Category Archives: Journey to be Parents (Infertility)

Other things I changed…

I didn’t necessarily start with the “big” things first, but the key here is that I started with something.  I was already clued in to the glycemic index after having acquired a horse that was a chronic founder case and researching founder to death.  Turns out, founder isn’t unlike diabetes.  Don’t let them graze on frozen grass, don’t feed first or fourth cutting hay (might have been frozen causing the sugars to collect in the stems), no grain (metabolizes slow just like grains for us) and on and on.  This isn’t really the right forum to discuss equine management, but it’s where I started to pay attention to things a little better.  I didn’t change anything in my own life at that time (2007), but I was thinking.  Then a friends dog had food allergies and his prize hunting dog, whom we all would have put down, went to a big vet lab for testing and was put on a strict diet of meat and sweet potatoes and recovered.  More thinking…

Then I became a mom and one of the first things I did before bringing my baby home was order glass bottles.  I was terrified of plastic!  I also vowed to use only chlorine-free diapers.  That lasted about three months as the convenience of the regular ones was easier.  Then I quit my job and decided I’d better look at ways to save money and a friend who was cloth diapering encouraged me to give it a try.  I ordered two and decided it wasn’t so bad after all.  We started cloth diapering.  That eventually led to cloth wipes.

The big changes for me didn’t come until May 2010 after I had laparoscopic surgery and hysteroscopic surgery (I believe as a result of taking soy isoflavones which completely screwed up my last attempt with fertility drugs to get pregnant).  I had mid-cycle bleeding that was unexplained and not a result of implantation of an embryo.  I went in for surgery after not ovulating (the eggs sucked back in (thanks, soy (sarcasm))).  My doctor didn’t find a thing other than a plugged left tube which we already knew and polycystic ovaries.

After that surgery, getting incredibly sick from anesthetic and then a slower recovery than I was told, I had nothing left than to get healthy.  I needed a break from trying to conceive.  My body needed a break.  My mind and emotions needed a break.  I was done.  We were not going to conceive.  I’d spent all the money-more than we’d planned to spend on “trying” (again!) and all I ended up with (again) was dashed hopes, a significantly smaller savings account and piss poor health.  Great job, Gretchen.

I didn’t want to go back on “The Pill”.  I was getting old (32 now).  I needed to treat my PCOS the way I knew I was supposed to.  Recovering from surgery showed me I was extremely afraid to die of diabetes, heart disease or any of the other “wonderful” things that come as a result of untreated PCOS.

I noted in an earlier post that a friend whom I’d been penpals with since 5th grade sent me Jillian Michael’s book, Master Your Metabolism and then encouraged me to try the Insulite program.  I did quit sugar cold turkey and experienced some pretty horrible withdrawal symptoms.  Headaches, fatigue, cravings like crazy, grouchiness…good stuff.  I failed.

Three weeks later I had the Insulite system at a cost of $85/mo.  Cheap.  Wayyyyy cheap compared to fertility treatments.  And I was chucking things out my cupboards and replacing them with better things.  I’ll detail how I started and what I changed below.

First I threw out:  Soybean oil (also called vegetable oil) and anything that contained it (Crisco, Miracle Whip, most Mayonnaises, Velveeta, fake cheese slices “singles” candy bars, salad dressings (I never ate much of that), breads, pudding mixes, dessert mixes, boullion).  I started reading labels big time.  I replaced it with Canola oil at first and then Olive Oil.  Now, I use Coconut Oil, Butter and later my own rendered lard (super easy).  I added Flax Seed to lots of things, but have backed off on flaxseed as I am unsure about the lignans and how similar/dissimilar they are to soy lignans and perhaps potentially harmful.  Until I know more, I’m backing off, although most sources tout the benefits of flaxseed.

Then I threw out anything…and I mean anything hydrogenated:  Boullion cubes, lard (for pie crusts), candy bars again, chocolate chips, canned soups, peanut butter, etc.).  I started shopping at the health food store for healthier versions of canned soups.  Aghast at the price of those things I then made my own.  I ordered beans in bulk, flour in bulk, etc.  I switched to all natural peanut butter that has to be stirred.  Adams is my preferred brand, but there are others that are just peanuts and peanut oil, not hydrogenated palm oil and other “funky” things.  I was amazed that there was/is a healthier option and substitutes for everything.  You just have to be willing to research it and find out.

I stopped buying white flour.  For years I had bought only unbleached white flour for baking.  Now I stopped buying it altogether.  I instead bought whole wheat flour (Bob’s Red Mill has a great white wheat flour that you can sub), oat flour, barley flour, rye flour, spelt flour and started subbing my baking with those things.

