It all feels broken.

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen, nor touched, but are felt in the heart. - Helen Keller // LifeLoveandGarlic.com

This has been a tough year for me. There were certainly bright spots, but when I look back on it (at least right now) it’s full of dim, sharp, hurty things and I want nothing more than to fast forward my life to a time when it all just hurts a little less. I find myself begging for the days to pass, the weeks to fly and the months to blur together.

I’ve mentioned that we sold our house and lived with my in-laws & my mom for two months. What I may have left out is that right at the tail end of that my Dad died, on June 30, unexpectedly. He had been deteriorating for years, but for all intents and purposes he was stable. Until he wasn’t. We, also, had scheduled our move (without, obviously, knowing he would pass away) for 3 days later — starting July 3. To say that week was awful would be an immense understatement.

As the weeks wore on, the memorial passed and though still mourning, I was fighting my way through the fog. Christian and I decided that I would stop taking Clomid (helping us ovulate/conceive with my PCOS) for a couple of months since I was grieving, stressed and just not in the right frame of mind to be trying to get pregnant.

On August 27, Christian’s birthday, I found out — very unexpectedly — that I was pregnant (without drugs). It seems as if there would be a light at the end of this dark tunnel, after all. I immediately began having cramping (no bleeding) and very sore boobs, both of which I was reassured by the nurse at my OB/GYN office were normal.

It’s funny how finding out something like this quickly changes everything. Where would we put a nursery? What projects do we need to put on fast forward to get the house in a little better shape? What will maternity leave look like? Crap, I can’t go to one of my best friend’s weddings. Should I buy new dress pants or just wait until I need the maternity ones? What will I wear on our trip in November if I don’t fit in my clothes? Let’s talk about names. Let’s spend many, many, many hours researching pre-natal vitamins and stalking pregnancy boards on The Bump to feel even the slightest bit of pregnant camaraderie.

You get the idea. Our due date was initially set for May 3. I couldn’t wait. It was almost like having a school year baby — in in the fall, out in the spring.

After the initial positive test, I called my doctor to set up my 8 week appointment. September 23. I circled it on the calendar and methodically counted down the 26 days that would take to get there. Which, for the record, were the slowest 26 days of my life.

Christian took the afternoon off to go with me. We loaded up the car and drove to Parker (about 20 minutes from our house) where my doctor had moved her practice. After signing in, a urine sample and a short wait in the waiting room we were taken back for our first ultra sound and I couldn’t wait. My stomach was a mixture of nervous butterflies and knots — I wanted to see that little heart beat more than I wanted anything on this earth. As soon as the black and white images flashed on the screen I began searching for any sign of a heartbeat, any flicker.

I didn’t see one.

The tech told us she was going to check my ovaries, cervix etc. before circling back to the baby. But, I knew it wasn’t good. As she rounded back to the baby, you could tell. There was nothing resembling a heartbeat. She said she was very sorry, but that it appeared the baby had stopped growing about a week earlier and wasn’t showing a heartbeat.

All I could think was that she had to be wrong, this had to be wrong. How could the baby I prayed for, prayed over daily and wanted so badly just be gone? Not after the year I’ve had, there’s no way that this could really be happening. No possible way.

But, it was.

My doctor assured me that I hadn’t done anything to cause this, that most likely it was a chromosomal issue that my body hadn’t allowed to continue. After meeting with my doctor, I was sent home with Cytotec (to induce my miscarriage since my body hadn’t started on its own) as well as Percocet and Zofran to help combat the impending side effects of what was about to happen. That night, I sucked it up. We had family in town and my brother-in-law’s 30th birthday to celebrate. I went, I smiled, I broke apart on the inside.

Wednesday morning, after a good cry on the phone with one of my best friends, I made it to the office. Tried to hold it together and ended up leaving because all the emotions I was trying to hold in just wouldn’t be jailed any more and the sobs weren’t exactly conducive to a productive office environment.

I started the Cytotec Wednesday night — needing the uncertainty to end — thinking that maybe if I put the process of the miscarriage behind me rather than letting it linger I would feel better, less defeated. From what I’ve heard about miscarriage, there isn’t a good option – between DNC, “the pills” and trying to pass it naturally… no option seems to have much up on any of the others. The Cytotec induced labor like waves of cramping and a whole host of symptoms that had me very sick for the next four days. During that time I, also, had to go back in for a Rhogam shot due to Christian and I having different (negative vs. positive) blood types.

Passing your baby at home, no matter how small, is nothing I would wish on anyone…miscarriage is nothing I would wish upon anyone.

