An update that’s actually positive!

There’s nothing like finding out one small piece of good news that makes it all so much easier to handle!

I finally got my blood test back in the mail today, the one from when I went to the allergist on Columbus Day. With regards to food – I wasn’t too surprised, I tested negative for allergies to milk, wheat, gluten in general, and for good measure, onions. Onions have always bothered me, especially when raw, or, god forbid, in salad dressing. So I always just assumed I was allergic to them. As for gluten/wheat, I made the assumption I was allergic to that when I broke out in hives after eating certain things, like a big bowl of pasta, or oatmeal at night. I switched over to gluten-free for the last month and noticed some small changes in hives for a while, but then a few weeks ago, had those hives in full force at night. So I realized that it’s not the gluten that is bothering me so much. As for milk, I know that I have stomach issues when I have too much dairy at once – for example, I can’t drink a glass of milk and eat a piece of ice cream cake at the same time. Found that out the hard way.

But, like I said, negative for all of those foods. Which leads me to my last ditch thought on food issues, before I throw it all out the window and just confirm my body is weird. Sugar. At night. I did a little experiment this week. Monday night I had a plum – some lip hives that night. Tuesday night I had my husband’s gluten free, sugar free apple pie – no hives. Wednesday night I had nothing at all – no hives. Thursday night I had 4 twizzlers….and had the beginnings of hives before I took meds to shut them down. So I think that when I eat anything that is either sugar, or turns to sugar, especially at night, my body reacts unpleasantly, usually with hives. I have no idea how the nighttime thing has anything to do with it, besides maybe that it’s the last thing I eat at night. And here I thought I was going to have to go on the craziest diet ever – I was even researching the Paleo diet (if it couldn’t be hunted or picked off a bush – you can’t eat it). But I really don’t think I could do it, to that extent. And now I’m starting to think I don’t have to. All I need to control is my sugar and my carbs. Isn’t that what I said months ago when this whole thing started? Right away, I guessed sugar and carbs. If I have a piece of cake at lunch, that’s it for the day. I should try to avoid sugar at night, but if I must, no carbs that turn to sugar earlier in the day. As for dairy – just go light. So, big sigh of relief there. After all that, I definitely don’t have Celiac’s disease, but possibly a gluten intolerance that has a lot more to do with the sugar than anything else. I’ve still made a long-term switch to gluten-free pasta, bread and cereal, but even that might not last forever.

But that isn’t even the best news of all! The best news is my TSH level- and my old endo can take a hike. 1.39. It sounds crazy but I was overjoyed at that number. Since I have been getting blood tests to check my TSH 5 or 6 years ago, the number has never been this low. That is a wonderfully low number. 2.03 wasn’t bad either, but this is way better. This is near perfect, really. What it means is that I finally can start TTC without a doctor telling me to wait around for my thyroid to catch up. I am good to go.

Now, if only I had an actual cycle….yeah, I’m on Day 64. It’s crazy. I did take a pregnancy test last weekend, just to check, and of course it was negative. I called my gyno this week and told her that while I had a negative pregnancy test, I did show some signs (okay, really only one) of ovulation on Day 53ish. She said, as I guessed, that nothing would show up until maybe a week and a half to two weeks later, which is next week sometime. So, if I still don’t have my AF by after that two week mark or so, she wants to see me, where she’ll give me a blood test to confirm I’m not pregnant, and then give me something to jump start my period (Provera, maybe?) So I’m waiting a few more days on that end of things, but then it sounds like the ball will be rolling. Perhaps, with my TSH now good to go, my super long, anovulatory cycles may have another cause that my gyno can look into. As for my endo, I have an appointment with her next week, too. She’s the new one – so glad I left the old one. The old one didn’t want to even test my TSH until Thanksgiving, and not see me until January. I would’ve been waiting in the dark this whole time when my TSH was actually fine! So with this new one – I’ve got about a million questions. And I’m hoping to get the answers to them, if not through her, than through my gyno. And best of all, I’m assuming between these two doctors I will see in the next few weeks, they will give me a plan of action. Because that’s all I really need. What will be next??

It’s Basically Torture…

I’m going to split up my thoughts into two posts again today. Even though they are linked, of course, it makes it easier for me to talk it out, and probably easier to read. I guess I’ll start with the fertility (or lack there of) end of things.

