Monday, March 31, 2014

help the underdog win

yep, this girl needs a win {taken after our second egg retrieval at CCRM}
Dreaming of Dimples was nominated for our local TV station's A-List competition 
under the category of Best Local Blogger.

Although I write for myself and to connect with all of you (not for any kind of recognition), it is still pretty darn exciting! Not to mention, it would mean so much for an infertility blogger to win the award this year. It could help draw attention to the subject of infertility so that people can learn to be more understanding and compassionate towards couples who struggle to grow their families.

The reason I call this blog the underdog is that many of the blogs in top-ranked positions currently are for businesses or communities. They obviously have huge audiences to call upon for voting. So let's show em' how powerful this community is.

If you'd be so kind as to take 2 minutes, 
click on the icon in the right side bar or the link below and vote for this blog and leave a tip (a comment about DoD blog).... I'd really appreciate it. You'll need to sign in with your email address or Facebook account (to ensure people aren't repeat voting).
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! 
I appreciate your vote and help to raise awareness of infertility. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

remembering and healing

Even when we are going through our darkest winter,
spring is waiting to appear.
To say that I've experienced a very difficult few months would be a grave understatement. 
But the clouds have begun to part and the sun is peaking through. It is not shining. And it is not quite warm but there is hope and light...where there was none.

Last Spring, A and I took my grandmother to an Iris Garden to enjoy the outdoors and look at the flowers. It was a beautiful day. We enjoyed the drive, scenery, weather and our time together. Afterwards, she asked me when I was going to post the pictures from our trip. 

I don't recall what I said but likely it was some excuse as to why I hadn't done it yet. Probably that I'd get to it later. There always seemed to be something else that I had to do. Call it self-absorbed. Too focused on work. Sucked into the world of infertility. Busy with other less important things. She asked one other time about this post and then never asked again.

I should've posted these pictures then for her to see. But I didn't. So I'm posting them now. For her. For me. Grief is like leaves you with all of the things that you should have said or should have done. Regrets. But that doesn't help anyone.

Instead, I must focus on the time we spent together. The experiences we shared. The memories that we made. But most of all, the love that will always exist in my heart.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

How to Improve IVF Success + Free Download

With words like that on the cover, 
every infertile around the world should be running to the nearest bookstore 
to purchase the new book being "officially" released tomorrow called  
It Starts with the Egg: 
How the Science of Egg Quality Can Help You Get Pregnant and Prevent Miscarriage.
When author Rebecca Fett asked if I was interested in an advanced copy of her book, I said heck yes. Why? Because if Rebecca or anyone else can offer up some insights on how infertiles can get a leg up on IVF and improve their egg quality, I'm all ears. The quality of our eggs is the most common reason for failed IVF cycles, recurrent miscarriages and age-related infertility. Given my own recent experience at CCRM, I wish this book had been available before I cycled.
What piqued my interest most about Rebecca's book is the reason she wrote it. Diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve at the ripe old age of 27, she went through IVF and was disappointed with the advice her clinic gave her (i.e. no advice at all, just lots of injections and bills). Given her background in molecular biology, she decided to delve into the scientific research for herself and ended up spending a year analyzing nearly 500 scientific studies about improving egg quality for IVF. 
The book is about everything she found in her research. Rebecca offers real-world advice to improve egg quality by minimizing exposure to toxins, choosing the right vitamins and supplements, and making practical dietary changes. Being an infertility veteran and a google junkie, there were only a handful of recommendations to improve fertility in the book that I hadn't read about on infertility boards, blog posts or word-of-mouth. But what ends up happening with the myriad of suggestions online is that you don't know which ones to focus your limited energy on. There are so many "my brother's friend's aunt Sally got pregnant by eating pineapple cores after IVF" type stories out's hard to decipher what is worthwhile and what is a useless waste of time. This book is a one-stop shop to find out what really affects egg quality based on scientific research. 
Will the changes suggested in this book actually improve your IVF success rates? Or help you prevent a miscarriage? Or achieve a pregnancy naturally? I can't say, for sure. But when you're trying to avoid draining your savings on fertility treatments or already on the road to taking out a line of credit to pay for IVF, it can't hurt to take a read and try this approach. If you're not into all the background research (which I enjoyed), there are succinct conclusions and action plans at the end of each chapter.
And because I want all y'all to be happy and have beautiful, healthy babies...
DofD readers can download a free copy of the eBook here through April 15th. Please feel free to link to this DofD blog post if you enjoy the book and want to share my review with your own readers.
If you're old school or like to read in the bathtub (like me), you can purchase the book here on Amazon. As an intro offer, the book will be $12.95 this weekend (usual list price is $16.95).  
Happy reading! 
***Unfortunately, the book is no longer available for free download. 
Due to an overwhelming response, it hit the maximum number of downloads through noisetrade on April 5th...10 days early). However, the book is still available for purchase on Amazon from the link above. Thanks! 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

