Monthly Archives: November 2012

Mind wipes and stabby bits, a foray into natural medicine part 2

And now we come to the next chapter in our dabble into alternative medicine.  On one of my visits to the naturopath it’s revealed that I’ve been having some difficulties with my in-laws.  Perhaps the stress of this could be contributing to our troubles with conceiving Bumble.  Hmmmm, not sure on that I’m thinking but I suppose it’s a possibility.  My naturopath suggests talking to someone about it and recommends a hypnotherapist to visit.  After a bit of internal debate I decide to give it a go.  What a mistake that turned out to be!  The hour that I spent there was one of the most awkward of my life.  It started off ok, some casual chats about what was going on and the problems we were facing, the therapist made some valid points about what I needed to do, and reinforced some beliefs around why I thought things had blown up the way they had.  That was all fine.  It was the second half of the session where things became odd.  I got the feeling the therapist wasn’t used to having someone relatively sane sitting in her chair and was frustrated that we hadn’t come very far since the beginning of the session.  She demanded to know why I had come and what I wanted out of the session…um, 1) shouldn’t you have asked that at the beginning of the session and 2) I’ve already told you…a way to move forward with my in-laws and some tips to chilling out about the whole thing so it doesn’t interfere with conception.  In the end I came out of the session with a couple of tips on how to relax, and the belief that the in-law situation wasn’t causing me enough stress to impact on Bumble-making (essentially what I went in with).  I know people who have used hypnotherapy with great success to stop smoking or lose weight.  It seems that either this therapist was particularly useless, or my issue just wasn’t something that could be helped in this way.  Oh well, at least I gave it a shot…better to regret something you did than something you didn’t do, right?

In a different session, prompted by my hyperhidrosis, my naturopath suggests another option for me could be acupuncture and that she’s had some other clients who have found this really helps.  There was an acupuncturist onsite at my naturopath’s so I stored it away in my mind to give that ago in a month, after our next payday.  The day before payday, while out at a friend’s farewell dinner, another friend pulls me aside and mentions that she has been seeing a good acupuncturist and thinks it could help with our quest.  I phone the following day and have an appointment for the same night.  I’m a little nervous going into this one, my last experiment with the hypnotherapist had proved a disaster, and this next one involved needles.  I’m not a needle-phobe by any means and am quite happy to watch while my blood is taken or IV’s inserted but I guess not truly knowing what to expect I was a little apprehensive, and once again, sceptical.

I needn’t have worried.  The acupuncturist was the loveliest person and after a short chat about my medical history and lifestyle she gave me an introductory session of acupuncture.  Using the smallest, least invasive needles she targeted various points around my body, first the back then the front. I’m now going 2-3 times per week and have been for the last 10 months.  There are varying thoughts on the success of acupuncture but on the whole it seems overly positive.  Even many in different fields of Western/conventional medicine are opening their minds to the idea that acupuncture can work, and more & more studies are being carried out to explain, in Westernised terms, acupunctures success.

In last ten months I’ve become a seasoned professional at acupuncture and have progressed to stronger needles.  While most of the time they don’t hurt there is one needling point just below my belly button that is frequently painful.  My poor acupuncturist often apologises when she has to insert that one!  Sessions before ovulation are definitely the worst as the stronger needles are used, but post ovulation it’s quite nice as there’s no discomfort and I get to chill out for an hour – though my acupuncturist despairs that I don’t sleep during this time…I’m always too busy thinking!  Being the thinker that I am has caused me to wonder if I’m doing the right thing as again it’s not cheap, and like everything else I can’t guarantee its effectiveness.  I definitely feel good after my sessions, though a sceptic would say perhaps that’s just the relaxing for an hour.  Although much of the time the effects of acupuncture are subtle, there have been a couple of occasions where I’ve been in agony (with pre-menstrual type cramps – only worse) a few hours after my session…so I figure it must be doing something.

