To Love a Rose: An Ethiopian Adoption Journal

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Before/After Infertility

Photo courtesy of

Before IF:  I felt confident that I could do anything I wanted to do in life.  Anything!  No matter how big the dream or goal, I thought that if I worked hard enough, did enough time/research, paid my dues, and gave it all I had that somehow, someway, my dreams would become a reality.

After IF:  I realize now that sometimes no matter how much you dream, scheme, plan, and work at something, it still might not happen - not ever.  That was a hard pill for this seasonal optimist to swallow.  In fact, I can't really say that I'm an optimist anymore.

Before PCOS (ie: before going off BCP's when my symptoms flared up): I was 5'2", barely 100 pounds.  I wore a size 00 (yeah, "double zero").  I had never experienced any real health issues.  Once, I had a doctor tell me, "Wow, you're just so incredibly healthy.  I wish all my patients were as healthy as you."

After PCOS:  I gained 40 pounds; and even though I eat an extremely strict diet with no sugar and hardly any carbs, exercise hard every day, etc. I have only been able to lose about 10 pounds of this added weight.

I started having dizzy spells that were so bad that I would have to lie on the ground so I wouldn't fall down, or I'd have to pull over on the shoulder of the road so I wouldn't get in a car accident if one hit while I was driving.

I also learned that the acne I'd fought for years and years was due to PCOS.  I have pitted scars on my face due to the cystic acne I had as a teenager.  A couple summers ago, I spent $1,000 to have a Dr. laser off 150 microns of my facial skin (took me three months to heal completely) to try to "fix" this.  It didn't work.

I found out that I have a floppy pulmonary valve in my heart, most likely caused by the added stress and strain that PCOS had taken on my body.  One cardiologist said I'd have to have heart surgery by the time I'm 40.  While I refuse to believe this or let this ruin my life, it was still daunting and terrifying to hear.  I still have heart palpitations that take my breath away and make me completely paranoid every once in a while.

Before IF: When a friend told me they were pregnant, I was genuinely and completely happy for them.  I would get really excited about buying them baby presents and helping to plan showers, etc.

After IF: I'm still happy for my friends; but that happiness is tinged with extreme bitterness, sadness, depression, anxiety, and jealousy.  I don't feel like buying things for people anymore.  I want to buy things for MY baby!  I don't want to go to showers anymore - they're just depressing and make me angry.

It also makes me angry when friends are seemingly oblivious to my struggle.  Deep-down, I know they're not shoving their pregnancy in my face; but damn, it sure feels like it in the moment.

Before IF: I just KNEW that one day I'd get a beautiful, pink + sign on an HPT one day.

After IF: I'm not sure that I will ever get the glory of looking down at a pee stick and seeing what I want to see shining back at me.

Before IF:  I had no clue what basal body temperature was.  I had no clue what temping even meant.  I had no idea why cervical position or cervical mucus was important, or why I should give a shit about it at all.  I would never have thought that I would care about any of this stuff at all, actually.

After IF: I temp every, single morning with my basal body thermometer.  I've been doing this EVERY, SINGLE morning for over TWO years now.  I check my cervical fluid/mucus every day at least once as well as my cervical position.

I can tell you from all of these things if I've ovulated; and if so, exactly when (down to a span of about 6-12 hours exactly).  I can tell you if I'm having an LH surge or estrogen surge or progesterone build-up.  I know nearly precisely when my period will come...and stop.  I feel every, little twinge and tweak in my body and interpret it accordingly.

Before IF: I was absolutely, completely, 100% certain that God answered my prayers.  I was sure that if I just prayed long enough/hard enough/with enough passion that my prayers would be answered.

After IF: I am realizing that God does not answer everyone's prayers all the time.  He just doesn't.  This has put a great amount of strain on my religious views.  I still believe in God.  I still have a personal relationship with Jesus and the God-head.  I'm still a Christian.  But I have lost the ability to believe that God always gives us what we desire.  I pray every day and remind God of the promises that his word says, but in the back of my mind I can still see the anecdotal evidence piled up - all of the countless millions of other women with PCOS who are infertile...the words of their prayers falling like lead weights, hard and heavy on the ground around them.

Before IF: I felt good about myself.

After IF: I often feel "less than".  I feel extreme guilt over not being able to make my husband a father.  I feel even worse about not knowing about my IF until after we were married.  I constantly worry, "Would he have married me if he had known all those years ago that I would be unable to bear him children?"  I feel broken.  I get so very mad at my body - why can't it just work right?!

Before IF: I would get my period every month and not think twice about it.

After IF: I get my period and rush through a gamut of emotions.  I'm always sad; but then I get angry for allowing myself to actually have had hope that cycle.  Why did I let THAT happen?  I should really know better by now.  Then worry sets in: What if this never happens, Mandie?  What if you just have to "get over it" and move on with your life?  What if, indeed.

Before IF: I thought I had "all the time in the world...all the time I needed."

After IF: I feel "too old" for baby-making, and I'm only 30.  Each month that passes makes me feel as though I'm slowly but surely chugging toward that dreaded "point of no return".  I see the years whizzing by me.  I see not a light at the end of this tunnel; but a black, gaping, garish hole.

Before IF: Mr. C and I created a nursery for what we assumed would be our "very soon-to-be" child.