Today is Day 58 in my cycle. Absolutely ridiculous. Since going off the pill in April, I have had 3 (yes, only 3) cycles of 41 days each. That, in itself, was long enough! But they were like clockwork. I’m not sure if I ovulated in the first two, as I wasn’t charting, but I did in the third one, because I had a positive OPK and a temperature shift (though only 9 days long for my LP…but one thing at a time). Then, on August 19th, I started this 4th cycle. 58 days later, and nothing. The obvious question is, could I be pregnant? But by taking one look at my chart, the answer is no. I’d like to put in a little plug here and say that charting is the best thing I have ever done in the process of TTC. Once you really know how to do it, and can read your body well, you never have to go on birth control again. You never have to second guess things.Well, mostly.

I’ve been charting my temps and CF the entire time, and there was never a temperature shift like there should be. Even last weekend, when on Day 53 I had the CF for ovulation, I got negatives on the OPK and no temp shift. So, as I said a while back, I think this is an anovulatory cycle – no ovulation. That’s frustrating enough, but when you don’t ovulate, you sometimes also don’t get a period! If you do, it’s not a true period, just the shedding of the lining of your uterus (pleasant!). But many people don’t even have that, make it impossible to start a new cycle! So, Day 58, and this is now being called “amenorhhea” – no period. But mentally, this part is draining. I just want to get it already, so I can start the cycle over again and pretend like I have a shot in the next round! It’s basically torture.

Of course, my new obsession with research on this topic and my other go-to topic, my thyroid problems, have led me to numerous articles and books. “Living Well With Hypothyroidism”, by Mary Shomon, and “Taking Charge of Your Fertility”, by Toni Weschler both told me that having hypothyroidism, or autoimmune Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (that’s me) can cause irregular cycles, long cycles, anovulatory cycles, short LPs…etc. So, I blame the thyroid. Again.

I go to see my new endocrinologist at the end of the month, and I’ve never been so anxious to get to a doctor’s appointment. I just want her input, and I’m hoping she’ll be my saving grace. I know I want a higher dose of Synthroid, because I want to target my TSH betwen 0 and 1. But I have other questions. What about my hives, that are back in full force? What about possible vitamin deficiencies? What about Hashimoto’s in combination with Celiac’s, or at least gluten intolerance? What about my ATA’s?

If you have an auto-immune thyroid disease, like I do, then it’s likely you have high anti-thyroid antibodies (ATA’s). If you have regular hypothyroidism, you probably don’t have them. The ATA’s are not the problem, they are the signal. A high count of them tell you that your body is attacking your thyroid in large numbers, when they shouldn’t be, creating this condition. Well, I think people always overlook this. When I first got my thyroid tested like 4 years ago, my allergist told me my ATA’s were “off the charts”, and “the highest he had ever seen”. My number was 900. Normal is less than 9. And, as I asked my allergist last week when I saw him, they haven’t changed. Even if my TSH is “normal”, my ATA’s are literally off the charts. I believe that they are probably a big cause of my hives (in combo with food issues). But they aren’t really treatable, because the aren’t the problem. If the number stays high, you know the problem still exists, basically. If the number drops, it’s being taken care of. I don’t know too much about it, but I want to ask my new endo. Because in the books I read, they both said a high antibody count DOUBLES the risk of miscarriage. Which is fantastic. It all tells me how badly I want these problems to be corrected, and I’m basically at all of my doctors’ mercy. Two more weeks until that appointment. I also need to call my OBGYN, just to keep her in the loop. I’ll ask if she might want to run some tests concerning my progesterone levels, or to check if I did ovulate or not. But I have a feeling she is going to say no, that she wants my thyroid where it needs to be to see if that fixes the problem first. So much waiting!

Thyroid problems, food allergies, and fertility issues….Oh my!

This is the most…(I don’t even know the word I want to put in here. Confusing? Crazy? Stressful? Fascinating? Empowering? They will all fit) situation of my life. I am finally getting to the point where I think I understand how all of these pieces of my health puzzle come together – and I’m not sure which doctor to even approach about it!

