Thursday, January 29, 2015

Infertility and Me: I am coming out of the closet.

Last week Andrew and I came out on Facebook as Infertile.

It was terrifying yet completely exhilarating.

Not that I think my uterus and our sex life is anybody's effing business, but the effort and feelings of shame in keeping it a secret while simultaneously fielding the awful (inappropriate) questions from virtually everyone about when we were going to have a baby (of if we "wanted" to have kids, or just how BIG our house was for just the two of us... yeah) was emotionally exhausting and like continuously getting punched in the heart every time.

That and I realized that people at home in my rural nosy village already knew. And I'd rather they not talk about it as the shameful secret they weren't supposed to know. Because eff that noise.

What I've realized in both living and sharing about our experience is that infertility is VERY common among couples. And usually the only time someone "comes out" is when they actually manage to get pregnant. Which is so unfair.

Our journey reads like almost every other blog post out there.

Up until about three years ago I had no idea, no concept that making a baby would be that difficult. I mean, I had just spent ALL of my adult life actively avoiding that very thing. It was never even a QUESTION whether or not I'd be able to make a baby. The ability to conceive was always a choice I had.

At least. That's what I thought.

If you're not experiencing a similar journey, you have absolutely no idea what it feels like to be so betrayed by your own body. And no matter what anyone says, in today's society infertility still implies shame and blame on the would-be mother.

For us it started with testing prior to actively trying to conceive due to my years of disordered cycles. All those awful, invasive tests followed by loads of blood work just to determine that well- everything physically appeared just fine.

Then, two years ago we decided to try to conceive. We figured it would take a couple months, at the max five or six.

Hah.

Months of daily temperature checks, cutting caffeine in half, eating almond butter from a spoon every morning and following a ridiculous meal regime recommended by the naturopath, tracking my cycle-symptoms and sex life with a ridiculous App on my phone... And every three weeks the crushing, heart wrenching realization that we had failed. Again.

All this in secret.

At the year mark it became obvious that we weren't going to just "make a baby". A referral to the fertility gynaecologist was made.

Followed by more blood work and more invasive test after invasive test. All the while every three weeks we faced another cycle gone by. Another missed opportunity, another failure where we must have done something wrong. Each month I can't help telling myself- "NEXT month we'll do things right. We'll eat better, meditate more and catch it exactly at the right part of the cycle. Next month we will succeed."

At around month 16 "living as if I were pregnant" was starting to wear on me. All it did was to remind me several times over the course of the day what we'd failed and what we struggle against.  My first waking thought was shutting off the alarm and sleepily taking my morning temperature. Followed by a disgusting breakfast that hurt my stomach, lunch vitamins, a special fertility three part cycle specific smoothie at supper and the evening Folic Acid.

I decided it was too much. We stopped going to the Naturopath- I couldn't take the daily reminders of our failure with the intense fertility regime AND go through all the painful and personal medical testing that had to be done.

Last fall the gynaecologist sat us down and shared our options: either we keep trying (which for the past 18 months had not been working), I go through exploratory surgery to see whether I had endometriosis (for which I have ZERO symptoms other than infertility) or we go to the fertility clinic and begin the process for fertility treatments.

January 9th we returned to the Naturopath and the fertility "boosts" have returned.

On January 12th we met the fertility specialist at the fertility clinic and paid 175$ for 30 minutes of her time (NOT covered by Canadian Health Care system nor my work health insurance). As we sat there, I still had a tiny glimmer of hope that she would have some good news.

Holding hands nervously, we listened as she outlined the truth: at this stage of trying to conceive Andrew and I have a 3% chance each month. The longer we aren't successful, the lower that percentage gets.

It felt like being slapped in the face. It still feels surreal. My body FEELS fine. I am healthy, I am active, I eat well, I have taken care of my body. I did all the right things and I have all the right parts. I AM SUPPOSED TO BE ABLE TO DO THIS.

Our only real option with any hope for results over 20% success rate is IVF: In Vitro Fertilization. She kindly went through a diagram of the entire process. I could barely process a word she said. I remember acronyms, weeks of drug injections, more blood tests and then some scary procedures.

There's an info session. We haven't gone to it yet.

The week before this appointment, on January 5th, Andrew lost his job. IVF costs over 10,000$ per procedure. None of that is covered in our health care system nor in my insurance.

So. Here we are. Last week I tried acupuncture. It was awful. The acupuncturist judged me and gave unhelpful and hurtful advice. She told me to "just act as if you're pregnant all the time". I wanted to slap her. Who can live that way for years on end?

This is not like "choosing" to wait until later to have a baby, or "choosing" to not have a baby at all. This is not my choice.
This has been the most difficult part of my adult life so far.

So, EcoYogi peeps. I am sharing this here because it's such a huge part of my life now.

Because...

