Hey there friends!
If you've been following me at all this past year, you know I dove head first into the health and wellness pool. Becoming a Certified FASTer Way to Fat Loss®️ coach has genuinely filled me with so much gratitude and it's spilling over. Helping my clients reach their wellness goals is my jam. I finally feel at home and totally qualified to walk this tough (at times) journey with each of you! Coaching was on my radar for a few years, but I never pulled the trigger until FWTFL came along. Now that I have...watch out world. I have HUGE goals and dreams for 2019 and I want you to be part of them. I also want to say bravo...if you are reading this, then it means you are looking to take care of YOU and no matter what way/program you choose, your step in the direction of wellness needs to be celebrated!!
OK...So, another program, right??? Well yes, but this is different than anything you've ever tried, I am sure of it. Listen, I have tried it all, most importantly trying to outwork a mediocre diet. The things don't work. What does? Good ole fashion whole food nutrition and keeping a food log. I get it, I didn't want to do it either...but it's tried and true. There are a few elements to my program that may sound daunting...like maybe by now you have heard about counting macros?? Like what?? But I assure you, it's not as bad as it sounds.
I won’t go through my whole program, but I’d like to shed some light on something that might be helpful for you wether you become a client or not!! So back to an element that may seem daunting...tracking your macronutrients. Counting macros is basically a more detailed way of keeping track of your food. You track the macronutrients that make up the food you are eating instead of just their calories alone. It sounds overwhelming, but it’s actually easy peasy.
Calories are made up of 3 macro nutrients: fat, carbs, and protein. Each macro nutrient has a specific role for your body. Band wagon “diets” that ask you to cut out one specific macro nutrient may work initially, but they are not sustainable because your body NEEDS all three. It is said that, eighty-five percent of dieters will gain that initial weight loss back within the year! What the what?!!? Yep. Trust me I’ve been in that 80% more times than I’d like to count! The best way to lose weight and keep it off is to eat foods that meet your body’s macro nutrient needs so that it functions well. Once your macro goals are set you can begin tracking. You'll be logging the foods you eat and keeping track of your carbs, proteins, and fats. With #1 goal to get ENOUGH of each macro daily! This is so important. Most people grossly under eat and don't even realize it. This is part of what's hold our fat hostage!!!
Another part of counting and keeping track is "IIFYM" (if it fits your macros) this is called "flexible dieting" because it is flexible. I personally dislike the word diet, so I call it flexible eating plan...anywho though, If you really want some cookies or french fries, you can eat it as long as it fits within your macros for the day. Once you really start tracking you will realize that you CAN’T eat like that all day long or you will be left hungry (and feeling like garbage) at the end of the day. Junk food is just way too calorie dense which isn't what we want to fuel our bodies with. It’s either got way too much fat or way too many carbs. So counting macros helps you find balance. Can't we all use a bit of that in our lives.
Personally, I’d rather have my day full of several large meals that fill me up than just a bag of m&ms and a protein shake. Obviously that’s an exaggeration, but you get my point...the cleaner you eat the more you can eat. Clean eating with counting macros is the best way to get to your goals. Why? Because you get the benefits of the nutrient dense food with the flexibility of counting macros for when you have a craving that you just can’t shake. Pro TIP: when you choose to eat clean without tracking macros it can feel very restrictive which leads to binge eating. We do not want that!!
The most popular way to track your macros is to use tracking apps like the My Fitness Pal app. Also, pay close attention to the serving size of your foods. It sounds tedious, but do it. You will find that once you are in the practice of tracking your foods and portions correctly...it becomes second nature!
Counting macros only sounds harder than it is. I too felt the same way. Again, I actually said...I am never counting my macros...and here I am 16 lbs lighter and 25 inches gone ALL OVER. So trust me, YOU CAN. Focus on whole food nutrition and know that one poor choice doesn't domino and ruin everything! When people first start out, the hardest part is just hitting your goals for each macro nutrient. In the beginning you may find that you will be under on protein and over on fats or carbs. It’s normal. Over time you will get the hang of it and understand what types of meals work best for your numbers. If you try this method I'd love to hear your feedback!!
Sometimes accountability is key...If you would like more guidance in your health and fitness journey I would love to guide you. Click below for more info and how we can connect!
Our second IVF cycle failed. Yep, I'll just uncover the elephant in the room right away. I am a straight shooter and this one hit us where it hurts. Again.
As I am writing this...I find myself numb and unable to process what's just happened. As I sort through the facts I am puzzled, this time should have worked. Hell the first time should have worked too...but here we are. No steps closer to the family we have been praying for and day dreaming about.
The emotions of each cycle have been profoundly different. This time I don't have anger and shame...just disappointment and misunderstanding. Heartache.
The hard truth about being hopeful and full of faith is this, the fallout. When the things you are praying for are lost in a moment, next is devastating heartbreak. No way around it. I genuinely believed with every ounce of my being that this time would be "our time". So, as the initial fog clears I am now realizing that all the God "winks" I found comfort in during this process were not actually leading us to a baby. Not now anyway. They did however help me keep my composure as several of my beautiful family members and friends announce their positives and beautiful babies.
Through my tears I am genuinely overjoyed for them. But listen friend, I hope you never find yourself in any moments where you have to dig to find your joy for someone you love...all because you are literally dying inside. Sadly, I know some of you reading this, will or worse, already have like me. It’s excruciating. I hope you never have to cheer someone on while you secretly bury your pain. It's just hard and so very unfair...but you dig deep sister because the people we love deserve their moments (and our support) even when we are drowning. You are a warrior and celebrating with them is what's happening right now...do not let yourself miss out on that joy. I know it's hard but the truth is, I am so happy for them. Their blessings have nothing to do with me and I wouldn't dare taint such a God given gift by making it about me. I want to share their joy despite my circumstances. Yes it is difficult and I do have to unplug every now and then...but I am telling you to please keep sharing with me. I love you and your happiness helps heal me.
