Spontaneity abounds

In October last year we were surprised with a positive test, we were so excited and shared the news with our parents and siblings. We had conceived spontaneously. Unfortunately a week later I miscarried and that was one of the toughest experiences I’d been through. Thankfully with the guidance of Allah I got over it emotionally very quickly – The Husband and I were heart sore but satisfied with the outcome. I was 7 weeks and 5 days. The physical recovery was a bit harder because I had the evacuation procedure done at a public hospital (my medical aid hadn’t kicked in yet). The entire experience was horrific but I was blessed to have had compassionate nurses. Public hospitals are terrifying!

 

Fast forward to the end of November and I start feeling “funny”. You know the feeling… something’s off, or different. I actually only took a pregnancy test to rule it out! I had no expectation of having fallen so quickly again, and spontaneously too. Lo and behold, two pink lines! I was a bit nervous at first but made lots of dua and did my best to look after myself.

 

It was so exciting to see Baby looking more and more like a person, and swimming and dancing around yesterday. I had the 12 – 13 week assessment scan yesterday and Alhamdulillah everything and everyone is healthy. I told the doctor not to tell me the gender, but to write it down. Then I went to Earthchild, picked out a girl and boy outfit; handed them the note and asked them to wrap the appropriate outfit. When I got home The Husband and I opened it together – what a wonderful surprise subhanallah! Of course I started crying (but nowadays everything makes me cry).

 

The Husband is so excited. I think it’s becoming more and more real for him. His face when we unwrapped the little white dress and coral cardigan I had picked out was priceless.

Prayer of Zachariah

Rabbi laa tad’arnee fardaw-wa-anta khayrul waaritheen

“Oh my Lord, do not leave me alone (childless), though You are the best of inheritors”. (Verse 89, Surah Anbiya)

Rabbi habli mil-ladunka dhurriyatan tayyibah. Innaka Samee-ud-dua

“Oh Lord, bestow on my a goodly offspring from You. Verily, you are the hearer of prayer”. (Verse 38, Surah Al Imran)

9 months. And 1 month.

9 months since I consciously worked on TTC and my reproductive health. After Feb I started working out with RushTush  – I became a Glow Girl! In the months following that until July, I saw such great results. The sets of body weight, kettlebell and strength exercises are not for sissies, and I loved every second, even when I was just about to throw up. I focused my energy on dropping the weight I needed to be a healthy BMI (and help resolve the PCOS).

In that same period, work became a chore and since I am usually one who loves my job, I was very unhappy. And then I was salvaging a marriage.

All of that meant that blogging was furthest from my mind. Fast forward to October…

1 month, 1 week ago on 14 October 2014 I got my first ever BFP. I had just taken the test to rule out pregnancy since I was feeling “funny” and hadn’t had a period in more than 50 days (my average cycle lasts a cool 40 days).

1 month ago I had a miscarriage and ERPC.

Is sisterhood a myth?

I’ve been contemplating this topic for a while from different perspectives. As a woman, a Muslim and hijabi (someone who follows a modest way of life in dress and demeanor), a professional, wife, graduate, daughter, public servant, and so on, I occupy many roles in society.

Many of our roles or identities as women are made all the more challenging because of criticism by other women who one would expect to be empathetic at the very least. I’ve seen this in faith and have in fact been on the receiving end of criticism… “Your colours are too bright”, “Muslim women shouldn’t wear makeup”, “What’s the point in covering your head if you’re wearing trousers” and other inanities detract from the fact that this life of modesty and how to express it is my own personal choice based on my relationship with God, nobody else.

In our world of IF, there’s a similar kind of unfair critique that Jay over at The 2 Week Wait faced.  I had seen this phenomenon elsewhere online and still find it so confusing. I understand the sadness, but not the bitterness. Why would one direct one’s anger at someone who’s been through the same pain as you? Of course it’s misdirected – the frustration is obvious, we all know it, but I guess we all react in different ways. I wish it wasn’t in this manner though.

And nevermind all that, once you’ve managed to survive the bitter IF backlash and had your baby, there’s birth shaming.

 

What do I mean, “trying without trying”?

This is a difficult topic to write. I wonder if it pisses off the TTC veterans, hope not. I think about how flippant it could sound to those of you who’ve been down so many difficult roads ending in BFNs, MCs and other tragedies – “trying without trying” sounds… trite and thoughtless.

But I have thought about it a lot. How our circumstances were never quite right to really give it a go. Whether we really wanted to acknowledge the problem and so put a label on it.

Voldemort

He who must not be named

We carried on “not trying, not preventing”. I think it is/was easier to go through the past 5 years with the idea that “something” was in the way – work or school or money. So that’s simply what I mean. It is borne out of fear, a cop out, a kaart.

Paleo pity party

I’ve been struggling with my diet. The last 2 weeks of January were so hectic at work because one of the bigger projects I’m managing has started ramping up. My team commenced their contracts and because for a large part they’re highly skilled specialists with as much focus on exceptional quality work as I have, so we’ve been work-shopping and brainstorming for up to 12 hours a day.

This is not ideal because what usually happens is that somebody’s tummy would grumble and we’d realise we have to eat. As a result, I’ve not been cooking as much which means I end up buying food and eating badly (by badly I mean one too many Peanut Butter Bliss smoothies from Kauai). I have been having dinner quite late too, often after 8pm. Exercise has also suffered because I’ve been so tired.

I really need to get my butt into gear and go back to looking after how I get and expend my energy.

