As The Ovaries Turn: IVF #2 On The Horizon

Things are moving along here in baby-making land. I had my hysteroscopy a couple of weeks ago and that went well. My doctor said that she did see a slight curve in my uterus, but neither she nor the other doctor she discussed it with felt that it was an issue. So no additional surgery needed, hooray!

I’m currently estrogen priming, which entails taking estrogen pills twice a day. This is to ensure that the follicles grow at the same rate during the stimulation phase of IVF–a greedy, over-acheiving follicle is a very bad thing indeed. Once my next cycle starts, I’ll have a day two ultrasound, and if that looks good (fingers crossed no cysts!), I’ll start injections that night. Of course, the pharmacy is being dumb (long and boring story), so I’m not altogether sure that we’ll get our medications in time, but hopefully we can borrow from our clinic if needed.

I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to blog during this next IVF. I really want to keep my head on straight, and I wonder if the blogging play-by-play last time increased my anxiety. Or maybe I would’ve been an Anxious Annie no matter what (let’s be honest). I might even take a full-on blogging break for a bit to make sure I’m feeling centered. Who knows, dudes. I’m saying all of this, but I might be back posting again tomorrow, all like “Did you guys miss me?!” I guess I just want to let you know that if I do drop off a bit, it’s not because something is wrong.

One of my teachers on this baby-making endeavor, Julia Indichova, often talks about how this journey does not need to feel like a prison sentence. It is only our perspective, she says, that makes it feel like a punishment. I think this is very wise. Some days I do feel trapped in a jail of my own making–like either I’m stuck waiting indefinitely or I have to give up completely. Some days are really, really hard. But other days, I am able to shift my thinking and see this all for what I, deep down, truly believe it to be: a great adventure. An opportunity to become more compassionate towards others, and also towards myself. A chance to get well acquainted with hope and faith.

Thankfully, today is one of those days. I’m feeling pretty good. I don’t know what will happen with the next IVF, and right this minute I don’t really care. Because right this minute I am feeling grateful. I’m thinking about the two pairs of blue eyes–one big and one little–that I get to look into each day. I’m thinking about the cold rain on my face as I left work this evening. Normally, that rain would have pissed me off, but today I was like, yes!

Because, really: how lucky I am to feel that rain. How lucky I am to hear and see. To have good, plentiful food to eat. To know deep love. How lucky I am to feel each breath–a constant rhythm, a reassurance that I am here, right now, exactly where I’m meant to be.

Meeting Your Child Halfway: A Fertility Workshop

If you’ve been reading this blog since the beginning (and if you have, I love you, mwah!), you might remember me mentioning Julia Indichova. She is the author of two books, Inconceivable and The Fertile Female, both of which I read and loved when I was trying to get pregnant with Lettie. The short version is that Julia had trouble conceiving her second child and a billion specialists told her that getting pregnant would be medically impossible without donor eggs. She was 42. For the next eight months she changed her diet, tried every alternative treatment in the book and, most importantly, in my opinion, focused on the mind-body connection. She basically used her longing to have a child to change her life for the better. Eight months later, she was pregnant—completely naturally—and carried that pregnancy to term.

For the past twenty years, she’s been teaching what she learned on her fertility journey through workshops and phone sessions. This past weekend, I got the chance to attend one of those workshops. It was called Meeting Your Child Halfway: An All-Day Workshop With Julia Indichova. The all day thing was no joke—it started at 11 am and ended at 6:30 pm.

When Tim and I pulled up to her house in Woodstock, New York, I had no idea what to expect. Upon arrival, Julia had us take off our shoes and then escorted us into her studio. Inside, the floors were covered in carpet and oriental rugs. The walls were decorated with birth announcements. Outside the high windows, I caught wisps September-blue sky. 14 other people sat in a semi-circle—four solo women and five other couples. Julia separated the couples—eek!—so I was on my own. Tim was all the way across the room.

Shit got weird really fast. First we observed a moment of silence. Ok, cool. No big deal. Then Julia said, “Ok, you’re going to repeat after me. Do exactly as I say and do.” She started waving her hands and moaning. She covered her face. She whimpered. It was awkward city.

Then she said, “I don’t want to be in a workshop.”

And we said, “I don’t want to be in a workshop.”

“I just want a fucking baby,” she said.

“I just want a fucking baby,” we said.

At this point everyone was laughing, and even though we’d just had to endure seemingly endless minutes of moaning and moving like we were in some sort of improv warm-up, the ice was broken.

Next we went around and introduced ourselves. Immediately people started crying. Crap, I thought. What have I gotten myself into? I’m kind of an anti-crier, at least in front of other people, especially in front of strangers.

