Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Frustrating Update

After all the testing, including the HSG, my OB had concluded that reason for my miscarriages was this mutant fibroid growing within me. Even though it meant a big surgery, I was looking forward to getting it out and on with my life.

Before my doctor would tell me the game plan, she said she wanted to review my information with a fertility doctor, just to make sure that they were in accord.

My doctor called me a few nights ago and said the fertility doctor said the fibroid wasn't my problem, because the babies would have been too small to be crowded by the fibroid. But I would still need to get it out because a full term baby wouldn't survive.

So I asked her what my problem was then, since I have tested negative for every ailment they have screened for. She said well if the egg implanted in the exact spot of the uterus that has the fibroid it would be my problem. Otherwise there is also bad luck (or something yet to be discovered). She reiterated that normally they don't do all this testing unless you have three miscarriages, and I have only had two. She said there is a reason for that, because it is so common.

Regardless, along with other weird cycle symptoms I had, I was sure it was the fibroid. I got off the phone with the doctor and called my best friend. She made a good point, she said look up how big a normal uterus it is. Google hooked me up with that info-8cm x 4 or 5cm. Well my fibroid is 8cm by 10cm. So twice as big. By the transitive property that I loosely remember from 9th grade geometry, that means, there is a good chance the union (area where fibroid and uterus overlap) might be fairly large and therefore not crazy to think the egg implanted in this area.

So now the fertility doctor wants me to get an MRI to get even another picture of the fibroid (add to 2 different ultrasound visits and an HSG). I am doing that Monday. They are trying to determine if I am a candidate for the Da Vinci surgery (you might know this surgery-assisting robot from the season finale of Grey's Anatomy).

All in all, this is pretty bad news, because now we don't know this is my problem or going to solve any problems.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How to Chart Temperatures

Just yesterday I was talking with a friend who is about to start trying to conceive. She had heard about temping but didn't know how it works or why it works.

Here is what you need to get started:
  • a Basal Digital Thermometer (which is different than a normal thermometer because it goes to a tenth of a degree, so instead of 98.6 it would show 98.67, which believe it or not, makes a difference)
  • a note pad and pen by your bedside to record temperatures or I keep my iPhone by my bed and record it directly on

  • I highly recommend a membership to and if you send me an email, and I refer you, we both get 30 free days. They offer a free service and a premium service. I did the premium service from the get go because you get more features plus charting can get confusing and the premium members can post their charts and experts answer your questions. I have used their help about 3 times, so it has come in handy.
What does temping show?

Your body's temperature changes throughout your cycle. When you first start your period it might be higher and a little more erratic. A couple days in you will see it is pretty low (my is typically between 96.8 - 97.3 degrees). All of these temps for the most part should be in the same ballpark. Once you ovulate, a hormone, progesterone is released. This is a heat-inducing hormone, meaning it causes your body temperature to rise. You will start to notice that your temperatures go up sharply and stay up, which is called a sustained thermal shift.

There are some signs that might indicate you are pregnant based on the temperature shift such as an implantation dip. Sometimes between 7-12 days past ovulation (dpo), you have a sharp drop and then the next day it goes back up, it might mean the egg implanted and your temp briefly dropped. There is also a triphasic chart where around day 9-11 you have a second thermal shift upwards (you are getting even warmer) which might indicate that even more progesterone is coursing through you and you are pregnant. Big warning, I once had a triphasic chart and I was late by 5 days, and not pregnant. But someone with a triphasic chart is more often than not pregnant.

The other important thing to gain from temping is understand how your specific body works. I quickly learned that the day before I ovulate my temperature drops quite noticeably. This is great because it let me know I am super fertile that day. Additionally, on you need to track other secondary signs, such as cervical mucus. Sounds disgusting but you get used to it. There are a bunch of different types but when the consistency is that of egg whites, stretchy and clear, ovulation is approaching. Some people feel ovulation pain or get headaches. You chart all this and over time you might identify patterns.

How Do You Chart
  • Set a consistent wake time: you need to take your temp at the exact same time every morning. You have to do it first thing without moving around and don't stand up. Even 20 minutes might make a difference for you, it did for me. I made mine 5:30am because I needed to insure my husband wasn't up earlier, snoozing and waking me up. Keep in mind you need to do this on the weekends too. I would set my iPhone for 5:30 to do my temp and then my alarm clock for 6:20am to get up for work.

  • Take your temp using a Basal Digital Thermometer with as little movement as possible. I have read only take one reading, because you will confuse yourself, but I did three because I found them to be inconsistent. At one point I bought a second thermometer and it was completely different from the other. So use just one thermometer but try multiple readings. I have included a link on the lower right hand side of this page for a basal thermometer at

  • Jot down your temperature or load directly into on your phone or laptop.

