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Bad Day(s)

shower quote

I have written my blog for years about positivity. Seeing the life lessons or positivity in something. And I have to say while I live that 95% of my life. Some days, it just sucks. So if you are having a shitty few weeks, I feel ya. And I get it. And I am sure some of you are going through much harder times.

 

We have been looking for a house for 5 months and we just lost another one to someone who outbid us. We lost it over a stupid term we put in our contract that we did not even know was going to be an issue. I literally feel like it has become my full time job looking for houses and we cannot find one that works and we actually get. Deals have fallen through, we have been outbid, and we have had so many highs and lows. And of course, I have taken on the majority of the work around this. A self elected choice that I am now getting resentful over with no real fair justification for my resentment.

 

And we had an unsuccessful 2nd round of IVF with no embryos to show for it after $20k of my savings going down the drain. I’m starting my 3rd round now but my body is exhausted. And so if my bank account!! I’m over needles after giving myself over 110 shots so far. I’m over all the extra weight and bloating with nothing to show except people starting to ask if I am pregnant. I’m over 100s of hours at the doctor and vaginal ultrasounds every other day. My veins are shot from blood draws.

 

And my job is insanely busy with no end in sight and as the boss—everyone (literally everyone) wants something from you or has accidentally screwed something up that you then need to help fix with patience and a smile.

 

I realize we are healthy, I have a good job/income, and in the grand scheme of things, this is not that bad. But honestly right now, I just want to scream and punch a punching bag until I am exhausted.

 

Is anyone else out there feeling this way?!! AHHH!!!!

 

I will read these quotes in the morning, regroup, and get back my positive attitude back being grateful for my life. Nevertheless, for a few hours, I am boycotting my life and complaining. I am yelling into my pillow. Then I will stop acting like a crazy person and regroup. Who else is with me? I need a mini meltdown to regroup.

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My journey to motherhood: I had no clue!

This journey is always such a personal one for each woman. You begin your adult life trying everything possible to not have a child- abstinence, birth control, and paying close attention to being as safe as possible to prevent this possibility. Then you think, when ready, I will just try and it will all lock in and work. And for so many, that is actually what happens. So many friends and women I know say, we just started trying and it just happened. Or we weren’t even trying yet and it just happened. Or you just need to relax and not stress out and it will just happen. Have sex when you are ovulating and it will happen. And on and on. In so many cases, that is what just happens.

 

However, for so many, that is not what happens. And after months of trying, you head to the doctor. And for me, due to my age, after six months, you are sent off to a fertility specialist. And I thought, well I’ll go to a fertility doctor and I’ll be pregnant by the spring. I am already mapping out in my head I’ll be pregnant in a few months and planning out my son or daughters astrological sign!

 

So I feel it is important to document for those woman like me that had no idea what the process was actually like- how it all works. And hopefully this will help someone else. The key- one step at a time and be patient. No it does not happen quickly. And yes, it is a pain in the butt and isolating at times. It also makes you appreciate how every women’s journey is so different. And you learn to be way kinder to women in general. Because you never know what someone is going through behind the scenes. I have met so many who have miscarried or been on this journey for years and years thus far.

 

When you arrive at that appointment, the first meeting is just more of a meet and greet. The doctor goes over all the statistics (which is scary) and all potential options are laid out. At this point, it is all practical and clear. Then you start to talk out timeline. The timeline was a shocking piece for me personally. You first start with a few months of testing. Between the dye test (which is really uncomfortable), baseline blood work, and ultrasounds each at different times in your cycle this takes a few months. You are also waiting on results and then setting up that next meeting with your doctor during this timeframe. Your partner also has to get some tests done. Then you wait. You wait for that meeting with your busy doctor to understand what (if anything) can be done to get pregnant.

 

That meeting can be emotional. I went in very practical and also with a wide open mind. Luckily we had discussed and knew we would be open to many options to become parents. And my husband is very good at not worrying about things we don’t know yet. Or at least helping me not worry. So we had that meeting. And we were amongst the lucky ones. No major health issues or constraints. We were just old. And older parents have more challenges- especially with the small number of low quality eggs. I was also amazed at how many times an egg can be initially fertilized but never actually become an embryo. And how many times that embryo can have defects and end up not growing properly. And how many times you can actually get to that point in your cycle and you never even know you had a fertilized egg because it doesn’t stick and you get your period.

So then the journey starts to meet with financial counselors, understanding all your options to get started- IUI vs IVF vs Egg Donor vs Sperm Donor vs Surrogate vs Adoption, etc. All in an escalating format. You get cost breakdowns of each and need to decide where to start based off your own individual odds.

