Girlfriend’s Guide to Simplify Infertility – Bonus Content

Who doesn’t love a bonus?  Ok, this will be my last promotional post about this –

  • collection-image-525-x-644Infertility Summer Reading List Compilation eBook

Fourteen authors in the Infertility Survival Kit share their inspirational infertility stories to help you navigate your journey with excerpts and chapters from their books to create an exclusive Infertility Summer Reading List eBook Compilation. This is a one of a kind eBook that

allows you to preview these books and get a sense for which book(s) best matches your needs. Check out these books in the Infertility Survival Kit and connect with the authors at #ifbooks where you can tweet the authors and learn more about their journey. Ebook compilation includes an exclusive sampler from the Fertile Kitchen Cookbook including recipes.

  • Infertility Insights – Voices Shared, Lessons Learned eBook

We asked the infertility community through blogs and social media to complete the statement, “I wish I would have known…. about infertility”. These voices in the community show their strength and courage by sharing their powerful lessons learned in an effort to help others on their journey. The eBook includes each person’s link in the Infertility Survival Kit so you may connect to them through their social media, blogs and website. Many of them advocate and support this community with a passion to make a difference on your journey.

  • Three Simple Steps to Setting Boundaries with Your Fertile Friends Guide – Renee Wagenner

This quick guide helps you have that difficult conversation with the person in your life that doesn’t know how to support you on your infertility journey. Three simple steps including how to set boundaries with the “Do Do” list.


  • Three Strategies for Taking Charge of Your Fertility – Russell Davis

The eBook was written to help you grow your family, whether through natural or assisted conception, by introducing you to the power of your mind and what it can achieve for you. You can remove the hidden mental obstacles to having a baby as well as influencing your body to create the best possible outcome.

Available now for purchase from my affiliate link:

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A Girlfriend’s Guide to Simplify Infertility – Exclusive Look at Content Cont.

Rounding out the books included in this ginormous collection:

  • collection-image-525-x-644Infertility Road to Hell and Back – Azelene Williams (18.95)

Infertility Road to Hell and Back is a memoir of Azelene’s Williams’ struggle with infertility. What about when that longed for baby never happens? When you realize that something is wrong and turn to professionals for help. Tests are done; treatments tried without success. Instantly connect with Azelene in her heartfelt infertility story.

  • Annual Premium Membership to My Hopeful Journey’s fertility organizer & Quick Start Guide ($60)

One year premium membership includes our comprehensive web and mobile fertility tracker. Organize your medications, appointments, test results, procedures and natural tracking in one place. Create custom reports from full web version, write in a journal, task list and much more.

What are you waiting for?  Support Hope (I’m an affiliate) and buy now:

BUY-NOW-ARROW-e1378043014997

A Girlfriend’s Guide to Simplify Infertility – Exclusive Look at Included Content

 

Continuing our exclusive sneak peek at this amazing $19 collection: collection-image-525-x-644

  • The Truth Behind the Secret Infertility – Fran Meadows ($10.95)

 

The Truth Behind The Secret “Infertility” is a memoir that touches on the honesty of struggling to conceive, filled with raw, deep emotions with a taste of witty humor. Readers will relate to the feelings of another woman opening up about things that many dare to share. This book will make you feel less alone and like you are having a conversation with the Author as you read along. Written to give others hope through their journey you will feel the silence and stigma of infertility lift as you read along with showing the real inner strength of a couple shine through many painful experiences.

 

  • The Modern Girl’s Guide to Natural Fertility – Marni Hotchkiss ($15)

 

Natural fertility in today’s modern world encompasses the foods we eat, our behaviors, and our thoughts. Take a deeper look into how tools/apps as well as the right foods and other holistic approaches can positively impact pregnancy success.

