Trying to Conceive Naturally After IVF

/ 7:00 PM

TTC Update



Atticus is in this weird quasi-weaned space. His nursing is cut down to once or twice a day - sometimes more if he's feeling unwell. However, he is doing this weird thing lately where he isn't actually drinking, except for a few sips at most. He instead uses me as a pacifier.

A couple things make me think that my supply is either super low or on its way out. My old bras fit! Also, my blood work my RE ordered showed my prolactin was a 4.6. According to Kelly Mom, anything under 25 is normal for non-pregnant, non-lactating women. When ttc a low prolactin level is good - since the hormone inhibits follicle stimulating hormone that helps you ovulate.

After a couple conversations with the husband, we decided to hold off on doing a frozen embryo transfer.

While my levels might be low enough to move forward with a transfer, Atticus isn't technically weaned. I think too this all seemed a bit rushed. While I'm anxious to have another child, preferably close in age to Atticus. I don't want him to have to give up anything too soon because I was ready. I want to remember to focus on the one baby I do have - show gratitude and be present with him. This isn't to say I'm going to go back to being a 24 hour diner - we're still working towards weaning, just more slowly this time.

We decided to wait until the end of the year to reassess what we want to do - most likely continue with a FET. I think giving "the old fashioned way" the old college try before spending a few thousand dollars on IVF would be smart. I can't say I'm very optimistic - hell, I still haven't had my cycle return yet, but it won't hurt to try.

I'm trying to make sure I stay in a happy place these next few months. Not to overkill the research, or natural pregnancy after ivf success stories, tracking, obsessing, worrying. I think hopefully, keeping busy with my always moving toddler will be helpful. He can keep me focused.

I have a few things I'm slowly starting to integrate into my routine to see if they can't help kickstart my ovulation.

-Premama Fertility Supplement Drink*- A myo-inositol supplement. (Studies show it improves egg quality and helps women with PCOS ovulate)
-Vitex* - Promotes regular ovulation and progesterone production.
-OPKs
-A healthy nutritarian diet. For hubby too! I plan a more extensive post on this soon.

*Since Atticus isn't drinking much of anything, I feel it's safe to take these.

The pressure to wean in time for a FET is off and I think all around everyone is happier. Take it slow. Trust the process.

P.S. I also hate reading these kinds of blogs and then never finding out what happens. So, I'm going to try and do monthly posts to update on how supplements seem to be working and anything else relevant.

TTC Update



Atticus is in this weird quasi-weaned space. His nursing is cut down to once or twice a day - sometimes more if he's feeling unwell. However, he is doing this weird thing lately where he isn't actually drinking, except for a few sips at most. He instead uses me as a pacifier.

A couple things make me think that my supply is either super low or on its way out. My old bras fit! Also, my blood work my RE ordered showed my prolactin was a 4.6. According to Kelly Mom, anything under 25 is normal for non-pregnant, non-lactating women. When ttc a low prolactin level is good - since the hormone inhibits follicle stimulating hormone that helps you ovulate.

After a couple conversations with the husband, we decided to hold off on doing a frozen embryo transfer.

While my levels might be low enough to move forward with a transfer, Atticus isn't technically weaned. I think too this all seemed a bit rushed. While I'm anxious to have another child, preferably close in age to Atticus. I don't want him to have to give up anything too soon because I was ready. I want to remember to focus on the one baby I do have - show gratitude and be present with him. This isn't to say I'm going to go back to being a 24 hour diner - we're still working towards weaning, just more slowly this time.

We decided to wait until the end of the year to reassess what we want to do - most likely continue with a FET. I think giving "the old fashioned way" the old college try before spending a few thousand dollars on IVF would be smart. I can't say I'm very optimistic - hell, I still haven't had my cycle return yet, but it won't hurt to try.

I'm trying to make sure I stay in a happy place these next few months. Not to overkill the research, or natural pregnancy after ivf success stories, tracking, obsessing, worrying. I think hopefully, keeping busy with my always moving toddler will be helpful. He can keep me focused.

I have a few things I'm slowly starting to integrate into my routine to see if they can't help kickstart my ovulation.

-Premama Fertility Supplement Drink*- A myo-inositol supplement. (Studies show it improves egg quality and helps women with PCOS ovulate)
-Vitex* - Promotes regular ovulation and progesterone production.
-OPKs
-A healthy nutritarian diet. For hubby too! I plan a more extensive post on this soon.

