Friday, July 31st, 2009

Setbacks and Silver Linings

Here is another lengthy post. I feel it’s important to continue sharing my thoughts and experiences at length because the emails and comments continue to pour in about how grateful people are that I’m providing so many specific details. First of all, thank you so much. I can’t express how much all of the love and support means to me. I also now realize more than ever just how many people’s lives have been touched by similar events, or may be in the future.


I’ve had a little more time to digest the news of my pregnancy loss and impending miscarriage. I found that yesterday, from time to time, I felt like a deer in headlights… a tiny bit of shock, some lack of motivation to do anything, and a little bit of feeling unorganized. That’s the best way I can describe it. I kind of just wanted to sit and stare at times. After talking over the possible next steps with family (details below), and being surrounded by an amazing, loving, and supportive husband and mom, I started to feel better with each and every hour.

It’s a different feeling of loss this time (at least so far) versus how it previously felt when we tried naturally and then I would get my period. Those times were extremely painful. But, this time… since we had some measure of success (that gives us hope), plus I know I have a solid plan on the very near horizon, and possibly just by the fact that we used technology to assist us… I just feel better and easier about the whole thing. Another helper (if you can call it that) is that we had some inkling that this could happen from the last two blood tests. I’ve had a week or so to wonder “what if?” So, overall, it’s just not as hard this time. Don’t get me wrong… there is definitely some disappointment and frustration, but… I simply don’t want to dwell on that. What would be hard is sitting around, being angry or sad. That would make it harder for me. Instead, I’m choosing to focus on the next plan for having a wonderful pregnancy and getting my baby. With that in mind, I’m aware that grieving feelings may arise… so, as my doula warmly put it, “Be gentle with yourself.” I will. Promise.

Lessons
It’s a natural part of human nature that, when bad things happen, we adjust our perspective in a way that makes it seem not so bad. Call it cognitive dissonance (I prefer the “silver lining instinct”)… it’s a heck of a lot more adaptive and constructive than curling up into a quivering ball of uselessness. Rose-tinted glasses or not, I cannot help but realize that I now know more as a result of what has happened than I did just a month ago. Knowledge is empowering… I’ve been granted a certain gift of foresight in the form of knowing what it will be like when the nine-month countdown begins. For a few short weeks, what had previously been a possible future became an expected future. An abstract idea became my imperative reality. I felt a nervous and exciting urgency, sometimes scary, in the pit of my stomach. I now know what it feels like to lie in bed at night and think “holy shit… I’m going to have a baby! I have so much to do still and the clock is ticking.

One of the things I’ve learned this past year is that every time I’m given a fresh start to get pregnant, I find that I do things a little bit better each time. As the months go by, I’ve continued my reading and research… and as I learn more, I apply more. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve learned stuff I’d like to apply next time – such as… I want to make sure I’m eating enough protein (65-95 grams a day) once we make the next transfer. I don’t want to get any of it from organic soy products, rather I’ll concentrate on some cooked lentils, beans, etc…. with the remaining coming from Raw sources (sprouted quinoa, greens, green juice and smoothies, hemp and sprouted brown rice protein powders, nuts and seeds, etc). Of course, my diet will be mostly Raw except for the aforementioned cooked proteins. I want to make sure I’m getting plenty of vitamins A, E, and D in my diet as well as B-vitamins. To accomplish this, I’ll consume more sunflower seeds as well as olive oil and avocados (more about sunflower seeds and vitamin E in a moment). I’ll spend some more time in the sun. When I eat foods with beta-carotene in them, I’ll be more conscious about having a little fat with them to ensure I’m absorbing and assimilating it better (for example, I’ll add a little splash of coconut oil to my green juice with carrots). Those are a few examples. My diet is great and has been, but I’d like to fine tune it a little bit more. I’m not saying that had I been doing all of these things, I might have avoided a miscarriage. Rather, I’m excited that I can be even a little bit healthier and better prepared for it, which will benefit my baby.

