I’ve neglected my blog for a while, not deliberately though. I’ve just been pretty busy. We had a review meeting after the miscarriage which was a bit upsetting as it was with a doctor we had not met before and who did not seem to have read our file. We had already decided to move clinics so I wasn’t too concerned about hearing their new plan. As it turned out I think there was no new plan except to just repeat the same process again. I left it there and sent in a request for a copy of my file. We took a week’s holiday in the sun which was very therapeutic for us. Time to just be ourselves. A final scan after the holiday confirmed all remaining pregnancy tissue had completely passed but that there was a cyst on my right ovary. I was told this would likely resolve itself on my next period which turned up after a surprisingly short (for me) 26 day cycle.
After the trauma of the last cycle and miscarriage it became time to take stock and to see what else I could try that might help my situation for a future attempt. If nothing else, I need to get my mind in the right place and my alternative therapies help me with this. The new clinic can look after the medical side of things but I have to look after my own mind and spirit. They can’t do that for me. My husband has also selected a few therapies for himself, his mindset is equally important especially as we have male factor issues.
I decided to stick with my acupuncture. I have been doing acupuncture for over a year now. I find it relaxing and I do feel healthier with it. At the moment my acupuncturist is just working on my general health, in particular keeping summer allergies, asthma and sinus problems at bay and working on my kidney and liver energy. As I have been placed on the pill by my new clinic, there is little that can be done for my cycles at the moment. When I start the actual IVF cycle, the treatments will be adjusted accordingly depending on what stage of the cycle I am at. My husband had been attending general acupuncture but has since moved to a new acupuncturist specialising in fertility. He is currently attending once a week but may go more frequently during the treatment cycle. The acupuncturist will work on his sperm motility, morphology and count. She recommended that he takes Royal Jelly which I already take myself. He is finding the sessions very relaxing.
We have also both been to see a nutritionist who has looked at our eating habits, exercise habits and supplements regime and made certain recommendations based on blood tests we had done at our GPs and hair mineral analysis she arranged for us. She also provided meal plans, food suggestions and recipies. The main recommendations in terms of supplements were a good Omega 3 fish oil with a high EPA/DHA ratio ( we are using Eskimo oil which is a liquid but it is ok and only a teaspoon a day is needed), Co enzyme Q10 for both of us (200mg daily), Vitamin C and a good prenatal multivitamin. I was also recommended a good probiotic to help my sluggish digestion as well as a low wheat/dairy diet to help my allergies/asthma/sinus issues. We were recommended to eat plenty of good proteins and increase our fish intake as well as lots of vegetables and salads (which we were trying to do already) and whole fruit rather than fruit juice. Small regular protein containing meals were recommended instead of fewer large meals. Caffeine and alcohol were to be avoided which we had already been doing. However, she did note that an 80/20 rule applies, in that we should try to follow this healthier regime as much as possible but not deny ourselves all treats. In terms of exercise more gentle forms were recommended such as long country walks, swimming, yoga- anything that would calm the mind. I do most of these already but also threw in some more vigorous activity such as exercise DVDs and Zumba as I can find these stress relieving. I had attempted some running but was advised against that on hard surfaces for the moment as it can be hard on the ligaments around the womb if you are not used to it. Probably if you are a runner already, this is perfectly fine as your body will be accustomed to it, but for me it would seem now is not the best time to take it up.
Mayan Abdominal Massage
After reading about the benefits, I went for a couple of sessions of Mayan abdominal massage also. This was quite a novel experience for me. After a detailed discussion of my cycles and general health, I got ready for the actual massage. I was laid out flat on the table, wearing only underwear but covered by a sheet. The therapist was careful to only uncover whatever part of the body needed to be accessed at a given time so all modesty was preserved. The massage itself consisted of firm short upward strokes from the pubic bone to hip bone height, the strokes were also repeated from each side. Apparently this helps gently reposition the uterus into its correct place, over time it can move slightly. My left side was very sensitive which the therapist thought might be due to lymphatic congestion in that area. There was other massage carried out on the upper abdominal area to help with digestion. Some pulling and shaking of the legs also to loosen joints, some shoulder massage. I had to turn over onto my back and the therapist warned me that one particular massage point of benefit was in the lower buttocks, basically the tailbone. That was a slightly odd experience! All in all the whole thing was pretty relaxing. From time to time I would be asked how certain areas felt, where there was any tenderness etc.
I was also taught how to administer the abdominal massage to myself and recommended to do so several times a week. This involves repetition of the upward strokes from public bone to hip bone and from each side, but also upper abdominal massage from chest to navel and on points around the navel. I am using almond oil for the massage. I was given two different types of flower essences to try- Mallow for calm and Reindeer Lichen (Findhorn Essence) for releasing buried emotions. The self care sheet I was given also recommended other general good health practices, much in keeping with what the nutritionist said. One recommendation was to apply castor oil packs to the lower abdomen to ease any congestion in the pelvic and abdominal area. To make a castor oil pack I took a sheet of cotton wool, applied some castor oil liberally (I used Pukka brand) to it and covered the top in cling film. I placed a towel on the bed (castor oil is a bit messy), lay down and placed the soaked cotton wool sheet on my lower abdomen, cling film side up. I then put a hot water bottle over the cling filmed top to heat up the oil. I covered myself with half the towel under me wrapped around, and a light blanket over that. The recommendation is to rest for 30-60 minutes so I generally put on a relaxation recording at this time. There’s quite a lot of information on castor oil packs on both Google and You Tube. Whatever the benefits, it certainly is relaxing. The cotton wool pad can be re-used about 4 times.
