Wednesday, July 31, 2013

the world's healthiest beverage

This drink doesn't look as delicious as it is. But it is delicious. Promise. And super healthy. Here is an article featuring 10 health benefits of chia seeds. 

How did I get into the health bevvie-making biz, you ask? 
Last year, I got hooked on Mama Chia drinks. You may recognize these bottles from your local health food store or Whole Foods.

They are like a party in your mouth. The hydrated chia seeds have a sort of gelatin consistency which I love. Plus the health benefits are amazing. The beverage adds a compelling quality full of heart and brain-healthy omega-3s, powerful antioxidants and dietary fibers, as well as complete protein, calcium and magnesium. Chia seeds, an ancient grain, were revered by both the Maya and Aztecs for their amazing energy and natural healing powers. Chia really is one of the world’s healthiest whole foods!

But at $4 a bottle, I was going broke. So I decided to make my own and thought I'd share it with all of you. Make your own chia drinks in five easy steps....

Step 1: Find some cute mason jar glasses with lids. I like these because you can add labels to the front and identify which flavor it is.

Step 2: Add a healthy dose of organic chia seeds. (Exact amount depends on the size of your jars. I used 6 tablespoons.) 

Step 3: Add water (about half the container), shake and let seeds hydrate.

Step 4: Add your favorite fruit juice. I used Ceres which is 100% pure fruit juice - wholesome, earthy and natural, with no added cane sugar, colorants or preservatives. You can do one flavor or mix them together. I used Passion Fruit and Guava for a delicious tropical flavor. You could also add some organic agave sweetener if you want to make it sweeter.

Step 5: Put mason jars in the refrigerator to chill. Enjoy when ready.

It is the healthiest thing you can drink and it tastes so good. 
Give it a try! 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

the sun is shining

Yes, it is definitely shining. It's was a whopping 104 degrees today. Summer is my favorite season. Granted, I prefer it a few degrees cooler but still...the sun is out and that is a good thing.
After my last post, this one is all happiness and contentment.

I can't tell ya how long it will last. When it comes to this crazy journey...anything can happen. But for now, I'm feeling stronger and much more positive.

A couple reasons.

Reason #1...because of all of you. 
I'm so blessed beyond belief to have the kind of support that I have in my life right now. On this blog. My family and real life friends. My dear husband. When I'm at my lowest, the outstretched arms that envelop me so much strength.

Whether I have a baby or not, this experience has shown me the beauty of the human spirit...that people bother to take time out of their busy lives to support me. That people I've never even met feel my pain and want to share their words of encouragement. It never ceases to amaze me how wonderful this world of bloggers really is.
So thank you.

Reason #2
My breast biopsy is behind me. Although I'm still waiting on the "official" results from pathology, the needle drew out fluid which is a very strong indication that we are dealing with a cyst and not cancer.
Woo hoo!

Reason #3
I got my IVF calendar on Thursday and my checklist is almost complete. One endometrial biopsy to go and then in August my estrogen priming cycle will begin.
I'm ready. As ready as I'm ever going to get.

Reason #4
My mother. Knowing how busy I am at work, she offered to research drug costs for me. Armed with a list of pharmacies and my list of meds, she has been calling around to find us the best prices on each drug. I think this will end up saving us hundreds (possibly even thousands) of dollars.
You rock, mom.

Reason #5
If I've got to be on a shitty path to parenthood, at least I'm on it with this guy...and this guy. My hubby is my everything and so is this little boy of mine.

When things get tough, I just have to remind myself that...I'm already blessed beyond belief. Anything else is just icing on the cake.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

looking for strength

I feel empty. Stressed. Overwhelmed.
I've really been struggling with everything lately. 
I'm not sleeping well. This morning I woke up at 3am having what I think was a "panic attack" {thanks Dr. Google}. Work is crazy busy and I can't seem to get everything done no matter how hard I try. Navigating my way through medical "red tape" on top of it put me over the edge last week. And I'm just so scared that all of this stress is going to negatively affect my upcoming cycle.

this image says it all. tear-streaked face...trying to pull it together on my way to work on Friday.

 Battling with my insurance company and doctors to try to get my breast biopsy performed on the lump found during my mammogram has been exhausting. 

