Body Image Part I: My Physical Effects of Wacky Hormones

One of the biggest changes I’ve felt since not being on birth control has been changes in my skin. Many of you out there may have experienced other hormone-related physical changes (weight gain, hair growth…) since coming off BCP, but my cross to bear has been pervasive acne. Now this isn’t what some people refer to as “acne” when they get a few blemishes and think the world is going to end. This is serious, cystic, painful acne all over cheeks, chin and even lips. I’d had “acne” in the past, but I always sought out medical treatment (retin-a, antibiotics, other oral drugs I don’t even remember…) when it “blew up”, but this time, when trying to conceive, there have been no options.

For a while I tried treating it with my own home remedies to balance my hormones/clear acne. I completely cut added sugar out of my diet for 10 weeks (am still only having limited); I took apple cider vinegar every day; I took maca powder; I did the “oil cleanse” for 8 weeks…nothing was working! I kept getting horrible pimples and with very fair and sensitive skin, I ended up getting really bad scars. WARNING: These are never before seen photos–I’m quite embarrassed about my skin and rarely let anyone see my true skin! Only my family and a few close friends have seen me without makeup in the past year. I even wear concealer to the beach! On the right is obviously me now, with the scarring. I wasn’t thinking about taking close up pictures of my skin before I had trouble with it, so this is the best I have for a “before” picture showing the same cheek. Can you imagine going from this to that along with the shame/frustration of infertility?

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I have been seeing a naturopath for fertility, so when I mentioned to her how much the acne bothered me, she offered Traumeel and cutis compositum tablets to help with inflammation from within. Around that same time, I also started using a “Mia” face brush and “Fresh” brand cleanser. It was expensive, but I liked the way it felt.  After 8 weeks on the supplements and new, gentle face wash my acne had gotten a bit better. I then transitioned from oral medications to Traumeel cream that I applied twice per day as it was a lot cheaper than all the oral meds. I couldn’t afford the expensive face wash, so I transitioned to Neutrogena Ultra Gentle  face wash. My skin has been fairly break-out free for a little over a month, but the scars are still ever present, reminding me every time I look in the mirror that I have hormone problems and can’t get pregnant. All in all, my skin has been bad for almost a year now (the acne didn’t start until I’d been off the pill for several months). I’m now starting to investigate what I can do to help lighten the scars until I’m able to do laser surgery (after I’m done have kids, or when we stop trying for good).

So there is the background of my physical change since my wacky hormones have taken over my body. Stay tuned for the next installment of how these physical changes affected my self-esteem and emotions.

I am really scared to publish the post because of the pictures, but I guess you have to be BRAVE! So here goes noth….

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Who cries in public? This girl.

Today I cried at a street market. How embarrassing. My only saving grace was that I was wearing sunglasses so no one could tell. I bet you’re thinking I cried because I saw a pregnant lady, or a cute baby, or I just got my period. Nope. I cried because I couldn’t buy some cute hand-crafted souvenirs that I wanted.

Now let’s back up and set the stage. My husband and I are serious proponents of living debt free thanks to my dad introducing us to Dave Ramsey at a young age.  So we paid our students loans off within a few years of graduating, and built up a nest egg by being a DINK (dual income, no kids) couple for several years, renting a average apartment, driving old cars and having used furniture. Once we got ourselves established, we started to increase our spending a little. We bought the authentic painting rather than the cheap one made in China. We bought a car with cash. We bought our parents nice gifts because we could. We had earned a slightly above average lifestyle and I was loving it. Enter infertility. (Picture the villain coming on stage with boos and people throwing things at it).

I stopped working to be able to fit in healthy living, doctors appointments, acupuncture and lower stress. We then had to pay for treatments, tests, herbs, drugs, vitamins and all that good stuff. Then, we decided to move home and bought a house. So went from being DINKs with no debt and a lot of expendable income to SINKs with a tight budget and a mortgage. We’d decided that we would not take out any loans (besides the mortgage) to pay for anything we need/want. So now we are at the point of having a tight budget that allows us to save up for some big things in the next year. We’ll need to buy a car when we move home, we’ll need some furniture, and oh yeah, we need to save tens of thousands of dollars for potential fertility tests/treatments and/or adoption. So my husband, being the amazing accountant that he is, sat down and made up a budget based on what we need to put away each month to be able to do all of those things without having to take a loan or cut into our savings.