  • After you go the bathroom, check for cervical mucus (cm) and classify it. Then load it in, along with your temp if you haven't done so already

  • 3 days after ovulation (showing you have a sustained thermal shift) you will get crosshairs on Basically a red X and Y axis are draw and your ovulation date is pinpointed. I included an image of a chart for you to see what I mean. The vertical, Y axis is the date of ovulation. The horizontal, or X axis is the coverline. Seemingly, all temps (except maybe a few at the start of your cycle) should be below the coverline and temps after ovulation should be above the coverline.

  • At this point, if you have the premium membership, you will get a pregnancy signs tracker that rates your symptoms.

  • If the end of your cycle comes (typically 14dpo) one of two things happen, you will see a precipitous drop in temperature, this means your period is on its way and you should get it that day or the next OR your temps stay elevated which is a good indication you might be pregnant. But keep in mind so people have longer luteal phases and some have fluke cycles. By 14dpo, if you have held out this long, take a pregnancy test.
Some other points
  • you can track exercise. I love this feature now that I exercise a lot, but wasn't a fan when I wasn't exercising that much and saw other people who seemed to live for marking it on their chart. It does look good to look back and see how much you did

  • You can take notes about anything like, "did 60 minutes on the elliptical" to "felt dizzy and had no appetite."

  • You can mark a million ailments, like tender breasts, tired, increased appetite, all the little symptoms your might obsess over and convince yourself mean your are pregnant

  • You can track doctor appointments

  • You can look at other peoples charts in a chart gallery and search for people with similar patterns (which is helpful for the neurotic conceiver like myself). This might be a premium only feature, I am not sure.

  • You can input test data, such as ovulation tests, pregnancy tests, and there is even a box for the Clearblue Easy Fertility Monitor which you can select low, high, or peak. This helps your correlate all the data, such as knowing you get a peak generally 1 day before you ovulate, not the exact day of ovulation.
Charting helps you learn your body and to be more aware of primary and secondary fertility signs. If you are having trouble getting pregnant, I would definitely try this for a couple months before putting yourself through expensive and sometimes painful testing.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Clearblue Fertility Monitor

A bunch of my friends have asked me to explain how the Clearblue Easy Fertility Monitor
works and if it is worth the money.

To understand the investment, it costs about $150 for the Clearblue Easy Fertility Monitor itself which should last you years and shouldn’t need replacement. Then you need to buy the Clearblue Easy Fertility Test Sticks. These come in a pack of 30 and they say that most women need 10 a month. I always need 20 because I had a long cycle. The machine will either ask you to use ten or twenty, but no other number. Therefore, I was buying 2 boxes every three cycles. They also tell you not to mix boxes, but I did and it worked. Also, once you get your first peak, you can stop using the sticks. It will automatically give you a second peak the following day, a high the day after that, and low fertility the days after until you finish your set of 10 or 20.

What makes the Clearblue Easy Fertility Monitor
different than conventional ovulation sticks (side note: I always recommend digital over regular because your need a PhD in hieroglyphics to decipher the lines on the regular ones) is the monitor measures two hormones, estrogen and LH. The regulation ovulation sticks just measure LH.

So what does all this mean?
· When your cycle starts, your estrogen level is low and there is just a trace of LH in your system. This would read as “low fertility” on the monitor, just one bar. At this point, you have little to no chance of getting pregnant.
· As you get closer to ovulation, estrogen levels increase, but the LH hasn’t surged yet. This is considered “high fertility” on the monitor and you will see two bars. It means your might be fertile, so your should seize the opportunity by doing the baby dance, or as they say in the baby-making biz, BD.
· The last thing your body does to gear up for the big day, aka ovulation, is release a surge of LH in your system. This is what generates a positive OPK (ovulation prediction kit) or a “peak” reading on the Clearblue Easy Fertility Monitor. This is designated by a beautiful egg in the third bar. When you get it, you will spontaneously break out into the happy dance and mandate your man to be amorous that night.

I had an interesting experience with the monitor and totally believe in it.

When I started using the monitor, my cycles were between 35 and 39 days. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to figure out when I ovulated. I believe the machine says it is effective up to 42 days. If your cycle is longer, I think you can beat the system by testing later (if this is a concern of yours, shoot me a comment and I can explain further).
The first day of your cycle, you set the monitor to day one. Be careful when you set it because when you press the button you are setting a 6 hour test window for that whole cycle. Miss this window and you can’t test that day. I made mine for 6am. That way if I had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night I would be covered starting at 3am and if I slept in on the weekends I would be within my window, up to 9 am. The first month it will ask you on day 6 to start peeing on a stick. Each morning you turn on the monitor, a test stick symbol shows up on the Clearblue Easy Fertility Monitor screen on the days it wants you to test.

