The Daily Temp Brain Bender

I have not been able to focus on anything lately. My temperatures with OvuSense have been toying with me so much that I don’t know what is up and what is down. My emotions have similarly been all over the map just like my temps. It’s been a long cycle of trying to plan correct BD around my guesses of ovulation. At one point I had a very positive opk which was so exciting as I hadn’t ever had one. I waited excitedly each day for that rise and 5 days later it still hadn’t jumped. I’d had some very gradual lifts in temp but nothing that would indicate ovulation. Then 6 days after that positive opk I had a big jump in temp. I was super excited because it would have been my first real chance of conception as we had done what we could before that temp spike. Clearly that opk was off with a prediction of 12-36 hours impending ovulation but I didn’t care anymore as I trust OvuSense way more especially with PCOS. I had another rise the next day and my ovulation window popped up on OvuSense! All good things! I felt the hard part was over. We had BD when we could of course I’m sure we all wish it was every single day the week leading up to it but realistically that wasn’t possible for us. Still I was happy with what we were able to do. I was sure I’d get a confirmation in the next day or two and for the first time in 3 years I’d start my first real two week wait. I was so excited about the possibilities I found it hard to focus at our family Christmas celebrations. And it was so nice to know after 34 days of timing intercourse that we could take a break and relax.

But then the next morning my heart sank as my temps took a massive drop. Was this another attempt from my body to ovulate but it couldn’t quite make it? Was it a corpus luteum dip? If I hadn’t ovulated how soon would we be able to get home to BD? My mind was abuzz and I could focus even less than before because now I felt like I was back at square one. All I wanted to do was go to bed so I could use OvuSense and get the next reading. This time not in an excited way but in an impatient desperate way. The next day I woke up, downloaded the data, and was confused to see yet another temperature drop. My ovulation prediction window disappeared and I was fairly certain I hadn’t ovulated. I told M that he wasn’t off the hook anymore and it was back to planning our schedules around BD. I was frustrated but still figured I would ovulate in the next week or two like I did in the previous cycle when my body almost ovulated but didn’t quite get there a few times before actual ovulation.

We came back home on Monday and I was resigned to keep going. Tuesday morning I woke up, download my temp, and lo and behold I had a huge spike in my temperature. What!? At this point I’m massively confused. So was this me ovulating for real this time? If so that’s so frustrating as we were gone three days sleeping on an air mattress in a bedroom without a door…no BD. Or did it mean that my previous rises were ovulation and those dips were just weird flukes? The wheels are spinning one hundred miles an hour but still I’m left with more questions than answers. All I want is to go to bed. Distraction isn’t working. I can’t find any answers online. I just want to go to bed. The day is long and drawn out but finally I can go to sleep. Of course sleep is challenging when you are so focused on waking up to see what the answer is. I tossed and turned and kept waking up throughout the night. Then in the morning I stay in bed because now I’m too nervous to see the answer. Will it confirm ovulation? Will it be another drop? I put it off until the last minute when I finally download the data. Another jump up! But no ovulation window appears. What the F is happening! Have I ovulated?? Am I in the two week wait? Should I still be BD? More data yes, but still no questions answered. Now I’m on a mission to figure this shit out. I email support at OvuSense and am given a prompt reply but basically they said as there is no confirmation they were reluctant to guess if I had ovulated. So basically they said nothing helpful one way or the other. I am going bananas in the mean time so I decide to re-download the Fertility Friend app (I had deleted it as it isn’t as accurate as OvuSense). I am well aware that FF uses an algorithm designed for basal body temperatures and not core temperatures like OvuSense. But I just wanted to see what it would say if I inputted my data. After all OvuSense and FF in the previous two cycles had been on the same day or off by one for ovulation. I did the thing and what resulted was something that made it potentially worse. It confirmed ovulation for the first set of rises the week prior. According to their methods I was already 7 days post ovulation! Now the wheels start turning even more. Were those two drops in temp a very early implantation dip? It’s possible, they were both above the cover line on Fertility Friend. I had also been having cramps; were these pregnancy cramps the likes of which Fertility Friend was guessing or were they ovulation cramps like OvuSense might be predicting? I was panicked, excited, doubtful….and then I decided to settle down and think of worst case scenario so that I could set my expectations properly. And then it hit me: worst case scenario is my body not being able to ovulate at all this cycle. What if these cramps are period cramps (because that’s what they felt like). All that work on both our parts to then be sent back to step zero. Ugh that was an upsetting thought.

