Eastward Ho!

25 Aug

Warning: Potentially repetitive, obsessive post ahead!

A little bit ago, I mentioned this book that I recently picked up at my local library. I am a frequent visitor to the “Women’s Health” section at every book borrowing facility within a 10 mile radius of my home, as well as every bookstore. I avidly absorb every expert tome on my new favorite subject. This one grabbed my attention (although  it doesn’t take much) with its “Proven” promise, and its estimation that “as many as half of the woman who use IVF could get pregnant without it.” Not sure how I feel about such bold confidence in the face of so many people trying absolutely everything and IVF was the only thing that worked… Or how irritating it could be to read that when you already spent huge amounts of money, regardless of the outcome. But I digress.

The first chapters mostly recap everything I’ve tried so far in my quest to create life. When it comes to following the rules of this game, I am a star player, despite my miserable performance.

When my biological clock reached out and punched me, I was in good health. I’ve maintained a normal weight; eat enough protein, fruit, veggies and whole grains; have a very casual, spontaneous relationship with white fluffy carbs that never gets too serious or beyond my control; and although I have had some lazy spells, I make an effort to exercise. I don’t smoke, limit coffee to one cup a day and while I enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, (or good cheese) that’s really my only vice. I might indulge in a couple of umbrella drinks when I’m poolside in say, Palm Springs, or the tropics, but that happens once, twice a year, at best. OK, now I just sound like a boring pain in the ass. I’m not. Really.

My next step was developing a whole new relationship with my menstrual cycle. She was regular, so I didn’t have to chase her down or wait for her to show up, but I had never paid much attention to ovulation. I followed the advice to have sex every other day starting from Day 10. When that didn’t work the first month or so, I used OPKs. These, combined with charting alerted me to a possible luteal phase defect, (10 days instead of 12-14) I started supplementing my daily multivitamin – folic acid – evening primrose oil trio with B6 and Vitex. It’s hard to know whether those actually worked, because 3 or so months into that coincided with my introduction to Clomid. My luteal phase stopped trying to cut class and I was pregnant. All that hard work paid off. Little did I know it was just the beginning.

My first pregnancy blood test (followed quite rudely by a miscarriage) revealed very low progesterone. My ob/gyn couldn’t believe I was technically still “pregnant” at the time of that blood draw. We probably should have checked it earlier in my first Clomid cycle, but it was Christmas and I was in Hawaii, so we didn’t. We couldn’t. And I don’t think it would have saved that pregnancy. Or I like to think it wouldn’t, otherwise I’d be beating myself up somewhere. So we supplemented my next few Clomid cycles with Prometrium after ovulation. Luteal phase maintained good behavior, but not good enough.

Then there was more advanced testing. We established there was enough normal sperm, ovaries that were producing eggs and not working overtime to do so, open tubes, a fibroid free, normal uterus. We tried a higher dose of Clomid earlier in my cycle and then added back-to-back inseminations. And all this time, I never gave up on that quaint, darling notion of timed intercourse.  WhyTF couldn’t sperm and egg just get together and make an embryo already?! This f-ing unexplained infertility business is a big fat pain in the ass.

So, I’m staying healthy, I’ve checked my supplements, I’ve succumbed to testing and catheter conception. We seem to have ruled out all kinds of potential obstacles. I’m hoping that there are a few more stops before IVF and it seems that there is: Chinese medicine. In all honesty the “old” me was a little skeptical of these interventions, but I am not that me anymore. Not at all.

One of the authors of the book (Jill Blakeway) is a Chinese medicine practitioner and there’s a whole section on how to identify your fertility “type.” and the right program to get you pregnant, broken down by Diet, Lifestyle, Supplements and Medical Assistance. The book outlines all the types, with checklists, but it was much easier to figure it out here.

