34 weeks!

As I was getting my blood drawn this morning in my bed at 7 am and the nurse stuck the arm I don’t normally use, I thought about how good the vein on my other arm is. It never hurts and getting blood from there is a smooth process. Then I thought about the fact that I know this information because I have been stuck with a needle in that spot, gosh, hundreds of times. Do I still remember going through IVF last November? Having three IUI’s before that, and six rounds of Clomid before that? Being bitter and cranky over two years of infertility – one year of medical treatments and one year of autoimmune thyroid issues and crazy hives and not being able to do a thing until it was under control?

I do remember, but maybe I should think of it more often because I am ready to no longer be pregnant, mentally. I feel a little guilty about this. Then again, it’s not like those trying two years led to a walk in the park pregnancy. The best part of the whole thing, and that of which I’ll forever be grateful, was being able to get pregnant, for both embryos to take, and for us to be having a boy and a girl. So I mean, that was the overall goal and I shouldn’t take it for granted.

However. Crippling nausea that needed medication followed by (after about a month and a half of feeling good) 10 weeks of bed rest that involved me leaving my job in late April. Weeks 9 and 10 of bed rest spent in the hospital. Two trips to labor and delivery for preterm labor, the first at 28 weeks. I’m on week 11 of bed rest, 3 in the hospital.

But! Today is 34 weeks – a hugeeee milestone. There are no other milestones for me, though the later I go the better for the babies. But this was the one that I was shooting for from the beginning. Never thought I’d reach it.

I’ve spent the last two weeks 5 cm dilated and 100% effaced. I’m not on any medication to stop labor. And still my babies cook.

So at this point, I consider any day I’m still pregnant great for babies. Mentally, I’m thrilled I made it here and now….being pregnant isn’t really enjoyable. So I won’t be upset when it ends.

More than the crazy discomfort my small stomach is feeling (I’ve only gained 35 pounds) is my desire to be done with this because I want to move on. I’m ready for the next stage of life. The infertility/pregnancy stage was great and all but it’s coming to a close. Perhaps I would’ve enjoyed pregnancy more had I been allowed off my couch/bed in the last few months. It’s very hard to celebrate a pregnancy by yourself day by day, as you lie there counting contractions and praying your babies make it.

Now, even though at 34 weeks we might be looking at a week or two in the NICU, I finally feel like we made it. And like I said, every day after today is a bonus. 35 weeks would be crazy and 36 is practically full term for twins. We are ready for a new chapter, and eager to close this anxiety-ridden one. So all-in-all, today is a good day, just based on the number of weeks I’ve been pregnant.

On a separate note, in the past week my autoimmune hives have started creeping back. A few on my arm, a small one on my lip, and two nights of a lump in my throat. Yuck. I’ve forgotten all about that. I haven’t had a hive in probably a year. Well I asked for my thyroid to be tested and sure enough, my TSH went up from 0. something to 1.5. Yes, it’s still in the normal range. No, it’s not a good number for me. I knew it went up. I need to be between zero and one, and I’d be curious to see if everything calms down.

What I think I’m going to do is wait until after I give birth and then have it re-checked and adjust my dosage then. It takes 6 weeks for a new dose to kick in and I know my hormones will be wacky in a few weeks anyway. Until then I now have to try and avoid my hive triggers and the biggest one is sugar. It’s pretty hard to be super healthy in a hospital. Just another reason I’m ready to go home and start the next chapter.

Turkey basting, Round 2, and pills galore.

I’ve had my second IUI, first one with injectables instead of Clomid. More on that in a minute.

I hate taking pills. Well, really, I just hate taking medication. I hate that today’s science labs have created something that I need to take in order to make me feel better, and that if I lived in an age where these drugs weren’t available I’d probably die, or something. I suppose I should be grateful. I’ll work on that. I hate my need for medication, most of all.

