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Posts tagged ‘infertility awareness week’

Infertility Awareness Week – Closing Thoughts

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I had a hard time figuring out what I wanted in that frame. It was originally something far more explicit and frustrated… but that’s just not me. I hate that infertility has put those thoughts in my head and essentially infected the undertone of my every thought and action. But I think this is a far better representation for infertility – it’s all any of us want… our happily ever afters. It was the theme at my wedding and I really believe it’s the theme of our entire relationship, so I really believe that we will get our happily ever after, how ever that might look. Maybe it’s just the two of us, maybe it’s more, but I know it will be for ever and ever and ever.

I just want to mention now that it’s Infertility Awareness Week this week. You can find out more about the disease of infertility, infertility etiquette, and what you can do to help at RESOLVE, or the Canadian support site IAAC (even though Canadian Infertility Awareness Week isn’t until May!)

Infertility Awareness Week – the Med Bag

When you think “fertility treatment”, you probably think of medications. Some medications are oral (Clomid is one or more pills one or more times a day for about 5 days a month). Some are suppositories (I have nothing to say here besides EWWWW!). Some are injections – today we’re going to be talking specifically about injections because these are the most disruptive to a normal life-style just by virtue of set-up and lack of portability.

Last cycle my medication was in “pen” form – much like a diabetic has an insulin pen, you just clean the injection site, dial the dose, stab, and press. Even the antagonist (taken later in the cycle) was pre-mixed and the trigger (hcg) was mixed by the nurses and taken only once. The “pens” were in a nice little bag that I could take around with me wherever I was because they have to be taken at the same time every single day for between a week and two weeks.

My response to those drugs was bad. Well, it was okay, but it wasn’t good. This cycle we’re trying a new drug which actually has to be mixed immediately before injection. This is my living room table right now:

And there are 8-10 days of this...

And there are 8-10 days of this…

In a couple more days I’ll go back to the dr, they’ll take a look around, and probably give me the antagonist. This injection is not so nice… this was mine from last cycle:

This one kind of hurts...

This one kind of hurts…

but the word on the street is that I’m getting a different one this cycle, again that has to be mixed. This one has to be taken at exactly 8pm every night. What’s that? You want to have a life? Okay, start packing everything up to take it with you… you don’t want to screw up your $5k or $10k cycle because you didn’t take your injection on time!

But wait – remember the Boxy-Bag from last time? Hmmmm… This is my “Med Bag” rendition of the Boxy Bag.

Minky inside and out for delicate glass vials

Minky inside and out for delicate glass vials

I decided to go for purple minky inside and outside – nice and soft for those delicate glass vials! Additionally I used a purple flannel for what I like to call “overhead compartments”.

Please ensure syringe and needle are safely stowed in the overhead bins... open carefully as contents may have shifted.

Please ensure syringe and needle are safely stowed in the overhead bins… open carefully as contents may have shifted.

I used this successfully yesterday – I was going to be away from home and on the other side of town at lunch, so I took my meds with me! I’ve now regained some of my mobility for the first time this cycle!

Successful stowage of meds.

Successful stowage of meds.

I just want to mention now that it’s Infertility Awareness Week this week. You can find out more about the disease of infertility, infertility etiquette, and what you can do to help at RESOLVE, or the Canadian support site IAAC (even though Canadian Infertility Awareness Week isn’t until May!)

Infertility Awareness Week – the Boo Boo Bag

One thing that you may or may not know about fertility treatments is that you are supposed to and aren’t allowed to do the strangest things. Everyone knows things like you aren’t supposed to have a lot of caffeine or alcohol, or that you are supposed to take folic acid starting at least 3 months before start trying to get pregnant. But did you know that it’s not recommended that you take any pain relievers besides acetaminophen during a medicated cycle? And that hot baths and hot tubs are discouraged after transfer/IUI? Or that there are certain herbal teas that can actually counteract the work that your medications are trying to accomplish?

With all of these rules, plus all of the old wives tales that may or may not have any salt to them at all (can eating a plethora of green peas can act as a natural birth control? And don’t ever leave home without your fertility idol!), it’s hard to get any relief during a medicated cycle. Add to that the facts that a)the things that are causing problems with your fertility often cause a lot of physical pain and discomfort, b)the medications you’re taking to overcome these problems generally have a lot of side effect, many in the realm of mood and overall well-being, and c)a lot of these meds are prescribed super-charge guess and test method. For instance, our treatment protocal right now is “superov iui”, meaning that they’re trying to get you to ovulate as many eggs as safely possible naturally (without a retrieval and without too much chance of higher-order multiple pregnancy). So hormones are going nuts and it often feels like there’s a rodeo going on in your stomach before, during, and after the transfer.

