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Monthly Archives: May 2014

The one where I willingly get poked with a bunch of needles

I really didn’t mean to go so long without posting! I’m seeing it as a good thing. This break is proving to be a nice relief from all of the waiting. Don’t get me wrong, I am still obsessively reading all y’all’s blogs – I’m just finding myself able to think about other things. Like catching up on work, having dinner with friends, cleaning the house, gardening, hanging with my wife … It’s great, actually.

Thursday was my second trip to the acupuncturist, and tomorrow will be my third. Today is CD 19, which I wouldn’t even have known if I didn’t just check my phone. Ovulation is hopefully on its way, and my CM seems to agree, but it doesn’t really matter since we’re not inseminating. I’ll probably still do OPKs to collect more timing data, but whatever.

As promised, my experience with acupuncture:

  • As a speech-language pathologist, I have a science background and tend to not put much stock in eastern medicine. That said, I’ve never really heard someone say “I don’t think acupuncture is helping with my fertility.” I’ve talked to a number of people (on- and off-line) who have done it, and 100% of the reviews have been positive. So I decided to go for it.
  • As I am not entirely able to shed my evidence-based practice background, I asked my acupuncturist how it works. He answered by saying it helps improve circulation and also something about my Qi. I have a good friend who is currently 2 years into an “acupuncture and integrative medicine” program, so I reached out to get a better (read: more western) answer (like, HOW does it improve circulation). She said that the needles stimulate neuro receptors to send the message that the area needs more blood, and that stimulating and bringing new blood flow to the ovary area helps reduce growths and regulate hormone production. So hey, that’s a good enough explanation for me!
  • On my first visit, he (I’ll call him Dr. Z from here on) did an intake, asked me about my cycles, my diet and activity level, overall health, and why I was there. Then he had me lie down on my back with all of my clothes on (I had no idea what to expect going in – hopefully this is helpful to someone else), but my shoes and socks off. On the first visit, he put in I think 9 or 10 needles? One on top of my head, one between my eyebrows, one on each of my arms near the elbow, 3 or 4 on my belly, and one on the inside of each ankle. Then he left me in the room with music on and told me to “relax, take a nap.” Clearly, placement of the needles is specific to the location of neuro receptors/energy pathways, but he did not explain any of it to me.
  • The needles were hair-like. I didn’t feel them at all. When he was putting them in, it just felt like he was kind of flicking me, and that was it. I did feel the needle on my forehead – but not like in a there’s-a-needle-in-my-face-and-it’s-prickly kind of way, more in a way that I was really focused on the tension in my forehead and felt a little pain where the needle was, kind of at the epicenter of the tension. For the first 20 minutes, I kept trying to close my eyes and relax, but my left eye would not close all the way and I really had trouble trying to relax my forehead. Then, all of a sudden about halfway through the session, all of the tension in my forehead suddenly released and I didn’t feel that needle at all. I did feel like I could actually feel my blood flow in different areas (my forehead and ovaries specifically).
  • Overall I enjoyed the experience. It was very relaxing. Dr. Z recommended that I come back “a couple” more times, about a week apart, and that we may talk about using herbs “later.”
  • He also made a bunch of recommendations about my diet. I know that a few of them are related to balancing my hormones (because my not-at-all-overweight neighbor who referred me got the same recommendations), and that a few of them are related to working on weight loss (as though I wasn’t already working on that …). He suggested that I do the following:
    • Cut out alcohol and caffeine (I have totally cut out caffeine. I don’t drink a lot as it is, but I have not cut out alcohol yet)
    • Eat only organic meats (We’ve been eating what we had in the fridge/freezer, but the plan is to buy organic meat moving forward)
    • Drink more water during the day (I’ve been drinking way more water since I quit Diet Coke, so I’m just keeping on that bandwagon)
    • Do exercise that makes me sweat. He stressed that the important part was that I sweat – he didn’t explain but I looked online and the belief is that cysts are caused by excess fluid in the body – so sweating it out, eating less salt (so you don’t retain fluids), etc is important.
    • On that note, eat less salt.
    • Decrease intake of sugar and dairy
    • (Here’s the part that I think was geared toward weight loss): Eat smaller dinners, eat a snack (like an apple) before dinner, don’t eat greasy or fried foods
  • My second visit was similar – he asked how I was feeling (good) and doing re: diet and exercise (I said good – I could be better). Then he just had me get right on the table. There were fewer needles this time – he didn’t do the one on the top of my head and only did 3 on my belly. I had the same exact experience with the forehead needle – my eyes wouldn’t close and it took a while before I felt the tension release and I could finally relax. This time, it took a lot longer to feel that tension release (almost to the end). He said I should come back once more and that we would talk about the possibility of using herbs instead for a few weeks. My friend (the one in school to be an acupuncturist) said that the effects are significantly better when combining acupuncture with herbs, so I’ll likely do that. Plus it is much cheaper than weekly acupuncture – I think $30 for a 2-week supply of herbs (rather than $80 per session for 2 weeks). The plan is to go back tomorrow for my 3rd session, buy the herbs, and go back for acupuncture next cycle again prior to ovulation and after the insemination.