Another example of lessons learned is that during this pregnancy, I started reading Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein’s new book, Your Best Birth. I’m a huge fan of their documentary The Business of Being Born (HUGE fan! I saw it last year when it first came out – rented it on Netflix, but I’ve since bought it so I can share it with family and friends). While reading their book, it was a tad stressful because the book goes into detail about the various ways of giving birth (hospital, home, midwife, obstetrician, etc) and as most of you know… more than anything I want a homebirth with my midwife and doula attending. I feel very strongly and passionately about this. Very. So, as I was reading the book, I realized that I needed to write a thorough and detailed birthing plan with variations for specific things (part for having the desired homebirth, but also part dedicated to the possible event of an emergency transfer to a hospital, and within that hospital part needs to have details for vaginal birth and c-section). I realized through reading the book while pregnant that I wish I had read it before getting pregnant, and I wish I had my birth plan already written. The hospital birth contingency plan will stress me out a bit to write. I also feel I need to visit the few hospitals I might have to transfer to in an emergency so I can get answers to my questions about their services and decide which one best fits my birthing plan. Again… something that could be stressful for me and would be better done when I’m not pregnant.

I also realized, over the past few weeks, that I had so many other things I wanted to focus on such as taking the various classes for the actual birth, specifically hypnobirthing (I plan on learning a few ways of assisting my birth and having hypnobirthing in my kit of tools for relaxing seems like a smart plan, even if I don’t rely on it completely). I think it would be prudent to start a class like that right away upon finding out I’m pregnant because the sooner I can master some meditation techniques, the faster I can use them to calm myself during potentially stressful times of the pregnancy. Also, I want to read everything I can get my hands on about breastfeeding (I have 4-5 books already). And, I want to immerse myself in the vaccine culture so that I’m well prepared in what kind of schedule of possibly reduced vaccination I plan to follow. I learned the past couple of weeks that not only did I wish that I already had my birth plan written, but also that I wished I already had a plan regarding vaccination. I originally planned on waiting until the end of pregnancy to dive into my stack of vaccination books. I now realize that I don’t want to do that when I’m pregnant. Vaccinations will be a tough, touchy, and controversial subject… not something I feel is positive about addressing while I’m pregnant. For my time while I’m pregnant, I just want to focus on happy thoughts and plans (breastfeeding, cloth diapering, baby wearing, strollers, etc) not contentious ones. I want to get the controversial planning done ahead of time.

My silver lining through these bumps in the road is that every time I didn’t get pregnant, or in this case with not holding on to it, I learned more, and for that I feel grateful. This time around, when I take care of some of these things ahead of time (before my next pregnancy) such as writing my birth plan, creating my vaccination plan, and learning hypnobirthing sooner than later, I’m setting myself up for a wonderful, relaxed pregnancy. I’m very excited about that. My smart doula also told me, “It is so so so hard to understand why our bodies do the things they do. And yet, we are asked to simply sit with the knowledge, knowing that our lessons – and the wisdom they provide – will unfold in time.” I love her!

Vitamin E and Sunflower Seeds
So, quickly about the vitamin E and sunflower seeds… Sunflower seeds are loaded with vitamin E (lots) and vitamin E is actually known as the birth vitamin. It’s great for fertility (conception) as well as helping protect against miscarriage. In fact, the Greek word “tocopherol” means “to carry offspring” – pretty cool, eh?

Next Steps
My doctor gave us a few options for the miscarriage. I can do it naturally (supposedly painful). Or, I can have a suction D&C, where I’m sedated, and they take some of the tissue for analysis (although the analysis isn’t guaranteed to provide any useful information). Or, I can have my gynecologist give me medicine to induce the miscarriage. I am opting for the natural route. Once I stop my current medicine (estradiol and progesterone), which I did yesterday, I should expect the miscarriage to occur in about three days. After that, depending on “how” the miscarriage goes (will I bleed for 4-5 days? Or will it be rougher and go for 7-10 days, in which case I may end up in the ER?) will help us determine whether we think my body is healed enough for another transfer right away or whether we should sit one out so my body can recover. Dr. Chang said that some studies show a slight increase for miscarriage if you get pregnant right after, but he also explained that opposing research suggests an increased pregnancy success by doing it right after because your body is “in the mood” already (my interpretive words). Personally, I’m feeling good about getting to it right away if possible.

