Pregnancy and Body Image

As with most expecting first-time moms, I’ve read a lot of books or articles online focused on pregnancy, child birth, and becoming a parent. I get daily and weekly updates delivered to my email about what’s going on with baby and mother during this time, and these notifications are often times filled with tips to help make this time in your life a bit easier (I actually didn’t sign up for that stuff until I was 20 weeks due to my fear of loss). A few weeks ago, there was a segment on body image during pregnancy and how it can often times be a difficult time for women. This surprised me and got me thinking about my own current body image.

Now, before I talk about how I feel, I want it known that I completely understand why it could be a hard time for females. Our bodies are completely changing and weird things are happening, the scale is going up, we’re tired, don’t feel like ourselves, and can’t work out like we used to. However, I absolutely love my pregnant body. Seeing growth each week makes me happy beyond words. Yes, I’m one of those annoying women.

Despite living in constant fear, battling all day sickness until 5.5 months, and dealing with the cervical length scare, I think I’ve had an uncomplicated pregnancy which probably contributes to how I feel about my body. I’m no dummy though. Some women may be thinking that it’s easy for me to feel this way because of the way my body looked pre-pregnancy. That may contribute to it as I was not carrying around extra weight, but what most people probably don’t know is that I’ve struggled with body image issues for years, and most of the time is was subconsciously. I didn’t realize my disordered eating and over exercising were issues because it was never about the number on the scale- it was about having control over a piece of my life. Therapy will teach you quite a few valuable things along the way 😉

Now, I’m not going to get into my history because this is about how I feel now, but when I think about the past fifteen years of my life, I’ve come a long way the past year and a half. After we lost our first and we started having trouble conceiving, I knew I needed to stop exercising as much and put on some weight. I’ve discussed this in previous blog posts which can be found under the miscarriage/infertility tab on my homepage. To summarize- it was mentally challenging to slow down on the exercise, and at first I wouldn’t accept that this could be a culprit because many women conceive while going about their normal fitness routine or even in the midst of training for marathons. But one day it hit me that I’m not most women- my body was in stress mode and I needed to gain about ten pounds (my lowest body weight ever was scary, and I had no idea until I had to step on the scale at the doctor’s appointment). Despite gaining the ten pounds and refraining from all intense interval training and long runs, I still wasn’t ovulating on my own which was super discouraging and I’d sometimes wonder what the fucking point was. I was upset with my body for not doing what it’s supposed to do. I truly think that all of the shit that happened pre-pregnancy has helped given me a great body image and self confidence during this pregnancy.

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25 weeks.

Don’t get me wrong- I have moments when I look at my arms or thighs and see that they’re not as defined, or my legs or feet or face swell and it’s not pretty, or wonder if my husband really does still think I’m sexy. However, I have a baby inside of me. A fucking baby. The baby I hoped and prayed for and dreamed of for two years, every single day. And although I ate whatever I could tolerate the first 22 weeks or so, now that I don’t have as many bouts of nausea (ironically, as I’m writing this post, I feel super sick), I want to nourish our baby with healthy, wholesome foods. Yes, I ate a small blizzard last night, but I even it out with nutritious meals and snacks as I know she eats what I eat. I’ll be sharing a blog post soon about foods that were great for me the past couple of months!

Also, I’m way out of shape, but going on walks and bike rides and just getting outside can make a huge difference. I’ve mentioned in my pregnancy updates that I do light weights and certain exercises (I don’t know the names of them but my doctor showed me and there are YouTube videos for exercise during pregnancy) to help my core which will hopefully help during birth. I know I’ll get back into shape (but not get to such an unhealthy body weight again!) after she’s born when I’m given the go ahead to start working out again, and I’m embracing my new body.

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26 weeks pregnant. Au natural, haha. I don’t think I’ve posted myself in a bathing suit on social media in years :/

Though I’m still worried, am praying for the rest of the pregnancy and labor and delivery to go well, and just want a healthy baby in my arms, I’m so incredibly content right now. Feeling her kick and play inside of me literally still stops me in my in tracks, and I place my hand on my belly and smile. THAT makes it all worth it- the weight gain, brittle hair and nails, dry skin, bleeding gums, monstrous leaky boobs, fatigue, food aversions- everything.

I’m so glad that I started documenting my belly growth, although I wish I would’ve started around 10 weeks instead of 12. I got the idea from a blog, Simply Summer Ann, but her photos are way better, haha. Nonetheless, it’s a cute way to track the pregnancy and see the changes in a sexy, yet classy way rather than just regular bump pictures in normal clothes.

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Pregnancy is a miraculous thing and I’m not ashamed to embrace it. I may be one of those annoying women that blasts pics on Facebook and Instagram, but I’ve shared our struggles and bad times, so I simply just want to share the good. I will NOT be posting pics of the baby all the time though, and I’m really not sure if I’ll continue on with the blog. We shall see. I’m wanting to start a second Instagram account strictly for baby bump and baby pics, but for some reason I can’t add an account on my iPhone6 which is super annoying. I want the accounts linked to to the same email to make switching over easier, so if anyone knows why the iPhone isn’t able to utilize this feature yet, please let me know! I about whipped my phone across the room last night 😉 Just kidding!

How do you feel about body image and pregnancy?

Did you have a different experience than me?

 

 

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Pregnancy After a Loss and/or Infertility

This topic has been something that I’ve been thinking about ever since I found out that I was pregnant. It’s a sensitive subject and emotional subject, and it may be a bit difficult for me to write, but bear with me. Pregnancy after a loss and/or infertility is much different than a normal pregnancy. A “normal” pregnancy may consist of naiveness, innocence, and happy thoughts of ten months out. However, after you experience a loss, go through infertility, or both, your thought process is unlike it was before. For me, pregnancy the second time around has differed so much from an emotional standpoint.

