Thursday, March 21, 2013

Leading Up to the BFP

My TTC Timeline has more detailed information regarding all of the treatments I tried in order to improve my health and then conceive, but I wanted to highlight what I think made the most difference.

I hope that this information will help someone else in their journey.

When I first started receiving treatment from the Fertility Care Center, my cycles appeared completely normal.  I had previously asked some doctors who use the Marquette Method, to look over my charts, because I was testing out the Cle.arBlue Ovulation Monitors.  They did not see a problem.  After my FC Nurse Practitioner looked at my luteal phases, she thought that there was too much variation in the number of days.  I would say that the difference was pretty slight.  It wasn't until I had my hormones, etc. tested over a complete cycle that we started to solve the puzzle.  My Vitamin D levels were pitiful.  My thyroid numbers were "off."  (This led to me having an adrenal saliva test.)  My progesterone levels were extremely low.  Furthermore, even though my charts made it look as though I was ovulating, I probably was not.  I had ultrasounds during a few cycles, and during one of them, I presented with a hemorrhagic cyst.  Based on this information, the FC Nurse Practitioner suspected LUFS.  This is the reason that I started the Neupogen protocol.  I don't know if the Neupogen remedied my ovulation problem or not, but I did start ovulating on my own (still taking progesterone) before I had surgery.  For my adrenals/thyroid, I began taking Licorice Root, which increases the half-life of your body's cortisol.  I also took steps to improve my overall health and boost my adrenals.  I ate more fruits and vegetables.  I stopped drinking milk (I think I'm lactose intolerant).   I began taking naps (if I could) and lying down flat in the afternoon to reset my adrenals when I felt exhausted.  Also, it should be noted that I worked on my stress levels.  Some of the extreme stress I had undergone was circumstantial--and I wasn't able to control that in previous years, but I could work on my everyday stress brought on by perfectionism and lack of boundaries when it came to volunteering my time, etc.  Lastly, I took Vitamin D drops.

Now comes what I think really helped me conceive:

1. I had surgery to determine if I had endometriosis, etc..  Although endo was not confirmed, there was evidence of LOTS of inflammation.  That was all removed/vaporized.  Also, one of my tubes appeared to be partially blocked, so the doctor took care of that.

2. This is what I think probably played the largest role, but it's hard to prove, since I was trying other treatments:  the 21-course of antibiotics that my husband and I took.  My surgery also revealed micropolyps in my uterus that were likely caused by an infection.  Although the culture showed no infection, I had TEBB, which completely stopped after taking the antibiotics.  

3. Shortly before conceiving, I began taking Naltrexone.  Because of the inflammation in my abdomen and my low progesterone levels, my doctor and the Nurse Practitioner thought this would be a good medication to try.  Now I have to continue taking it throughout my pregnancy, which is a little scary, because I am not really the type of person who likes to take meds anyway...let alone during a pregnancy.  But, I know there is a lot of evidence that it is not harmful to babies.  I just pray there are no long-term consequences.

4. Time & Overall Improved Health.  Adrenals/thyroid problems take a lot of time to improve.  After my surgery, I checked into my thyroid/adrenals again.  They were still slightly "off."  I began taking Adren-All for only one cycle.  It is difficult to say if this really had the chance to help me that much.  If my thyroid/adrenals had improved enough for me to conceive, then it was probably due to the extended period of taking better care of myself, taking progesterone, Vitamin D & fish oil supplements, amending my diet, and my lowering my overall stress level.  Anyway, this area may be a HUGE factor.  I think knowing that I was being taken care of by a medical team that recognized my health problems (I wasn't making up my problems...and it wasn't all just due to me needing to "relax") and really "had my back," helped me to exhale.  I can't discount the effect their support had on my well-being.  Some would discount this next thought, but I would be remiss if I failed to mention that my reliance on God increased probably over 100%.  I learned about surrender in many new ways, and this also contributed to my well-being.

**I should also note that I did take Letrozole (same as Femara) around day three of every cycle after my surgery, so this could have played a role, too.  I just don't know if I should say it played a major role or not.


So, there you have it!  This is what I went through, and it's what I tried.  I have no idea of what "cured" me, but most likely, it was a combination of things.  I don't think that leaving it alone would have helped me conceive, though.  Also, I doubt that I would be having as healthy of a pregnancy right now if I had used IVF instead.

Feel free to share your thoughts!