Tag Archive | NaproTechnology

Miscarriage–Honoring the Child We Lost, Part I…

At the moment, I’m in the middle of a miscarriage.  This is quite honestly the most heartbreaking time of my life.  There’s nothing anyone can do.  Our baby had already passed away when we went for our ultrasound.  At the moment I’m experiencing cramping, and spotting.  It gets worse by the day, which in this case is a good thing.  As much as my heart aches for the loss of this child, I dread hearing a doctor say that it won’t happen naturally and I have to undergo a D&C.  As I grieve the loss of our child, I’d like to share some beautiful memories  of my brief pregnancy with you.  Thank you for sharing this experience with me.

Love, Catherine

The day we learned we were pregnant…

It was a Wednesday, the dreaded and blessed peak plus 17, the day that we NaPro ladies wait for.  It had been 17 days since my identified peak day and despite a few hours of what could have been implantation bleeding, followed by days of very light brown spotting, I had not experienced a period.  My husband, Frank woke me at 5AM, the time he usually wakes for work.  He was aware of what day it was and wanted to be there when I took the test.  I tested without expectation.  We’d gotten countless negatives in the past and even once good old AF decided to show up mid test taking.  I tested and I waited.  When I saw that faint blue line make the plus sign on the test I was in heaven.  We had done we had successfully conceived, we were going to be parents!

IMG_0530[1]

I ran into our bedroom and said, “Congratulations Daddy, it’s positive!”  We were so happy!  NaProTechnology had worked!  My body was healthy enough to conceive naturally.  God had answered our prayers and blessed us with a child! I was aware the test would fade at some point, and I wanted to preserve that moment forever, so I snapped a quick pic before I tossed it.

 

Next, I needed to call Dr. Carpentier, but since it was 5:30 in the morning, I thought best to call once his office opened.  I couldn’t go back to sleep, I was so excited.  I stayed awake in a state of bliss until about 7:00 when I drifted off.  I woke again at about 9:00 thinking it was a good time to call Dr. C.  As I got up and dragged myself out of bed, the phone rang; it was Dr. C calling with the results of my peak plus 7 blood work.

mobile phone

 

I was amazed that he called me at the very moment I intended to call him.  He had just received the results of my peak plus seven blood work, in his words: “Like 12 seconds ago”.  I wanted to hear the results, but I couldn’t hold my joy any longer.  I blurted out:  “I’m so glad you called.  I was just getting ready to call you because it’s peak plus seventeen, I tested this morning and I’m pregnant!”  He responded “YOU GO GIRL! Can you get to my office today?  We’ve got a lot to talk about!”

 

Even though it was a Wednesday and his office closed at noon, he was willing to wait till I arrived.  I got dressed, fed the furbabies, packed up my chart, prenatal vitamins, and hit the highway to make the 90 minute drive up to his office.  This was really happening!  My leave of absence had paid off!  I was pregnant and blessed to have an amazing doctor who would do everything he could to support our pregnancy from the moment we got a positive test until delivery.

 

Chronicles of a Stress Ridden Infertile Part 2

The back story…

It’s been determined that the major source of stress in my life is my job and that it is keeping us from conceiving.  Not okay! Time to make a change.  I’m officially on a two month leave of absence from work. Unofficially I’m looking for a job.  I don’t want to be out of work for two months, but I need a few weeks to regain my health.

What could be so bad you ask?  I’ve gotten this question a lot.  Okay, folks haven’t asked it directly, they’ve said things like, “Everyone is over worked these days!” or “Tell me about it!” and then glared at me like how dare I say such a thing!  How hard could it be?

Let me say first and foremost, I’m not comparing myself to anyone else.  The only thing I’m comparing my workload to is what is in my contract.  My contract binds me to a workday that is seven hours and fifteen minutes.

Typically, teachers work way more than that, no complaints there, it’s part of the job.  When I could work ten hours a day or an average of fifty to fifty five hours per week and feel like I did a good job and accomplished all that was set before me, I was happy.  Things have changed!

This year, in order to accomplish the tasks that were set before me, I spent 10 hours per day at work. Not much of a change there.  After going home and cooking dinner, I’d sit on the couch for another two hours grading or reviewing various essential documents such as individual education plans, or 504 plans which accommodate general education students with handicapping conditions like ADHD. This really isn’t a choice; I am bound by law to accommodate those plans in my instruction, planning, and assessment.  Since these things are not optional and we weren’t given time to do them during our work day, after school, on my own time it had to be.