After IF: It is difficult for me to even step foot in that room of our house.  It's empty and cold.  The yellow walls, decorations, and furniture are covered in dust.  It's a depressing reminder that we still have no reason for the room to begin with.

Before IF: I was a happy person.  I liked to laugh.  I was nearly always in a good mood.

After IF:  I often feel on-edge.  I am never certain if I'll see something or run into someone, etc. that will remind me of my childless state.  Sure, I still laugh.  Sure, I'm still happy.  But, I have noticed that I wake up and go to bed with a constant, nagging ache in the heart area.  I sometimes wonder if it will ever go away.

Before IF: I had actually stated, out loud, on several occasions that I "didn't even know if I wanted children".

After IF: I regret saying those words.  They haunt me.  Did I curse myself?  Is God teaching me a lesson for being so careless?

There's something so terrible about choice being taken away from you.  If I chose not to have children, that would be one thing; but my choice has been taken away from me...I would never choose to have PCOS and IF.

Before IF: I would hear stories of couple's going through fertility treatments - spending so much time and money and energy on "getting pregnant" - and I would honestly think that the people were nuts.  "Why would you spend all that cash on trying to get pregnant?" I would think.  "Ridiculous."

After IF: Mr. C and I have spent thousands upon thousands of dollars on fertility treatments.

I have taken every pill imaginable.

I have stuck myself in the stomach with needles (ME!  the girl deathly afraid of needles and shots!).

I have had my feet in stirrups more times than I care to remember.

I have had my blood drawn so many times that the procedure that used to make me nearly pass out does not affect me at all anymore - in fact, I just sit and intently watch the blood being drained from my arm now - no nausea or dizzy spells!

I have had Mr. C's "washed" semen squeezed through a catheter straight into my uterus - always the very romantic, full-of-love way I thought I'd get pregnant - errr, NOT! 

And, most shocking of all, Mr. C and I sincerely contemplated doing IVF - something we vowed we'd "never do".  We even went so far as to see about getting a loan and found a doctor in Arkansas.

Now, I go to an acupuncturist - another thing I NEVER thought I'd do - at least once a week, if not more.  I have needles stuck in my stomach and throughout my body for hours at a time; and I'm preparing to start taking nearly 1/2 a cup of powdered Chinese herbs every day to combat my illness (PCOS).

Before IF: I thought adoption was the easy answer.  After all, my mom was adopted.  I had cousins and friends who were adopted.  I looked at the process and the life-long journey of it all in a really blase manner.

After IF: I know that adoption is not easy, and for many it's not an easy solution either.  While I know that I will love my future adopted children, nothing - NOTHING - can take away the pain and disappointment of having your body fail you in the area of reproduction.

I know now that I will never get over this loss of choice.  I know that I will never be able to forget the pain - no matter how much I move on and love my adopted children.  Loving them entirely will never fix the hole in my heart created by PCOS and the failure of my body in this way.  I'm sure it will soften the blow in time, but I will never just "get over it".


Before IF: I looked at people going through struggles (especially of the physical kind) with pity and a desire to help, but not true understanding.

After IF: I want to help people.  When I hear of some struggling with MS or HIV or epilepsy or blindess or poverty or death, etc...............I just want to be kinetic.  I just want to be active.  I just want to DO SOMETHING.

The idea of waiting for "them" or "they" to come to "help" is lost on me now.

I am "they". 

I no longer look at those struggling with pain and suffering with pity.  I'm right there with them.  I may not be struggling with what they're specifically going through, but I've known that deep sense of loss and stress and strain and bewilderment and hopelessness and anger and bitterness.

I suppose the greatest "gift" I've received through all of this struggle (and yes, I do count it as a blessing and gift) is that God has opened my eyes to all the hurting and pain in this world.  There are so many people hurting - all around us - daily.  While I knew this before, I didn't really know it.  Every need is different in it's own way, every story unique.  I'll never meet them all; but if I could, I'd scoop them all up and hug them so tight and just let them know how greatly they are loved.

Before IF:  I took my health, and my family's health for granted.

After IF:  I know that every day is a gift.  It's a gift that my mom survived endometrial cancer.  It's a gift that my sister, W's epilepsy is getting under control - no more grand mal seizures, praise God!  It's a gift that my sister, M's lumpectomy was a HUGE success!  It's a gift that my cervical pre-cancer was caught just months before it became full-blown cancer.  It's a gift that PCOS hasn't ravaged my body any more than it has.  It's a gift that my father didn't die like the doctors said he would in 1993, because his lungs were charred from his parents' second-hand smoke coupled with decades of inhaling pesticide-laden field dust.  It's a gift that every one in my immediate family has literally fought death in one way or another - and won.

So much to be grateful for.  So much.

Before IF: I'm sure I would have taken fertility and children for granted.

After IF: No matter how they come to me, I will never for one second forget how miraculous my children are.  I will constantly be amazed at their mere existence.  I'm not saying I'll always be the perfect mom; I'm just saying I'm sure I'll never forget the struggle to become a mom or how grateful I should be that I get to be a mom at all - how could I?

Before IF: I didn't think twice about how supportive and loving and kind and compassionate and giving my husband is.

After IF: I am more grateful for and mindful of Mr. C.  I am blessed beyond words to have him in my life.

Before IF: I probably took just "being a couple" for granted a lot.