I wanted to write about this and bring awareness to it as I think there’s sometimes a gap between these two types of women (or three, if you experience infertility).

  • You’ll be checking for blood multiple times a day…but this still doesn’t ease your mind. My first pregnancy ended in a missed miscarriage, meaning the baby had passed (ours around week 12), but I had literally no symptoms of an impending loss. No blood, no cramping- nothing, and we found out at an ultrasound at 14 weeks. This time around, I’d check every time I used the restroom even though I knew that this does not ensure that all is okay. We did have a little scare when I was 13 weeks as I had some brown spotting (brown means old blood and red means new blood. Red is not a good sign). It happened in the late afternoon after cleaning and running errands all day, and I spent the rest of the evening laying down, drinking lots of water. I called my doctor the next morning and she said to come to the hospital to get it checked out. Long story short- they couldn’t determine the exact cause, but baby was doing great and I was put on light bed rest for a few days. We were so relieved, but I felt awful as we missed Tyler’s promotion ceremony that morning to get pinned Captain (he was actually promoted November 1st) 😦 Anyways, checking will be constant.
  • You’ll become worried when your morning sickness dissipates. Yes, most women are ecstatic when they start feeling better, but my mind started to wander when I’d have a few hours or days where I wasn’t dry-heaving constantly or running to the bathroom. It’s very common for all day sickness to come and go, and even though it wasn’t fun not feeling well, it was comforting to me as it reminded me that I was, indeed, pregnant. You see, the first time my morning sickness started to ease up around week 11 and by week 12 I was feeling totally back to normal…and that’s when the baby passed, so that was obviously on my mind. This time my doctor offered to give me medicine to help with the sickness, but I politely declined. It probably sounds crazy, but I didn’t want the meds in my system. I am fortunately not currently working outside of the home, so I had time to rest and take naps if I needed to. Keep in mind that I’m also one of those women who do not eat lunch meat, soft cheeses, or literally anything else that you “aren’t supposed” to eat while pregnant. Great for those women who have the balls to do it, but I don’t as I’m not risking anything.
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Though morning sickness was no fun, I was so unbelievably happy to get to experience pregnancy again that I didn’t care!

  • You’ll be absolutely over the moon but also incredibly terrified. The first time around I was like most other first-time pregnant women- I knew miscarriages occurred, but I never thought that it’d happen to me. A loss hurts no matter how many weeks along you are, but I believe the further you are in a pregnancy, the more difficult it is to grasp that it truly happened.  We waited two years to see two pink lines again. We watched some women who were pregnant the same time I was have their baby, then get pregnant and birth their second…That being said, when you do get pregnant again, you’re afraid that it’ll happen to you once more as reoccurring loss is a very real thing for some couples. It’s a very bizarre feeling to be so happy yet scared at the same time. It was NOT comforting when people would say that it wouldn’t happen again- no one can predict the future. However, my doctor just kept telling me to “just believe” at every appointment and that this is a different pregnancy, a different baby. I still hold onto those words 🙂
  • You won’t give a shit if the baby is a boy or a girl. I think this is why I had such a difficult time when people would ask if it was a boy or girl and/or what we wanted. We honestly did not care whatsoever (if my husband did deep down, he never told me)- we just wanted a healthy baby. I know, I know- that’s what everyone wants, but it’s the truth. As I mentioned before, I didn’t care if we had a boy first to be the protector should he have siblings one day or whatever. I was the oldest and no one protected me and I didn’t turn out that bad 😉 We do think it would be nice to have two children closer in age than we were with our siblings, but part of the reasoning is because of our age. However, I’m super close with my brother and sister and I don’t believe age really matters when you’re adults, but it does impact things when you’re kids. I’d love to have children that have a close bond just as I have and for my husband to get to see that (sometimes I think he wonders what the hell I could possibly be talking about with my family every single day haha, but I think that’s part of what makes life beautiful- having such connection!). Who knows, we may just be blessed with one child and we would be perfectly happy with that!
  • When women bitch about the pitfalls of pregnancy you’ll still get annoyed. I get it- morning/all day sickness isn’t fun, but complaining about it openly on social media outlets will still drive you effing nuts. Some people crave for attention more than others so while it may seem innocent to them to share every single day about how shitty they feel, it can actually be hurting a lot of people. I know- appeasing everyone is impossible, but it’s more about just being a mindful human being. I’d literally bring plastic Wal-Mart or Target bags with me when I left the house the first 15 weeks because I was afraid I might barf at any second, and I still have bouts of nausea at 22 weeks…but you’ll never hear me complain (obviously I’d tell those closest to me that I felt sick when asked, but it was never bitching because as I said earlier, it was a comfort and I was so grateful for that). Certain things may seem sucky, but you know what’s even suckier? Going through morning sickness for weeks and weeks and feeling so much love and so much excitement for this little one growing inside of you, only to have it taken away when you stupidly thought you were in the “safe zone”. Then yearning for it again so long and so hard, spending countless hours crying over negative pregnancy tests and pregnancy announcements, getting shitty test results from the doctor, feeling so alone and angry and sad and everything in between, and enduring uncomfortable and painful procedures to try and get some answers. You look at the miracle of life a tad bit differently, and know that feeling like shit or being constipated or breaking out badly or being tired ISN”T SHIT in the grand scheme of things.
  • You’ll still experience pregnancy jealousy- This is a biggie. I thought I was crazy at first, but I’ve spoken with several women in the loss and infertility community that said they feel the same way. Even though I’m pregnant, I still get weird when I’m sitting at the doctor’s office for an appointment in a room full of super pregnant ladies. Yes, I have a bump, but when women are visibility more pregnant than me, I wish it were me because I’m still so scared. I’ve heard from some women that this feeling eases up once you hit viability, but I don’t know. I’m truly happy when I see pregnancy announcements, but I still wonder how long they were trying. If they announce it super early, I wonder how they have the strength to do so.  The innocence that some women have that never endured a loss or infertility and that have had happy, worry-free pregnancies can be aggravating, especially when they try to give you advice. It’s a very, very different experience.

