Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Another Diagnosis, But 'Good' News!

Last weekend was a whirlwind. Just as I was getting comfortable with my new routine of no exercise and lots of downtime as a result of the placenta previa diagnosis, things changed.

On Friday John left town for a bachelor party that would entail camping and backpacking, so there was a good chance he'd be off the grid at times.

Saturday I woke up and went to the bathroom as usual, at which point I discovered I was lightly bleeding (TMI - thankfully it was brown blood, not "active" red blood). Regardless, it scared the shit out of me and I paged the on-call midwife from my birthing center (there are about four midwives I see), and she got right back to me and was the sweetest. She told me to relax, not worry and just rest all day -- basically do as little as possible -- and drink a lot of water. I followed orders, and my day was as lazy as they get. I watched nearly two seasons of Schitt's Creek haha. Later in the day I did go to my parents and we went to the hospital to visit my grandma, who had just been admitted. That's a story for another day, but for now the good news is my grandma has since gone home and is doing ok.

My parents were also so awesome to help out with Finley and doggy-sit him while I was on rest. His 50-pound puppy energy was too much for me to handle when I needed rest. Finley loved it, as he just got a long weekend playdate with their dog, Ashe.

John was in the loop on all this but there was no need for him to come home early.

My bleeding cleared up but then came back and was even a bit heavier by Monday morning. This time the midwife said go to the ER to get checked and make sure everything's ok. Hearing her say that certainly scared me at first and there was a surge of uncontrollable tears for a couple minutes, but I did my best to hold it together and not totally lose my shit. This time, John was off the grid with no service and my mom took me to the hospital.

Long story short, here's what happened:

There is NO placenta previa anymore. If I did have it, it already cleared up and the placenta is no longer covering my cervix. it was very clearly in an anterior position away from the cervix. Seems like that shift happened really fast, but I'm not an expert on this stuff, and I'm certainly not complaining because this is good news.

So what was causing the bleeding?

Turns out I definitely DO have a subchorionic hemorrhage, which is basically a blood clot in the wall of the uterus. It's the "most common sonographic abnormality and most common cause of first trimester bleeding (1)," and thankfully I was told it's "less threatening" than previa and should work itself out (i.e. dissolve and disappear) in a matter of days or weeks. The exact cause isn't exactly clear.

I've wondered, and others who I've told have wondered: Was it always the hemorrhage and never even previa? I don't have a clear answer on that. In my opinion, that seems reasonable, but I'm not worrying about it. Either way, it was good that I started resting when I did!

I won't get another ultrasound for another 4-5 weeks, so in the meantime, I still have to be on the same regimen of lots of rest, no exercise, no lifting heavy things, and no sex. We don't want the bleeding to get worse and it needs to heal without me being overly active.

I was able to get ahold of John while at the hospital, and this time he did end his trip early and came home as soon as he could. I needed (and will need) his help especially if we want to have Finley home, which of course we do!

Despite the scare, all this gave me a huge sense of relief. I was extra grateful to my on-call midwife (she's everything a gal would hope for in a midwife!) and also the ER staff who was so kind and thorough in their assessment. Yea maybe I sat in the hospital for 5 hours, but what else would I have been doing?! This is my life, this is my baby's life, and he/she means EVERYTHING to me.

I'm confident this baby is healthy, I'm certain the hemorrhage will clear up, stoked the previa is no longer an issue, and excited to get on with my second trimester!


1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chorionic_hematoma

Saturday, July 15, 2017

First Trimester Placenta Previa

Just hours after my last post I had an ultrasound appointment for prenatal screening. I was starting to second guess getting this voluntary testing done at all (it includes bloodwork + ultrasound) but decided to go through with it and now glad I did.

Nothing is wrong with the baby, so that's the very good news. We got to see him/her flopping around (it literally did a 180 for us), moving limbs, and heart beating... it made my heart melt.

However, the ultrasound tech saw a gap by my uterus and said that it shouldn't be there. On the screen it looked like an inch-long black hole. She said she'd run it by the midwives and they'd contact me to talk it over. She was also asking how much I exercise, etc.

The midwife called me right away, in fact while we were driving home, and said the baby's fineeee but that I have placenta previa, meaning I have a low-lying placenta that's partially covering my cervix (not fully covering). I've had zero signs or symptoms of this; symptoms normally entail bleeding.

The midwife said it's soooo early on (12 weeks when I found out) so there is an incredibly strong and likely possibility this will self-correct on its own and never pose a real problem. Self-correcting means that as the uterus grows, the placenta will essentially migrate up and away allowing the cervix area to open back up, and everything will be back to normal. The placenta doesn't actually relocate since it's implanted, but when my uterus is bigger it'll have more room to live away from my cervix. From what I've been reading and also what my midwife said, this is actually incredibly common in the first trimester since the uterus is still so small and often the placenta has nowhere else to go. So what usually happens in cases like mine (i.e. when placenta previa is detected in the first trimester), it'll get out of the way long before labor and it's a non-issue. If this issue were found in the third trimester, it'd be a whole other story.

In the meantime, though, to be safe there are some things I have to adhere to:

  1. NO EXERCISE
  2. NO SEX


If you think I'm freaking out, I'm absolutely not. Not over the placenta previa diagnosis, not over the no exercise, not over the no sex. Ok, so I cried and worried for like 10 minutes but then I got rational about it.

It is what it is. The condition is 100% out of my control. What I CAN do is whatever it takes to make sure that everything remains safe, this baby is healthy and he/she stays in my womb as long as possible (pre-term births are an associated risk if the previa were to continue). I really didn't even bat an eye when she told me that exercise and sex are out (I won't tell you what John said lol). I mean, it sucks, for sure, and I was especially enjoying my #fitpregnancy routine so far, but hey this is real life and I'm a mature mama-to-be.

I'll have another ultrasound at 18-20 weeks to monitor progress and reassess the plan as needed. Until then, i.e. 6-8 weeks, I can walk but not much more than that. The instructions to avoid exercise may extend to even longer depending on how things evolve. I've never not exercised for months at a time, so this will be very interesting, but I'm looking at it as an opportunity to do life a bit differently and learn. I'll have more time to meditate, more time to work on that book I've been procrastinating on, more time to just chill out and rest this body, more time to do things for others... the list goes on.

Hopefully it clears up. If not, and it's still an issue in the third trimester, there's a pretty good chance I'd have to get a C-section, which would royally suck, but I'll cross that bridge when I get there. Let's put it this way, my midwife was not suggesting that I start researching hospitals and OBs ;) I'm not even thinking that far ahead. So much will change in before then.

The best I can do is live in the moment, repeat positive affirmations, treat myself with kindness, say loving things to my little one in there, be gentle and stress-free.

All these lessons pre-conception and since have been amazing for my soul and life outlook.


Friday, July 14, 2017

First Trimester Thoughts - Rolling With the Changes!

I'm 12 weeks pregnant today, which means my first trimester is winding down (already?!). All in all, preggo life has been a rather easy adjustment for me. You don't have a choice over your body feeling so different, it often acting crazy nor your new set of "rules" by which to live, but you do have a choice in your attitude, response and general mood. You can freak out and worry or just roll with it and enjoy this special time. I had one freak-out episode in the beginning and learned my lesson very quickly. Since then I've been rolling with it... every single little thing. I really have never felt so relaxed for a three-month period in recent memory.

New norm - double-fisting water while everyone else drinks cocktails.