After IF: Even in the midst of attempting for so long to make a baby, I often find myself thanking God for the time Mr. C and I have as "just us".  I try not to focus so much on our goal that I forget to just be in the moment and enjoy this time we have together.  I know Mr. C will be a fantastic father, simply because he's the best husband.  So, in the meantime, I revel in the deliciousness of sleeping in with him on Saturdays and going for romantic dinners and walks and watching late-night movies in the theater and staying up till 3 a.m. working on art projects together.

I'm still transforming...I can feel that I'm not entirely out of my cocoon yet.  I have been feeling the aches and pains of metamorphosis for a long time now; and honestly, I can't wait to see what the other side holds for me...still waiting...


Wednesday, July 27, 2011


I follow a lot of blogs.  A LOT.  Not all are centered around parenting or infertility or adoption, actually; but many are.  And there are several that are so well written I cannot help but continue to read them, even when I know that they'll probably just make me sad, angry, or upset to the point that I'm bawling my eyes out mid-day in my office.

A Glimpse Inside: Our Journey Through Infertility  is one of those blogs that makes my heart ache.  The writer, simply called Wannabemom, relates her and her husband's battle to have a baby with such honesty and obvious sadness at times that I find myself unable to hold back the tears.

I've been there.  Far too many times, in fact.  Even though I know I'm not the only one (not by a long-shot) who is grappling with these horrible emotions and physical down-falls, it is always a morbid kind of comfort to hear someone else say, "Hey, I'm feeling that way too."

Wannabemom's latest blog post about grief and grieving throughout she and her husband's 30 (that's right, folks, THIRTY) failed medicated cycles of attempted pregnancy really hit me in the gut when I read it.  I know exactly what she's going through.  I can relate precisely to what she's saying.  I don't think anyone truly comprehends what it's like to go through the cycle of excitement, hopefulness, diligence, disappointment, pain, anger, and depression that inevitably occurs every 30 days - over and over and over again - in an infertile woman's life (unless, of course, they're another infertile woman).

As she says it much better than I do/am, I thought I'd just quote her post.  I hope she doesn't mind...

BFN #30


This is the 3oth month that we’ve failed, yet again, to make a baby.

I read somewhere, that the grief felt with infertility is akin to the grief felt when a sibling dies.  That was one of the most validating statements anyone has ever made to me.  Every month, I grieve.  But it’s not like losing a loved one.  Because eventually, there is an acceptance that the loved one is gone and life must continue with them only in our memories.  The intensity of the sadness gets better with time.  With infertility, it’s a loss of something I never got to know.  And then it’s time to get right back on the bike and ride again.  A new cycle, a new chance, and ultimately a new failure.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  And it seems as though each lost cycle is harder than the last.

I also think it’s different because infertility grief is invisible to most of the people who surround us.  When you lose a loved one, people know about it and they say things like “I’m so sorry for your loss”.  We send them cards and flowers and casseroles or whatever — the translation is: we see your grief and we’re sorry you have to feel this way.  It’s normal.  People die.  It’s a normal, lived experience.  People know how to respond (even if it’s awkward for most of us) when someone dies, because we comprehend it.  We understand it.  Most of us have experienced the death of someone.

People don’t know what to say about infertility…. if we’ve even bothered to share our journey at all.  So many couples don’t tell the people in their world what they are going through, so the grief is completely invisible.  I write this blog so the people closest to me can read and try to understand, but it still makes them uncomfortable and so they say nothing at all most times.  I don’t even think my husband truly understands the grief I feel each month.  Sure, he has his own grief but it’s different.

Elisabeth Kubler Ross developed the Five Stages of Grief model…. if you’ll allow me to get all social worky for a moment.  Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.  I think I cycle through this every month.

Denial – This will be our month.  This time it will work.  Nope, those aren’t PMS symptoms, they are pregnancy symptoms.  That drop in temp?  That’s just an implantation dip… just a few days overdue.  That spotting?  Well it can’t possibly be my period.  Maybe it will stop.  That BFN — well maybe there’s not enough HCG yet.

Anger – Goddamnit.  Why me?  Why is this happening again?!  What did I do to deserve this?  And this is usually where I get a major case of the self-destructive ‘fuck-its’ too.

Bargaining – Please God or the Universe or Mother Nature or whoever is in charge, please just let this be the month I’m pregnant.  Please?  I’ll be a better person… please?

Depression – ‘Nuff said.  Usually involves isolation, crying and chocolate.  And hatred of happy, fertile friends and people in general.

Acceptance – This month is over.  Time to start again.  Maybe this time it will be different.  Maybe this is our month.  This has to be our month…..

Yesterday (8 DPO), my temperature dipped really low (97.5, when it had been up around 98)This morning (9 DPO), it jumped up to 98.1; BUT my cervix is low...which usually means that the cycle has failed.  I am caught between trying to keep up my hope (denial, perhaps?) and flat-out depression.

Maybe soon I'll be on to acceptance...again.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ovarian Cysts (PCOS) and Traditional Chinese Medicine

UPDATE, PLEASE READ FIRST (8/18/13): As I receive more negative comments about this post, I have considered removing it.  However, I want to state again that my purpose in writing this post was because it is MY BLOG about MY EXPERIENCES.  I have never claimed, nor do I ever claim, to be a doctor, Chinese medicine practitioner, or expert on this subject.  

