Sunday, July 29, 2012

Soy No Mas

Why is it that soy has earned such a healthy reputation when I hear so many bad things about it? Time and time again, I keep reading about studies that show plant estrogens in soy clearly cause a strong estrogenic effect in the body. This in turn can affect fertility; Not only in women who are trying to conceive, but also in the fertility and sex characteristics of unborn babies and developing children. It can have permanent effects on development long-term. It's pretty scary to read what soy can do to unborn babies and developing children. 

Please take a minute to read this ARTICLE!!! There are hundreds of peer reviewed studies out there confirming the points made here as well. It discusses how soy can affect various types of women: those trying to conceive, those already pregnant, and those breastfeeding.  Even if you don't fall into any of those categories, increased risk for breast cancer caused by soy can absolutely affect you.

I don't even want to know how much "old estrogen" I had lingering in my cells before I started taking Standard Process supplements to clear all that garbage out. Old estrogens and xenoestrogens lingering in your body are NOT what you want as a woman. I was pumping my body full of things that caused estrogenic effects for quite a long time:

-I was on birth control pills for about 10 years straight before finally discontinuing them in December 2008. Want to teach your body how NOT to make hormones on it's own? Take BCP's for a decade. That should do the trick.

-I lived out of plastic containers my entire life: heated food in them,  drank out of plastic bottles, the whole nine. My mother sold tupperware growing up, and everything we used to store food and drinks in was plastic. Very bad!

-I consumed an obscenely large amount of sports nutrition supplements (protein shakes/bars containing soy protein) and edamame. Is edamame or an occasional protein bar going to make you infertile? Eh, probably not, but on top of everything else I had going on, pumping soy estrogens into my body on a daily basis probably wasn't helping teach my body how to make hormones on it's own. It already had it's fill of estrogen, so why make any?

Not to mention, soybeans are in at least 75% of the foods on the shelves at the supermarket. This is my own guesstimate, but it's pretty astonishing how many things contain soy....things you've never even suspect, like crackers, cereals, condiments. Read labels in the snack isle at the grocery store sometime. It's in EVERYTHING, and the worst part is that the soy used in most products is also genetically modified, which brings it's own list of ill side effects, many of them fertility related as well. The last thing I need is more hormonal imbalances or an increased risk for cancer, so no soy for me thank you very much. I've gone completely glass in my kitchen and have cut out soy entirely. No mas! The more I keep reading articles like this, the more I'm thankful I have.

What about you? Do you try to limit your exposure to estrogens in food or the environment? Any thoughts or opinions on the article or soy in general?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Circle + Bloom Guided Relaxation

One of the most unexpected and positive aspects of this journey has been connecting with an online group of women experiencing similar things as myself. Because none of my friends locally have gone through similar issues really, and also because I'd rather not inundate my husband with every little up and down I experience on a daily basis, I thought it was important to find a support system. There are TONS of online support communities out there for women dealing with fertility issues.

For me, it's been such a great source of relief! I feel like it's somewhere I can go to ask personal questions openly without being embarrassed, and vent about my frustrations without being judged. There are women in my group who have been trying for years to conceive, some who are undergoing multiple rounds of more invasive procedures, such as IVF.  Not all women here travel the same path or have the same diagnosis, but one thing is for sure; We are there for each other and lift each other up when someone else is falling.

I've been extremely blessed to find an even smaller group of ladies who share my feelings towards using Eastern medicine to help them conceive. Most of us in this group are using natural means to increase our fertility: nutrition, herbs, supplements, acupuncture, meditation, etc. One of the women in our group has started somewhat of a Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, except in this case, she's been kind enough to pass around her Circle + Bloom CD's.

If you aren't familiar with Circle + Bloom feel free to check it out HERE. Our little sisterhood is using the "Natural Cycle for Fertility Program". Use that link if you'd like to listen to a preview of what the exercises are like and read more about the benefits. The program contains 28 daily sessions to help de-stress and harness positive energy, emotions, and ultimately help re-balance your body. All you need is a quiet place to lay down or recline, and the willingness to listen and concentrate on what the guide tells you to do. None of it is physical, but rather mental.

The first part of each session focuses on exercises designed to help you breathe in positive feelings and release any negative energy or stress that is present in your body. The second half focuses on visualization techniques to strengthen the mind body connection, and to facilitate what is going on biologically as well. For example, it gives exercises to help you visualize what is going on in your cycle at the appropriate time, whether that be allowing one egg to become mature and ready, or releasing it at just the right time, or allowing the perfect sperm to meet the perfect egg and implant for a healthy pregnancy.

