• I Never Thought Becoming a Mama Would Be Hard…  

    My parent’s were able to have my sister and I.  My husband, Daniel, has parents that went through infertility, and with the help of medication, were able to conceive him and his sister.  And sure, you learn things in sex ed class, but no one teaches you just what real life can bring when you find out you cannot have a baby on your own.

    Dan and I had gone back and forth for many years about wanting children and how many.  We both came from families in which there are two children, and although that seemed like the obvious choice, something was not settling right with me.  For example, we have one dog, Mr. Big, and we love him to pieces.  For nine years, he was our fur-baby, and I didn’t want another dog.  And although animals and humans are not the same, my heart was in the same place…if I could have a baby, I wanted to have one.  One in which I could set all my heart and efforts on.

    After over a year of trying to conceive, Dan and I were referred to a specialist to look into our fertility struggles.  After a surgery to clear a blocked tube, finding out about a cyst I had, and enduring many, many blood tests, it turned out that there were problems on both sides, and the odds of conceiving without medical assistance were less than 1%.  IVF would give us a chance of up to 75% success in conceiving, and not knowing what I would be in for, we decided privately that IVF would be our shot (no pun intended) to have a baby.  

    And so we informed our extended families of infertility and the journey of IVF we would be headed upon.  Our fertility doctor is one of the best in the Chicago land area, and we felt as positive as we possibly could in a situation of the unknown.  I had seven eggs retrieved, and all seven were successfully fertilized.  In the process of IVF, we ended up losing some of the embryos and were down to three to be sent for genetic testing.  One did not make it, and one came back positive for transfer.  There was one embryo that did not come back with a result, and I remember the doctor’s office asking me if I wanted to have the embryo retested.  Dan and I decided that we did, and while that embryo was sent out, I could have the embryo that came back positive transferred.  

    And so we did.

    A few days after a successful transfer, we were cautious and careful in everything I did.  I took off work the day I went for the blood test to find out whether or not I was pregnant.  I wanted to be alone.  

    And then I got the call…the transfer worked, and we were pregnant.

    I decided not to tell Dan until he got home, as I wanted the chance to surprise him like other women got to do when they took a successful at-home pregnancy test.  Except my way was through several blood tests at the doctor’s office.  I had baby Air Jordan’s and flame-less candles set up in what would be the future nursery.  When Dan came in, he went upstairs and was surprised with the good news.  He was so happy, and I was feeling things I couldn’t believe…I was finally pregnant.

    Right before the transfer it is important to note that we received information that the embryo that needed to be retested came back positive.  Stunned at this news, we decided to keep that embryo frozen and would think about the possibilities later.  

    It was time for some additional blood tests to see how the transfer was doing and the pregnancy progressing.  I remember getting the call telling me that the HCG numbers should have doubled but mine did not.  They would need me to come in again for another test.  Worried about what could happen, I did all I could to shield Dan for the heartache and pain of bad news.  The numbers were not rising, and I had a miscarriage.  

    We were devastated.  

    Making those calls to the family members was only part of the pain.  Knowing how excited Dan was about me being pregnant, and then telling him we had lost our baby, well, some moments truly make you stronger in life.  That pain is something I will never forget.

    Still…we still had one embryo left that could be transferred.  Soon my body healed and with continuous shots and medication, I was ready for the transfer of the final embryo we had; the “surprise” embryo that was retested and came back positive.  I remember that whole week acting completely different than I did with the first transfer.  I was doubtful and felt like I needed to prepare myself for disappointment again.  It would help me when something bad happens this time around if I already expected it.  But, Dan reminded me to stay focused on this fighter embryo.  

    And so I tried with all I had in me.

    We had the transfer, and I remember our nurse specifically telling us to do everything opposite we did with the first transfer.  “You’re not superstitious are you?,” she asked.  Being that I am not, we tried to be as normal as possible and not live in fear of the tiny embryo that was fighting to stick inside of me and become a positive pregnancy.  And even though my body was reacting completely different with this transfer than from the first one, I did all I could to remain calm.  Daniel was my greatest supporter and without him, I don’t know if I could have stayed true to my word on believing this time would be different.