The herbs and quantities and frequency of treatment, etc. were all prescribed to ME (and me alone) by MY practitioner.  If you are considering using TCM in the treatment of your PCOS diagnosis, PLEASE seek out your OWN practitioner and follow their personalized regimen for you. 

UPDATE:  I was able to find all the herbs needed for this treatment at You can buy the exact amount (in grams) that you need; which is fabulous!  A big THANK YOU to Meg for suggesting them to me! :-)

A few weeks ago, Mr. C shared with me a study on the curing of ovarian cysts in polycystic ovarian syndrome; which by now, if you read my blog, you know that I have.

On a quick side-note I want to say that I don't really like to claim that I "have" PCOS anymore.  I am believing for total healing from God on this; so, I don't like to say out loud or on paper/electronically that I am still plagued by this, but to make things easier to understand I will often still say I have PCOS.  Okay, done! :-)

My acupuncturist/chiropractor, Dr. L, had told me that he didn't have time to research herbs with me (he's just far too busy doing chiro and acu all day); but that if I had any I wanted to try I could ask him about them, and he might even be able to order some for me.  In short, I would have to do the research; but he was all for me incorporating herbs into my acu treatment - hooray!

I really wanted to jump in to this new world of traditional chinese medicine (or TCM) treatment, but I had no clue where to start.  That's when Mr. C found the aforementioned and linked-to study; which was abstracted and translated (from Chinese) by a Mr. Bob Flaws.

In the study, 50 women, ranging in age from 23-48 years of age (all married) with PCOS were given the treatment below.  Forty-one of the women had single-sided cysts.  Nine had bilateral cysts, and one woman had what is a called a "chocolate cyst" (which, despite the cute name, is very nasty - caused by endometriosis and a build-up of mucus around a simple ovarian cyst - it seems painful and very un-cute in reality).

The Chinese herbalists conducting the study, Li Hong-jie and Li Bing-lin, published the article The Treatment of 50 Cases of Ovarian Cysts with Gui Ling Xiao Nong Tang in issue #1 of the 2004 Jilin Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine (pg. 7).  Everything I will be talking about below is taken from this particular study and subsequent article relaying the findings to the public.

In short, a protocol of twelve herbs were given in either 10 or 15 gram dosages (To be clear, that's per herb!  So, roughly 125 grams total of powdered herbs per day.)dissolved in water (I  believe as a hot tea) were given for 30 days straight.  After the first "course" of 30 days, 24 of the 50 cases of cysts were completely gone as verified by trans-vaginal ultrasound.  (AMAZING!)  While another 18 cases were cleared up within two courses (so 60 days straight) of the same amounts.  There was only one patient who did not benefit from the treatment, and that was the poor woman with the "chocolate cyst".  I would assume that something of that magnitude would need laproscopic surgery to correct.  Her aside, though, this makes the overall effectiveness of the treatment 98%.

When I read these numbers I was blown away.  There is NOTHING - no medicine, no pill, no procedure, nothing - in western medicine that can give those kinds of numbers to a woman with PCOS!  In fact, so far as I know, there is NO TREATMENT in WESTERN MEDICINE FOR CYSTIC OVARIES.  None.  They can give you meds that will try to force your cystic ovaries to work despite their obvious issues, but there is nothing western medicine can do to cure a PCOS woman of her ovarian cysts.

So, I was excited!  I immediately got online and started doing my research, and jumped into trying to order them.

WARNING: Most of the herbs were a little difficult to find.  In fact, when I did finally find the majority of them from a seller on Amazon, at least two of them were having problems getting shipped to the US; so, as of now, I still don't have those two herbs.  HOWEVER, I think if you did enough poking around on the Internet (or if you're lucky enough to live in a city that has an actual Chinese herbal medicine shop - LUCKY YOU!), then you should be fine.  DON'T let a little digging stop you from trying this treatment, please!!!!

Here are all the herbs you will need, minus to the two that are back-ordered/unavailable at the moment (I'll write more about them in a minute) and the cinnamon; which I forgot to put in the picture (oops!).  They are all in powdered form, except for one; which comes in little pellet-like pills.

The following is the list of herbs that you will need for this treatment.  I've done some research, and I've tried to list the Latin and Chinese names, as well as any common names to help you understand exactly what each herb is.  Also, I've tried to list some of the uses (answering the "why am I taking this particular herb?" question; because, hey, I wanted to know too!) for each herb relating to reproductive health specifically.  NOTE: many of these herbs have so many uses it would make your head spin; so, I have tried to pick out the usages that pertain only to reproductive health/PCOS specifically.

If you'd like more information on any of these herbs, I highly recommend that you visit and/or - they both have really good, easy to understand information about each of these herbs.

Okay, let's jump in to the treatment already!  For the following herbs, you would take 10 GRAMS EACH every day (the study suggests you divide it up into three doses and drink them in hot water at breakfast, lunch, and dinner).  I bought the Taylor Biggest Loser 6.6 Pounds Kitchen Scale with Glass Platform (which measures down to single grams if need be) to weigh my herbs out, and it works great!

GUI ZHI  (Ramulus Cinnamomi Cassiae):

10 grams of gui zhi weighed out on my food scale.