So that’s that. I’m enjoying this somewhat-less-stressful month and looking forward to a nice clean cycle next time around.

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Larry

Updates from yesterday’s blood work and Ultrasound:

  • All of my blood work came back normal (phew), which is a good thing. For anyone curious – they were doing “day 3” labs, which typically include checking your levels of Luteinizing Hormone (LH), Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), and Estradiol. The idea is to look at your hormone levels while they are supposed to be at “rest” or baseline. Once you start your period, your body is in re-boot mode, and has not yet started to pump the gas to stimulate follicle growth and get you ovulating. I guess that the idea behind these tests is to make sure that I don’t have decreased ovarian reserve. For women who are in menopause or who have decreased reserve for any reason, your body basically starts to pump the FSH harder to try to get the follicles to grow (even though there aren’t any there to grow), so by menopause you have high levels of FSH all the time. Anyway, my FSH was low, as were my LH and Estradiol.
  • I got acquainted with the Dildo Cam for the first time ever. That was quite an experience. I don’t know why they thought it would be totally comfortable to shove a wand up my don’t-you-remember-I’m-a-lesbian-and-never-have-anything-in-there whoo-ha. Honestly, the discomfort wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but it certainly was not a thrilling experience.
  • As I expected, I have an ovarian cyst on my left ovary. I had felt some of the unfortunate tugging sensation associated with ovarian cysts when I was sneezing/coughing/turning my body at all about a month ago. I was really hoping that it would have dissipated by now, but I can’t say I’m shocked at the finding.

I’ve decided to call the cyst Larry. I don’t particularly like the name Larry, and I am very confident that the cyst is male (come to think of it, I don’t particularly like men either …). Larry is an asshole. He is totally fucking things up for me this cycle, and I am NOT a fan. Get the fuck out, Larry. No really, peace out.

credit: selah-griffin

LARRY credit: selah-griffin, http://tinyurl.com/p89wnh

Right after the ultrasound, my fav. nurse (Tracy) chatted with me about the printed results. My RE hadn’t yet read the scan officially, but Tracy could go over the facts with me and speculate as to the plan. Anyway, she let me know there was a cyst – I guessed correctly that it was on my left – and chatted with me about next steps. Apparently Larry is relatively small at 19 mm. 2cm does not sound like a “small” thing to me but whatever. She said that, in conjunction with my normal blood work, that he is probably not a “functioning” cyst (AKA it’s probably not actually excreting hormones), and that it probably is a “functional” cyst (AKA that it formed from a follicle or corpus luteum). Tracy’s point of view was that we would most likely not be doing Clomid this cycle, because that could make Larry grow (the bastard), and that the options are to a) sit the cycle out because there’s a chance Larry will intentionally try to throw us off our game by excreting LH when I’m not really ovulating and stuff like that, or b) to try for a natural cycle if it seems like we can maybe pinpoint ovulation with some accuracy. She seemed confident that Larry would pack up and leave in another cycle, and thought that I should maybe return for a day 10 ultrasound to check on the progress (bonus insurance-covered ultrasound since it’s a cyst follow-up, but would also give me an idea of how my follicles are growing).

