Fertility · Wellness

The Stars Aligned

Tonight my mom picked Massimo up from daycare.  While she was there, she had a more personal conversation with one of his teachers than I had before.  To be fair, I don’t often see this particular teacher because she leaves before I get off work. Massimo loves this teacher very much.

According to my mom, the teacher had a long struggle with miscarriages–she had three.  Then her catch of a husband left her after he had gotten another lady pregnant.

My mom had told her about my journey and how I got Massimo–so that she would not lose hope.

That got me to thinking.  I’ve been so consumed by other perceived injustices in my life, that I have kind of lost sight of what’s really important and how lucky I really am.

One time in my life, the stars literally all aligned perfectly.  I went through a full IVF cycle.  Just one.  One viable embryo was fertilized.  Just one.  The first time.  It’s a good thing too because I would not have put myself through that again.  And after all of that, I had a healthy baby boy.

The month or two leading up to the procedure involved reducing my estrogen to basically nothing and then increasing it substantially.  The reduction allowed the docs to start from scratch.  And then they pumped me full of estrogen to stimulate as many follicles as possible.

On a daily basis, I had to give myself shots.  Every day or two, I had the opportunity to visit the doc for a blood test and ultrasound.

The follicles that were stimulated produced eggs that were then harvested in one procedure.  After that, the eggs were fertilized individually.  Then the best two seven- (or was it five?) day embryos were to be implanted.   After the requisite number of days, only one embryo remained–and I was told that it was a beautiful embryo  (its hard to know what to compare it to–particularly when you are heavily medicated).

I think that’s pretty lucky.  I was lucky for two reasons:  (1) there was one good embryo, and (2) there was only one good embryo (not two).  It was an amazing celestial alignment that there were not more embryos because the standard of care for the IVF study was to implant two embryos.   I was so so so scared I was going to get pregnant with twins.  I was scared anyway but the whole idea of bringing two humans into this world at one time was more than I could imagine.

Even more amazing, is that the implantation of the one good embryo was successful and that I had a healthy baby boy nine months later.

The emotional ups and downs and the amount of mental energy that entire process took was crazy.  Kudos to the women who have been through the process multiple times–sometimes with multiple disappointments.   The amount of emotional and mental resolve that must take is much more than I can imagine.

 

Love,

 

J

 

 

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Food · Whole 30

Easy Peezy Sheet Pan Chicken and Veggies

This is one of my favorite, easy, kid friendly Whole 30 recipes.  Literally all you do is put veggies and chicken in the oven.  This recipe is really a summer recipe with yellow summer squash, zucchini and eggplant but its been so H.O.T., I think its alright to have it now.

 

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Ingredients:

2 yellow squash

2 zucchini

1 eggplant (if you like, I omitted)

2 bell peppers

3 shallots

A carton of grape tomatoes

2 split chicken breasts

1/4 cup olive oil

The juice of about 1 1/2 lemons

1 Tbsp garlic

Basil

Here’s what you do:

Preheat your oven to 450.

Cut up all of your veggies.  Place them in one layer in a baking pan.

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Mix together the olive oil, lemon juice and garlic.

Drizzle the mixture on top of the veggies.

Bake for 25 minutes.  Tossing half way through.

Meanwhile, rinse your chicken breasts, pat, salt and pepper.

After 25 minutes, move the veggies to one side and put your chicken breasts on the pan.

Bake the chicken and veggies for 30 minutes.

When done, carve the chicken from the bone.  Mix the chicken and veggies together and sprinkle with fresh basil.

The veggies will cook down.  So if you have room and want more veggies or chicken, cook more!

Let me know if you like this!  Like, comment, and share!

Love,

J

 

Parenting · Wellness

Are you happy Mommy? Are you happy?

You can’t pour from an empty cup.  Remember to take care of yourself first.

There are very few things that have more impact on my child than my own emotional well-being.

Massimo often asks me if I’m happy.  I usually respond, “of course, baby you’re with me.”  He smiles.

