Chapter Two: Time to visit the fertility doc

The one good thing about having an ectopic pregnancy is your partner will probably feel really bad for you. Does that sound horrible? I don’t mean it to. But the fact is…Nick knew I’d been through a lot (he had too). We were told we couldn’t try to conceive for three months post methotrexate injections so…in an effort to turn lemons to lemonade, I came up with the genius idea of a vacation. Not just any vacation but one to Hawaii.

Now, if we hadn’t gone through the ectopic this vacation wouldn’t have happened. We had just bought a house after all. But Nick knew I needed something to look forward to so there I went…booked us a nice three-year anniversary trip to Maui and Kauai.

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There I am, near a waterfall in Maui. I selected this pic because 1) pretty sure Nick was behind the camera cursing me under his breathe for making him spend $$ on a fancy vaca. But I was loving it! 2) this tank and what is says #everybodyfights from one of my favorite gyms in Boston

Once back, after a month or so, we were back to trying for a baby the ole fashion way. During these next six-ish months I tried everything…acupuncture, special diets, special lube (hello “pre-seed”), tracking my temperature, ovulation strips, ovulation apps etc. Nada. None of it worked for us. Shove it all up ya butt. I don’t know why but I had to type that.

Then, finally, we concluded it was time to see a fertility doc. Our first fertility doc was out of Harvard Vanguard in Boston. In hindsight, he was great. We started the testing that kicks off the process. The “only” thing they found was that one of my tubes was abnormal and likely causing the infertility. They didn’t know “for sure” but assumed that was it. I was recommended for a surgery to have the tube removed. I was not ready for that, so we decided to try Clomid.

Clomid. That sh*t. I think we did 2-3 rounds. It’s much less “invasive” than IVF but damn, this medicine was my least favorite. Hot flashes, mood swings. I did not feel great on it. We did ultrasound tracking with it. Nothing. It did not work for us. We forged ahead to IVF.

I’m glad we did our first round of IVF moving into the winter. Between the meds and the constant appointments, I just wanted/needed to be in comfy clothes. Long sweaters, leggings, hide me. I’m not sure how I would have fared if we did this in the summer.

I’m not going to go through the entire process here. But I will say, yes, you have to give yourself (or have your partner give you) injections. Daily. The first night of meds I FREAKED. The idea of putting a needle in myself filled with hormones/lawd knows what, was plain unsettling. But once I just did it (it took awhile and a lot of whining)…it was ok. Nick bought fun band aids which added some comic relief. Pretty sure they were Paw patrol.

All in all, the process is about a month. But it occupies more time between the testing beforehand and then the waiting once you do the embryo transfer. Post transfer you have to wait 10 days to find out if you’re pregnant. On the 10th day I woke up prepared to go to my appointment for bloodwork (feeling hopeful because I hadn’t gotten my period) and boom…went to the bathroom and got my period that morning.

I was devastated. I didn’t even want to tell Nick. After all that “work” – we got nothing. I actually drove myself to work that morning but ended up having to pull over in a Walgreens parking lot because I was so upset. I told myself to go to work because all I could think at the time was “we’ll have to do this again?! I’ll need more time off. What am I going to do?” Now, if I could share some advice to anyone going through this – please, cut yourself some slack. I ended up texting a friend at work, told her what happened, and asked if she’d cover a couple meetings. Thank goodness for her. Then, I drove home and got in bed.

The hardest part really was the “after.” Nick was shocked…and he told me he would have “bet a million dollars we were pregnant.” This enraged me, to be honest. There is around a 40% chance (for women UNDER 35, I’m 34) with any given cycle that it’ll be successful. It’s not a silver bullet. Hey, I thought it was too before I actually went through it. Dealing with my emotions was one thing but having to see your partner hurt too is really hard. Then, couple that with the crash (that I felt, at least) when suddenly you’re taken off all the meds. I didn’t realize it at the time but my emotions were heightened by the fact that I had been taking all these drugs/hormones and suddenly off. Cold turkey. Again, poor Nick, I’m pretty sure he was scared of me during this time.

My sister and close friends carried me through. When people ask me what helped / how they can help a friend going through this process. I tell them, just be there, just reach out, check in. 90% of the advice I was offered wasn’t helpful. Don’t get me wrong, I understand. I’m the first one to offer advice in hopes that I can help someone. But really, telling me I needed to just relax, or try this diet, or go to this doctor, or just give it more time, did not make me feel better. What did was just saying hi, checking in, and offering an ear to listen. Or how about ‘wanna get a mani?’ Yes. As simple as that. But then again, what I also learned about myself during this process is that I have a tendency to sometimes get quiet when tough things happen to people. Not because I don’t care – but the opposite. I want so badly to help, to somehow relieve some pain, but I don’t know what to say, or I fear saying the wrong thing and it makes me shut down. So, if there is one thing I learned and would tell others, just reach out. No one is perfect. A simple card, a text is enough. Just show up.