Otherwise known as plain, old cinnamon, gui zhi is long well-known for promoting blood sugar metabolism (ie: it combats the insulin resistance so many of us PCOS'ers have to deal with).  Unlike the pharmaceutical Metformin, cinnamon affords all the same benefits without the nasty (and I mean nasty) side-effects like hair loss, constant nausea, dizziness, etc.  I have been taking cinnamon (with chromium) pills ever since I was diagnosed with PCOS, and it has helped tremendously.

Cinnamon also helps warm channels up to push through energy (sluggish energy channels can be a big problem with PCOS patients) while dispersing cold and controlling mucus membrane inflammation (mucus and phlegm are thought to be a large part of the issue with PCOS patients - the mucus builds up around the ovaries and is not dispelled naturally, thus building up over time creating the white, waxy substance that surrounds PCOS cystic ovaries.  it is thought that if you break this mucus down and clear it away, the other herbs will be able to reach the cysts and shrink them/obliterate them much more effectively).

(MU) DAN PI  (cortex radicis moutan):

Photo courtesy of

Dan Pi (or Mu Dan Pi) is peony root cortex.  It clears and disperses heat (it is thought that PCOS women have what is known as a "cold" uterus; which means blood does not flow to the uterus well; which makes implantation difficult; which can cause multiple, early-stage miscarriages).  It also clears liver blood stasis (stagnation), corrects amenorrhea (absence of a period, which many PCOS women are plagued by, some for years!), flushes toxins, drains pus from organs, and reduces swelling - all of which could help strained and stressed ovaries.

TAO REN  (semen pruni persicae):

Photo courtesy of

Tao Ren is known commonly as peach kernel/seed.  It is used in TCM to correct all sorts of menstrual disorders to correct blood stasis (stagnation) throughout the body.

CHI SHAO  (radix rubrus paeoniae lactiflorae):

Photo courtesy of
 Chi Shao is the root of the red peony bush.  By affecting the liver and spleen meridians/channels (those most connected to and influencing reproductive organs), it is can correct a multitude of gynecological ailments.

SAN LENG  (rhizoma sparganii stoloniferae):

Photo courtesy of
San Leng(concentrated Extract Powder)(sparganium Simplex Rhizome)(sparganium Rhizome) Mayway-5801c breaks up the blood in the body (circulation and blood flow are a recurrent theme with these herbs, you'll notice!).  It also corrects amenorrhea as well as dysmenorrhea (extreme pain during menses).  It also stimulates the liver and spleen channels and can help with abdominal pain.

E ZHU  (rhizoma curcumae zedoariae):

Photo courtesy of
E Zhu(concentrated Extract Powder)(curcuma Zeodoaria Rhizome)(zedoary Rhizom) Mayway-5804c is used as an anti-inflammatory.

CHUAN SHAN JIA  (squama manitis pentadactylis):

Photo courtesy of
Chuan Shan Jia are the scales of the adorable pangolin.  I didn't know this when I bought the product, and it makes me pretty sad to think that a bunch of pangolin died so their scales could be ripped off, powdered, and rolled into pills for me.  (Seriously, I cry thinking about it!)  If you're wondering what a pangolin is, it's sort of an Asian version of an armadillo.  They look like this:

Adorable pangolin.

Yeah, I don't know if I can continue use of this medicinal; HOWEVER, I must say that it is touted as being a "very good" medicine by all accounts.  I was also assured after inquiring into it further (after receiving my order) that they are very plentiful and well conserved.  I have no clue if that is accurate information - it certainly didn't make me feel any better.

Pangolin scales are used to unblock menses, expel dampness (which can cause the build-up of that ever-pesky mucus!), and correct amenorrhea and dysmenorrhea.

ZAO JIAO CI  (spina gleditschiae sinensis):

Photo courtesy of
Zao Jiao Ci(concentrated Extract Powder)(gleditsia Sinensis Spine)(honeylocust Spine) Mayway-5884c invigorates the blood, expels pus, and transforms cold phlegm.

For the next three herbs, you will take 15 GRAMS PER HERB PER DAY instead of just the 10 grams of each of the aforementioned herbs.

FU LING  (sclerotium poriae cocos):

Photo courtesy of
Fu Ling(concentrated Extract Powder)(poria Cocos Fungus)(poria / Hoelen Fungus) Mayway-4711c (poria skin, a kind of fungus) stops the retention of phlegm as well as dizziness and heart palpitations.

HAI ZAO  (herba sargassii):

Photo courtesy of
Also known as sargassum seaweed extract, Hai Zao - Sargassum, 100 gr clears heat and reduces phlegm.

KUN BU  (thallus algae):

Photo courtesy of
 Kun Bu(concentrated Extract Powder)(laminaria Japonica Herb)(laminaria / Kelp) Mayway-5898chai , or simply "sea kelp", is helpful in reducing swelling, correcting thyroid disorders and iodine deficiency, counter-acting obesity, reducing phlegm, and cleansing the blood.

WHEW!  Now, I KNOW that I have just given you a lot of information; so, I'm not going to say much more other than I have NOT been able to try this treatment yet due to the fact that two of the herbs I ordered (Hai Zao and Kun Bu) were back ordered until ????  However, I can't wait to track those two herbs down and try them out!

Since this cycle is going so well, and I might be pregnant, I am preparing for having to hold off on this treatment until 9 months from now (ever the optimist, I am!); BUT I AM going to do it.  I just think, "why not?!"; and I know how much acupuncture has changed my life - taking me from non-ovulatory to a completely normal cycle in just over two months - amazing!  So, I'm sure TCM would only enhance what's already being done in my body.

