It has been a loooong time…..

I feel quite guilty. I left you all hanging….well, most of you who read this probably don’t know me.  You found me while searching for a solution to a problem that I’ve described or gone through – and that is why this old blog is still running.  I’m 50 now and I still have two embryos in the freezer. One boy. One girl.  Both with all their chromosomes and a reluctant mother to be….it is so complicated. We have decided to decide what to do with our embryos this year.  That means either I carry or find a surrogate.  The whole topic makes me nervous so I’ll just change it, shall we?

 

I’m writing about two of my friends who could not get pregnant. Everything failed them.  They had dozens of normals yet they kept on miscarrying.  One went to my RE in Colorado – the great Dr. Schoolcraft and the other to a doctor in LA (she just had twins at 49 so imagine the pressure that gave me!).

Both could get pregnant but not stay that way.

The first one was 42 – she still produced normals but she kept miscarrying. She tried donor egg and still, miscarriage. I urged her to do the one test that she hadn’t done (and boy do they kick those tires at CCRM) – beta integrin.  After transferring all her normals she found out that she lacked the protein. She went through the three month lupron depot hell on earth and then got pregnant with donor egg.  She is happy…but regrets not having this test done as she did want to be biologically related to her child if possible but, as we all know, any child who calls you mom is yours entirely. Genetics be damned!

The next woman was in her mid 40s. She and her husband had tried for ages. They were fairly chipper at the start but then the failures started to wear her down.  She wanted so badly to have a child and they went straight to donor egg.  She tried LIT therapy (I recommended IVIG but she said she didn’t like the risks).  She then got the beta integrin test and it too came up negative. She went through the lupron hell and then added in IVIG and voila – twin girls.

I’m writing because you have to kick those tires. You have to think out of the box and if you need help, I’m here. I don’t know everything but I’ve been around the block a few times and if this isn’t your first rodeo and I’m your last hope – email me.  You can find me at suzanneesmith@yahoo.com.

I know how hard this is and I care.  You owe it to yourself to kick every tire and don’t listen to the doctors if you feel in your heart that they are wrong. I most certainly did not listen and I have my prepubescent tween boy who still sleeps next to mommy on occasion and never goes more than a day without telling me “have I told you how much I absolutely love you?”…..the answer is always the same – “yes, and I love you more”.

Keep fighting, keep trying and don’t stop until you’ve truly had enough.  That was not a Michael Jackson lyric.

Much love to all of you mothers who still have no child to hold. One day you will…somehow but not if you give up.

Next blog post is going to be about a foster care experience.  Heartbreaking. But oh my how it has changed my life.

See you soon….very soon.

Time to share…..

I might not blog much but I’m always thinking, always researching and always talking about infertility, the science, the process and I keep my ear to the ground (I mean, I’m listening to A LOT of people). I need to post more about what I am learning because it seems, like so many other things in the world we live in, that information isn’t getting out there. People put so much trust in their doctors and the process that they don’t question why they have failure after failure. The internet is a dangerous thing – someone posts an article and it becomes the truth. Let’s take for example carrageenan (a substance used to thicken liquid – essentially a type of seaweed). There have been a number of studies linking it to inflammation (and inflammation leads to…cancer). What the studies do not tell you are that there are two types of carrageenan – and one is a heck of a lot more harmless than than the copious amounts of sugar one eats every day (which absolutely feeds cancer). I’m not saying the stuff is safe but the key is moderation and thoughtful research/discourse. Just because one person says something is true does not make it so. We have to become our own advocates and know how to uncover the truth. In our attempt to find a quick solution to something that ails us, pains us we often neglect the due diligence process. We get behind people like the Food Babe or Dr. Weil or anyone with the hope that their advice is going to fix whatever ails us. I’m getting somewhere, I promise.