Here’s what I’ve done so far, since my last post. First of all – TTC wasn’t even a thought, after all that, because I never ovulated this cycle. Yuck. I’m on Day 38 now, we’ll see if my period comes on Day 41 as usual. How do I know I didn’t ovulate? Well, I’ve been charting for 2 cycles now, and this cycle, my BBT never rose. It stayed low the entire time, and continues to. I haven’t had a higher temp than 97.3 since the last cycle. I doubly confirmed it with 7 negative OPKs during the same time that I supposedly did ovulate last cycle, Day 32. Of course, Day 32 was too late anyway, as the LP was only 9 days long. So even though that cycle was a lot prettier than this one, it was probably problematic, with a short LP and temps never getting above 97.6.

I have also called my allergist, and I have an appointment on Columbus Day. I want a FULL work up of food allergies, including gluten, dairy, and sugar. I also want to be tested for Vitamin D and whatever else they can fit onto a blood test sheet. Oh, and my TSH. I’m going to slip that one in there, too.

But I have a feeling I know what I’m going to find out. That’s the thing. I now feel like I have all the answers to what’s wrong with me (I’m sure I don’t, but still) and I just don’t know who to harass about it.

So, I bought this book, “Taking Charge of Your Fertility”, by Toni Weschler. It’s amazing, even though I knew what it was going to be about. It’s about charting. Done correctly, it’s a safe and accurate form of birth control. When TTC, it can be so helpful. I already know how helpful charting is – given that I’ve done it for 2 cycles now, I was able to see that I may have ovulated one cycle, and definitely didn’t the other. I can predict periods, and most importantly, evaluate how my thyroid fits in with all this. So, I already knew how to chart, but the book gives me more specifics, which I’ll be trying in the next cycle. However, also in the book I found this:

“Symptoms of hypothyroidism include low waking temperatures, long cycles, heavy menses, anovulatory cycles (with no thermal shift), prolonged phases of fertile-quality cervical fluid, or infertility.”

Assuming that last one isn’t the case for me (let’s pray), I have 4 out of the remaining 5. It’s so nice, yet so frustrating, to know that the problems I’m seeing in my cycle are more than likely directly related to my thyroid. But I’m taking medication for this! I’m supposedly “normal”! Why are these symptoms of fertility problems still here?? Then, a friend showed me this online:

“Introduction
My husband and I are very busy with owning our own businesses, but we have finally gotten to the stage where we would like to have a child. However it hasn’t been easy. I have been off the pill for 4 years and we haven’t gotten pregnant and we were starting to get worried. The last 12 months I have been keeping my BBTs and they have been all over the place, so we found a good GP and started getting tested. In February/March I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease and under active Thyroid also having low Vitamin D as well.

Tests, Procedures, Medical consultations
So since about the end of June I have been on Thyroid replacement and my TSH has gone from 5 to 2.4 and I have been feeling better. I have better told to stay away from gluten as gluten reacts with the Immune system against the thyroid. And I must say staying away from the gluten I have lost 10 KG and feeling much better. I have also had an ultrasound done and it stated that I might not be ovulating, so more blood tests were ordered on days 12, 14, 16, & 18 of my cycle. Comes to be that I am ovulating but I am not producing enough progesterone to facilitate implantation. So next couple steps are to continue taking my thyroid medication, take progesterone supplementation after ovulation, see an IVF specialist just incase this doesn’t work, and continue to try and get enough sun and vitamin D supplementation.”

I also think I fit this bill exactly. Thyroid problems, food allergies, fertility issues – they are ALL related.

Here’s where I start to lose my mind: I think I know what’s wrong, but I don’t know who to tell. Fitting the pieces of the puzzle together has just happened in my brain in the last few days. But in the past few weeks, I have already been in contact with all 4 of my doctors (allergist, primary physician, endo, gyno), and with the exception of the allergist, whom I have yet to see, they are all telling me to wait, wait, wait. Wait and see. My TSH was a 2, which is considered normal. I BET that if I up-ed my dose of Synthroid just a little bit more, that might kickstart the rest of me into gear. But I don’t think she would give me more, as the level is technically normal. Maybe not normal for my body, but normal. Besides, I have an appt. with her in January – she’s definitely not going to see me until then.

I’m trying to figure out what needs to be fixed first, in order to help my fertility. Since my thyroid is “normal” at the moment, that doesn’t seem like it’s going to be getting a fixing anytime soon. So, the only thing I can control is my diet. I’ve continued not to touch wheat, (except for yesterday, and I’m paying for that this morning). But I’ve gone back to having a lot of sugar. And I keep thinking – what if the only way to fix myself, to be able to conceive without major issues, and get my thyroid acting properly, is to keep an extremely strict diet, with no wheat or sugar? Or processed foods? This question is followed up by the next one: Why do I even have to be considering this? Who lives like this??

