On a Break

There is this saying that you can’t pour from an empty cup. In the past couple of weeks, that saying has stuck with me. After a year and a half of fertility drugs, one miscarriage, and a failed IUI attempt we decided that we are taking a break.

I had been thinking about this for a while but kept pushing through. I hate quitting and felt like if we took a break, I would somehow be giving up.  I have seen women go through this journey for YEARS, and here I am complaining after 19 months and “calling it quits.” I want to disclaim that Josh and I are not giving up on having children. We definitely want to start trying again, however  I need a break.

Right after my miscarriage, my mental health was not in a good space. And when I say that I mean it took everything for me to get out of bed, shower, go to work, or even answer the phone. Every little task felt exhausting. I was not okay.

In the past 6 months, I have gained 20 lbs. Right?!  I know what you are thinking. But, depression does that. I was already at a scary high weight and then my mental health went to hell and so did my weight.  When we were sitting in the waiting room before our IUI, I felt the intense emotion of the past year all at once. It was like my uterus slapped me in the face and I just started crying. I couldn’t stop. It was like someone turned on the crying switch. One of the nurses came over and asked if I was ok and I couldn’t even answer her. It was then I knew, I needed a break. If it had been a regular appointment, I would’ve told my doctor that day that I was going to take some time off. However, Josh and I were sitting there with our “specimen” so it was too late to turn back.

When we didn’t end up pregnant, I was upset obviously, but felt relief when I decided to take a break. Don’t get me wrong it’s still hard and it took me a couple of weeks to come to terms with it.  I have been so busy trying to get pregnant for the past 19 months that I have completely forgotten how to live normally. Now that I don’t have the fog of fertility drugs clouding every aspect of my day, I feel human. For the first time in over a year, I feel like myself again.

I decided that treatments would be on hold until I could get in a good space physically and mentally. I want to be able to tackle infertility with more strength the next time around. I don’t want it to take over my life the way it did. I know that infertility will always be a apart of my life and it will be hard. But I have to do this. For me, for my husband, and for our future family. I feel good about my decision to put everything on hold for awhile. As hard as it is, I feel in my soul it’s for the best.

I’m still going to blog, vlog, and talk about reproductive health and infertility. I’m not going to go on birth control or decide to live a child free life. I’m simply shifting my perspective and focus to myself and my health. Whatever happens happens and when we decide to jump back on the horse, I will be in a much better place.

 

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You’re Allowed to be Sad

I have found that in the infertility community, people can be NASTY. Not nasty in a gross way, but nasty in a mean and hateful way. There is this unspoken bar that is set that the longer someone else is infertile, the less validated you are in your sadness. I found this out when I joined a PCOS support group. One sweet woman shared that she had been trying for 6 months and recently was diagnosed with PCOS. Obviously she was sad and wanted support to prepare herself for the journey in front of her. Unfortunately, someone took this opportunity to shame her. The woman that was shaming stated that she hadn’t been trying long enough to experience real pain. “I’ve been trying for 3 years. You have no idea how it feels.”

Ok…..

I had a lot of feelings towards this post and eventually just left the group. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the first time I had seen something like that in an infertility forum/group. I have seen this on facebook pages, instagram pages, blogs, etc. I was so upset that someone took this opportunity to have, what my father would call, a “pissing contest.”At least that’s how it seemed.

Here’s the thing. Infertility SUCKS. It just does. It doesn’t matter how long you have been trying. It doesn’t matter if you just found out 5 minutes ago. When you hear those words, it’s devastating. Something inside you breaks. Something you didn’t know existed shatters. When I was diagnosed, my doctor acted like it wasn’t a big deal but I felt like I was having an out of body experience. My world seemed to slow.

“It will be difficult for you to get pregnant.” Who wants to hear that at 25?! No one.

I’m going to tell you something that you won’t see on your facebook “support groups.”

You’re allowed to be sad.

