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I've tried to summarize the important parts here in chronological order, but if there is anything that doesn't make sense, just send me a message on the 'Contact Us' page and I'm happy to answer questions.
Most importantly, thank you for taking the time to read our story. And thank you for following along as we try to conceive hope, in whatever form we can manage it. Thank you <3
November 1993 - May 2012 - From the moment I started cycling (which is something I vividly remember), I have always been in extraordinary pain. "It's a normal part of being a woman" is what I'm told. "Suffer in silence; there's no help for you" is what I hear. I spend the week before every cycle in sheer agony. Physical, emotional, and mental chaos ensue. But I cycle regularly, for the most part, so every doctor I ever saw told me "it's a normal part of being a woman". As the years pass, I begin questioning how every other woman on Earth could be managing this kind of suffering on such a regular basis. With a lack of help from every doctor I've ever seen in my adult life, I'm left with no other choice. I have to come to terms with this chronic pain and all of these awful symptoms or my life is going to be perpetually miserable. I fall away from my faith. As I get into my twenties, my periods begin to change. More cramping. More clotting. More pain. Edema now, too. My grandmother dies. I reconnect with my faith as a way to try and manage the suffering (emotionally and physically). As I cross the line into my thirties, more drastic changes are happening. I have a 60 day cycle for the first time. My periods are getting lighter and lighter and lasting for fewer days each month. Pain is through the roof. Edema is severe at ovulation and end of cycle now. I just pretty much feel awful all the time. Recurring infections, always sick with something, the works. I find new doctors in an attempt to help myself one. more. time. New OB/GYN tells me that this is all just "part of being a woman and it sucks sometimes and I have to just come to terms with it". Am I really just a wimp? Is that what I'm learning through all of this? Meanwhile, I'm dealing with black bleeding, abnormal dark hair growth, irregular cycles, gaining weight despite proactively working with a personal trainer, tons of pelvic pain, and I feel so physically cold that I can barely keep myself warm under layers and blankets. My waking body temp is 94 degrees. I later learn that that is a full degree under hypothermia years later. In the meantime, something has to give...
June 2012 - January 2013 - My adult best friend and I seem to struggle similarly; it's been an on-going dialogue between us since 2006. She had been medicated for the cyclic depression her cycles cause her (birth control and anti-depressants) in her single years, but she found something that worked better during Catholic marriage prep. I can't bring myself to believe that those medicines are the answer for me in single life, but I secretly envy that she even found doctors who at least listened to her. My friend goes on to learning and teach a method of NFP. I am watching her bloom into a happier and healthier person every time I see her. Even her chronic acne looks like it's getting better! Our dialogue changes when I get engaged and begin planning my own wedding...still sick...still in pain...still lost for why my health is getting worse. Maybe Cr.eighton could work for me?
February-March 2013 - Begin charting with the Cr.eighton method. Soon-to-be-DH picked up on it immediately, but I was a much slower learner at first. Learn what TEBB is and that I have it. Learn that the clotting I regularly have is not normal. My PMS is "really severe and not normal". I have PMDD? Lots to research!
April 2013 - First consultation with NaPro doctor. Doctor suspects endometriosis and schedules a diagnostic laparoscopy. Leave doctor's office with a serious pile of blood draw orders and pre-authorization for surgery. TEBB and clots persist.
May 2013 - Blood work shows low estradiol throughout my cycle and low post peak progesterone. I'm diagnosed with a Type II Luteal Phase Deficiency. Thyroid Panel blood work shows that I'm hypothyroid. T3 therapy is prescribed (22.5 mcg twice daily) along with post peak hCG (2,000 iu on P+3, 5, 7, 9). TEBB and clotting continue.
Post script: Surgery reveals endo on my left ovary, exterior of uterus, and uterine ligaments. It is excised. Stage 1 diagnosed. Also underwent an sHSG during that procedure and learned that tubes are open, but a uterine fibroid is found (and left in place) and a strong bacterial infection is discovered. Immediately begin 500mg Keflex (3 times a day) for 28 days. Given direction to continue Keflex therapy for six months on CD1-10.
