The things we do for infertility – like becoming a roadside junkie!

Some of you may know that I have a wonderful group of local fertility friends. Each one of these ladies I met online. Due to our close proximity, we meet up once a month for lunch or supper. We also keep in touch in between cheering each other on throughout our cycles. Two days ago, Sharla was telling me about her latest IVF antics. I suggested she write about it, so I could share it with all of you. I hope you enjoy her story as much as I did. 

We are currently doing our first round of IVF and our clinic is a 2.5 hour drive away. That makes it close enough to drive back and forth between monitoring appointments, but far enough to make it more than a little inconvenient. Not to mention contending with highway conditions during a cold prairie winter.

We always head to the city the night before our appointment, which means we are on the road when it is Gonal F time. DH offered to pull the car over so I could give myself the injection, but the pen is just way too easy to use. I just get the meds from my “drug purse” (yes, I am currently carrying 2 purses with me on these trips), pull out my little sharps container and alcohol swabs, recline the seat, and we are in business!

The Cetrotide, now that is a different story. The timing of this one falls after our appointment on the drive home. Because of the mixing that is involved, I am not skilled enough to do this one in a moving vehicle (yet). For our first Cetrotide roadside injection, we pulled over into the classiest of small town locations – a gas station. We pulled around to the back where there weren’t any cars and prepared the injection. As I’m getting ready to inject, a large truck pulls up and a worker starts unloading supplies into the gas station. He walks right past me as I have my shirt rolled up, waistband rolled down, and ready to inject; he either couldn’t see me or chose to ignore me. I mean, I’m sure people have shot up with worse things behind a gas station.

For the next Cetrotide injection, we pulled over on a side road near a small town. I was so busy mixing up the injection that I didn’t even notice we were parked in front of a small cemetery. So yet again, we find ourselves in an interesting location to do the drugs.

We will be going for our retrieval early-mid next week, so I still have at least 2 more roadside injections to come (sketchy locations yet to be determined). The IVF journey can be so draining, both mentally and physically, but this is definitely one part of our journey that we can look back on and laugh!

Thank you Sharla for finding humour in infertility! Sending lots of positive vibes your way for the Christmas miracle you’ve always dreamed of. XO 🙂  

The Candida diet: another task on my journey to conceive

Yesterday, I had an appointment with a Naturopath (ND). He has a top reputation and a 6 month wait list to see him. I wasn’t supposed to be going until the end of January, but I got in with a cancellation.

I filled out the extensive medical history and listed my top concerns as:

  1. Infertility
  2. Candida

Why was I concerned about candida?

Well… My extensive research points to an overgrowth in my body. I get this rash on my back and neck.  It’s ALWAYS HORRIBLE whenever I’m on estrogen.

It’s ironic that I spent the past few years preparing my body for conception only to have the drugs I need to help conception completely throw it out of wack.

The ND ran this fancy schmancy scanner on my body to find issues or imbalances. My concerns were bang on. I definitely have candida.

Candida doesn’t just occur overnight though. I expect my overgrowth is caused by years of bad eating habits (hello, University), high stress (my job before this one and my family troubles) and oral contraceptives.

Many Western medicine doctor’s also don’t recognize the connection between Candida and infertility. I also think the candida could have contributed to my ectopic pregnancy, but my RE always says we will never know the exact cause. It can’t hurt to get rid of it though.

The ND prescribed me a strong dose of probiotics, garlic and maca root. And he encouraged me to follow the Candida diet for the next 6 months.

WHOAAAAAA.

I signed up for a 28 day cleanse of clean eating, but now I’m being asked to limit it even more for 6 months!?!?!??!

The Candida diet is no wheat, no yeast, no sugar, no dairy… no chocolate.  AHHHHH!

I am obviously willing to give it a go, but I am overwhelmed.

I checked the ingredients listing on a few gluten-free items we have in the cupboard and many of them didn’t fit within the Candida diet guidelines.  I honestly am feeling like I don’t know how any working woman can follow such a strict diet without major preparation.

This is going to be a huge lifestyle change. *deep breath*

Oh the things we do to better ourselves on this fertility journey! All worth it right?

If anyone has any advice for the Candida diet or for an MSG allergy (as I discovered I have one of those too), I’d love to hear it!

