My Story

Hi there, welcome to my blog. Yes I am a drama queen and yes I have been deemed “infertile” by a few of the medical experts in the great State of Colorado but that hasn’t made me give up my quest to have children quite yet. My husband and I have been on the emotional roller coaster of infertility since March of 2009 when I stopped taking birth control after being on it for ten straight years. I have been keeping a journal since the start of this process and thought I would share it with all of the other incredible women out there who may be going through the same thing or similar thing that I am. At age 28, I have been diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Failure (POF). With no history of fertility problems on either side of my family and normal periods before going on the pill, I was left to accept that I have this condition and that there is no medical explanation for it. Since receiving this diagnosis from a fertility specialist in May 2009, I decided I simply wasn’t going to accept that I wasn’t going to have children with my own eggs. I jumped into the world of Eastern Medicine, worked with an Endocrinologist and even went on a fertility diet trying to get my ovaries to start functioning normally. The conclusion I have come to is this…..having Celiac Disease (Gluten/Flour intolerance) and continuing to eat flour throughout most of my childhood and part of adulthood caused my body to produce anti-bodies that have now started attacking the organs/glands in my body. After a visit to an endocrinologist in December 2009, it was determined that I have ovarian antibodies which are essentially antibodies produced by my body that only attack the endocrine system. No doctor has actually confirmed my self diagnosis that the Gluten Intolerance caused this but Celiac Disease is an auto immune disorder and any auto immune disorder can cause your body to attack itself. I am currently waiting to see a Reproductive Endocrinologist to see what the next steps for me will be. I have read that doctors can try and stimulate the Pituitary Gland to get your Endocrine System running again or that you can be given steroids to help restore ovary function. I am hoping to receive one of these treatments in the near future but only time will tell. In the past 10 months, I have watched many of my close friends become pregnant while I remain a sad statistic. This blog contains my thoughts as I struggle through the process of figuring out what in the world is going on with my body and how I continue to try to stay upbeat and positive about my fertility and enjoy my life. I hope that my blog can help others would love to hear from other women going through the same thing, inspiring stories or anyone who just needs encouragement. I know and understand how difficult every day can be once you have received the POF or infertile diagnosis and want you all to know that I am here for you. Please note that some of you may feel I am sharing to much information (TMI) and for that I am sorry. If you want to read my blog…you get all the details. You never know what will be helpful to someone else right? God bless everyone and I wish you luck on your fertility adventures:0) Remember mind over matter!

My intent is to raise awareness of the issues. Please do not rely on this or any other article when making decisions that will affect you and your health. These are things I have decided to try after much research.
I am sorry I have to even ask, but this research stuff is starting to get expensive. I am just asking for $1.00 donation for posts you feel have helped you. I will use all donations to help fund my research and doctors appointments and of course report back to you. Baby dust to all of you and dont worry we will all find a way to have children.

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Save the carrot shaving from your juicer and make carrot cake or carrot muffins yummy! You can also save them to put in a salad.

Infertile – a horrible word used to make women who are already feeling bad about themselves want to jump into a pool of chocolate fudge and eat their sorrows away only to realize that not only can they not get pregnant but now they don’t fit in their clothes. A word so easily tossed around by doctors that they don’t even realize they are saying it and a word that you never under any circumstances should google unless you want your brain to explode.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

PMS Perhaps??