I am a big believer that what we focus on multiplies. Your mind absolutely has the power to improve your own health, if you focus consistently on what you want to happen. I have always believed that! My main issue is staying focused in the face of adversity and resisting the urge to let negative doubting thoughts creep in and take over sometimes. These guided sessions are exactly what I needed. Today is only my 3rd time trying them, and I've gotta say I AM IN LOVE WITH THESE CD'S!!!

The first time I tried one, I literally fell asleep by the end of the session. If you are like me, and have a hard time letting nagging thoughts go, these are the perfect cure. They require you to lay down in a quiet place without interruption, and for just 15 minutes, really focus on relaxing and visualizing what you want your body to do. I am really fortunate that I did not need to purchase these because of my awesome friend allowing me to borrow them. However, after trying them, I can vouch that they are well worth the investment for anyone who can use some extra help to de-stress and gain more control over their feelings related to TTC.

Anyone else tried Circle + Bloom? What do you think?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Gluten-Free Spaghetti Pie

In an effort to meet my "almost daily" quota of grass fed beef/bison or other hormone free meats as prescribed by my nutritionist, I've started cooking with grass fed beef a little here and there. I was pretty reluctant at first. We never at red meat prior to this, except for the occasional filet while dining out at a restaurant. I was all about cooking really low cholesterol meals, which is great for heart health....not so good for promoting fertility. Turns out your body actually NEEDS cholesterol to make sex hormones, more specifically LDL, the so called "bad cholesterol."  This is true for both men and women. Men use LDL to make testosterone, and women need LDL to make estrogen and progesterone.

My goal is to have red meat at least twice per week. The first month I tried including some red meat into the mix, I stocked up on all kinds of grass fed beef steaks, filets, etc. Well, the fact that we don't own a BBQ grill proved to be challenging in producing something edible. I just have not mastered cooking filet mignon on a George Foreman grill apparently. By the way, you do realize I am risking my own life by publicly announcing I am a Texan and do not own a BBQ grill right? I am going to be sleeping with one eye open tonight!

So, I gave up on steaks for now and have opted to make some meals using grass fed organic ground beef. That is one type of meat that is completely idiot proof. I made one of my favorite meals tonight and thought I'd share it. I opted to make it completely gluten-free...not because I need to. I don't have celiac disease and am not under any recommendations to go gluten-free (although many women with certain conditions do improve their fertility by going gluten-free). I just feel like there is complete overload of gluten in the American diet as it is, so I use gluten-free products whenever possible to balance it out a bit.  Besides, I just like experimenting with new foods. I've made this recipe with Ancient Harvest quinoa noodles before, but tonight I tried it with Lundberg brown rice spaghetti noodles.

                                                  Look at this yummy goodness!!!

I serve it alongside a spinach salad with vinaigrette.

Here's the recipe in case you'd like to try it...

Ingredients (all organic):
1 box Lundberg gluten-free brown rice spaghetti noodles (or quinoa noodles)
2 eggs
10 oz. grass fed organic ground beef
1/3 cup diced onions
1/3 cup diced green peppers
1/2 cup fresh mushrooms
1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 Tbsp. garlic salt
6 oz. can tomato paste
2 cans water (using empty tomato paste can)
1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup part skim shredded organic mozzarella

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 F. Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Rinse with cold water, drain, and set aside.

Step 2: Meanwhile, in a large skillet brown ground beef at medium high heat. Drain excess fat and return to skillet. Add onions, green peppers, mushrooms, Italian seasoning, garlic salt, tomato paste and water, and stir well. Bring to simmer and allow to cook 3-5 minutes.

Step 3: In a medium mixing bowl, beat eggs and stir in parmesan cheese. Add cooled spaghetti noodles to egg and parmesan mixture and toss to coat evenly.

Step 4: Spray a 9.5 inch pie pan with non-stick cooking spray. Line pie pan with noodles. Spread ricotta cheese over noodles. Then top with meat sauce.

Step 5: Cook at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Top with shredded mozzarella, and cook another 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and slightly golden brown. Allow to cool 5 minutes before serving. Makes 8 servings.