*Since Atticus isn't drinking much of anything, I feel it's safe to take these.

The pressure to wean in time for a FET is off and I think all around everyone is happier. Take it slow. Trust the process.

P.S. I also hate reading these kinds of blogs and then never finding out what happens. So, I'm going to try and do monthly posts to update on how supplements seem to be working and anything else relevant.

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infertility, niaw, ivf, bloggers unite


This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. The theme for this year is "Listen Up!" I debated a while whether or not I want to post this. I was afraid of possibly hurting someone's feelings, or making them feel bad. However, I think it's important to remind people. Infertility doesn't go away. Listen up - I'm still infertile.

Now that we're considering trying for another baby, I find myself starting familiar habits again.

I am searching for the best diet for IVF or PCOS, looking for ways to naturally heal, looking for success stories of miracle babies conceived naturally after having to do IVF before, wondering if I'll be one of those lucky ones, wondering if I'm able to go through the heartbreak of another failed cycle.

It's like an older version of myself is trying to come back again. I want to stop her. I don't want to go through those emotions again. As pregnancy announcements come in of friends expecting their second or third babies, I sense it. The tiniest twinge of jealousy, of comparison, of fear of going through it all again.

The fact that I'm a mom at all is a blessing. Some women are still fighting, some moved on to a life without children. I am grateful for my one. But I also feel guilty.

What if I am unable to give him a sibling?
Will Atticus be lonely?
Will he be overly spoiled?
Will he wish he would've had a baby brother or sister?
Will he be sad that his children wont have maternal cousins?
Will he be sad he won't get to be an uncle to a sibling's child?
Will he have the pressure of having to take care of me all by himself when I'm 70 and there's no one else to help him out to share the burden?

As much as everyone means well, it sometimes seems like the journey it took to finally achieve parenthood is diminished or forgotten. Soon after Atticus was born we starting hearing the same old questions, just slightly evolved. Instead of "When are you going to have kids?" we got, "When is the next one?" They seem innocent enough. Reassuring that "next time" we might get a girl. Or even further,  "maybe pregnancy cured you" and we'll get pregnant naturally. Like it's that easy. Like my husband's health is magically cured too. (Remember it takes two to tango!)

I may not get to have another baby. I might not want to do IVF again. I don't know what the future holds. All I know right now is, the sound of my biological clock ticking is getting louder in my head again.
ivf, cycle, ivf success, infertility

I think there are a lot of contributing factors that are unique to each individual on what will allot for a positive outcome for infertility treatments. I spent a lot of time scouring the internet trying to find other people's advice on how they approached their successful IVF cycle. While, there are some things that I think can only go so far; overall, I feel like the changes I made set my body up to be in a healthy place able to nurture an embryo.

Diet

Throughout all three of my IVF cycles, I tried my best to eat as healthy as I could. Before all these fertility troubles surfaced, I thought I ate healthy. I was vegetarian since a teenager, so I had to be eating healthier right? While, I think I wasn't eating as bad as a the Standard American Diet, I did have things I could improve.

I ate bits of sugar here and there, I ate a lot of bread sometimes when I was short on time (quick and easy!), and I probably didn't eat as many vegetables as I knew I needed. So, when our last cycle came around, I tried my best to include healthy plant-based proteins*, plenty of green vegetables, and whole grains. I tried avoiding all sugars like candy, pastries, and ice cream. (wah!) I also did a period of gluten free. Though, I'm not entirely convinced I reaped any benefits since I don't have Coeliac Disease. (Even though, I'll probably do it again for any future IVF cycles).

Also, I ditched the caffeine. I indulged in some decaf every now and then. But found, with the mix of IVF meds, it messed with my stomach so I often regretted coffee in any form. Tea for the win!

*Note: There was a span of about a couple of months before our last cycle, where in my desperate-to-be-a-mother infertilityness I tried eating meat thinking, maybe, just maybe some of the naysayers of vegetarianism were right. Well, I ended up just getting sick to my stomach mostly every day and didn't notice any difference in my symptoms. So, I went back to full on vegetarian and have had a happy tummy since.

