Friday, October 12, 2012

Guest Blogger: IVF Boosters

I have been having more and more people contact me. They want to know if they can write a guest post for my blog. The answer is, yes you can. I welcome guest contributors. You can email me at with your story of choice and a photo of yourself. Any topic that does not contradict my personal convictions is welcome.
The following post is by Catie Keeler. I do not know Catie personally but she contacted me to see if I would welcome a post dealing with ways to improve IVF success rates. Sounded great to me! 
While I believe that no matter what you do, infertility treatments may not work for you ... or despite everything you don't do, they do work, I never think it hurts to be thinking of how to be as healthy as possible before you begin a treatment cycle. I personally used acupuncture with one of my cycles and found it very helpful -- even though the result was not in our favor. Lowering stress and eating well are never bad things, even if they don't produce the desired outcome.
I am including this article now because JB and I are actually preparing to return for our embryos in December. I am not emotionally ready to write more about this yet ... but stay tuned. I am definitely beginning to think about the things I actually can control and do to keep myself at my healthiest as we prepare to give these little babies a chance at life. Hard to believe it has been nearly five years since our fourth failed IVF attempt. Even harder to believe we are going to do it again.
Natural Ways to Enhance the Success of IVF
In-vitro fertilization (IVF) is often the measure of last resort for women struggling to get pregnant naturally, many times offering the last chance to have a baby of their own. It is also an involved process that is very expensive and doesn't offer any guarantee of success.
The process is already emotionally fraught, and the chance of failure can make it even harder. Fortunately, there are some natural ways to help improve the chances of success. Though there are never any guarantees, these natural methods may be able to help improve your odds with IVF:
Reduce Dietary Toxins: Common dietary toxins like alcohol, caffeine, food preservatives and additives, and xenoestrogens (estrogens found in plants and chemicals) can disrupt hormonal balance and make it more difficult for you to conceive. Reducing or eliminating these toxins from your diet may improve your chances of becoming pregnant.
Reduce Stress: Stress from your job, your relationship, your financial status, and even your attempts to become pregnant can also disrupt your hormonal balance and make it more difficult for you to become pregnant. Undergoing IVF often adds to your stress levels, making it more difficult to find ways to relax. However, activities such as meditation, acupuncture, or even just spending time with family and friends can help you counteract that stress and heal your body.
Exercise More: Exercise not only helps to reduce stress, but it also helps to increase "feel  good" hormones that improve mood and wellness. Exercise also helps to strengthen your body and improve circulation, helping to enhance the overall functioning of all the systems in your body. All of these benefits enhance your fertility, making your chances of conception through IVF better.
Sleep More: You need at least 8 or 9 hours of sleep each night in order for your body to rest and restore itself. Lack of sleep contributes to increased stress levels and an overall reduction in your body's efficiency. Many of your internal systems begin to break down, including digestion, metabolism, and fertility. Making sure you are getting at least the minimum amount of sleep each night -- and more if you need it -- can improve your chances of conception.
Increase Healthy Eating: Not only should you be eliminating harmful substances from your diet, but you should also be increasing the healthy foods and nutrients included in your diet. Ensuring that you get the right vitamins and nutrients in your diet -- such as B vitamins, magnesium, and others -- can help you to improve your fertility. Though there are many supplements you can take to ensure you are consuming enough of the vitamins most closely tied to fertility, simply eating a healthy diet that is loaded with fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and whole grains will be enough to improve your health and your fertility.

When you are grappling with infertility, it may seem like nothing you do can make a difference. You may have struggled for years, and IVF is your last chance at having a baby yourself. However, following these tips may be able to improve your fertility and increase your chances of success.
Catie Keeler is the primary researcher and writer for Her most recent accomplishments include graduating from the University of North Carolina in Chapel with a degree in business and communications. Her currect for for the site involves: jumbo mortgage rates and mortgage rates florida.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Headed to Germamy (and the reason why)

Connie's arrival could not have come at a more perfect time. I am going to be taking the rotator, with Abigail, to Ramstein Germany very soon. (As always, I don't give exact dates on my blog.) I will actually be going back to Landstuhl hospital, where I had Abigail over a year ago, to get a specialized ultrasound done that they do not do on the island.

The reason: IVF #5.

I wasn't sure I was going to write about this on my blog. But I guess I am. I just decided to about four seconds ago. It's on my mind. And when something is on my mind, I write about it. Avoiding writing about what is on my mind is almost painful to me. I think that's why my blog is so honest (and sometimes vulnerable.) I have to say what is there.

And right now, what is there is IVF.

IVF. Again. Our fifth try with IVF to be exact. We are going back for our embryos in December.