***I wanted to add a bit more to this before I publish this as I experienced this yet again today while waiting to get my oil changed. I had an ultrasound this morning for another cervical length check, and when I was leaving the room after it was finished I glanced at the nurse’s computer screen and thought I saw the length measuring almost one centimeter shorter than it was about five weeks prior. One centimeter may not seem like a lot but it is when it comes to your cervix during pregnancy. I could still kick myself for not asking the nurse about it, but I know they can’t release much information to you. I’m apprehensive and a bit scared right now and I should be able to pick up the results on Wednesday. I won’t go any further about this until I actually read the report and discuss it with my doctor…but while my car was being tended to, I saw a mother feeding her newborn baby in the waiting area and I once again felt those feelings of jealousy. I’m not even sure if that’s the right word to describe it…it’s more like super intense feelings of hope and desire that I’ll get to that point one day. It took me everything now to to cry. Anyways, it probably sounds odd, but I’m just being real…

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Rainbows have a whole different meaning after a loss. A rainbow baby is one that is born after a couple experiences a miscarriage…

  • You’ll be be hesitant as to what to say when asked if it’s your first. I was kind of taken back when asked if it’s my first, and it was obviously by random people that didn’t know us or by nurses. I always tell the nurses no, it’s not my first. It was (and still is) odd to me when they say, “One child at home?” and I again proceed to say no, the first was a miscarriage. I don’t like how it’s sometimes assumed that I already have a living child. I know people mean absolutely no harm when asking this, but it puts me in a predicament. Do I want to say no- that this is our second, and our first was a late first trimester loss- to those that are asking me just because outside of the doctor’s office? No, because that makes people uncomfortable. And some people don’t recognize miscarriages as “real” children. Or do I say, yes this is our first? This answer makes me feel guilty and sad for not recognizing our first baby. A few times when I said it’s our first, they proceeded to say something along the lines of, “That’s awesome you guys waited so long!” (they obviously knew my age or that we’ve been for quite a while). Seriously…these remarks make me wanna dropkick them…but once again, they don’t know any better… I know I’ll struggle with this question my entire pregnancy, but I truly want to acknowledge our first loss without sounding dramatic or making others feel awkward. But then again, I don’t want to feel uncomfortable either. I’ll always feel that if miscarriage and infertility are more openly discussed, it’ll become less taboo and women will feel less alone.

I know there are so many other instances I could discuss regarding the differences, but I’ll stop there for now. I don’t mean to segregate those that have not endured a loss or infertility from those that have. These are just observations from my personal experience and from what I’ve discussed with other women in similar situations. I feel that the women that I’ve encountered that have been affected are much more guarded than those that still retain the innocence and naiveness of not suffering, but that’s not always the case. However, pregnancy is an absolute beautiful thing and we are all on different paths emotionally and physically with one common denominator- a smooth ride and healthy baby 🙂

It’s Okay…and So Are You

***This post was written in early September right after we just experienced another failed medicated cycle (Femara). Little did I know that I’d miraculously get pregnant this cycle…with no medication, only herbal supplements for us both (when I was on a medicated cycle I never took Vitex or Fertilaid as it can counteract with it, but I’d still take Pregnitude, baby aspirin, and drink fertility tea. Tyler was on Fertilaid for men and CoQ10 to help count and morphology). I did eat the pineapple core after ovulation which I had never done before. Anyways, I didn’t want to post this after I got the positive pregnancy test and I debated whether or not to delete it altogether, but I as I sat hear crying while rereading it, I vividly remembered the pain I felt all those months. I think it’s important to share as trying to conceive is an emotional rollercoaster.

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I’ve had bouts of depression since high school. There, I said it. Now I don’t want to act like it’s been absolutely horrible because that’s certainly not the case, but it’s affected me and probably some relationships in my life at some point. Before I go any further, I want to say that I’m obviously no psychologist or therapist, but I’ve seen a handful over the past fifteen years or so. I’ve truly tried to analyze their perspectives and have taken what they’ve said into consideration as I’ve gotten older. One of the things that was often discussed was how I’d brush my feelings or problems under the rug and not deal with them. I acted as if they didn’t exist so I basically wouldn’t have to feel certain things…but then I’d get to the point of feeling so much, that I’d basically have a meltdown. Just kidding…kind of 😉

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I’ve fortunately learned to recognize my feelings and understand that it’s okay and actually important to really feel them- even the negative ones. It helps you grow and change for the better. Now, instead of holding in my tears when I’m sad, pissed off, or frustrated, I cry. This post portrays certain emotions I feel throughout the duration of a cycle.

I just want to say:

It’s okay to feel sad and disappointed when you get a negative pregnancy test. Month after month of one line gets fucking exhausting.

It’s okay to feel excited when you finally start a new cycle. Yes, you’re pissed off that you’re not pregnant, but this is a fresh start and could be the month!

It’s okay to feel content when you’re on your period. You know there’s nothing you can do to procreate right now, so you just enjoy these next few days (as much as you can, haha).