It seems that there are a few smoking guns when it comes to infertility – diet and toxins that we are putting in our mouth are too big to ignore. Back in our great-grandparent’s time women started having kids in their teens and the AVERAGE age for their youngest child was 42. Plenty of woman got pregnant in their forties and there were no infertility experts back then nor were there petri dishes. Sure there were “spinster aunts” that never had children but the fact remains, the food was cleaner, the soil was full of goodness and pregnancy was far more dangerous to a woman than the items that they placed on their dinner plate. So the point of this FIRST topic on doing your homework is that you can’t trust anyone when it comes to your body. Not your doctor, not the internets, not me – nobody. You have to collect information like a scientist (and that is hard when you are feeling bat shit crazy on lupron) so I get it. I’m going to ask all of you who are struggling or even just starting this process to take a hard look at what you are eating and how you are living your life. Go and get a detailed nutritional panel to make sure you have enough vitamins and minerals in your body to sustain a pregnancy, get your uterus looked at professionally with a hysteroscopy by more than one person – because septums are a leading cause of miscarriage AND they are sometimes hard to spot depending on your cycle. And get a toxin panel (thank you, K) because many of you are running around with a high amount of nickel, aluminum, and all kinds of garbage that will either keep you childless or do damage to your fetus.

Try one little experiment – buy some over the counter iodine and rub a dab on the inside of your wrist(about 3 drops spread over a thin area of skin – about the size of your inner palm) Wait and see what happens. If that iodine disappears within six hours (per Dr. Bhatia of Atlanta) you have a deficiency – you really want to see it after 24 hours. Mind disappeared in 20 minutes. I’ve added a sheet of nori (for making sushi) into my diet and so much has changed. The point is that you cannot get pregnant if your body cannot sustain a pregnancy. Your fetus knows what kind of environment it will enter – a stressful, chaotic one, one in which there is little food for people who went through food deprivation and so on. The evidence is there that your mass of cells can decide if the environment is not a good one – if you don’t have enough folate for its development. So get yourself checked out by a naturopath. Make sure your body has what it needs to support a pregnancy. I’m going to list every single test that you should consider and why. In the meantime, get as clean as you can with your eating. I’ll share resources with you because I didn’t start this blog to hear myself talk – I want to help my fellow sisters (and brothers) in IF and help all of us work together to become parents (no matter how that happens). I’d also like to suggest that you do some research on the HCG booster – the evidence is looming that having an HCG shot prior to a FET primes the uterus to accept a pregnancy.

For those of you with uterine lining issues, write a note in the comments. I know a doctor who will help you build that lining using a drug that works – it is off label for building linings but many REs are catching on (just not fast enough).

I’m going to be posting more because I’m getting ready for potential transfer – but a lot of things need to happen first. I do believe in the power of intention and, on that note, I hope you will keep your thoughts positive and understand how powerful you are and how incredible your thoughts can be..if you believe something negative, you will attract something negative. I promise this happens to me ever single day and to you as well…..

Expect to succeed in this process but first, kick every tire. I’ll help lead you to some great articles and most importantly to the fact checkers, the scientists who are not paid off by Kelloggs or Coca Cola to tell you that something they add to their amazing food products is safe- but one thing – let me know when I am wrong. I have too many people reading this blog daily – literally thousands – looking for hope and advice and I cannot give out bad information. Expect to see a lot more of me – because what I am reading and experiencing is promising for the future and might help one of you. I didn’t go through all those shots and sleepless nights not to give back, and give back I will. Keep fighting the good fight.

Failed cycles? Plenty of eggs but crappy results? I bet I know why…

I wish I had written this a long, long time ago but it took a friend cycling to make me realize how important the following information will be for those of you going through IVF, IUI….  Do not ever let your follicles get too big.  My former RE likes to trigger when the cohort (most of the eggs) are measuring 17.  The simple fact is that eggs (especially older eggs) often will not have great outcomes if they get much larger than 22.  Heck, even 20.  If you are doing an IVF cycle and you notice that most of your eggs are in the 18 or 19 range then you should have triggered…plain and simple.  Do the research and see what happens when your follicles get too big…  

When in doubt you need to question.  Try a low dose cycle for the heck of it (you can always convert to an IUI).  I find it interesting that I produced the same amount of eggs on 300 menopur/300 follistim as I did with a 150 menopur/150 follistim – sometimes more isn’t better…in fact, sometimes more is not good at all.  Just a little PSA.

