Commitment

For many years following my diagnosis, I was in research and intervention overdrive.  I would spend hours trawling the internet for diets, supplements and therapies that might reverse my condition or swing the odds in my favour.  The trouble was I already had a full time job and then some.  I would burn out on a regular basis just with the effort of trying to keep up with the exercise regimes, the different fruit and veg I should or shouldn’t be eating, tablets three times daily, meditation, self massage, hypnosis and more.

Last year I stopped it all.  It was like starting again with a blank slate.  I ate what I felt like when I felt like it.  I didn’t bother doing anything except what I most felt like doing that day.  And funnily enough my body was pretty good at telling me when I was hungry, when I was tired, and when I was feeling more energetic.

Now I want to do something more with this blank slate, to mould it and improve it.  My ultimate dream is to heal and be a mother.  But an obsessive focus on that dream is what led me down the path of exhaustion.  Instead I’m going to choose one change at a time and commit to it fully.  Better to change one thing and do it well than to try to do everything and collapse under the strain.

The one thing that I have chosen is yoga.  I can do it for free at home.  I can do it gently on my less energetic days (sometimes all I do is sit and breath!) or more energetically on my better days.  I can meditate whilst doing it, thus killing two birds with one stone.

I have a chart and I can colour in one cell for every day that I carry out my yoga practise.  I need this because when I have previously “committed” to yoga it has been sparse and short lived.  It is so satisfying to see the colours grow, and I am motivated even on my least enthusiastic days because I don’t want a white, empty cell in the middle of my chart.  A nice idea that I’ve read about is to use a picture in an adult colouring book as your chart, so you get to colour another section each time you do whatever it is you have committed to.  How lovely to watch the picture grow.

I am five days in and already I can do a pose that on day one I was too stiff to get into, and I can hold each of the poses for longer.  I meditate on my chakras as I do it, and my concentration grows daily.

What one thing small action could you commit to each day, that might just swing the odds slightly more in your favour?  Forget everything else and focus on this one thing.  Give yourself a time limit…or an adult colouring picture limit…and see what changes for you.

A victory worth celebrating

One of my clients threw in a bit of a curveball today.  I was in the middle of giving an enthusiastic account of my professional successes, when she suddenly interrupted me with, “So you are having a baby then?”

I think I only faltered for a fraction of a second.  During that fraction, my mind was processing several facts. The emphasis on the are indicated that clearly some degree of thought and/ or debate had preceded this revelation.  What could possibly have led them to this conclusion, bearing in mind that I see this client once a week for not much more than an hour?  As I responded politely with, “No, I’m not pregnant,” and soothed her flushed face and rapid apology with, “No, it’s okay, please don’t worry,” and a swift change of subject, my mind secretly scrabbled around desperately for an explanation.  It quickly realised that the only possible explanation could be that she thought that I looked pregnant.

I am not pregnant.  I have of course been told that I will probably never be pregnant.  Why don’t you just slap me round the face with the two most upsetting aspects of my premature ovarian failure: the infertility and the weight gain.  The utter cruelty of a disease that simultaneously makes you look pregnant and yet prevents you from ever becoming so.

As someone who has been battling fertility for nigh on ten years, I have become adept at masking my shattered pride and weeping soul; rescuing the situation with a smile and good manners, and storing up the emotions until I am safely alone.  I watched myself expectantly for the usual signs: the tightening in my tummy, the aching eyes, the inability to focus, the aversion to bright light, loud noises and the yearning to be alone and to release.  Grief is such a physical emotion.

However, I surprised myself.  I actually began to give myself a bit of a talking to.  Now the truth is, I told myself gently, you do have a bit of a tummy.  You don’t like it and you’ve tried to get rid of it but unfortunately it’s still there.  And you already knew that.  It’s not like it’s a big shock.  You have a choice here.  You could legitimately choose to feel angry at her rudeness and insensitivity – I mean, even if you were pregnant, it’s none of her business – and you could legitimately use it as an excuse to feel sorry for yourself and have a good cry.  But on the other hand, she did look mortified and don’t you feel just a tiny bit sorry for her?  And what’s the point in being upset about something (the belly!) you already knew was there?  You could just choose to accept that this happened and then forget about it.  That is an option.  Which option is going to make you feel better?

I have heard it said before that you always have a choice.  That no one can make you feel upset unless you let them.  I haven’t found this to be true for me. Sometimes, despite my best efforts, people or circumstances hurt or upset me.  However, it would appear that on this occasion I do have a choice and I have chosen the latter option.  A year or two back, this would have made me crumble.  How wonderful that now I have a choice.  I must have come so far!  Now that’s a mini victory worth celebrating.  Glass of wine anyone?