Want to know what the hardest part of being vulnerable in all of this is??? I didn't plan for this part. The aftershock. I am not ready to start thinking about what's next. I am not ready to process that we failed again. But I am sharing in this raw moment because I know there are women who need to hear they are not alone in their pain with infertility (or damn it, life in general). I know there are thousands of beautiful souls who just need a break from all the madness. Here's your proverbial hug sister. I hope you can feel how much I care about you and your story.
Sisters, we must take our pain one step at a time. We cry when we need to. Breathe when we need to. Vent when we need to. There is nothing shameful about this. The truth is, in my opinion, it's all about timing. There is a plan in place but we do not get to pick the dates when we receive our blessings. It's the hard truth. Another hard truth...you can take a break...you can rest. Take care of yourself. Learn to heal your body instead of feeling betrayed by it. I know the world puts time limits on things like this, BUT God y'all. But God. Don't count yourself out just yet ok?? He's got something big planned for each of us in this journey. My prayer is not that it comes when WE want friends, I pray it is right on time. From the trenches of infertility to the changing tables...you can do hard things...and I will hold your hand the whole way.
Sometimes life knocks us down...no wait...let's get real, life knocks us down ALL the time. It's how we rise that really matters, but let me ask you a question...how do you rest? Do you even know how? Do you even try? And I mean more than simply going to bed at night (sssshhhh and the amount of actual hours you sleep, probably isn't reflective of a healthy life balance either, but we will table that for now) or catching some Zzzzs when you nod off in the afternoon by mistake? I mean real quality rest. Time that you honor and respect as much as you do your hustle.
I personally have lived a life full of "get back up girl" moments. I am proud of each time I rose stronger and more equipped for the next life challenge. However, one thing I never gave serious thought to was the amount of rest I gave myself. Recovery time if you will. Mainly because I didn't rest. I believe we are called "overachievers" but I want to challenge that notion today. The breakneck pace that we run full speed ahead to the next "thing"...as if we get "there" before the "trouble" begins, then maybe we can control it? Prevent it? Course correct? Um NOPE. That's not reality. I am admittedly a person that creates and solves problems 10 years in advance. I am quite certain I have come up with and effectively solved most of my future mishaps. What a superpower huh?? (insert eye roll emoji) All while life was happening around me and I literally was missing it all. Hey sister, this is now. Now is everything. And let me let you in on a little secret...I have NEVER found myself in ANY of those prematurely crafted situations that I spent (wasted) countless hours reeling over. Sorry for the spoiler alert, but it just never works out the way we plan, want, or even fear. Sometimes it's worse and a lot of times is WAY better. Thank God for that.
So, what is this rest I speak of then??? It's something I only recently caught on to. And it's changing my life. Before you roll your eyes...read on a bit. Maybe you can relate. You see with IVF (In Vitro Fertilization, we are in our second round...see a few blogs back to catch up on that) there is so much out of our control. Really the only thing we can control is our attitude and it's not always easy. So, because of this I uncomfortably, found myself in this very foreign season of rest. One that I had to choose. At first I had NO CLUE what to do with it. My mind was all over the place...finding shame and guilt around every corner. Thinking that rest is for the weak or dare I say lazy (gasp).
It's just nonsense. All of it. All the lies we tell ourselves about "having" to be busy. Carrying it as if it's a badge of honor. It most certainly is not. However, busy and rest are not opposites. The opposite of busy is FREE. As in free time. Busy... and free can't exist in the same house. Busy in definition means having a great deal to do. But how careful are we to assess these tasks before piling them on top of our plates. When is the last time you said "let me think about that and I will get back to you?" or listening to your gut and going with the No (immediately) that you know is right for you? Hmmmm...what I am starting to realize is this, I don't want to be busy. Finding my choice in it all is very freeing. I want to be FREE. And in this freedom I get to decide how I spend my time. I get to choose what I give my energy to. So do you friend. What a freaking concept huh?? We do not have to say yes to people that we don't like, just to save face. We do not have to do anything that goes against our core values. Listen, I absolutely respect everyone's right to this...but if your energy or requests of me bring me down...I get up and leave. It's that simple. Sure it's uncomfortable (at first) but in order to rest you must learn to honor your time. That is your badge of honor!
So, if free is the opposite of busy, where does rest fit in?? Once you've eliminated “busy”, and start making choices that choose YOU first...that is where rest is found my friends. It is not just something that happens to you. You choose. Yes, sure maybe circumstances (like IVF) can cause you to slow down...but rest is a gift you give yourself in that slow period (or not slow at all). You must be intentional with it. Use it to bridge the gaps and tend to the parts of you that you've neglected for far too long. It is never something to feel guilty about. Choosing rest doesn't make you a bad person...it simply is recognizing you can not pour from an empty mug. And hear me friend, I believe when we choose rest...we'll uncover some of our greatest life wins. Maybe you are well rested (bravo, really), but if by chance you are not...I hope that today you consider taking one step in that direction, all while giving yourself a boatload of grace for your past life. It's in the past for a reason, let's leave it there and begin again, today.
Hugs & Love,
Hold on, let me go overthink about it....
That quote above is a start to a funny meme...and it's funny because it's true. Man oh man have I wasted countless hours of my life overthinking things I absolutely CAN NOT control. Anyone else?? You too, cool. Let me help you know you aren't alone. Read on.
All of my life I have obsessed over having the life I was "supposed" to live. White picket fence, 2.5 kids by 23yo, an adoring husband to grow old with that has no expectations of my aging body, a thoughtful job that never took me away from my duties to item 2 & 3, and ALL of it with ZERO encounters with any problems!