If anyone has any questions or comments, please, please please do NOT hesitate to comment on here!  I will try to respond to you ASAP with any and all assistance I can offer.

I want to wish any of you trying this program much good luck and Godspeed!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011


I am pleased to say that this cycle has been completely "normal".  I did, officially, ovulate on CD 14 (possibly the first time ever in my life!) with the help of nothing but prayer, diet, exercise, and acupuncture.  I feel amazing!

On CD 15, I started natural, Source Naturals Natural Progesterone Cream, 4 Ounce (113.4 g) (stripped out of soy plants).  I use 1/4 teaspoon twice a day.  I had always wondered if my progesterone levels were causing any fertilized eggs to not be able to implant properly.

I have no clue what to expect, but I'm feeling so hopeful about this cycle.  I just am blown away by God's ability to heal our bodies.  I know that people don't always get their prayers for healing answered; so, I am feeling incredibly blessed that God is doing this for me!

We had a GREAT, 4-hour practice with our band last night for our September 10th hometown show.  I know this show is going to rock!  I'm just so grateful for all of the wonderful things happening in my life right now.  Things are definitely looking up...they're actually completely "normal". :-)


Sunday, July 17, 2011


That's right, not one, but TWO positive OPKS (last night and this morning)!

I broke down again and bought a big pack of 40 of these: Wondfo Combo 40 Ovulation Tests and 10 Early Pregnancy Tests Strips,.  I honestly wasn't even going to use them until CD 15 or so, since without meds my track record for ovulation is usually no earlier than the range of CD 16-25.  Buuuuuut, I was having loads of EWCM, which made me suspect something was up; so, I took an OPK last night around 10:30 p.m. (only CD 12!) and it was about 99% positive (OPK on top in above picture).  I seriously did a little dance! :-)

This morning around 8 a.m. I took the OPK below, and there was no doubt that it was positive.  So exciting!  I'm on track to ovulate sometime tonight or tomorrow (CD 14).  If so, I am going to have my first, all-natural, "NORMAL" cycle - as in ovulating on day 14, and 28 days total!  Hooray!  I realize that most women do not get this excited about their menstrual cycles; but seriously, this is brilliant!

I've been MUCH more militant with my diet this cycle.  MUCH more!  I have restricted my carb intake to practically nothing, and I'm not making little exceptions for myself here or there when it comes to sugar - it's not allowed at all - neither is alcohol, not even a sip!  And really, there's no need for any of it anyway; it just makes me feel like crap in the end.  I've also been exercising for at least 45 minutes a day - all strenuous cardio.  I've missed a day or two here and there, but mostly I've been extremely diligent to keep up my "homework".

Also, I recently had a reevaluation with Dr. L concerning my acupuncture.  When I first had this done, I was pretty good.  I was at an overall energy level of 82 (anything above 70 is considered excellent), and I had three meridians that were either low, high, of just out of balance from left to right spheres.  This time, my overall energy was at 86 (woo, moving on up!); and I had only one area that was low (the spleen, of course: the meridian that affects reproduction and menstrual cycles *le sigh*).  Everything else was in perfect range and in balance.  It's amazing that all of this has occurred in just 5 short weeks.  Amazing!  So, for the past week I've been wearing three tacks in my stomach and four in my feet/legs to stimulate the spleen meridian - must be working since I'm getting such great results!

Earlier this week, I began writing my children's book series.  I can't say anything about it, really; but it's going to be so much fun!  I'm really looking forward to traveling along with these characters for a while.  Today, I put up my inspiration boards around my desk area in the office I share with Mr. C...everything is looking so incredible.  It really helps me to have a visual in front of my face while I'm typing:

Early tomorrow morning, I have a last-minute acupuncture appointment with Dr. L before Mr. C and I hit the road to head up north for some band rehearsals.  I'm really looking forward to this hometown show in September.  I think it's the first step to the band moving forward again; which is something I've looked forward to for a long, long while.

On a more sobering note, I have been humbled this past week by the passing of two boys that I had been praying for.  One was more of a young man than "boy".  His name was Wes, and his family (in particular one of his sisters) had been very encouraging to my own sister, W, in her struggle with epilepsy.  Wes was also epileptic, but that was the least of his worries.  At only 22, he had brain cancer that had spread to his spine and eventually confined him to a wheelchair.  Even through it all, he always seemed to be smiling and praising Jesus.  I was blessed enough to watch him get up out of his wheelchair and walk during a faith conference at my parents' and sister's church a few weeks ago.  I don't think there was a dry eye in the house as Wes got up from his chair and actually WALKED, without help, the entire length of the front altar.

The second boy to pass was also not truly a "boy", but not because he was perhaps a little too old for the title; alas, he was far too young.  Little James was only 6 months old when he passed away yesterday afternoon from a brain tumor.  I have been weepy off-and-on these past few days just thinking about these beloved children of Jesus and their short times here on this earth.  It all seems so unfair.  I think that is the thing that haunts me the most when it comes to being a Christian.  I just do not comprehend why some people receive their healing, their miracle, while others do not...they go on to be with God.  I wish I could somehow wrap my mind around this, but I just can't.  It literally plagues me some days to think about it.  At the moment, my heart is going out to the families of these two brave, young children of God...I know they were greatly loved and will be greatly missed.