After the first month, especially if you cycle is longer, it will start asking between days 9 and 11 for the first stick.

My first month, I didn’t get a peak at all. It could be because LH surges often take place in the afternoon and the monitor might have missed it. I think this is uncommon. The odd this is, I did ovulate because I got pregnant that cycle. If you read my earlier posts, you saw that I thought I had gotten my period, starting my next cycle, but in fact, I was pregnant. I honestly wouldn’t have known if the monitor on my second month hadn’t gone straight from low fertility to peak. The pregnancy hormone, HCG, can often mimic LH. This also happened with my second pregnancy.

After the miscarriage and the time off we took, I started using the monitor again. My peaks coincided with my temperature shift (which I documented on I found it to be very accurate.
The last time I used the monitor, I thought I would peak day 20 or 23 and I didn’t. I figured I didn’t ovulate that cycle. Finally on day 27, I got a peak and as a result I got pregnant. Had it not been for the monitor, we wouldn’t have been trying at all. The monitor was the only reason I got pregnant. Sadly, lost that one too, flipping fibroid.
If you are in a rush to get pregnant, nervous you might not be ovulating, have irregular cycles, it really might be worth the investment. I know the Clearblue Easy Fertility Monitor
gave me peace of mind.
Once we start trying again, I will absolutely use it.

Drug Addicts and Newlyweds

There is a secret rage that simmers in almost everyone who is have fertility problems. Some people shoot daggers at the back of the heads of the pregnant friends and co-workers. Others have visions of sticking a voodoo doll with pins each time someone innocently asks when they are going to have kids.

I have previously have been irked by those married 5 minutes and then announce their pregnancies. I have matured since then. I save my fertility angst for drug addicts and people who are clearly horrible parents.

You might be asking yourself what kind of crowd do I hang with. My crowd is comprised of all upstanding citizens. So where do I find these derelicts? TV of course.

My husband is obsessed with the TV show Intervention on A&E. If you haven't seen the show, it is a documentary (new one each week) of a person with an addiction (from eating disorders, heroin, to sniff paint cans). I get infuriated when I see people doing meth and are pregnant or already have kids. This is a common occurance on the show. It makes my blood boil and I just want to have an "it's not fair" tantrum.

Then there is the local news. This past week in Chicago, a story came out about a woman who abandon her baby with the umbilical cord still attached. I understand some people are in bad situations, but it just the cruelest irony that it was horribly easy for the abandoner to get pregnant and they don't even want that gift, and it is horribly difficult for me to have a baby and I want it more than anything.

Feel free to rant with me. What type of pregnant people or parents irk you most?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

I'm Down with HSG- Yeah You Know Me

Yesterday was the big day I have been building to for 1.5 months - the HSG.

I worked from home in the morning and then when I went to leave to pick my husband up, I couldn't find my keys. I looked around like a crazy person, called my husband accusing him of taking my keys, and then looked through the garbage. Turns out they were under a magazine on the kitchen counter. Point being, I was so nervous after what I had heard and read.

I might have mentioned it in a previous post but my friend at work told me to "bring a towel or stuffed animal to bite into (for the pain)" and that she screamed "get it out" during the procedure. And she is not a girly girl. She likes hiking and things don't seem to phase her much.

Okay, so we get to the hospital and my husband seems more concerned with getting something to eat than my apprehension. I told him to grab food and meet be back in the waiting room.

So the test is in the radiology department, not the OB department. They give you a pager, like you are at the Cheesecake Factory. Greg came back carrying a tray with tortellini and was lamenting that they advertised a taco salad but they ran out (his biggest concern of the day) and before I could get pissy, my pager went off.

Next I am escorted into a dingy locker room. They gave me a hospital gown to put on and sock booties. It was weird, because you put this stuff on and instantly feel like there is something wrong with you. After changing, you are ushered into the ladies locker room waiting area. I was there for about twenty minutes and they called me. BTW, at no point did I have the option of bringing in my husband- maybe because of the radiation.

As the escorting nurse led me through the hall, I looked like a scared sheep. She said, "you look nervous". I said, "I heard this is excruciating". She said, "I am not going to lie, it hurts, but you'll be okay." Unconvinced, I shuffled on in my hospital booties.

Once inside the room, my regular Ob was there, clad in a radiation vest you wear at the dentist.

You climb up on a stool and onto an x-ray table. They essentially put your butt on what looks like a puppy pad. The doctor told me the results would need to be discussed with a radiologist.

Getting back to the pain, the doctor said this will give me a glimpse into childbirth without an epidural and the nurse said if I have to practice my opera singing (meaning screaming), go ahead.

