Friday, August 31, 2012

+OPK & NO ovulation...Well this is a first!

If there is an award for defying fertility tracking devices, I think I should win! In my last post, I mentioned that I knew something was way off with the ultrasound my OB/GYN did the day after I got a +OPK. Nothing was matching up...13 and 11 mm follies the supposed day of ovulation? It didn't make sense. I decided to make an additional apt. for an ultrasound with my RE the very next day. I've been pretty open at how much I've been trying to stay away from the RE, but when it comes down to it, I need her help to figure out what was going on.  We cleared the air on my hesitations to return first, and I felt really good about our meeting and working together going forward.

This appointment was different as well, because my dear hubby came. He wants to start coming with me to the appointments, which I think is really sweet, but also really smart. Most women who've had fertility treatments knows how difficult it can be to explain everything once you get home, especially when decisions need to be made during the appointment or afterwards.  The guys can't help be confused either. They haven't read all the books and don't spend time on fertility forums. Plus, I never realized how much I was putting on my own shoulders, but in many ways I was. He is the one who pointed this out to me, and I am just so grateful for a husband that wants to be more involved in the process without me ever having to ask. I also recognize there are women out there TTC without even having a spouse; Going through things like IVF with sperm donation. Believe me, I am thankful to even have the support of a spouse and I don't take it for granted. I really did marry an angel.

So, on CD14 my RE measured 4 main follies @ 11-12mm each and said my lining was 5.5 mm.  She said it was impossible to tell if I'd already ovulated from the ultrasound alone, even if I did get a +OPK over 2 days prior and my OB/GYN had measured the follies as slightly larger the day prior. Comparing my OB's test to her test would be like comparing apples to oranges. She ordered a progesterone test to see what was really going on. I never knew you could see evidence of ovulation on a progesterone test only a day or two after supposed ovulation (I've only done 7dpo tests for the past year). Apparently you can though; As long as it shows about a 3 on a P4 test, it's indicative of ovulation that early in the luteal phase.

I found out today my progesterone came back at 0.2. Based on that result and the ultrasound, my RE said I have NOT ovulated this cycle. I couldn't agree with her more. I figured I didn't, especially because I'm charting my temperature and have not seen my typical temperature spike post-ovulation. This has been an extremely wacky cycle thus far I must say!

I'm still scratching my head a little, because in 13 months of using OPK's, never once have I gotten a +OPK and NOT ovulated within the next day or so...until now. There is a multi-million dollar industry selling OPK's and other fertility tracking devices for the simple fact that they tell you when you are going to ovulate! Women get knocked up every single day just from peeing on a stick and waiting for the happy face to tell them when to have intercourse. Yet, somehow they aren't foolproof where my body is concerned.

I am not shocked. I also bought the Clearblue Easy Fertility Monitor earlier this year, which proved to be useless to me. This $150 device that is supposed to be 99% accurate couldn't figure out what my body was doing either.  As soon as I realized the CBEFM wouldn't work to track my cycles, I became dependent on my trusty OPK's to tell me when I'm going to ovulate. Apparently, OPK's aren't totally accurate for me now either. Booooo! We had such a good thing going! It seems I can't rely on a fertility monitor or OPK's at this point.

I still don't know why I got a +OPK, yet I didn't ovulate. I know I don't have PCOS (which can cause false positives for some women). My RE said "it just happens sometimes in women with irregular cycles." I do know my LH must have surged, but no ovulation occurred. I guess that's a good thing since my follies and lining clearly weren't lined up for ovulation.  Way to fake me out though silly OPK's!! Makes me want to stab myself with my BBT thermomter! haha! Really though, I almost feel like the Femara was telling my body to ovulate early, but my body knew it wasn't ready and held off. Any other theories out there??

I have a follow-up apt. with the RE on Tuesday for another ultrasound. It's babydancing every other day for us until then. In a dream world, I will go in for the ultrasound on Tuesday (CD20) and the RE will see a ginormous follie ready to burst and a nice thick lining of about 10 mm or more. If I end up ovulating on CD21 or CD22 as usual, I will just have to shake my head and laugh at this whole little snafoo. Still holding out hope that I do ovulate this cycle...hopefully when my follies and lining are perfectly aligned with the stars.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Story of my Life: Curse of the Thin Lining

Today is CD13, the day my OB/GYN offered to do an ultrasound to see how I responded to Femara. For anyone who doesn't know, they can usually tell how you respond to an ovulation medicine by doing an ultrasound to count & measure follicles growing in each ovary. It needs to be done prior to ovulation, because the follicles shrink back down after ovulation.

Seeing a follicle around 20 mm+- in size would generally be considered a "good response". Many women produce this size of a follicle or larger on their own without meds, but some don't and still others (like me) just take much longer to grow a mature follicle. Today was supposed to be the day I could assess if the Femara helped me grow a mature follicle sooner in my cycle...which was the goal.

Only one problem; I think I might have misjudged just how soon Femara might make me ovulate. I did not use OPK tests over the weekend as I did not see any other signs of fertility and figured surely I would be good to go if I started using OPK's on CD12. I woke up yesterday (CD12) and got a blazing +OPK on two different brands of OPK tests. Getting a +OPK is always good news of course, but I had no idea how early it would come this cycle! I have never gotten a +OPK this early EVER! I tested again in the afternoon and the OPK's were completely negative. Further complicating my ability to pinpoint the exact O date, is that my Basal Body Temperature has not yet risen as of this morning, which would also signal that ovulation has in fact occurred.