My second acupuncture treatment of the week was really good and seems to have knocked something loose because I woke up this morning with what I think are cramps and a bit of PMS. I am saying this because I might have snapped at my husband and my mother for no reason and seem to be crying at everything today.  During my treatment, my left food twitched the entire 30 while the needle was in.  Somehow, I was able to fall asleep an woke up as Jeff walked back in.  I also started another herb, menotrol, that I am to take three, three times a day with the current one until the current one is out.  I pray that the herbs, combined with acupuncture and/or the hormone doses I will start at the end of this month will restore my period. Lord, I know I am to wait on you and when it is my time I will have my monthly gift from mother nature back but I don’t know how much longer I can wait. I will say that I woke up the past two days with cramps that required time under a heating pad, I am snapping at my poor husband for now reason and crying over nothing so it appears that I could be PMSing. All I remember about PMS as a teenager was having zero control over my emotions and snapping at my poor mother for no reason.  Even my husband asked if I had PMS. Usually any normal women would get really angry if their husbands said that to them but I got a huge smile on my face and replied “I hope so!” Anyway, I really hope that my time is near. Don’t get me wrong Lord, I am happy helping others but it is getting really hard to watch everyone around me have children while I continue to anxiously await the arrival of mother nature for my long and overdue gift. I know this is sad, but I even cut out a Tampax add with mother nature holding a monthly gift so I can look at it while I walk on the treadmill at night. I think if I call her to come visit me she will. We used to have 7 days visits every month! How could she just stop visiting completely with no warning!! Or at least without a warning I could recognize as a warning! I just found out via my mother today that my cousin and his girlfriend of only a few months are pregnant with their first baby. I was standing in line at Panera Bread Company waiting to order some lunch when my mom told me. I started crying but I didn’t dare step out of line and loose my spot so I stood their crying like a freak until I could order my food. I could tell the people in back of me wanted my spot and I was not giving it up for anything…after all now I needed to eat away my sad feelings so I needed the food more then they did.  I got my food and walked very quickly to my car, hung up the phone and let the tears fall. I decided that again things happen for a reason and that the baby my cousin and his soon to be wife are expecting was meant for them, it is supposed to be and maybe for a reason non of us can see right now…point being I needed to stop making it about me and stop crying which I did pretty easily….after I bought myself a new pair of boots.  I thought I had gotten over the PMS thing and another family member having a baby until I tried to go run an errand for my husband at the local mall. I found a parking spot up front and walked in excited to walk around for awhile. Two hours later I walked out, bags in hand and feeling relaxed and ready to go home and tackle some more chores. I looked for my car, and looked for my car and looked for my car. I looked for my car for 45 minutes and then finally gave in and called my husband to come help me. I was absolutely mortified that I forgot where I parked and by the time he came to my rescue I was sitting on a bench outside a store in tears. Who does that? I mean a child can remember where they park their bike so why can’t I remember where I parked my big refrigerator on wheels of a car?? To make matters worse, I had barely settled in to his truck we found my car about three seconds later. I had been sitting almost right next to it!!! My husband was laughing and telling me it wasn’t a big deal as I slammed the door and got in my car where I continued the crying all the way home. About two hours later I was still very embarrassed but feeling better about things when my husband came running down the stairs asking if I could help him. He had locked his keys in the car while the car was running and he didn’t have a spare….I realized that I wasn’t the only one who does dumb things and instantly felt better. Sometimes we need these types of moments to humble ourselves so that we don’t forget we are not perfect.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Breaking Out the Big Guns

So you know how I wrote in my last entry that it seems that people are unloading their problems on me lately….like complete strangers?? Well I am beginning to really think that maybe that is my calling or something? I was just at the bank depositing a check. I waited in line and walk towards the teller as she motioned me forward. As I walked up she asked how I was doing to which I replied “pretty good, and you?” She then responded with “well I just broke up with my boyfriend of 3 years but other than I am fine.” This started a 15 minute conversation between the two of us that ended with my giving her the advice that she is the only that can control her happiness. How that conversation happened during a quick trip to the bank….I am not sure but just another encounter that makes me think I am going through this to help people. Does that sound weird?? I mentioned I had lunch with an incredibly strong woman last week who had lost a child?? Well she was nice enough to recommend a fertility acupuncturist whose office is about three minutes walking distance from mine. Even though I love Carol, my current acupuncturist, it has been awhile since I have seen her and I believe there is a reason I would meet my new friend and that she would recommend this new acupuncturist to me….so I made an appointment for this Friday. My plan is to ask for treatments to treat yin deficiency and help my body to suppress FSH and product more estrogen. This new acupuncturist works closely with many of the fertility specialists in the state and has knowledge of all the officers I have gone to in the last year and a half. I am very excited to get things started :0) I have been re-reading “Making Babies” and taking my own advise and am incorporating recommendations into my daily routine as I learn of them. Three of those are taking L-carnitine supplements, putting a heating pad on my lower abdomen for at least twenty minutes daily and incorporating Yin foods into my daily diet.

