Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Back to Acupuncture

This is just a little update... real quick like... as I'm buried in work right now!  I did start back at acupuncture on Saturday and it was great.  I scarfed down a chargrilled chicken filet from CFA before heading in, in fear of nearly passing out again since I hadn't done acupuncture in several months.  (I got very light-headed after my first-ever session.)  But I had no problems whatsoever. 
I was a little anxious to hear what my doctor was going to say about my body's "condition" since I hadn't been in a while and hadn't been back on Moo Goo all that long.  I swear this woman can tap my ankle and tell I've had a cookies n' cream milkshake in the last three days.  She looked in my ears and asked if I had any cravings.  Why did I not name milkshakes?!  Haha...  But really, other than the occasional swoon over a milkshake ad, I haven't had any viscious cravings lately.  I used to have mad chocolate cravings - so she'd stick a needle or two in my ear to nip those in the bud.  But I've tried to stay away from chocolate altogether and I really haven't had any. 
Overall, my energy is apparently weak.  She mushes on my ankles to come to this conclusion.  Duh, isn't that how you know you're a bit run down?  Not surprising... given my current tax season work schedule.  So yeah, we've got some work to do before T-Day.  She gave me a new round of herbs to take - several of which are energy boosters.  And she told me about a new cereal she found at Costco that she wanted me to get.  After spending five minutes discussing our common love for Costco, I agreed that I would go find this magic cereal.  And it is delish!  It's basically a loose granola cereal with pumpkin seeds and flax seeds (two of my doctor's most recommended seeds, by the way).  I eat it with my room temperature almond milk and it totally takes care of any sweet cravings that pop up!
Also in an effort to increase my overall energy and strength, I went back to yoga on Sunday after a month-long hiatus.  I didn't mean to go a month without, but you know... work and sleep have gotten in the way lately.  It felt great to get back in the gym.  It's amazing how one yoga class can make me feel so much stronger and beautiful and just generally more "with it."  We loves it.
OK back to work...  less than two weeks till I start my meds!  And tax season is over in less than three!  Bring it! 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Special K

I had wondered about this and, yes, it was definitely confirmed in my FET protocol instructions... I'm not allowed to get pregnant on this Lupron cycle. As if that's a problem for us, but still - I know God has a sense of humor and I never doubt that the impossible is possible. So doctor's orders are to either abstain from sex altogether this cycle, or to use two forms of contraception. And it's a good thing I didn't get these instructions in person, because there's no doubt I would've thrown back one of my favorite Special K quotes, as it indeed was the first thing I thought of after reading said instructions.

If you haven't seen Can't Hardly Wait - shame on you! One of the greatest movies of all time. OK maybe not, but definitely one of the most quoted films in our household.

"I better double bag it - I don't know where that girl's been."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My meds are here!

And I'm even more thrilled, because after the pharmacy ran my insurance, the total for everything was right at $100. Unreal! Our meds for the fresh cycle were over $3,000, so to receive this big box of goodies for only $100 seriously makes me giddy. Oh, the strange things I get excited over...

Here's a look at everything. There's a ton of additional syringes, so there's a lot of fluff in here. It's just two injectable medications (in vials) and a few others in pill form.

Here's the Lupron that I'll start on April 10th...

I think I can just do those in my stomach like I did my others. But here's the real bitch in the bunch - the progesterone...

Because it must be taken with this BIG ASS needle!!! DAILY!!!

The little one next to it is my normal size needle for injections in my stomach. (And don't worry, germaphobes - I threw those two needles out.) Lord help me with these progesterone shots! I've been warned they are not fun. The hub is definitely going to have to handle those because there's no way I can give that to myself. One of my friends did them herself and I have NO clue how she did. She has super powers, I think. My buns are sore just thinking about it.

Getting the meds today was super exciting though... I'm so ready to get started. And not nearly as freaked out as I was last time I opened my box of goodies. The progesterone shots are gonna suck, but bring it. I can do it, I can do it, I can do it!

