Thursday, April 28, 2011

Progesterone Vs. Pregnancy

The two week wait can be a stressful time for a woman trying to have a baby. Ovulation happens, and then you wait to see if you conceived this cycle and are pregnant, or not. There is absolutely nothing you can do after ovulation to control whether or not you are pregnant. Just take care of your body, eat good food, don't perform any ultimate fighting, and wait to see if your period comes.

Lots of us women dry to decipher symptoms after ovulation to see if they're pregnant. We analyze every little twinge or cramp, and other symptoms too. But it's not a good system, because the symptoms of elevated progesterone (the hormone that dominates the luteal phase) are very similar to those of early pregnancy. Here's a list, I have put the similars in pink:

Elevated Progesterone
Early Pregnancy

Swollen/tender breasts
Swollen/tender breasts
Mood swings
Low sex drive
Frequent urination

So, this random post comes from two things: one I'm currently IN the two week wait. Two? Well tomorrow is my follow up appointment round 2 with my RE. Tomorrow I will find out if I have PCOS, tomorrow I will find out our "fertility plan" for operation: baby. And, to be honest...though this isn't shocking news: IM FREAKING OUT!

I'm both nervous and excited....and am really tired of seeing this:
(not my photo)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Keester!

Easter is here. Because we and our families are not very religious, Easter becomes about the Pagan traditions. We live near my husbands family, and every year we have a big meal together, and since the family owns quite a bit of property there is always a big Easter egg hunt.

My husbands family is filled with kids. There are four of us "younger" couples, my husband and I are one of two couples that are married. Every couple has kids but us. So this year, for the first time, I had a meltdown. Yes, last year was sensitive too, my brother-in-laws girlfriend was pregnant on Easter, and I had just lost my first pregnancy so I worked to avoid any family time. But, this year, out of excuses, we are supposed to go to the family dinner. I broke down crying the other night telling my husband I just couldn't go. I said things like "it's not fair," and "I hate not having my own kids to go and find eggs with." He understands, and says that we do have to make an appearance but only have to stay a little while.

I hate the envy thats taken over my heart. The bitterness, the pure, unwrapped jealousy that other people get pregnant, and have kids, and I don't. It's really hard to "put myself in check" and not let my emotions get the best of me.

Today I am going to do some morning yoga. I'm going to breathe. I'm going to be thankful for my husband, my family, my amazing friends.

I'm going to be hopeful that next year, my little one will be here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pulling Down The Moon

Pulling down the moon is the name of a group of holistic practitioners that work to help a couple conceive a child. Their name stems from the known belief that the moon is symbolic of the female menstrual cycle. We also know that the moon is also in affiliation with the zodiac sign Cancer, which has the meaning of "home" and "mother."

This amazing group of people have come together to offer yoga, acupuncture, counseling, and lots of educational classes to help couples across the spectrum (from just starting the TTC journey, to those doing IVF) understand and cope with their specific situation. Unfortunately, they are located far away from me! Their offices are in Chicago, IL and Washington DC.

The three female founders of Pulling Down the Moon created a book titled "Fully Fertile." This three month plan gives the reader weekly activities to complete. The book gives a lot of interesting information about acupuncture, sex for conception, but most of all, it gives several series of yoga postures to enhance fertility, and probably even more important RELAXATION. The women also share each of their stories, giving commrodary and hope to the reader.

This book taught me a lot about Eastern medicine. The women discuss using yoga and/or acupuncture alone, or in addition to ART (assistive reproductive technology) in the Western medicine realm.

My favorite chapter is called "Strengthening the Letting-Go Muscle." Man, mines out of shape! But I'm working on it!

Pulling Down the Moon's website:

Monday, April 18, 2011

The RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist) Appointment

Today was the day that my husband and I met our fertility specialist, aka RE. The experience began in the waiting room. There was quite a selection of magazines in the office, one of which caught my eye: Conceive magazine. ( Well, hello there long lost reading friend. I enjoyed so much looking through that magazine that if it alone would have been my appointment it still would have been worth the 90 minute drive to get there.

