Friday, January 11, 2013

to do list

A few years ago, I was reading every infertility book I could get my hands on. I scoured websites looking for tips and tricks. I figured there had to be some magical secret that would bring me a baby. I'm a list person, so I created a Word document and started to compile suggestions from eastern medicine, western medicine, and other women who had been there. Some of these are specific to my condition, polycystic ovarian syndrome. I want to remind everyone that I'm not a medical professional. I am not suggesting you should do any of these. Neither am I discouraging you from trying them. This post is purely for entertainment. Here goes...

1. Eat two tablespoons of cinnamon per day to lower blood sugar. I literally bought three giant containers of cinnamon at Costco and scooped heaping tablespoons into my mouth. More than once, the way-too-strong taste overcame me and I coughed, creating a reddish brown cloud that covered everything around me in a layer of cinnamon and spit. It was so, so, so gross. But I did it. Then one day my acupuncturist told me that only a specific type of cinnamon lowers blood sugar. Not the Costco kind...dang.

2. No multitasking. I was never very successful with this one. As I write this, I am eating a cookie and doing squats...yeah, I know.

3. Think positively - picture yourself being pregnant, tell yourself that you are looking forward to being pregnant in the next few months, etc. This one was way too painful. It felt like I was playing a mean joke on myself. I totally understand why it would be valuable and I hope to do it the next time around, but a couple years ago, thinking positively was beyond my scope.

4. Get regular acupuncture. I have always struggled with needles, but getting stuck at least once/week (sometimes as many as 15 times/week) during treatment cycles can cure you of that pretty quickly. I had seen an acupuncturist once before for reasons unrelated to fertility. It was actually a pretty pleasant experience. She put about four needles in my hands and feet and let me lie there for about a half hour, listening to Enya or something like that. But this time around, a friend recommended her acupuncturist, so I thought I'd give him a try.

He is the sweetest, most gentle, fatherly man. I always felt very comforted by him emotionally but no one has ever put me through more physical discomfort than this guy. He is serious about his needling. Once or twice per week, I visited his serene clinic with the lovely music and calming lighting, where he proceeded to treat me like a voodoo doll. "How deep are you sticking those needles?" I asked through gritted teeth as he jabbed me in the stomach and hips. "About an inch and a half," he said calmly. Sometimes he would stick me with thirty-something needles in a session. Other times, he would pick this dreaded spot on my shin that hurt like crazy...and twist the needle...way too many times. He often shook burning herbs around me, leaving me smelling like I'd been hanging out with Snoop Dogg and Justin Bieber. Even worse were the times he hooked the needles up to mini jumper cables that were plugged into an electrical box. They sent small (his word, not mine) electric surges into the needles that made my face and hands twitch with every pulse even though the needles were in my legs and feet.

Thankfully, he talked non-stop about his life story, his family, something he heard on NPR...all of this helped distract me. He was way too smart for me and I constantly lied when he asked if I had heard of this historical figure or that jazz musician. His wife was usually at the clinic and he would often give her awkward tasks like massaging my stomach or arranging the towel just right to give me privacy. And despite the pain, the long commute to the clinic, the awkward moments when the towel slipped, the financial cost, and the many stories that were way over my head, I always felt genuinely liked and cared for by this couple. One day, during an especially low time, I asked my acupuncturist if there was a point he could needle for hope. "We'll see what we can do," he said. I'm pretty sure he was making it up as he went, but I think it worked. And several weeks later, I was pregnant.