 

We were very practical given our age and chances of a healthy child right off the bat and went straight into IVF. After the sticker shock of learning insurance doesn’t cover it and how much money we would need to put in without even any guarantees we moved forward. A side note, be prepared that after paying this insane sum of money you realize….your medication is another $5K plus for one IVF cycle!

 

At this point, we are 5 months into the process. It takes a good month of contracts, financially setting it up, a mock embryo transfer (also not the funniest) which is a test that has to happen, waiting for your next cycle, and all the classes you need to attend. So many classes! We listened to hours of online classes and I had to take an hour injection class too.

 

I then learned I needed to do a cocktail of shots before I started my next period before IVF could start. So that prolonged things further. This step is very different for everyone.  I can’t do birth control pills so I had to go a slightly different route than most. I also found it to be the worst part from a side effect standpoint. The mix of patch and cetrotide shots made me feel horrible.

 

Then the injections start. They start with 2 in the evening and escalate to a 3rd added in the morning. This goes on for ~14dys. The timing is important so you have to plan your days around them. I even had to bring a cooler (the medicine must be kept cool) to a wedding reception so I could give myself shots in the bridal quarters at a certain time. A tip for those going through this- try not to travel at all even at the beginning. After day 3 or 4 you then really can’t travel at all. You go into the doctor for bloodwork and an ultrasound every other day and eventually daily. By the end, your veins are shot, you are uncomfortable and swollen (you can literally feel your ovaries!!), and you are bruised from shots. You should also expect to have to work around morning doctor appts with work. And for me, budget parking costs in the city for daily visits! You are just done by the end believe me and hoping it is all worth it.

 

Then you are finally ready for your trigger shot! The trigger shot is really key to do at the exact time 36 hours before your egg retrieval. They drill this into you. And while it actually didn’t hurt that much, you are just scared of getting the timing wrong. And for us, it was pretty hysterical looking back.  I thought the mixing of the medication was going to be similar but I hadn’t used a vial and needle combo that was in this particular medication kit before and we almost ran out of time in our window to take it. We had to call the emergency hotline, and I was panicking. But with 90sececonds to go in our approved window (or we would have really screwed up egg retrieval and potentially lost it all)…we got it.

The next day is then a huge dose of antibiotics to prepare for the egg retrieval surgery. I was also not prepared for these side effects. They are so rough. Including being up sick most of the night.

 

Egg retrieval day comes and it is fairly non-eventful. Minor surgery and you are in and out in 1.5hrs. They have it down like clockwork and while a very weird experience, I only had minor cramping and just had to sleep all day afterwards.

 

What I have failed to mention thus far is also the exercise restrictions. For the week before and the week after the egg retrieval, you really can’t exercise. There is a pretty scary chance you can twist an ovary or have some tough side effects. So you have to be fairly stationary. This was also challenging given you are swollen, putting on weight from hormones, and just feel gross. But you get through it.

 

The day after egg retrieval you get a call about how many eggs have been fertilized. And then you have to wait. 5 days later they update you on which eggs blastocyst. You want day 5 but they can also come on day 6 and 7. And each embryo is then graded. Who knew?! There are so many different grades of healthiness. They call you each day on days 5-7 to give you updates. Most embryos don’t make it and a few do. We had 2. Those two then go on to genetic testing. Now this a sensitive subject because some don’t believe in this step. Given our age and chances for genetic issues, we did it. And in that process we lost one. So we now have 1 healthy embryo. And it is frozen.

 

We want two children which means they suggest having at least 2 embryos per live birth. So guess what….I have to go through it again (and potentially again) until we get closer to that goal. Each time taking on more financial burden and physically going through it all again. Surprisingly, I’m holding up well. I’ve had a moment here or there. But some how it is getting easier at the moment. I am sure I’m holding onto hope and excitement. I am half way through my second round. And we will see how it goes. I keep thinking, all I can do is be healthy and relax. And see what happens. The shots don’t seem as bad nor the crazy schedule of appointments.  It just seems part of life and less dramatic this time around. I go to work, dinners, chats with friends, and coworkers and don’t discuss it. I just patiently ride it out. And we will see.

 

There are many steps after this before you even know if we are pregnant or to get to implantation. The next phase is the ERA phase for me. And I will share when it comes. It could realistically be several months, especially if I have to do a few more rounds of IVF. So pray for me that we have a very successful next cycle!

 

Part of the reason I made my blog public is so other women could find me and read this. I want to give them hope. I was also hesitant to tell my story because then everyone asks you and wants updates. And you really don’t want to give them until you have something to share. Otherwise, it is just more of the same and all the questions make you anxious and upset. So I’m not sure how I will deal with that. But I knew when I started this, I searched google looking for other stories. And I realized I should share mine.