I eradicated High Fructose Corn Syrup and anything that contained the ingredient.   I switched to white sugar.  The “natural choice”.  Whatever!  Later, I learned of how toxic white sugar is to your immune system and I began to slow my consumption of white sugar and in an effort to wean myself I used honey, agave, stevia, rapadura.  None of which I now feel are great substitutes, but it was a start.  I have also used barley malt, but now that I’m gluten free, that is not an option.  I have yet to try sorghum “syrup”.

I threw out anything and I mean anything with MSG, “flavorings” (whether natural or artificial) and “spices” (which is often a fancy word for MSG).  Except, my husband’s Hidden Valley Ranch.  He can’t give it up.  I don’t eat it, so I let him keep it.  If you are starting out on this purge process you will be overwhelmed that MSG is in so many things.  Chicken broth, for instance has HFCS and MSG-why?  MSG is a “taste enhancer” derived from soy and was used a lot from 1950-1970.  I started reading Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills by Russell L. Blaylock which detailed it even more than The Whole Soy Story by Kaayla Daniels.  It (MSG) was put into soldier’s rations to make their food more appealing.  It was put into baby food (seriously!  baby food!) to make it taste better.  It’s in everything processed, it seems like.  But you can very easily make your own chicken and bone broths by boiling the bones and freezing the liquid either in quart jars or ice cube trays.  This is what I do now.  I couldn’t find a viable and affordable substitute.  I hate MSG.  The more I’ve learned the worse my reaction when I see it in the ingredients.  I am appalled that a can of name brand or store brand chicken broth has 5-8 other ingredients rather than the broth itself.  Broth is not supposed to be a main meal or even tasty.

I replaced my toast, cereal and bacon at breakfast with greens, berries and bacon (or some kind of protein!) and milk.  I switched from pasteurized skim milk to pasteurized 2% (it was a start) and for a little while found a source for whole unpasteurized (raw) milk locally.  Occasionally I would splurge for the $10.50 gallon of raw jersey milk at the health food store, but not often.

I stopped snacking in the afternoons, or if I did, I made sure it was healthy with a vegetable an a protein and/or fat.  I stopped snacking before bed.  No more ice cream for me.  I discovered when I did have a sugary snack before bed, I slept horrible or had bad dreams and woke every few hours thinking I was starving.  I replaced those midnight snacks at first with nuts or cheese (real cheese).

I stopped feeding food coloring to my kids and other kids in my care.  I stopped making Jello or putting Jello in their applesauce to make it pretty.  Food coloring can cause hyperactivity/attention problems and who knew … read the back of the box and it is laced with parabens!  Cancer causing agents in food coloring.  Yes, let’s toss those things.

I hit WinCo and bought nuts in bulk:  raw almonds, raw walnuts, macadamias, pistachios, brazil nuts.  I bought whole wheat pasta (I now buy gluten free) as well as beans, other seeds.

I stopped storing food in plastic and switched to glass.  I stopped microwaving in plastic and switched to glass.  I never was big on baking in aluminum, so that wasn’t a change I had to make.  I use Pyrex glass to bake in.  I would like to get to the point where I don’t depend on that microwave for much of anything…not there yet.

Then I tackled indoor chemicals.  I stopped using chlorine bleach.  A good substitute is vinegar or hydrogen peroxide.  I mixed up my own dishwasher detergent and made my own laundry soap (also a cheap option for a mommy who just quit her job).  I was part of the Melaleuca Company at this time and had their “safer” cleaners.  Now that I’m out of those, I make my own.  Baking soda cleans anything!  I had some friends using natural cleaners who told me what they did, that helped.  I subbed Dawn for Seventh Generation, Windex for Vinegar…(or is it vice versa for proper grammar?)…

I stopped using hair spray and gel, it didn’t work anyway.  I never used conditioner.  I changed my shampoo (to SLS free) and body soap.  I use Desert Essence castile soap on my face and have used Dr. Bronner’s (any flavor) on my body.  Most of the time, I just use a safer bar soap.  I stopped using Secret and Degree deodorant/antiperspirant because of the aluminum and tried a few different brands.  I didn’t care for Jason brand and finally settled on Nourish.  Yes, I often sweat through it and sometimes I use antiperspirant if I know I am going to be on the chopping block as far as a sweaty occurrence goes.  Not often, though.  I love the smell of the Nourish brand.  You can get it at Mountain Rose Herbs or on www.amazon.com.  It’s a little more expensive, but it lasts about a year, so it evens out.  I also have a recipe to make my own with coconut oil and baking soda, but I haven’t done that yet.

