Ok so I recently discovered that - no shocker - I have been shaving wrong my whole life (or, I guess I should say for the past 23 years). Yes, I officially started shaving at 10 years old because I was always eager to grow up.
To be honest, I don't think I was really ever "taught" how to properly shave. I kind of just picked the cutest razor at the grocery, grabbed a bar of soap and went to town, ankle to thigh. Eventually, my laziness got the best of me, and the soap got nixed. So pretty much, I have been dry-shaving these past twenty years.
So it's no surprise that my leg hair follicles look large, red and angry (something that has always bothered me to be honest). You think I would have figured out what I was doing wrong... but nope. I just kept on.
Well, no more. I am ready to take care of my legs (and underarms). So here are some tricks I found out:
Use a Quality Razor
This one seems like a no-brainer, but using a quality razor matters. According to science, five blades will give you a more comfortable, clean shave. I recently switched to Joy Razors, available exclusively at Walmart, and am in love. I love it's non-slip handle and the 'lubrastrip' helps avoid skin irritation. If pink isn't your thing, it also comes in teal. And PS, it's only $8.97 for your Joy Razor and two razor blade refills.
Switch Your Blades Regularly
Speaking of blades, you're supposed to switch them out regularly apparently. Like, once a week at least if you're shaving every day (which I do). I am certainly in no position to judge whether you follow this because, quite frankly, I don't remember the last time I switched to a new blade. Months, for sure, if we're being honest. Yikes. You do you, though. But, if you feel the razor pulling at your hair, causing irritation, or feels rough on your skin, it may be time for a change.
Let Your Razor Blades Dry Thoroughly
You know how water collects on ledges in your shower? Yeah, don't set your razor in the puddles. Let it dry thoroughly after you finish shaving to keep your blades fresh and sharper for longer.
Don't Skimp on Lathering
And not just with a bar of soap (it doesn't allow your razor to glide smoothly as it should to avoid nicks and cuts). I guess you could say I have finally learned my lesson. Lathering up, like with Glee's Aloe Gel or Shave Mousse, will not only help you avoid irritation, keep your legs moisturized, and provide proper lubrication, but it will also ensure you're not missing random patches.
Don't Shave as Soon as You Hop in the Shower
So, apparently you're not supposed to shave first thing as soon as you hop in the shower. Typically, I start with my washing my hair, then washing my body, then shaving... but sometimes (when I am not washing my hair), I hurry through and muddle the order by grabbing whatever I see first. But experts advise that you hang out in the warm water first for a while (about 15 minutes) before you start shaving. This will soften the hair, open up your pores and help eliminate unwanted ingrown hairs.
Anyway, I hope you learned something new. I sure did. And at least, I have smoother, softer skin. Yippee!
Now that I finally feel like I have turned the first trimester corner and am not perpetually nauseous, I can actually start better documenting this pregnancy (something I wasn't very good about with Luna).
I touched upon my 17 week pregnancy update on Instagram as well as brought you up to speed on my first trimester on our pregnancy announcement, but I wanted to update you a little more here.
When I found out I was pregnant, I was seriously the mayor of cloud nine. It was honestly the most amazing, most shocking news of my life. I wasn't sharing with ANYONE quite yet because I was terrified of jinxing it. I went to my close friends house for a play date and wanted to tell her soooo bad (I honestly wanted to scream it from the rooftops), but Ben made me hold my tongue haha.
I could already feel the bloat come on rather quickly though (and I was snapping up tummy pictures in the mirror like crazy)... I was sure people would be able to tell because it was so, 'out there,' haha... but come to find out it was actually more the cyst than the baby. Go figure.
At week 5 though (super early), the nausea came on. Eek! With Luna, I didn't feel any nausea until around weeks 8/9. It's amazing how every pregnancy is just so different. I was expecting to be less nauseous this pregnancy since, for the first time in a VERY long time, I am not on added hormones. NATURAL PREGNANCY FOR THE WIN! But nope.
Oh man. I was honestly IMMOBILIZED. The nausea. The hormonal migraines. Oh my gosh. Add that on top of being a mom of a toddler and I felt seriously defeated. It was HARD. Thank goodness for our nanny coming to the rescue and bringing me ginger ale, zofran and crackers.
At week 8 we went to Jackson Hole with my family and told them in person. It was so awesome (my Dad cried (he even had the lip quiver and it was the sweetest thing ever)). It was so cool to share with them. But sadly, that entire weekend I was worthless. So nauseous. So tired. I could barely open my eyes in the mornings by 8am (thank goodness for Ben being Dad of the year) and was passed out on the couch by 5pm and in bed fast asleep no later than 7pm.
The super bloom was so gorgeous during this time in Arizona and I wanted SO BAD to get my life together enough to take an announcement photo for your guys... but I just couldn't do it. I was barely brushing my hair let alone putting on makeup and standing upright lol.
Weeks 10-12 started to bring a little light, enough to get dressed for the day, but I was still living on a steady diet of zofran (8mg the MOMENT I woke up) and diclegis at night (anti-nausea mixed with unisom to help me sleep). I kept trying to get off the zofran but the debilitating hormonal migraines and nausea came on hard and fast.
And the evenings started to become the hardest - especially around dinnertime. I had to either eat a super early dinner or not at all (and make Ben go into the other room or I would go outside while he ate because I couldn't take the smell haha). I was also still passing out on the couch around 5pm, so I had to get most everything done first thing in the morning.
So we woke up suuuuper early one weekend morning to quickly take our pregnancy announcement photos. I was just so glad we finally accomplished taking them.
Weeks 13-17 I have FINALLY been starting to slowly but surely feel better day by day. More like myself and less exhausted. The food aversions have started to subside for the most part (except for marinara... I can't stand the sight or smell of pizza or spaghetti (much to Ben's sadness haha)). And Mexican food: it was ALL I wanted when I was pregnant with Luna. But this pregnancy I kind of want nothing to do with it for the most part. I can tolerate it, but it's not even my fifth choice, haha.