We both have careers that have the potential to make our lifestyle happen again in a few years, but are struggling with the “right now”. We just need to get from now to a year from now when we’ll both be working and my husband will get his major bonus at work for being promoted (they make you wait a year to get it!). So that means for the next year we are having to make some serious sacrifices.

I haven’t minded cutting costs at the grocery store, not going mall shopping, turning down invitations to do expensive activities with friends. But beautiful handmade crafts?–that’s hard. Now let’s go back to the opening scene of me crying at a market. I have never (husband verified) cried over money before. Normal me wouldn’t be that upset about not being able to get something I want (happens all the time). But it seems like the market today was representative of everything I have to give up to try to have a baby that other people don’t.  Giving up things that I love is really hard, and is going to continue be really hard. The hardest part—I’m not giving it up to save $ for a baby. I’m giving it up to save $ for the chance to have a baby. I could go through all of this hard stuff, live on rice and beans for years, but still come out empty handed (literally). 

I’m so grateful that with all the hard times we’ve had, and are yet to come, that I have Jesus to lean on and a purpose to my adversity.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

James 1:2-4

This song came on my Pandora station just as I was finishing this post…I’ve heard this song several times over the past year and it always encourages me when I’m feeling bad about my situations.

Blessings,

Tally

Relating to me

As we approached the one-year mark I noticed that I was going through a bit of a funk. As more and more people I know were getting pregnant “without even trying” I noticed I started to pull away. With each pregnancy announcement I felt more and more like crawling into a cave and not talking any more. That started a few months ago.

I found more and more that I just didn’t want to talk about things to do with my fertility, or lack there of, with friends and family–when before I actually liked talking about all the details with my mom, sister and close friends.  I just wanted everyone to leave me alone. I understand that it is probably very confusing for my loved ones (just last month I was talking all about my cervical mucous), but that is just how I felt. Sometimes I’ll talk to you about it, other times if you ask me how it’s going I just want to shake you, sorry. It can vary within the hour.

I’d seriously contemplated actually avoiding pregnant people for a while, just to help myself get through the holidays and the next few months of transitioning from having difficulty conceiving to the big “I” word.  I know it is important to guard your heart– sometimes it can only be done by imperfect means. At the time my husband told me that I shouldn’t do that. He told me that I was “crazy” for thinking that was the solution to my problems. I think he had good intentions in saying that, but you can only imagine how I reacted to that!

Now that the holidays are over, I realized that I got through them. I didn’t avoid the people I was hoping to avoid (I guess I forgot to?), but it all worked out anyways. I am actually starting to come through my funk a bit (the blog is helping) and am starting to be able to talk to people who previously I hoped didn’t call me or email to catch up. As you saw in my last post, I actually started praying for those who are recently pregnant and trying to become pregnant.

Infertility can be incredibly odd time where you are surrounded by people, but still feel lonely. The quote from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner comes to mind: “water, water, everywhere,  nor any drop to drink”. You can have people all around you- husband, friends, family, but still feel as though you are all alone in the world. You feel like nobody understands your pain. Their “I can relate story” of something hard they went through feels like a slap in the face compared to the longing pain you’ve been going through every day of the past year.

This feeling is one of the reasons I started reading infertility blogs and later started my own–to feel like there is a community of people out there just like me, with feelings just like mine, no matter how crazy or unfounded they may seem. I’m just getting started in this blogging thing, so hopefully I’ll continue to ‘meet’ people I can relate to!

xoTally

Hey jealousy,

Who doesn’t love that song? Lately I feel like the title speaks a lot to my current situation. To be real, I’ve been feeling a lot of jealousy lately. I’ve been jealous of others who are pregnant, jealous of those who aren’t pregnant, but probably have the ability, jealous of people with more money than me, people with great skin, great fitness, great travel…the list goes on!

It’s never a coincidence when something in my study of Jesus hits right where it needs to when it needs to. I have been using a new testament devotional Time With God for a few years now. You read an excerpt of the New Testament, paired with an excerpt from the Old Testament and then some kind of poem, message or story written by someone. You then make your way through the New Testament. Right now I am making my way second time ’round in the book of Acts, which I really have really been enjoying because gets me motivated to evangelize more and also puts my heart in check.

Today’s passage was spot on:

Delight yourself in the spiritual victories of others:

Delight in all triumphs in Christ Jesus.

Rejoice when another’s success is greater than yours: Be glad when another receives what you need.

Remain at peace when another receives the attention you think you deserve.