Every night I go to bed sure that the next day will bring me answers and every morning I’m left feeling more confused than the day before. This morning I woke up with a slight drop in temp. I decided to email Kate the fertility nurse with OvuSense. She also sent a prompt reply and one that finally gave me some sense of calm. She said it looked like I had ovulated and that tomorrow morning I should get a confirmation. Ok! That means we can stop the BD. I can relax in knowing that my body achieved ovulation. I should be in a real two week wait time now. Her email has tempered my curiosity to a better level but until OvuSense gives me that confirmation (still no clue on which set of rises it will do it for) I won’t be able to fully relax. For all these reasons I now know that opks and FF seemed to generate more questions than answers and I know neither are good predictors with my PCOS diagnoses and the fact that I use core temps not basal. Of course I’m human and have a need to get those questions answered even if they are wrong for now because some answer is better than no answer.

Anyone catch that super intense Vikings game on Sunday!? 🤯🤢😭🤩😇😂

Anyone catch that super intense Vikings game on Sunday!? 🤯🤢😭🤩😇😂

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The Period Periodical

We are now starting to settle into the new year of 2018. Time as ever, moves quickly and silently and those moments when we stop to reflect on the year(s) past only lasts for a minute before we move on to the current orders of the day. For me I have been reflecting on a few things. One being how grateful I am to have all of my siblings and parents mostly healthy and happy. Many friends of mine lost their parents to cancer this year and siblings to suicide. As they share their grief and their story I am reminded of the bigger picture and that I’m thankful to have my family and friends doing well. I try not to take them or moments with them for granted.

Now, let’s talk about periods.

Another thing I’ve been looking back on is how I am doing with my goals. I did a check back on how many periods I used to have compared how many I had this past year. In 2014 and 2016 (I couldn’t find my data for 2015) I had a total of 5 periods in each year. Women without PCOS often have 12-13 periods a year. Therefore my 5 periods are clearly less than half (40%) the amount I should be having. It’s also important to note that many of those periods lasted for 10-30 days and were often very heavy with many large clots. Well I went to look back and count my periods for 2017 and was pleasantly surprised to find an almost doubling of that number. I had 9 periods in 2017 or 72% of the amount that is considered normal. None of them lasted more than 7 days and I no longer have clots. I am very happy with that progress and I attribute that to a plant based diet and weight loss.

For the sake of argument let’s say that I ovulated every cycle that I have had (even though I don’t think I always have especially when I was at my heaviest). I would have only had 5 chances to get pregnant in 2016 and no idea when those fertile days would take place. We could say there are 4-5 days each cycle where you are fertile enough for conception to happen with just one loving act (catch my innuendo there?). That would mean I had 22 days out of 365 to accurately hit that mark. That’s a less than 7% chance of us getting pregnant. Wow! Of course the science behind conception is much more complicated and mathematically accurate than my amateur generalizations, but for my small unmathematical brain we will just go with it shall we? If I hadn’t made any changes we’d still be at that sad number. Now thanks in a huge part to OvuSense and my dietary changes I feel like for the first time we have a fair shot of making this baby.

OvuSense has shown me that since using it I have ovulated every cycle. It has shown me what to expect temperature wise for my follicular phase. It has also shown me that I don’t need medicine to make me ovulate since my body can clearly do it on its own. To me that is huge because it has been my goal to heal my body enough so that I can become pregnant with a healthy body rather than force my body chemically to do something it couldn’t. And that is a completely personal choice because I knew in my heart that I had let PCOS get the upper hand with my poor lifestyle choices (like eating meats and dairy that clearly affect my hormones, using products without thinking it through like many plastic products made with infertility boosting chemicals, and consuming alcohol whenever I wanted to, etc.) There are some women who are already living a very healthy lifestyle and their bodies still won’t work properly and in that case I’d be the first in line at the clinic trying to figure out how medicine could help. But like I said for me personally I wanted to make sure it was my lifestyle choices affecting my infertility and not something out of my control; and that is when I started to get serious about all this back in January of 2016. I think I have an answer to that question now. I would say for me, it’s about 70% lifestyle choices affecting my infertility and 30% medical things beyond my control. Which I consider great news. That means I have the power to change what needs to be changed in order for me to create a healthy and fertile body.