Week 17 though I was FINALLY able to officially get myself off the Zofran. My doctor said that there would be kind of a 'come-down' period of about a day or two but to hang tight... and I did. I am SO glad I did. I wanted to get off it so bad, so this felt like a huge win!
I honestly... I just don't even know where too begin. HOW?! Like, I am still in utter SHOCK and disbelief. Truly.
Mostly because I assumed, that would NEVER happen to me.
I would never be that girl.
Ever. Period. Not in the cards.
Going through four-and-a-half years of infertility and loss... believe me, I have heard "those stories." You know the ones... where someone is trying to bring comfort by saying something to the effect of, "well, my brother's best friend's older sister..." yada yada.
And mostly you shrug it off like, 'yeah, yeah.' Thanks, but no thanks.
Well, I guess I truly should never say never.
Because in a world full of possibilities
MIRACLES CAN HAPPEN.
I should know, I already have one in my arms right now. And now, in my belly.
How It Happened
Maybe my Body just Knew what to do
To be honest, the body is an incredible thing. Perhaps my body, since it's been pregnant several times before, and carried Luna to term, just simply knew what to do.
I can now actually FEEL when I ovulate
But oddly enough, ever since my period returned since having Luna, I have been able to FEEL when I ovulate. Actually FEEL. How weird is that?! Is that a thing that commonly happens postpartum? Never ever in my life have I been actually able to feel when I ovulate. And quite frankly, nearly every single month since my period returned postpartum, I have mistaken said ovulation for a pregnancy. In fact, the first time I felt my body beginning to ovulate, I was CONVINCED I was pregnant. So much so, that I refused to believe the 'negative' pee-sticks, and called my IVF doctor. They had me come in for an ultrasound, and sure enough, I was just simply ovulating. I was mind blown.
From then, every single month I could tell when I was beginning to ovulate. First came the distinctive bloat/lower abdominal fullness, then came the difficulty emptying my bladder, the constipation, and the pain what I could only describe as feeling eerily similar to the 'round ligament' pains I would get while pregnant (in all three of my pregnancies).
While annoying AF because I continually felt let down every month after yet again mistaking my ovulation for pregnancy only to have 'aunt flow' return, it certainly helped in detecting the right 'moment' to initiate sex haha.
I had an HSG/SGH in December
But despite these two things, I definitely had help. Remember back in December when I had my latest HSG/SGH (hysterosalpingography X-ray/sonohysterography ultrasound) in preparation for my January 17th frozen embryo transfer (FET)? Well, as you may recall, I had started my meds and we were well on our way, but that FET ended up getting cancelled due to my reaction to the meds. Fate? Destiny? Divine intervention?
However, for those who don't know, an HSG/SGH is a procedure where they inject contrasting fluid into your uterus during the X-ray/ultrasound to simultaneously detect (and clear out) any blockages in your Fallopian tubes. Well, on it's own, this procedure can really improve your chances of conception.
Obviously, that alone had never worked for us in the past (we have been having unprotected sex and have been consistently 'tracking' my ovulation for the past SIX YEARS). I mean, we started having unprotected sex the moment I was cleared to do so at my six-weeks postpartum OB appointment since Luna.
But for some reason, this time, something changed. I assume the HSG/SGH helped drastically. And perhaps so did the meds? But following my third period post-procedure, IT HAPPENED.
How We Found Out
The moment it happened, I KNEW. I just knew. I don't know how. But I did. Like I said, ever since I have had Luna, believe me, we have had plenty of disappointing false alarms. But this time, something felt different.
I told Ben, 'I swear, I am either pregnant or I have a UTI.' I think he kind of brushed it off like, 'yeah, yeah, ok... we've been here before.' But regardless, I took a test. Sure enough, NEGATIVE. I couldn't believe it. But at the same time, I'm a little crazy. I thought, 'well, maybe it's too early?' SO the next day, I took another. NEGATIVE. And the next day, another. NEGATIVE. By Saturday, February 16th I had had it. I woke up and told Ben I wanted to go to Urgent Care to get tested for a UTI. Before leaving the house, I took another... NEGATIVE.
So I went to Urgent Care while Ben took Luna to Starbucks. I told them when I got there that I had taken a pregnancy test and it was negative. They tested my urine sample and it too came back NEGATIVE for both a pregnancy and UTI. Am I seriously just so baby hungry that I am legit crazy?!
Regardless, they prescribed an antibiotic... just in case. I decided to hold off on taking it... just in case a miracle was indeed underway.
My last menstrual period (LMP) had been January 29th. I believe we conceived on February 7th or 8th (we were 'sexually active' so-to-speak on both days). I felt that I was ovulating during that time, but I am pretty sure I actually ovulated on February 9th. And oddly enough, that same evening, February 9th, we had attended a lantern festival where we had put our wishes for another baby into the night sky. I wrote on my lantern, 'For Baby Lindquist #2, 2019.' Ben corrected me and said with our next scheduled FET (May 30th), it would actually be a 2020 baby. So he wrote on his lantern, 'To the next Baby Lindquist 2020.'
I don't know, maybe God was really at work here? Our prayers and wishes were heard.
Because I had kept getting negative pregnancy test after negative pregnancy test, I decided that maybe it was just simply too early to detect. So I waited.
According to the First Response pregnancy tests, the it can detect as early as six days before your period. So on February 23rd, I woke up determined. I had run out of pregnancy tests though. I rolled over in Bed at 6am and said, 'Hey Ben, want to go get a coffee and take me to Walgreens?' He said, 'Are you serious?!' and then laughed. So we woke Luna up and drove to Walgreens. We came right back home, and I went straight to the bathroom while he went and sat on our bed with Luna in his lap.
I peed. And I didn't even bother waiting the suggested three agonizing minutes. I stared intently at the stick laying on the floor by my feet while on the toilet. And sure enough... a second line started slowly appearing.
I said, 'BABE!' And Ben said, 'NO WAY!'