I asked the doctor if it would hurt the whole time or just when the fluid went in and she said the whole time but different types of pain.

That was then I started practicing the Lamaze breathing you see on TV. I had flashbacks to the Cosby Show episode when Alvin, Theo and Cliff were pregnant. You might recall one gave birth to a boat and one a sub-sandwich.

I have to say, given how this was built up, it wasn't that bad. It hurt but I kept breathing deeply. And before I knew it, it was over. I think it took 8 minutes.

Results: My fibroid is huge and covering a tube and part of my uterus. Since it is impinging on my uterus it has to come out via surgery.

Next steps: My doctor is going to consult with a fertility doctor (I haven't met with a fertility doctor yet, but my doctor will make the contact)this week and get back to me by end of week to tell me what their consensus is (type of surgery).

Afterwards, I felt crampy. But not horrible at all.

Bottom line was, it really isn't that bad. Take 2 Advil before you go in and try to relax during the procedure. I wouldn't rush to do it again, but if a friend had to have it, I would say, it isn't so bad, it will hurt for a couple minutes, but nothing you can't handle.

If you have questions I didn't address, drop a comment and I will get back to you.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Gender Bender

I just came across an article on about a new product that claims to determine a baby's gender 10 weeks after conception versus the normal 20 weeks at the doctor's office.

According to the makers of "Intelligender" their special chemical elixir turns a different color for a boy or a girl.

I definitely would want to find out the sex of my baby, but I don't know that I would trust this test. The packaging seems pretty hokey too, not very scientific looking.

Check it out for yourself. Would you use it? I don't think I could because I would get so used to the idea of having either a boy or a girl per the test, that the 20 week appointment would make me entirely too edgy.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Putting my Best Foot Forward

I had my weekly Reflexology appointment tonight and I asked my reflexologist why she thought reflexology helped fertility. She attributed it to a couple of reasons.

1) overall stress relief
2) when you stress about something (getting pregnant) your body, unbeknownst to you, stores tension in those areas (you can actually feel this as she works your feet, it feels tender in areas you are holding tension)
3) it brings balance to organs and systems (endocrine system), so reflexology helps balance your hormones.

I have to say it has definitely worked for me. She also has mentioned that reflexology couple with acupuncture can be very effective. I feel like I am not ready for that additional step. It isn't so much the needles of acupuncture, as the time commitment. It is hard to bust out of work at 5 on the dot, commute home and then walk over to the reflexologist every week.

Sometimes when it seems a bit too hokey, I think about that fact that people have been doing these practices for a thousand years and it has sustained itself. Have you had success with getting pregnant by using alternative medicine?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Last Friday I went to visit my friend in the hospital who had just delivered her first baby the day before. I walked in and congratulated her mother, whom I had only met once (at said friend's wedding). The first thing she said to me was, "I am glad you are feeling better."

Come again? Clearly she was talking about my miscarriages. At first I felt stung that my friend told her mom, but then realized I would have told my mom too. I would just expect that my mom would keep the knowledge to herself but be respectful of the situation when my friend came to visit my baby.

So fine, she told her mom. She then goes on to say that she is a big believer in what is meant to be will be and if I am not able to have kids, I will adopt and there are lots of kids out there to adopt, and added, "you'd be surprised".

I kind of smiled and made a diffusive joke, but I was offended. I have gotten pregnant twice and though I have miscarried twice, I know I can get pregnant and hopefully when this mutant fibroid is removed, keeping a baby won't be an issue. But I didn't get into it because to be honest, I was a bit shocked that we were even talking about this at all.

What's one of your more awkward encounters of reproductive kind?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Little Miss Sensitivity

It was the day of the big ultrasound and blood work. A nurse escorted me back to the ultrasound room. She said, "why are you here, you're pregnant?" I couldn't believe she didn't read my chart. I said, "no I had 2 miscarriages and they found a fibroid, the doctor needs to see where exactly the fibroid is". She asked, "so you are pregnant?" I said, "I lost the baby, my HCG is zero,". She said, "So you had a missed a/b?" I looked at her puzzled. She clarified, "a missed abortion?" I could not believe this was happening, I very well could have started balling. So I said, with a very bitchy tone, "I am not pregnant, the baby died". And then we were on the same page.

So after she ramrodded me with the ultrasound wand, she said it was big, it hadn't shrunk post pregnancy, which can often happen, and I needed to get it out. She said it was in my lining, so it was definitely my problem. Since she had told me this info she wasn't supposed to tell me, I decided not to tell on her for being completely insensitive and not reading my chart.

Then I was on to blood work. The phlebotomist said, "oh I have never had to do one of this big panels before, I thought I could avoid it". I personally have had my blood taken by her about 10 times in the last year, so I must be the freak of the century that I am the only one getting this blood panel.

