castor oil packs

In an act of desperation I got my RE to agree to see me on CD11, right before I ovulate, to check my cyst to see if by any chance it has decreased in size. If it has and it’s small enough, my RE said perhaps we would be ok to try naturally and salvage this month. I know it’s a long shot. But I now have 7 days to hope and pray that this little sucker shrinks. I went to my acupuncturist and through my tears begged her to jam a bunch of needles into my ovaries. She obliged, more or less, although without much reassurance that it would be my miracle cure. As I left my session she told me to spend time visualizing the cyst shrinking, and then gave me the advice I hate the most, to think positively.

So I decided to consult Dr. Google, to search what I could do to dissolve an ovarian cyst naturally. I really was looking for information to help get rid of an existing cyst, rather than a 3-month program on how to avoid them in the first place. And so I stumbled up on this information from Natural Fertility Info:

There are two natural therapies that have been used time and time again to help the body break down the cysts, reduce their size and may help them to disappear all together.

Systemic Enzyme Therapy: Systemic enzymes contain a special enzyme that breakdown tissues in the body that are not supposed to be there. It also eats away at the cysts reducing their size or eliminating them over time. With ovarian cysts it is important to also make sure you are reducing the estrogen coming in your body and actively getting rid of excess estrogens; this can be done with the estrogen metabolizer DIM and progesterone.

Castor Oil Pack: Castor Oil Packs are an ancient therapy that helps to cleanse and heal the body where they are placed. The castor oil has a drawing power that clears the body of excess tissues and toxins. Castor oil packs stimulate the lymphatic and circulatory system. The lymphatic system removes toxins and waste from the area stimulated by the castor oil pack. The promotion of circulation by the castor oil pack will also bring in fresh oxygenated, nutrient rich blood to the reproductive organs, including the ovaries. This is vital to reducing and dissolving ovarian cysts. Do not use during menstruation.

My RE is very conservative about allowing any holistic supplements. She made me get off my maca root, evening primrose oil, probiotics and royal jelly supplements when I initially saw her citing that she didn’t know how they would interact with the medications she prescribed. I’ve been disappointed about that since I’d rather take a holistic approach to balancing hormones and improving egg health in addition to western remedies. But since that’s the case, I decided to skip the systemic enzyme therapy, although it sounds like it has a host of benefits, including breaking down scar tissue and having an anti-inflammatory effect.

So that left me with castor oil packs. I don’t know if my RE would approve, but given that this month is a bust anyway I feel I don’t have anything to lose. I remembered a friend of mine who struggled for three years to get pregnant telling me about castor oil packs, and how it can aid fertility. Castor oil packs may be able to support ovarian health, fallopian tube health, uterine health, egg health, and help you detoxify. However it’s important not to use them after ovulation when trying to get pregnant. 

I made my first pack tonight. Here are the instructions I followed:

Materials

  • One flannel cloth (preferably un-dyed and unbleached)
  • One bottle of Castor oil 
  • Plastic wrap cut one to two inches larger than the flannel (can be cut from a plastic bag)
  • Hot water bottle or heating pad
  • Container with lid
  • Old clothes and sheets. Castor oil will stain clothing and bedding.
photo

preparing my materials

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Place the flannel in the container. Soak it in castor oil so that it is saturated, but not dripping.
  2. Place the pack over the affected body part.
  3. Cover with plastic.
  4. Place the hot water bottle or heating pad over the pack. Leave it on for 30-45 minutes. Rest while the pack is in place.
  5. After removing the pack, cleanse the area with a diluted solution of water and baking soda.
  6. Store the pack in the covered container in the refrigerator. Each pack may be reused up to 25-30 times.
trying to envision my cyst shrinking!

trying to envision my cyst shrinking!

Over the past few days I’ve made peace with sitting out this cycle, and using this time to take a break from the stress and emotional upheaval that this roller coaster causes. But sometimes I just can’t stop myself from making a last ditch effort before throwing in the towel. You can’t blame a girl for hoping and trying, consulting Google, and then smearing oil all over her belly just in case it can work a miracle, right?

how do you move on from disappointment?

I am feeling much better today.

After yesterday’s news of our failed IUI I felt like a hockey puck getting slammed against every difficult emotion I’ve ever experienced in the last 18 months. I was reeling in pain, sadness, frustration and feelings of loss. But the prevailing emotion, more than anything, was just complete disappointment. And when I say disappointment, I don’t mean my favorite TV show is being canceled kind of disappointment. Or finding out your husband ate the last of the ice cream when you thought there was still some left kind of disappointment.  Or even the flight for my vacation got canceled kind of disappointment.