I continue to be amazed at women’s bodies and I mean that in a totally not creepy way. What I meant is that I keep hearing incredibly inspiring stories about women who have beat the odds and conceived. Yesterday a friend from work shared another with me about a close friend of hers who was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer, had an ovary removed and went through chemo. On the day of her last chemo treatment, she found out she was pregnant. The baby is fine and she seems like she will be able to carry full term. My friend at work said that if the woman from the story could get pregnant while going through chemo and only have one ovary, then I would be just fine. She is right, I have two ovaries with follicles, just need to build up some estrogen to get them going again and stay positive. I went to the meeting with a new acupuncturist, Jeff, a few days ago. He seemed very up on his knowledge and I was very glad to see him when I got to the appointment. That day, Friday, was an “I’m feeling sorry for myself” day and was also very stressful at work. I was so stressed and exhausted that I welcomed the needles he was going to be sticking in me with open arms. When I arrived, we went through a questionnaire, discussed my current lifestyle and eating habits and he looked at my tongue a few times. For those of you who are not into Eastern medicine, practitioners believe you can tell a lot about a person simply by looking at their toungue. Mine, for example, let Jeff know that I was very imbalanced. Great, another man telling me I am unbalanced! Fortunately, this  imbalance can be fixed (not so sure on the others). After filling out my questionnaire, Jeff started my treatment. As I laid down on the treatment table, I felt a nice warm heating pad like object on my back. “Let the relaxation begin!” Next he placed a small heal lamp over my feet. As he started inserting the needles, I was surprised to find that every single needle he poked in made my body flinch. Again for those of you who have never done acupuncture, this means they are getting a good spot. Once the needles were in, Jeff asked if he could break out the big guns and wanting to be as aggressive as possible I said “but of course”. The “big guns” Jeff was referring to was a machine that hooks up to the needles and vibrates them intensifying the treatment. The needles we were focusing on were the ones place over both of my ovaries. It hurt at first but he explained that my body would regulate in just a minute and I would barely feel it and would fall asleep. He was right, I woke up to him knocking on the door. He removed the needles and explained the we were going to discuss the rest of my treatment and what would come next. While I took my needle induced siesta, Jeff had been grading my questionnaire and had a diagnosis and recommendations ready. According to what I filled out, I had six imbalances. Kidney yin, kidney yan, spleen chi deficiency, blood deficiency, live chi stagnation and heart stagnation. Yikes, just like any other test I have ever taken…..a negative result. Next came my question “do you think you can help me get my periods back?” to which he said “I don’t want to promise you anything but I am pretty confident we can have things back in 3-4 cycles.” Three of four months? I thought, well heck I can do that. Next we discussed doing two treatments a week to be a bit aggressive since it has almost been one year since my last period. Then Jeff gave me some instructions….no caffeine, no soda, carry lavender coated cutips in my purse and use them whenever I get stressed (he obviously doesn’t know I was born stressed and that to fulfill this request I would have to walk around with cutips up my nose 24 hours a day). I am also to drink things without ice at room temperature if possible and soak my feet in hot water every night before I go to bed. Next we went over a list of foods I should be eating they include but are not limited to: broccoli, asparagus, spinach, sea cucumber, yams, garlic, chives, orange sweet potatoes, black beans, black sesame, carrots and celery. Fruits goji berries, pomegranate, kiwi, figs and lots of pineapple. Proteins include salmon, mackerel, tuna steak, chicken, lamb and pork. Jeff suggested making a chicken soup and putting a bunch of the veggies he suggested and then add chicken off the bone. He said to take the chicken carcass and scrape the marrow off and put in the soup. Next we discussed how my exercise program could be whatever I wanted until I started a period and then I would have to calm things down a bit. But until then, Jeff suggested working out for 45 minutes, 5 days a week. I was given herbs to take (three, three times a day) and was also told I could drink alcohol but only red wine. At least he didn’t say no alcohol at all :0) I feel very encouraged and hopeful that with the acupuncture and low estrogen doses, I will have periods again in no time!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Thank You to Beth Moore & Helpful Info From Making Babies