Naturopathy, therapy, acupuncture…it IS a lot.  I wouldn’t recommend the therapy (although another type would be fine I’m sure!), the naturopathy I could take or leave, and the acupuncture I’d definitely recommend (as long as you’re not scared of needles that is).  I think perhaps my husband might get his way after all and I’ll give up the naturopathy but not the acupuncture….but only time will tell.


Stretching our fingers

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Alternatively alternative, the foray into natural medicine part 1

I’m taking a lot longer to recover from my laparoscopy/hysteroscopy than I thought I would.  The last time I went under general anaesthetic (admittedly over a decade ago) I bounced back within a couple of days.  This time I’m finding it a lot tougher.  I still get tired easily and one of my four incision holes is still quite sore, not helped by the fact that it is positioned on my tummy podge so bounces when I walk.  I can only imagine how painful a C-section is!

The next question I am facing is whether to jump back into alternative treatment or not.  In January of this year a friend suggested I visit her naturopath to see if that would increase our chances of finding Bumble.  I’d always been a bit of a sceptic when it came to things like that.  Not so much so that I wouldn’t give things a go, and I definitely saw a benefit in some alternative medicine.  I’d been bought up with a small amount of natural remedies, but was I ready to jump head first into something that wasn’t entirely me?  The short answer is yes.  I think when you’ve been trying a while with no result you get to a point where you’d give absolutely anything a go.  If someone had told me painting myself blue and running backwards around a flower garden by moonlight would improve my chances I probably would have considered it….well, no, not really, but you get my point.

So, an appointment was made and I went along, with the fantastic support of my fabulous friend, not quite knowing what to expect but prepared to give it a shot.  An intensive questionnaire and a chat to the lovely naturopath and I’m kitted out with a concoction to take morning and night, plus a selection of capsules to pop (fish oil etc). I’d already been taking Elevit which I have to say wasn’t so suited to me and made me feel quite revolting.  According to the naturopath Elevit can be a bit strong in certain vitamins for some women so the concoction she created to replace Elevit was essentially the same thing but tailored to suit my needs.  She thought my thyroid may be under-functioning slightly (though not enough to be cause for concern, proven via blood test) so gave me something for that, as well as a capsule used to help with the various cramps I felt throughout the month.  Take those and I’ll see you in month.

I’d love to say that this was a quick fix but like most things to do with trying to conceive it’s a gradual step-by-step process.  I made monthly appointments and each time my herbs were altered a little to try and improve my lot.  The cramps, my low temperatures, and my late ovulation seemed to be the main obstacles and we managed to correct one or the other for a short time but not for good.  Chances are it was just my body doing some of that naturally anyway.  I did feel better, I had more energy, my skin was looking better, and my temperature was now consistently over 36 degrees.  So something was working.  Trouble was, we didn’t really know what.  Eventually a stale-mate was called and my naturopath said there was nothing more she could do, it was time to take the next step….surgery to see what was up.  That was the good thing about the naturopath I went to, she worked in collaboration with conventional medicine, using one to compliment the other.

Since my last visit to the naturopath a couple of months ago I’ve been taking the same combination of herbs and capsules.  I had to stop for a week before my surgery, and I didn’t start taking them again until a week after.  The question is, do I keep going?  I’d love to say yes I’d do anything that gave us more of a chance, but unfortunately it’s an extra expense, on top of the other alternative thing I’m doing (more on that later), and I’m not sure it’s something we can afford to continue.  We’ve been able to up until now but the multiple alternative routes we’re trying are taking up most of our extra cash and there is a lot of work on the house left to do.  My husband thinks I should give up one – the naturopath – and keep doing the other.  I just don’t know….I kinda feel I should give them both a chance now that my endometriosis has been attacked and am worried that to give one up might hamper our chances.  I’m sure that’s more of a superstitious thought than a certainty but I can’t help but think it.  Perhaps I just keep it going until after my post-op appointment with the fertility specialist when we see what the deal is and what our next steps are.

