Well, there's so much I've been meaning to tell you before I go off to...
...the Maldives. YES! We are escaping again to an island paradise! With permission from my Chief Financial Officer (hubs) I booked us a really wonderful 5-star resort at the furthest end of Maldives, so far out from civilization that the unpolluted night sky glimmers with the most amazing blanket of stars. And the corals so pristine, that you can snorkel right off your water villa and see the most incredible marine life. And the price so incredibly high that even with a super great deal of 45% off, we're gonna burn a huge hole in our pockets the size of Texas. So this is our last overseas trip of the year. It's only a week-long trip but I am terribly excited! It's my temporary teleportation out of this IF limbo land. My soul's been hungering for some serious romance, where love-making is not all about well-timed make-me-a-baby-sex. And where touching is not about having a femoral massage to increase blood flow to the uterus and ovaries. Failing at TTC's been taking a toll on me and I've been yearning for some time to reconnect with myself, and hubby. I need to escape from IF madness for a while and be surrounded by a serene place, so stunningly beautiful that in the presence of my husband's love, it would lift my spirits up and nourish my soul. Yes, that's what I'm looking for. After a disappointing trip to Boracay, I think (I hope) I've found my little sanctuary. I can't wait!
We are leaving on Monday, so that doesn't leave me much time to fill you in on the crazy month that was February. There are so many things that I've been meaning to share with you...
I've been meaning to tell you that I found a new "dealer" in my neighborhood to get my daily fix of TCM fertility drugs. I went to Mr Dealer because Dr Yeeeouch does not dispense herbal medicine-he only prescribes them. So I needed someone to give me my daily fix! I thought it would be a simple, straightforward procedure-- 1) walk into chinese pharmacy 2) give prescription 3) collect herbs 4) pay. But nooooo...... Incidentally, Mr Dealer's concern for my well-being resulted in my trip lasting an hour and a half! When he saw my prescription he asked what it was for. Without wanting to give too much away, I replied it was for... ahem... "woman" problems. Not satisfied, he fished for more info and eventually I gave it up that it was for infertility. He then proceeded to tell me that he recently helped a 40yr old woman get pregnant after 10 unsuccessful years in TTC... blah-blah-blah... Ugh! Don't you hate it when they tell you how their patients all get pregnant? I'm thinking, who cares? It always seems to work for everyone else but me? Then he asked if he could take my pulse to assess my condition. I thought, "Why the heck not?" I'm always up for a second opinion. Shockingly his diagnosis was quite spot on - kidney yang deficiency, cold, and my "jing" is very weak. I didn't know chinese pharmacists could make diagnoses.
He then told me that Dr Yeeeouch's prescription was incorrect... That there were some herbs that were too cooling for me... That the formula was generally not strong enough for me... What? Dr-Yeeeouch-who-spelializes-in-infertility's prescription is incorrect? Oh God! Just what I need - another incompetent TCM doc! He said he could alter my prescription for one that suited me better if I liked, which came to a combination of 17 herbs! He didn't pressure me to change it but he stayed one hour beyond the closing time of his shop to kindly explain to me what each herb was for. He advised that I stopped TTC until I was stronger because my weak body may not be able to sustain a pregnancy, which could result in a miscarriage. That was something I didn't want to hear but I knew it made sense. This Mr Dealer guy sounded genuinely concerned. And quite knowledgeable too. It's that, or he's a really good salesman trying to get me to buy more stuff! I was hoping that defecting to Dr Yeeeouch might do me some good, but is his herbal medicine going to be good enough for me? Will Mr Dealer's herbs be better for me? Would it be wrong for me not to follow Dr Yeeeouch's treatment to the tee? Who do I listen to? I thought there might be a light at the end of the tunnel with Dr Yeeeouch, but now I was really torn. It was like being back at square one again.
Then I've been meaning to tell you that I did fall under Mr Dealer's charm and I did end up taking his "drugs"! Well, Dr Yeeeouch's prescriptions weren't exactly yummy-yum and they were really awful -think black bechamel sauce -- thick and gluggy, forming a disgusting skin over as it cools! Yeeuck! And Mr Dealer's new herbal formula sounded too good to ignore. After experiencing very bad lower-back pain recently (related to my kidney yang deficiency), I knew I was in pretty bad shape. I needed something very effective. I cross-referenced his herbs with some info I found in another great book on TCM/infertility (The Tao of Infertility: A Healing Chinese Medicine Program to Prepare Body, Mind And Spirit For New Life) and I found that those herbs would help my condition. So I went for it and asked for a week's worth of herbs. I wasn't very sure that it would help me, but I was full of hope that it would. Well, I thought that perhaps it would at least have a placebo effect on me, even if it was really just a con-job ie. a useless pile of dried grass from his garden's mowings!
