Tuesday, July 28, 2015

My IUD Experience & 15 of Your IUD Questions Answered

Listen , I come from a family of 8 children and my husband comes from a family of 10 children. You guessed it: birth control is pretty damn important to us. And by us I mean my husband and I. Obviously not our parents, who had no TV's and knew nothing of birth control. And YES, they were as catholic as the pope himself. Well actually mine weren't but same sort of thinking was applied to birth control in our house growing up; which was ... Hmmm. I'm drawing a blank. What were they thinking? Maybe they should have drawn more blanks too?

I switched birth control at the end of last year. I wanted something that would not have as much of an affect on my ability to lose weight as the oestrogen based 'Nuva Ring' did. I also wanted something that was more cost effective, as I was paying out around $70 for 3 months worth. I didn't want to remember to take a pill every day. My success rate for not getting pregnant would get thrown out the window if I relied on my memory.
I asked a group of around 30 close friends, all in committed relationships for years and all with kids, what birth control they use and why. Then I spoke to my Doctor about my concerns and decided that the IUD was the way to go for me. The Mirena IUD I have is progesterone based, which shouldn't affect my weight. Now that I have it I wish I had gotten it years ago. It's the easiest contraceptive I've ever tried and I think I've tried about 5 kinds now.

I decided I had to share this information with you, especially after speaking with my Doctor friend, Phoebe, about the misinformation that's out there for women regarding this form of contraception. There's stories out there that date back 15 year or more when the IUD wasn't as fail-proof. Even some friends who heard I was getting one told me their own mother's became pregnant using an IUD. "Ummmm....how old is your mother now?" The other horror stories women hear happen to only a very small number of women, or are just old wives tales because they've been passed around so much.

The procedure was done by one of the Doctors who has been specially trained in IUD insertion. It just so happens that was my Doctor. He gave me a script for it at our consult and I brought it back to the practice at my next appointment. I'm glad I went kid-free to the appointment because there's no way I'd want my son in there for that procedure, even if he's little and the procedure only takes a little while. I was told to make the appointment time when I would be having my period, as this makes it easier to insert into the cervix. If you don't understand why that is then please read my post on the cervix here. That link will also you take you to another link with photos of a real life cervix.

The procedure itself didn't take much more time than a pap smear. While the Doctor was inserting it he also took care of some painful scar tissue, left from my son's birth, using an injection of anaesthetic. So if you are suffering from the same painful scaring make sure you speak to your OB or GP about it because you might be a simple injection away from feeling better like I do now.

After the IUD procedure I suffered from very bad cramps. It's recommended you take ibuprofen before your appointment. I was able to drive myself home but spent a few hours in bed afterwards sleeping off the pain with a wheat bag. I picked up a close friend today from her appointment with the same cramps, but she felt better after a couple hours.

The next day I felt fine. I've had some spotting since but nothing like I thought, not even anything requiring a pad. My periods, when I do have them, are light and some months I don't even have a period. This freaked me out at first, not only because that's usually a sign of pregnancy, but also because it's just been a part of my life since I was 12. It seems like it would affect my future fertility in some way but I know that's not true.

I've taken time on here to answer some of the biggest questions women have about the IUD.
It's one of the most widely used birth controls in Europe but Aussie women seem to be too afraid of the idea of having a "foreign body" in their body. But as my friend pointed out, that's still a whole lot better than a baby body in your body, if you aren't ready for one.

15 Questions About the IUD You Were Too Embarrassed To Ask

Q: What is it? 
A: IUD stands for Intrauterine Device. It's a form of birth control that is inserted through the vagina and into the cervix by a doctor specially trained in its insertion. The device is very small, flexible and shaped like the letter T. It's important to note that IUD's are for birth control use and do not protect against STIs!

Q: What's it made of?
A:The two most widely used forms of IUD are ParaGard (it's copper and no hormones), and Mirena (it's plastic and uses hormones).
Years ago, IUD's were made with a string attached that would act like a wick, drawing infection through the cervix into the uterus from the vagina, sometimes causing infertility. For that reason Dr's used to fear inserting them into women who had not had children yet. But 10 - 15 years ago the design started to change and became a whole lot better. They started to be made with non-absorbent strings therefore cutting out the risk of infertility from that cause.
Find out more about the differences with Copper Vs Plastic here.

Q: How effective is it against pregnancy?
A: It's over 99% effective, and is one of the most effective birth controls on the market.

Q: Can the Dr get it out if I do fall pregnant? 
A: If it's early enough in the pregnancy the Doctor should be able to remove it. This removal is associated with a small chance of miscarriage.

Q: Will I feel it once it's in place? 
A: You or your partner should not feel the IUD once it is in place. However, with a clean finger in your vagina you will be able to feel the strings of the IUD. They feel like fishing line. You can get the IUD removed by your Doctor at any time. The removal can be done by any general practitioner because it's far easier to do than insertion.

Q: Can it fall out?
A: Yes, and this is called 'expulsion' but it only happens in about 5 out of every 100 women who get the IUD. You can check regularly by feeling for the IUD strings in case you're worried it's happened to you.