5. Do a full-body herbal cleanse. If you aren't depressed about your infertility yet, this will do it for sure. I visited the office of a homeopath where she asked me lots of kind, insightful questions about myself and listened like a therapist would. Then she had me lie down on my back on a massage table and hang my right arm straight out to the side. She set jars of supplements on my chest one at a time. With each supplement, she would push down on my arm to test my strength. She said that I was stronger with certain supplements and weaker with others. This was very bizarre and difficult to believe but also difficult to dispute. Then she convinced me to purchase these prenatal vitamins and a tub of powder for my prescribed cleanse. One hundred and fifty dollars later, I was on my way, trying to figure out how to explain this to Andrew. It was going to be a challenge. Speaking of a challenge...the cleanse itself was misery. I was only allowed to eat leafy greens, apples, and these gross shakes. I remember going to a baby shower at work and not even being able to eat the cake because of this stupid cleanse. Nothing like adding insult to injury. Some people swear by these things. I guess I'm just not that strong.

6. Use a hot water bottle at 110 degrees for 20-60 minutes on your belly between period and ovulation. Didn't do it. I wasn't sure how to take the water bottle's temperature. Plus, I haven't had a period in ten years and I don't ovulate, so...

7. Use castor oil packs on your belly three times per week for 45-60 minutes at a time for 90 days. What even is castor oil? Sounds gross. 

8. Cut out cold foods. This one is surprisingly a challenge for me. In fact, I craved cold foods during our IVF cycle. Probably just because I knew I wasn't supposed to have them.

9. Stop eating peas. A friend told me that there's this part of the world where fertility is extremely low. Apparently they eat a lot of peas there, and some scientists are making a connection. I like peas, but I rarely eat them now. 

10. Egg whites, turkey get the picture. Apparently the egg whites are supposed to act like cervical mucus and basically create a slip-and-slide for the sperm. I'm not joking.

11. No more sugar. Sigh. Do I even have to explain how difficult this one is for me? My sugar cravings have always been super powerful. On more than one occasion, when unable to find sweets in the house, I have poured sugar directly from the canister into my mouth. Even worse, we aren't just talking about refined sugars. Fructose (fruit sugar) is bad. Lactose (milk sugar) is even worse for people with PCOS. Carbohydrates contain sugars. I'm supposed to eat low-fat protein, non-starchy green and white vegetables, cold water fish and seafood, white meat poultry, eggs and limited amounts of certain fruits. This actually sounds delicious. I love these types of foods, but it's the convenience factor that gets me. And the sugar cravings. Those don't help.

12. Lose 5-10% of body weight. Nursing was my diet plan and personal trainer in one. I pumped a lot, WAY more than Harriet could have ever used, so I lost my baby weight fairly quickly and I recently weighed less (by a pound) than I did in college. I felt so great. But then we started weaning. The weight is slowly but surely piling back on, and I've got to do something about it. Having a small child and living in a very cold part of the country makes it difficult to exercise, so I've got to get creative. The other day, I tried to do a kickboxing video in my living room. I stepped on a toy and almost fell. Harriet was freaked out and wanted me to hold her. And the dog was attacking me.

There are so many more. So, so many. I do my best. Sometimes my best is pretty impressive. And other times, my best is crap. As I was drafting this post, I started to notice myself heading in the direction of self pity, as in, "it's such a bummer that I even have to think about this stuff." But then I realized that most of these things should be on all of our to-do lists, fertile or infertile. Why did I even consider complaining about about having to take good care of my body? 

The egg whites...that's a different story.


  1. This made me laugh. I suppose some people will try anything. I heard about the egg whites, but didn't realize this is what they meant. Gross. I am interested in the acupuncture, but I am pretty sure insurance doesn't cover that and not so sure I could afford it. I know it helps others, so maybe at some point. I did like the cinnamon tip and the brown cloud :)

    1. Glad I made you laugh, Risa! Acupuncture wasn't covered by our insurance either. I'm glad we did it the first time around but I'm sure we'll skip it the next time. Too expensive.

  2. Heyyy I agree that the thinking positive one is so hard!!!! I struggle with it everyday. This time around I am telling myself every day that I'm pregnant. Ill let you know if it helps ;)

  3. Great Post….. I read a few of your other posts.

  4. This article contain very useful things for us I am very excited bout this one it is so nice and very useful to us.

  5. You write good content, I am looking for this thanks for sharing it will help others.


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