Sunday, November 28, 2010

My Journey to Motherhood: Acupuncture, First Treatment

Friday was my first acupuncture treatment. I had NO idea what to expect. I did learn (at an earlier appointment) that I have an Qi deficiency, a Yang deficiency, and Blood Stasis. These are the problems that will be treated.

It turned out to be one of the most relaxing 25 minutes I have had in a long time. I laid on the table and the doctor put about 10-12 needles in, mostly in the abdominal area but also my legs, hands, feet, and head. (I did have to slip out of my jeans, but if I had worn shorts I could have stayed completely clothed). The needles were sealed in packages that were not opened until I was ready for them and disposed of when the treatment was over. She put a heat lamp over my tummy, turned the lights down, turned on some nice music, and left.

I actually fell asleep I was so relaxed.

As for results...I was on the third day of my period and in horrible pain when I went in (basically had been living on Motrin for the last 48 hours). I didn't want to take pain killers before I had needles poked in me for the first time (thought that would maybe be a bad idea), so I planned on taking Motrin when I left. Except that when I awoke from that nice nap the cramps were gone. Completely. And haven't returned!!! For 2 days! Talk about immediate results!

I was giving herbs mixed just for me. Surprised when I found out it was only $30. for a 2 week supply. It was like reverse sticker shock after the cost of fertility meds.

So far, this has been a great experience. I am very excited for the long term results.

My Journey to Motherhood: Where I am going

So when we left off...I was feeling like we were becoming the living definition of insanity (you know? where you keep doing the same thing, expecting different results?). Maybe not quite, because we did keep tweaking things but it just wasn't enough.

I started really digging into the PCOS diagnosis. What could I do differently to make this better? Anything at all was fair game. Part of the reason for this was that PCOS patients should "over respond" to fertility meds and I was clearly "under responding" (as in, there were not a lot of follicles growing each month). So I wasn't even a normal PCOS patient.

Several months ago I saw a book called "The Infertility Cure" which is based on eastern medicine. It recommends acupuncture, herbs, diet and lifestyle changes to achieve pregnancy. I also met a girl who had ovulated on her own (with no fertility meds) for the first time in years after a few months of acupuncture.

The idea of acupuncture was starting to grow. Maybe it would be better to treat the whole body and get well...rather than keep adding drugs and hoping for the best each month?

So I met with an acupuncturist and she was very encouraging about my possibilities with acupuncture. She can help me get back to normal, where my body produces it's own hormones. That sure sounds better to us.

For now, we are going to leave the RE behind and try this new path. We don't know exactly what it will look like, but we feel better about it. At least it is, today, a less stressful path. And that alone is a good feeling!!

Many people have asked me about this plan and want to know how it works for us so I am going to use this blog to keep everyone up to date on the treatments and how acupuncture is working for me.

Peeling Apples

I really like apple crisp, probably my very favorite non-chocolate dessert (I think, at least for right now). But I don't like peels on the apples so I must peel all the apples before making this super yummy dessert.

But I don't like to peel apples :(

It's really hard work...until today!

I was watching Good Eats on the Food Network last week and Alton Brown was making apple pie. He said using a peeler was the way to go for small amouts of apples. Of course, I only use mine for potatoes...had never even thought to use it for apples.


Peeled the apples in less than half the time!! YAY!!!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

My Journey to Motherhood: Where I have been

*Disclaimer: I am going to start blogging my infertility journey on this blog along with all the other things I post about. These posts will mention, not in great detail - but some details, female reproductive issues. If these types of things are not what you want to read feel free to skip any post labeled "My Journey to Motherhood".

Where I have been...oh, my...where to start.... The very beginning is a long time ago, but the best place to begin.

Warning: This post probably will not be short.

I was first diagnosed with endometriosis (endo) when I was 19 after months and months of illness. My first laparoscopic (lap) surgery to laser the endo was in January of 2003 just a couple months before I turned 20. After the surgery I had monthly Lupron shots for six months to ensure I didn't have menstrual cycle in hopes the endo would go away. This was my first foray into high powered hormone therapy. Shortly thereafter I went on continous birth control (BCP) to keep the endo at bay. This is a common treatment for women not seeking to get pregnant but can really mess with the body's ability to regulate hormones later.

Fast forward a few years to 2008. I married Mark in May and we wanted to start family building right away. Figuring that it wouldn't be easy given my past, I tossed the BCP so we could get started on the journey...and what a journey it has been.

Our first infertility (IF) consult was in November of 2008. This was at the 6 month mark of trying...when anyone should seek help if they are actively trying to get pregnant but haven't yet (do NOT believe people that say it should be a year...the extra 6 months do not generally make a difference). This appointment was with my regular OB/GYN. I had 3 periods in this 6 months and things were NOT going well.

That appointment was the first time poly cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) was mentioned, but I was told it "mild". Clomid was prescribed (along with provera to start my period) and off we went. And nothing happened...for 4 months, still not having periods on time, still no baby.

So in May 2009, we did what my friend Julie refers to as "get thee to an RE". An RE is a Reproductive Endocrinologist or fertility specialist. In meeting with the RE and many test later it was determined we had female factor IF only and the diagnosis was "annovulation" (in normal people speak...ovulation isn't occuring correction). In my case, NOT at all, without fertility drugs. I also had another endo lap and to make sure my tubes were clear...endo was lasered and no other problems found. Back to Clomid. No dice.

In November 2009 we decided to bump it up a notch and try injectible fertility medication. Time out for facts: This involves nightly subcutaneous shots of highly purified follicle stimulating hormones (FSH) along with transvaginal ultrasound (yes, you read correctly) and blood hormone monitoring (these u/s occur 4-5 times in two weeks). Followed by a "trigger" shot of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) to induce the follicles to ovulate. And then the part which won't be talked about here because this is a family blog;) It also involves somewhere around $1000-$1200 a month to be paid to the doctor and pharmacy. The basic idea is to flood the body (in a highly controlled manner, of course) with the hormones it doesn't have in hopes that it will do what it is supposed to do. Very inexact science, but its the best they have right now, so we don't knock it too much.

The first round of this therapy was "text book perfect" except for one baby. So we tried again because these things can take time. Second round...great follicles, great lining, great...never mind. And two weeks later...double lines on a home pregnancy test (HPT or pee stick)!!!!! Whoo-hoo. The journey is over!

NOT yet :(

My first betaHCG (blood pregnancy test) was 40. Low, but early. Test again in a few days. Now 70, officially not good. Then 67, there will be no baby. I can't even begin to describe in words how I felt right then, only those that have been there can "get it".

Because we were planning a "vacation of a lifetime" for May, I went on BCP to "hopefully" keep my body from getting all out of whack again. Except that I bled really badly on the pills (for anyone reading this that has such an experience, I can not stress enough the importance of demanding an ultrasound to see what is going on in there). When I went off the pills, no period.

That was because a super giant cyst had been forming on my right ovary. As in 84mm (about the size of a softball) and it was messing up all my hormone levels. It was removed via lap in June 2010. Good news...again, everything else looks fine.

At the same time, my ovaries were drilled to allow my body to ovulate on its own easier or at least be able to go back to oral meds (like Clomid). That procedure was pretty much a bust. We did three rounds of oral meds: 1-Clomid, thin lining; 2-Femara, horrid depression and low progesterone; 3-Femara, same results.

Back to injectibles. And here I should interject that we have never lived closer than 2 hours to the RE and this was a crazy amount of driving to the doctor we were doing. If this doesn't work we are switching to a closer doctor.

It didn't work. In fact, it was the WORST treatment experience yet. So many things didn't go right and my body didn't respond well at all. The final kick was super low progesterone (which has probably always been a problem but wasn't being addressed).

On to a new doctor and he also suggests injectible meds, but with progesterone. AND he believes the PCOS (remember from the 4th paragraph?) should be addressed with Metformin. Huh, this is new. We are now tired of doing this same thing and expecting different results, have spent upwards of $8,000 on the process and have no baby.

So we want a "break" from all this medicine. And this is where we turned to somethinge new...which, sorry it took me this long to get to it, is why I am now documenting the journey. I want to share this new plan.

Except that I am worn out from reliving all that as I wrote it, and that was the short version! Next time, I will share "Where we are going". Thanks for sticking around, feel free to leave comments and if they are questions I will do my best to answer them!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pumpkin Creme Pies

WARNING: These cookies are addictive!

I saw this recipe a few weeks ago and knew I HAD to make these. I think one of the reasons I love this time of year is that pumpkin is one of my favorite flavors!

I made a few modifications to the recipe as I went along so my changes are in brackets.

•1 cup Brown Sugar
•1 cup Sugar
•1 cup Vegetable Oil
•1 can Pumpkin (15 Oz.)
•2 whole Eggs
•1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
•3 cups All-purpose Flour
•1 teaspoon Baking Soda
•1 teaspoon Baking Powder
[I just added up all of the amounts for Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves and put in that much Pumpkin Pie Spice]
•1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
•1 teaspoon Ground Ginger
•½ teaspoons Salt
•½ teaspoons Ground Nutmeg
•¼ teaspoons Ground Cloves

•1 package Cream Cheese Softened (8 Oz.)
•1 stick Unsalted Butter, Room Temperature
•1 package Powdered Sugar (16 Oz.)
•3 drops Vanilla Extract
•2 dashes Cinnamon [about 1/2 tsp of Pumpkin Pie Spice instead of cinnamon]

Preparation Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pumpkin Creme Pies: Beat together brown sugar, sugar, oil and pumpkin. Add eggs one at time, mixing well after each addition, followed by the vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.

Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined.

Using a pastry bag with a round tip, or a big zip top plastic bag with one corner snipped, squeeze out concentric circles of batter, starting from the middle and working outward until the circles are about 2 inches in diameter. [I made them a little smaller to make them easier to eat]

Transfer each square to a baking sheet. Bake for 11 minutes, or until firm, and cool on a rack.

Cream Cheese Filling: Beat together cream cheese and butter. Add powdered sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Frost flat side of half the pies and top with another piece.

Enjoy right away, or chill overnight. These keep very nicely in the fridge for at least a few days.

And in the end you get....

So Yummy!!!