I mean shatter your heart and knock you to the ground kind of disappointment.

And so I thought a lot about disappointment yesterday. What it feels like, what it does to you. How it makes your heart feel, what it does to your head and to your thoughts. How it crushes you because of how badly you want a different outcome, how much your heart screams for it, but there is nothing you can do about it.

I thought about the effect it had on me yesterday. Disappointment made me feel like my heart was breaking into a million pieces. It made me feel like I got the wind knocked out me. It made me feel like my strength had dissolved, and I no longer had any stamina left.

Disappointment made me feel helpless.

And after experiencing too many disappointments, I was starting to feel bitter, jaded, cynical and hopeless.

As I felt each one of these things while crying over our negative result, I thought to myself, I know it’s in these moments you are supposed to show what you are made out of. It’s that cliche: it’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters. I know this is my moment and I have a choice of how to react. But was I capable of reacting with strength, positivity, and faith? Was I able to take it in stride, dust myself off, and know that this is just part of the process? I really didn’t know. And at many points yesterday, absolutely not.

But oh, it feels so bad to be in that place. I knew I was suffering from the crushing blow of disappointment and all the accompanying emotions, but I was so tired of it. I needed to be out of it. And although the thought of throwing in the towel and letting go of all this briefly fluttered through my mind, I knew I couldn’t. So I started to wonder, how do you recover from disappointment?

I could try ignoring the bad feelings. I could try going on about my day, with that chronic ache, and hope that eventually the feelings would fade. I could continue to cry and try to process my emotions and schedule an extra session with my therapist. I could keep writing, and connect with the other amazing bloggers that I knew would understand painfully well. I could try and find comfort in their sweet empathetic swaddle of support.

And I did try a little of all of these things. And a lot of it helped. But what I found the most helpful, after I acknowledged all the complex emotions I was feeling and the trauma that surrounds it, was to think about the next cycle. To discuss our next plan. To accept that we may not have a May 2015 baby, but maybe we’ll have a June 2015 baby?

I spent a long time talking to my doctor, reflecting on this past cycle and discussing what we could do differently next time. We discussed the pros and cons of different options. I called our new insurance company to inquire about every little detail of our infertility coverage. My husband and I talked about what do next, and whether we should try a natural cycle or proceed to IUI #2.

Doing this helped me to cut down on some of the helplessness that the disappointment left me with.

It helped heal my heart a little because I started to focus on hope again.

It gave me back a little bit of my strength and stamina that the disappointment ripped away.

I still have the achey pain, but my energy is turned towards next month. I actually felt grateful for the chance to try again. So many of the same emotions I felt after my miscarriages surfaced yesterday that I almost was tricked into thinking that’s what I was going through. But that’s not what this is. We don’t need to discuss termination options, or sit out a cycle while my body recovers from the loss. We don’t have to wait endlessly while the miscarriage passes. Sometimes I even think, maybe this cycle would have resulted in loss, and I was just spared? 

It still hurts, and I’m still disappointed. But I’m hoping. Maybe next month.

photo copy

tears and cocktails

My IUI failed.

I decided I would test early this morning before my 8am beta. So, per usual on the mornings I’m going to test, I couldn’t sleep. I woke up before 4am, needing to pee, knowing I needed to save the pee to test, and instead tossed and turned until I couldn’t take it anymore. I shook my husband and said, “it’s time.”

Negative.

That single line against the stark white background was a punch in the gut. I let out a slow, whiny, “nooooooo….” before crawling back into bed and letting the tears slowly creep down my cheeks.

I-can’t-do-this-anymore, I-can’t-do-this-anymore, I-can’t-do-this-anymore, maniacally swirled in my head after I laid back in bed. Every emotion that I’ve felt during this entire journey smacked me in the face. It didn’t matter how “braced for disappointment” I was during my 2ww. It didn’t matter that this was just our second month trying since the last miscarriage. I was devastated.

I laid awake for a few more hours. I stared at the ceiling. I stared at my phone. I tried holding my husband, then tried cuddling my dog. Every so often I’d cry softly into the pillow. At 7am my alarm needlessly went off, and I got dressed and left for my blood draw. At 3pm I was standing in the middle of BevMo buying wine with my husband when I got the call from the nurse. Her apologetic tone when she said my name was all I needed to hear. I hung up, flustered, choking back tears, and muttered “get whatever you want I don’t care about wine”, to my husband and sat and waited in the car. 

