What to eat (that is the question)

A month ago, I posted that I had been making some diet changes in order to get my body in line if we decided to go ahead with another IVF cycle.

I was doing things pretty casually until labmonkey posted with her numbers explaining why she’d decided to start eating meat.

I hadn’t actually sat down and worked out the specifics until that point.

If I’m aiming for 30% protein and max 40% carbs in my diet (which means fat has to come in at 30%), and I’m eating around 1800 calories a day, that’s 135 g of protein.

No problem, I thought. Look at all the meat I’m eating!

Then I went and actually looked up the numbers.

100g of chicken breast: 21 g
100g of tuna or salmon: 26 g
100g lean ground beef: 20 g
100g pork: 20 g

The point where I realized that I could eat 200 g of meat at dinner (which is almost half a pound!) every.single.night and I still wouldn’t be anywhere near half of my daily requirements was when I started to freak out a little bit.

But I persevered.

My body has not been happy. I’m not sure if it’s all the supplements or the diet changes or both but I haven’t felt all that great these last few weeks. It’s not just that it’s either feast or famine when it comes to the functioning of my digestive system. I feel nauseated much of the time. I’m already beyond sick of eggs. Cashew butter doesn’t taste good anymore. And canned tuna (which I normally really like) makes me want to hurl.

Even with a cup of Greek yoghurt (24 g) with a swirl of almond butter (3 g), or three eggs (18 g) scrambled with a cup of cooked spinach (5 g) and some cheese (3 g), for breakfast, I wasn’t hitting my targets on a consistent basis. And I thought I was going to throw up if I ate eggs at breakfast again.

I figured I had three choices:
1. Add in more dairy (cottage cheese as a snack being the obvious one)
2. Add in a protein bar or protein shakes
3. Eat even more meat at breakfast and lunch

#3 was out- I just couldn’t stomach the thought of more meat. It really didn’t help that E. came down with a hideous gastro bug the night we got back from visiting my sister and future brother-in-law (he started vomiting in the taxi queue of our home airport), which I then got two days later, on a night where I’d made beef and black bean tacos. Nothing like throwing up the remnants of a meal for five hours straight to make you a bit wary of ground beef in the future.

I didn’t like the idea of #2 either, since a protein bar was likely to have a bunch of sugar in it (and probably carbs too). And protein bars and protein shakes aren’t ‘real’ food. They’re not something that’s part of my usual diet and it seemed crazy to add them.

That left #1, but the first rule of diets for PCOS folk is not to eat much dairy (if at all). I hemmed and hawed, but clearly I wouldn’t survive without Greek yoghurt for breakfast and dairy in cooking, so cutting it out altogether wasn’t possible (nor was cutting out legumes- I don’t know how people go paleo. I wouldn’t be able to cope.)

I finally settled on trialling cottage cheese as a snack. Maybe I could alternate cottage cheese snack days with edamame snack days (although, of course, I’m not supposed to eat too much soy either. HOW CAN IT BE THIS COMPLICATED?)

I bought cottage cheese this weekend. I actually quite like cottage cheese but I cut it out of my diet several years ago because I didn’t like its salt content. On balance, however, I thought it made more sense than protein shakes.

I was all set to start eating it.

And then I got my period yesterday.

I’m not on birth control.

I had a period on the pill in the second week of April. And I distinctly remember looking at the calendar and realizing that if I started the new package on the expected day, I’d get my period while we were on holiday (I can’t skip periods anymore on my pill- I get breakthrough bleeding).

Nuts to that, I thought. I’ll wait another week before I start.

And then I got sidetracked because my doctor had prescribed me a new pill which she really liked for PCOS, but when I started reading about the pill, I didn’t like all the bad press. So I wasn’t sure what to do and therefore did nothing. When I was visiting with my sister I talked the new pill issue over with her and agreed I didn’t want to switch, but then I came home and jet lag and vomiting and chaos meant I didn’t start a new package of my usual pill.

And while we were away, I can remember a couple of days where I couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on downstairs. In retrospect, I think this was EWCM. I’m not used to seeing it.

So.

It looks like I ovulated about a month after my last withdrawal bleed on the pill, and then had a two week luteal phase.

HOLY SHIT.

If you are long-time readers of this blog, you will know that I NEVER, EVER ovulate on my own. I never have. I used to go off the pill for months in my twenties to see if my body would kick start, and it never did. I hoped I might get my period back when I weaned E., and I never did.

For my entire adult life, my body has not functioned normally.

Today I think something may have possibly changed.

It’s still very early days, of course, and it’s possible that this will turn out to be some sort of horrific random bleeding and not a period after all. Or, if it is a period, maybe it won’t happen again.

But I know two things right now.

I’m not going back on the pill for another few weeks- I want to see what happens.

And I’m sticking with this diet.

