The Lucky Ones.

A very dear friend and I were talking the other day about dealing with pregnancy announcements. In a normal situation when someone announces they are pregnant, everyone showers them with excitement and congratulations! Unfortunately for those that struggle with infertility, hearing these announcements can be heartbreaking. Not because you aren’t happy for them or wish them the same kind of pain, but because it’s hard to see someone be blessed with something you want so badly but feels so far away. During my struggle with infertility, I can’t tell you how many times I pushed people away because the pain was too much. I didn’t attend baby showers for fear of breaking down in front of everyone and rarely held an infant. The question of “Why me?” circled my head almost daily. “What did I do to deserve this and why were they The Lucky Ones?”

One thing I’ve come to learn since having Jase is that maybe I was seeing it wrong all those years. Maybe, just maybe I was one of The Lucky Ones? I truly feel that because of my struggles with infertility, my love for my son is SO much deeper than it would have been had I gotten pregnant long ago. When you’ve reached rock bottom and lost all hope, it allows your heart to open up to the deepest most pure kind of love. From the moment Jase was born to this very moment today, my heart aches with love for him. I know what it was like to be without my little miracle and because of that I never take a moment or a day for granted. The little things don’t upset me and I find myself being truly present in even the smallest of things.

So when you’re having a hard day and feeling down about your situation, remember that it’s because you’re one of The Lucky One’s. One day you too will get to experience this love that I’m talking about and I promise you it’s worth all the pain and years of waiting. I’d do it all over again, over and over for just a moment of this ❤

***Update***

After doing some thinking, I’ve decided that this is where my blog will end. But that doesn’t mean my support for anyone that comes along the way will (no matter how many years from now that is!). My sole purpose for writing was to share my story in hopes that I could help someone get through the pain that I had once experienced. So if you’re just stumbling upon this blog, please feel free to start from the first entry and don’t hesitate to reach out!

I’ve also decided to start a separate blog documenting my journey through mommyhood and living a healthy lifestyle. If you’d like to follow along, you can find me at Finding Pure Hapiness 🙂

Much love~xoxo P

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Overcoming HA.

When I think back to the days of my recovery, there are a few things that stick out in my mind as key to how I overcame HA. I’d like to share those with you in hopes that they might help you too…

1) Find a way to reduce stress.
It used to drive me nuts when people would tell me to “just relax” and I would get pregnant. That obviously wasn’t the only thing that needed to happen, but it was a HUGE part of it. Sometimes we go through life not realizing how much stress we are carrying, so it’s very important to find ways to keep your stress levels in check. One thing I’ve found that has helped me is yoga. Finding the right practice for you can take some time, but what I recommend is finding one that focuses on your breath and allows you to leave your stressors at the door. One that I recommend is Fightmaster Yoga. It’s a free channel on YouTube that offers routines lasting anywhere from 20min to 45min. I find that the instructor offers the perfect balance of strength, stretching and the ability to relax. I always feel so great after I finish one of her routines. If yoga is not your thing, then finding a hobby where you can put focus works just as well. Reading has always been a good one for me.

2) Reach out to those who “get it”.
Finding The Board was one of the most pivotal parts to my recovery. Being able to talk to women that truly got it was priceless. For so long I felt so alone in my struggles, knowing that there were other women out there struggling in the same way was comforting. We were there to lean on one another, help each other through the hard times and celebrate with each other through the good times. These women helped to keep me accountable and on the right track, which can be so hard to do when you’re going at it alone.

3) Go all in.
This was one of the hardest parts for myself and many women I met on The Board. Completely changing your lifestyle isn’t easy. For so many like myself, counting calories had become second nature and breaking that habit took some serious determination. In the beginning I cut out exercise completely not only because I wanted to allow my body to rest, but because I needed to force myself to rid the feeling of guilt I carried from not exercising. For many this is very hard to do. Exercise can be like an addiction and a way to feel in control, but I promise that it really makes such a huge difference in your recovery and ability to get pregnant. Don’t get me wrong, exercise is GREAT for your overall health, but it has to be done in a balanced way and for many it takes going cold turkey to be able to find that balance. Another aspect to going all in is your diet. It’s very important to allow your body to get the nourishment that it has been lacking for so long. Only then can it start to repair all the damage that has been done and get back to a fertile place. I highly recommend a diet full of health fats, whole grains, fruits and veggies, lean proteins and some treats to keep everything balanced. Remember, NO restricting, allow yourself to eat freely and when you’re hungry. Eventually you’ll get to a place when you don’t feel like you’re starving all of the time.