No way you'd ever taste this pie and think it was gluten-free. It's like a mix between spaghetti and lasagna. YUM! Well, my belly is full, the kitchen is clean, and we've got an episode of Breaking Bad to catch up on. Until next time...

Monday, July 23, 2012

Supermarket Sweep

I never thought I'd get to a point where I don't enjoy shopping for clothes, but alas it has happened. I must really be getting old. Any joy I once felt for going to the mall has now been redirected to the grocery store and farmer's market. Yes, I am one of the few people in this world that actually enjoys grocery shopping. Unloading the groceries....well that's a different story.

Yesterday I really outdid myself. Lazy Sunday? Hmpf! After working out, I decided to detail both of our cars inside and out, including hand waxing our "nicer car" until I was about to pass out from the Texas heat.  I don't know where all of this energy was coming from, but figured I'd continue the trend and brave a trip to Costco.  A trip to Costco on the weekend is about equivalent to visiting WalMart during back-to-school shopping, except the people in there aren't beating their children or wearing pajamas out in public. Plus, despite the long lines at Costco, I always leave happy. They have so many amazing natural and organic foods for cheap!

Since my ACN recommended that hubby and I start eating organic red meat at least 2-3 servings per week, I was thrilled to find it at Costco much cheaper than anywhere else. I also stock up on organic salad greens, organic berries, frozen organic veggies, frozen seafood and healthy snacks. Really impressed with their selection, so thanks Costco for providing the hook up!

Unfortunately, they don't have everything I need though, so my grocery shopping actually spans a total of 3 grocery stores. I then have to hit Sprouts Farmer's Market and H-E-B (this is our large chain store in TX) to get it all done. Every once in a while,  I'll hit up Whole Paycheck....I mean Whole Foods!  Did I say that?? I rarely walk out of there with more than a handheld basket worth of food. Maybe someday I will win the lottery and can just shop there for the rest of my life. Until then, I will spend a ridiculous amount of time driving from one store to the next, and getting really creative with insulated bags and coolers with ice packs.

I really think I should have gone on that old gameshow Supermarket Sweep. Anyone remember that one? It's really quite funny how much strategy goes into getting good quality food into this house at the best prices possible. Whatever. I like a challenge, and least I'm not one of those crazy people on Extreme Couponing that holds up the line so they can get 50 bottles of Excedrin for $1. Nobody has that many headaches people! Get a grip!

I have even made friends with the produce guys at these stores. Being friendly pays off though. If I don't like what I see and give them that look of "Really, this is all you got dude?" a couple of them have offered to run to the back to grab fresher stuff. It's always good to ask the produce guys when they get their shipments too. I found out a while back that Sprouts gets brand new produce on the shelves every Monday, so now I always try to go on that day.

One of my favorite memories as a child was going to the farmer's market with my mom. It was the one place where I could grab stuff off the shelves and not get smacked. I think taking your child to the farmer's market when they are little is one of the best things you can ever do, and I can't wait until the day when I get to take my little one there with me and teach them all about healthy foods and let them pick out which fruits and vegetables they want. It made a huge impact on me as a kid, and it's probably why walking into a store and SEEING THIS EXCITES ME SO MUCH...

I swear, it's like I can hear angels singing to me!!! The best part about the farmer's market is that most of their organic fruits and veggies are the same exact price, and sometimes even cheaper than conventional pesticide laden produce at the regular grocery store. Who wouldn't make an extra trip for that?

As you can see, this is an indoor farmer's market, and it's pretty expansive outside of what's shown in this pic. They also carry tons of natural beauty products and household goods. Coming here encourages me to continue phasing in all natural products in our house too. I will admit, doing that has been a much longer process than just starting to buy all organic and natural foods. Baby steps! It's a work in progress, but one I'm enjoying. I'll post more on some great natural beauty products I've found later.

So, I've come to terms with the fact that I'm just not that fashion savvy modern woman you see in magazines, nor will I ever be I guess. I really could care less about Manolo Blahniks. I'd rather walk around in flip-flops and use our money for organic food and other things that will actually help keep us healthy and improve our chances of having a healthy happy baby someday. How about you...

How important do you think eating natural foods is for you and your family?

What has been the most difficult aspect of changing your way of eating?