It is SO frustrating; my attempt at describing it doesn’t even compare to how I actually feel.  Yet, I’m so glad that I pursued this. Each piece took a while to figure out (first the thyroid, then the ovulation, then the food allergies), and every time I discovered something new, I couldn’t believe it. But now that I feel I GET it, the whole picture,  I’m jumping out of my skin to fix it, now. Clearly, patience isn’t one of my best qualities.

To TTC? Or Not?

I keep thinking that I really should change the name of this blog. It’s very misleading!

So, after my last post about my health, I have some thoughts on another topic as well, but I figured it deserved its own post.

My TSH level right now is a 2.03. It’s very good. It’s considered in the “normal” range. My endo dr. was pleased with it, and said to keep taking the 88 mcg of Synthroid. I was very excited, as you may recall, because I can TTC with that number (after being told to stop TTC with my high TSH level of 8). But I had made a decision after receiving that 2, that I should probably wait one more blood test, just to be sure it’s still a 2, or lower. That was back when I thought I could get a blood test soon. My endo dr. didn’t have me scheduled for another blood test until January – and I definitely couldn’t wait that long. After a few back-and-forth calls, she decided I could get another blood test at the end of November. That wasn’t a magic time – just the time she decided on. I wasn’t pleased with that, I was basically begging for one sooner. Here’s the thing: I called her, and my primary dr., and my gyno, and they all said the same thing: Synthroid takes 6-8 weeks to show what it’s going to do to your TSH levels. Getting a blood test once a month wouldn’t show my true levels. Fine. I understand that. But it’s been over 8 weeks since I was put on that last dosage of 88mcg. I have been tested since that time, and had a TSH level of 2. I want to TTC!!!! So, last week I called my gyno. She’s so nice and understanding, and my favorite of the three doctors. She said, in a perfect world, everyone TTC would have a TSH level of around 1. But, she said, 2 is good enough. Good enough!!! My heart seriously jumped. But of course I always have to push it! I asked if she were me, what she would do. She said, “I guess I’d probably wait one more blood test -just to be sure.” And my heart dropped again. That’s the Thanksgiving blood test.

So it’s been a depressing week, given all that info. See, now my levels are great, and I haven’t been told NOT to try at all. My endo dr. (who, when the level was an 8, was so firm in telling me I couldn’t try) said nothing when I mentioned how I had stopped TTC back when the levels were high. Only my gyno, who, after telling me a 2 was good enough, mentioned that I perhaps, could wait.

But here’s the thing: I did a lot of research (shocking, I know), and I couldn’t find a single person who, after getting down to a normal level, continued to wait. When it was a 2 or below, they went for it! And here I am…close to ovulation in the near future. A decision must be made soon. TTC? Or not?

I go back and forth – listen to your doctors, they know.  Except, they never said I couldn’t. They said it looks great, and normal, and good enough. Think about the risks – okay, if my number was higher than a 3, and even worse than that, a 5 or higher, TTC would be very risky business. Most likely, I couldn’t get pregnant at all, and then if I did, I would probably miscarry. So, without this new blood test, I don’t know if my number is still a 2. Okay, I get that. However, even after my Thanksgiving blood test, if that’s still a 2, and I ovulate in December, don’t I STILL not know what my level is? Unless ovulation corresponds exactly with my blood test results, I’ll never know! But I do know how I feel – I feel great. I ditched gluten. I have fewer hives. I’m eating healthy, exercising more. My level was a 2 mid-August. I really don’t think it can be any higher!

One more thing to consider -once I do get pregnant, then monitoring my TSH is easy. My gyno will check it constantly, and adjust the dosage as needed. The first 10-12 weeks of pregnancy are most critical for the thyroid to be normal. It’s just the getting pregnant that’s the issue.

And lastly – I probably wouldn’t even get pregnant this cycle anyway! I have a short LP (9 days) and it will probably require further medical attention in the future (progesterone treatments). My cycles are still way too long (41 days) and I have a low BBT (usually between 96.8 and 97.2)  That said, I just want to try. Just to see. Just to have control over myself. Just because it seems ridiculous to wait 2 more months (and 2 more cycles..I won’t even be able to try until mid-December), just to “make sure” I’m still around a 2.