We were going to draw 13 vials. During the 10th vial, my only good vein gave out. They had to find two other people to look at me and finally a nurse came in and took the remaining vials from my bicep (read ouch).

The next week, I get the results. Negative for PCOS (hurray!), negative for Lupus, negative for about 8 blood disorders, POSITIVE for a blood clotting disorder. The doctor did say sometimes when you have these big panel tests you get a false elevation. The number should be between 20 and 41 and my number was 49. A couple days later they took my blood again to re-test.

Last week I found it, that it was a false positive. I was at 31. My little vein gave out and caused a scare.

So this leaves me with testing negative for everything. Now all I need to do is the HSG. The doctor did say that the fibroid was not in my lining (and those might not necessarily the problem). This was so upsetting to me. We will only know if it is the problem from the HSG, which will show her the inside of the uterus.

I am scheduled to go this Friday for the test. I have heard different things. A friend told me to bring a towel to bite down on because it is excruciating. I wasn't expecting it to be that bad, so I was not happy with that. I have read on the web that it is like severe cramps, but not horrendous.

Have you ever had an HSG? What can I expect?

Good News, Bad News, Good News?

It's April and once again I get my period, this time though my luteal phase made it to day 11. I am bummed, but still going to keep to the program of reflexology, new diet, and consistent exercise. Plus I started taking B-6 vitamins which are supposed to help with Luteal phase length.

A couple days later, I go straight from low to peak on my Clear Blue Easy Fertility Monitor. Oh crap- I am pregnant. Just like before I had what looked and felt like a period. I tell Greg and he said, "you aren't pregnant."

I couldn't go the bathroom again, so I couldn't take a pregnancy test at home. I got in the car to drive to work (takes about 55 minutes). I called my mom and she says, "you aren't pregnant, you were just here (in Miami visiting) and you had your period". I said I am pretty sure I am pregnant. One might think it is weird that my mom can comment on my cycle. Not as weird as when she comments on my husband's sperm. As in this conversation, "I am going to buy Greg a multivitamin, he doesn't take anything." Mom, "You definitely should, and be sure to get him something for healthy sperm too,". She said it like you would say, "and pick up a loaf of bread on your way home,". She still doesn't realize it is weird. But I digress.

So I get to work and take the test in the bathroom and sure enough, within seconds, it is positive. I started hyperventilating. And not in a good way and certainly not in a pretty way. Then the tears come. I couldn't believe this was happening again, I knew I was losing the baby. I called Greg and he didn't pick up his office or cell phone. I called my mom and she had to calm me down. I collected myself and called the doctor. 3 hours later I was there for my appointment.

The nurse did an exam and said everything felt fine, but the would do a pregnancy test there (pee test). It was positive. So they took a quant blood test (measures the level of HCG hormone). They wanted me to go get an ultrasound to see if the could see the baby. I was 5 weeks pregnant. They sent me to a mall for the test. Seriously, next to a make your own stir fry place, was the imaging center.

I changed into the gown and had my first internal ultrasound. The tech asked, "Did anyone every tell you that you have a fibroid?" And I said, "no, is it a big deal" and he said, "kinda" and I said, "could it be causing my problems?" and he said "yeah" and I said, "is it big?" and he said, "oh yeah" and I said, "how big?" and he said, "ten centimeters". That means nothing to me. I am an inches kind of girl.

He said the only way to get it out was through surgery. Since the fibroid was so large, he couldn't find the baby, but still it was early, so it wasn't a big deal.

I went back to the doctors office and met with a different nurse practitioner, whom I liked very much. She explained that basically this fibroid is the size of a baseball, maybe a grapefruit and it is hard. The uterus can't grow and the fibroid is fighting for space and resources with the baby and the baby is losing.

So while sad obviously that I was losing another pregnancy, I was happy there was a problem and a solution. The next week I met with the doctor.

I came prepared with about 20 questions which I put together with the help of my mom, my best friend, and my reflexologist. The doctor said she wouldn't answer these until we knew we were going to do surgery. She needed me to do a lot of tests before then.
  • Get my HCG (pregnancy hormone) down to zero, which meant about 3 more blood tests
  • Have a blood panel done to check for PCOS, which she said I might have because of the low progesterone
  • Have a habiutal AB blood panel to rule out other disorders that cause recurrent miscarraiges
  • Get an ultrasound to get the exact positioning of the fibroid
  • After I get my period, wait 10 days and get an HCG test. This is the same test they make you get before clomid. It usually checks to see if your tubes are blocked. In my case, she wants to see how the fibroid is affecting the inside of the uterus and if it really is a baby killer

Since she wouldn't answer my questions, I did a lot of research and found for a fibroid as large as mine, I would essentially need to have a c-section (same surgery) and instead of a bouncing baby, I would get a healthy fibroid. I would need 6 weeks to recover and all pregnancies would have to be by c-section. I quickly got used to the idea. My parents could know exactly when to fly up, my baby wouldn't be all squished, and I would never have to go through the pain of childbirth. I was all for it.