So, I'm guessing one of two things happened:

1) My LH surge actually started on Sunday (meaning I could have ovulated yesterday or last night but it still didn't show in my rising temperature as of this morning)
2) My LH surge was super short this time and already gone by the afternoon, which also could have happened (meaning I could have ovulated today or will tonight)

It's pretty damn important to know when I'm actually going to ovulate (it's usually within 36 hrs. of the initial LH surge) so this threw me for a loop. Luckily, we'd already been babydancing all weekend, but I was really hoping to get in for the ultrasound before I ovulated to see my real response to the Femara....seems I may have missed the boat on that. I tried getting an emergency apt. yesterday but they couldn't fit me in.

I did go in today for the ultrasound, but left feeling less than enthusiastic about the experience. For one, my uterine lining only measured 5 mm. Story of my friggin life! Ugh! That is not good at all. No cushy lining for an egg to implant means very low chances of a pregnancy happening or high chances of a miscarriage. No bueno.  This thin lining issue is my never ending problem.

The largest follicle she saw only measured 13.7 mm. So either that was the leftover corpus luteum from an egg that had already ovulated and had shrunk back down, or she just didn't know what the heck she was doing and wasn't seeing another follicle hiding somewhere. Who the heck knows! Honestly, at that point in the apt. I wasn't betting on my OB/GYN's ability to even see all of the follicles present. She said that her machine is not "high tech" like my RE's and that she can't even tell much difference of an ovarian cyst from a true follicle with an egg in it. Huh? Then she proceeded to tell me that:

A) I am the second most complicated case she has ever seen.
B) In a nutshell, my issues are too complex for her to help me with.

Well it's not what I wanted to hear today, but maybe I did need to hear it AGAIN. I have been trying so hard to make this happen naturally and with the least amount of medical intervention possible, but I feel like the whole universe is sending me the message that I need the extra help of an RE again. It's hard for me to come to terms with this, because I wanted to believe that if I did all the right things to help my body naturally, that God would reward me and show me just how amazing He and my body both could be, even against all odds. I wanted to be one of those amazing success stories of someone who used acupuncture and holistic medicine and prayer, keeping the faith long enough to become pregnant "in God's perfect timing." I just don't know if that's possible anymore, no matter how much I'd love for it to happen that way.

My husband has been gently telling me for months that we might need more help. He is so supportive in anything I want to try to help things naturally, but I have not wanted to believe that getting "more help" was the only way for us. I wanted to prove to him and to myself that I wasn't damaged beyond repair. It is one of the most desperate feelings in the world to feel like you can't even do the one thing women have the God given gift to do; To have children. I have been fighting having to admit that it's just not working, with everything that I've got. Taking a small new step with this cycle, agreeing to do Femara, I held out hope that maybe we could be one of those couples who just needed a little Femara to do the trick and that's all it would take.

I realize this cycle is not over, and that there is always a chance. However, today's ultrasound, albeit not a very reliable one, makes me less than confident that anything would actually stick this cycle, especially given the lining issue. And so the waiting game continues. I'll take a progesterone test in 7 days to confirm ovulation and show my progesterone response and then wait one more week to see if I am pregnant. You never know, miracles do happen! That's what it's going to take at this point, but only time will tell.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

CD3 Results Normal? Not Buying It!

It's amazing how fast my mood can change when I'm being analyzed like a lab rat. Here I was, having a hunky dory week and very content with the new game plan this cycle. I took it upon myself to request CD3 blood work (FSH & estradiol) to be done again, and I'm glad I did. After waiting for 5 days, I finally got the results back. That wait alone is nerve wracking!

I had my OB/GYN order the test, because I know if my RE orders it, insurance will deny my claim. Tricky little buggers! Little do they know, I have found a couple little tricks of my own to get around their endless claim denials.  I'm seeing my OB/GYN this cycle anyway in an effort to give Femara a try without having to pay the huge price tag of seeing my RE.  Again, visits to my OB/GYN are covered and visits to an RE are not. You may wonder why I would try to pinch pennies when I want a child so badly, but until you've experienced fertility medicine, you can't understand just how fast you can blow through extremely large sums of money. However, after today, I am wondering if it's a good choice to stick with my OB/GYN after all, despite the thousands in savings.

Without further adieu, here are my results:

FSH= 8.3 (normal)
estradiol= 16

Now, this is where my OB/GYN and I TOTALLY DISAGREE
. The nurse of my OB/GYN called me today to say, "We got your test results back and they look great!" A wave of relief washed over my body, and then I politely asked what those results were, because I keep track of all this stuff for my records.  Then she told me the above numbers. Hmmmmm

I knew the FSH was normal off the top of my head. However, once I got home I hopped on the computer to start fact checking their results. Can you tell I don't believe anything dr.'s tell me anymore at this point?  Low and behold, every single piece of info I can find on normal estradiol level tells me that a level of 16 on CD3 is absolutely NOT NORMAL. This is the type of thing I'm reading all over the freaking internet...