A New Hope

It has been two years since I last wrote in this blog.  Logging in today has been bitter sweet; on the one hand, I’m pleased to be writing again, but on the other hand I notice that many of the fertility bloggers who I used to follow have since had their little bundles of joy.  As usual, I am pleased for them but cannot help but feel sad for us.

I have made some changes though.  I gave up on all the interventions because they were draining my money and the effort of keeping up with them became too much.  My career took over my life – the pressures of teaching have got too much for many, many teachers – and I decided that enough was enough.  What was the point of putting so much time and money into fertility treatments when I barely had the time to speak to my husband, nevermind anything that might result in offspring should I miraculously manage to ovulate.  In 2016 I quit my job as I knew that there was no way I would ever become a mother – biological, adopted or otherwise – whilst enduring the pressure that teaching put me under.

It was absolutely terrifying.  I had no other job to go to and no idea what I wanted to do with my life instead of teaching.  I might write more on this another day as it has been one of the scariest but most beneficial decisions I have ever made.  To cut a long story short, I now work as an administrator in a job that is busy, challenging and interesting but manageable alongside having an actual life.  I am also a private tutor on the side as I need the extra money to pay for my beautiful horse…one of the wonderful opportunities that has come my way to remind me that life can still be beautiful, even in the midst of the tragedy of infertility.  She’s my big, black angel.

So I find myself with a new life.  My husband and I are gradually recovering from the grief and stress of the last few years, and I am starting to wonder…what next?

 

Autumn Equinox

Today is the Autumn Equinox.  That means that it is officially the start of Autumn and that daylight and night time hours are nearly equal.  A quick google reveals that to many the Autumn Equinox is about balance – between light and dark – and reflecting on the year gone by, and being thankful for the fruits of nature in traditions such as the Harvest Festival.

Husband and I took a walk through our local park searching for signs of Autumn.  For me I’m saying farewell to my favourite time of year, the summer, but for him he is celebrating the beginning of his favourite time of year.  Everything is still looking quite green so it took us a while to locate the signs of Autumn.  There are a few early yellow or brown leaves curled in the gutter, and if you look to the top of the tallest trees they begin to be tinted with golden highlights amongst the lush green.  We crunched our way over a few fallen seeds, mostly spikey conker shells.  Today at school the Autumn was brought into my classroom in the form of a conker tucked into the shell of a child’s ear!

I enjoyed marking the change of seasons with a romantic evening stroll with the husband.  There is also the reflecting and being thankful part.  It’s easy to rattle off a list of the obvious things to be thankful for – my husband, my family, my friends, my health (minus the obvious), my pets, the rich variety of food we enjoy in our western culture, etc.  However, what is more challenging and perhaps more transformative, is to search for things to be grateful for amongst the harder times that we have endured.  I am grateful that my fertility problems have made me reflect so carefully over how I want to spend my time, who I want to be and where I might be going from here.  It has made me so much more aware.  I am grateful that in testing so many of my relationships, it has highlighted their great strength.  I wish I could say that it has made me stronger.  In all honesty I don’t feel that it has, but I guess it has taught me to go easier on myself, to love and forgive myself a little more and to rein in the perfectionist a little.  It has made me stop and notice how I have been enduring life instead of enjoying and experiencing it.  I haven’t entirely solved this problem yet but I have certainly made improvements and I feel that I am now headed in the right direction.  Fingers crossed anyway.

Shamanic Healing 1

Minor break through today.

Husband has always been extremely black and white to the point of extreme cynicism.  He is really not keen on anything that cannot be scientifically proven in double blind tests, peer reviewed and that has stood up to the scrutiny of Ben Goldacre of Bad Science fame (http://www.badscience.net).

I have admired his strong beliefs and principles from the early days of our acquaintance, when he sported multiple piercings and trousers round his ankles and I had young enough arms to wear strappy tops every day.  Even better, he had the intellect to back it up.  However, I’ve always been of a more spiritual and intuitive nature, open minded and content to accept that there are things that we may benefit from but never understand why. I think that side of me was pushed to one side a little with Husband, as I knew it was not a side of me he greatly appreciated (the news that I own tarot cards and runes, for example, was met with great derision many years ago!).

When the fertility issues arrived, I slammed the door shut on all things spiritual and turned the key myself.  Life was no longer full of wonder.  It is only really around the time that I started this blog that it all began to creep back in. I have had a major struggle to get Husband to support me financially with any of the complimentary or alternative healing I have wanted to try.  He has been remarkably restrained in that he let me get on with it with only the occasional comment on the cost of this or the scientific validity of that.  I think he was either humouring me, or tolerating it because he could see it gave me hope in place of despair.  But he wanted nothing to do with it himself, and only recently began to help out with it financially.