Again, it wouldn’t be bad if I were able to accomplish all the tasks set before me, however, I never finished! Despite all the work I was doing, I was constantly behind, new tasks were constantly being thrown at me.  Whether it was a new grading program which was implemented with no training, data team meetings every week- for which I had to make sub plans, or the loss of our team time while still having to complete tasks that were previously designated to be accomplished during that time.

too much work

My body started to show signs of extreme stress.  How bad could that be? By itself each sign is no big deal, but ask my husband what it is like to live with a woman who was dealing with everything in the list below, and he’ll tell you it’s not a whole lot of fun!

  • Irritability
  • Trouble sleeping, including inability to fall asleep and wake well rested
  • A really cool twitch in my left eye
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Feeling exhausted all the time
  • Perpetual hunger from my stomach producing extra acid in response to circumstances
  • Mid cycle bleeding
  • Delayed ovulation
  • Low hormone levels

 

In short, the effects of stress negated all of the treatment I was receiving from my NaProTechnology doctor!  Not to mention that I virtually had no life outside of work!  We used to entertain friends on the weekends, or I’d spend hours in my craft room, or I’d decorate the house for the particular season we were in.  Not this year, I had time for none of it.

dinner with friends

Then, it hit, the event that held the mirror up to my face and made me see how ugly this had all gotten.  A dear friend of mine lost everything in a fire.  Thank God she wasn’t home at the time, but she and her husband lost all of their possessions, as well as their beloved fur babies.

When I heard about her devastation, I immediately wanted to do anything I could to help;  not that I could restore what she had lost, but I wanted to do something to show her I cared and that she was not alone.  I spent a Saturday afternoon cooking her food and bringing it to her, it was one small gesture that I know she and her husband appreciated.  The following week we had her over for dinner, again these are small gestures that say you’re not alone.  They’re things that I know she would do for me and which made me feel that in some way I was helping her heal from the trauma.

The back lash from these small gestures was monumental.  I spent all day on Sunday doing school work to make up for what I hadn’t done on Saturday.  And during the week that she came over for dinner, I fell way behind at work.  Obviously my job had taken over my life, but there wasn’t any way I could cut back.  There just isn’t such a thing as a part time teacher in our district, nor is there any way I could spend less time on my work and still make sure that all of my students’ needs were met.

Progesterone the Misunderstood Hormone…

Whether you have been diagnosed with infertility, you’re trying to conceive, or you just happen to be a woman; knowing what progesterone is and how it affects your body is an absolute must.  If you’re like me, you sat through years of health class looking at the diagram of the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries, hearing the same thing year after year, and not learning much. female reproductive diagram

Let’s start with the basics, the stuff they should have told us when we first menstruated, oh so long ago.  During the first half of a woman’s cycle, the estradiol levels rise, the cervix produces cervical mucus which will allows the sperm to travel into the uterus and make their way to the ovaries, where they’ll fertilize the egg- if the ovulation is strong enough.

As estradiol levels rise, a follicle in one of the two ovaries matures.  Ovulation usually occurs within one or two days before or after estradiol levels reach their highest levels of the cycle. At the same time the estradiol levels are rising, the cervix is making mucus.  In the realm of NaProTechnology, the last day of the cycle in which a woman observes mucus is known as peak day.   Peak day typically occurs two days before or after ovulation.   Ideally, estradiol levels should be between 300 and 400 to have an “effective” cycle.

After peak day, your estradiol levels drop, not gradually, sharply.  Estradiol has had its turn, the post peak phase is where progesterone comes into play.  Once your estradiol levels drop and you ovulate, that egg will hang around anywhere between 12-24 hours if you’re lucky.  It could actually be much less.  It’s different for every woman and it’s often different for every cycle.

corpus luteum

That follicle that matured and produced your egg is now known as the corpus luteum, it is responsible for producing the progesterone your body needs.  Your progesterone levels generally reach their highest levels about seven days after your peak day.  If you are trying to conceive, your doctor may draw your “day 21” progesterone levels.  These can be misleading; if you’re not sure when your peak day is, the levels could be off by a few days.  NaProTechnology doctors rely on a peak plus 7 blood draw to assess a women’s progesterone levels, this is much more accurate for most women.

blood_tube

To conceive, your progesterone levels should be above 15, in a medicated cycle.  However, progesterone levels vary from cycle to cycle.  I’ve had cycles where my progesterone was 28 and others where it was 9!