Exercise

One of the things I also tend to slack on normally (noticing a trend here?) is exercise. I get into periods where I work out consistently, but overall find it hard with my work schedule. (And as a mother of a toddler? - i'm really struggling with this recently). But, one of my most favorite forms of exercise is yoga. I can do it basically anywhere - like at home, for free. While there is a local yoga studio that I love, they can be a bit pricey - and we all know IVF or infertility treatments in general are pricey as it is. So, I tend to hit up YouTube (my favorite being Yoga With Adriene) and do yoga in the comfort of my own room. I think I was really in a groove during my last IVF cycle, and definitely noticed an increase in strength. (Something I am yearning to get back to soon.)

My therapist (Yes, I started going just to deal with infertility. My husband joined too!) also mentioned the need for some exercise that was more "aggressive" in nature. He simply stated, "there's probably a lot of angry yogis out there, you know?" We can't all thrive on 100% zen, sometimes, we need a more intense outlet. So, I also tried to do some running (intense for me since I suck at it!) and weights. He recommended kickboxing, but those classes are expensive!

When I wasn't doing yoga or running, I walked at work. I tried to take both of my 15 minute breaks to walk the halls, or during my lunch I would time and take 30 minute walks. I used my runkeeper to keep track and also listen to music. This also doubled as a sort of meditative mindful break in my day as well!

Meditation

Which brings me to: meditation. I think this is probably the single handed most important thing I changed. While, this may not have directly impacted my success (Right?! - if one more person says to "just relax and you'll get pregnant") I think lowering the stress/anxiety around my cycle was very helpful. Meditation allowed me to focus on what I can control. I also became more mindful in other aspects of my life, which just overall contributed to a calmer demeanor. I think getting out of my head, and asking for the universe to have my back helped a ton. Whether you believe in a higher power, or not, meditating and delegating your worries out is helpful in lowering stress. It took a lot of the pressure off of me (being my body, my mindset, my eggs, etc) and allowed for me to trust that my body knew what to do, and if it was ready or wasn't.

I know for our future FET cycle, I definitely will go back to gluten-free, limited dairy, and increase my exercise and meditation. It'll be hard to juggle with a toddler, but maybe chasing him around to keep him out of trouble counts as exercise? What different things have you tried during IVF?
breastmilk, medela, pumping, breastfeeding, breastpump

Working part-time, breastfeeding, and pumping is a little difficult to balance. I returned to work after a beautiful ten-month maternity leave. Atticus wasn't drinking as much at daycare as other babies, but I did not want my supply to drop. We had been nursing on demand since he was born.

After consulting other mom blogs, I found three pumps a day to be the norm. I scheduled a morning, lunchtime, and afternoon pump. This gave me more than enough milk for Atticus, since I was only working three days a week. He often wouldn't drink everything I pumped the days prior, so I had enough to build a freezer stash. Win!

Closer to Atticus's first birthday, I was hoping to wean from the pump. Hauling it to and from work, taking time out of my tasks at work to pump, cleaning the bottles, and freezing the milk was getting to be a bit of a chore. Also, I think my work technically only allows for a nursing mother to pump up to a year after a baby's birth. Just to be sure, I wanted to stop as soon as possible.

I wasn't sure how to stop. I often got full during the day and am quite prone to clogged ducts. (No fun!) I spoke with a few friends and family members who had to pump at work, some quit cold turkey and some gradually reduced the time they pumped.

I found, a gradual let down (aha - breastfeeding humor) of pumping times was the best approach. It took a bit of trial and error, but I managed to quit pumping at work while maintaining a normal breastfeeding routine on my off days in between.

Drop the First Pump First

I started by stopping my morning pump first. It made sense that since I would often nurse Atticus before dropping him off at daycare, I didn't need to pump to relieve any fullness.


Decrease Pump Time

I usually pumped for about 15 minutes a session. I did the following:

  • 10 minutes the first two days
  • 5 minutes the next two days
  • 2 minutes the last two days

Push Out Pump Time

During the process, I sometimes found I didn't need to pump. So, I pushed back my pumping time later and later into the day. This way, my body would get the memo, that not much milk was needed during the times it was used to a pump or nursing baby.

Repeat

I then used the above approach, dropping my lunchtime pump next.

You're done!