So I think I’ve made my decision, but I still feel like I’m committing a crime. What do you think?

And the new magic number is……

2.03! Yeah, I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t. And while my first reaction was happy  – really, really happy, my second reaction was skeptical. I’ve only been on the up-ed dosage of meds for one month. I had my blood taken in early July, and it was an 8.41. Mid-August, and it’s a 2.03? That’s an awfully big jump for one month. While the number is fantastic (it’s “normal”), I’m not sure there’s anything normal about jumping 6 points in one month. So, that’s where I’m at. I’m not being negative – I’m ridiculously happy; the happiness level was one similar to, I imagine, seeing a positive pregnancy test. It means my body is doing what it’s supposed to be doing, and it means that if I were to TTC right now, my thyroid would allow it to safely occur.

But still. I never expected a 2 at this point. So, here are my thoughts on the matter. First of all, (as if anyone was curious about the specifics) I’m at the beginning of my cycle. Day 7. Cycle is 41 days long, ovulation (at least last month) came on Day 32. So I’ve got a ways to go. I feel like I would like to see where my number is at again before TTC. If I have a 2 or lower again, I’d say I’m good to go. But that may not happen. The problem is this: First, I haven’t gotten a doctor to give me the papers for a blood test within the next few weeks yet. Second, even if I do, it would have to be very soon, because I’d want the results back before Day 32. Third, it took the test 10 days to get back to me. So, with a little thinking ahead here…I’d want the results back by say, Day 30, just in case, and it takes 10 days, so that would mean getting my blood taken on Day 20, and I still don’t have the papers to go take this blood test anyway. Besides, after a 6 point drop in one month, would getting a TSH level of 2 twice in a row mean I’m all set? Just like that? Who knows, it could jump back up 6 points for all I know.

However, if I wait, say, another month or so, which is more realistic medically, I’ll miss this cycle’s ovulation time. The next time (assuming it’s still Day 32) won’t be for another 73 days. And that’s a long time!

So, here’s what I’m going to do: leave it in the hands of professionals. I’m going to call my thyroid doctor, and ask for another blood test. If she gives it right away, great, if she gives it next cycle, I guess I’ll have to deal. Most likely, she will not approve giving me one in two weeks, as my primary doctor didn’t when I called the other day. Then, I’ll call the OB-GYN and ask her if she thinks one low number of 2 is good enough to start trying, or if she thinks I should wait until that next blood test comes in. Whatever she says, I’ll do. Part me of wants to just go for it, but I’d hate to have this 2 be a little fluke or something and my next test is high again – too high to be pregnant.

Of course, this whole thing has to be complicated!

 

My first smiley face!

What a difference a day makes! This morning, I had to do a double-take. My OPK (Ovulation Predictor Kit) showed a smiley face. That means I will be ovulating in the next 12-24 hours. Of course, this cycle I can’t TTC, due to my high TSH level, which really stinks. However, it’s the first time in 2 cycles I’ve ever seen a smiley face, and I was thrilled to see it. Perhaps my body is actually functioning somewhat normally.

As I consulted my chart (which I’m so glad I used this cycle), I realized that today is day 32 out of 41. My BBT this morning was 96.63, very low. A normal person’s BBT would go way up tomorrow morning, showing that ovulation did take place. I have a feeling that won’t happen for me, for two reasons: A short luteal phase (LP) and my thyroid issues.

The luteal phase is the time after ovulation and before your next period. It generally stays constant month to month – it’s very reliable. An average LP is about 14 days (hence ovulating on day 14 out of a 28-day cycle, which I don’t do). Doctors recommend that your LP is at least 12 days, and 10 is the absolute shortest it could be. With my smiley face on day 32, and my period starting on day 41, my LP is about 9 days. Is this a problem? Well, yes, but it’s easily treated. It’s a problem because the short duration of the LP won’t allow enough progesterone to be produced. Another way to tell that you don’t have enough progesterone is that your BBT won’t rise much, if at all. Progesterone makes your BBT rise. Without that, pregnancy will not occur, or if it does, probably won’t last long, resulting in a miscarriage. How is it treated? Well, I’ve read about a few things. Doctors will prescribe progesterone pills, or even Clomid, which is to help with infertility. However, I also read about taking B6 vitamins, as that will lengthen the LP. It’s something to ask a doctor. But don’t wait around a year to do this – chart your cycles, and you should find a pattern with your LP month to month. I’d call after the 2nd or 3rd cycle doing this.