Because I think it's unfair that we keep something that happens to SO many couples a shameful secret. Because I want at least one person reading this to reconsider the next time they ask someone "when are you going to have a baby" or "do you even WANT kids?".

And because I haven't given up.

Friday, January 9, 2015

GPB: #KilltheKcup a Horror Film about the Single Brew

I have some "eco" aspects that I can set aside judgement... but single serve coffee brews aren't one of them. 

K-cups and the like are one of my soap boxes, my line in the sand. They cost more long term, make crappier coffee and are wasteful as shit. 

If you'd like to read a bit of my rant (take two since I posted about this pre-full blown craze in 2010) AND see a ridiculously amazeballs short "horror" film spoof about K-Cups, check out my post at the Green Phone Booth today:


May your weekend be filled with GREAT delicious organic fair trade coffee NOT from a pod.

Friday, January 2, 2015

DIY Natural Orange-Vanilla Scent for Your Home

Today marks the weekend before my two weeks of vacation are over... and I return to work. I will say that I greatly enjoyed having a little over two weeks off, after a particularly sick-filled and stressful autumn it was necessary.

Vacation means quiet afternoons for reading and making suet blocks out of saved bacon fat (and searching through pinterest on the best ways to attract cardinals... still alluding us sadly). After which the entire house smelled like bacon fat... which actually smells quite a bit less alluring than you might expect.

Earlier in the season I caved and bought smelly candles, but they really do smell something awful- just a tinge of chemical scent that reminded me of those silly smelly candle stores filled with ridiculous country knickknacks. Instead of filling my house with a yummy smell, I was constantly reminded of indoor air pollution and icky chemicals.

I remembered, suddenly, that earlier in the week I had purchased an orange on a whim (I usually don't, since they are definitely NOT local, but I was craving orange juice) and that we had some whole spices left over from the Yulemas Mulled Wine. A quick pinterest search revealed a "How to" for stove top simmering scents and storage. I thought I'd give it a try.

And wow, it smells absolutely scrumptious and I am only mildly concerned about the state of having a pot left on "low" heat. I've heated my concoction in a small pot, but we do happen to have a fondu thingy-ma-jigger that I'm going to look into rigging up as a possible contender for the next batch!

For the inspiration (and fabulous tips for different scents and methods) check out "The Yummy Life".

Orange-Vanilla Stove Top Room Scent:

Half an orange, sliced
3 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon cloves
3 star anise
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Add ingredients to a small pot. Add water until covered. Bring to a boil. Lower temperature to "low". Monitor to assure water doesn't evaporate. Afterwards, pour mixture into mason jar, top up with water if necessary and refrigerate. Good for a few more uses.


Storage:
In a mason jar put the other half of the orange and all other ingredients except the vanilla, fill with water. Store in fridge for 1-2 weeks.

I'm actually very excited to go gather some fir and pine needles to try a few of "The Yummy Life's" other scent suggestions! I also really like that for the most part this recipe uses only things that we'd have already in our pantry and that I can store ready-to-use pots in jars.

If you have other scent suggestions- please leave them below- I'd love to try them!

Monday, December 29, 2014

DIY Gentle Coffee/Oats Face Exfoliant

Why Hello There.

I hope you all had such a fabulous Yule and holiday season! Here in the EcoYogini house the past month has been a flutter with decorating, organic tree putting up and trimming, holiday party hosting and culminating with my brother's surprise wedding, organized in 8 days.

(Incidentally, I was also interviewed via skype for Accidental Yogist's "Yoga Chat" radio show on different winter holiday celebrations- my bit was on paganism and Yule :) I'm at the end, around the 1.5hr mark). 

This month has also been awful for my skin, particularly on my face. In recent years the skin on my face has become horrendously dry, I mean flaking off in embarrassingly large quantities with red spots of "not quite acne, but not quite rosacea" along my cheeks to finish it off. I mean really, is it even necessary?

I was so desperate that I started using my whipped body butter (with cocoa butter, shea butter and coconut oil) on my face every morning... to no avail. It was like the oils just sat on TOP of the flaky dry skin. Even the oil cleansing method, for which I only have time in the evenings to do, wasn't enough.

One morning I was so desperate that I used the body scrub made from coffee grinds, sugar and almond oil on my face (VERY gently). And whaddaya know? It worked!

Now, my face, being extremely sensitive (refer to rosacea comment), straight up coffee grinds (that I grind myself, so not uniform) with their jagged edges isn't truly the best approach to a face exfoliant. However, there is a lot to be said for using coffee on aging skin, as it is known to have a toning and antioxidant that can calm red skin effect. Plus a fresh supply will always be on hand.

I also have used with great success oats as part of my face routine. Oatmeal is filled with nutrients and vitamins that help nourish your skin, soothe dry itchy skin and helps to lock in moisture. However, due to my extremely sensitive skin, even using whole, slightly crushed oats, can be tricky as they still have sharp, jagged edges.