Let me know if any of you have had bad results with large follicles (or the reverse and don’t forget your age!).  Good luck to everyone trying….

Recap: Chat with the nurse

Ever notice you get more out of a conversation with nurses than doctors?  At least I do.  I am the kind of person that needs to know everything if it affects my life (from my low vitamin D to IVF to what my son is going to need to succeed in math).  I think they call people like me Google doctors (I’m getting old, there could be another word).  How I lived 30 of my 45 years without google is amazing.  I’m prone to tangents so will not digress…  Digression free posting.

Onward.  So, I called to schedule a chat about a February or March transfer.  I discussed switching to Dr. G simply because I find it hard to cope with Dr. Schoolcraft’s moods (one time he is amazingly supportive and the next I might as well give up).  I know he has a lot on his plate and when he is friendly, I worship him but I don’t know if he understands how one little flippant remark can ruin (at least me) a person for a week??  I read into everything he says.  The nurse told me that there would be a bunch of paperwork and blah, blah, blah to go through and…let’s be honest, I came to CCRM for him.  So I am putting on my big girl panties and will just try to be bulletproof when we have a regroup.  I have already made an arrangement to receive IVig one week before transfer (if my lining looks good) so will be flying back and forth to NYC/Denver a little bit (I’m sure that will help with the relaxation!). I’ve been doing a lot of reading about early miscarriage and implantation failure (thank you for the book, Dr. Jonathan Scher and my kindle).  If you have normal embryos and failure to get pregnant it might just be your immune system.  Oh how I wish CCRM would take that on board and at least TRY it.  So, I’ll be doing what I need to do to make this work with my body.  I have to be honest, I’m terrified on so many levels.

Terrified that it works and I fail these embryos who already have names (that is how confident I need to be) and I save their google email addresses (yes, officially crazy but times are changing!).  I hold on to little signs that it will work but then think about the state of this world, our divisions and greediness and failure to remember the past and learn from it.  I wonder if I am bringing in potentially two children to a world that won’t be able to sustain them.  I think about them suffering or with no home.  I wonder if I am being selfish.  I am also terrified that it won’t happen and that my son’s one wish in life to have a sibling will be over, kaput.  I worry about a lot of things and about people I don’t even know and children who don’t even belong to me.

My son just walked in the room and announced that he is going to be a plumber when he gets older.  Now do you see why I worry?  Well, it is better than a soldier (that was yesterday’s occupation).

I digress.

Starting….to wonder

I came across a piece of paper the other day that was supposed to have been submitted to my accountant. On it was a variety of high ticket items (4k for the pharmacy), 23K for an IVF in NYC, 300 shipping to CCRM (no normals, by the way from that one), 2 x 19,000 for the CGH cycles at CCRM and travel costs (just a few of the examples of what it has cost us financially – not to mention personally – in the attempt to have a sibling for our son). Thanks to a few great companies (both investment banks, by the way who were generous with their benefits) the cost was lessened for our other 8 tries. I believe that, when all is said and done, we have spent well over 200 grand trying to have what normal people do in bed. I feel guilty about it most of the time (hence the relentless work pace and commitment to make up for what I likely deem my failing). Thinking too much. I know it isn’t MY failure but what is it? As I ponder potentially holding one or two children inside my womb at the age of 45 I am faced with a number of really important questions. Such as, will I live long enough to see them graduate from college or even high school for that matter? Will we have enough money to support them and ensure that they are taken care of if one of us isn’t here anymore? Will I be putting their lives at risk and my own? Am I ready to do all of this again? And then I have a little boy who so desperately wants a sibling…..he laments on almost a daily basis. Little comments about how unfair it is that Michael Jackson (his new idol) had three children when he doesn’t even have one. Every comment is a little stab to my heart. I had a long talk with him – a very graphic conversation in which I explained how he we had a difficult time making babies and needed a doctor, about my miscarriage and that I have tried. I also went over the exact process of HOW a child is made (with photos) and he was very interested. I know that sounds a bit premature for a six year/almost seven year old and people have told me that it was a mistake but I disagree. Never will he have that “talk” or he discover it through school yard chit chat (as I did – to my horror “your daddy puts his thing into your mommy’s pee hole – needless to say I was disgusted, afraid of the idea for myself one day and confused). It isn’t a big deal to him and that is what I want, for him to understand that this is a normal and natural process (well, not so much for us but there you go).