I switched my makeup to Dr. Haushka, but I wasn’t fond of it, the price, coverage on my skin or the smell (rosy smell).  So, I switched to a different kind and now use Lavera foundation topped with a powder.  I was using Rejuva Minerals as the powder, but then when the ingredients weren’t any different from anything else, I switched back to a loose powder from Mabelline.  Still on a search for a good, affordable powder.  I changed my eyeliner, mascara (who knew they put plastic in mascara!), eye shadow, lipstick/gloss.

My face was greasy at this time, so I used a french clay mask from Burt’s Bees to draw out the moisture.  It was some $8 for one ounce and had a fragrance to it that I didn’t prefer.  I found Rose Mountain Herbs in Oregon and ordered a pound of french green clay for what?  $9  $10?  My skin is now clear and non greasy (going on 2 years!) so it sits in my bathroom closet.  My oldest remembers when I used to put it on my face and he would ask for the “leftovers” so he could too.

These changes happened little by little, but one thing leads to another.  If chlorine was something I shouldn’t be applying to my body, then I probably shouldn’t be using topical acne creams, either.  Upon more research, I ditched those and did the green clay mask and melaleuca oil.  My skin cleared up.  I also threw out anything with parabens and dimethicone (some “natural” and “organic” products still have dimethicone) because they are cancer causing and can screw up female hormones.  You can check the safety of your beauty products at www.ewg.org and follow the link for the cosmetic database.  They also have one for sunscreens-most of which are horrible.

I also changed my feminine products.  First I went “chlorine free” using several different brands and trying to figure out what was best.  Eventually I made my own mama cloth (because I’m frugal I refuse to pay $5 per pantyliner that I could make for .10c).  I still use Seventh Generation products or others that I find during the cycle.

If all these toxins build up in your body and cause reproductive harm, then I was pretty sure this was my problem!  There is a fancy term for this…bioaccumulation.  It essentially means that the 2% or “less than 2% hydrogenated” or food coloring, minute amounts of chlorine and other harmful chemicals, which are not probably harmful in those small “doses” are accumulating in your system. So, 2% is not being disposed and then compounds to 4% and then 20% until all those little things that said “less than 2% of whatever” have built up to really cause some substantial harm in your system.

I’m not a hippie, nor am I “green”.  I’m not a big consumer and I don’t follow fads, but I research and if I find similar information in 2, 3, or 4 unrelated sources, then I tend to see a link.  Especially if those sources are not supported by big medicine, pharmaceutical companies, big Ag or big Dairy.  There is compelling independent research out there-you just have to go looking for it.  And looking is what I did.

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Conquering the world (the rest of 2012)…

I don’t know how else to explain this feeling but as “feeling like I could conquer the world.”  I have never been so strong in my legs and so pain free in my joints that I wanted to run.  I was motivated to walk all over this old farmstead we just bought in June.  I was picking up doors and throwing them into the pickup and then unloading them.  I was stacking 80-90 pound bales of hay.

A full night of sleep was coming nightly for me and I was feeling a.w.e.s.o.m.e.

I had never EVER had a regular period in my life.  Ever.  No kidding.  I mean it, ever.  I might have one every 3 months, 45 days, 4 months…you just never knew.  I might have a positive OPK (ovulation predictor test) and then not pop out an egg.  Prior to 2009, no one even knew for sure if I had even ovulated on my own!  There was always pain “down there” in my sides, but it was from cysts, who knew if it was from ovulation.  Sometimes, I am told, the lining in the uterus can build up and not get sloughed monthly to the point where after three months it just sloughs itself without ovulation.  That was probably me.

June saw my first period, 3 weeks after starting the drops.  July saw another at 29 days past the first and charted by me as I felt ovulation and noticed the classic fertile mucus.   July also found me almost 10 pounds below pre-pregnancy weight and about 7 pounds til I was pre-marriage weight!  Pre-marriage weight?  That was a number I never thought I’d see.  It’s just a number, though!  I was healthier than I had ever been, all numbers aside.  August saw another at 27 days and charted to be right on time.  At the end of August with all the fertile signs there and a positive OPK I convinced my husband (didn’t take much) that we should try for a baby.  September’s period didn’t come.  I was pregnant.  First try.  Unreal.

