Day 1 – Thoughts and such

I woke up today and for the first time in a long time I was excited about getting my period. I marveled at this for a moment, before I grabbed my yoga stuff and headed off for a Bikram class. Bikram yoga is an acquired taste, but one I have in abundance. After class, AF truly arrived, and I knew that my IVF cycle had begun. Tonight I will receive my first subcutaneous injection of Lucrin (10) in my abdomen. I’m a little nervous about administering the injection myself but I figure it won’t be half as scary as driving over the border by myself for the first time will be, so I’m going to suck it up, stab myself, and then have a piece of chocolate as a consolation prize. I could go get a chocolate milkshake like my dad used to buy me after the dentist as a kid. I shall see how I feel. Reaching this point as been a long time coming and it feels good to finally take this step. For most people, creating a baby doesn’t need the extra help of science but for me it does. I’m grateful for this help and truly know that there will be a positive result.

In anticipation of the cycle I’ve made sure to have a big patch of wheat grass ready to be juiced, homemade granola (recipe below), a cleared calendar, and a positive attitude. I know how hard the latter can be for me at times, so I downloaded a visualization audio cd from fertile heart.com to help with this, and have established a daily routine that I will follow. I’m trying not to let the worry wort in my brain come forth with fresh alarms, such as, what if IVF babies have a higher chance of disabilities, or what if my car has a flat in Tijuana, etc. I am nothing but creative. I’ve also decided to stay far, far away from statistics and forums discussing those same statistics. Numbers have no feelings.

I wold like to share with you what my established routine will be during the cycle (as soon as classes finish next week).

1. Morning Visualizations.
2. Shot of Wheat Grass & Journal Writing
3. Breakfast of homemade granola and rice milk
4. Yoga (every other day)
5. Shower, etc.
6. Lunch of a fresh juice,  soup or a salad
7. Writing (working on a new novel)
8. Acupuncture (every other day)
9. Dinner – Fresh Juice
10. Evening Visualizations
11. Bed

The granola recipe I’ve come up has come about through trial and error and research. Basically, you can put anything in your granola that you would like and it tastes much better than the store-bought stuff, half as sweet, and tailored for you.

Fertility Granola

4 cups of uncooked oats
1 cup of sliced almonds
1 cup of walnut pieces
1/2 unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup of dried cherries/cranberries
1/2 cup of unsalted roasted pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup of raisins
2 tablespoons of flax-seed
1/4 cup of real maple syrup
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp of cardamom
2 tbsp of sunflower oil or olive oil
1/4 cup of water

Step 1
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Mix the oats with the water, syrup, cinnamon, cardamom, and oil. Spray coconut oil on a large baking sheet. Spread it evenly on the baking sheet. Put in the oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes stir the oats to get even baking. Bake for an additional 10 minutes. The time can vary depending on how crunchy you like your granola. I prefer it crunchy so I bake for the full 20 minutes, sometimes longer. I can usually smell when it’s ready.

Step 2 

While the oats are cooking, in a separate bowl mix all of the remaining ingredients together. Take the granola out of the oven and mix in the remaining ingredients. Once thoroughly mixed together put back in the oven and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Take granola out of the oven and cool.

The granola can be eaten by itself as a healthy snack or with milk of your choice. I prefer organic rice dream but regular milk is fine as well. My husband loves the granola as well, so I think it’s a simple and easy way to get some fertility nutrients.

Another thing that I would like to share with you is my daily vitamin intake. I found that through months of research and reading tons of fertility blogs that vitamin regiment is hard to find. Now, this is my own concoction based on self diagnosis and blood test results from a OBGYN.

1. Prenatal Multivitamin with Folic Acid (New Chapter brand made with organic vegetables and herbs – does not bother the stomach at all). 3 times per day (this is a pain but the vitamin rocks). I learned not to skimp on prenatal vitamins. The cheap ones have questionable ingredients, the ones in the middle sometimes bother the stomach, and the good ones, well are worth it. Although, pricey.  $50 for a 2.5 month supply.

2. Ultimate Omega (purified fish oil) with CoQ10 made by Nordic Naturals. This is a great brand, and one that I highly recommend.  It includes EPA (650 mg) DHA (450 mg), Omega 3s (1280 mg), and CoQ10 (100 mg). I usually just buy the Omega 3s but when I found the Ultimate with CoQ10, I switched over. I tried ubiquinol, which is a stronger version of CoQ10 but it hurt my stomach, so I needed an alternative. Now I can combine the Omegas with the egg building stuff. Sweet. It is pricey though. $30 bucks for a 1 month supply. Don’t tell my husband.

3. Vitamin B6 (100 mg). I haven’t really found a brand that I’m loyal to yet. I’ve tried everything from the Riteaid brand to the fancy one at Whole Foods. I’ve never had a B6 vitamin hurt my stomach and my doctor told me that whatever my body doesn’t use, it will get rid of on its own. I take the B6 to extend my luteal phase because I have a luteal phase defect. B6 extends my luteal phase by 2 days, which is exactly what I need.

4. Vitamin D3 (5000 I.U) by Country Life. Roughly $6 bucks a bottle. I take the D3 because there has been some recent research that has shown that women with lower Vitamin D levels statistically have a harder time becoming pregnant. I had my levels tested and they were just on the okay side, so I decided to supplement with D3. You can sit in the sun for 20 minutes a day and get your required daily dose, but my schedule is so busy that I find it hard to make the time during the day. Walnuts are also a good source of D3, so I had them to my daily granola as well.