Buy now from my affiliate site: 

BUY-NOW-ARROW-e1378043014997

The silver infertility Nutribullet

It’s National Infertility Awareness Week 2013.  I couldn’t sleep over the weekend and ended up flipping channels, finally landing on an infomercial for the Nutribullet.  I stopped because I was intrigued by the similarities between the Nutribullet and the Magic Bullet; both have identical designs and systems, and I already own a Magic Bullet.  I use it to make smoothies all the time.  What makes the Nutribullet’s smoothies all that much better than the Magic Bullet?

Fortunately, Nutribullet had the answer to my questions.  Through a high-powered motor, the Nutribullet shreds everything in it’s path down to the cellular level so that it’s easier for your gut to digest, thereby allowing you to absorb more nutrients and solving many of your health worries.  Apparently the Nutribullet is designed for nothing else but making green smoothies that include every vegetable and fruit in the produce aisle but still taste delicious and always look green.  Both dubious claims.  I get that we have teeth so we can chew to better digest our foods, so why not let a machine do the chewing for you and drink your vitamins?

A few minutes in to my viewing, the commercial listed all the ailments Nutriblasts (their name for their smoothies) cure: fibromyalgia, acid reflux, aging, cholesterol, high blood pressure, and oh yeah, infertility.  What?!  It popped up once during the time I watched the commercial, and none of their testimonials included someone who miraculously had a baby after drinking a Nutriblast.  And the whole experience angered me, to use a topic as personal as infertility as an emotional plea for you to buy a product but then never show me any evidence.  Not even a short testimonial.  And all of us who have struggled to have children know that it’s not as easy as drinking a mug full of green slush.  I wish.

At the heart of the Nutribullet’s purpose is getting people to eat/drink more vegetables.  I’m all for that.  A healthy diet is just one way that we can all work toward better health.  And of course, filling your belly with whole fruits and vegetables is going to help you reduce your cholesterol and blood pressure, lose weight, improve your vitality.  Nutrition for infertility, however, is a little more involved than throwing carrots into a blender. 

I once went to a “Nutrition for Fertility” workshop and spent two hours eating wheatgrass and hemp pesto on gluten-free crackers and learning the foods with yin and yang to balance out whatever my qi had going on with it that made me infertile.  Books that tell you to throw wheatgerm into your cereal every morning, or drink green tea.  And don’t forget to go organic so you don’t have to worry about the pesticides.  Suddenly shredding your meals down to the cellular level doesn’t sound so far-fetched anymore.

I understand the person who has tried everything with no end result, looking for just the right thing to do the trick.  I know that frustration and that pain.  That desperation led me to set a timer to wake up at the same time every day, take my temperature, give up coffee, stay off soy, mess with my hormones with high doses of clomid…  Was it only a matter of time before I tried the Nutribullet, or at least tried making veggie smoothies in my own blender?  Looking back on it now, I’m more insulted by the makers of Nutribullet that they would banter infertility about like a disease to be cured.  There are some lucky people for whom infertility can be “cured,” through surgeries, hormones, lifestyle changes, procedures, ARTs.  There are some lucky people, like me, whose infertility was struck down by luck once in a blue moon.  But even from one infertilite to the next, the solutions, if there are any, are hard to come by and even more unique.  So go ahead and try the Nutribullet – I really don’t see the harm if it fits into your fertility plan – but don’t put all of your eggs into that basket.

How the candidates compare for infertility advocacy

You’ve seen the memes, heard the “zingers,” and probably even exchanged your own play on words about Big Bird, the 47%, or the binder.  But what have we heard from the presidential candidates on the topic of infertility – their views, their stands, where they draw the line in the sand?  Very little.  And my attempts at using Google to find a neat answer proved fruitless.  So over the next three weeks as we head toward election day, I’ll be taking up some time here on the blog to talk about some of the important issues related to the cause of infertilites.  Today’s post will start with abortion, and how that very public and long-standing debate could shed light on decisions affecting infertility treatments.

Please note that while I’ll do my best to research information and present facts from an unbiased view, I can’t say I won’t let my opinion leak out here and there.  An open, transparent, and respectful discourse is what we need in this country, so please leave comments and I promise to moderate them fairly.