For more info: 10 Signs You Have Candida Overgrowth & What to Do About It

Detoxing and preparing for FET

Yesterday, I started the 28 day LOSEIT Tea detox cleanse.

It was recommended to me by my fertility coach. I’ve been working with her 1x a week since the end of October and plan on continuing until our FET.

With this cleanse, you drink one tea in the morning and one in the evening while following a restricted diet – gluten-free, dairy-free, limited sugar, etc.

Day 1 was super easy. Day 2 has been A LOT harder. Post-Halloween, I’m coming down from a fairly good sugar high. Today, I’m experiencing a headache along with gas and diarrhea (TMI? Oh come on now…). I read on the cleanse website that I should reduce the steeping time of the tea to reduce the side effects.

Overall, I have a really strong drive to do this well. I want to have the healthiest body possible going into my FET – especially after having anaesthetic and antibiotics with my tubal rupture. I’d like to eliminate as many toxins as possible in my body to reduce the likelihood of another ectopic. I know there are no guarantees, but I feel better knowing that I’m taking care of my body.

Here’s the rest of my healthy living protocol I plan on following leading up to our FET:

Supplements

  • Prenatal Vitamin
  • Omega 3 + DHA
  • B12
  • Vitamin D

Diet (post-cleanse)

  • Gluten-free
  • Limited dairy/sugar
  • No alcohol (except for a glass of wine or two over the holidays)

Lifestyle

  • Fertility yoga 4-5x a week (I do an at home program)
  • Get back on my treadmill 2x/week
  • Acupuncture/Acupressure
  • Fertility coaching 1x a week
  • Reiki 1x month
  • Journalling/Writing

Hopefully, all of these activities will lead to a healthy mind, body and spirit, and ultimately a successful FET.

I’ll let you know how the cleanse goes and if I would recommended it once I’m done. Wish me luck… This chocolate addict needs it! 

Post-ectopic and FET discussion

Today was our post-ectopic/FET discussion with our RE. It seems like it’s been forever since I was in the hospital, but really it’s only been 7 weeks (I would have been 14 weeks this week… would have…) 

As I mentioned in my post-op update, my RE has been adamant that I continue to monitor my cycles for the rest of my pre-menopausal life. There is always the chance we could conceive on our own. We need to be mindful of the risk. Once you have an ectopic, you have a 15% chance of having another one. Before that, the odds were only 2%. Lucky us. Too bad it wasn’t the lottery. 

The most interesting thing I learned was that ovulation does not in fact follow a back and forth pattern. He said that typically within a year your ovaries will have both ovulated the same amount of times, but that doesn’t mean they consecutively switch month to month. He also mentioned that – although rare – it is still possible to conceive from the left ovary (the one with the missing tube). The human body is fascinating. 

As for the FET, we’ve decided to start the protocol with my 1st period in January 2015. I need to call the clinic when I get my next period (early December) to give them a definite confirmation for January.

I will start Estrogen on CD2, followed by a baseline scan and blood work approximately 2 weeks later. If all looks good, I still start Progesterone. A few days after that, we will fly back to clinic ideally somewhere between CD 21-25. We only have to stay locally for 1 night post-transfer before we can fly home. We’re thinking about heading out a few days early to get away from the harsh prairie winter and enjoy a mini-vaca.

Most of our conversation was focused on the reasons and causes of ectopic pregnancies. Simply put, it is VERY difficult, if even possible, to diagnose WHY you had an ectopic. We discussed the possibility of immune issues, but my RE suggests we proceed with the next transfer before investigating that route further. I won’t be doing Intralipids this time, as he doesn’t think the extra cost of flying out for a pre-transfer dose is worth it right now.

Ultimately, there is no proven method to prevent another ectopic. He mentioned they will place the embryos lower in my uterus, but there still doesn’t offer any guarantees.

You caught on that I said embryoS? 

Our RE prefers singleton transfers, but he is open to us transferring more than one, particularly because we have Day-6 embryos frozen. He said since they were slower to grow and are likely to have a lower survival rate. The choice is ours to transfer one or two. My husband and I both agree we want to transfer both embabies.

And let’s hope this time, we have one or two beautiful babies in our arms next Autumn.

New Moon practices for manifesting

I continuously say that my spirituality and my fertility journey go hand in hand.

The New Moon is a time for manifesting, setting goals and beginning anew.