Here are some thoughts and highlights from my first trimester:

Diet - Pre-Conception & To 6 Weeks


Turns out leading into my pregnancy, I was actually in a mild state of ketosis (not my first time), thus very likely in ketosis when I conceived (unless all those desserts and drinks I had at the wedding we attended the weekend it happened threw me out of keto lol). I was not trying to be keto whatsoever, but as I said in the this post, I had rather intuitively transitioned back to lower carb around late April and that combined with the other things I did, I was quickly feeling awesome, physically and mentally. Pretty certain I was still eating more than 70 grams of carb, if note more than 100 grams on some days, but apparently I was low enough to be pushing out ketones as confirmed on a pee test. The thing is, and why I think it worked out, is that my daily calories were consistency high, I was eating very nutrient-dense foods, and my "training" was moderate -- not too intense and about 7-10 hours a week including walking. So apparently this is one example of when ketosis/low carb can work out without negative ramifications when it comes to hormones, fertility and even stress management.

In fact, when I told this to Dr. Phil Maffetone, he said low carb/ketosis can work great for fertility and is safe for pregnancy. I'm not so sure that I agree with that across the board nor should we force anything that doesn't feel right, but given my own situation I'm less of a skeptic. I asked a very accomplished pro triathlete friend of mine, who's also currently pregnant, if she was still in ketosis when she conceived and if she's remained low carb. I know this diet approach worked wonders for her (she's one of the few), and it turns out she has stayed low carb all throughout her pregnancy so far (she's almost 3rd trimester), and she was keto when she conceived as well. She says she's had the easiest pregnancy, no cravings, no aversions, no nausea, able to workout but not "train." Wow. Must be nice, right?

All this doesn't mean I'm advocating ketosis for fertility, pregnancy or otherwise, I still think it's a very individual decision to go low carb and in many cases it can be playing with fire. Plus, on the flip side there are plenty of gals who've gone higher carb/higher calorie and not only fixed their fertility but got pregnant this way, just look at the evidence presented by Nicola Rinaldi in No Period Now What. Plus carbs are not the reason one would get more nauseous or sick despite what some may say; plenty of women who are higher carb also have easy pregnancies with little to no morning sickness. So it just depends. Regardless of macro ratios, what does matter, arguably the most, is that you're eating a lot of calories and not being underfed. I know that's Amanda, I know that's me, and I also know that's my friend Tina Muir who overcame amenorrhea and got pregnant right away (we talked about it on her podcast, which you can hear here).

Btw, a huge shoutout to Tina for her massive lifestyle changes that helped her overcome amenorrhea and achieve her next dream of becoming a mama. She hired me as a consultant in 2016, and we talked a lot about this stuff. I knew she'd pull the trigger when she was ready, and I'd like to think I had a tiny influence on her journey and where's she's at now. I couldn't be happier for her :)

Anyway, once I found out I was pregnant at 4 weeks, I didn't try to maintain or force low carb by any means, I just ate what I felt like, but little did I know things were really about to change...

Diet - From 6 Weeks On...


As soon as I hit six weeks my diet changed drastically! All of a sudden my carb cravings were literally THROUGH THE ROOF. Unlike anything I'd experienced before and I was dreaming of pizza, ice cream, waffles, granola, bread, you name it. Meanwhile my food aversions hit me like a ton of bricks. I went from loving sunny-side-up eggs, avocado, all the veggies and salad to being grossed out by all of that for the most part. I could eat veggies but only if they were hidden in a dish with other things like sauces and carbs (i.e. curry with rice... with some veggies tucked in), or pureed veggies in a creamy soup. To make sure I was getting daily greens I started drinking a lot of organic green juices.

I have not had consistent cravings; it seems like each week (sometimes each day) my body is asking for something else. I was digging granola and yogurt in the beginning and now it makes me want to puke. I was ALL about dairy for several weeks, like I NEEDED it, and now I can take it or leave it. I'll enjoy high-fat smoothie bowls for breakfast on some weeks and other weeks they make me wanna gag.

Overall I'd say I'm still eating really healthy, mostly organic (except if we eat out and I have no choice), and I'm avoiding shitty ingredients from junk foods. Personally, though, I feel like I'm eating crappier simply in the sense that the increase in carby and sugary foods are often replacing my usual greens, veggies and in many cases fats or animal proteins, but it's not like what I'm doing is unhealthy by any means, it's just different than my normal standards. Also on the eating out thing, my motivation to cook hit an all-time low and we've been eating out more than usual, like 2-3 times a week, so I'm sure I've been served vegetable oils and conventional meats and produce, but what can you do. I'm not trying to control everything and I need to just do what's best for me right now so if I don't wanna cook I won't (PS - John is busier lately, and picking up a lot of my slack, so I don't except him to slave over the kitchen too). I do my best to get in quality animal protein in most my meals, but there are times when I simply don't want meat and/or I'm incredibly picky about what meat I'll be able to eat. There's not rhyme or reason and it's always changing. One night I will looooove salmon, one night I just can't do it.

My favorite random cravings have included lobster bisque (WTF is that about), seaweed salads (iodine), sauerkraut (probiotics), pad thai, curry, waffles but NOT pancakes, pumkin pie (have yet to have any) and an old throwback to a childhood comfort food: egg sandwiches with strawberry jelly, mayo and butter. Yes you read that correctly, jelly and mayo together with egg on toasted bread with butter. You can ask my grandma about how that one came to be. I'm using sugar-free jelly (just the sugars from fruit), Primal Kitchens Mayo, Kerrygold Butter, pastured farm-fresh eggs and a gluten-free paleo bread from the farmer's market, so actually pretty darn healthy!

The days I feel most nauseous carbs are the name of the game, and often some interesting choices...

This was a real DINNER - three or four GF waffles and Halo Top ice cream, with tea. Word.
John had leftover chicken with his waffles lol!

I've also craved a lot of "normal-people food" like pizza (keeping it GF), ice cream, burgers, all the fruit, tortilla chips (not the healthy kind), rice bowls, "healthy" rice crispies cereal. I've had pizza (aiming for healthy organic ingredients) at least 8 times so far, more than I've eaten in the past three years likely!

By week 10 I felt like was feeling a lot better most days and wanting to eat more of my usual foods -- back to salads, avocados, and lots of veggies -- but usually still piling on more hearty carb choices. It's not that paleo.
One night I got my act together and made homemade green curry!
I ended up eating about 3x more rice than what's shown.

This was a good dinner.

Exercise


I'm so glad I love to exercise and that I started out my pregnancy out with a decent base -- not necessarily "fit fit" but very adapted to daily exercise. But weeks 5-8 I didn't do a whole lot of exercising at all (minimums like 30min/day, and lots of walking). At first it was likely because deep down I was a bit afraid to "over" exercise and risk anything. I got over that. Then it turned into minimum exercise because I wasn't feeling too hot. At the very least, I'd get out and walk every day with Finley, if not a couple to three times a day.

My nausea could come any time of day or night, but it would usually set in after breakfast before lunch so if I got moving around that time it helped. However some days exercise was not the answer and I needed a nap instead, so I'd go crawl back into bed and not even think twice about it. I've been incredibly proud of my flexibility and intuitive nature. I'm not letting anything bother me -- food choices, exercise choices, whatever -- and just rolling with it. If I take a nap before lunch, so be it. If I take a two-hour nap at 3 p.m., so be it.

I started feeling better and better, thankfully. At this point, I'm running about three times a week on average, between 3-5 miles, probably all at a 9:00-12:00 pace depending on heat and terrain. I'm not wearing a HR monitor but I am keeping my effort in check, i.e. aerobic, and not doing anything that feels too aggressive. I'll always walk if HR feels like it's getting a bit too high or there's a steep hill (and I end up walking at least some portion of every run I do). Some days I feel like a rockstar other days I feel like I'm carrying a ton of bricks.