Estrogen (Estradiol) Levels:
Estradiol is the primary human estrogen -- and when your ovaries begin to fail, your circulating estradiol levels drop. This is why doctors often give you a serum estradiol concentration test to measure the amount of estradiol in your blood. In this case, the doctor is looking to see if your estrogen levels are lower than normal -- again, a signal of ovarian failure, or, in other words, early menopause.

• Normal estradiol Day 3 value -- 25-75 pg/ml
• Important note: If your FSH hasn't reached post-menopausal levels and your estradiol is on the low side, you are not considered POF or EM. There can be other reasons for low estradiol, including excessive exercise, low body fat, and diminished ovarian reserve. This is because estradiol levels tend to drop over time. During the first 2 to 5 years following menopause or ovarian failure, blood levels of estradiol drop to an average range of about 25 to 35 pg/ml. Women not on HRT generally will see this number drop even more over time; after about five years, it's common for menopausal women who aren't on HRT to have estradiol levels below 25.

Ok, so you tell me if I'm crazy, but a 16 is clearly not within the normal range for CD3 blood work right?  So, I call back and ask to speak with the nurse. I debate with her for at least 5 minutes. She claims that their "normal" range is (15-350) and says she asked both dr.s at the practice, who both say my labs are normal. They refuse to acknowledge my level is low at all, despite all the other info out there. Do a Google search and you will see why I'm freaking out here. I realize the internet isn't always right, but I'm seeing the same info on multiple websites, from doctors, fertility websites, etc.  Even if I went by my doctor's supposed normal scale, a 16 is still right at the bottom of their range. So frustrating! I feel like I'm talking to a brick wall.

I hang up the phone, completely dissatisfied with the response, and then start fixating and analyzing even more...You might notice in the info above, that the reasons listed for low estrogen (outside of menopause) are "excessive exercise, low body fat, and DOR." I'm pretty sure I don't have DOR. My RE has already ruled that out. And Lord knows I am no longer exercising excessively and my body fat is definitely not too low anymore....hasn't been for a year now. Of course, now I can't help but wonder if all the exercise that made me stop having my period for almost 3 years has also done irreparable damage to my hormones. Is that the reason for my low estrogen?? I wouldn't be suprised one bit. It screwed everything else up, so no telling. Ugh.

I broke down crying from the frustration twice tonight...partly because these weren't the estradiol results I was hoping for and partly because I feel like I'm already back to pulling teeth from dr.'s to get answers I can actually trust and understand; Answers that are based on my individual circumstances. I hate feeling this way, but every time I get a blood test that comes up low like this, it just makes me feel like a failure. Seeing the words "menopausal" to categorize my level of estrogen is so depressing! What a nice warm welcome back to the wonderful world of Western medicine.

For now, I'm stuck waiting until I go in for my CD13 ultrasound to ask my OB/GYN face-to-face how on God's green Earth does she think these levels are normal?   It will take a strong argument to convince me that 16 is a healthy level, but who knows, I may go in and see a fantastic response to the Femara; big fat follicles and a lovely thick lining that is picture perfect for conception. At that point, you can expect another mood swing from me in the other direction. I'll let you know when it's time to break out your butterfly nets, but as for now, you can keep them tucked away in the shed. Definitely no butterflies to chase here tonight.

I'm trying my best to relax and just see this cycle as an experiment; To see how my body responds to Femara on it's own, without any other added meds. There is just only so much that most OB/GYN's know with regards to more complex issues of infertility. I will use my OB/GYN to get what information I can this cycle...sort of a "baseline response to Femara" and leave it at that.  If I have a thin uterine lining (anything under 7 or 8 mm) at my CD13 ultrasound, this will verify my suspicion of low estrogen (since that is what builds the lining) even further. Furthermore, if I do not get pregnant this cycle, I'll at least know what my response what to this medicine and will be able to return to my RE with some new information to work with.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cheers to Chocolate, Wine & Better Chances

Nothing creeps me out more than needles! Ugh. You would think I'm going in for open heart surgery or something when I give blood. I don't know what comes over me, but I have a hard time breathing and start to tear up, almost every time....before the needle even goes in. Recently, when my husband had surgery, I almost fainted as they struggled to put the IV in his arm. 2 nurses rushed to my aid with a Sprite and took me out of the room. LOL  Something must have happened to me as a child that I don't remember, or perhaps it was just watching my mom suffer through cancer for 7 years and getting stuck to death time and time again. Everything else is wireless these days; Maybe one day in the future, they will test our blood somehow without needles. Until then, guess I just have to suck it up. :s

Looking back over my blood work from last year, I thought it might be smart to redo my CD3 bloodwork. This is bloodwork typically done to test 2 hormones: FSH (follicular stimulating hormone) and Estradiol (estrogen). It's very important that this is done on calendar day 3 of a woman's cycle to be accurate. I had it done last year in July 2011, and results came back "normal". However, it wasn't done on the correct calendar that time there was no calendar day, because I hadn't had a period since December 2008. Calendars didn't pertain to me! So, I figured it was worth re-doing, albeit a little late in the game, since I'm starting a new regimen now with the Femara. I feel almost like I'm starting this game ALL OVER AGAIN, but I want to make sure everything's normal with the baseline bloodwork.