The Kitchen Sink Approach

Why change just one thing when you can change everything? In addition to the reflexology I had just started, I decided to start running. Why? Good question since I despise every second of it? I felt like I should get in better shape and maybe that would help with getting pregnant. Plus I need some stress relief.

I told Greg I was considering running. We have a 15 year old treadmill downstairs (was my parents). Greg is an excellent runner. We had gone running together once before, once. He is like a Kenyan (maybe an inside Chicago joke, but every year, it seems someone from Kenya wins the Chicago Marathon and runs it in like 2 minutes). Well the one time we went running, we were in Florida and I was huffing and puffing. Greg didn't break a sweat. He kept saying supportive things and it just made me more mad. I was so embarrassed by the great divide in our abilities that I told to just go ahead and leave me. He looks back on this outing and thinks it was a great time. I think it was humiliating.

So at 10pm and after a really, really bad day at work, he says, "well how far do you think you could run?" And I said, "probably not 2 minutes without stopping." So he said, "let's find out." I said "it is 10pm" (on a school night mind you). But my trainer won out.

I decided to comply. Rules were he wasn't allowed to watch. So he sat at the top of the stairs and I ran. I was able to go a mile without stopping. I couldn't believe it because I hadn't run in about 2 years.

Greg was a great coach. I ran ever other day and each time he assigned me a new goal. Within two weeks I was running 2 miles without stopping and hating every single second of it. I never got to a point where I could enjoy. It was torturous.

I was talking to a friend who is having fertility issues of her own. And she was telling me about her good friend that also is in our happy little club. Her friend had been a pretty serious runner. And by serious I mean had done it consistently for years and didn't dread every single second of it. Her fertility doctor told her to stop running and don't do anything more strenuous than walking and yoga. No joke, and this is someone who was athletic. He also put her on this super strict diet. The premise was that carbs affect insulin, insulin affects hormones, and hormones affect fertility.

So my friend put me in touch with her friend and she sent me the diet. It was like Atkins but way more restrictive. Plus you had to drink a glass of whole milk a day. I can't even drink skim milk, I don't think I could get through 2 sips of whole milk. So right then and there, I decided to go on Atkins. I had done it before my wedding and it worked. Unfortunately, I didn't go through all the phases, so everything I lost came back.

But the research is pretty strong showing a negative correlation to eating bad carbs and fertility issues. I ordered a pizza and said goodbye to those bad carbs.

Meanwhile, I was making my reflexologist's head spin. She said the point is creating balance in your body and every day you seem to throw in something else new -running, not running, new diet. She just wanted me to stick with something- good carbs/bad carbs, running/not running, just make a decision.

So I netted out with keeping on Atkins (it has be 9 weeks so far) and we bought an elliptical. I work out 3 days a week on the elliptical and 2 or 3 days a week I do a video like Jillian Michael's 30 Day shred, which is 25 minutes of hell, but I kind of love it.

So all these positive lifestyle changes, plus the reflexology helped me get pregnant. On April 24th, I got my BFP (big fat positive) as opposed to a BFN (big fat negative). Side note, Greg now knows the lingo, like "Did you tell Stephanie you got a BFN?"

My Mind Works in Weird Ways

For my birthday, my sister had gotten me a gift certificate to a spa in downtown Chicago. I went to their website and was looking through the menu of services when I saw reflexology. I had a horrible experience with reflexology once.

In college, I had totally stressed myself out and my parents decided our family vacation would be to kidnap me and take me to a spa to relax. Do I have great parents or what? One night for my spa service I picked reflexology. The idea is points on your feet are directly correlated to parts on your body and organs. So if you touch this part of your foot, it affects your kidneys and this part affects your back. An hour after the the reflexology, I was doubled over in the worst pain in my life. I couldn't move. It was awful.

So 11 years later, I am on a spa website and see reflexology. I was about to dismiss it as visions of a pathetic me flashed through my mind. But then I started to think, "wait, whatever that reflexologist did, worked in some way, it actually works".

Here is the description on the Spa Space website:
A 4,000 year-old therapy founded on the concept that the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet contain reflex points that connect to all organs of the body. Specific pressure techniques detect imbalances and dissipate energetic blocks to alleviate stress and promote the body's ability to heal itself.