I just knew that once I followed all the rules, surely I would be rewarded with this life...in fact wrapped in a perfect little box. Ummmmmm, out of check with reality much??? Yep, that last part is the kicker here. I really believed that a problem free life can be earned (or exists at all). I am fully aware of how cray that sounds but it's truly what I had faith in...even tried to build my legacy on. Spoiler alert...it's all a lie that life, it's merely something that I created with my over thinking. And what has it accomplished?? Nothing to write home about, that's for sure. Only pain, tears, confusion, defeat, and heartbreak to name a few. Disclaimer: I love my life, but I work hard as hell everyday to live a life I love. Make no mistake...it’s not perfect, but it’s mine and I even got an adoring husband who accepts my aging body without expectation in this deal!
Before coming to this realization though, I can actually name nights I've lost sleep reeling through all the possibilities of a situation that in fact, turned out completely different than ANY scenario I could come up with. You know the worst part? Each time it didn't work out how I overthought it would (sometimes it ended up way better than I could have imagined, insert current life, because God) I took it as a failure and a set back. I saw my perfectly boxed life slipping through my fingers and the side effect...you guessed it...more overthinking. So what's a girl to do??? Well, I would love to tell you that I kicked this nasty habit once and for all, but that's not true. I have gotten better over the years...however, I do believe this never goes away...but we do have a choice in it. Yes, it's a choice. Every time I feel it happening, I must make a choice to stop it. How? Here are a few tips I have picked up along the way:
-Leave the space you are physically in and get some fresh air. Sometimes merely changing your surroundings can put out an overthinking fire that's dying to blaze. If you are in a moving vehicle...please stay buckled in, roll the windows down, and change the radio to your fav uplifting song. Music heals my soul and sometimes, when I am just not capable of finding words...I get the message through the very next song.
-Don't talk to anyone about your thoughts EXCEPT trusted advisors in your life or GOD. That's it. As humans it feels good to purge our crazy thoughts from time to time...to everyone we know...thinking maybe we can gain perspective faster that way...but it's a slippery slope, trust me.
-Keep a gratitude journal. Write in it every morning (5 things you are grateful for in that moment as well as your goals, choose to write those goals as if they have already happened and be bold with them) then in the event you feel yourself losing your grip...go to it. Read what YOU have written down to be the most important items to your life. It's kind of hard to overthink your situation when you are busy being grateful for what you already have. This one takes discipline, but by far has been the greatest help for me.
Please, let me be honest...these are only 3 of MY coping mechanisms. I have a whole arsenal full, because sometimes...you just need to try something new. So, whatever you find that helps you, do that. My choices may fall short for you, but the point is to remove the habit to overthink from the equation as much as humanly possible.
There is peace on the other side, and by peace I mean wisdom. Each time you allow your mind to be calm in an out of control situation, you are allowing yourself to learn from what's happening. That lesson gives you wisdom that you will carry into the next out of control situation and so on. Life isn't perfect and honestly your life shouldn't fit into a box. It's meant to be lived and learned wildly...but we hold ourselves back all the time with this overthinking mess. Let me share a secret with you...bless and release. Bad things are going to happen...hell good things are going to happen too...bank on that. The only thing that you can control in any of it, is your reaction. So, what will it be??? Growth and forward motion OR overthinking and staying put??? The beauty is, like I said, we get to choose...
Often in the midst of tragedy, it is difficult to find gratitude. I am no stranger to this and I'd bet my bottom dollar you agree. It's normal to go through something hard, then start questioning yourself.
"Why me?" has been a common theme in my life.
Recently, I've gone through several negative “bad” situations that have left me on a roller coaster of emotions. I am living out stages of grief like never before. Most days are good and then it hits me...the pity party of the year. I loathe self loathing...so I try to snap myself out of it quickly...but what happens when you just can't find your joy?? Well, that's a loaded question. There are lots you can "do" but just how many actually help?? Not many in the long run. Yes, of course prayer soothes me, my workouts ease the stress, my wine numbs the pain...but those are only temporary. Then I am right back where I started, in this crazy cycle of feeling less than or punished...asking why the "bad things" just keep coming???
Let me confess to you...
For a long time I subconsciously "well sort of" had made this pact with God. It went like this...I will work hard at doing good things because I want to be a good person...but secretly, for each "good thing" I am making deposits to my spiritual bank account. Hoping that God takes note of all the good energy I am sending back into the world. Collecting all these good things so that maybe someday I can cash them in. Can you relate?? Geez that feels better to let out, but also I am a bit embarrassed.
To clarify, I don't mean that I am only doing good to gain favor...I just mean to confess that part of me believed that if I did a lot of good, then "bad things" would happen less and less around and to me. How wrong I was and how much time I wasted overthinking this idea. Truth is bad happens...to us all. We live in a fallen world and for one reason or another...our choices OR someone else's, cause bad things to happen. And in case you were collecting "favor" like me, you aren't alone in wishing there is some way to prevent the bad. In my realization of this phenomenon in my life I also must make note of the other side of this lesson...
What I have come to realize (outside of the fact that collecting "favor" is an utter waste of time) is this, maybe all bad things don't happen TO us, maybe they happen FOR us?? Hmmmmmm. Now that's an idea. It seems the more gratitude I have during (and after) the hard things, the better I feel. The faster I "recover". They say it is pretty hard to complain and be grateful at the same time, and I agree. I find myself rolling with the punches a little more freely these days. Not because less bad is happening, but because I am able to see the blessings in the bad...not just the temporary inconvenience of pain. It isn't always easy and sometimes I have to revisit the idea over and over...but all in all, I find what I can be grateful for in the bad, and it's changing my life.
Next time you face adversity, look for the blessings you can be grateful for in the moment... and I promise you...(if you try) you'll like what you find.
Have you ever seen time stand still? Like it feels as if the world has stopped spinning all together?
Ask anyone who has experience with IVF...and I bet you’ll get a resounding YES! (hand raised emoji here).
On 5/16/2018 we started our IVF cycle. Officially, it began on 7/20/18...but we said “let’s do it” back in May. Our first cycle wrapped 90 days later on 8/16/2018 and the results were devastating.
I mean we spend half our lives trying to prevent pregnancy and then when we actually want it...it's a negative. Over and over and over.