 

It is a long journey. But it is all possible. You are not alone. Even on days where everyone including your partner is out and about or off to work and you are headed to your 10th doctor’s appointment in three weeks or 50th shot in the last two months. You are not alone. There are many of us out here. Stay positive.

 

I have never once regretted the process nor felt sorry for myself. So may women miscarry or don’t get the opportunity to even get as far as I am now. I feel lucky. Lucky to even have the option to try and get healthy embryos.

 

The other thing I am learning is to really enjoy the moment in a weird way. Enjoy bonding with other women, enjoy your time with your partner, enjoy the quiet moments while you have them, and try to keep your life as normal as possible. It is also fun to dream. Dream of your family and know how much you will appreciate it when it comes. We are still planning vacations around my shots and timeline, I still work full days, I still work out when I’m not restricted, I still clothing shopping (of course if you know me that never stops!), do chores, read, watch movies, etc. I also found it is important to pamper yourself- get your nails done more often, dress up a bit more, eat your favorite meal when you want to, enjoy a drink when you can (you really can’t drink during the shots), and get plenty of sleep.

 

Each of our times will come to have kids and we will wish we had a moment to take a nap or do those little things. So I’m trying to enjoy the moment in my own life journey vs trying so hard to wish for the future state.

 

I have to be honest, I have bought a few baby clothes or things for the hope of it to come. I hide them back in my closet and figure I’ll give them as gifts if we don’t get that chance. Probably sounds pathetic but for me, it is kind of nice. It is part of the hope.

 

We are also house hunting which has been a really good distraction. So that helps. And I created a goal to read 100 books this year. These things plus work and social activities help. They make you feel normal amongst all the medication, appointments, and hormones.

 

I know I am lucky to have the financial means to do this. And I pray for those that don’t. I often think, when I get through this, should I help set up a fund for those that need a fertility scholarship. Why don’t we have those, you know?

 

And I am excited for my life today. I love my job. I love my husband. I love summer. And I love my family and friends. And if for some reason this doesn’t work out, we will adopt. But for now, I remain very hopeful and patient. Patience does not come naturally to me so that has honestly been my biggest challenge. I am an eternal optimistic. But patience….a whole other ball game. One step at a time.

 

More to come. My motherhood journey continues……………..

 

If you read this and find this blog and have questions on the process, happy to answer them. I have some tips for different medication side effects and happy to be your cheerleader too!

Here is a pic of some of the medical supplies. I appreciate my dad for his pharmacy mixologist skills now that I have to mix medications in vials!

IVF Meds

Escaping with a Good book or TV Show

Since my last blog was so deep, I thought I’d share some really fun entertaining reads and TV shows to keep you balanced throughout the month.

On the TV front, so really fun shows (less deep and intense) are Life in Pieces. A great comedy that is way underrated and surprisingly is on CBS! I love all the characters, witty and silly humor, and it keeps your attention with short stories. Dead to Me on Netflix so well done and is a dark comedy which both makes you feel an element of suspense, humor, and sadness all is one episode. And I like it because not only is the acting so good but they are only 30 minute episodes. If you need a go-to reality show that isn’t the housewives or HGTV, a solid go to favorite for us is Southern Charm. I am partial to anything in Charleston but it is also very entertaining. And a great escape visually all the way around with incredible acting….who doesn’t love Big Little Lies. The book is excellent and surprisingly isn’t even my favorite of Liane Moriarty’s. You can’t go wrong reading one of her books.

 

In regards to books, I have so many. As an avid reader…with my goal to read 100 books this year (we will see if I make it) I don’t know where to begin. I’ll share some of my recent favorite authors but feel free to ping me if you want more. You can’t go wrong with anything from Reese Witherspoon’s book club. Every once and awhile she has a dud in there but most of the time, they are really good. My short list: any book (literally love all her books) by Liane Moriarty, Kristy Woodson Harvey- her series in the south of a family of sister/mom and female relationships is really good, a few of Sandie Jones’s books (The Other Woman is so creatively done), I really like a lot of Laura Dave’s books, Jodi Picoult writes a good book (Small Great Things was my latest), for the summer Elin Hilderbrand is a great escape to Nantucket, and a few from Bethany Chase. I am reading The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena right now and I am about half way through. Really enjoying this suspense novel right now. Of course there are great biographies, self help books, and leadership books I can recommend too.