Have you noticed any differences in your health, fertility related or otherwise, since eating differently?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Another "Me" Weekend

Looks like it will be another "me" weekend. Hubby is traveling out of town for business and doesn't return until midnight tonight. It's so true that absence makes the heart grow fonder...especially on weekends for some reason. I'm not really bothered by his work travel, but when it's on the weekends, I always feel lonely.  We pretty much do everything together. I am one of the lucky few who is married to their best friend, and no matter what happens in our future, I am so grateful just knowing I have him by my side. Not everyone is blessed to have such an amazing soul mate, and I do recognize that. I don't take it for granted for a single second. Anyone who knows us, knows how crazy we are for each other.

All the love in the world, however, doesn't distract from our desire to have a family. To be honest, I really don't have a close family or many close friends nearby for that matter. Sure, I have long time friends that I've been in contact with for years, but we've also had 3 major moves in the last 6 years, so I've had to start over with building friendships locally a few times now. I am also picky and don't like caddy women, which is unfortunately pretty common among the female species. I do have a select few friends who are amazing here, and who I try to see whenever I possibly can. We've been in the same house now for about 3.5 yrs, but I realize now more than ever, how tough it still really is.

For one, I don't work a normal 40 hr/week job. I'm a commercial actress, and I do meet a lot of fun people on set, including a few I've really hit it off with and have become friends with. I just don't have the daily comradery that is present in an office setting.

Secondly, everyone in the state of Texas has a minimum of 2 kids. When you are in your mid 30's with no kids, it limits your options in friend making considerably. The first thing out of anyone's mouth when they meet you is "Do you have kids?" I don't blame people. I realize that when you have kids, your entire life revolves around them, and it's only normal to seek out friendships with people who have similar routines or are part of the same car pool line. I may even ask that same question myself someday God willing! I do always dread the next question that usually comes though, "Any plans for kids?" or "Why not?"  I will say that those questions are at least better than the people who will give you a fake smile, a "nice to meet you", and literally just turn away and talk to someone else without even skipping a beat. I guess if you don't have kids, it means you won't be supplying a gift at their child's next birthday party, and you're not worth their time? Geez! Just because we don't have children, doesn't mean we hate kids or are some kind of child molesters!

On top of it all, I lost my parents to cancer and all but one of my grandparents have also passed. My sisters live more than 1,000 miles away, and we don't see each other much at all. Believe me, it's not for lack of trying. I've visited their hometown about 6 or 7 times in the last few years, and they've visited me 0 times. And no, I don't care that half of those times were for funerals....if I spend time and money to fly there, it still counts!  I also have enough room in this house to sleep at least 6 extra people, but that's besides the point. I am just exhausted of sending out invitations at this point. You'd think I lived in Antarctica or something!

Please don't confuse my desire to have children with boredom either.  I am not just looking to fill empty time. If I really wanted to do that, I could just go to the spa more or plan some extra vacations. I want to have a babies to create a family for my husband and myself, because outside of the fact that I don't have close family as it is, I'm probably just like most other human beings on this planet; With  a desire in my heart to give my love to someone that is the perfect combination of my husband and myself. I want to look at a baby girl, and see little pieces of my mom in her. I want to watch my husband be the amazing father I know he'll be and give her an endless amount of love and that unique relationship that every little girl deserves. I want to have a baby boy with my husband's beautiful blue grey eyes and calm, sweet temperament. I already know I will spend the rest of my life going to golf tournaments once this this happens, but I'm still ok with that!

If there was ever a couple who was ready to have kids, it's us. I know it doesn't make sense to some other people why I'm so fixated on having children right now and doing "so many things" to try to help my chances. I get a lot of "Just relax and it will happen" attitudes from people, well meaning or otherwise. 3 years of not preventing was definitely a good stretch of just relaxing before we started actively TTC'ing more than a year ago. Just relaxing hasn't magically resulted in a baby in the past 4 years. Despite that, I am trying my best to relax, but please understand my reasons why, if I'm not very good at it.

"God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground." - Genesis 1:28

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Organic Pill Popping Power

One of my favorite things about going au natural is that I know the things I'm putting in my body would be perfectly healthy for me, whether I was TTC or not. A huge turning point for me was speaking to this woman, Ros Haney. She was my 3rd opinion when seeking out help in trying to figure out what was going on with my body. She is an Applied Clinical Nutritionist and RN...just so happens she used to be a nurse at my fertility clinic, so she knows a thing or two about how to conceive a baby.  Check out her website, and you'll get a snip-it of just how knowledgeable this woman is.