So after all the $$$$, shots, bloating, swelling, surgery, meds, supplements, more shots, pain, confusion, tears, zero coping mechanisms, 6AM blood tests, ultrasounds, waiting...and our 6 (SIX) embabies...all perished. Without a trace. Except the enormous hole that is now left smack dab in the middle of our hearts. Now that you know the ending to our first cycle...read on to find out what we learned from it and why we are choosing to do it again.
IVF isn’t for the faint of heart. They tell you the odds going in, yet when this is “your only option”...what’s a couple to do?? So we went all in.
I have to start with sharing that I didn't want to "do" IVF. I struggled with the decision for over a year before finally deciding to say yes. Why? Many reasons for sure...but the largest, my fear of failure. At the time we started the IVF process I had finally overcome some huge life and health obstacles. For the first time, in what seemed like forever, I was living healthy. Mind, body, and soul. The fact that the odds weren't in our favor gave me terrible anxiety, for obvious reasons. I love my life. I wasn't in a mood to step into something that I knew could crush me. But I did it anyway. Because sometimes against all odds...we have hope anyway. Starting a family is such a sensitive subject. I had no idea just how sensitive really. Kids had been off my radar for quite sometime. (my “be His legs” blog explains in detail all the moments leading up to this yes, if you'd like to know, peek around) I just figured that when I met the right man, it would happen. Just like that. Boy was I wrong. First off I was in denial for 4 FOUR years before seeking help...my #1 goal is to keep you from doing that (if you haven't already). Denial...such a difficult choice I made...but my choice nonetheless.
When we started casually "trying" (four years ago) and month after month there was a negative...I started blaming and shaming myself big time. I was really hard on myself. Thinking maybe I was being punished. For what? Who knows? But I really lost myself in this. Never once did "fertility issues" enter my mind. I always blamed my extra weight...the extra booze...stress...my past...all the things pointed to me. How wrong I was but it's the truth and I don't want you to fall prey to your own thoughts in the way I did. So life events happened...family loss, moves, lots happened in those 4 years. I wasn't even in my 30s when this began so I just thought we had time. And the truth is...things change after 30. This milestone obviously doesn't mean kids are out of the question, but I was completely unaware of how much my body had actually changed in these years.
The worst part of the "unknown" stages (the time before I actually sought medical guidance and made up my own reasons for why babes weren’t in our lives) watching "everyone" getting what I was praying for...sometimes even when they weren't even praying for a family. My heart would break every time I saw a birth announcement. I mean of course I was happy for my darling friends and family...but ouch. More shame followed. Rinse and repeat. At one point I seriously counted 45 birth announcements in a 90 day period. I mean either I know too many people or I was being punished...what the what man??? It seemed like a cruel joke. I would ebb and flow between strength and pure weakness. The 2nd worst part was the dreaded questions..."when are you going to start a family?" or "how many kids do you have?" or "you better hurry up, you aren't getting any younger!" Even better..."If you would just stop stressing, it would happen." (for the record this is the WORST advice you can offer, it stings like a paper cut in the midst of these struggles). Stop the questions...they aren't conversation fillers and truth is, you have no idea how much weight is in the question being tossed around so nonchalantly. This was such a hard time in my life. I felt attacked with these questions and my heart ached all the time. It was so hard that I eventually reached the conclusion that kids just weren't for us. (I had no medical advice or reason to think this, but I was just certain) It just hurt too much to keep hoping our time would come too.
Let me tell you something...our minds are powerful tools. We can use them for good and we can let them destroy us as well. It's all a process of trial and error too. I guess I believed that if I could be "ok" with the idea that we couldn't have kids then it would make it easier if we never did...oh my word...that's so ridiculous and for the record, being prepared for tragedy NEVER makes it easier. So, I went deeper down the rabbit hole, until I couldn't even see the light anymore. I won't go into full detail on this, but know you can make it out of this pain. Wanting to be a parent and create a human with your spouse, to start a family...and not being able to is HARD. Like so hard no one can even understand. I see you. I am you and I promise, you can find the light in this. It takes time. But you will.
So, I had mentioned I didn't want to do IVF at the beginning of this...and that's the truth. I hadn't really even heard of this idea until the last couple of years of trying. It was a hard no. Hard pass. Until it wasn't. I decided to make the appointment for family planning and off I went. To sum up what happened in the next year...in a nut shell... I learned that our no kids issue was related to medical issues from both parties. Holy shit...what a relief ( I am not kidding at all) it was like learning that this was a 50/50 deal took so much weight off of me. We learned that in fact our only option for kiddos would be to give IVF a try. I should mention that my part in the infertility was a medical condition that took me a full year to get a hold of...so IVF was still a hard pass for me. It was so strange how giving these symptoms a name really helped to heal me. I no longer felt like I was drowning. In this year I actually learned to enjoy the present. To live in the now. To appreciate every breath. I had wasted so much time wishing for something that may never happen. I will never do that again. I am enough, with or without kids...and you are too.
So fast forward to about a year and a half in recovery (we will call it) and my hubby asks if I had considered IVF at all. To be honest I hadn't. I was finally in a place of happiness and joy that I hadn't known in a long time...this process just seemed like a derailment was inevitable. I didn't want to take it off the table completely but I also knew the major reason I didn't want to was fear. And let me say...it takes a lot of work to make yourself whole. It's a huge accomplishment to discover your worth. I don't mean to say that kids would take anything away from that...I don't think that at all, but there is power in knowing who you are and what you want. I know women who have dreamed of motherhood since they can remember...also I know and love friends that know kids are not for them. My point is that I encourage you to follow your heart on this step (and any for that matter) there is no point in doing something for someone else. Doing what we think we are "supposed" to isn't healthy and really just breeds unhappiness in the long run. So, I honor your choices and I respect that we all get to choose our own path.