 

But going into the summer, it is fun to grab a good show on a rainy day or read a great book. I love a great beach read! So hopefully there are a few good nuggets in there. I find sometimes I need an escape from reality to help me stay balanced and centered.

 

Enjoy!

Books* I have book piles and rocks from the many beaches I have visited all over my place.

Refueling my Refueling Blog!

Santa Barbara hike

*Photo of a hike we took in Santa Barbara, CA in April 2019.

I’m trying out my blogging journey and path again. My own unique path. Who wants to hike with me on this next phase?

It has been over a year since I blogged. I just didn’t know exactly how I wanted to proceed. I have a bit of a love hate with it really. I love sharing my thoughts and connecting with others through it. I also am private so putting myself out there makes me feel vulnerable and exposed. So I’ve been keeping my blog private to those that sign up. Which means I’m also limited in followers.

And at times, I want to touch people outside of that circle. So what do I do?

So to fill this need, I’ve been journaling, completing my happiness journal everyday (for 4yrs straight now!), doing my monthly memory jar, and reading books. And connecting through conversations, book clubs, and reading other authors. My goal this year is to read 100 books. So far, I’ve read 36 so I’m slightly behind. But catching up. I want to enjoy them and not just focus so much on the goal. But thus far it is a great refueling escape!

In all my reading, I have read a few leadership and self help books. I always fluctuate between fiction, nonfiction, leadership/self help, business, and housing/design/architecture books. So I definitely have a variety!

And in that reading, a common theme keeps coming up. Finding your 2 core values. In other books they refer to it as your “why” or drivers/intrinsic motivations. Many authors write about it- Simon Sinek, Brene Brown, Rachel Hollis, and even celebrity books I’ve ready from people like Arianna Huffington, Reese Witherspoon, the Property Brothers….and my favorite that started me on this journey the book The Artist Way.

And each time I read one of these books, I go through their process to determine and verify my 2 core values. And it always comes back the same. 1) Growth and 2) Balance.

For me growth is about growing in all aspects of my life as well as helping others grow. I think that is what has attracted me to my career choices, what drives me in relationships, and ultimately why I seek out self discovery and blogging. I always want to be growing- intellectually, emotionally, and physically (there isn’t a workout I won’t try or want to challenge myself with!). Growth is so important to me. And connecting with others that are also seeking to grow and learning from each other. If I stopped growing I think it would depress me.  I need it to stay fueled up—to give me energy.

The other is balance. That is another big reason I started my blog. I was trying so hard to find my version of balance (each is uniquely different) so that I was never consumed by one thing- not work, not trying to achieve motherhood (and then motherhood down the road), not one relationship, not one hobby, etc. I wanted to find what balance means to me- which is totally different from someone else I am sure. And then use it to refuel me- to give me energy.  I need that creative spirit to show my artistic side- whether that be through photography, cooking, drawing, writing, traveling, etc. And I also seek the intellectual side. And the emotional side- relationships, love, hope, faith. There is so much to consume in this world, I want to soak it all in and not let one thing take over my life. I want to live! And my version of living is finding all those things and not letting one aspect of my life consume me.  Not letting one aspect of my life pull me down either. Having enough energy points and refueling points that I can sustain without going negative or dark when one aspect of my life doesn’t work out as planned. It is a coping mechanism for me too.

And so I have decided to make this blog public and continue to explore both growth and my version of balance. To put myself out there because I am craving that connection with others who seek the same thing. And that have ideas on how to achieve them I may not.  Not every blog post will be deep. Some will be fun Netflix and reality show picks. But I want to share my journey. Not to make others feel bad in comparison, or to be critiqued, but to help and connect with others.

So we will try this one more time. It may not go anywhere but I’ll have some fun and refuel.

One last pic just for fun on a hike we took in Santa Barbara (same timeframe as the one above).

Santa Barbara

Spa day

spa day

Every woman (and most men) need a spa day every once and awhile. Whether at home or at an actual spa. Take a day to relax, take a long bath, self care, get a massage, and do things just for yourself to unwind.

Saturday was my spa day.

I slept 9hrs, got a winter scrub treatment, sat in a heated chair, swam in a heated pool, ate a good meal, sat by a fire pit in a blanket, watched a movie with the fireplace going…it was a day for me. Some self spa days, I just give myself a home facial or do my nails or take a long bath or take a nap or meditate or journal. I make sure I have a few hours just for myself. Spa days are about taking care of your body, mind, and soul. How will you treat yourself sometime soon?  Organize a babysitter or negotiate with your partner to get away?

Enjoy the week ahead by planning something soon. Give yourself something to look forward too!