Tonight is the New Moon in Sagittarius. Mystical Mamma posts insights into each moon cycle if you are interested in learning more.

Each New Moon, I create my own moon ceremony. I use the term ceremony loosely as it is any ritual you perform with intention. You make it what you need it to be. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or even planned.

Tonight, I lit some incense and a few salt rock lamps. I sat at my desk, put on some relaxing music and got out my New Moon journal. This journal is one that was given to me by a dear friend specifically for this moon phase. It has a beautiful moon on the front of it.

Inside, I dated the page and wrote the following affirmation statement, “I accept these things into my life now or something better for my highest good.

Below the statement, I wrote a list of things I wish to bring into my life or expand upon. I like to balance my list by considering what my goals are for each area of my life: Career, Marriage, Personal Relationships, Relationship with Self, etc. The list can be a simple as desiring peace or as specific as a trip to Paris. There is no shame in including materialistic items. They are a part of our everyday lives.

I don’t over think my list. If I find myself trailing off or over-analysing my thoughts, I take a few deep breaths and ground myself. When the writing flows smoothly, I know I am on the right track. When the list comes to an end, I finish it off with my signature.

When I first started this practice, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It’s been fascinating to go back and revisit my previous New Moon intentions. I am continuously surprised by what actually does come true. Sometimes, it’s what I least expected; whereas, something that seemed so easy ends up being on the list for months and months. This practice doesn’t give me answers to why certain things are more difficult to manifest (that’s a whole other topic), but it does give me a sense of gratitude for the intentions that have come to life.

Through just a few moments of reflection, I am able to create a scared space that allows me to explore my soul’s deepest desires. I accept where I am currently at and look forward to where I want to be. My New Moon ceremony helps bring me back to myself after experiencing a pregnancy loss and feeling so alone. Even through the darkness, love and light exists in my life.

I still have my ups and downs, but I can see a glimmer of hope on the horizon.

Happy New Moon!    XO

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A letter to my sister

Dear Jennifer,

My baby died. It’s been almost 39 days exactly since we lost her.

Didn’t you get the memo?  Oh you did, but you don’t know what to say? Or you are afraid I will blame you for still carrying your son in your womb while my daughter is gone?

Well, that’s not how I feel.

I don’t blame anyone for our situation – not myself, not my husband, not the doctors, not even God.

But, I am extremely hurt by your insensitivity.

I LOST MY BABY. I LOST MY LEFT FALLOPIAN TUBE.

And I also lost my sister.

Don’t you remember how hard it was when Aunt Carol died? Don’t you remember laying together on the couch in the basement and crying? This is so much harder for me than that.

Imagine waking up tomorrow without your baby. Imagine he was taken from you in the night. Imagine you are never getting him back, never getting to see what his face would have looked like, never getting to be a Mom in the eyes of everyone else.

I just want to lie back on that couch in the basement and be held by everyone I love around me. Because right now, I feel so broken. I don’t know how to ever go back to the person I was before, but I realize that I probably never will.

You know I always put on a tough front, but inside, my sensitivity is overwhelming. I base my good days on the number of times I cry. I aim for less than 3x a day. My episodes usually happen in the bathroom at work or on the drive home, or especially late at night. That’s when I feel the most alone.

It’s hard not understanding how the world around you can move forward when you are still grieving, still wondering why this happened to you, to your husband and to your baby.

You have always told me I am the strong one, but I am frightened beyond belief of what else I may have to face in the future. I feel like a fraud. My strength is dwindling.

The past few weeks, I have been thinking a lot about your upcoming delivery. I see cute birthing gowns on Etsy and I want to send you one. I see post-partum care packages and think, “Oh that would be great for her!“.

But, then I realize you don’t deserve it.

I didn’t have a choice when it came to losing my baby or my tube. I had to give them up or I was going to lose my own life.

You made the choice for me about losing our relationship. You chose to abandon me. You chose to pretend that nothing happened. You chose to block me out of your life.

I know I may not have been a perfect older sister, but I always tried my best to be there for you when you asked for help.

This time, I need help. I need love and compassion from the people who mean the most to me, my family, but you have cut yourself out of that category.

Deep down, I keep hoping that we can work things out. I pray that you will come around, reach out to me and admit that you made a mistake. Something as simple as, “I’m sorry. We are thinking of you“, would suffice.