SO I left the office kind of bummed, but also pumped that I was right about the cyst (yay for knowing my body) and hopeful that we could do another natural cycle. THEN 4:00 rolled around and she called me back and left a voice mail (since I was with a patient). Apparently my RE read the ultrasound and recommended that we totally sit this cycle out and do the follow-up ultrasound on day 3 of my NEXT cycle to see how the cyst is doing. She wasn’t confident that Larry would peace out mid-cycle, and thought it would likely take another period to really scare him off.

Now, I’m a totally rational person and all of that totally made sense to me … but that doesn’t mean it didn’t bum me out. I definitely don’t want to flush $1100 down the vagina toilet if the cyst is going to throw things off for me or make it impossible to do an IUI with good timing. I DO want the bastard to go away and leave my ovaries alone. I totally get that it is a good idea to wait a cycle so that I don’t waste resources and my chances are better in the end. But I’m SO BUMMED about it. I told my wife over the phone and came close to crying (but didn’t because I’m a BAMF).

… Then I had a meltdown last night on my way home from work. Here’s why (bear with me): My lovely wife had been planting flowers in the community where she works for a non-profit, and had some left over so decided to plant them in front of our house. So sweet right? Only I spent all weekend meticulously planning and planting my very first little garden, and it felt like the only thing in the world I had any control over at all. And then she planted flowers on top of my seeds because she didn’t know that they were there and it looks lovely – but wasn’t the plan – and I was so so sad that I had lost control of the only thing I felt like I had control of in the first place. And I couldn’t handle it. I took it out on her (in the way I take anything out on anyone – apologizing every other word but also clearly being sad about something silly), and we had a not-so-ideal evening, which was the icing on my meh day.

It wasn’t all bad – we had made up before dinner, and we went out to a restaurant we have really been wanting to try with our favorite neighbors who recently moved a town over. The day ended well, and I was reminded that life goes on even though I have Larry taking up residence in my left ovary, and I started singing “que sera sera” in my head until I fell asleep.

So here’s what I’ve decided: I’m going to embrace this “off” cycle, and keep trying to be a healthier me (by the way, I haven’t had a Diet Coke in 2.5 weeks) while I will Larry to get the fuck out. Also, I called an acupuncturist on the recommendation of the aforementioned ex-neighbor who also happens to be a good friend and also happened to have a little trouble conceiving. After starting acupuncture with this guy, she got pregnant in 2 months (after 11 unsuccessful months). I’m not typically a “natural medicine” kind of gal, but a) I’ve heard nothing but good things about acupuncture’s ability to help you relax and generally boost fertility, and b) this guy has done research in conjunction with some big hospitals/universities in our area (MGH and Harvard) and it makes me feel like it’s more evidence-based (which, as a health-related professional, I appreciate). Also, it seems my doctor’s only plan for getting me pregnant is to wait and see if Larry dies sometime soon. I am hoping that this acupuncturist (let’s call him Dr. Z) will have a treatment plan for getting rid of an ovarian cyst.

1996-12-07If you made it this far, congratulations. Here’s the short version:

  • My hormone levels are good (phew)
  • I have an ovarian cyst on my left ovary that I’ve named Larry (the bastard)
  • My RE has recommended that we sit out this cycle, which is a big ole bummer
  • My wife is wonderful and also she caused a meltdown by planting flowers in my garden
  • I’m thinking about acupuncture this month, with the purpose of sending Larry out of town for good, and maybe even regulating my hormones for a good strong O next month

What are your thoughts? Has anyone else had to sit out because of a cyst? Tried acupuncture? Broken down over something insignificant because of control issues? What should I do to stay sane this cycle?

Keep on Keepin’ on

So today is CD3 – The red tide officially rolled in on Saturday afternoon. I went in to the lab first thing this morning to get a blood test, though it seems kind of silly since I certainly have my period, no? I will have to remember to ask next time I’m in whether I need to get the blood draw if I already have my period.