Our RE was very kind and attentive to detail. He remembered my history without flipping through the documents I sent him, he encouraged questions and provided explanations for his thoughts. We really, really like him. He is not only a fertility specialist but someone who has struggled with infertility as a patient. It meant a lot to us to have a doctor who knows what we're going through on a personal level.

After talking with him I did feel a little hopeless. He didn't offer an exact "plan of action" because after reading my history he is concerned that many of my signs and symptoms (late, irregular ovulation, months without ovulation, lack of pregnancy, acne, and miscarriage) are pointing toward polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). This is one of the leading causes of infertility and is a condition where many small cysts form on the ovary causing an hormonal imbalance which may lead to infertility.

Also, (though we were told otherwise by our other doctor) he stated that my husbands semen analysis was borderline normal, his number of sperm was excellent, but the morphology was borderline. This means that though he has enough sperm, many of them don't swim the way they are supposed to. So my husband is having another semen analysis performed so that our RE can look at it himself.

So, more tests for both of us. For me it's an AMH test which is the anti-mullarian hormone test for egg reserve. If the level is high, its indicative of PCOS, if its low it means that I have low egg reserve, so we need to act now and pull out all the stops, as my time is limited in being able to release a good egg.

We're both really nervous. We both want to have a baby more than ever, and even the specialist seems concerned. Say a prayer for us.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Blog Design

I discovered this layout when playing with my blog design and found it very appropriate. All the TTC stuff is clear but the rest of the picture (analogy my life) is a bit blurry! Perfect, right.

Also, I have added a key for some of the frequently used fertility abbreviations. I would like to thank a friend of mine, Pam for this great idea.

I also stumbled across this picture and had to share:

Monday, April 11, 2011

Clomid Chronicles: Take 2, and who am I kidding, 3

So, the second cycle started, and due to a scheduling conflict with my Dr. I was not able to get into see him until cycle day 5. Meaning that I didn’t get to start my Clomid on the usual day 4, I started a day late. I was supposed to see him on a Monday, they told me Friday night to call Monday morning and get an appointment. Well guess what? President’s day was that Monday and his mother effing office was closed. Did I freak out? You bet your ass I did. Finally, the prior month I had ovulated on a normal day. I wanted another month of a normal length cycle….and now someone was throwing a speed bump into my plan. Oh, I cannot tell you how I sobbed, I was so upset. You cannot take a woman who is desperate for a baby, throw in some hormones and then mess up the schedule.

It ended up being fine, I went in that Tuesday got my check up (they check for cysts each time you complete a cycle because that’s a risk with Clomid) and started my meds that night. My doctor assured me that taking the medication a day late would only make a day or so difference in my ovulation.

Guess what? It seemed to make a huge difference. I didn’t ovulate at all on this second cycle. That was another tailspin of emotions, I never got a positive ovulation stick, and then my progesterone on day 24 was only 2.4. What the f**k? Who doesn’t ovulate when taking meds to make them ovulate, that’d be this girl folks. Yep.

Oddly enough something became clear to me on this cycle: That maybe there had been months all along I wasn’t ovulating. I mean, before I started working with a doctor I had months where I never really had that fertile (aka egg white) cervical mucus, and never got a positive ovulation stick. Maybe this was the problem.

The whole situation spun out of control when I started my next cycle, for 13 days (yes 13);I had my period off and on. I started Clomid at 100mg on day 4 as planned, but after all the abnormal bleeding my doctor told me that this was probably not going to be my month, so he wasn’t going to monitor me. Great. Clomid 100mg was horrid! The side effects doubled and I felt like crap the whole time I took it, and a week later I was still up at night with hot flashes. I felt really frustrated that he wasn’t going to monitor me because I had put myself through those meds once again. So, I am doing what any avid TTC’er would do, I’m doing my ovulation predictor kit’s and monitoring my other fertile signs to see if I can detect ovulation anyway. Its sorta inconclusive at this point, but its also what keeps me moderately sane.

