Stage 2, originally written October 2013.

See the disclaimer here.

October 2013

So this is it. The diagnosis: Stage 2 endometriosis. I'm slowly coming to terms with this reality. Stage 2 (out of 4) is considered mild. I gave up birth control pills two years ago which makes me nervous it was aggressive. The good doc succeeded in removing all areas of endo that he found so my pipes are clean, so to speak. He found the endo on my bladder, both ovaries and near my cervix. I'm hoping beyond all hope that this was the cause of our infertility this past year. I'm on strict orders to try naturally for the next three months. After that, I'm to call the office for a second consultation. I really don't want to make that call. I'm not sure what the next steps are to be but I'm quite certain they come with pretty hefty dollar signs.

On a positive note, we were told not to "try" this month so it's been a refreshing break from the roller coaster. Whaddya know!? I really still can act and feel like a normal human being in the absence of all that baby-making pressure.

As for the surgery itself, the hospital staff was amazingly sweet to me and tried as best they could to keep me calm beforehand. Like any surgery where anesthesia is involved, time seems to disappear. One minute I was awake having IV's put in and the next I was being ushered out to the car. The pain afterwards was about what I expected. I was able to slowly walk around on my own. I had a little bit of an injured animal swagger going on but I think I played it off cool. I kid. I kid. On a serious note, getting up and down from a sitting position was a bit of a challenge. The worst part was the bloated feeling I experienced which lasted 3 days for me. It wasn't necessarily painful, just uncomfortable. Oh, and meds + sleep are apparently a dangerous combination. I experienced one of the most frightful nightmares I've ever had. It was as if my body had felt the pain of the surgery and my brain was reconnecting the feeling later in my dream. I woke up hysterically sobbing. Poor husband didn't even know what hit him. After about a week, I was able to function more normally. I'm still careful about over-stretching. I had some very uncomfortable muscle spasms after sneezing, but besides my bruised and dry, flaky stomach, it's been a week and a half and you probably wouldn't even know I'd had surgery. Ok, well unless you actually saw the incision sites which still look like scabby cuts. I'm very eager to have this whole ordeal behind me, which brings me to my new found fear of it returning.

I really, really, REALLY do not have to go through another one of those surgeries. No one likes surgery, no matter how mild or severe. So I'm trying to do everything in my power to avoid it. From the little bit of research I've done, it appears that there are two paths you can take to try and prevent endo from reoccurring or getting worse. One option is hormone therapy, which is off the table since we're trying to conceive. The second option is to make lifestyle changes, ie. change your diet. And man, this is no easy walk in the park. The list of foods to avoid are long and plentiful, including but not limited to dairy, wheat. Dairy and wheat?! No more.... cheese?!?! I practically lived off of cheese. Cheese consisted of a very large portion of my protein and fat intake pre-laproscopy. So what have I done now?

I'm eating only granola or other gluten free cereal and experimenting with using coconut milk instead of the organic whole milk I was drinking before the surgery.

Instead of my yogurt and deli meat sandwich I previously had for lunch, I've switched to salad with fruit and nuts.

For dinner, I'm still trying out organic chicken pot pies, trying to use rice instead of pasta and avoiding anything which contains wheat.. which is hard, hard, hard. No more pizzas. No more pasta. Although, I have purchased some gluten free noodles and gluten free bread. I'll have to let you know how those go down. Somehow I'm thinking they're going to be gross imitations of the originals. For pizza, I've discovered some gluten free (cornbread crust) varieties, but I still can't quite get into the dairy free versions. I've succeeded in cutting out wheat almost entirely but dairy is proving a bit more difficult.

Everything is organic. I'm buying organic as much as possible, whenever I can. I was doing this previously anyway but now I'm trying much, much harder.

Speaking of organic, I came across a USDA certified organic tea brand which creates a red leaf tea, supposedly helpful for creating a good womb. I'll take it! I'll take that good womb :) Tea time it is.

Sweating it, originally written October 14th 2013.

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October 14, 2013

Had my pre-op consult this morning with the good doc and I must say, I'm feeling pretty optimistic about everything. I did enjoy one last hurrah this weekend by going down to Kentucky for the Keeneland horse races. I won a few bets, enjoyed quite a bit of wine, bad-for-you food and the company of good friends. Overall, a very enjoyable weekend. Maybe that's why I'm feeling so cheery this Monday morning.