The other day, I changed it up a bit.  He ran away from me in the parking lot at school.  It wasn’t a very busy parking lot–no one else was there. But that’s not really the point.  He ran away and pretended it was a game and he wouldn’t come back.  I’m sure that some parent somewhere would have just the antidote to that situation.  But I didn’t.  I chased him until I could grab his hand and then swiftly walked him back to my car.

I didn’t say a word to him.

As we reached the car, he said “are you happy mommy, are you happy?”  In the sweet little voice that only he has.

I didn’t respond.

I put him in his car seat.  I got into the driver side and started to drive away.

Again, “are you happy mommy?  are you happy?”

Finally, I said “No, I’m not happy.  You ran away from me in a parking lot and you did not come back.  You could have gotten hurt very bad.  And that would have made Mommy very sad.  So, no, Mommy is not happy right now.”

He promptly exploded into a terrible cry.  I didn’t have to chastise him.  I didn’t have to really do all that much except tell him that I wasn’t happy–and he was immediately upset.

Now, I’m not certain that he will change his behavior the next time.  He may.  He may not.  I don’t want to set my expectations all that high.

The point is though, that children–even two-year old self-absorbed ones–want their parents to be happy.  My child wants that so much–that when I tell him I’m not–he cries.

It is impossible to be happy all time.  Sometimes life gets in the way of happiness.  Sometimes we just have a bad day, or week, or month, or year.

But here’s the thing–I don’t think that happiness is a place.  It is more of a state of mind.  In order to get to that state of mind, I often employ a variety of techniques.

Here are my tried and true methods of finding a little place of happiness (in no particular order):

(1) A gratitude journal.  Sit down on a regular basis and write down three things that you are grateful for.  When I focus on the things I have to be grateful for, I become less focused on the things that I am unhappy about.  I employ this with Massimo every night–I ask him what he is grateful for.

(2)  Exercise.  It increases my endorphins and my sense of well-being.  It also helps quiet my mind.  I find yoga particularly helpful–an hour and half in a hot room will make me forget all of my troubles.  But any form of exercise will do.  Just find your flow.

(3) Pray.  I’m not the most religious person or “best” the Christian you will ever meet.  Of that much, I’m certain.  I’m also certain of God’s grace.   I see it everyday in my son and  I experience it in nature.

(4) Meditation.  According to a Zen proverb, “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.”  Meditation is amazing.  It gives me time to just sit still–time to release all of the negatives and just focus on the moment.  It may not work for you, if it doesn’t–just try siting still for five minutes–without interruption.

(5) Journaling.  I find if I write down what’s on my mind, it is easier for me to let it go.  If I can let it go, it no longer consumes me.

(6) Nature.  Being outside in nature has a calming effect.  It can be anywhere–somewhere fancy on an exotic trip.  Or at the local park.  Being outside in nature makes me realize that I’m part of a bigger universe–that any problems that I face are just hiccups along the way.

(7)  Reaching out to someone for help.  This can be a therapist or a friend.  It is just helpful to have someone else to talk about my worries with.   This is why social networks (not necessarily online social networks) are very important to single parents.

(8)  Cry.  If all else fails, I go for a drive and cry.  I cry big crocodile tears.  Or if I am feeling saucy I wait until Massimo is in bed, have a glass of wine and cry those same big crocodile tears.  Either way, when I’m done feeling sorry for myself, I pull up my big girl pants and move forward because I’ve got things to do.

I think it is even more critical to recognize that children are not the person to talk about your worries with.  Children rely on their parents to take care of them and their parents’ emotional well-being is important to them.  They do not need to know their parents’ problems or be their parents’ therapist.  They are children–and if there is one time that life should be all about rainbows and butterflies–it is childhood.

Of course, basics are important.  Sustenance.  A home.  Heat.  Food.  But once those basics are met, a parent’s own well-being seems to be the next most important thing.  If the parent’s emotional needs are met, they are better able to meet the needs–both emotional and physical– of their children.