Awkward conversations

Most of us TTCers have had the uncomfortable questions and well-meaning (but ill-informed and insensitive) advice. In communities where big families are the norm and personal boundaries are often blurry and porous, it’s a lot more challenging because it’s virtually expected for couples to start a family after the first year – case in point, the Muslim community in Cape Town.

And what irritates me is the “expert”… all sorts of advice on how I should change my diet/lifestyle/natural remedies/medication/BD position and in no time I’ll be pregnant.

In my experience, the people asking the questions are more often than not those who have no business knowing. My close family and friends rarely ask because they know what they need to know, and understand that I will share what I want when I want.

What kinds of challenging conversations are you faced with in your community when it comes to TTC?

Male factor test #2

I wrote about the process of getting the SA completed at Pathcare. I want to share the conversation (or LACK thereof) that took place the night I collected the sample container and form for the SA.

The Hub actually seems unhappy about going ahead with this. He’s been cautious up to now, as I’ve told you before.

I feel lost. And sad. I maintain that we need to know what’s wrong so in the very least I can start seeing whether I respond to ovulation stimulants since I don’t ovulate on my own.

This lack of support is getting me down, you guys. It feels like I’m doing this alone. Perhaps I am.

What would you do in this position?

Male factor test #1

On instruction from my ObGyn, the wonderful Dr. Basson at Christian Barnard Hospital, The Hub needs to do a SA so that we can determine the plan forward.

I’ve told you about the Hub’s reluctance… it’s taken him nearly a year to agree to the test. I’ve taken the initiative since I know he’s got his misgivings about the timing,

Two weeks ago I emailed Milnerton’s Pathcare lab to ask about the procedure of collecting the container and forms required. I got a detailed response back from Sister Bergh quite quickly on what to do and expect – great service. I just need to confirm the costs now but for some reason I have the about of <R600 in mind, so need to double check with the lab.

Today I popped by the Pathcare lab at Milnerton Mediclinic to collect a sterile container and SA form. An administrator Priscilla was on hand to answer my questions and she was so helpful and patient in answering my concerns around time to analyse. Several Fertilicare forum ladies have advised me to conduct SA via a FS instead of Pathcare because of the time frame in which Pathcare tests – any unnecessary delays would affect the accuracy of the test results as sp erm cells die off quite quickly. However, with The Hub’s misgivings, I don’t want to pressurise him. At this state, it’s all about figuring out what our situation is so that we can determine the TTC plan.

Priscilla answered:

    1. The technicians at the Milnerton lab start the processing and a courier collects all samples every half hour for delivery to the primary lab facility in N1 City (a suburb about 8.6km from the lab) where complete analysis is done. I asked whether we should go to N1 City Pathcare instead and according to Priscilla, that shouldn’t make too much of a difference since it still needs to be processed at the primary lab.

Here’s a list of instructions I was given by Pathcare:

  1. Abstain from BD/”other activity” for a period of not shorter than 3 days or longer than a week
  2. No lubrication may be used
  3. Collect entire sample by “self-help” directly into sterile container (i.e. no condom, BD, saliva etc) and important to use the container they provide to prevent contamination
  4. It must arrive at the lab within 30-40 minutes of it being produced and before 10am on a Saturday or 16.00hrs during the week
    • Plan your logistics if your DH isn’t providing the sample in the lab’s offices; and also check your lab’s opening hours
    • Milnerton Pathcare: 07.30 hrs till 18.00hrs weekdays and 07.30hrs till 13.00hrs on Saturdays.
  5. Sample must be kept body temperature. Sister Priscilla advised me to keep the container next to my skin down my shirt (yes, between “the girls”)
  6. One can pay for the test when bringing in the sample
  7. The results will be sent directly to your Doctor
  8. The test takes 3 – 4 workdays to complete

The form asks the following questions (so important to note in the lead up to SA):

  • Number of days abstinence
  • Date and time sample was produced
  • Was any part of the sample lost in production?
  • List of recent illnesses or fevers in the last 3 months
  • List of names of all medicines used in the last 3 months

I’ll report back on Pathcare Milnerton’s service in receiving the sample, and providing feedback. For abbreviations e.g. SA, see here for a selection of glossaries.

Get in muh belly

It’s no secret that I am easily swayed by good food. With the additional efforts in my diet, I sometimes hit a mental block when it comes to grocery shopping and meal preparation.

One of the biggest difficulties I had was making the switch from a honey-sweetened grain-based breakfast (e.g. oats or semolina porridge, I’m old school) to a protein + veg/fruit meal. I grew tired of eggs very quickly, so my strategy was to mix it up between sweet options and savoury.

Some of the sweet options include:

  1. Chia pudding (vanilla, coconut or chocolate)
  2. Fruit with nuts and seeds
  3. Gluten, sugar and dairy free “cake” (almond & coconut flour) with a side of fruit. I’ll post a recipe soon.

Savoury options are basically dinner leftovers or salad with some type of animal protein, even biltong or egg in addition to the obvious things.

For dinner and lunch I do include legumes on occasion though it’s not strictly paleo. Eliminating it from my diet for a month didn’t change anything noticeable in terms of digestive comfort so I decided to keep it as part of my repertoire, although less frequently than before since I used canned beans more often than dried and the plan is to reduce processed food.

Let me know if you’d like me to share a weekly meal plan example for some inspiration or recipes. I’d love to know how you’re eating healthier, and what your recommendations are to break any mental barriers related to food.