June 2013 - Two weeks after surgery I fly to Ireland and get married. I walk down the aisle with oozing stitches. In a white gown. With boning. It's as glamorous as it sounds. Sustained-release T3 therapy starts. Begin hCG therapy. Severe edema and lots of pregnancy symptoms follow, to the point where I am wearing compression socks 24 hours a day and can barely walk. Constant nausea. T3 therapy discontinued after three weeks because of the severe symptoms. Breast lump appears. Doctor suspects it's hormonal. Start prenatal vitamins. Remove gluten and dairy from my diet.
July 2013 - Miscarriage #1 (Ruadhán). We didn't even know we were pregnant until I was miscarrying. Rh factor incompatibility identified. I'm negative. DH is positive. Get Rhogam injection to prevent harmful antibodies and it is a success (thank you, merciful God). Hormones are awful. Another breast lump. Awful clotting. Losing my mind.
August 2013 - Ultrasound series reveals an ovulation deficiency. My largest follicle never gets even close to 20mm and then egg is released under-ripe and very late in the cycle. Prescribed Clomiphene for ovulation induction. This might be the cause of my progesterone issues in my post peak?! Re-institute SRT3 therapy to see if maybe it was just a bad mix with the hCG before that made it unmanageable. P+7 draw is still awful though. Cr.eighton chart starts to look worse. Double peaks all over it. TEBB returns.
September 2013 - Researching daily and subsequently ask doctor to test my Vitamin D. Test comes back with a level of 10. Should be 30 at its lowest, but more ideally 50 if possible. Doctor suggests I supplement with 2,000 IU daily. SRT3 is being tolerated much better now. No progress with hypo symptoms though. P+7 draw is still awful. Split peaks and double peaks make it a nightmare to chart and time meds. More TEBB.
October 2013 - Add in 150 mg post peak compounded progesterone on P+3-12. Progesterone never gets above 10. Estradiol is a little higher. Awful PMS persists. Chart is a mess of abnormal bleeding and peaks all over the place. TEBB.
November 2013 - Start clomid on CD 3, 4, 5. Add B6 protocol (500mg daily) for better quality mucus. Continue hCG and progesterone and D3. Still bad P+7 levels. Chart is so awful that I don't even get a chance to take timed meds because cycle ends on P+1. No idea what's going on. Feel terrible. TEBB again?
December 2013 - hCG and clomid together make my estradiol soar and cause panic attacks, hot flashes, and heart palpitations. Discontinue hCG. Substitute a combination of 2 mg oral estradiol post peak and 300 mg compounded progesterone. Vitamin D blood levels show improvement - now at a 26. Doctor tells me to stick with the 2,000 IU supplementation. Progesterone still abysmal on P+7. Constant mucus on my chart. TEBB disappears. Miscarriage #2 (unnamed). I don't understand....
January 2014 - Thyroid springs to life, progesterone numbers rise, my neck hurts like crazy and so do my joints. P+7 looks a *little* better. Post peak phase goes past 18 days. Maybe this is it?? Doctor wants a beta hCG test - maybe we're pregnant?? 200mg PIO (IM) shots twice a week (ouch!!). Beta levels come back negative. No such luck. Why am I bleeding black clots?
February 2014 - Thyroid goes hyper, neck hurts and swells and itches - why???, death in family, murder of friend, hormones plummet, life feels like chaos and my digestion is terrible and my back hurts in my kidney area. Miscarriage #3 (Sadhbh) confirmed with late positive HPTs over my birthday, which go away within a week.
March 2014 - Progesterone numbers increase to 11, estradiol tanks, thyroid tanks, neck hurts more, rashes, joint pain, LUF suspected. More ultrasounds. Doctor tells us to take a break for 3 months or so to let my body heal. Cycle lasts over 40 days. Insulin resistance noticed for the first time. FSH/LH flip. PCOS? Tested for every antibody known to man. Lupus, cardiac, clotting disorders....anything that might help make sense of the mess I've become...