So I have been thinking, and reading and wondering if I am the one who should be carrying these embryos. I have one possible person to carry and she is someone who currently works at my preschool. I could help care for her and be there for her every day. I would also miss out on the opportunity to carry my own child….my body also MIGHT kill my child with its ridiculous immune problem. So I made an appointment to see my old doctor. We don’t have a load of cash and I am running out of time but I am determined to use those embryos and give my son, my family and them a chance. I didn’t come this far to give up. I think of them all the time, what they would look like, how they would get on with their brother.

I am also sick. I am not sure what it is but my fingernails tell me. The smoothie revolution continued from last blog until about three weeks ago when we went to England and ate just about everything I never eat (meat, croissant with chocolate, cheese, cheese and more cheese). I have been at my best weight since high school for months. More on that later because I know that people will want to know how I did it. It is amazing. I feel like I reset my body for good. I had a glass of milk the other day – er with my tea and the only thing I could taste was the grass from the cow’s milk. UDDERLY disgusting. I much prefer soy but I think I need to give that up if I am going to do a January transfer.

I have an appointment with my former RE to ask him to manage my autoimmune issues. Blood work came back with elevated APA (blood clotting) and my fingernails are pitting (autoimmune). I cannot chance this not working so we are going to talk intralipid, IVig (at 3K a pop, god help me), prednisone and more. CCRM doesn’t believe in any of it but they do and I know I wouldn’t have Alex without the IVig.

If you have recurrent miscarriage – consider changing your diet and getting off the processed food chain as much as possible. I’m not going to go on a diatribe about GMOs right now.

Not much to report right now but lots more soon.

By the way, most of my family tree has longevity in it. Everyone lived into their 90s. I expect the same to happen over here so I’m going with that for now. I’ll at least get to see him or her or them until I am my age (unless I live as long as my grandmother – she died last year at 99).

I just hope they don’t put me in a home and forget to visit. 😉

Big news…for IVFers and people in general

Remember when I told you all that I was doing a lifestyle upheaval? I wasn’t kidding. About a year ago I went to the doctor. I weighed around 150 pounds. My cholesterol was 184. My triglycerides were 160 a little too high. My thyroid was .9. My vitamin D level was 18. It should have been 30. My blood pressure was an amazing 166/95. I had anxiety, heart palpitations, psoriasis, and a general feeling of malaise.

After going on a whole plant diet in January I went to the doctor. I had been on this diet for two months. We did a test of all of my vitals including blood work. Guess what happened?

First of all my menstrual period came back. Second, my cholesterol lowered from 184 to 134. My weight is now 142 and I am losing by the day. My vitamin D is 29 just a little under 30 :-). My triglycerides went from 160 to 60!!!! My thyroid is at 1.1 which means it is making more thyroid. My psoriasis is virtually gone. Caveat – my psoriasis will come back if I forget to take my vitamin D supplementation of 2000 mg per day. My blood pressure is now 120/80 which is still high for me but once I begin to exercise I predict that will lower as well.

If you are doing IVF or considering doing it I recommend that you read the China study. This has changed my life. I am no longer feeling ill but energized. I can sprint without feeling drained and my body is urging me to go forward not collapse in exhaustion.

I don’t eat a great deal of meat or animal products and only have milk in my tea. I have soy in everything else or almond milk. Reading that milk and animal products are cancer activators has not only made me worry about my diet but change it completely.

