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Off the Junk
a blog by Murgdan
When initially trying to conceive, it’s easy to fall into the belief that pregnancy will soon follow. After all, for 80% of couples, this is how things work. Given the usual relationship between trying to get pregnant and actually getting pregnant, many women begin their attempts at pregnancy while simultaneously living as if they are already impregnated. They avoid sushi and soft cheese like the plague. Deli meats and tuna receive no more attention than a finger wag. Ice water quickly replaces the Cosmopolitan. And coffee? Decaf only, please.
I was not one of these ladies. Despite my overwhelming belief that I too would get pregnant in the first year of trying, I did not succumb to pre-conception food fears that afflict much of humanity. I began each morning with a café latte and ended each evening with a glass of red wine. When I got pregnant I would promptly set my vices aside and laugh a little at my compadres in conception who gave things up earlier than was necessary. Heroin addicts, alcoholics, smokers, and anorexics still manage to get pregnant — so why should coffee and the occasional glass of wine have any effect on me?
When we received our diagnosis of male factor infertility, my husband was bombarded with demands to limit his alcohol intake. This instruction always reduced us to giggles, as my husband hasn’t touched a glass of alcohol since the wine at his first communion made him violently ill. The giggles stopped when our RE recommended that I stop drinking alcohol up to 6 months prior to our first IVF cycle. The rationale for this is that the antral follicles that will be stimulated during IVF are recruited from the ovary 3-4 months before the actual cycle. True, a few studies out there cite alcohol usage as decreasing the quantity of eggs available at retrieval, but nothing conclusive. Still, I found it hard to shift my laissez-faire attitude to one of abstinence and purification.
As the cycle grew near, and the reality that we were about to throw down more than $10,000 on a pregnancy attempt set in, I changed my tune. After all, if the eggs are all in one basket, it’s best to be sure they are in the highest quality basket. I stopped drinking alcohol two months prior to the cycle. It is a cruel and ironic twist that one should have to give up a stress relief ritual during a time of such excessive stress. Still, I can only hope I will have a reason to abstain from my evening wine tasting for another year after this.
One month prior to this IVF cycle I gave up an addiction even greater than wine. Coffee. The black liquid of life. Prior to one month ago, I did not wake up until the coffee hit my lips, literally. I would be violently awakened by a screaming alarm clock, stumble into the kitchen, prepare my morning latte (with 3 shots of espresso), boot up the computer, and spend at minimum 30 minutes, allowing the caffeine to slowly work it’s way through my stomach lining, into my bloodstream, and finally up to my brain. There was no me without coffee.
The first week was difficult, I won’t lie. First there were the headaches, then the fatigue. Some mornings on the way to work I would literally feel the need to pull over and nod off for 10 minutes before I could continue on to work. I was so tired. I doubted my ability to continue on. I wanted to give up. After all, no one told me I had to give up caffeine! My IVF instructions stated I could have up to 2 cups of coffee a day until transfer. That being said, there have been studies to demonstrate a decreased pregnancy rate during IVF cycles associated with caffeine consumption as well as an increased risk of miscarriage. I wanted to continue on. I wanted to free myself from this glorious addiction.
How would I describe my caffeine-free life? I now wake up most mornings before the alarm even sounds. I sleep well. I have energy. I am productive prior to 11 a.m. I wouldn’t quite go so far as declaring myself a ‘morning person,’ but there is a definite difference. I’m not sure if I’ll go back.
So I’m off the Junk. I’m proud. I feel better. Will it make any difference in my IVF cycle? Who the heck knows? Maybe. Maybe not. It remains to be seen. I’m not naïve. I no longer associate pregnancy attempts with pregnancy. I’m not shunning sushi or deli meats. I won’t turn my nose up at soft cheese. But for now, I’m trading in my Cosmos and coffee for ice water.
You know, just in case.