280 Million Oh My! {might be TMI for some}

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Pre-CONCEPTION

Based on all the pretty stuff I’ve been posting here, some of you may mistakenly assume this is a photography blog.  Fooled ya! I might have been distracting all of you with yummy recipes, and pretty Christmas pictures, but in the meantime more important things were going on, like planning a baby.
I think my last pre-conception post ended with me getting all my vaccines and tests done and over with it, but what I intentionally forgot to mention is that we were going through a much more important test that I honestly was freaking out about –
What’s there to freak out about?- you’ll ask.
Well, we were going under the assumption that both of us are perfectly fertile ( doesn’t everyone?), so after the initial pre-conception check ups, the plan was to start trying and if there’s a problem after 6 months, we’d deal with it then. Being the planner that I am, I wasn’t exactly at peace with that idea. For one, what’s the point of planning this whole thing out and then leave out what matters: whether we can make babies?
Nothing told me that I’d have any problems: I’m 26, I’m healthy as a gazelle ( didn’t want to use an ox reference), been on birth control for 8 years non-stop and the first month I went off of it  in November( aside from me freaking out from my PMS symptoms), my period came on schedule, so did the next, as well as all my ovulations. My husband, on the other hand, had some “concerns”. Nothing major, but coupled with his age (41y.o.), it sort of made me curious. However, we decided that we’ll wait until we’re ready to start TTCing and see. There was nothing that would tell us we should do otherwise. Until i started reading some articles and  baby or infertility blogs ( Internet is a bitch when it comes to medical stuff). To be honest, some things scared me. I read about tons of couples having trouble conceiving, I read about men having azoospermia ( no sperm), or men having bad morphology ( sperm crooked :) lol), I read about women having to go through IVF and how difficult it was. Granted, most of the blogs I read had something to do with female infertility rather than male, but the seed was planted. After discussing the “chances” of DH having “sperm” problems, we decided that it’d be best if he did semen analysis, so that both of us knew that there aren’t any issues or if there are, deal with it. Like, if he had low sperm count ( which is pretty common among men), he’d go on Clomid, etc.

The next morning, we took off to the hospital to do the analysis. We were informed that he had to BRING the sample within 30 minutes of “producing” it.  The hospital is 40 minutes away from our house. Ummmm…do see a problem here? Well, we’re both very progressive and sexually open people ( me more than him- Russian upbringing), so we don’t blink an eye and go back to the car. I won’t  elaborate on the details, but a few minutes later we were walking back proudly holding the see-through sample bottle full of “the good stuff”.
“The good stuff” got promptly handed over to the technician ( man, what a job!) and we went home skipping (with the  satisfaction of a good deed done).
The results were expected that afternoon and as we have worked ourselves up quite a bit on this matter, we were waiting with anticipation. When the fax/call didn’t come in by 4pm, we called the doctor. Results weren’t in, they were going to call the lab. No call back that day. Oh-oh. Next morning. Calling straight to the lab. Lab can’t find him in the system.
O.M.G. They. lost. his. sperm.   
Major LOL
Finally a few phone transfers later, the sperm is found, the results are ready. Calling the doctor’s office – voicemail. Get a callback at 4 pm: Yes, results are in, No we can’t give them to you.
Say whaaat?
Apparently nurses aren’t allowed to open the results until the doctor does.
Sounds like bullshit.
But what are we going to do? It’s not like it’s HIS results, His sperm, and Our money that paid for the test…
Even more concerned now, because my “paranoid the-world-is-out-to-get-ya” husband thinks she saw the results and won’t give them to us, because they’re bad and she needs the doctor to handle/explain it. We’re promised the results first thing in the morning. Day 3(today): I wake up from a nightmare where we found out that Hubby can’t have kids. Feeling really bad all day. This time I call the office. Three times. Leave three messages: 2 on nurses voicemail, 1 with the receptionist. 1:50pm: WE GET A FAX!

We open it aaaaaand…

Ok, before i go into the results, one thing you should know ( unless you do already) is  what’s considered average/normal as far as sperm count goes is 20 million per ml with the total amount being at least 40 million. That’s what it takes to conceive a child naturally ( of course men can conceive even with a lower sperm count, but usually it’s a loooot harder).