My follow-up appointment was the next Tuesday — I still had more to “pass”, but it appeared that “the pills” had done their job. I had hoped that I would feel better and more on the mend. But, I don’t. I feel more defeated, frightened and heartbroken than ever. I’m trying to process, trying to find things in my control, all without much avail.

This baby made me a Mom, though I will never get to hold my baby, watch it grow — I will always cherish the time I got to spend carrying him/her and know that we’ll be reunited one day. And, truthfully, this is what I’m holding on to and what is helping me push through.

I’m sharing this because I was blindsided by my miscarriage and felt/feel very isolated by what has happened. Miscarriage is extremely common, possibly in upwards of 1 in 4 pregnancies. Personally, I didn’t know anyone that had shared their miscarriage story, that could fully understand what I was feeling, what I was grieving. Miscarriage is something a lot of people don’t talk about – it’s hard, it’s grief, it’s uncomfortable. But, it happens and we shouldn’t be ashamed, we shouldn’t hide it in our hearts, we need to be open to talking about it.

Today, October 15, is Infant Loss and Remembrance Day. This post isn’t something I’m super comfortable putting out there, but if it makes even one person feel less alone, then it’s worth it. 

So, It’s been a while.

Cough, it’s been a while. For real.

I started the year out posting regularly and then right after that last post on PCOS I just stopped caring. Which, for the record, isn’t the norm around here. Usually there’s at least some level of guilt associated with not posting (right up with “things I should be doing, but am not”). But, not this time… no guilt, not even a real sense of freedom.

Maybe it’s because I’m dealing with some things that I’d rather let play out on a private stage before releasing them to the never-ending time capsule that is the internet? Maybe it’s the stress of moving, selling a house and finding ourselves living with our parents because the real estate market in Colorado is IN-FREAKING-SANE at best. (Also, living with parents has some serious perks). Maybe.

Either way, it’s a new thing for me. This waning urge to spatter my thoughts out on a blank canvas read by strangers (and non-strangers). I don’t know where that puts me, if it leaves me here or somewhere else entirely.

If you do still stop by on occasion, I’m here. I just don’t know what I’m doing. (Which, really, do I ever?)

 

PCOS: An Update.

*[Word to the wise, there will be a lot of talk about periods, ovaries and other such things – feel free to skip this if that isn’t your cup of tea.]

I’ve had it on my mind to write an update on this whole PCOS thing for months now. Each time I sit down to write about where I’m at, what I’m feeling, what I know and where I’m going… I just clam up. I don’t know how to adequately put it all into words – the ups that make me feel like this is all just pretend, a flash in the pan – the downs that leave me swirling, scared and anxious.

In case you missed the first post on my diagnosis, you can read it here

When I left off last August, my main goal was to try and work on treating the PCOS naturally. Now, when I said “treating it” I meant more specifically that I would be working to balance my hormones enough to have children in the not so distant future. There are, of course, the long-term repercussions of this illness that I should probably be working towards as well.

Side note: what do you call it? An illness, a disorder, a sickness, a problem? I don’t even know.

This past fall, I started working out (sporadically) and really tried to clean up my eating. I’d go in spurts of extreme strictness to barreling toward a gluten-filled cheesy pizza at warp speed. The bottom line is that I wasn’t consistent. For every salad I’d pile high with chopped veggies, I’d snarf through a piece of rum cake. It wasn’t pretty.

Initially, I set a deadline of Jan. 1. If things weren’t moving in the direction I wanted (re: weight loss, resumed period etc.) then I would look at going on Metformin after meeting with my doctor. As January 1 neared, I realized that the month of Christmas cookies wasn’t doing me any favors and I decided to push back my “deadline” to January 31. I hopped on the Whole 30 train and busted my butt to eat cleaner than I ever had for 30 days. I succeeded and ended up losing 12 lbs.

——

On the period front…

I had my first, natural period right after Thanksgiving. This was a BIG WIN and as much as it sucked, I felt lucky that things seemed to be getting back to normal. Then December came and right along with it came the absence of my period which felt like a BIG FAIL and a reminder that things weren’t really headed in the right direction.

As I rounded the end of the Whole 30 challenge, I got my second natural period in a little over a year — January 22, to be specific. But, here we are in March with nary another visit from Aunt Flo — so I’m not sure where that leaves me.