If you have other methods, please share!  If you found this post helpful or inspiring, please like, comment and share.

Love,

 

J

 

Parenting · Single Mom

The Child is Just Fine, Thank You Very Much.

Before you judge me, make sure your life is perfect.–Clint Eastwood

Older women can utter the most judgmental words ever spoken to younger women.  Especially, when it comes to parenting, lifestyle choices, and appearances.

It is possible that other demographics (older men, younger women, and younger men) harbor the same thoughts but they do not dare speak them aloud.

Older women do not care.  They seem to think that they can–indeed that it is their God given obligation to –tell younger women exactly what they think.  No holds barred.  I have considered that maybe I’m not being fair here.  I could be too quick to stereotype.  We all make judgments based on our own personal experiences–and that’s what I’m doing here.  I’ll explain.

Two years ago, I traveled to a conference for work and took 3 month old Massimo.  During the conference, I attended–with Massimo in tow–a BBQ held at the home of one of the “leaders” of our organization.  Massimo wasn’t the only baby there–in fact–another attorney and her husband attended with their baby who was several months older than Massimo.

Oh, how they swooned.  Massimo was a very handsome baby.  We compared the two babies–their size.  Massimo was larger even though younger–which (by the way) meant exactly nothing.  Everything was going pretty well.  Massimo was well-behaved and there were no major accidents. . . . . at least until one of the older female “leaders” of our organization accidentally opened her mouth.

She asked me about my husband.  I told her I wasn’t married.  Although I’m sure it was quite obvious to her that the fact that I had no husband was not all that important to me–it was to her– and she continued to pry.

“Well, what about his father? Where is he?”

“He isn’t around,”  I responded and then quickly tried to change the subject.  Having none of it, she persisted.

“Well, that’s not good for the baby!” Awkward silent moment.  I walked away.

To be fair, I am not sure she would characterize her interaction with me as an accident.

I was at a work function, with a “leader” of my organization–who by the way–I had never met until that  moment.  Of course, her opinion of my life did not matter to me but no mother –particularly a new mother–wants ANYONE to tell her that the choices that she makes aren’t “good for the baby.”

Here’s the thing, this lady literally had no business telling me what her opinion of my life choices were.  They were quite simply none of her business.  But she hit a nerve.

The story line that single parenting (particularly single motherhood) is bad for children is a time-honored tale.  “Single mothers” have their own demographic–beside which appears higher rates of poverty, school failure, and other “problems” with the children as they grow up.  Indeed, the children of single mothers are destined to fail.  At least that’s what we’ve been told.

In fact, that story is not exactly true–and it does not have to be.

Mathilde Brewaeys from VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam conducted a study comparing the well-being of children growing up in single-mother-by-choice and heterosexual two-parent families and found no differences in terms of parent-child relationship or child development.

According to her, “the assumption that growing up in a family without a father is not good for the child is based mainly on research into children whose parents are divorced and who thus have experienced parental conflict.”  Ms. Brewaeys explained “however, it seems likely that any negative influence on child development depends more on a troubled parent-child relationship and not on the absence of a father. Single-mothers-by-choice knowingly make the decision to raise their child alone, in contrast to unintended single mothers. Little research has been done on the specific features of these single-mothers-by-choice families and whether there are differences between them and heterosexual two-parent families in terms of parent-child relationship, parental social support and well-being of the children.”

The study was a comparison of the well-being of children between 18 months and 6 years old.  69 of the children were raised by women who had knowingly chosen to raise their child alone and 59 were raised by mothers from heterosexual two-parent families.

Based on the results of the study, Ms. Brewaeys reported that children growing up with single-mothers-by-choice appeared to enjoy a similar parent-child relationship as those in heterosexual two-parent families.  She also said “a strong social network is of crucial importance.”

I am certain that she’s right about this last point.  It is hard enough being a parent.  Its super stressful to know that you are entirely responsible for the well-being of another human.  That’s why a support network is important.  It is allows a single mom (or dad) to have someone to reach to for help.  It also allows the single parent an opportunity to have conversations and participate in activities apart from their children.

