Finding Normalcy

I’ve spent a lot of time researching PCOS over the course of the last week, which has been an incredible eye opener.  I thought I had done a fair amount of research when I first started my IVF journey, but it turns out that was just the tip of the iceberg.

PCOS affects each woman differently.  Here I had been so convinced that while I had PCOS, my PCOS wasn’t “that bad”.  That’s not necessarily true; how my PCOS manifests itself is completely different from the next person.  My symptoms aren’t as visible as many other sufferers.  But they are most definitely there.

My depression, that seems to appear out of the blue.  My anxiety, that started rearing its ugly head in my late 20s.  The insomnia that comes in fits and starts.  The incredible fatigue that plagues me so frequently.  And my weekly headaches.  Here, I had been so focused on the visible symptoms of PCOS such as acne and Hirsutism; the symptoms I didn’t have.  “Surely, my case can’t be that bad, because of X, Y, Z.”  False confidence is a sonofabitch.

I came across a website in which a woman claims to have treated her PCOS enough to fall pregnant naturally.  While my PCOS isn’t the primary cause of our fertility issues, I figured trying to treat my PCOS and reduce my symptoms definitely wouldn’t hurt.  After all, our doctor said it wouldn’t be impossible to get pregnant on our own.  Not probable, but not impossible.  Cue my best Lloyd Christmas impression….

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The more I’ve researched PCOS, the more enlightened I’ve become about the different  types of PCOS: Insulin resistant, immune related, environmental, post pill, or perhaps, even a combination of all four.  We know I’m insulin resistant, and one of the best ways to cure insulin resistance PCOS is to lose weight.  Well, I’ve lost about 25 pounds, and yet there’s been no real change in my symptoms.  I’m still regularly irregular.  I say that because I am fortunate in that I ovulate regularly, it’s just in an irregular time frame.  Women who ovulate normally typically ovulate every 21-35 days, whereas I ovulate every 36-42.  See?  Regularly irregular.  And yet, despite that, I consider myself fairly lucky.  There are some women who go MONTHS without ovulating.

Hindsight being 20/20, I’m not surprised that my menstrual cycle didn’t become more regular with weight loss.  I’ve always had longer cycles, regardless of whether or not I’ve been at the target weight for someone of my height.  So, there’s got to be something else that’s also affecting my cycle.

My next thought is that perhaps, my PCOS is the result of immune related or environmental issues.  As such, I have an appointment with an allergist today to get my first allergy test done in close to 30 years.  My mom has been pushing me to have an allergy test for quite some time, and now that I’ve hit my insurance deductible for the year, it seemed like a good time to do it.  YOU’RE WELCOME, MOM.

In all seriousness, my mom has been an advocate of allergy testing for years.  I was the child that was allergic to everything as a young kid.  I grew out of a lot of it as I got older, but I randomly break out in hives and rashes somewhat frequently, so it might finally be nice to see what causes these outbreaks.  It’s possible that an undiagnosed food allergy could be producing a hormonal imbalance, which could affect my cycle.

Finally,  I’ve joined a PCOS challenge.  It’s a 30-day challenge that teaches you how to treat PCOS with diet and lifestyle changes. It starts November 17th, and offers meal plans, recipes and shopping lists to help with the overall success of the challenge.  The best part is that the first 9 days are spent learning how to implement the changes.  The implementation of the diet doesn’t start until day 10, so I’ll still be able to get weird with some turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing on Thanksgiving.

I’m excited to implement these changes over the next few weeks to see if they make a difference. For some women, these subtle changes can result in immediate relief from their symptoms.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I end up falling in that group as well.

 

24 hours to go…..

Tomorrow’s the big day.  Tomorrow we find out if our lives are going to change forever.

To those of you that have been involved in our journey, there are no words to describe just how grateful we are to have you in our lives.  And to those of you that have gone out of your way to check on us and let us know that you love us and will be here for us no matter the outcome, it’s meant more to us than you can possibly imagine.  These last two weeks have been teetering on the edge of terrible, but having your support has made it somewhat bearable.

Now comes the hard part:  If you’re planning on checking the blog this weekend for news on whether or not the transfer was successful, I’m afraid you won’t find it.  Lee and I are taking the weekend for ourselves.  I’ve booked a place on Airbnb that’s on a lake outside the cities so that Lee and I can just, be.  If we are pregnant, it’ll be a celebratory affair.  If we aren’t, it will provide a much-needed weekend to recharge and determine what we do next.