——

At the end of January, I scheduled an appointment with my lady doctor and went in fully intending to start Metformin the next day. They had prescribed it to me in August and I figured that they would just continue with the current plan, even though we were starting 6 months later. I can’t tell you the number of nights I laid in bed researching Metformin, the results I could expect, other people’s stories… instead of sleeping, I devoured any and all information that would give me hope that Metformin was the solution.

That’s why I was surprised to hear from my doctor that they had changed the protocols for fertility with PCOS to skip completely over Metformin. All of the build up, anticipation and hopeful certainty — gone. In it’s place Clomid and a discussion on what that means for my chance at having multiples. Say what? The odds are 7% for twins and less than 1% for triplets and more. God help us all if that happens — my Mom (or Christian’s parents) will most certainly have to move in to help me maintain my sanity.

My instructions, leaving the office, that day were this:

1.) Make an appointment with Sally Jobe for genetic counseling — due to the high occurrence of cancer in my family, there’s a slight chance that Clomid will increase my risk of cancer (in addition to the increased risk with PCOS) and I needed to discuss testing with the counselor.

2.) Buy LH ovulation test strips — her exact words were, “might as well spy on what’s happening in there”.

3.) Pick up your prescription for Clomid.

4.) Begin taking in on day 4 of your next period (day 1 being the first day with heavy bleeding) — if I didn’t have a period within the next few weeks I was supposed to call and they’d prescribe Provera to jump start things.

5.) Stay on a slightly more relaxed version of Whole 30.

As soon as February 1 hit, my Whole 30 ended and the start of “must eat all things I was deprived of for the past 30 days” commenced. There was pizza, there was mashed potatoes, there was cake. It was glorious and, also, stomach ache inducing.

I’ve spent the last 1.5 months trying to navigate a “healthier” and yet less restrictive way of eating. The good news is that I haven’t gained back all the weight I lost, but the bad news is that I did gain back a little and have eaten horribly in the interim.

So, that’s where I am. This post was actually started about a month ago (takes me forever to spill these things out) so I have more updates (Sally Jobe, Provera, Clomid and more that I’ll find time to post about in the next couple weeks). But for now, that’s at least an update!

Currently.

I want to be better at having regular posts. I’ve gotten semi-good at my Finally Friday posts and I’ve followed through with posting my whole 30 meal plans so I thought I would challenge myself one step further and give a monthly update for each month of 2014. A currently update.

With that said, here’s a shot at what my life looks like, currently:

Currently

Currently Reading: Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. Have you heard her TED talks? If not, please pause and go get yo self caught up by clicking here and here. The premise of the book is learning to be more comfortable with vulnerability, denouncing shame and leading an authentic life. She’s amazing and I find myself underlining page after page after page — this is one of those books that you could read more than once and still not absorb all there is to learn. Also, I’ve thought (more than once), “how does she know me so well?” — that’s the makings of a great book.

Currently Listening: Nothing new on the music front this month, but  I have been listening to Body Double by Tess Gerritsen in the car. I downloaded (via the library) for my weekend drive to the mountains and still have several more hours to finish up. If you’re ever looking for a good mystery to listen to in the car… I can’t recommend Tess Gerritsen’s books enough.

Currently Indulgence: Since I’ve been rocking Whole 30, I don’t have a big indulgence to report. I have had a few glasses of wine (with friends) and I’ve also snuck a few glasses of fruit juice (oh the shame!) at night after dinner.

Current Nail Color: Some sort of grey — I got my nails painted last weekend in Vail and I’m doing my very best to keep them “nice” for as long as possible.

Current Drink: Mostly water and green tea with jasmine. Though, I’ve also added hot water with lemon to the repertoire!

Current Food: Salmon cakes with sautéed kale! I actually can’t wait to eat this — who am I?

Current Favorite TV Show: Oh man… how do I pick. Can I have a top 3? If so, they would be (in no particular order): Blacklist, White Collar and Grimm.

Current Wish List: A new pair of jeans that fit well and make my butt look like a million bucks – what, is that asking too much?

Current Needs: Probably some sleep. I got hit with the nasty cold of the season a couple of weeks ago and I still feel like I can’t get enough zzz’s. This nightowl starts fighting the need to collapse into bed around 7:30 — hmmm, maybe I should apply for my AARP card.

Current Thoughts: I can’t wait for President’s Day weekend — three-day weekend, here I come! Also, I need to get some vacations scheduled and planned… having trips to look forward to is high on my list of priorities.

Currently Anticipating: I have a doctor appointment on Monday to review how I’m doing with PCOS, my hormone levels and probably going on medication. There’s been a lot of thought, discussion and prayer (not to mention a crazy restrictive diet) regarding what my next steps will be so I’m anxious to talk it all through with my doctor.