So after 11 months of naturopathy do I recommend it?  Would I do it all over again?  I have to say, the concoction of herbs does take a bit of getting used to.  The first time I took it it made me gag, though I did get used to it eventually.  My second variation on the mixture wasn’t nearly so bad and was actually bearable.  And the latest tastes a little like tequila and warms your throat.  That’s not so bad if you’re a fan of tequila, or for the evening dose of the liquid, but ‘tequila’ for breakfast just isn’t my cup of tea.  On the other hand, I do feel better than I did 11 months ago when I started so there is definitely an upside to taking it all.  On the whole, I think if you’re open to it then naturopathy is a viable route to take if you’re trying to get your body in a good state to stay healthy and conceive (not even a single cold all year!) but if there’s something more serious going on, such as major endo, then it’s not necessarily going to help you.  My take on it is much like my take on most things, moderation is the key.  A combination of the natural and the conventional could just be the perfect mix.

Out the other side

Sorry guys, I haven’t felt much like writing for the last couple of days, bit sore and sluggish – my brain’s not quite functioning at full speed so apologies in advance if this ends up being a shambles of a post.  Op went well on Monday and they cut a fair bit of endometriosis out of me as well as giving my tubes a good flushing out , so on top of having less painful periods from now on, we should have a higher chance of conceiving, fingers crossed!

I need to be careful about getting my hopes up though….my first thought on Monday once I discovered what they’d found was, “awesome, it’s going to happen straight away now”.  Luckily I quickly came to my senses and realised that that most probably won’t be the case and I need to be a bit more realistic about this.  There’s no way I’m going to let myself go back to major disappointment and tears each month when discovering we’re not pregnant – I’ve come way too far for that and have built my defences up to a comfortable point where I can deal with the frustration at not succeeding.  Hopefully I’ll get a nice surprise one day soon but I’m not going to get hung up on it.  As a very wise friend mentioned earlier today, this op has put me back at “normal”.  I now have the same chance as any normal person trying to conceive, which means it may happen pretty soon, but equally as likely could take months.

It’s funny what you come to think of as normal.  I’ve had painful periods for most of my life (although admittedly they had been getting worse since coming off the pill 2 years ago).  To me that was normal and it never occurred to me that other people didn’t experience that.  I remember being a little surprised at one of my initial fertility consultations having been asked if I took painkillers for my painful periods.  I admitted I did but tried not to as I found if I took them too much they weren’t so effective.  The next question the doctor asked was “would a normal person take painkillers if faced with the pain you have?”  I was a bit taken aback at that as I’d always considered myself relatively ‘normal’.  I know have a reasonable pain threshold but it had honestly never occurred to me that what I was experiencing was anything outside the norm.  In a strange way I feel validated now, like it was ok that I was in pain each month because it’s now a fact I did have/do have endometriosis – which just seems so odd as a week ago I was dismissing the fact that endo was a possibility.  I was actually a little scared that they’d do the op, find nothing and everything would turn out to have been in my head.  So crazy how the human mind works sometimes.

Other than my realisation of ‘normal’ (or more to the point ‘abnormal’), another thing highlighted to me this week is just how lucky I am.  My husband and I have a reasonably comfortable life, we both have pretty good jobs, and a place of our own to call home.  We may not have a Bumble (yet), but we are truly blessed with fantastic friends and family.  The amount of support received both before and after my op has really astounded me.  It just amazes me that so many people care.  I know that probably sounds silly but I honestly don’t think we stop often enough to appreciate all the wonderful people we have around us.  You guys are absolutely fantastic and I know we wouldn’t be where we are today without you.  You know who you are, and we love you all to bits!  Your support and kindness really IS appreciated and treasured.

So, onwards and upwards.  I have an amazing ‘support team’ and four little holes in my belly – soon to become ‘battle-scars’.  I have less endometriosis, and a higher chance of conceiving my little Bumble.  Not long ago I was afraid of scarring my stomach, now I will look on my scars as just another step along the path to the beehive, road markers of how far we’ve come both physically and mentally in the last 20 months.  Positive, but not too positive, I look forward to just being ‘normal’.

