One More Shot – Documentary Review

I just finished watching the documentary, “One More Shot”, on Netflix.

Guess what?

I am still crying.

This film is so real. So truthful, so heart wrenching, so me. In 90 minutes this movie managed to completely transport me back in time and to accurately explain the roller coaster of emotions we went through just over two years ago.

ONE. MORE. SHOT.

A perfect title that can be interpreted in many ways. One more shot of medication. One more blow to your heart after another negative pregnancy test. One more attempt at conceiving. One more shot of tequila to numb the pain. Or, one more chance at a miracle.

The story follows a couple in their early thirties as they try to expand their family and navigate the uncharted waters that are infertility. They aren’t a glamorous Hollywood couple. They aren’t doctors or scientists who know all about infertility. They are the couple down the street that stop over on Thursday night for a glass of wine. The couple you pass in the grocery store while looking for a ripe watermelon (how DO you know if a watermelon is good??). And they are the couple that sits across from you at the fertility clinic, wondering how long you have been trying, if you were already pregnant, or if you had just suffered another loss. The ones whose eyes you meet before heading back for your consultation who can tell you with just one look that they understand.

There were several moments in the film that I could identify with, but there were also several that I could not. This couple suffered longer than we did, and more loses. But, some points that really hit home for me, were:

 

The fear of the unknown.

As an OCD, control freak, I spend every spare moment planning, making lists and setting goals. Infertility was something I knew nothing about, and treatment had no guarantees. Yes, there were dozens of options for starting a family, but nothing was guaranteed. I often thought to myself “I would go through this 10 times, spend $100k if someone, somewhere could promise me that it would all end with a baby in my arms.” But the truth of the matter is, they can’t. And the fact that I had no control over the outcome was debilitating.

 

Feeling broken.

Nick checked out OK. Borderline for sperm morphology but otherwise, good for baby making. This made me feel like it was all MY fault. That I was broken. I couldn’t do the thing women were SUPPOSED to do – make babies. I feared this would break our marriage, and I feared it would break me.

 

The shots hurt.

Those shot were NOT a walk in the park. They hurt like a b*tch! They left me sore, bruised and hormonal.

 

Punishment.

Was I being punished for sneaking out of the house in high school? Or for that time I swiped some beer mugs from a college bar? Or for all of the things I have taken for granted or selfishly just assumed would happen?

 

IVF is the ultimate “treatment”.

When we started at our clinic, we were given a less than 1% chance of conceiving naturally. So we jumped straight into IVF. And we were positive it would work. When it didn’t work the first time, it was an even bigger blow. The miracle treatment we had just shelled out $15k for was a bust. It’s hard to pick up the pieces after that.

 

Obsession.

The sheer obsession of all of it. I think infertility made me a hypochondriac/Google genius. I spent all of my free time Googling symptoms, or lack thereof, grants, adoption, embryo donation. I needed to constantly feel like I was being proactive.

 

The comfort of knowing I was not alone.

From the moment I made my blog public, it was like the heaviest weight was lifted off my shoulders. The out-pour of love and well wishes we received was amazing. But what was even more amazing was the number of women who messaged me and said, I understand. I too, am suffering from infertility. I too, find it hard to be happy for my friends having babies. I too, am scared.

 

This documentary was everything I never knew that I always needed. I think it is something that every struggling family should watch. And all of their friends and family. And everyone else. It is relatable, funny when it needed to be, and informative. I highly recommend that you check it out now on Netflix. You won’t regret it. The only thing you might regret is forgetting the tissues, or that you didn’t watch it sooner.

And for all of the women, men and couples out there trying to grow your families, find hope and comfort in the fact that you are not alone. Infertility is hard. It will push you, it will test you, and it will break you. But there is a light at the end of that tunnel. There is always another option – maybe it’s another crack at IVF. Or maybe it’s a surrogate. Perhaps it is coming to terms with never being parents. Or maybe it’s adoption. Whatever it is, make sure it is YOUR decision. Not anyone else’s. And let that decision be the one that puts you back together again.

The not-so-new twin mom’s Christmas list

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Last week I posted a well thought out, product-centric list of all the baby products that every new twin mom, or twin-mom-to-be, should not be without during their first year with twins. This week, I am shifting gears and posting my wish list as a twin mom (and mom, in general) who has been around the block (albeit, only once). With 15 months of mummying under my belt, my list of needs has evolved into an aspirational list of wants. This list is a bit more selfish and difficult to fulfill, but extremely relatable. Some items are products, some are services and some are just dreams. You may not find it very useful, but I hope you will at the very least find it honest and humorous!