But guess what? After those initial introductions, I had tears in my eyes the whole time. Tim did, too. There was just something about being in a room of people who were all experiencing similar things. It felt safe. For once, I didn’t feel the need to justify or defend my dream to add another child to our family. Every single person there got it. Some were trying for their first child, some their second. Some had unexplained infertility, some low sperm count. It didn’t matter. Every single person wanted the exact same thing.

The day consisted of visualizations, one-on-one exercises, body movement (which Julia calls “body talk”) and even a lullaby. Picture a room full of people who want nothing more than to get pregnant, signing a lullaby to their unborn children. Only a robot would not tear up in that situation. Just sayin’.

Julia had a lot of great things to say. One of them was that it’s ok to not think positive all the time. “As a society,” she said, “we’re in danger of positive thinking ourselves to death.” She said that we should let ourselves feel the negative emotions—rage, cry, be jealous, get pissed off, whatever—but at the end of the day we should be moving forward in what she calls the current of the truth and life. Those emotions should be felt, but it doesn’t serve us to get stuck in them. This was such a relief for me. There’s a lot of mumbo-jumbo out there in infertility land that says you must think positive or else. I got sucked right on into that—I would often feel guilty for not being able to think positively every second of every day.

I won’t bore you with the nitty-gritty details of exactly what we did. And even if I tried, I don’t think I would do it justice. Bottom line, though? The workshop was pretty amazing. It was just what my soul needed at that time, on that day. I left there feeling clear-headed and hopeful. I felt alive. I felt, with certainty, that my baby was waiting for me, some day, somewhere.

And yes, I am totally ready to meet him or her halfway.

Lunching in Woodstock before the workshop.
Lunching in Woodstock before the workshop.
country 1
Living the country life at our B & B.

Broken Record: Anxiety, On Repeat

The Anxiety Monster
[image credit]

35 weeks. Still anxious.

I have to get real here for a moment: I’m really struggling.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some peaceful spells since I last posted about feeling anxious. But the last few days, whew. Doozies.

On the one hand, I have less to be anxious about than I did just a few weeks ago. If the bambina comes now, she’ll likely be totally fine. That is amazing!

But for some reason, that’s not helping me much. I keep imagining worst-case scenarios in my head. Every time I hear of a stillbirth, it puts me in a bad place for days. Mind you, I do not seek out these stories of tragedy, but a few make their way to me all the same.

I cannot imagine losing it all this close to game time. The thought terrifies me.

An anxious mind is a scary place to be trapped in.

Does this sound dramatic? Anxiety is very dramatic. That’s one of the things I hate about it. I dislike drama queens and when I’m anxious that’s what I feel like—a big, ole drama queen.

I’m trying to work my way out of it. I started doing a visualization adapted from Julia Indichova. It goes like this: imagine your worst fear. Think of an image associated with that fear. Watch it be engulfed by fire and a then huge flood of water (how’s that for drama, eh?). After you’re satisfied that the flood and fire have obliterated your worst fear, you visualize yourself taking three steps forward. Then you imagine a successful pregnancy, a smooth labor and holding a healthy baby in your arms. Tim and I have been doing this together. So far it’s not helped much, but I’m hoping that after time and repetition, it will.

I’ve also started talking to the baby more. Today I told her about all the different seasons and what I love about each one. This really helps a lot in the moment. It reminds me that the baby is here with me now and she’s just fine. And it makes me happy to think of all the things I’ll get to watch her experience for the first time.

So I’m working on it. But the fact is that I want to hold this baby in my arms so much I ache for it. I want to know that she’s safe. I want to see proof of it with my own eyes.

And yes, I know, I’ll worry about her even after she’s here, etc. etc. But that is a bridge I’ll cross when I get to it. Baby steps, people.

So tell me. If any of you felt anxiety at the end of your pregnancy, what helped you? Or if you had a non-pregnancy-related anxiety bout, what tricks guided you through it?

And even if you have no pearls of wisdom to offer, I’d love a shout out of support. I could really use it right about now.

Until then, I’ll be taking it one day at a time…

Picture This

Gretel's hard at work visualizing

I’ve been playing around with visualization lately. Much like my experience with wheatgrass, I became intrigued about visualization after reading Inconceivable by Julia Indichova. I’ve mentioned this book before and I’ll probably mention it again, so much so that you may begin to think I’m obsessed with it. Which I am, a little.