This morning, after I had been reading about shamans, I mentioned to him that I would like to try shamanic healing but that it would mean travelling to somewhere like America, Australia, Africa or Siberia.  He surprised me by suggesting that I try it more locally first, arguing that there must be shamans in this country too.  I must admit that I’m a little sceptical and feel that I need an extremely experienced shaman with some powerful ancestors behind him/her!  However, google soon revealed that there are indeed shamanic healers available not too far from where we live.  I read up a little, explained to him what it was all about and what a healing session might involve.  Husband replied, ‘that sounds like it might be of some value.  I want to come with you, let’s go together.’

I puzzled over this for a while – is he just being overprotective and wants to come with me so I don’t get conned?  I asked him and he denied it.  He seems genuine.  Is Husband going through some sort of transformation or mellowing?

Whatever.  I’m quite excited!  So look out for a post entitled, ‘Shamanic Healing 2’ to find out what happens next!

Coincidence or Mayan magic?

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So, I’ve been experiencing some slight spotting for the last few days.  An unusual occurrence as my periods are generally few and far between, although not entirely unprecedented.  When I looked back at the charts of my cycles I noticed that the last time I went to see Sue Calvert was back in April, shortly after the diagnosis of failed ovaries.  All she did back then was massage my feet (reflexology), but four days later I experienced four days of spotting.  My current spotting began five days after my second visit to Sue when she had given me both a Mayan abdominal massage and reflexology.  How is she doing it?!  Okay, so it could be coincidence, but I really wish she lived a lot nearer so that I could find out.  If one foot massage does that, imagine what weekly foot massages could do!  Although it’s not an ovulation or a full bleed, I’m going to take it as a positive sign that my body is doing something rather than nothing at all.  I’m also saving up for my next visit to see Sue!

Mayan Abdominal Massage

Yesterday, Husband and I travelled to Sheffield to visit Sue Calvert, aka the Babymaker.

After reading about Mayan Abdominal Massage on an American blog, I googled it and Sue seemed to be the most well qualified and experienced of the small handful of UK practitioners. I drove down to meet her and have reflexology in April. Welcoming and professional, she put me at ease immediately and I was soon relaxing on her treatment bed, marvelling at how the pleasant foot massage seemed to be causing subtle sensations in other parts of my body. Not long after that visit I experienced some spotting – the first sign of activity after months of no cycle at all. Since then I’ve been trying to find the money and the time to try her Mayan massage.

This time I spent three hours with Sue – poor Husband had to wait for me in the local pub with a book and a pint – and experienced both a Mayan Abdominal Massage (two hours) and a second reflexology session (one hour).

Obviously I can’t comment yet on the effectiveness of the treatment and whether it has affected me cycle in any way. However, I will briefly describe the experience in case anyone else is wondering whether to give it a go. Sue began by massaging my tummy just below my ribs where the liver and stomach sit, which is an area where I quite often feel tight or bloated if I eat too much or the wrong kind of food. Then she massaged around my uterus. I thought massaging my tummy might be uncomfortable or make me want to pee, but I was actually completely relaxed throughout. She went on to massage my back, occasionally gently pulling on or manipulating my legs.

When she had finished, I felt very relaxed and also suddenly quite tired, even though I’d had a good night’s sleep beforehand and was feeling wide awake on arrival. Sue said that feeling tired is a common reaction. She then spent some time explaining how I can carry out a self massage on my tummy and printed out some instructions for me to take away.

Ideally I would return for treatment regularly but I live too far away and I’d struggle to afford it on top of the acupuncture and chinese herbs that I’m already funding. So if I feel it has been beneficial then it will have to be as and when I have the time and money. Meanwhile the self massage will become my new bed time routine!

Overall, it was a pleasant experience and one that I would happily repeat. Fingers crossed for some evidence of positive benefits!

Well done, body!