If your body is not producing enough progesterone then pregnancy is virtually out of the question.  Not to mention that your body will continue to make estradiol in the absence of progesterone.  That means you’re at a higher risk for cancers.  During my laparoscopy / hysteroscopy / selective HSG, they actually found a large polyp which they attributed to estrogen levels going unchecked by progesterone.  The polyp was located right where a baby would have implanted.  Good thing we had it removed.  No wonder we were having trouble conceiving!

By the end of your cycle, if you haven’t conceived, your estradiol and progesterone levels will continue to drop and you’ll menstruate.

If your doctor determines that your progesterone levels are too low, you’re not out of luck.  Progesterone can be supplemented!

Once when talking with someone about supplementing hormones, I was asked “Isn’t that dangerous, isn’t that how other women have gotten cancer?”  The difference is in the details, in this case.  Like someone who has diabetes whose body cannot make enough insulin, a woman with low progesterone can supplement her progesterone levels to achieve optimum levels.  Because she is only restoring what nature intended to be there in the first place, there aren’t any risks of illness.  That’s the great thing about NaProTechnology, it only restores what should be there in the first place; it does not expose a woman to the risks that come when using Artificial Reproductive Technology.

NaPro pic

What is progesterone made of?

Progesterone is a hormone which is created by the corpus luteum, the remains of the follicle in which the egg matured.  Like many other hormones, your body makes progesterone from cholesterol.  Let me say that again, you need cholesterol in your diet to produce adequate amounts of progesterone. Yup, that stuff that you may have been avoiding is actually an essential nutrient for ovulation, and conception.

Cholesterol is found in dairy products made with whole milk, and other animal products containing fats such as butter, beef, salmon, etc.  This may explain why women who eat low fat dairy products have a higher incidence of infertility than those who consume dairy products made with whole milk.  Besides, it just tastes better!

cabot greek yogurt

I’ve correlated my diet with my peak plus seven blood draws and have noticed that when I consume Cabot Greek Yogurt with 10% fat, my progesterone levels are in the 20’s.  When I’m not on my Cabot Greek Yogurt kick, my levels aren’t so great.

If you are opposed to including the foods that contain cholesterol in your diet, you can also consume naturally occurring progesterone.  One food with the highest level of naturally occurring progesterone is the yam.  Yams are such a vital source of naturally occurring progesterone that many progesterone supplements are actually made from yams.

Are you surprised?  Stay tuned for more info about progesterone’s role in pregnancy…

Chronicles of a Stress Ridden Infertile Part 1

Here I am on a leave of absence from work.  How did I get here?  Well since I’m a teacher my summer was pretty low stress.  I still worked on curriculum, professional development, and special programs; but I wasn’t teaching.  My hormone levels were all in the effective ranges during my summer cycles.  Everything about me was well within normal ranges, then the school year hit and things changed drastically.  To put it simply it was as though I hadn’t even had my laparoscopy.  My estradiol levels only got into the 160s and since they need to be in the 300s for an effective ovulation, you could pretty much say that my reproductive system shut down due to stress.  I had mid cycle spotting, and my peak day didn’t even come until day 20!  Typically peak day should occur by day 15.  Stress was taking away our chances of having a child.

I didn’t just say “that’s it I quit,” instead I tried to talk with my principal and superintendent about the increase in our work too much workload, the changes in our work day, the fact that two of my classes had more special education than regular ed kids in them and there was no special ed teacher in the room with me.  All of this was stated multiple times.  Our superintendent said she had: “nothing but whiners” in our wing.  Every time I turned around we got more work to do with no time to do it.  They even took away our team time, meaning that our only time to communicate with each other about students and their needs was after school! My typical day meant that I spent 9-10 hours working on school grounds and then another two hours working at home after dinner.

After looking at my hormone levels, Dr. C. my NaProTechnology doctor called and said I needed to come in for an emergency appointment.  Since we already had plans to go away for the weekend, my husband, Frank, came with me.  Boy did he have a lot to tell the doctor.  He’s the one who pointed out the differences between my charts over the summer and during the school year.  It was Frank who also commented on the differences in my CM and its arrival time.  Dr. C had one thing to say about this: “There’s only one of us in this room who can get pregnant and it’s not me.”  I asked Dr. C. if it were possible to get a note for a leave of absence in case I needed it.  He immediately wrote me one after he confirmed that the only cause of the drastic change in my fertility could be stress.