So I happily brewed my first bowl of Mr Dealer's magic. WTF? It was even more disgusting than Dr Yeeeouch's herbs! It was super astringent and it felt like my cat was scratching my tongue out with his claws. It made my throat clench tight and pukey at the same time. It was possibly the all-time worst herbal concoction I had ever tasted in my life! I struggled with it every time I had to drink it. It was "Fear Factor" everyday for a week. Could I possibly continue with his herbs for months if necessary? How could I force this into my body when every cell in my body is screaming "NOOOOOOOOO!"??? How could I possibly feel good and positive about something that's so vile? What should I do? Do I go back to Dr Yeeeouch's formula? Would I offend Mr Dealer? Can Dr Yeeeouch really help me? What should I do? What should I do? Again, I was really torn. It was like being back at square one. Again.
Then I've been meaning to tell you that I managed to muster up the courage to go to Dr Yeeeouch again for the 3rd time. I was so nervous. And stressed. And anxious. And scared. But I needed more from him before I could decide if he's the TCM doctor for me. My heart was beating fast as we pulled into the parking spot next to the building. And as we walked closer, my heart palpitated like crazy. All I could think about was Pain. Pain. Pain. How could I possibly go through treatment with Dr Yeeeouch if it brings me so much stress and anxiety, which we all know kills fertility! How could I possibly feel good and positive about this when all I feel is dread? How could I conceive a child in this sort of an emotional environment? I was so confused.
Then I've been meaning to tell you that during that 3rd appointment with Dr Yeeeouch, he reads my pulse and tells me that it looked good and that I had a 90% likelyhood of being pregnant this cycle. WHAT? Did I hear him right? My chinese is not that good. 90%? Holy cow? My mind was soaring! My heart was racing, even faster from the fear before. I had ovulated this cycle, and we had timed our sex well. Could it happen this month? He told me - no more acupuncture this month, to which I gave a tremendously HUGE sigh of relief! Wow! No needles for me today! Wooohooo!! He also said no sex, no pineapple, no chrysanthemum. For my husband, he prescribed some sort of foot reflexology. It was his first time and the guy who worked on his foot apparently gave him hell. While hubs suffered, Dr Yeeeouch gave me a wonderful massage to the upper body to relax me. It made me feel really good. I was feeling high, from the massage and from the news that I could be pregnant this cycle. That was 7DPO. I had the best sleep that night.
Then I've been meaning to tell you that the remainder of my 2 Week Wait was sheer hell! I could not stop obsessing about early pregnancy symptoms. And I desperately wanted to know "NOW"! I had been sick with a runny nose. Could I be still be pregnant? I was sick last year and I did get pregnant. I was beginning to smell things I've never noticed beofre. Could I be pregnant? For a few days during the 2WW, I was feeling strangely out of breath and my heart was beating faster than normal. Could I be pregnant? I had twingy cramps on 9DPO and I slept a lot. Could I be pregnant?
Then I've been meaning to tell you that I went back to Mr Dealer with Dr Yeeeouch's latest prescription which was to help spark life into the "conception". When I told him that Dr Yeeeouch told me I had a 90% success rate in getting pregnant this cycle, he just laughed. He said no one could or should predict things like that. Then Mr Dealer tells me that there was nothing extraordinary about the prescribed herbs and that it was something any man or woman could take. Oh crap! Here we go again. There is a chance that Dr Yeeeouch was good at acupuncture but not superb with herbal medicine. So who do I listen to? Who is right? A huge dilemma again. Mr Dealer was a trained chinese pharmacist and he really knows his herbs, so I went with his herbs again. It was another week of "Fear Factor". Again.
Then I've been meaning to tell you that I said "F*CK IT!"on 10DPO and took an early pregnancy test. And of course it told me a resounding "Hell No, you're NOT Pregnant!" But it was still early and I was still hopeful. Godamnit! I want to know already.
