Day 3 of National Infertility Awareness Week!

Day 3 of National Infertility Awareness Week! #NIAW

Today was #RockYourOrange🧡

The last time I ran was March 17th. I wanted to try and slowly get back to running to see how my body would handle it. I was getting some pains after running. Talked to a few people (professionals, not the internet 😀), and made some changes to my routine. I really made sure to concentrate on a high cadence, and I did run-walk intervals. Interval running has never really been my favorite, but I did a half mile run then a minute walk, then half mile run, minute walk, ECT until I hit 2 miles. And I’m happy to report I’m not feeling the pain I was feeling before. Running definitely looks and feels different, but I’ll take what I can get.

I haven’t been able to participate in our Wednesday Breakfast Club runs, not only because I wasn’t running, but mostly bc of my nausea. I had a tiny bit this morning. Slightly there, but manageable. BUT it went away while running. Maaaaybe there’s something to that. 🧐🤔😳🤷🏽‍♀️

I was so grateful that my friends were so supportive on finding orange to wear! It was so sweet. I thank you guys from the bottom of my heart! 🧡🧡.

I’ve been asked since I’ve opened up about my miscarriage, infertility journey, and pregnancy after loss of just what you’re “supposed to say” to someone who is going through it. The truth is that every person is different in their needs while grieving. But done places to start that are really helpful:

-“I am so sorry. This is is so unfair.”

-“Thank you for trusting me and opening up to me. I’m so sorry you’re going through this.”

-“I am here to listen whenever you need.”

-“What you’re feeling is valid and I’m so sorry you’re experiencing this.”

Things you don’t want to say:

-“At least…” Followed by literally anything. I’ve seen “At least it was early” in regards to a miscarriage or “at least you’re young and you have time.” Or “at least you can sleep in.” At least nothing. Just don’t use it.

-“Just get drunk and go on vacation. It worked for (friend/relative.)” No. That was just luck it happened to someone you know. Infertility is a medical diagnosis.

-“Just stop trying and it’ll happen.” Again no. Infertility is a medical diagnosis.

-“You’re stressing to much.” Or “just relax.” This completely invalidates someone. And this has nothing to do with their struggles.

-Do NOT compare stories. “You had a miscarriage? My friend had 5.” No. One struggle that you think is “worse” than another does not invalidate someone who is going through something else. Do not compare.

-“You’re so strong. I don’t know how I would get through it if it was me.” This is a hard one because it’s always meant with the best intentions, but I want to scream, “I have no other choice!!” Most don’t want to be told this. We just want our feelings validated and for people to listen. We literally do not have a choice but to deal with it and it’s exhausting always pretending to be ok.

Some people need to be left alone. Others want to talk. Others want to just be distracted. You don’t have to guess what someone needs. It’s ok to ask, “how can I best support you?” Most people just want a nonjudgmental ear. They want to grieve and not be given advice (unless they specifically ask). They just want to be heard. A listening ear is some of the best support you can give someone.

It really needs to be noted that grief isn’t linear. Some days you feel like you have it together and others you just don’t. I saw a perfect image a while ago about this… “People think grief shrinks over time. But really, you just grow around your grief.” And this is true for any grief. It doesn’t just apply to infertility.

Getting pregnant after being diagnosed with infertility and/or a miscarriage died not “cure” you from the trauma of a miscarriage nor does it cure you from infertility. If after we have a healthy rainbow baby, and my husband and I want to have a second, we will need to go through a fertility clinic again. We aren’t cured because I’m currently pregnant. I’m not certainly not cured from the trauma and any prenatal anxiety.

By opening up and sharing my story, it helps to throw out the stigma. I’m growing around grief. It’ll be there. But by changing the conversation and helping being awareness to a very isolating and private experience, it helps me know that someone reading this may not feel alone.

#WeCanAll #NIAW2022 #NationalInfertilityAwarenessWeek #FertilityJourney #1in8 #1in4 #InfertilityAwareness #IUI

Day 2 of National Infertility Awareness Week!

Day 2 of National Infertility Awareness Week! #NIAW

It is no secret that having support from your family and close friends is helpful in your healing process. But what about when you’re not ready to open yet? Or you don’t think anyone you personally know has gone through infertility? Or even if you do know a friend to talk to, you feel like you’re going to hurt them by bringing up old feelings and “making” them talk about something they don’t want to? Then what?