I hopped up, grabbed the stick, ran to him and Luna, hugged him and just began sobbing with the biggest smile on my face. I was so flushed, my heart was pounding, my hands were shaking. I was truly SHOCKED.
I immediately texted my IVF doctor's office and scheduled a beta test (a blood draw to confirm I was indeed pregnant).
While getting ready that day, my hands were shaking so bad that I actually burned myself TWICE with my curling iron. That night, I couldn't sleep, googling absolutely everything I had done recently, including drinking wine, taking advil, having done a face laser treatment, using hydroquinone on my face etc. I am truly terrified of having yet another miscarriage or losing another baby to another Trisomy 13 chromosomal disorder.
I decided that God gave us a miracle. And to hope for the best. I found out pretty dang early so that gave me hope that I could rectify things early.
My Beta Levels
At their earliest Monday morning appointment I drove to my IVF doctor for my beta blood draw. I ran into a reader turned friend there, and I felt so bad having to lie about why I was there. But I simply wasn't ready to blast it quite yet. I needed confirmation.
And sure enough, my first beta blood draw (on February 25th) was 189.6!!!!!!! (They want to see anything between 50-100 at this time). My progesterone was 36 (they want to see anything over 20)! DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS?!
THIS MEANS THAT I DON'T HAVE TO DO ANY SHOTS THIS PREGNANCY! LIKE, WHAT?! A NORMAL PREGNANCY? NO HORMONES? IS THIS REAL LIFE?!
Two days later, my beta was at 635.3! HOLY CRAP! That more than doubled (usually they want to see your beta numbers slightly more than double). Are we in TWINS territory?! Usually high beta levels can indicate twins.
Six days later, my beta was at 6,508 (should have been around 5000). Holy smokes that's high. I was googling beta levels like crazy using the betabase.info website trying to compare my levels to the average single and twins pregnancies.
How It's Been Going Since Then
Since then, I had my first ultrasound when I finally hit the six-weeks-four-days benchmark (the earliest you can do an ultrasound).
What I was expecting was to see twins. We were elated to to be greeted with a beautiful single baby with a strong heartbeat of 123. WHAT A RELIEF!!!!!!!! What comfort that high heart rate brought.
However, what I was not expecting was to see a 3-inch (86mm diameter / 8.6cm) cyst on my left ovary.
I guess even when it's 'easy,' it's never truly 'easy.'
I was honestly devastated. With my first pregnancy with the identical twins back in 2015, I had a rather large subchorionic hemorrhage (internal blood clot) that had likely dislodged the sac, causing a miscarriage. Ill be damned if I will let ANYTHING interfere with this baby and this pregnancy.
What my Ovarian Cyst Means
Unfortunately, it's kind of just a 'wait and see' kind of situation. My IVF doctor said that that's all we can do right now. And that no doctor would even touch it before 20 weeks. If it remains however, after the 20-week mark I may have to have it surgically drained laparoscopically. Meaning, I would have to go under anesthesia, WHILE PREGNANT, and have it drained via a procedure that largely resembles my appendix removal surgery.
If you happen to google (a mistake I made), 'large cysts' (defined as anything from 6cm to 8cm) are 'likely to burst'. What is scary is that a ruptured cyst is the most dangerous because not only does it cause intense pain (similar to that of my appendicitis last year), but can also lead to early labor and miscarriage. SCARY AF.
Cysts this size can also pose a danger for your ovaries. You have to be careful not to let it cause an 'ovarian torsion,' aka twist. This would cut off blood supply to my Fallopian tube and ovary. If this happens, it can lead to tissue death, rendering me unable to conceive with my left ovary.
Thus, I have been placed on a 'power walking' regimen that includes no running, no jumps/jump squats/burpees etc and no abdominal exercise.
We continue to monitor the cyst via ultrasound each week and so far, it has not continued to grow (THANK GOODNESS). And FINALLY, at week 12, it FINALLY reduced its size ever so slightly!
OH MY GOD WHAT A RELIEF! That means it's on a downward trend. I may not be out of surgery territory quite yet, but it's a REALLY good sign.
So all my fingers and toes are crossed.
How I have Been Feeling
To be honest, I have been SICK AS A DOG this pregnancy. Entirely unlike my pregnancy with Luna (Luna was a breeze), I have been debilitatingly nauseous. Thank goodness for my nanny because it is not easy being pregnant and having a toddler.
Most days I had a hard time opening my eyes in the morning, let alone getting dressed or putting on makeup and eating a meal (YUCK).
I swear if you even mention anything containing marinara sauce I will puke.
Some nights I have to go outside while Ben eats dinner because I can't even stand the smell.
I have been surviving off a steady diet of diclegis in the evenings (an anti-nausea med containing unisom for sleep) and zofran the moment I wake up. Obviously taking Zofran is not ideal (a class B medication), but we do what we have to to survive and be a mom, am I right?! 'Preggy pops,' ginger chews and ginger ale have all also been my best friends.
Oh, and don't get me started on my zits. I swear I wake up with at least one new miniature white head every day now. What the heck?!
When I'm Due
You want to know what the biggest MIRACLE OF ALL IS?!
We always said we wanted 'another Luna.' She's amazing! And if I could have one million of her I truly would.
Despite the fact that we purposefully were avidly avoiding a February transfer (FET) because that's when we had transferred Luna and I always said I wanted my babies to have their own birthdays and birth signs (let's be real, ONE Scorpio is enough haha)... But God had other plans because...
I HAVE THE EXACT SAME DUE DATE AS I HAD WITH LUNA: NOVEMBER 5th!
What are the odds?! Seriously. I want to know. Because my cycle has forever been irregular and my period typically comes every 24-26 days. That means there is no chance in hell that my LMP's (last menstrual periods) would match up. But sure enough, my LMP with BOTH babies was January 29th.
Obviously Luna was induced early and we will likely do the same with this baby... so it's looking like a late October baby yet again (likely anytime between October 29-31).