Q: How long does it last? 
A: The Mirena lasts around 5 years, while the newest IUD on the market lasts only 3 years.

Q: Does it hurt to have inserted?
Not going to lie. Yup. It's uncomfortable, and the level of pain you experience is subjective. It's a bit more painful than a pap smear, but a very tolerable discomfort. And you only have to do the insertion once every 5 years, so it's worth it. Another upside is that it's nothing at all like giving birth, or having a ripped vagina from birth. Am I right, ladies?

Q: Will I still have periods? 
A: Most women's flows are decreased or stop all together (see my own story above).  "Up to 65% of women end up with no bleeding at all after 12 months of use." - Family Planning NSW

Q: How long after getting it out can I try and get pregnant?
A: You can try right away, but my own Doctor recommended that it comes out a couple of months before actively trying to get pregnant so that your cycle has a chance to go back to regular.

Q: Why is an IUD better than the Pill?
For starters, you don't have to remember to take it every day day. And you don't have to freak out about pregnancy anymore from forgetting to take one of those tiny pills. I was using the 'Nuva Ring' before this, so for me it was nice not to have to remember to take that out every 3 weeks at the exact time, and put in a new one a week later a the same exact time. It's progesterone based as well so that may affect some women in a more positive way than an oestrogen based birth control pill.

Q: Can I have sex  in the week before hand? 
A: That depends on whether you are already on a birth control. If you are then you should be covered. It may also depend on whether you are getting the IUD placed on your period. Check with your Doctor.

Q: What's the best time of my cycle to get it placed? 
A: In case you missed my answer on this one in my story above, the answer is during your period because that's when your cervix is easier to find.

Q: How much does it cost? 
A: This varies greatly based on your doctor's own fees and charges. Ask for all costs associated with it your first phone call to the Dr's office. For me it cost the price of the prescription, $37.70, because my Doctor bulk billed both my consult and my procedure. Even if he had charged me the appointment costs the IUD would still work out a whole lot less expensive than my previous contraceptive.

My friend who got hers done at Family Planning NSW had a NSW healthcare card and it only cost her the concession of $6.10 all up.

Q: Can the IUD increase sex-drive?
A: Worked for me.
What the? 
*The information given is what I have gathered through my own Dr, and information on different websites. If you are interested in getting the IUD make sure you ask your Doctor to clarify and explain any of the information you read here. I'm sharing as a blogger and not a medical professional. There are several reasons why an IUD may not be right for you, and your doctor should discuss these reasons with you.

I love getting women informed about their choices and their bodies. Here's another post I wrote for the ladies ...

Lesson on Female Anatomy: you have three holes not two

Friday, July 24, 2015

Yo, yo, yo - It's So Easy to Make Your Own Yoghurt!

   *This post is brought to you by Nuffnang and EasiYo. They provided me with the funky yoghurt maker and yummy yoghurt sachets.

Getting to try out this cool, new yoghurt maker couldn't have come at a better time for me. If you read my last post  then you know I spent the week nursing my 2 year old son back to health. When he came off syringe feeding the first thing I tried him on was yoghurt. It was so great not to have to run to the store either, because I had these sachets on hand (RRP from $4.50). I showed him the 6 flavour options and he chose strawberry. Anticipating that he was getting better I made it in the morning and was able to offer it to him by the evening, for dinner, because it only takes a minimum of 8 hours to make.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

My 2 Year Old Son Got the Herpes ... Sort of.

Image Credit
This last weekend takes the cake as far as the worst days of 2015 are concerned. Unless you count two months back when my son had this cough that was so bad it made a Sunday afternoon with my 101 year old great-granny and her 10 year old chocolate bars seem pretty appealing by comparison.
Thursday night hit our house with all the darkness of a Tim Burton film. My usually bubbly little toddler-man child hit bottom at dinner time when he refused one of his favourite meals, spaghetti bolognese. It was the cream of the crop as far as bolognese sauce goes too because it came from the 78 year old Italian neighbour who grinds his own meat for the sauce. I don't know what kind of magic he uses but it must have something to do with sticky tape. Which I found a piece of when I was heating the pot for dinner. Totally normal, right? I can't judge because his sauce still tastes better than mine. All I want to know is this: was it generic tape or the good Scotch stuff?
Here comes the HERPES!!!!! Ahhhhhhh!
The next morning my son completely refused his breakfast too. He started the day with a temperature of 38C and by lunch time it had climbed to 39C ( - which is 102.2F for the American's reading. You're welcome). My mother in-law had come around for a visit. She is pretty much his favourite person outside our immediate family unit but not even she could get him to be his busy bubbly self, or get him to eat.
Dave came home in time for dinner and we offered Charlie another favourite meal. I got a quick peek at his tongue as he tried to taste what was on offer. I grabbed my phone and snapped a picture while he was willing to stick it out for me. He had huge ulcers on his tongue, and on the roof of his mouth as well. No wonder the kid hadn't eaten all day.
Exactly how Charlie sees me every time I've tried to feed him the last 5 days
My husband left, after my son went to bed, for a work function. I waited for Dr to Your Door to arrive and in the meantime kept trying to help my son fall back to sleep when he'd wake-up in agony. A lovely GP friend of mine, Phoebe, had suggested I ask the Doctor if it could be the Herpes Simplex virus - Type 1 (cold sore-virus). It seemed to be the most likely cause of the ulcers when the Dr could not find any rash or blisters on my son's hands and feet to suggest Hand Foot and Mouth Disease as the other likely culprit. He looked really puzzled about the whole thing, and made it quite obvious he'd never seen anything like this in a 2 year old. After a lot of thought and consideration he decided to prescribe an adult tablet (the only option) for my son to take 5 times a day, dispersed in 50ml of water each time. I just looked at him like "You've got to be freaking kidding me, right?" I asked how it would be possible to get my son to drink that amount of fluid when he was currently refusing his favourite drinks as it was. He could not offer a solution.
I called the only Pharmacy (7 minutes away) that was open until 12pm. They told me they didn't carry the dispersible tablet for the anti-virus medication. My husband came home, and then I drove to another pharmacist 3 times the distance. I arrived home at 11.30pm and woke my son up. We tried to give him the medication and he threw up twice. Along with the medication came up the watermelon and ice block, the only two things he'd eaten for dinner. I felt immense pressure to get this medication into my son after speaking to a Doctor and 3 pharmacists that night about the importance of him getting that first dose in ASAP. There was nothing more we could do until morning but try and get him to sleep