The 90 minutes I spent talking to her about my situation provided many epiphanies. She critiqued my current diet, analyzed my blood work, and gave me a list of dietary recommendations and supplements to help me turn things around...ovulating on my own was the goal here, since I STILL wasn't at this point!

Our meeting was a little humbling, only because I am a certified sports nutritionist myself. I'm no stranger to nutrition, and I wholeheartedly believe IT IS POWERFUL stuff. However, I also realized quickly how much I didn't know.  The type of diet that is healthy for conception is not the "bikini body diet" I'd practiced myself for years prior or that I used with my own clients, all of whom were looking to lose weight....two entirely different ballgames! (more on the dietary changes later)

I learned a lot about how all of our hormones function AND dysfunction together. Ros pointed out many things I was doing right, but also a lot of things I needed to change. My main issues addressed were annovulation, hormone production, and reducing miscarriage risk. I got a list of supplements to help get my body back on track, and I wanted to share those with you here...

Now, I know what you're thinking; That looks like a lot of stuff! Before you label me some pill popping princess read on. I thought the same thing at first too, but once I learned what each of these supplements do, I felt confident they could help. There was nothing that could harm me, and they are all organic whole foods based products. And just as an FYI, the supplements weren't some sort of way for the ACN to make money, because she doesn't even sell them. I buy them from a specialty pharmacy....just wanted to be clear on that! Oh and btw... feel free to contact Ros if you look at her website and can use any fertility nutrition guidance. Tell her Emily recommended you!

Low and behold, after taking these supplements for one month, I began to ovulate on my own for the first time ever in 3 years! So yes, I'm confident they are beneficial, and are working exactly as they're supposed to in re-balancing my whacky hormones. Here's a rundown of what I have going here:

-Standard Process ProSynbiotic- calms immune system, improves digestion...both of which can affect reproduction more than you might realize

-Standard Process AF Betafood & Standard Process SP Green Food- clear old estrogens out of the body, increase production of new hormones, contain DIM (phytonutrient important to this process)

-Standard Process Zinc- reduces risk of miscarriage, improves brain to ovary communication, immune modulator, strong antioxidant

-Medi Herb Chaste Tree (Vitex)- balances hormones and endocrine system, promotes healthy menstrual cycle, promotes better sleep, reduces PMS

-Vitamin D3- critical for immune function, reproduction, fertility & pregnancy

-Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA- supports proper development of babies, supports nervous system and mood in women

-New Chapter Organics Perfect Prenatal- A good prenatal vitamin is a MUST for anyone TTC, but is great for any woman really. This is the creme of the crop when it comes to pre-natals. Plus, my fingernails have never looked so good!

-Standard Process Vit. B- Taking this daily, in addition to using iodized sea salt on foods and eating 4 brazil nuts daily (selenium) to treat my subclinical hypothyroid naturally. Btw, this was yet another thing my RE missed in my blood work, but that my ACN uncovered! Being hypothyroid, even at subclinical levels, can absolutely affect fertility. Good to know now! Geez dr.'s, get with the program!

I knew this supplement regimen was only going to work if I was consistent, and I'm a big believer in making things as "automatic" as humanly possible. I bought these handy little pill dividers, and now I don't even think about. Just grab 'n go!

I do have to laugh when I travel. I feel like a 90 year old with all these pills. Hopefully my hip replacement won't go off in the metal detector too! ;)  Hey, at least I know what I'm putting in my body is truly good for it, with no harmful side effects. Plus, it's working. I've now ovulated 5 out of 5 cycles since starting this routine, and I feel healthier than ever. I've done other things to help, such as gaining weight, scaling back on exercise, dietary changes, acupuncture and a couple Chinese herbs (which I will get to in another post) but this was the first stepping stone that I took, and I really feel it's giving me the foundation for a healthier, more balanced body. Most importantly, I have the peace of mind to know that WHEN I do become pregnant, I'll be giving my baby the healthiest environment to grow and best foundation for life that I possibly can.

Anyone else using supplements? What has worked, or what do you take or do to get your body baby ready?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Throwing Darts

As I mentioned in my previous post, following my short stint with fertility meds, I became a bit jaded by the Western approach to "help" my situation. Since I'll be blogging about all the crunchy holistic stuff I'm doing now, I figured it was worth giving a little more background on what exactly happened to make me say buh-bye to meds and travel the path I'm currently on.