Our catastrophically polarized and, at times, completely immobile nation stops the public discourse of women’s health at the old standby, abortion.  In this venue, we can neatly sum it up that Democrats are pro-choice, Republicans pro-life.  The VP debate left abortion and women’s rights to the ending minutes of the debate, referencing each candidate’s Catholic faith and asking them to reflect upon their positions.  Representing the larger dichotomy currently tearing the Catholic Church apart internally, Biden clings to the social justice side while Ryan sticks to the preservation of life side.  But regardless of their personal beliefs, we at least discovered a fundamental difference in how these two men  – and ultimately, parties – would handle the question on the national level.  Biden stated very clearly he would not legislate his religion; overthrowing Roe v. Wade as some conservatives are aiming to do, would essentially be doing that.

Wait a minute: I thought the Republicans were all for personal liberty and keeping the federal government out of citizens’ lives?

So okay, you’re probably thinking, I don’t really care about abortion because I can’t get pregnant anyway.  Let me then continue down the religious road for a minute here, and again I’ll be sticking with just the VP candidates because we have clear records of their stands from the debate.  Both men claimed to adhere to the teachings of the Catholic Church and their decisions about when life begins (at the moment of conception) and all that.  Attention infertilites, do you know where your personal religion or faith stands when it comes to seeking infertility treatments, including medications, IUI, and IVF?  If you don’t and having that support of your faith through this soul-searching time is important to you, there is no time like the present to do a little Google searching yourself.  Go ahead, this blog post will still be here when you get back.

I know where my Church stands.  Both my husband and I happen to be Catholic.  And when we started discussing options like Clomid, we looked it up, partially out of curiosity, partially to know how much we would be allowed to say to a priest without being excommunicated.  Clomid, fortunately, is permitted, as is surgery to correct infertility and other medical procedures meant to enhance reproductive chances.  IUI and IVF, however, are against the Church’s teachings (as are birth control pills).  And the Sanctity of Human Life bill, co-sponsored by Ryan, would effectively define life as starting with conception and criminalize – yes, criminalize – the practice of IUI and IVF.

Remember when women used to run off to doctors in alleys or drive to Mexico for abortions, risking their lives because they weren’t legal in the U.S.?  Now picture infertile women doing the same – this time hoping to get pregnant in the first place.  How did the pendulum swing so dramatically?

Choosing a fertility clinic/doctor

I am fortunate enough to live in a metropolitan area where I actually had a choice in reproductive endocrinologist offices.  I realize not everyone has that kind of choice and that I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to seek assistance from both for different reasons.  But when it came down to choosing which one to stick with for my treatment, after some investigations it became pretty clear.

There are two clinics each within 25-30 minutes of my home, and the only ones available for a 50 mile radius.  Fertility Clinic A has been in the area for 25 years, has one doctor and two physician assistants.  Fertility Clinic B has been in the area for maybe 15 years and is one of three locations in the state.  Clinic B also has a spa associated with it that includes services such as acupuncture, yoga and other exercise programs, massage, nail care, waxing – basically the works.  My friend B. actually used Clinic B because of their suite of services and their locations, which allowed her to travel to her home and still receive the same level of care with familiar faces.  Clinic B was my first introduction to fertility clinics by way of B., who wanted to sign up for yoga classes together.