I'm pretty sure my FSH will come back fine. I'm no expert, but FSH is only elevated when the ovarian reserve is low as far as I know. My RE counted 38 follicles (eggs) laying in wait at the last ultrasound I did with her and said my ovaries "looked like an RE's dream." My problem is not how many eggs I have. It seems to be the quality of my actual ovulation (late ovulation and poor progesterone response following ovulation).

However, I'm also interested to see how Estradiol comes back. It was near the top end of the range last time. High might sound good to some people out there, but you don't want your estrogen to be too high in relation to your progesterone. It's usually off balance in menopausal women or those experiencing estrogen dominance. It's a very intricate balance for all these hormones to work the way they're supposed to! Fingers crossed it all comes back normal.

Outside of that, I'm doing really well mentally, despite the fact that another cycle began on Thursday as expected. I normally get really down and sad on CD1, but I have been ok with it this time around. For one, I bought a new Acura RDX this week, which I've wanted for a looooong time. I'm sure a new car is enough to put anyone in a good mood. It will be a great family car once we have a family.

Secondly, the fact that we are doing something different by using Femara this cycle just gives me a renewed sense of hope for a better outcome. I am actually really excited! I just took my first two pills of Femara and will continue for the next 4 days. The last time I took this medication, I had no side effects, so I'm hoping it will be the same this time around. It also helped me produce two nice sized follies much earlier in my cycle than usual last time I took it, but my RE screwed the whole cycle up with another medicine she gave me...that's a whole other story. I'm still a little bitter if you can't tell!

Anyways,  I managed to score the Femara from Costco for only $5.99! Femara costs $150 at Target pharmacy, so nice savings there. By the way, I also bought my car through the Costco Auto Buying program this week, and it saved me $2000. Costco rocks!!! With so many new and exciting things on the horizon I thought it was worth celebrating last night. Hubby is overseas in Amsterdam, so this was my date last night...

Dark chocolate covered cherries with a small glass of pinot noir... Mmmmm. It doesn't get much better than that! Cheers to a bigger and better chance of becoming a mommy this month!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Turning a New Leaf with Femara

Well, I have a pretty good idea that there will be no pregnancy this time around. My temperature dropped this morning and I've been craving sweets all day, so I know I can expect another temperature drop tomorrow and Aunt Flo in a day or two. Another failed cycle I'm afraid. It just sucks pun intended.

However, last week's encounter with the guy who bought my car has had me in deep thought ever since. Not only was it a reminder that everything is going to work out, but it's made me re-visit the if, when, and how of possibly needing a little extra help. The message I heard was that God is watching over us and preparing us for the time when it's just right. Outside of that though, it also helped me remember that it's o.k. to ask for help if you need it. That is something I've been struggling with. I've wanted to believe really badly that I can do this on my own, but I am finally coming to terms with getting extra help in the form of fertility meds...again.

Being diagnosed with unexplained infertility is frustrating, because even with all the invasive testing, there is not much they can find anatomically that's causing an issue or warrants any other type of diagnosis. I know my thin lining has always been an issue, as have my low levels of hormones and possibly my subclinical hypothyroid issue. However, even knowing those things, I'm still classified as "unexplained."

I feel like it's been somewhat of a full time job trying to tackle all of these problems individually, and achieve some sort of harmony between everything. For the past 13 months,  I've done plenty of things to help my chances:

-2 rounds of Clomid (1 with ovulation, 1 without), 1 round of Femara (washed cycle), Estrace to bolster estrogen and thicken lining

-Weekly acupuncture for fertility

-Chinese herbs taken to promote processes during each phase of my cycle: follicular herbs and luteal phase herbs

-Meetings with Applied Clinical Nutritionist, Chinese Medical Practitioners, and Reproductive Endocrinologist

-Charting Basal Body Temperature and other fertility signs and symptoms

-Protocol of whole foods based organic supplements to re-balance my body

-Changing daily diet to include more cholesterol, maintain a build-up state, increase conception friendly foods (building foods during follicular phase & warming foods during luteal phase) and going ALL organic

-Supplements and foods to help correct my subclinical hypothyroid issue (iodized sea salt, B complex, brazil nuts daily, Vit D3)...these are intended to improve my thyroid function and avoid medication

-Drinking red raspberry leaf tea daily

-Warm castor oil packs on my abdomen post-menstruation up until ovulation to improve blood flow to reproductive organs and reduce or eliminate any ovarian cysts

-Eliminating ALL vigorous exercise from my life. Limiting cardio to only 30 minutes 3-4 times per week. Bringing down the weightlifting on the other days about 10 notches.

-Gaining 15-20 lbs and enough body fat % to re-start my monthly cycle after 3 years of being anovulatory.

-Cutting back on drinking, and having alcohol only on very rare occasion

-Eliminating all caffeine, diet sodas, artificial sweeteners and other endocrine disruptors from my life

-Phasing in all natural beauty products to reduce endocrine disruption

-Fertility Yoga DVD's series for each phase of my cycle

-Circle + Bloom guided meditations

-Keeping a journal where I write to my future child

-Creating a vision board of my future "dream" family and looking at it often

-Daily breathing and prayers

-Plenty of relaxing, couples time, spa days, me time

-Writing letters to God, yelling AT God, crying out on my hands and knees to God

I'm sure there's something I'm leaving out here, but you get the picture. Looking at this list, it really makes it hit home how much effort I've been putting into correcting things, 90% of them all natural and all while still trying to "relax" as best I can; Not only me, but also my husband. He has been supportive of whatever I want to do, even if it changes from time to time. He just goes with the flow and has been amazing. God, I love this man!