April 2014 - Doctor doubles my daily Vitamin D3 intake to 4,000 IU. I undergo a pelvic exam to look for cervical eversion and potential silver nitrate treatment. No eversion seen, so no treatment for my now constant mucus. Apparently my cervix just has amazing mucus capabilities on 1/3 the normal estradiol levels I should have. No help in identifying split peaks or in getting rid of all the extra mucus is frustrating. Doctor recommends BRCA genetic testing because of family history of aggressive ovarian cancer. Add Low Dose Naltrexone at 4.5 mg nightly. See a significant improvement with edema issues almost immediately. Weight loss is also immediate. 7 lbs. gone in a week. get fired from work for taking bereavement for last miscarriage. Now focusing full-time on health. Chart is still a mess, but baby aspirin over period makes clotting disappear. Am I on to something?
May 2014 - BRCA test run (the nurse at our clinic who was getting it approved by insurance becomes a missing person on the news?!). Annual exam done and another lymph tumor in my left breast appears - marble sized this time, but it seems to be from hormone fluctuations so we watch it until it disappears. Still extremely unnerving. It's always that left lymph node in the breast tissue under my arm that gets inflamed. Pelvic exam uncovers extreme left pelvic pain. Ultrasound ordered and it shows a right ovarian follicle on CD7 that is larger than anything we've seen previously (anywhere in my cycle). 14 mm! Something is working! Maybe it's the LDN? Now down 17 lbs. since mid April. 15 mcg of SRT3 made me go very hypo, so we discuss increasing it. First mention of insulin resistance. My FSH/LH continue to be flipped. PCOS? Now severely hypo and feeling every bit of it. Pretty sure I'm going bald. Skin is cracked and bleeding on my arms and neck and chest and face. I'm a mess. Abnormal menstrual bleeding. Lots of peaks. TEBB retuns. Clotting stays away with baby aspirin.
June 2014 - Now taking 18.25 mcg of SRT3. Sleep is significantly disturbed, but other hypo symptoms are somewhat abated.The entire month is lost to insomnia. Hormones continue to be awful. Why isn't this thyroid and hormone treatment working? Severely hypo. We're about to hit the 18 month mark of treatment and I feel like we have zero successes under our belt. More TEBB - what's new? Feeling defeated and consider giving up charting completely. Learn that NSAIDs cause ovulation problems and LUFs. Anger follows my defeat. Stop taking the baby aspirin and throw away all the ibuprofen in the house.
July 2014 - A month of hope and mercy:
BRCA test results come back negative on the 4th of July weekend - Praise Jesus! Research adrenals and their relation to the thyroid and ovaries. Take 24 hour saliva cortisol test. Morning is way low. Rest of the day is wayyyy low. Nighttime is high. We try low dose hydrocortisone (15 mg Cortef upon waking, 5mg before bed). I also decide to add in Holy Basil Tea at night (adaptogenic herb) to try and lower my evening cortisol.
Insomnia disappears! Sleep becomes restful. More weight comes off. Now 28 lbs. down! Progesterone measures 53.8 on P+7!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Is this a dream? Thyroid is working. Other hormones are great. PMS is nowhere to be found. How is this happening??? Chart has never looked so pretty. Perfect mucus score. What??! :)
August 2014 - another month of hope, finding the courage to TTC.
Genetic testing has confirmed that I have major neurotransmitter genetic defects. I register as homozygous mutated on all of the COMT, MAO-A, BHMT08, CBS, MTRR genes, and some of the MTHFR genes. It's going to take a while to figure out exactly how to manage and overcome these genetic mutations - but at least I have a star in the sky to point to and reach for now. For starters, I have switched my B vitamins to a methylated version and added in myo-inositol. Those were the preliminary recommendations, so we'll see how it goes.
This was another textbook cycle - my 2nd ever. The only thing this month needs is the courage for us to try again after all the heartache of loss. Please pray for us.
September 2014 - Well, I guess that was long enough for life to be good....right? We *did* find the courage to TTC in August and that meant jumping back on the Clomid bandwagon. Unfortunately, that was my undoing. It completely destroyed my cycle. In fact, it destroyed it so thoroughly...we have no idea where I even am or if I began a new cycle. Everything post peak is yellow stamps. Every single day has mucus. There's also mid-cycle bleeding. And then brown bleeding. And then more peak type mucus. 14 HPTs say I'm not pregnant, despite the high temps and the crazy chart. Clomid is not my drug and I decide that after months of using it, this is not the drug that's going to help us get a baby in our arms. What's next? At the very least, the cycle that began in August will not end until well into October.