And apparently, I need a lot. I realized this today, while giving a rundown of my drugs to the nurse at my gyno office. Once upon a time I occasionally took 2 advil for period cramps, or 2 tylenol for a headache. And my birth control pill. I went from that, to this:

-Ranitidine (really Zantac) – not for ulcers, though I may give myself one over time, but for those pesky autoimmune hives. It’s an antihistamine.

-Claritin or Zyrtec – the other antihistamine, I take this with the ranitidine, twice a day.

-Synthroid – the one drug I don’t mind taking, it’s saved my thyroid.

-Probiotic – from RainbowLight, a friend said her stomach felt good on them, and she has a stomach similar to mine. I figured they can’t hurt. Twice a day.

-Psyllium Husk pill – twice a day. These are the only fiber supplements that seem to help with IBS. Again, another autoimmune disease, and Miralax doesn’t touch it.

-Multivitamin – one that actually feels great on the stomach. I wouldn’t mind that after dinner if it were by itself, but it’s joined by the probiotic, psyllium husk, and:

-Vitamin D – allergist said I was low and should take this, and I know it helps with thyroid function.

-Folic acid – multivitamin doesn’t have enough, but the gyno said I could stay on it if I added 400 mg more of it.

-Vitamin B6 – I’ve heard lengthens your LP. Mine was 9 days, and I decided to give it a try based on a friend’s recommendation. It works – went to an 11 day LP to a more recent 13 day LP.

That’s 6 pills with dinner, two with breakfast, two when I get up, two when I go to bed, and one at 5 am with a big drink of water. I HATE all these pills.

Well, after the rundown with the nurse at the gyno, the actual doctor came and did a culture on me, since I just had my third yeast infection in about as many months. Granted, I had that infection a week ago, and with the IUI last Sunday I wanted it cleared up by then, so a nurse at the RE’s office gave me the Diflucan, plus a prescription for 2 more, thank god. That pill is a miracle worker. Anyway, the culture today probably won’t show any yeast issues, because I’m sorry, I couldn’t wait a week to be tested. Not to mention, the results will probably be screwed up because I took my first dose of Crinone this morning, before the appointment.

After the culture, the doctor at the gyno really had no words of advice for why I get these yeast infections, and I was all prepared to battle against the typical, idiotic comments: Do you wear tight clothes? Shower after exercise? Take a probiotic?…blah, blah, blah. This isn’t my first rodeo. But she didn’t ask. Instead, she told me to start taking – wait for it – more pills.

-Cranberry pills, 2 of them, twice a day.

-Acidophilus – another probiotic, twice a day. I checked my current probiotic, not the same stuff in there, it’s different. Should I continue to take the one I already have, too?

Adding these to the cocktail will put me at 9 pills at dinner, 5 at breakfast…so on and so forth. Doesn’t this seem excessive? Yet, many are supplements, not hard drugs, and most were recommended by various doctors (which is a whole other story – I hate that I need 8,000 doctors. Whatever happened to going to my primary care when I had strep throat?)

I suppose I could stop certain pills, maybe. People who see me take out my pill container must think I’m nuts. But yet – my thyroid is perfect right now. Other than being 10 pounds overweight, I feel good. Hives are down, I’m attempting to get pregnant…I just don’t want to jinx it, basically. And I get the feeling that when you have autoimmune issues, you’re short on a bunch of vitamins. Supplements should be my friend.

Okay, on to the IUI. Like I said, it was Sunday morning. In my last post, I was worried about it, because of the yeast infection and the fact that we were using my husband’s frozen sperm. Add to the mix the fact that I had some sort of weird stomach bug….I felt fine until I ate or drank anything, even water…and then it all came out. This went on for 3 days. I barely ate. I just assume that such a weird thing will somehow manifest itself in my uterus.

And just as I thought, it was kind of sucky. My husband’s count before the freezing was 43 million, which was way down from 140 million last time, which is weird. But either way. After freezing and thawing, it was 7 million. Wow. That’s a big loss. She said they want to see it at least 5 million, so 7 million was fine. But still. We had no choice – we had to do it this way. My husband is always home, always. But a year ago he signed up for the Ironman race, it cost a lot of money – it was happening. My IUI was the day of his race. Nothing I could do about it. Not only did the count suck, but the Sunday nurse whom I had never seen before got me in a half hour late, when I was told I could be in a half hour early, and by the time it was done it was a good hour later than I had hoped, considering I was driving 4 hours to see my husband finish the race. And she sucked. Couldn’t match up the holes, or something, she said. It took a while to figure it out, and painful all the while. Thanks, lady.