In my case, I don’t know if my thyroid issues and now this are related. See, low BBTs are both caused by hypothyroidism and low progesterone  – both of which I have. Anovulation (not ovulating) is also caused by high TSH levels, but with my current cycle, it looks like I’ve avoided that problem. And of course there’s also the fact that I’m only a few months off BC, and for many women, it takes months for everything to even itself out.

So I’m thrilled to get that smiley face, but I’m not out of the woods yet. Again, I’m not TTC this cycle, so it allows me to really pay close attention to what my body is doing. My BBT is low, and we’ll see what happens tomorrow when it’s supposed to rise. If it doesn’t, I’ll bet money on low progesterone. My TSH level is too high (but we’ll see if this new diet helps). I ovulated really late, in a cycle that’s already very long. And my LP will be too short at 9 days, so even if everything else was normal, I still may have had a problem. So I’ve got many strikes against me – but one less than I thought. 🙂

Week 1 complete – can I have ice cream now??

Well, I made it through one week of this thyroid diet I’ve put myself on – and by one week, I mean one work week. I have a wedding to go to tomorrow night at the Cape, one of my favorite places in the world, and I’ll be damned if I can’t have a bite of wedding cake, and ice cream from Sundae School the next day. I have to say, today I’m in a bit of a downer mood.

The issue is not that I’m not pregnant yet; it’s only been a few months. The issue is that I’m an otherwise-healthy almost 27-year old, and I’ve been told I can’t try to conceive a child for the foreseeable future. That, and to hopefully hurry the possibly years-long process along, I’m putting myself through a food change. Now, I’m not eating crazy things. Salads and lean meats – isn’t that what everyone’s supposed to eat? But I’m really trying to stay away from sugar (Stevia is a miracle), and limit myself to one helping of carbs a day, or every other day. Today, we had Bulgar wheat with our dinner, and two days ago, I had a half a piece of whole wheat bread (my husband made), with cashew butter and a little cinnamon. Monday, I had steel-cut oats for breakfast. Other than that, the rest of all my meals have consisted of protein, vegetables, and dairy. What have I got to show for it after 5 days? A drop of about 1 1/2 pounds (mostly water weight, I’m assuming) and a digestive system in shock. So far, every day I’ve felt like I can do this, and tonight I’m feeling like I shouldn’t have to.

Last October, my husband and I ran our first marathon. We both did horrible, but finished. We vowed to someday do it again, the right way, and improve our times and confidence. This October, I was hoping to be pregnant. Therefore, I’ve been taking a leave of absence from distance running, and just hitting the gym instead for the past few months. I figured I’d celebrate my first child by running the marathon again. Tonight, my husband suggested that we now sign up for the race this October, and the thought of it bothered me. I’m being completely selfish, I realize. My immediate thought was, “No, I’m not training for this marathon.” By signing up, training for it, and running it, I’d be basically admitting to myself that Plan A didn’t, couldn’t, happen. This Plan B would be way crappier. By not signing up, training for it, and running it, while my husband does (he has every right), and watching him that day, I’d be reminding myself that I hadn’t moved on from the last marathon, hadn’t improved my time, hadn’t proved something to myself, and was waiting around for something that could be a long time in the making – literally. Blah.

I imagine the advice I’ll get is to run it. I might feel great after. But there are 2 things to consider: 1) With all the stars in alignment and a miracle thrown my way, I might get pregnant before then. 2) Training for a marathon is no little task. I wish I could wait until that day and just run it, but I can’t. I’d have to start now, with long runs in the hot, summer sun. Every run would be that reminder of my Plan B.

So, it was left that I’ll attempt to train with my husband, and when it gets a little closer, I can make my final decision…I’ll keep you posted.

As a side note – I just wanted to thank those of you who read this, both those of you I know and those I don’t. Sometimes I just put it all out there, more as a venting device, and then I remember that I have readers. 🙂 By the way, if you do read my blog, but haven’t signed up to it yet, go to the top right-hand corner of the page and put in your email. You’ll be an official “subscriber”!