It was like a light bulb went off, I was imbalanced to put it lightly. My system was completely out of whack and I needed to heal myself.

TGFG- Thank God for Google.

So I Google "Fertility" and "Reflexology" and there were tons of hits. Apparently, in Europe, Reflexology is used as a common practice for helping with fertility issue. One study showed a woman who had been having problems for over 10 years practice reflexology and after 6 months was pregnant. One study showed about 50% of the "infertile women" achieve pregnancy.

I was sold. So I called the spa but they said, "oh, we don't do it for fertility" - reading between the lines, they just offer a foot massage.

Bummed, but not resigned, I Googled "Chicago Fertility Reflexology". The first hit was from my savvy reflexologist (who knows a thing or two about search engine optimization). Once of her areas of specialities is fertility and her office is a mere 8 minute walk from my house. Crazy right?

So I called her up and we spoke for about 5 minutes and set up an appointment.

I had to break the news to my mom about me going off the beaten path. My mother had spent the last few months lecturing me that I shouldn't be seeing a nurse practitioner, I should insist on a doctor, so I thought she would have a field day with my foray into alternative medicine. But, she was surprisingly supportive (anything for a grandbaby).

It was love at first sight. My reflexologist is awesome. She is very smart, not a whack job, which some of my friends had bet on, and really knew her stuff. Her dad is a doctor (the western kind) and she totally respects it, but went a different path.

Reflexology isn't like a foot massage you get with a pedicure. It is more pushing down on parts of your feet and twisting it. It doesn't feel good. It usually doesn't feel bad, although sometimes it feels tender.

I started seeing her twice a week. She was trying to shorten my cycle (about 37 days) and lengthen my luteal phase (about 9 days to at least 11).

She told me not to expect miracles the first month, that alternative medicine isn't a quick fix, but if I don't see results after 2 months, it might not work for me.

It worked. I 50% credit my reflexologist with getting pregnant a second time and 50% credit my husband.

Safety in Numbers

Who ever knew miscarriages were so prevalent? I have heard different statistics but about 1 in 3 women will have one and 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. The nurse practitioner told me that since they are so common, doctors don't even test for a problem unless you have 3.

I told myself I was a victim of bad luck and this time next year I would have a baby. Since I got pregnant so quickly (two months) I figured it would happen again in short order. We waited a couple months per the doctor and started trying. But my cycle had gone haywire- unlike anything I had ever seen before. Ah- the gift that keeps on giving. My luteal phase (time between ovulation and menstruation, should be 14 days and shouldn't vary) was erratic. One month it was 19 days and then next 8 or 9, not long enough to sustain a pregnancy.

So how do I know all this? I discovered temping- how they did it in the dark ages before the Clearblue Easy Fertility Monitor. I actually used them in conjunction.

The premise is you take your temp at the exact same time at the exact same conditions (i.e. room temp) every morning before you even move. Before ovulation, your temps are low, and the after ovulation, a hormone, progesterone spikes and it causes your body to heat up. So you can see a sustained thermal shift. You can actually pinpoint that day you ovulated, and become more aware of signs of impending ovulation (I have a temperature drop the day before I ovulate).

I started off taking my temp at 6:20am. But then Greg convinced himself he would start going to the gym before work. He would set his blackberry for 5:30am. Here is the kicker, he never got up, he would snooze until 6:30, but my temperature was ruined. As such, from October to April, I woke up every morning at 5:30am to take my temperature, weekends, holidays and vacation and then input my data in (definitely recommend if you are charting). Greg probably made it to the gym before 6 about seven times during that same period.

Okay, so back to the luteal phase. I started getting monthly progesterone draws at the doctor to find out why my luteal phase was so short. I found out I had low progesterone, which I don't think I had previously had because I never had spotting before and months before had a 19 day luteal phases. They said they could give me Clomid. This drug would give me a "stronger ovulation". I still don't get what that means.

I don't even like taking Advil, so I said I would try some things on my own. Plus my doctor insists on an HSG (more about that later) and a semen analysis before prescribing Clomid.

This was the launch of my alternative approach to getting knocked up.

Did you ever take clomid? Would love to hear about it.

To tell or not to tell

The old rule of thumb is not to tell people you are pregnant before 12 weeks- theory being so much can go wrong, that you might lose it and then people would know. This is just one of our societal conventions. After experiencing a miscarriage (twice), I have to say I don't agree.

First situation: 2 weeks after the the miscarriage (at about 7 weeks) we were heading down for my grandma's 90th birthday party. The party where I had been planning to share my big news with my entire family. We are an unruly bunch but super close. My cousins (all younger than I) are always whining about when I would give them a baby. They are young so they don't think about things like they might be trying and having problems. They just want something to cuddle without the responsibility. Well I couldn't have been dreading this more. Last minute, we told everyone via phone and I am so happy I did. I wasn't holding on to this dark secret. I was able to have fun and didn't secretly run off and cry.