Current Blessing: Feeling happy and thankful. PCOS has been a big-time roller coaster of hormonal swings while trying to get things balanced out over the past six months and after 3 weeks of feeling nothing short of grinch-like, I’m so glad to be feeling back to my old self. Hormones, you’re a real kick in the pants.

Current Bummer: The snow + cold. On days where you’ve got nothing to do but sit at home, in your sweats, and watch a movie — I really dig the snow + cold. On days where I have to get up at the butt crack of dawn to make it ANYWHERE on time due to said snow + cold, I do not dig it. Come on winter… make way for warmer days!

Current Outfit: Banana Republic Outlet jeans (similar here) + this top. All Banana Republic – my one true shopping love.

Finally Friday.

Your Mission

Happy Friday! This week f-l-e-w by! Usually when I have exciting things on the horizon, the days (and nights) just crawl… but not this week! We’re spending the weekend in Breckenridge with my family to celebrate a BIG birthday for my mom. There will be lots of vino, baby snuggles, game time, wandering in and out of shops + good food. I may or may not grace everyone with my fabulous rendition of, out-of-key, happy birthday, we’ll just have to wait and see.

I do, also, want to report back that Christian and I were finally able to pick a back splash for the kitchen and that Christian and his parents installed it last weekend (what a great birthday present!). The only hiccup is that the tile ended up looking a little more brown that I originally thought it would, meaning I might have to reconsider my paint decision. Ahhhh house remodeling, how you test me. I hope that you have a fabulous weekend!

Here are my finds from around the interwebs:

*note: this week is a little heavy on all things girly. Sorry, I’m not sorry.

Have you ever read a post that had you nodding along the whole time while simultaneously tugging (more like clawing) at your heart-strings? This post about what it means to be sisters (or best friends, or girlfriends) really got me – I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. Also, I want to send it to all my friends, because it’s so so so true.

I’m 100% addicted to the 40 days of dating experiment. Like can’t stop, won’t stop, will be devastated if they don’t give me some closure at the end of it all. Have you heard about it? These two New Yorkers (one a commitment phobe, one that jumps into serious relationships at the drop of a hat) decide to date for 40 days and write all about it. If you read it, no cheating, make sure you start at the beginning.

Can I just tell you that Sarah Jenks is one of the most on-point, inspirational people on my radar these days? Every single post is just so good that I think that she can’t possibly come up with another one. Then she does. Her most recent post covers feeling fat and worrying that others are thinking/talking about you. The real lesson is that we’re projecting our shame in not caring for ourselves. I can’t sum it up — just read it.

Just to lighten it up after those deep posts up top, here are 22 things that you might not know about the show FRIENDS. I’m a die-hard FRIENDS fan and I didn’t know many of these (guess I’m not as die-hard as I thought).

Since I’m going to be attempting to deal with my PCOS naturally I have to get creative about some of my food options. I stumbled across this recipe for Chocolate Chia Protein Pudding and it looks delicious – I wonder if it tastes as good as it looks?

Getting sucked into the interwebs is such an easy thing to do; I mean, there’s such good stuff out there. I’ve definitely found myself caught in the faux inspiration trap more than once — it’s definitely something to keep in mind while heading down the online rabbit hole.

And, just because I liked this post so much — was it the photos, the popsicles or the info, I don’t know! Here’s a great tutorial on taking awesome photos for your blog.

It’s called PCOS & I’ve got it.

So the title of this post let the cat out of the bag. Maybe I should have gone with something more like “It has to do with my ovaries & mood swings” or “That time I had too much testosterone” or “You know what sucks? My ovaries”. Guess the commitment to my creative juices just wasn’t flowing when I wrote that one out.

Get ready for a long read, because this one is a doozy.

All joking aside, though, it turns out that I have PCOS – Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. It’s been a few roller coaster weeks, and if I’m being 100% honest, I’m really freaked out about going bald. It’s so vain, and maybe that’s a little peek into my heart and where I need some work — but what 27-year-old girl wants to think about losing their hair? I can’t think of one. Ahem.

Let me back up a little. 
*[Word to the wise, there will be a lot of talk about periods, ovaries and other such things – feel free to skip this if that isn’t your cup of tea.]

