby grow properly. 

 

I had very conflicting emotions with this news, mostly a combination of anger and relief. I was so angry that none of the doctors had realized this earlier, and that one doctor mistakenly told me that I was negative for this gene mutation when she really meant to say I was negative for Factor Five. So I went on to tell my next doctor and several other medical teams I was working with that I did not have MTHFR, going off what she had told me. Sadly, none of these doctors thoroughly looked into my file. Had they done so I may not have had to deal with 2.5 years of five miscarriages and paying for IVF. 

 

I’ve heard stories of women who’ve suffered through many miscarriages before their doctor tested them for MTHFR gene mutation. When they discovered they had it, they were put on the proper medication and vitamins and boom…they have a healthy baby in their arms. I pray it will be that simple for me as well, but I also have Low Ovarian Reserve so it probably won’t be that easy. On the other spectrum of my emotions, I am feeling so much relief knowing that a huge missing puzzle piece has finally been found. But to be honest it is going to take a while to get over my anger. I think in time I will get over it, but right now it is pretty difficult.

 

I sat at Mom’s dinner table and talked about the news with her. She was the one that had mentioned to me several months back my Aunt has the MTHFR gene mutation. This perked my ears up because I remember hearing that acronym as part of the fertility tests I thought I took early on. I explained to Mom, “Had you not told me that, I would not have double checked that I actually got tested for it.” Mom got kind of teary eyed and said something to the effect of, “I didn’t even realize that was something related to fertility.” In other words, Mom had no clue the wheels she had set in motion for me. But I’m glad that she did. I’m also glad that my Aunt spoke up about her medical issues that were caused by the MTHFR gene mutation. Those conversations led me to my diagnosis that could help with my fertility, and ultimately help me to have much greater odds of having a baby.

 

I am brand new to this diagnosis so I have much to learn about it. I’ll probably do informational posts on it in the future. One thing I mentioned to my Mom is that I learned the MTHFR gene mutation has been correlated to some cases of cancer. So my diagnosis has sparked her curiosity into whether she may have the MTHFR gene mutation as well. She has beat cancer twice already and is the strongest woman I know. She said she would look into testing. It’s kind of surreal to finally have a concrete answer as to why I have recurrent miscarriages, and even more so surreal there may be a simple solution of medicine to help me. My OBGYN referred me to a geneticist that I should be seeing soon. Maybe next year we will finally have our little one.

 

Thank you for reading. 

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

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A Doctor’s Mistake & Possible MTHFR Gene Mutation

A Doctor’s Mistake & Possible MTHFR Gene Mutation

So I’m waiting, and waiting, and waiting still for my MTHFR gene mutation test results. Technically, I’ve been waiting about 2.5 years and just didn’t realize it. “How is that possible,” you may ask. Let me take you back to the beginning. Doctors typically look at the more common explanations for recurrent pregnancy loss with the basics; thyroid, progesterone, Rh factor, Factor V Leiden, and MTHFR to name a few. These basic tests help determine the correct treatment, and ideally prevent unnecessary heartache from miscarriage after miscarriage. If all of these tests are negative then further more in-depth testing can be done.

 

I vividly remember sitting in my first RE’s (Reproductive Endocrinologist) office years ago and hearing her explain my results to me. One by one she read my results while reading a paper from my file on her lap, “Thyroid is good. Progesterone is fine. Rh factor is positive, so that’s not an issue at all. No Factor Five and no MTHFR.” No MTHFR. No MTHFR. That’s what sticks out in my mind all these years later. I can still see her smiling at me optimistically, which I’m sure she wouldn’t be doing the same thing now had she seen everything I’ve been through over these years. But she retired shortly after I began my treatment with her. She was a nice lady, but in hindsight she seemed a little flaky and unfocused. But back then I attributed her forgetfulness of the details of my medical history to what I’m assuming was a high number of patients she was juggling. 

 

Flash forward 2.5 years later to now. That first RE retired, my second RE retired this year, and my info was passed along to an OBGYN office in the same building. I called my insurance company and learned there isn’t a single RE left in the state that is in-network any longer. So I’m shit out of luck as far as getting a specialist who is properly trained in cases such as myself. What does this leave me with? In the new clinic I did what most of us do, ask a lot of questions in hopes they will be able to give us breadcrumbs to the solution. It felt like pulling teeth with this one though. She seemed mildly irritated with each question I asked. What she didn’t realize is that she was sitting in an interview for a position that can mean life or death. Not to be melodramatic, but that’s truly the reality of what I’m dealing with, the life of my future child. 