Now that I was pregnant I couldn’t take the drops.  A little bit of joint pain came back and my sleeping grew erratic again, but my Naturopath gave me another supplement to help and told me above anything get enough rest.  I had just had some blood work done which revealed coming to the top of Stage 2 Adrenal Fatigue, so my motivation as of late is to really take care of myself and not lose the ground I gained.

I remain gluten free, sugar free (mostly) and soy free and take the supplements properly.  I am motivated to be healthy!  I go to sleep at 8:15/8:30pm and wake at 4:30 am on the weekdays.  I milk my dear cow at 5am, when everyone is still sleeping.  I take a nap if I need to, but not very often.  I eat lots of green stuff (breakfast, lunch and supper).  I can tell in my joints when I need to eat better!  I sometimes eat coconut oil by the spoonful so I get my “healthy fat”.  I’m not as energetic as I was this summer, but I trust that will all come back, too.

I feel amazingly blessed to have at one time begged at the altar of the Lord for healing.  I meant physical healing.  I received emotional healing first.  Then I received the gift of a child given to me by someone else.  Then He, in his perfect love, revealed to me little by little what I should be doing health-wise.  My mind opened with each practitioner I saw.  This is not the end of my story and I am not completely healed yet, but my God has given me some amazing answers and just in the nick of time…before my fertility (or lack of) ran out, before menopause hit.

I am humbled that my prayer some 9 years ago was answered and I have received blessings that I would never have known some 12 years ago could be so sweet.  Blessings that I do not take for granted (most of the time).  Blessings I thought would never come my way.  Blessings I pined over and spent an incalculable amount of time grieving.  Blessings that now remind me of the hope in life and I hope to help others on their infertility path as well.

Gluten, Cortisol, Vitamin D…what was my starting “regimen”? (Early 2012)

So I mentioned in my previous post that I went off gluten in late Nov/early Dec 2011.  And refined sugar too.  I kept looking for sugar replacements (honey, agave, stevia) and have pretty much given up on that at this point.  I do use honey and I have stevia in my cupboard, but those things I used to put sugar on I just eat without now.  The sourness of a grapefruit doesn’t bother me anymore.  It’s all what you get used to.

In mid-January, 2012 upon seeing my Naturopath (hippie doctor, quack, whatever you want to call him…miracle worker?) I continued to be gluten free, soy free by choice, and sugar free.  He referred me to the kalish diet and at this time I had also read The Perfect Health Diet by Jaminet and Jaminet and understood safe carbs, grain-free, lots of veggies and good fruits, healthy fats, the healthiest nuts, etc.  Dairy can be an inflammatory agent, but raw dairy seems to be ok.  He especially wanted me to keep eating dairy because I was still nursing the baby and needed the extra calories.

I was also (and still am) taking a supplement called Juice Plus, which is, I think, essentially the fibers left over after juicing organic fruits and veggies, in pill form.  I’ve been taking this for two years.  Now, my kids are on it, too.

I added a better prenatal, although the one I was taking wasn’t “so” bad.  I added Vitamin D3, fish oil, started being more cognizant of using coconut oil and butter as opposed to olive oil.  I even rendered my own lard because that is a healthy saturated fat my body needed and the stuff in the store is hydrogenated.

I added phosphorylated serine at supper and melatonin at bedtime.

My baby slept.  I slept.

Did I mention I slept?  I have rarely slept completely through the night and upon wakening felt rested.  I slept and I felt rested for the first time in my entire life.  No kidding.  Just that was a miracle!  Ok, I did sleep a little better after taking the Insulite supplements in 2010.

By the time I stopped nursing (and I do NOT diet) I was down to pre-baby weight.  Not really something to brag about, but I had lost 20 pounds prior to conceiving and could have stood to lose a bit more.  I don’t own a scale, remember.  I weighed in at the Naturopaths office every couple months.

My baby stopped nursing when he was 10 months and since he had pulled two other “strikes” on me I was done fighting him.  I cried that day because I could see him graduating high school and leaving home for good…yep, just because he was done nursing.  In the end, it became a relief not to be attached to the Medela or my beautiful baby attached to me, or me worrying about my milk supply and timing nursings before we went out and about.

Once I was done nursing I could add in DHEA and Pregnenolone drops and did so the end of May 2012.  WOW-wee.  He told me I would feel lots better but it would be gradual.  He was right and it was gradual…in about a month or two time I felt like I could conquer the world!

Holy joint pain… (2011, 2012)

I had had joint pain all my life, I just didn’t know it until it went away.  I had had ovarian cyst pain all my life but didn’t know it until a doctor told me that was not normal.  My hair had been falling out all my life (when I wasn’t hormonally controlled), acne, and the list goes on.