After seeking help from my OB and receiving the drugs Provera and CloMAD to help me ovulate for two cycles, I didn't become pregnant and my OB informed me that my history of not having a period or ovulating for almost 3 years was "complicated". She thought I should see a specialist and referred me to an RE, who's modus operandi, is to use ovulation medicine as well, although a different type. Her drug of choice is called Femara. You may have heard of it. It's actually FDA approved for breast cancer, but RE's are now using this ovulation inducing medicine to treat label of course, because it's not FDA approved for this reason.

However, RE's will not treat you until they run a whole host of invasive diagnostic tests on you. All of these tests are very hard to pronounce; Try saying hysterosalpingogram ten times fast! They also involve sticking foreign objects up your lady parts and then asking you to pay large sums of money before you leave their office. I kind of felt like they should be paying ME by the time I left!

In the amount of time it took to undergo the plethora of unpleasant tests, and between going off of Clomid and before starting Femara with my new dr., I did unexpectedly become pregnant. Honestly, to this day, I feel like the Clomid had something to do with me getting pregnant, because it just has a very long half life and stays in your system a while.....which can be good for conceiving for some, but isn't good in other respects, many of which can cause more harm in your body than good.  I won't get into the nitty gritty of my miscarriage in this post, but that's what happened, and soon after I tried my best to move on and stay the course.

So, after the failed attempts with Clomid, the tests coming back clear with nothing obstructive showing up, one short pregnancy, and a miscarriage later, my RE finally wanted to start me on Femara to help me ovulate, with less side effects than Clomid. This seemed logical since I STILL wasn't ovulating on my own. I agreed, eager to work with this amazing specialist who was going to know exactly what to do!

She gave me the prescription. I took it on the days she told me to, and I went in later that month for ultrasound monitoring, which revealed I had some rather large follicles (this is where the eggs grow and get bigger before they are released). BUT, there was a problem. She said my uterine lining was looking very thin for being this far along in my cycle. The uterine lining is important because it basically acts like a bed of soil for any fertilized eggs to take root. If the uterine lining measures too thin, a couple things can happen: a fertilized egg won't have anywhere to implant and will just dissolve away OR a fertilized egg can implant, but won't take hold very well, and will eventually lose it's ground....this can lead to early miscarriage. Oh no! I thought.  I don't want to miscarry again. Now what?

Not to worry said the RE. We have another drug, called Estrace, which is a synthetic form of estrogen. It's taken vaginally, and the pills are bright green, so if you see bright green spots in your underwear, that's completely normal. WTH? Yes, this is for real! When taken it will thicken that uterine lining right up to where it needs to be to provide a nice cushy bed of soil for that egg. Hmmm, more drugs? Not liking this trend, but if it's the only way, ok I guess.

But wait, there's more! (insert best infommercial voice here) The only problem with Estrace, is that when taken, it will prevent that ripe and ready egg from bursting out of it's follicle, even if the egg is nice and mature and ready to emerge. Say what? Yes, that is why we then have to give you another drug called Ovidrel. This is what they refer to as a "trigger". It's a drug made with the hormone hCG and comes in the form of a shot that you administer to yourself. You'll have to buy it at a specialty pharmacy and save it at home for when it's time. Come back in 48 hours to do another ultrasound, and we'll see if your follicles and lining are ready. If they are, you'll then give yourself the trigger shot, and that will guarantee that you ovulate 36 hours from the time of the shot. You will time intercourse around the shot, so you have the best possible chances.

Despite the red flags and lunk alarms going off in my head, I reluctantly agreed to follow the protocol. She was the expert after all, and I had no idea why my body wasn't working like a normal person's should. I ran out, bought the magic green pills and spent another $100 on the shot. 48 hours later I went back to the RE, with my trusty little cooler and my Ovidrel shot on ice in case it was time. I did NOT want to have to stick that thing in my stomach on my own.

Well it looks like you won't have to after all, says the RE. It looks like your body responded really well to the Estrace. Your lining grew 4 mm in only 48 hours! But, it turns out that your follies have gotten smaller...meaning I either ovulated on my own (unlikely) or my eggs shrank back into my ovaries faster than an African in the 2012 London Games.  Yep, it was the latter.

So, after 3 drugs Rx'ed, numerous ultrasounds, and $2000+ later, it was clear that ALL THAT WORK WAS FOR NOTHING. The cycle was a complete wash, and it was the last straw after an already tough few months prior. It seemed like a lot of unnecessary money and putting meds with known side effects into my body, and for what??