I hope these recommendations help you in your recovery from HA. I know it’s not easy and a lot to take in. Sometimes it’s hard to get past the “why me” and get to a place where you’re truly focused on recovery. But it’ll happen, just give it time and know that one day you will be grateful for all that you have learned and grown throughout this process. If you have any questions or want more details, please feel free to contact me 🙂

Why I share.

When I first learned of Hypothalamic Amenorrhea, I was over 6 years into my struggle with infertility. At that moment, I promised myself that when I recovered and became a momma, I would do whatever I could to get the word out about HA so that others wouldn’t have to endure the many years of heartbreak that I had. It’s unfortunate that so many, like me, go undiagnosed or told that the only way they would ever conceive is through treatments. I want girls out there to know that is not even close to being true, and that you can gain so much more by allowing your body/mind to heal naturally.

Throughout my journey, the thing that I needed most was support and that’s what I hope to be. No one can gain the weight for you, but they can be there for you to cheer you on or help you realize that most of the struggles lie within our minds. If it wasn’t for the friendships I made along they way, I would have never gotten through it. So, if you’re reading this blog years from now, please know you can always reach out to me. It is my passion to help others live their dreams of becoming a momma ❤

For those of you just joining me, please start with my very first post as I have written this in chronological order. Thank you for your time and never forget that you CAN and WILL get through this, never give up hope!

~xoxo P

Where I am today.

As I sit and reflect on the last 9 years, I can’t help but feel incredibly grateful for my struggle with infertility. Without it I would have never learned what life is like when you truly let go and LIVE. Life is not about what the number on the scale says, counting calories, working your butt off at the gym, feeling guilty when you “splurge” or being disgusted at what you see when you look in the mirror. It’s about enjoying those around you and everything that comes with living a fulfilled life…including delicious food, exercising to keep your body healthy inside and out (not to manipulate the number on the scale), being in the moment when you’re with family and friends (verses thinking about how many calories you’ve eaten that day), and loving yourself and your body for the amazing being that it is. I’ve finally gotten to that place in my life and I can tell you that’s it absolutely amazing. I see life through a much clearer lens now and make a conscious effort daily to stop and enjoy the little things in life, like watching my son play with his toys or look out my window to see the beautiful fall colors. That is what true recovery is all about!

As for my diet and exercise, I’ve come along way in the last 9 years. I’m all about natural whole foods and clean eating, so my diet consists mostly of organic fruits & veggies, whole grains, potatoes, pasta, rice, organic whole milk, REAL organic butter, coconut oil, avocados, whole milk cheese of all kinds, organic meats, fresh eggs, chocolate, whole milk ice cream, cookies and whatever else my heart desires! I eat in moderation and when I feel hungry, and my body consistently stays at the same weight give or take a pound or two. No more counting calories or eating low carb/fat free for this girl, I’m finally free! As for exercise, I’ve always enjoyed yoga and have practiced to some degree throughout my years, but am now fully committed to my practice as my sole source of exercise. Not only is it great for your body but your mind too, which I feel is just as important. I practice 5 days a week for 30 min, some days focusing on strength while other days focusing on flexibly and stretching. I truly enjoy my practice and never feel like I have to push myself or feel guilty if I miss a day. When the weather is nice, I sometimes take Jase out for a short walk around the block to get us both some fresh air. Never before have I truly enjoyed exercise the way I do now and I feel it’s because my mindset has completely changed…It’s there to keep me healthy inside and out, NOT skinny.

Since weaning Jase, my cycles have returned more regularly then they did during recovery, lasting 28-32 days long. This is what I’m most proud of…I knew that I’d get back to cycling again, it was a promise I made to myself, but I had no idea my body would be able to become so regular after all the damaged that I had done. I recently completed my 5th natural cycle and it still amazes me every.single.time. The best part is I no longer have to worry about my weight or exercise being a factor, I have now found my balance. No longer do I look in the mirror and see every flaw, I now see a body that I am proud to call my own. It gave me my son and I will forever have only love for myself and my body because of that beautiful gift ❤

Along with my health, I have also been blessed with some amazing friendships throughout my journey. These women are incredibly supportive and have made me a better mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend…I'm so grateful to have them in my life and for our special bond ❤

I know recovery can be scary, but I PROMISE it's more worth it than I could ever express in words. Allow yourself the gift of being free from the all consuming life that HA brings, and instead embrace the many blessings that come with letting go…

My Miracle.

