3/25/21

Day 35: IVF, Tomorrow We Harvest

 As with most of my blogging endeavours, I had intended to post more often, but alas, here we are 20 days since my last post. It's crazy I haven't updated in so long, since it feels like everything has happened, and also nothing has happened. 

Here's a summary of what you missed:

  • 5 Ultrasounds
  • Endless blood draws
  • Constant bloating, thanks to my (now) GIANT OVARIES filled with eggs and fluid
  • Painful, yet relieving, Gas
  • AND Painful trips to the bathroom, all thanks to the aforementioned, giant ovaries
  • Intense sugar cravings
  • Hormonal Cry-Fests
  • Emergency trips to McDonalds for McFlurry's
  • Regretting, for 3 days, the size of McFlurry I ordered, as it was not large enough to satisfy me, and the 32 monster-follicles inside me
  • Snapping at Eric for "looking at me"
  • A desperate need to sleep, paired with massive insomnia
  • Yelling "Potato!" every time Eric injected me. Apparently, it's my safe word. 
  • Yellow and Purple bruising all over my tummy (the needles don't hurt to much, but the liquid burns like a knife)

Tum Tum, Day 32

I can't stop thinking "Why didn't I know any of this?" 

The clinic we went through has been an absolute waste with regard to patient care. I won't get into it too much as I don't want to get all worked up and upset, again. But man, I've never felt so much that I was part of a churn-and-burn business. Every time I walk in there, it's abundantly clear that I'm just a number, and my feelings are not even on the bottom of their list. Not what I had hoped for, but alas, we will soon have frozen embryos and will ultimately receive, precisely what we came for. 

Beyond the clinic, I keep wondering why women don't share their experiences, more. Yes, a lot of it is kind of gross, but like... nothing I wouldn't say out loud to a group of women anywhere, anytime. It's like when I turned 30 and a bunch of facial hair showed up over night. I was so offended that no one told me this was coming. 

I keep thinking about Amy Schumer's Pregnancy documentary. There's a part where she expresses how offended she is, that no one told her the truth about pregnancy. When I first watched it, I thought "she's going through a lot, she's extra emotional." But now her words echo like gospel in my mind. She's SO RIGHT. I mean, if this is what it's like to simply carry eggs, what in God's Name is pregnancy like? I mean, the weight of these eggs and surrounding fluid, alone, are causing so much ligament pain around and in my pelvic floor, that all I could do last night was crawl around on all fours, and sit on a heat pad, in hopes of farting enough so that I could make enough room to BREATHE again. I'm constantly catching myself taking these huge breaths because I'm just not getting enough oxygen, the eggs are taking up too much real estate! 
So then, what on earth does a 9 month baby do to you? let alone 8 months, 7 months, and so on....

I'm not trying to get any sympathy from pregnant women. Let's be clear about that.

I'm only trying to understand why none of you are screaming from the hilltops?? I mean, if I knew that the reason I was in pain, was due to an actual, living baby inside of me, I may stop complaining so much. Like, how GD cool would it be to have my baby, inside me?! and yet, the pain it must ensue....

My Mom gave birth to me without any drugs. She's a GD warrior. She went to war for me, and poor thing... I still came out a mess...

Kidding! I love you Mom, and I'm the most special Angel in the whole world, I know I know.... tell it to my ex-boyfriends. 

Speaking of Angels: Eric. He is my sweet sweet man Angel. He's been cooking, cleaning, and generally looking the other way whenever my mood flares. He's a dream. And he had those shots down pat. Kind of lucked out having a Doctor partner who like, actually knows how to give a shot. 

If the tables had been turned, it would have been me, screaming, and stabbing him all over....


Tomorrow morning cannot come soon enough. At 7:15am, we arrive at the fertility clinic and by 8am, they'll be knocking me out to perform the harvest. Eric will carry my lame-ass home where I look forward to taking only the best pain pills, and sleeping. 

The truth of this whole thing is that I've felt awful for weeks. The hormonal pills made me irritable and a little depressed, and the weeks of injections that followed, have left me feeling exhausted, sick, and in pain all over. - However, if you are not someone that suffers from chronic pain, like me, you probably won't find yourself in so much pain. (That part feels  unique to my situation.) 