Do a happy dance since you no longer need to wash bottles, search for pump parts as you're rushing out the door. I keep my pump at work just in case. When Atticus is sick, he tends to want to nurse more, and my supply skyrockets for a day or so. But, it adjusts back down and I don't need it the next day.
ivf acupuncture infertility

My first introduction to acupuncture was at my dentist's office of all places. I found a holistic dentist I was really excited about visiting - finally it wasn't so much of a dreaded chore. She gave me a warm fuzzy blanket to keep me comfortable and asked if I wanted acupuncture. She quickly placed a needle  on web in between my thumb and pointer finger. She said it helps to relax and calm the nerves of patients.

She went on to ask if any of my health history had changed. I mentioned that we were going through fertility treatments (at that time I think I had done our third round of Clomid). She asked what I'd been doing and I said just hormones. She suggested I give acupuncture a try, and said that a local brother and sister team were "miracle workers." Miracles? I needed one! I picked up a business card for the acupuncture clinic and called the next day.

Before We Decided to Use IVF

When I first walked into the clinic I was a little nervous. I'm a pretty shy person, so meeting new people is always a little difficult for me. (I'm getting better). There was no one at the reception desk, so I looked around at the framed images on the walls, the fish swimming in the tank, and then sat to open up a cookbook. It was a book on food and Chinese medicine. Shortly after, the receptionist - also a sibling - greeted me.

Once the acupuncturist guided me back to the room, I unloaded the details of my health history and infertility. She gave me a list of foods to avoid ("cold") and to eat more of ("warm"). Then, treatment began. One thing she did during every session was put a heat lamp over my belly. Warmth is good apparently. I was told to always wear socks, a sweater at night during the colder months, and to put a heating pad over my lower belly for fifteen minutes a night. I was also given some herbs to take. They were for healing cysts and fibroids. I visited her a few times that week, then twice weekly after that.

At this point, I hadn't had a regular period of my own. Anything that did occur, was medically induced (Provera, Clomid - which didn't even help me to ovulate!). Yet, just two weeks after I began treatment, I had my very first cycle since stopping birth control over a year prior. I was ecstatic. I think this was the first little bit of hope I'd had since we started trying.

My husband was going once a week and also was taking herbs. After about six months, we decided to ask for another analysis. However, he showed no improvement really in motility or morphology. I was stressed again about our plan of action. This is when we decided to stop with acupuncture and move forward with IVF. I just wasn't willing to wait for it to work.

During IVF Treatment

When we first met up with our reproductive endocrinologist, he reviewed my medical history and asked what I had done differently to get my cycles going again. I mentioned acupuncture and he smiled, nodded, and said, "it really works." I was a bit relieved that I hadn't wasted all that time and money. His comment was almost validation that we had chosen the right path.

Our infertility clinic partners with a local acupuncturist who specializes in infertility. The treatment options were quite pricey though. So, we opted not to use acupuncture the first two cycles. After the second one failed, I read up a bit more on the effectivness of acupuncture and IVF. Our clinic's website says, "in one study, the IVF success rate jumped from 25% to 42% using acupuncture the day of embryo transfer." I thought those were pretty successful stats. So, we decided to dish out the extra $500 for acupuncture the day of transfer.

The acupuncturist came in and was very kind. He brought a very calming energy to the room. After transfer, I'm usually instructed to wait in the room laying down for fifteen minutes - always torture when you have a bladder full for the ultrasound! The acupuncturist asked about our infertility journey so far, and started treatment. He said to eat warm foods when I got home and not to forget about the pineapple core (which was also something I'd never paid much attention to before).

I still think that having acupuncture the day of transfer is what helped Atticus "stick." I'm sure there are a ton of things that contribute to a happy outcome, but I know that if/when we decided to do another frozen embryo transfer, I'll be sure to have acupuncture as well. If nothing else, it is very relaxing which is helpful for such a stressful/exciting day.

acupuncture ivf frozen embryo transfer fet
Acupuncture the day of our FET.


Well here goes. If you stumbled upon this page and you know us -- we're wanting to try for another baby this year. I mean, I guess everyone was assuming we'd want another at some point. Give me all the babies!!

We want to try sooner rather than later in case it takes another three years or three transfers to get a sticky baby. I don't want a huge age gap between Atticus and any future siblings. There's a five year difference between my brother and I. We get along great now, but I think we aren't as close since we were at different maturity level for most of the time we were living at home together.