So according to the “Making Babies” plan, I am “Dry” and “Tired.” Which is interesting , since the descriptions for each are somewhat contradictory. But either way, here are the things I should be avoiding/embracing:

  • more bone marrow (No thanks. I’m not so much an “innards” or “parts” eater)
  • more flax seeds
  • less “warming” foods like spicy things, and rice (Oh crap. I love spicy food! And rice! Often together!)
  • less aerobic exercise (Shit. Running keeps me sane.)
  • more tai chi, walking and yoga
  • less hot yoga (Generally not a fan, but of course I did just buy a class series at a popular Bikram studio here in L.A.)
  • less time in front of the computer (How the hell am I supposed to obsess about infertility when I am away from my computer?)
  • more L-carnitine, wheat grass, Royal Jelly, liquid chlorophyll and false unicorn root.  (I see a trip to Nature Mart in my future.)
  • more Chinese herbs and acupuncture to nourish yin and boost qi

The moral of this very long story is that in addition to the food/lifestyle ideas I hadn’t already tried, I think I need to get in on some regular needle action. I tried acupuncture once, last year, on the advice of a friend who is a huge fan. But it was so expensive, (Blue Shit Shield wanted no part of it) and I felt more comfortable saving that money for other treatment. But now, with the prospect of another failed IUI cycle looming I can’t help but think that I should do everything I can to enhance the Western methods currently on the menu.

Any opinions/advice/thoughts about Chinese medicine, acupuncture, royal jelly, wheat grass, bone marrow or anything else I’ve prattled on about?

And now if you’ll excuse me I have to track down the other part of this babymaking equation so he can figure out his fertility type and get with the program too. If I’m eating bone marrow, so is he!

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4 Responses to “Eastward Ho!”

  1. Secret Sloper August 25, 2010 at 5:22 pm #

    I’m Stuck (which reads exactly like me) and Tired (which really doesn’t). The stuck stuff all makes sense–except they want me to avoid alcohol. I’m sorry, the last 18 months would not have been bearable without a drink here and there!

    My insurance also doesn’t cover acupuncture, but I’m thinking of giving it a try anyway. My real life IF friend here in NYC goes to an Eastern Medicine school to get hers done (by upper level students) and it’s much cheaper. Maybe there’s something like that where you are?

  2. Jess August 25, 2010 at 5:43 pm #

    I have a long history of Unexplained Infertility and it BLOWS. I can say I did acupuncture. I can say I am doing wheatgrass now. What I can’t say is what will or won’t help. I just don’t know. I will say though that my skin looks better after taking wheatgrass.

    I do know though that spit out some crappy eggs. Oh, I also do Royal Jelly too. Good luck figuring out your health plan!

    -Jess ICLW #74

  3. lady pumpkin August 25, 2010 at 7:28 pm #

    Hiya! I’d been planning to comment here, and then I got your comment chez moi. Thanky! I turned out as Tired, too. Not sure what I’m going to do or not do about that, but I do like me a good questionnaire. So what can I tell you…I went for acupuncture with a TCM doctor three times while we were in Paris. The first time was mid-cycle, I think, and the following cycle was when I got pregnant (and eventually miscarried). Make of that what you will. We decided that our success that cycle was due to some combination of the acupuncture, first time with progesterone supplementation, moving to a new apartment, and bunnylike relations. The second time was while I was pregnant, but after I had already started spotting. And the third time was after the miscarriage, to get things back in order. We’re actually going to a guy here tomorrow, and he’s supposed to be a fertility champ. I don’t imagine there’s much that can be done for this current cycle, as it’ll be CD26 in half an hour or so, but I’ll take whatever the various corners of the globe have to recommend. That’s all I’ve tried from your shopping list, I’m afraid.

  4. Heather August 26, 2010 at 9:06 am #

    Okay, I bit and took the “test.” It says I’m stuck. (Gee, ya think, I’ve only been at this for 2 years now.) However, I don’t have many of the stuck symptoms and for some of them I have the opposite, so who knows. But figuratively I am stuck. LOL!

    Best wishes on your cycle!

    ICLW

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