I'm also strength training at home about 2-3 times a week, easy sessions of 15-30 minutes that include kettlebells, TRX, and bodyweight exercises. I'll usually round out these sessions with some mobility and yoga poses.

I have eased back on paddleboarding since my race, but started swimming again in July, and, oh man, for the first time in a long time I'm really enjoying the pool. So refreshing and especially a nice way to get moving and not overheat during this HOT summer. Since my form still sucks, I have to be careful to not let my HR soar due to inefficiency; I'm mostly doing sets of 50s and 100s -- and that's currently "endurance" ;)

Then there's lots and lots of walking, thanks to Finley! A lot of athletes talk shit on walking, and I can understand why, but I think they're wrong. Just sayin. I love it, I find it so beneficial -- mentally and physically -- whether in training or not. Science supports me ;) I've been taking short walks after meals, especially dinner, to aid in digestion, and that helps too.

Tonight I'm going to my first prenatal yoga class and excited to learn some new moves, and I hope to keep up with that.

I'm also getting massages, albeit much LESS frequently than when in training mode. But with the swimming and strength, I build tension and massages help. Thankfully my gal who I've been seeing forever is certified in pregnancy massage.

Energy


My energy (and fatigue) = a rollercoaster. I never know what to expect next; some days I feel so great that I wouldn't even know I'm pregnant and other days I'm so dead that I barely leave the house and take multiple naps. Thankfully overall I've had way more good days than bad, and on average I feel pretty decent, not normal, but decent.

I quit coffee the day I found out and that was a tough transition from a fatigue standpoint. I didn't get headaches or anything but I was wasted tired for like three days before coming out of the fog. Then I felt ok not having coffee but was still often slow to get moving and often finding it hard to focus and get shit done. I don't blame the lack of coffee for that, I blame the hormones and all the changes in my body!

I met with my naturopath during week 8, and she said it'd be totally fine for me to have a tiny bit of coffee each day, just don't exceed 200 mg/day (which is actually quite a bit so it's pretty easy to stay under that). Around week 9 I started drinking a shot of regular homemade cold brew per day, which I further diluted in water -- about 1 part coffee, 3 parts water. I'll sip on that after breakfast only (never on an empty stomach) and usually won't even finish all of it. But even having that tiny amount has been so nice and it does help me.

My work productivity has really suffered the past two months, and of all things going on as of late this is the one thing that's caused me a bit of stress. I don't like feeling like I'm not being productive or contributing to our family. I mean, I'm still working -- I have all my coaching clients (thus writing workouts, frequent communication with them, guiding health plans, etc.), doing some consults, writing for and managing my inner-circle lifepostcollective.com, etc. I took the break from the podcast, which was probably a great call, but I'm ready to go back to it and will return later this month. WOOT!

My original plan during this summer, even before pregnancy, was to get busy writing my first book. I've done a fair amount of prep, outlining and even wrote the first chapter, but I am nowhere near where I'd like to be by now, and I feel very guilty about that. Since it's on my shoulders and no deadlines, it's been easy to procrastinate... or go nap or scroll through social media instead when brain cells feel dead. Ugh.

Everyone says just be kind to myself and don't put too much pressure on myself during this time (especially the first trimester!!!). For the most part I've been living up to that (obviously I'm letting myself relax, take naps, chill, etc., rather than busting my balls) but I'm normally a go-getter and it's just weird to be so low-key and not living up to my usual productivity. I'm sure once baby is here it'll get even more chaotic for a while. Thank god I have a supportive hubby who always says, "don't worry about it" when it comes to work and stuff.

Meanwhile, we've been getting out a lot and not being hermits whatsoever. Parties, concerts, dinner dates, whatever... I'm not in the mood to just sit around and I can always find energy for a good social outing or live music. This weekend we're seeing Jack Johnson, hell yea.

My Body


I was already at a very healthy weight/normal BMI when I conceived, 142 lbs, which was up from my average weight of 135 in recent years, but apparently my body wanted even more "cushion" because I went through an initial surge of putting on another 5-6 pounds right away in those beginning weeks (averaging about 1 lb gain a week)... my naturopath and midwife said that's totally fine and normal (despite books saying that NO weight gain is often normal in the first trimester). No doubt my diet played a role, but I was just listening to my body's needs. Since then, the weight gain has tapered off to where recently I'm not even gaining a pound a week. Right now (at 12 weeks) I'm holding steady at 148 lbs... but by the end of each day I'm probably more with the bloating I usually get.

I feel really strong, in fact I feel like all that muscle under my fat has hypertrophied a tad (getting swole for baby!), but I also just feel so big already. I'm certainly NOT one of those petite pregnant ladies who barely gain any fat and who don't show until week 28 or something. Ha, anything but! Whether it's a food baby, bloating or the real baby, I certainly have a tummy bulge already and certainly have more fat everywhere... And I'm proud of it! No bump-only pregnancies over here.

Most my clothes still fit, although certain clothes I'm not even bothering with, and I have yet to try on my jeans (it's too hot anyway so why bother). While it's most comfortable to wear my baggiest clothes, I also don't shy away from a tighter stuff. I'll still run around in 2-piece swimsuits and wear tight workout tops or booty shorts (booty shorts = my shorts that used to be loose and baggy lol). I live in my lululemon run shorts (stretchy!) and sports bras over real bras all the way. Speaking of, I had to buy some new sports bras (all mine were size small) as I was getting smashed and it was starting to hurt. Some of my swimsuits fit, whereas some make it hard to believe I actually looked good in them at some point (hello muffin top). I will say, it's very nice to have bigger boobs, that I am enjoying ;)

I'm the type of person who gains weight all over, and that's holding true during this pregnancy so far, so I don't look too fat in any one area, just like a larger bigger-boned version of me. No shame, and I'm not trying to hide a thing. This is pregnancy, you're not supposed to remain rail thin!!!!!!

I know my mom was ginormous with my sister and I, so I expect that'll be me too. At some point, I'm sure I'll weigh more than John, and I'll proudly flaunt it.

12 week "bump" shot!


Anyway, that's my story so far. thanks for reading!

Monday, June 26, 2017

First Taste Of Pregnancy and a SUP Race

Finding out I was pregnant was not going to stop me from doing my standup paddleboard race! In fact, those first couple weeks after finding out I felt perfectly normal. The only "bummer" was that our wine tasting trip was no longer going to include any wine tasting, but, whatever, there are plenty of years ahead for that. Spending a few days in wine country and not drinking was just as lovely and also just what we needed!

So with the SUP race, knowing that I can be a stubborn competitive athlete with my racing and push really hard, I did choose to ditch the 8-mile long course and "downgrade" to the short course (they said it'd be 4 miles but it was really about 5).

Pregnancy 'Sets In'
We took a long, leisurely two-day drive up the California coast (minus the Big Sur area). Ate fresh fish tacos a couple times and found some great places to walk Finley.
Santa Cruz area
A little beach off Highway 1
Play time, all the time!
We spent night one in Paso Robles, went to our favorite restaurant, and had dessert but no wine -- embracing pregnant life ha! When I woke up Friday (6 weeks) my morning sickness and nausea began like clockwork. It was crazy. Just like that I couldn't even eat eggs and avocado for breakfast, and I felt so sick to my stomach. Trying to figure out what sounded good to eat was a chore; it ended up mostly being carbs and dairy, and that's how it's continued to be. I didn't think too much of any of it, I was warned that the morning sickness (aka all-day sickness) often sets in right at 6 weeks and I was ready. Honestly my symptoms were not and have not been worst-case scenario like the horror stories I've heard, and I'd like to think that's because my body was just ready for this.