    Then the day came for the blood test to determine if I was pregnant. This time, I went to work and tried not to think about what the result would be.  When I got the phone call that afternoon, the nurse was happy and told me the transfer was successful, and we were pregnant.  Still, knowing that things could take a turn for the worse (the HCG number was still lower now than with the first transfer), I played my emotions cautiously.  A few days later, I took another blood test, and the HCG number grew more than expected.  I remember getting the call and this time things were dramatically different.  The pregnancy was healthy and successful and although anything can happen, we were further along than before!  I called Dan with the news, and I will never forget the tone in his voice or how he responded that day.  It was an amazing moment of complete joy.  

    Speed up nine unforgettable months, and on April 19, 2018, my water broke.  On April 20, 2018, after four hours of pushing, I gave birth to the most beautiful, healthy blessing in a baby boy.  His name is Ferris Jobs, and Dan and I love him so much our hearts hurt.  We chose not to find out the gender or tell anyone our name choice.  When the nurse handed him to me and said I had a son, Daniel and I looked at each other and cried.  It was the happiest moment of our lives.  

    In the story of Ferris, I wouldn’t change a thing.  

    He will grow up knowing that he was born to do great things, that he was wanted and loved by his parents more than anything in this universe, and that there is a guardian angel always looking out for him.  

    He is our rainbow baby, and the greatest love of my life.

    **Check out Tess’ book, I’m Very Ferris, in the tea room at Pulling Down the Moon in Chicago on your next visit and follow us on Instagram for an upcoming giveaway to win your own copy! Participate in the Candlelight Remembrance Yoga with the #waveoflight on Oct 15th and let us honor your little one lost too soon during Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.

     

     

     

    BIO:

    Entrepreneurship has always been Tess’ dream job, and after having her miracle baby boy, Ferris, she realized there was no better time than the present to follow this dream. Ferris is Tess’ last embryo and the answered prayer of faith, love, and science through IVF.

    Tess made the decision to become a professional children’s picture book author and compose the I’m Very Ferris series after leaving corporate America and, once-and-for-all, jumping into the risk of starting her own company. Reading holds a very special place in her heart, and this next stage of her career has Tess teaching something she is so passionate about in the lives of children through her picture books. Tess is also training to run the New York City marathon in November 2019.  She loves to host parties and celebrate life, no matter how small the occasion! 

    Tess earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree from Elmhurst College, which is also where she met her husband, Dan.  

    “I am a mother, first and foremost, and everything else comes second.  I believe you really can have anything you want…but you are going to have to work for it and expect nothing to be handed to you.  I am a do’er and believe in living the good life. Having my health, loving so hard it hurts, and remembering that life was meant to be lived  – that’s what is important to me.

    My husband often calls me his real-life Steve Jobs because I respect what Steve said and live my life and teach my son to believe in the following whole-hearted:  “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore     them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

    LINKS:

    https://tesskossow.com/

    https://www.facebook.com/imveryferris/?modal=admin_todo_tour

    https://www.instagram.com/tesskossow/

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/tess-kossow-100657178

  • Healthy and Fertility Boosting Fall Produce

    Robin Miller, RDN

    I love this time of year, when the air turns cool and the trees blaze with color and pumpkin spice seems to take over the stores!  I look forward to loading my kitchen with the abundance of fresh foods that are ready to be harvested. Fall fruits and fall vegetables are not only delicious, they’re also are packed with nutrients that can help boost your fertility and keep your immune systems strong all winter long.

    So what produce are in season in fall? And what are the healthiest options for boosting immunity and fertility? Check the list below to help you navigate the farmers market and grocery store all season long!

    Apples and Pears: These sweet, crunchy fall favorites are packed with antioxidants and are high in soluble fiber, which helps lower “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. To get that daily dose of fiber and to satisfy a sweet tooth, snack on the fruit whole or incorporate into recipes from filling breakfasts to a sweet treat!

    Beets: They may be available year-round, but beets are at their best in the fall. Besides the familiar reddish-purple color, you can also find golden, white, and even multicolored beets. A great source of vitamin C, folate and fiber, which are all important when it comes to fertility. Try tossing in salads or roasting!