NEW BRAS

Most of the time, I still wear my nursing bras, because frankly they are the most comfortable bras I have ever owned. But after twelve months of nursing and pumping, they aren’t in great shape. And my boobs are an entirely different shape and size than they were pre-pregnancy. No longer perky, but very saggy and squishy. I joke with my friends that I could get a mammogram and not even flinch! Thus, I need some new bras for the new ladies. But I’m not even sure where to begin. Santa shops at VS, right?

INSTANT POT

We just purchased one of these a couple months ago, so this one is for you, my loyal readers. Get an Instant Pot. You will not regret it, I promise. I can make a gourmet meal in less than 20 minutes and only dirty one pot! This is a twin mother’s dream come true! I recently made a sausage penne pasta that would put Giada to shame. Check out the recipe here.

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HIGH WAISTED PANTS

Jeans, work pants, PJ pants, you name it, they need to rest above my belly button. Why? Because I have this extra pouch of flab that hangs over the waistband and looks extremely unattractive in “hip huggers”. Not to mention my C-section scar that gets super itchy and irritated if my pants make contact with it. Call them mom jeans if you must, but they are a necessity in camouflaging my “twin skin”. I like the GAP for these.

BACK PACK LEASHES

Growing up I was always judgmental of parents who leashed their kids. But now I can relate. Especially in a busy, crowded setting. I am THIS CLOSE to purchasing some of these for the girls. I get nervous taking them anywhere alone, especially now that they are mobile

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CLEANING SERVICE

When you have twin toddlers, you have to face the music that your house will be a tornado of toys, crumbs and chaos. My once beautiful hardwood floors are scratched up and spotted with milk drops. My couch cracks house a half a box of Cheerios. The clean laundry is scattered around the family room while the dirty laundry piles up in the laundry chute. I don’t even want to think of all the bodily fluids that are hanging out throughout my home. Basically, it is a disaster. And when I somehow find the time to straighten up, it only lasts through nap time! An in-home cleaning service would be a God send, am I right?

ROOMBA

While I have never seen one of these in real life, I have to believe they are as amazing as they seem. Our floor is a constant mess of Cheerios, goldfish crackers, dirt, leaves, etc. I would give my right arm (my vacuuming arm) for a Roomba to continuously suck up that mess, wouldn’t you?

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ONE PIECE SWIMSUITS

If you wanna rock your mom bod in a bikini, more power to you! I for one am not quite ready for bikini and beach season, and am much more comfortable in a cute one piece. I found quite a few at Bellelilly.com. I am so grateful these are trendy again!

PERSONAL CHEF/PERSONAL TRAINER

Who doesn’t want someone to cook for them and whip them into shape?? The time I would save not having to cook could be spent doing crunches and squats. And then I could eat a meal that doesn’t consist entirely of carbs or leftovers. Heck, while I am hiring all of this help, why don’t we throw in a personal shopper for groceries and clothes? While ClickList and Amazon Prime are life savers, I still have to find the time to shop online. And that is more precious time I could be devoting to getting rid of my FUPA.

AMAZON ECHO/DOT (or comparable device)

I am REALLY hoping Santa brings us one of these. We currently use our FireStick to stream Bruno Mars on YouTube. But we keep getting this notice that as of Jan. 1, 2018, YouTube will no longer be available. That alone is enough to send me into panic mode. With an Echo we could still stream music (even though the girls like the music videos) and could even prompt it to play Bruno hands-free. Not to mention all the other hands-free things I could do with this (order pizza, comes to mind).

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SIPPY CUPS THAT REALLY DON’T SPILL

If you have found this holy grail of cups, please share! We have tried at least a half dozen different brands (360, Nuk, Nuby, straw sippies, etc.) and no matter what, they leak. Drives me nuts!!!

WINE

Wine gets me through tantrums. Wine gets me through teething. Wine gets me through life. I wish Santa would bring me a year supply of wine. Red or white. I’m not picky!!!

 

LIFETIME SUPPLY OF BATTERIES

Everything needs batteries these days. And we are always running out at the worst possible time. I would like a lifetime supply of batteries for Christmas. AA, AAA, D, C, 9V. GIVE ME ALL OF THE BATTERIES! That way we never have to deal with the pink elephant toy dying ever again. That was not fun.