As soon as morning came we were off to the Emergency Department. My son was still not eating, and would barely drink a thing. The medical staff also seemed stumped on the diagnoses for him. They checked him for Hand Foot and Mouth too, and decided it must be the Herpes virus as they'd never seen ulcers like this on a child so young. After the painful fight of administering the $110 numbing gel all over his mouth he finally was willing to eat a fruit salad cup. I swear we felt like the biggest winners getting that first piece of fruit into his mouth, and my husband was able to sneak the tablet into the fruit, bit by bit.

Family portrait of us begging God to make it stop!
By evening though, my son was back to refusing any food, even with the numbing gel they'd sent us home with. I was in tears. We tried everything to get him to take the medication. We spent all day just administering liquids in syringes to a screaming toddler. I finally went to the fridge and just stared into it, crying my heart out and feeling at a total loss. WATERMELON!!!! I grabbed the watermelon and cut a piece into our blender. I mixed a tablet with some water and dumped it into the watermelon juice. He drank it. Another fracking WIN!!! Both Dave and I were so exhausted by this point and were dreading another night of a waking baby. Our son just writhes in his bed half awake, back and forth and up and down goes his little bottom so that he looks as though he's preparing to somersault in his cot.
Day 4 of my son's juice diet: He's looking so much skinnier already. He'll be walking catwalks in no time.
He still hasn't eaten anything since Thursday night (except those fruit cups) so we just keep blending low-acidic fruit, and syringe feed him all day. And he's now come up with a few blisters on his hand's and feet which probably changes his diagnoses from Herpes - Type 1 to Hand Foot and Mouth. Trust my child to make a Doctor say "this is the most unusual presentation of Hand Foot Mouth I've ever seen." We won't know until the results come in tomorrow morning on his swab if it's official. Until then we feel like we will just keep getting by.
After all this, you can imagine how freaking incredible it was to have my GP friend, Phoebe, turn up last night with a big casserole dish full of the most delicious eggplant lasagne ever! Pasta for another WIN! YES! The dread of creating and making dinner, and then doing dishes was just too much for me. And there's enough left overs to last us for dinner again tonight. These are the kind of friends the world needs more of, am I right ladies? I used to think it was just women in churches who did this for each other. A good home cooked meal is sometimes the best gift you can give someone suffering with a sick child, or settling in with a new bubba. My "village" of mamas also did their bit to cheer me up on Saturday night by taking me out of the house for a couple hours before I completely lost my mind.

I am so grateful for the magic of makeup that covers up how haggard I feel.
There are women out there like this, ladies. I know it's not always easy finding friends who care this much, and you may have seen me drop the Hello Mama's name before; their site matches you with other mama's with similar interests and needs and this certainly cuts down on meeting the friend's who just end up being selfish, disinterested women, who only want your friendship for what they can get from you. Sure I want Lasagne from you, but I'm totally willing to give out Lasagne too. Know what I'm saying? Find the women out there who will have your back when the Tim Burton storm rolls through ...

*This isn't a sponsored post I just love what they do for mamas!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Soft & Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Raisin Cookies

This is another one of those recipes I've had since I was a little girl. It comes from my most trusted cookbook, Betty Crocker. The only thing I've changed was adding organic coconut sugar and coconut oil in place of refined white sugar and shortening. I took them to playgroup today when it was my turn to serve morning tea, and they were a hit. Like any great oatmeal cookie they are soft and chewy, and stay that way even a few days after baking.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

3 Times You Should Put a Leash on Your Kid

 1) USE A LEASH: Going to the zoo
We drove the 2.5 hours to Taronga Zoo on Charlie's 2nd birthday. This is the whole family sitting in one of those sky gondola's that take you right over the zoo, with the incredible view of  the Sydney city skyline all around us - which you can't see because I forgot our selfie-stick.