I really DO think it's all helped. I mean, just over 1 year ago I wasn't ovulating at all. I hadn't had a period in almost 3 years and didn't know how I was ever going to fix my body.  Now, I'm ovulating on my own, but there's no denying that problems still exist. I'm ovulating late in my cycle, am having low progesterone responses post-ovulation as tested through bloodwork (pointing to poor ovulation) and obviously I'm still not pregnant. My temperatures are still running low (pointing to low progesterone) and I'm still having symptoms of hypothyroid, which can absolutely affect our chances of conceiving.

We have to be realistic about how long we're willing to wait to bring in other measures. I know now that my chances of having a child before the age of 35 (Advanced Maternal Age) are very slim. I will be 35 June 2, 2013. Along with the age of 35 comes reduced chances of success to achieving motherhood and also increased risks. As the months tick by, I think hubby and I are both hearing the clock tick a little louder, especially because we want more than 1 kiddo. Neither of us are getting any younger!

We made the decision this morning that I would talk to my OB/GYN and see if she could give me the prescription for Femara that I know my RE would give me anyways if I went to her. I am not ready to become thrust back into the whirlwind of my RE and the bazillion ultrasounds and lofty fertility medicine bills that will undoubtedly occur once I walk back through those doors. I'm just not ready for that yet.

However, I do think that I could benefit from just a little boost from an ovulation medicine if nothing else, and this is the easiest and least invasive course of action. Ovulation meds can work well for people like me with long cycles and weak ovulation. There are minimal side effects compared with many other fertility protocols, and Femara is nothing terrible like CloMAD. I did take Femara for one month before I swore off the RE, so I know my body reacts well to it and will produce a mature follicle sooner in my cycle and increase my chances statistically. It will also help bolster my low progesterone levels (which have most likely been a hindrance to me this whole time).

So, here I hold a prescription for 5 mg of Femara in my hands. I'll get it filled tomorrow and take it on CD3-CD7. The goal is to produce an ovulation that is sooner, stronger, and hopefully results with a successful pregnancy....a super ovulation if you will.

This has all been kind of a last minute decision to incorporate a Western medicine back into the picture, but I feel in my heart for our future family's sake, that it's time to use more means to make this happen. When I took meds a year ago, I feel like the meds were doing ALL the work and my body was doing NOTHING on it's own. Now, I feel like my body is finally working on it's own as much as it can and it can do half the work....if that makes sense. It won't just be the meds hauling all the weight this time around, because my body's in a better place to help things along where it can do it's fair share.

While I do believe God has a plan and things will happen with His timing, I also believe He has put people on this Earth to discover things that can help us. I've seen plenty of people have happy healthy babies by simply incorporating this medicine into the mix, and that is my hope for us as well.  I've also made an appointment with an endocrinologist that specializes in thyroid disorders to do more extensive testing to see if my thyroid could actually be posing real issues in conceiving.

We are excited to turn a new leaf and use what we have at our disposal this next cycle. I will keep you posted on what's unfolding. Please keep us in your prayers. :)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Ending of an Era & An Unpexected Messenger

For years now, my husband has been pleading with me to sell my car. Apparently he didn't grow up with a father who was a retired CMSAF (Chief Master Sergeant Air Force). If he had, he'd know that you do not need a new car if the old one still starts. Furthermore, you do not open a second box of cereal until the first one is completely gone, even if it's a different type of cereal.  Staleness may occur if both cereals are not consumed in the proper amount of time, resulting in Cheerios lost, and this is unacceptable!

To this day, I still think the cereal box rule was ridiculous. However, I have admittedly inherited some of the thrifty behaviors I detested as a child. Recently this translated to me not wanting to sell my almost 15 year old car, a 1998 Acura Integra. Now, take a look at this pic and tell me there's a single thing wrong with this car...

Clearly there is nothing wrong with this car! However, since moving to Texas 3 years ago both hubby and I have felt a bit unsafe driving it. The trucks in Texas are beyond big, and the roads here are not well equipped for rain. Plus, we look like the Clampets trying to haul things hanging out of the hatchback anytime we purchase something of size including trees, furniture, you name it. I'm pretty sure we've gotten away with a lot of illegal hauling in this thing. So, after more than a decade spent together (more time than I've even known my hubby) it was time to say goodbye. Sniff sniff :(

If you've ever sold anything on Craigslist, you know it can bring the freaks out.  Don't get me wrong; I sell anything of value on there, and I've used it myself to find things. Craigslist is the bomb! I was just NOT looking forward to dealing with some of the potential wackadoos on there to sell my car. So, I went through the motions of taking pics, posting the ad, and waiting nervously for responses. I also prayed really hard that God would please spare me of flaky people and carjackers.

Within only a few hours I got a response from a gentleman who seemed very interested, so much so that he emailed me twice, saying that he would definitely buy my car and would bring cash the following evening. Seeing is believing when it comes to Craigslisters, but low and behold he did show up at my house the next evening, and we went for a test drive.