I went back to my superintendent’s office and told her that I had been recommended for a leave of absence.  She was not happy.  To be fair, it’s tough to find someone with one my certifications at this time of year, and it takes the knowledge behind both of my certifications to do what I do.  Too bad.  Had she listened when I tried to tell her what the increased work load was doing to her teachers, we wouldn’t have this problem.  She asked that I give her two weeks to find someone who has the appropriate certification. She put out a call for long terms subs, and I sent an e-mail to my friends and colleagues asking if anyone knew a certified sub who would be willing to take the job.

Midway through the second week, I broke out in hives.  Considering I didn’t eat any new foods, I was pretty sure they were from stress.  The last time I broke out in stress hives was when I was about to lose my job four years ago, so knowing that it was indeed possible, I figured that  had to be it.  I popped a Benadryl, promptly made sub plans, popped another Benadryl and finally stopped scratching.  I became drowsy quickly and fell asleep just before the Sox won the World Series.  In New England, that’s just something you do not do!

substitute teacherWhile I was out of work the next day, I got an e-mail from a prospective sub.  The hives had subsided and I was only resting, so I decided to give him a call.  Since my husband and I had already decided I was looking for another job and had even begun applying, I explained to the sub that there was a possibility that this job might become permanent, he wasn’t sold but he was interested.

I returned to work the following day determined that my LOA begin ASAP.  I informed the superintendent that I had a possible candidate and she was quite surprised since she had none.  At that point I gave her his contact information, told her the date I’d begin my LOA, and got to making 5 days’ worth of sub plans which my contract requires me to do for any prolonged absence.

So why haven’t we conceived yet?

should shrug

I’ve spent the last year as a NaProTechnology patient.  I keep asking myself why we haven’t conceived yet.  Dr. C. says we’re just now approaching prime time for conception and that it should happen within the next year.  If you’ve been following my blog or facebook page, then you know that diligence, not patience is my greatest virtue.

Years ago, a friend of mine told me: “When God whispers in your ear and you don’t listen, sometimes, he smacks you upside the head until you do!” I can’t count the number of times I’ve reminded myself of that quote over the years. Once again, I am reminded of that phrase today!

Four years ago, I was laid off from a job that I was pretty miserable at.  I didn’t want to quit because I pink sliponly had one teaching certification at the time, I was nearing tenure, and I was raised to appreciate the blessings in my life, my job being one of them.  I didn’t recognize it at the time, but that layoff was a blessing!  I found another job before the school year was out, spent the summer writing curriculum and was pretty happy that first year.  I was taking two graduate courses, teaching full time, and I was happy with the situation.  Two years later, I finished graduate school and I was ready for some time off since I’d only be working full time.

We were one year into our TTC journey and I hadn’t yet had my first NaProTechnology appointment yet.  I’ll admit I was consumed with the thought of getting pregnant and I threw myself into my work.  Before I knew it I was up to my eyeballs with committee work, a stipend position, the new evaluation system for which our superintendent had volunteered our district. .

When I was diagnosed with endometriosis, I finally had a reason for the intense pain I had experienced for years, and eventually I had the laparoscopy.  After that I felt fabulous and I thought that so much of my stress before surgery was due to my pain.

frustrated teacherThe new school year began and although the first three weeks of school are usually full of housekeeping details that are part of setting up our school year, I couldn’t keep up.  Every time I turned around administration was heaping extra duties on us and taking away the time we needed to complete our work.  I was working 60+hour weeks and I still wasn’t getting all of it done!

I’m no stranger to hard work, heck I’ve gotten glowing evaluations for each year I’ve been teaching.  I know what my kids need and I make sure they get it.  Enough about teaching, this post isn’t about my career, rather it’s about how my current teaching job is affecting our chances of conception.

I knew things weren’t right, so I decided to talk to administration about how things are going up on my floor.  We’re all working hard, we all feel as though we’re not accomplishing the tasks we’re charged with, and we’re all feeling defeated before we begin.  Administration was of a different opinion, there were comments made about how we’re in it for the wrong reasons, and other ridiculous remarks.

While I was working like a crazy woman, and begging to get a break, my body was going to pot.  My chart showed evidence of a decrease in health.  I was bleeding like crazy.  Although I wasn’t bleeding heavily, I bled for 16 days out of a 28 day cycle—not at all normal!  My hormone levels were not what they should be, despite taking medication to bring them into the effective zone!  During the previous month, my estradiol levels hit 399, but during my first whole cycle after returning to school, I couldn’t even break 200!  I barely ovulated, if I even ovulated at all!