Here are a few of the obstacles:
  1. No referring physician. My ob gyn that I've seen for 10 years retired and closed his office July 1st. {Emotionally, this was super hard for me because I always imagined him delivering my babies. Now that will never happen}.
  2. Because the radiologist "thinks" the lump on my breast is a cyst, standard protocol dictates that I wait and come back in 6 months and get another mammogram. But that doesn't work when you're on the verge of pumping your body full of hormones. CCRM is requiring a biopsy before moving forward with IVF to make sure I don't have cancer.
  3. The general surgeon that my ob gyn referred me before closing his office couldn't feel the lump so he couldn't biopsy it.
I probably made at least 10 calls last week trying to get insurance authorization and an appointment for an ultrasound guided biopsy. Finally on Thursday, I had a new patient consult with my new ob gyn. Thanks to my retired ob gyn, I was referred to this doc that specializes in infertility. He listened intently, asked great questions, and took notes. After hearing our story of trying to conceive over the past five years, he responded with genuine compassion "5 years is way too long for you to be going through this". He said "let's get you whatever you need". 

I left his office with an authorization for my breast biopsy, an appointment for an endometrial biopsy and a prescription for valium. But best of all, I feel like I have an advocate to help me overcome the insurance obstacles that plagued me earlier in the week. 


Also on Thursday, A and I had our regroup call with Dr. S at CCRM. All of our test results came back. Negative for all of the genetic disorder screenings.

Estradiol - 26 (want to see below 50)
FSH - 5.9 (want to see below 10)
LH - 3.2 (want to be lower than FSH)
AMH - 1.8 (much higher than my last test but still on the low side)

sperm count was fine
only 36% motile (want to see higher than 40%)
4% normal morphology (want to see less than 3%)

All things considered. None of this was terrible news or anything new. And we finally have our long-awaited protocol. 
Estrogen priming protocol

Has anyone tried this protocol? Had any success with this treatment? I'd love to hear about your experience if you have.  Here's an article written by Dr. S at CCRM about poor responders (that's me) and IVF. I've just been trying to do some research on it.

So looking ahead.
Today - last pre cycle blood draw
Tomorrow - breast biopsy
Two weeks - endometrial biopsy
Three weeks - begin IVF cycle if all goes smoothly

But for today, I'm just going to try to breath and do what I can. It will have to be enough. This entry in my daily devotional was a reminder of where I need to look for strength while walking this very difficult path.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

we got pretty muddy

A couple of months ago, I wrote this post about an all women's fun run called Pretty Muddy. Well, the 5k run took place a few weeks ago. I've been so behind on blogging that I haven't had a chance to tell you about it.

The run was a ton of fun. I ran with a few of my girlfriends. We pulled together some matching outfits at the last minute which I think turned out really cute.

I really liked that the race was only for women. It was clean and organized. There was no chaos like there can be at races and runs sometimes. The organizers really took care with the details which I appreciated. Even the Pretty Muddy t-shirts we received were nice, fitted women's shirts rather than the big ones that I usually get which I have to wear to bed for pajamas.

Because it was a run for women, it allowed the organizers to secure sponsors and booths that really pertained to women and the things that we'd be interested in. Like sparkly wine.

The only thing that I wasn't crazy about was the heat. It was 100 degrees the morning of the run. Thank goodness our heat was at 8am. But even at that hour, the heat was stifling. I was a bit dehydrated at the start and thought I was going to pass out at one point. But I made it through.

At the end, I heard a kid say to his mom, "that little one is the cleanest of everyone". He was talking about me. One of the benefits of being small, I could army crawl under the ropes through the mud without submerging my chest. But looking at the photo, I should've submerged. My mud is a little light. 

After we finished the run, we got a cute bag with a darling Old Navy t-shirt with flip flops. A wash station was set up with hoses to clean yourself off and even switch into fresh gear if you'd like. After the run, we had brunch together. It was a great way to start the day. I'd definitely recommend this run if you have one coming to a city near you.

Friday, July 5, 2013

cycle day 3 blood work fiasco

Yah, so the day 3 blood work was supposed to be easy. But if there is one thing that I've learned by now, it's that nothing ever goes according to plan when dealing with infertility stuff. 