BATHTUB CADDY

Bath time is my ME time. And my me time is few and far between. So when I do get a chance to run a bath, I want to enjoy some wine (preferably from my never-ending supply) and a good book at the same time. I have seen these cool trays on Etsy, and am hoping one will pop up under my tree this year.

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CHILD LOCK FOR IPHONE/IPAD

I don’t mean a lock to keep the kids off of my phone. I know all about pass codes and finger print entry. I want a lock that will keep my kids from turning off the song or video I play for them. The minute their little fingers touch the screen that entertainment is donezo. Why is this not a thing already? If it is, share the knowledge. All I know is I spend countless minutes re-finding Moana.

YETI CUP

These are amazing for moms & dads. Keeps your drink cold for 24 hours or your drink hot for 12 hours. Basically, it keeps your drink at the right temp for hours. So if you pour your coffee at 6am but don’t get to take your first sip until 8am, you’re good. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and if you look on Etsy you can get them personalized!

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VACATION

I don’t even care where. Just send me somewhere I can unwind and reconnect with my hubby. Kid free (what is that?).

 

That concludes my Christmas list this year. Santa, Nick….no pressure!

I’d love to hear what all of you are wishing for this holiday season!

IVF #2 – Test Day

February 1, 2016. 11dp5dt. This was test day and I had never been more scared for something in my life. Leading up to the day I had experienced some cramping, and a “lightning bolt” stab of pain in my uterus the day after transfer. I had also hit a blood vessel in my stomach when administering my Lovenox injections so I had a huge bruise and was extremely sore for a few days. Besides that and being a bit sleepier, I had no symptoms. I spent days and nights praying for nausea, sore boobs, anything. But I just felt pretty darn normal!

I worked from home that morning, and took the afternoon off. I knew if I received the same news as last time I would just want to go straight home and cry and binge drink wine. I spent the morning doing work, crying and praying. After having my blood drawn that morning, the nurse had mentioned the results wouldn’t likely come in until after 2pm. My mom and dad were scheduled to come over to keep me company at 1:30pm. I kept my phone clear across the room while I worked so that I wouldn’t keep checking it.

I finally got up to use the restroom around 1:15 and noticed I had a missed text message from my friend who is also my nurse at the clinic. It said “Call the office ASAP, we tried to get ahold of you 🙂 🙂 :)”. Thank GOD for those smiley faces. At that moment I knew the news was positive. My heart was beating a mile a minute as I went outside to call the clinic. They gave me the most amazing news I had ever heard, the word I had been waiting 18 months to hear, POSITIVE. My first beta had come back at 697, and they look for 100! HOLY CRAP!!

After a few screams and some crying, I scheduled my second beta for two days later. Just as I hung up the phone I saw my parents pulling around the corner and into my driveway. I walked right outside and told them the news. I couldn’t contain myself! My mom even had a gift bag of baby stuff in the car because she “had a feeling” (why the heck didn’t I have that feeling??). I then proceeded to go upstairs to the bathroom and pee on a handful of pregnancy tests. Two lines and the digital “Pregnant” showed up right away. I dropped to my knees and thanked God. I then looked at the sticks about 8 million times and pranced down the stairs to show my parents.

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We then decided it would be fun to surprise Nick at work! I loved this idea because I never thought I would get to surprise him, since he knew the info was coming. But we received the news early and had some time. We drove to the store and bought a Congratulations balloon along with two pink and two blue balloons and drove to Nick’s school. He actually called while we were on our way and I had to lie through my teeth. I did a pretty good job and think there might be an acting career in my future. Below is a video of the surprise. I can honestly say it was some of the best few minutes of my life and I am SO glad that I was able to make it this special for Nick.

After Nick had heard the news I took some time to tell a handful of close family members and friends. After all, it was still early days. But for that day, at that very moment, I was PREGNANT.

Happy Transfer Day! NOT.

Transfer day was Thursday, January 21, 2016. We went into the day super excited, and I was especially excited for a four day weekend of binging on Netflix and napping. We would be transferring one embryo at 10:45 am and 11 days later our pregnancy test was scheduled.

This time Nick came with me, there was no way I was going to let him miss the big moment again. We goofed around in the waiting area (thank goodness I didn’t wet myself because a full bladder is required for transfer) and once again it took the nurses a good three tries before they were able to draw my blood for testing. Nick looked very dapper in his hospital gown and hair net (see below) as we prepared to see our little embie on the big screen.