This is where the encounter became meaningful. As we turn out of my neighborhood, he proceeds to tell me that he recently sold a more expensive car to save money, because he just had his second child. "Congrats!" I tell him. "We are trying ourselves," I say without any indication of what a process it's been for us. And then without hesitation, he begins telling me about he and his wife's fertility struggles. He said that it didn't happen easily for them; They had to drive an hour and half a each way to a fertility clinic to get help, and he had to give his wife shots. He said they were thrilled that their first IUI worked, giving them their miracle baby, and only 3 short months after she delivered they were pregnant again with their second with no help at all! His smile was beaming from ear to ear, and I was tearing up listening to his story.

Keep in mind, he would have no way of knowing I even knew what an IUI was, and here he was opening up to me about his experience. A little speechless, I looked at him and just said, "Wow. I can't help but feel like us meeting today was more than coincidence. My husband and I are dealing with some similar things. I've been to see a fertility specialist but have taken a step back to try naturally again. I'm really hoping we'll have a happy ending too, and your story is amazing. I feel like God put you in my life today. Thank you so much for sharing something so personal with a complete stranger."

Needless to say, the entire transaction was probably the smoothest Craigslist dealing I've had to date. He offered me more for the car that I would have accepted, and the sale was complete in about 15 minutes. If that wasn't enough, I opened my email the next morning to find this message...


Thank you for the easy transaction yesterday. The car ran great going back home.

I wanted to share a quick picture with you to let you know miracles do happen :)


Attached was this photo...

Is it just me, or is this beyond sweet?!  Now I'm tearing up again. I know I'm a sap and cry more than the average person, but it just meant so much to me that this man would open up to me and also take time the next day to do something to lift me up even further than he already had.

I have plenty of days where I feel like God and the universe are not on our side. I have a hard time understanding why He hasn't blessed us with a little one yet, when clearly we feel ready and want a family so badly. Then, there are those days where I feel like God sends a message I need to hear in a profound and unexpected way.

What started off as a simple transaction ended up being a very meaningful experience that I couldn't have orchestrated on my own if I tried. Perhaps I'm reading too much into it, but I also found it ironic that in a way, I was closing a chapter in my life by selling that car, and at the same time I received a much needed reminder that a bigger and better one is about to unfold very soon.

Of course if this week ends without a + pregnancy result, I will undoubtedly have a hard time emotionally with it, but I know our time will come eventually. I have to trust that it will happen for us with the most perfect timing possible. It's days like this where I feel like God does have me in the palm of His hand and that He hasn't forgotten about me. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

I am NOT fat Jordyn Wieber's mom!

When I woke up this morning, I jumped out of bed and headed straight for the scale: 133.6 lbs. Now, being the "temporarily retired" personal trainer that I am, I know that this is a healthy and quite normal weight and BMI for my height. However, it's been a while since I checked with the governing powers that be, so I then hopped onto the web to check with the CDC just to be sure.

Sure enough, it says I'm normal, so WHY did I have a dream that the mom of olympic gymnast Jordyn Wieber was calling me fat last night? I know what you're thinking; Couldn't be true...must have been the mom of Aly Raisman. After all, she has definitely got to be the most critical of the Team USA Gymnastics moms. And while I'd agree with you there (Can someone please pass that woman a xanax?!), I assure you the dream was just as I said. This is how it went down...

I was at my regular gym, a 24 Hour Fitness Super Sport. I loaded the weight bar with a 45 lb plate on each end of the bar, and took a deep breath ready to squat the 135 lbs. that stood before me. Wouldn't you know it, just as I inhale and go to lift the heavy weight, Jordyn Wieber's mom approaches me from behind. She has obviously been drinking and I can smell the alcohol on her breath. She says, "Whoa! You know what? I had an important event coming up, and I've been waiting months to ask you what I should be eating to prepare and look my best for it, but I couldn't find you. You always looked so great before. But then, I go away to the Olympics for a couple weeks and come back and you have really put on a few lbs!" 

I am totally in shock A) that Jordyn Weiber's mom has the audacity to unleash such judgmental comments towards me when she barely even knows me and B) that this woman is totally tipsy at the gym. I mean really! Who drinks before they go to 24 Hr. Fitness??

I just stand there in shock, half about to cry, and she continues with a corrected attitude, noticing that it's hurt my feelings. "It's ok," she says. "I have a good idea of what happened. You were trying to get pregnant. You did get pregnant, but you lost the baby. I worry about the same thing happening to my daughter someday. You have handled everything with grace. Please don't give up trying." And with that, she disappears and leaves me standing there alone, feeling completely violated and validated all at the same time.

-Could it be that I'm watching too much Olympic coverage?

-Could it be that I spent way too much time in a gym as a child, growing up in competitive gymnastics myself and this is somehow a weird flashback of sorts?

-Could it be that I knowingly posted a pic of myself on facebook last night where I know I looked fatter than I have in the past 3 + years and I can only deduce that anyone seeing it must be thinking the same thing?

-Could it be that I've actually had people approach me at the gym (in real life) and ask me "What's wrong?" and look me up and down as if I am a leper?

-Could it be that I even had one guy at the gym tell me my legs were "getting big?"