Why I waited (again) to tell you
I wanted to tell you guys right away. I truly did. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops. And I also wanted to be there for my IVF warriors because I knew you guys were waiting for me to start and share our next FET preparation etc. I was planning on posting ALL of it, from our shots to the hormones to the appointments and blood draws and ultrasounds etc. etc.
But before I announced I wanted to make sure I was truly 1000% pregnant. But then that day came with my beta draw and I still wasn't ready to say it aloud and possibly jinx it. So I wanted to wait until we heard the heartbeat. But then we discovered the cyst. And it scared the crap out of me.
I wasn't ready to announce because... what if? What if I miscarry again? What if I lose this miracle baby and have to publicly announce yet again another miscarriage? I don't know if I would survive that. I went through that... twice. And still, to this day, I can't really talk about it. I have never officially put pen-to-paper and written about my miscarriage experiences.
Not because I am ashamed or embarrassed or don't want to somehow, someway help others. But because I simply am STILL not ready to relive them.
Relive the excruciating pain. The endless amounts of blood. The can't-see-through-my-eyes tears. The suffering. The loss. The despair and heartbreak. The fact that I had to carry my dead babies around in my belly for 32 agonizing days until my body realized they were gone. The fact that the morphine BARELY took the edge off. The fact that pushing out identical twins sharing the same sac felt like pushing out a 22 week old baby. The fact that once my dead babies finally made their way out, the ER nurses placed them on the countertop next to the garbage can and then left the room. That I had to stare at my dead, bloody babies laying next to a garbage can as I was hooked up to IV's for forty-five whole minutes before someone came back. And when I asked them to remove them so I didn't have to see them there like that anymore, that they literally tossed them in that same garbage can. Like they were nothing. That I couldn't leave the house for weeks. That I couldn't bear to think about, let alone talk about them. That I still cry every time I think of them. That walking into my second miscarriage D&C appointment willingly was one of the hardest walks I've ever taken. That the recovery felt like someone had puffed my entire body full of air, getting trapped underneath my shoulder blades. That I didn't leave my bed for days. That my thoughts took me down dark alleys filled with failure.
I wasn't ready to relive or re-experience ANY of that.
So I waited.
I waited for the right time. For a day where I felt good enough to get up off the couch and actually put on makeup and shoot an announcement photo. That day didn't come until week 10 (these images you see).
And then came the fear. What if you guys resented me? What if you were angry that this miracle happened for us. Believe me, I get it. Like I said, we have all heard 'those stories.' And for the most part, my reaction was sometimes, to my shame, 'that bitch, was she ever really even 'infertile?'' Because there's no way that girl would be me.
And then came National Infertility Awareness Week. I didn't want to announce our pregnancy during such an important time in raising awareness for infertility. My most important mission is to BE THERE FOR YOU GUYS! However I can. I didn't want to take away from that.
But now, here we are. I am ready. I am ready to shout it from the rooftops:
I AM A MIRACLE. THIS BABY IS A MIRACLE. AND AFTER SIX YEARS OF PURPOSEFULLY TRYING, AND FOUR-AND-A-HALF YEARS OF FERTILITY TREATMENTS... I CAN NOW SAY WITH CONFIDENCE: WE ARE NATRUALLY PREGNANT!
Beautiful skin, hair and nails really relies on well-functioning internal systems. Thus the saying, beauty starts from the inside. Healthy, radiant skin can't always come from a jar.
So if you're looking for radiant skin, try adding the right foods, nutrients and supplements to your diet:
Did you know that collagen is the most abundant protein in the body - found in your bones and muscles and skin and tendons - it holds your body together. It provides strength and structure and promotes skin elasticity... so it's no wonder the beauty industry has caught on and it's now one of the biggest 'buzzwords' around.
While your body makes collagen on its own, it slows down with age. Hence, wrinkles. This is why I have started incorporating this beauty legend and now certified health coach's latest line, EVOLUTION_18, into my regimen. These 10 products are available exclusively at Walmart and formulated with hydrolyzed marine collagen, I love the on-the-go Beauty Collagen Shot. You can easily throw one in your handbag or gym bag for a mid-day dose.
Or, if you're more of a take-the-capsules-and-be-done kind of gal, you can take the Beauty Glow Capsules which is more like a multivitamin meets beauty pill. It combines collagen with hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C to promote skin repair and fight signs of aging.
Coffee and Dark Chocolate
Ok I am so glad these caffeinated treats are both on my list haha. Coffee is my favorite beverage. And who doesn't love chocolate?! I go to bed excited to wake up just to drink my coffee and look more forward to the chocolate after dinner than my dinner itself (whoops). But not only are these 'treats' delicious, they're also great for your skin because they're packed with antioxidants (which slows down aging). Hooray! Cheers to that.
There are two types of healthy fats that are good for your skin: Omega-6's and Omega 3-s. They help prevent skin dryness and maintain hydrated, healthy skin and also nourish your skin, adding softness and giving you radiant skin. Some good sources of these include walnuts, avocado (mmm), olive oil, coconut and wild salmon.
Veggies and Berries
I guess Mother's really do know best, don't they?! Vegetables and berries provide antioxidants (which help defend your cells from damage from free radicals). Look for colorful veggies and berries like blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, kale, beets, spinach, red cabbage, artichokes etc.
I think I need to be spending a little less time searching for the next 'it' skin cream and a little more time wandering the right grocery aisles to give my body the right nutrients it needs for radiant skin.
I've been dying my hair color since I was in middle school pretty much. Always playing around with tones (going from highlights to red lights to black (yikes) to platinum to blonde to bronde to ombré... you name it, I've probably done it). And a lot of the time, I wasn't so very nice to my hair (uh-hum, dying it black from a box and then stripping it to go blonde a few weeks later). Yeah, that was a mistake.
But if there is one thing I have learned over time, it's how to prolong your hair color and prevent it from fading. It takes a lot of time (and money) to color your hair at the salon every few weeks, so it's important to know how to help maintain that color for a longer shelf life.