October 2014 - As expected, the cycle that began in August ended in mid-October. Apparently this is what the FCP's call a "missed period double peak". And mine hadn't ever seen one outside of a textbook. Let's just add this to the book of patterns I exhibit. All sense of normalcy is kind of lost this month when I think to take an HPT during bleeding and realize I'm having Miscarriage #4 (unnamed). Vitamin D completely tanks down to 10 and I'm left with headaches, muscle cramping, and insomnia. Edema stays away though, surprisingly, and I'm grateful for that. It's the one shining star in the sea of confusion I travel. I discontinued the T3 after my cycle resolved and my blood pressure took immediate notice. Ever since I've been on it, I've had an elevated BP (around 140ish over 90ish), which is not my normal. The day after I stopped the medicine, I dropped down to 117/68. I can only imagine relieving the stress on my heart is a good thing. Here's hoping we can sort out what is wrong with my thyroid without that kind of repeat performance. Lastly, I'm now 46 lbs. down for the year. Pretty excited about that since it hasn't involved killing myself with over-exercising to do it...
November 2014 - Let's just entirely forget the continuous mucus that I saw this cycle and the 40+ day cycle it gave me........... and move straight to the fact that I got a 15 day luteal phase as a Christmas present from my body. Down 50 lbs. for the year by the end of the month. No other successes to speak of however.
December 2014 - 55 lbs. down for the entire year by the time the clock struck midnight on New Year's Eve. The long cycle in November resolved into a really healthy period that I haven't seen for a while. Not sure what's going on inside, but we're praying for the courage to TTC and to handle the outcome either way. 2015 will be walked together....and we just hope parenthood is ahead this year.
January 2015 - Weight loss now at 65 lbs. My lunulas reappeared on my nails for the first time in over 18 months. That has to be a good sign, right? The last two cycles I've been using progesterone vaginally and I seem to absorb it much better that way. No PMS and 15 day luteal phases both times. I don't have healthy ovulations yet, but even without induction, we can tell that my body is managing better on its own. My sleep schedule is completely messed up though. I literally cannot stay awake during the day and cannot sleep at night. I feel like I've lost the whole month to the sleeping dysfunction. Researching genomic nutrition trying to figure this out.
February 2015 - Turned 35. Completed one month of Paleo AIP and found multiple food sensitivities (including nightshades and nuts) that I'm not happy about. Weight loss now at 68 lbs total. Ridges in fingernails smooth out, indicating thyroid is happy. Hair re-growth on my head!! First time in two years I see hair regrowing. I added liquid iodine to my regimen this month. No ankle swelling, stomach is flattening by the day. Changed up my supplements a little (see edits below). No period pain, no cramping, no pain in my neck over my thyroid or in my back over my adrenals, despite discontinuing thyroid meds and hydrocortisone. Feeling great, sleep regulated again to a solid 8 hours. Even forgot to take progesterone a couple times in my post peak (for the first time ever) because I was feeling so good. I'm on to something here...
March 2015 - Paleo AIP food reintroductions led to a disaster of rashes and diarrhea, so I'm pretty limited on diet right now and taking this part slower moving forward. Nightshades are off the table for me for the foreseeable future. BOO! 2 more lbs. fell off though and my body is still happy hormonally. I had *no* PMS, PMDD, pelvic pain, cramping, or any period pain of any kind this cycle. Another 15 day luteal phase, so that is 4 months in a row now. It might be time to organize a parade to celebrate... but I shall leave that for when I have a baby in my arms!
April 2015 - Luteal phase continues to remain stable at 15 days. Diet reveals an issue with a few foods, but reintroductions smoothed out a bit. I have rice back, which feels like an accomplishment! Diet seems to have massive impact on my chart. From bleeding to peak day timing, to length of my luteal phase.