Periods are also such a good indicator of health I believe. I have learned this from my own experience these last two years. And my current cycle is telling me information again. My last cycle was much longer than usual and this cycle is going much of the same way again (I’m on CD 32 and haven’t ovulated yet). This mirrors my diet choices which have been poor these last couple of months. Vegan has been more and more the meals we’ve been eating instead of the healthful whole food plant based meals we should be eating. M has noticed a difference too in his own body. We need to take these signs as a yellow light and think about our choices. Time to back up and find the proper course of whole grains and not processed grains, home cooking and not meals out, oil/butter free food instead of vegan oils/butters. I love cooking I really do but I hate cooking prep and cleanup as much as I love creating the dish. My struggle is: ok I want pasta for dinner tonight. I can go home and boil the noodles and I could make a whole food plant based mac and cheeze sauce or a whole food plant based spaghetti sauce both of which require more time and effort and mess. Or I could go home, boil some noodles, and open a jar of processed oily store bought spaghetti sauce or just toss it in some oil with a few spices and be done. The lazy me has been winning those battles a lot but now I’m paying the consequences. I have to make that decision to do what is best for me in the long run, not just what is easiest today. Wants versus needs ya’ll.

Time to ditch the oil again! Now if I could just figure out a replacement for my quick and easy pasta bowls like this. (100% whole wheat penne, lightly steamed asparagus, spices, garlic, and oil) Perhaps aquafaba or corn butter? 🤷‍♀️ Hopefully I’ll find something because this is a quick and favorite meal of mine.

Long Time No See

Oh boy have I been slacking lately! But to be totally fair I did have a long post written in November but some computer back magic happened and deleted 75% of that post and I was too crabby to rewrite the whole damn thing. So that post will get modified and back dated soon though. Veteran’s Day onward was just so hectic that I never found enough time to collect my thoughts enough to make them into a post and then the time it would take to edit it and add pictures just wasn’t happening for me. But the holidays are now over and I am finally able to start organizing my life, food, and blog time. But I don’t want to leave you hanging so I will give you a recap on everything that’s been happening and then we can start fresh with a newer posts.

November was nuttier than usual this year because of our Veteran’s Day trip to Medora, then we had a weekend long training retreat for foster care parents. Then it was cleaning, shopping, and prepping for our plant based Thanksgiving. Immediately after Thanksgiving we had my mother and father in-law over for family Christmas and immediately following that, I left for a week long trip to help my bff move across the country from Minneapolis to Jacksonville. As soon as I flew back home we started my family’s Christmas celebrations. The next weekend was another full weekend long foster parent training weekend. The next weekend we picked up our newest foster dog and started working from scratch with him. Of course then it was actual Christmas and New Years. And just this past week I’ve been in Crookston all week teaching for my mother-in-law while she is out of town on vacation. As if that wasn’t a plate full already to add more to life M got the news that his entire team was being dissolved and he has been working on his resume and looking for a job.

Here are some pictures that captured those moments:

My sisters and I on Thanksgiving! Trying to take even a halfway decent picture is a challenge so I’ll take this one for now 🙂
Traveling through southern MN, IA, MO, IL, KY, TN, GA, & FL and from the interstate perspective only Tennessee was my favorite! *Obviously spelling is a work in progress for me*
It was some kind of joy to be traveling alone, sunshine streaming through the OPEN window, and Pentatonix Christmas music blaring on the radio while driving through Georgia.
What a crazy few days it was but I was rewarded with a few minutes spent at the ocean. It never gets old to me to feel so small and full of wonder next to the big, wide, blue ocean.

We a rough few days with miscommunication and delays in unpacking so we decided to take a break and enjoy some tacos and margaritas! 
Crispy quinoa
My veggie tacos were very good
I flew straight back to Minneapolis and started with family Christmas activities. This was after our family activity at Feed My Starving Children (the coolest volunteer project I’ve ever done!) and we were back at my moms place. These two sisters are so in love with each other it melts my heart. 
Another family Christmas activity: ice skating at the Minneapolis Holidazzle 
We had to get Jacko’s picture with santa of course 🙂
December’s foster dog: Bear  <3<3 ❤
Compliant salsa and Mexican style rice…chips were vegan junk
This was our first attempt at vegan pecan pie for the holidays and it was delicious!!
M and I had a lovely Christmas meal together. I made fried potatoes, stuffing, and a plant based green bean casserole that was like crack to us. We also found a vegan roast at the store that wasn’t half bad either. 

Another attempt at veganizing a holiday favorite: Jello pretzel salad. The jello consistency was off it was fairly watery but the taste was spot on and we thought it was super scrumptious. 
My sister also found out you can make vegan monkey bread that was a big tasty surprise to us too! December is sooo much food omg it’s glutinous… 
I’m sure I said it last year too but every year since M and I had our first Christmas in Alaska we have had Chinese take out on xmas eve after church. We kind of did a build your own buffet at home with basil fried rice from the Thai food take out (incredibly spicy but so so good, I had to eat it with chocolate almond milk to temper the burn), veggie rolls from the same place, store bought Asian chick’n from gardein brand, and homemade Asian green beans…this vegan junk food meal was probably one of the best meals I’ve had all year. 