For the most part these days, we mostly use semi-permanent color on my roots. Which means color is only deposited onto the outside of the hair shaft, washing out after six to twelve shampoos. That means, hello again, postpartum grey's.
So here are some tips to help prolong your hair color:
Wash Your Hair Infrequently
Washing your hair every day causes your color to fade quickly (and brings out those brassy tones faster). Honestly, I try to only wash my hair once, maybe twice a week. I feel like I had to "train" my hair to get to this point by pushing it just a little further and further. But now, I can get away with it and my hair has thanked me for it.
Use a Sulfate-Free Shampoo and Conditioner
Don't know what sulfates are? They are harsh detergents commonly used in hair shampoos to help foam away the dirt and oils. The problem is, sulfates strip your hair of pretty much everything (good and bad) and strip the dyes from your strands, causing your color to fade quickly.
To help prolong your hair color, try using a brand that is known for it's sulfate-free shampoo and conditioners, like Hair Food. I like their Coconut Milk and Chai Spice Nourishing Shampoo and Conditioner. Both are free from sulfates, dyes, parabens, silicons, and mineral oils. They're infused with creamy coconut (mmmmm) and aromatic chai spice, leaving your hair smelling totally luxurious and lovely. I love the natural ingredients: it's literally food for your hair (and comes at an awesome price (available at Amazon)).
Also, be sure to take 25% off your Hair Food purchase when you use Amazon promo code 25HAIRFOOD.
Wash Your Hair in Cold Water
I know, I know... everyone loves a hot shower. But the hot water opens your hair cuticles, which allows the hair color molecules to release (and can cause breakage). So while using your shampoo and conditioner, keep the temperature turned down.
Protect Against the Heat
This includes both heat styling and the sun. Excessive exposure to heat can cause your hair color to fade. Obviously we want to prolong your hair color, so wear a hat when in the sunshine and always make sure to apply a heat protectant before any type of heat styling (with your blow dryer, curling iron, flat iron etc.).
This post is sponsored by Hair Food. As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make this blog possible.
Recently, I've had a few conversations with different friends who are starting to think about having kids... and all of them have said the same thing: they aren't sure they're quite ready yet, but they're also worried that they may struggle like we have. And I get it... no one wants to have to go through fertility treatments - including IVF - if they can avoid it. It's not an easy process. And it's not something you can predict either. Wouldn't that have been nice to know beforehand?
But it got me thinking: there is a lot that I wish I would have known before we started thinking about starting our family. Because the fact of the matter is, your fertility (or infertility) and family planning is something you should be openly discussing. It should not be considered a taboo subject as it has in the past. So I want to help arm you with some information on family planning so you can be planning ahead, and decide what is best for you.
And, as a foreward... I am not here to scare you with this blog post, but rather, empower you with the information you need to make the best decisions to help positively impact your future.
On Average, It Takes Most People One Year to Conceive
So, I didn't know this when we first started trying. When we first decided to 'pull the goalie' back in 2013, I truly expected us to get pregnant right away. Isn't that what health class taught us? So every 25 days when 'aunt flow' vehemently reappeared, I was honestly devastated. And worried. Very worried. Why isn't it happening for us? EVERYONE around us was getting pregnant on basically the first 'try.' What's wrong with us?
What I didn't know is that on average (for those with no known fertility issues), it takes most people - 85% of them to be exact - one year to get pregnant.
I wish I had known this going into our family planning stages, because we might have planned things a little a lot differently. We waited to 'pull the goalie' until we were absolutely 100% ready to have a baby tomorrow. And hey, you might be among that lucky few, but for most, it's going to take a bit longer. And if you've had the Depo-Provera shot, it can delay your conception additionally by up to ten months.
But no one tells you this.
I just wish I had known this going into it. Truth be told, we would have started trying sooner. And, I certainly would have felt a lot less discouraged by understanding that sometimes, for most people, these things take time. That there isn't a need to worry quite yet. Unless you're the one-in-eight.
One in Eight Couples and Individuals Struggle With Infertility
You read that right. And while a 12.5% chance of being that one-in-eight doesn't sound that huge, it certainly has a huge impact on your life, on your heart, on your soul (and on your wallet).
So if, after giving it some time, you think you might be a part of that one-in-eight, don't be afraid to seek a fertility specialist.
Don't know where to start? Ask around. Do your research. Look at success rates. Research facilities, doctors and their embryologists. I have talked about them before, but I'd encourage you to check out CCRM (Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine). They have locations in eleven major cities across the US and Canada and are always a great place to start.
CCRM is the industry's leading pioneer in fertility science, research and advancement, offering access to a national network of award-winning physicians and a full suite of fertility services (from IUI's to IVF). CCRM delivers some of the highest IVF success rates in the industry (it takes the average patient 1.2 IVF cycles to get pregnant versus the national average of 1.6). This is the type of clinic you should be looking for, and the success rates make it even better.
To be honest, I was terrified to meet with a fertility specialist in the beginning. It felt like by doing so, I was admitting that we had a problem. But that's not the case. In fact, I realized that by doing so, I was only that much closer to getting pregnant and holding our sweet daughter in our arms. In hindsight, I wish we had done it sooner. A lot sooner.
Age (Sadly) Matters
Whether we like it or not, age is more than just a number sometimes. It plays a pretty significant role in a woman's ability to get pregnant.
The older we get, the harder it is to conceive.
I think that's a pretty well-known fact. But what I didn't know was that by the age of 35, our chances of getting pregnant each cycle drops down to just 15%. That's because not only does your egg quantity decline, but so does your egg quality (upping your chances for miscarriage). And, if your partner is five or more years older than you are, and you're 35, your chances are even lower. So if you're over 35, doctors recommend seeking a fertility specialist if you've been purposefully 'trying' for over 6 months.
Sadly, there is no 'cure' for age-related infertility. Fertility treatments can certainly help your odds (thank goodness), but the odds for success are a lot different for someone at 27 than 37.