Of course, it is always possible that some of the choices that I make not be “good for the baby.”  But, I think it’s that way with any parent–married or single.  We all try to make the best choices we can make and make those decisions based on enough information.  Inevitably, we will, on occasion, make bad ones but that’s all a part of life–and they are our choices.  Not anyone else’s.

At the end of the day, I know that the child is going to be just fine and I have to hope that whatever bad choices that I make will be just enough to make him an interesting adult.  If you found this post helpful or inspiring, please be sure to like, comment and share.

Love,

 

J

 

#singlemombychoice #singleparenting #singlemom

Fertility

Big Bellies

About five years ago, I began to realize that I needed more in my life.  At the time, I was in the middle of a 200 hour yoga teacher training.  Sure, I enjoyed the ability to do whatever I wanted.  I was quite focused on myself.  I had an active social life.  But I needed more.

I saw my friends and family with children.  I needed that.  There was one little problem.  My life did not support that need.

I meditated a LOT and practiced a LOT of yoga, even more than ever because I was in training. In other words, when I say that I needed to have children–I can tell you that my heart and I had long conversations about it—and a heart knows what it needs.

Around the same time, I had an appointment with my doctor.  I was concerned that I’d never tried to have children (in fact–I’d tried real hard not to) and that my ability to have children would be compromised by my age.  I was also concerned that, because I was single, I would not be able to adopt–should I be unable to have children of my own.

My doctor was supportive and suggested that I meet with a reproductive endocrinologist (a fertility doc).  She thought that a specialist might have a test to determine if I had anything to worry about regarding my reproductive potential.

I immediately made an appointment with the recommended specialist.  The specialist did, in fact, have such a test.  The test is called the Anti-Mullerian Hormone Test (AMH).

It is a simple blood test that determines something called “ovarian reserve.”  Women are born with their lifetime supply of eggs.  Both the quality and the quantity of those eggs decrease with age.  The Anti-Mullerian Hormone is a hormone secreted by cells in developing egg sacs (follicles).   “Ovarian reserve” then is the estimated number of follicles that you have left. . . . or something like that.

At my appointment with the specialist, she took a sample of my blood and a lab performed that test.  That part was easy enough.  About a week later, I received a phone call from the specialist’s receptionist advising me of the results of the test.

According to the receptionist, the test revealed that I had a diminished ovarian reserve.  My reserve was so low, in fact, that I should anticipate menopause within the next five years.

My entire heart sank.  How was that possible?  I was nowhere near the age where I should be worried about menopause.  I had squandered my youth.  I had abused my fertility potential.  I was never going to have children.  I cried.  A lot.  Never mind the fact that I was receiving this information on the phone from a receptionist who could not answer any of the questions that I had.  I hung up the phone.  My heart was broken.

No kidding–after that phone call–EVERY single woman I saw was pregnant.  Or so it seemed.  They all had these big beautiful bellies.  Bellies that I knew then I’d never experience.  Bellies that I’d never known that I wanted until I found out I could never have one.

Just this week, I read an article published by VOX.  It reported a study that was first published in JAMA.  According to that study, diminished ovarian reserve (as determined by the AMH test) is not associated with infertility among women attempting to conceive naturally.  According to JAMA, women should be cautioned against using AMH levels to assess their current fertility.  Imagine that.  On the other hand, it is a good indicator of the number of eggs that can be retrieved either for the purpose of freezing or in-vitro fertilization.

Regardless of the new study, I am glad I took the test.

Love,

 

J

#AMH #anti-mullerian #ovarianreserve

Humor · Women in the Workplace

Let the Light In

I work in an office building downtown.  My office is big and there are three really large bank windows that face a concrete garage.   It’s a beautiful view.   I have blinds that I keep open to let the light in.

Some of the attorneys I work with are less fortunate.  Their offices are smaller and they have no external windows.  For reasons unknown to me, the designer of the office space added windows beside the doors to those offices that are nearly the height of the doors.