choosing a clinic for egg donation

Being me…
I've researched just about every potential donor agency and clinic from California to Ukraine. 
No, literally. 
I'm not kidding. 
And here's where we landed.

Overseas Egg Donation 
Although the cost is significantly lower because programs are run by the government, 
there is complete anonymity so you don't even get a photo of your donor. Also, the screening is not as stringent since drugs, smoking and drinking are more socially acceptable in other countries. Lastly, the thought of traveling to a foreign country when the best clinics in the world are in the US didn't make a lot of sense to me. Not to mention, the stress of international travel and language barriers are just too much. We ruled this option out pretty quickly.

Staying at CCRM
Although we would like to stay at CCRM because of their high success rates (83% success on fresh donor cycles), their in-house donor program doesn't work for us. To protect the privacy of their donors, they only provide recipient parents with child photos of the donors and there aren't very many donors to choose from. Most other in-house programs and third-party agencies provide child and adult photos. Some agencies even provide videos of the donors so you can establish a connection with them and get a sense for who they are. We'd really like to know more about our donor.

If we want to go to CCRM but use an outside donor agency in Denver, we would have to pay about $6,000 for the donor's physical, psychological and genetic screening. If the donor doesn't pass, we loose that money and have to start from scratch with another donor. 
That is too risky for us. 

Searching for a new clinic
The most recent SART success rates for the last year available (2012) just came out at the end of February. When they were released, I looked at the best clinics this side of Denver to be closer to home. Unfortunately, our local clinic does a small volume of donor cycles per year and their results aren't too impressive. So we decided not to go back there.

The best two clinics in the West are San Diego Fertility Center and Oregon Reproductive Medicine in Portland. With 72% and 77% success rates, respectively, on fresh donor cycles. They both perform over 100 donor egg fresh cycles per year which is 5x the number of cycles performed at our local clinic. So we got it narrowed down to these two.

Sunny SD vs. P-Town
Both programs are similar however San Diego offers a little more flexibility and their in-house donor database is more robust than Portland. If we choose to go with a known donor or third party agency donor, San Diego will screen the donor with a $1,000 deposit. If the donor doesn't pass, we can apply those funds to one of their pre-screened in-house donors. 

Portland works similar to CCRM but the cost to screen outside donors is less expensive at around $3,000. But if the donor doesn't pass, we would still lose that money. At this point, I'm an super risk-averse so this isn't as appealing as San Diego.

The other consideration is travel. Flights to both locations are about the same cost and travel time. But we have family in San Diego which would alleviate the need for lodging which is a big expense.
So San Diego wins.

Establishing with a new doc
We had a phone consult with Dr. H at San Diego Fertility Center. I found him to be very knowledgeable and patient. He took the time to go over all of my questions without making me feel like he had somewhere else to be. Although the clinic seems to have a much more laid back approach than what we've become accustomed to in Denver, I do think that we would be in good, capable hands. 

I even found a few pluses over Denver that I wasn't expecting.
- More consistency and accessibility
I'll have access to my doctor and nurse via email and my doctor will perform our egg retrieval and transfer. At CCRM, I didn't have access to Dr. S via email and he didn't perform either of my two egg retrievals.