Once in the operating room the embryologist checked my bladder and actually let me get up and let a little bit out in the restroom which was AMAZING. When I returned they showed us our little cell blob on the big screen and then transferred it right on into its home for hopefully the next 9 months. As I laid there for about 10 minutes after the procedure, the nurse brought us a picture of the embryo and one of the ultrasound after the transfer had been made. We were SO excited.

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Then the bad news came. A nurse handed me a piece of paper to sign, and being the good girl that I am, I actually read it. It was a form stating that we had one embryo left frozen from our October cycle. Immediately my heart fell. One embryo? I thought there were 5 left, total? One from the October cycle and 4 from this cycle. After all, five had made it to freeze back in December. A great number. I asked the nurse what this meant and she told me she wasn’t sure.

We went back to my waiting “room” where I was to lie down for another 20 minutes or so. I asked the next nurse I saw why I only had one frozen embryo listed on my sheet of paper. She too was unsure and said she would call back to the lab to ask. After about a half an hour we were FINALLY visited by a representative of the lab.

If you recall, our cycle was part of a clinical study where the embryos (either all of them, or all but the best looking one, would receive Preimplantation Genetic Screening). Apparently all 4 of the other embryos tested from our December retrieval came back genetically abnormal and were thrown out. WHAT!?!?!

Well what about the one in me? Was that one normal or abnormal?? Because of the study, we were not allowed to know what group we were in, so there was no way to tell. Four out of five were for sure abnormal. All I could think of were, what are the odds that one out of five was normal, IF it have been tested? I was devastated. Basically this was our only shot because we did not have any genetically normal embryos leftover. Yes, we have our little guy from October, but the quality was weak and probably not worth an FET on its own.

I spent the entire drive home crying, and convincing myself we were going to have to either start all over from scratch or begin pursuing adoption. The clinic sent over some paperwork explaining what was abnormal about the other four embryos but it didn’t make any sense to me. I was just for sure that I did not produce any good eggs and that I would never have a baby of my own.

As much as Nick tried to get me to think positive, I could not. I spent the next week plus depressed, sporadically crying, researching infertility grants and seeking information on adoption. I am nothing if not prepared. But nothing could have prepared me for the miracle that happened next.

There can be miracles, when you believe…

It is with great joy, but also with a heavy heart, that we announced to the world that we are pregnant with not one, but two miracle babies!

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Joy because it is finally our turn to have a family. Joy because we have seen two lines, heard our baby’s heartbeats and allowed ourselves to look to the future. It is with a heavy heart because I know there are so many well deserving people out there still being crushed by the weight of infertility and a dream lost. For every tear of joy, there has been a tear of sorrow. For every moment I have not quite believed, there is another living with the reality of infertility. And as much as my heart has broken, it has also been repaired.

We cannot begin to explain how incredibly blessed we feel. In our wildest dreams we did not imagine that this would be our story. We are so thankful for this journey we have been through. For all of the wonderful people we have met, for all the lessons it has taught us, and for the gift that we have been given. It is true that God works in mysterious ways, and that He has a plan.

I look forward to transitioning this blog from one of infertility, to one of pregnancy, and (God-willing) eventually to one with a focus on family. But I promise to never forget where I came from. To never discount someone’s journey or struggle because my own took a turn for the best. I will never forget the pain that came with each month, the fear of the unknown, or the feeling of being broken. I understand if it is too difficult for some of my followers to continue this journey with me, and I wish you all the best of luck. A family is waiting for you all, one way or another. I just know it.

Baby A & Baby B are due to arrive on October 8, 2016. However, because we are having twins, my doctor said that I would deliver at 36 weeks, which puts us at around September 10th. We found out the wonderful news on February 1, 2016. I have since posted a couple of blogs, but none have revealed our news. I have continued to write about our journey, and I plan to post my entries from the first trimester in the coming days/weeks. These will include pregnancy test day, the day of our first ultrasound, and a reflection on the first weeks being pregnant.

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We hope that you will continue this wild ride with us and we cannot wait to see what the future has in store!

Moving on after a failed IVF cycle

As I reflect upon my first IVF cycle this past October, and dealing with the negative results, I feel that it is important to share with you how I was able to move past the grief and hurt. Though I am still grieving the loss of those two beautiful embryos today, I am stronger and more determined than ever to have a family. The tips below apply mainly to an IVF or fertility treatment cycle, but many are relatable on a TTC level as a whole. Just remember, you are strong. God wouldn’t put you through anything he didn’t think you could handle.