Here’s the idea behind visualization: even if you’re not literally doing the thing you’re imagining, it still works because your physiological response is the same as if you were. For example, when you have a nightmare, you wake up and you’re sweating and your heart is racing, even though you were in your bed the whole time. Your body’s response is the same as if you were physically in the nightmare world. So if you picture yourself lazing in a meadow and feeling at peace, you can still obtain that feeling, even though you’re nowhere near the meadow. Or if you’re imagining your body to be mega fertile, then you can make it so. Or at least help it along.

I’m using visualization for fertility, but the cool thing about it is that you can use it to help with anything: stress, depression, illnesses, whatever.

But let’s get specific. Because this would not be a complete blog post unless I made it weirdly personal. So I’m going to walk you through my favorite visualization exercise. The CD I own is called Fertile Heart Imagery (also from Julia Indichova…I should start an official fan club, no?) and the name of the exercise is Sacred Choices. In Julia’s words, “This exercise can be quite useful when you find yourself obsessing about statistics and so-called realities that might feel overwhelming.”

Obsess about stuff? I don’t know anyone who does that.

The exercise goes like this: Picture yourself walking out of your house. When you get to the street, look to the left and see a street sign that says Infertility (or any other word you want. I was using Amenorrhea when I wasn’t getting a period, but you can name your street whatever). Take note of the people walking on that street. Check out the buildings, the store windows, the weather.

When I look down that street it’s always raining. The sky is grey. The sidewalks are made of stainless steel. Doctors are walking around in white coats, generally ignoring everyone or else handing out plastic cards with stark diagnoses written on them. The stores are selling dusty baby bottles and empty boxes of diapers. The other patrons on the street are crying or wearing stunned, confused expressions.

After taking in that whole scene, you look to the right and see a street sign that says Hope. Again you notice the weather, the vendors and the buildings. On my street of Hope, there are gardens lining either side of the street, filled with rainbow-colored roses and zinnias. The weather is sunny and warm. Babies are crawling everywhere (don’t worry, no car traffic on this street) and one of them, I know, is mine. Dudes in carts are giving away wheatgrass smoothies. The people on this street are happy and they’re all making their way towards a fountain at the end of the street, which is bubbling over with cool, healing water. My favorite part about this street is that Tim is always there waiting for me with our two dogs. He’s smiling at me and the look on his face says, “What are you waiting for?”

Once you finish visualizing both streets, you choose which direction to walk in.

I did this particular exercise every day, twice a day, for two weeks straight. After I’d completed it, I was usually smiling. I felt calmer. And, yes, I felt more hopeful. Most importantly, I chose to feel that way. I didn’t let my anxiety choose for me.

This exercise is so ingrained in me now that whenever I start getting upset about the world of babymaking, I just picture my street of hope and my mind is quieted. Is it a fool-proof, cure-all technique? Of course not. But it helps.

So which direction do I choose? I’m heading straight to Hope Avenue.

I’ll see you all there.


			

Wheatgrass-tastic!

I first heard of wheatgrass and its magical properties in the book Inconceivable by Julia Indichova. She talks about wheatgrass quite a bit, describing how she walks to her local juice bar each morning and orders a shot of it. She believes that her daily wheatgrass shot, among other natural methods, helped her get pregnant, even though by western medical standards she was a lost cause. (The book is awesome, by the way, but more on that in another post.) She also says wheatgrass tastes totally disgusting.

Naturally, I was intrigued. Weird food? With the added bonus of a potential fertility boost? I’m IN!

For those of you reading this who don’t care a lick about boosting your fertility, the good news is, wheatgrass is great for everyone. Weird food for you, too!

Basically, it’s contains tons of chlorophyll, which is supposed to be OMG the best thing ever for you. Why? I don’t know. Don’t ask me for too many details. Among other things, wheatgrass claims to give you an energy lift, detoxify the crap out of you and boost your immune system.

So I ordered some. And guess what? I love it. It could be the placebo effect, who knows, but since I’ve been drinking it daily, I feel better overall and more…vibrant somehow. Immediately after finishing my morning smoothie, I feel more energetic.

Look at all that green! How could it not be good for you?

And personally, I don’t think it tastes disgusting at all. I think it’s quite delicious. If you’re a fan of green tea, you’ll like it. The taste is similar.

Here’s a recipe for the wheatgrass smoothie I now drink every morning.

1 scoop wheatgrass powder
1 or 2 TBS of ground flax seed (depending on how textured you like your smoothie)
1 banana
1 cup vanilla almond milk

Pour the almond milk in your blender first to get a good liquid base. Then add the other ingredients.

Look at all the good stuff in there

Blend until smooth. Pretty simple.

Green Goodness
Yummm, a cup brimming with health
Cheers!

Whether this boosts my fertility remains to be seen. But regardless, I’m hooked. Happy wheatgrassing, everyone!