Enter the Boo Boo Bag and the Boo Boo Bag Cover. The Boo Boo Bag is the workhorse here – it doesn’t have to be pretty, it just has to be functional – two square pieces of any old fabric (I like a plain cotton muslin) sewn together almost all the way around and filled with something (rice, buckwheat, some sort of dried legume) before being sealed up… you don’t even need pretty edges if you don’t want to.

The Boo Boo Bag Cover is the window-dressing – it’s the thing that makes you smile when you’re feeling like all you want to do is hide under the bed and cry and cry and cry (I’ve actually done that… ask my husband). It’s the soft part the cushions the blow and feels nice when the rest of the world feels sharp and pointy (and I don’t just mean the huge needle for the trigger shot). It’s also the part that is washable and swappable. This can be just as simple as a small envelope pouch with or without a clasp – this part isn’t going in the freezer/microwave so it can have anything that looks pretty and feels nice.

To use, first decide if you want hot or cold – hot is nice for cramping anything when you can’t take an Aleve or an Ibuprofen and cold is nice for soothing and stinging, swelling injection site. I like to have some bags for hot and some for cold because if you use a single bag for dual duty you should let them come to room temperature before switching roles. I like to put a glass of water in the microwave with mine and warm it for about a minute and then 30 seconds at a time afterwards – at each interval I take the bag out and shake it up to thoroughly mix the contents from the inside with the contents closer to the surface to get a more even heating. The cold bag I just leave in the freezer and take out and shake when I need it. Some people add oils to their bags to make them smell pretty, but to me the smell of whatever is in the bag is a symbol of the relief to soon come, so I usually leave mine unscented.

Here are a couple of covers that I made… the first one took 9 MINUTES! The first is all minky, the second is flannel + minky. The first one has a horizontal flap, the second has a vertical flap. They were both made to fit the same ice pack that just slides in beween the two parts of the flap. Both are super soft, super purple, and do the job!

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I just want to mention now that it’s Infertility Awareness Week this week. You can find out more about the disease of infertility, infertility etiquette, and what you can do to help at RESOLVE, or the Canadian support site IAAC (even though Canadian Infertility Awareness Week isn’t until May!)

Infertility Awareness Week – Once Upon a Time Bolsters

Fertility yoga is a popular tool among those who suffer from infertility. It’s a way to calm your mind and try to unite your thoughts with your actions while thing you feel least like doing is being calm. By creating a safe space for your body full of support, you can let your mind relax a little bit.

I’ve taken several fertility yoga and restorative yoga classes over the past few years, and a common thread seems to be the “Goddess pose”. I’ve done it with one or two bolsters which you lay back on, letting the bolster support and cradle your body while you let the front of your body release. As someone who is constantly either at a computer or at a sewing machine, this pose feels like pure bliss at the end of the day. ANYWAYS, I was trying to figure out where to get my own bolsters for home practice and I found some 9″x22″ at fabric.com . Then my mind started racing with ideas on how to cover them!

I had some details that I wanted in the cover. I wanted a stiffer fabric, but something soft against the skin, so I instantly thought of a light linen canvas like Melody Miller’s Ruby Star Rising or Heather Ross’s Far Far Away II. I also wanted handles on the ends, a zipper up the side, and a flap with which to cover/hide the zipper… there are few things in this world that are LESS relaxing than a zipper poking into your back… or neck… or face.

So I had a general idea of what I wanted this cover to look like. I chose some Far Far Away II and tried to match up some colors. I ended up with this yellow rose fabric and this green sleeping beauty with an orange zipper.

The zipper is hidden behind a flap that just looks like a seam running the entire bolster... much softer than the metal head of a pointy zipper!

The zipper is hidden behind a flap that just looks like a seam running the entire bolster… much softer than the metal head of a pointy zipper!

The longest zipper I had was about 15″ or 16″ (which I’ve now rectified by ordering an assortment of 20″ & 22″ zippers but they haven’t been delivered yet), so I decided to put it at one end of the cover (not in the center) and have it open towards the center. I used the green as a base with a wide rose strip through the center, perpendicular to the opening.

Once I had a tube shape that sort of fit the pillow (with no pattern there’re a lot of “fittings” and “alterations” involved) I made two “handles” and two “end caps”… two strips and two circles. The first time I put it all together the zipper flap ended up being sewn down while pushed the wrong way rendering it completely useless… I didn’t make that mistake twice!

With a handle at each end, it's really easy to grab and reposition... even if your eyes are closed!

With a handle at each end, it’s really easy to grab and reposition… even if your eyes are closed!

Another problem I had was that the cover was too long and the circles (at 11″) were too big… but as my mom always says about haircuts, it’s easier to try to take more off than to try to put more on after the fact. But once I honed in on the right size I ended up with a beautiful and very comfortable bolster!