When Doctor C’s office got the results of my peak plus 7 blood draw, they called me immediately and said I had to come in the following Friday to see what was going on with my body.  Off I went to my appointment with Dr. C, this time my husband, Frank, had the day off and came with me.

We asked if stress might be to blame for the changes in my chart.  Dr. C inquired as to whether I was still on clomid, I was, and whether I had been taking the naltrexone, yes to that as well, and whether I was still on the antibiotics for mucus enhancement, yes again, and finally had I been taking the vitamin D, B6, kelp, Bcomplex, Magnesium, and pycnogenol, yes to everything.  Given that I was following all of my doctor’s orders stress could be the only reason for the decline in health.  It was time to do something about it….

I’m not giving in to the infertility blues!

As I begin a new cycle, I’m tempted to go to that dark place where despair, inadequacy, frustration, and doubt lurk.  Like many women living with infertility, I’ve been there a few times before; regardless of how many times I’ve been there, it’s not a place I’m going today.

despair

There’s no magic reason, no drug or therapist that is responsible for this choice, it’s just me.  As I look at my situation, I have much to be thankful for. Thanks to a NaproTechnology, we have the best chances we’ve ever had!  For the first time that I’m aware of, my body reached the optimum zone for fertility: my estradiol level hit 399 before peak day, optimum ovulation requires it be between 300 and 400; my peak plus seven estradiol level was 116 and my progesterone was 28.  I couldn’t ask for more in terms of chemistry.

And yet I’m not pregnant.  Wish I knew why!  There are some things we’re not meant to know and of course, everything comes in God’s time.  I may very well be like my grandmother (and her mother before her) and give birth after 40.  Who knows what God has planned for me?

baby steps to big dreams

It’s tempting to allow the thought that God does not have motherhood in his plan for me, but I’m not going there, not till I have to.  I will enjoy every beautiful day that is filled with my husband, Frank, and our four beautiful fur babies.  I will appreciate my students for all the joy and richness they bring to my life.  I will appreciate the irony that I have more young women without mothers in my class than ever before, I will be the confidant they need because it gives me purpose on this journey.

I’m not out of hope yet.  My doctor defines that as completing 12 cycles at optimum levels without conceiving.  One down eleven to go.  That’s eleven more tries, eleven more months for my body to get healthy enough to nourish another life.   I feel that I owe it to my body, mind, and soul to give this all I’ve got.

This is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.  I’m not going to quit or even entertain the thought that motherhood is not in my future.  Why?  Because I’m surrounded by an amazing supportive network of friends, coworkers, church family, even some biological relatives, and of course my amazing husband.  They’ve been my cheerleaders, carried me when I couldn’t get through on my own, and offered innumerable prayers on my behalf.  Their encouragement keeps me going.

friend meme

It would be so easy for them to focus on their own tiny circles and just inquire now and then.  Yet their support is steadfast.  I am blessed to have them in my corner.  During those times I have ended up giving in to despair and allowing myself to feel the letdown of a new cycle, they’ve pulled me out and reminded me what I’m working towards.

Knowing the effects of stress and negativity on the body, I’m not giving in to them.  I refuse to do anything that could make me less healthy.  I’ve given up grains, dyes, artificial foods, changed my lifestyle, and I can see the physical manifestations of these changes.  The evidence that my treatment is working increases by the day.  I won’t do anything to jeopardize that.   I firmly believe that I am on my way towards motherhood and better health.  Nothing, not doubt, stress, negativity, nor despair will jeopardize that.

My molar pregnancy part I…

 

Things weren’t quite right.  I had been bleeding brown cervical fluid from day 25 of my cycle. On day 29, my bleeding went to red for a few hours and then back to brown.    Though it was time for my period, I decided to call my charting consultant and check in with her.  She immediately suggested that I call Dr. C, my NaProTechnology doctor.  Dr. C agreed that something was up and that it could possibly be pregnancy.  Off to the lab I went for lots of tests.  Among the numerous tests Dr. C had ordered was an HCG test, HCG is the hormone that is produced once the baby implants in the uterine wall.  I was pretty sure it would be positive since I had so many symptoms of pregnancy.  I was congested, felt uterine pressure, I inexplicably gained a few pounds, my breasts we tender and enlarged, I had hot flashes at night, and experienced fatigue during the day.

heavy-menstrual-bleeding

I went off to the hospital for the blood work, and had the tests done quickly.  The baby chimes went off as the phlebotomist was drawing my blood.  I took this as a good omen, since I was a bit dizzy, congested, my breasts were swollen and tender, and I was having hot flashes throughout the night.

coffeeThis morning, just before church,  Dr. C called at 9AM.  Typically doctors don’t call patients over morning coffee, but Dr. C is amazing, so I didn’t think anything of it.  When he told me to give my husband, Frank, an extension so that he could listen too, we were a bit concerned.