My biggest fear when I wasn’t pregnant anymore is that all this stuff would return and return fierce.   I hoped nursing my little guy would keep some of it at bay.  I also hoped I’d have another miracle happen before I finished nursing.  I was not going back on “The Pill” ever again.  And I was done with synthetic fertility drugs forever.  So, I needed to get healthy, but I was so tired from having a new baby!

Thanksgiving of 2011, my folks came out.  I had been dabbling in gluten free and really limiting my consumption of such things because I knew it could be the source of some of my problems.  But in all honesty, I really hoped and prayed (did I really pray about gluten?  Probably not.) that I could just limit it and I’d be ok.  That Thanksgiving, I made pies and all the goodies that come with the holidays that we were not accustomed to eating.  We had wild Alaskan salmon for Thanksgiving dinner, with steamed broccoli.  My parents love pies and breads and I was careful not to eat bread, but I did eat a half slice each of apple and peach pie.

The next morning, my joints were so incredibly stoved up.  It hurt to climb the stairs in that old farm house and I seriously had to use my arms to help pull myself up them.  I thought, “For crying out loud, I’m 34!”  What is going on?  I remembered back in my high school sports days that there would be rare occasions when I felt really energetic and strong and could tie even with the fastest girl on the basketball floor running “lines” or I could make a really good start running to the grocery store (sports practice) and back to school when I felt good.  I figured it all had to be tied in together.

I must have a food allergy.  I got online once my parents left becuase I vaguely remembered some posts and links on gluten and PCOS or gluten and joint pain or gluten and cysts.  My abdomen was screaming at me, even though I was still nursing.  My face was clear, though, still!  I also knew sugar was terrible for your immune response.

So, when one has questions where do we go?  Books and the Internet.  I’d just finished reading Robin O’Brien’s The UnHealthy Truth and started Kaayla Daniel’s The Whole Soy Story on deck was a book about Excitotoxins and non-related Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s biography.

After some research showing that 85% of PCOS women have a gluten sensitivity and seeing how gluten causes cysts and gluten free healed some women I was convinced.  Joint pain, cysts.  Sugar also doesn’t help the matter.  So I went on a two-week elimination diet of gluten and sugar.  I was strict.  If I’m going to do it, I do things right…usually.  In this case, yes.  I didn’t want to start over!

On Day 9, I was pain free.  I could get up those stairs no problem!   On Day 11, I goofed up and had a hamburger bun.  Just to make sure I had two (sometimes “they” say to get all glutened up to test it).  24 hours later I was stoved up and the pain was back.  I went back to gluten free and sugar free and 9-10 days later the pain was gone again.  I goofed up and ate some sugar and got a hell of a heachache, extreme crabbiness 30 minutes later and then the classic sugar crash.  Joint pain followed in about 12 hours and subsided within 2-3 days.  The joint pain was a little different than that with gluten.  Not quite as intense.  I also dropped more weight, yes in two weeks.  I don’t own a scale, but I lost a ton of weight…fast.  Ok, not a ton, but a noticeable amount and fast, within 2-4 weeks.

I got on the phone.  I needed some answers!  I called allergists, made appointments, cancelled appointments and finally spoke to a Naturopath who did gluten testing.  She was in Seattle (or one of those cities up there).  I decided I didn’t want to go that far in the winter (it was not December), so I called around at Spokane and sent emails if they had a website.

I found Dr. Graves in Spokane.  I met with him in January when our Flex Spending Account reset and he immediately tested me for Cortisol Imbalance and told me that when the Cortisol is “off” it can cause inflammation.  I was tested and had a fairly significant imbalance, putting me in Stage 2 of Adrenal Fatigue.  He recommended staying gluten free, soy free and sugar free.  He said only raw dairy (which we were doing at that time anyway) and increasing greens and berries and nuts, red meat, etc.  I was already doing this, so no problem.  Later he tested my Vitamin D and it was way low.  My baby was still not sleeping worth a darn and he told me to read Good Night Sleep Tightby Kim West and follow her suggestions.  I did and that little bugger was sleeping from 7-5am in a few days.  He told me PCOS would go away and he’d seen it happen before.  I wanted to believe him and I was going to put myself into this 100% because it’s all I had left!  He also told me I’d get pregnant again, which I wanted to believe also, but I wanted to nurse my second little guy as long as I could.

Gluten, Vitamin D deficiencies and Cortisol alone are indicated in PCOS and I had all three problems!  I always wondered where the missing link was.  Perhaps I’d found it?