Wow, every time I think of those boys I cry!  :-(  Okay, I promise I won't leave you with a bucket-full of tears I wrap up this post, I will leave you with an adorable photo of our Scottie, Eagan Fitzgerald - the furry love of my life!

Adorable as usual!  Look at that huge, rubber nose - so cute!

I hope you are well and blessed and inspired and creating and happy in your heart wherever you are in the world; for you are greatly loved, my friends!  You are so greatly loved!  (John 3:16)

Mucho Big Hugs,

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Beautifully Broken - Hometown Show Sept. 10th!

I am so excited to announce that my band, The Beautifully Broken, will be playing our hometown of Fairfield, IA on Saturday, September 10th at the fabulous Sondheim Center (the same theater Mr. C and I got married in 3 years ago!).

If you are in the Fairfield area around that time, PLEASE come see our show; because it is going to be a BLAST!  Because of the venue, we're doing a little more of a formal "show" by covering famous trios biggest hits as well as rocking out with several of our own, original tunes. 

Tickets are on sale now here.  To preview our music, go to our website or here: The Beautifully Broken to listen/download the CD (also on iTunes!) beforehand!


Friday, July 8, 2011

Jeffrey Sebelia's "La Miniatura": Rockin' Clothes for Boys

My ALL TIME FAVORITE winner of Project Runway is Jeffrey Sebelia!!!!  Everything he made, I wanted to wear! Picture courtesy of

So, I am literally FREAKING OUT about Jeffrey Sebelia's new line of boy's clothes La Miniatura!  Everything is amazing and adorable and punked-out and very rock-n-roll and...well, I just LOVE it!  If I could, I would dress Mr. C in these clothes - seriously, they are that amazing!  Have a look for yourself:

All photos courtesy of La Miniatura Kids.

Have you ever seen more adorable yet sophisticated clothes for little boys???  I think not.  I love that the line's slogan is "dress your kid with dignity"; I think this line more than accomplishes this feat!  I'm sure Sebelia's own son, Harrison Detroit, had a lot to do with the inspiration behind these fantastic designs.  If we have a son, I am SOOOOO going to be buying that black, velvet suit!  You can count on it!

Click here for stores and here to contact!

Bowing to the Genius that is Jeffrey Sebelia,

Low Carb/High Carb Fruits

Berries like those above tend to have much less sugar/carbs than other fruits like oranges, kiwifruit, and pears.  Photo courtesy of

A lot of people have asked me lately about PCOS and insulin resistance, and specifically why I eat the way I do (low carb/sugar).  Having PCOS nearly always means that you will have some form of insulin resistance.  For me, it meant years of dizziness and nausea for no apparent reason.  Doctors essentially told me I was crazy; one even prescribed anxiety/depression meds to help me cope with my "mental health issues" which were "obviously" making me a hypochondriac.  Ummm, no thanks.

When I finally was diagnosed with PCOS, I learned of the significance of the correlation between carbs and what goes on in a PCOS'ers body; and it all began to make sense.  (So, contrary to popular belief, I wasn't crazy!  Hooray!)

Something to remember is that PCOS is a brain problem more than anything else.  For some reason, women with PCOS have a hypothalamus and/or pituitary gland that call for too much of the androgens that are in everyone's bodies like testosterone, estrogen, etc. to be created by the ovaries and other glands.  It is thought that these excess androgens can make the body of a PCOS woman sluggish in the way that it deals with insulin once it is secreted by the pancreas.  As we all know, insulin helps the body break down sugar (specifically glucose).  If the body has a hard time breaking down glucose it can lead to all sorts of issues including obesity and even Diabetes (  You do not have to be obese or have Diabetes to have insulin resistance.

So, what's the best thing to do?  Well, diet and exercise are the easiest and cheapest ways to start combating this inward struggle in the body.  Eating a low carb diet and exercising for 45 minutes to an hour each day has helped me tremendously.  But when it comes to knowing what to eat (or not eat) has been an on-going learning curve for me.  Luckily, there are tons of resources out there for us - you are NOT alone!

I thought I'd take some time over the next few months to highlight good, low-carb foods and recipes every once and a while.  Today, I thought I'd start with raw fruits.  There's a lot of information about raw fruits and fructose (fruit sugar) and how it affects the insulin resistant body.  While all fruit contains sugar, there is much debate on how raw, natural fructose and starches are broken down in the body.  Some say, eat them up!  Because they're raw and natural, it will take the body longer to break these carbs down anyway.  Others say that this fact doesn't matter, sugar is sugar, and it will still affect the body negatively if one is insulin resistant.

I'm no expert in these areas.  I'm not a doctor, nor am I a nutritionist; but I have lived through many experiences and "experiments" with my body and carbs over the past few years.  Personally, I have discovered that fructose makes me feel just as terrible as straight-up cane sugar.  I learned this the hard way after eating an inordinate amount of luscious, ripe cherries a few months ago - not good.

It's hard to imagine something as wholesome and fresh-off-the-vine as fruit could make someone feel terrible; but if you're IR, then you'll understand what I mean.  The following is a list of fruits in accordance to their carb volume (effective {"net"} carbohydrates).  I try to stick to the low and low-to-medium categories on a daily basis (of course, every once in a while I allow myself a "treat"!).