I knew that I just wanted to be healthy. I want to share that I had become ok with a childless life. That doesn't mean I can't embrace motherhood, but it does mean that I in fact can picture a happy future with my hubby...without children in it. I want you to know that you matter regardless of any outcome. HEAR ME...the outcome of this process (or any process) doesn't define your worth one way or the other. You matter because you are alive. Baby or not...you are beautifully and wonderfully made.
So, back to my husband's question. This was the first time HE had started the baby conversation so I started praying about it. It was clear to me that not trying would be way worse than giving it a go, so I knew what had to be done. I pushed through my fears and made the appointment. And now we are full circle.
We started our cycle 7/20/2018. When I say cycle I mean the very calculated and scientific process that is known as IVF. It's not fun. And I could go way into detail...but unless you go through it, you just can't even imagine how difficult it is. As a nurse, I understood most of the process by proxy...but for any of you that don't come from a medical background, I bow down to you. You are brave souls. Injections in the stomach are the worst...and in the butt UGH. I can't even. My hormone levels were all jacked up and crazy part is I was choosing this. We knew that they whole "cycle" would last about a month. So we did the things. Went to the appointments. Prayed and cried and waited. Each cycle is different for each woman...but a few things are the same. Meds/injections, egg growth, retrieval, transfer and then the two week wait to see if the embryo implanted. That's the absolute worst. Can I get an Amen if you've been there??
So, after what seemed like a year (but only 10 days in reality) I got the call. Mrs. Calderon...I am so sorry but today your pregnancy test is negative and none of your embryos made it. Immediately I couldn't breathe. I was sobbing and overwhelmed with sadness. I was so attached to those babies. We had created them, with a little bit of science. They were ours. They made me a Mom and I could feel something deep in my bones shift. I sat on my bed and my first thought was (I even ate the damn pineapple core!) then my next one was it's going to be ok. I started to process that no embryos made it and for whatever reason, this little embaby didn't stick. The grief still comes and goes daily but I have to share with you that I knew Jesus was physically sitting there with me holding my hand, crying with me. God doesn't want things like this to happen. But I can promise you He brings beauty from the ashes. I felt peace that I have never known (even through all the tears) and I knew without a doubt...I sure do want to be a Mom. A dream I had buried so deep under fear and mistakes and rejection...a dream that was abundantly clear...because seriously, no sane person goes through IVF if they don't really want to be a parent. Our dream is alive a staring back at me. Another real truth...I believed with my whole heart that this was going to work. And although the first ending is devastating, this is the first time in a long time that I had full faith. I so wasn't prepared for the heartache, but that's because I believed...and that my friends is a BIG win. I rarely do things that I am not certain I will succeed at...and I did this. With my husband by my side. We did this and we will do it again. 100% all in. The things we learned about each other are fabulous and honestly this brought us closer together than I thought possible. He's always been my ride or die...but having to give your wife a huge shot in the bum daily...well that will change some things. In a good way.
I believe that this was part of the plan. I truly do. We are a team and we have always been able to do hard things together. It's become second nature to us really. But this tested our patience and heart strings in ways that we had never known. I saw a side of him that I hadn't before. A tender side that had no interest in me feeling alone in one second of this. One that asked questions to ensure that I was going to be safe. That losing me was a risk to great to bear. It's times like these that your warriors step up to the plate. He sure did, just as I knew he would. I have more heroes in all this too. I am so grateful for that. Like I said before this has changed me. I am acutely aware of how precious life is...how fragile. Also, how little power we have in what happens. We can try to control it all we want, but it's a waste of time. I get it. And I am guilty. Moving forward to our second try...we have learned so much, we are better equipped and we just won't take no for an answer. Yes this is hard. Yes this is painful physically and mentally. But we aren't scared anymore. We know that trying again may end with the same results. Why are we trying again? Because we know that looking back in 20 years saying wish we would have tried...isn't an option. So we will exhaust the possibilities, not out of desperation, but out of love for each other. We will continue to grow our partnership running in the direction of love, NOT fear. We will try again. Because we are able.
If you are battling the symptoms or in a cycle of IVF currently my heart is with you. It's a club I wish we weren't in together, but I am happy to give you a hug or encourage you the best I can. It is not lost on me that our situation isn't the worst case scenario...however it is OUR worst case. So feel your feels. Stay positive but give yourself time to grieve. You are allowed to be angry and cry and feel defeated. Just don't unpack and live there. No matter the stage you are in...I encourage you to repeat this to yourself..."my worth isn't defined by the outcome of this process...either way." You are loved. There is so much to learn from this journey if you open your eyes and drown out the extra noise. Don't let this ruin your spirit. I know that's easy to say...but it is possible.
We will try again, not right now, but we will. This has catapulted us into some really big changes. One step at a time. This is only the beginning of building our family...I know in my heart what's next is going to blow our minds! Thank you for sharing in this journey...for praying...for loving on us...it's made all the difference. Below are a few snapshots I took to remember the process. Please know that there are so many details I am not sharing...because they are painful...but this is our truth. And I am so freaking proud of us.
...Beautiful Destinations. But not before a whole lot of hard lessons. Welcome to the final chapter of this story.
As I stepped on the scale at my Gyno in early 2017, I started soaking in the hard truth. Something was really wrong. I was officially at my heaviest weight EVER, regardless of diet or exercise. This couldn't just be what my 30's felt like, right??? My anxiety was so bad that I literally couldn't function some days. I suffered, I mean I didn't realize how bad until after reflecting a bit...but the best description is suffering. So, this is it. Today things are going to change. And they did. Oh did they change. I'm not sure how I'll come out on the other side, but it's go time. **(to the few of you who loved me, I mean really loved me through these years...I can never repay you...forever grateful, you know who you are. )
So what did we find??? Hasimoto's Hypothyroidism. The diagnosis that changed everything.
This condition wreaked havoc on my life, untreated, for more years than I even realized. I am not going to go into detail about the actual disease, but just know that this discovery explained EVERY SINGLE symptom I had been surviving. EVERY.SINGLE.ONE. Including infertility. My second reaction (right after thank you Jesus)?? Honestly...relief. I finally had a name to put on all of this madness.