This about concludes chapter 2. My next chapter is about my surgery. The surgery that thankfully got us to this current pregnancy. But I’ll tell you now, I wasn’t sure it would work at the time.

Chapter One: The beginning of our journey

Our “journey to a family” (someone suggested I use this phrase vs. “infertility journey”) started back in Spring/Summer 2015. We had found a house in the ‘burbs. We were doing what a lot of couples do “trying but not really trying” to have a baby. It had probably been almost 6 months of that, maybe more.

By June(ish) 2015 we were pregnant! I remember the day I held the positive test in my hand and showed Nick in the kitchen. I’ll never forget how excited we were. I literally jumped in into his arms and we danced around the kitchen in our new house. I still savor this moment because we were completely, purely happy.

But…our bliss only lasted a few days.

Within a short time it was clear something wasn’t right. I started bleeding one morning and ended up at the doctor’s office. I remember being told we were likely miscarrying and there wasn’t much to do but let “nature take its course.” We were upset but in the back of my mind, I also thought…well ok, I guess this is a good sign, we got pregnant and we weren’t really “trying.”    

Little did I know…something funky was going on…

I was still getting a positive pregnancy test days later. The doctor told me to come into the office immediately. After some blood work, it was found my hormone levels had actually risen very slightly after all the bleeding and I was sent to get an ultrasound where they discovered we had an ectopic pregnancy. I remember calling our nurse from Harvard Vanguard from the random ultrasound office in Brookline, I was crying a lot. She did her best to calm me down. I didn’t really know what an ectopic meant, I just knew I had been holding out hope that we were actually pregnant and things were ok – but this scan proved not so much.

An ectopic pregnancy is when a pregnancy happens in the fallopian tube. An ectopic is dangerous because the tube can burst causing internal bleeding. It’s something you need to take care of immediately.

Over the course of the next two weeks – my doctor recommended rather than surgery to remove the ectopic, that I take an injection of the drug called methotrexate. A chemo drug that kills fast growing cells and one that’s commonly used to “dissolve” ectopic pregnancies. I got a shot of it right in my butt cheek. At the time, Nick and I were just going through the motions, doing what we needed to do. They tested my blood every other day to confirm my hormone levels were dropping…no such luck. I had to go back (I believe it was on a Saturday or Sunday) for another dose. I remember sitting in the maternity ward of Beth Israel waiting for my second methotrexate shot. I kept thinking, “why in the f&ck do they have me in the MATERNITY ward?” We obviously hoped the second dose would work – otherwise, I’d have to go in for surgery.

Fast forward, I’m watching the Real Housewives of OC episode when Vicky’s mom died. The episode was riveting. I remember cramps starting and getting progressively worse. By the end of the episode, I wasn’t sure if I was having sympathy pains or what. But I ended up calling the doctor on call (it was a Sunday night, I think?) and they advised me to get to the ER. Poor Nick, drove through the windy back roads of the S. Shore while I told (maybe I yelled?) him to “slow down the bumps hurt!” and “hurry up, just get there!” I was in a lot of pain. They thought maybe the ectopic had burst and I was bleeding internally. I kept picturing blood filling my abdomen. By the time we got to South Shore hospital I could hardly walk. Hunched over, I walked into the ER and sat in a wheelchair. I also remember being surprised when the front desk insisted on my insurance information. I was like “what?! I’m like dying here!” I clearly wasn’t dying…but I was definitely emotionally distressed and in some serious pain.

I ended up in the ER overnight on morphine. After a few scans, they told me nothing had burst but the pain was likely the ectopic finally dissolving. I was like “what?!” I was sure I was bleeding out…but no, (thankfully) this was just the type of pain the whole process can cause. Nick stayed next to me all night sitting upright in a hard chair. I, at least laid in bed with warm blankets and morphine.

The next day I had a couple ultrasounds to confirm the ectopic was in fact dissolving. Thankfully, it was. I also got extremely sick from the morphine. Bringing the whole “sickness and health” thing to a new level…Nick held barf bags while I threw up. Literally, I was laying on a gurney out in the open in the ultrasound area just barfing. Typing this now it actually brings tears to my eyes because I remember thinking about how awful I felt but Nick probably felt just as helpless and had stayed with me the whole time then had to head right to work.

During this whole thing I missed a couple of days of work. Looking back now, I pushed myself to “just get through it” and not make a “big deal of things.” Which did me no favors. After all, it was a big deal. I paid for it emotionally down the line. I don’t think I gave myself ample time to process it all.