So we open the fax ( e-fax)  on my iPhone and the number is…drum roll




With the total being 280 million sperm! Holy mother of testicles! My HUSBAND has 280 million sperm. EACH TIME.

All the other numbers, like morphology and motility ( forward movement) look good too.

We were sooo relieved. Not only is my husband fertile, but he’s one hunk of a man from the sperm production standpoint. His semen is a bit acidic, but that favors girls, so I don’t mind :)

So the moral of the story , because there’s always gotta be one ( there’s actually two) is this:
1. If you have any reason to doubt your  or his fertility ( testosterone, varicocele, endometriosis, fibrosis, irregular period) and are planning on starting a family, go get checked out right away. It’s just a few tests, but the peace of mind is priceless. And if there is something wrong, you won’t waste precious months trying, but rather get started on the treatment.
2.  Don’t be so quick to diagnose yourself even if the symptoms are a perfect match, do the tests and relaaaax.


Please don’t forget to VOTE daily!

Florida Weather and Blog Guidebook

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Daily, PHOTO, Pre-CONCEPTION

Yup! That’s pretty much what i am here to talk about: the weather and a new cool blog directory I found.

While sifting through different blog sites I found a link to  The Blog Guidebook, so now i have another resource to get new readers and find new fun blogs. I recommend, peeps!

Now, on another really nasty unpleasant sucky note, I.am.really.honestly.freezing. to.death
Seriously people? What is it with Florida weather? Last year it was insanely cold for a month. This year it started in early December. Two years ago, we were still swimming in the pool with my girls.
I don’t mean to be complaining but the only reason I moved to South Florida is to escape any kind of chilly weather ( and palm trees… and ocean…). I kept gradually moving more south every couple years ( from Russia to Ohio, from Ohio to Jacksonville, Florida and then finally to South Florida because North Florida was just still too cold for me). And that’s what I get? Do I really need to move to Key West at this point? And then what? Puerto Rico? { actually my hubby grew up in Puerto Rico- his dad was a translator for the government}

The temperatures have been in the low 60s during the day and low 40s at night  ( that’s where it really gets me). We kept the heater off thinking it’s a one day deal and it’ll warm up because our heaters here in Florida suck and it would take longer to just get it going and then we get a $100 bill for running it for 1 day ( seriously!).
So needless to say that I am very grumpy today! We had to go out to do some tests at the hospital and i literally had to layer 2 sweaters ( one christmasy sweater) and was still cold. Brrrrr.

Oh and good news ( for me): my chicken pox titer came back and I have immunity, so i do not have to get a shot before pregnancy YAY!

Photo for Communal Global and Perceptive Perspective Eyes ( or one eye in this case, but an very angry one)


Please don’t forget to VOTE daily!


How I Love to Scare Myself with Non-Existant Conditions or Stop eating POT! ( with happy ending)

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Pre-CONCEPTION

I wouldn’t call myself a hypochondriac. I am more of a “health freak” type. I don’t tend to invent conditions I do not have, but I am very concerned with any health problem I MIGHT have. I often jump online to self-diagnose if something is hurting  or doesn’t feel right, however I don’t go crazy over it and worry excessively. I go to a doctor, i get checked out and every time it’s all fine. I do take my health seriously, I’m one of those people who thinks prevention is the best word in the vocabulary ( as evidenced by my approach to pregnancy and childbirth).
So when, during a pre-conception urine test, they found some protein, I made sure to schedule a follow up appointment  to do another urine test. According to the doctor, protein can sometimes show up in your urine, but that’s fine. However if it shows up consistently, then there’s a problem. After researching it on the internet, i found out that protein in urine can very well be a sign of kidneys not working right. Since it’s the kidneys leaking protein ( they’re supposed to keep something as valuable as that), then there must be a problem there.
I came in for a follow up test and guess what? There was even more protein (+2).
“Oh-oh!”  I thought.
Instantly, recollection of my mom telling me that my grandma died from kidney problems started flooding my mind. Shiiiiiit!!!
While I  hate being unhealthy or having any kind of condition, one thing I hate more is having a GENETIC condition. It just bothers me to high heaven that it’s something 1.) out of my control, 2.) was given to me by someone else ( read: genes), 3.) I can’t do shit to change that.