Failure

“We do not learn so much by our successes as we learn by failures– our own and others. Especially if we see the failures properly corrected.”– Frank Lloyd Wright

I really liked this quote. For two reasons– One if gives you reassurance failure is good in any capacity to a certain extent- at work, in relationships, in day to day life…or even in sports. Two, it focuses on the second chance to get it right. And to learn and find a way to correct the failure. To actually the potential to still come out on top. I am the eternal optimist.  And I truly believe anyone can change a behavior or correct a failure, as long as you learn from your mistake. I do truly believe everything works out in the end.

You read so many success stories of people who were fired and then later became incredibly success. Destroyed a relationship to later repair it; Or move on but learn for the next one. Every parent makes a mistake parenting to do better the next time. You hear/see come back stories in sports or even ex-cons who change the course of their life and become such good people. The human spirit has the capacity to do so much by learning from their failure.

This also makes it easier to forgive. And show humility. We all make mistakes- big and small. And we all get another shot as long as we are alive. It is only when you don’t learn from the mistake that you really start to fail in life.

So what failure are you going to correct in 2018? In your week? In your day?

Reflection

“The biggest happiness is when at the end of the year you feel better than at the beginning”– Henry David Thoreau

I do the same exercise each year as the year comes to a close and the next starts. And I love it. As a reminder, here is the link. I encourage all of us to look back at the last year and also determine what your goals or aspirations are for the year to come. How will you approach 2018? http://yearcompass.com/

Also a fun tradition Todd and I started this year and will continue, is to write down at the end of each month our two top favorite memories together. And we put them in a mason jar. At end of the year (today), we then take them all out and read them to each other. A joyful way to celebrate the year and remember all the wonderful times. Try it! You will love it. Great to do solo, as a couple or as a family.

I hope your year ends with more joy and hope. And if it doesn’t, we all get a renewed look at life and a fresh start as 2018 begins.  A new sunrise to a new year awaits us all! Happy New Year!

IMG_2236

 

Spirit of Christmas

What a fun time of year! Today all the kids anticipate what Santa will bring, adults everywhere have so much fun with the idea of it for kids (and the stress in a fun way), and it is a day where everyone comes together. As an adult, have you lost the spirit and anticipation yourself? It is too much pressure between gifts and travel (and the money that comes with it)?

I love these quotes below. While the idea of Santa (and for some…… even baby Jesus as your faith changes) may not stay with you in the same way as we get older, the idea of giving freely, appreciating and loving your fellow human beings (especially family), and treating each other with kindness doesn’t need to escape us. How do you keep that all in perspective and not let the stress of the holidays take over? How do we keep the joy we had as a child?

Merry Christmas!

Details of daily life

“The true secret to happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life”- Williams Morris

I liked this quote. When you think about it, when you pay attention, you start to take more joy and entertainment in the day. You see the silly and funny interactions between people. The funny faces or comedic moments. You see the tender looks or subtle displays of affection. You see the kind gestures between strangers. Note: Keeping it real. You also see the bad stuff that makes you grumpy and annoyed with your fellow human (especially driving in a city).

And so I did a little social experiment and spent a weekend really trying to pay attention to the details in interactions and in my surroundings. And I immediately did perk up a bit. It made me grateful for so many things. I instantly had a little more gratitude and joy. It made me feel more connected to others. And it made me really appreciate this holiday season too!

Try it and see what you think!

Guide to Happiness

This is a really good article. I especially like the tips at the end/ I’ve summarized a few but it is really worth reading the whole thing!

Here is the link: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/10/get-rid-of-everything/543384/

And a special thanks to a wonderful person that sent it to me. Please keep sharing articles like this.

  • In terms of choosing a place to live, people who live near water—whether it’s a lake or river or an ocean—are about 10 percent more likely to be happy than people who don’t.
  • And people who live in medium-sized cities are more likely to be happy than the anonymity of a big city or perhaps the too in-your-face, limited-possibility environment of a tiny town.
  • You’re more likely to be happy if your house has a sidewalk, and if you live in a bikeable place.
  • Financial security is also, obviously, huge. It really does deliver more happiness over time than most anything that money can be spent on—after your needs are taken care of and you maybe treat yourself occasionally.
  • If you have money left over, you’re much better paying down your mortgage or buying insurance or signing up for an automatic savings plan than you are buying a new gadget or new pair of shoes.

I’ll definitely be taking some of these tips to heart. Many of the tips are focused on filling your soul rather than filling your life with material things. I hope we all remember that! Maybe less big ticket presents this year for Christmas and instead replace with memories and love. Save a little extra this year instead and invest in your soul, nature, a special vacation, and long term security.

Enjoy the full article!