The two attorneys who manage our office have large offices at the entrance to our space. Their offices have one entire wall of windows that faces the reception area.  There is a strip of the window walls to those offices that is grayed out.

The place where I work takes health and wellness seriously.  In that regard, we are all allowed to participate in a fitness activity three hours a week on the clock.  It’s a wonderful benefit.

The people who work in the cubicles in our office space use conference rooms to change into clothes suitable for their preferred fitness activity.  When the conference rooms are being used for changing clothes, a sign hanging on the door reads “Please Knock Before Entering.”

Those of use who are lucky enough to have offices, change into our gym clothes in our individual offices.  When people change clothes in the offices that have windows beside the doors, they turn the lights off and go over into a corner of their offices that is not visible from outside the window.  Or at least they think.

Similarly, when the two managing attorneys change clothes, they turn the lights off in their offices and go to a corner of the office not visible to the outside.

Today, one of my colleagues without an external window sent me an email asking a question.  I left my office and walked over to his to discuss the question with him.

When I arrived, his door was closed and the light was out.  I could see through the window that his computer was on.  So, instinctively I looked to see if he was in there or on the phone before knocking on the door.

There he was changing his clothes!  Whoops! Whose being a creeper now?  I felt so bad also a little outraged because what genius decided to put those windows in that space knowing that people change clothes in their offices?  (I should point out here that these offices are new.  The windows were put in just a couple months ago.)

And my colleague, what was he thinking?  Doesn’t he know people can see him changing clothes through the window?

Today was not the first day that this happened.  It is a systemic problem.

This afternoon I decided to go to the gym myself.  (Lately it has been a struggle.  It’s just so much easier not to go to the gym.  But I persisted.)

Just like I’ve been doing the past several months, I changed clothes in my office.

I took off my top and put on a sports bra. Then I noticed something I’d never noticed before– a car driving through the parking lot.  Wait! What was it doing there?

Only then did I realize that I’ve been flashing people in the parking lot for the past several months.

It simply had not even occurred to me that there was anyone in the parking lot.   I am certain I would have been more discreet if that building were an office building or an apartment building because who wants to be the Ugly Naked Gal?  Not me.

I’ll be collecting my tips soon.

Love,

J

 

Food · Whole 30

Sweet Potato Hash: My Go-to Non Egg Breakfast

It’s the most important meal of the day and, as I said before, eggs have never been my favorite.  During my first Whole 30, I searched high and low for non-egg breakfasts.  This was the one I used for 75% of my Whole 30 breakfasts.

Sweet Potato Hash 

Ingredients:

2 Sweet Potatoes

1 Sweet Onion

2 Whole 30 Compliant Sausages

2 Tbsp Coconut Oil

Spice of your choice: you can go sweet with cinnamon or kick it up a notch with black pepper.  Whatever your heart desires.

This is what my ingredients look like:

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Not the knife.  The knife’s just for cutting and let me just tell you its the best knife.  Its an Amish knife–they know how to cut things.

You can’t really notice in this picture but my Turkey Sausage is FROZEN.  This stuff has like no preservatives so I had to freeze it before I got around to making something with it.

Chop up your onion….you might want to wear safety goggles for this.  Chop up your sweet potatoes and your sausage. This is what it looks like all chopped up:

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Then, warm your coconut oil over medium heat and start sautéing the onion.

This is what that looks like:

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Once you have them nice and sautéed, add your sweet potatoes. IMG_3159

Cover for a little while (I don’t know how long EXACTLY) but long enough to make them done–close to mushy.

Don’t forget your spices!

Then, add in your meat.  It’s already cooked (and if it was frozen, like mine, you had to thaw it in the microwave so it may even be a little warm).

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And voila!

You have a yummy (and easy) non-egg Whole 30 compliant breakfast.

I usually portion it out and take it for lunch with me during the week.  By Friday, it’s almost gone!

 

ENJOY!

 

Love,

 

J