I just want to mention now that it’s Infertility Awareness Week this week. You can find out more about the disease of infertility, infertility etiquette, and what you can do to help at RESOLVE, or the Canadian support site IAAC (even though Canadian Infertility Awareness Week isn’t until May!)

Infertility Awareness Week – Boxy-Bag

When I saw this tutorial floating around, I knew I’d found a winner. Being thrown head-first back into fertility treatments again I knew that my cycle was going to be all sorts of screwed up again and so I like to have spare “Princess Pads” at my convenience. I’ve been thinking about a bag for a long time but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted. I made one for someone else last year, and it’s pretty awesome but not quite what was in my vision for myself. So when I saw the box bag, I knew this was it – I need something just as cute as the pads themselves to store the pads in!

My first try, last year.

My first try, last year.

Laminate inside, holds 2-3 Princess Pads.

Laminate inside, holds 2-3 Princess Pads.

I spent most of the last weekend on Princess Pads, but after completing 5 of them I decided to attack the bag. I knew I wanted something cute for the outside – probably something heavier than a quilting cotton – and something cute for the inside – something in a laminate for sure.

I ended up going with a Spoonflower kawaii-type rainbows-sunshine-rainclouds pattern in a cotton canvas for the outside and a rainbow-colored apples pattern from the greenhouse collection for the inside (left over from this project).

Cute on the inside AND the outside! Laminate is waterproof and easy to wipe.

Cute on the inside AND the outside! Laminate is waterproof and easy to wipe.

At first the tutorial was really difficult for me to get a handle on. I’m used to kind of glancing over the instructions and getting a feel for what’s going on, and then winging it myself in my own style. I actually had to sit down and read every word of this tutorial to “get it”, and even then my attention wandered periodically and I ended up ripping stuff out when I didn’t follow her directions.

Exceptionally cute handle and pull tab - the instructions worked perfectly.

Exceptionally cute handle and pull tab – the instructions worked perfectly.

Once I got the hang of what was going on, this bag come together beautifully. I went with the default sizes in the tutorial, just because I didn’t feel like I had a good enough understanding to make adjustments. Now that I understand the pattern I’m planning on making one of different dimensions for a different purpose – carting around my injectable vials of several medications and their mixing mediums, plus everything that goes with them – needles, syringes, alcohol swabs, transfer caps, sharps bag, plus all the other oral medications.

Fits about 4-8 Princess Pads - depending on size. There are 2 big, 2 medium, and 1 little in this one.

Fits about 4-8 Princess Pads – depending on size. There are 2 big, 2 medium, and 1 little in this one.

I just want to mention now that it’s Infertility Awareness Week this week. You can find out more about the disease of infertility, infertility etiquette, and what you can do to help at RESOLVE, or the Canadian support site IAAC (even though Canadian Infertility Awareness Week isn’t until May!)

Infertility Awareness Week – Princess Pads

I’ve mentioned them before here – they’re the thing that no woman wants to think about and no man wants to hear about. If you don’t even like to be subjected to tampon commercials, look away now. “Princess Pads” are what I’ve coined my own design of feminine pads. Ever since I started in fertility treatments two and a half years ago (has it really been that long???), I’ve found them to be both a comfort and a necessity, as well as a huge cost saver while feeling pretty darn good about my ecological footprint.

They’ve evolved from where I started – just a couple pieces of flannel with something waterproof in there – to a fine-tuned range of sizes, shapes, and materials to fit the need of the moment.

The Hell-raiser

This pad is the reason I started making my own. Before starting fertility treatments I had what I not-so-lovingly referred to as “8 days of hell”. Since the doctors have screwed with my hormones for years now, that’s changed, but my 8 days of hell was nothing compared to the 5 weeks I endured last year after a cancelled cycle left me with an imbalance that had me in such pain and such horrible bleeding that I was put on 4x normal dosage of estrogen/progesterone and iron supplements in an effort to stop the bleeding and make sure I stayed healthy while we waited for it to stop.

It's a beast, but at least it's on your side!

It’s a beast, but at least it’s on your side!

This pad was the only thing that saved me, and even then some days it was insufficient. I think the biggest one I have is 4 layers of flannel, 3 layers of batting, and a layer of vinyl. It’s about 6 inches inches wide at the widest point, almost a foot long, and with an 8 inch wingspan, the wings are big enough to allow this beast to be completely self contained after use. Not only is there no commercial pad on the market that I’ve found that comes close to the coverage of this monster, it just feels so gosh-darn good against the skin. I’ve recently started experimenting with cotton velvets which are just SO SOFT!