Another thing that makes me feel solid about the next transfer is that I’m going to do it more naturally. Unlike last time, I had about 3 weeks of fertility drugs that I had been taking prior to the transfer. (As I mentioned in my previous post, the level of drugs I took with Mini-IVF was far less than with traditional IVF, which is great… nonetheless, I still had to take some drugs for the procedure, but future transfers won’t have that since we have the embryos.) This time around they can transfer it with my normal cycle, and the only drugs I might need are the ones for supporting the pregnancy. In my mind, this is a good feeling to know my body will be healthier for the baby (and for myself).

New Hope Fertility Center – Awesome Doctors & Staff
I’d like to take a brief moment to tell you how awesome Dr. Chang was on the phone. This was the doctor who did the egg retrieval and embryo transfer. Both of those times, he was so pleasant, patient, and took all the time I needed to answer my questions. I’m talking…. really patient and never for one moment made me feel rushed. On the phone yesterday, he was the same… amazing. He told me how the pregnancy didn’t look good and why. Then, he asked, “What questions do you have before we move on to the next topic?” I asked some questions, he answered them all slowly and thoroughly and then asked me again what other questions I had. He did that repeatedly through the conversation as well as giving me loads of confidence that we’re on the right track. He gave me many options for the various next steps, telling me the pros and cons of each. Then, when I told him of my desire for a natural approach, he was supportive. He made me feel like we’re totally on the same team. It’s not often that a doctor makes a patient feel so great… that her opinion truly matters… takes the time to address every little thing. And for that… I want to praise him. (I’ve learned from meeting with other fertility clinics that this is not always the case so I’m grateful to be teamed with a clinic who cares about my desires.)

And… while I’m at it… can I take a moment to praise two other people: Jessica and Melissa. Jessica was my first contact with New Hope Fertility Center, and she was an absolute doll on the phone. She helped us coordinate our planning, she answered my questions, and her response time for everything was very fast. Melissa is another sparkling gem there. She is at the front desk and I saw her smiling face every few days I went in. This gal was terrific. Every time I had a question, she either answered it (even though her role appeared to be mostly administrative, she had a solid grasp of the range of procedures and what they entailed) or she pointed me in the right direction to get the answer.

And, even though I’m not in a lot of contact with Dr. Zhang, the first doctor we met with and who is behind the scenes working his awesome magic…. he deserves praise for being as brilliant as he is. Without him, none of this would have been possible.

So! Back to My Plan.
Well! I’m going to enjoy a bar of organic, dark vegan chocolate for starters. (It’s been a long time!) I’m going to brace myself for the miscarriage and keep my feet up during this time (I might indulge in a small glass of organic wine during that – been a long time for that, too). Then, I’m going to get into my Raw lifestyle hardcore for the following 2-3 weeks because I have about 7-8 pounds I want to lose that I put on from the drugs and my increased eating of fat, etc. I’m going to exercise (I’ve been on restriction from this too so I want to get my body moving again). I’m eager to cleanse, feel light and energized, and get my lymph flowing. I am going to write my birth plan and vaccination plan. Then, we’ll head to New Hope Fertility Center in NY for the transfer and I’ll continue my clean eating, but I’ll add more protein and fat back in. I feel great about our plan!

Quick Update! I will now have 5-6 breastfeeding books. I just saw on amazon (and pre-ordered it) that Ina May Gaskin is coming out with a book on breastfeeding, Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding. YAY!!! Her other book, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth is one of my favorite books and I highly recommend it if you’re pregnant or considering getting pregnant. I suspect her next book about breastfeeding will be equally amazing!

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Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Fertility Adventure – The Full Story

Ever since I told the world about being pregnant a couple weeks ago, I’ve received a huge amount of email from women who are trying to get pregnant, have been trying for a long time, or are thinking about it in the future, and they want to prepare. Until recently, I wasn’t sure it made sense to blog about the private and sometimes emotional details of my experience, but as a result of the strong response from so many women, I’ve decided to share the full story, in the hope that it might help anybody out there who is having problems getting pregnant or who is planning to put off having a baby until later in life.