May 2015 - Peaked late, but otherwise had a relatively good cycle. No PMS. Getting ready to start a new protocol next cycle. Not much hope that it'll work, because it's just a variant of something I did before... new dosing and new timing, so we'll see. Come on, ovaries. What language DO YOU speak?!
June 2015 - Began pre-peak, micro dose of hCG. Doctor recommended 100 IU to begin with, starting on the first day of mucus, to improve ovulatory function. Chart showed some improvement, but still ovulated after CD20. PMS returned. Not happy to see my infamous cankles again. Luteal phase continues to be 15 days though. Confusing.
July 2015 - Increased hCG dosage to 200 IU daily, beginning on the first day of mucus. Peak occurred on CD20. Maybe this works? PMS symptoms remain.
August 2015 - Decided to dose 200 IU hCG on CD8, even without seeing mucus. Saw Peak occur on CD16. This is the third month in a row that I didn't have a split peak or a double peak. That's never happened since I started charting! We're on to something!!
September 2015 - Decided to dose 200 IU hCG on CD10 and got a singular peak on CD15. I think my ovaries are paying attention finally. My mucus score is steadily increasing. hCG tends to make me want to eat the entire world... even in tiny doses. PMS remains. Cankles for the third month in a row. Not sure why, but it has to be connected to the change in ovulatory function. Maybe they'll simmer down once they get used to this? These are the first couple of months that I've had hope in a long time. They always say you have to be healthy, then happy, then conceive. I think we're finally at the "healthy" part of that equation. Now on to HAPPY! Next stop: conceive, without worrying about a loss.
October 2015 - Dear hCG, it's me, please don't stop working!!!!!!! Love, Me (....to be continued...)
November 2015 - hCG being used pre-peak is working wonders for my cycle, but I'm still needing post peak support to maintain a normal cycle.
December 2015 - Same old, same old. No TTC, but at least health seems to be improving or staying consistent.
January 2016 - Everything seems to be going ok, but I have this odd premonition that something is wrong or something is about to go wrong, can't put my finger on it.
February 2016 - My father died, we conceived child #5. Miscarriage #5 (unnamed), my thyroid tanked out, Hashimoto's diagnosis confirmed, Vitamin D level went down to a 4 despite aggressive supplementation. I pretty much hate everything about trying to grow my family at this point. There's honesty for you.
March 2016 - June 2016 - Reverted to complete AIP diet instead of just Paleo eating. Seems to help joint pain, but learn that's corollary, not causative. My Hashimoto's antibodies skyrocket to more than 900 and 27 on TPO Ab and Tg Ab, not changing with or stalling with AIP stuff at all. Vitamin D protocol changed (10,000 IU D3 daily, 100mcg K2 daily, and 500 mg Magnesium Glycinate daily). That Vit. D regimen makes the antibodies stop climbing and they start dropping. Continue with pre-peak hCG protocol during this time, but pharmacy make a bad batch so I had a terrible cycle from that. Then I run out and they can't get new vials to me in time because of a shortage - so another terrible cycle. Then I stockpile like a squirrel for winter, and good cycles return. Weight increases, no idea why.
July 2016 - I experimented with a post peak that didn't have any hormonal support after seeing the Vitamin D levels rise so significantly for the first time in 3 years. My post peak stayed within NaPro ranges the entire 13 days and I had no pain or dysfunction. A little insomnia, but overall a win as that was the only PMS symptom that returned.
Pre-Peak Micro Doses of hCG - 200 IU daily from P-10 through P+2,
Myo-inositol 4grams twice a day, with 100mg of d-chiro inositol added
Estradiol (oral, Estrace) 2mg from P+3 through 12
L-Glutamine 500 mg daily in the morning
Prenatal vitamin daily (w/ L-methylfolate, currently the Seeking Health Optimal brand)
Fertile CM – 1 capsule by mouth three times daily from CD 11 through P+2
Holy Basil Tea in the evenings (adaptogenic herb that lowers cortisol)
Dandelion Tea (for liver health) during the day
(lots of coconut oil used, no gluten, no dairy, no soy,