I didn't work at all yesterday, and now I'm out for the rest of the week. Last week wasn't my most productive week, either. Doing anything, is difficult. The fact that I had the energy to write this today, was a very pleasant surprise. But if you reach out to me later today, I'll be passed out on the sofa while Grey's Anatomy Season 5 streams in the background.... I'm doing my best here, people. 

Do you have questions about IVF or Surrogacy? Reach Out! It's confusing and difficult, and the resources that "should" be helpful, likely won't be. I'm here to support anyone who wants it. 
Hang in there, friends.

Xx, Lauren + Her Eggs



 







2/28/21

Days 7-12: IVF "I feel like killing people today"

 The past week has been nothing short of a roller coaster. Tears one day, Joy the next, Irritability in between, it's all over the place. When I wake up in the morning, I have no clue how I'm going to feel. You could say that every day is like a box of chocolates....

Eric has been so patient. I know this isn't easy for him, but he is doing his best to listen to me, and I'm doing my best to let him know exactly where I'm at, emotionally. From one moment to the next, it can change, so I have removed all expectations of him "knowing" how I feel, and instead I am simply announcing it. 

For example, yesterday (Saturday) I mostly lived on the sofa. At one point, upon making my way to the kitchen for some snacks, I saw Eric in our bedroom, watching YouTube videos on his phone (ostensibly hiding from me). I told him I felt crummy and he was all "oh, ok.." to which I could sense his fear, so I told him that I'd love to spend time with him on the sofa and that I "promise not to bite." "Oh, ok, got it." he said. Pleased with the clarification. 

It's not ideal, but we are finding out way through the weeks. 

More than anything, I've found myself easily irritated. Everything manages to annoy me. Mostly people. And it's nothing special, really, it's just that, if you cross my path, I'll probably develop a reason to find you irritating. 

The other night I texted my Mom a quick update, as she's been checking in with me often:

She asked if I wanted to call her for support and I told her absolutely not. That I didn't want to subject her to my mood/murder-streak. She understood that text was her best bet. But after some back and forth, even texting grew annoying. All I could do was put on a movie and do my very best to not talk to or text with, anyone.

Good news is, I haven't actually killed anyone, or even harmed anyone (physically, anyway) so that feels like a win. On to the next day(s). Stay tuned.

Xx, Lauren

2/22/21

Day 6: IVF - I feel nauseous

Nausea. 

It's a side effect for practically any medication you can think of. Even if it's not listed on the bottle as a side effect, there's still a good chance that nausea could come your way. 

As in my case.

I was so nauseous this morning that I spent much of it lying on my bathroom floor. A silver mixing bowl laid next to me, at the ready, should I need to vomit and poop at the same time... In the bowl's reflection I saw my miserable face, and thought "I'm sorry this is happening" as well as "you look like hell" and the classic, "You can't remember the last time you cleaned this floor, can you?" Nope, no I couldn't. 

Eventually, when the waves of nausea subsided, I peeled myself off the floor and crawled into the shower. Once I had myself pulled together, I drove to work, and arrived something like 20 minutes late to a meeting I was supposed to run....

Side Note: It's always so awkward when stomach issues make you late. What was I supposed to say, "Sorry I'm late, I had the poops!"?????

In this case, I opted for saying nothing, and thankfully, nobody asked. 

On my drive to said meeting, I called my Dad, and when we were only a couple minutes into the call, I got short with him over something completely benign. To which he replied, "So... how are those hormones doing? "Damnit", I thought "he caught me."

"Oh, I don't know" I said "I mean, it's hard to tell if it's the hormones, or if I'm just generally a grumpy hag." 

"Honey, you're taking a bunch of hormones, of course you feel like a grumpy hag." he kindly replied.

Ah, my Dad. He gets me.

I will say that in defense of the birth control I'm taking, I have also been testing a new (non-narcotic) medication for my back pain. So that, plus my usual roundup of pills, has me taking a lot more than usual; meaning, as far as the nausea is concerned, it's hard to say what exactly is causing it. Is it this or that? Or all of them together? Hard to say.