I've been doing some more googling about these whole MTHFR and endometriosis monsters living inside of me. It turns out there may be a loose link between the two. Apparently with MTHFR, part of my inability to absorb certain vitamins also effects my ability to properly expel toxins. And please, do not ask me the specifics. It all sounds like sciency jargin to me. I'm happy with my limited understanding of the "gist" of things.

So anyway, I should supposedly try to sweat each day. You know, that thing I absolutely hate doing? Yeah, that one. It'll supposedly help me release some of those ugly toxins from my body.

I was feeling extra motivated about this whole let's turn this old body around thing-a-ma-jig yesterday while also feeling pretty guilty about all the toxic waste I fed it on Saturday at the horse races. So, in an effort to rid myself of said guilt, I decided it only proper to push myself and go on a run, which is pretty much unheard of in my life especially following a full day of drinking.

It makes a run quite interesting when the sole goal is to sweat as much as possible. Can't say I've ever done that one before. Losing weight: check. Toning: check. Trying to convince myself I'm not working out for the two aforementioned reasons and that it's simply for overall health: check. Sweating to release built up toxins: Nope, not so much on that one. You'd be surprised how easily you can come to hate a breezy, beautiful, perfect-temperature October day. I was kind of longing for the yesterday's of promised 90 degree weather when all I had to do was step outside to feel a little sweat bead forming. I think I worked out for a good 30 minutes in order to produce a sad, sad amount of sweat. But hey, I guess when you're super dehydrated your body probably tries to hold onto what little water it has left.

Regardless, I think it was a step in the right direction. I've also changed my lunch around. I used to religiously eat a deli meat wheat sandwich with cheese, lettuce & mayo, accompanied by an apple and yogurt. I've since cut out the sandwich in place of a salad with nuts. Still working on going organic with the dressing though. And it's a no go on the yogurt since I can't quite convince myself that I like the organic varieties yet. I'm also trying to relinquish my love for all things wheat just in case it turns out I do have endo. Mostly I've been watching how much pizza and pasta I eat, which was pretty much my go-to staple for dinner when I didn't feel like cooking.

I've definitely managed to up my intake of veggies and downplay my wheat consumption. Still can't quite get over my morning bowl of cereal though, although in my defense I have it with organic, whole milk, berries and flax seed. And everything, at this point, is turning organic. I'm not sure my wallet or my husband are quite happy about all of these changes though.

It's interesting how hard a diet feels when it's to lose weight and yet how easy it feels to change your diet when someone tells you that you have something wrong with you.  Or the knowledge that this might be what's holding you back from having a baby. So yeah, whenever I want those chemical laden (as I imagine them to be), unnaturally orange, amazingly delicious chips.. I just ask myself... Baby or chip?

And the answer's always baby.

Blasé, originally written October 9th, 2013.

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October 9, 2013

I realized after I re-read yesterday's post that it came across all a little too blasé. I've had a few days to process what's happened but I want to be as real as possible about my experience.

As I mentioned, I had fully prepared myself to hear that I had a cyst of some sort. It seemed likely. You hear it seemingly often. When I called my fertility clinic's office and asked for a second consultation, I only mentioned the pain as an afterthought. I had called my regular OB to inquire about setting up an appointment and they had scheduled me to come in 4 weeks later so you can imagine my surprise when my fertility clinic called me back and scheduled me for the next morning.

I wasn't really prepared at all for what was to come. I mean, I had no idea what this appointment would consist of but it became quite clear when they shuffled me into an exam room that I would be having an ultrasound. Again, I was thinking cyst. I barely remember the ultrasound being performed because I was so intent on staring at the screen in anticipation of what he might find. He confirmed the appearance of a corpus luteum, which was a good sign that I had ovulated. And then he made a few comments about the size of my bladder, being large that is. He asked me to make sure I went to the ladies room afterwards and asked whether I had had a lot to drink previously. The answer: no, not really.

And that was that. He told me he thought I was possibly ovulating on the right side each month and informed me that he'd like to schedule me for outpatient surgery because he suspected endometriosis, which is generally hereditary. I was taken so off guard that I wasn't even able to properly formulate any intelligent questions other than to ask how soon after the surgery we could start trying. The answer: one month. Oh, and to protest by saying that no one in my family had endometreosis. I told him I thought that endo happened in women who had really heavy, painful periods and he promptly told me that he dealt with infertility patients. So that was that.

