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.

Add a subheading (1)

 

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.

 

IMG_20180817_212404

 

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…

 

73327022_3012985638728690_6104724033289322496_n

 

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!

 

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

 

Experiencing infertility or recurrent miscarriages? You might have a genetic issue and not even know it. 23andMe offers one of the most comprehensive genetic testing services on the market. Click here to order the 23andMe Health + Ancestry Service: Personal Genetic DNA Test Including Health Predispositions, Carrier Status, Wellness, and Trait Reports.

Merry Stressmas!

Merry Stressmas!

I am so happy to be off of this birth control! I was having daily headaches that turned into full-blown migraines 2-3 times per week. I am almost positive it was due to the birth control my doctor wanted me on until my FET next year. I was supposed to be on birth control to prevent pregnancy for six months after my last miscarriage. I am in this really sensitive time window during these six months because if I were to get pregnant now I am at high risk of developing Gestational Trophoblastic Disease, due to my last miscarriage being a partial molar pregnancy. But my quality of life really sucked with all the headaches that I decided enough was enough and I stopped. Technically I don’t need to be on birth control until just prior to my FET in April. And just like that, I’d say my daily headaches dropped to one or two in a week that were not that bad. So I’m convinced the biggest contributor of my recent headaches were the birth control pills.

For some reason when I went to refill my prescription for my migraine medicine the pharmacy said that they had “closed” that medicine. I ended up playing phone tag between my doctors office and my pharmacy of the next couple days. By that point I woke up with a killer migraine and it took all day for them to fill my prescription even after I had called several times. I’m talking one of those migraines where you wish you were dead. Yes, that bad. My husband drove me to the pharmacy and then picked us up dinner. I just laid in the car silent the whole time because I couldn’t even stand the sound of my own talking reverberating through my head. I was so thankful when the medicine finally kicked in because I really don’t need another ER bill.

I suppose my $800 out-of-pocket ER trip from earlier this year for a migraine actually was worth it because I got a good piece of advice from a nurse there. She said there is a place here in town that does IV hydration therapy had they use almost all the same IV medicine that the ER does for only $170. Say what?! I have yet to try them out, but that is a $630 savings for essentially the same medicine. 

With my miscarriage earlier in the year and then another one in 2019 there were a lot of medical bills. I had multiple ultrasounds, many blood draws, several surgeries for miscarriages, and post-op follow-ups, it’s no wonder I had so many bills that it was hard to keep track of it all. This year alone I had 28 separate medical bills, only three of which were written off because I had gone over the out-of-pocket maximum for the year. 

So why am I talking about all my medical bills? Because one medical bill derailed my debt-repayment plan which included being debt free by the end of the year. I was waiting for one of my medical bills to come in the mail, but never received it and I had assumed it had been one of the ones I didn’t need to pay because I reached the out-of-pocket maximum of $6,800. The insurance company told me that I would not get a bill once I reached my out-of-pocket max. I was set up on a payment plan already with the hospital for a different bill. To my surprise, and without discussing it with me, they added that second bill into my payment plan which increased my total amount of debt. As it turns out that bill was just prior to me reaching the out-of-pocket max so I still need to pay it. 

 

 

This one stupid bill created a domino effect. I wasn’t going to have enough money for giving the Christmas presents that I wanted to this year. I won’t have enough for the Vegas vacation in January I planned at my doctor’s urging. He said, “You two really need a break. Go some place warm and enjoy yourself.” I won’t have spending money now for that trip, so I’m not sure how I’m going to enjoy it. I was also going to use some of that money to cover the expenses for my trip to Seattle to do my FET. That one, unexpected f**king bill ruined a lot of s**t for me. 

For the most part, I try not to let things get to me. But this bill became the most recent slap in the face from reality that just when you think you are almost getting ahead, you will be knocked back down. Money is tight already. I’m working my last overnight shift tonight. Overnight shift pays slightly more but you sacrifice so much for your health by working overnights. At my OBGYN’s and my neurologists’ urging they insisted I stop working overnights because it was probably contributing to my sleep deprivation, migraines, growing waistline, and high blood pressure. My husband could see that I was getting more and more irritable working that shift. So for health reasons I decided absolutely no more overnights starting mid-December. 