I honestly wish these facts weren't the case. But despite your future plans to wait, Mother Nature may have others. In fact, I read recently that 1-in-2 millennials are choosing to delay starting a family. And that is totally ok. You don't need to have kids until you're ready. You just need to educate yourself and learn the facts so that you can make the right decisions for your future.
So, armed with all of this information, what can you do?
Talk With Your Partner
Fertility (or infertility) doesn't have to be a taboo subject. If you think you may want to have kids together someday, I think it's important to talk about it openly.
A few questions to ask yourselves are:
When do we want to start our family?
How old do we want to be?
How many kids do we want?
Do we want to space them out by a couple of years?
How old would we be with our last child?
How would we like to become parents?
What if we struggle?
Is adoption an option?
What about fertility treatments?
How about egg or sperm donation? Or both?
If we plan on waiting, should we get our preliminary fertility screening done in advance just to have on hand and know for future family planning purposes?
Family planning doesn't have to be scary. It simply involves talking openly, asking yourselves some questions, and giving yourselves access to knowledge, services and contraceptives to help you make informed decisions.
Schedule a Preconception Appointment
Get a Pap smear if you haven't in a while. It can detect if there is anything that could interfere with your ability to get pregnant. You and your OB can also review your medical history, family history, current medications and overall lifestyle including alcohol and caffeine intake. This will give you the opportunity to address any concerns about trying to conceive, gain some facts, and maybe even have some preliminary testing done.
If you're serious about starting soon, it can't hurt to also hop on a prenatal with folic acid. It might even make your hair and nails grow faster.
Have Your Partner's Semen Analyzed
This one is actually really simple, and not that expensive. One of the first things we did was have Ben's semen analyzed. They test for sperm count (how many), motility (are they moving normally), morphology (are they a normal shape), volume (how much per ejaculation), and total motile count (the number of moving sperm). It's a quick appointment and you can go over the results with your OB.
Because it's hard to predict if you will be among the 1 in 8 who struggle to conceive (and there is no single all-encompassing fertility test for women), this can be an affordable, quick and easy way (literally the stroke of a hand) to give you a little extra insight on how things are looking for your partner (and thus, you).
If they do detect any issues, speak with your OB. But a few easy ways to boost male fertility can be as simple as exercising regularly, avoiding hot tubs and hits to the junk, taking Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Zinc supplements, limiting alcohol intake, limiting soy intake and getting enough sleep.
Knowledge is power.
Become Familiar with your Body
Speaking of knowledge... Observe your body and watch for fertility signs. This could be a good time to pick up some ovulation tests just to give you an idea of if and when it's typically happening for you. And maybe even track them or write them down.
You can also keep an eye on your periods: are they coming regularly and on average, how many days between each cycle? There are plenty of apps out there you can use to track ALL of these things as well.
I think it's just good to just be familiar with your body and have an idea of how (and when) things are working.
Try to Remain Physically, Emotionally and Mentally Healthy
I know, easier said than done when you're stressed about your fertility. And they say to eat a healthy diet, maintain a healthy weight, and limit your alcohol and caffeine intake when you're trying to conceive.
But truth be told, you don't need to place so much pressure on yourself to eat perfectly or say 'no' to all alcohol completely. My general rule is... if it's going to make you feel more relaxed and happy, then have that glass of wine. Don't say 'no' to all your happy hour invites because that smile on your face surrounded by all your girlfriends really can help.
And if having that morning cup of jo is a part of your routine and you'd be sad to give up, then have the dang cup of coffee and enjoy it, girl! You deserve it. Maybe just don't have three.
And do whatever exercise you enjoy. Don't feel like you need to go and join some crazy bootcamp, but just get out there, do what you can and get a sweat in doing an exercise you enjoy and feel good about.
All things in moderation. Except cigarettes and drugs. You should nix those completely. Obviously. Haha.
Seek a Fertility Specialist
As I mentioned above, if you've been purposefully trying for a year with no luck then seek a fertility specialist. However, If you happen to be over 35, then seek a fertility specialist after six months.
Get Your Levels Checked
If you decide to seek a fertility specialist, like CCRM, ask about getting your levels checked. It's a simple blood draw (usually on the third day of your period) that can check your levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which triggers your ovaries to prepare an egg for release each month and anti-mullerian hormone levels (AMH) which are thought to reflect the size of the remaining egg supply. With the same test they can also check your progesterone and testosterone levels, glucose and insulin, check your thyroid and look for other hormonal conditions, like inhibin B, in order to detect any problems that could cause missed or irregular ovulation.
Consider Freezing Your Eggs
This certainly isn't for everyone, but if you know you plan to wait until you're older to have kids, but know you definitely want them, one thing you could consider is freezing your eggs. I mean, it's not a fun process in all honesty, but it may just be worth it for you if you feel that best suits you and your needs.
The younger you are when you do this, the younger (better quality and quantity) your eggs are. This is why we chose to do back-to-back egg retrievals. Our second to last retrieval only yielded one egg. Say we implanted that egg, got pregnant, and five years down the line were ready for another. Well, by that point, me, and my eggs, would be five years older. And I'd have to go through the entire process over again. So we chose to fill our basket with as many eggs as we could so-to-speak so that when we're ready for the next, we don't have to repeat those steps.
Depending on your situation, it may be worth looking into.
Hopefully this article didn't scare you. My hope is that it simply helps to educate you so that you can be aware and make the right decisions for you and your future family planning.
Images thanks to Taylor Cole
Thank you to CCRM for sponsoring this blog post. All thoughts and opinions, as always, remain my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog.
So, I get asked all the time why we've had such a hard time getting pregnant (and staying pregnant). And to be honest, the short answer is, we just don't really know.
But the long answer is, well, a little different. Because, there may be several reasons.
Here are a few reasons why we suspect we've been having such a hard time conceiving. *Note: I will always say "hard time getting pregnant" and will never say "'can't' get pregnant" because I will always leave room in my heart for a miracle.
