Fertility Series – Introduction

Fertility is a topic that I am very passionate about.  My husband and I suffered through 5 years of infertility before successfully conceiving and carrying a baby to term.  This is not a topic that I teach classes on or have any certification to educate you about.  The posts in this series are based on my research and experiences.  They should not take the place of your own research and the advice of your personal healthcare practitioner. My goal with these posts is simply to provide you with some information about various treatment and considerations as you walk the fertility path.  I hope that these posts never apply to your or anyone you know, but if they do, I hope you find some useful information. Infertility is nothing to hide or be ashamed of, it is a disease and affects 1 in 8 couples in the United States (resolve.org). Although this series will go into more depth about our fertility journey, for an overview of our experiences be sure to read Part 1 of K’s Birth...
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Trying to Conceive

Congratulations on making the decision to start a family.  I remember when we decided that we were ready to start a family.  Or, should I say, I remember when I was ready to start a family.  My husband wasn’t on board for a while.  He really wanted me to get further in my graduate school career before we got pregnant.  Little did he know that I would finish my Ph.D. and get several years of full-time work under my belt before we conceived! If you are just starting on your journey to conception, now is the time to really take a look at your lifestyle and that of your partner’s.  Now is the time to try and become as healthy as possible.  As a woman, being healthy prior to conception will make your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experiences much easier. Back in 2005 when we started our journey, our OB-GYN advised us to stop using birth control and wait three months before trying to conceive.  She wanted my body and hormones to have time to regulate.  We used this time to re-commit ourselves to an exercise plan and really put more effort into eating a healthy, well-rounded diet. Pregnancy, birth, and the post-partum time period are pretty physically demanding events.  If you can get into shape before tackling the parenthood journey you are setting yourself up for success.  You don’t have to reach your optimum weight or exercise goals, just taking small steps in improving your health will be beneficial. Helpful hints as you start your journey: Make sure you AND your partner are on the same page.  This will probably mean extensive conversations – but better before you get pregnant then during your pregnancy or after baby has arrived.  Respect one another during these conversations.  I remember trying to convince Nate that we were ready.  For a long time I didn’t really listen to his very valid concerns.  The result of these conversations will likely involve some compromises.  Be open to true communication with your partner. Consult your healthcare provider to make sure you are healthy and get any needed advice on conception and early pregnancy. With the help of your healthcare provider set some nutrition and exercise goals for preconception. Enjoy time with your partner.  Enjoy your relationship and the opportunity to get closer. If people ask when you are going to have a baby come up...
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K’s Birth Story – Part 1 – Our (in)Fertility Journey

Our (in)Fertility Journey After 22 months, it is probably time to finish putting our son’s birth story down on paper.  It was such a long journey, that his birth story would not be complete without rewinding to December 31, 2006… Over champagne at nearly midnight I looked at Nate and said that I really wanted to have a baby.  I thought we were ready and had overcome some of the big hurdles in figuring out how to be married.  At that point we had been married for 2.5 years and had worked really hard at our marriage.  Nate was stunned to say the least, but he smiled and said that sounded great.  We pitched the birth control, patiently waited 3 months like the OB requested to give my body a shot at normalizing it’s hormones and then April 14 we started “trying”.  At the end of that cycle I rushed out, just sure I would be pregnant, bought a test and learned the hard way that it doesn’t always happen the first time around.  Nate didn’t know I had bought the test, but I fessed up later. We kept trying to conceive, Nate kept working to support our family, and I kept working on my dissertation, but month after month we were not blessed with conception.  By the following January (2007) I was getting antsy and nervous.  We went to see the “reproductive guys”, as we have now called them for 6 years, and after some conversations and a ton of bloodwork we figured out my hormones were out of whack.  Ok, easy fix right?  Take some Clomid and off we go to spend “quality time” together.  It turns out that Clomid was not my friend…nor were many of the medications we tried along our journey.  We stayed pretty minimal with our interventions until October of 2007.  That month I had surgery and we figured out a big part of the problem was endometriosis.  Endometriosis is something that isn’t curable and greatly decreases fertility.  In a way, the diagnosis was terrific, we now understood the battle we were facing and were open to the idea of adoption if we didn’t conceive.  We tried a hyped up set of medications and I grew a gazillion follicles (remember the goal is one baby in the belly at a time which means just one follicle is needed).  That cycle was a bust...
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Boosting Health and Fertility through Nutrition

Eight years ago my husband and I ate a typical, middle-of-the-road diet.  We occasionally ate out, we ate ice cream when we wanted to, and we ate some fast food but not too much.  We ate fruits and/or veggies with every meal, but we didn’t worry about pesticides, GMOs, or synthetic ingredients and chemicals.  We certainly didn’t buy organic produce or food.  Eight years ago we started trying to get pregnant. After a year, we realized that we needed to make some changes to our health – a big part of that change was our diet.  In the beginning we just tried to eat more organic produce.  Another year passed and we still weren’t able to get pregnant, even with intervention.   So we started reading books like The Fertility Diet to help us figure out how to change our diet in a way that would improve our overall health and boost our chances of conception. With all of this research, we discovered that the chemicals and hormones found in many common food products today can greatly impact our health and, not surprisingly, our fertility.  Think about it like this.  Say you buy a regular whole chicken at the grocery store.  If it isn’t organic, it was likely fed hormones to plump it up – don’t most consumers want a nice, juicy chicken?  The hormones given to the chicken are then passed on to you when you consume the chicken.  That wouldn’t be too bad, except that you probably aren’t just eating chicken; you are eating beef and pork during a given week as well.  Now your body has to figure out what to do with all of these extra hormones and your health and fertility become compromised.  Remember that the brain communicates and functions via chemicals and hormones.  If we are constantly bombarding our brain and endocrine system with external sources of hormones it stops functioning optimally. Because of the potential health effects (e.g., disease, cancer) of non-organic foods on the human body, we chose to eat an almost completely organic diet.  After 5 years, we were able to conceive without intervention and carry the pregnancy to term.  We are now enjoying our wonderful almost-2-year-old and are already teaching him how to be healthy.  We don’t want him to struggle some day if he chooses to have a family. Improving your health and fertility with diet Whether you are...
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