She recommended we have sex that night, just to strengthen our chances. Well, my husband was coming off a 15-hour race, and we were staying in a tiny camper with his parents. Needless to say, sex was not an option. So, my second IUI, first with injectables, was done with the least amount of luck possible. Small count, no additional sex, a yeast infection, and a stomach bug.

Afterwards, I did drive 4 hours to see my husband finish his race, which he did at 10:30 at night. He started at 7 am. It was very cool, he did a great job, and it is quite an accomplishment.

And now, I’m in the TWW. My 4th time in a year. This time, I have no clue how things are looking, and I will continue to think nothing of it. I’m not temping (I haven’t since April, the last time I was in a TWW) – so I actually have no clue when I officially ovulated. I assume, being two days after the IUI, that I am 2 DPO, but who knows. I’m not checking any “symptoms” – they’re all in my head anyway. I’m already planning my next cycle. And I think we’ve reached our decision – I want to do another injectable with IUI. We have the option of going to IVF, and our insurance covers it, thank god. But I don’t think this IUI was given a fair chance. I want to do it right this time, with fresh sperm and sex, and I assume there will be less shots, now that the doctor knows what works and what didn’t. A second chance at the IUI, then IVF. That’s what I’m thinking right now.

The Crinone – ugh. You’ve warned me. It reminds me of those days of Monistat, before I knew about Diflucan. Gross, and I’m already itchy. Any side effects from this I should know about? And besides “cleaning house” up there every few days, is there anything else I should do to lessen the grossness? Does anyone actually have sex while they’re on this? And how long are you on this? Just the TWW?

Finally, the pregnancy test. I probably won’t even get to this point, because I plan on waiting a long-ass time to test. Maybe I’ll even try to surprise myself – “Oh, my, look at the date, I haven’t gotten my period on time!” Probably won’t happen. But I’ve heard the trigger shot skews results. The LAST thing I want is to get a false positive, the first time ever seeing one. How long until it’s out of your system?

I appreciate the words of advice you guys give me. I try to stay away from Google, and ask you instead. 🙂

Good Health Secrets

Reason #5,782 for why I love blogging – A single post can lead to a great discussion!

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your comments. I am so glad that you feel able to share your opinions, both in agreement with and against my own, in a way that allows everyone to really talk things out. Of course, in addition, I appreciate and need your comments on these matters, because I have no idea what the hell I’m talking about, and you guys do.

Yesterday (and in today’s reflection) I learned something about myself that I didn’t previously know: I’m not ready, mentally, for a naturopathic doctor such as the one I met with yesterday. I’m not ready for that kind of treatment.  I did gather from some of you that she might not have appropriately reflected a true naturopathic doctor in some of the things she said, but regardless, that specific doctor I met yesterday is clearly not for me. I realized that I’m the type of person who needs answers. And not just any answers – scientifically-explained answers. Yesterday, I wanted to know – how does that machine work? How does my arm going up or down give her a yes or no answer? How do those pellets she wanted me to take work? How could a back massage possibly “cure” my food intolerances? I needed answers, and I didn’t get them, and that doesn’t sit right with me.

I am not saying nothing she did or would do with me would work. For all I know, everything she wants to do could work. Maybe I could be cured. But unfortunately, I just don’t have it in me to pay that kind of money not having any clue how exactly it works. What’s the science behind it? Is it safe with everything else I’m already putting into my system? How does that treatment fit with the rest of the doctors I see? I was not given an explanation, and that combined with a little lack of professionalism in my opinion (like arguing with her son about money in the middle of my appointment) totally turned me off.