I don’t think this can be chalked up to anything but diet- I’m taking metformin, but that’s never helped in the past, and otherwise my supplements are pretty much the same with the exception of CoQ10 and fish oil, and I can’t see either of those being the deciding factor.

So now I’m back to wondering if cottage cheese is such a good idea after all, given PCOS and dairy are meant to be a bad combo. I have some long-term infertility friends who have basically cut dairy out of their diets (except for Greek yoghurt and some cheese in cooking) and their PCOS is under control. They have textbook cycles.

I think I need to sit down and really track what I’m eating for the next few days and see how my numbers are stacking up and then go from there. Maybe I don’t need to hit 125 g of protein (which was what I’d been aiming for) every day for things to be kickstarted.

I don’t for a second think we’d get pregnant from this, but it would be nice to have a PCOS management strategy that wasn’t “stay on the pill for the next fifteen years and then see if you enter menopause”.

I’ll keep you posted.

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Filed under Cycle Madness, Family, Food, PCOS, The Sick

Books Read: April 2015

You can read about why I decided to start doing this here.

For January, see here.
For February, see here.
For March, see here.

* denotes a book that I had already read at least once before

Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives (Gretchen Rubin)

Horse Heaven (Jane Smiley)

They Left Us Everything (Plum Johnson)

*Halfway to Hollywood: Diaries 1980-1988 (Michael Palin)

Travelling to Work: Diaries 1988-1998 (Michael Palin)

The Infertility Survival Handbook (Elizabeth Swire Falker)

The Brotherhood of Joseph (Brooks Hansen)

Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids (Dr. Laura Markham)

It doesn’t look like I read very much this month, but I think that’s largely because I spent so much of the month reading (or rereading) the second and third volumes of Michael Palin’s diaries. Weighty tomes indeed. I should say at the outset that I absolutely love Michael Palin. He is my favourite Python (saying something given I still have vast vast swathes of their repertoire memorized), I have all his books from his globetrotting, I’ve seen almost all of his movies, read his novels, etc. I even managed to meet him once and get his autograph, which was beyond exciting. He also went to the same college where I was when I met Q. These diaries are wonderful for a super fan like myself as they give you the completely illusory sensation that you actually know the man. The third volume (published last fall) includes the death of Graham Chapman and I was weeping on my couch when I read that entry. The overarching impression with these diaries is of how hard Palin works. Yes, there’s quite a lot of travel, and lunches/dinners/drinks out, and parties, and meeting famous people, but Palin never loses sight of what matters: getting the writing done. Sometimes it’s writing all day for two minutes of acceptable screen time. His discipline is genuinely impressive, especially since (as he himself notes), he doesn’t really need to work for the money after Python. He doesn’t have anything left to prove. He could coast on his laurels, but he doesn’t.

I liked Better than Before because I’m always interested in why we do what we do (or why we don’t). I’ll be glad to have a break from Rubin now- three books in quick succession was a lot. She’s very ambitious in her goals and it gets a bit exhausting after a while.

I can’t remember now why I ended up reading The Infertility Survival Handbook or The Brotherhood of Joseph. I know they must have been mentioned on a blog or in a book. I skimmed most of the Handbook (I could have written much of the Handbook!) but did pay attention to the chapters on quitting treatments. Both books served as a timely reminder that some people’s journey to parenting has been far more harrowing than mine was and I should count myself lucky, even when I don’t feel that way.

Horse Heaven was good fun. I like Jane Smiley and I love horses and I know a lot about horse racing. I’d had this on hold since I read Some Luck and finally had time to activate it and get it sent to my branch. It was another weighty tome which took a few days to finish.

They Left Us Everything is Plum Johnson’s memoir about having to clear out her parents’ house (which they had lived in for over fifty years) after their deaths. It’s as much about her relationships with her parents as it is about the physical process of sorting through their affairs. It’s amazing. Everyone should read it. It really hit a nerve with me because my two surviving grandparents are both still living in their houses and my parents (and their siblings) are going to inherit that baggage and have to deal with it. Johnson reaches the conclusion that all parents should do this to their children, but I think she’s lost sight of the fact that not everyone will have sixteen months to examine every book and knick knack like she did. They might instead just dump their parents’ entire lives into a dumpster, like E. and I witnessed across the street. On balance I still plan to manage my affairs to make sure that I will not leave everything to E.

The last book for the month was Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids, which I might go out and buy to keep on my shelf. It was a really good reminder of why I struggle with the parts of parenting I find most difficult, why my reactions are not great for my relationship with E., and how I can try to make changes. She writes about how we go into flight-or-fight mode when our buttons get pushed, and how we can’t react calmly when our child looks like the enemy- we need our brain to calm down first. That struck home. It explains why sometimes I am seized with the need to be right over the most inconsequential of things, and why I get so damned annoyed when E. bosses me around when we’re setting up train tracks.