"Hurry up, and wait. So close but so far away. Everything that you've ever dreamed of close enough for you to taste, but you just can't touch." - Jordin Sparks

Thursday, April 7, 2011

HPT, FRER, TWEAKING: A Lesson In Pregnancy Tests

Testing to see if you are pregnant is pretty easy. Pee on stick, let it sit for the allotted time, and then look at the results. For the non trying to conceive this seems simple. You miss a period, you take a test. But for those of us who are trying to get pregnant testing becomes an addiction. I admit I was a POASaholic(POAS= pee on a stick) at one point, but have since moved on because those damn things aren’t cheap! And, getting a negative is about the most horrible let down there is, especially if you are testing early, because it could just be that you aren’t pregnant enough yet.

Home pregnancy testing is all about options, there are several brands of pregnancy tests out there, some are even digital now and very plainly read either “pregnant” or “not pregnant.” There is a first response digitalthat says “yes” or “no.” But most of them either give you one line, or two, either side by side vertical lines or a plus sign vs. a minus result.

Different brands of tests have different sensitivities. Some pick up the pregnancy hormone (HCG) earlier than others. Here is my list after some internet research:

First Response Early Result- 6.3 mlU
Internet cheapie tests (Amazon, 10 mlU
Dollar tree and dollar store test – 25 mlU
Answer brand- 25 mlU
First Response Rapid Result- 50-100 mlU
Accuclear- 25-50mlU
Equate (Wal Mart brand) - 25-50 mlU
First response digital- 25-50

So, most women I’ve met who are trying to conceive use FRER’s or First response early result pregnancy tests because they are the most sensitive. They can give positives as early as 10 days post ovulation. These are usually very faint positives. But there’s more, you can go onto any online support for trying to conceive and get your pregnancy test tweaked turning this:

Into this:

Amazing right? Can also be damaging because tweaking a test plays with the light and color saturation, but sometimes digital pictures alone have pixel changes with tweaking which will create a non existent line….so it can be a way to give false hope.

This website gives you the low-down on tweaking: This site is also a great resource for all your TTC needs! This girl has done her homework. And after 17 cycles of trying she finally did conceive, and go on to deliver a healthy baby boy a few months ago.

Another interesting site is:, Yep that’s right! If you just look and Google, it’s amazing what you can find! The resources are almost damaging, they can turn the curious babymaker in to a full on baby making addict

PS: This is a NO JUDGEMENT ZONE! Be respectful. I’m just telling it like it is.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Clomid Chronicles: Part One

Clomid is the first line of defense for ovulatory dysfunction, which to date is my infertility diagnosis. Huh? That means that I ovulate irregularly, and often late in my cycle. This is problematic because I may not be releasing strong enough eggs, and my uterine lining is older at the time when implantation would be occurring, thereby making it difficult for an embryo to implant.

So, after all the tests were done the first line of treatment was to give me Clomid. This is a medication that makes a woman ovulate in a timely manner. And, it makes for a strong, healthy ovulation. The first question my family asked me was if I was going to be like Nadia the octo-mom. The answer is no. I do have a 10% chance of having twins, but that’s it, and that’s enough.

Clomid is taken for five days at the beginning of your cycle when follicles begin to develop, and it basically increases FSH (follicular stimulating hormone) to make eggs grow faster. I take it on cycle days 4-8. In mid January I took my first round of Clomid, at its lowest dose 50mg. On cycle day 15 I got that wonderful happy face (see ovulation predictor kit post). Then a week later I got my progesterone drawn to make sure that I did in fact ovulate, and I did. But, I didn’t get pregnant.

Clomid blocks estrogen, which is just super because that means it causes many of the same side effects as menopause. This includes mood swings and hot flashes. Let me just say HOLY MOTHER OF GOD does it cause hot flashes. I felt like I was going to burst into flames sometimes. Once at work I literally ran to the sink and put a cold, wet paper towel on the back of my neck. While doing this I actually looked down to make sure that my feet were not on fire. I never knew the magnitude of hot flashes until I met clomid. So, I would like to formerly apologize to my mother and grandmother for anytime I made fun of their hot flashes.

Mood swings, ha. My poor husband. I even felt it at work, when a patient would get on my last nerve and I was literally grinding my teeth to not say something out of line. It was and still is a challenge to kep my hormonal rages to myself!

Again, the first round was unsuccessful, I was on to round 2.