See, I lead a VERY healthy lifestyle:
I exercise every day
I am a vegetarian
I take vitamins
I do not eat processed food at all
I do not eat sweets (much)
I don’t eat out ( I cook everything at home)
I don’t smoke
I don’t drink ( at all)
I don’t drink coffee
I try to buy organic ( as much as I can and can afford)

So I feel there’s absolutely NO reason there should be ANYTHING wrong with me. EVER :) Or at least for a very long time.
Anyways, the doctor comes in, explains to me that there’s even more protein in my piss  (excuse me!) urine. I mention to him that my grandma DIED from a kidney related condition. He informs me of a genetically dominant polycystic kidney. It sounds familiar. It’s that very type of condition that would drive me nuts. The type of condition that gets worse and worse and something you’d have to live with all your life. The type that puts you on dialysis treatment by age 40. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!
So that freaks me out, of course. Me? On dialysis? No freaking way! Isn’t it only diabetic, old, super overweight people who neglected their health their whole life who go on dialysis? No freaking way!
I drive home. Upset as all get out. Not “crying” upset, but ANGRY upset! Angry at my grandma for dying from a kidney related disease.
My husband, while concerned, tells me to calm down and wait until the good doctor does some tests. In the meantime, I call my mom to ask her what exactly my grandma’s problem was. Of course, in no way do I explain to her what has happened that afternoon and pretend that I’m just curious. My mom is such a worrier ( that’s where I get it from) that I’d never upset her like that without knowing all the facts.

AAAAaaaaaand she tells me it was simple inflammation of kidneys. LOL. Pyelonephritis.  The only reason she passed away from it is because she refused to get treatment ( she was a tough Russian woman from a remote village roughing it out in the big city). OOOhhhhh!! AAaaaahhhhh! Relief! I CAN’T have polycystic kidney! I won’t have to spend my late years on dialysis! My kidneys aren’t expanding and growing cysts! I can have a baby and not pass this genetically dominant condition on!
WOW! As soon as I processed it occurred to me how funny it was that i EVEN thought that I’d have something like that. My family genetic and health history is spotless.  The occasional high blood pressure was due to stupid russian diet high in refined carbs and cholesterol ( those people don’t know what Olive Oil is, and those who do, refuse to use it in favor of vegetable oil (yuck!), citing its taste)
I call the doctor immediately, he cancels the ultrasound that would take a look at my NON-cystic kidneys.

But we still have to investigate what is causing my proteinuria ( fancy word for “some steak in your pee”).
I go for a 24 hour urine test. They hand me THIS JUG! ( I debated on whether I should post this picture here or not, but hell with it! Yeah I peed in it. Yes, without a funnel ( TMI yet?)). I picked it up and had to go through the whole building carrying this HUGE orange PEE JAR! Then I had to pee into it for the next 24 hours and finally drop it off ( FULL!) at the lab. So that wasn’t embarrassing at all. :)

I felt so much better having done that and even better than that, when the results came back completely normal in a few days. I even got a call from my OBGYN on Friday night personally telling me it was ALL fine ( I think he felt a bit responsible for jumping to conclusions and scarying me with a irreversible uncontrollable genetic disease) lol

After I analysed the whole situation and the tests, in addition to doing some research, I found what might have a been the  cause for that scary protein in my urine. I read somewhere that hemp seeds ( the ones that grow pot) excrete albumin ( protein) in high doses. My favorite cereal happens to be organic HEMP SEED CEREAL ( what? hemp seeds are very nutritional and good for you). And every time I went for that urinalysis, I had just finished my morning cereal. And that’s exactly why a 24 hour test showed nothing significant.

So that’s the story of how I “almost inherited” an incurable genetic disease by eating pot.

And while you’re here, please click this button – K, thnx!

Maternity Insurance Update

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Pre-CONCEPTION

Continuation of my maternity insurance debacle

Well, what do you know? Health insurance people called.
The moron agent, who was incredibly unfamiliar with coverages, also forgot to mention that I needed to enclose a check for the first month with the application. It might normally make sense, but since I was switching from one Blue Cross policy to another, while being on Automatic Withdrawals for my monthly premiums, I didn’t think they really needed it and he neglected to bring it up.