    Broccoli: Packed with vitamin C, which has proven beneficial for fertility in both men and women! Try roasting or making a veggie-packed, hearty soup!

    Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage and Cauliflower:  These powerhouses contain indole-3-carbinol, a compound that helps the body manage estrogen.

    Carrots: Perfect for soups, stews, and snacking, carrots add plenty of sweetness in a low-sugar bite. A serving is also packed with twice your recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which benefits vision, reproduction, and immune function. 

    Celery: Celery is an excellent source of vitamin K and a good source of vitamin A, potassium, and folate, which is very important for fetal development.

    Chard, Kale, and Spinach: Loaded with essential vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, folate and zinc, all key nutrients for women try to conceive. These dark leafy greens can be served raw in a salad or sautéed with garlic and a little crushed red pepper!

    Figs: This fall fruit is a solid source of fiber, which may help decrease cholesterol, promote blood sugar control, prevent constipation, and keep you feeling full longer. Figs are also packed with potassium, which helps control your blood pressure.

    Garlic, Onions and Shallots: Sulfur-rich foods, such as alliums like onions and garlic, can help increase your body’s level of the antioxidant glutathione, important for both male and female fertility. For men, it can improve sperm quality and health. In women, glutathione can help boost egg quality and the health of the embryo after conception.

    Leeks: Leeks contain B-vitamins including folate, which is essential for DNA synthesis and cell division. Good levels of Folate are essential before and during pregnancy to help prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord.

    Mushrooms: Full of prebiotics, that help nourish your gut’s microbiota, ultimately aiding in digestion and warding against inflammation. This fall veggie is supper versatile to cook with, try it sautéed in an egg scramble or cooked in soup!

    Pomegranate: An excellent source of flavonoids and polyphenols. They also contain vitamin C, folate, and fiber! These are all essential vitamins and minerals for conception and pregnancy. Try adding to your favorite salad or into your oatmeal for an extra dose of antioxidants!

    Pumpkin: A good source of fiber for hormone balance and beta carotene for egg health. Beta carotene is a powerful antioxidant known to protect the reproductive system from damage caused by excessive free-radicals. Remember to eat the seeds too! These are rich in zinc, which may boost sperm health.

    Squash: From acorn to butternut to delicata to spaghetti, all of these fall squash varieties are a great source of the antioxidants beta-carotene and vitamin C. Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant, which helps to protect egg and sperm DNA from damage by harmful free radicals, which can affect the quality of both the egg and sperm.

    Sweet Potatoes: Rich in carotenoids, pigments that have great antioxidant power. Research shows carotenoids can help with sperm health and motility in men, as well as aiding in hormone regulation and ovarian function in women.

    To learn more about foods that can boost your fertility and overall nutrition, join us for the FREE webinar on October 21st at 6pm CST, “Yoga and Nutrition for PCOS and Beyond” or schedule a nutrition consult today! 


     



  • Magnesium: An Essential Mineral for Fertility and Pregnancy

    By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN

    Magnesium is an essential mineral in hundreds of reactions in the body involved in a variety of processes including deriving energy from food, DNA synthesis, and blood sugar regulation. In addition, magnesium is a mineral component of bone along with calcium and phosphorus. Along with these important functions, did you know that magnesium may play a role in fertility and pregnancy as well?

    Magnesium’s Role in Fertility and Pregnancy

    In a study of 33 women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), 23% of women did not meet their daily magnesium needs. (1) In another study comparing women with and without PCOS, women with PCOS consumed less magnesium than women without PCOS. In women with PCOS, lower magnesium intake was correlated with higher risk for insulin resistance and elevated testosterone, key hallmarks of PCOS. (2) There have been many studies investigating the impact of magnesium levels and magnesium supplementation on insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. These studies point to a significant role for magnesium for blood sugar regulation. (3)

    Magnesium supplementation may also help prevent muscle cramps in pregnancy, and may also be helpful for headache prevention. Research is ongoing around magnesium and its impact on risk for gestational diabetes and gestational hypertension.