The problem with this change is now I have less options for the other shifts to work (I’m an on-call worker). There is more competition for shifts working days and evenings. For example, my boss texted me about two open shifts, a good chunk of money that would have really helped me. I didn’t hear my phone though. When I saw it 15 minutes later, I responded that I would take the shifts, but I was already too late and someone else had taken them. 

I thought about getting a regular day job but there are two problems with that; 1) We already have our tickets booked for our trip to Vegas near the end of January, and 2) I had planned on not working if I got pregnant from my FET in April. So if I got another job now, they might not be so accommodating if I tell them “Yeah I’m going to be gone several weeks in January and February. And oh by the way I’m also going on another trip in April and I’m not coming back to work after that. So is it cool if I just work a few weeks here and there and then you won’t see me at all after April?” I know I’m being flip about it, but that’s essentially what I’d have to tell them if I was being truly honest about my schedule. That’s why being an on-call worker is kind of a better fit at the moment. But if my hours really slow down and I don’t have enough to pay bills, well I just might have to find a temporary job to hold me over until April. New job equals new stress. And like most of us are advised by our doctors, “find ways to reduce stress in the months prior to the frozen embryo transfer.” Riiiiight. Merry Stressmas to me. I might be a Grinch this Christmas, but I know it can always be worse, I guess that gives me some comfort.

 

Blue Typographic Christmas Card

 

 

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

 

Experiencing infertility or recurrent miscarriages? You might have a genetic issue and not even know it. 23andMe offers one of the most comprehensive genetic testing services on the market. Click here to order the 23andMe Health + Ancestry Service: Personal Genetic DNA Test Including Health Predispositions, Carrier Status, Wellness, and Trait Reports.

 

GIF credit: https://giphy.com/gifs/best-gifs-christmas-80s-1987-oV4DOTSXRhRMA

 

Documentary Review: “Modern Baby” by ABC News Documentaries

Documentary Review: “Modern Baby” by ABC News Documentaries

“Modern Baby”

ABC News Documentaries

Available on Hulu and YouTube (click here to watch full documentary on YouTube)

Length: 48 minutes

HopingForBaby.com Rating: 5 out of 5

 

Spoiler alert!: I do talk about the pregnancy outcomes in this post, just a heads up. Go watch the documentary first and then come back to read my perspective on it if you haven’t seen it already. Don’t forget to comment below what you thought of the documentary.

 

1556885810_maxresdefault-796x445

Image Credit: AVNblogfeed.com

 

Much like my own experience has been with infertility, this documentary was a roller coaster of emotions. With each positive pregnancy test and each miscarriage, I knew exactly what these women were going through. After hearing the beginning of each couples stories I had made assumptions with who would probably have a live birth first, all of my assumptions were wrong. You truly never know what the outcome will be until you try. The hardest part of infertility is taking the next step forward after a loss. Each of these couples were incredibly strong and had amazingly supportive partners. If any of the couples happens to read this post, I know the pain and joy each of you have felt and I wish you all the luck with continuing to build your family! 

Chris & Kerry’s Story

Kerry: 34 years old

Chris: 39 years old

2.5 years trying to conceive

Low Ovarian Reserve

Kerry and Chris only planned on doing one round of IVF with Kerry’s own eggs. I could relate very strongly to their story because I also have Low Ovarian Reserve and I had a round of IVF with similar numbers as Kerry who had 5 eggs retrieved, 3 fertilized, and 0 normal embryos. Kerry said, “It was literally like losing our children” when she talked about losing her embryos. I felt the exact same way. I grieved losing three children at the same time it felt like, even though I had called them “embryos” up until the point I had heard I lost them. It is incredibly emotional and I cried while watching their story, because I know that pain. 

Kerry and Chris considered what their next step would be between an egg donor, embryo adoption, or traditional adoption. They chose to go with embryo adoption. Chris explained why he was open to the idea of embryo adoption, “Part of me said, ‘well it’s only fair,’ it’s not Kerry’s DNA so why should it be mine?” I felt myself grieving with Kerry and Chris when they shared the news that their first embryo transfer had failed. They were determined to try again with their last adopted embryo out of two. Happily they conceived with their last embryo they adopted and they had a healthy live birth. I’m so happy they had a good outcome and thankful that they were able to share their story to the world. 