You’re allowed to grieve

You’re allowed to be angry

In fact, you should feel these emotions. Really feel them. Let yourself feel so that you can begin the healing process. I’m still feeling these myself, but I’m not sorry about it and you shouldn’t either. It took me awhile to get rid of what I call “infertility guilt.” Infertility is hard. It’s like having another full time job. But you don’t have to cut off your emotions because of it. I highly recommend talking to a therapist when you are diagnosed with any kind of reproductive issue. In the long run, it will improve your mental health and overall mood.  And as always, I’m here if you need a friend. 🙂

xo Kat

 

 

My Foundation Routine For Hormonal Acne

One of the symptoms of PCOS is adult acne. This is because of the hormonal imbalance going on in the body. For me, I have a high level of testosterone which makes it not only difficult to lose weight, but difficult to have a clear face. This obviously makes me feel less feminine. However, one of the things  I LOVE is makeup! Makeup not only makes me feel beautiful and feminine, but I love learning the different techniques and artistry that comes with it. Although buying expensive makeup can be fun, and make me feel fabulous, I have put together an affordable foundation routine that is quick and easy. And saves you $$$. I bought all of these items, minus the DERMA-E products, at WALMART!

Prep the Face

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As you can see, I have some serious scaring from the years of battling acne. It’s important that I wash my face before I put on makeup. ALWAYS. This will clear my pores and also smooth the scars. I use DERMA-E Very Clear Acne cleanser. This cleanser is a GOD SEND! It’s cruelty free, vegan, and doesn’t have the harsh chemicals that can dry out your pores. And you may not believe it, but it’s made my acne better. After my miscarriage, my hormones were insane and my face was worse than what is pictured above. It’s a process guys….

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Next, I moisturize.  Again, I use DERMA-E because they use essential oils and we all know how much I love essential oils!  You can use any moisturizer that you want, as long as it doesn’t clog your pores or make your face oily. That is key!

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Finally, you NEED NEED NEED to prime the face! If I have learned anything from the 1000’s of hours I have put into watching makeup tutorials, it’s that priming the face is key to having a flawless look. For acne, blemishes, or redness using a green primer will reduce it’s appearance. I know it sounds weird but I promise your face will not look green once you put on your foundation.

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Makeup Time! 

If you watch Beauty Influencers on Youtube, you know that most of them do foundation first and then put concealer on the areas they want to highlight. Recently, I found that if I put a full coverage concealer on my blemishes, it help reduce the redness and makes them practically invisible once I put my foundation on top of it.

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After the concealer, I use the foundation. It is IMPORTANT that if you have redness or acne, when buying foundation you look for FULL COVERAGE. This is what will cover your blemishes the MOST. Using light to medium coverage will look like a film covering your pimples.  This month, I have been using a combination of two different full coverage foundations to get the texture and color I want.

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How you put on your foundation also influences how your face will look once you’re finished. I would recommend a beauty blender, or a brush.  Personally, I like using a brush. I have found it gives you the most coverage without looking cakey, and it allows you to blend the best.

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Now, you will need to add a powder. I know that it sounds weird, however using a translucent powder will keep your foundation locked onto your face.

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After the powder, add bronzer, blush, and highlight as desired. I will warn that if you suffer from acne, you will want to go easy on the highlighter. Highlighter will just “highlight” your flaws. When I’m having a particularly bad breakout, I use highlighter sparingly. Below, you will notice I put it up higher than I normally would.

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Finally, set the face with a nice finishing spray.  It will lock in everything and your foundation will not go ANYWHERE!

 

If you have any tips or tricks on how to combat hormonal acne, leave a comment. 🙂

 

xoxox Kat

 

 

 

 

 

What Infertility Has Taught Me

Yesterday was the last day of infertility awareness week. If you follow me on instagram, you have seen my multitude of posts. This year’s theme was “flip the script” which aligns with the purpose of my blog beautifully.  I so badly wanted to post a video to describe my final thoughts on infertility awareness week, but the words escaped me. And honestly, I couldn’t get through it without crying.

Infertility is hell.  It is a pain that has no words to accurately describe it. It is a pain that you feel at a soul level.  However, infertility has taught me beautiful things.

Infertility has taught me compassion. 

Infertility has taught me patience

Infertility has taught me to love myself 

Infertility has taught me humility

Infertility has taught me that I am worthy without a baby

Infertility has taught me how to speak to others

Infertility has taught me to reach higher

Infertility has taught me the true meaning of hope 

 

The past 15 months have really forced me to look deeper. I have been forced to ask myself questions that are difficult and I have been forced to make decisions that are difficult. But I have also found a wonderful community of women that I never would’ve found otherwise.

My intention of starting this blog is still the same now. It’s time to change the conversation about infertility and women’s reproductive health. It’s time to start talking about it. It’s time to bring awareness to the silent struggle that millions of men and women are faced with. It’s time to stop feeling ashamed, lonely and lost. It’s time to flip the script.