So to answer the questions I can picture floating around on the back of your tongue.

Why now? Well why not. When is it a good time? No time like the present. In short, I am 35. Not getting any younger. We don't like having them "in limbo." So we decided to go for it. In the end, we just feel the Lord saying, "GO!" and so we shall go.

Will it work this time? No idea. No one can know. No one can know whether my issue, previously, was something related to our embryos or whether it was something within my body that has now corrected itself. In speaking with Dr. Coddington, who was my doctor for most of my infertility journey and who is still at Mayo, my embryos look "excellent." This was confusing to me because I had been under the impression, previously, that they were not very good. But he said he is not sure where I got that information from. That he feels that they look great. He felt confident that our chances of this working were as good as anyone's and there was no telling whether our previous failures would be repeated.

Can you deliver on the island? No. Just like Turkey. I'd have to leave the island for delivery. Not something I enjoyed the first time. Not something I'd want to do the second time. But who even knows if I'll get to that point.

Are you actually ready to add another child to your brood? No. Not really if I am honest. I had three kids three and under. Now I have three kids four and under. I don't feel quite ready. But we have Connie here. I am 35 (which is considered 'advanced maternal age.') We are fully committed to those embryos. We feel we must not forget about them. We are following the Lord's leading.

How many embryos will you transfer? The answer is: 2. Protocol has changed since I went in for my first four IVF's, the last of which was in the summer of 2007. They will dethaw all 7 of our remaining embryos and attempt to get them to grow further outside of my womb but in the lab. Some may die. Some may live. But these embryos, because they are fully developed, have a better life expectancy inside the womb. So Dr. Coddington recommended transferring no more than 2. Not 3 like I did during our last try with IVF. So two I will do. Any embryos past the number 2, can be refrozen for another try at a later date.

How do you feel? Am I nervous? Yes. But this time, not so much about it not working but about the memories. Going back to that clinic. Going back in that ultrasound room. In the operating room. Blood work. Ultrasounds. I'm not really afraid this time of it working or not working. We have three children, and if this is all the family I have, it's a great amount of family for me. But I just don't want to think about that dark place I was in for five years. I don't want to remember all the tears.

In infertility circles, a negative is referred to as BFN "big fat negative." I started thinking about what our infertility entailed and the best I could come up with was:
  1. 8 months trying before seeing doctors due to no ovulation -- BFN x 8 (although these didn't result in a phone call to be told the cold, hard facts.)
  2. 3 failed attempts to ovulate on clomid -- BFN x 3
  3. 2 negative IUIs (artificial inseminations) -- BFN x 2
  4. 2 cancelled IUI's -- BFN x 2
  5. 1 year on metformin but no other treatments (ovulated twice) -- BFN x 2
  6. 1 cancelled IUI/permitted to try on our own -- BFN x 1
  7. 4 IVF transfers -- BFN x 4
So that equals 22 times total ... 14 times that we had to have someone call us and tell us (or we found out ourselves) that things did not work. I also thought I would try to estimate how many pills, shots, and doctors appointments this was but quite honestly, I do not even know how to begin to calculate those numbers. I'll just say that from the best I can estimate, I have probably had upwards of one hundred internal ultrasounds. But that is such a crazy guess. I have no earthly idea.

But it's time. We've been on the phone with Mayo quite a bit in the last two weeks getting all the details established. There's lots to figure out. For now I know that I have to get some fancy ultrasound done before I go, and they don't do it on the island. So to Germany I go. I will take Abigail and leave the boys here simply to split up some of the love (aka "responsibility") a bit. I know I will get to see and stay with Shane & Linda (and their doggie Bonnie) in Germany. What a gift that will be.

We are currently planning on doing the transfer this winter. The military gives any family who does "two continuous overseas assignments" (in our case Turkey and now the Azores) up to 30 days of paid time off. They pay to fly us back to our "home of record" and they allow JB to use his vacation days to go.

So we will fly to South Florida as a family, spend a week, and then JB and I will leave the kids with family in South Florida and go to Rochester, Minnesota for the trasnfer (and get to see old friends like Ron & Ebby, Dave & Lesley, and Jake & Rana), and then we will return to South Florida to spend Christmas before flying back to the island.

I will keep you posted ... of course. Mostly I ask you just to pray for my emotional well-being during this journey. Again, not for the result, but just for the memories of a darker time that I have no choice but to revisit.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Infertility & Media

"I had tried and failed and failed," she said. "Every woman who has been through all those ups and downs knows the depression that comes with it. So the way it just happened with Sunday was like, 'What?' The percentages were so low. It is the miracle in my life." -- Nicole Kidman