James & Latanya’s Story

Latanya: 35 years old

James: 34 years old

6 years of trying to conceive

Tubal Factor Infertility (damage to Latanya’s fallopian tubes)

James and Latanya had been trying for over six years to have a baby. They had lost their baby boy when Latanya was a little over six months pregnant. She also had damage to her fallopian tubes and was told she would have to have IVF in order to get pregnant. They started a GoFundMe account asking for financial assistance to help pay for IVF due to the high cost of the procedure. James decided to get a loan to help pay for their round of IVF. The documentary shows James and Latanya’s egg retrieval procedure where she had 27 eggs retrieved. They decided to transfer two embryos at the same time. I was over the moon happy for them when they said that they were pregnant with not one baby but two! So it was heartbreaking to hear that she had lost her babies at week 22 of her pregnancy. 

Although I am not a strongly religious person I have questioned my faith and how God works through my own infertility journey. The part of James and Latanya’s story that I related to the most was how they had asked God why it was happening to them. I’ve been told many times, “You would be such a good mom” so I know the struggle of wondering why God works the way He does. The part that stuck out to me the most about their story was how James said, “Our faith has been a staple in who we are, and even having to reconcile the walk of faith with the outcome.” That statement to me was very powerful because it shows that although they experienced such a devastating loss of two babies that were stillborn, they were able to draw on their faith to carry them through. They talked about how the support of their friends and family was also important for them to move forward. James and Latanya decided they plan to look into IVF again in the future.

Adam & Aviva’s Story

Aviva: 29 years old

Adam: 29 years old

Male Factor Infertility due to Testicular Cancer

Adam battled testicular cancer and amazingly survived. Adam and Aviva had one child prior to Adam’s cancer diagnosis and they wanted to try to give their son a sibling. They knew their odds of success would probably be low for a positive outcome due to a very low sperm count. They were hopeful and chose to pursue IVF. The documentary follows Aviva as she has her egg retrieval procedure. 

I was so excited to see Aviva have 29 eggs retrieved, way more than the highest number I had retrieved with 8 eggs. It’s hard to not compare numbers like these, as many women in the infertility forums tend to do. I think it is part of wanting to seek out other women in situations similar to ourselves and see if there is hope. I had been overjoyed to hear their happy news of their pregnancy and then I felt so sad for Aviva and Adam when her pregnancy had failed. They tried again with a second round of IVF and the documentary left off with them expecting their baby to be born in a couple months.

Sarah & Yessie’s Story

Sarah: 32 years old

Yessie: 38 years old

3 years of trying to conceive

Experienced a Miscarriage

Yessie and Sarah had been trying to conceive for three years. They said that age was a factor in how they decided who would attempt to get pregnant first in their same-sex relationship. Yessie tried first and it was so sad to hear about her miscarriage. Yessie talked about how writing poetry helped her heal and cope with her loss. Miscarriage is so devestating, and at the risk of Yessie expiencing another loss they carefully considered what they would do next. They decided to have Sarah try IVF next with her own eggs and they choose a sperm donor. 

I liked how they talked about the process of how they chose a sperm donor. For same-sex female couples, single females, and couples with male-factor infertility it is a major decision to choose a sperm donor. It was interesting to hear their perspective on how they decided on their donor. They talked about how some people might have the tendency to pick a sperm donor based on their physical attributes, but what I really liked about their decision is that they based it on the sperm donor’s essay and how he would be happy with knowing his child was being raised in a loving home like Sarah and Yessie’s. I felt so happy for them when Sarah was able to have a healthy pregnancy and to hear that they were trying IVF again to give their firstborn a sibling.

 

Today’s Question: 

What parts of the documentary could you relate to the most? 

 

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

 

Experiencing infertility or recurrent miscarriages? You might have a genetic issue and not even know it. 23andMe offers one of the most comprehensive genetic testing services on the market. 

Click here to order the 23andMe Health + Ancestry Service: Personal Genetic DNA Test Including Health Predispositions, Carrier Status, Wellness, and Trait Reports.

Book Review: “Dirty Genes” by Dr. Ben Lynch

Book Review: “Dirty Genes” by Dr. Ben Lynch

HopingForBaby.com Rating: 5 out of 5

Disclaimer: I am following some of the advice from this book. I spoke with my medical providers prior to changing my own individual treatment plan. Please speak with your medical provider about your own treatment plan prior to trying any suggestions from this book and whether you would benefit from those suggestions or not.

