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Category Archives: Acupuncture

2WW 2.0

CD23
1 dpiui
2 dpo

It’s been 73 days since my first two week wait. Is it weird that I counted that? I really didn’t think I’d be going this long between tries!

My IUI was yesterday morning. This go around went so much smoother than the last overall. After I got my surge, I called the cryobank storage and set my pick up time for first thing the next morning (they require 24 hrs notice). I called my RE and scheduled my IUI for 11am. I really wanted it to be a bit earlier, but they need at least an hour (they schedule an hour and a half) to prepare the sperm sample. So I planned to drop the tank off at 9:30 and wait around for the 11am procedure. It was SO NICE that this fell on my day off. The difference between last cycle and this one is palpable – last time I tried to cancel my AM patient and they were already on their way from a whole other state, so I just cut them off really early and rushed there, then had to rush back to make it for my PM patient … it was maybe not the most serene environment for fertilization :). This time, the only thing I had to change was my acupuncture appointment.

Of course, things can’t be perfect, and it wouldn’t be right if I wasn’t obsessing over something, right? So i use OPKs pretty much first thing in the morning. It’s hard for me to do it at work, and I know that I HAVE to test before noon because otherwise the cryobank can’t schedule me for pick up first thing (which is necessary for my clinic). ANYWAY, my test on Tuesday morning was negative, and Wednesday morning was positive. The internet cheapie looked almost totally positive anyway. Since my RE said that “even a subtle surge” counts, I was already raring to go for Thursday. I confirmed with a CB digital around 9am, which was positive. Anyway, around 4 or 4:30pm I started feeling major ovulation pain on my right side. I took this as mostly a good thing – I’m glad I’m O’ing from my right this month, since my left was the one with the cyst so I don’t trust her as much.

The thing that I then started to obsess about was whether I was ovulating too early. I thought it took 24 hours from the surge (but, of course, I could have started surging immediately after my negative test the day prior and only caught the tail end of it on Wednesday morning – putting a Wednesday evening ovulation within the realm of possibility). So then I was Googling things like “does ovulation pain happen before, during, or after ovulation?” etc. I tried to put my mind to rest about it and go to bed thinking peaceful thoughts. I was channeling my acupuncture sessions and even tried to sleep on my back with a pillow under my knees like I do in acupuncture. 

When I woke up on Thursday morning and took my temperature, it had spiked way up overnight. So I guess I did, in fact, ovulate on Wednesday evening. Despite everything else seemingly going perfectly, I was thinking about the timing thing all morning. The nurse who did my IUI wasn’t worried at all and said I should stop Googling things (fair point). I do feel very confident that I didn’t ovulate BEFORE 4pm at all. This cycle the ovulation pain/sensation was really clear and very obvious. It lasted at least until I went to bed, with the worst of it being between probably 5 and 7pm. So overall, I think I got the insemination in there while the egg was still viable, so I don’t think I flushed money down the vagina toilet this time around. My nurse said “I feel good about this one” – so take that with a grain of salt but it sure did make me feel nice 🙂

Also, the donor’s count was much higher than last time! 63 million sperm in that little vial! I think it was maybe 29 million last time, and 52% motility. The motility this cycle was 46%, but with such a high sperm count that’s still really good. 

SO anyway, now we wait (I’m sorry, aren’t we always waiting for something while TTC?). I’m still deciding whether I will drink while overseas or not. I’ve read a lot online (should I trust this?) that even if you are pregnant, those first weeks the embryo is not yet attached to your bloodstream at all, so drinking is a-ok. The whole “drink til it’s pink” idea. My nurse yesterday said, “just treat your body like you’re pregnant. Don’t smoke, cut down on caffeine, don’t drink … you know.” So I don’t know. I would only have a glass or two of wine here and there if I did drink, but I also don’t want to do it if there is any chance at all that it could affect my chances. Thoughts? I tend to err on the side of caution. 

I do like this two week period of being allowed to believe that I might actually be pregnant. Please let this be the one! Hey – it could happen.

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TTC 2.0 is on

Now that I’m back on the blogging wagon, a few updates on the TTC front. I got my period on Thursday, so today was CD3, which means I went in for my follow-up ultrasound. I was more than a little nervous that Larry the cyst hadn’t packed up and left yet, and that I’d end up pulling my hair out during yet another cancelled cycle.

Luckily for us, that was not to be! This time around, my wife accompanied me to the ultrasound, which was really nice. Actually, it was also satisfying – I had told her last time about my experience with the less-than-comfortable dildo wand, and she didn’t really give me the sympathy I was hoping for. This time around she got to see it, and I got plenty of sympathy today!

Since it is Saturday, my doctor and nurses were not in the clinic – I just went in to see the ultrasound tech. I have to say, I enjoyed this tech much better than my previous one. She told us everything she was doing and looking at throughout the whole thing, which I really appreciated. She also let me insert the wand myself – I must say, it was much less violating that way. Although she clearly isn’t my doctor and can’t officially read the ultrasound and report results – she did not see a cyst. I watched, and there was certainly nothing there. A couple of underdeveloped follicles on each ovary (like 2-3 mm), which I believe is what they would expect for cycle day 3.

She did mention that my lining was very thin, which would indicate that I have already shed most of it, which leads me to my next point – my periods this month and last both seemed rather light to me. I know that my lining is supposed to be thin at this point in my cycle, but it seemed like she was surprised at the thin-ness of it. I also know that I am totally reading into things probably in a crazy-lady-obsessive way, but I’m worried about my current ability to build up a good enough lining. I am now going to crazy-lady-obsessively Google ways to ensure a nice juicy lining for a little embryo to nest in. Am I being obsessive? Anyone have any tips and tricks for getting a good lining?

In terms of the plan – as far as I know we are on for another unmedicated IUI cycle. A nurse from my RE’s office (no one I’ve talked to in the past) called and said that the ultrasound was all clear and that we are good to go for this cycle. I can’t remember if anyone had mentioned doing this cycle medicated, so I’m going to call back on Monday, but I’m assuming I’m on for another natural cycle. I have been ovulating, albeit fairly late, and I think my RE wants to try to let my body do its own thing if it can. I tend to agree, though of course I also want to speed things along.

A couple of hiccups that I’m hoping don’t mess with things for me:

  • We have 3 weddings to attend in the next 6 weeks, one of which I’m a bridesmaid in. It actually might be 5 weeks. I am just hoping that my O doesn’t fall on a day that I am out of town or in the middle of a wedding-related obligation. I’m pumped for all of the weddings though (especially for my best friend’s).
  • I’m also leaving the country for a conference that I’m really excited about. This is actually the event that actually has the potential to throw things off for me. I have ovulated on CD 24, 33, and 27 in my 3 most recent cycles. I’m boarding a plane out of the country on CD30 this cycle. If you all are the positive-vibe-sending types, send me some vibes for an earlier O this cycle! I will be so super bummed if I have to miss another cycle because of the one thing I really can’t get around. On the plus side, if I do ovulate before CD30, I’ll have a really baller built-in distraction for a good chunk of the 2WW!

So my plan for now is to think happy thoughts, keep going to acupuncture (and specifically ask him to work on thickening my lining and telling my body to quit dawdling with the ovulation business), increase my exercise and healthy/fertility-friendly eating habits, call the RE on Monday to make sure that we’re a-go for a natural cycle, start using OPKs in about a week,and hope hope hope that this is my cycle for a BFP. Although I’ve been a bit silent on here, I’m reading along every day, and am so excited for the BFPs this month, and of course feeling just as bummed but determined as all of you who are still waiting for that BFP. ttc meme

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.

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?

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