One thing I've learned through this process, is that reproductive endocrinology is NOT an exact science. It's much like a game of darts. Many times RE's use a one size fits all approach, without even considering your particular circumstances. That is just the way that field works. They each have their favorite set of drugs and protocols, but every patient reacts differently to each of those drugs. They have no way of knowing how each person will react until they try it. Most of the time, these drugs are used to treat the symptoms of infertility and not the underlying cause. So, even though ovulation meds might trick a woman's body into ovulating, it will never correct a hormonal deficiency causing the problem, or teach that body to ovulate on it's own. If anything, it can cause more dependency on the fertility meds in order to maintain normal function.

I left the office that day, resolved to do whatever I could to research what was going on with me. I sought out a 3rd opinion from an ACN (Applied Clinical Nutritionist) who specializes in fertility and also a 4th opinion from a TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) practitioner, a.k.a. acupuncturist.  I read the book The Infertility Cure and it was like a lightbulb finally went on for me!  I highly recommend this book to anyone dealing with hormonal imbalances or infertility. Everything I read and heard form these other sources made so much more sense!

I started following the advice of the ACN, TCM practitioner, and The Infertility Cure. I began taking a regimen of organic whole foods based supplements and herbs, and made changes to my diet. Sure enough, the first month of following the all natural protocol, I began ovulating on my own....this month makes 7 months straight. I began seeing many other signs of improvement as well, and I have no doubt that all of the natural things I'm doing are working. I've still being checking in with my RE from time to time for monitoring, but have been meds free the past 7 months. At my last appointment, my RE actually told me, "I rarely ever say this, but just keep doing whatever you're doing, because it's working. You have picture perfect ovaries. This is what we love to see as RE's."

Accepting compliments on behalf of my uterus and ovaries is something rather new to me, but I will take it! Besides, I was never good at the game of darts anyways. I am hopeful going natural will be all I need to conceive, and then I can really say I TOLD YOU SO Western medicine. I realize that there are a lot of women out there who have undergone much more than me, and I am thankful to be 34 and still have at least a little time to give going natural a chance. We're giving it until the end of 2012. If it doesn't happen by then, at least I will know I truly gave my body the best chance possible to do this on it's own.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Here Goes Nothing!

Well, here goes nothing! After thinking about it for many months, I've decided to start a blog where I can share my feelings about TTC (Trying To Conceive) and anything else I'm inspired to write about. Anyone who knows me, also knows that food is guaranteed to make an appearance before too long. I've been trying a lot of new things lately: acupuncture, Chinese herbs, reading books, fertility friendly foods, meditation, voodoo chants....the usual stuff fertility challenged people do when TTC'ing,  so there should be no shortage of things to write about.

We started out on the journey of seriously TTC back in July 2011, after almost 3 years of "not preventing" pregnancy. I knew there was an issue when obviously not becoming pregnant during this time, and sought the help of my OB and later an RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist). I was diagnosed with "unexplained infertility" and was put on a fertility drug called Clomid, which helps women ovulate. Well, I'd like to petition the pharmaceutical companies to call this medicine what is really is, least that is what it made me. Let's just say I did NOT like fertility medicine one bit. Plenty of women have had success with this drug mind you, but it has some horrendous side effects, all of which I would prefer not to experience ever again in my life....more on that later.

I decided to stop taking fertility medicine and actually got pregnant the very next month, only to miscarry shortly after. I was absolutely heartbroken, and truth be told, am still dealing with some very raw emotions from that experience.  It has been quite a roller coaster to say the least. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the ups and downs this past year has brought; from the endless diagnostic testing, to the unanswered questions, to the many unexpected feelings that I now know are commonplace among women diagnosed with infertility.

I am still telling myself that somehow the dr.'s are getting it all wrong, and that's I'm not really infertile. However, as time marches on, and a little one has yet to make an appearance, I've also got to be realistic with the issue at hand. For now, I'm using a lot of Eastern medicine approaches to re-balancing my body's hormones so that I can hopefully conceive and carry a healthy pregnancy to term without the need of chemical laden, crazy lady inducing fertility meds. JUST RELAXING is not going to get me pregnant I'm afraid. Voo doo chants might not either, but at this point I'm willing to try them. ;)