First of all, despite what our health class teachers taught, it's actually not that easy (for some of us) to get pregnant. A woman can only get pregnant during her "fertile window" of ovulation. But that "window" isn't very long (only about 24-hours) and is different for everyone because it depends on the length of your menstrual cycle. For me, I have fairly irregular periods, meaning, it's hard to detect my "fertile window," despite the use of ovulation tracking sticks.
But for the most part, I get my period every 24-26 days instead of the typical 28. This means, I have a slim and unpredictable "fertile window." If you miss the window, your chance of conceiving that month is gone. Because once that egg is no longer in the fallopian tube, it's pretty much impossible to get pregnant.
We've tried every single combination imaginable: sex everyday leading up to suspected ovulation, sex every other day leading up to expected ovulation, sex at exact ovulation, triggering ovulation via HcG shots and using intrauterine insemination at the exact moment of ovulation with our IVF doctor... and still no luck.
This is total TMI, but I'm an open book. I've always had very painful and heavy periods. So heavy in fact that it's not uncommon for me to go through a 'super-plus' tampon AND a pad in less than 30 minutes on days 1-3 of my period. And cramping so bad that I have actually fainted in the shower due to the pain. Not an exaggeration. By day two, most of the time you can find me in the fetal position holding my crotch rocking back and forth while moaning. Good times. Our household sure loves when 'aunt flow' comes to visit each month.
If you pair those symptoms with my infertility, you have a pretty good case for endometriosis.
But I have never been officially diagnosed with endometriosis and here's why: the easiest way to confirm endometriosis is via laparoscopic surgery. It's pretty hard to see via ultrasound unless you have a cyst, and an MRI can't definitively say either, but only can detect the presence of cysts.
Is it worth getting the surgery? Probably not. Because the only way around it anyway is via fertility treatments, which, we're doing anyway.
But I will say, endometriosis is quite common in "infertile" women. In fact, it can be found in about half of women suffering from infertility.
When you have endometriosis, the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus - the endometrium - grows outside your uterus. This displaced endometrial tissue, continues to thicken, break down and bleed as it normally would with each menstrual cycle, but has no way to exit your body and becomes trapped, causing inflammation and cysts, eventually causing scar tissue. This can cause your fallopian tubes and ovaries to become blocked (preventing the sperm and egg from coming together). The inflammation also creates "unfriendly" molecules that basically paralyze the sperm and egg, also preventing the fertilization process.
Basically a recipe for infertility.
Low Egg Quality
The next reason we may be having such a hard time conceiving is that, through IVF, we have discovered that I have low egg quality. Specifically, a low maturity rate.
During my second egg retrieval, we really amped up the stimulation meds in order to maximize the amount of follicles and eggs produced (yippee for OHSS... not!). And, our doctor was able to retrieve TWENTY-ONE eggs! Holy moly! That's a lot! BUT, unfortunately, as they examined them closer, they discovered that only about half of them were mature (eleven). And of those eleven, only six turned into embryos. And of those six, only four made it to day 5. And of those four, only one was "normal." So, we'd gone from twenty-one, to one. We were heartbroken, to say the least.
But this helped explain why we might be having such a hard time getting pregnant on our own. It makes for an even slimmer window of opportunity.
I have Polycystic Ovaries
My doctor confirmed that I unfortunately suffer from PCO (polycystic ovaries) evident by my history of cysts and polyps.
If you suffer from polycystic ovaries, it's hard to get pregnant. This is because there is inconsistent or no ovulation. And if there is no ovulation, there is no release of the egg. So even with the help of ovulation drugs (HcG), you can't get pregnant. This would explain why all four of our IUI's failed.
But, I will say that a lot of people commonly mistake polycystic ovaries (PCO) with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). If you have PCO, you don't necessarily have PCOS. PCOS is often accompanied with things like diabetes (insulin resistance), excess body weight, excess body hair, acne, hair loss etc.
So if you think this could be you, talk to your doctor about it and discuss the differences between PCO and PCOS.
A History of Chromosome Abnormalities
And lastly, another reason we've likely not only had a hard time getting pregnant, but also staying pregnant, is because through IVF, we've discovered our embryos have a history of chromosomal abnormalities. Many miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities. When we had our second miscarriage, we performed a D&C to remove all pregnancy tissue in order to test the fetuses (twins) for issues. From this, we discovered that one of the twins was Trisomy 13.
Perhaps it was my body's way of recognizing a problem in the developing baby and thus ended the pregnancy. Or perhaps the babies ultimately reached a point where the chromosome abnormalities caused them both to stop growing.
The older you are, the higher your chances are for a chromosomal abnormality, sadly. This is why screening our embryos through preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) played such a huge role in allowing us to both get and stay pregnant with Luna.
hallelujah for science!
For the most part, our infertility has always carried the label, "unexplained." And there is nothing more frustrating than that. Because without a 'why,' it's hard to find the 'how' around it.
But regardless of the 'why,' infertility will break your heart. Nay, shatter your heart. But that doesn't mean you give up. Keep fighting. Keep searching for answers. Keep hope and keep heart. Because in the end, it will all be worth it. And someday, you WILL find a way around that 'why.'
First, let's start with the interior design and structure of the home. The first thing we did before even starting our new home build process was we made a list of our "must haves" to help us decide the direction of the house. ...And the first thing on that wish list was NATURAL LIGHT.
Windows and Doors
The most important feature of any home, in our minds, is natural light. Our first house in Arizona had lots of light in the bedrooms, but was depressingly dim in the main living spaces. So when planning for windows, placement is key.
Here is what we chose and what we took into consideration when making these window and door decisions:
- A bright house is a happy house, so we wanted to maximize light wherever we could by placing plenty of windows and skylights in every room to supply the main source of light for each area, including hallways. We placed them on either side of the home, but especially, the Southside, facing the backyard (the South side of the home will get sun most of the day). Hence, the placement of the 9' multi-slide doors in the great room and master bedroom.