Have you been trying to conceive for more than one year? Have you had more than one miscarriage? It’s possible you may have a genetic mutation and not even know it, and it’s more common than you might think. “About 30 to 40 percent of the American population may have a mutation at gene position C677T” (Healthline, 2019). I have a MTHFR gene mutation at C677T, so I am apparently in good company with the rest of the world. In Dr. Ben Lynch’s book “Dirty Genes: A Breakthrough Program to Treat the Root Cause of Illness and Optimize Your Health” he shares information about some of the most common genetic mutations or “snips.” Dr. Lynch is a molecular biologist and has a genetic mutation himself, the MTHFR gene mutation. His personal experience combined with his academic findings motivated him to write this book and share his knowledge on the subject. 

It is important to note, there are those in the medical field who are dismissive of Dr. Lynch’s medical claims, mostly on the basis of there not being enough studies yet on the subject as well as how a large portion of the population has at least one genetic snip. Some patients may be told by their doctor, “Many people live with a genetic mutation” or “You don’t need to be tested for it.” But I personally believe knowledge is power. If you are having unexplained infertility and recurrent miscarriages, you should definitely consider genetic testing. Why have genetic testing? Because you may actually have a genetic snip and you may benefit from certain supplementation or diet changes. 

After I confirmed I had a MTHFR gene mutation through my OBGYN’s test, I learned that the folic acid in most prenatals I was taking can actually block the activated form of folate that my body needs. So now, instead of folic acid, I take a methylfolate supplement. My RE, OBGYN, and Dr. Lynch’s book has all pointed me in that new direction, away from folic acid and instead to take methylfolate. As far as natural forms of folate, dark leafy greens are really important if you have an MTHFR snip. Not to mention, most people should eat dark leafy greens anyway. I am still in the beginning stages of learning about my gene mutation. But I am hopeful the new lifestyle changes I’m making, in part from reading this book, might help me to possibly have a child in the future.

 

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

 

Order your DNA Test today from 23andMe to learn if you have a genetic mutation, as suggested by Dr. Lynch in his book “Dirty Genes.”

 

Purchase Dr. Ben Lynch’s book “Dirty Genes: A Breakthrough Program to Treat the Root Cause of Illness and Optimize Your Health” by clicking here.

 

 

Featured Image Credit: https://www.amazon.com/Dirty-Genes-Breakthrough-Program-Optimize/dp/0062698141/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=dirty+genes&qid=1575320949&sr=8-3

Contest Announcement: Win $25 + “It Starts with the Egg” Book by Rebecca Fett

Contest Announcement: Win $25 + “It Starts with the Egg” Book by Rebecca Fett

 

Prize

Winner: $25 sent via PayPal + First edition copy of the 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 ” by Rebecca Fett

How to Enter:

Enter your email address to subscribe. It’s easy!

Just go to the right side bar, under “Follow Blog Via Email” type in your email address and click the “Follow” button just below there (see image below).

Screenshot 2019-11-29 at 10.02.25 AM - Edited

 

Earn Bonus Entries:

  • Write a Guest Post (5x bonus entries), minimum 500 words. See topic suggestions on my page Submit a Guest Post. If you write a guest post and have a blog or other website I will let you link to your page. 🙂

 

Contest Dates:

Starts: December 1st, 2019

Ends: December 1st, 2020

 

casual-cellphone-contemporary-1471752

 

Don’t want to wait to get your copy of “It Starts with the Egg” by Rebecca Fett? Purchase today by clicking here. 

 

Featured Image Credit: Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels
2nd Image Credit: Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

8 Ways to Handle the Holidays During Infertility

8 Ways to Handle the Holidays During Infertility

These tips have proven helpful for myself and  other women I know during the holidays. Some of these ideas I learned from other women on infertility forums that I found to be really useful. They may not be the best option for you, so consider your own life circumstances and decide what is right for you. Consider the pros and cons if you were to do the following tips. Above all else, consider what is best for your own physical and emotional health.

1) Declining a Holiday Party Invitation is Okay

I had to do this a few times when I knew there would be pregnant women and small children. I seem to be a magnet for little kids. As much as I love kids, after having a miscarriage so close to a holiday it was just too much to bear. So I made the decision for my own mental health take a step back and take care of myself. Other people may be confused or irritated by your decision but it’s so important to take care of yourself if you feel like it will be too difficult.