Charting Ovulation and Finding Your BBT

I’m back to talking about getting pregnant – at least for now! Between my new organic diet and this, I have a lot on my mind.

Though I’m on a temporary hiatus from TTC, I am charting my ovulation and finding my BBT (Basal Body Temperature). Frankly, before I found out I needed to stop trying, I was charting, but I’ve decided to continue doing this for multiple reasons.

First of all, I need to figure out when I’m ovulating, exactly, so I won’t get pregnant until my TSH level goes down. Second, one of the conditions that occurs with an underactive thyroid is anovulation, where you will go a cycle or more without ovulating, and this is something I need to monitor. Third, charting and finding your BBT is fun, in my opinion.

Let’s back up. I have only been trying to pinpoint my ovulation at all for a few months now. Given that since I’ve gone off the pill, my cycle is 41 days long (a whole other topic for a future post), I’ve been doing this for 2 cycles. The first cycle, I only used an ovulation predictor kit.

With this kit, you basically urinate on a stick every morning, and it tells you whether or not you will ovulate in the next 12-24 hours. It’s 99% accurate, and I thought that was a pretty decent percentage. I prefer the digital kit made by ClearBlue. It shows a circle when you’re not ovulating, and a smiley face when you are. I’ve done a lot of research on cheaper kits, because it does cost somewhere in the $30-$40 range, but other, cheaper brands have little blue lines that are hard to detect. For example, with those kits, you need to decipher between a light blue or dark blue line. Well, what if it’s medium blue? I wouldn’t be able to handle that daily stress (haha..) so I like it simple. In addition, because I’m only a few cycles off the pill and I’m not sure when I ovulate exactly, I chose to buy a kit with 20 sticks, for 20 days. If you know for sure what week you ovulate, I would recommend buying the 7-day kit. Otherwise, the 20-day is great. Make sure you read the directions carefully! There’s a lot of little rules…

Last cycle, this was my main method of figuring out when I ovulated. The problem was, with a 41-day cycle, I used all 20 sticks somewhere in the middle of that cycle, and every single one came back with a circle. No smiley face. This led me to two possibilities: One, that I simply missed it, either being after I finished the sticks or before, or, and more seriously, that I didn’t ovulate at all; anovulation. If I didn’t ovulate, I wanted to make sure this wasn’t a permanent thing, and that it was caused by Hashimoto’s and my high TSH level.

Therefore, this cycle I decided to find my BBT on a daily basis. At first, I thought taking my temperature every day was absolutely ridiculous, and that it would be getting a bit extreme. Now, I find it fascinating to see how my body works, and I’m still waiting to see if I’ll ovulate this cycle. Here’s how it works:

Get a Basal Body Temperature Thermometer (I got mine at Target for around $5). It provides your exact temperature (like 97.85, rather than just 97.8). Every morning, before you get up, eat, or drink, you take it. Try to do it around the same time everyday. I do it at 6:00 AM, when I also wake up to take my Synthroid, and if it’s the weekend, I just go back to sleep. Later on, chart it on the graph (see my links for the one I use). As this is my first cycle doing this, I’m still waiting to see what will happen. But so far, this is what I notice: During my period, my temperature remained constant at 97.6 degrees. After, and up until ovulation, your temperature is supposed to be low, under your period temperature. The day before ovulation, your temperature will drop a few points, and it should stick out on your chart. The next day, after ovulation, your temperature will rise high, higher than what it was during your period. When you see your temp go from very low to very high, you know you’ve ovulated. This is a great way to make sure you are ovulating, and so far, I have low temps, but no high ones. If all goes normally, after you ovulate, your temperature will remain high until you get your period, when it will drop again. If you are pregnant, it will continue to remain high. This is one of the earliest ways to find out that you are pregnant.

So, I’ve been chugging along this cycle, waiting to see what my temperature will do. In the meantime, I’m also using the ClearBlue kit, and this time I backed up 20 days from Day 41, and so far, negative. If I get all the way to my period on Day 41 and I never had a smiley face or a high temp (hopefully I’d get both) then I know I’m not ovulating…and more likely than not, my thyroid is to blame. There are other ways to know if you are ovulating, and I’ll save them for a future post.

How did you determine when/if you were ovulating?

The Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Diet?