 

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When Things Don’t Go As Planned…

For the first time in a couple of months, I’m actually feeling like myself. If you struggle with infertility, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  There are times when you feel so disconnected from your body, that you don’t even recognize yourself. I recently learned that when you are going through hormone treatments your scent changes. When this happens, you literally can’t recognize yourself.

It sucks.

Recently, we introduced injections to our round of medications.  I was not ready for the whirlwind of emotions that ensued shortly after my first injection.  I had already been feeling pretty crummy. March is not ever a good time for me for several reasons. This past March we had 3 Nor’easters back to back. For those of you that don’t know what a Nor’easter is…look it up. It felt like Winter would never end. March is also the month that I lost one of my best friends, so I haven’t been on the best terms with March in several years. On top of all of this, I had a major change at work. It was a great career change for me, but required a lot of training and time. I was emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted.

When my doctor told me we would be adding injections to our round of treatment from now on, I was numb.  It was just another medication to add onto the pile of meds I’ve been taking for almost a year and a half. She showed me how to inject the medication and told me when I would need to do it.  She administered it to me since it was the first time, and sent me on my merry way. “Baby dust to you!” She shouted as I left the office. They are always so positive.

That night I woke up at 3:30 in the morning and couldn’t go back to sleep. As I laid there in the dark I told myself this was going to be the month. I had recently had several friends get pregnant on their first round of treatment. Why should I be any different? I kept telling myself that if I would just think positive, it would happen. The month had started off rocky, but out of nowhere took a positive turn regarding my fertility. It had to be a sign I told myself over and over.  I obsessed about this for the next two weeks. I swore I was pregnant. I had done everything I was supposed to. I stopped drinking caffeine, and started eating lots of fruits and veggies. I kept calm and didn’t get angry even when I felt nauseous and tired from the injections.  Two weeks after the shot, I took my pregnancy test.  I waited the longest two minutes of my life and then….

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Negative.

I burst into tears. I had been telling myself for weeks that this month wouldn’t be any different from the past 15 months so I shouldn’t be upset. They had only added one extra med to give me a boost. If it didn’t work, I would try again the next month. I sat on the bathroom floor and cried for a good 20 minutes. I was so angry I pounded on the floor. I had been feeling so sick, I was sure that I was pregnant. However, it was just a side effect of the combination of medications  I was taking.  After this day, I lost myself for a bit. This has happened since we started this journey, but this time was different.

The self-loathing began to creep in.

I felt like not only had I let myself down, but my husband and family.  I felt like such a failure for not being able to do the one thing that is so easy for everyone else. For weeks I left my phone on Do Not Disturb. I ignored phone calls, texts, and invitations to go out. I didn’t want to be around all the happy people.

It wasn’t until I started my period that I felt better. I wasn’t pregnant, and AF was a huge reminder of that but it also gave me something that I haven’t had in a year and a half…

My body was working.

It hit me like a load of bricks when I realized it. My body was working! My reproductive system was waking up and realizing it had work to do! I shook off the fog of self-loathing and depression and stepped on my yoga mat. (Surprised?) I reconnected with myself on the mat, and showed my body the gratitude and love it needed. Finally, I began to feel like myself again. The weather warmed up and so did my heart.

I know that I don’t normally share my personal journey too much on here, but I felt like someone needed to hear this. It’s easy to let negativity, depression, and self-loathing take over when things don’t go as planned. It’s easy to be bitter and angry. But it doesn’t change the fact that my body doesn’t work like a normal female’s.  It doesn’t change the fact that I can’t get pregnant without the help of science. It doesn’t change the situation, it only makes it worse.

To my sisters and brothers struggling with infertility:

It’s okay to be angry, to be depressed, and to be sad. But don’t let it take over your life. Although it sucks and is unfair, life is so beautiful. There is so much to be thankful for.  Remember to love yourself and when life is hard, love yourself even harder.  Find the good in your day and celebrate the small victories. Because even though things don’t go as you planned them, they always work out the way they’re supposed to in the end.

 

 

 

 

How to Survive Fertility Treatments

 

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Fertility treatments are the worst. Literally the worst thing ever. Taking fertility medication makes you feel like you are pregnant 24/7 yet your womb is empty. It is physically, emotionally, and mentally draining. Let me describe to you what a typical day during treatment is like.