    How much Magnesium do we need?

    According to NHANES data, the majority of Americans do not get enough magnesium in their diet. The daily requirement for magnesium is 310-320 mg for non-pregnant women. During pregnancy, magnesium requirements increase to 350-360 mg daily. 

    Food sources of Magnesium

    The best food sources of magnesium include: nuts and seeds especially Brazil nuts, cashews, and almonds; seaweed, leafy greens, legumes, whole grains, and dairy products.

    Magnesium Supplements

    Adding a magnesium supplement can be a helpful way to ensure you’re getting enough magnesium on a daily basis. Magnesium glycinate is the preferred form of magnesium, as it’s very well-absorbed and unlikely to cause digestive issues or loose stools like other forms of magnesium that are less well-absorbed like magnesium oxide.

    Unsure if you’re meeting your daily magnesium needs? Schedule a nutrition consultation for a comprehensive review of your diet and supplement regimen.  Supplements are available in Chicago, Highland Park, and via our online shop for your convenience!

    References

    1. Szczuko M, et al. Quantitative assessment of nutrition in patients with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Rocz Panstw Zakl Hig. 2016;67(4):419-426.
    2. Cutler DA, et al. Low intakes of dietary fiber and magnesium are associated with insulin resistance and hyperandrogenism in polycystic ovarian syndrome: a cohort study. Food Sci Nutr. 2019;7(4):1426-1437.
    3. Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University: Magnesium

     

     

  • Acupuncture During Pregnancy

    By Christina Livas L.Ac.

    As an acupuncturist working in the fertility field, I am frequently asked if Acupuncture is safe during pregnancy. I am here to answer that question! Acupuncture is a completely safe and effective treatment for minor to moderate pregnancy symptoms. It is important to know that there are many medications that are considered unsafe to take during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. That is why many patients turn to acupuncture (as I did during my own pregnancy) to treat even common symptoms unrelated to pregnancy to avoid taking medication unless it was deemed necessary. 

    Here is a list of symptoms Acupuncture can treat during your pregnancy journey.

    First trimester:

    Second Trimester:

    • Lingering first trimester symptoms
    • Pain
    • Sinus congestion
    • Hypertension
    • Preeclampsia 
    • Emotional Imbalance

    Third Trimester:

    • GERD/acid reflux/heartburn
    • Neck pain
    • Back pain
    • Sciatica
    • Rib pain
    • Leg cramps
    • Headaches and migraines
    • Insomnia
    • General discomfort
    • Itching 
    • Sinus congestion
    • Anxiety
    • Preparing the body for labor

    Postnatal:

    • Discharge
    • After pains
    • Perineal pain
    • Incision pain
    • Breast discomfort
    • Fatigue
    • Insufficient Lactation
    • Mastitis
    • Baby blues/postnatal depression

    While acupuncture can treat a variety of symptoms during your pregnancy there are still areas of the body that should not be needled while you are pregnant. This makes it very important that you choose an acupuncturist that specializes in fertility and/or pregnancy. Pregnancy is an amazing and exciting time in your life and you should make sure your body feels amazing too!! 

    Book your appointment with Christina in Highland Park or Buffalo GroveAcupuncture support for fertility, pregnancy, postpartum care, and general wellness is available in Chicago seven days a week, too!  Book an Initial Acupuncture Consultation with the $99 Wild Card and save $51 this season!

    Specials are available with services from our partner CocoonCare AND Pulling Down the Moon!  Check it out today!

    References:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31392990 – low back pain and pelvic pain
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30423471 – anxiety and depression pre/postnatal
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30261764 – treating nausea and vomiting
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31483927 – safety of acupuncture during pregnancy

  • Abdominal Massage During Stims…Is it Safe?

    by Meredith Nathan LMT

    Lately I’ve had an increasing number of clients raising a concern to me: is abdominal massage safe to receive during IVF?  Some have been warned by their doctors…others have seen precautions online.  And others may have intuitively wondered, as their own abdominal discomfort increased during stimulation.