Little did I know that when I started this blog, it would end up being equally about my health as well as TTC! I suppose this journey I’m on can be a lesson for everyone – make sure you’re healthy before you start trying.

As it turns out, I simply can’t sit around and wait for my TSH level to drop (shocking, I know). I hate not being in control of my own body and I’ve been doing a little research to see what I can do to possibly help. At the very least, I can become healthier in every other aspect, and I just hope it will have an effect on my TSH in a good way.

So I talked to someone yesterday who seems to have suffered a similar fate (either Hashimoto’s or hypothyroidism) and she told me about her holistic approach to the disease. She sees a holistic doctor and takes tons of vitamins every day and has completely changed her diet around. She no longer even takes Synthroid at all, and her TSH levels are completely normal. While I’m not sure yet how I feel about holistic medicine, I admit I need to do more research on the topic. Medicine prescribed by a doctor seems to exist for a reason – and if I simply needed more vitamins, why wouldn’t my primary physician or my endocrinologist have told me that? That said, I was never told that calcium-enriched orange juice taken within 4 hours of Synthroid decreases what it does for my body, so you never know.

As I wait to hear more from this person about her diet, I did more research and stumbled upon this blog.

This woman has basically cut gluten out of her diet, and the comments made by others show they have done something similar. That, and sugar.

Sugar and carbs are my favorite types of foods – and I know they’re unhealthy. But everyone eats them, which is why it’s so frustrating that a healthy 26-year old might actually have to stop. Sugar, in particular, has been a minor obsession since I was a child. How could I possibly live without it?

However, to lower my TSH levels and get healthier, with a larger goal of conceiving, I will literally do whatever it takes. And I’ll start by changing my diet. Just as soon as this weekend is over…

Fitness and Nutrition

Well, as I said previously, I want to continue with the blog, even though I’m on a temporary freeze from trying to get pregnant. After all, it is supposed to be a journey! Meanwhile, there were many other areas regarding getting pregnant that I wanted to address, and one of them was fitness and nutrition.

Frankly, there isn’t too much to say about this topic because most of it is common sense. However,  if you weren’t too healthy or fit before, there’s no better time to start than while trying to get pregnant. There is no perfect number on the scale that needs to be reached, so no need to stress. However, ideally your BMI would be in the normal range. Anything above that or under it (overweight or underweight) and you’re going to possibly struggle to conceive. You can check your BMI on any online BMI calculator, or I have added one for you under my “blogroll” section.

There is such a thing as being too fit to conceive. If I were marathon training all year round, running 20 miles at a time on weekends and 10 on weekdays, for me, that would be too much. I don’t mind whittling it down! You just want to be relatively fit.

Just as important is nutrition. Your BMI is obviously going to go up if you aren’t a healthy eater. Again, no specific rules here, just be smart: limit fatty foods and sugar, bring on fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, beans, and lean meats. Most importantly, remember portion control. All the veggies and lean meats in the world won’t help you out if you eat enough for multiple people in one sitting. If I had yet another blog, it would be about food, because I have a hard time sticking to the standards I just wrote. I can never completely deny myself of sugar – it’s just not possible. But I can try to pick and choose when to have it. For example, I’ll be at a wedding this weekend, so I should probably plan to eat something sweet there. Therefore, this week before, I’m trying to turn it down.

Once you are pregnant, fitness and nutrition is equally important. Check with your doctor, because in terms of fitness, you can (and should) still exercise, even towards the 9th month. You just will change up what you actually do for exercise. As for eating – did you know that when you’re pregnant, you only need an addition 300 calories a day (give or take)? That whole, “Go ahead, have another doughnut, you’re eating for two!” concept really doesn’t work, and it’s not good for you.

Finally, if you smoke, that needs to stop right away. As for alcohol – we all know that you  can’t while pregnant, as you could harm your baby. As for when you’re trying, well, do your best, but a glass of wine won’t hurt, or a beer. It could take a year to get pregnant, and you’re obviously going to have a drink during that time somewhere. Just be as aware as possible of when you are pregnant, so you can stop right away. Finally, if you’re addicted to caffeine, you might want to start letting go of that, too. They say a little is okay, and if you have to have your coffee, then I guess that’s that. But if you don’t (and I don’t), start choosing decaf options. Because when you’re pregnant, you really can’t be hooked on caffeine. All of these rules will be worth it in the end when you’ve given birth to a healthy baby!