I dressed myself and proceeded to schedule my surgery (in 2 weeks). While the lady was on the phone confirming the date and time with the hospital, I was frantically trying to get in touch with a representative from my insurance company to make sure the hospital was in-network.

I paid my co-pay. I left the office. I wanted to tell someone what had happened so I called my mom and husband. Both calls went to voicemail. Then I drove to work. I told my boss I would need time off and threw out the bombshell story of our issues (the abridged version). Then I sat at my desk, in a complete daze, and completed some very unfocused work. The first free chance I got, I started googling away at what endometriosis was and how to treat it, what the laprosocopy would involve and what recovery would be like. The more I read the more and more I felt shaky about the whole ordeal. Soon I was fighting back the tears telling myself over and over again, "You cannot cry at work. You cannot cry at work." I had so many mixed feelings swirling around in my head that I couldn't get a hold on. What? Wheat bread is bad for you if you have endo. Green tea is good? But wait, green tea is bad for MTHFR.

And then I went to the bathroom like the Dr. had instructed. And.. nothing. I didn't even have to pee. I called the office and notified them on a voicemail of my lack progress in that area. Now not only was I crazed about googling surgeries and diseases but I was adding enlarged bladder to my list.

When I finally got home after the longest day of work ever, I spoke to my husband about all of my fears and let those pent up tears flow freely. He was great at reassuring me. He's been great at reassuring me through this whole process. Sometimes too good. Sometimes I think it's easier for him to be optimistically positive with nary a worry because it's not his body. Sometimes I get angry at him for not letting us try earlier for a baby. Maybe if we hadn't had to wait until he was ready, we wouldn't be in this situation. But alas, that is just my frustration being targeted at the wrong person. I'm really just angry with my body and God for not allowing things to go the way I want them.

And so this is where I find myself now. Waiting. Waiting for answers. Still stuck somewhere in the middle.

A real pain in my...right side?, originally written October 8th, 2013.

See the disclaimer here.

October 8, 2013

Well that changes the name of the game. It's been officially almost a year since my last miscarriage. Granted not all months have been a stellar performance by myself and my husband, but we've been trying ever since for another pregnancy. No such luck. The typical roller coaster ensues - 2 weeks I'm in a great, hopeful, positive mood. The second two weeks I'm grasping at straws, hoping and praying and then devastated to see the results not swinging in the direction I want them.

I finally called the good doc. It was time for a second consultation, I was sure. The night before I called though, I laid.. no, more like thrashed around, in bed and then later, on the couch, in pain. I've had this issue for what seems like forever now. Typically when the weather changes suddenly, as it does in the event of a storm rolling through, my hips will start to ache. More accurately, my right hip. I thought nothing of this because I have very distinct memories as a child of my right leg aching whenever I stayed up too late. It was my no nonsense sign that it was way past my bedtime. So I'm achy. No worries there. My husband jokes I'm like an old lady. I joke that I'm like a delicate flower.The past few months I've noticed that this dull ache on my right side seems to have migrated to a very specific part of my pelvis. I was sure at first this was somehow related to ovulation. Maybe I'm over analyzing every twinge as one who is trying to conceive for so long often does. I ignored it.

A few times I felt like the spot itched, under my skin. I ignored it. The symptoms always came and went. And then the other night happened and I couldn't sleep because I was so uncomfortable and the pain felt so much more intense. It was a stormy night. Literally and figuratively.

So my fertility doctor's office saw me the following morning. Ultrasound was done and he confirmed I ovulated on my right side (yay.. good news) and then promptly told me that he thinks I might have endometreosis and will need to undergo surgery. Woah. Was NOT expecting that one. I had prepared for all kinds of discussions about maybe some crazy, angry cyst that had grown on my ovary. I had convinced myself that this was my issue. Endometreosis? This wasn't even on my radar. Now, he didn't actually see anything on the ultrasound that led him to believe I might have endometriosis but the pain factored in with our inability to conceive is what brought him to this belief I think.