So two weeks after I submitted an app, thinking everything is easy-peasy, I get it back in the mail with a sticky note saying that I need to enclose a check. I call the agent, he aplogetically informs me that sicne it’s been two weeks (duh! who’s fault was it?), we need to complete re-do the whole application, as in take all the info over the phone again, mail the app again, have it signed by me and mailed back AGAIN!
I mean seriously?

So if his estimation of underwriting times is correct, we won’t be insured on the maternity side until February 1st. There has to be 30 days of active coverage before conception, which means we can’t start trying for a baby until March 1st except that my ovulation is more towards the end of the month and even if we conceive that first month, my due date will be in Decemeber.
And That’s really shitty!

Thank you Mr Health Insurance Man! You just pushed our baby plans 3-4 more months.

And I was getting all excited…. Boo!

{ On another note, I just got ambushed by “hubby attack huggies” (p.s. nothing to do with diapers) }

And while you’re here, please click this button – K, thnx!

Going Off the Pill or How I Thought I was Pregnant

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Pre-CONCEPTION

Crazy A

Traditionally, one of the first steps of  planning a baby is going off Birth Control. Granted, with me, it takes a bit of a different course with all the pre-conception care and preparedness.
However, last month was my time to unleash the power of natural hormones. Oh boy, did I NOT know what I was getting myself into!

In order for you to understand what I am about to describe and not to schluff me off as one of those hypochondriac-y hysterical pregnancy prone chicks, you need to know this:

It’s a nice morning

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Pre-CONCEPTION

When you have successfully cleaned the kitchen to the point where it hasn’t been for weeks.

I feel like today is Monday. I like Mondays because it gives me a fresh start. With work, planning, goals.
Yesterday i missed the whole day but napping for 5 hours, from 11 to 4.
Who the hell naps for 5 hours? I think my body thinks I’m in training for pregnancy-from what I hear napping becomes a daily occurrence.

Today, though it’s not Monday, I’m full of goals and objectives. I will write in separate post about what i decided to do about work but for now while I have 2 months before TTCing I will do as much as I can without stressing out.

Hope you are all having a fab Tuesday ( not to be mistaken for a FAT Tuesday- noone wants that)


Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Pre-CONCEPTION


Why the picture of my two adorable black kitties, Travis and Casper?

My test for toxoplasmosis antibodies came back. And despite the fact that I grew up with a ton of cats and currently have 4 adorable kitties, I am still NOT immune!

What’s a girl gotta do to get some toxo immunity?

Preparations III: Vaccination and Testing

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Pre-CONCEPTION

Part I
Part II


Being up to date on certain vaccinations is an important step in pre-conception care. Most of us have had all the vaccines necessary administered back when we were kids, but there are a few that might need a refresher.
One of the reasons why it was important for me to get it all out of the way before I get pregnant is because certain vaccines contain live viruses and can be potentially harmful to a pregnant weakened immune system. But specifically because of that weakened immune system it is important to make sure you are up to date and won’t catch some nasty chicken pox and step on a rusty nail ( Yikes! I still remember my childhood’s best friend going for a swim in a muddy lake and stepping right through a long rusty nail. The nail went all the way through her foot and stuck out from the top. Ew!).

So about a week ago I got my Tdap vaccine ( tetanus plus some) and my flu vaccine just in case. I have not had a flu or a cold in such a long time due to living in sunny Florida. The only few times I got sick were when “Northerners” (damn you!) brought the sickness with them while visiting us. When I am pregnant and my immune system can’t keep up with the onset of all kind of bacteria, the last thing my body needs is having no immunity to flu virus. Especially considering that having flu a certain time during pregnancy is known to cause miscarriages and horrible birth defect. Thank you, sir, not gonna happen!

My doctor advised me that I need to research which vaccine I got when i was a kid and also when I immigrated to US over 8 years ago. After spending 3 hours on the internet trying to figure out what they vaccinated for back then, I decided that the only thing missing was Hep A and Chicken pox ( which i could have been vaccinated against as a kid). So on my last visit  to my OB, we did a titer test to see if i had antibodies for all Hepatitis and chicken pox. Still waiting for the results.