Now, if you are lucky enough to have a choice in clinics or doctors, you can always start the decision making process by looking up the statistics on the Society for Artificial Reproductive Technology’s website, which publishes IVF success rates for every clinic in the country.  But numbers don’t always tell the whole story.  Some clinics might turn you away if they deem you too high risk, which might offset their numbers.  And personally I like percentages rather than wholesale figures.  For instance, Clinic B’s SART report shows over 1500 attempted IVF cycles in 2010 while Clinic A had about 200 IVF cycles reported in that same timeframe.  No doubt a lot of this is attributed to the largess of Clinic B, with three locations and at least one or two doctors at each.  Maybe the smaller number of Clinic A would make people feel nervous – do they have enough experience to really help me (even though they’ve been around for 25 years)?  So consider the percentages: of Clinic A’s 75 IVF cycles in women less than 35 years of age, 53% resulted in a pregnancy.  Clinic B had a whopping 652 IVF cycles for women younger than 35, but only a 36% pregnancy success rate.  There’s much more detailed information on the SART website about these numbers, so be sure to check it out.  Unfortunately, the numbers only detail IVF procedure success, not other therapies such as IUI or medicinal treatments.  It still left me with a little bit of uncertainty as to who to pick.

I decided to try some of the alternative medicine and spa services available through Clinic B, which by the way is a spa open to the public.  I signed up for a month of yoga for fertility classes last summer, took a free fertility nutrition workshop, and enrolled in a “ladies’ night” event where you could sample 4 different mini-spa services in one night.  The yoga was probably what you’d expect a yoga for fertility class to be – easy, relaxing, not very strenuous at all and probably couldn’t count as bona fide exercise.  The nutrition workshop was kind of interesting but a little too on the hippy-side for my taste (the instructor brought hemp pesto to try with almond flour crackers as an example of one of her recipes), and she kind of started by saying that while we could base our nutrition on the Chinese medicinal tables and our own idea of our symptoms, the better way is to meet with an acupuncturist to get an accurate idea of issues with your chi.  I get it, it was a free class, you’d probably expect them to sell you on something.  But it was the ladies’ night’s atmosphere that led me to really shy away from the place.  I paid $60 for what I thought was going to be 2 hours of services, and because of the disorganization turned into 3 hours.  The first part was meditation, where about 20 of us (there were about 60 women total) sat with a therapist who led us through guided meditation.  But then she asked us to share “Who came to meet you in the garden?”  I felt extremely uncomfortable sharing my personal experiences.  Next up was a chair massage, which I would do again with the same masseuse in a heartbeat, and was the most genuine part of the whole experience.  Then it was time for acupuncture – that was really the reason why I went, to see what it was all about.  The acupuncturist asked, “Any pain? What are you working on today?”  “Well, I’ve been trying to get pregnant…”  And after telling him an abbreviated story, he essentially said, “Clomid doesn’t work, acupuncture does, I’ll get you some handouts and my card.”  Having just started the clomid that left me with little hope and wasn’t the reaction I expected from someone who presumably gets his business from the clinic downstairs.  The night ended with a mini-facial (“I would recommend you make an appointment for the cranberry scrub”), a paraffin hand wax and “makeover” which was really just getting matched with a Jane Iredale (all natural) foundation and lipstick.

If you ever have the opportunity to sample services, even peripheral services like these that might be offered by your clinic, or a support group – go ahead and give them a shot before making your final decision.

While Clinic A has none of these fancy offerings, I was afraid of going to Clinic B and having them sell me on the services as part of my treatment plan.  The spa at Clinic B was already trying to sell me tons of products (they really looked at me funny when I didn’t buy anything in the gift shop); what would their medical staff be like?  I know B. saw an acupuncturist regularly, and at $60 a rip I felt like it would be a financial drain (“the more often you go, the better it works”).

It turns out there were a few more philosophical and humbling differences between the two clinics as well.  Clinic B’s entire building smells good.  It smells like the spa, like sugar and flowers and fruit and all kinds of other yumminess.  The clinic’s waiting room has 12 inch travertine floor tiles (money!), a fireplace, leather couches and recliners, dim lighting, bookshelves and DVD racks (all available for purchase), and a K-cup machine for you to make a nice beverage.  Clinic A has tile floors and carpeting, two separate waiting areas (one for the lab and one for your appointments), innocuous magazines to read and tvs tuned to news stations, bright and sunny lighting, and a single-serve coffee maker (not a K-cup) available to use.  One significant difference – Clinic A has a fragrance-free philosophy.  As fragrances are the #1 cause of VOCs (volatile organic compounds – not good for anyone, especially infertilites and fetuses), no one in their office wears perfume or lotions with fragrance and they ask their patients to do the same.  There are no scented candles or air fresheners or nice smelling scrubs in the bathrooms, as there are in Clinic B.  For me that was a signal that this place was about business more than appearances, and helped make me feel confident in making that choice.