Dr. C had the results of my blood work and they weren’t  good.  Apparently my body is not producing typical levels of HCG, my HCG levels are 6million.  I’m in my 5th week and my body is producing levels higher than a woman of 12 weeks.  So right away we know something was wrong.

It turns out that when levels are that high; it’s a sign of something called a molar pregnancy.  Dr. C explained that a molar pregnancy happens when an egg is fertilized by two sperm.  There is no embryo, just a placenta that forms and grows out of control.  He went on to say that I’d need to go to a teaching hospital to have a D&C.   I gave him my regular Ob’s name and said he’d call so that I could see her for an ultrasound in the morning.  After we hung up Frank and I embraced, and we cried like we’ve never cried.

I went off to church in tears.  Although I could have stayed home, I felt that I just needed to pray.  It was hard making it through church without breaking down, but it felt good to be there.  I talked with our priest afterwards and filled her in on the situation.  She was very comforting and offered to pray with me, after which I felt a bit better.

After church, my husband, Frank, and I had an appointment at the hospital for more blood draws to confirm the high levels of HCG.  Thanks to the kindness and diligence of the hospital staff, we were able to get our labs even though the hospital lab was technically closed.

blood_tube

As I awaited the results of my blood draws, I spent the afternoon accessing my support network, those friends and blog followers who have been so supportive all along.  Their comforting words and offers of prayer mean so much to me.  As I wait for my upcoming ultrasound and procedure, their kindness gives me such comfort.  Read part II

Spotlight illuminates what’s missing for this infertile girl…

Sometimes infertility makes me feel like a starving person sitting in front of a rotating dessert case!  It seems that everywhere I turn I’m surrounded by the babies others are blessed with, and while I am nothing but happy for them, I can’t help but feel this mix of heartache, jealousy, envy, and fear.  What am I afraid of?  Secretly, I’m afraid that I’m doing all this and nothing is going to come of it. dessert case

It seems that everywhere I turn I hear the word baby! People going on vacation with their children, baby showers, cousins “So and So” are coming to the party with their new baby, television reporters calling this year “the year of the baby”.  Princess Kate and her baby boy…Millions of grown human beings with jobs, lives, bills, etc. await the naming of one baby…Seriously? I feel as if I’m in the middle of an SNL sketch.

Earlier this week, while at the gym, I was chatting with a friend of mine who is also a fellow NaProTechnology patient.  Having friends who understand this experience makes it so much more bearable.  We commiserated over not having answers and needing to know that we are doing everything that is humanly possible to make motherhood happen.  To quote her, “At least if it doesn’t happen, I’ll know it’s not because I didn’t do something, it’s because God wants something else for me.”

Being around people who don’t or can’t understand is what is hardest for me.  They are kind enough to ask about improvements in my health but don’t understand why I won’t share all the details with them.  The answer is simple, because it’s my business and if they knew what they were asking for cluelessthey’d probably stop asking.  Although, I would love to see the look on someone’s face if I ripped out my Creighton Model Fertility Monitoring Chart and started to explain every little detail!  Can you imagine the look on someone’s face as I explained the stretch of my CM and how it’s related to the hormones reported from that day’s blood draw?

Sarcasm and humor aside it was a heck of a day for me. I spent the day with a relative.  We had lunch, we did some shopping, and over both, there were times where I wanted to hide, scream, and burst into tears.  At first I didn’t want to be rude, so when she asked how things were going since my surgery, I replied that I am in deed healthier than before.  She mentioned a relative of hers who is trying to lose weight but can’t.  I suggested that she go for allergy testing because my inability to lose weight was due to an allergy to grains.  She asked if she could refer her to my doctor.  I explained that Dr. C. doesn’t take everyone, so unless she’s trying to conceive and can’t, she’ll need another doctor.  And we were right back on the subject of my uterus again.

After much prodding, I explained that I have endometriosis and ovarian dysfunction and these things take time to treat!  I wish they could make me good as new again because I’d be pregnant by now if that were possible.  I wish I could have excused myself and gone home.  However, we rode there together, in my car, and despite my need to hide, I was stuck.