I’ve been there. I don’t know how clear I can be on this, but that is of NO reflection of my family and friends. None. Sometimes it just takes time to open up. Even to your closest support group.

I found myself wandering around aimlessly on the internet. As much as I wanted to hate TikTok, I came across some accounts of women talking about their infertility struggles. And I felt like I could just be anonymous by sitting back and learning from them.

So I’d like to share those with you today. If you’re not ready to open up, that’s okay. You don’t have to. You don’t ever have to. But if you want to check out some other women who talk about infertility, please check them out:

Caitlyn O’Neal:

https://vm.tiktok.com/ZTdVSBwPc/

Tawa:

https://vm.tiktok.com/ZTdVSyEeH/

Samantha Linder:

https://vm.tiktok.com/TTPdVSrXeP/

The Ponds:

https://vm.tiktok.com/ZTdVS6nQ9/

Laura Pyne:

https://vm.tiktok.com/TTPdVSFtUn/

Jordyn Albright:

https://vm.tiktok.com/ZTdVS6wRN/

Last but not least, my fertility doctor has TikTok, too!

Dr. Allison Rodgers:

https://vm.tiktok.com/ZTdVSQd7b/

There are SOO many accounts out there that talk about infertility. If you follow one that you want me to check out, let me know! 🙂

#WeCanAll #NIAW2022 #NationalInfertilityAwarenessWeek #FertilityJourney #1in8 #1in4 #InfertilityAwareness #IUI

It’s National Infertility Awareness Week!

It’s National Infertility Awareness Week! #NIAW

There are so so many people who have experienced infertility… 7.4 million actually. 1 in 8 couples experience it. 1 in 4 couples has had a miscarriage. Someone you know, even if you don’t know what they’ve been through, I can almost guarantee that someone you know is struggling.

I’ve definitely tried to be as open about it as I can. I hope that I’ve been able to be a safe space for people who wanted to talk. I can’t tell you the people who have reached out to me – some I know and some I did not (thank you social media!).

I’ve decided to participate in the awareness this week. There’s a #NIAW challenge to do something every day. Day 1 is #ThisIsMyStory.

Because I’m not some famous content creator, I think everyone who actually follows me on here pretty much knows me in real life and knows my story. But in case anyone just randomly comes across this: I’ve had a miscarriage, then ended up at a fertility clinic, after a crap ton of tests, had a medicated cycle with an IUI and it was successful. And our little rainbow is healthy and kicking along (literally now 🙂 ), and we are due early Sept thank you to Fertility Centers of Illinois and Dr. Allison Rodgers .

If anyone feels comfortable sharing their story, please do. Whether it’s your own story, or someone you know going through it.

Please know you are not alone. Together we can change the conversation. And change the narrative. ❤

#WeCanAll #NIAW2022 #NationalInfertilityAwarenessWeek #FertilityJourney #1in8 #1in4 #InfertilityAwareness #IUI

36 Minutes

Getting older always has a certain nostalgia that comes with it. Birthdays come and birthdays go. They seem to sneak up quicker and quicker year after year. I think to myself, “It’s April already?” Every. Single. Year. It’s as though after a couple of decades on this Earth I still don’t have a concept of time. Time seems so relative. The days drag on, but the weeks fly by, and all of a sudden, I’m another year older, hopefully a little more wiser, but definitely a lot more sarcastic. I always try to think back on the year that I’ve had and reflect on that.

But this year was hard to that.

Last year, I ran 35 miles for my 35th birthday. When we had found out I was pregnant Dec 2020, I wanted to announce it after a long run because, how typical of me right? I had it all planned out in my head. I had a route with a shape as a clue. I had plans of what to wear, which was “something with baby feet on my shirt, or a ‘running for two’ saying.” I wanted to try and be cool like Taylor Swift and drop some secret Easter egg hints for the few days leading up to my race. I knew I would have been visibly showing at that point, but with COVID, I wasn’t really seeing much of anyone anyway, so keeping the pregnancy as a surprise would have been easy.

And then I miscarried.

That birthday run was the most mentally challenging run I have ever done. Yes, it would have been mentally challenging either way, as 35 miles is no small feat, but I was also carrying that heaviness with me that I was no longer pregnant. That heaviness almost caused me to give up multiple times. It’s hard to describe, you know? That pain that you feel in your body because you know something is missing. Someone is missing. It’s just lost. Forever. Knowing you can never get that back is a grief that is unfair. And it never goes away. It just becomes a new normal. The grief will always come in waves. Healing isn’t linear. I thought I was doing okay the first half of my run. But the closer and closer I had got to the end of that 35 miles, the harder it was to hold it together.