2) Ask for Your Partner’s Help

During one holiday gathering of just a small group of my husband’s family, I requested he speak to his family on my behalf and that they please not ask questions related to my miscarriage or infertility. I wanted to be able to go to the holiday event, enjoy myself, and not deal with any questions regarding my infertility. I only recommend doing this for very small gatherings where you feel people would be understanding and respectful of this wish. It was nice to be able to go out and not have to deal with the questions when my heart was still hurting from a recent loss. 

3) Address Potential Questions Ahead of Time 

Sometimes you want to share what you are going through but you may not want to do it during Thanksgiving or Christmas when there’s a whole room of people you may not want to hear your story. So if you know there are certain people who are curious by nature, try chatting with them before the party if you feel comfortable doing this. You can share what you are going through if you feel like doing so. You can even ask them “Please don’t share this with anyone.” Don’t forget to thank them for letting you share. But also keep in mind whether they have a track record of having loose lips if they have a few drinks. In that case it might be best to avoid talking with them before the party, because they may accidentally talk about what you said to them.

4) Be Vague 

Sometimes the best response is a vague one. I’ve had some people in my life ask me “When are you going to have kids?” and when I say, “Hopefully soon” I get a slew of not so savory responses. Some of those responses include, “What are you waiting for?” or “You’re not getting any younger” and the all-time most detestable one… “You better get on that” with the emphasis on “that” being a purposeful innuendo. Really people?! So rather than leaving the door open for a plethora of insulting comments, I’ve decided to have a canned response that not a single person felt compelled to push the subject or make stupid comments. My go-to response to the question of “When are you going to have kids?” is now “Whenever God lets it happen.” So far not a single person has pressed the subject or made any demeaning remarks to me when I use that line. In my experience, this is a polite response that shifts people’s attention to God as opposed to anything I’m personally doing. Because you can’t argue with God.

5) Be Honest 

Most people do not intend to be hurtful with the questions they ask. I’ve found that people are just curious or are trying to be helpful. With that in mind, you can choose to speak up about how you really feel. For the people who continually ask questions you really don’t want to answer you can simply say, “I appreciate your concern and that you care enough to ask, but I’m not ready to talk about it yet. If I do want to talk about it I will let you know. Thank you for understanding.” For the people who truly care about your feelings they will understand. I told a coworker years ago that line and they gave me an angry look and left the room. In that situation I knew that person loved to gossip and I believe she was hurt that I didn’t give her information she wanted to spread to the office. As I said, if they truly cared and respected your emotional well-being they would most likely not respond that way. You are not obligated to share your story if you don’t want to, nor do you need to justify your reason for not sharing.

6) Change the Subject

This one is probably one of the easiest tricks in the book when you sense the conversation is turning towards your fertility. If you are chatting with a group of women who are all mothers and they are talking about raising children and pregnancy, it’s possible they will begin to ask you questions about your experience or lack thereof. Sometimes you can change the subject in a subtle way without completely diverting the conversation on another tangent. For example, you can ask questions about their children. You can learn a lot of good parenting advice this way too without the focus being on you and instead focus on them and what they’ve learned over the years.

7) Relate in Other Ways

People love to be heard and understood. Just because you don’t have kids does not mean you can’t relate on any level. When people share some of their parenting stories they might remind you of your experience with your nieces or nephews or if you’ve worked with children. You can find ways to talk about children without being a parent. For the most part I find it incredibly rare that someone makes the comment, “You don’t understand because you’re not a parent.” Sometimes people say this because they feel like you cannot relate or understand. You can deflect this comment with something like, “What do you normally do that helps in that situation?” this way you sidestep their  comment, get them to focus on a solution, and you can possibly learn from them.

8) Have an Exit Strategy

I remember years ago after my first miscarriage my husband thought it might be good for me to get out of the house and enjoy the holidays. I went to a Christmas event with him. I realized it was not a good idea after having several parents hand me their infants while they got something to eat, toddlers insisted I play with them, and people were asking me, “Why don’t you have any kids yet? You are so good with them.” I ended up crying in the bathroom multiple times. I asked my husband if we could leave but he told me we couldn’t because we had been parked in by four different cars. There was no escaping. So I continued to cry in the bathroom off and on until it was time to go. It was horrible. The following year I decided to ask him to park away a bit so if I needed a break or if I wanted to leave early we could. One time we went for a brief walk and that helped too.