But that's where things are at. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm feeling quite nauseous again this evening, and need to go find a nice bathroom floor to lie on.

2/20/21

Day 3: IVF

Day 3 was pretty normal until the evening when I was hit with a swarm of illogical feelings. Everything made me feel bummed out and the phrase, "this is only temporary" spun through head, at warp speed.

By the time Eric and I got into bed, I unloaded an emotional performance of which, I found even myself wondering "What the hell am I talking about?" Because, as words came out, I realized how out of touch I was. It's amazing how, when emotions take over, something can make so much sense in your head, but the moment you give it life, it's just a big mess. 

I've always been extremely sensitive (mood-wise) to hormonal birth control, and that's what I'm on right now. I have to take it for three-weeks so that our fertility doctor will be able to pinpoint exactly when and where my eggs are at. Timing is paramount to the IVF process, and this series of birth control will direct us into the next step... *cringe* the daily injections (which begin next month).

So there I was on Day 3, with hormones munching on my mind and shoving me into an emotional prison.

Poor, poor Eric.... So many more days of this ahead....

On the bright side today, day 4, is showing promise. Eric and I went to the gym this morning, and now I'm sitting here, sipping a giant cup of coffee, while Eric cooks us breakfast (eggs and turkey bacon). 

Pray for me. Pray for Eric. Better yet, just mail him bottles of whiskey. He's gonna need it. 


Xx, Lauren 


2/18/21

The IVF+Surrogacy Journey Begins

 


Yesterday, was day one of medications on the IVF journey.

Let me back up already, we are not going through IVF because we have fertility issues, we are going through IVF because this is the process required to have my eggs harvested and later, put in another woman, so that I don't have to physically carry them.

As much as I've talked about this process, it still sounds weird to type it up..."Put my eggs? in another... woman?".. There really is nothing natural or familiar, about what we are doing. But, it's the only way for us to have our own children, so here we go...

Backing up a bit further, I want to say that I am intimately aware of how sensitive and difficult the process of choosing to have children (or not) and the process of how you choose to do it (or not), is extremely personal. To anyone reading this who is on a different journey and/or making different choices than me, I have nothing but empathy and respect for you. Everything I'm here to say is only my story. My choices are not judgements against you, or anyone else. I also want to say that I am fully aware of the great privilege I have to be taking the surrogacy journey. And above all, I am positively overwhelmed with gratitude that at the end of this long, bumpy road, Eric and I will be meeting our (bloodline, DNA, and all) baby. 

That being said, surrogacy comes with its own slew of difficulties, and I want to be honest about that. There's so much I did not know, going into this, and the internet (as well as Amazon Books) is fully lacking honest, first-hand stories of what this is like. That, paired with my overwhelm of feelings and utter need to journal, has led me here. I want to share my story because I know others will walk it. I want to share my story because it's not just this day, the day that the hormones began, that is the start of this journey. My story of wondering how I will have children, started 20 years ago when a major operation left me asking, for the very first time, "will I be able to carry?"

There's so much to my story, and I know the same is true for every single person who walks through the doors of a fertility clinic. This is not to say that intended parents who have kids naturally (or in any other way), do not have a story, they do, simply that those are different stories than the one I'm about to tell.

My struggle may be better than yours.
My struggle may be worse than yours.
This is just one story.
It's my Story... it's...our Story... because I am not walking this alone, Eric is right here with me.

Fertility is a business. Let's start there. It's not a charity, and it's far from the compassionate playground you might expect. It's only through my repeated calls and messages to the clinic, that the medical assistant finally got on the phone with us to explain what medications need to be taken, when, and how. Which, for the injections, all they sent us was the link to a YouTube Video(!), from which we are expected to teach ourselves how.

Additionally, we have only met with our doctor twice. Once, when we were first considering their clinic, so that call was more of a sales pitch, and then a second call, to explain the risks of the egg removal procedure. A call during which, we tried asking additional questions and he said "no, no, that's not what this call is for. You'll need to connect with my medical assistant for those questions."