One of the hardest things was when the doctor’s told us we couldn’t try for three months after the methotrexate injections because we had to wait for it to fully pass through my system (it’s quite toxic). At the time that was devastating news – we couldn’t just try again next month and put this behind us?! We had to wait THREE whole months!? Little did I know it would be another 2 ½ years and multiple fertility treatments before we’d ever see another “plus sign.” Definitely for the better that I didn’t know that then.

This is part 1 of my journey. The good news is…there’s a light at the end of the tunnel but I’m here to share my true, full journey in hopes that it helps someone else. Or at least brings more awareness to the things we women, we couples, go through on our “journey to a family.”

Why teach yoga when you can’t touch your toes?

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pizza and yoga. #doyou

 

Seriously, I cannot touch my toes without bending my knees. Why? Could be my years of field hockey – perfecting that squat position. Or, maybe my years of sitting in a cubicle all day (lord, that’s depressing). Either way, it is what it is. Flexibility isn’t my strong suit but I’ve learned that this really has nothing to do with enjoying my yoga practice.

Yoga isn’t a sport. You can’t win or lose it. You can certainly see yourself improve e.g. gain flexibility, move into new, more challenging poses, improve your stamina. Yoga is a journey of the mind and body. It’s a  discipline that you can carry through life. Highs and lows. I found that yoga can help me in a lot of areas of my life…once I found the right studio (for me) to really start.

It’s called Studio143 in Scituate, MA. With a beautiful setting – a fireplace in the wall, cozy room, and amazing instructors, I finally started being able to relax into yoga and understand how breathing is a critical part of it all.

I used to do yoga in the city…the breathing part was a bit lost on me. Often I was distracted by the “perfect” poses around me…or inability to relax because I was either coming or going to something in a hurry. Breath? Why breath? But, in this new suburban yoga oasis, I’ve been able to slow down and dedicate time to (trying to) be present.

But how did this get me to pursue yoga teacher certification? Well, it got me more interested. It built confidence in me that hey, I could really do something with this. I then found out the name of a local yoga teaching school associated with Studio143, it’s called Sanctuary Studios in Plymouth, MA.

As I went back and forth between buying a $2,000 (beautiful Chloe) purse…I said to myself, Beth, you can either buy this purse that you’ve wanted for awhile…adding to your pile of material goods (which don’t get me wrong, I still love to shop) or, you can invest this money into learning something new and deepening what you already love about yoga. So, I did. Instead of buying a purse, I took that money and signed up for a 6 month, 200 hour, yoga teacher certification.

They told us we wouldn’t be the same person at the end of the course…and frankly, it’s the truth. Even if I don’t end up teaching classes, I can say that this has been one of the best money/time investments I’ve ever made. I’ve met amazing people from different walks of life, learned more about the human body, stress management, and self-care. Been inspired and frankly, been saved during one of the more challenging times of my life (post for another day, we’ll get to that).

As my teacher training comes to a close with the exception of my practicum eeek and a couple make up classes, I know I’m far from being done with this journey. I want to practice more than I do today. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll open my own studio one day – but that’s just getting ahead of myself. If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s the importance and challenge of trying my best to live in the present. Yoga helps me be more conscious of my thought patterns and being able to calm and center myself when the ‘going gets tough.’ I want to bring this to other people when the time is right.

So, if you’re considering pursuing “YTT” – let me be one to tell you, DO IT. You will not regret it. I leave with you this poem which was shared on the first day of my YTT back in October:

The Journey (by Mary Oliver)
 
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Winter skincare tips

Ok, so I didn’t want to stray too far from my typical content. So I wanted to put together a “simple” post on winter skincare tips.

I’d say the biggest difference these days is…I just know more. No, I don’t claim to be any type of expert. Just someone who’s been overly-interested in skincare and products for awhile now and has researched and talked the sh*t out of the topic with a lot of different people.

At 33, I hate being called ma’am. I cringe the hardest when the young guy at the bakery calls me it at least 3x while taking my order. Maybe it’s society’s fault for promoting impossible beauty standards and the unrealistic expectation to stay young looking (aka to stay a “miss”) forever? Regardless, my goal is to encourage as best I can something my Mom once said to me when I was frantically talking about getting botox before my wedding (side note, I didn’t get it then…but I have tried it since – which is a post for another day) which is to Age Gracefully. Which to me is one part acceptance and coming to peace with it and another part doing something about it in a way that doesn’t make you crazy or break you down. Oh yea, and ensuring you’re doing it for you and not because anyone else is making you feel like you need to.