Then I've been meaning to tell you that during all this head-spinning intensity, I battled with another huge dilemma - should I go ahead with my vacation plans? As you know my track record, I had a miscarriage during a vacation last year. I didn't even know I was pregnant when I left for my vacation. Would I go again this time if I knew I was pregnant? I only had a small window for travel and it had to happen in late Feb/early March. If I booked ahead and cancelled, we would lose just about 100% of the costs (this is Maldives we're talking about where couples book a year in advance for their honeymoons-highly in demand). Would Maldives be the kind of holiday that was safe enough for a pregnant me to go on? But I really needed to seek my sanctuary for the sake of my sanity. I had a lot of suppressed anger, frustration, sadness and bitterness over last year's failure to conceive. Should I put my life on hold for a pregnancy that has not happened or might not happen? Not knowing what to do seemed to be the theme of my life. I felt completely lost and directionless.
And then I've been meaning to tell you that I started to spot on 11DPO. Wow! Could that be implantation bleeding? The timing was just about right. On 12DPO, the spotting hadn't changed and I did a saliva test with my Maybe Baby mini microscope. I saw huge, full ferning patterns on my saliva. What could it mean? What could it mean? According to the leaflet, it meant that estrogen levels were elevated, which meant one of three things - you're just about to ovulate (Nope! Already did!), you have an estrogen imbalance (Hmmm... don't know about that. Never happened in the past saliva tests) or you could be pregnant. Pregnant? WWWWOW!
And then I've been meaning to tell you that AF came on 13DPO... Wait over... My heart was crushed. There was pain. Physically too. The blood was a bit dark. It didn't look like a healthy period. F*ck it! Out came the pain killers. I wasn't going to be a hero this time and see how bad my pain was going to be. 90% success rate my ass! This is the second time that doctors have jerked me around and got me thinking that I was likely pregnant. It got me all hopeful, but all it got me was devastation. But deep down I knew that a pregnancy was unlikely. I didn't have any breast soreness that I had when I was pregnant. I knew my kidneys were really weak and that my body was not ready to conceive. And I was right because my period told me the whole story (TMI warning!). I had some clots and my period was a little heavy. If my chi and blood circulation had been good, I would not be having pain or clots or darkish blood or lower back pain. The blood eventually turned crimson red and flowed normally. The only good news was that AF was gone in 7-8 days! Spotting and all! I thought I was pre-menopausal, cos that was too little blood for me. It took a lot of convincing to believe that it was normal, because that's what normal, healthy women experience. Me normal? I've never known normal. It was a bizarre thought. Perhaps my uterus is normalizing, bit by bit. Thanks to TCM.
And then I've been meaning to tell you that through all of this madness, I turned 39. That means 40 in "chinese" years. The chinese count your age from the day you're conceived. By the time you're born you're almost a year old. Not zero years. I celebrated my birthday 4 times - once with friends, once with my family, once with my in-laws, and once with hubby, but despite all this celebration, there was really no joy in my heart. And as with every Christmas, every birthday and every New Year during the past god-knows-how-many-years, my mother would wish out loud infront of the whole family for me to be blessed with a child the coming year. Another year older and still nothing to show for it. Damn it! I have to be more aggressive now. Last year I decided that I would give TCM till March this year. If nothing happens come March, I would find an RE and have me and hubs reassessed again for ART.
And then I've been meaning to tell you that I crawled back to my first TCM doc. Dr Yeeeouch's clinic was going to be closed for what seemed like forever during the Chinese New Year and I needed to be primed for my "2nd honeymoon" cycle in the Maldives. I am due to ovulate around the beginning of our Maldives holiday, so if my body behaves, we should be having lots of baby-making sex there. There really isn't a more conducive place to be bonking your brains out than a romantic paradise like Maldives! So I had to get my body ready. Out of desperation I went back to my TCM doc. The plan was to see him till we go to Maldives, and if we should disappear, a.k.a. defect to another acupuncturist, then it wouldn't seem like we left him suddenly.