So now I'm faced with a laproscopy and hysteroscopy next week. I'm terrified. I've never broken a bone. I've never had to go to the hospital in general, for anything. It's outpatient, thank goodness. But still. I'm afraid of what they might find and afraid of the embarrassment if they find nothing. I'm petrified that they'll have to remove something.. or everything. What if it's severe? From what I've read, it tends to come back even if he's successful removing most of it now. What if he tells us I can't carry a child, for whatever reason. So yes, I'm scared.

But what if this is "the" problem. Could this also be the answer to all of my issues? Maybe this will lead us to finally being able to make a family. There's a part of me that's completely optimistic, over the moon excited, at the possibility that this could possibly, finally, be over. Or more accurately, be the beginning.

So that leaves me petrified and optimistic. I'm wavering constantly and all I really want to do is fast forward to after the surgery is completed.

I'm trying not to be a baby about this. It's supposed to only be an hour and a half surgery. There will be three incisions, one near my belly button and two around where I imagine my ovaries to be. The recovery, so says the doctor, should only be a day or two. I'll have my husband with me. Maybe I'll be like new afterwards. Or maybe this will open an entirely new can of worms. Maybe this will be a life-long disease I have to battle. It's a weird feeling, to know there's something possibly very wrong with you. The MTHFR diagnosis was difficult, but that's just a deficiency in my ability to absorb certain vitamins (and properly alleviate toxins, so I'm learning). But this. This could be what kills me. 

Ok, maybe I'm getting a little ahead of myself. This could be nothing but an old lady-like aching hip and arthritis.


Yanking my head out of the deep, dark depths of the sand, originally written October 1st, 2013.

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October 1, 2013

I think I've had my head in the sand. You know, like an ostrich. Anyway, I realized the other day (aka today) that I've been excessively slow to pull the trigger on just about everything. It was months before I decided to even purchase an OPK. Charting my temperature? Well, it's been two years and I finally, FINALLY just started this month. Most women jump on that bandwagon as soon as they're let out of the gate. My hesitation surely isn't any indication of how badly I want a baby because I want one. Achingly bad. So what is it? Why all of this shuffling of the feet on my part? The only thing I can assume is that I'm still grasping onto the idea of being "normal". I'm still trying to pretend that I can do this naturally like all of those loosey goosey sixteen year olds that find themselves pregnant.

I think I might finally have accepted the truth. I'm not normal. It's been just about a year since my last miscarriage. That's a long time. It's officially time for me to see my fertility doctor again and not just for acupuncture. It's time for me to step up my game and get my head out of my ass. I've been pussy footing around, scared of what I might find. Scared to open that can of worms which is medical help. The truth is, I'm tired. I'm tired of trying. And I know that this doesn't get any easier. This could be worse. We still have possibilities that don't involve 15 grand and the letters IVF. There are still other paths we can try. Unexplored opportunities.

So here's the plan - 1. Wait for Auntie Flow to visit, which I'm pretty sure she's going to do this weekend (it's Tuesday). I wouldn't be a helpless trying-to-conceive-er though if I didn't hopelessly still hold onto the idea that there's a smidgen of a chance that maybe she won't come. 2. Call my favorite psychic who helped give me some hints and predicted my last pregnancy. 3. Call the fertility doctor and set up an appointment. 4. Buy a trying to conceive book! Enough avoidance. Let's get down to business and see what all of this hubbub is actually about.

And the irony of it all is that I now feel supremely better in the knowledge that I'm actually doing something, well, or going to do something. Soon. I'm taking action. It's like I've been holding my breath for a long time,  I've finally given up the fight and now I'm letting out a huge exhale. Not quite a sigh of relief... yet. We'll see if this brings us any closer to a bundle in our arms. Here's to hoping and wishing and praying.

And on the fourth day... originally written August 23rd, 2013

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August 23, 2013

Welp, today ended up being totally normal, except for the fact that I'm now on my FOURTH, yes fourth, day of a postive OPK (ovulation predictor kit). I mean, really? Last month, that infamous "spot" I told you about ended up just being ovulation, a week later than I had thought. So much for winging it. So this month, I decided to jump back on the OPK band wagon. I even considered temping.. for a hot minute. And then I decided that my crazy, over-analyzing mind could probably do without for now. At least this month. If this month is a bust, then maybe next month I'll skip on over to the local store to buy myself a handy dandy, nifty thermometer. Until then, it's just me and the OPKs.