Monday, March 21, 2011

FET Protocol - Here we go!

I just got off the phone with one of the nurses with my instructions leading up to this first FET (frozen embryo transfer) cycle.  I'm very excited and eager to start but really my heart is pulled in another direction today, thinking about my sweet friend (another fellow IF sister) who just lost her baby at six weeks.  Ugh, it just sucks and I hate it for her so much.  She will pull through this, I know, but it just takes some time to grieve and face the reality of starting over. 
So yes, I'm thrilled we're finally getting started here but today my heart is heavy for my friend, so my standard overuse of exclamation points is more limited today.  Anyway, this cycle I just started is the cycle before my actual transfer cycle.  My meds are on the way and my Lupron start date is April 10.  I'll do one injection each morning until they tell me to stop.  Lupron basically stops the next cycle from occurring, meaning I won't ovulate next cycle.  (The buns are ready - we just need to bake them.)
I also have an appointment in a couple of weeks to "rough up" the lining of my uterus.  Does that sound pleasant, or what?!  I've heard it's not too horrible.  I'll just pop a couple of Tylenol beforehand.  Supposedly this helps with the lining and implantation, so bring it.  We are going to be mega-aggressive with my lining this go-around.  They'll get me nice and plump, like a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.  Shooting me up with hormones.  Fattening me up for the big day.  Whatever, let's just do it.  I've got plenty of drawstring pants.
Lupron is the only thing I have to worry about this cycle.  Then once I start the actual FET cycle, I'll (at some point) start estrogen and progesterone.  I'll be doing the progesterone shots this time - which I hear are SUPER fun.  Intramuscular shots - the hub certainly will have to help me with those.  I can handle the Lupron, but yowzers - he's gonna have to handle the big needles.  Can't wait!  Oh the things we do...
All in all, it's stupid easy compared to a fresh cycle.  I am hoping we can knock it out with a frozen cycle.  With the pre-paid plan we did, we have already paid for another fresh cycle, but hopefully I won't have to do it.  We have two frozen cycle chances before having to attempt a fresh cycle again.  We have an army of frozen embryos, so honestly we shouldn't *need* to do another fresh cycle, but again - if the first two frozen attempts don't work, we've already paid for the second fresh cycle. 
I've got acupuncture scheduled for Saturday afternoon, so I'm sure I'll be put on an updated herbal regimen as well.  For now, I'm enjoying the "break."  I'm not supposed to take any herbs at all while on my period.  Chinese medicine is big on allowing the body to rest while Flo's visiting.  Fine with me... less pills to remember to take.
Oh and I finally ditched my decaf coffee this morning.  I've stayed off of caffeine for nearly a year, but got into the habit of drinking decaf in the mornings.  Just the act of holding that warm cup of coffee helped me wake up.  It's all mental I realize, but oh I craved it every morning!  My acupuncturist says "no coffee!" so with the onset of this current cycle, I agreed to nix it altogether.  I sit here and daydream about the day I'm 3 months pregnant and can feast on a huge milkshake.  That's what's getting me by on this diet: milkshake fantasies.
I'll give an update when I have one!  Have a great week...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Do Straight Jackets Come in Pink?