  1. Don’t place blame. When faced with a negative HPT, it is often easy to think back through the cycle and blame the results on something, or someone. My advice? Don’t. It just wasn’t meant to be this time around. That sip (or two) of wine you had during stims? That’s not the reason the embie didn’t stick. All that soy sauce your husband has been consuming? That didn’t impact his sperm enough to make your cycle unsuccessful. All that stress you felt during the TWW? That didn’t keep you from getting pregnant either. It just wasn’t the right embryo, or the right time. Just know that you did all of the right things, and keep doing them.
  2. Prepare for your follow up. I cannot emphasize this enough. Go into your follow up session with a list of questions ready, because odds are the visit might be overwhelming. Here are a few of the questions I would recommend asking:
    • What is the reason this cycle failed? Egg quality, OHSS, poor response to stims, genetics, implantation, semen/fertilization, etc.
    • What are the odds that a second/third cycle will be successful?
    • Are there any additional tests I can perform?
    • Is there anything I can do to improve my egg quality?
    • Is there a new protocol we can try?
    • Are you participating in any studies?
    • What are the success rates for a fresh versus frozen cycle?
    • What about surrogacy? Egg/embryo donation?
  3. Allow yourself to FEEL. Cry in the shower, throw your shoes at the wall, and scream as loud as you can. You deserve it and you need it. Take a day or two off of work, take a hot bath, watch the movie or listen to the song you know will make you cry. Do this for as long as you need, you have suffered a loss. And you just spent a shit ton of money! Let your partner hold you (or vice versa), pray, write in your journal. GET. IT. ALL. OUT. You’ll feel better after you do, I promise.
  4. Treat yourself. Go out and buy a new outfit, or go to a special dinner with your spouse. Get a massage and a pedicure to help you to relax. It helps, if only just a little bit.
  5. Take the time that YOU need. There is no right amount of time to spend grieving the loss that comes with a failed IVF cycle. You might need a day or two, a week, or months! When you and your partner are ready, then you can discuss next steps together. Some people find that diving right into another cycle helps them, while others might want to take a few months off to try new supplements, therapies, etc. The point is, that is up to you. Don’t let outsiders influence when and IF you want to try again.
  6. Be proactive. Start a new diet, new supplements, or anything else you think might help increase the success of a new cycle. I find that being proactive and organized helps to ease my mind and the fear of a new cycle. Try eating avocados, or starting acupuncture. It might not help, but it certainly won’t hurt, and it will make you feel like you are doing SOMETHING while you wait for that next cycle to begin.
  7. Remember your relationship. I know you are upset right now, but your partner may be too! Be sure to check in on them and make sure they are coping as well. Also, try not to let the pain interfere with your relationship. It is important to remain close and in love, even during these dark times. Go on a date, see a movie, put together a puzzle, or go grab a drink (you’re not pregnant, so you might as well take advantage of it). You’ll find that closeness with your partner not only serves as a distraction but helps you both to feel better as well!
  8. Talk about it, or don’t. If you are like me, talking about issues really helps you to feel better about a situation. So confide in someone close to you and let them know how you are feeling. If you are the type who likes to keep to yourself, that’s ok too. There is no right or wrong way to approach the subject of a failed IVF. If someone asks you about the cycle and you don’t want to answer, don’t feel bad about it.
  9. Don’t give up. This is not the end of the road for you, there are still several options available to help you start the family you have always dreamed of. You can try a few more IVF cycles. Look into egg or sperm donations. And there is always adoption. There are so many children in our country and around the world who deserve a loving family just as much as anyone. You WILL have your family someday, right now the “how” is just up in the air.

 

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Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t

Over the past 15+ months, I have done some pretty nutty things while trying to conceive. Unfortunately for me, none of them have worked (yet) but I have heard some amazing success stories about most of them. When you are facing infertility, you will do anything (ANYTHING) short of making a deal with the devil (I don’t recommend that) to get pregnant. Each time you see that negative test you think “what could I have done differently?” The list below outlines some of the crazy (and not so crazy) things I have done in the name of TTC. The truth is, it can’t hurt to try them, as none of them are dangerous. If you find yourself struggling to conceive and are in need of control and the feeling of being proactive like me, give one these the old college try!