 

The holidays were meant to be enjoyed. Don’t be afraid to speak up for your needs, because oftentimes people will not understand your perspective unless you say something. It’s possible to still have a good time if you plan ahead and anticipate certain scenarios and what you can do about it. From our family to yours, Happy Holidays!

 

pexels-photo-260485

Source: Pixabay

 

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

Today’s Question: 

What advice would you give someone experiencing infertility during the holidays?

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

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

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. 

Featured Image: https://www.verywellfamily.com/family-gatherings-and-infertility-1959983

 

Want to Get Pregnant? Nah, You Need Birth Control

Want to Get Pregnant? Nah, You Need Birth Control

I call this chapter in my infertility journey “The Deer in Headlights.” Some women choose to take a break from TTC for a multitude of reasons. The biggest one being they need a serious emotional break, but my current situation is a little different. My doctor adamantly told me recently, “Absolutely do not get pregnant for the next six months.” He went on to explain that I am at risk of Gestational Trophoblastic Disease (GTD) due to the suspected partial molar pregnancy I had with my sixth miscarriage. GTD can turn cancerous. I interpreted his professional explanation into something like this in my mind, “Julie, don’t be the world’s biggest idiot and go get pregnant if it puts you at risk of cancer.” Got it! Message read loud and clear doc.

Although it’s a seemingly simple task, it’s also a real mindf***. It’s too easy to inadvertantly condition my mind to think “sex is bad” over and over again for six months. Not to mention the fact I’ve had so many miscarriages over the years it would be a very easy belief to take on. But my doctor did not say, “Don’t have sex” he instead said, “He needs to use protection and you should be on birth control.” As much as I hate being on birth control, if it means potentially preventing a flare up of GTD that could turn cancerous I will happily take that daily little pill.

I normally hate being on birth control. Years ago I took a birth control pill that I think caused my blood pressure to go so sky high my nurse said it was at “stroke levels.” I decided to stop taking the pill immediately, making no other lifestyle changes. When I came back to the doctors office several weeks later they told me my blood pressure was completely normal and said, “You must be exercising and eating better.” To which I replied, “Nope I’m still a couch potato and eating junk. The only change I made is I stopped taking that birth control pill.” To this day I’m convinced the pill caused my blood pressure to reach “stroke levels.” I learned that one of the possible side effects of that birth control pill was “increased risk of stroke.” 

Flash forward about one decade later to today and my blood pressure is genuinely high and I need medication for it. I’m hoping once I lose some weight it will help lower it. So what do you do if you have high blood pressure and your doctor tells you you need to be on birth control? Ask about the progesterone-only pill or “mini pill.” Thankfully I am able to follow my doctor’s orders and it not affect my blood pressure by taking this alternative pill. But it is not some magical pill, it comes with side effects too.

 

Screenshot 2019-11-09 at 7.05.35 AM - Edited

List of side effects from mini pill including mood swings. (Image Credit: WebMD)

 

The biggest side effect I am experiencing currently with this birth control pill is mood swings, mostly feeling weepy. It is so damn hard to keep my emotions in check. Even a simple moment of drama in a movie can cause a tear to roll down my cheek now that I’m on this pill. And a hard day at work…don’t even get me started. Let’s just say Kurtis is getting lots of hugs and sniveling from me lately. Both he and I are legitimately concerned about the effect of this pill on me. “Why do you have to take the pill if I’m using protection?” he asked me. I explained my doctor wants us to be doubly sure we don’t get pregnant until my body is ready. I’m also dealing with daily headaches and some have been turning into full-blown migraines. I am not a happy camper lately.

I plan on asking my doctor about what he thinks as far as the mood swings and this pill. I imagine he will tell me they will wane as my body adjusts to them. When my neurologist (for my migraines) was asking about any new medication I was on, told her about the mini pill and how I was concerned about how I’m having more headaches and mood swings. “I would think those would go away soon because you are getting a steady supply of hormones with no placebo pill week.” This was reassuring I suppose, but I haven’t yet reached that state of equilibrium. Hopefully within the next week or so I won’t be so weepy over nothing.  

 

source

 How I look watching a drama on birth control pills. (Credit: GIPHY )

 

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

Today’s Question: 

Have you taken a break from trying to conceive? What was that experience like for you?

 

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

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

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. 

