Category Archives: PCOS

7w3d- still pregnant

Second ultrasound was today.

All was well. Baby was hanging out where s/he should be, heart was at 148 beats per minute, growth was spot on. It’s still a blob, but now a blog with a definite top half and bottom half.

I got pretty twitchy when the tech scanned for over a minute without saying anything, but then she must have realized I was starting to freak out because she popped in a “everything looks good so far”.

I don’t think you can ever fully recover from having an ultrasound where things didn’t look good. That moment of waiting for reassurance is terrifying.

Dr. B. is being cautious and has kept me on the entire chemical cocktail. I was hoping to escape the fragmin injections from this point, but no joy. My stomach is all sorts of interesting shades of purple and green and yellow.

I’m on the progesterone suppositories instead of the PIO shots, which makes Q. very very happy as he absolutely loathed giving me those injections. But the suppositories are gross. End of complaining. If it maybe helps, I’m willing to do it.

“How are you feeling?” asked Dr. B.

“Pretty sick, to be honest,” was my reply.

He gave me a HUGE smile. “Great news! That’s what I like to hear!”

I have yet to vomit (and I never threw up with E., so I’m hoping my perfect track record can continue), but I am very very very queasy most of the time. It felt like a switch turned at just past six weeks, when the pregnancy made it clear just who was in charge of my body (hint: not me).

The baby (called Kernel last week and Blueberry this week) approves of the following activities:
1. Sleeping
2. Lying down
3. Eating carbohydrates continuously or at least every hour, preferably while lying down

Activities other than the above lead to queasiness, cramping, and general feelings of not being well. The baby is particularly unwilling to have me do anything that requires a great deal of thought or concentration. Apparently that is too taxing. I vacuumed the house today and then felt like I was wading through treacle for the rest of the afternoon.

I don’t remember feeling like this with E., but I guess I am a) older, b) not in shape, and c) not souped up on a triple dose of prednisone to cope with the allergic reaction to the PIO shots.

In other pregnancy administrative news, I saw my endocrinologist (the rudest man alive) yesterday. After criticizing my clinic’s drug regime (he was horrified I was still on estrace and progesterone despite being pregnant, which I feel just demonstrates how little he actually knows about fertility issues) he eventually gave me a prescription that bumped up my synthroid dose, which is all I needed him to do. I have to see him again in two months if all continues to go well.

I’ve had one meeting with my midwife (the one who delivered E.) already. She was really interested in the diet changes that produced this result. She then asked me if I was planning to stay on the diet during pregnancy, as she was concerned about calcium if I wasn’t eating dairy.

I was just past five weeks at the time, so not feeling sick yet, and I said to her, “To be honest, I don’t think I’ll be able to stick to this diet if I feel like I did with E.”

Now, the idea that I might stay on my high protein/lower carbs, no dairy diet is just laughable. Blueberry has NO INTEREST in that plan. We’re already in negotiations about eating something other than crackers between breakfast and dinner. And Blueberry would really just like to eat potatoes for dinner.

Anyway, it wasn’t clear to me from the reports on the study that the PCOSers stayed on the diet when pregnant. They had lower miscarriage rates, but that could just be because their eggs were better quality to begin with and the embryos were healthier. We are still eating lots of meat but I am not beating myself up over the fact that I consumed an entire box of Triscuits last week. It is what it is, and this is either a good baby or it isn’t, and there is very very little I can do that would change anything.

 

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Filed under Me? Pregnant?!, Midwives, PCOS, Thyroid

News, unexpected

A couple of weeks ago I went back to my clinic.

I know, I know.

I wrote here about how we were done with the clinic. DONE. Never returning.

I meant every word of it too.

And then, right around the same time that I reached my conclusion, the Ontario government announced that they were going to honour their promise to fund one IVF cycle (for any woman under 43, regardless of family status).

I will admit, that gave me pause.

I thought about it. I really thought about it.

And then I decided that their announcement didn’t change things, even if they had everything in place to start funding before the end of the year (which is a big if).

I realized that I wouldn’t go back to the clinic even if they PAID me.

So what changed?

Well, remember that cycle where I cut out dairy before ovulation and promptly ovulated on day 18?

The luteal phase from that cycle felt weird. Different from the last two.

And when I hit 12 dpo, and my temperature still hadn’t dropped (which it had never done before) I got curious.

IMGP5560

At 17dpo, I went back into the clinic.

The betas followed:
17dpo: 594
19dpo: 1476 (doubling time 36 hours)
22dpo: 5851 (doubling time 36 hours)
25dpo: 13914 (doubling time 57 hours)

They never called me (at my request) with the fourth beta as by that point I had taken up residence in Crazytown over the prospect of multiples, because the betas were higher than either of my two previous pregnancies (including the one that started as a twin pregnancy) and they were doubling faster. You were spared all of this angst because one of my sisters was on vacation, and I needed to tell her before I posted on the blog as both my sisters read it. When I managed to link up with her via Skype (the day before the fourth beta) she helped me pack my bags to move out of Crazytown, as she’s a scientist and she can crunch the numbers properly and I trust her. I knew that another fast doubling time would send me back over the edge, so I opted not to know.

