Combatting Common Pregnancy Symptoms with Nutrition

Photo courtesy of Friends, Food, Family blogger Tricia White...recipe below!

Photo courtesy of Friends, Food, Family blogger Tricia White…recipe below!

**We have a SPECIAL TREAT on the blog today! My nutrition-minded, talented, knowledgeable friend, Danielle Bolea, took some time to write an entry about nutrition and pregnancy. Double bonus: her mom, Tricia White (who is like a second mom to me), is a food blogger for Friends Food Family, so she has linked up her suggestions with some recipes. What a dynamic duo; enjoy!**

 

 

Food plays a significant role in one’s pregnancy. During this time it is important to maintain a healthy diet; however, many women run into symptoms that make it difficult to uphold proper nutrition. Yes, I’m talking about morning sickness, heartburn, and constipation. Here are some helpful tips and recipes that may help alleviate symptoms with home remedies.

Due to an increase in hormones, many pregnant women face morning sickness within their first trimester; although, sometimes the symptoms can prolong throughout an entire pregnancy. If you are experiencing signs of morning sickness (nausea/vomiting), try these tips to ease back into a normal eating pattern:

  • Avoid foods and smells that trigger your nausea.
  • Eat dry/bland foods that are low in fat such as rice, toast, crackers or a baked potato. Gradually introduce foods as you feel better.
  • Keep water, ginger ale, or crackers by your bedside. Try eating/drinking a little bit before getting up. Allow some time for digestion and rise slowly.
  • Eat smaller meals throughout the day (5-6) rather than three large meals.
  • Drink less water with your meals and obtain the rest of your needs throughout the day.

Another common symptom amongst pregnant women is heartburn. Hormones released during pregnancy relax the stomach muscles that keep acid from moving into the esophagus; thus, creating acid reflux/heartburn. Eliminating some of the foods below may help manage/avoid your discomfort.

  • High-fat, fried, rich foods
  • Spicy foods (foods made with paprika, chili, vinegar, jalapeno, hot sauce)
  • Tomatoes and tomato products
  • Citrus fruit and juice (lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit)
  • Chocolate
  • Peppermint/spearmint

For relief, try eating low-fat yogurt or drink a glass of low-fat milk; you want to make sure these dairy items are low in fat since high-fat products tend to cause heartburn. Be sure not to lie down for 30 minutes after consuming your meals; this will only contribute to your symptoms. These remedies work for different individuals, and may not provide you instant relief. It’s important to recognize the foods that trigger your heartburn, and eliminate them from your diet.

The growing of your uterus during pregnancy places pressure on other organs within the body, including the intestines. This compression can often cause constipation making it a common symptom amongst most pregnant women. It is important to exercise routinely, drink plenty of fluids, and incorporate high fiber foods into your diet. Need help distinguishing which foods are rich in fiber? Here is a helpful list:

  • Whole Grains (mix it up!): bran cereal (Raisin Bran), oatmeal, granola (Kashi bars), brown rice, quinoa, barley, faro, whole wheat pasta. Recipe idea: Quinoa, mango and black bean salad (pictured above).
  • Fruits and vegetables: avocados, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, apples, pears, grapes, broccoli, brussels sprouts, artichokes, leafy greens (spinach, kale – although, they don’t have as much fiber as some of the foods listed prior). Recipe idea (substitute a pregnancy-friendly cheese, if you so desire): Green apple, avocado, and chicken salad.
  • Beans: lentils, black beans, lima beans, split peas, kidney beans. Recipe idea: Chunky beef and bean chili (the beer in it is just a tease!).
  • Nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, flaxseed. Recipe idea: Epicurious’ Shaved Summer Squash Salad.
corn black bean

Photo courtesy of Tricia White

Here are some recommendations for incorporating fiber into your everyday meals:

  • Add fruit OR flaxseed to your oatmeal/cereal – (ex: oatmeal with raspberries or blueberries and sliced almonds). Or, substitute whole wheat flour and try this recipe for blackberry oatmeal breakfast bars.
    blackberry

    Photo courtesy of Tricia White

    (pictured right)

  • Add flaxseed, spinach/kale, or almond milk to a smoothie.
  • Spread avocado on sandwiches or whole wheat toast for breakfast.
  • Add beans to your salads and soups.
  • Make whole grain salads with quinoa, barley, or faro. Mexican style: corn, beans, tomato, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, avocado, shredded chicken (your choice of meat) – add refried beans, salsa, or your choice of dressing (ranch). Recipe idea: Roasted corn and black bean salad (pictured above, just add your favorite whole grain!).
greek

Photo courtesy of Tricia White

Mediterranean style: red/green peppers, scallions, (black or Kalamata) olives, tomato, lemon juice, parsley, shredded chicken (choice of meat) Recipe idea: Greek Pasta Salad (substitute quinoa or whole wheat pasta and a pregnancy-friendly cheese for best results-pictured left).

*  Enjoy a simple salad of spinach, red onion, almonds, dried cranberries, balsamic vinaigrette

* Try kale, roasted sweet potatoes, beets (marinated), balsamic dressing

A little about Danielle:

Darni

Photo courtesy of Danielle Bolea

Danielle is a graduate from Keene State College with a degree in Nutrition. She currently works as an Executive Assistant to the Chief of Radiation Oncology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Nutrition is still her passion, and she thoroughly enjoys cooking and modifying recipes so they’re easier to make and healthier for you. Breakfast is her favorite meal to cook and is a hobby she looks forward to on the weekends (and I can tell you from experience IT’S DELICIOUS). Danielle enjoys educating others about nutritional lifestyles and guiding them in a healthy direction.

Thank you Danielle! Thank you Tricia! Please let us know how these recipes turn out :)

Infertility-Our Struggle: A Non-Western Approach

InfertilityOur StruggleAfter the Clomid Crazies hit, I was ready to take a different approach. We knew that more invasive, drug-induced processes were in our future, but we needed a little break from the craziness. I needed to be centered and focused so I could better handle the raging hormones.

**Disclaimer: I am not prescribing that you should or should not make the following changes. I am merely sharing my experience, and what I felt was right for my body and circumstance. I am happy and available to answer any questions you have to the best of my ability :-)

First, I changed my diet. I wanted to eliminate as many chemicals as possible, so I switched to an organic, grass-fed type of lifestyle. I cut back on refined sugars and carbs, and made veggies (like the ones pictured below from Friends Food Family’s garden!) and lean meats the focus of my diet. Per my acupuncturist’s recommendation, whenever cycling, I stay away from raw veggies, and go for steamed or roasted. I also added better fats, like avocado, grass-fed butter, and coconut oil, and cut back on my most enjoyable fats, like gallons of ice cream. For my mental health, I decided not to go too crazy with this lifestyle, and give myself a break when I craved something not on the diet. I would say that I am currently on an 80/20 overall with this lifestyle (80% of the food I eat is on the good list, 20% on the naughty list). But, some weeks are more like 50/50, and potato chips are still my kryptonite.

veggies

I also added Juice Plus+ to my diet. My friend Laura had reached out to me about the health benefits, and I appreciate their limited ingredient approach to vitamin intake (30 fruits and vegetables). My prenatals have always made me nauseous, so I decided to give Juice Plus+ a try. Their motto is “one simple change” and I like that approach to good health. When you make one little change at a time, you take control of your health and just overall feel better. (Fast forward to present-day in our struggle and we had our first “A” quality embryo when my husband starting taking JP+!)

Next, I welcomed fitness back into my life. I try to take 10,000 steps a day, and am obsessed with my FitBit (challenge me!). It’s easy to let the stress, hormonal changes, weight fluctuation, isolation, etc. of infertility take you out of your fitness routine, and sometimes it still does, but I have made a conscious effort to incorporate exercise into my daily routine (somehow). If I don’t make it to the gym, I try to do an on-demand workout, or at least take a walk. I will say that through this struggle with infertility, I am afraid to go 100% at the gym like I did in college, or when I was “shedding for the wedding”, but staying active and healthy is a major goal of mine.

I also added weekly acupuncture treatments (with occasional cupping, not during tank top season, though) to my health regimen. Chace Acupuncture came highly recommended to me, and he did not disappoint. I went to acupuncture to be treated for infertility, in hopes of getting my body in balance before IVF, but I was pleasantly surprised at the other health benefits I experienced from acupuncture. Including, but not limited to, improvement in sleep, mood elevation, anxiety reduction. I love to sleep, I always have, but after acupuncture I get “acustoned”. I feel calm, relaxed, and I sleep like a baby. Sometimes, I may be a little too calm. Like, the time I came home from acupuncture to my finished basement being flooded and I couldn’t understand why my husband was freaking out about something we couldn’t control. Namaste. Oh, also, now I know how to breathe “correctly”. You’d be surprised how different it feels to know how to do that; the only way I can describe it is calming and centering.

acupuncture and cupping

Along with acupuncture, I added reflexology treatments whenever possible. My aunt is a licensed reflexologist, at Yoursole Reflexology, and, in my opinion, the best in the business. She let’s your feet do the talking, and works on your energy to get you back in balance. After my first session, as soon as I started to drive away, I burst into tears. I called to ask her what was happening and she explained that my emotions needed work that day, and to embrace the tears, acknowledge and work through them, and move on. She works wonders, and I highly recommend her. If you’d like her contact information, please let me know as she is by appointment only, out of North Attleboro, MA. Side note: she has also worked on some of my clients who were very ready to go into labor. All went into labor within 12 hours. Seriously, she’s awesome.

Another big change was that when I became a regular employee at my day job, I was blessed with better health care coverage. So, I gradually weeded out some jobs, as I had been working 80+ hours a week between 4 jobs to save for IVF. I certainly miss the extra cash, but not being so stressed out, always worrying about scheduling, and having a little extra time at home has been wonderful.

I was [secretly] hoping that making all of these changes would result in an “unexpected” natural pregnancy. We weren’t so lucky. But, we are blessed with healthcare coverage, and making these changes really got my body ready for what was to come next: IVF#1.

What changes did you make while trying to conceive, or to get ready for infertility treatment? Please comment below with your suggestions!

**You may have noticed that I stopped numbering these entries. Why? Because it’s fucking depressing to be in double digits of telling the story of our struggle with infertility. When I started this journey, I thought it might be a three part series, max. But hey, onward and upward.**

 

 

Affirmations for Dilation, Labor & Delivery

Failure to progress.

This is one of the most common reasons for a cesarean section and augmentation of labor in the United States. What does it mean? It means your apocryphal delivery hourglass is running out of sand. It’s when the scary words that you may have left off of your birth wishes begin to get thrown around. Cytotec. Foley balloon. Pitocin. Cesarean. The word that is often omitted from this list is time. Sometimes a laboring woman just needs more time to get her important work done. Sometimes she just needs to clear her head, and really think about dilating. If neither you nor your baby are in any danger, do not be afraid to ask for more time. If they do not want to grant your more time, ask why. Be in control of your labor and delivery.

I often reassure women about the strength of their bodies. Strength they don’t know they have until they need to use it. What’s stronger, though, is a person’s mind. Some people just need to tell their mind (and really believe and picture what they are telling their mind) what their body needs to do.

So, if you are at the very tail end of your pregnancy, or in a “failure to progress” situation, clear the room, enter a state of relaxation, and make the affirmations (below) your mantra. Your mind is a powerful thing-don’t be afraid to use it:

blog2

My body is strong and capable.

I have plenty of time to get this job done.

I am able and willing to do this work for my baby.

With each contraction, I visualize my body opening for my baby.

With each deep breath in, I exhale all the way through my body.

Each centimeter brings me closer to holding my baby.

My body was made to do this work.

I have plenty of space for my baby to come through.

Each contraction brings me closer to meeting my baby.

This process is natural, and I am ready for it.

My labor is progressing exactly as it is supposed to.

My cervix is opening and softening as it should.

I am in control.

My only focus is delivering my baby, everything else can wait.

My cervix is like a flower, blooming and opening beautifully.

The bond between my baby and me is strong and unbreakable, He/she knows how he/she needs to be born.

I am working hard for my baby.

My baby is slowly easing through the birth canal.

I am safe, calm, and ready to hold my baby in my arms.

My body knows how to deliver this baby, just as it knew how to grow this baby.

The power and intensity of my contractions cannot be stronger than me, as they are me.

Inhale peace, exhale tension.

My body will give birth in its own time.

blog1

Did you use affirmations throughout your labor and delivery? Please share any that you found helpful.

The Top 25 Things NOT to Say to a Pregnant Woman

The Top 25 Things

 

Pregnancy is a time of many things. Joy, peace, wonderment, angst, and so many other emotions rolled into one. What it is also, is a time of realization that people have no filter. And say stupid shit. Why people feel the need to be unabashedly candid while speaking to a pregnant woman is beyond me. Below is a top 25 list of things NOT to say to a pregnant woman:

1. You’re SOOOOO big!

2. Are you having twins?

3. Why would you find out what you’re having? Life’s greatest surprise; ruined.

4. How do you not want to know what you’re having?! (Followed by: I could NEVER do that. I would NEED to know.)

5. Heard those hemorrhoids are a bitch.

6. So it’s true: daughters do steal their mother’s beauty.

7. Two under two. That’s going to be torture. You’re never going to have time for both.

8. Say goodbye to your body! Say goodbye to sex! Say goodbye to time for yourself! Say goodbye to your life! <Etc.>

9. I tore from my vagina to my asshole. I still can’t sit right.

10. What if your epidural doesn’t work? You’ll be able to feel everything.

11. How are you going to lose all this weight once the baby is born?

12. You’re barely showing. Are the doctor’s concerned? You need to eat more.

13. You’re having a natural delivery? You’re insane.

14. You’re getting pain meds during delivery? I heard they damage your baby.

15. You’re going to breastfeed your baby boy? Gross. Aren’t you worried he will be obsessed with breasts?

16. You’re going to poison your baby with formula? Don’t you know breast is best?

17. Breastfeeding is torture. Just use formula, save yourself the trouble.

18. Where is he/she? I’m so sick of waiting! Come on out (spoken to stomach or, for the really self-UNaware, vagina)!!

19. You’re naming him/her ____ (insert literally ANY name)?!?! Oh, I knew a ____. Total meth head. I’m sure your baby won’t turn into a meth head, though.

20. OMG you look bigger and bigger every time I see you! That baby must be running out of room in there!

21. Sorry, I forgot you can’t drink. I feel so bad for you.

22. You just look so exhausted. I’ve never seen you look so tired.

23. When I was pregnant… (insert unwanted story about how that person did something better than you).

24. You’re going to eat your PLACENTA?! That’s so gross. You’re like a cannibal.

25. You’ve really filled out everywhere this pregnancy.

In conclusion, unless you have something positive to say, PLEASE keep it to yourself. Chances are she has answered the same questions 29,845,729,845 times, and, if you’re a stranger, she doesn’t want to talk to you.

Please feel free to comment below with your “favorite” unwanted comment you received during your pregnancy.

Publisher’s note: the idea to write this blog post came to me after seeing a series of snapchats from laurmcbrideblog (that’s her snap personality if you want to follow her, and her blog is here) of stupid shit people had said to her just that day. Originally, the post had started with the top 10, but after reaching out to a few previous and current clients, the list grew rapidly.

Infertility – Our Struggle Part IX: The Clomid Crazies

Infertility (3)

A sock.

When a sock is enough to make you crazy, you know you’re on the wrong drug. Clomid is a miracle worker for some people: unfortunately I am not one of them. Instead of it working wonders, it made me a fucking nut job.

I will get back to being crazy in a second. But first, I will let you know that while on this treatment plan, my mom passed away. (You can read about how special she was to me here.) It was certainly the worst year of my life, which could have also impacted my mental health.

I also found out through the genetic testing that I am a carrier for Cystic Fibrosis. Luckily, Jimmy is not. It was certainly an agonizing wait to figure that out.

Back to clomid. God, I have never felt so alone. I alienated myself from everyone and everything. I didn’t like myself, I didn’t like my thoughts, and I didn’t like what it was doing to my relationships. But, this is what was prescribed. So that’s what you have to do, right?

That’s how I thought about it until the sock. Jimmy hates this story, but I think it’s important for people to understand how different this drug made me. Lucky for me, our doctor had warned us both that some people have extreme effects. If not, I don’t know how he could have stayed with me.

Like I said, I felt very alone. I was the one taking the drug. I was the one taking my temperature every morning, before my feet hit the ground, at the exact same time, everyday. I was the one peeing on ovulation sticks every morning. Obviously, Jimmy couldn’t do any of these things for me. But I still thought: “What the fuck. He isn’t doing ANYTHING to contribute!” Aside from having sex with me, on demand. Which even now, I don’t know how he did it considering how I treated the world.

sock

Then one day, he had the NERVE to leave a sock. In the living room. On the FLOOR. Of all places. It was clear to me during that time that he no longer cared about me. Like, not even a little bit. It was obvious that he intentionally left his sock there just to hurt me. HOW COULD HE?! I couldn’t even comprehend how he could do this to me. I fell to my knees and sobbed. Sobbed that our marriage was basically over; that we would never be able to come back from something like this. I mean, really, how could we? How could he? Why was the world so wrong.

I confronted him about the sock, and the undeniable end of our marriage. I remember seeing confusion. Shock. Sadness. Emotion in his eyes that I wasn’t expecting. He obviously didn’t care about me, so why did it seem like he cared now? His reply? “This isn’t you. This is the drug talking. It’s ok. It’s just a sock.” JUST A SOCK? I saw red. I had to take myself out of the situation so that I wouldn’t hit him. HOW COULD HE?!?

As I laid in bed, I cried out for my mom. Loudly; as if there was an audience. To make him see how he had wronged me. I prayed to God to help put my marriage back together and help us through this dark time. And, I kept replaying his words over and over. This isn’t you. The more I said it to myself, the more I appreciated him saying it. This wasn’t me. I’m a laid back person, so who was this person who cared about the sock? I do not keep this meticulous house in which a sock would make or break hours of hard work a day. It really was “just a sock“. The realization was confusing to me. If I knew it was “just a sock” now, why hadn’t I realized it when it happened? How many other “sock” moments had I had along the way? How many people had I unintentionally hurt with my piss poor attitude and self-loathing? It was too much to handle.

So, we decided it was our last month with clomid. We said goodbye, and never looked back. I needed to emotionally heal, and get out of my pity-party funk, so we decided to take a different approach. Which leads me to our next chapter: Infertility-Our Struggle Part X: A Non-Western Approach.

Infertility – Our Struggle Part VIII: Our Diagnosis

Infertility- (3)

 

The moment we had been waiting for…

 

We sat silently in the car heading to our appointment. This is it! We can finally figure out what’s going on, and come up with a plan to fix it. I put my hand over Jimmy’s on the gear, and rode to a sense of nervous anticipation.

“Mary.”

Our turn. I excitedly raised my eyebrows a couple of times at Jimmy, and he rolled his eyes and smiled. This is it.

The doctor sat down and started firing out our results. I had no idea what the hormone levels meant. No idea how much of each category was good or bad. There was a scale for each category and she went over the scale of what’s normal. Aside from my FSH being on the low side of normal, my prognosis sounded ok, I think?

Then Jimmy’s turn. Ok, still not really sure what these things mean. Aside from knowing the literal definition of the word, I wasn’t sure what “morphology” meant in terms of sperm. Morphology was just below normal, but other than that, everything sounded ok, I think?

We both sat there kind of stunned. When you’re waiting to find out the bad news, and you don’t hear it, it’s confusing. She started talking about treatment options, and I started to feel more confused. If there’s not a problem, how do you treat it?

I interrupted: “Wait…what are we treating? Did I miss our diagnosis?”

“You fall into the “unexplained” category.”

She went back to treatment options while I sat there, confused. What…the fuck? After all that testing, all the blood work, all the ultrasounds, the HSG, the semen analysis…nothing?

I interrupted, again: “So there’s nothing wrong with us?”

She went back to the numbers. Explained again how the FSH was on the low side of normal, and the morphology was just below normal.

“Does that mean we couldn’t get pregnant on our own?”

“Not necessarily.”

She went back to explaining the different methods for treatment. Boy, was it hard to concentrate while trying to dissect the information we had just been given. There was a pause in the information she was providing, and I just couldn’t let it go:

“So…how do we choose a method without a diagnosis?”

She explained that “unexplained” is a diagnosis. She explained that we didn’t fall into a certain category because of the things they test for, nothing was glaringly wrong. That didn’t mean there wasn’t something wrong, we just “passed” this round of tests.

I couldn’t wrap my head around it.

In high school you learn that if you have unprotected sex, you will get pregnant. You don’t learn that someday you may be faced with clomid, IUI, IVF, ICSI, adoption, surrogacy, years of peeing on a million different sticks just praying to see a +, or anything of the like. I felt totally unprepared to make a decision for the next step. I think I had just assumed it would be clearer; easier. But, it wasn’t and there was a lot to think about.

She recommended genetic testing. Ok, fine. Then she recommended monitored clomid with timed intercourse. Basically, coming in every day for an ultrasound and blood work until ovulation, and then they send you home to have sex.

I felt like we could do all that on our own, and I could forego the daily ultrasound and time out of work. Because, that was the other doozy. So far, aside from some preliminary blood work, all of our care was an out-of-pocket expense. We are lucky enough to live in Massachusetts where companies are mandated to have infertility coverage…but that doesn’t mean it has to be good coverage. Ours was 10% coverage after an $8,000 deductible. Yes, you read that right.

So, we decided to go with unmonitored clomid, and I would pee on some more sticks to test for ovulation. But, something was still bugging me:

“But…I ovulate regularly.”

As I had done at every appointment before, I took out my diligently mapped fertility apps. BBT faithfully recorded, showing dips and spikes in the correct places; days entered when I got a positive pee stick; little hearts on the days we had timed intercourse; and monthly, regular periods.

She began telling us how clomid works; how it  effects the brain and hormone levels. By this point I was burnt out, and just started “yessing” everything so we could leave. We had more blood drawn for the genetic testing, and off we went. Confused, frustrated, and also a little glad that there didn’t seem to be anything “unfixable”. We left totally unprepared for our next chapter: Infertility – Our Story Part IX: The Clomid Crazies.

 

When Dads Hit the Deck

I specify dads in this situation because, as to date, my only experience with people fainting, or nearly fainting, in Labor & Delivery has been with expectant fathers. So far, there haven’t been any instances of grandmothers, same-sex partners, sisters, etc. who have gone down for the count. I will post any differences should the situation arise!

Throughout our prenatal consultations, I try to gauge dad’s comfort level with blood, vomit, and other bodily fluids he may be faced with in L&D. If dad’s are particularly squeamish, and I know that ahead of time, I take extra precautionary measures. I also encourage these dads in particular to stay by his partner’s head during pushing time. Sometimes, though, these dads get curious, and are not prepared for what they see…

LM2

(The dad pictured above did not pass out, but Tiffany Farley captured the “I’ve seen too much” faces perfectly.)

So far, in every circumstance when dad has been feeling too woozy to stand, it has been during the same point in delivery. The seem to make it past “peek-a-boo”, past early crowning, but then right at the end of the “ring of fire” is when, all of a sudden, they go weak in the knees. I can’t say I blame them; if you aren’t expecting it, it is quite a phenomena to see the human body go through so much. Mix that in with not sleeping, barely eating, and being on such an emotional high for so long, it’s no wonder this happens so often.

What do I do when dads hit the deck? My main focus is still mom, so while I guide her through contractions, and help her through those last few pushes, I am also having dad sip on orange juice, nibble on saltines, and am continuously flipping over the cold cloth I am holding on his neck. As long as he is able, I try to snap him back into action for the last push. I let him rest until that point, but the excitement of meeting his child usually provides enough adrenaline that he doesn’t pass out again.

Once the baby is born, I then have dad focus completely on his new bundle of joy, and his partner’s upper half. I focus on mom for the after birth procedures. In my experience, dad is too overjoyed to notice the birthing of the placenta, fundal massage, stitching, etc.

One of my favorite things about being a doula is helping bring couples together during such a joyous time. There are still plenty of ways to get partners and other key labor support people involved if you think they fall into this category. I work tirelessly to make sure everyone has a place and a job in L&D.

Did your partner go down for the count? Feel free to share your story in the comments section below!

Infertility – Our Struggle Part VII: HSG & Semen Analysis

QUINOA

First things first, let’s chat about the semen analysis. Basically, there are two options with this one. One can release the swimmers in a cup at home and hold it under their armpit for the duration of the drive to the184 facility (only if you live within 30 minutes). Or, you can get intimate in the bathroom at the office, and, like a runner handing off a baton, pass it, hand-over-fist, through a secret window for analysis. Easy peasy, though probably a little embarrassing to give an orgasm to a random stranger. I won’t go into detail about which method the hubby went for, but he got the job done, and that’s all that matters.

As for the HSG, or hysterosalpingogram,  I was prepared for the worst. I swear, every woman I spoke with who went through the procedure had a story worse than the last. I had it in my head that it was going to be incredibly painful, and I was going to be strung up in bed for two days or so afterwards. To my pleasant surprise, this wasn’t the case for me. It was certainly uncomfortable, but not painful like I was expecting it to be. The procedure was also a lot quicker than I expected. I spent more time filling out paperwork and waiting than anything else. The procedure consists of shooting radiographic contrast, or dye, through the vagina, cervix, and (if they are not blocked) fallopian tubes. X-ray pictures are taken as the dye is slowly inserted to check for blockages, polyps, tumors, scar tissue, etc. In the radiology room with me was my doctor, an x-ray tech, and an x-ray tech student. I am all for having students in the room during these types of procedures (how else are they going to learn?), but I am extremely grateful my doctor was there to calm me down from all the questions she was asking. For example:

Student: “Is it ok that she’s still shedding a little?” 

Tech (to me): “Do you still have your period?”

Me: “I thought it stopped yesterday. Is that ok? Is that bad? Should I reschedule?”

Doctor: “It’s totally fine, you can relax.”

Student: “Is this normal?” (I can’t see what she is pointing at on the screen.)

Me: “Is what normal? Is everything ok?”

Doctor: (Pointedly to the student and tech) “Everything is fine, we will be done in the next two minutes.”

Student: Whispering questions somewhat loudly to the tech, as I clench up.

Doctor: (Puts her hand on my knee) “Please. Try to relax – almost done.”

And then, it was done. Everyone exited the room and I headed to clean myself up. I took my time in the bathroom, as I assumed I would leak for a while. I strapped on a pad, just in case, and off I went. Until…I was stopped dead in my tracks. As I was walking down the hallway, the liquid started pouring out again. You know when there’s something embarrassing going on in your body, and if you just acted normal about it no one else would know? Well…I wasn’t so tactful to remember that. Instead, my instincts told me to frantically grab my crotch, flail my other arm at the wall, and start desperately searching around for a bathroom. Finally I found one, and gained my wits back. What goes up, must come down, right? I made it to the car, spread out some just-in-case napkins over the seat, and drove home with a smile on my face – not just at the memory of the scene I must have caused in the crowded hospital, but because we were finally about to get some answers. Which leads me to the next chapter in our series: Infertility – Our Struggle Part VIII: Our Diagnosis.

Where the Heck I’ve Been Lately…

First of all, I just want to say thank you. I am blown away by the amount of people who still check my website and blog daily, even though it has been so long in between posts. Thank you! I just wanted to write a brief entry to let my readers know that I have not fallen off the face of the Earth. Quite the contrary, actually. I’m more grounded, alive, and focused than ever…

It is no secret that my husband and I want to start a family. This feat, however, has not been easy for us. February marks the fourth year we will be dealing with infertility, so a few months ago I made a choice. I chose to make any and every sacrifice to take the steps to start our family. I made the choice to give up some “me” time to focus on how to make our dreams a reality. The hardest choice, though, was to put some aspects of my business on the back burner. Like keeping up this blog, for instance. Is that exactly fair to the community who has been so supportive of me? Not at all. But it is a (slightly selfish) decision I made to help get us on the right track.

So what has been taking up most of my time? Work. Four jobs, to be precise. I usually work at least two jobs per day, and have zero days off (except this week for Thanksgiving, which was LOVELY!). I work anywhere from 70-90 hours a week, and am slowly trying to help build our IVF bankroll.

Don’t feel sorry for me, though, because I certainly don’t. It’s amazing how focused you can stay when you have a goal set, and an end in sight. And, another great thing…with the way my schedule works, I am still able to take my doula and lactation counseling clients – so, while you may not see me posting regularly, rest assured my clients are still well taken care of. And, at one of my jobs, I get to help families become properly protected with a product I truly believe in, which has been so rewarding. And, at another job I get to work with some of my best friends. And, I still have time for an occasional romantic date night. And, I still have time to enjoy a home cooked meal with my family. And, I still have time for a weekend brunch or wine tasting with my girlfriends. It’s really amazing how much time you actually have in a day. One thing I’ve always done for myself that I haven’t been able to do much of lately, though, is go to the gym. But, hey, I will figure out a way to work it in there at some point. Until then, I will just be a little rounder :)

So thank you for staying tuned in. I am in the process of figuring out ways to keep this blog alive despite being so busy. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated :)

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Above is some evidence that despite my hectic schedule I still have time to do most of the things I love <3

 

 

Infertility – Our Struggle Part VI: Day 3 Testing

Our StruggleAs mentioned in Our Struggle Part V, I assume there are not too many guys who will want to read this one. I have no way to describe it without being explicit, and it will certainly make some people uncomfortable. This is also a short entry because although it sounds like a lot goes on, it is really a short appointment. So, woohoo, here goes:

Day 3 refers to day 3 of your menstrual cycle. As soon as your flow begins, you call to schedule your appointment. So, on day 3, I loaded into the car, cramps and all, and headed down to the RSC New England. I wasn’t really nervous, more excited to finally be getting a diagnosis, really figure out what was going on. And, ultrasounds aren’t that scary, right?

I sat in the waiting room and downed some water. I failed to mention that at the previous appointment when I had blood drawn I passed out. It was a very brief episode, and I think it had a lot to do with nerves, not eating, and not drinking. So today I had some breakfast, and was drinking water by the bottle full. Today blood work was to test for pregnancy (I wish), FSH, estradiol, thyroid, and prolactin levels. After the blood work I was sent to have my ultrasound. And this is where the shock was factored in…

I was given a johnny which seemed a little strange to me. Why would I need to be naked for an ultrasound? The nice, sweet, caring, pleasant U/S tech, who also happened to be training someone that day, asked me to go behind the curtain and change into the johnny. I complied, and came back out:

“Honey, do you have a tampon in?”

RED cheeks. I’m talking RED. “Erm, yes.” I replied timidly.

“Oh, ok, no problem, there’s a wastebasket behind that curtain.”

At this point, my confusion level was at an all time high. “It must block something they are trying to see. Just get on with it, Mary” I thought to myself. Yank, out goes the almost dry tampon. (Wondering how many ladies just cringed at the thought.) My eyes darted around the small space, looking for a tissue or something to wrap it in.

“Everything ok?” The tech asked politely.

“Oh, ya, just…looking for a tissue or something.”

“Oh, don’t worry about it, honey. We will take care of it.”

Gross. “Erm, ok” I chucked it and wobbled out.

“Ready?” She was smiling and holding what looked to be a large, misshapen dildo. The woman she was training was asking her questions, and my mind was starting to race. “Lie back and try to relax” she said, still smiling.

“I’m sorry, I think there’s some confusion. I’m here for an ultrasound.” (As usual when I am really nervous, that whole statement came out as one, rushed word.) Where was the jelly they lather on your belly? Where was the flat-headed ultrasound wand?

“Yup, Mary Choquette, here for your day three ultrasound to get a follicle count and check out your uterine cavity. We are ready!”

Day 3

In it went. Certainly not the most comfortable thing in the world, but I wouldn’t call it painful. I would compare it to a pelvic exam. Wiped a quick tear of embarrassment/shame/why me? away, and I was on my way to wait for the next part of my testing. Which brings us to the next chapter: Infertility – Our Struggle part VII: HSG and Semen Analysis.