Despite trying to divert the conversation to things other than babies, children, and anything related to family, I endured questions and suggestions about possible maternity leave should I get pregnant.  There were back handed compliments saying that I’ll be a good mother someday, if I can get pregnant. She wishes she could have had more than one child… but didn’t before her first marriage ended.  How will Prince Will and Princess Kate do with their new baby?…What will they name the baby. ….

Finally I had enough.  I listened politely throughout all the Will & Kate stuff, but when the conversation came back around to me, I needed to express myself.  I was polite, respectful, but I stood my ground when I said:oh no you didn't

“I don’t think you understand.  For me it’s not a question of when I get pregnant.  It’s if I can get pregnant.  My odds of getting pregnant are only 60%.  That’s good but there’s still a fair chance that I’m doing all this to be left without a baby at the end.  No amount of stories about a friend who got pregnant after so many years of trying make a bit of difference for me.  This is the reality I’m living with, and for anyone who hasn’t been in my shoes it’s impossible to understand.  When people constantly bring up babies and starting families, it’s very hurtful to me.   I know you mean well, but all you can do is pray. ”

I wish people would understand.  I wish they knew that talking to me about other people’s babies is like talking about bathing suits to someone who has had a mastectomy.  It does nothing but remind me about what I cannot and may never be able to have.  Would they ever point out someone’s beautiful hairdo to someone who is going through chemo and wears a wig?  Not at all.  But somehow when someone is living with infertility some people think they are being supportive by continually raising the issue but what they are really doing is rubbing salt in wound that will not heal.

Reflecting on a year of infertility part III

I tend to be long winded; I actually started blogging to have an outlet to express all that was going on throughout this journey through the muck of infertility.  I was pretty sure that my husband, Frank, and my close friends were getting tired of hearing all that I had to say about what was happening.

keyboard

Here’s a quick recap: My NaProTechnology Dr diagnosed me with endometriosis and an allergy to grains.  I had surgery to remove the endometriosis and was back to work in two weeks.  I am so glad that I chose to make the drive to New Jersey and have my Surgery at the Gianna Center at Saint Peter’s Hospital.  I was back to work within two weeks and was told to wait two cycles before trying to conceive again.

While I waited for my body to heal, I observed some amazing changes in my chart.  My cycles became more regular in length, there was less pain associated with menstruation, and when I say less, I really mean that I went from a 10 to a 1.  I had less bleeding at the end of my cycle and the bleeding that used to happen mid cycle completely disappeared.  I still had some unusual tail end brown bleeding, which my doctor suggested might clear up as my body healed.

Since we had been told not to try to conceive, there was no pressure to wait for a positive, there was no disappointment.  I just enjoyed observing the positive changes in my body.   The weight I grained before Dr. C figured out my grain allergy was slowly coming off, I was starting to recognize my body again.

weight loss

Menstruation happened with minimal pain.  The once crippling cramps and abdominal pain that began two to three weeks before menstruation were replaced by two days of abdominal discomfort.    This reduction in pain was due to taking an OTC medication called pycnogenol, a natural anti-inflammatory derived from French maritime pine bark.

Things were going great, my pain was down, I felt better overall, but my weight loss had stopped.  I cut out chocolate for a week thinking that I might be overdoing it with sweets.  Even then I didn’t lose an ounce.  Something was up, it was time to hunt for grains again.  I had been trick by grains hiding in kielbasa, bullion, flour blends, and even shredded cheese.  But I was almost certain I had eliminated them all.

Still I had to try and see if there were a few I missed.  I went through my cupboards and fridge but everything in there was grain free.  I checked the chocolates I was eating, thinking there might be corn starch or corn oil that I had missed; still nothing.  It wasn’t until Sunday night when I was loading up my medicine case for the coming week that I thought to check the medications I was taking.

rice flourMy vitamin D3 was grain free, as was my magnesium, my glucosamine, my kelp tablets, my B6 and my B complex, and my prenatal vitamin.  It was down to the pycnogenol.  And there it was, hidden inside a tiny 100mg capsule, rice flour!  The capsule was smaller than an average pain relief pill, there had to be less than ¼ teaspoon of rice flour in there!  However much there was, it was enough to nix the weight loss.

I got back on vitacost and ordered a brand of pycnogenol that did not contain rice flour.   Of course the brands that were grain free cost three times as much as the other brands.  I decided to see how I felt without pycnogenol.  Big mistake.  For a moment I forgot all of the pain that endometriosis was, but it only took one cycle without pycnogenol to remind me.  While it’s true that I was feeling great after surgery, a few weeks off the pycnogenol and that all changed.