I have kind of been taking it easy the last couple of weeks. I have been listening to a great bible study on the book of Esther in my car discussing how hard it is to be a woman which has really helped me through all of the thoughts running through my mind. I have also been really concentrating on getting my metabolism back, working out and playing catch up at work. I am feeling very at peace with myself lately, like I have all the time in the world to figure things out and that I should cherish every moment like it is my last. I have been making it a priority to take advantage of every opportunity that is thrown my way. Lunch/Dinner invitations, happy hours, shopping trips, phone calls, baseball/football games, parades, emails you name it, I have accepted it and haven’t really had time to think about “the things” I have been impatiently waiting to show up for almost a year and a half now. The Beth Moore bible study I have been listening to has a chapter on waiting. On the audio, Beth states that we need to learn that if something isn’t happening at the particular time we want it to happen that there is a reason for it. Although it is tough to admit, this is me in a nutshell. I have been focusing every thought and every minute of the past year and a half to try and get a period and/or get pregnant and all it has done is wear me out and get me even more down. It never occurred to me that perhaps someone up there might have a plan and that maybe me not being able to get pregnant right now is all part of a bigger plan. This bible study also talked about how sometimes God will bring a tragedy into our lives to help sort of turn us into the direction we are supposed to go in order to fulfill our destiny. Since starting my blog, I have learned so much about nutrition and fertility and have chatted with so many incredible women going through similar situations. I have been able to help people get pregnant by recommending books, nutritional changes and other things and am so happy I have been able to do that. I have also noticed lately that I have sort of become a “Dear Abby”. Just yesterday while I was sitting at work, I had three people come into my office and proceed to tell me a problem they were having and ask me what I thought they should do. While at lunch a few days ago with a coworker, it came out that she too was going through a horrible time after loosing a child at birth. This is something I can’t even imagine working through but there she sat, emotions intact, some people are just so much stronger then others. My point is that I believe God wants me to help people, specifically women and that is why I my ovaries have gone on vacation. I needed to go through this to figure out that I have a love for writing, nutrition and that I am interested in my fertility past what kind of tampons I want to buy each month. I have learned so much and after listening to this bible study am actually feeling like I have a purpose again. Sorry to get all bible happy on you but this chapter of esther study just hit home and the best part was that at the end the speaker said “you are just waiting on the things. You are waiting on that baby which is a really important thing to wait on but if you just believe in God and that he has a plan, it will eventually come.” This hit so close to home that I started crying in my car. I wasn’t in hysterics or anything but tears were falling from my eyes because I realized that the speaker was right. I was spending all my time waiting on the thing I wanted the most in this world instead of focusing on everything I have the ability to enjoy right now. Ironically after listening to this chapter of the study in my car, I received a call from my doctor with some urine and blood test results. My thyroid test was not back yet but my urine test suggested that I had a small infection that could be cured with cranberry juice. Next we discussed the fact that I seemed to be shedding more hair off my head then I have ever done before and she suggested maybe I come in for a follow up and we could run some tests and maybe try a low dose estrogen treatment. Having previously been told that HRT kept you from being able to get pregnant, I asked if this low dose treatment could hurt my changes of getting pregnant and she said no that if anything it might help it. She said it would mostly be to just try and balance me out a bit since women with POF tend to have lower amounts of estrogen then women with no fertility issues but that it might give me the extra boost I need to restore my periods. I told her I would think about it and she scheduled me to come in on October 29th. I felt good about that because it gave me a month to think things through. The entire next day I prayed that God would help me decide what to do. For the past 6 months I have been doing everything the natural ways. Taking myself off the progesterone and thyroid supplements and not going on HRT would starting the low dose estrogen erase everything I have been working towards? Or is it the missing link? I prayed that God would give me a sign on whether I should try the therapy and help guide me towards the right decision. After dinner that night, I went home ate dinner, got ready for bed and decided to pop open a book I have recommended to many women “Making Babies.” I had already read many different sections of this book over three times but I thought maybe there was something I had missed. Turns out I was right. There is an entire section on POF and treatments/nutritional changes you can try along with success stories of treatments. Guess what? Right there one of the pages was a success story about a woman with POF who made a few diet/lifestyle changes I have already made and took a low dose estrogen and got pregnant. If that isn’t the sign I was praying for I don’t know what is! As I finished reading that section I marked the page, closed the book, turned off the lamp and looked up at God and said “ok…I will try it, thank you for your help.” I know it sounds corny and that there are many of you non believers out there but why would I choose to open a book I have read so many times and happen to find a section regarding the one subject I had prayed about ….things like this just have to make you think. I will be doing research and have my folder armed and ready by the time October 29th rolls around. At least I feel that God might feel that this is “my time” to start a treatment but until then I am on his time and hope that I continue to find some great research on the subject I can share with everyone else. Here is what “Making Babies” has under the POF section (pg 208):