I stumbled upon a link on a fellow wannabe-mom's blog to a great article on the psychological impact of infertility.  Good stuff.  And kudos to the counseling community for recognizing what a friggin' big deal it is.  I teared up reading it at work because it hits home - hard.  I'm copying a piece of the article here and inserting some of my thoughts.  Jo Perkins, the author, hit the nail on the head with a lot of this...
It is a widely held expectation that if and when we choose to, we will be able to have a family. We do not challenge this assumption until difficulties in conceiving are encountered and for some this presents a major life crisis1. The pain and loss can be immense. And, not surprisingly, infertility can have a significant negative impact on marital and sexual relationships. It is a multilayered and complex phenomenon and a number of issues are involved for the individual and couple going through it, as it spans the biological, emotional, physical, relational, social, financial and psychological domains . . .
Impact on females
The female experience can be both complex and painful. It is generally characterised by periods of intense feelings of isolation – from her partner, her social circle and society. As more than one female client has reflected, it can feel as if they are 'on the outside looking in on the rest of the world'.
[AMEN, sister.  If I could choose only one word to describe the pain of infertility, it would be isolation.] Females can feel unsupported and misunderstood throughout the experience, which adds to their despair and isolation. Pregnancy and motherhood is inextricably wrapped up in perceptions of femininity [Yes - infertility feels like you have been robbed of your womanhood, which in turn can bring a lot of shame], and infertility can evoke a pervasive sense of failure as a woman, a person, and, in cases of unexplained and femalefactor infertility, she can feel that her body has failed her. All of which can have a devastating effect on selfesteem. For those females who desire a child, this desire can increase as the possibility of having one reduces and for some it can become overwhelming, which creates a sense of urgency about finding a 'solution' to the problem. The result of this can be that treatment is pursued without pausing to consider the impact of this route on them, their body, their partner and their relationship [We've definitely gone the distance but I think we've taken pause with all decisions, seeking others' and God's wisdom and certainly taking our time.  And we also know that if things don't work, we're going to be OK - there are other options]. Treatment can be an unpredictable, long drawn-out rollercoaster of hoping, waiting and disappointment, which may or may not result in the birth of a child, and which can take a serious toll on females in a number of ways. Ultimately the experience for females can be one of grief. [Excellent word - there is a lot of grieving in this process.]

Impact on males
Whilst many males have a strong desire for a child and a family, unlike many females they tend to have a 'pragmatic ambivalence' towards fatherhood and children. That is, they will be happy if it happens, yet can come to accept if it does not. A symptom of their pragmatic ambivalence is that they consciously adopt a compliant position in relation to treatment. One consequence of this and their inability to 'fix the problem' – as perhaps they can in other situations – is that they tend not to express their negative feelings about the treatment process or how they feel about having/not having children, to their partner. This can be mistaken by their partner as 'not caring', but, on the contrary, it is often because they care about their partner so much that they adopt this position.
[The hub and I communicate pretty well on this issue, but I will say there have been times when I've blown up because I didn't think he cared enough.  Which is of course not true, but as men and women we just deal with this differently and often get misunderstood.  I did, however, have to put the kabosh on him joking about our issues around friends.  It was never in a cruel way at all, but it got to the point where it wasn't funny anymore and I had to say NO MORE.  He had no idea it bugged me till I told him.  I just needed to speak up.]  This, in combination with the medical focus on the female, can leave males feeling marginalised and inadequate throughout the experience, and this is further compounded in cases of male-factor infertility. It can also lead to a build-up of resentment, which is mirrored by their partner.

The experience for males can be an anxiety-filled one that poses a major threat to their masculinity2.
[You know, we've never really talked about this... we don't have much of a male factor involved, so I guess I've never worried about it.  But he gets jokes from his buddies ALL THE TIME asking if they needed to come over and get the job done.  Hmmm...] However, it is not necessarily an experience they either want or feel able to share with their partner, or anyone else. And unfortunately, this can lead people around them to make the assumption that they are 'OK' and 'coping fine'. [Yikes.  Suddenly feeling a bit convicted].This is often not the case and, moreover, it can add to their anxiety and sense of inadequacy. [Oh dear, maybe I should stop reminding him that I don't *need* him anymore since we have 20 embryos on ice. ;-)].  Another feature of the experience for males is that they worry about the pressure on their partner, and their partner's increasing desire for a child, and the prospect of what might happen in the future if they do not achieve their goal. So it can be a time of great insecurity for males.