Vets & Pets

It’s getting to be another crazy time of year, but honestly is it ever not crazy? We just got back from our mini vacation out in the North Dakotan badlands. We have spent the past few Veterans Days unplugged out it nature and it has been a trip we both look forward to each year. This year we decided to go someplace farther away since we had adopted Anna out (yay! more on that later) and don’t have any other obligations right now. We usually find state parks in Minnesota to go to since we haven’t completed visiting them all yet. However, this year I just want to see what would pop up in a North Dakota search and that’s when I remembered about Medora and Theodore Roosevelt National Park. I have always wanted to go but summer tourist season is always too pricey to justify. The winter off season however is completely affordable and while there is significantly less to do there is still plenty to see. We only go to experience about a third of the Southern unit but that still kept us busy all weekend. We went hiking along a few trails but even if you just drove around there was plenty of animals and sights to see from your car including bison just feet from your car, wild horses in a field next to the road, and thousands of prairie dogs along the drive. We packed up a bunch of M’s favorites for food like potato salad, chips and plant based queso, wild rice soup, bread and veggies. We brought Jackson with us and he enjoyed all the fresh air as well.

Anna did not make the trip as we dropped her off back at the shelter so that she could meet her potential adoptive family. She did meet them and they instantly fell in love with her. She was supposed to wait a day or two before having a trial run at their house in the country but everything went so well they got to take her home that night. She now lives with her forever mom and dad and a forever doggy brother. She loves running around in the country but then snuggles on the couch as soon as she comes inside because she is chilly. I couldn’t have dreamed up a better home for her and it makes us so happy to know that she is safe, happy, well taken care of, and loved so much. She brought us such joy and I’m glad she had her own happy ending.

Speaking of pets, on the way back from Medora we stopped at Petsmart and picked up my mom’s two new cats. Two brothers named Ollie & Ozzy who we fostered for a week while we waited until we could meet up with my mom. This was our first time fostering cats and it will most likely be our last. They were great and wonderful kitties but it is a long process to get cats acclimated to each other especially with a dog or two in the mix. Add on top of that the fact that Jackson’s allergies get worse it’s just not a good fit. We don’t have the time or space to accommodate them to make each side feel comfortable. However it was fun to have them and get to know them as they were so loving and playful.

Getting our first taste of Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Sunrises and sunsets like in this photo never fail to make me appreciate my life and the joy of witnessing such beauty

So excited to be on vacation and out in nature!
I had to edit this picture quite a bit because the sun was setting behind the mountain and it made for difficult iphone picture taking. But this big guy was no more than ten feet from out truck!
Taking a rest during our hike and watching the bison across the valley on the other mountain side. We got super lucky that the temperature stayed up close to 40 during our hikes. 

This was the sunrise Sunday morning on our wake back home. Not only is the sky a beautiful masterpiece of a sunrise but the fog was crazy cool. This is us on the highest part of the mountain where you can see some of the higher peaks poking through the fog cloud. Another mile down the road we started the descent into the valley and it became so dark and foggy for the next hour it was crazy to think how clear it was above the fog mass. 
Goodbye sweet sleepy Anna. You brought us such joy while you lived with us and we will love you forever. 
Ollie
Ozzy

Our Newest Nugget

For the past two weeks we’ve been taking care of our newest foster puppy. She is a pit bull/terrier/lab mix who is about 8 months old. She has been a handful at times as she is still full of puppy energy. We are working on teaching her basic obedience, proper leash walking technique, and building her confidence. She has brought us both stress and joy. She has definitely helped me keep my exercise goals. We have traveled many miles already.


I’m glad that she doesn’t let me have my excuses. Cold, warm, windy, or tired we still get outside for that walk. I’ve enjoyed all the lovely walks. We’ve gone hiking in the hills, on the shore of a lake, around the city parks in town, and in the local neighborhood.

Scenic perfection

With that kick in the pants to get out and move comes a natural balance with food, more cooking less going out. I’ve also made a habit tracker to eat as much as the pcos and fertility friendly foods as I can.

Creamy wild rice soup, acorn squash, and pumpkin spice oatmeal 😍
Tried fresh pomegranate for the first time and it was wonderful! Not too sweet not too tart but just right 🙂
Vegan instant pot chili…no complaints here!
For more information on adopting Anna go to www.marshmallowfoundation.org and if you don’t live in this area be sure to check out your local animal shelter!