And baby makes…four! (2010, 2011)

Our Oregon house was still not rented, but we had an interested couple.  They asked us to take it off the market and they’d rent it.  We did.  No one wanted to buy the house we’d put so much love and care into.  Thanks, Mr. Economy!  Mr. Crappy Economy.  Oh well.

Baby #2 came early.  I was sitting on the couch praying that my water would break since I didn’t really know what labor felt like!  This was my first full term pregnancy!  July 9, 2011 my water broke as I stood from the couch.  Jeff said, “Are you sure you didn’t pee yourself?”  Seriously.  He said that.  Always the compassionate person, this husband of mine.  He was not even close to being ready to go to the hospital because he is also a procrastinator.  This baby was not due til August 4th and I thought the 8th was more like it.  And…we had 138 miles to Dr. O!  It was 2:40pm.

About 45 minutes later we got in the car.  I was not having contractions, yet.  About an hour down the road we stopped at a rest stop and I asked to cut in front of a lady in line because I was in labor.  She replied with, “Oh God, yes!”  By then my contractions were every 4 minutes and getting harder.  We still had 60 miles to go!

We made it a little after 5:00pm and our dear friends from Tri Cities took Mason.  They checked me as soon as they got me in a room and I was six cm dilated.  This baby was coming tonight.  And you know what?  I think naivete is such a blessing sometimes.  My doula was available and Jeff was such a blessing.  My second boy was born at 8:44pm on July 9, 2011.

And he would lead me to some greater health decisions…

And get healthy I did. (2010)

I took the chemicals off my face and body and replaced my products with healthy options.  I put Mason in cloth diapers and cloth wipes and safer bath products.  I ate whole grains and tossed Crisco, Velveeta, white flour, soy bean oil, anything processed.  I bought all kinds of nuts, beans and real cheese and real milk, berries and green things.  I made green salads for the first time in my life.  I weaned myself to a better white sugar level and eventually substituted honey and other sweeteners for sugar.  My family came along with me…but I didn’t pressure them.  I had to do this for me.  Otherwise, PCOS was going to kill me in the form of heart disease, diabetes, stress, etc.  The surgery taught me one lesson:  I feared a sick life.  It was up to me to get healthy.

The reviews on the Insulite program were good and I continued to take it and for the first time in my life I slept!  My acne subsided, although my skin was still greasy.  I added Evening Primrose Oil and Borage Oils and looked into Lunaception.  I took the green lights out of the bedroom and closed the shades so it was dark.

My doc found a lump in my breast the middle of August and I had a mammogram and ultrasound and nothing could really be deciphered from it.  My husband was a wreck as cancer runs rampant in his family and his aunt died from breast cancer at a very young age after being told it was “nothing”.  I was to keep an eye on it every six months.  My poor hubby.  He just got an offer for a transfer with his job to an area we have always been excited about and now this!

Jeff transferred with his job the end of August, so that halted our adoption plans.  I stayed behind to “sell the house”.  The house that to date 2  + years later has still not sold.

I was still not cycling and decided since I’d done so much weird stuff already (changing one’s diet is “weird” and I was about to get weirder) that I’d see an acupuncturist.  It helped my cousin with her testosterone issue.  On November 12th or around there I had my first appointment.  I was some 80 days into my cycle then.  After two treatments I ovulated.  We DTD and on Thanksgiving 2010 I had a positive pregnancy test!  My doc got me in right away given my history and gave me a shot of progesterone just to be sure.  My numbers all looked ok, but they continued to watch me once a week with ultrasounds and blood work for 14 weeks!

We spent most of the early winter apart with him returning on weekends and then he had to work overtime in February on a job that was supposed to last six weeks.  By April he was still working the same job.  Mason and I were traveling to spend weekends with him, but he only had Sundays off.  My daycare clients were dwindling and I was really missing my husband.

After 8 months of living apart, we found a place to rent and got under one roof.  May 2011 was a happy month!  I was 7 months pregnant and our bills were paid thanks to all the overtime my hubby worked.  I was unemployed by choice and preparing for a new blessing.

Here I go again. (2009, 2010)

My husband reminded me of the comment I said a few years back, “If I could just get one…” Meaning, child.  I had one and he was flabbergasted that I was not “happy” with one.  Oh, I was happy! I just wanted more!  And you know by now we were 32…2 years past that magical 30 where our fertility declines but we should try more treatments.

In September 2009 we entered fertility treatments again.  This time with ultrasound monitoring and some high powered drugs.