If you’ve never heard of the aforementioned condition...look it up. It's a nasty autoimmune form of a low functioning thyroid and it's slow but steady process absolutely tortured me... (side bar: if you look it up and think you feel the same, go see your doc...it's not worth pretending this can't be you too, trust me).
I was so stubborn and in denial that sheer havoc had become my reality. On my mind, body, and soul...but like I said, only now...it had a name. And that name didn't start with "you are being punished for all your past mistakes".
So, first... I had to do LOTS of testing to be sure of what we were dealing with. When we knew that, the plan to tackle this began. There were a couple little "C" word scares, but rest assured those were false alarms and again I will say...cancer is NOT how my story will end. I also learned more about our infertility. It's interesting how I went into all of this to understand more about "why" we weren't getting pregnant...and came out understanding that my overall health had been in jeopardy. (Again, I will say it loud for the people in the back, DO NOT be like me and wait for medical help. The Nurse in me is guilty of waiting to long to seek help, it's not worth the wait. Believe me.)
What came next surprisingly came with ease. I mean I had been dieting and exercising blindly for years so I was used to focusing on health...but this time I brought in the big guns. I adjusted my diet and started on medications and supplements to ensure my overall health. I hired a personal trainer and within a few short months...the weight came off and I could literally breathe again. I dug deeper and focused harder even with big setbacks. I switched up my trainer for OTF (Orangetheory fitness for those who don't know and I am OBSESSED). My specialists follow me closely and we are on top of this. It doesn't own me at all anymore. It's just part of my story.
I had been broken and tired for so long and as I healed I felt like a brand new woman. And really I was. I shed more than just weight in the coming months. I shed expectations and fears and pain. No everything wasn't perfect (never will be) and I still have to make adjustments, but what I have gained is freedom. I found my self worth that day in my Doctor's office. I know that may sound strange (because trust me...a Gyno office isn't where I expected to find my self worth y'all) but it is true. You see what happened in early 2017 was monumental for me. I finally chose to believe that I deserved to be as happy as I always dreamed of being. I stopped accepting NO as an answer or "that's just how it is"...no more. I sought help...because God knows I needed it. I mean don't we all??? I chose me and will continue to do so...every.single.day. Just because it gets hard...doesn't mean I run in the other direction or stop. I may be crawling at times, but I am still moving.
Over the years I have collected so many misguided views of what my life was "supposed" to look like. So much that suffering had become a norm to me...a NORM...what the what?? There's just no reason to suffer like that and I won't ever go back. I hope you will join me in owning your truth. Telling your own story. It's healed my broken spirit and it's given me to power to move forward out of the darkness. Now don't get me wrong. Growth happens in darkness but I have emerged. Changed. Redeemed. I know that this is a work in progress. I know that my story is still happening...and I am still writing it.
This story began with me opening myself to tell our truth. The hard truth. The places in my childhood that used to haunt me. The events as I grew up, that filled me with shame. Now that it’s out there, I think my Dad is proud. I believe he’d love that I buried the bad and quite literally am carrying the best parts with me now. That sacrificing my happiness is no longer part of my life .
I have lived a life full of ups and downs...it's been unfair...and at times I really wanted to throw in the towel. However, through all of this I am sure He has bigger plans for me. I have no idea what they are, but the dreams God has placed on my heart are driving me home. I would love to have this story end right here with a million dollar movie ending...but the truth is, my story is just beginning. I want to share a little something as I close...and I hope you'll take what you need from all of this...
***There's a story in the Bible that talks about Jesus meeting a sick man outside of a pool that had healing waters in Bethesda. The story goes like this...the man had been ill for 38 years (a really long time). He waited as many sick people did at this place, but every time the waters were stirring (the time when the next person to step in would be healed)...he was unable to get himself to the pool and if he ever got close someone else would go ahead of him. When Jesus came to him he asked a very simple question..."Do you want to be made well?"... Then Jesus said, "Rise up, take your bed and walk." ***
As I read it, it's almost as if Jesus says, forget the pool...you don't need that to thrive...get up and walk!
This story reminds me beautifully of how we complicate our lives for no good reason. We focus our attention on unimportant things and we blame all kinds of things for our "sickness". I am guilty and I do not believe this is the only time I will have to ask this to myself. So...my question to you today is the same. Do you want to be made well??? I had to want to be made well before it could happen. Our desire to live a life we love cannot simply be a dream...it must be a priority. The circumstances of my life no longer dictate what my future looks like. I am on a journey that is all my own. And so are you.
I did rise up and walk...I used our story, my story...to be His legs.
Love you all...take care of yourselves.
The next few months I made half-hearted attempts at self care. Transformation. To be honest, every decision I made was out of fear and not for me. (I had been doing this for so long, that I didn't even realize it had become second nature) I did what I thought I should do or what I believed others wanted from me. Strange thing is this, none of it worked. Well that's unfair...some of it worked, temporarily. Ever have that happen? You read a book that inspires you in the moment or you start following a public figure that you look up to...only to eventually start looking at yourself and wonder why you don't measure up? Yeah. Me too.
I spent the better part of 2016 trying to keep from feeling so empty, all while being sure no one saw the darkness. My efforts weren't totally in vane though. Some of that experience finally sank in...it just took the right timing. Even my therapy worked, but only when I really started to unpack my baggage. And that time wasn't right now.
Rock bottom has been a place that I have rebuilt my life, a few times along my journey. 2016 was no different. I finally reached my breaking point. I had stuffed and stuffed all my feels down...and it was no longer sustainable. I remember the moment I knew everything had to change. Like, if I were going to survive this, kind of change. I will spare you the details, but it wasn't pretty. During this time I lost one of my favorite people, my PawPaw. He had a long battle with heavy diagnoses, but that man was a beacon of hope. My hope. I take joy in knowing he is pain free and telling corny jokes in heaven...but I sure would love one more hug from him. Everyday.