STD Testing:Ok, this is a sort of awkward subject, but here we go. In my 8 years of being an adult, I have never been tested against STDs. And that was not because I didn’t ask. Oh no, I insisted. Me, the eternal perfectionist and health control freak. I asked and begged but the answer was always the same: “You’re not in the high risk category!” or “This would be unnecessary testing!”. Screw that! Unnecessary testing my ass! Why can’t one be proactive about one’s health? If there was more “unnecessary testing” maybe we would all be healthier and less money would be spent on health care.
But I digress… So finally I insisted that I get tested against every STD in the book. I mean if i had never been tested, how do i know that there isn’t smth sitting there waiting for me to get pregnant and then  BAM! “Hello some weird unknown disease that is going to make my pregnant life hell and make me eat evil antibiotics or worse- ruin my baby!”
Ok i know I’m exagerating, but it’s true- some STDs can cause miscarriages and other cause inflammation which is harmful to babies as well, and then there’re those antibiotics :)

So the results should be back next week! he-he

What? Come on! I had a wild time too!

Update: all the results came back negative :)

Part IV- Choosing Doctor and Hospital

Preparations Part II: Health Insurance

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Pre-CONCEPTION

Read Preconception part I here

November  was a month away when I realized that there was no way I could be ready to start trying. So we decided to postpone it 3 more months to allow adequate time for 3 months of “off the pill” cycle and finish up the more mundane planning tasks.

Maternity Coverage:I HATE health insurance companies. I think they’re are some of the most rotten companies on the planet, bent on doing nothing but finding way to deny claims and cover nothing. I had been with Humana a while back and it was miserable. A year ago I switched BCBS and have been relatively happy with the coverage. However, it came time to add materity coverage. The deal with maternity coverage is that you have to start it 30 days before conception or nothing will be covered. When I called BCBS, I found out that my particular policy only had 1 option for maternity, and a very sucky one, if you ask me ($2500 deductible and then 50% co-insurance- SAY WHAT?). I might as well go and pay it all out of pocket.
Then I was educated about a new plan that just came out under Obama Care ( YAY for Obama!). And by educated, I meant , I was told one exists but the salespeople answering the photo were too dumb to explain it to me and to know what’s covered. The excuse was “It’s a new plan!” – I don’t care- I’m not going to sign up for something you can’t even tell me details about.

Finally after 5 phone calls ( seriously), i was told that the plan, in fact has a co-pay of $35 for the first prenatal visit and then every other visit is free, until I get admitted for delivery and at that point it’s $150/day at the hospital. That’s seriously kick ass! It costs an additional $217 a month, but in my book it’s well worth it.

So all paperwork was filled out and mailed out, however based on the incometency of everyone I encountered at the sale call center of BCBS, I don’t expect it to be “fast-tracked”. So there I sit and wait for 6-8 weeks of promised time to have my policy underwritten and issued. Bummer!

As it’s looking now, the policy will be issued some time in January, hopefully right in time for February conception, in case we do indeed get pregnant the first month ( which of course I don’t think will happen)

That being said about health insurance, I had also tried taking care of dental insurance ( switched plans) and I am waiting again… for the policy to be issued so that i could go get my wisdom teeth extracted before the end of the year and also my pre-conception cleaning done.
You might ask why i need to worry about my wisdom teeth… Well, two of them are partially impacted, which means they’re breading ground for bacteria. The last thing I want to happen when I get pregnant is have one of my wisdom teeth get infected and need antibiotics or worse, extraction.

My goal  is to have a completely clean, calm healthy body going into conception: no inflammations, no antibiotics, no toxins.  That is why I am making sure that any possible complication is forseen and taken care of.

Which brings me to:

Vaccinations and Testing


Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Pre-CONCEPTION



I was reading about environmental toxins last night and one of the things that jumped out at me was pesticides on golf courses. It said due to constant spraying schedules of golf courses it’s best to avoid buying a house on a golf course if you’re planning to get pregnant. Well, shit… What am I supposed to do now? We live very much on a golf course! I am already going to impose a home arrest and now I can’t even walk in my own yard???

Note to self: get their spraying schedule.