My RE had ordered a slew of baseline tests for day 3 this cycle, should I not get pregnant last cycle (which I obviously didn’t – but still waiting for that confirmation call with the Beta results). I called them after I had my blood drawn this morning, and they were able to tack the other tests they wanted onto the blood they drew this morning, which is nice. I think they will be testing my FSH and estrogen? And I’m going in tomorrow for a baseline ultrasound to rule out an ovarian cyst. They said the ultrasound could be between days 2 and 5, so that was a relief. I took Friday off since my parents were in town, and didn’t want to have to miss more work and cancel patients last minute. The timing tomorrow is going to work out to do the ultrasound on my lunch hour. Because the ultrasound is diagnostic, it should be covered by my insurance – which is good, because we got the bill for the first IUI …

Overall, I’m feeling positive today about moving forward with the next cycle. I know the last one wasn’t meant to be, and I’m ready to pick up and try again, hopefully with more information and less guessing. I’m hopefully that the blood tests and ultrasound shed a little light on what’s going on in there, and let me know if there are any red flags.

All that said, this morning was rather stressful. I had to go get the bloodwork done, and the lab doesn’t open until 8. Usually I am at work by 8, so I knew I was going to be late but wanted to minimize the amount of late I was going to be, so I got there early and waited for them to open. Then the phlebotomist was the worst and tied the rubber thing around my arm SUPER TIGHT and then went and dicked around for a few minutes before actually doing the damn thing. So then I jumped in my car and called the RE’s office to check in on the plan for my day 3 tests (which obviously worked out, but I was still stressed at the time). First they had to have a nurse call me back, then I got kicked over to scheduling, and then they called me back to confirm … all in all it was not the most fun to be sitting in traffic on the highway getting phone call after phone call. Then I was on the off ramp and also on the phone and totally rolled into the car in front of me! Talk about a stressful morning. Luckily there was no damage (not a scratch on either of our cars!) – I gave her my name and number and drove the rest of the way to work without incident. I’m feeling much calmer now, but it was quite a morning to start off the week.

Happily, there was no where to go but up from this morning, and I am feeling happy and optimistic today. Maybe because there’s no more progesterone and (hopefully) there is more estrogen in my body. I’ve read that estrogen increases serotonin. Does anyone else notice better moods/generally less anxiety in the first chunk of your cycle rather than the 2WW? I mean, the waiting part doesn’t help at all …

Here’s to TTC cycle #2, and hopefully to cyst-free ovaries and appropriate amounts of hormones. Happy Monday!

Bummer

So AF showed up suddenly and early yesterday afternoon (12 dpo). Since I usually (with the exception of last month actually) get my period overnight, and it usually starts with some spotting, I feel this was a particularly cruel way for the universe to deliver my BFN. And on Mother’s Day weekend!

This is most certainly NOT “spotting,” and is accompanied by all of my usual symptoms – cramping, etc – so I am not holding out any hope for a fluke BFP. I never actually took a test (had planned to this morning but figured I’d save the money), but I’ll go in for my blood test tomorrow as planned. I’m a little worried about my next steps. I’m due to go in for a day 3 ultrasound and blood tests. Since I started yesterday afternoon, I guess that makes Monday day 3? Which is tough because my blood test is also on Monday to confirm the BFN. With this late of notice I really can’t cancel any patients tomorrow, and I’m guessing it wouldn’t work to go in first thing without an appointment. I’m hoping they’ll do it on Tuesday (not sure of the importance/significance of day 3?), or have an accommodating schedule (doubtful).

Also, I’m pretty bummed about my 11 day luteal phase. The last 2 cycles (basically my only 2 with good tracking data) have been 13 days each, so this was unexpected and worrisome, even though I know it is still within the range of “normal.” I did express to my RE that I had been feeling some cyst-like pain (sharp pains when sneezing or twisting my torso) in my left ovary region at times this cycle, and I definitely felt like I ovulated from the left, so I’m wondering if there was a cyst there eff-ing things up for me. Glad I have an ultrasound coming up to check it out. Hopefully the upcoming testing will ease some of my anxiety about the unknown obstacles of TTC.

So here we go … TTC cycle #2.

As an eternal optimist, here are the “silver linings” I keep reminding myself about: a January birthday is not ideal – too close to Christmas, I can have sushi for dinner!, there’s an open bottle of wine at my house that doesn’t have to go bad, and now we have practice for our next try or tries.