Impact on the couple
A combination of factors, including female sense of isolation, male pragmatic ambivalence, growing resentments, the medical, emotional and financial pressures of treatment and uncertainty about what the future holds, can exert extreme stress on the couple relationship. This normally manifests in a distance between them. The result of this distance is at best a lack of communication and at worst a breakdown of communication, which for many couples can result in separation
[Yeah, that's not happening.  No one's immune to trouble here, but we're not going to let this beat us.  Largely because, while I want a baby SO badly, I already have contentment with my husband and my God.  We are already a family and I couldn't ask for anything more.  And that, my friends, is truth.]. Throughout the experience, couples tend to oscillate between periods of distance and closeness, and the nature and frequency of these distances is likely to be a key factor in whether couples stay together during and beyond the experience.

Check out the entire article - it's a good read and may help you understand why your infertile friends are so damn crazy.  Thoughts?  IF girls, does any of this ring true with your experience?
The article brings to light the idea of seeking counseling as a couple when dealing with infertility.  Honestly, this is just not something that ever crossed our minds.  I think it's a great option and can be a big help to couples.  We have certainly had our struggles with it, but overall I think we have been well-suited for the battle.  We've got strong faith, a kick-ass church, amazingly supportive friends and family, and I've got a GREAT network of other IF girls to laugh and cry with (very crucial, in my opinion).  At least at this point, 5+ years in, I don't think we require yet another source of wisdom.  But hey, we only know where we are and where we've been.  I may lose all my marbles tomorrow before breakfast!  No one goes through this unscathed, but as the hub and I always have said - we are grateful for this journey.  It has made us stronger because we have chosen not to be defeated by it. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Boob Tube

Hey guess what!  No, not that.  I gave up television today.  Not for good, but for 40 days.  And no, not for Lent - our church doesn't observe Lent.  As I've mentioned before, North Point Community Church is launching a new campus this fall in Gwinnett!  We are having Good Friday and Easter services as a kick-off and the church is getting everyone involved in 40 days of prayer and fasting to lead into Easter weekend.  Thanks to my Moo Goo diet, there's really nothing else food or drink-wise that I haven't already eliminated.  Some people give up Facebook, but honestly I'm rarely ever on there so that's no real sacrifice.  TV was the only thing I could think of that would really suck to give up. 
I don't watch a ton of TV, but it's basically always on in our house.  Background noise.  And then I do have my shows that I absolutely look forward to every week.  And I'm not allowing myself to watch internet TV either... no Hulu shows.  No TV shows, period.  And no DVD's...  Anything on the tube is prohibited!  This should be interesting. 
As far as the new church, the permanent location will be about 10 minutes from our house!  We currently drive a good half hour to get to Buckhead Church (another campus), so that will be a welcome change.  But we'll be in a temporary spot for 2 or 3 years, most likely at the Gwinnett Center.  And this is where the Good Friday and Easter services will be held!  If you are in the area, come check us out!  Even if you attend other campuses, consider joining us for Good Friday.  Buckhead has done Good Friday services for as long as I can remember and they're incredibly powerful, so I expect nothing less from Gwinnett Church.  Click here for service times and details. 
I know a lot of you out there observe Lent... what kinds of things have you sacrificed this season?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Milkshake Confession

Yes, just as I wrapped last week up with a post on my strong diet will power... I willingly somersaulted off the wagon this weekend with not one, but TWO Chick-fil-A milkshakes. Small ones though without whip... gotta save some calories somewhere, right?! Ha.... but let me plead my case.

Friday was a rough day. A very dear IF buddy got bad news Friday afternoon. It hit me hard because I just wanted this SO badly for her!!! (I went to her transfer with her a couple of weeks ago, if you remember.) Plus, her husband had to catch a flight like an hour after they got the call from the doctor. So just a sucky day for her all around. After work I dropped by her place with a chocolate CFA milkshake and fries. Well and I had to get one too - out of sympathy right?! We slurped our shakes and had a good cry together. Time and chocolate heal all wounds.