I ordered my shipping kit from CCRM a few weeks ago. After reading all of the directions, I found a lab that could draw my blood, spin it in the centrifuge and ship it to CCRM for day 3 testing. All I had to do was wait.

On Tuesday, AF showed up and I calculated when my day 3 blood would need to be drawn. Day 3 fell on 4th of July. All of the labs would be closed for the holiday. I called CCRM to see if I could go into the local lab on Day 4 (Friday). They said that would be too late but I could do it on Day 2 (Wednesday).

Thankfully I had the foresight to leave work at my lunch break to get this blood draw done rather than wait until the end of the day. Although I didn't anticipate any problems. I left work. Drove the 40 minutes home to get the kit (some of it was in the freezer) and drove 20 minutes to the lab. When I arrived at Quest lab, the not-so-friendly technician saw me walk in with the big ship kit and started asking questions. 

When I explained that I needed to have my blood drawn, spun and frozen until next Monday when it could be shipped out to the lab in Denver, she didn't look pleased. She called her supervisor to discuss it with her. After speaking with her supervisor, she came over to me and said "we can't do that...come back in on Monday."

Then I explained in further detail that my blood has to be drawn on a certain day of my cycle and it couldn't wait until Monday... it needed to be done that day. She called her supervisor again and couldn't get anyone. Then she escalated my request to her supervisor's supervisor and came back over to me. "No, we can't do it. We don't have the ability to freeze it until Monday and our policy states that we are not allowed to let patients leave with their blood to freeze it themselves. Try a local hospital."

Now let me pause and explain the frustration and difficulty here. Normally if you have a ship draw, the local lab draws the blood, spins it and mails it via Fed Ex overnight to arrive the next day at the lab in Denver. Since I needed to have my blood drawn on Wednesday but Thursday was a holiday (no Fed Ex) and you can't ship out on Friday because no one is in the lab in Denver to receive the package on had to be frozen for 4 days before it could be shipped on Monday.

What kills me is that I have a friend doing IVF in Denver who just went to the very same Quest lab on a Saturday for her draw and it was frozen until Monday morning to be shipped. So if they can freeze it for 2 days...they should be able to freeze it for 4 days.

Next, I drive to the local hospital in tears...and slightly freaking out. I walk in with my kit and try to explain myself to the elderly woman volunteer at the information desk. She calls security and I explain it to him. He calls a manager and I explain it to him. 

After making several calls, the manager comes out to tell me that a few weeks ago Quest took over the hospital's lab. So they can't help me as they now have the same policy as the lab that I just came from. He recommended that I drive to different hospital about 30 minutes away. 

Now I'm really upset and have little confidence that the hospital that I'm driving to will be of any help. So on the road, I began making calls trying to line up plan D or E. I called my local fertility clinic who directed me to Labcorp. When I called Labcorp, the lady checked to see if they were contracted with the lab in Denver. They were not. So she couldn't help me.

Somewhere in the madness my dear husband called me. I proceeded to bawl my eyes out. Bless his heart. He tried to comfort me and told me that he understands how frustrated I am...but it wouldn't be the end of the world if we had to wait another month. In between sobs, I informed him that it would indeed be the end of the world because "MY EGGS ARE ROTTING WITH EVERY PASSING DAY". He somehow got me laughing in between sobs which helped.

Next, I called me family doctor to see if they could draw blood and centrifuge it. They could but didn't have any appointments available that afternoon.

By this point, it is almost 3pm and all of the labs close at 4pm or 4:30pm. Finally, I got a call from my aunt who happens to be a phlebotomist. She called her supervisor at the clinic where she works to see if they could help me out. Thank God...out of the kindness of her heart...her supervisor agreed to do a courtesy draw for me.

I shifted directions and drove another 30 minutes to my aunt's lab. After 45 minutes to draw my blood, let it clot, spin it and put it on ice. I was back on the road....5 hours after I set out on my Day 3 shipping kit adventure. 

I'd never been so excited to give blood in my life. On my drive home, I realized how exhausted I was from the stress of running around town trying to get this "simple" day 3 blood draw completed. My aunt is truly my hero for stepping in and saving the day. I would've been so bummed to miss this draw and have to wait an entire month to move forward.

Blogging tips