It’s hard enough for me to take care of myself these days. I can’t spend extra energy nourishing a one-sided relationship that you obviously aren’t interested in continuing.

I am truly happy for you as you embark on your journey into motherhood. I just wish things could have been different. I wish that you could have seen how much the simplest of actions would have meant to me.

Love always,

Lindsey

Attending our first Perinatal Loss Support Group

Since our ectopic pregnancy loss, I have seen a grief counsellor twice and began working with my fertility coach again. The grief counsellor recommended that my husband and I consider attending our local Perinatal Loss Support Group that meets once a month.

Last Tuesday (which also happened to be my first day back to work), my husband and I went to our first group session. The session was 2 hours in length and was held in a conference room at a bereavement centre (meaning office building).

There were 13 people in attendance including the grief counsellor, 8 sets of couples, 3 mothers and 1 grandmother. I was relieved that there were 3 other men in the room as I know my husband wouldn’t have been pleased had he been the only one.

Since I am a highly energetically sensitive person, I could feel the intensity of the grief as the room started to fill up. Lesson learned for next time. I need to protect myself better before we go. 

The session started out by introducing yourself and telling a bit of your story. I dreaded this moment. I was almost last to go and I knew I would burst into tears the second it was my turn. And I did. 

As I regained my composure, I made a joke about only wearing mascara because it was my first day back to work and apologized for the black streaks that I’m sure were about to appear on my face. The thing is, once you’ve cried in public as much as I have, you actually learn how to avoid those black streaks even if you aren’t wearing waterproof mascara. I highly suggest the blotting approach to dry up those tears.

After introductions, there was an open discussion where you could bring up issues, scenarios or feelings to share with the group. The newcomers tended to keep to themselves and were less open to start (me included which is a surprise). The regular attendees all knew each other and openly shared their worries, wishes and experiences.

As the conversation flowed, the highlight for me was actually seeing what my husband was getting out of it. I was quite relieved that he could relate to many of the other husband’s stories (i.e. crying when alone in the tractor). I was touched that these men were willing to share their vulnerability and emotion. That takes strength. 

As for me, I was torn between a sense of commonality and a sense of aloneness. As a grieving mother, I belonged with the group; however, I was the only infertility patient which made my story a bit different than the rest.

When discussing the concept of guilt, I spoke up about how I actually didn’t think there was anything I could do to prevent my ectopic. During our beta limbo, I made it quite clear that I would not end my pregnancy without proof of an ectopic. After I shared this story, I felt like I received blank stares from everyone except another woman (who I had previously met but that’s another story). This woman agreed with me and said she held no guilt either.

Also, there were only 3 couples (including us) who didn’t have other children. It was a bit difficult to hear the woman share stories about their growing their families, but it made it quite clear that another baby will not just magically make the feelings go away.

Overall, what I got out of the session was the following:

  • Many women continue to grieve their pregnancy losses years after they happen
  • There are many ways you can commemorate and celebrate the life of your angel baby
  • Even after you have other children, you will always remember your previous losses
  • Men show their grief differently, but it affects them nonetheless
  • Everyone deals with the grieving process in their own way

Was attending the session worth it? Definitely for both of us. This experience brought my husband and I closer together as he was more willing to talk about how he felt after our loss once we got home. It also helped me to see that grief is acceptable and normal following a pregnancy loss. I had been telling myself to pick it up and get my act together. After hearing some women talk about how it still affects them years later, I realized that this loss will never leave me. I will grow and learn to deal with it, but I will never forget my baby.

Would I go again? I struggled with this one for a few days, but I decided that yes, I will return for at least one more session. I feel like I need to give it a second chance. Different people come every month and maybe next month another infertility patient will be there who can better relate to my experience.

As for individual counselling, I’ve decided to not reschedule for now. I’m working with my fertility coach once a week and I prefer her approach over the other counsellor’s.

Would I recommend a loss support group to you? Yes, I would recommend attending at least one session. I think there is lots of value in hearing other couple’s experiences as it truly does make you feel less alone. You do not have to share any of your own story if you are not comfortable doing so. If you are looking to find a  pregnancy loss support group, I’d recommend contacting Resolve (in the US), IAAC (in Canada) or your local hospital.