Later in the day, in an effort to lift our spirits, my husband and I decided to get a happy hour cocktail in an outdoor park in Beverly Hills. I tried to let the sunny LA weather soothe my heavy heart. I tried to be tough and forward-thinking. I tried laughing.

But the cocktail tasted terrible to me.

I resented the alcohol.

The drink I ordered was called The Fortuna. “Oh!” the waitress said, “Let me tell you about this drink! It comes with a wakamomo peach! It looks like an olive but it’s not, it’s sweet! You are supposed to make a wish before you eat it! Don’t forget to make a wish!”

Please don’t tell me to make a wish when I’m on the brink of crying, a lump lodged in my throat, tears ready to glisten my eyes. When I’ve already been wishing so hard, everyday, for that one thing. When I just found out my biggest wish did not come true….Ok fine, I’ll eat your peach, and I’ll wish again and again. I’ll never stop wishing.

the cocktail i never wanted to be able to have.

the cocktail I never wanted to be able to have.

Later when I went to the restroom, I ran smack into the ultrasound technician from my OB’s office. The woman who has repeatedly given me devastating news. I had run into her once before in Trader Joe’s, a few weeks after my second miscarriage.  I hid in the cereal aisle before she saw me. I couldn’t face her. I couldn’t see her and not be reminded.

“I know you!” she said to me today.

“Yeah, I’m a patient of Dr. Brown’s…” I replied hesitantly.

She looked at me for another second, nodded, and walked away.

Did she remember? Did she remember the three times I’ve been in her cold, dark room, with tears streaming down my face? Did she remember when I could barely speak, could barely look at my husband, could barely even put my pants back on after hearing the news? Does she remember hugging me, trying to console me when I was inconsolable?

I remember.

I will always remember.

we’re going to do an IUI

Through the past year and a half of trying to get pregnant, miscarrying, having surgeries and the ongoing fertility testing for both my husband and me, there’s been one saving grace, one bit of solace and security.

We have awesome health insurance.

I feel grateful for it every day. My husband’s consulting firm pays 100% for our insurance. And our insurance pays for 100% of anything you can imagine. All fertility testing and treatment. IUI’s. IVF. Surgery. Therapy. Acupuncture. We are only responsible for a $5 co-pay and $2 for prescriptions. I am so incredibly thankful that through the stress and heartache of this struggle we never had to worry about money.

Until now. He’s changing jobs. And now, like every other American, we have to fret and worry about what will be covered and what massive expenses we’ll be responsible for.

My blood pressure rises and my heart aches when I think of how perfectly this would have worked in our favor had we not had our pregnancy losses. The running joke at my husband’s firm is that you can have a baby for $5. That elusive $5 baby that never was. 

I try to keep perspective and remember, we were so lucky to have the insurance that we had during this time, when we needed it most. I try to think of all the money we saved, rather than how much more money we’ll now need to spend.

I know so many of you are paying out of pocket for these huge expenses. I know we’ve been incredibly lucky, and I don’t take anything for granted. And I know money is just money, and what really matters most is that we get a healthy baby one day.

But given that we have just one month left before my husband changes jobs and we lose our coverage, we decided with my RE to be aggressive this month. Since our main problem is staying pregnant rather than getting pregnant, my RE had been encouraging us to try naturally for a few months, with no drugs or assistance (besides progesterone and baby aspirin). But in light of our waning coverage, we decided to do an IUI.

I’m excited, but once again, afraid to be too hopeful.

I went in for a CD3 ultrasound, where she said my lining looked good and I had 25 lovely little follies. She prescribed me Femara, a lighter version of Clomid, which is supposed to have fewer side effects. I’m taking 5mg a day for 5 days, and will return on CD10 to see how my follicles have grown. At that point she’ll let us know when to do the trigger shot, and hopefully schedule the IUI.

I couldn’t stop asking her about all the things that could go wrong. If I developed cysts, would we cancel the cycle? If I developed too many follicles, would we cancel? What if my body doesn’t respond to the Femara? What are our chances of this working?

I just can’t imagine anything going as it should at this point.

And once again, I feel pressure for this to work. Our last bit of that glorious fertility coverage. I’m hoping the fertility gods send a little love our way.