Featured Image Credit: https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2019/6/25/18715504/birth-control-side-effects-pill-iud
GIF Credit: http://gph.is/VwMZN7

Tested for Uterine Cancer

Tested for Uterine Cancer

As you could probably tell from my last post I was dealing with a lot of heavy emotions regarding potential Gestational Trophoblastic Disease (GTD) and possible uterine cancer. My doctor wanted me to have a second surgery right away to remove a mass they found in my uterus. He suspected it was one of two things; 1) remaining products of conception from my most recent miscarriage, or 2) tumors that have developed from GTD. If it was the latter, I would need to begin chemotherapy.

I got the phone call from my doctor last night with the results, and I am happy to announce that I do not have cancer! It turns out the mass they found was part of my placenta from my last miscarriage that hadn’t been cleared from the first surgery. I feel so relieved, especially considering I know two infertility bloggers who just recently got diagnosed with uterine cancer right around the same time I was waiting to hear back about my results. The one blogger is starting chemo and the other had a hysterectomy in order to save her life from the cancer spreading, and she now has to find a surrogate to complete her Frozen Embryo Transfer. I keep thinking, “That could have been me” and “I could have been dealing with permanent infertility, a hysterectomy, or battling cancer right now.” I dodged a major bullet. It could have easily been me. 

My Next Steps:

  • Continue weekly blood draws until hCG levels are back down to zero
  • Once hCG levels drop to zero must do monthly blood draws (to monitor if Gestational Trophoblastic Disease develops)
  • Per doctor’s orders wait 6 months before doing Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) (April or May at the earliest)
  • Before FET must do SIS (Saline Infusion Sonohysterography) procedure
  • Fly to Seattle for FET in mid-2020

 

img_20190810_210112

Sunset on the Homer Spit in Homer, Alaska from August 2019. It was my first visit to Homer and I absolutely loved it. It was one of our “mini-vacations.”

 

This recent cancer scare has really put a lot of things into perspective for me. It got me to reevaluate my expectations of God and to renew my faith but in a different way. I feel like I have a greater appreciation for how short life can be. A while back I created another website (still being developed) where I wanted to track my life goals or “Bucket List.” I want the site to include resources for people to pursue their own life goals too. It would be kind of similar to HopingForBaby.com in that I’d want it to be a hybrid of a personal blog plus informational posts. I would be talking about my progress with my life goals and posting articles related to self-development and achieving goals. 

The high cost of infertility is definitely a major obstacle when it comes to pursuing other life goals. Recently my husband and I realized that he and I haven’t gone on vacation together for three years. For a couple that loves to travel that is a really long time. We are planning to go out-of-state together here in a few months as long as his time-off request gets approved.  All of my money has been going towards paying down my medical bills since my last round of IVF. It’s so easy to get tunnel vision when it comes to trying to have a baby. But perhaps this recent cancer scare was meant to shake me out of that all-or-nothing mentality. I need to create more balance in my life, and I think pursuing my other dreams could help me gain that balance. 

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

Today’s Question: 

What life goals do you have that you’ve put on pause while dealing with infertility? What is one of your life goals you can start working on today?

Thank you for reading. 🙂

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

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

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. 

 

Another Surgery & Thoughts on God

Another Surgery & Thoughts on God

I recently did a post-surgery ultrasound to check to see if my body went back to normal after my surgery in September (due to missed miscarriage). I’ve had so many ultrasounds over the years that I’ve learned to spot abnormalities on the ultrasound even before the ultrasound tech shows any indication of something being off. Unfortunately, this time I was looking at a black mass on the ultrasound screen that I knew should not have been there. 

The ultrasound tech could not confirm exactly what the black mass was and said she would show the images to my doctor to review and he would get back to me within the next few days (due to him being out of the office). On the morning of October 15th I did my own Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Loss Day at home. That was the first time I participated and although it was therapeutic it was also emotionally draining. So imagine how I felt when later that afternoon I got the phone call that there was in fact something off about my ultrasound. My doctor referred to that black mass and said, “It could either be retained products of conception or it could be an indicator of Persistent Gestational Trophoblastic Disease from a partial molar pregnancy. But we should definitely do a second surgery.” In the past I needed two surgeries from one miscarriage to clear my uterus, which was not a big deal other than the inconvenience of a second surgery. But the main difference between that time and this time is that I wasn’t dealing with a partial molar pregnancy before. 