A Mother’s Love

*Trigger Post*

I had mentioned in another post not long ago how fall is an exciting time in my life but October is a hard month for many others. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. I have quite a few family members and friends that sadly know all too well what this means. For them October can be a somber month. For those of us lucky enough to have not experienced this pain we need to be aware of how sensitive this issue is and how important it is to remember all those angels lost. I was recently tagged in a Facebook comment on a meme that was meant to be funny but really missed the mark and was really insensitive. It really bothered me that I was tagged in it but as I had come to find out you cannot remove yourself from a tagged comment.

Some people will also comment to those that have lost a child, “well at least you still have your other child”. But children are not replaceable. You can have love for more than one person and child in your heart but just because you still have one or more other children doesn’t mean that the one(s) you lost don’t matter. Just because you may not have had a chance to hold your child in your arms doesn’t mean that it wasn’t your child. A mother’s love (and a father’s too) doesn’t require a certain number of birthdays. It is deep and pure and nothing compares to it. So please don’t minimalize someone’s loss “because they weren’t born”. Be aware that many of the people you know even if they haven’t talked to you personally about it have suffered these losses. Be mindful of what you say and what you post….other’s are seeing it and are affected by it.

So if you have time say an extra prayer for those that walk this path; it’s not an easy one.


Starchivore

We’ve had a lot of questions lately about what we can and cannot eat. We actually bounce back and forth between two “diets” which is why I think it is confusing for others. We are supposed to be on a whole food plant based diet which means no animal products, no oil, and no overly processed foods. It is a starch based diet not just “carbs”. Starches are things like brown rice, potatoes, squash, corn, peas, and whole wheat pastas. Carbs can be anything from white pasta, white bread, to cakes and cookies. The McDougall starch diet is also low in fat and has zero oil. The only fats allowed are ones that occur naturally like in nuts, nut butters, avocados, etc. Oil added to anything even marinara sauce, vegetable stock, almond milks, and most store bought hummus are not allowed. 

A comment was made recently to us about cheating. “You’ve worked so hard have a burger as a treat just this once.” Well for one thing we go away from the house for special events a large portion of the month. Yes I haven’t seen this particular family member or friend in a long time but you all come and go in our lives often enough that just this once would end up being all the time. Secondly we do cheat! I’m not advocating for it as I know our progress would be much better if we were stricter but that’s the truth. We just don’t cheat all the way. When we cheat our goal is to keep it vegan and the only stipulation to being vegan is no animal products and as we have found these foods to be the biggest issues we’ve had with our bodies that is why we don’t cheat all the way.

Below are a mix of Dr. McDougall compliant whole food plant based meals and our cheating meals the meals we eat when we are with friends and family or out to eat at a restaurant.

Whole food plant based- pad cashew veggie with an oil free sauce over basmati rice.
Vegan-carrot cake 🎂
Whole food plant based- whole wheat spaghetti with homemade oil free sauce and our favorite mushroom/walnut “wheat balls”. Vegan- white bread with vegan butter.
Whole food plant based- creamy wild rice soup (it was “amazballs” according to the hubby).
Vegan- yummy take out one night from the vegan restaurant: orange chick’n brown rice bowl. I don’t know what their chick’n is made out of but I could eat it all day everyday. I never ever miss chicken because I have this when I’m craving that crunch. I don’t like most fake meats but this is on a whole other level!
Whole food plant based- tofu scramble with mushrooms, peppers, and onions with sprouted whole wheat oil free bread, whole fruit jam no added sugars, oil free hash browns, and a little ketchup. I have really enjoyed tofu in many dishes but I was a scrambled egg junky “back in the day” so this tofu scramble didn’t do it for me but who knows with time maybe I’ll warm up to it.
Whole food plant based- mashed potatoes, corn, and oil free roasted asparagus. Vegan-white bread (we had a bunch left over from the Italian night we were going to host that got canceled.
Whole food plant based- marinated roasted Brussels sprouts.
Whole food plant based- veggies yo.
Whole food plant based- steel cut oats with coconut sugar, flax seed, and raisins.
Vegan- we’ve had two weddings this year and got super lucky to find a lot of vegan items available. It was all made with a lot of oil so even though it’s a lot of veggies it doesn’t count as McDougall. These rosemary roasted potatoes were off the charts good!
Vegan- white bread, white pasta, butternut squash ravioli….not much color in this picture.
Whole food plant based- easiest meal to make: instant pot mashed potatoes and steamed veggies.

In conclusion don’t feel bad for us if we don’t eat the hot dogs and pizza . We are already having a delicious naughty alternative like potato chips or French fries and that is plenty of cheating already.