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Four

As I have done in previous years, I will lock this post in a week or two. But I wanted to give all of my readers a chance to see how E. has grown and changed over the past year. Once again I have gone overboard with the photos. Bonus points to everyone who makes it to the end!

Dearest E.,

IMGP8096Four years ago today you were born.

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And then, before we knew it, you were turning one.

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And then, you were two.

 

8 May.

9 May.

And then, you were three.

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You still slept in your crib, in your sleepsack. When you were sleeping, you still seemed small.

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But there were signs all around of just how big you were getting.

And when I looked at you more closely, I realized there was no toddler left.

You had become such a great walker that we loved exploring the ravines in our neighbourhood.

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You’d recently decided you were a very large snake (a python, to be exact, although later in the year you became a “red boa with six wheels!” and even later a “red corn snake rattlesnake boa with six wheels!”) and so you spent a lot of time basking.

We had fun that summer. We went to the islands.

We made our second foray Down Under to see your Daddy’s family. The flight was a lot easier this time now that you were older.

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You loved seeing all the sights (although your favourite things to spot were construction vehicles and trains, just like at home).

We made sure we went to the beach, even though it was ‘winter’.

We went to two zoos. Your favourite animal was “the anaconda, because it’s the biggest, longest snake there is!”

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Back home, there were a few changes. You were out of your crib and into your new medium-sized guy bed (and a new room!). And you had a new best friend, your Puppy. Pretty soon Berenice Bunny was relegated to ex-lovey status.

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There was still lots to do to enjoy the summer. We hit up the splash pad.

There was work to be done in the garden, but we made sure to take time to cool off.

We went to another beach and even though the pictures don’t show it, it was freezing!

At the very end of the summer, we rented a cottage for a week. You told me on our second day there that you wished “we could stay at the cottage for the rest of our lives”. It was a perfect holiday.

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We went hiking in a national park and you walked the whole trail.

We went canoeing or kayaking almost every day.

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And then it was September, and time for a new (nursery) school year to begin.

We didn’t want to admit it, but our summer was turning into autumn.

For a long time you insisted you weren’t going to dress up or going trick-or-treating. Eventually you changed your mind.

That fall you discovered dinosaurs. Your favourite was (and remains) the Elasmosaurus.

Before I knew it, you were three-and-a-half. You tolerated the requisite ‘roo photo, but only if I would then “take a picture of me with my best dog.”

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You knew exactly what you wanted for Christmas and wrote a letter to Santa to make sure he knew.

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The snow came, but it didn’t last.

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We started to get ready for Christmas.

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Then it was Christmas Eve, and you had new pajamas.

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On Christmas Day, you were so happy that Santa had brought your train bridge. It wasn’t until the afternoon that we realized you weren’t well. It was into the new year before you were back to your usual cheerful self again.

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Then the winter set in and we had to find more things to do indoors.

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You worked very hard to plan a birthday party for your best dog (which turned out to be the first of many). You dictated to me the guest list and the presents.

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The snow came back, and this time it stayed. We still managed to enjoy it (at least for a month or two).

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For Valentine’s Day, you made us a special breakfast.

I gave you my old camera and you took to it immediately. I found it so interesting watching what you chose to document (even when you took fifty pictures in a row of the July page of our calendar!).

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We found some fun things to do in the city.

And some outside of it.

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Then it was Easter, and spring was just around the corner (or so we hoped).

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We started exploring again and visiting new places.

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Even though you had grown and changed so much, some things hadn’t changed. You still loved the Elasmosaurus and you still loved red.

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You still (a year later) said you were a snake, and your love for snakes showed no signs of abating. You measured (with my help) and drew a nine metre reticulated python on our sidewalk.

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When spring came, we got your bike out again. You weren’t ready for it in previous years, but this summer I think you’re really going to love it.

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Because we were going to be away on your birthday, we had an early celebration the week before. You wanted only two things: the Bruder flatbed truck which came with a backhoe excavator (which you had wanted for over four months, so we agreed to get it for you even though you really didn’t need another enormous truck) and a raspberry-watermelon cake. We managed both.

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When I look back, what strikes me about this year was just how much you made. You absolutely loved constructing wooden vehicles (with our help) and then painting them. Beading, stencils, painting- you did it all. You took your work very seriously.

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I have loved watching you grow.

 

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You are so curious about the world. We have conversations every day about why Pluto isn’t a planet anymore, or how the blood gets from your lungs to your heart, or why Seismosaurus is not the largest dinosaur. You are gentle and kind and loving. You tell truly hilarious jokes. Your imagination knows no bounds. I hope you never lose your sense of wonder, your desire to learn, your headlong embrace of life. It is a privilege and a joy to watch you grow up.