In fact, while I still plan on doing some writing, it’ll be a while before I’m ready to talk about how the transfer went.  If the transfer failed, it’s going to take a while to process that information.  And if it was successful, we’d only be in the first trimester, where a lot of things can still go wrong.  We’ve worked so hard to make this happen.  I hope you understand our need to take care of ourselves and our (potential) unborn babies before we broadcast the news to the world.

Until then, thank you again for your support.

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Lake Life

This week, I had the great fortune to spend 5 days “up north” (the Minnesotan colloquialism for vacation) with my husband and his family.  Lee’s immediate family as well as some of his extended have had an annual lake week tradition for the better part of 3 decades.  The week and the resort have changed a few times over the years as have some of the faces in attendance, but there’s still a pretty amazing turn out each year.  It’s probably the thing Lee looks forward to most; a week at the lake with his nearest and dearest.

The resort is located in Ottertail, Minnesota, about 3 hours northwest of our home in the Twin Cities.

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The area is filled with resorts and stunning lake homes.  Time seems to slow down in Ottertail, which is exactly what I needed this week.  Though I had planned to write this blog post while I was up there, I found myself apprehensive to even open my computer.  I knew that if I opened my computer, I would probably feel the need to check my work email.  There would be some email that would inevitably put me in a terrible mood and send me down a rabbit hole I would have a hard time climbing back out of.  As such, I didn’t check my work email until I arrived back at the office Thursday morning.  After all, I was on vacation.  Work could wait.

We were able to bring our dog, Omar on this vacation as well, as this resort allows dogs during the offseason.  Omar spent most of his time begging for food, (from us and other families at the resort) and napping in the sun.  All in all, I think it’s safe to say that he enjoyed himself.

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This year was a little bit different than years past, because Lee and I are abstaining from alcohol.  It wasn’t too bad, but I do have to say, the minute we finished unpacking, our first instinct was to make a cocktail.  Old habits die hard, I guess.  Instead of a cocktail, we opted for sparkling water and iced tea.  Don’t tell us we don’t know how to party.

Another thing that was different this year was our bedtime.  It’s amazing how much earlier you go to bed each night when you’re not up playing drinking games.  Early to bed meant early to rise and being an early riser,  I was able to watch the sun come up.  Absolutely breathtaking.

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The majority of our days were spent sitting lakeside, playing cards, bags, doing crosswords and listening to music.  Not a bad way to spend 5 days.  We’d venture in to town from time to time, but I found myself happiest and most at peace sitting on the water.  It made me so thankful for the beauty of my state.  Sometimes, I think  we get too busy with day to day monotony to stop and appreciate the beauty around us.  I was thankful to have time to do that this week.

It’s also crazy to think that by the time lake week comes around next year, we might have a newborn baby to bring with us.  As we drove home on Wednesday night, Lee and I talked about all the changes having a baby would bring to lake week.  For starters, we’ll probably have to give up our bedroom in the party cabin and get a cabin of our own.  We’ll also need two cars; we have a hard enough time fitting all of our stuff into one now!  Yes, many things will change over the course of the next year if we get our positive, but we welcome these changes with open arms.  And we know that if we’re lucky enough to have a baby to bring to the lake next year, between Lee’s parents, sisters, aunts, uncles & cousins, this baby will feel more love than anyone could possible imagine.

Chill the Fuck Out: A Quick Update

Thanks so very much to all of you that provided songs for my relaxation playlist.  You have no idea how much they mean to me!

I found out this past weekend that I am able to provide my own music for the egg retrieval and transfer.  This playlist will be playing in the background.  It’s so incredibly heart-warming to know that a piece of each of you will be there with me as we go through these procedures.  But, like, not in a creepy way.  In a super sweet, relaxing way.

I feel like I can’t say thank you enough.  I am so overwhelmed and humbled by the outpouring of love and support we are receiving on a daily basis.  I don’t know what I did to hit the amazing friends and family lottery, but rest assured, I will never take it for granted.

Chill the Fuck Out

I’ve been a bundle of nerves lately.  We still have a lot of moving pieces (which I’ll get into later) that need to fit perfectly in to place in order for me to feel at ease before we begin our treatment.  I’m doing my best to keep my body and spirit calm, using techniques such as acupuncture and exercise, but I still need a little more.