Ok, now I'm irritated. I think that's enough for today. Since I'm not able to have even a sip of wine during this process, I need to exit here and maybe bury myself in a bucket of ice cream or something right now.. 

Xx, Lauren



11/8/20

Sourcing High Quality Foods on a Budget: Why and How

 

When eating for optimal health, it is important that we source high quality, sustainable, and ideally local, food. In addition, the way that we prepare these foods also impacts our nutrient absorption. Attention must be paid to both sourcing and preparation. But why? And how? And additionally, how can one do this, without breaking the bank?

See the answers to these questions, and more, below.


Quality:

When Choosing Organic Vs. Conventional (aka foods that are not organic) there are a variety of factors to consider.

Conventional plant foods are frequently sprayed with toxic chemicals, including synthetic fertilizers, fungicides, pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, which make the skin, dangerous to eat. In addition, the plant food itself is grown without proper nutrients, thus making the food far less nutrient dense than its organic counterpart.

Conventional Animal products are frequently malnourished (being fed a diet that is not natural to their species, for example cows that are fed corn instead of grass from a pasture), this makes their meat far less nutrient dense than their organic counterpart, which was given a proper diet full of vitamins and minerals. In addition, the poor diets (and horrific living conditions) make the animals sick, so industrial farms pump their “product” full of antibiotics to combat the inevitable disease, and additionally pump these animals with hormones to make them grow fast, and big. Keep in mind that everything the animal eats, you too will consume. So not only will you intake deficient nutrients, but hormones and antibiotics, which are harmful to your system.


Sustainability:

When Choosing to purchase from an Industrial/Conventional Farm (their products of which are what we most commonly find in supermarkets) vs. Local Farms there are four key considerations:

1.       Protecting our Environment for future generations: Industrial farms pollute waterways, waste water, heavily contribute to greenhouse gas production, and use carcinogenic synthetic agricultural inputs. Choosing to purchase from local, sustainable farms, does the opposite. They work to retain water, mitigate methane production, and use only naturally derived agricultural inputs as a method of pest management.

2.       Providing Economic profit/fair wages for farmers: Industrial Farm workers are living in poverty and suffering devastating health effects from the pesticides they are forced to use to produce the demanded product. The greatest beneficiaries to industrial farms are not the farmers, but “Multinational Agribusiness corporations, processed food product manufacturers, and ultimately big pharma, all benefit from the production of cheap, easy food.” (Nutritional Therapy Association {NTA} 2020)1. The beneficiaries are not interested in a good product, as local sustainable farmers are, they are only interested in big profits, and whatever it takes to achieve them.

3.       Supporting Social and Economic Welfare: With the vast majority of profit going to big companies, we are no longer supporting our communities. We are putting all our money in the hands of people and corporations that have no interest in our health. This causes us to no longer connect with our community, and the people who grow our food. We become more and more isolated and distanced from the source of our meals. In addition, this profit-focused model, is rapidly causing the removal of proper nutrients from our food. Supporting farmers who care about their community, their product, and the health of those around them, creates healthier, happier lives, and stronger communities.

4.       Supporting the Welfare of Animals and Livestock: The deeply inhumane treatment of animals and livestock is truly to difficult to even put into words. Suffice it to say, animals and livestock, grown on industrial farms, are trapped in cages, tortured, made sick, and ultimately slaughtered in horrific ways. You don’t have to be Vegan to care about animals and livestock. Choosing to instead consume animals and livestock that were raised in their natural environment, outside on a pasture, where they could roam and live a full life, until it is time for a truly humane end, is a huge difference from what industrial farms have to offer. The reality is that you can love animals, and still eat meat. You don’t have to choose one or the other, you simply have to choose to purchase meat from farms with only the highest of standards for animal welfare. Typically, these are local and sustainable farms.

Properly Preparing Foods for Optimal Nutrient Density:

There are a variety of foods that increase in nutrient density, when prepared in very specific ways. Below I address the two basic methods of soaking and sprouting.