The Normie

This is the normal every-day sort of pad solution. I have about 20 of these, they’re 2-3 layers of flannel, a layer or two of batting, and a vinyl barrier. I like the fact that the vinyl goes right from wing-tip to wing-tip because it prevents leaks that occurred in some of my first tries. I like to try to pick flannels that feel very soft, the not-so-fluffy ones don’t seem to be as absorbent. When you’re washing the flannel (and I pre-shrink all of mine so I don’t have any surprises later), don’t use fabric softener or dryer sheets – it severely inhibits the absorbancy of the flannel.

At least it's something to look forward to!

At least it’s something to look forward to!

My favorite memory of these pads was when I was in the hospital last year. I went in for a laparoscopy/hysteroscopy where my dr surgically inspected the insides and outsides of all of my reproductive organs. This is done under a general anesthetic and they recommend you bring pads of your own if you don’t want to be stuck with icky hospital pads. Nothing felt better when I was coherent enough to get up, go pee, and get dressed than my pretty, comfy, familiar Princess Pad – I even remember the one I had with me was a dark blue with stars and cows jumping over moons.

The Spotter

Like I said, I’m REALLY screwed up from the last few years of hormones. I don’t know if I prefer my former “8 days of hell” or my current status of “cramp and spot for a week or two at a time for no apparent reason or purpose”. This pad is basically more than a liner but less than a pad. After a week with regular commercial pads I used to get a horrible rash… if I have a several week bout of this spotting garbage I would have been in severe pain. Because these still have wings, there’s still coverage to go on about your normal activities like hot yoga or rollerblading that would normally have destroyed a liner with the sweat and movement.

They're completely contained when you're finished.

They’re completely contained when you’re finished.

Perhaps my favorite thing about all of these snap-wing designed pads is that they’re not sticky on the back, meaning you can move them around as you need to, but because they’re flannel on the back, they don’t slide unless you want them to.

The Progesteroner

This is really a specialty pad for fertility treatments. During injectable cycles (IUI or IVF) your hormones are strictly controlled by medication and so progesterone will be replaced during the second half of your cycle. This involves a suppository 3x a day which makes a sticky mess – like you didn’t already have enough fun stabbing yourself several times a day for 2 weeks, now this?

They're "fun sized"

They’re “fun sized”

Normal pads are best covered by majority in a dark color, just because of the natural tendency to stain over time. Progesteroners are the opposite – they’ll take all the color out of your pretty little flannel, so I’ve opted now to use light colors. They’re also designed a little bit differently because unlike all of the former designs that account for “leakage”, this isn’t really an issue with Progesterone because it has more of a paste-like consistency.

So there you have it, everything from the Hell-raiser to the specialty designs, a pad for all occasions. So are they really worth it? Well I did some calculations last summer when I was sure I was going to bleed to death – I was on day 33.

“Almost all the materials that i’ve used have been from the remnant bins including flannel outers, flannel inners, and batting, but also leftover pieces from my own stash. The smallest piece I’ve used was about 6 or 8 inches (and full width) which allows a front center and a back center, and then i used a solid remnant for the sides (left overs from my sewing buddy project). Remnants from fabricland are usually 50% off (or more depending on if there’s any damage or staining) PLUS when you buy one you get another one free – and it used to be that you would get two free. I’ve also bought most of my snaps on significant clearance because I don’t care what color or really what size they are, so I just grab them for literally pennies. So I just bought some flannel with the express purpose of making pads, and it was on sale for between 4 and 5 dollars a yard. It takes less than 1/2 a yard to make 1 pad total, so even not getting the material for free, it costs about 2$ to make a pad (snaps and thread are negligible as they each cost pennies, even PUL was pretty cheap, I’ve bought it once ever). Considering the pads I purchased from the store were about 50 cents each and STILL SUCKED and I was going through up to 10 of my non-sucky pads a day in the worst part of the month, but at least 3 a day in the slowest parts, so lets say an average of 6.5 a day.

Prospective cost: 6.5 pads/day x .50 $/pad x 33 days = $107.25 but likely more because 10 pads a day couldn’t handle the flow I was having with the clots.

Actual cost: 20 pads x 2 $/pad = $40 but likely less because probably about 3/4 of the materials were free or remnant, some of them were pre-existing from before this month, and most can still be used later (a couple didn’t make it as my construction techniques were still evolving and they were in heavy rotation being washed 2-3 times a week).”

That was last June and I haven’t purchased commercial pads at all since then. I like to keep a couple around in my desk and in my overnight-bag, just in case but I still have most of that package left. Also remember, it’s Earth Day today! that’s $107.25 of plastic pads that didn’t go into the garbage, and a year more since then.

I just want to mention now that it’s Infertility Awareness Week this week. You can find out more about the disease of infertility, infertility etiquette, and what you can do to help at RESOLVE, or the Canadian support site IAAC (even though Canadian Infertility Awareness Week isn’t until May!)

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