1. Pineapple Core

Yes, that’s right. The CORE of the pineapple. The part we usually all throw away. It is very fibrous and chewy, and it definitely doesn’t taste GREAT, but it isn’t all that bad. The theory behind this is that pineapple core contains bromelain, which has been said to aid in implantation. Just cute a pineapple into five equal parts (remove the outside, of course) and eat one slice per day starting the day after ovulation (1 DPO). The core is the most important part, so make sure you eat that. You can toss the rest if you aren’t a huge pineapple fan. I have also heard of some ladies blending the core in with their smoothies. If you really don’t like the taste, you can by bromelain capsules!

2. Hips/Legs Up

I’m sure we have all tried this one once or twice! I always laid down after intercourse for 15-20 minutes to hold the swimmers in place. Several people told me to try elevating my hips (I put a couple pillows underneath) or putting my legs up on the wall. I even went so far as to roll on my back and hold my hips up with my legs straight up in the air. This was not comfortable.

3. Grapefruit Juice

This stuff is nasty, but it really helps with cervical mucus! Around ovulation your cervical mucus (CM) should be of “egg white” consistency, slippery and stretchy (this helps the sperm travel to the egg). Well mine never was. Until I found out about the grapefruit juice trick. I drank a glass a day from CD1 to ovulation and my CM was never stretchier! Be careful though, grapefruit is known to have interactions with several medication, so be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist prior to trying this one out.

4. Mucinex/Robitussin

These medications are used for the same purpose as grapefruit juice – to thin out and increase CM. Be sure to get the kind that has guaifenesin as the only active ingredient (not Mucinex DM!), other active ingredients can have the opposite effect. I took this for the 4-5 days prior to anticipated ovulation and quit as soon as ovulation was confirmed. This didn’t work as well as the grapefruit juice for me.

5. Chiropractor

I visited a chiropractor for a couple of month to see if he could “adjust” my uterus to optimal baby making status. They also do a lot of work with the nervous system that can help to regulate certain processes that are essential to TTC. While I loved having my back cracked and finding out my hips are lopsided, I don’t really think this did much for me. But then again I didn’t really stick with it too long to find out. The appointments began to be too much especially with all of the infertility/gyno appointments I was having.

6. Pre-Seed

If you love lube then you will love this sperm-friendly product! This genius substance is meant to mimic that coveted “egg white CM” so if you don’t make it, no problem! It can also be used as just a regular lube. Apply some directly into the VAJJ prior to sexy time and you are all set. The product can be found at most drugstores (que Target trip) and comes with a few applicators. I do not advise that you use the recommended dose, that was way too much and way too messy. Start small and add more if needed. I used this starting 5 days before ovulation, through a day or two after O. Visit www.preseed.com for more info!

7. Softcups

This was one of my crazier remedies. Softcups are women’s menstrual cups, used to collect your flow during your period. Softcups are a flexible little cup inserted into your vagina and around the cervix. They are nice because they can be kept in for 12 hours with little to no leakage and it is not linked to TSS. I tried them for my period, and actually liked them. But the REAL reason I used these bad boys was to “hold the swimmer near my cervix”. I knew I had a very small cervix (the passage way from the vagina to the uterus) and I thought if I could just keep those little guys near the door they would have to get in eventually! After sex I would basically (while still laying down) insert the cup while scooping in the semen (I know how gross this sounds!!) and voila – no mess and I could walk around for hours just knowing they still had a fighting chance.

Warning: the first time I used these I almost couldn’t get it out. I suggest practicing once or twice, because the retrieval process is very strange. Follow the instructions to the T!

8. CoQ10

AKA Co-Enzyme Q10. This is an antioxidant naturally found in the body, but production decreases with age (peak production is around 21 years old, and then slowly declines after that). CoQ10 is said to be great for improving egg quality and egg health, and maybe even sperm motility and quality! I take 100mg, twice daily. Nick takes the same.

9. Acupuncture

For the past three months, I have been getting acupuncture on a weekly basis. Not only do I find it extremely relaxing, the placement of the needles can help to increase blood flow to the uterus and ovaries, among other things. It is also said to help treat PCOS and thyroid disorders. Here is a short article for more insight into acupuncture for infertility.

10. Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

Another natural infertility remedy that I have been incorporating into my diet is Red Raspberry Leaf Tea. I try to drink a cup of this a day, but only prior to ovulation (I do not use after ovulation because the tea is also used in late pregnancy to help induce labor, and I don’t want any uterine contractions keeping that egg from sticking). The tea can be used to help with the following: recurrent miscarriage, heavy menstrual bleeding, poor egg quality, uterine trauma, and for general female reproductive health. I use the Alvita brand and usually order online because the last time I tried to purchase at the Vitamin Shoppe they were sold out (and they did not carry it at my local GNC) – everyone must be jumping on the bandwagon!

11. Rooster Under the Bed

This is the newest bit of crazy I am trying out. My hairdresser told us of an old wives tail that states “if you sleep with a rooster under your bed you will fall pregnant”. One of her coworkers tried it and it actually worked! As far as I know, this does not have to be a real rooster, so my mother bought me a cheap vintage rooster at the antique store this past weekend (only $4.00!) and it has been under my bed since then. I guess we will have to wait and see if there is any truth to this!

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In addition to the above, I have also taken to touching every elephant statue or image I see for good luck. I also plan to eat Brazil nuts around implantation time this round as well. I am sure there are several other things I have tried, but these seemed to be the most interesting – and I do believe some of them actually helped, even if I didn’t get that positive! Good luck fellow TTCers, I hope one of these is your miracle solution!

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“Home Inspection” aka Hysteroscopy

This past Tuesday I underwent a procedure called a hysteroscopy. A hysteroscopy is a way for the doctor to look inside of your uterus, and provides a better “picture” than an ultrasound. A small viewing tool called a hysteroscope guided into the uterus through the cervix and is used to check the uterine lining and to look for and remove growths such as fibroids and polyps. It can also be used to diagnose abnormal bleeding. For me, the procedure was done to check for anything abnormal that could be keeping me from getting pregnant, or keeping the embryo from implanting into my uterus. It is like a “home inspection” for the little embryo waiting for us at the end of the month!

The night before the procedure I had to take Cytotec. Cytotec comes in pill form (three pills to be exact) and is inserted into my you-know-what to help “soften” the cervix prior to the surgery. I have to say it was pretty strange to do this, and they caused some pretty severe cramps that evening. But anything for future baby, am I right? The procedure itself was pretty painless and performed under anesthesia. I have had a bit of spotting since then and some cramping, but nothing to write home about.

Of course the doctor came back to tell me how things had gone while I was using the restroom, fortunately my mother was there. He said that “everything looks good and we are good to go”. So I take that as I passed my home inspection and our closing date is scheduled for the end of the month when we have our Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET)! Now all baby needs to do is continue growing and nestle in when the time comes.

  
I have started injections (Lovenox) as well as low dose Aspirin, Estrace 3xs daily and an estrogen patch this week. After about 10 days of that I will begin the dreaded Progesterone in Oil (PIO) shots again. I bought a weekly pill organizer (no, I am not a senior citizen) with both AM & PM compartments to help keep me organized. The protocol with this FET is very different from my fresh transfer back in October. Knowing we are doing something different provides added comfort and hope. I look forward to sticking myself with needles again, as it means we are one step closer to getting that baby of ours.

Estrogen patch!
 
I will continue with my weekly acupuncture appointments and am going to attempt a much healthier diet (the holidays sent me downhill fast) with a focus on eggs, avocado, and nuts/seeds. I am hoping to get in a serving per day of each of these items. Other than that, I will try to avoid fried foods and sweets. There is no time like the New Year to try that out I’d say!

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Embaby its cold outside!

Guess who had FIVE embryos make it to freeze……this girl!! Words cannot describe our excitement! (Get it, embaby its “cold” outside….because they are frozen)?

We had our egg retrieval last Tuesday where 9 eggs were collected, 6 mature and 6 fertilized. I was actually pretty upset by this news. Last cycle we had 13 eggs collected, 11 mature and 9 fertilized! In my mind this cycle was worse because the odds seemed to be against us. More eggs = more fertilized = more embryos, right? Wrong.

We spent the week following the transfer waiting for news. Our clinic does not provide daily embryo updates, so it was an extremely long week. I thought we would find out on Monday, but Monday came and went with no news. And so did Tuesday. I was convinced all of my eggs had died and that I would receive horrible news. Like pregnancy test day.

Wednesday afternoon, just when I thought I might have a panic attack from the waiting, the clinic called me with the wonderful news that 5 of our 6 fertilized eggs had made it to freeze. Three were frozen on Day 5 and two on Day 7. Can you believe it? I still can’t! Those are great odds considering last cycle only 3 of 9 were good enough (two were transferred and lost, and one was frozen). So we have 6 frozen embryos, total. That means 6 tries for our little human. One of those will be our take home baby, I just know it.