It’s okay to feel anxious when you start using OPK’s (I use THESE tests and sometimes the more expensive ones by Clear Blue). I start testing on cycle day 11 and every day after that until I get a positive…if I never get a positive, I stop testing after day 20. Not worth my sanity or money 😉 It’s disappointing when you see negative ovulation tests. I almost always think, “F this- I want some sushi” and flick it in the garbage. But you keep on swimming, hoping that the next day the line is darker.

It’s okay to feel over the fucking moon when you get a positive OPK. I’m almost always at work when I’m testing (second long held pee of the day), so I hopelessly take a test each day around the same time, and as they get darker, I want to go do cartwheels. For real. Nevertheless, I restrain myself and send my hubby the positive test photo. Funny how sexy pictures were a priority and always sent while dating (still do to keep it fresh!)….and how things have changed 😉

It’s okay to do whatever you think might help get those little men to your egg. Using Pre-Seed or Conceive Plus, doing various positions, propping yourself up with pillows afterwards while your hubby heats up your dinner and brings it to you (hope to God I’m not the only one that does this), doing handstands, using soft cups (Google it if you don’t know what they are, haha).

It’s okay to take it easy after you think you’ve ovulated. Working out has become less of a priority, but it’s great to walk, do light weights, and yoga.

It’s okay to also turn down invitations. I’ve learned that I don’t need to attend everything- just the important things. Don’t go to baby showers or gender reveal parties if you’re struggling. Honestly, who the fuck had a gender reveal party 10 years ago? Or even 5? Don’t get me wrong, they’re cute and all, but come on now. (Ok, these are cute, but I was upset).

It’s okay to seclude yourself if that’s what you need. I know- relationships are a two way street. Sadness should not consume your life and there will be good days and bad. However, just because you want to be alone or not engage in social activities, doesn’t mean that you don’t want to keep in touch or that you’re weak. You simply gotta do you right now.

It’s okay to get anxious as you reach the end of your cycle and to debate on whether or not you should test. Part of you still feels a glimmer of hope. When you test and it’s negative, you feel defeated yet again (although if you’re a maniac and test WAY too early, then it could be too soon to detect any HCG).

It’s okay to research the shit out of every random pregnancy related symptom that comes to mind (I’ve Googled some weird ass things people. #noshame ;)) But STOP YOURSELF. It’s okay a few times, but it’s going to drive you freaking crazy and only cause more unnecessary stress.

It’s okay cry after the test is negative. I’ve become numb to it so I don’t anymore, but that doesn’t mean that it still doesn’t sting.

It’s okay to drink a bottle glass of wine when you start your period. And order sushi To-Go. Then eat sunny side up eggs for breakfast the next morning and get Subway for lunch with turkey deli meat.

It’s okay to go home to your husband and just asked to be held. Not only do you feel disappointed, but you feel like you let him down again.

The point is- it’s okay to truly FEEL. Let yourself engage in emotions. I know when I bottle up feelings or issues I have kept inside for too long, it isn’t pretty, nor is it healthy. When you’ve been trying to conceive for months on end, you kind of become someone else in way. You think about certain things in life differently and your thoughts and actions often revolve around what time of the month it is. And you absolutely cannot relate to those that “weren’t even trying” or it only took one or two months for. In fact, it hurts hearing that kind of stuff…

Can you relate to emotions fluctuating throughout a cycle?

First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage, Then Comes….IVF ????

Well, after a meeting with our GYN here back in June, then having two consultations with different Reproductive Endocrinologists in the Phoenix area, we have ultimately decided to move forward and plan on doing IVF (in vitro fertilization). We will also be doing ICSI (intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection) and more than likely PGS (preimplantation genetic screening) with it. I’ll briefly explain what are three procedures are, then answer a few questions that I have been asked.

IVF- Basically, it’s the process of taking the women’s eggs that she produces out of her body with a long needle and putting them into a lab dish with sperm in hopes that they will combine, then transferring an embryo (or embryos) back into a woman’s body. Now it’s much more complicated that that, haha. There are various protocols for different doctors, but a women is typically on birth control from 2-3 weeks to shut down her ovaries and control her cycle. A few days after the last pill is taken, she should have menstrual cycle (I was told it could be very light), and then monitoring via ultrasound and blood work begins as she starts on medication. Injections are then added to the mix to help produce lots of eggs.  The woman is usually put under during the retrieval of the eggs.

You can either do a fresh or frozen cycle. If it’s fresh, the embryos are put back inside 3-5 days after the retrieval. If it’s frozen, you don’t do the transfer until the following cycle. I’ve heard that more and more doctor’s are doing frozen cycles as they are more successful overall (this is what both of the RE’s we spoke with do), but there’s obvious success with both. The woman is NOT put out during the transfer, but is supposed to take it easy for a few days (and sometimes even be on bed rest) in hopes that implantation will occur.

ICSI- ICSI is simply used in combination with IVF. The meds and montoring are done the same way, but after the retrieval, the embryologist actually directly injects a sperm into an egg instead of just hoping they will combine in the lab dish. This is more effective when you have a male factor involved (as we do) or if the woman does not produce many eggs. Yes, it costs extra, but it’s obviously worth it!

PGS- This is a screening that is sometimes controversial.One or more cells are removed from each embryo to check for any chromosomal abnormalities. When an embryo has a chromosomal abnormality, there is a high chance that it will not implant; thus, the IVF cycle will obviously fail. However, it if does implant, it will often times lead to miscarriage. There’s the whole debate between people on how embryos are already considered a form of life and shouldn’t be messed with. I’m not here to discuss this issue. At first I didn’t think twice about this screening as it’s pretty pricey (about $3,000-$5,000 extra on top of the IVF/ICSI), but Tyler was all for it as it will decrease our risk of miscarriage and increase our chances of a live birth. Only embryos that pass the screening will be transferred back into me.