A couple of you (and a few people at work I spoke with) told me that you do kind of have to already believe a bit in it, to trust that it’s going to help, before starting it. The only thing I can relate this to is being hypnotized. You have to be willing to be hypnotized, you have to believe you can be hypnotized, in order for it to actually work.  You can imagine that I’m the least likely person on this planet for hypnosis to work, because I don’t buy it. And yes, I have been in situations where people have been hypnotized, and I never even came close. I’m not saying it’s correct or incorrect, and I’m not placing judgement, but hypnosis just…doesn’t work on me. I don’t want it to work on me.

Now, all that said, I am not negating all ND’s everywhere. On the contrary – it sounds like some of you have been helped drastically by an ND, and I only wish mine presented herself and her information differently, to more allow me to buy into what she was saying. I want to be helped. I need help with my autoimmune and fertility issues. And perhaps, someday I will try another ND. But this particular doctor is not for me.

Finally, I want to talk about the diet aspect. As much as I hate to say this, I completely believe my ND is right about the anti-inflammatory diet. I think our whole diet conversation was totally legitimate. I had a feeling I needed diet changes, even after going gluten-free and mostly sugar-free. I still think I need diet changes, to help with my hives. I am going to keep my notes on this diet I was given yesterday, and attempt to try it, one piece at a time. But I can’t go cold turkey. I can’t live on just veggies and beans. Not yet. But I do want to continue whittling away the amount of sugar I eat (even though it’s small), and any other weird things I might be consuming. The hives just aren’t worth it.

Today, I actually got a call from her secretary (at her main office), because even though my doctor took my insurance card, she never actually made a copy of it, so I needed to fax it over. While on the phone, I made a decision and told her to hold off on ordering me those pellets, and that I would call her for the next appointment as opposed to making one right then and there. I’m not ready, right now, for this doctor to be in such control of my health.

Then, I went and called my allergist. He’s the guy that was the very first person to figure out I had a thyroid problem, that my antibody count was off the charts, and that my hives were related to this antibody count. My hives meds (Zantac plus Claritin, twice a day) were running low, and besides, I wanted him to know what was happening with my out of control hives. He spoke with me over the phone, told me to switch to Zantac plus Zyrtec (stronger), and keep a food journal. We are going to meet in a few weeks and figure out exactly which foods, and which parts of the foods, are giving me problems. I realized – I should’ve called him in the first place. Maybe he’s been my answer all along.

And because of that call, I feel better today. Yesterday, I was completely overwhelmed. Listening to what my ND was telling me I needed to do was just too much. I don’t know if she’s right – maybe she is, but I couldn’t handle it all. Now, all I need to do for the next two weeks is simply keep a detailed food journal. Hopefully the switch to Zyrtec will help a bit as well. This I can handle.

That’s where I stand. I really am bummed out about the ND – I wanted so badly for her to enlighten me in a way that would be in line with everything else I’m receiving for treatment, and I wanted a miracle. You guys have really loved your ND’s, and I’m definitely disappointed. But I’m going to keep the diet changes in my mind, and just see what happens.

As for my RE – I have decided I’m not going to pick up the phone and rip him a new one for not telling me I show signs of PCOS. Not yet, anyway. #1 – It didn’t actually say that I had PCOS directly, so maybe that was just one thing he was considering. I don’t actually think I have it – when he looked at my ovaries he said they looked just fine, with the exception of all the little eggs hanging out in there after not being released for months on end. #2 – I am going in for an IUI, hopefully soon. I can ask about it then. I’m so glad, now, that we’ve decided to go with the IUI. It is a little strange to think I might get pregnant from a way other than having sex, but who cares? I just want a baby. Now, here’s hoping the Clomid actually gets me to ovulate…

Here’s my question for the day: If you have been helped by an ND, or any doctor for that matter, what was the #1 idea, or product, or dietary change, or whatever, that made the most difference for your health? What is your good health secret?

If something has worked for you, chances are, it may work for me!

My thyroid is so good – it’s bad!

Oh, the irony. My thyroid’s been a bit quiet lately. I’ve almost forgotten that I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, the fun auto-immune disease linked to infertility.