Last January when I committed to getting healthy I was desperate to get my stomach back on track. I’ve dealt with stomach issues for as long as I can remember, but it all came to a very painful, very uncomfortable head at the end of 2012. I was miserable. On top of that, I’d started having break through bleeding from the pill. Since the pill wasn’t keeping me from having my dreaded (awful, heavy, horrendous) periods, I decided to stop taking it. This decision seemed to make sense because Christian and I want to try to have kids at some point and I figured that it wouldn’t hurt to give my body time to regulate itself before then. The good news is that my stomach did get better, much better in fact – I’ve felt better than I have in a really long time these last 6 months. The bad news is that after that breakthrough bleeding and a small/light period after stopping the pill, I didn’t get another one. (Note: it’s really hard to complain about going period free for 6 + months, just saying.)

Mid-way through July I decided to email my “lady doctor” just to check and see if I needed to do something about this lack of period. We emailed back and forth some with the final determination that I just needed to come in to be on the safe side. I scheduled the appointment, which included a pelvic ultrasound as well as a more general exam.

During my ultrasound, the tech is moving the wand around and comments on the weird, sharp turn my uterus takes before settling in on the ovaries for measurements. As soon as the first one popped up, all I could think was that it looked like a little round cheese grater (I’m not sure why I settled on cheese grater, but I did). At the moment, I thought about asking if that was normal, but decided to just save all my questions for the doctor — it was probably just eggs anyways, right? Here’s what I saw:

Ovary

*this is not my ovary, but one that is eerily similar – source

My doctor came in and did a normal “lady” exam and said that things felt fine, but with the results of my ultrasound she was almost certain that I have PCOS… however in U.S. you can’t diagnose anything without accompanying blood work. She prescribed Provera and left me with instructions to come in to have my blood drawn once I’d had a reactionary period (on day 3).

Side note: I react horribly to changes in my hormone levels. Going on/off/changing birth control can throw me into a spiral of fluctuating emotions. During the 5 days I was on Provera and the week after I would go from neutral to crying to rage then back again in the span of 30 minutes. It was awful, awful, awful.

I had the blood test and went in last week to discuss my results which confirmed what we she already suspected – PCOS. My testosterone was high and all the signs pointed directly at PCOS. Here’s the summary, from Web MD of what that really means:

Polycystic ovary syndrome) is a problem in which a woman’s hormones are out of balance. It can cause problems with your periods and make it difficult to get pregnant. PCOS may also cause unwanted changes in the way you look. If it is not treated, over time it can lead to serious health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease.

*I’ve read varying numbers on how common PCOS really is — some say 5-10% of woman have it, while other sources go as far as to cite up to 20%.

After breaking the news that I, indeed, had PCOS we talked options: Metformin – Clomid – Weight Loss – Diet Change – Sugar Elimination – Chinese Herbs – Babies – Vitamins – Excercise. I’d been doing a lot of research so none of it was totally new or surprising. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to try to work through this thing naturally before I started choking down pills and talking the rate of having twins or triplets (which would not be ideal for my sanity).

In case you want the full rundown of PCOS, the Mayo Clinic does a pretty good job of covering it. But, for those that like the quick format, here’s the general symptoms and possible repercussions down the road. With PCOS, some of these symptoms may occur while others do not — PCOS doesn’t seem to look exactly the same for every woman who has it.

SYMPTOMS: 

  • Acne
  • Irregular or absent periods
  • Pelvic pain
  • Cysts on the ovaries
  • Fertility problems
  • Depression
  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss and hair growth (hirsutism)
  • Sleep apnea

ONGOING CONSIDERATIONS: 

  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Cholesterol Abnormalities
  • Endometrial Cancer

So, that’s where I am. Staring down a reality that doesn’t include nearly as much birthday cake as I’d like. I’m making light of this because it’s how I cope and how I manage to not spend hours each day spiraling down a rabbit hole of anxiety.

I’m going to spend the next two + months trying to get my weight down, trying to eliminate sugar, trying to cut back on wheat/dairy. If at that point, my levels aren’t stabilizing and I’m not having regular periods, I’ll look at going on Metformin to start. Like I said at the beginning of the post I worry most about losing my hair and how to deal with the acne that comes with being off of birth control. Since those are symptoms and issues that I can tangibly see and work on, they are at the fore-front of my mind. As for the fertility issues… Christian and I haven’t been “TRYING” to have children (I hate saying “trying” or even talking about “trying” – it sounds so awkward), so I think I’m in a bit of denial about how difficult that process might be for me when we choose to get serious. But, I’m choosing, most of the time, not to worry until it is my reality. Plus, you never know — maybe it won’t be an issue? Wishful thinking? Maybe.