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Had to insert this little prom pose photo from the ball in July to break up the text, haha.

Hopefully that makes things a bit more understandable about the process 🙂 You can read about why we chose to go the IVF route HERE.

I’ll save our tentative plan for next time, but here’s a few questions that I’ve been asked lately:

 

Does your insurance cover it? No, Tricare does not cover IUI or IVF. Basically, anything that is not being done in conjunction with timed intercourse isn’t covered. However, there are a few military bases across the country that do these procedures at a discounted rate. The closest one to us is in San Antonio, and I was actually referred there by my GYN but was denied as they were not accepting new patients then. There are a few reasons why we chose not to go to a military hospital that offers treatment. First of all, you have to be there for about 3 weeks total. That’s a long ass time and you obviously have to pay for travel and lodging expenses. Tyler wouldn’t need to be there the whole time with me, but still. Secondly, each hospital does the IVF in clusters and they only do the cycles 3-4 times a year. I understand the concept to it, but what the hell. Also, they do fresh cycles and do not do the PGS. So there’s that 🙂

Hopefully this is true 🙂

Where will you be doing this? I spent weeks researching RE’s in the Southwest cities that are within driving distance from El Paso and Fort Huachuca, AZ- Albuquerque, Tuscan, and Phoenix. I looked into Colorado Springs, but that’s almost 12 hours from Huachuca and that would be God awful sitting in a car for that long feeling like shit on stims or sick after the retrieval. Plus, I need to be able to do this drive on my own if need be, and I ain’t driving that far 😉 After viewing websites and reviews, I found a few doctor’s in Phoenix that caught my eye and narrowed it down to two. The facility we are doing this at is in Gilbert, AZ- and the ironic part is that the building is literally right next door to the apartments I lived in back in 2008/2009. Like I could see my old balcony from the office, haha.

We dropped off our medical records before we met with another RE in early August and were both highly impressed with the facility, New Direction Fertility. After a mix-up about a phone consultation two weeks ago, we were able to rescheduled for last Friday night. Tyler and I spoke with the doctor on speaker phone, and he answered everything thoroughly and then some. This doctor was the only one that found that I have elevated AMH levels which is a sign of PCOS. I have been told for almost two years that I don’t have PCOS (no multiple cysts, no facial hair, high testosterone levels, not overweight, not resistant to insulin), but elevated AMH levels can make it more difficult to conceive. My AMH was 7.62ng/ML, so while it’s nothing out of this world, it’s not within normal range for my age.

The doc also seems to work well with out-of-state patients making it as easy as possible. IVF is a very time consuming, emotional and physically challenging procedure, so anything that will help me understand and relax is appreciated. Him and his wife suffered from infertility and they now have two sets of twins from IVF which he did himself!

Why are you going straight to IVF and not going to attempt IUI first? I mentioned that in my previous post, but to be more specific, it’s due to success rates and finances. The RE we are seeing does IUI’s for a pretty good price and said he thinks we could get pregnant in 3-4 rounds of it. Key word is “thinks”. While we know that IVF is not a sure thing, the chances of success are about 70-75% (with PGS) compared to the 7% with IUI. We also had to think about traveling to Phoenix for each round and the emotional stress of it. Plus, IUI might not work and then we would proceed to IVF so we’d be paying more in the long run.

Lmao. This should be interesting as I was such a treat on Clomid :/

That’s all I’ve got for now, but please don’t hesitate to ask any questions! 🙂 Also, I understand that everyone has their own different views and opinions not only about advanced reproductive procedures, but about our journey as well. While I’m willing to discuss it all as I know it’s a sensitive, taboo, and sometimes embarrassing or shameful topic, I just want it to be known that it’s still hard for me to wrap my mind around it all. We are more than ready for the next chapter in our lives (not just meaning pregnancy and parenthood), and I’m both scared and excited about what the next several months will hold for us 🙂

 

 

June 2015 Fertility & TTC Update

It’s been quite a while since I’ve done an fertility update…or any sort of post for that matter. I’ll be honest- since Tyler got home two months ago, I have really had no desire to blog. With working 40+ hours a week, my free time has been devoted to normal day-to-day activities and spending time with him. It’s been nice to kinda just live in the moment, and quite frankly, I really don’t have much to say at this point in my life, haha. Sure, I could document our meals and work outs and recap our days/dates, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon 😉 For now, I’m just going to give an update on what’s been going on with this whole trying for a baby thing.

First of all, I started taking 5mg of Femara (Letrozole) late April (my cycle actually started the day before Tyler got home, haha. Talk about sucky timing, but it enabled us to start fertility meds quite quickly! I had VERY little side effects compared to Clomid. This time, I only experienced extreme fatique and headaches while on it from cycle days 5-9. I also had a lot of bloating around ovulation and while that was uncomfortable, it wasn’t unbearable by any means. I used OPKs and got a positive around cycle day 15….AND my Day 21 labs showed that my progesterone was 29- the highest it’s EVER been!!!! I seriously listened to my doctor’s voice mail on repeat and cried a little, haha. Unfortunately, we didn’t conceive.

This past cycle we did the same protocol with Femara. My OPKs were positive on cycle day 15 and my Day 21 labs were even better- 37!!!!! Unfortunately, it didn’t work again, but I’m happy with how my body has responded with this medicine.