    The concern is valid – during stimulation, the ovaries grow rapidly, sometimes even reaching the size of grapefruits.  With this increase in weight, ovarian torsion is more likely, and so any deep contact with the ovaries would be ill-advised.  Someone experiencing ovarian hyperstimulation, a condition whereby the ovaries over-produce follicles during stimulation, should be especially cautious.

    There isn’t a clear-cut yes or no answer to this question.  Certain types of abdominal massage should definitely be avoided: for instance, Mercier Therapy, which utilizes a deep raking technique to the uterus and direct massage to the ovaries, can be a wonderful modality in preparation for IVF, but should definitely NOT be received during stimulation.  Other forms of abdominal massage might be safe, but should probably be avoided if the Massage Practitioner isn’t an expert in the field of fertility (and especially in working with IVF clients).  Though their work *might* be helpful, without the proper levels of education and experience they might unknowingly put added stress on the reproductive organs during this delicate time.

    The FEM (Fertility Enhancing Massage) Protocol™ developed at Pulling Down the Moon, was actually created specifically to assist IVF patients as well as clients undergoing other forms of A.R.T.  Each abdominal technique was designed to decrease stress to the reproductive organs while simultaneously increasing circulation and lymph, and promoting organ oxygenation and alignment.  Direct pressure is never applied to the uterus or ovaries; rather, surrounding tendons, muscles, and ligaments are worked while the fascia and connective tissues surrounding these areas are warmed and stretched.  Additional techniques that don’t involve touching the abdomen are also used to boost blood flow to the reproductive organs.

    FEM Massage Practitioners are trained to stay in high communication with the client during any abdominal massage techniques, and to adjust their work if the client experiences any discomfort.  The work usually feels quite good (many clients fall asleep during it), and many clients report a decrease in bloating and abdominal discomfort after the work is done.  There has actually never been an incident of ovarian torsion or injury to the ovaries of any kind reported by a Pulling Down the Moon client after receiving a FEM massage.

    Clients who have a history of hyper-stimulating should only receive our Relax & Integrate session during stimulation, which is even gentler in its approach to working the abdomen (versus our Blood Builder sessions, which use more powerful techniques).

    When dealing with your fertility, the best approach is always to stay safe and do no harm.  If you have any questions or concerns, raise them with your FEM Practitioner, so you can create the most helpful and safest approach to your reproductive health.

    Learn more about FEM during our upcoming FREE webinar on Oct 16th at 6pm Finding the Silver Lining on Your Journey! then Book Your Appointment!

  • Acupuncture Explained

    Kelly Lyons, L.Ac, MSOM 

    The value of your practitioner
    Why do I need to come in to the office?

    One of the beautiful aspects of acupuncture is that your body is seen and understood as the complete instrument that it is. Your acupuncture point system is endlessly evolving. If you have graduated out of weekly or twice weekly acupuncture sessions, or have fallen out of the habit of coming in to the office, this post if for you.  It is also for those who are at the end of their fertility focus, may be on a break, or are wondering if they can use acupuncture for different reasons. 

    What is important about coming to see your acupuncturist is that they will assess the current state of your health and choose point combinations that will tune your instrument, or all out repair it. It needs to be done in the office every now and then, even though we send you home more educated, with homework, or with goals accomplished.  

    There are ways to make this easier and less stressful. Pull out your calendar!  As you assess your healthcare plan for the next year, look at the entire year ahead. Break it down into quarters, seasons, and peak stress times. Book a sequence of appointments for at least 2 weeks before an event like a holiday, a change in season, or as the quarter winds down. Book 2 appointments the week before tax season or school starts.  It is great to touch base with your wellness team to be reminded of how to stay on track. This will help you be at your best.

    Women have the opportunity to use their menstrual cycle, also, for scheduling structure. The frequency of office visits depends on what is going on for you, and what your cycle or the year is like. Talk to your acupuncturist to find out what fits best for you. For some, it could be coming during your period, to help keeps things moving. For others, it could be better to come in before you ovulate.  Reach out and ask us how we can help recharge your wellness routine.  

    Come in and see us then have a great Fall!  Book and save in October with our BOO-GO special that includes a FREE follow-up session ($95 value)!