 

I had high hopes for this young representative of this OBGYN office who my newly retired Reproductive Endocrinologist highly recommended. But my final question I posed to this fresh-faced doctor was what truly sealed her fate. It was basically a set up, I’ll admit, but I had to ask it to truly learn what I was working with. I asked her, “What do you recommend I do to improve my egg quality?” Mind you, I have recently done a massive amount of research on this subject this last year, from reputable medical journals and some of the most well-renowned books published on the subject, including the book “It Starts with the Egg.” I’ve already put into practice some of the medical advice on the subject. 

 

“Well” she starts, “We are born with a certain number of eggs. We can’t change that. And sometimes miscarriages just happen. There’s nothing you can do about it.” I could tell she says this quite often. Her face was completely blank and her eyes seemed distant like she was trying to figure out what she wanted to order for lunch. Her words may have been consoling to someone who might be experiencing their first miscarriage, in fact I know I’ve heard this before from another doctor I stopped seeing years ago. When I get a gut feeling that a doctor isn’t doing everything they possibly can, I usually move on to the next one, as anyone should. 

 

So what exactly was it about her response that pissed me off. Well she didn’t answer the question I actually asked her, for one. I asked about egg quality, not egg quantity. I know there’s absolutely no way you can increase the number of eggs you have. But I do know that there are studies on how to improve egg quality on the eggs that you have remaining, which can increase the odds of a live-birth. The problem with her answer to me is that she was either one of two things, 1) Not paying attention to my question, or 2) Uneducated on the correct response. To her credit, she contributed one solid lead for me to follow, with a different doctor of course. That lead was that she had looked through my entire file of many documents and found no MTHFR results. 

 

Interesting, no MTHFR results. Could this just be an oversight on her part? I hoped this was the case. One of my Aunts recently told me she has the MTHFR gene mutation and she was telling other family members to get tested for it. Because of this, I decided I should double check that I truly am negative for the MTHFR gene mutation. If you haven’t already googled what the MTHFR gene mutation is, it’s essentially a mistake that occurs in how people process folate which can lead to a variety of complications, recurrent miscarriage being one of them. The doctor’s parting words were, “You don’t need to get tested for MTHFR. Just make sure you take a prenatal with folate.” Let me disect this response as well, firstly if I did have MTHFR, it’s recommended that you take methylated folate during pregnancy, which is often not found in your basic prenatal. And why the hell would I not want to get tested for MTHFR if I have a family history of it and I’ve had five miscarriages? Why would I not want to find that out? At that point I thanked her for her time and we both left the room quickly. I’m assuming for her it was because her stomach was rumbling and she needed lunch, and for me I left quickly because I knew I wasn’t going to waste another minute with someone who seemed disinterested in helping me. I later read in my infertility groups that many other women have the same experience of a doctor being dismissive of their request to test for MTHFR and that some patients really have to push doctors to get this test done.

 

I called back a few days later and asked the receptionist to patch me through to a nurse. “Can you see if I have been tested for MTHFR at all?” I wanted to know for absolute certain that I had not been tested for MTHFR, because I was questioning how thoroughly the doctor read through my file. The nurse on the phone scoured through my medical history, I know this because I could hear her turning the many pages of my file. Finally after about five minutes she said, “Well I see here you were tested for something similar to MTHFR, Factor Five. But nothing at all on MTHFR.” She even reviewed my genetic test called a Horizon panel, which tests for 274 different genetic carrier diseases that both my husband and I took years ago. The MTHFR test wasn’t in that one either. She asked if I wanted to come in to get tested for it and I agreed, but later decided not to show up, remembering the shitty experience I had with that doctor. I thanked the nurse for her time she put into carefully poring over my file. I decided to use this bread crumb of information to move ahead, but not with them.