Let’s go back to last summer (2008). My husband and I decided that it was time to start preparing our bodies for “trying” to have a family. I remember it like it was yesterday. Our goal was to up our game considerably, taking our diets to a new level and really prepping our bodies, and becoming as healthy as we could be for the 6 months prior to deliberately trying to conceive. Gone were the glasses of occasional organic wine and dark vegan chocolate. Gone were the spontaneous visits to Starbucks for the very occasional treat of a decaf soy capp. Arriving were more green juices as well as taking hair/body care products and home cleaning products to an extra super green and healthy level. I had my amalgam fillings removed. I took a month-long detox potion for removing metals and mercury from my body. I consumed milk thistle to really clean my liver (along with plenty of icky dandelion root in my green juices). I stopped coloring my hair and I started taking prenatal vitamins. I started researching pregnancy and reading books like Ina May’s Guide To Childbirth. Etc Etc…

The thing was…. as I was preparing for this, I started to become extra eager and excited to move our December Game Plan up a few months. So, after waiting a month or so for the metals to leave my body (I didn’t want anything bad showing up in breast milk if I could help it), we decided, what the hell… let’s “stop trying to prevent pregnancy” right now (but still make it a very casual endeavor). Of course… once I was in that mindset it was hard to slow things down. I went ahead and bought a Clear Blue Easy Fertility monitor. I mean, after all, we might as well start tracking my ovulation… the research I did states that it can take a couple of months to get to know my cycle anyway. The first time I saw that cute little egg on the monitor, I was like, “Honey!!!! Let’s try to make a baby!!!” It was show time! Suddenly, our mindset changed to “let’s really try and get pregnant.”

The following month I started my period. Bummer. Naively, I thought it’d take the first time. Naive indeed. Grossly naive. Suddenly… I was on a mission. I kept telling myself after that first failed attempt that it’s perfectly natural to have it take a little while. Meanwhile, my clock is ticking (I was 32 years old at the time) and I was thinking ahead and practically salivating for the next opportunity of ovulation. A couple more months went by without any success. By then I was really wondering why. I seemed to ovulate fine. My periods were pretty regular (every 28-30 days), and I was in excellent health. With each passing month, I started to get really sad on the day Aunt Flow came to visit. I won’t go into the details of how devastating it can be, but you ladies out there who have tried unsuccessfully to conceive know exactly how intense the blow feels. It knocked me down a couple of times.

But… I am a resourceful person, so I started doing research on “fertility diet” and seeing what I could come up with to help the process. To most people, it would be perfectly natural to wait almost a year before taking any next steps or being concerned, but I felt the need to move things along. I wanted to know I was doing everything I could to improve our odds. Enter: lots of vitamins and supplements. Around the time of November and December, I started buying all kinds of vitamins and supplements. Yes, our diets were full of nutrition, but I wanted to make sure I was covering all of the bases. I put my husband on a number of different things to improve semen and I started taking extra vitamins to help overall female fertility. Another month went by with no success.

December comes and was closing to an end when I came across a fertility book on TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) that I devoured in one sitting. I found more supplements for us to take and I started adding a little lightly cooked vegan food to our diets. Next step: acupuncture. I found an acupuncturist who specialized in fertility and I immediately made us appointments. Again, I knew at the time that I might be doing all of this prematurely, but I just didn’t feel comfortable sitting around and waiting. After all… it’d been a handful of months by this time and I wasn’t getting any younger.

We decided to have a semen analysis in January to rule out any potential problems. I wish we had done this in the beginning because it’s an inexpensive test and, in our case, it didn’t yield very good results. My husband’s count was fine but there was a potential problem with the swimmers’ morphology (shape) and motility (swimmyness). Long story short… this seemed to be the reason we were struggling with fertility. Well, at least now we had something to work on. I learned that it takes 72-90 days for sperm to generate, meaning anything we did to boost my husband’s numbers wouldn’t take effect for a few months. Hmmm… wait and see. Meanwhile, we started our acupuncture treatments (weekly) and the doctor put us on Chinese medicine (herbs) to enhance the different aspects of my menstrual cycle as well as help improve the motility and morphology of the semen.