And now, my darling boy, you are four.

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I love you ever so much. Happy birthday, my son.

Love,
Mummy

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Filed under E.- the fourth year, Letters to E.

One more reason to love the internet

Microblog_MondaysWhen your son asks you for a watermelon-raspberry cake for his birthday, you can deliver.

‘Recipe’ adapted from here (among many others- apparently watermelon cake is a big thing. Who knew?!)

 

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This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

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Filed under E.- the fourth year, Food, Microblog Mondays

I’m in the garden!

Signs that spring has finally sprung:

1. You open the windows and the temperature inside the house rises.

2. You spend at least ten minutes a day staring at something coming up in the garden wondering if it’s meant to be there or if it’s a weed.

3. Your almost four-year-old is much easier to cope with, even though his behaviour hasn’t changed.

Twenty degrees Celsius makes everything better.

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Filed under Choose Happiness, Daily Life

Let him eat cake!

Microblog_MondaysMe: “E., do you want me to bake you a cake for your birthday?”

E.: “Yes!”

Me (pleased that E. wants a cake given he has already vetoed the party for the second year in a row): “What kind of cake would you like?”

E.: “An articulated cake!”

Me: “Um. Ok. And what flavour?”

E.: “Raspberry-watermelon!”

Must learn to phrase questions more carefully. If you, dear reader, happen to have a recipe for a delicious raspberry-watermelon cake, please do share.

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

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Filed under E.- the fourth year, Microblog Mondays

(Un)Necessary Prep Work?

I’ve been making a few changes chez Turia in the last couple of weeks.

It started when a friend of mine sent me a link to this soundbite (this is a different link from the one she sent me, but it’s the same story).

Basically, this doctor found in a small study of women undergoing IVF that women who ate a diet that had less than 40% carbohydrates and 25-30% protein had vastly improved outcomes with embryos reaching blast, pregnancy rates, and live births.

I was interested enough to send it to my sister, who’s a trained microbiologist and therefore my sounding board for anything scientific.

She was intrigued too. It’s not the actual study- just a report of the presentation of the findings. And the sample size was small.

But I figured, what the hell. I’d already made some changes to my diet as part of my “be mindful of what I eat” resolution, so I figured a few more wouldn’t hurt.

I’ve swapped out cereal and oatmeal at breakfast for eggs or Greek yoghurt.

I’ve swapped out sandwiches at lunch for quinoa salads, salads with tuna or chicken or hard-boiled egg, or home-made soups that include legumes.

I’ve cut out grains entirely for snacks.

And I’ve pretty much left dinner alone, because I don’t think eating pasta for dinner once a week is going to be a deal breaker. Q. has responded with enthusiasm to my request to include more meat in our dinners on the nights he’s cooking, and I’m making sure dinner on the nights I cook is heavily centred around lentils and other veggie proteins (I have a lot of trouble cooking meat- I went vegetarian before I learned how to when I was a teenager, and I can manage ground meat and chicken breasts but struggle with everything else. Plus I don’t think we should be eating meat every night anyway.)

Maybe it’s all pointless, but it’s worth a shot.

Other things I’ve started doing:

  • taking metformin again
  • taking coQ10
  • taking a B complex vitamin with extra B6
  • taking a multivitamin with extra folic acid
  • taking baby aspirin

And I’m still taking my vitamin D (2000 IU a day).

And yet, I could look you straight in the eye and tell you I wasn’t sure if I would do another IVF cycle, and I wouldn’t be lying.

Does that sound weird?

It feels a bit weird to me, but it’s true.

We had originally thought if we did another IVF cycle we’d do it in May after we got back from visiting my sister and future brother-in-law.

But once I decided I wanted to start taking the supplements and change my diet, we decided to push back into July, to make sure I’ve had the three months needed to make a difference.

We’re still not sure we’ll go through with it in July, but I decided that if we were keeping the door open, I needed to prepare so that if we did try again, we’d know we gave it our best shot.

I don’t want to do another IVF off the cuff, have it fail, and then wonder if things could have been different if I’d taken a couple more months to prep my body.

I realized that not taking the supplements, for me, was tantamount to saying “we’re done”.

And we’re not. We’re on the fence still.

So I needed to start taking everything to keep both options on the table. At worst, if we decide in July or August not to go ahead, we’ve spent a bit of money on unnecessary vitamins.

I don’t like being in limbo, but it’s not for much longer, because we will either cycle in July/August, or we will be done.

At that point the age gap will be five years, which was always our cut off date. And we’ll be almost a  year out from our last FET.

July will be the moment of decision.

For now I’m just taking it one day at a time, sitting with both options, noticing (but not judging) how I feel about things, and hoping that my digestive system will adjust to the new regime soon.

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Filed under Choose Happiness, Food, Medical issues, Second Thoughts, Siblings