Sure, there’s lots to be said for patient-doctor relationships too – you just have to feel that it’s right for you, that you’re in good hands.  But I also urge you, if you have the capability to choose, to consider reading between the lines of the entire business model before committing yourself, your partner, and your future family to a clinic.

Musings from the treadmill

Since the miscarriage and the end of multiple cycles of clomiphene citrate, I’ve dedicated myself to getting back into shape and trying to identify as more of an athlete.  One of the things I was always curious about using was a heart rate monitor, which in so many fitness magazines and websites seems to be a better way to estimate calories burned and exertion than a random website’s guess.  And, when I had a little visitor for a few days, I began to worry how I could possibly continue running to stay in shape – they say it is so critically important for your health, controlling weight gain during, and returning to your regular body after pregnancy to keep active –  without putting myself in danger. A few websites suggested using a heart rate monitor to make sure that you weren’t working too hard. After weeks of researching different body monitors (like BodyMedia’s, the one used on the Biggest Loser) and heart rate monitors, I decided on a heart rate monitor.

I purchased the Polar FT60 monitor in pink from Amazon – I’ve enjoyed it and I recommend it for any beginner. It had great reviews, it wasn’t too expensive, and I figured if this made me more motivated to run, train, and exercise, I could splurge on this and not a gym membership. I’ve only had it for three weeks but I have learned a lot about myself in those three weeks. Although I was training steadily to be able to run a 3.5mile race comfortably, I wore the watch at every chance I got – during a weeknight walk with my dog, a pick-up volleyball game during lunch at work – and was shocked at what I learned pretty quickly.  I can’t wait to wear it with a Jillian Michaels video. It turns out that most of the time I’ve been working too hard – in the maximum heart rate zone, far longer than I should be especially if my goal is to lose weight and improve fitness. No wonder I was always exhausted from running – I was going far too hard. One thing you don’t ever factor in into your race performance is the boost you get of adrenaline that protects your body from the stress you put on it in the maximum heart rate zone. You simply don’t have that adrenaline when it’s just you out on the road, or worse, on a treadmill.

I ran for an hour for the first time in my life. I was just at the border of my maximum heart rate, trying desperately to run slow enough to keep my heart in the “aerobic” zone but fast enough to still feel like I was getting somewhere. On a treadmill I did 4 miles in about 55 minutes. As I never really put any analysis into training/running before, this felt like a huge defeat for me. But, after doing this twice in a week and having nothing else to do in that hour but think, I thought about every little adaptation I could make to my exercise and see how it would impact my heart rate.

I tried breathing deeply, as deep as I could as quickly as I could (about the length of two paces), and exhaling.  My heart rate slowed a beat or two.

I took great big strides and my heart rate shot up. Short, tiny ones and it slowed.

When someone got on the treadmill next to me, my heart rate picked up though my technical pace didn’t. A little competition, maybe?

Some songs on my iPod made me lose my concentration faster than others.

And when my heart rate got up higher than I really wanted it to be, especially if it was early in the exercise – I was going to hit 4 miles no matter what – I had to make peace with the fact that I had to go slower, not faster. I had to tell myself that it was okay. I still felt like I was cheating.

What was the end result of all of this mundane knowledge? For the first time ever I was able to run the full length of the 3.5 mile race without stopping, walking, or side stitches. I hit a personal PR (for this particular race). And I wasn’t exhausted.

I was happy and all it took was a little forgiveness… maybe even a little loving kindness to accept myself and all the amazing things my body can do, even when there is one thing it can’t.