Soaking:

Ideal For: Whole Grains, Pulses (aka dry beans and lentils), Nuts and Seeds

Benefits: Soaking Reduces the Phytate in these foods. Phytate is an anti-nutrient that inhibits the absorption and many minerals. Reducing the phytate through soaking, helps make minerals more bioavailable and may make the foods easier to digest.

Note: Soaking time will vary from one food to the next, a quick google search will answer most basic questions on sprouting.

Sprouting:

Ideal For: Whole Grains, Pulses, and Nuts

Benefits: This is simply another way to reduce phytate as well as lectins, in these foods.

How to Sprout, According to NTA (2020)2:

1. Soak the grains or pulses in cool water for 8 to 12 hours, using 3-parts water to 1-part grain or pulse. Pour them into a fine-mesh sieve, drain them and rinse them well.

2. Place them into a mason jar and cover with a sprouting lid or piece of muslin secured with a rubber band. Arrange the jar so it is tilted at a 45-degree angle inside a bowl or over a sink so any excess water can drip out. Two to three times a day, rinse the pulses or grains, dumping any water that collected in the bowl.

3. Within 2 to 5 days (depending on the grain or pulse), you will begin to see tiny little sprouts form. They are ready to use as soon as the tiny sprout barely emerges, allowing them to sprout for longer can lead to subpar culinary results, particularly in baking.

So How do I afford the best quality foods, on a budget?

First things first, I want to say that our diets are all about progress, not perfection. Even just a small change here or there can have a huge impact on your health, and our planet. With that said, I’ve listed below a few simple, and affordable ways, that you can begin making these changes to your diet in an effort to consume better-quality (in every sense of the word) foods.


·         Purchase dry beans and lentils instead of canned. Soak, Sprout, and cook them.

·         Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) – This allows you to purchase seasonal, fresh fruits and vegetables, from a local farm, in advance of harvest. Typically CSA’s have competitive pricing, and it will have you eating seasonal, fresh foods, in a snap. Harvest Boxes are shipped out or available for pick up every week or few (depending on the CSA).

·         Shop for Organic Fruits and Vegetables based on the “Dirty Dozen,” a guide that can be found at EWG.org where they update annually the “dirtiest” conventional foods, based on pesticide and  chemical use. Do your best to always purchase the dirty dozen, as organic, and you can feel better about purchasing conventional fruits and veggies off the list. While they still won’t have the same amount of nutrients as their organic counterpart, you at least know you aren’t ingesting so many chemicals.

·         Eat less meat. I’m not saying you have to cut it out! But I am saying, that if you increase your load of veggies, health fats, and complex carbs in exchange for meat, you will save. Instead of an 8oz. steak, try eating 4oz and save the rest for another day. Maybe you’ll surprise yourself and it will work, maybe it won’t, but it’s sure worth a shot.

·         Shop your local farmer’s market. Surely this is where you will find the best local foods. Shop around for the best price and get to know the farmers/vendors.  

 

 

Wishing You good Great Health,

 

Lauren

 

References

1.       Nutritional Therapy Association. (2020). Culinary Wellness, Part 1 - Student Guide, p. 6 [PDF Document]. Retrieved From: https://nta.brightspace.com/d2l/le/content/10545/viewContent/115022/View

2.       Nutritional Therapy Association. (2020). Culinary Wellness, Part 1 - Student Guide, p. 126 [PDF Document]. Retrieved From: https://nta.brightspace.com/d2l/le/content/10545/viewContent/115022/View

3.       Environmental Working Group. (2020) Dirty Dozen. Retrieved from: https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php





10/1/20

The Modern Diet: How we got it so Screwed Up

If the modern diet is so screwed up, then why do we do it? And how did we get here? There are 6 major milestones in human history that mark the very big steps we took in the decline of the standard diet. See what those milestones are (and what the heck happened) in the Images below. Understanding where we come from, can help us make educated decisions toward bettering ourselves. As much as these slides may make you feel that you have trapped you into eating the way that you do, please know that all of us possess the skills necessary to make choices and be mindful about our diets. I don't care who you are,  you have the power to take control of your health and make healthier choices than you may have been taught. 






Wishing you Good Great Health,

Xx Lauren