Here's the thing. Starting an IVF (or FET cycle in our case) comes with a whole different set of challenges when you are a mom: you can't breastfeed and do IVF. You have to be fully weaned before beginning a cycle for a couple of reasons:

1. Elevated prolactin levels (the hormone that makes milk) can affect the outcome of a cycle. Some women do not resume menstruating while breastfeeding since it can sort of act as birth control if you're doing it the right way. We'd want to make sure we're doing everything to get the best possible outcome we can, since it aint cheap!

2. Obviously, anything I ingest or that goes into my body eventually makes its way to my milk. We definitely do not want Atticus hopped up on IVF meds.

When I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to breastfeed Atticus for at least a year. It is super beneficial for their long term health* (hey and saves us some money too!). I know a few people who nursed their toddlers until 2 to 3 years old. What I didn't really consider when pregnant is how nursing is a relationship between mom and baby. I was thinking about it primarily from a nourishment standpoint, but it's much much more than that. Atticus gets a say too.

Nursing provides comfort - I think for mom and baby. I swear when we were in the hospital after he was first born, my belly didn't hurt as much from the surgery while we were nursing. Throughout his first year of life, nursing has become his comfort mechanism. I'm definitely okay with that. Sometimes, I feel like I need a break, but overall I really don't mind.

He is a boobie monster. When I first decided to try and cut back his nursing sessions, he was basically feeding on demand. At night especially, he relied on nursing to fall back asleep. It was the quickest way to get him to sleep, so I did it. Our weaning journey doesn't come without a fair dose of mom guilt.

  • What if I'm weaning too far before he's ready? (He definitely hasn't shown any signs of self weaning).
  • What if our FET fails and I weaned for nothing?
  • Will I regret this down the road, if the cycle fails or not?

Also, breastfeeding has been a really happy experience for me. I didn't really have many issues - even in the beginning. I think with all the pain, difficulty, and time it took us to finally reach motherhood nursing was my reward. It was one thing my body didn't fail me on. It knew what to do for once, and I was happy to provide something my growing baby needed.

I just can't help but feel like I'm being selfish and taking away something Atticus still needs (at least emotionally). I'm thinking of a baby who could or could not come to be and not thinking of the baby I've been blessed with. At least I think it can come off that way sometimes. Infertility makes things so complicated.

Combine that with going back to work nearly full-time and missing out on being there for him - I've sort of been a wreck lately. I'm holding it together; all this is mostly in my head. I haven't really had time to stress about doing another FET yet, i'm mostly worried about whether or not we'll wean before the end of summer.

*Note: If you didn't breastfeed for whatever reason, please don't be offended by this post. A fed baby is a health baby - be it formula or breastmilk.


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Blogging after infertility is tricky. (Not that I posted nearly as much when I was in the trenches). I resurrected this blog in hopes of providing hope and inspiration for those still fighting the good fight. However, I also want to include bits of my life as a mother. I feel like this could go one of two ways. I can share my life after infertility, and inspire those (not that anyone reads this) who are still trying to conceive - OR - I can stir up feelings of grief, jealousy, anger, etc.

Just a couple of years ago I was a hybrid of the two. Until my last cycle where I did some deep soul-searching, praying, meditating, I was a really bitter infertile. I felt all those horrible feelings of jealousy and anger towards friends and family who got pregnant (or had kids) that were conceived easily or on accident. My aunt excitedly told me the news of a family friend's pregnancy and I rolled my eyes and said, "Good for her." Didn't she know what I was going through? However, family and friends that went through infertility were a different story. I was kind, I kept in touch, I didn't mind being around them or their kids.

If you're reading this and you are still on your infertility journey, please don't see my posts about motherhood as being boastful or hurtful. That's not what I want to do. I want to inspire you to keep moving forward. Wherever you are in your journey. If you just got your period for the millionth time, it's okay to be mad and sad. Grieve, and channel that energy into something positive that will get you to the next step. If you're on a break, don't be stressed about "wasting time" (I felt that way at first!) - treat yo' self! Eat healthy, get a facial, do some interior decor. Do something for you that doesn't involve infertility. 

Keep hoping. Keep praying. Don't ever give up if you know it's truly what you want.