I’d like to share with you a story about the day I first laid eyes on the most beautiful baby boy I’d ever seen. My wish is that hearing this will help to keep the hope alive in those of you still struggling with HA/Infertility. Not every day will be easy, but it will be MORE than worth it. I would go through each struggle over and over again knowing how special the love between a mother and her child truly is. And one thing I can guarantee, it will be the greatest love you will ever know. Hold on to your hope and know that you can and will get through this and have your happy ending too ❤

J’s Story:

February 7th, 2013…Hands shaking as I held my lucky test. I was elated and terrified at the same time, I couldn’t imagine losing another baby after all we had been through. Since K was at work, I taped the test to a piece of paper and left it on his night stand. Hoping and praying that this would finally be the start to our dreams coming true.

The day of our first appt. was especially emotional because it was at that point that I had miscarried the first time around. Luckily, things were much different this time. Not only did we see a baby but we saw a heartbeat too!! We also found out that J’s due date would be Oct 19th, almost exactly 5 years to the day of my brother-in-law Jason’s passing. In that moment I knew he was watching down on us, telling us that everything would be ok. And I knew that I was finally going to have a baby of my own.

Throughout my pregnancy, I would daydream daily of what my baby might look like and what features they would get from each of us. Finding out we were having a boy made it extra special as we knew we’d name him Jason after his uncle. It also made everything seem more real, as I could imagine what life would be like once he was here. As we got closer to my due date, my contractions would grow stronger and stronger and my excitement grew with each one. At my 40w check-up I was dilated to 2cm, but there were no other signs that labor would be coming soon. So we scheduled an appt. for Oct 28th to talk about our options to induce labor.

On Thursday Oct 24th, my contractions grew closer and were coming pretty consistently at about 5 min apart. I wasn’t feeling very confident that I was in actual labor but decided that it would be best to go to the hospital for a check-up. At about 5pm on the 24th I was told that I was still dilated to 2cm and that I needed to go home and rest until things picked up. To my surprise by 9:30pm that same night, I was in an indescribable amount of pain and contractions were coming every 3-5min. I tried to get some rest but it was impossible, so I laid in bed and breathed through them as best as I could. By 10:30am on Friday the 25th I knew it was time to go. So off to the hospital we went!

At around 11am on the 25th I was checked in and dilated to 5cm…absolute relief and excitement set in! I knew in just a few short hours I would be holding my sweet baby boy in my arms…just the thought brought tears to my eyes. From that point on, things progressed very quickly. At 11:30am my epidural was put in and I was in total relaxation. The nursing staff was wonderful. So helpful, always making sure I knew what was going on and that I was as comfortable as possible. Then at around 2:30pm I had another cervical check and was at 8cm. Next check was at 4:30pm, I had made it to 10cm…and here’s where the real fun begins!! From 4:30-5pm the nurses prepped and told me what to expect and what my job would be once the pushing began. I felt so confident and so relaxed, not a fear in my mind, just pure joy and excitement!

5:10pm and I’m ready to push! K was a trooper and held one of my legs for me, something he’d said he wasn’t sure he’d be able to do (he has a hard time seeing me in pain)…I was so proud of him and he was a wonderful support system, cheering me on the whole time : ) After just 29mins of pushing, I was told J’s head was out and this would be my last push…they asked me if I wanted to look down so I could see him the moment he was born. As I saw my beautiful baby boy for the very first time, all of the pain and struggles I went through the last 7 years completely vanished and were replaced by the most incredible love that I had ever felt. As tears streamed down my face and I heard his cry, I just couldn’t believe I was finally in this moment. For so long it had only been a dream that at times throughout my journey felt too far to reach.

I’ll never forget the first time I held my sweet boy against my chest and saw his big beautiful blue eyes look into mine. I’ve heard of this kind of love and thought I had an idea what it would feel like, but nothing can ever compare. Jason “Jase” Eugene, born at 5:39pm on Oct. 25th, 2013 7lbs 2oz, 20 ½ inches long and absolutely perfect. I am finally a mother and my life is complete ❤

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Recovery.