Second situation: My husband grew up around here and he is still best friends with the same clan from high school. Now we are all coupled off and see each a couple times a month. We didn't tell this group and it honestly has been painful to hang out with them, because of the incessant baby talk. Then people started announcing their pregnancies, and while happy for them, the baby talk only ramped up. You couldn't believe the way a baby could be worked into any conversation or a pregnancy symptom. Someone was always insistenting on having their back rubbed because "it is a lot of work cooking a baby". I felt like even if they knew what happened and said all the same stuff I would be okay, I just hated the weight of a secret. So much time passed that I felt stupid saying anything to them, but I dreaded our outings.

Third situation: when the second miscarriage happened, we decided to tell that same group of friends, and even though there has been no shortage of baby talk, I enjoy hanging out with them again and holding their babies.

So that makes me wonder, should we really keep this stuff to ourselves? What do you think? What did or would you do?

First Post- and an upfront apology

Thanks so much for checking out my blog. Before we get into anything, I need to make an upfront apology about typos and grammatical errors. While I pride myself of being well- educated and well-read, I am not blessed with the art of editing. In fact, my husband has pointed out so many grammatical blunders in birthday and anniversary cards, that I have started to include a red pen. Sometimes his routine is endearing and other times- not so much.

That give and take we have has seen us through a lot lately -in our quest to get pregnant.
My husband and I have taken things at a nice leisurely pace throughout our relationship, despite both being type-A personalities. We met in London when we were 20 years old. He went to the University of Pennsylvania and I went to Northwestern University. But we found ourselves living in the same dorm in London. After our first date, I told my roommate I was going to marry him.

7 years later, we were married- that's what I mean about taking things slowly. About 3 years into marriage we decide to take the plunge and start trying for a baby. We both had finished grad school and felt we were in a place in our careers where it made sense. Plus my mom's constant reminder that she wants grandkids while she can still get up off the floor, pushed us over the edge.

We had the talk before we tried - what happens if we can't get pregnant? Would we blame each other? But both of us were on the same page- we wanted kids no matter what and if it meant adopting, so be it. We loved each other, that's why we got married and kids were just a bonus.

So of course we had the talk and of course I told him you know it could take a long time, you never know if you are going to have problems. I feel like we all say that, but do any of us ever think we are going to have problems? I didn't- although I tried to manage his expectations, you know, under-promise and over-deliver.

So the first month, I was pretty chill about the whole thing. My cycle had been really long, but it was consistent. The only great effort I made besides prenatal vitamins was laying on a pillow for 30 minutes- which he affectionately regards as "doing your thirty minute thing".

And then the dreaded two week wait began. I half convinced myself I was pregnant when I felt slightly, and I mean slightly nauseous in the car. But alas, not pregnant. The next month we started trying again and I got my period. I was really sad. I honestly didn't think it would take so long, (I know, cry poor-naive-me a river, two months).

At this point I had put in enough time and broke done and bought the Clear Blue Easy Fertility Monitor. You might know it. It costs about $150 and the sticks cost $40 a month, but I thought it was the answer to my pregnancy problem. On day 11, I went from low (have no chance of conceiving) to Peak (best chance but totally bypassed high fertility). I thought this was weird and told my friend Kim. She offered, "maybe you are pregnant". I thought she was crazy.

So day 12, I do it again, peak . So at 4:30 in the morning, I go and pound down water. An hour later, I take a pregnancy test and low and behold, I was pregnant. I jumped in the bed to tell my husband the awesome news. He was in a sleep fog and didn't understand what was happening.

The thing was, I had what looked and lasted like a period. I did tons of internet research and found on that myriad women thought they had a period but it turned out they were pregnant and everything turned out fine.

I went to the OB the next day and met a nurse practitioner. She said blood isn't a good sign but doesn't necessarily mean anything bad either. Plus it had been a week since any bleeding. I was 5.5 weeks pregnant. She cautioned me that if I start passing clots the size of golf balls go to the emergency room. Um- yeah, I probably didn't need her advice on that one, would have figured it out on my own.

Luckily, no golf balls, and my pregnancy symptoms were in high gear. I had no appetite and was exhausted, felt sore in the right places, life was good. I started talking to my stomach and after a couple days, I got my hubby to say goodnight to the little one.

But on my drive to work one day, all of a sudden, everything went away, the lack of appetite, the fatigue, the tenderness. I had lost the baby. I was devastated.

We told our parents, siblings, and I told some of my closest friends, but we decided for the most part to keep it to ourselves. Something I later came to regret.