I was also given a herb mix to use on Cycle Day 1 or first day of period. These are known as Vaginal Steam Baths or ‘Bajos’ in Spanish and are used for cleansing of the uterus. This was a slightly bizarre experience. I had to boil the herbs and let them simmer for 10 mins, then pour into a bowl that could sit in the toilet bowl. I then had to seat myself on the toilet without underwear but with my lower half completely wrapped in a light blanket to keep the steam in. I could wear socks and clothes on my upper half. I had to sit thus for 20 minutes. Apparently the purpose of this vaginal steam bath is to gently draw out old blood and act in a cleansing way. I have very light periods so it was not difficult for me but not sure how it would be for someone with heavy flow. My husband excused himself to go to the cinema which was probably a wise move!! After the bath I had to lie and rest in the blanket and keep nice and warm in a resting state for another 20 minutes. During the night I had some cramps and dark clotting so maybe it did have an effect.
I have had 2 sessions of Mayan abdominal massage so far. I will probably go for one more prior to the stimulation phase of my new cycle.
I have always found the hypnotherapy cds and recordings I have very useful during cycles. However, after the last upsetting experience I decided to actually attend some hypnotherapy sessions with someone dealing with fertility issues. I felt I needed a body and mind reset after 2 failed cycles and a third ending in miscarriage with no remaining frosties. It seemed like a good time for this computer to have a reboot.
I have had three sessions so far, the first one required me to fill out a detailed questionnaire. The therapist explained that in the first few sessions she would work on my fears and negative thoughts and that later sessions would switch to positive thinking about my upcoming cycle. She got me to start the session with deep breathing and tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique). The hypnotherapy part of the sessions required me to lay back in a large armchair with foot stool and wear large headphones so that outside noise could be eliminated and only the therapist’s voice could be heard. In that first session there was a lot of imagery of fallen leaves and of sweeping these up from an otherwise bountiful garden, these fallen leaves were to represent fears, disappointments and loss and I was to visualise burning them. Lots of positive affirmations were fed into the voice stream about my ability to conceive and carry a baby to full term. I didn’t ‘go under’ or anything (apparently you don’t need to) but I did find it very relaxing and hopefully the positive ideas are bedding in to my subconscious. The next two sessions dealt more specifically with major single issues that I had identified, grief over the loss of my mother to cancer nearly 7 years ago and fear of loss generally. At each session after the negative messages were challenged and released, more and more positive messages were fed into the voice stream and repeated over and over. The therapist said that she will record a session for me for my IVF cycle in one of the upcoming sessions and she had emailed me 4 general recordings for a natural menstrual cycle to listen to at home. My husband went for one single session also, not quite sure what transpired at it but I imagine it was to boost his subconscious regarding his ability to produce enough good healthy sperm. He actually ‘went under’ he said.
Yoga and Fertility Yoga
I have attended yoga classes on and off for the last 18 years or so as I really enjoy it and find it calms me. My husband had also practiced yoga on and off before we met. At the moment we both attend a Hatha Yoga class on Wednesday evenings and both of us really find it stress relieving. The only inconvenience for me is that at various points in the cycles (post transfer) I have to stop the classes as some of the poses are no longer suitable if pregnant. However our yoga teacher has referred me to a colleague who does fertility yoga on Saturdays so we are going to give this a go starting in early August. The fertility yoga will be a slow paced class and it involves lots of visualisation, meditation and forward bends to increase blood flow to the reproductive organs. The focus will be on using restorative yoga to tackle the stress that accompanies a fertility journey and the high levels of cortisol that can result. There will be a lot of breathing exercises to calm the sympathetic nervous system. The good news for me is that I can do the classes up to embryo transfer and beyond.
My mini pre-cycle bootcamp
I decided to fit in as many higher energy activities as I could in an effort to regain my fitness and lose some weight before my new cycle.
I’ve done a couple of hot yoga classes, which I will stop once I start my IVF cycle properly. This involves doing yoga at a quicker pace in a hot room. It’s a different kind of yoga experience, this will make you sweat!
I’ve been doing a few exercise DVDs including the 30 Day Shred and others to try and tone up.
I also attended Zumba for the first time and discovered I love it and being a well co-ordinated dancer is not required thankfully. It’s a high energy dance workout to music but it’s so much fun! However, I’ll stop these higher intensity activities once I start down regulating. Gentle walks in nature and my yoga will be the order of the day then.
None of this may give me a baby alas, but it may preserve my sanity.
I’m pretty much willing to try anything at this stage and my husband is not far off. They say God loves a trier. Well, God, if you are listening, I am ready for a bit of that love.