On pins and needles, originally written August 13th, 2013.

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August 13, 2013

I decided to give acupuncture a whirl. I mean, why not, right? I've always heard it mentioned for people who are experiencing infertility and well, at this rate, maybe I even sort of, almost, qualify. It's been 8 months of trying. And I'm not even so sure we're trying all that hard compared to others. I'm not temping, I may or may not have used an ovulation predictor kit depending on the month you asked me. I'm certainly not using mucinex, soft cups, special teas, or any of the other random things I come across online. I am going to give SMEP a try though, which basically just tells you when to, um.. you know... try. So this month here's my regimen: SMEP. OPK (ovulation predictor kit). Acupuncture. Organic foods as much as possible. Maybe a dash of journaling and daily walks for good measure. I already mostly cut back on my drinking. No caffeine either, which wasn't much of a problem since I've never been a coffee drinker, although working at Red Bull does tempt me every so often. Sounds pretty healthy to me! Check, check and check. This is my attempt to focus more on the soothing and healthy than the obsessive. I felt a little bit like a crazy lady last month. Every waking thought was of pregnancy and it was consuming me. If I had an everlasting supply of daisies, I would have ripped off about a gazillion of those petals saying, maybe she's pregnant. maybe she's not. It was awful.
So back to this acupuncture. My fertility doctor is going to do it.. for a pretty penny of course. I feel kind of weird about this whole doctor relationship. We had two meetings towards the beginning of the year in which he diagnosed what he believes to be the cause of my miscarriages. He wasn't treating me for infertility. Since then, I haven't spoken to him once. I know it's just a matter of time. I know I should just try to be more patient. I know I can get pregnant so that's half the battle right there, but man.. I kind of want someone to say, "Hey, try this! Do that!" So we'll see what this conversation is like during my first acupuncture consultation. I'm also curious to see if he'll recommend me to continue sessions and, if so, at what frequency. Oh, that and I'm curious to see what these darn little needles feel like!
On a lighter note, hubs and I just decided to rent a big ole house. It's pretty far out there in the suburbs so we got a lot of bang for our buck, as the saying goes. 4 bedrooms worth actually. So I'm kind of thinking that maybe everything will fall into place nicely. First comes house and then comes baby? We shall see. Time shall tell. Here's to forever hoping...

Follies and friendships, originally written August 2nd, 2013.

See the disclaimer here.

August 2, 2013

Wanting something which is somewhat out of your control is a funny thing. It messes with the mind just an itsy bitsy much. I've tried to look towards God as much as possible during this time, finding comfort in the belief that He knows best about the timing of my one-day baby's arrival. I've also been avoiding psychics, which is REALLY tempting. The last psychic I went to provided me with some hints to becoming pregnant and a timeline for conception. It came true. She was spot on with the timing. But it doesn't feel right to go back to her. Or any psychic for that matter. It feels somehow like a betrayal of God. I don't want to find myself worshipping the wrong thing. And please don't misunderstand me; I don't even consider myself to be that religious. Maybe I'm being superstitious. I've also found it somewhat difficult not having any friends to discuss this long, sometimes torturous, road with because a) none of my friends are trying that I know of and b) everyone else seems to get pregnant right away!

After first being diagnosed with MTHFR, I went online and tried to find some groups of other women suffering from the same condition. I found them. And then promptly left them. I found myself stressing even more over which vitamins and supplements I should be taking. Were they taking the same things? Were their doctor's prescribing different medicines or tests? I soon found myself questioning the advise of my fertility specialist. Not to mention all the sad, sad stories of women who had suffered miscarriages, many more than I've had to experience. So where I had first turned in hopes of finding some soothing and support had actually turned into some much not needed stress.

Then I found trying to conceive boards. Finally, I was home. I can't tell you how comforting it has been to chat with other ladies going through the same two week roller coaster. People who understand what it's like to question every twinge and change in your body. An entire group of women who finally understand the level of disappointment in seeing a negative pregnancy test. I'm still learning the language because believe me, there are A LOT of abbreviations out there, but it's been such an unexpected joy that I can hardly complain. Better yet, in some weird way, it's taken the pressure off a bit. I feel just that much more confident. So thank you. Thank you to all of the random strangers who are willing to put themselves out there. It helps. A LOT.