Yesterday was the ultrasound.

And we saw this:

IMG_41631

ONE baby. Measuring 6w2d. With a heartbeat of 114.

It is still early.

I have been here twice before, with only E. to show for it.

But it looks like we’re getting one more shot at this whole family of four thing.

We’ll take it.

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Filed under Cycle Madness, Me? Pregnant?!, PCOS, Second Thoughts

PCOS and Dairy: Just Say No

Readers, this is a game changer.

If you recall, after ovulating on day 21 in my third cycle, last cycle I didn’t ovulate until day 27. That was the cycle where I had been eating ice cream on a daily basis for well over a week (yes, I know that’s embarrassing).

So I set myself a goal: with cycle #5, I was not going to eat ANY dairy, other than Greek yoghurt at breakfast, until after I ovulated. I wanted to see if it would make a difference.

Oh, and I also eased back on the whole carb/protein ratio issue, because I was so convinced dairy was the major culprit.

Oh, and my metformin ran out right before I ovulated in cycle #4 and I didn’t go and get more because I couldn’t stand the thought of going into the clinic and possibly running into my new doctor (or, worse, my old doctor) and having to explain where I had been when we were supposed to have done an IVF cycle by now.

Not exactly perfect scientific conditions with no fewer than three variables at play. What can I say. I’m a historian.

So cycle #5 started, and I stuck to my plan. No butter. No cheese. No milk. No ice cream UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES even if it looked delicious.

I still ate Greek yoghurt at breakfast most mornings. And there was some milk used in cooking now and again.

And I ovulated on day 18.

DAY 18!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Once I knew the high temperature wasn’t a fluke, I immediately tucked into the cheese.

I am still in my luteal phase (7dpo), so I’m still eating dairy occasionally. But I will cut it all out as soon as my temperature drops, and we’ll see if we can repeat this next month.

I cannot cut it out entirely, but cutting it out (except yoghurt) for half the month, and then only eating it when it’s something that I really love, that is a situation I can live with.

It boggles my mind that my “cereal and milk” breakfast habit (that has been a habit for my ENTIRE LIFE) could fundamentally be the problem behind my PCOS and my total lack of anything resembling (even remotely) a menstrual cycle before this summer.

Yes, I wish I had known about this earlier.

Yes, I wish I had made these dietary changes a couple of years ago.

Yes, I wish things could have been different with our family.

But right now, I am excited for the future, because for the first time in my life I have a way to manage my PCOS. Truly manage and live with it, not just hide it with birth control pills.

THAT is better than ice cream.

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Filed under Cycle Madness, Food, PCOS

Cycle #4 recap

38 days this time.

Fertility Friend and I are disagreeing about when I finally ovulated (which happened pretty much as soon as I stopped eating ice cream on a daily basis- coincidence, I think not). FF says Day 25, but I think it was Day 27.  My chart has three earlier points where my temperature plummeted one morning before popping back up to the normal range for a few more days. I think my body was trying to ovulate and just couldn’t quite manage it.

Luteal phase was somewhere between 11 and 13 days, depending on who was right about the ovulation. Spotting started late on the last day, just like last cycle, and af started in full force overnight.

Even if I’m right about the date I ovulated, that still makes my luteal phase one day longer than last time. And if FF is right, it’s practically textbook in length.

This cycle, I’m determined. I am NOT going to eat any dairy, other than my Greek yoghurt at breakfast, until I’ve ovulated and we’ll see what kind of results I get. I am more and more convinced dairy is the major factor. So we’ll see.

This is kind of fun. I like puzzles. I am intrigued by the possibility I could actually understand what is going on in my body and how to affect it.

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Filed under Cycle Madness, Food, PCOS

Masquerading as Normal

31 days this time.

And that, my friends, is within the doctor-approved normal range!

But before we get all excited, let’s look at what my chart showed (imagine you can see my chart here, because I’m too incompetent to figure out how to provide a web link. Not that you need to see that, but I’m rather proud of my temperature raise post-ovulation.).

Ovulation on Day 21. Late, but just squeaking into the normal range. I was ridiculously excited by this. Ridiculously excited.

I stayed excited right up until 9 dpo, when my temperature made a slight, but significant dip.

Surely, I thought, it’s not dropping already.

It was.

It dropped again, significantly, the next day, and I had a lot of spotting that afternoon. And AF was there in full force by the next morning.