Then I've been meaning to tell you how wonderful it was to be back with a doctor who speaks English... Whom I could understand and have a conversation with. Whose needles did not morph me into Ms.Scream Queen! TCM doc was very focused on us again. Since his new clinic had been completed, he wasn't distracted anymore. He gave us his full and sincere attention. I liked that he was being generally very positive and upbeat about my recovery from kidney yang deficiency: he told me to drink his herbs, eat ginger omelette 3-4 times a week (which surprisingly was delish since I'm not huge a fan of ginger), and gave a long list of all the vegetables I can and cannot take. Apparently I'm always eating the wrong kind of stuff! He also reported that my chi and blood circulation was very good; that I was still strong enough to conceive despite the deficiency and if I did get pregnant by some miracle, it would be easy to strengthen my body to help me retain the pregnancy (assuming there are no genetic issues). AND he said to forget about the horoscope mismatch between my "monkey" husband and my "tiger" baby should he/she be born next year. The effect of the year's animal sign on a person only accounts for 12.5% (1/8th) of the child's personality (I did my homework-he's right) He said I should leave these things up to god. So I guess his advice to wait and avoid a tiger baby is out the window! That suits me really well! No waiting! I'm not a firm believer of the chinese horoscope and I'm happy to leave these things up to god!
And then I've been meaning to tell you that I quizzed him about manual acupuncture (no electricity) and why he didn't practice that. Straight away he said that it was very painful and everyone in the clinic would be screaming! "Who would come?" he exclaimed. Okay..... I knew from first hand experience that that was the absolute truth! He explained that manual acupuncture involved twiddling the needle till it hits the bull's eye (The acupuncture point). He said that electro-acupuncture was just as effective. In electro-acupuncture, the acupuncture points are triggered via electricity that is relayed through the needles. I was under the impression that electro-acupuncture was slower and less effective, but according to current research, electro-acupuncture was actually more effective in treating many different conditions and longer-lasting. Ding! Ding!
TCM Doc - 1 Dr Yeeeeouch - 0.
And TCM Doc's electro-acupuncture sure is a hell lot less painful than Dr Yeeeouch! Ding! Ding!
TCM Doc - 2 Dr Yeeeeouch - 0.
I asked hubby: How long will you be willing to continue treatment with Dr Yeeeouch?
DH: Till I reach the stage where I can't take the pain any longer.
Me: "I have reached that stage already!"
DH: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha....
I don't think you'd be surprised if I told you that I've pretty much made up my mind to abandon Dr Yeeeouch. So I'm going back to TCM Doc, at least till I find another one, god-willing!
And then I've been meaning to tell you that I've started doing chi gong exercises diligently for up to 2 hours a day, everyday. I learnt a form of healing chi gong from a master many years ago, and I should have taken advantage of this knowledge to help my infertility. But it takes serious discipline. To sit and breathe and think nothing for minimum 30 mins is pure torture for me. And I'm lazy. But now I'm desperate. (BTW, this is much like the chi gong exercise that is recommended in the book "The Infertility Cure"). I am also practicing another form of chi gong-come-meditation exercise that is recommended in the book "The Tao of Infertility". Chi gong is a form of exercise where you harness your body's own chi to heal your body. I can focus the chi on a certain part of my body or set it free to seek out the trouble spots in my body. With the recent exercises, the chi went straight for my kidney point, causing me to sway back & forth uncontrollably. I just find it fascinating that it knows just where I need healing the most. I am hoping that these chi gong exercises will help balance my deficiencies quicker and heal any problems that are contributing to my infertility. At the very least, it should increase the chi and blood circulation around my body. Yup, I have to prime my body up for baby-makin time!
And I've been meaning to tell you that this month is the 1-year anniversary of my one-and-only pregnancy which I eventually lost in March 2009. Finding out that I was pregnant in a small motel room overlooking a cemetery in Fresno after 4 years of TTC wasn't exactly how I imagined I would discover the happy news, but the joy and the awe was certainly real and overflowing. And Bryce Canyon, Utah will forever be filled with bittersweet memories - It remains in my mind a place so fascinatingly beautiful but devastatingly haunted by the memory of my miscarriage. Spookily, I will be leaving for my Maldives vacation on 1st march, exactly the same date that I embarked on my doomed vacation last year. But hopefully, this Maldivian holiday will mark a new chapter for a wonderful and happy beginning for us.
There's so much more I've been meaning to tell you, but I've just about written a whole novel here. And a break would be a good idea at this point - for you ;-) I've really had enough drama for this month. I think I SO deserve a vacation! But I'm on ovulation watch. It's CD17. OPK today was negative. My stock of OPKs are revving to go. The drama's not over...