We got some unfortunate news a couple of weeks ago regarding Tyler’s sperm analysis results. It showed a significant decrease in sperm count (10 million/ml), mobility (40%) and shape (8%). I had an appointment with our doctor a few days ago, and she put in a referral for Tyler to see a Urologist and requested for another analysis to be done. We have a follow up appointment in 3 weeks to go over what the Urologist says after an examination and to compare the two test results. However, she said if the second test did not show an increase, she would higher recommend in-vitro fertilization (IVF). This came as a huge surprise to be as I was adamant that she was going to say IUI. I will make a post about the differences between IVF and IUI within a military setting (somewhat different that a civilian setting) and the pro’s and cons of each, but right now, we are just trying to wrap our minds around this new information. IVF is quite expensive, but it is much more successful that IUI. It is also much more invasive and harder on the woman’s body that IUI, but then again, more successful.

We are researching IVF and talking about our options in case this is the route we decide to go. The military hospitals do IVF in cycles- there is one currently going on now and the next cycle should be in September/October….so our doctor said we could potentially get things going quite quickly. We will see what we find out over the next few weeks. In the meantime, I will not be doing another round of Femara this cycle (doc said it would be pointless) so it’ll be interesting to see if my body ovulates on it’s own. I’ll continue to take Pregnitude, a prenatal vitamin, and will be taking Vitex as well. I ordered TJ Fertilaid and Motility boost off Amazon (doctor suggested this although I had already bought it prior to our appointment), so we shall see if that helps.

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We are celebrating our 3rd wedding anniversary next weekend, and I can’t wait! Though things may not have been picture perfect compared to some marriages with this whole trying to conceive thing and the deployment, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Have a great weekend 🙂

How I’m Naturally Trying to Regulate My Cycles & Boost Ovulation

When we got news that Tyler was deploying, we agreed that I would keep monitoring my progesterone levels each month, but I would not use ovulation tests and partake in temping. It became too stressful to constantly use OPKs, only to get a negative pregnancy test month after month. There was no point in me keeping track of this stuff on my own.

It was honestly a relief to just be free for a while as those little strips would sometimes have an impact on my mindset or mood. However, I’ve researched the crap out of conceiving via the “natural route” (herbal remedies, acupuncture, etc.) and Western medicine. There is no discrimination on our end- we are for them both. However, TJ and I both agreed that trying to prepare my body for conception a few months before he got home was a proactive measure. Out of the nearly 10 months Tyler was gone, there were only two months where my progesterone was above 5 (September was around 6 and October was around 7). Every other month my body just simply wasn’t ovulating, and it’s impossible to conceive without ovulation. Side note: some women do not ovulate every single cycle- that’s not abnormal. It becomes abnormal when it happens repeatedly.

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Fertilaid, 81mg of baby aspirin, Pregnitude, folic acid, Vitex, and fertility tea. I don’t use these all at the same time!

I continued taking a prenatal vitamin after Tyler left, but I switched to every other day with a woman’s multivitamin in between. I didn’t want to waste the multivitamins, so that was the main force behind that decision, haha. The prenatal vitamins I use are from my OBGYN and I pick them up from the pharmacy on post. That and the folic acid tablet, which I take when we are activity TTC, are both free with Tricare!

I also heard about Pregnitude. It’s a little pricey, but we’re all for investing money in trying to have a baby. I’ll be honest- I didn’t take two packets a day as the directions showed- I only did one. However, the months I did this, my progesterone was higher (see above)! I don’t know if it was the Pregnitude or just a coincidence, but I stopped taking it after October and my progesterone was never above 2 after that. Perhaps I should’ve kept on taking the supplement, but I didn’t see the point as Tyler would still be gone for many months so it felt like a waste of money.

After reading numerous articles about it online, ordered Vitex via Amazon a few months ago. You can read about it HERE. One of the benefits of it is that it is supposed to help naturally regulate your cycle which is what I need. The capsules are like freaking horse pills and look like dirt is inside of it. I got one caught in my thought and it tasted like I just ate a block of wood😐  Aside from that, my cycle from March-April was 33 days long! Keep in mind that I took Vitex and Pregnitude. My progesterone on CD 21 was still less than 2 though, so while it shortened my cycle, I didn’t ovulate which is our ultimate goal. However, even if/when I ovulate, who knows if the egg quality will be good. A RE would be able to do tests and relay this information to us.

Fertilaid is another supplement that is supposed to help balance out female hormones which helps aid in conception. I only took this a few times so I can’t give my opinion about it yet. I also ordered Fertilaid for Men for Tyler. Some men might get all butt hurt about taking a supplement, but he was all for it (as long as it was all natural- can’t take your chances of pissing hot while in the military unless you’re a dummy). He stopped taking it once I “thought” I may have ovulated as this shit isn’t cheap. I say thought because I don’t trust OPK’s 100% based on past cycles with getting positive tests, yet NOT ovulating based on my progesterone results or getting good readings but not getting knocked up. Then there was that month when I got like 10 straight days of positive tests, haha. 😉 Anyways, Tyler will get his seman analysis done early cycle. My doctor told us to hold off and enjoy ourselves this first month. His last analysis about a year and a half ago came back normal, but they like to test every 12 months when TTC (although we weren’t active much of this time) and after a deployment as you are pumped with various vaccinations.

Moontime, the organic fertility tea, is actually super good! It has a slight minty taste to it, and I’ve enjoyed it in the morning and evening. I’ve also been sipping on hot Green tea and adding the Pregnitude to it.

As I mentioned before, we are trying medicated cycles now (first round of Femara at 5mg…but I’m pretty sure this cycle was another bust). However, I hope the supplements have been helping my body prepare for conception in the near future. I had a vaginal ultrasound done last month on like CD 28 and the lady said my lining was thin and I should expect a period in about two weeks…but my period started 3 days later. So yeah. I’m wanting to thicken my uterine lining as that plays a huge role in implantation. I honestly don’t think we will even try Clomid again as one of the side effects is thinning of the lining. I’ll have freaking nothing left, haha!