D- day

Well, D-Day has finally arrived.  I’ve had my last meal (and more devastatingly, my last glass of water!) and am counting down the hours until I head to the hospital.  Laparoscopy and hysteroscopy are on the menu today, so basically a good old look around in there to see what’s going on.  At this stage I’m feeling ok about going in, a little nervous, although I can’t really decide if that’s a true nervousness or more a nervous excitement.  I think probably the latter.  Aunt Flo ever so kindly decided to show up yesterday (thanks) so perhaps it’s more a fear of them deciding they can’t do the hysteroscopy and postponing the op.  There’s mixed feedback online about whether they can do it at this stage of the cycle – the internet is not my friend today it would seem.

It’s amazing what’s out there on the web.  And to think 15-20 years ago it was still in its infancy.   I’ve definitely learned a lot from my research there, the trouble is you’ve got to learn to sift through the crap and take a large part of it with a grain of salt.  It must prove a nightmare for doctors sometimes what with self diagnosis and over-anxious patients.  For me one of the most helpful things has been the reading of stories from others in similar (or worse) boats to me.  It can make you realise you’re not alone in this, that people go through it every day, and a large part of them come out the other side with a happy ending, not to mention stronger people for it.  Admittedly there was a time, quite early on in the piece, where I couldn’t read their stories.  I would cry even reading the first sentence.  Thankfully I don’t cry quite so easily any more (though trust me, it still happens, and usually when I least expect it) and have been able to resume my perusal of other people’s lives.

It’s interesting what you find while searching for other things.  Unexpected gems in a sea of sludge.  Quite often they are complete surprises and contrary to the thing you were looking for.  Take for example my find of the other day.  I was testing Google to see if this blog would appear when typed into the search bar (turns out it was too early and ‘Waiting For Bumble’ hadn’t been indexed yet).  What did turn up was another woman’s page aptly titled ‘Bringing up Bumble’.  Like me and so many others this courageous lady had been through fertility issues, culminating in a series of IVF treatment which eventually led to the birth of her very own little Bumble.  At first I was mildly disgruntled, someone out there had already taken “Bumble”, our ‘name’, until my husband gently reminded me that nothing is original in this world, especially on the internet.  My next reaction was one of happiness, someone already had a “Bumble”!  It gave me hope that perhaps my Bumble would show their wee head one day.

It seems a nice symmetry don’t you think, my ‘Waiting For Bumble’ detailing the journey through infertility, and Meghann’s ‘Bringing up Bumble’, a success story.  In saying that though she is retreading the path for number two, so perhaps the symmetry is contained all in the one blog.  Either way it’s worth checking out.  Some nice writing and beautiful pictures of a happy, healthy wee boy.  Thanks Meghann for giving me hope.

Anywhichway, this has killed off another hour of my day. One down, six to go.  So wish me luck and I’ll see you on the other side, hopefully with some kind of answers.

How often is too often or not often enough

One of the questions asked by so many, both experts and lay people alike, is how often are you having sex and when.  Believe me, we’ve tried everything!  Week of ovulation only, all month, every day, every second day, every second day all month,  three days before ovulation, three days after ovulation, and various combinations of all of the above.  I’ve lain with a pillow under my hips and with my legs in the air.  We’ve tried in the morning, at lunchtime, and at night.  I’ve read countless articles on what’s best (believe it or not the internet can actually be your friend) and everyone seems to have a different opinion.  I have friends who have gotten pregnant without trying and friends who have gotten pregnant while trying not to.  So, I can only deduce from all of this and from our own personal experience, that it really doesn’t matter.  If you’re supposed to get pregnant, you will.  Lying with your legs above your head for half an hour is not only bloody uncomfortable, it won’t make a spot of difference.

They say that once you have a baby everyone has an opinion of parenting rights and wrongs.  I can assure you that for those of us who struggle to conceive, it actually starts well before pregnancy and birth.  For a wee while I kept our attempts to procreate a secret from all but a select few (there are still many who don’t know – including half of my family).  However, once the word began to get out nearly everyone I spoke to had different bits of advice for me, far more than just the timing and positions listed above!