I’ve decided to start a Spotify playlist aptly named “Chill the Fuck Out”.  I want to fill it with music that will allow me to refocus and center myself when things get a little bit stressful, but I want your help!  Do you have any songs that manage to calm you down when you’re feeling agitated or getting anxious?  If so, I would love to hear them.  I can’t think of a better way to relax than listening to a playlist built with the help of my nearest and dearest.  All recommendations welcome, no matter the genre.

Thank you all for the prayers, kind words and well wishes you’ve provided over the last few months as we’ve shared our journey.  And a preemptive thank you for your help with my super awesome, incredibly calming new playlist!

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20 lbs. Down!

I’ve had this blog post ready to go for about a week now.  Naturally, I didn’t want to publish until the title became factual, but now I can unequivocally state, I have lost 20 pounds since the beginning of the year.

That might not seem like a huge feat, but when you’re insulin resistant, it can be so incredibly hard to lose weight.  Even with diet and exercise, it’s an uphill battle.  One “cheat” day can set me back a couple of pounds, which is incredibly unfortunate because sometimes all I want to do is get weird with some buffalo wings.  Not drinking has definitely helped with an increase in weight loss over the last three weeks, and I suppose the gym regularity hasn’t hurt either.

The bottom line is, I feel great.  And I’m back to my wedding weight!

If you need me tonight, I’ll most likely be celebrating my accomplishment with an ice-cold non-alcoholic beverage while relaxing in my wedding dress.  Because I can.

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Floating

I tried my very first float session last week, and I decided I’d share my review of the experience with all of you.

For those of you who don’t know what floating is, it’s a form of reduced environment stimulation therapy.  The float takes place in a shallow pool that is filled with a warm epsom salt bath.  The water is made heavy using epsom salt to the point that a person can float effortlessly on top of the water.  The water is about the same temperature as one’s skin, so it’s quite comfortable.  The room is also light-proof and sound-proof, allowing the user to shut out all distractions.

Floating is said to reduce stress, alleviate pains and increase immune function, as well as many other positive effects.  It sounded like a great experience, but  I was a bit skeptical at first.  I was curious whether or not I would be able to shut my mind off in order to truly enjoy the experience, but was excited to try nonetheless.

The initial entrance to the store was quite inviting.  It was clean and quiet.  They only have two rooms, so I would imagine that it never gets too loud with people coming and going.  We filled out our paperwork and were then given a quick run down of how the rooms work.

Each room allows for only one floater at a time.  The rooms are also lockable, so you don’t have to worry about anyone walking in while you’re trying to relax.  This is important when you’re relaxing in the buff!  You disrobe, rinse off and then hop in the pool to start your session.

The pool has music as well as a blue light that provides some additional ambiance.  Both are optional; you have control to turn them on or off.  I chose to keep both on as I thought the music might help to calm my mind.

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The water feels very weird at first.  It almost feels as though you’re laying in a pool of oil due to the high salt content.  Once I got used to that however, I rather enjoyed the experience.  When you close your eyes, it feels as though you’re floating through space, or so I would imagine.  I have little to no experience with actually floating through space.

At no point did I feel claustrophobic or even anxious whilst trying to relax.  I found it difficult for my mind to calm at first, which didn’t surprise me.  I did manage to fall into a meditative state however.  At least, I think I did.  I managed to lose at least  15 minutes of time during my float, but I don’t think I fell asleep.  Either way, it was incredibly relaxing.  I came to shortly before the light came on signaling the end of my float.

Once the float session ends, you’re given ample time to shower and get dressed.  Each 60 minute float is booked for a 90 minute block, so you don’t have to rush to get ready afterward.  After all, it would be counter-productive to hurry someone after they’ve spent 60 minutes trying to relax!

All in all, I would abolsutely float again.  I think that it’ll be more relaxing now that I know what to expect.  And if it’s something that you’ve been thinking of trying, I say do it!  There are so many Groupons circulating in the Minneapolis area for businesses offering float sessions, that it should be easy to find one that won’t break the bank.  If you do decide to give floating a try, let me know what you think.  I’d be interested to hear other reviews!

 

Treat Yo’Self

As I attempt to prepare myself for what will undoubtedly be the most mentally and emotionally exhausting summer of my life, I have decided now is the time to really treat myself.  Treat-Yo-Self-2017.-Tonight-on-NBC.-YallAintReady

That’s right, folks.  I’m taking a page out of the playbook of Donna Meagle & Tom Haverford.  I’m going to focus the rest of the summer on pampering my body as well as my mind.