I almost forgot how, when my husband and I started trying last spring, we were told to stop in the summer, because my TSH was at 8, way too high for conception, and if I did conceive, the likelihood for miscarriage was strong. That was a fun time.

Then came the adventures of my TSH level dropping, little by little. I cut out gluten from my diet a couple months ago. I tried to really kickstart my healthy eating. I jumped for joy in August when my TSH went from an 8 to a 2.3 in a month. I was astounded when, after switching to a more supportive endocrinologist, my TSH came back at a 1.39 this past October. It had never been that low.

Back in October, after meeting with my new endocrinologist, she told me that even though my TSH was technically in the normal range, for people trying to conceive she recommended it a little lower than 1. I was told to up my dosage twice a week with an extra  half a pill, then get my blood done.

Just got the results back.

0.32.

It has NEVER been that low. Guess what the normal range is?

0.35-1. My TSH is TOO LOW. Honestly, how ironic.

All this means is that my thyroid is still producing some hormones, though it changes all the time. Currently, it’s producing enough on its own that the amount of Synthroid I’m taking is too much. I’m sending myself into HYPERthyroid land. A place I’ve never been.

I’ve spent months this summer agonizing about how to change my TSH level with my own habits, like upping my exercise and eating smaller portions. I’ve been doing that for a while now, and I’m wondering if that had anything to do with this.

Either way, I’ve been told to cut down to once a week on that extra half a pill, which I will do. I’m SO close to the normal range.

I could have all the fertility treatments in the world – if my TSH is out of whack, there will be no baby.

Yoga-licious!

Holy yoga! I’ve just discovered my newest sport.

I’ve heard nothing but good things about yoga – to help with all my health ailments! It’s supposed to help stress (all that deep breathing). It’s good for your joints and body in general (so much stretching!). It’s good for autoimmune issues (or so I’ve been told). People with thyroid problems have sworn by it. Finally, it’s good for pregnancy (again, so I’ve heard…) I had no reason not to try it.

I think I’m hooked!

My gym offers a million different classes. I already had done spinning in the past, and recently switched my Tuesday and Thursday mornings over to “cardio pump”; getting my butt kicked to the beat of pop music.

Now, though, I’ve added yoga to the mix. I finally feel like I’m in control of my food choices enough to care about serious exercise (and small portions). Therefore, I’m trying to hit up the classes at the gym as often as possible. In the past few days, I’ve done an “all levels yoga” class, and just last night, “Yogilates”. My step-father said, “What? Mocha lattes?” I wish – instead, I was bending in all directions and feeling the burn, without breaking a sweat.

I love it! I highly recommend it. Here’s why:

1)It’s so relaxing!!! Sure, while you’re twisting in a completely unnatural position you’re counting to 20 and praying you get to lay back down. But when you do finally lay down on your mat, close your eyes, and find your breathing, it is the most relaxing thing ever. And the burn you feel later is worth it.

2) You work your muscles without using weights! I’ve got a pretty sore stomach right now, and last night my butt and legs weren’t feeling so great either. But I didn’t use a single weight – all I did was stretch! Stretch and hold, that is. I read recently that Adam Levine, lead singer of Maroon 5, got super buff from yoga – no weights at the gym. I totally see why.

3) No matter how bad you think you look (I’m right there with you), you blend right in! People of every walk of life do yoga. The super-fit college girls, older men with shoulder pain using yoga as therapy, middle-age women who aren’t really fit but are just starting out, and everyone in between!

4)It’s comfy. You’re on a mat (I recommend buying your own…eew), you wear stretchy comfy clothes (the same ones after eating a huge meal…you know.), and you even take your shoes off. Now, I don’t do feet. At all. On anyone. I don’t care how nice you think they look. So I keep my socks on. I don’t even want to stare at my own. But I’m liking the socks.

See? There’s four reasons to try yoga. I’m only two classes in, and I’m looking forward to the next one. Let’s see what the health benefits are in a month or two!