 

Instead of feeling obligated to continue care with that provider just because my previous Reproductive Endocrinologist recommended them, I decided to call up my OBGYN I used for my past surgeries after I lost my pregnancies. He previously recommended I ask most of my questions to a specialist, a Reproductive Endocrinologist, because he didn’t have all the information I was asking about. But now that I have zero RE’s that are in-network, I decided to go back to his office to at least test me for MTHFR. So I stopped by, did a quick blood draw, and now I’m waiting for the results. I’ve been waiting about five days now and I called several times. They said it takes a bit longer to get that specific test back. 

 

If I have MTHFR I can get set up on a treatment plan. If I don’t, at least I can finally rule that out. I feel I have a right to be angry, I was told I was tested for it but I really wasn’t. My second RE even asked me, “Have you been tested for MTHFR?” as she was looking through all my documents. I told her I was tested and found to be negative, because I was going off what my first RE told me. My second RE stopped searching through my file after just a few pages and took my word for it, she should have looked more deeply into it. Admittedly, my file is quite intimidating. It’s about as thick as a 500-page novel. Maybe that’s why she decided to stop short. There were a series of oversights along the way, and that is what bothers me. 

 

I believe this is not just a personal issue either. I feel that if this can happen to me, it is also happening to some of you as well. What would I have done differently if I were to do it over again? I would have examined my own copy of my file yearly, looking for any gaps in testing. But in the beginning you trust your doctor, you trust the process, and you believe you are doing everything you can. But doctors make mistakes, sometimes major mistakes. Sometimes you can’t take their word on something and you need to see it in writing in your hands. I wish I would have asked to have a copy of the test results and actually see the words MTHFR Gene Mutation on the paper. But that paper doesn’t exist because neither did the test. 

 

Throughout this whole process I’m learning to do my own research and take initiative. Because if you just go with the flow of whatever the doctor says you may end up so far away from your solution. Speak up and ask for the testing you need. If your gut tells you, “They don’t know what they are doing” listen to that instinct and find someone who at the very least listens to you. Because if they truly listen and still cannot help you at least they can hopefully point you in the direction of where to go instead.

 

I will let you all know as soon as I get the results from my MTHFR test. For now, I’m considering seeing the highly recommended RE that is not in-network with my insurance. Perhaps she has some advice that can actually help me achieve my dream of having a baby. I told myself I would pay off my debt first before I go down and do the Frozen Embryo Transfer in Seattle. I still have a good chunk of debt left to pay that feels like it’s turning into a Whack-a-Mole game, pay off one bill only to have another equal or more expensive one appear in my mail. I’ll get there eventually. 

 

I’m still exhausting every single possibility of trying to have a biological child. So for all of my family and friends saying, “Why don’t you just adopt?” or “Why don’t you just foster?” I humbly say to you, in time I will, but I don’t want to split my energy in different directions right now. I want to focus on one thing at a time. Some acquaintances I meet ask why I don’t have kids yet. I don’t feel obligated to give them my medical history so instead I give them the canned response of “We’re trying.” The more brazen acquaintances then jokingly say, “You don’t have much time left. You better get on that.” It’s at this point I imagine myself as Mike Tyson punching the shit out of them repeatedly in their smug face, and maybe biting a piece of their ear off for good measure. I’m joking, sort of. But unfortunately they have a point. I’m 33 and I don’t have much time left, which is compounded even more so by the fact that I have Low Ovarian Reserve. So right now this is my focus and I’m doing everything I can.

 

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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.

 

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

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

This post may contain affiliate links. You can see my full disclosure here.

HopingForBaby.com Rating: 5 out of 5

Rebecca Fett, writer of “It Starts with the Egg” knows her stuff for sure. Fett is a molecular biologist 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. 

I highly recommend you get a copy of her bookOne 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!

Purchase your copy now of “It Starts with the Egg” by Rebecca Fett by clicking here.

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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.

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Learn ways to improve your egg quality. Purchase Rebecca Fett’s book “It Starts with the Egg: How the Science of Egg Quality Can Help You Get Pregnant Naturally, Prevent Miscarriage, and Improve Your Odds in IVF.” It’s currently the #1 Best Seller on Amazon.com’s Reproductive Medicine & Technology list. 

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.

 

“Instant Family” on Amazon Prime 

 

 

“Instant Family” on DVD

 

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).”

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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.

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