For the first two cycles (or was it three?) I took Femara, a breast cancer drug that cuts estrogen.  I made four follicles fairly consistently.  We had the post-coital test and Dr. O decided we should do IUI (Intrauterine Insemination).  So we did.  Once again, my husband entered the chambers of a sterile bathroom to deposit his donation.  It was “spun” and “separated” and then inseminated.  Two days in a row each month.  I was encouraged even though I didn’t become pregnant because for all I knew, I’d never made eggs before!  This was progress!

The next two cycles I used injectibles, but I’m not sure the names.  Pricey, but our Flex Spending Account covered them.  Our insurance covered the Femara at 50% and all the ultrasounds, just not the AI procedure and “sperm washing”.  I was still making follicles (potential eggs) but no pregnancy.

I had the HSG done the end of November, where they shoot the dye up your uterus into your tubes to see if they are open or shut.  My right one was definitely open, but my left looked blocked.  Dr. O said not to worry, he often sees eggs from the left go to the right.  I think he was just trying ot make me feel better.

We had done four cycles and had a trip planned back to Nebraska for Christmas so we took a break, but they encouraged us to keep testing for ovulation.  I did and the day after Christmas I got a positive and so we DTD (did the deed) and then I felt ovulation.  I tested two weeks later and was pregnant.  I made my appointment and then started cramping and bleeding.

I miscarried just before I could say I was 5 weeks along.  So sad.  But encouraging, too.  I was getting tired of treatments at this point, but this gave me hope.  I really didn’t feel like I should continue to spend much more money.  We intially said we’d try 3 times.  Well, we were now up to four.

We took another month off.  It was a clean miscarriage, so no surgery needed.  Then I started the big girl shots.  I gave myself a shot in the belly every day at noon for 5 days, went for ultrasounds 3-4 times in the first two weeks of the cycle then they gave me HCG in the rear to stimulate ovulation (since I had conceived on my own we didn’t need to do AI/IUI).  Try #5-no pregnancy

Try #6.  Same regimen.  No pregnancy.

Try #7.  Same regiment except I added soy isoflavones.  PEOPLE, DO NOT DO THIS!  I had unexplained bleeding mid cycle, the follicle sucked back in and I ended up in surgery to figure it all out.  Nothing was figured out except that I had polycystic ovaries and a blocked left tube.  And recovery was harder than I was told.  I was sick, sick, sick from anaesthetic and sore, sore, sore from the gas injected in my belly.

I got scared.  I knew I had to stop dreaming for a baby and could not go on this way any more.  I needed a break…again.  I needed to stop.  I needed to get on with life.  I needed to get healthy.  I needed to be off synthetic hormones for good.

And that’s what I did.  I got healthy.  I started with Master your Metabolism by Jillian Michaels and started chucking things out of my cupboards and eating more fruits and veggies.  I followed up with 12 Steps to Raw Foods by Victoria Boutenko for some new ideas on how to eat veggies and fruits.

I started the Insulite Program for PCOS, a regimen of natural supplements and herbs targeted to women with PCOS and I read everything I could get my hands on about alternative treatments.  In my mind I was too old for “the pill” and I just wanted to get healthy.

We enrolled in the State of Oregon foster/adopt training with the goal of adopting a sibling group.  This was the end of June 2009.

I quit…again. (2009)

In February 2009, the next year I was really lamenting the fact that my baby was in daycare when I had all the skills necessary not only to raise him, but to run my own child care.  I’d done it before!  My first degree was in Education and my second in Management.  So, after I convinced my husband it was going to be ok and the right thing to do, I started on my business plan.

I quit the end of March without a single child enrolled!  My boss told me I was wasting my brains.  I packed up the kid and went home to Nebraska for a week.  By the time I returned I had four kids enrolled.  🙂

Honestly, my decision was hard.  Or, rather, getting to that point was hard.  I wanted to be a stay at home mommy, but I just couldn’t see how we could make it on one income.  I wanted to be the one who took care of my child, and we both agreed that was the right thing to do.  In the end, this is how my decision-making logic went:

– There is more to life than work.

– God gave me this precious gift and he provided then, he will provide now (and he did).

– I will regret in 30 years not giving it a try.  It is doubtful I will regret staying home, but I will regret going to work.  I will never regret these moments spent with my child.

– I can work in 18 years.  Remember, I have that piece of paper.

Running a child care in this particular area was a lot more challenging than in Nebraska.  Me-ism runs deep and wide in this place and people are much more willing to fork out money for cell phones, alcohol, car payments and cable TV than they are quality child care.