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Needed a selfie to break up the text 😉

 

Alright, I’m off to watch a movie with Tyler and our boys. Hope you all have a great week!

*Have you or someone you know ever tried natural fertility supplements?

*Do you know of anything else that I didn’t mention?

 

 

 

My Big Sexy is HOME… and a Few Life Updates

I’m SO incredibly happy to announce that Tyler is home! Though he spent a few days traveling and stuck in airports (DFW and AA suck…sorry, but I’ve had a few bad experiences myself), he finally landed in El Paso last Saturday afternoon. Words can’t describe what it felt like to see him again….Honestly, it felt surreal, and in a way, it still kinda does. I guess that’s what nearly 10 months apart does to you, haha.

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My heart is home.

I was off Saturday, Sunday, and Monday but it was a whirlwind. We spent our days just being together and doing shit that needed to be done, in addition to some fun things such as activating our new phones (I love you iPhone 6) and buying new bedding (still need to get some accent pillows and make some décor). Papa Murphy’s pizza and wine was his choice of meal upon his return home, so I had that waiting for him 🙂

We put together this TV stand (this bitch weighed like 70 pounds so I couldn’t do it solo) and he installed a few other things he ordered while he was gone. His army room/our work out room (our 3rd bedroom) looks like a tornado went through it, but I honestly could give a rat. As much as we may butt heads sometimes, it’s amazing to look over and see him next to me or hear him call my name.

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Yes, that is indeed Nintendo 64 🙂

On a different note, I started my period the day before Tyler got home (well, on Thursday the 23rd- he was supposed to be home the following day but came home the 25th). It was the first time in 7 months that my cycle was relatively normal (33 day as opposed to 45+). That was pretty awesome timing 😉 As much as the timing sucked, it was nice to get things rolling early.

I started Femara (Letrozole) a few days ago… today was actually my last day taking it which is cycle day 9. I’ll write another post comparing my side effects of this medicine to Clomid. Tyler got his blood work done yesterday and will go in for another sperm analysis within the next 2 weeks.

I’m cutting this post short, but for those of you that keep up with my blog- I apologize for such infrequent posts. My life was honestly work, cleaning, working out, Netflix, playing with our dogs, and grocery shopping/meal prepping the past several months. I was just in survival mode without him, haha 🙂 Hopefully now I can add something more and be more motivated to upload my crafts and recipes. If you don’t already, you should follow me on Facebook and Instagram!

Cheers to a great weekend and my husband returning home safely from his 3rd deployment 🙂

April 2015 Update

So this morning I had a follow up appointment with our doctor. All of my labs came back normal (except my progesterone which is always very low). That’s awesome in a way, but sometimes I feel like if we knew what the deal was, then perhaps there would be some type of actual treatment for it. Anyways, my cycle day 21 fell over the weekend, so I got another blood draw to check my progesterone levels after my appointment.

My doctor set up Plan A for us which goes as follows:

  • On cycle day 35 (Saturday, April 25) I can either take the Provera she prescribed me to induce a period OR wait for it to come on it’s own. Over the past several months, my cycles have been anywhere from 40-57 days long… Tyler is wanting me to take the med (as am I)…we wanna get the show on the road when he returns. However, I took this medication last year and nothing happened- NO menstrual cycle. I finally had to be put on birth control for a month to induce a period 😦  So we shall see.

 

  • After a new cycle occurs, I was told to call my doctor ASAP to notify her. I’ll then have to go get an HCG (pregnancy) blood test done on post to ensure I’m not pregnant (dumb because my husband has been gone for 9 months, but procedures over rule). She should receive those results within a day or two and then send in my prescription for Femara (letrozole) to take on cycle days 5-9

 

  • I will have to go through this each cycle (calling, HCG blood test, then picking up my prescription) which is different than Clomid. I didn’t have to go through the blood work to get my prescription with Clomid, so although it’s a bit more of a hassle (especially with working full-time and the labs/pharmacy being slow as fuck sometimes), we are content with trying a different medication with less side effects.

 

  • We will repeat this plan for 2-3 cycles. If nothing happens, we will move foward.

 

Plan B will either be trying Clomid for 2-3 cycles OR being referred to a specialist. There is only ONE RE is El Paso, and the wait time is a few months. However, there are one or two OBGYN’s that specialize in infertility, so we would probably go that route due to our time restraint of PCSing early next year. Injections and/or IUI would be Plan B if we choose not to do Clomid again.

So that’s it- short and sweet. Honestly, all I want is to see my husband again. It’s the little things in life that he does mean the most to me, such as kissing me goodbye every single morning before he goes to PT; demanding a kiss when one of us comes home from work; holding my hand while we’re driving, at the movies, or just out and about; playing with our dogs as if they were children…I can’t wait to see him watching his boring ass TV shows (I’m sorry, but I cannot get into Game of Thrones for the life of me) while I cuddle up next to him reading a book or simply drifting off to sleep…

Anyways, we shall see what happens. I’ve been trying to focus on the things I have, rather than the things I don’t have. And it’s made life a tad bit sweeter 😉

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Cubs Spring Training in Arizona last March. I obviously don’t have recent pics of us, and this is fitting for the time of year. Go Cubbies!

 

TTC and Religion…????

Trying to conceive and religion. Yes, this is a touchy and taboo subject, but I’m going there. More specifically, gearing more towards miscarriages and infertility and trying to conceive. This post is coming from my heart- what’s been on my mind lately.