-Could it be that sometimes I feel like in the matter of one year's time I have basically given up at least 50% of who I was as a person (Wilhelmina fitness model, personal trainer, nutritionist, complete health nut and fitness freak) in order to try to pursue motherhood?

-Could it be that I can sense that other people still aren't used to the new me and are forming judgements in their head when they see me now?

Here is one of my favorites lines I've gotten from someone, "Wow, I haven't seen you in a loooong time." (insert extremely long and uncomfortable seizing me up and down here as if to say YOU'VE GAINED WEIGHT) By the way, just because you're wearing sunglasses, doesn't mean I can't see your head moving up and down like that lady! I'd like to chalk comments like that up to the fact that this person could have just been jealous in the past of my sporty physique and is somehow now gaining satisfaction by seeing that I've packed on a few sizes.  It's really sad, but people who lack confidence themselves just love to see you "fail".

And no, I'm not paranoid people. This stuff is really happening, and has been happening for the past year. I realize I did it to myself by choosing a career in the health and wellness industry. Once you do that, people expect you to never falter, to always look perfect, and order the healthy meal at dinner. God forbid you go out for Mexican and an inconveniently placed training client sees your huge ass order come out of the kitchen. Gasp!

Well, I'm officially over it. I've been getting better with accepting myself over the past year and last night's dream was somehow strangely comforting. It's been just over year since my last fitness shoot for a magazine. I weight 117 the day of that shoot, and I weigh 134 now. I gained 17 lbs and went from a size 0/2 to a size 6/8. My thighs don't look like they are airbrushed in photos anymore. I feel things jiggle a little more when I walk down flights of stairs. The section of clothes in my closet that don't fit has definitely grown larger, but it's not like I need to call The Biggest Loser anytime soon.

I know that the choice I made to scale way back on exercise and gain weight was for the best. It's been hard feeling like I gave up about half of who I am as a person in this process, but I'm working on celebrating the other things about myself that I think make me special...the things that are deep within my character. I know that I'm a good and loyal friend to the nth degree. I know that I have a deep passion for helping others and still continue to do so, just in other ways. I now that more than anything in this world I want to create an amazing family with my wonderful husband. I know that I am destined to be a mom and that's it's one of my main purposes in life.

It's just a matter of time before I can realize my new, more important dream. Until then, I am practicing patience and self-acceptance the best way I know how. The squat rack, the crazy HIIT training, and failsafe fat loss meal plan will still be there ready and waiting when I'm ready to come back to my former self....IF that's what I want.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Getting my Wild Yam On

What a difference a day makes! I was in a funk of a mood yesterday and not really sure why. Lack of sleep, hormones, who knows. I am pretty sure I ovulated one day sooner (CD21) than last cycle, and our "babydancing" was timed perfectly. That alone should make me happy! Sometimes I don't even understand my own moods, so God bless my husband for always going with the flow and being supportive.  I was a total hermit, staying inside with all the blinds closed while he was a normal person in society and went out to play golf for a few hours. Oh well, chalk it up to being a Gemini I guess.

I started taking wild yam yesterday, which is what I've been doing the past few cycles starting at 3 days past ovulation. For women with chronically low progesterone, such as myself, this can help with conception, because it increases the amount of progesterone in the body, which in turn can help maintain the uterine lining.  I seem to have chronically low progesterone and also a chronically thin uterine lining. Yay! Neither of these things make for great chances when TTC. :(

Well, if by the grace of God, the perfect sperm met the perfect egg and there is a fertilized egg in my body looking for a place to go right now (Please Lord let that be the case!), I want to provide a nice cushy spot for it to attach to and grow. I think of the uterine lining like a bed of soil. If you plant a seed in a pot, but you don't have enough soil in the bottom or on top of the seed, it can't take root. Or, if it does take root at first, it may eventually die. This is exactly how the uterine lining works. Without enough progesterone (which is the hormone that sustains the endometrium), the lining may be unable to provide a nice cushy bed of soil. A couple things can happen if progesterone is low and/or the lining is too thin:

1) The fertilized egg will have nowhere solid to attach to and will instead dissolve and end with an unsuccessful cycle and a period about two weeks later.

2) The fertilized egg may implant on the lining temporarily, but will later detach, unable to have a solid hold. This is what leads to early miscarriage sometimes. Do I think it's possible that could have been what happened to me with my miscarriage? Absolutely, it's possible.

That's one of the reasons some RE's prescribe progesterone to women during their luteal phase (the time after ovulation). Because I'm going all natural, I wanted to seek out natural alternatives to using synthetic progesterone. My acupuncturist recommended taking wild yam during my LP. Wild Yam is beneficial for women who have imbalanced hormones, including those who are TTC and also women going through menopause. It contains Diosgenin, a natural precursor to progesterone and works to increase progesterone in the body, therefore helping to maintain the uterine lining. I started off taking wild yam that was brewed from raw Chinese herbs by my acupuncturist, but I ran out over a weekend one time, and found it in pill form at a natural health store and have been taking this one now instead...

My acu says this one is perfectly fine to take, and I actually think it's stronger than the one she sells, because I notice stronger post-ovulation symptoms: higher post-ovulation temperatures, more tiredness, fullness of breasts, etc.  These can be indications of higher progesterone in the system. There are no ill side effects, and it's actually been shown to help prevent miscarriage when continued during the first trimester (just as synthetic progesterone has). I just want to help my hormones along naturally if I can, so I'm getting my wild yam on!