I am about to begin preparations for the FET transfer of my two normal embryos. I will give myself two months of solid activity and work my body into shape so that I will have the best possible result. I know that my body can do this if it is fit and I am mentally ready and clear. I hope you will look at my result and consider a plant-based diet. Do not forget that eating meat for animal products is not a bad thing in moderation. I still eat meat infrequently (probably once or twice per week). I prefer to get the amino acids and protein my body needs from beans, legumes and soy/tempeh etc but I am still having the occasional lamb, red meat (did you know that chicken has more cholesterol than red meat??). The China study was a big eye opener for us. My father in law had zero cholesterol problems. Yet his heart and arteries were completely clogged with cholesterol. How can this happen? Eating animal products every single day has serious implications for our health. When you read this book or watch the movie “forks over knives”, “Food Inc”. and all of the other eye opening messages out there you will come to your own conclusions. I hope this post helps someone out there who is considering IVF or just getting healthy in general. My husband likely saved my life and I owe him for making these amazing shakes (filled with kale, spinach, ginger, cranberry, goji berry, oranges, acai and the list goes on!).. I will keep you posted!

I am turning 45 next month. I will be putting a 5AB and a 4BB (chromosomally normal embryos) into my body. This is scary stuff and my last chance. Here comes the kitchen sink.

Preparing for pregnancy and a smoothie for fertility (not my recipe)

Here is what I am doing for the next three months (combined with yoga, meditation and exercise – walking mainly and weight training) as I prepare for a March FET at CCRM.

•    Taking a baby aspirin (low dose and coated)
•    Relaxing/mediation – going to a “healer” who also adjusts you as you lay there for up to three hours if you want – miracle find and so relaxing (only in ATL)
•    Acupuncture targeted at increasing fertility. I am going local and then heading to Dr. Wu in NYC (he is the best, well IMHO).  I am certain implantation occurred because of him last time…

Perhaps add in L arginine during the cycle (not before) to help with lining issues, doubling up on my vitamin D (everyone is low and it is a huge issue – forget calcium this is why we have such a huge problem with osteoporosis…)  On to the smoothie:
•    And last but not least, drinking Lori Bregman’s fertility smoothie everyday!
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Lori Bregman’s Fertility Smoothie

Ingredients (links are to Lori’s favorite products):
•    frozen mixed organic berries
•    almond or rice milk
•    protein powder (something natural and clean, without a lot of additives or soy)
•    2 shots of wheatgrass (I use a frozen one by Evergreen, but you can use powder or fresh shots instead)
•    maca root powder
•    acai berry 
•    mixed powered greens
•    royal jelly (*Do not use if you have a bee allergy)
•    bee pollen (*Do not use if you have a bee allergy)
•    liquid omegas

Instructions:
Read dose/serving information on back of each product. Mix everything together in a blender. Use more or less milk to achieve a desired consistency.

What it all Does: 
•    Powdered Greens, berries and acai: Feed and promote healthy cell growth and help nourish the blood.
•    Wheat grass: Lowers FSH levels, nourishes cells, helps restore hormone balance, and helps alkaline your PH levels, which makes it better for sperm to live in.
•    Maca root: Nourishes the entire endocrine system, enhances fertility and brings hormones into balance. Also increases sex drive, vitality and gives you tons of energy.
•    Royal jelly: Balances hormones, supports the endocrine system, helps raise estrogen levels in women, and helps increase sperm quality and testosterone levels in men.
•    Bee pollen: Contains high levels of vitamins, acts as a natural aphrodisiac, nourishes the ovaries, increases fertility, regulates the menstrual cycle and helps produce healthy eggs in women, and increases sperm count in men.
•    Protein powder: Repairs and builds healthy tissues.
•    Liquid omegas: Helps stabilize your moods, lowers inflammation in the body, increases blood flow to the uterus, regulates the menstrual cycle, ovulation, and cervical mucus in women, and increases sperm mobility in men.

If anyone has other ideas for FET prep or pregnancy prep for all ages or specific doctors, make a comment to help others…