You must not strive: You must war against all jealousy and contention.

Say today: I will not be jealous. I will not contend. I will not strive. I will rejoice at another’s victories. I will delight in the success of others. I will not think others less worthy or less important than I. I will not see my work as more important than someone else’s. I will pray for those who are my competitors. I will rejoice in my relationship with the Lord.

And so it will be.

-Marie Chapian

After this reading I sat on my couch and repeated this prayer several times. I then went through an made some specific prayers about specific people/situations in my life who I am jealous of right now. Isn’t that such a powerful passage? How often can you say you’ve prayed for your competitors or been happy when someone else gets  what you ache for? I certainly could count those moments on one hand (or less).

I encourage you to take a moment right now an investigate your heart. Are you coveting something someone else has or does? Make a conscious effort to pray for someone you were previously jealous of. Pray that they get even more of what you want. Hasn’t God spun a beautiful story specific to each of us? He won’t forget you in that story, it just may not work out how you planned. I need to be reminded of this daily because I think that my story needs to be what I imagined, not what God has laid out for me. 

For me, that is some serious food for thought!

xTally

Struggles with Public Health

So as I mentioned in “about”, I am currently living in Auckland, New Zealand. Because of my husband’s job, we were able to obtain a visa that qualifies us for publicly funded health. My first thought was that this would be great and I could get some free tests/treatment. This is true, but going through a publicly funded health system has it’s drawbacks.  I’ll give a basic run-down of my experience with how the system works for me.

Here you see your family doctor for all womanly check-ups. So you don’t have an OBGYN relationship that can start your discovery to understand why you can’t get pregnant. You have to just tell your GP that you’re not able to conceive for a year, then she writes a referral to see a “fertility specialist” who is usually an OBGYN who specializes in fertility. For me, that wait was 2 months. Once you see them, they figure out what tests they think you need to understand what is going on. This is where I still am (impatiently…). Those tests can take months to have done. Ultrasound wait can be up to 4 months, HSG can be several months because they only do them one day per week, so if your period falls on the the wrong day (they only do up to day 10 of your cycle), you have to wait a whole month before even calling again for an appointment. Blood tests are fairly quick, but you don’t get another doctor visit until all tests are complete. So I received a letter in the mail with my AMH and his semen analysis results, but am not able to discuss my results with a doctor for months! You can imagine how bad that is for someone now days with a little thing called the Internet. I’m not going to just ignore the numbers I know I have for months until I meet with my MD, I’m going to google them and get 90% faulty information.

After you meet with the doctor you are given a “grade” based on test results, severity, age, time spent trying, etc. After they give you a grade, you sit on a waiting list and wait for an appointment/treatments to become avail. Friends who have already gone through this stage have said it can be up to a year from the “we’ve been trying to conceive for a year now” conversation with your family MD before you to start treatment. It’s times like this you almost wish you had just a few more “cysts”, your hormones were .5 more to one side, or they could find something that would speed up you receiving treatment.

So, because of the waits and frustration with the system here (and wanting to be near family), we have decided it is actually time for us to move home to pursue treatment. We’ll be heading back state-side in June. We are very blessed that we even have the ability to make a choice as I understand many people must just sit and wait and wait some more . Not saying we’re rich–we’re not, trust me! But we’ve made a TIGHT budget and changed some of our lifestyle habits to save up for some potential BIG payments in the next year. What have your experiences been like going through testing/treatment in the US with insurance? I understand there are pros and cons to each system, but I’m curious what it is like in the US since I’ll be experiencing that soon enough. I guess Obamacare may change how things have been in the past? To be honest I’m a bit out of the loop as far as what has changed since we left…

Blessings,

Tally

No fruit for you!

Hello there. As my first post I thought I would just share what No Fruit for You means. When an “infertile” reads the Bible she is can’t help but notice the imagery telling us to make fruit.

Genesis 1:28 (to Adam and Eve)

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Genesis 9:1 (to Noah)

Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.

Psalms 128:3

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
around your table.

Well, what happens when we want to make fruit, but are unable?

Like many times in life, Seinfeld reflects life perfectly. We go through all the motions we are supposed to: we date, we marry, we “live life as a married couple for a while”, we then begin to procreate. Oh wait— Apparently we did something wrong along the way and “No soup for you!”. Everyone else around us gets soup, and looks away from us, not wanting our lack of soup to rub off on their chances of getting their soup.

So I hope you enjoy helping and learning with me what it takes to get some fruit around here!