- Advanced technology and different philosophy
SDFC has the ability to do PGS genetic screening with results in 24 hours so that you can do a Day 6 fresh transfer. I don't think we'll take advantage of this but it's nice to know that it is an option. And if you do the screening, they will disclose the sex of the embryos if you have a gender preference. Again, that doesn't really matter much to us but nice to know we have the option if we want it.

- SDFC tagline -
How perfect is their mantra 
"Hold on to your dream…"

It totally speaks to me at this point in our journey. At the end of the day, 
we just want this to work so we can be parents 
and move on with our lives.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

donor egg decisions

This donor egg situation is a whole new world. 
I may be an infertility veteran (going on 6 years should qualify) 
but I had no idea how many decisions we'd need to make on this new path. 

Here are just a few.
known or anonymous donor?
fresh or frozen egg cycle?
exclusive or shared cycle?
international or domestic?
standard or guarantee program?
in-house or third-party agency?

And then the second tier questions like…
what clinic to cycle at?
who has the best success rates?
what agency do we go with?
what kind of screening do they do?
how much is the cycle going to cost?
what attorney to use for the legal documents?
what therapist to use for the required counseling?

And what about our donor?
tall or short?
blonde or brunette?
caucasian, hispanic, italian?
blue, hazel, green or brown eyes?
what characteristics are most important?
a donor that has cycled before or a newbie?

We don't have all of the answers yet.
It is a lot to consider.

But I've been thinking…
and might've found a silver lining in this whole egg donor scenario.
I was always been afraid that I'd pass on endometriosis to my child if I had a girl. 
Now maybe I can give my baby even better genes than I have
and still manage to keep my better half represented
…which is my husband.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

healing endometriosis through nutrition

It's time.

I've been sad and depressed.
To escape my those feelings, 
I've slept too much, ate too much and drank too much.

But not taking care of myself isn't going to bring me a baby and it isn't going make me miss my grandmother any less. So I've got to stop trying to bury those feelings. 

I pretty much feel awful lately. The pain from my endometriosis has gotten noticeably worse from my poor diet. After my egg retrieval, I started drinking caffeine every morning, wine every night and eating pretty much anything I wanted - all the time. Why? Because I could. 
That has to stop.

Yesterday, I drew a line in the sand. No more. I decided to try something I've always wanted to do - heal my endometriosis through nutrition. 

Or at least give it a try.

I don't know if it will work. 
But it certainly can't hurt. 

At the end of diet day 2 on cycle day 2…my cramps are pretty bad. 
It is too soon to tell if the diet is working just yet. 
But I can tell you that this diet isn't going to be easy to follow.

The Endo Diet is supposed to help reduce the inflammation caused by endometriosis. Some people who've had severe, disabling symptoms have been essentially healed with this diet.

The guidelines for the Endo Diet are:
-no red meat
-no dairy
-no eggs
-no soy
-no gluten (wheat, barley, rye)
-no sugar
-no caffeine
-no alcohol
- no fried foods
The diet is all about reducing your estrogen exposure and the items above are either pro-inflammatory or have estrogenic hormones. 

So what the heck is left to eat, right?
That's what I was wondering. 
Well, here's what I can eat:

Alternative milks: coconut milk and almond milk (all except soy milk)
Whole grains: brown rice, millet, quinoa, etc
Peas & Beans 
Seeds & Nuts 
Fruits and Vegetables
Organic fish
Organic Vegetarian-Fed Chicken

Supplements and other diet tips:
Drinks lots of water.
Choose organic foods whenever possible.
Take omega-3 fatty acid supplements. 
Drink a cup or two of red raspberry leaf tea daily to relieve cramps.
Drink decaf organic green tea to protect against the toxic effects of dioxins. 
Try noni juice. It contains a natural anti-inflammatory enzymes that reduce swelling & inflammation. 
Try the herb dong quai, three to four grams daily, for its anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic effects. 
Use cold-pressed, virgin coconut oil which is known for being anti-viral, antibacterial and anti-fungal. 

Do you suffer from endometriosis? Have you ever tried the Endo Diet? Did it work for you?

I'll keep you posted on my progress and let y'all know if it is worth the sacrifice and hard work that it will surely take to keep this diet going. 

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