I called it a 10 day luteal phase, but the tenth day wasn’t ideal, not least because Q. and I had gone away for a minibreak staycation while my parents looked after E. This would mark exactly the SECOND time Q. and I have left E. with my parents for a night. The last time was in November 2013 (when my mother famously locked herself and E. out of the house the following morning, which, if you know how the locks work in my house, you would know that’s quite a feat. Luckily we were still in the city and were on our way home when she called).

Anyway. Last weekend. Just us, a fantastic hotel room, some musical theatre, a great dinner, a bottle of wine, and my most unwelcome hanger-on.

SERIOUSLY, body. You choose THAT MOMENT to decide you couldn’t be bothered with a reasonable luteal phase? After YEARS of inaction?

Ahem.

It was still a great staycation, and even with all the fun of the previous day (musical theatre! tasty dinner!) I think the best part remains when we got to read the newspaper IN BED THE NEXT MORNING UNTIL 11:30!!!!!!!

I did all the puzzles.

I don’t think I’ve done that since E. was born.

Possibilities:

  1. My body is still figuring itself out and this time my LP could be longer.
  2. Something isn’t right with my progesterone levels (or the balance between estrogen and progesterone) and I have an LP defect that would send me to a fertility clinic if I weren’t already at one.

I’m going to withhold judgment until I see what happens this month, but you know I’m expecting more problems. Because that’s just how my body rolls when it comes to reproduction.

In the long run, a 31 day cycle with a 10 day LP is just fine and dandy. It’s only an issue if I want to get pregnant.

And maybe I still want to get pregnant. I’m not sure these days.

So I’m opting to stay off the birth control, delay returning to the clinic by at least one more cycle, and wait to see what happens.

But if my body repeats what it did last cycle, I won’t have to wait that long.

And that in itself is terribly exciting.

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Filed under Cycle Madness, Food, PCOS, Second Thoughts

44 Days

I have lots of things I’d like to post about on here but E. is out of nursery school now and we’ve had family visiting and we’ve been travelling and it’s just generally been a fantastic summer thus far, but not one that’s left a lot of room for blogging, especially since I’m still choosing sleep (or snuggles) over getting up early in the morning.

This post is brought to you by an unscheduled quiet time. E. and I went out West (or out Middle of the Country) to see relatives over the weekend and he obviously picked up some sort of bug on the plane coming home. Yesterday, right before lunch, he started complaining that his arms and legs hurt. He then proceeded not to eat any lunch, asked to go up and have a nap (!!!!!!), slept for three hours (!!!!!!!!!) and then woke up with a raging fever (39.8). The rest of the day was pretty rough, last night was not much better, and while he is clearly better this morning (no fever), he requested another nap after lunch and has been asleep for the last hour and a half.

So here I am. At least this post isn’t brought to you by vomit (knock wood).

Why the title?

Because, dear readers, I got my period AGAIN.

And while I can’t be certain of the exact length of the previous cycle, as I didn’t keep track of when my period started, not thinking this would be something worth tracking, I am relatively confident that it was a little bit longer. More likely to be 46 or 47 days.

Annoyingly, I can’t pinpoint when I ovulated this past cycle because I stopped temping in disgust on day 22 when it was clear no ovulation was happening. I knew my cycle needed to be 35 days or shorter to be what the doctors would call ‘normal’, so I threw a bit of a tantrum and then went away for a weekend and then couldn’t be bothered to start up again.

I am pretty sure I did ovulate because I took my temperature one morning on a lark because I felt like I did before my period started and it was sky high, then lower the next morning, then lower again on the third day, and that was the same day my period started.

So if you guessed that I’m back to temping, you’d be right. Today is day 21 and, once again, no sign of a successful ovulation. Lots of signs that my body is trying, which is what it was doing last cycle at about this time as well. So I’m going to show more confidence in it and keep charting and hopefully this cycle will be a couple of days shorter again.

Forward progress, no matter how small, is a good thing.

What I think I really need to do is cut out dairy entirely for a couple of months starting on Day 1 of a new cycle, because I have two friends with PCOS who cut out dairy and had their cycles regulate, but I can’t figure out how to do that unless we take IVF off the table because I need the Greek yoghurt for protein. And we’re not yet ready to decisively take IVF off the table, although I am very reluctant to go in at this point because I don’t want to fuck up whatever my body is trying to do by going back on birth control and then pumping it full of hormones.

I suppose that tells you something about my mindset, in that I am more interested in the option to possibly have a normal menstrual cycle for the next twenty years or so (or whenever menopause hits) than I am in the option where we get another baby. Probably because I don’t really believe that we will get another baby, so the option where we just establish that as a fact isn’t particularly enticing. The option to not have to stay on birth control pills until menopause, on the other hand, is ridiculously exciting.

So. Nothing from me for almost a month and then a long, rambling discussion about my menstrual cycle. I’m excited, but I’m not expecting you to be.

 

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Filed under Cycle Madness, E.- the fifth year, Family, Food, PCOS, The Sick

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