The first thing I said after finishing that run was, “I’m not running 36 miles next year. 3.6 miles sounds like a better plan.”

Well, on April 4th, 2022, my 36th birthday, I did not run that 3.6 miles. I did however have time to sit with my feelings and emotions. I’ve looked back at just how much has changed since April 4th, 2021. I quit drinking (323 days ago), I changed my last name, Ian sold his house, we adopted Lampo, we went through fertility testing, we found out Ian’s next job is in Virginia, we had an IUI done, and we found out it was successful… and that only brings us to New Years.

The amount of roller-coaster loops and highs and lows that we’ve been through just really feels like a bit of whiplash. I’ve had people ask me, “How’s it going?” or “how is pregnancy?” Or just wanting some updates. They’ve been hard to answer. How do you say, “Well this birthday I should have a baby in my arms” without sounding like you’re not grateful to be pregnant? How do you say, “I hate being pregnant” when you’ve wanted nothing more than to grow your family, and you’re so excited to have a baby, but the being pregnant part is awful? How do you respond to people who say, “Enjoy this birthday before baby comes” or “This is your last birthday before you become a mother” without responding with something rude or sarcastic about how you are a mother, even though your child isn’t earth side.

It’s hard. It’s so hard. Because the last thing I want is for people to ever tiptoe around me. I never want that. I hear a lot, “I don’t want to say the wrong thing.” But the truth is, neither do I. I don’t want to say the wrong thing. I don’t want every response to “how are you” to be something negative. “i’m sick of being pregnant,” “I’m nauseous again. I thought the second trimester was supposed to be better?” “I’m pretty tired of all these headaches.” “I hate that I can’t run. In fact, I feel a little depressed about it.” “I’m just trying to make it to the next appointment when I can see baby again to know they are okay.”

It’s a constant struggle for me, too. Where is that line of just being fully raw and transparent and honest that if stepped over becomes someone who is a whiner and complainer and a pessimist? When does someone’s bravery turn into “she just wants attention?”

Sorting out these feelings and emotions can be consuming. I’m in a pregnancy after loss group. And what I’ve learned is that I’m not alone. The anxiety of a pregnancy after loss is just… it’s just out of this world. It’s hard to fully encapsulate everything that you’re feeling. It’s even hard to sort out on paper. One minute I’m terrified to go to the bathroom because I have slight pressure, and the next I’m ready to look up bassinets. One minute I can’t stop crying because I’m not at viability week yet and I’m just waiting for something to go wrong, and the next I’m thinking if our child will have my eyes or Ian’s.

The one thing I’ve learned in my group is that most of us have not enjoyed our pregnancies very much. “You’ll feel better in the second trimester” just feels like a joke. I’m 18 weeks and feeling worse than my first trimester. But I’m learning that it’s okay to not enjoy being pregnant. Our bodies are literally growing another human. It’s not supposed to be easy. Our organs are rearranging themselves to make more room for the baby. The round ligament and back pain is horrendous. (Thank you child for your head being at my back.) while I know growing a baby means putting on some weight, that doesn’t make it easier. Gaining weight is hard, even when it’s supposed to happen. I have a visible bump now, so I no longer fit comfortably in my jeans or leggings that aren’t high-waisted. My skin is dry and itchy. I’m getting headaches what feels like every other day. i feel guilty because I don’t have the energy to give Lampo the attention and time that he deserves. I’m more tired than I ever have been. My emotions are ALL over the place. And I’m just absolutely sick of being nauseous. Every. Single. Day. I’ve already joked with Ian and said, “if we had a buttload of money, our second child would be through a surrogate. I’m not incubating the second one.”

Pregnancy is hard. I’ve felt so guilty for hating being pregnant. But the group I’m in is really good at reminding each other that you don’t have to enjoy being pregnant to be an amazing parents. I have to remind myself of this often.

So for my birthday this year, I decided that I’d be open and honest about how I was feeling, even if it’s just another negative update, because really, my goal with sharing isn’t for pity. I don’t want it. I just want one more person to feel less alone if they are in the worst girl gang ever with infertility and/or pregnancy after loss. And also, to finally start back with my at home workouts. I KNOW the benefits squats and lunges and such have. I’ve had my doctor’s okay since week 9.