I knew we had to give the Chinese medicine some time to work. They like you to give it at least 3 months. I was happy to do so, because I wanted more than anything for our fertility adventure to be as natural as possible. Plus, I’d read so many great things about TCM. Three months came and went. No pregnancy.

It got harder and harder each month. At the point that I had a plan for something new, like I did with the TCM, my heart was much lighter because I knew we had options. But, when each option didn’t pan out… it became another crushing blow. It’s an emptiness and sadness like none other. I found that with each menses, I experienced a harsh grieving.

So… I went back into research mode. I wanted to keep giving the TCM a chance to work, but I was very impatient. You see, I want 2 kids (heck, maybe 3) and I know that the older I get, the harder it will be. Once a woman reaches the age of 35, the chances of success decrease. By this time, I was 32 1/2 and starting to freak out. If I were to get pregnant by age 33, then be pregnant for 9 months, then deliver and breastfeed… then try to get pregnant again… it could take another many months… and on and on. Suddenly I’m 35 or 36 and could be struggling to have a second baby (we were already struggling to have the first). Hence, I started checking into other options. I went for an HSG (hysterosalpingogram: basically an xray of my uterus and fallopian tubes) to rule out any possible complications with my girlie bits. My HSG was normal.

As most of you can probably guess… I’m not an advocate of drugs. I used to take quite a few in my teens and early 20s for migraine headaches but all of my headaches pretty much disappeared with my raw vegan diet. Ever since, I’ve done everything I could to avoid drugs (prescription and over the counter). I stopped taking birth control about 8 years ago. Even though I traditionally have a painful day-1 of my period, I tough it out with a heating pad (and sometimes tears). I don’t want drugs anywhere near me.

Well, after our lack of success in getting pregnant, suddenly I was open to hearing other options. I started researching assisted reproductive technology and decided that we should try an IUI (intrauterine insemination). We found a reproductive endocrinologist in Tempe. He actually told us that our only real chance of getting pregnant due to my husband’s sperm would be to undergo IVF: In vitro fertilization. That’s where they take out many of my eggs – using lots of drugs to stimulate the production of them – and they inject them each with a sperm from my husband. This injection process is known as ICSI (pronounced “ick-see”).

I was devastated, to say the least. We had gone in to see the doctor to chat about IUI, which is a minor procedure. I was not even ready to entertain the idea of IVF. So, the IVF was a big blow because that would require LOTS of awful drugs, and an increased chance for twins (I don’t really want twins), and a lot of money… it could cost as much as $20,000 for just one try… and the odds of it working are about 50% depending on various circumstances. Ouch. Once they retrieve my eggs, then any future IVF attempts would be about half the price, but still… thousands and thousands of dollars.

I started crying. Right there in the doctor’s office, sitting across from him at his desk. He swiftly whipped out a box of cheap Kleenex. I had actually startled him with my crying. He was all business up to that point. Stating statistics and odds of conception based on our semen numbers without much explanation as to the procedure itself. This just left a bunch of questions in our minds, but he said there was a class we would take where we would get all of our questions answered about IVF and then some.

In my head I was thinking, “Are you kidding? A fucking class? Is there a quiz at the end? I want my questions answered now. Why am I paying you $300 for a consultation? A 5-minute look at my uterus and to tell me that based on my husband’s numbers we need a $20,000 procedure to have even a chance at building a family?” I didn’t say any of that, of course, but in hindsight, maybe I should have. So… off we were shuffled to the next room where he looked at my uterus. That turned out fine. The doctor saw one of my follicles developing nicely for day 8 of my cycle, which is probably where that cycle’s egg was going to come from. We left the doctor’s office, with our heads reeling with all of this new information about possibly having to pursue IVF. I was a wreck.