It took my husband, Frank, to convince me that my body and my health were worth the extra money.  So, I ordered the new pyconogenol and within two weeks the pain was gone.  Let me tell you, the expense was worth it!  If you are living with endometriosis, please ask your doctor about pycnogenol, it allows me to live almost pain free.

Reflecting on a Year of Infertility Part II

 

(Fair warning, this is one of those posts that’s a bit more medical than others.)

naPro poster

My first appointment with my NaProTechnology doc was in October.  It was so different from other doctor’s appointments!  Dr. C, my NaProTechnology doctor, listed to what was going on with my body, he said that what told him was substantiated by the data on my Creighton Model Fertility chart.  I learned so much about what was happening with my body that day.  I learned more than I had ever learned in an hour (and that includes what I learned in Grad school).  I was diagnosed with endometriosis and a grain allergy during my first visit.  I felt like a deer in headlights when Dr. C said I needed surgery.  How could he know?  How could he be so sure?  He explained that my chart plus my history screamed endometriosis.  Without giving you a life story, here’s what I was dealing with:

  • Long cycles that had consistently gone between 30-50 days.
  • Pain that began two to three weeks before menstruation and steadily increased in intensity until about 12 hours before menstruation.
  • Mood swings that began 2-3 weeks before menstruation and increased in intensity till menstruation.  At times they hung around till I was done bleeding.
  • 7-14 days of red bleeding plus brown bleeding before and after menstruation.
  • Weight gain and bloating that began more than a week before menstruation.
  • Constipation that began a week or two before menstruation and got worse the closer I got to menstruation.
  • Breast pain and increased breast size beginning more than a week before menstruation.  Sometimes it was so painful that it woke me up at night.
  • Extreme fatigue bordering on exhaustion for more than a week before my period.
  • Contracting Mononucleosis.  Apparently that was a sign of how weak my immune system was.
  • All of these symptoms lessened during the 15 years I was on the pill and then returned within 12 months of being off of it.

Dr. C said he didn’t know why other doctors had missed this.  Knowing what I know now, I don’t know either.  All I know is that I went to a NaProTechnology doctor looking for answers and I got some.  I was excited and I was terrified.

I couldn’t say yes to surgery before discussing it with my husband, Frank.  He is my rock, he is my everything.  He has been so supportive on this journey.  He agreed that I needed surgery for my health, never mind that it improved our chances of achieving a pregnancy.

We wanted to have the best experience possible with the procedure, so when we were given a choice of surgeons we explored both options.  The first was the best available surgeon in our area, but he was not a NaProTechnology surgeon.  The second was a NaProTechnology surgeon who was about 4 hours away.  After a visit to the first surgeon’s office and a phone interview with the NaProTechnology surgeon, it was an easy choice.  I chose the NaPro surgeon.  It was an easy choice.  Even though I met with the first surgeon in person, he made me feel like a number, like to him I was just a uterus that happened to have a face attached.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure he’s good at what he does, but it felt like I was patient X whom he had treated a thousand times before.  By contrast, the NaProTechnology surgeon listened to me.  He told me what he would do during surgery.  He explained that there were many possibilities of what he might find and then explained what he would do in each situation.  He treated me as if I were a unique person, I felt as though he really wanted to help me, the person, not the uterus with a disease.

Maybe I’m being overly dramatic, but let me just add, that the recovery time with the first surgeon would have been 4-8 weeks, and my NaPro surgeon said his patients typically returned to work within one or two weeks.

It took a while to get a surgery date. Between the phone consult and the day of my surgery my pain increased tenfold. Two days before surgery I was taking 12 advil, and that was barely keeping the pain dull.   We booked a hotel room and drove 4 hours to the Gianna Center, my NaProTechnology Surgeon’s office.  I had an exam and an ultrasound.

I have to stop for a moment and tell you how awesome my surgeon is.  The guy is as close to Luke Skywalker as any human can be.  His office and surgical techniques are state of the art.  First it was an ultrasound, then he wanted to do an exam.  Since we were in the ultrasound room where the lighting wasn’t good he pulled out a speculum.  I’ve seen plenty of speculum before, but this one was different, it had its own light source.  You thought I was kidding when I told you he was Luke Skywalker?

Surgery was scheduled for the following day.  I was nervous and excited.

Click here to read Part III