Low Carb Content

lemon (1 tbl. = 1 gr. net carbs)

lime (1 tbl. = 1 gr. net carbs)

rhubarb (1/2 c. diced = 1.5 gr. net carbs)

raspberries (1/2 c. fresh or frozen {as long as there is no added sugar} = 3.5 gr. net carbs)

blackberries (1/2 c. = 3.5 gr. net carbs)

cranberries (1 oz. = 2 gr. net carbs, 1/2 c. = 4 gr. net carbs)

Low-to-Medium Carb Content

strawberries (1/2 c. = 5 gr. net carbs, 1 large strawberry {1 3/8" diameter} = 1 gr. net carbs)

casaba melon (1/2 c. = 5 gr. net carbs, 1 wedge {5 oz. or 1/10th of melon} = 10 gr. net carbs)

papaya (1/2 c. = 6 gr. net carbs, 1 medium-sized papaya {5" long x 3" wide} = 25 gr. net carbs)

watermelon (1/2 c. = 5.5 gr. net carbs, 1 wedge {10 oz. or 1/16th of melon} = 22 gr. net carbs)

peaches (1/2 c. = 6.5 gr. net carbs, 1 medium peach {approx. 2 2/3" diameter} = 12 gr. net carbs)

nectarines (1/2 c. = 6.5 gr. net carbs, 1 medium nectarine {approx. 2 1/2" diameter} = 13 gr. net carbs)

blueberries (1/2 c. = 9 gr. net carbs, 1/2 c. frozen, unsweetened blueberries = 7 gr. net carbs)

cantelope (1/2 c. = 7 gr. net carbs, 1 medium wedge {5 oz. or 1/8th of melon} = 6 gr. net carbs)

honeydew melon (1/2 c. = 7 gr. net carbs), 1 wedge {1/8th of 5-6 in. diameter melon} = 15 gr. net carbs)

apples (1/2 c. = 7 gr. net carbs, 1 medium apple {3" diameter} = 21 gr. net carbs)

guava (1/2 c. = 7 gr. net carbs, 1 medium guava {including seeds and skin, about 2 oz.} = 5 gr. net carbs)

apricot (1/2 c. = 7.5 gr. net carbs, 1 medium apricot (35 grams or a little over 1 oz.} = 3 gr. net carbs)

grapefruit (1/2 medium white grapefruit {3 3/4" diameter} = 9 gr. net carbs, 1 medium red or pink grapefruit {3 3/4" diameter} = 11 gr. net carbs)

High Carb Content

plums (1/2 c. = 8 gr. net carbs, 1 medium plum {2 1/8th in. diameter} = 8 gr. net carbs)

oranges (1/2 c. orange sections = 8.4 gr. net carbs, 1 medium orange {2 2/3" diameter or 4.5 oz.} = 12 gr. net carbs)

kiwi (1 medium kiwi, minus skin {a little less than 3 oz.} = 9 gr. net carbs, 1 large kiwi, minus skin {about 3 1/4 oz.} = 10 gr. net carbs)

pears (1 small pear = 18 gr. net carbs, 1/2 c. pears = 10 gr. net carbs)

pineapple (1/2 c. pineapple chunks {3 oz.} = 10 gr. net carbs, 1 pineapple slice {3/4" thick by 3 1/2" diameter} = 10 gr. net carbs)

Very High Carb Content

tangerines (1/2 c. tangerine slices = 11 gr. net carbs, 1 medium tangerine {2 1/2" diameter} = 12 gr. net carbs)

cherries (1 sweet cherry = 1 gr. net carbs, 3.5 oz. {100 gr.} cherries w/pits {about 3/4 c.} = 14 gr. net carbs)

grapes (1/2 c. grapes {about 12 medium-sized grapes or 2.5 oz.} = 13 gr. net carbs)

pomegranate (1 oz. = 5 gr. net carbs, 1 medium pomegranate {slightly less than 3.5" diameter or 5.5 oz.} = 25 gr. net carbs)

mango (1/2 c. = 13 gr. net carbs, 1 medium mango {approx. 7.5 oz., minus pit} = 35 gr. net carbs)

fig (1 large, fresh fig {2 1/2" diameter, a little over 2 oz.) = 10 gr. net carbs, 1/4 c. chopped figs = 23 gr. net carbs, 1 oz. dried figs = 15 gr. net carbs)

banana (1/2 c. sliced banana = 15 gr. net carbs, 1 medium banana {7-7 1/2" long} = 24 gr. net carbs)

dried fruits (1/2 c. chopped dates = 24 gr. net carbs, 1/2 c. seedless raisins, packed = 31 gr. net carbs, 1/2 c. dried apricots = 36 gr. net carbs, 1/2 c. pitted prunes = 49 gr. net carbs)

The first time I read this list I was over-whelmed by the amount of net carbs that can be found in nutritious, raw (and dried) fruits.  At times, it's a little disappointing; because I'm a huge fruit fan.  However, I've learned that it's not necessarily about totally cutting all of these fruits out of my diet; but about limiting their use and amounts.  So, I can still enjoy watermelon and pineapple, just not as much and in moderation.

I hope this will help you as much as it has helped me!  More information can be found here:

Be Well,

Thursday, July 7, 2011


I hope you had a FABULOUS 4th of July!  This video was taken by John, one of Mr. C's co-workers in Harrison, AR.  Didn't he do a fabulous job???