We got to our "Stairway To Heaven" house in Guerneville on Friday evening and the house was simply breathtaking. A cozy yet kind of modern wood cabin tucked in the forest. Crisp and outdoorsy.
Heavenly, right?!
I was really excited to stay in Guerneville, but after a couple days I realized I wasn't that much of a fan. I mean it was cool, but not necessarily some place I'd want to go every year. There's a fun eclectic crowd around there, which was entertaining.! I had to be careful not to get high in the grocery parking lot while walking Finley around.

Saturday was race day and it didn't start till 11am. Which was good because I felt like shit in the morning, again. I figured this would be my new norm. I made some paleo pancakes and eggs but the pancake mix wasn't jiving and the eggs were gross. I forced them since I knew I needed food. Already I was thinking about the pizza I'd order post-race (and I ended up eating a WHOLE pizza to myself) along with a post-race smoothie mmmmm.

Race Recap
I was supposed to take a shuttle to the "private" race start (they don't tell you where the race start is) but I was struggling with how I felt and also it was overcast and chilly and I didn't want to be sitting out there in my bikini top, shorts and no shoes for 2 hours waiting for the race to go (it was point to point so I couldn't bring clothes to shed). So we decided we would just drive and find the race start to drop me off -- we knew the race distance so how hard could it be to just drive up the river several miles? Turns out it was really hard to find this damned start line haha!

We drove around looking for it for over an hour without success. It's kind of a long story but we ended up having to sort of trespass (shhhhh) and finally found it with literally minutes to spare before the race start. At one point I was like, "We're not going to find it. I'm not doing this race today." We should have just asked the folks at race registration and explained the situation but we didn't, whatever. I also had switched that morning from long course to short course so I wasn't in their system anymore since they couldn't update onsite. Living on the edge!

Finally found the start - whew! That was close.
For a low-key event I was impressed that it started on time. I also felt VERY nostalgic thinking about past Vineman races. I also had no idea how much of a current there is in the Russian River at various points, like the start line, where we had to paddle up stream before the gun went off to avoid drifting too far. It was fun. There were about 10-15 ish women in the open SUP race for short course and I accidentally started near the back, which was a bad call because I ended up being faster than pretty much everyone (this race was not filled with SUP pros for the record so me saying I was faster is all relative).

I quickly got to the front of the pack, and the first 1/2 mile included some rather tricky maneuvering through the river including mini rapids (hard to call them actual rapids but it also wasn't calm water) and even obstacles like big roots and trees sticking up in the middle of the river, along with some really narrow and shallow areas at the beginning. At one point I heard a splash and turned to see about 100+ yards behind me a woman had fallen. She was fine but it was a bit chaotic in the beginning. They had course markings for "dangerous" zones but it was still sketchy to actually avoid those zones.

Once I got in front with no one around I relaxed a bit more, started to really soak in the GORGEOUS scenery (seriously breathtaking!), and the river started widening with the current slowing down a bit too. I caught up to some of the dudes in the men's division that went off a few minutes before us. I found my rhythm. It was overcast and not hot at all. I had forgotten my hydration stuff at home so that morning I found the ONLY hydration pack in all of Guerneville and bought it for like $20. It was old school, tasted too plastically, and I realized I probably didn't even need it. I was on track to go sub-1 hour and was not too hot or thirsty at all.

About halfway I was like, "Dang I might win this." But then I stopped thinking like that because as is with any race, anything can happen. Sure enough a few minutes later a lady was gaining on me and ultimately passed me sometime in mile 3. That was an important moment of maturity for me. I was not giving 100% effort because of my pregnant state, but I was pushing comfortably hard. So, I had to decide: Do I push harder to catch her and make it a race, or stay within my comfort zone and not over-exert? I chose the latter because it wasn't about me anymore and I just didn't feel like playing with fire by pushing harder than what felt right on the day.

I still kept her within about 10-20 yards the whole rest of the race and we finished less than a minute apart going 1, 2. Near the end of the race (where the Vineman 70.3 swim used to be) the same ol' shallowness proved to be tricky and even after all the rain this year there were spots that felt like they were 2 inches deep it seemed and also some sandbars to avoid. Again, it made for some tricky maneuvering to find the deepest safest spots to pass (while avoid overhanging trees and bushes on the shoreline), and a couple times I even had to get off my board because it was too heavy and scraping the bottom. All that was short-lived though and not enough to make a big difference in pace nor hurt the board/fin.

I finished in about 55 minutes and it was 4.7 miles, but my watch had accidentally stopped for a couple of minutes at some point so those numbers aren't totally accurate. Still, that was my fastest paddle to date -- thank you downstream current! I felt a little winded and my upper-body muscles were awake, but certainly nowhere near exhausted upon finishing. It was like, "When's round 2?"

I chatted with the lady who beat me, she was awesome and turns out she was formerly a competitive SUP racer (you could tell with her strong arms!). Then there was a post race festival on Johnson's beach (Vineman start) where they didn't call my name at awards because I wasn't in the system due to the course change. Ha! Off those get my smoothie and soon after my pizza.... (and John his Russian River Brewing beers).

Still my #1 sherpa after all these years. And now my baby daddy.

Final Thoughts
I was personally proud of myself for this race. I could have easily bailed all together justifying that it'd be "safer" to not race while pregnant; meanwhile, I could have also pushed a lot harder and been careless during the race but I didn't because it simply wasn't worth it to do that. It's cool to feel like my life, especially while building a baby, is about more than me and it's not just about what I want anymore! It's a great feeling. I'm embracing the changes each day and fascinated by this process.

The rest of the trip was just the R&R we (I!) needed to get in the perfect mindset for building a healthy baby.

I'll share more of my first trimester life soon.

Baby's first race lol!


Friday, June 16, 2017

Growing

Part 1


March and April were pretty jam-packed with fun stuff—maybe too many distractions with my birthday, sailing lessons, another epic Ragnar with Team Endurance Planet, a wine tasting trip, and plenty of dolphin sightings from my SUP. Thinking about pregnancy truly became an afterthought.

Then it all started to chill out around late April, no more distractions, at which point I began feeling emotionally discontent, despite really trying to keep a positive mindset. It seemed like I was in a good place, but apparently not quite yet. I had no idea why I felt so shitty and was lacking my usual happiness and spunk. Not every day has to be all unicorn and rainbows, but this was dragging on. Unhappiness is usually a sign that change—in some way, shape or form—is needed and I was ready to see what else that meant for me.

I felt certain that trying to conceive (TTC) was not the source of these woes. I had truly changed my attitude toward baby-making (as discussed in previous posts here and here), and I knew I had come so far in letting go. Perhaps TTC was still related, probably was, but it was not the forefront; this felt like something else, something bigger than just that.

John and I both agreed it’d be a good idea for me to talk to a therapist. Hire a professional to help get it out of me—instead of continuing to keep whatever it was pent up inside. Right away I found someone and got started. One of the smartest things I’ve ever done for myself.

Another reason I decided to hit up therapy was after reading Olympic swimmer Amanda Beard’s memoir, In The Water They Can’t See You Cry. She also sought out therapy later in her career, and it seemed like things really fell into place for her thereafter. Her whole story really resonated with me, and while I’m not an Olympic-level athlete, it doesn’t matter, female athletes with intense minds like ours can cause havoc in our own lives. We just put ourselves through a lot of shit, often unnecessary, and as we get older we realize it doesn’t have to be so tough—and also how to seek help and not be so damn stubborn!

