Monthly Archives: January 2014

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.

Getting informed

These are a few of the resources I rely on for practical information.

  1. Infertility Awareness Association of South Africa
    • Good for SA resources, clinics, medical aid info
    • Understand what to expect from FS, what the tests mean and so on
  2. Fertilicare
    • Fantastic support forum
    • Loads of general IF and SA specific information
    • Useful for reviews of doctors, facilities, treatments
  3. Fertility Friend
    • Widely used across the globe
    • General IF information
    • Charting and ovulation calculators
    • There’s also a series of email lessons for charting your way to conception

If you have any other recommendations, feel free to share in the Comments.

Learning to speak IF

For a large part of the past couple of years I’ve been a silent member of this online community. Lurking on forums, never really engaging or participating out of fear of putting a label to it all.

I often have an online glossary open as I browse the forums, trying to make sense of this new lexicon.

I still reference this list on fantastic local site Fertilicare and this dictionary at Fertility Friend since my first and last panic-ridden-hopeful-most-real-feeling-heart-breaking 2WW early last year.

Lifestyle shake-up

As part of my TTC journey, I introduced the paleo lifestyle in December 2013. The plan is to gradually intensify the adherence to paleo until I have cut out processed foods, added sugars, and grains. For example, my typical meals consist of a non-dairy protein, a fat and vegetables. I try to snack on fruit but mostly end up going for nuts because I’m greedy.

Drinking about 2 litres of water a day is easy because it’s a habit I grew up with (Thanks Mommy!). Sometimes when I’m feeling fancy I’ll add mint, lime, lemon, cucumber in combination or individually to the 1,75 litre glass water jug (approx. R69.00 at Pick n Pay) I keep on my desk at work. I’ll try for about one and a half jugs of water at work and then drink more when I get home. I also try and eat dinner as early as possible so I tend to cook in bursts during the week (enough for breakfast and lunch and maybe adapt it to a second supper) and ensure I have a mix of fresh and frozen veggies on hand to add variety.

Late December when AF showed up I was PMSing like a crazy person and coupled with the frustration of another negative cycle, had a carbohydrate meltdown. I think I spent 3 days mostly watching TTC vlogs. I was also crying my eyes out at pretty much anything, including those annoying Youtube adverts. Many chocolates, almond flour pancakes, a baby cow’s worth of biltong and a banana-Bar-One waffle and ice cream later I realised I needed to pull myself together. I’ve picked up weight because of that malarkey which I’m a bit nervous to measure, I can tell for sure in the fit of my clothes that I’ve become more lardy after just two weeks.


What the low carb lifestyle means is that theoretically my body can process insulin a lot better (see the (pseudo?) sciencey stuff here). In the 3 weeks of my paleo SleekGeek Reboot before said meltdown, I definitely felt my clothes loosen up but more importantly felt my energy levels were a lot more stable and constant.

I’ve since jumped back on the wagon and continue tracking my food diary on My Fitness Pal (can’t seem to find a Blackberry app for it, boo!). Since I started tracking my daily food intake in November 2013, I’ve become a LOT more aware of portions and quality of food. Oh my goodness, I had not realised I was eating nearly double the calories needed to get to and maintain my goal weight. SO Gross.

Next step is to get back into exercise since my running injury. I’ve bought a modest cozzie so that I can hit the lap pool. This swimming top looks a bit goofy but it does its job of covering what I want covered. I got plain black swimming leggings to go with it, and of course I wear a bikini underneath because I’m not a crazy person and I have a weird complex about nipples showing through fabric.

Can we talk about TTC vlog intros?

Why are they so long?! When did that become a “thing”? I really just want to get to the content, but then there are all these montages of happiness and weddings and fur babies and sweeping orchestras. And then I feel sad because the couple is usually SO cute; and why can’t they replicate their cuteness; and emotions; and feelings etc.

Having said that… I really enjoy following a few vloggers:

  1. One of my faves, Connie K, who produces and films her vids quite well. She also does lifestyle posts which is a welcome buffer when the emotions are too raw. Otherwise I end up getting lost in things like Angela Anaconda or my fave band to detach from the FEELINGS
  2. Aussie Tina at TTC to the BFP
  3. AliciaAMS
  4. Carisa who has made me cry more than once. Be warned, she talks a lot.
  5. Sweet Alexis who I’m cheering on too

From time to time I’d visit the success story vlogs because really, sometimes I just need to have that motivation/assurance/HOPE.

  1. Bubbly Edith who bore twinnies
  2. The Devon Roberts family
  3. Crystal who kept it real here

Relating to some of the emotions and thought processes, and cheering on other TTCers who I really don’t know makes this a unique struggle for me. I admire those who are bold enough to share the very intimate, private, and sometimes embarrassing details with those of us who can’t find the camaraderie and support among our friends or family.

The TTC community shouldn’t be about who’s got more scars or badges of honour – it’s heartbreaking, plain and simple, and we need to be there to grieve the losses, celebrate the victories and sometimes just laugh through the tears.


Our story #5

Our story #5


Our story #4

Our story #4

Finding the balance between urgency and reality

The Hub has been unemployed since 2011. He graduated in 2012 with his postgrad Law degree and completed half of his articles when he realised that this line of work was not for him. Having to deal with shady people (and here we’re talking about corporate and commercial law, never mind criminal practice) was something he could not reconcile himself to do for the rest of his life, and I support him fully in this. In South Africa, it seems to be really hard to get good work with multiple degrees, it’s so bizarre. He’s applied for more junior posts and gets rejected on account of being over-qualified, and for what seems the right level and position he just doesn’t have the experience for. It’s incredibly frustrating.

You may know where I’m going with all of this. I am the primary breadwinner right now. Thank God I have a good job (albeit contract due to the nature of my work) and make a comfortable living.

I feel that the immediate reaction is “woman, stop this TTC nonsense right now!”. BUT, I’m 33 years old and feeling ever so aware of the time passing and the rising risk of waiting too long to seek help. It’s taken me nearly a year to convince Hub that he should go for a SA following my sad/frustrating gynae appointment in April last year where I learned I am not ovulating. I am so worried of delaying “formal” TTC and the tests and solutions we could potentially benefit from now rather than later.

I challenge your poorly constructed argument

I challenge your poorly constructed argument

My argument – crude as it may be against the Hub’s lawyering kung-fu – is that there is no guarantee of stability or security even if both of us were in permanent, safe jobs. I know this, I was once retrenched twice in two years – LIFO (last in, first out) se gat. But right now I am making more than enough to keep us comfortable, so we should at the very least see a FS to understand what’s not working as it should, and come up with a solid POA and maybe, just maybe, begin TTC for realsies.

How do you balance the urgency of diagnosis/treatment and the reality of affordability?