But I managed to get 8 kids enrolled and didn’t need them all to be full time, either.  Remember, I’m doing this to stay home with my kid and help others.  I named my child care Little Blessings.  My Nebraska child care was Angel Acres.

Over the course of the next year the kids would come and go, but we always had enough.

And…I started wanting another baby…

Coming home with our new baby… (2008)

It took a little longer to be “cleared” and given permission to come home with our new baby, and we hadn’t told a whole lot of people at church, etc that we were doing this in case there was a change of mind so when we showed up with a baby some people were in awe that I hid it so easily and looked so good afterward!

Our Mason James was a blessing.  A healing gift on a day that I hated with all my heart for many years.  A reminder of God’s perfect timing and his unfailing love.  A reminder that even at a young age a person can make a pleasing decision for the Lord.  A reminder that blessing can come from a “mistake” and that God means Good for all things.

My Mason James changed me entire thought on abortion and teenage mothers.  I now believe that there is absolutely no room for abortion after being blessed from a right choice and knowing how few babies there are to adopt in our country (because so many are being aborted).  I do not discount the worldly fact that it is a woman’s choice, but above that, our Lord has the power to place babies in wombs or NOT to place babies on wombs and it is HIS life and HIS power that should not be trumped.

I now feel that teenage mothers are blessed.  Blessed with youth, blessed with the ability to obtain skills to parent their children and I have met several who have risen to the occasion and overcame their circumstances and are great mothers.  I do not speak poorly of them now because I am proud of them for choosing life-in a culture where children are burdens, expendable and legally able to be killed.

Our lives changed dramatically and we often laugh at ourselves through the lens of looking at our friends who become first time parents.  We had no idea how things would change.  I still remember Jeff sitting on the couch telling his mom that we were still going to make time to do the things we enjoyed.

“Gretchen will still ride her horse and I’ll still go hunting.”  There have been more than a few occasions that I’ve wanted to snarl at that comment retroactively.  There have been more than a few occasions when I brought that comment up.   I used to ride my horse at least twice a week.  Sometimes more.  I have ridden, to date, four time this year.  And it’s almost December, so the outlook isn’t looking real peachy.

Jeff still went hunting and life pretty much carried on as normal for him for quite some time and I was so jealous.  But I love being a mom!

Mason’s adoption was finalized in October of 2008 and we breathed a sigh of relief.  He kept growing and changing and we enjoyed every minute with him.  I was still working, I guess in my mind to “pay for the adoption.”  I was throwing some ideas around of how to be with my young child more.

The child I waited 10 years for.

The child that God gave me.

Oh, the adoption process… (2008)

We were not going through an agency, but we still had to have our homestudy completed by an agency.  I called two.  One never called back.  The other one, Catholic Charities, could be there in a few days.  After talking to the attorney it was my understanding that we needed to get on this paperwork ASAP as things had to be approved six weeks before the birth and this process could take up to two months.

We were under the gun!

Fingerprints, homestudy application, homestudy interviews, doctors appointments for health checks, FMLA applications, garage sales, Goodwill shopping, baby books, a baby shower, appointments with lactation specialists for adoptive breastfeeding…the list goes on…in 3 months time.

But we were ready and God showed his amazing love through it all.  He was giving us a child and if he could provide that, he could provide the timing that everything would work out.  And the long and short of it is that it DID work out.  I will have to have a different thread to talk about the amazing blessings during this time.

At what seemed like the last minute (a week or two before we were to leave to go get our baby) the birth father’s mother popped into the question.  Our Oregon attorney had other things on his mind and wasn’t a lot of help.  Our Nebraska attorney said we’d have to offer him the same we did for our birth mother.  So, when you are in love with your child you haven’t met yet, what do you do?

You sign some more agreements.

And then May 9, 2008 arrived and we headed for the flat land of Nebraska where our beloved birth mother was being induced in two days.

Late in the night of the 11th (Mother’s Day) they decided to take our baby by c-section and her sister called us to tell us to be at the hospital soon.  I’m going to skip some details and pick up with them later when I journey our adoption in closer detail.  We arrived at the hospital about 1am and this lady came from nowhere to hug me tightly.  It was our birthmother’s mother.  We waited in the waiting room until they had our son, Mason in the nursery.  They washed him and put drops in his eyes and wrapped him up snugly and then placed him in my arms.

Oh the joy!  Oh the tears!  Oh. My. Goodness!  We were both crying and so amazed, yet we had no idea of what parenthood was about.  We were just beginning!