I'm taking the month off of acupuncture to save some money this cycle, but I'm continuing with herbs. And so we wait for about another week and a half to find out if our attempts this month were successful. I'm continuing with my Circle + Bloom meditations daily and visualizing all of the amazing things I HOPE are happening in my body right now.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Visit from Mr. Smiley

I knew today was going to be a good day for two reasons:

1) I have a dentist apt. today, and I love the dentist! Yep, I must have something wrong with my brain, because I can hardly wait for every six months to come. To me, it's like getting a one hour massage for free, since insurance covers it. My favorite part is when they scrape your gums and teeth with that little scraper thing. Love it! Plus, my dentist gives a free bleach boost if you have custom bleaching trays. I will be leaving there very relaxed with super white teeth. Ahhhhh

2) After a full week of using ovulation test strips I woke up to this...


I know this must look like one big science experiment, but to be honest, that's basically what the last year has been for me.  When I sought out fertility help in July 2011, I definitely wasn't ovulating. How do I know that? I hadn't gotten a period for 3 yrs. Well alas, my body is now working. I really did not start ovulating on my own (sans meds) until December 2011, the month after I miscarried. Without releasing any eggs, it's obviously impossible to get pregnant.

Since then, I've given up Western meds, but have continued to ovulate every cycle on my own. Yay! The hard part for me is figuring out when ovulation will actually occur. Here is one you may have heard before...

"The best way to get pregnant is to just have sex all the time." REALLY?! If I hear that one more time I am going to punch someone in the face. I know the people who say this are half joking, and that maybe they are one of the lucky ones who this has actually worked for. Honestly though, that can't be further from the truth for many women out there. Please do not ever say this to someone you know is struggling to conceive either, because it won't be taken well. Yeah, I WISH it was that easy!

Here's a little tidbit of info. they don't teach you in sex ed; There are only about 3 days (72 hours +-) during each cycle for a woman, where it's even humanly possible to become pregnant! You can have intercourse until you turn blue in the face, but if it doesn't happen specifically during that 72 hour period, it will not result in a pregnancy. Furthermore, even with well timed intercourse, a perfectly healthy couple with no diagnosed fertility issues only has about a 20% chance of becoming pregnant each cycle! Chances decline with age and according to a lot of other factors as well. Those are just the facts, and ones that I didn't even fully understand myself until about a year ago.

Plus, I don't have a picture perfect 28 day cycle like most women. I ovulate late, and my cycle length varies every single month. I can't go use some online calculator and type in the first day of my period  and have it tell me when to have intercourse. Again, if you are someone who used one of those online ovulation calculators and got pregnant successfully the first month or two of trying, please don't brag about it to someone struggling to conceive. That is another comment I have been dealt and would rather NOT hear again, thank you very much. So, out of what looks like a 35 day cycle for me this time around, there are roughly 72 hrs. where we have the best chance for sperm to meet egg.  That is why you see the row of test strips, so I can narrow down the right time for baby making.

This is the best system I've found yet to track ovulation. OPK's (ovulation predictor kits) detect a surge in the hormone, LH, which is the last hormone to peak, right after estrogen surges, and right before an egg is released. I use cheapie Wondfo OPK's using FMU (first morning urine) and then again between 12-3 pm each day, starting on CD (calendar day) 12 or 13. I do this daily leading up to ovulation like clockwork. The LH surge can sometimes only be detected for 12 hours, which is why I do it twice per day. I used to use OPK's only once per day, and I missed my LH surge that way before.

When I see the test line on the Wondfo either getting slightly darker or equal to the control line, I then use a Clearblue Easy Digital OPK to confirm the results. Each of these OPK's detects LH at a different level, and with the digital OPK, there is no deciphering whether the test line is dark enough to be + or not. It either gives you an empty circle (-) or a happy face (+).

Anyone who is TTC and uses the CBE digital OPK's knows how happy it makes you when you see that happy face!!! It means your body is releasing hormones that will make you ovulate most likely within the next 36 hours, and IT'S GO TIME!  The only thing that isn't so great is the price of these suckers, so that's why I employ the cheapie Wondfo's leading up to the more crucial test dates. I don't mind blowing through those nearly as much.

Anyhow, this month I didn't get any progressive darkening on the Wondfo OPK. It just went from no real test line yesterday to a clear positive today without warning. I usually ovulate the day after I get a + OPK, but it can happen the same day or two days from the +.   I know this, because I chart my BBT (Basal Body Temperature) to confirm that ovulation has in fact happened...more on that later. If ovulation happens tomorrow as it usually does, that will put ovulation at CD21 for me this cycle. I would love to be able to ovulate about a week sooner, because studies have shown that late ovulation just does not result in as many viable pregnancies. Of course, pregnancy can absolutely happen if intercourse is timed properly, but I'm just going off of well-known statistics that show this trend.

For me, I'm just happy to be ovulating at all, so I'm ecstatic when I get a smiley! Every time I see a +OPK, I'm reminded of what a miracle becoming pregnant and giving birth truly is. I wouldn't wish infertility on anyone, but in some ways, it has made me appreciate the gift of life that much more. Fingers crossed this will be our month!!