Because my husband does indeed have some good swimmers (just not as many as we’d like), I decided that I still wanted to give the IUI a try. It was so much easier of a procedure and way less expensive (less than $1000). My doctor wanted me to take drugs to increase our chances (drugs to stimulate more eggs as well as a trigger shot to release the eggs so they can time it precisely). I said no to the stimulating drugs for multiple eggs and yes to the trigger shot. We had the IUI in April and I was instructed to take a pregnancy pee test two weeks after the procedure. It was negative. The anguish was swift to hit me in the chest and gut, I didn’t even have time to think. The hard thing this time was that we used a doctor. We took it to another level and it still didn’t work. The emotional pain was so hard. Up until that time, the past 8-9 months were a roller coaster ride. Up two weeks, down a few days, up a little a few days, then just damn shaky – you get the idea. I wasn’t sure I could take any more. But, in the end, I knew I could… I wanted a baby so badly.

By then, I’d had some time to think about the IVF option, but I was totally freaked out by the drugs and the price. We started researching the shit out of it and came across many interesting little-known options. Our research took us to a blog where a woman was writing about all of the different fertility options around the world. She had contacted many of the clinics and asked for details about their procedures and pricing, which she posted on her blog. Thank heavens for this lady. It was on her blog that we learned about a cutting-edge facility in Guadalajara that seemed very promising. Not only did this clinic offer the traditional IVF for MUCH cheaper (about 25% the price of the Phoenix doctor’s IVF, and using newer technology), but they also offered a procedure called Mini-IVF™. The Mini-IVF is similar to IVF but it’s a much simpler procedure (more holistic in approach), fewer drugs, has similar chances of it working as compared to traditional IVF, less chance for twins or multiple birth, and is less expensive than even their traditional IVF (only ~$2500 per cycle)!

The philosophy behind Mini-IVF is an emphasis of quality over quantity. Fewer drugs are needed in this method because they don’t stimulate as many follicles to produce eggs; thereby getting better quality eggs. The particular doctor who does this in Mexico was trained in the United States at a clinic called The New Hope Fertility Clinic in New York. In addition to the Mini-IVF option, Mexico (and New Hope Fertility in NY) also offered a much better technology for storing the unused eggs that are retrieved and fertilized, and these embryos can then be used in later transfers, if desired (or needed!). They use a flash freezing process for freezing the embryos called vitrification. It has a 98%+ survival rate versus the common slow freezing method which most places around the country still use (giving only about a 55% survival rate). The doctors at these clinics were famous in their field and had invented many state-of-the-art techniques, so these clinics were really ahead of the curve and this new form of IVF was much more attractive overall. My heart didn’t feel so heavy as all of this new information started coming in. I started to feel hope again. My spirit started to lift. The question was: Should we go to New York or to Mexico?

We decided on Mexico. It was least expensive overall (especially when you consider travel, hotel, food, etc) and the Guadalajaran doctor’s emails (in flawless English) were the most thorough, frequent, timely, friendly, and informative of any healthcare professional I have ever interacted with. I got the kind of personal attention from the doctor that you only see in the movies… and he was not even officially my doctor yet! Yes, we were headed to Mexico for a month, for the next leg of our Fertility Adventure!

And just then, swine flu broke out. We opted for New York instead.

SO! … with apologies to anybody with whom we didn’t tell the Big Secret to (which was almost everybody)… THAT is why we were in New York for the month of June. We were there to make a baby!… Literally. :) (Our cover stories were true too, incidentally. We conveniently also had business to do in the Big Apple.) It’s probably pretty obvious why I wasn’t forthcoming with this information. It’s truly personal. I’ve had an incredibly challenging year with respect to all of this and I simply didn’t know if it was smart to share it for my emotional well being. I had to do a lot of soul searching as to whether I wanted to put so much of my personal life out to the world. But, when the process worked(!), I was so overjoyed. I thought to myself, “This might really help someone else. I should tell the world.”