Therapy felt so relieving, just the mental housekeeping I needed—it's basically like having a coach except she's not also telling me how to train and eat, lol. I am and always have been a very thoughtful, deep person, and when I sat on that couch I just spewed it all out and we made some sense of it. My therapist did a great job of giving me the feedback I needed to hear. I have great people in my life with whom I can talk about anything, but having a therapist is just different. I’m a fan. 

It really doesn’t matter what the nitty gritty of my issues were, the fact is we all have our shit and sometimes we just need to talk to someone and find peace. I think I’ve done a pretty good job about addressing most my shit, and even opening up about it on a public platform, but apparently there was more work to be done, more deep digging. I ended up going to places I had yet to go. It was hard but so good for me.

In addition to adding therapy, I worked on a few more minor changes, things like...

I realized that in the past couple months I had been drinking more, probably at first as a way to rebel against not getting pregnant. I was basically having a nightly glass (or two) of wine and more on weekends, and for me that’s just too much to feel ideal. So I cut back on wine as soon as I recognized it. Leave it for the odd night and special occasion. Easy.

I also tweaked my free-time routine—mostly investing more time into my mental wellbeing. I started meditating a bit more, stream-of-consciousness writing and reading books on happiness. One book in particular hit home with so many wonderful messages, The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams.

I also went back to the fitness & diet style I love best; not trying to manipulate things in hopes of getting pregnant. I allowed myself to workout more freely and not put restrictions on it—SUP, a bit more running miles and strength training. I even got my butt back into bikram yoga after feeling too lazy and frumpy to go in recent months. Second, I started lowering my carb and crap-food intake; I had started eating more liberally for fertility reasons but didn’t like how I was feeling from that. I just do better on a nutritionally and calorically dense lower carb diet—and I know my limits as to not let it screw with hormones, wellbeing, etc. There’s certainly always room for indulgences IMO, but eating mostly a clean nutrient-dense diet along with limited drinking seriously is what I prefer.

Next, I decided to move forward with taking a break from hosting Endurance Planet for a few months. I had been dabbling with this and kept going back and forth. It was not easy to come to this conclusion and quite frankly felt (feels) scary, but it's for good reason, it's just a break, and not forever. I actually already miss it a ton, so don’t worry if you’re a loyal EP listener, I’ll be back! Not to mention, I recorded extra shows in advance before the break, and Lucho will still be doing our ATC show, woot!

In the midst of all this, early May we had a wedding to be at a couple hours away and it’d be with many of my old high school buddies and lifelong friends. It ended up being a wonderful night away; John and I somehow hung with the group till after midnight (that literally never happens anymore). The timing was perfect—it really helped me hit the reset button and put things in perspective. I was relaxed and happy with old friends, and I felt a sense of relief, like I was getting back to a good place with everything I had going on not to mention a new and better understanding of myself.

Last but not least, after a few therapy appointments, of course pregnancy and babies had come up, and for whatever reason I decided I wanted to fully stop trying to get pregnant for now, and John was ok with that. I was literally thinking about telling him the next time we… ya know… that we needed to use protection again. 

So all that in a relatively short amount of time (we're talking weeks!) and, man, that was everything I needed! I was feeling a lot better and it all seemed to happen so fast.

Then one morning in mid/late May I woke up feeling odd for that time of month in my cycle. I should have started my period the day prior, and I shouldn’t have had the symptoms I did. We had plans with friends that night and wine would possibly be involved so just to be safe I took a test...

Two lines.

It was positive.

Holy f---!

I took another test because I didn’t believe it.

Positive again.

I'm pregnant.

I did some quick thinking on when we likely conceived—that wedding!

Getting pregnant was truly the last thing I expected to happen during all this. We were both in shock. Just like that, our lives changed forever.

Baby Gibson arrives January 2018.

Oh yea, and I still did that standup paddle board race I mentioned, at 6 weeks pregnant, but switched to the short course (5 miles) and battled nausea all the while. As for the post-race Napa trip? We went of course, but obvi NO wine for me haha.

* * * * * * *

Part 2


To be honest, I really debated whether to say something on my blog and social media at all about getting pregnant. After my first couple posts about not having success I connected with many amazing women who shared stories of their own struggles with TTC. Many had gone on to have babies. But many hadn’t yet—and I could feel and sympathize with their pain. Trust me, I know what it feels like to see the news that someone else you know got pregnant and you still aren’t—it’s tough. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be that person saying, “Hey, look at me, I got pregnant.” So I hope this post doesn’t come across as a brag or insensitive. I’ve always openly shared my journey—the highs and the lows—and this turn of events it simply another chapter. Plus, if Im being totally honest, finding out I was pregnant didn't quite come with the response you'd except. It was mixed emotions. Of course I’m thrilled—we're thrilled—but it’s been a mindf*ck to be on this rollercoaster.

I decided to share the news because I’m hoping that my story can provide some comfort to women out there who are wondering if they’ll ever get pregnant. Whether it’s a gal with amenorrhea wondering if she’ll ever get her hormones back on track and one day start a family, or a gal who’s been trying for months with no success. Obviously I can’t sit here and guarantee success for everyone and there are mysteries of infertility in which it seems no one has the answers. But you just never know. I am reading a book on natural childbirth right now (Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth) and one of the birth stories is by a German couple who said it took them 15 years to conceive—they never used birth control because it just never happened, and then one day it did.

My journey to conceiving was a long one, if you think about it. It actually started in 2013 when I decided to change my ways, scale back on training and stress, and get my period back after 10 years of amenorrhea (I got my period back in about 10-12 weeks after making the official commitment). Obviously I was in no rush to have kids then, but certainly having kids in the future was a huge motivator—and having a partner like John definitely made me realize I wanted to have a family with him. Years went by before it was time for us, then from that moment in Hawaii, October 2016, when we decided to start trying to the moment it happened, May 2017, it was an 8-month journey. Quite frankly, I'm a better person thanks to the many months it took.

To all you gals who have depleted hormones and absent periods like I did, have faith that you can get your body back to a womanly state in which having kids is totally possible if you desire that. There’s no reason to believe you’re doomed. My story is a victory for all of us!

That said, it’s not just about your hormonal state or your man’s sperm. Those things matter but they aren’t everything. I’m fully convinced that in our case hormonal or medical issues were not the reason it took so long. It was my mind—and this goes beyond the advice of, “Just relax,” which, for the record, is still the most annoying thing ever that you can say to a woman who’s trying (so don’t it). I had to reconnect with my happiness, find peace with certain things in my life and work on me. In months prior, I had tried acupuncture and so many pregnancy hacks, none of which worked. Then when I went to therapy, mostly for reasons other than TTC, right away I got pregnant. I know that’s not the answer for everyone, I totally get it, but crazily enough that’s what worked for me.

Getting pregnant is such a mystery. Then when you do become pregnant it seems like there are so many more mysteries that no one has clear answers to because we’re just all so different. What I’ve learned the most so far (I'm 8 weeks pregnant at the time of publishing) is that pregnancy and having a kid is all about letting go of control. When I let go, it didn't take long to get pregnant. Now that I’m pregnant I’m continuing to let go of things. For example, once I got pregnant, I started freaking out about a few things (miscarriage risk, those multiple glasses of wine I had before I knew, whether my baby will be healthy), and I was a bit of a mess for a few days. Thankfully it didn’t take too long for me to realize I had to let go or I’d go crazy—there’s absolutely nothing you can do except enjoy the process, minimize stress, and do your best to treat your mind and body well. Otherwise, this whole process is completely out of our control. As a control freak, that scared me, but already it’s allowed me to grow and mature at an incredible rate. For the first time in forever I’m 100% at peace with just letting things be as they’re going to be and not overthinking or worrying about things at all. Even right now as my nausea and fatigue are through the roof and my food cravings and aversions are completely psycho, I’m just living each moment and listening to my body. I’ll eat gf waffles instead of vegetables, I’ll take 2-hour naps, and it just is what it is.