Then Saturday night we took a little road trip to the southside to visit kuntry bride and her hubby in the hospital. They had an early delivery of their baby girl last week - a tiny little princess weighing less than 5 lbs! She was being watched closely in NICU but is doing wonderfully. It was so great to see our friends and meet their new little one, but being in the labor and delivery area of a hospital is still tough on me. I wonder if we'll ever get there... that part of the journey seems SO far away. I felt like any minute one of the nurses was going to say, "You don't belong here." And walking through the waiting area on our way out was the worst part really... seeing all the parents and grandparents with their balloons and cameras, oogling over newborn photos. *Ugh.* Nothing another milkshake can't cure, right?! Cookies 'n cream this time.

Oh, but we're back at it today, dear readers. No more cheats. You'll hold me accountable, won't you?!

Hope you all have a fantastic week!!!

P.S. If you're going to ask me why the hell I didn't try the new banana pudding milkshake, let me remind you that I hate bananas with an unrivaled passion. I made the hub get it though and he loved it.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Moo Goo (the crazy things we doo goo for a baby)

A twitter pal asked me the other day to do a post with Moo Goo deets.  I've done several posts on Moo Goo along the way and even did a week in the life of Moo Goo a while back.  But perhaps we need a refresher course since I'm back in the game and reference my crazy diet a good bit.  I'll try to keep this quick and simple (I've got a pile of work to do, after all). 
"Moo Goo" (short for Moo Goo Gai Pan, duh) is what I affectionately call the diet and herb regimen my acupuncturist has me on.  I started this last May and kept it up through our November IVF cycle.  Then I let loose some with the holidays.  OK maybe a lot.  Somehow the holidays carried over into February.  Hello, Valentine's Day... the holiday season is really long.  Plus I had my surgery in January which required regular doses of Loritab and mint chocolate milkshakes.  But with our upcoming FET cycle, I finally got back on board hardcore last week.  I considered March 1st my official back-on-the-wagon day. 
As for the diet, here are the major NO's...
- No gluten/wheat
- No dairy
- No alcohol
- No caffeine
- No cold drinks or food
- No raw vegetables
- Low sugar
- Not a lot of seafood
Sounds like fun, right?  Here are some things I AM supposed to eat..
- one hard-boiled egg everyday
- high protein
- nuts and seeds
- vegetables (cooked)
- fruits with seeds
- brown rice
So basically that leaves me eating lots of meat, veggies, and fruit.  I actually have stayed off of caffeine this entire time - even through the holidays.  I did fine off of it, so I figured why not continue?  I never had that much to begin with - usually just one cup of coffee in the mornings.  (The trick now is to get in a high protein breakfast - then I'm fine.)  I used to have a diet coke once in a blue moon, but I try to stay away from sodas altogether anyway.  And I'm not an iced tea person (don't even like sweet tea), so no big deal really giving up caffeine.  I have gotten in the habit of drinking decaf in the mornings but I'm in the process of stopping that.  "Coffee no good for you. Drink water." 
Starting this diet almost a year ago was scary because it felt SOOOO restrictive.  I didn't know what the hell I could eat.  It took a lot of learning, but now it's honestly no big deal.  I occasionally crave something I can't have.... I'm a fool for cheese.  But I'm just so used to it now.  And I've learned how to find other things to satisfy my cravings.  Plus if I have a really bad craving for something particular, my acupuncturist has just the needle for it.  Chinese medicine is seriously so fascinating.  I can eat most of the things I'd normally cook anyway, but with some alterations.  As long as I can control my meals, it's easy.  What's hard is when you're out at a restaurant or at a party.  Party food is like a gluten and dairy tango. 
So what's the purpose behind it all?  Most simply, the idea is to get my body in the most strong and healthy state possible in order to enable me to get pregnant.  A lot of the diet has to do with improving digestion and is a great move for anyone wanting to simply "feel better" - cutting out gluten, dairy, excess sugar, and kicking up the protein.  But some of it is tailored specifically for my needs/deficiencies (i.e. the no cold foods).  So please don't see this as a one-size-fits-all diet.  But I will tell you that simply cutting out gluten and dairy - though yes, it's a big sacrifice - makes me feel worlds better.  I have so much more energy.  I never have that overly full/bloated feeling after eating.  And my allergies are also tons better.  Some people are of course very intolerant of gluten and/or dairy but we ALL are intolerant of both on some level.  Go a couple of weeks without them and see if you can't tell a difference.
As for the herbs, I'm currently on a very scaled down regimen compared to what I'm normally on when doing treatments.  I'm taking just three different herbs (all in pill form) right now - Women's Chamber, Spirulina, and these chewable Pomegranate ball thingees.  I'll be back at acupuncture in a couple of weeks, so I'm sure my doctor will get me on all the other goodies once again.  OH and I'm also soaking my feet nightly (for 15-20 min) in Tibetan herbs (that are rather smelly).  Supposedly that helps with bloodflow and my cold hands/cold feet issues.  The Chinese are BIG on temperatures.  I feel like they are so much more in touch with the body than we are.
So that's my crazy Moo Goo world.  Since starting back hardcore last week, I have dropped 3 lbs (by cutting out certain foods I can't have, but also just by paying attention - I log my calories daily) and I feel SO much better.  Makes me ask myself why I ever stopped!  How quickly I forgot how good I feel on this diet.  Geez, how did this post get so long?  I gotta down some herbs and get back to work...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Enchilada Recipe