Now ladies (and gents) with that I give you some winter skincare tips that will aid in our quest to age gracefully (and comfortably!) while also doing our best to combat the woes of dull, dry, patchy winter skin:

  1. Good hydration is key. Sounds obvious? Well, get on board (says the girl who still struggles to do this everyday). As much as you can, opt for room temperature or warm beverages in the colder months which are easier for your body to process. herbal teas, warm water with lemon, golden milk (recipe to follow), plain H2O. Hydrating the inside, shows on the outside!
    • My fave container for transporting warmer drinks = Lifefactory’s 16 oz Glass Coffee Travel Mug
    • Avoid at all costs soda, especially diet. Avoid juices and sports drinks (unless you’re sick and need the electrolytes!) which are too high in sugar. And more than 2 cups of coffee a day but if you’re going to do it get the good stuff AND forget about decaf which I’ve learned has more toxins than regular coffee due to the decaffeination process (ew!)
  2. Humidifier at night. The air in our homes tends to get dry in the winter when the heat is pumping. Invest in and switch on a home humidifier each night. This will help put moisture in the air…good for many things, including keeping skin and sinuses more lubricated (aka not totally drying out)
  3. More gentle wash, tone, moisturize routine. This doesn’t mean skipping retinols, glycolics or whatever “heavy lifters” you may use at night. It just means, be mindful that you don’t want to strip your skin with over-exfoliating or cleansing as most skin tends towards the drier side during the winter months
  4. Get in a good sweat. This goes any time of year. But I know that it’s harder to get moving in the colder winter months. Find what works for you. Too cold to venture to the gym? There are some great on-demand fitness apps. My favorite right now is Yoga on Gaia which has a lot of different yoga and meditation content/classes on-demand (for a monthly membership fee). Sweating releases toxins from the body – which is good all around, including cleansing out our pores
  5. Get your sleep. Again, another year round important factor. Sometimes I find myself unable to relax  after a long cold day. Find some thing(s) that work for you that puts you on a routine of getting at least 6-8 hours of sleep per night. Reading, meditation, aromatherapy, investing in comfy bedding, are just a few ways to tempt yourself into bed so that you can get the sleep your body (including your skin) needs to rest and rejuvenate

Pharmacy faves

I hope it’s sunny where you are because it’s gloomy and damp here in Scituate, MA! BUT — it’s a good day for hanging on the couch. Side note/speaking of couch time: if you haven’t checked out Playing House on USA (Season 1 is currently On Demand) – do yourself a favor and tee it up some time soon…it’s hilarious!

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Today, I want to share a list of my favorite pharmacy buys. I’m all for splurging on a great product – but there are definitely products at your nearby pharmacy that work just as well as pricier department store brands. See below for my top faves!

  • Dry shampoo: this product is a life saver when I’m running low on time and my hair needs a refresher.
    • Which brand: Sauve Professionals dry shampoo (<$5) is perfection. It’s not heavy – freshens up my hair and dulls grease. Overall, a few sprays to my hair-line/part and a bit of fluffing with my hands – and boom, hair looks clean and fresh again

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  • Lip gloss: I own roughly 100 lip glosses/sticks/balms…it’s an addiction. Moisturized lips with a pop of color can literally work miracles on any look.
    • Which brand: Almay color + care liquid lip balm. (<$5) It has a nice silky texture and comes in a bunch of great colors. I have 3 different colors including a more red/bold and then a total neutral almost nude. It’s a great gloss that moisturizes lips and has a handy wand applicator

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  • Shampoo/Conditioner: I love trying new hair products – but I cringe at the cost of some of the salon brands. $25-$30 for a bottle of shampoo or conditioner?! I have a lot of hair — so that can be an expensive habit. So, there’s nothing like finding an affordable product at CVS or Walgreens…that makes my hair look, feel, and smell nice
    • Which brand: Another Sauve product! But specifically, Sauve Professional’s Moroccan Infusion Shine line. (<$5) Makes my hair super soft. Smells lovely. Reminds me of the Moroccan Oil salon brand that tends to break the bank. I’ve also used the Sauve Moroccan Infusion conditioner as a shaving balm – totally random, but honestly, it works quite nicely!

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  • Microwaveable Wax: I need to have wax on hand – be it for an eyebrow emergency or to get rid of upper lip hair. Waxing your face is never comfortable. But I like a hard wax that is easy to microwave, apply, and cleanly rip off.

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  • Deodorant: Can’t leave home without it. People may not see it – but if you don’t wear it…they’ll know. Ohhh they’ll know. I go for deodorants with no parabens or aluminum. There are great ones at Whole Foods – but when I can’t get there, I opt for this pharmacy brand

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  • Eyeliner: I don’t own as many eye liners as lip products – but this category is a close second. I have sensitive eyes – so it has to be something that doesn’t cause watering or itchiness. I prefer crank up liners vs. pencils because I don’t love to sharpen.
    • Which brandPhysician Formula eyeliner trio in Warm Nude. (<$12) I love this product because it comes in a pack of 3. Darker colors good for night – lighter good for day. They can be layered. Great for sensitive eyes. Smudgeproof.

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What are your pharmacy faves??