So, just as stepped forward knowing I needed to change...this loss knocked me right back to my knees. You know they say when it rains it pours...and I was starting to feel like my storm would never pass. I wouldn't come to terms with this loss for many months and the process was ugly.
Ever been at a bar in the wee hours of the morning (definitely not sober)...most likely making a fool of yourself, but in the moment you feel like you are crushing it at life. Then you walk into the bathroom and catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror...yeah that moment...when you see that you in fact are not the beautiful, fun, table dancing queen...you had totally been when you walked in...you are actually a sweaty mess making really terrible life decisions. Yep...that was me at the end of 2016. I finally succumbed to the fact that the only way out of this mess, was to go straight through it. And so it began.
I knew the change that was about to occur would take full commitment. It wasn't just about the weight gain...or the daily tears (in my closet) about my inadequacy as a human. It wouldn't simply take a diet change or a few audiobooks. It would take everything I have...and I was finally ready to step out on the limb. So I did.
This process came similarly to the stages of grief. My first Nursing job (critical care) helped to catapult me into truly understanding grief. It comes and goes and there are no rules. Helping others navigate this in fact proved to be of no help in my personal life. I so wanted to hope that helping others grieve would "fix" me, and that I wouldn't have to do the hard work of digging deep, chasing down this fear, and burying it. Not so much.
January of 2017 I started making some calls. The first one was the hardest. To make an appointment with my Doc about my health and the dreaded “family planning”. Well for us...the lack there of, our own little family. You see, for 4 years I had been praying for those babies I had began dreaming of long ago. Suffering each month I saw a negative. I was in total denial that fertility issues could be a part of this...and making that call (to me) meant I was admitting defeat. I had decided that maybe kids just weren't in the cards for us...like as if “making this unrealistic conclusion” would help prepare me for the worst case senerio. For the record...being prepared doesn’t make any tradegy or loss easier...ever.
So, I prayed. Scheduled the appointment and half-heartedly agreed to show up...I was drowning in sorrow, but deep down...I knew I had to prove myself wrong. I had to rise. Imperfections and all. The morning of that appointment I chose to change my life...once and for all. You see the process is what I’ve always feared...the process holds the whole story. The most scary and the most beautiful. And I knew in order to write my new chapters...I’d have to face embracing the process head on...for real this time...
Selfish. Ambitious. Choice. When did you become the judge?
10 years ago I wanted nothing more than a house full of my own children...but deep down I was scared. I come from divorce. I come from regret. I come from trial and MUCH error. Even though my biological clock was clearly ticking...could I possibly raise a human without completely ruining their soul??? What if I never found a man that I knew I could trust with the task of husband and father again? What if I never became a Mother, then who would I be? What if I never became anyone without kids??
These are all real questions I used to ask myself on a regular basis (some I still do...) Early on in my twenties I chose divorce over abuse and let me tell you...until recently in my early thirties...I truly believed I was being punished for that sin. My mind needed to have a reason I was seeing EVERYONE around me get exactly what I was praying for. (Even though I really had no idea what I wanted). So, it must be a punishment right??? Good grief. Jump to conclusions much?? I used to thrive on that game. Deciding what I wanted in life, and then coming up with EVERY reason that it just wouldn't happen for me. A lot of that was fear and I have addressed that in other parts of this story...however I would like to now share the part of my story that I never saw coming.
I always wanted kids...until I didn't. And before you stop reading, it's not that I don't really want them...it's that I don't like to feel like I am nothing without them. The world has a way of sneaking in the back door and stealing all of your joy as it relates to this issue...if you let it. So , here I am, 30 years old, child free and completely lost. For many different reasons...but not being a Mom is one of them. Remember all that needing to ask myself what "I really want" in the last chapter, boy did that go over well. (insert eye roll) There's something I learned in 2014-2015...it was the skill of looking inward for the truth. The thing about introspection is this...it sucks...at first. It's like a muscle and as long as you use it often it stays strong, but building that muscle in the beginning really sucked for me. It's really no fun to take full responsibility for your own happiness. The gurus describe it like it's easy...and that's just not true. Which is why many people never do it. I knew that freedom was on the other side of the introspection, so I began to climb the mountain. One fact that kept glaring me in the face was this...
I always thought I would have time with my Dad to one day reconnect, in a big way.
Full disclosure, I always thought that would happen when I had kids. At the time I began using that as a comfort, it seemed like it made sense. But it made as much sense as saying I would quit smoking when I had kids...none at all. Here I am, child free...Dad is gone and there is no time to make sense of this. I know I must move forward but how? Did I just keep telling myself that I wanted kids because I thought I should? Or that it would be the stage when I got my Dad back? Why am I all of the sudden feeling like children aren't in the future for me? Overwhelmed. I will have to unpack that at a later time.
The shame and guilt was consuming me. I had so much to be grateful for in life. A loving husband, full of grace for me...and great career, a new business that was thriving, new friends, and a place to start over where no one knew about my past. The perfect fresh start...turned into my worst nightmare.
I had coached families for years as a Nurse through death and dying. I was fully capable of understanding the stages of grief but the trouble was...this happened right in the middle of my fresh start. I was so angry that right in the middle of finally finding my way, it seemed as if I was taking 100 steps backwards. Losing him caught me completely off guard. I much preferred the space where we loved each other from a far, but he was still alive...a phone call away...These two years were very dark for me. I suffered every single stage of grief...multiple times. On the outside, absolutely no one knew it. But I was dying inside. Have you ever felt like you had every reason to be happy, but just couldn't find it. That light, that peace??? Me too. So, I started looking for it everywhere. Even though I no longer felt my biological clock ticking per say... I prayed everyday that I would get pregnant so I could find my joy again. I am so grateful God has bigger plans. Having a child in the state of mind I was in would have been...well the timing wasn't right. Period. I am thankful God didn't give into my selfish prayers. As if having children "fixes" anything. Unanswered prayers are full of grace that you can see...once you finally open your eyes. Sharing with you the reason I was praying for kids...just feels like something I must do. There is power in vulnerability and I just can't believe I am the only one that has prayed for something for selfish reasons. So here it is. My truth.