How does Monday get here so fast?  Actually, I don't mind... let's please get through these next six weeks quickly so I can have a life again!  Anyway, just chowing down on some leftovers here.  I made some yum-o GF/DF enchiladas last night and thought I'd share the recipe.  I wasn't sure if the hub would like them but he was very impressed!  And it's super easy - just my style...
Beef (or Turkey) Enchiladas
1 lb ground beef or turkey (we use turkey - 93% fat free kind)
1 onion, chopped
1-2 tbsp diced jalapeno (canned)
1 pkg taco seasoning mix (for GF, find one that uses cornstarch as filler or make your own)
1 jar Verde enchilada sauce (I used Kroger brand)
6-8 corn tortillas
Brown the meat and cook the onions in a skillet and add the canned jalapenos (to taste).  Add taco seasoning according to package directions. If you're using a homemade seasoning, add salt to taste.  In a baking dish, add some of the Verde sauce to the bottom of the dish (just enough to cover the surface).  Spoon your meat mixture into each of the tortillas, rolling them and placing the "open" side on the bottom of the baking dish.  You'll want to use a dish that will hold your enchiladas snugly - I actually used a glass pie baking dish for my six and they fit perfectly.  Pour the rest of your Verde sauce over the enchiladas and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes (watch for sauce to bubble).
The hub of course topped his with cheese, but they were so tasty, I really did not miss the cheese whatsoever.  And they're great leftover too... seeing as I just inhaled the last two here.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Reader Poll: Your Kid's First Car

So I'm gathering your opinions for a future money-themed post on teens and cars.  I'd love to hear your thoughts!  I've already gotten some great responses from twitter pals.  A lot of your answers are "Yes, but..." or "No, but..."  And "I don't know" is a valid answer as well.  So feel free to elaborate and give any "stipulations" you have regarding your kid's first car.  Even if you don't have kids but plan on it someday, what are your thoughts?  There's no right or wrong answer here, but it's something we all need to prepare for...
Do you plan to buy your kid's first car?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Clinically Insignificant

I swear I'm gonna rip the phone jack out of my wall here.  I could get a lot more work done if people would stop calling me!  And I wouldn't miss calls from my doctor either!  Ugh.  But anyway, just got a message from the nurse that Dr. T reviewed my SHG results and deemed them "normal."  He said there is a teeny tiny residual septum, but is calling it "clinically insignificant."  I'll take that.  Referring to my girly parts as "normal" is rather huge for me.  Up until now, I've been anything but normal.  So we're calling this a victory.  One step closer!