Even though this blog post is extremely long… there are a lot of details that I’ve left out (such as how the actual procedure was). Well, I actually took some photos and video of some of that stuff… not the actual procedure, but, for example, the interesting story about my first self-injections, with a HUGE f*cking needle, — it turns out the pharmacy gave me the wrong needle, one that looked like it was meant for a horse! I may post it… anyway, at this point, I’m happy to share with you as much as you’d like to know, either publicly or privately. Feel free to comment below or email me directly.

Basically, the clinic and the staff were great. The doctors are brilliant and I felt like I was in the most capable hands in the world. I may write another post with more details about the clinic and experience if you’re interested. I’m bummed that I had to take some drugs (but not as many as with traditional IVF) and, yes, I still have to take some (perhaps throughout the first trimester… believe me, I’m drinking a ton of green juice to help alkalize the acidic effects they may have). The cost was much less than traditional IVF here in Arizona (even with the NY trip).

And, most importantly, you know the trip was a success. There was a lot of doubt that we’d even get to have a “fresh” transfer (transfer while we were there in June), because typically the fertility drugs cause the uterus lining to thin out too much for immediate implantation. However, my uterus measured to a thickness that they were willing to try. I was glad. And, it worked. (Future transfers have a higher chance of success because 1) the uterus is even thicker when it’s in a normal, non-drug induced cycle, and 2) before they freeze the embryo, they wait until it grows to day 5 – meaning it’s going well – and the fact that the embryo survives freezing and thawing means it’s strong. The fresh transfer I had in June was with an embryo that was 2 days old.)

We successfully retrieved five embryos, one was transferred, leaving four to grow to day five before freezing. Three of them made it to that stage. Woo hoo! This means that if this pregnancy attempt doesn’t work, we have more embryos left. And, if it does work, then we have more chances for a future baby (using an embryo that had an egg retrieved from a young, 33-year-old person, me). Side note: I think it’s amazing that women who want kids but who want to wait until they’re older can retrieve and freeze eggs (or fertilized embryos if you have a partner) at an age that isn’t too old. This dramatically increases the chance of pregnancy… it’s the age of the egg that counts, not the age of the mom!

Here is the very latest update: I’m afraid I have some sad news to report. Today, I went for my third week of blood work to test my pregnancy hormone, my progesterone, and my estrogen levels. The numbers aren’t very good. There is a chance I’m still pregnant, but I better prepare myself that I might have lost my little Monkey.

Yes, it’s a difficult day, obviously. But, honestly, I can’t dwell on it. I’m so happy to have had as much success as I’ve had with the Mini-IVF process and it gives me hope. If we go back for another treatment, the chance for success is even higher. This is the closest I’ve been to having a baby and I’m so grateful to have been this close. We’re almost there (even if we have to try again). Looks like we might be back in New York in August. I have to keep doing things as normal this week (acting as though I’m pregnant, just in case) and take another blood test one week from today, as well as get a sonogram, to confirm whether I’m pregnant or not.

If you’re interested in learning more about Assisted Reproductive Technology, I highly recommend checking out New Hope Fertility’s website and reading the following book, How to Get Pregnant.


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Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

Womanly Green Smoothie

by Kristen Suzanne in fertility

In honor of women and our amazing birthing abilities, I’m drinking a Womanly Green Smoothie. As many of you know, I’m going to be “working” on becoming a mom in the (near) future. As a result, I’m starting early in taking excellent care of myself by paying extra close attention to everything that passes my lips and touches my body. I’m making a healthy and fertile playground of my body with conception on the horizon.

I love what Henry G. Bieler, M.D. wrote in his book Food Is Your Best Medicine:
‘Doctor, is my baby all right?’ is the first question of almost every woman when her child is born. I myself have heard the question thousands of times. If every mother’s greatest wish is to have a truly healthy baby, why (in most cases) does she take such poor care of herself before the baby is born? And why does she feed her child from infancy to adulthood so improperly that illness inevitably results?”

Womanly Green Smoothie
1 cup Women’s Balancing Tea (brewed, cooled to room temperature)
6 organic strawberries
1 handful organic spinach

Blend it up and enjoy.

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