April 4th, 2022 I spent doing 36 minutes of a workout and stretching for my 36th birthday.

And I was happy with that.

Workout: It’s pregnancy friendly, but anyone can do this, especially if you are looking for a low-impact, no jumping leg workout.

LEG DAY | 30-Minute Lower Body Workout For Women (Pregnancy Workout)

(and this should go without saying, but because there are trolls on the internet, please make sure to get your doctor’s okay if you’re pregnant. Everyone is different. And also, if you feel like telling a pregnant person they shouldn’t be working out, and you’re not their friend or doctor, just kindly keep it to yourself, thankyouverymuch. )

Searching For The Rainbow

I miss her. The girl I used to be last October. The person I was before the sadness would consume most of my days, leaving me to over analyze everything. 

We're still the same person. 
Just.
Different.

She's me. I am her. But along the way, our lives disconnected and plucked out the simpleness and innocence with complexity and experience.  We're layered together, but the bright colors that once sparkled around us slowly faded into black and white. 

She had a lightness about her, and she didn't even realize it. She could dance around in the golden moonlight in her bare feet, blackened from walking down the street without shoes, with a strong drink in one hand and her cell phone in the other. Capturing every smile and every wink she'd send to her future husband. She'd listen to the waves collide against the rocks. 

She could run through the summer rain and feel its warmness bounce off her skin, flushed from the two glasses of her favorite red wine. Gravity wasn't pulling her down quite as hard then. She would twirl around in the kitchen in her red dress listening to the crackle of dinner cooking on the stove and her favorite songs playing in the background, and she didn't think twice about tomorrow.

She could look to the future a lot more hopeful than she does now.  I don't want to tell her that it's hard to imagine anymore. I don't want to tell her that she ended up slipping on the rocks and fell straight into heartache and can't find her way out. That it's sometimes hard to breathe. Her friends and family have never left her, and have been her support system, yet she feels isolated. She feels trapped.  

I don't want her to know just how jaded she's going to feel. Putting her whole heart and soul on the line for just a maybe. How tired she's going to feel. How exhausted she is from faking the smiles. But I need her to know: we're finding a strength we didn't know we had. And I really think we're going to get there. 

One day. 
Somehow. 
We'll get there. 
 
On December 21st, I miscarried at 7 weeks. I feel like a little piece of me left that day. I still logged into work. It was our anniversary. It was the week of Christmas. I didn't know what else to do.  What I do know is that grief isn't linear. It hits you when you least expect it. One day you're fine, and the next you're in bed crying knowing the exact age your baby should be. For as long as I can remember, I have always advocated for awareness around not asking women "when is it your turn?" or "When are you guys going to have a baby." I was always the first to tell people how inappropriate and invasive that question is. I just never would have thought I'd be advocating for myself.  

Michelle Obama said it best: "When we share our stories, we are reminded of the humanity within each other. And when we take the time to understand each other's stories, we become more forgiving, more empathetic, and more inclusive."  I can't pretend like I have it all together. I don't. Most days it's hard to get out of bed. The hard truth is that I stopped drinking because I fell into a very dark place of trying to hide behind the drunkenness to not feel anything. I didn't want to. The pain was too much. I didn't want to face the reality that something I had zero control over happened to me. And there was absolutely nothing I could do to stop it. It changed my life.  Just as two pink lines change your life, having the two pink lines fade into one will forever change your life, too. And then month after month after month you hope to see two, yet you only get one. The rug gets ripped out from under you time and time again, but you keep getting back onto the emotional roller coaster. Holding onto that "what if this month is our month" feeling. 

I've built more relationships with people by being open about my struggles than I ever could have pretending like I had it all together. I don't share our story for sympathy. I share because someone is out there struggling. They might feel alone. I need them to know they are not not. I had a very hard time opening up about this, but it's just too much to handle sometimes. 

There's so much more I want to say on this topic, but for now I will just leave you with this: Be kind. Stop asking people what their "next step" is in their lives and start just asking people, "hey how are YOU." Right now. In this current phase of your life. And take the time to listen. Without judgement. Without unsolicited advice. Without trying to one-up them with a statement starting with "well, at least..." 

Just listen. 

-Megan