I would find happiness occasionally but then it would slip away again. I was functioning, but barely. My weight gain got out of control, no matter what I tried...my health was in the red and life just started to feel like a dead end road. Despite all the goodness I had around me. I was looking at it all wrong. I kept thinking that happiness was a destination. One that I could reach or earn. Simply not true. Can you relate?
The more I searched for my happiness in the world around me...the more empty I felt. What a roller coaster ride I was on and truthfully I was afraid to reach out to anyone. Comparison became my nemesis. It stole every ounce of my joy. Ever wonder how people who seem to "have it all" can still be so miserable??? I can tell you first hand, I lived it...and a major part of it was comparing my chapter 1 to others finished novel. Doing that wasted so much time. But in order to tell you my whole story...you have to know the truth. Through the grief of losing my Dad, I learned what depression is and how real it's effects are. I relate 100% to anyone who feels the stigma as well. And if you are reading this...and feel like you can't talk to anyone about how you feel...talk to me. I believe you. I know your pain and I am telling you, YOUR STORY IS NOT OVER!!! It's so important that you hear me when I say that. Reach out, anytime of day and I will help you look in the mirror and see how precious you are to the whole world. Especially the one directly around you.
I was praying for all the things I thought would bring me happiness...and maybe one day they will...but today is not that day...
What is the one thing in your life that you literally run from? That one "thing" that you will do just about anything to avoid?
Mine is conflict. Ugh even the word makes me cringe. It's a complicated explanation, but here it goes...
I like to think that I deal well with conflict, but truth is...I just do whatever it takes to keep it from happening. Most of the time my basic and essential needs are put aside as I do this. Not good. Ever. I have spent my life going second so that conflict is almost never part of my day. (Yes, I realized how unrealistic this is...) The sneaky thing is that I really like to put others first. I enjoy helping others feel special. Giving, being easy going...and all that jazz, but there are supposed to be boundaries. Right?? Yes. I am just now, at 30 years old, coming around to realizing that I have a major problem of using kindness to fuel my avoidance of conflict. It's like an addiction. Can you relate? I will tell you this...coming to terms with this has been a long process and one that I am not sure will ever be complete. I stay torn between being a YES girl and wanting to live in peace and tranquility. The struggle is real and I am constantly jumping on and off the struggle bus.
To be completely honest though, as much as I avoid it, conflict is really all I've ever known. Chaos if you will. Pain. As a child it was out of my control, but as an adult I am finding that when I feel peace, immediately I will seek out conflict. Peace feels wrong...different...way to easy. Not for me. Chaos and conflict give me a space where I can accomplish and solve. In conflict, I get results but the funny thing is...life doesn't have to be that way. To some this may simple, but the "pain" of life was the most comfortable place for me to exist. Survive.
My husband is a great source of peace in my life and truly one of the only human beings I allow into my head. I let pretty much everyone into my heart, but until this very post...you've never been in my head. My mind...where a lot of scary things happen...and to be fair (finally in my 30s) there is more bright than scary. But for most of my life seeking out conflict has exhausted me and left me empty. See why I said it's an addiction?? It's taken so many years to see that the cost of my actions is two high a price. From the outside I appear to be such a wonderfully helpful and kind person...and I am...however, the turmoil I put myself through to see others NOT have to have conflict or pain, is out of control. I learned this skill from my Dad. I watched him countless times. Create a mess only to then try to clean it up (sort of). We created these habits...wait for it...so we didn't have to deal with our own feels. Address our own problems. Our own deeply rooted pain. I personally have opted for less of pointing my finger at someone else as a distraction, and more of gathering the hurt and trying not to let it spread. It seems noble but I would like for you to know (right here, right now) the real sadness it causes me. My Dad suffered so very much during his years on this earth. Creating and solving conflict was his coping mechanism. As a child I watched, trying to help as much as I could, but it was just to big to carry. So, I developed a habit of feeling like I had to solve every problem within 100 miles of me. I had failed him (so I thought) and I am still on that mission to never let it happen again. He had a great big heart (no matter the shitty choices he made at times) and in the end he is remembered for the way he made others feel special. How he created spaces for others to exist in peace (even if he himself was always suffering) I try to do that too. But not at the same cost. Not spinning my wheels and never feeling peace. I know if he were here...that's what he would tell me now. He'd say, "BoHogs, don't do it like me...do it like YOU, because you are meant to change the world in a BIG way baby".
Real talk. The thing about becoming aware of your behavior, means you are obligated to evaluate and change it (if needed). Well, that's what happened to me anyway. You know...the old saying..."when you know better, you do better." To me that's always seemed a little unfair (mostly because I don't like the pain associated with dealing with my own feels) but it's completely true. So, how does one who despises conflict, seem to be surrounded by it all the time??? Good question. One that I am still working to answer myself. The thing is I really don't like conflict, but it had become a coping mechanism for me over the years. When I need to "feel better about me" I help a friend (or 10) with their conflicts...or I look for ways I can "help out" anyone, anywhere. For a long time I never really saw the danger in this...until I did. One day I looked up from being the "helpy helper" I am and I was exhausted. Defeated. 45 pounds overweight. Sad. Lonely. Lost. I was no where near where I wanted to be in my life. Where I thought I was supposed to be, but how was I going to make a change? Where would I start? I had to start dealing with those feels and when I opened Pandora's box...the first thing I had to address was this...
Why am I allowing conflict to consume my life? Letting this create unhappiness and pain? Where do I really want to be?? This lead to me having to review my "blueprint" for life and this changed everything...the next chapter starts with me thanking God for unanswered prayers.