As already mentioned we started with charting temperatures as this seemed an easy way to begin and was well suited to the “pre-trying” phase.  Although this doesn’t show your ovulation until after the fact (and too late to “try”), after a few months you begin to build a picture of what your cycle looks like and when you generally ovulate.  Turns out I ovulate quite late in the piece around day 17, though my body ever so nicely had a stint at popping its egg around day 14 just as I thought we had it sussed.

Around month 3 we decided to get some notice pre-ovulation and picked up ovulation predictor kits.  These came in the form of mid-stream test strips (yep, the ones you pee on) and proved a nightmare for me – mostly because one of the optimal test times is during work hours and they’re really not the most convenient thing to be wandering off to the work loos with.   The other optimal time is in the evening.  You’d think that this would be easier but alas no, it seems our somewhat hectic life can be a little unpredictable and I could never guarantee I was going to be in an appropriate place to test at the same time each night (another thing that makes these tests frustrating).  Still, I wouldn’t say no to giving them another go at some stage and I’m sure others will find these a lot easier to fit into their lives.  Perhaps I’m just too disorganised.

Around month 6 we were recommended the Maybe Baby saliva test kit.  We debated this one for a while as they’re not cheap and surely we were timing things right by now weren’t we.  We’d researched.  We knew how long my cycles were and when I ovulated, and it wasn’t rocket science!  But, there’s always the little nagging thought at the back of your mind that says “well, maybe you haven’t got it quite right”….so we surrendered and bought the test via the internet.  Four days later it arrived complete with a pregnancy test kit just to remind you how incredibly inept you are at being able to conceive – thanks online store.  A whole month I used it.  Smearing my spit on the microscope each morning, waiting for it to dry, then looking for the speckly or ferning pattern through the lens.  It had worked miracles for the friends of our recommendee….turns out I’m one of the small percentage of women the test doesn’t work for (subsequent investigation would show my oestrogen may be slightly lower than most women’s) so that was the end of that.  Bye bye $89.95 and back to charting temperatures we go.

I think we can safely say we have tried a fair selection of the vices on the market and have it as sussed as we’re going to have it.  Some of you might be thinking we need to not focus so much on getting pregnant, the things to try to get us there, and to just “stop stressing about it”…I’m sure you’re right but trust me, we’ve already tried that too.

And here it is

Well, I guess we should have started this at the very beginning of our journey but looking back it really didn’t feel like we would ever have got this far with no result. I guess initially you are blindly optimistic (regardless of what anyone tells you) and fall into the ‘it-won’t-happen-to-me’ basket. We certainly were. I suppose it didn’t help that most of our friends had no trouble at all, it made that the norm. Whatever the reason, the veil of naivety has definitely been lifted now.

Our journey for Bumble started 20 months ago on my 31st birthday. We were on holiday, it was fun, exciting, a little bit nerve-wracking (we were taking that next big step after all), but most of all it felt right. Ever so innocent we were sure Bumble would be here just like that, a few months at the most. After making the decision at New Years that we were ready (literally like a switch was flicked in my head) I came of the pill and started charting my temperature to work out when I ovulated and how long my cycles were. We knew it took a while for the remnants of the pill to leave your system so we waited a few months before we started trying.

Well, no luck the first month, we missed our window by a week, turns out charting temperatures isn’t an exact science. Never mind we thought, it’s only the first try, onto month two. Again, no luck in the second month. Not so easy this time round and, although only month two, it was the first time I cried at our lack of result. In hindsight that seems ridiculous but you have to remember the majority of our friends had conceived almost straight away: “oh, it only took us two months”, “we conceived first try”, and my sister just has to look at her husband to get pregnant.

On and on we go with various tweaks, changes and experiments along the way (more on that later) until we reach this point. In three days time I begin a more aggressive approach as I head into surgery (hopefully my one and only) to explore my insides and see what’s going on. So we may now be 20 months along but at this fork in the road it seems an opportune time to begin to detail our journey….for ourselves…for anyone interested in reading it…for those walking a similar path…and most of all for Bumble who, fingers crossed, will join us sometime soon.


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