- While we value light, we didn't want the sunshine blasting our sleeping faces first thing in the morning, so we placed the master bedroom on the Westside of the home where sun sets, and nixed the master bedroom skylights (just in case Luna ever decided to let us sleep in one morning haha).
- In the kid wing, the hallway originally had three skylights placed overhead to drive natural light into a normally dark space. But due to home height restrictions and HVAC placement, they had to be removed from our original plans. In their place, we opted for a 14" solar tube (with a natural light filter) to help bring in some sunshine.
- While we enjoy our privacy, we wanted sunshine wherever we could get it, so we chose to go with a glass front door, but opted for a rain glass effect in order to achieve some sort of privacy from the mailman haha. Sometimes you have to weigh the items on your "wish list." And in this case, light always wins in my opinion.
- One thing on my "must have" list for this home was that I wanted a beautiful master closet (don't we all, haha?!). You don't normally see windows placed in closets, but in this instance, I really wanted to be able to enjoy the process of getting dressed and picking out outfits. So I chose to place two beautiful windows in our master closet (one rectangle and one arched). While they may take up valuable hanging space, I would rather Marie Kondo my wardrobe and bring in some light than have a few extra unnecessary coats.
One thing to keep in mind with all our windows, especially in Arizona, are window treatments. Yes, of course blinds and curtains are easy to do after the fact, but we wanted something a little more discreet and thoughtful in this house. We're thinking electric roman shades controlled through our home app and set on a timer to come down. You can even build in soffits or plan for them to disappear into the ceiling at your planning stages. It's good to know ahead of time so you can have the electrical wiring done for these when your electrician is there in the early stages before sheet rock goes up. Otherwise, it may be too late for that option.
Another item on our wish list? Wood beamed vaulted ceilings. Ugh, they're so gorgeous and enhance the look and feel of the space. Think Serena and Lily beach vibes meeting desert living. So we needed to communicate these ideas to our architect and home design planner so they could plan for vaulted ceilings in the roof structure of the home.
Where did we want these? Well, I think the two most important spaces for these would be the great room and the master bedroom. If you can afford to do them elsewhere, go for it! But they definitely drive up the price, so we had to come up with our "in order of preference" list... and those two made the cut!
Wanting cement tiles? They're all the rage and such a fun way to spice up a room. But typically, these tiles can be a lot thicker than your regular tile. So if you're wanting to include cement tiles in any room, it's important to know this ahead of time in order to pour your concrete foundation accordingly.
For us, we wanted to do a more playful floor in the powder bathroom, laundry room and Luna's bathroom. Because, why not?! They're smaller spaces so you can get away with going a little less traditional and a little more "loud" in those areas. As such, we had the foundation poured in those rooms at a lower height than the rest of the home, so the flooring transitions were all flush and we didn't have to do any transitional trim pieces.
A List of Your "No's"
There is nothing I hate more than carpet. Don't ask me why. It's a personal preference but I just don't like walking on it. I wear slippers around the house everywhere I walk and I don't really think it's necessary. Yes, it's great for children, but in my mind, that's what rugs are for. So, we decided to do wood floor everywhere throughout the house, aside from bathrooms and laundry etc where we wanted to do some fun tiles.
But if you know there is something you for sure you don't want, there's no sense in wasting your time looking at samples. So I recommend making a list of both things you want, as well as things you don't want, so you're not creating more work for yourself in the end.
Before meeting with our electrician in the planning stages, we made a long list of things we wanted and where we wanted outlets. It helps to streamline things and it's one of those things that you'll get in the home after the fact and think, 'ugh, why didn't we do this or that?!' So go room by room and think about what function it serves, how you'll use it, if you happen to prefer to use your right or left hand to turn on light switches when you walk in a room etc.
Here are a few of the things we listed:
- electrical outlets behind drawers in bathroom vanities (for hair dryer, curling irons etc).
- electrical outlets in pantry on countertop for things we want hidden away, like our microwave, and for a beverage refrigerator.
- dropped floor electrical outlets in great room (so that our rug can still sit flush without a lamp plug causing a trip hazard).
- light switches on both sides of the master bed at nightstand height (no one wants to be the one to have to get out of bed and switch off the light).
- electrical outlets in the bathrooms behind the toilets in case we want electrical TOTO toilets down the road.
- we specifically don't want an ugly electrical outlet drawing the eye on a gorgeous kitchen backsplash, so we asked for these to either be placed underneath the cabinets, or as a 'pop up' made of our countertop material (quartz) so as to blend in.
- electrical wiring in the master closet in the center of the room (for our island) to charge things like watches, etc. and on the wall to enable cabinet lighting for our custom closet. I can't wait to see this all come into place with Classy Closets!
Still rolling out these Tucson getaway pics, you guys. But for good reason: we had an awesome time.
So today I am sharing our little magical break in the day at the Tucson Botanical Gardens. We wandered and explored the grounds featuring gorgeous cacti and succulents gardens, interesting sculptures, butterfly pavilion and birds aplenty. It made for a nice little tranquil moment in our otherwise busy afternoon.
Luna loved running around, watching the butterflies, and taking a nap as we strolled through.
If you're bringing your family to Tucson, Arizona, a must-see is the Sonora Desert Museum. It's unlike any other museum you'll ever visit, as over eighty-five percent of it is outdoors. With 98-acres, there's plenty to explore at this museum, desert botanical garden and zoo all rolled into one.
I was honestly blown away. When I thought museum, I was thinking of a small, dark indoor space but this was amazing. Luna loved it. From the animals, tot he hummingbird exhibit, to the two miles of walking paths and beautiful desert gardens to the ice cream... the whole family had fun.
I wore the most comfortable outfit for walking around (thank goodness haha, because I wouldn't have been prepared when I first thought of what a typical museum is like). But these high-waisted culottes are so relaxed (and chic) and I love them paired with something a little tighter on top, like this smocked crop top. To make it a little more casual, I paired the look with my boyfriend denim jacket and my favorite sneakers.
Now, can this cold front move on out already so we can start warming up for Spring?!