Only someone who has battled infertility and absent cycles can understand how excited I am to be experiencing such a lovely, healthy bleed right now.  I don’t want to gross anyone out with too much information, but if you’re reading this blog then I would guess you are as used to such details as I am.  Usually, if I have gone for a long time with no cycle at all, if it does start to return then it would not be your typical healthy period – nice, bright red blood, heaviest for the first few days then tapering off gently to make a good, strong 5-7 day bleed. Happily, that’s exactly what I’ve got!  How did my body do it?  I’ve no idea.  I have been trying hard to eat and drink well…trying but not always succeeding.  I’ve been fairly consistently taking fertility multivitamins, Q10, omega 3 and royal jelly, and attending acupuncture most weeks.  My acupuncturist says that it indicates that blood flow to the area is good, the treatments are working.  I’m not entirely sure from looking at my temperature charts (as I have missed a few days) if I ovulated or if it is an annovulatory cycle.  I don’t suppose it matters.  At least I’ve managed to have a good healthy bleed by myself.  This means that I don’t have to go to the doctors for more pills to induce a bleed, which apparently I’m supposed to do if I go for longer than three months without a bleed.  I always feel purged somehow after a bleed, ready for a fresh start, another go at ovulation.  So, spurred on by this small success, I shall continue with my pills and potions, commence my chinese herbs, continue acupuncture when I can afford it, keep up with the exercise, stay as chilled as possible, bla bla bla.  Another new start then, here goes…

I’m a goddess!

Tonight I went to a Goddess Circle.  I had no what to expect, except that it sounded like something that the old me would have loved.  The me that I was before infertility hijacked my life and killed my passion (well, nearly).  It is a part of me that I used to draw strength from and it’s a part of me that I think I would like to retrieve and nurture.  So, off I went to the circle, armed with a dried rose to represent my favourite flower and a tomato salad as my contribution towards the goddess food that we had been asked to bring.

I met a wonderful group of ladies with some extremely inspiring life stories.  We had all been asked to bring something to represent our favourite flower and we were also asked to pick a tarot card – whichever we felt drawn to – from a couple of packs that were spread out face up on the table.  We then took turns to explain our choice of flower and our choice of card. 

I’d never really thought before about why I like roses so much, I just know that I do.  But you learn a lot about yourself when you stop and ask yourself these questions.  I explained that roses reminded me of my husband and our wedding day as red and white roses had been the main theme of our wedding day decorations.  They also represent my hopes for the future as I often picture a beautiful old house in the country with climbing red roses framing the front door, and a beautiful garden full of roses and herbs out the back.  I like to grow roses because they are not a plant that you just stick in the ground and leave to grow.  To get the best out of them you have to feed them, spray them, prune them, dead head them.  I enjoy the excuse to spend time outside close to nature and I enjoy caring for and nurturing the plant so that it becomes the best that it can be.  

I explained that I had been drawn to the Sun tarot card for two reasons.  Firstly, I feel absolutely exhausted by the past few years, both the battles of the fertility journey and the stresses and strains of being a full time teacher.  I need the heat and the light to heal me and to help me to relax and unwind.  Secondly, the sun in the centre of the sunset (or sunrise) depicted in the illustration on the card represents to me a new direction, something to work towards, a future.

In the course of explaining my choices of tarot card, I of course had to explain all about my fertility journey.  It is something that Husband and I usually keep very much to ourselves.  It took years for us to make the decision, one by one, to tell our closest friends and family.  Yet here I was standing up in front of a room of strangers telling them the whole lot!  I don’t know how I got through it without crying, but I did. Not a single tear!  Afterwards I felt wonderfully liberated, and also very supported and accepted by this wonderful group of women who had let me into their circle and given me this opportunity to unapologetically be all that I am.

At the end of the circle, we were asked to write our intentions for the next few months (until the next meeting presumably) on a small card and submit it to the fire.  You would think that I would write, ‘make a baby’ on my card.  But I didn’t.  I wrote that I wanted to find my life’s purpose.  I have asked the universe to show it to me.  Watch this space!

A glimmer of hope

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I found this blog today: http://one-in-ten-million.blogspot.co.uk/2014_04_01_archive.html

It is very much worth a read! It is written by a very inspiring lady who was told she had an FSH of 133 and an AMH of 0.16 but managed to conceive twins a few months later. She writes about the supplements and other measures that she took to improve her chances.  I am so grateful to her for writing that as it has given me some hope and a starting point.  She is based in America so I will begin to investigate whether there are similar supplements and therapies available in this country (the UK).  

If, like me, your doctor seemed to be implying that AMH is only ever going to get worse then you should also read this:

http://www.reproductivewellness.com/understanding-fsh-and-amh-determining-ovarian-reserve/

Make sure you click on the link at the end of the article for part 2, as this mentions how they have had some success with improving women’s AMH.  So it is possible! 

I’m new to this blogging lark.  If I can figure out how to do it, then I am going to try to add a page which contains links to success stories for high FSH/low AMH ladies trying to conceive.  I think that the more real life success stories I can find the more hopeful we will all begin to feel!