5. Pure Royal Jelly (1/4 tsp) made by the same name. This stuff is exactly what you might be thinking it is – the queen bee’s daily meal. It does look like honey, except whiter and thicker. It isn’t sweet (but can be sweetened with honey) but rather a little bitter. I wouldn’t call it delicious, but I wouldn’t call it awful either. I’ve tried to mix it with honey and put it in my morning tea but it only harden and then breaks into little bits that settle at the bottom. The Royal Jelly is supposed to increase the quality of your eggs, so I added this to my regiment. It is expensive as well. $20 bucks for a small jar. I will see how long it lasts because I just started taking it.

6. Evening Primrose Oil (500 mg) by Sprouts. I take this to increase the quality of my cervical mucus. I’ve noticed that depending on the month the quality and quantity goes up and down. Evening Primrose Oil is cheap, and so far I’m not loyal to any brand.

7.  Aspirin (61 mg) by Bayer. I’m taking a low dose aspirin with calcium in the month leading up to my IVF cycle and during it because aspirin has shown to increase the uterine lining. This will be helpful for implantation. In addition, since I have a short luteal phase, strengthening the lining will helpful. Not to mention that the fertility drugs can weaken the lining.

I hope this information helps the delayed mamas and anyone supporting them.

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Food for Thought

Wheatgrass2


Changing ones diet is much like being a recovering addict.

Or at least this is what I imagine it must feel like. Food is an important part of anyone’s life, regardless if one calls themselves a foodie or not. Each morning we wake up and we make a “food” decision. For some, the mornings mean a piece of toast with a smear of butter to calm the stomach. For others this is a glass of fresh juice and a vitamin. And for some, a donut and a coffee laced with french vanilla creamer. We all have our morning poison. But when you change your diet to not be on a diet but rather become the healthiest person you can possibly be, suddenly your day becomes all about choice.

The choice to take the time to cut up celery to go with your almond butter or the choice to pass on the free pizza at work. Or simply make the choice to make a good choice. At first it’s exhausting. There seems to be all this extra stuff piled into ones day. You mean I have to cut all those onions and the bell peppers. If I stay late at work, I’m going to need a snack. I’m going to have cook food on Wednesday, instead of getting take-out. But even as I write this I’m struggling to find any reasonable thing on this overwhelming list that sounds awful on paper. Because the truth is, being healthy is not about what you have to do, but a state of mind. It is a total shift in how one views food. Three months ago food for me was about assuaging my taste buds with delectable flavors and satisfying my cravings for certain cuisines. It wasn’t about what was in the food or how those ingredients would affect my body. It had nothing to do with health. It had all to do with addiction.

I was addicted to caffeine, sugar, fried foods, and sauces. But if you had asked me if I thought I had food issues then, I would have told you no, my diet isn’t the best, but it isn’t awful. I know what’s healthy and what isn’t. I learned all about the food pyramid in high school. I understand that fruits and vegetables and lean proteins are ideal and yeah, I eat some of that stuff. But now after making some huge changes, I can honestly say, I was a dunce. It wasn’t until the other day when it really clicked, oh so if I eat some kale with sautéed carrots those actually might make my body and mind stronger. And if I do this consistently for months at a time, I might actually become pregnant. The realization, despite being simple and more than a little late, has filled me with confidence and a sense of well-being.

In the past week, I started to grow my own wheat grass and make my own sauerkraut. My grass is three inches high and in days I will squeeze it with my new Omega 8006. Tonight for dinner I had savory pancakes stuffed with mustard greens, topped with a greek yogurt cumin sauce and marinated tomatoes, cucumbers, and parsley. My husband commented that this was the best dish I’ve ever made.

So, this getting healthy thing is like being a recovering addict, but every day it’s becoming easier.

The Beginning

This week I began birth control as the first step of my IVF cycle. Already, I have sore breasts, mood swings, and a slight headache. From research regarding the possible side effects for birth control, I know this is normal. Still my upswing as swung a little to the left. But, I know this is just the beginning. I truly do believe that positive energy and thoughts are better than any pill for fertility. I’m finding that I have to focus on my visualizations and plan. I’m taking this first step and keeping my eye on the end result is key.

As part of the new and improved Amber I’ve purchased a juicer and have started to grow my own wheat grass. I’m following the path to health by squeezing one kale leaf at a time. After a shot of wheat grass I do have this light sensation of happiness and contentment. Just knowing that I’m doing this for my future baby gives me purpose. I have also changed my focus from fixing my fertility to becoming the healthiest person I can possibly be. This switch is such a relief. The changes in my diet have been slow but steady. Now I’ve eliminated meat, dairy, and sugar. I will allow myself a treat every one in a while; otherwise, my self-control will crumble. I’ve made these choices, not only because I have read research that indicates that a plant-based diet is ideal for conception, but also because it forces me to make better choices. If I can’t have these things then the sautéed zucchini is the only choice left.

I’ve also been reading extensively about acupuncture. Right now, I have one to two acupuncture sessions per week. But I really have no idea how it works. The book the Fertility Cure is really informative and allows one to self-diagnose. However, the information is overwhelming because I fit three of the main problems and each of them has a slightly different protocol. Also, to add this new protocol to my regime seems overwhelming. But I need to be my own expert and follow my own path to health. This is why visualizations are important. I’ve been working on asking for the next step in my path, to insure that I’m headed towards health. Of course, worry is something that always gets in the way. For example, I bought a juicer, then I read how women on a IVF cycle should only eat cooked vegetables because we want to keep the uterus warm. SO my head spins because I just bought a juicer. But I really feel that the juicer is a key step towards being as healthy as I can be. The lesson is follow your own path because your fertile heart knows the way.