Finally, I wanted to choose my oils to add mindfully. Coconut oil has never been the be all and end all in moisturizers for my body. I always found lip balms, body butters and face moisturizers with coconut oils to be absorbed quickly and their benefits just as brief. It was like water on my skin. A quick search and I see I'm not alone in my (gasp!) sacrilegious views on coconut oil.

So... after much thought and research here is what I ended up with! It works beautifully, smells like a coffee-vanilla heaven and leaves my skin soft, moisturized and happy. Feel free to modify the recipe to best suit your skin, choosing oils that make sense for your skin type and NOT just because some blogger said it was the best oil ever. Facial skin is personal, yo.


Coffee Vanilla Gentle Face Scrub


1/4 cup of used coffee grinds
1/4 cup of ground oats
3 teaspoons of brown sugar
3 teaspoons of sweet almond oil
3 teaspoons of grapeseed oil
3/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract

(Local Haligonians: North Mountain Coffee not only makes the BEST tasting, ethical, organic coffees but the resulting grinds are more like a lovely paste and make the BEST scrubs! You can purchase their coffee at Smiling Goat and Petes Frootique!)
(Coffee grinds all soft and ready!)

For coffee grinds and ground oats use a mesh strainer and massage the grinds through, essentially leaving out any larger, more sharp grinds and oats. It may take a few minutes and you may have to do this in batches, but it's worth it!

Use a fork to mix the dry ingredients together and then add oil. You can always use less oil (2 tsp each was just a tad under oily for my liking, but would probably work just fine!). You can also leave off the vanilla- it just adds a bit of extra yummy smell.

Store in a small glass container. Use a spoon to extract about a teaspoon's worth in the palm of your hand (be careful not to get any water in the jar- it will go bad much more quickly with water), massage in gentle circles on your face. Gently rinse/wipe away either under the shower (close eyes, hold breath!) or using a wash cloth. Only downside? Your tub has little brown coffee grind bits that you'll need to wipe away. Pat dry!

Monday, November 24, 2014

DIY Rustic Yulemas Tree Ornaments

My first ever DIY ornaments!

The day after Halloween, Andrew and I went Yulemas shopping.

I know. I am now that person.

I just couldn't resist, there were these gorgeous, rustic, woodland type ornaments... and I fell in love... so we bought four. Sigh. I will admit that I am a sucker for fancy, coordinated Yulemas trees. I love the organized pretty, the match-y colours or themes. It's awful, I know.

I've also grown up watching my mom slowly amass a few ornaments a year for her tree- since the really nice ones are so darn expensive. So... I could just do that.

OR- as my bestie Heather pointed out, I could just make my own!!!

I then spent HOURS on pinterest, came up with some ideas, fabricated a reason to go to Michael's and OH: how convenient, all the Christmas stuff is 50% including clear glass ornaments?? PERFECT.

Tonight I finished my first six and I will say that a) it wasn't as easy as I had hoped and b) they don't look AS classy as the ones I bought at Thornbloom. Still... I like them!

So I thought I'd share here what I did and what I learned:

Lessons:

  1. Reusing styrofoam that came in moving stuff as "snow" might *seem* like a good idea... but the end result is just an ornament with styrofoam balls inside. You aren't fooling anyone.
  2. Glitter literally gets everywhere. You have been warned.
  3. A funnel is your best friend.
  4. You can't shred paper in tiny, perfect, "snow" pieces using a nutmeg grater. That just results in paper dust that you will need to sweep. Actually, it is basically impossible to do anyway, so let that dream go.
  5. Shaking the ornament to distribute the epsom "snow" salts is a BAD idea.
First step- branches!
For these ornaments I used weeping birch branches I had cut for my Halloween branch drink tag tree. It's important that you choose a type of tree that is bendy and won't easily snap. I pre-bent them carefully to make sure that any "break-y" pieces would snap pre-ornament insertion and so I could get a cool spiral look. I also tried to choose pieces that had some interesting aspects like a few extra branches or buds.

Styrofoam as "snow" looks exactly like styrofoam as snow... #snowfail

I decided on epsom salts for my fake snow- but seriously, don't shake them! I'm now super paranoid that they will get shaken and look all cloudy.... If anyone has a way to shred paper into tiny bits, please let me know! #Ineedpapersnow
(don't shake the ornament! this one is my winner, I will hide the cloudy one on the side of the tree... in it's cloudy shame)

I also had some little fake berries that had fallen off another decoration that I used to drop into the snow+branch themed ones which I thought looked super cute!

ouuuu glitter!

Originally I had glitter remorse when I realized that the glitter I had purchased was the larger flakes... except for these ornaments they are perfect! The glitter tends to stick very well with a little shake and remind me of a more modern type style. 



There you have it! I also have more of larger styles that I plan on trying terrariums in at least a few... we'll see how that goes!



All six in their disgusting plastic tray! Although- a handy place for storage after the holiday season...