I also plan to have a natural birth, and out of everything thus far I’m actually the least afraid of that despite all the things that could be freaking me out regarding natural births.

So, no matter where you’re at in your journey, I hope my story can help give you a glimpse of hope and please know I have your back.

Decided not to wait the tradition 12 weeks or so to share the news. Here's our nugget at about 8 weeks!

-->

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Not Waiting For Life To Happen

Started my period today. It's that one day of the month that kinda sucks and I don't just mean the cramping. Although, I could have told you five days ago I wasn't pregnant and was going to start my period soon. I just know my body too well.

Is it crazy to say I'm cool with it? Yea of course I'm confused, I don't like not having answers, I don't like not getting results, blah blah, but I've let go. Literally not overthinking it nor trying to investigate it at this point. That shit was just making me a hot mess.

I made a shift in my attitude and approach to this baby-making stuff about 6-8 weeks ago (that long already?!) and I know for sure it was the best thing for me—and for John lol. We still tried (or should I say we weren't trying to prevent it) and in all actuality it's ok that I haven't become pregnant in that time, and it's even ok that the changes I made weren't "the trick" to conceiving. I'm happy with where we're at either way.

We're living life not waiting for life to happen.

I'm slowly going back to how it was before we started trying. We've decided to plan a couple trips this year, and with what's on tap coming up it's making me think that I'd rather hold off on getting pregnant until after. Seriously! That's allowed, right? Besides, we have Finley and he's enough of a kid right now.

~~~

First, I signed up for a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) race—yes RACE!—on June 3 in one of my favorite places ever: the Russian River in Sonoma County, Northern Calif. If you're wondering, yup, that would be the (old) Vineman swim course! This race will actually ends at Johnson's Beach where the Vineman swim start/finish was, and will start 8 miles up the river from there.

I've always wanted to stay in Guernville but never did (after all those years racing Vineman), and we finally get to! We found a cute house rental tucked in the forest (there are dozens out there from which to choose). After that we're heading over to Napa for a few days—just like we used to after racing Vineman. Ah memories. This is also serving as special getaway for our first anniversary, so we even splurged on a dinner res at French Laundry (OMG!). All in all, I suppose I'd rather be sipping wine for a few days than having to abstain. ;)

Then we're talking about potentially some more summer travel as well, but nothing official yet. When we plan and talk about these things, it makes me realize that I want to soak up more time with John and do things we haven't done together before we bring a human into the world. So maybe it's a good thing that I haven't gotten pregnant yet.

~~~

Ok, how about me signing up for a freakin race?! Um, yea! I've made it no secret that I've fallen in love with SUP more than ever this year, and am starting to feel pretty fit on the board. But I'm not "fit fit," and certainly nowhere near the old me as, nor would I want to be putting in that kind of effort into training these days, it's just does not appeal to me at all. But for SUP, I'm fit enough to get in some decent miles and feel strong on the board. I have a very reasonable goal of wanting to go sub-2 hours for the 8-mile race. To put that in perspective, right now when I SUP in the open ocean I'm doing 12:00 to 15:00 minute miles—and that can be anything from an aerobic/MAF effort to tempo effort depending on conditions. Anything sub-13 pace is basically a hard effort! I have no idea what girls who are actually good are doing but that's not what this is about. I could be dead last for all I care. My fitness and satisfaction with this is all internal and for me. Plus, this race I signed up for seems super mellow and nothing too serious, so we'll see. It was mostly the location that got me to sign up for it. I have done one SUP race before in 2015 and it KICKED MY ASS, so I have no idea what I'm getting myself into, and I love that.