 

This ultrasound photo is not a picture of my ultrasound, but it appears very similar to what mine looked like with a black mass and cloudy or “snowstorm” appearance surrounding it, typically found with molar pregnancies.

 

 

I asked my doctor, “So what’s the next step if this second surgery doesn’t work and it looks like something is still there or develops more?” My doctor told me that I would need to start the medication Methotrexate. His nurse had mentioned that same medication a few days prior when I asked her a similar question. I had assumed that Methotrexate was similar to Misoprostol, which is a common medication I’ve had just prior to each of my surgeries for miscarriages. Misoprostol is a medication softens the uterine lining to make the surgery process easier. I decided to Google what this new medication Methotrexate was, since I was unfamiliar with it. Neither my doctor nor my nurse fully explained what it was. As I was reading the description, all the words fell away except one…chemotherapy. Methotrexate is in fact a type of medication to treat cancer. 

My doctor wanted me to have my surgery the following day, but I chose to wait a couple days so I wouldn’t have to take time off work. On Monday (October 21st) I went to my usual surgery center. Out of curiosity I asked my doctor how many times I’ve had surgery there, because I had actually lost count. He looked at my paperwork and told me that this was my fifth surgery there. That did not include the two surgeries I had out-of-state in Seattle for my first and second round of IVF. So in total I’ve had seven surgeries related to infertility and miscarriages from 2016 – 2019. 

As of today, October 24th, I’m still waiting for the pathology report to learn what exactly that black mass was. Ultimately this next phone call from my doctor will determine whether I will need chemotherapy or not. I’ve been trying not to worry about it, although the first few days after the 15th were the hardest. I was tossing and turning at night and not getting enough sleep. I told my husband and my Mom. Both of them tried to reassure me by saying “Try not to worry.” But the primary emotion I was feeling was not worry, it was anger.

I was angry at God. I was so angry and frustrated for all of these years of struggling and now He decided to throw in a potential cancer diagnosis. Then my thoughts began to expand out to everyone I’ve known who has battled cancer and how much they suffered. I was thinking, “How could a God allow so much suffering?” God took my Dad away from cancer in 2016 and my mom has survived cancer twice. Then I kept seeing so many commercials on TV for St. Judes Children’s Research Hospital with all those little kids and babies who were completely innocent suffering from cancer. I just could not wrap my mind around any of this.

But I had a conversation with my Mom the other day on the phone that helped me to see things differently. Mind you, I’m not particularly religious. I was “saved” years ago, but after dealing with so much loss over the years my relationship with God was now hanging by a thread. After talking with Mom it helped solidify a thought I had and bring it more to the forefront of my mind. I believe there is a Creator, something greater than us that helped get this world spinning. But as far as a God that intervenes in our daily struggles, well I’ve moved on from that belief. 

Believe it or not, I feel more at peace with this concept that God does not intervene. I still believe there is a usefulness to prayer. It can be a way to socially connect on a deeper level and to set positive intentions together. Prayer can also bring us the quiet contemplation we need to help us to potentially find solutions to our problems if we choose to use prayer in that way. What I no longer believe is that praying hard and often leads to the outcome we want. I prayed so hard for each of my babies and set all my intention on positive outcomes. It was suggested to me by various people that perhaps I wasn’t “praying hard enough” or that I needed to “pray more.” I think my issue at the time was my idea of God was changing yet the people around me continued to talk about God the way I used to view Him. These past several years I felt like giving up on my faith. It took me so long to develop a new view of God that He could simply be a Creator and not necessarily an intervener. For me at least this brings me a sense of comfort and peace.

I should be getting my pathology results here soon. I will let you all know what they are once I get them. For now I will be taking it easy resting after this recent surgery. I went back to work the following day after my surgery, which I think was good for me because it serves as a good distraction. I’m trying to take it easy this first week as far as movement goes, by taking a break from exercising. I feel pretty good but have some twinges of pain here and there. I’m going to try to stay optimistic while I wait for my results.

Thank you for reading. 🙂

Today’s Question: 

Have your spiritual beliefs changed over time through your infertility struggles? If so, how have they changed?

Comment below with your response to receive a bonus entry to the current contest.

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

 

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

 

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. 

 

 

Featured Photo Image Source for Ultrasound Picture: MedPix National Library of Medicine
URL:
https://medpix.nlm.nih.gov/case?id=7fd9d54c-da23-4248-bb30-bd4993d6efb9
%d bloggers like this: