A Photo Tour of My JuJu

First thing is first…

Yesterday morning, around 10:15, these two beauties were transferred back to me:

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2 strong little 8-cell embryos. The embryologist did not provide a “grading.” I asked if they were good and strong and she replied that they were. That was enough for me. I don’t think people at infertility clinics make a habit of giving their patients false hope. And anyway, they were the two strongest. One of the other 4 stopped dividing, and the last was a 6-cell which they will continue to monitor. I’m leaning toward not freezing it, but will wait for the embryology report on Tuesday.

So here I am, officially in my two week wait, which as we all know is probably the hardest part. There are no more ultrasounds for updates, no more daily trips to see the doctor. So of course I feel the need to take some control and “do” something. Enter: my juju.

Now, I am not a particularly religious person, but I do believe is some sort of higher being, and in other “forces” working for and against us in the universe. Juju is a West African (as far as I know) word that describes an amulet of superstitious power. So here is some of the JuJu on which I am relying during these next two weeks, followed by descriptions:

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1. Pineapple Core There is actually some science behind this one. Many-a-blogger (including myself) have dedicated entries to the almighty pineapple core. I ate 1/5 of a pineapple yesterday (on transfer day), and will continue to eat one piece for the next 4 days. Also, pineapples are a sign of welcome, so, “Welcome home, Embies! Please settle in here for the next 9 months or so!” In this picture, the pineapple is upside down to help ripen it faster and more evenly.

2. Sandstone Vase From Sedona, AZ My parents have been to Sedona a number of times and on their last trip, my mom came home with this little token for me. I figured she just thought it was pretty (it is!), but just the other day, she referred to “the fertility vase I bought you in Sedona.” And then upon seeing my confused face, added, “but I don’t think I ever told you it was for fertility.” Sedona is said to have healing powers, and Kokopelli (the cute little dude featured on this vase) is a symbol of fertility, so it all makes sense. Immediately, I cleaned it out (more like just blew the dust out and into my eyes), and placed it by my pillow on my nightstand. Inside, I placed a piece of rose quartz (also from my mom), which is a gem stone that is said to have some hidden fertility magic. I brought the quartz with me to the transfer yesterday and held on to it the whole time.

3. Lentil Soup On a list of implantation friendly foods that I found, lentils are number 1. I’m also pretty sure that lentils are good luck in some cultures. We also know that a warm uterus is a much more inviting place for embryos and blasts to set up shop, so soups and stews should always be on the 2WW menu! Sooo, the night before transfer, I made this big pot of homemade lentil soup out of all organic ingredients. And it actually tastes amazing! It will be my lunch until I run out. Added bonus: contains spinach, another ingredient on the list!

4. Fertility Affirmations I really believe in a mind / body connection. So as silly as I felt at first listening to an Australian woman say things like, “My IVF treatments are easy and successful. I am pregnant. My hormones are in perfect balance. My womb is ready to accept a strong healthy baby,” etc., I really do put a lot of stake in it. I have had a lot of self defeating talk in my life (“I know it’s going to be hard to get pregnant,” “I hate my reproductive system; it’s defective,” etc.) and I really think I did a lot of damage when I talked like that. Of course I did it as a defense mechanism, but lo and behold! — it did not defend me from $h!t. So… fertility affirmations all the way, baby! No use being negative now!

And there you have it, a tour of my 2ww juju. ūüƆ

Gettin’ Ready for T Day

Tomorrow is my Day 3 transfer of two embryos! (WHAT?!? WOOHOO! COME ON, LITTLE EMBIES! STAY STRONG & HEALTHY!) <– (because clearly they are reading my blog, and or have some superhuman way of already knowing what I am thinking and feeling).

We are scheduled at 10 AM, and then R is dropping me off home for total rest and relaxation while he goes to work. I'm running out to the store tonight to prep for must haves.

So what are the must haves?

I’ve got my pineapple ripening on the counter (my mom thinks I’m nuts but is happy to cut it up for me anyway).

But other than the pineapple core, what else do I need to keep in mind tomorrow and during my special IVF two week wait?

* What worked for you?
* What do you swear by?
* What do you avoid at all costs?

Lay it on me kids; foods, strategies, visualizations, meditations… let’s hear it all! Gotta make a comfy home for these little ones, so they’ll want to stay!!! ūüėä

Some Retrieval Results

6 eggs retrieved
4 eggs fertilized
We will do a 3 day transfer on Saturday with two of the embryos.

I am ridiculously nervous that we are doing a day 3 transfer. I am hoping it is only because of the low number of fertilized embryos (4) and not because of the quality of the embryos.

I have read the 3 day success stories online but I still feel somewhat defeated at this point. Not even hoping for any frosties, just want two healthy implantable embryos for Saturday.

3.5 Million

3.5 million

If I had 3.5 million dollars, I’d be ecstatic. 3.5 million M&Ms would be AMAZING. 3.5 million is a lot! Right?

But 3.5 million post wash sperm is another story. 3.5 million, in this case, is below average. Low, even. When it comes to sperm, the TTC woman needs to be greedy. And 3.5 million is not enough.

The doctor didn’t really say much when she saw the number. Made some sort of noise that indicated “This IUI is probably a waste of time, but you’re naked from the waist down, so may as well just go through with it…” Or that’s how I perceived it, anyway…

Later this morning, after IUI #3, R texted to see how it went. I didn’t tell him. I didn’t tell him that he didn’t give me enough strong swimmers this month for a fair shot. I didn’t send him links with lists of foods that can increase sperm count. I didn’t lecture about stress, or healthy eating, or getting enough sleep.

I simply said, “Ok. Now we wait.”

I made an appointment to talk about “next steps.” When we first began treatments I really thought meds and IUI would be enough for me. I naively thought that surely I would be pregnant by now. But I’m not just one of those people who needed a few more months, a healthy egg, and good timing. No. Infertility is a very real thing. It is scary and it is frustrating and it is unknown. And it is part of me.

Copping a Feel

Anyone who walked by my classroom today when there were no students present, may have caught me copping a feel.

Once I hit 8dpo, I start feeling myself up like crazy. I can’t help it.

It’s actually less “feeling up,” and more “giving a little poke.” ¬†I start compulsively pushing in at the sides of my boobs. ¬†The 8dpo and beyond “tenderness test.”

Do they feel the same as last month? ¬†Are they more tender? ¬†Less tender? ¬†Is it a fuller feeling? ¬†Are those women who say that they couldn’t even roll over on their stomachs because of nipple tenderness for real? ¬†Why don’t¬†my nipples feel like that? ¬†I must not be pregnant. ¬†Or does the lack of boob related symptoms actually mean that maybe I¬†am? Was that a cramp near my uterus? Oh, #@!& it… I’ll just eat some ice cream.

The thing is, I don’t even know what I’m feeling for. ¬†Do I want them to be tender, or not?!? ¬†So, I assess the situation (poke, poke, squeeze)… and then I go back in my fertility calendar and compare the feeling I have today to every single other month at this dpo (please tell me you do this too!). ¬†And I hope for an aberration.

Today I found one. So now I’m hanging on to this tiny thread of hope. ¬†By 8 or 9 dpo, I am usually in PMS mode (…usually…). ¬†Boobs are usually starting to give me my first sign of AF, but today…

i.  feel.  nothing.

And I AM SURE it means absolutely nothing. ¬†Or maybe, the meds are lengthening my luteal phase like they are supposed to, which is a good thing. ¬†But it’s certainly not a good indication of pregnancy. ¬†If there is one thing that I have learned with any degree of certainty from stalking the BabyCenter forums, it is that there is no such thing as an early pregnancy symptom that you can be sure of. ¬†There is so much variation, not just woman to woman, but from month to month within the¬†same woman.

There just is no way of knowing until your BFP — and even then, between evap lines and non doubling beta numbers, sometimes you¬†still don’t even really know. ¬†I have yet to even get to that point. ¬†I hope the big fat¬†nothing I feel right now will at least lead me to the next level of uncertainty. ¬†Sounds more promising than AF. ¬†She’s a you-know-what.

1ww

Growing up, I was in a children’s theater group. We performed two full scale musical productions a year. At the start of each new show, we had auditions, which were followed by the dreaded 1 Week Wait.

It was grueling. We came from all over central jersey to participate in this group, so most of us didn’t go to the same school. The week was full of phone calls, notes (the old fashioned kind, handwritten and expertly folded into a tiny little origami triangle), and more phone calls. Now, mind you, we couldn’t actually pass the notes to one another until we saw each other the following Saturday, but there was something therapeutic about writing them. There were no online blogs back then.

So we spent the week speculating, and over analyzing (“well, I messed up the dance audition a bit, but the part I want doesn’t dance much, so I doubt it will matter…”), and praying, and wishing, and making deals with a higher power for the parts we wanted. We tried to talk ourselves down to reality, in case our dreams did not come true. But even if you knew in your heart that you weren’t going to get your dream part, you held on to hope nonetheless.

Then, the big day arrived. The waiting was finally over. Soon, you would know the outcome and there would be no turning back. The hopes you had held on to all week would either be realized or shattered. The director handed out script by script, announcing each person’s part, in turn. Some shows, your wildest dream came true and there was nothing more glorious than hearing your name attached to the leading role you had been hoping for, and seeing it written on the script in your hands. Other years, you could feel your heart sink into your stomach the moment your hopes were shattered. And then of course there was the putting on a smile and forced support for your friends who DID get the parts they wanted. It wasn’t that you weren’t happy for them, it was just that you were so devastated for yourself.

I can not help but draw parallels between that dreaded 1 week wait, and this dreaded 2 week wait. Of course now, instead of twice a year, it’s 12 times a year, and I have yet to receive good news at the end of it. Nonetheless, I always find some hope to hold on to.

At 7dpo today, I have one week to go… and I sure hope I get the part I want…

Please Don’t Call

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There is one day during each cycle on which I cross my fingers and hope NOT to hear from my doctor. Today is that day. Today is progesterone day. My doctor’s office only calls if your numbers are low and they want you to start supplements. It is 4:45 and I haven’t heard from them yet, so fingers crossed…

I’m 4 dpiui and this 2ww is soooo slow. I’m on spring break and I’m grateful for some down time, but on the other hand… (Oh, believe me; it’s not that I don’t have a mile high pile of paperwork, but you can guess my progress on that…)

I used to get nervous to have bloodwork done, but since TTC, that has obviously become a thing of the past!

To the Core!

Pineapple core, that is!

Many TTC women who have achieved their BFPs swear by pineapple core. ¬†What is the “core,” you may ask?

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Pineapple core contains bromelain, which, from what I’ve read, acts an anti-inflammatory, blood thinner, AND it helps to produce cervical mucus. ¬†For whatever scientific and physiological reasons bromelain helps with implantation, many women thank the pineapple core goddesses for their BFPs. ¬†It is inexpensive, natural, and healthy, so I figure it is worth a try. ¬†(Especially since my mother cut up a fresh pineapple last week and I tossed the core into the freezer for safe keeping. ¬†Easy-peasy for me!). ¬†Here is a great link that explains the whole pineapple thing much better than I have:¬†http://conceivewithpineapple.blogspot.com/¬† Honestly, you can google “TTC pineapple” about a gazillion options will pop up (many of which are testimonials!).

I tried eating 1/5 of a pineapple core every day for 5 days after IUI last month. ¬†I did not get my BFP, BUT my progesterone levels were better. ¬†I have no idea if the pineapple helped, but it certainly didn’t hurt. So, I am trying it again. ¬†As this point, I have detoxed from all other TTC “home remedies.” ¬†No more fertileCM, EPO, or any other supplements. ¬†Just following doctor’s orders, taking my meds, and eating some pineapple core. Oh, and some Brazil Nuts. ¬†ūüėČ ¬†What “home remedies” do you subscribe to while TTC?

 

 

Happy Anniversary, Happy Mother’s Day!

Today is my one year anniversary. ¬†‚̧

Today is Mother’s Day.

I hope May is our lucky month…

Last month was a total bust in TTC land. ¬†I was upset at first, but the silver lining was not obsessing during my two week wait. ¬†I enjoyed the rest of the month, not worrying too much about caffeine and alcohol intake, and before I knew it, I was starting a new cycle. ¬†Right now, I estimate myself at around 2-3 dpo… but I don’t go crazy with charting or temping, so I don’t know for sure. ¬†I’m REALLY trying to be low key, but we all know how that goes.

I find it really difficult to keep taking my prenatal vitamins, and to keep taking SUPER good care of my body during the times I know that I am not pregnant. ¬†I know that all of these things are healthy for me regardless, but it feels weird to me, almost like a jinx. ¬†If I stop anticipating a pregnancy with vitamins, then I am more likely to find myself pregnant. ¬†If I keep taking the vitamins, the fates look down on me laughing, “Boy, she is really jumping the gun, isn’t she!” ¬†I know this makes NO logical sense, but not many things in my life do.

So I take the vitamins. ¬†I don’t freak out if I miss a day here and there. ¬†My morning coffee is usually decaf, unless I’m desperate. ¬†I abstained from alcoholic beverages on both Friday and Saturday this weekend. ¬†Tonight, I WILL toast my one year anniversary with a glass of champagne. ¬†But that’s all.

Not-so-patiently waiting for May 24.

TOP TEN Early Pregnancy Non-Symptoms

Please¬†don’t¬†be mislead by the title of this post.

I don’t yet know for sure if I am pregnant or not this month, but my strong instinct is:¬†not¬†

This has not, however, hampered my desire to symptom spot in the least. ¬†I really needed a distraction leading up to a much needed Spring Break (which began today at 12:30,¬†thank god). And yes, I celebrated with a glass of red wine. ¬†After all, I¬†really don’t think I am pregnant… By my novice calculations, I am on Cycle Day 21, and roughly 5 days past ovulation; I am expecting my next period one week from today, but my cycle ranges from 26 – 31 days (usually falling within 27-29 days), so who knows. Other than the stupid cheap strip I had lying in the drawer today, I am NOT going to test again until I am officially late next Friday. ¬†Or maybe next Thursday night at midnight. ¬†ūüėČ

But back to the “symptoms.” ¬†Here is a quick list of the top ten early pregnancy symptoms that I may or may not have thought I experienced this week, and the real logical cause behind each one.

10) dull headache — stress of keeping 13 year olds reined in long enough to teach them¬†anything the week before a vacation, rehearsing a full cast number for the musical with 80-something students, I can’t remember the last week I went “dull headache” free come to think of it

9) tired / dizzy – I wake up every morning at 5:15. ¬†After dealing with hormonal tweens all day, I have rehearsal with the most dramatic ones until 5:30, then, three times a week, I’m off to teach high impact aerobics. ¬†One day this week, I taught two in a row… ¬†That’s enough to make anyone dizzy, and definitely enough to make anyone tired!

8) tired eyes – I was diagnosed with severe dry eye about a year and a half ago. ¬†I can’t remember the last time I used the drops I am supposed to use twice a day. ¬†So, yeah… my eyes are pretty much always dry and tired.

7) slight cramping – I may have actually been ovulating wicked late (which would put me in the “definitely not pregnant” zone). ¬†That, or I should stay away from the school lunch. ¬†Again, much like the headache, I get cramping throughout my cycle. ¬†It is very dull and nothing alarming and has been happening since high school.

6) smelling things I don’t usually notice – this one I can’t explain, but it was only for a day or two, and it wasn’t anything that¬†really jumped out at me. ¬†This was pure and simple psychosomatic symptom spotting. And like I said, it stopped when I forgot to think about it. ūüôā

5) tightness in chest / some gas – I never drink orange juice, but decided to start again this week for some extra vitamin C since R was sick with a cold last week. Orange juice and I have never gotten along.

4) one glass of wine made me tipsy – I have been cutting WAY back on alcohol consumption for the past few weeks (we are pretty big drinkers); that coupled with being tired and the drink being red wine…

3) lower back pain – I have been going to the chiropractor for this pain since before we were trying to conceive, but clearly this week, it is a sign of pregnancy. Oh, let’s not forget all of those high impact aerobic classes I taught this week with an already tender back… that SURELY couldn’t be the cause…

2) I am moody and easily irritated Рthis could describe me on any given day, at any time of the month; this will NEVER be a good symptom for me to use as a benchmark.  I am often dramatic and moody.

1) bloating – it could be the St. Joseph’s pastries we’ve been eating since last Sunday, the appetizer sampler platter today at lunch (followed by french onion soup), salty¬†Chinese¬†food, … you get the idea. ¬†Though I am conscious about what I eat and try to stay relatively healthy, I am far from perfect, and the PMS cravings officially set in last night around 9 pm.

Well, there you have it folks, my top ten non-symptom-symptoms. ¬†I quite expect that a week from now, I will be announcing official plans for entering round two of trying, and though in my heart I know this, I am sure I will still be somewhat let down when my period shows up. ¬†There¬†is the silver lining of actually getting to have sex with my otherwise drive-less husband, so it’s not all bad. ¬†But I’d still rather make a little ‘a.’ ūüėČ