Work-wise I've made some peace with things too. I also have plans to finally pursue some backburner projects that I've always wanted to do but haven't "had time" to pull the trigger and excuses follow. The way I see it these days, THE TIME IS NOW. And that goes for everything. Don't sit on something, some idea, some goal, and just hope it can happen someday. Make it happen. Live your life on your terms. Do cool shit.

~~~


We all go through lows in life, we all have shit going on, we all get curveballs thrown our way. Guess what: We have a choice. A choice over our attitude, our mindset, and a choice to make the most of even a shitty situation. 

And that fucking rocks. What a gift.

And hey, that doesn't mean you have to suck it up and always put on a smile or have happy thoughts every second of the day. I don't think that's possible! We will still have shitty days and shitty moments. We are still allowed to feel sorry for ourselves every now and then and let it out in the form of tears or whatever your thing is. But my point is, over the long term we have a choice to choose a good attitude and make it a good life; we don't have to be stuck in a living hell.


Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Year Of Babies, But Not For Us (At Least, Yet)


Writing is like therapy for me, it helps when I need it, so here it goes.

These past six-plus months have been straight up emotional, challenging and personally transformative. In many ways, the old adage holds true: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

So let me back up.


Ready To Try
When we were in Hawaii this past October (2016) John and I had a lot of good times, enjoyed the big race, went on scuba dives, hikes, and had our share of date nights and cocktails, but in particular one thing came from the trip that would potentially change our lives forever. We decided we wanted to start trying to get pregnant! Even though we’re still newlyweds, we’ve been together for a long time and we’re at a point in our lives where we’re just ready. When you know you know.

So me being me, I got all ready for this baby-making process by becoming an expert on it and following concepts of the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM). Actually, I had already been measuring BBT and tracking cycles on Kindara so that was nothing new. But I started doing everything else from OPKs (to watch for the LH surge) to timing our sex—all new territory for sure. I also did a lot of other little things that I felt would help make my body baby-ready—got acupuncture, gained a little weight (which I’ve discussed here; the changes took some getting used to but now I really enjoy my body), kept exercise to moderation, ditched intensity (most the time), ate more carbs*, weaned off coffee, abstained from alcohol for a month, ramped up the supplements, etc.

*In fall 2016 I logged on MyFitnessPal for a week just to see what I was eating intuitively these days, and I was averaging 90-130 grams of carbs most days, and on exercise days usually eating anywhere from 150 to over 250 grams of carbs a day. I figured that now trying to conceive I shouldn’t be going chronically less than 130 grams a day even if that was working fine for maintaining a regular monthly menstrual cycle and normal bodyweight/BMI, hence the increase. 

That first month of trying, October, totally messed with my head. I was obsessed over it… I was excited… I was nervous… I was tripping out over the idea of getting pregnant… I wanted it really bad… I was over-thinking every little thing. Looking back I went totally over board and let that ol' control freak take over.

Worst of all, I expected it to happen just like that. A lot of my friends shared their stories of getting pregnant on the first try and said "watch out what you wish for!" Then I look and John and I and think, “I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been, John’s a very healthy dude, we take care of ourselves, we’re not too uptight or stressed, I’m an expert on healthy living… not to mention, I’m no longer too lean, not training too hard, and all my tests show that my hormones and biomarkers kick ass so I should be 100% ready to build a baby!” (PS studies show that there’s no reason to believe a woman who had amenorrhea in the past will face infertility as long as her hormones and cycles are back to normal, which mine have been for years now, thus this has never been a concern for me).


The First Negative
That first month we did not get pregnant—and it’s not surprising looking back. I was pretty sad the afternoon I started my period, and there were tears, but also something else happened: I immediately felt myself relax and loosen up. Right then I learned a couple huge lessons. 1) I had been so worked up over how to do everything perfectly for trying to conceive (TTC) that I forgot the most important thing to just relax and let nature take its course. I knew I’d never get pregnant if I kept up like this. And of all people, I should have known better than being in a state of stress like that does not usually lead to desirable outcomes. And 2) the negative result was also humbling. You can be the healthiest in the world, but that doesn’t guarantee anything with getting pregnant, apparently. The more I learn the more I realize pregnancy is a giant mystery in many ways.

November and December continued to be active months of trying, but I was working on changing my attitude and approach. December I especially let go of trying so hard, and poured myself some wine over the holidays. All the while I was still tracking and timing “stuff” (because at the end of the day things like timing sex do matter), but I was truly making an effort to be more relaxed and less obsessed about it. I wasn’t perfect, but I was managing it better. Here’s the thing: When I set my mind on a new goal it’s hard for me to just to be casual about it, and if I’m not reaching the goal, I tend to get even more intense about the effort I put in. But in this case that had to change, and that’s been part of my transformation…


Finley The Vizsla
Thankfully on Dec. 9 a new little member to our family arrived to our home, the fur baby kind. We had committed to getting a vizsla puppy (my dream dog for the past decade) way back in summer—even before the decision to TTC—so I had been eagerly waiting his arrival and the timing was absolutely ideal. I had no idea how quickly I’d fall in love with our boy, Finley, and also had no idea I’d need this little guy in my life so badly during this time. Finley’s filled our hearts with so much love and happiness, and no matter what he is and always will be our first baby. Lucky for him, since he’s our only child as of now, he has one hell of a good life with a mom and dad who both work from home and give him lots of love, attention, walks and treats.

As far as TTC goes…

More disappointing outcomes for us in the final months of 2016.


The Baby Boom
Meanwhile, a handful of my girlfriends and best friends from various circles in my personal life were announcing their pregnancies, had recently become pregnant or about to pop. It was crazy. Apparently everyone else was trying too. I’m sure my age has something to do with it, but still, the pregnancies seemed way more than normal. In February alone I went to three freakin' baby showers ha!

I started seeing the same thing happen in the triathlon/endurance world and everywhere else I looked—it felt like every damn day for months someone else was announcing a pregnancy. There are people even claiming it’s the “year of babies.” It was a bit overwhelming for me to stomach…

I never expected I’d react this way, but the flood of announcements started breaking me down emotionally and really fucking with my head. I wasn’t jealous of anyone, but the situation just made me really sad and confused. I couldn’t help but compare and wonder—why them and why not us? Of all times for this to happen, why the hell does this pregnancy boom have to happen now—right when it’s become a very sensitive subject in my life?! These mom- and dads-to-be are feeling the most happiness ever while I’m over here crying at the start of my period and feeling like a failure.

Pity party. I know. I’m not saying I’m proud of it… I’m just telling the truth. I'm sure many women can relate.

Thankfully I got over that shit with time; it was making me bitter, anti-social and even more resentful at social media, which I didn’t like. Meanwhile, the baby boom is still going strong. No matter where I look it’s “baby this,” “baby that.” Baby bumps galore. To this day I’m seeing new announcements once a week or more on average. But now, I react with laughter. Literally. Whenever I see or hear of a new gal who’s knocked up, I laugh to myself and say, “Of course she’s pregnant!” (And then I remind myself that I have a pretty good life and the freedom to do lots of things pregnant women can’t do.)

Let me also say, I am certainly not ignorant to the fact that there are, no doubt, plenty of women like me out there right now who so badly want to get pregnant but aren’t, month after month, and these women probably also have a hard time hearing about all the baby talk from their friends and social connections… We’re more of a silent group; when you’re going through it it’s harder to talk about it publically. Personally, I never knew it would be so hard to talk openly about trying to get pregnant. I consider myself an open book these days, but this is tough stuff and it even took me months to build the courage to write this blog post. So to all you women TTC and having a hard time, my heart is right there with you.


Now Into 2017
January… February… March…

Half a year of trying.

Not pregnant.

Gradually, it’s gotten back to life as usual, I definitely think about it less, and am doing way less. I’m not so emotional about it. When I look at my friends and acquaintances who are pregnant I don’t get a lump in my throat anymore. At some point you realize you just have to live your life, be in the moment each day, be grateful for what you DO have, don’t fret over the things you DON’T have, and not be obsessed over that which you cannot control. Oh, and let go of all expectations.

And, hey, after all it's only been six rounds so far. It certainly feels like forever, but in reality it's not that long to be trying!

However, the one time of month that sucks no matter what is when I start my period. Aunt Flow (AF) now comes with a different type of emotional response (i.e. not PMS)—and it’s when I get all choked up. I can tell when AF is coming days before, and for those few days, it’s just a hard time of month for me.

I’ve also let up on how much I was doing to TTC. I’m not trying to be perfect during the two-week wait anymore (if I workout a bit harder or have some wine, so be it). I'm not trying to "hack" this one. Less is more. Keep it real. Until I see a positive pregnancy test with my own two eyes I have to live life normally, not cautiously thinking “what if.” I still keep up with a few things I find valuable—mostly things I’d be going even if we weren’t TTC—such as acupuncture, taking certain supplements, using Kindara, clean eating, etc.

Meanwhile, I’ve gradually been putting in more effort on myself in other ways and have searched for underlying stress that could be plaguing me (more on that below). The transformation has been real!


What About My Guy?
We did get John’s sperm tested because every expert with whom I speak always says, “Keep in mind it’s 50% the guy when it comes to getting pregnant, not just the girl.”

The results show his “stuff” was about average and/or potentially borderline low in one or two areas depending on whom you ask (the standards for what constitutes good, healthy sperm are somewhat vague and inconsistent in what we researched and resources we were given). So what we know is that John’s stuff could be better, but it’s certainly not problematic at a clinical level and nowhere near infertile. (PS - John gave me permission to disclose this tidbit).

Given his results, we built out a plan to aid in his fertility and he was very willing and open-minded to it despite not being the type of guy who likes supplements and health plans (go figure). It’s funny because we've each had to take a somewhat opposite approach in this: I relax more; he puts in a bit more effort. I’m very proud of the man he is, the efforts he’s making and most of all how he’s been incredibly relaxed about the whole process. He sets a good example around here.

So at the end of the day, thankfully there’s zero reason at this point to believe that he or I are infertile in any way, which means we’ll just keep on trying and this a practice in patience. If I find the need or desire to do more testing and investigating down the line, then we’ll discuss it, but again, it still has only been six months of trying, which is not that long all things considered!


Love & Life
Meanwhile, all this has brought John and I closer together (not just talking all the sex we get to have, which of course is another big bonus lol). We’re taking more time as a couple, having fun date nights and little adventures (Finley’s always included too) and we’re in a great groove. I’ve never felt so in love with my man.

A good friend and mentor told me about her efforts on trying to get pregnant (it’s not been easy for her either), “Truly, I live an amazing life, and am wanting for nothing. So I give thanks for that daily, and trust that the rest will fall into place for reasons that I may never understand the details of!”

This spoke to me. I couldn’t ask for a better life with John. Wanting a baby is just that: Want. It’s not about needing one. We don’t need a baby. Once you understand that it really puts things in perspective and I’ve learned to not let myself take for granted the good things that are happening right now.


Uncovering and Eliminating More Underlying Stress
I knew I was stressed in the beginning, but over time I know in my heart of hearts I’m not like that about it anymore! It really is life as usual for the most part. I really don't feel stressed. HRV is fine (if I get around to measuring). My body feels healthy and robust. I feel like I've learned to handle this pretty well. So I've despised it and still despise it every time someone says, “Oh you just need to relax and it’ll happen.” I’ll admit to having stress when it’s clear I have stress—I’m not ashamed—so how could there be stress and lack of relaxation if I really truly don’t think that’s the case? Even John is amazed at how chill I've become—a lot of it thanks to him and his naturally chill demeanor.

But maybe there was something I was missing? I was willing to dig deep and figure it out. And actually, I discovered something…

My work. Being self-employed.

Therein lies the hidden underlying stress.

So I had the chance to do something about it, and long story short: I’ve temporarily and purposefully cut back on work despite that being a terrifying concept in my world. Turns out this is something I’ve needed for a while but was too scared to ever do. Thank goodness I have the support of my amazing husband in this.

The longer version:
For a while I’ve been having some feeling like work was taking a bigger toll on me and that perhaps I was starting to experience burnout, but then I’d have a bunch of shit to do so I’d have to ignore it. I was also confused because I love what I do so damn much—how could I be burnt out?

What it comes down to is being self-employed and fearing a plateau or decline. When you’re self-employed it can be intense and stressful in different ways than a traditional job. I put a ton of pressure on myself that I always need to be growing, building, expanding, making more money, figuring out new ways to stay fresh and relevant, and that each month and each year needs to be better than the last. Granted, it’s not so bad that I’m back to being frazzled and dealing with work-stress insomnia like I have year’s past. These days I certainly take better take care of myself, I know when to say NO, and I don’t get completely overwhelmed at my workload (getting organized has helped a ton). But even if I’m mindful of my wellbeing and time management, I’m always of the mindset that as a small business owner I need to do better each year, make enough money to cover all my costs and still have enough save, invest in my future, pay for health insurance, be on top of my game as an expert in the field (thus find extra time to do research and continuing education), and so on—while god-forbid I stay status quo, plateau or experience a decrease in business; that would make this Type A gal an anxious mess. I discovered that this mindset has been a huge source of underlying stress.

So I pondered, “What if I challenged myself to cut back on work, live a bit more simply, be a bit more of a hermit, and see what happens?” The timing seemed right given the main subject of this blog post you're reading. The idea of a sabbatical also floated around for a bit, but the more I thought about that the more it didn’t seem realistic, desirable or necessary for several reasons. So instead, we decided (John of course has been very much involved in this) that I’d cut back on work for a month or so. Of course, I’d keep all my current full-time coaching clients and the regular work I do for them, but not take on anyone new, and cut back in other areas, e.g. podcast once a week instead of twice, scheduling fewer consults per day, blocking off certain days of the week as “personal development” days and so on. Last year I decided to do more consulting and less full-time coaching (thus I scaled back on how many full-timers I accepted) so that actually made this shift in workload easy.

Once I pulled the trigger I immediately felt the difference. Holy shit did I need this extra room to unwind a bit, reconnect with my whole self and feel the work pressure lift away. For once it’s ok that I’m not striving for more or worrying about how much money is in my accounts. I can’t emphasize enough that this would not have been possible without my John, he’s simply incredible and couldn’t be more supportive.

By now, you probably know as well as I do that I can be a serious put-your-head-down-and-do-the-work kind of person and have unwavering commitment to my schedule, work and goals; I take things like health, wellness, performance very seriously—my own and that of my clients—all to the point where sometimes I get so wrapped up in the work and chasing optimal, that I forget to lighten up and realize I’m just human; we’re all just human. So this transition/break has allowed me the opportunity to be more of the carefree person that lives within me (thankfully she's alive and well); to spend my days moving at a slower pace and take more of a ultra-chill happy-go-lucky approach; to laugh off shit that happens rather than turn on the “flight or fight” mode. 

This little self-discovery project has also taught me to truly live in the moment and not get worked up over what the future may hold; to find some space and just be comfortable with “what is;” to be more process oriented than outcome oriented. I’m good at that mindset when I’m on vacation or out backpacking, but I’ve had to learn how to be this way at home during regular day-to-day life.

“When we practice ‘being here’ during less stressful times, we'll be more equipped to respond mindfully when dealing with strong obsessions.” – Tara Brach


So That’s Where TTC Has Led Me…
It’s funny how this journey has taken me down paths that I never expected. I’ve realized that in life, no matter what it’s been, nothing has ever come easy to me; I feel like I’ve always had to work a bit harder, go through some shit and overcome tough times, and go a step further to peel back layers and discover more. If I had gotten pregnant the first try none of these good things would have happened, and I wouldn’t have learned these lessons or have taken the time to explore more on how I want to live my life. So maybe we didn’t “get lucky” and conceive on the first or second try like so many I know, but in a way I feel just as lucky if not luckier on this journey because it’s making me a better person, making my husband a better person, it’s making our relationship and love for each other better than ever … and it’s making me more compassionate to all those out there who face tough times—whatever their definition of “tough times” may be; it doesn’t matter, it’s all relative.

So that’s it for now! I wish I could say this post was ending on a happier note and something like, “Surprise, we’re finally pregnant,” but I’m not. We’re not pregnant. Who knows what’ll happen. 

Someone asked me if I’m worried about that yet, i.e. what will happen, and the honest truth is no, I’m not worried about it. I’m really not. Have I worried about different variables as it relates to getting pregnant? Yes. But I’ve let go of that. Overall I have no worries about the future. There is only the now to focus on—and enjoy the hell out of my little family and this life we have built.