I’ve got a couple of months to go before we go through IVF and I’m determined to spend that time taking care of myself.  Don’t get me wrong; I’m pretty happy with myself as is, but I think everyone could probably admit that when they get busy, certain areas of their lives start to suffer.  Things that were once important quickly fall to the wayside.  For me, one of those things is the gym.  I feel so much better when I work out, yet it’s amazing how quickly I will forgo a trip to the gym after a particularly trying day at work.  What’s truly baffling though, is that I know going to the gym will actually make me feel better than going home and laying on my couch.  It’s about changing that mindset and not allowing myself to come up with a million excuses.  And it’s the little changes to my routine that will make it easier to be successful.

My first change is going to be packing a bag of gym clothes and putting them in my car.  Lately, I’ve been driving to the park and ride nearest to my house in order to take the bus downtown for work each morning.  It may seem more lazy than walking to the bus stop a block and a half from my house, but the difference in transit time is about 20 minutes each way.  The 40 minutes I save every day would be put to good use by stopping at the gym on the way home.  I can get my endorphin rush on and still be home in time to make my husband a delicious and nutritious dinner.

Some of the other “treats”  I’ve decided to try include floating, massage and acupuncture.  I’ve got my first floating appointment this Sunday and I’m excited to give it a go!  I think it’ll be a bit of a challenge to turn my brain off for an entire hour, but I’m willing to give it the proverbial college try.  Acupuncture is another technique that I’ve never tried before, but everyone I know who has tried it swears by it.  The fact that it has been said to help with fertility issues is just an added bonus.

I’m excited to implement some new ideas in to my regular routine, but I’m also open to suggestions.  What are some of the ways you like to relax?  Do you have any surefire ways to keep your stress levels down?  Any and all ideas are welcome.  In the meantime, I’ll happily keep you posted on my new and exciting exploits.

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Proactive Therapy

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Lee likes to joke that proactive is my middle name.  Seriously though, it probably should be.  I like to plan ahead,  problem solve, analyze and make to-do lists.  As nerdy as this may sound, there is almost no greater exhilaration for me than crossing a completed item off my list.  That’s almost impossible when you’re playing a waiting game, so I decided to up the ante.  I would now try to solve problems BEFORE they happen.  Thus, the idea for proactive therapy was born.

I read an article that discussed the strain infertility can put on a marriage and I was determined to preempt any potential issues before they arose.   But how was I going to explain this to my husband?  Who wants to blind side their spouse with the term “couples therapy”?  I decided to plan out exactly what I was going to say and downed some liquid courage to help me say it.

I told Lee that I was interested in meeting with a therapist to improve our communication skills and help us develop a better team mentality for the upcoming months.  I said that while I think we’ve got a really solid marriage, we also didn’t know what the next few months would bring.  To my surprise, Lee didn’t balk at my suggestion.  Not even a little bit.  At that moment, my heart swelled with love and admiration for my husband.

I made an appointment with a family and marriage therapist in our area and as luck would have it, we both really like her.  She assured us that the communication issues we were having in our marriage were actually quite common and commended us for coming in to see her before we started experiencing bigger issues.

We’ve had three appointments now and I think I can speak for both of us when I say that it has already been so helpful.  Yes, there have been tears in these appointments, but the laughs far outweigh the tears.  We’re learning how the other person communicates and are developing ways to sort of create our own language.  As a result of these tiny changes, I feel more in tune with Lee than I have in a long time.  Maybe ever, actually.  Our therapy appointments have allowed me to fall more in love than I even thought possible.

I feel so confident that we’re moving in the right direction as we head into the unknown.  And I can say with absolute certainty that I love, cherish and respect my husband more today than ever.

 

New Month, New Mantra

I’ve been on a bit of a downward spiral this last month as I mourned our IUI failure.   When I’m upset, I self-medicate with junk food and alcohol.  I don’t binge, per se, but because my body doesn’t process insulin correctly, this can lead to an incredibly fast weight gain in a relatively short amount of time.

Since Birthday month is now officially over, I have to get back on track.  I’m hoping that by putting this thought out into the world that it will help me be accountable.

The following article states that a GI diet is the way to go.  I’m pretty sure this means I’m going to have to eat less cake, which will be tough.  Cake is delicious.

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Well wishes and delicious recipes are most welcome.

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/pcos-the-diet-that-can-help-treat-the-little-understood-fertility-problem-a7680166.html