• In POF, the ovaries stop functioning normally in women under age 40. Either the supply of eggs runs out way ahead of schedule or eggs stop responding to FSH and don’t mature. Either of these scenarios causes estrogen to drop because the follicules don’t respond.

• Estrogen will be very low and FSH will be elevated (FSH usually is above 40)

• Case study on a 32 year old woman; hadn’t had a period for 2 years; FSH over 90 with low estrogen; told IVF with donor eggs only option; to see if she had any follicules she was put on low dose estrogen which would only help her ovulate if she had any follicules left; patient ovulated very next cycle and conceived via insemination.

• 10% of women with POF conceive spontaneously

• Dr. Sami David has had success treating POF patients with low dose estrogen which suppresses FSH. If there are any follicules left, blood estrogen levels will rise with this treatment followed by successful ovulation.

• Another case study – early 30’s; low estrogen, high FSH;prescribed herbs to boost yin and clear the heat from her body and product estrogen; incorporated more soy into her diet; took an EFA supplement (I went to whole foods to get this supplement and they suggested just taking an extra tbsp of flaxseed oil); within three months patient’s mood and menopausal symptoms getting better so started weekly acupuncture treatments; by end of 6th month patient was ovulating; conceived.

• Book suggests women with POF are the “Dry” fertility type which means we are yin deficient. Suggests following recommendations for Dry type in the book, seeing a Chinese practioner for help in boosting estrogen and seeing an acupuncturist to promote ovulation.

• Acupuncture & herbs can be useful in lowering FSH and increasing fertility

• Use visualization techniques to lower stress and help normalize FSH (pg 90)

Like always this is going to be TMI but I have noticed lately that my breasts have been hurting for weeks at a time. I read in Making Babies that this could be a sign that I could be conceiving and having early pregnancy loss. In the book one of the doctors prescribed a progesterone supplement and one of the patients was pregnant within three months (pg 212). I wonder if this could be happening to me??? But then I read on another page that an increase in caffeine could be responsible for the breast tenderness. I have also noticed I am able to sleep better at night, my skin has more moisture and isn’t as dry, I have some changes in my CM and my mood is better. These are all good signs pointing to an increase in estrogen. “Making Babies” also has a section on infections and states that “every couple struggling with unexplained infertility ought to be screened for bacteria and infections so mild that they are flying under the radar. It is possible to beat the infection with a good diet and healthy lifestyle but it is possible that you have had the infection for a long time and so the authors recommened taking an antibiotic and adopting a healthy lifestyle.” (pg 253) “25-30% of women treated for infertility carry micro-organisms that can impair fertility which can kill sperm, infect an embryo.” After self diagnosing myself with a gallbladder issue and demanding a urine test from my doctor, I was told I had a small infection show up in my urine. My doctor suggested drinking cranberry juice to try and wipe it out and if on October 29th, the infection was still present, then she would prescribe an antibiotic. So although my diagnosis was yet again incorrect, it led to the discovery of this infection. I was going to just ignore the cranberry juice thing but I think I will be going out to the store before bed tonight to get some cranberry juice and a few other items recommended by the book. Suggestions listed under the “dry” fertility type are:

Food –
• “vegetables & fruits combine with complex carbohydrates and small amount of protein – see pg 297 for suggested percentages of each
• Small portions of protein throughout the day
• Flax and soy production (already doing this and reaping the benefits)
• Seaweed and concentrated green juice (already doing, I could eat more seaweed but don’t really know how, not exactly a yummy and tasty treat unless eaten with sushi)
• Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day
• Has a list of food Chinese medicine considers moistening and lubricating and yin nourishing
• Avoid coffee, black tea, caffeine and sugar
o Has a recipe for Fertili tea for dry types (pg 299)
• Eat more spicy foods

• Choose revitalizing exercise that is replenishing and meditative (yoga, tai chi or walking in nature) – I have been walking on this great path by my home you know becoming one with nature.
• Avoid any exercise extremely exhausting – limit to 30 minutes a day
• Balance exercises that builds bulk

• Get enough sleep
• Try to get fresh air throughout each day
• Limit time sitting in front of computer
• Adopt stress coping strategy to use during the day
• Be patient, could take awhile to get yourself back in balance
• Try visualization and self massages

• EFAs
• L-carnitine – helps with cervical mucus
• Royal Jelly (already taking in my smoothies)
• Liquid chlorophyll – helps with follicule building (already taking)
• Floradix iron supplement (already taking)

Medical Help
• If you are considering taking fertility drugs, the book suggests preparing your body for three months before starting the treatment. Wait until menopausal symptoms have improved or are completely gone.
• Acupuncture and herbs can help get your body ready

Although I am not feeling pressure to get pregnant right this second thanks to Beth Moore, I decided to give one last push on my husband regarding the IVF topic. He has expressed how against he is of using someone elses eggs for IVF and that he would not want to have children with someone else and live that lie. This has been killing me because I have never been the type of women who let someone else make decisions for me (even God and thus I have not wanted to wait). So I decided to push the topic one more time but I choose to bring it up at a time when my husband was in a very good mood on a drive home from a great day in Golden. I voiced my opinion on the matter and asked if he would ever consider it and to my surprise he replied with “maybe once it has been awhile, we are not even two years into trying and some couples have to try a lot longer then that.” That was a good enough answer for me. He was right, I can admit that (just don’t tell him I said that). I had to chuckle as I got out of the car, he asked me what I was laughing about and I just told him I was happy he had changed his mind and he just shook his head. What I was really laughing about was that I had waited to approach the subject with him until the right time and that was one of the other subjects the great bible study had covered. Waiting until the right time. All of the other times I had tried to approach my husband on the IVF subject had been when he was at work or just getting home from work and this relaxing Sunday afternoon was just right. Two new things to make me feel better about my current situation, I have God's plan which I pray will include my cycles coming back and I have the fact that IVF with donor eggs could be a possibility when the time is right. Ahh, finally some peace.

Reading Materials/Other Items That Have Helped Me

  • Inconceivable
  • Making Babies by Sami S. David, MD & Jill Blakeway, LAc
  • pre-seed Fertility-friendly Intimate Moisturizer
  • restoring fertility - yoga for optimal fertility dvd - you can feel it working!
  • Taking Charge for Your Fertility by Toni Weschler, MPH
  • The Infertility Cure by Randin Lewis, Ph. D.