I  very recently came across a blog post with a pregnancy announcement which is awesome news. I want to make it clear that although these announcements tug at my heart and sometimes make me shed a tear or two, I’m genuinely happy for the couple. However, this announcement made me slightly cringe for the following reasons. She was bitching about not conceiving although only trying for a mere 4-5 months. Yes, weeks and months drag when you’re TTC, but come on now. I know blogs are a place for people to express their thoughts and opinions…but some people  may give the side eye when hearing others complain about bringing a second/third child into the world is taking too long on their specific timeline.

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What irked me the most was the comment “God is Good!!!!” and “Everything happens in God’s time!” when conveying the announcement. Alright lady. So God is good to you…but what about me? Or the thousands of other women who have experienced a loss or infertility or just simply trying to drop a damn egg and ovulate on their own?

Is it because God doesn’t feel like the time is right? Or because he doesn’t think they’d be good parents? Or because they aren’t suited for each other?

I’m sorry, but I think it’s downright rude. Would God like you to be rude and condescending? I don’t think so.

It’s simply a matter of freaking science, although many may disagree. If it weren’t, I wouldn’t be spending so much time with doctor’s appointments and monitoring my hormone levels while my husband is thousands of miles away (in a warzone), so we can approach things the best way possible when he gets home as I’ll be hitting nearly 30.

I didn’t grow up extremely religious. I’m Catholic. I went to CCD every Wednesday; was baptized,  made my communion, and confirmation. However, we typically only went to Church a few Sundays out of the year and on holidays (occasionally). After my parent’s divorced when I was 12, I went to church with my best friend when I’d spend the night with her on Saturday evenings or Sunday mornings.

I’m by no means discounting religion. I’d like to believe in a higher power, but that’s it. God didn’t make me meet my husband- I was simply at the right place at the right time. God didn’t pull my head out of my ass and help me graduate college- I did. I simply feel that it’s not fair to solely base God’s timing on conception. Yes, I believe things (sometimes) happen for a reason. What about those who simply cannot conceive on their own? That either need scientific intervention or resort to adoption? Both of these circumstances can result in absolutely beautiful outcomes…

This is a short post, but it’s something I had to express. I don’t like clinging onto bad moods and sometimes writing about it makes me feel better…

Do you think it’s all in God’s hands whether or not someone will conceive or not?

 

 

 

A Quick Update- February 2015

While it may be that I write these updates more for myself than anything else, it’s been nice (well, not sure I’d use the word nice…perhaps helpful?….to look back and see what was going on with my cycles, testing, and how I was feeling at the time. I have a few things to share since the last update, so here we go:

  • I had a cycle that lasted from October 9-November 9 which was pretty decent for me (31 days). The next cycle was from November 9- December 26…uhh WTF. I stopped counted after CD 35. My labs showed that I did not ovulate this month, but I could have had a late ovulation since the cycle was so long. I haven’t had a period since December 26…I don’t know what cycle day I’m on, but it doesn’t even matter since it’s been so long. I didn’t have my progesterone checked this cycle because I was out of town and the office was closed on the weekend when I should’ve been tested.
  • I had a doctor’s appointment a few weeks ago and we discussed a few things. First, my cycle day 3 labs, where they check the LH, FSH, and estradiol, came back normal! This is good news as my ovaries ARE working, but there is a disconnect between the first phase of my cycle and the last phase. She wanted to do some lab work to double check for PCOS. I didn’t have any symptoms of it besides my long/erratic cycles, but it didn’t hurt to see. She emailed me the other day and told me everything came back normal…no PCOS.
  • We contemplated with the idea of getting a laparoscopy done to see if I have any endometriosis. However, because you’re put under for this and it can be rather uncomfortable, we decided to hold off. The doctor honestly didn’t think this was the case for me. I’d want Tyler to be there with me for this anyways.
  • I’ve gained about 10-12 pounds since July of last year (when TJ left). We thought that this would help regulate my cycle…but so far, it hasn’t. To be honest, this wasn’t always that easy for me. When I’m stressed…I have no appetite. However, incorporating more healthy fats, more carbs (I effing love these asiago cheese bagels by Einsten Bros. from Target, haha), and laying off the cardio is what helped the most. It’s discouraging that this hasn’t helped regulate things so far, but that’s okay. Looking back at some pictures, I did need to gain a few pounds. I started running again, but only a few days a week and it’s more like running/walking intervals while watching House Hunters 😉
  • My current doctor is deploying in April….pretty much around the time Tyler gets home, so I’ll be seen by my old doctor (the one I had some issues with). I don’t want to go through the hassle of finding someone else, and she knows us and our situation.
  • Finally, both docs agreed that our best chances to conceive will be via medicated cycles. We are going to try Clomid first, but ONLY two more rounds of this. If we have no luck with that, then we will be referred out and they suggested medication, the HCG trigger shot, and IUI. You can forgo the IUI and just do a medicated cycle with the trigger shot and timed intercourse, but the success rate is higher when you go the IUI route instead. It’s a few hundred bucks more (a grand total of about $1,000 PER cycle…yikes!), but they said it’s better this way as you get more bang for your buck (swear she said that, haha). We aren’t going to sit and dick around 🙂 However, TJ will be up to be promoted to Captain in November and then it’s on to Fort Huachuca, Arizona. So we shall see how the rest of the year pans out.

Alright, I’m gonna go do some errands on my day off! Super stoked that it’s February, but I hope the next couple of months fly by. I’m SO ready to see my husband again 🙂

 

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Figured I needed a picture in this post 😉

* What are your thoughts on Clomid?

*Have you or anyone you know used the trigger shot with timed intercourse or IUI?