~~~ BONUS ~~~


Helping My Hormones
Last tidbit because it's relevant and may also be helpful to other women out there if they’re experiencing something similar; it's when all the tracking and investigating pays off. Just please do me a favor and work with a practitioner when starting any new supplements or health plan.

Backing up a bit to those early months of trying (last fall)… I did discover that my hormones potentially could use some balancing. My cycles were regular but there were little things that were “off,” all of which I discovered thanks to the tracking I’ve done on Kindara dating back to 2015. Before we were TTC and even the first couple months of TTC, I saw that I had been ovulating relatively late in my cycle and having short-ish luteal phases, as well as inconsistent cycle lengths during a lot of last year (I’d cycle every month, but it’d bounce around a lot). I also have suffered from PMDD for over a year, which is not normal! (And yes, I’ve tried managing diet and carbs to alleviate the symptoms, which is another topic for another day.) I wondered if the short luteal phases were due to not enough progesterone sticking around and if this was causing a luteal phase defect that can have a negative effect on getting pregnant.

To fix things, I decided to start on vitex back in early December (specifically I’m taking Chastetree Berry Extract by Vitanica) and this had an immediate beneficial effect. Within a month, I started ovulating at a normal time (Day 14), luteal phases improved to 13-14 days and cycles stayed consistently 27-29 days. It’s been like that since.

Meanwhile, I consulted with my amazing functional practitioner/fertility expert, Brie, about my health, hormones and fertility in general, she eased a lot of worries and gave some great insight and thoughts. In particular, I asked about the idea of taking progesterone just to see if that would help and we decided it wasn’t absolutely necessary (my progesterone looked fine on my most recent DUTCH) but she also said it wouldn’t hurt trying it. So I’ve been on sublingual progesterone the past two cycles—haven’t really noticed a difference nor did it magically lead to a pregnancy; not that I was expecting that. (Note: do not start taking progesterone on your own, please only do so under the guidance of a qualified practitioner.)

All this work I’ve done to aid my fertility—from the acupuncture and herbs to vitex and lifestyle—has greatly relieved my PMDD symptoms, to the point where I don’t have to hide away that time of month, lol. So that’s a bonus!