 

*Disclaimer* Treatment is different for everyone. Whether it’s different meds, protocol, and how your body reacts to each. My experience is not everyone’s experience.

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Wake up – killer headache, can’t button pants from bloating

Go to work, school, etc – killer headache, now the nausea kicks in

Work, school, going about the day – nausea, headache, on 3rd cup of coffee but feel like if I closed my eyes I would fall asleep at my desk

Go home – headache has dulled, no nausea, still can’t button my pants, now exhausted on a level I didn’t know existed.

Home -eats dinner, sees cute commercial and begins sobbing then laughing at the fact that I’m sobbing. Sobs some more.

Falls asleep at 7:30 and sleeps until 7 am. Repeat.

Super fun right?

Right…..

But wait there’s more! I have put together a list of things that helped me survive my first round of treatment. Keep in mind, my cycles are completely absent so I have to have a medically induced cycle. From starting my period, to producing an egg, to ovulation…it is all timed and monitored. Like I said, super fun.

Rest When You Are Tired 

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I know this is hard, but you will thank me later. Your body has just had a major dose of hormones and is in overdrive to keep up so you may feel exhausted. It caught me by surprise just how tired I was. One day after work, I came home and slept for 14 hours and guess what? I felt amazing afterwards. Listen to your body and give it what it needs otherwise, your treatments are going to be pure hell.

Practice Mindfulness

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Being mindful of what not only your body, but your emotions, is very important during your treatment cycles. Take walks, practice yoga, meditate. It is key that during your cycles, you are calm and as stress free as possible. Because your body is so sensitive during this time, it is important to take a deep breath and relax. Believe me, I know that’s the hardest thing to even think about doing during treatment. However, it is important to practice. Chances are, with all of the hormones, you will have days where you are an emotional wreck. That’s why it’s called practice. Be patient with yourself.

Peppermint! Peppermint! Peppermint!

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I am 100% convinced that peppermint oil is the elixir of the Gods. I am always so nauseous during treatment. Especially during the first round of meds. I always keep a bottle of peppermint oil in my purse. I diffuse it in my office, rub it under my nose, or just sit and sniff the bottle if I feel sick. It’s a miracle. Also, peppermint tea. I have a box of peppermint tea in my desk at ALL TIMES. It comes in handy on the days I’m really not feeling well.

 Stretchy Pants

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Yoga pants, leggings, sweatpants, pajama pants, even maternity pants are going to save your life. During fertility treatments, especially women going through IVF, it is normal to be bloated. Some women actually look like they are pregnant because their ovaries get so swollen. I found that instead of being upset about it, I prepared by picking out stretchy pants or dresses to wear the week I knew I would be on my medication. Believe me….you will thank me later.

Journal

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I recently started an infertility journal to help me with all of my feelings during treatment. It’s hard to describe how you are feeling to your friends and family and sometimes you feel down right crazy. Write down what you are feeling. It will not only be therapeutic, but one day you will look back on it and realize just how much you went through to get your little miracle.

 

Finally….love yourself. Realize that you are not broken and none of this is your fault. You are beautiful and you are a warrior. Love and baby dust to you this month! ❤

 

 

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The Box of Hopes and Dreams

When Josh and I first started trying, I started a baby box. Excited at the potential of getting pregnant quickly, I starting collecting baby items that I saw on sale or that were given to me. In this box there are several pregnancy books, a few neutral colored onesies, pacifiers, and a hat. In this box are my hopes and dreams. This box of hopes and dreams used to sit on my bookshelf to make me smile during the “two week wait” or when I got home from a doctor’s appointment. Sometime last Fall, in an angry rage, I threw the box in my closet. I wanted to throw it in the trash, but didn’t have the heart. I let myself cry alone in my room, angry that this stupid box was still full.

Several weeks ago, I was cleaning out my closet and saw the box. I carefully pulled out each item and laid them on the floor in front of me. I stared at the tiny clothes and shoes. This time instead of feeling sad I felt something that caught me by surprise. I felt hope. I pictured myself putting my sweet chunky baby in these clothes and my heart felt happy. It’s going to happen. One day I will be a momma. I feel it in my heart.

I put the box back on my book shelf in my bedroom. Whenever I’m feeling down, sick, or just tired of it all I pull each item out of the box. I fold, and organize the things inside and remember that one day, as sweet babe will wear those clothes, snuggle the blankets, and cry into the lovey. On the days that it’s hard I hold onto hope.

 

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