We have nothing else scheduled for the rest of December, which will be a nice little break. I look forward to spending the holidays with my family and drinking wine. Come January we will dive right back into the meds, ultrasounds and bloodwork, in preparation for our FET. I can’t believe I am saying this but I am actually excited. I feel positive that this will work. 🙂

 

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Thankfully waiting….

While trying so very hard to conceive, it is easy to get caught up in all of the pain, loss and hurt we have been put through. Between the ultrasounds, blood work and injections, the 3am Google searches, and the constant envy, I find that I often overlook all of the wonderful things I have in my life and that this journey has brought me.

There is more to life than babies (as hard as that may seem to believe!), and I am lucky to be blessed with many other gifts that have made my life, and this past year especially, fulfilling. So, with Thanksgiving quickly approaching, I would like to take some time to reflect on what I am thankful for:

  1. My husband Nick – Nick has been my rock throughout this entire process. He manages to make me smile and laugh every day and he never forgets to tell me what a strong and beautiful woman I am (even amidst full on temper tantrum). He appeases my every superstition and fertility trick an he assures me that all will be right in the world if we just continue to think positive. He is my everything and I am so thankful that he makes up the other half of my whole.
  2. My parents and in-laws – Their positivity is a force to be reckoned with and their support has been astounding. They have gone above and beyond their parental duties. As much as I know this process pains them too, they manage to wear a smile day in and day out and to help me through my darkest hours when I think nothing in the world will ever go my way. They make me want to be a parent even more with every day that they show me their love, and they help me to believe that I can do ANYTHING.
  3. My puppies –  The two furballs of cuteness make my everyday a blessing in so many ways. Their unconditional love and devotion melts my heart. They seem to know exactly what to do to cheer me up and their constant companionship keeps me sane. They have made me parents in a less traditional manner and I love them as though they were human babies. Together with my husband they have taught me the meaning of family.
  4. My friends & family – I could not do this with out their support! They put up with my constant complaining and crazy TTC methods, they understand and forgive me for saying things in the heat of the moment that I certainly don’t mean, and they continue to pray for us. They take me out when I need to let loose, stay in with me when I’m feeling extra emotional, and send me positive thoughts on a daily basis. Through all of the ups and downs they treat me the same as they did before my diagnosis. Which is just what I need to keep me grounded.
  5. That my close friends have not had to experience infertility to the extent that we have. I am thankful that they remain naive to the process and unscarred by the pain. I would not wish this upon anyone.
  6. Those who are going through this journey. On the flip side, I am thankful for the women I have met (and those who I already knew who have reached out) that are going through IVF and similar situations. They can relate to my emotions and help to provide a sense of normalcy in my life. These strong, courageous women are a blessing in my life and I cannot wait to watch all of them become the mothers they were meant to be.
  7. My beautiful home that provides a cozy (and exquisitely decorated, I might add) setting for spending time with family and friends, laughing until I cry and even crying until I can manage again. I always feel safe here.
  8. The doctors and nurses at IVF Michigan –  they are helping me to realize a dream. They are always reassuring and eager to answer my texts and calls at all hours of the day. I feel as though my future is in the best hands possible and I am thankful for the knowledge and skill that they bring to the table. Science is amazing and these experts know what they are doing. I trust them.
  9. My job –  I am lucky to have a job that I love that allows me to work flexible hours and offers another support system in my life. They are so understanding and are rooting for our success as much as anyone else.
  10. My health & the health of those around me. I may be suffering from infertility but my general health is fantastic (minus the anxiety, of course), as is that of most of my close family and friends. I am blessed to have my parents and both sets of grandparent still in my life, and Nick to have both of his parents as well. We have a bright and healthy future. A healthy life is a gift we often take for granted.
  11. My faith in God. I do not pride myself on being the most religious person on the planet, but throughout my journey I have found myself becoming closer to God. I am slowly building a relationship with Him and I know He has a plan for me and my family. I have faith that my life will turn out exactly as he planned it.

I could go on and on about all of the things I am thankful for, but my fingers are getting tired of typing. As I sit here and review the list I just compiled I realize just how lucky I am. This list is proof that if a child is not in our future that we CAN and WILL find happiness and purpose in all of the beautiful blessings that already surround us.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL!!!

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