In the months that followed my miscarriage, I was laser focused on recovery. I continued to allow my body to gain weight and heal until it found its happy weight. I did this by consuming a much larger amount of healthy fats (avocado, nut butters, whole milk, cheese, olive oil etc…), whole grains, proteins, fruits, veggies and a fair amount of treats! Ice cream, cookies and chocolate were a staple in my household, and still are : ) I truly believe it’s all about balance and living a healthy life style in order continue to stay healthy long after recovery and ultimately getting pregnant. I definitely gained more weight than I originally thought I needed to (went from 118 to 138), but once my body hit it’s happy weight it was so easy to maintain. I didn’t need to cut back on what I was eating to maintain my weight, I just continued to keep doing what I was doing and my weight stayed put. That’s how I knew I was on the right track. As far as exercise, I gradually started to add in a few days of very light yoga (30 min max) and a short walk or two once my period came back. I found that finding the right amount of exercise was most definitely the hardest part. I could tell if I was doing too much because my cycles would lengthen out quite a bit more. But as soon as I cut back, even just one day of walking, my cycles would shorten right back up. Again, balance is key!

Although my cycles were back, they were still not what most would consider regular, lasting 40-60 days. Although this was VERY frustrating at times, I knew that I needed to be patient. Almost 7 years of damage was gonna take some time, but it was time I was willing to give. Seeing my body work as it should after so long was amazing! I was in awe most days and totally into tracking my cycle. I never knew all the signs a woman’s body gives throughout her cycle and seeing my body give those signs was like a dream come true.

In December of 2012, 8 months after I learned of HA and joined the board, I entered into into my 4th natural cycle. I had really high hopes for this cycle as things were really starting to come along. I was consistently having a 15 day Luteal Phase (the last phase of your cycle when an egg will implant if it’s fertilized), which is key to sustaining a healthy pregnancy. I was also really starting to understand the female body and learn how to ready the signs. But 30 days into my cycle, I still hadn’t ovulated and I was starting to get discouraged. I talked with a few of the girls from the board and they assured me that if I were to get pregnant this late in the game, the baby still had just as good of a chance at being healthy. Finally, 44 days into my cycle I had ovulated! I wasn’t sure how good our chances were at this point since I didn’t know that I ovulated until a few days after it had happened. I had run out of my ovulation tests a few days prior and refused to buy more for this cycle. I was somewhat hopeful, but more than anything just ready to get this cycle behind me and hope for a much shorter (and less frustrating) one the next time around.

Then on Feb 7th, 2013…Cycle day 60 (16 days post ovulation), I woke fully expecting to see AF (aunt flow aka: menstrual period) but she wasn’t there. I decided I’d take a pregnancy test just for fun, although I was pretty sure I wasn’t pregnant. So I took out my “lucky test” that Mal, one of my very best friends from the board, sent me back in October. Instantly….2 pink lines!!!

Everything Happens For A Reason.

My dream had finally come true. I’ll never forget the way I felt…the excitement for what was in store was the most amazing feeling ever. Our first prenatal appt was scheduled for July17th, just one day after our 7 year anniversary. It was supposed to be one of the greatest days of my life. I had high hopes of hearing the heartbeat and seeing our little one for the very first time. When I woke on that day, my life changed forever. My first sight, little red drops of blood. I felt my heart sink and knew this was it. I tried with all my might to stay positive and hope for the best. I didn’t tell K until I got home from work and by that point I was bleeding heavily and had lots of clotting. I broke down the second I walked through the door, so we got ready and headed straight to my appt. On the way there he kept telling me that everything was going to be ok. I wanted so badly to believe him but after a long 3 hour wait, I finally saw it…my baby. Measuring at 5 weeks when it should have been 6.5 weeks and no heartbeat. My doctor prescribed me progesterone supplements and told me to go home, rest and hope for the best. By midnight I was in an indescribable amount of pain. This was it. At that point I knew it was over. And a few days later, it was confirmed. My beta had dropped from over 4000 down to 1000 in just 3 days. I was devastated, but tried to see the positive in my situation. I no longer had doubt…I knew now that I could get pregnant, something I had questioned for a very long time. Sometimes in life it’s hard to know why we go through struggles and although my little one didn’t make it, it gave me hope…I’ll never forget the one that I lost but EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON. I promised myself that I wouldn’t give up, I couldn’t. This was a sign to keep going, to keep allowing my body and mind to heal from all the damage I had done. So, I did just that. I stayed focused on my journey and knew that one day I would be blessed with MY perfect baby ❤