My parents were in town this weekend, which was so nice. They helped me get my garden started (I don’t have much of a green thumb), so now I have something to nurture during my 2WWs – an excellent distraction, and it will feel good to be growing something, if not someone.

I know Mother’s Day is tough for a lot of you out there in blog-land, still waiting to be mamas. While I’m not in that place per se, I do feel a pang of longing more related to our recent stint as foster moms. It’s hard to have this day pass without tangible recognition for the mothering we did/do. I do believe that all of us who are out here trying to be mamas, this day is for us too. So happy Mother’s Day to all – moms, foster moms, adoptive moms, grandmas, moms of angel babies, and future moms. Try to make today one of hope and gratitude. It is easy to regret and long for the things we don’t have, and much harder to be thankful for and enjoy the things we do. On this Mother’s Day, I am so grateful to have the most wonderful mother a girl could ask for, for having had the opportunity to be a mom to a beautiful little girl this year (even if it was just for a couple if months), and for being in the place in my life where I am readying my heart (and womb) for a little one of my own.

Halfway There?

Even with my cornucopia of distractions, this 2WW is dragging on for months.

Today I am 7dpiui 8dpiui (oops, started writing this yesterday). One week ago today yesterday I spread my legs for a sperm-filled catheter to be inserted into my uterus. Awesome.

My wife and I had a lovely vacation in LA, visiting with good friends and family while eating nearly 24/7 (oy, diet started again today). Of the 4 days we were there, the temperature was in the 90s for 3 of them. The last day (of course) cooled off a bit. Honestly, the heat didn’t bother me too much – it just made it feel more like vacation! My Irish skin did crisp up a bit but nothing off the charts. We took a red eye and got back in yesterday at 8am, and both promptly went to work. That was a bit rough, but we made it through and I’m actually quite a bit more exhausted today than I was yesterday.

It was lovely to have a constant and fun 4-day distraction from the 2WW. I did very minimal obsessing over non-existent symptoms, which was awesome. Of course, now we’re back to reality and it’s only 8dpiui. Monday seems SOOO far away! I’m supposed to go in for a blood test on Monday, and I’m trying to wait until then to find out (or wait for AF to come to town Sunday or Monday). Since this is TTC cycle #1, I don’t have any pregnancy tests lying around the house to tempt me, so hopefully that works in my favor. Also, my mom and dad are coming to town for a visit this weekend, which will provide another beautiful distraction! My mom will be here tomorrow, and my dad will join us on Friday. I’m super pumped for their visit and the distraction THAT will bring as well. So I guess I’ll just allow myself to obsess today and tomorrow and try to let my parents distract me until Monday.

Symptom spotting: Well, we all know that symptoms mean nothing since they can be attributed to a million other things, but here I go anyway:

  • 3 and 4dpiui – major bloating/swelling all over, most likely due to the cross-country flight I just took (I had to take my rings off and my pants were tight)
  • 6dpiui – mild feeling of “tightness” (cramping? I don’t know if I would call it that) in my ovaries/uterus region, creamy CM
  • 7dpiui – totally tired (obviously because I got 4 hours of sleep on a red eye, so this doesn’t really count), same tightness/cramping feeling occasionally throughout the day, bloating (this time it seemed focused on my abdominal region, the rings stayed on), gassy
  • 8dpiui – still tired (again, most likely due to the whole not-sleeping-well-on-a-plane thing), very gassy, definite cramps (feels premenstrual) at times

My temps have stayed up since last Monday. They crept up more slowly than I would have liked (it’s so much more satisfying to see a nice spike), but what can you do. The last two days have been a bit of a dip (not even close to below the cover line) – I’m hoping they go back up again tomorrow and maybe it was an implantation dip? (Wishful thinking).

So that’s it for my crazy thoughts for today. Honestly, this blog is where I get to be obsessive and write it all down, but I do feel that I’ve been able to mostly carry on as normal so far, with only occasional obsessive moments. Here’s to the next 6 days, hopefully I maintain only a moderately obsessive level of crazy.

3dpiui/dpo

Phew. My 3 consistently high(er) temps were enough for FF to presume ovulation on Monday. Here’s hoping they stay high on the other coast! Time for vacation!

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