• Nooks and Crannies

    by Cassie Harrison RYT RYPT

    You May Not Control All the Events that Happen to You, but You Can Decide Not to Be Reduced By Them – Maya Angelo

    My miscarriage at 43 wasn’t just the loss of a baby, but the realization that my baby years might be behind me. Having suffered from infertility, it never felt like they were with me.  I spent almost all of my 30s and part of my 40s trying to have a baby. In the past, I would’ve trudged forward and tried again, but after this loss it occurred to me it might no longer be an option. Sure, all women at some point face the fact that their baby making time is over, all for different reasons. What felt different, at least for me from an infertility point of view, was this was just something else I didn’t have control over. It also occured to me that I identified with trying to have a baby. I’d spent over a decade thinking, planning, and working on my family.  My future suddenly looked more like a blank slate, rather than timelines. Up until this point, I’d avoided planning much of it, such as my next career move or even a big vacation, having thought there might be a baby to interrupt my plans. The idea that I could make future plans without interruption was exciting to me. Simultaneously, I was filled with regret. The dichotomy of my emotions was intoxicating.

    Similar to my infertility journey, I found it challenging to speak about my newest realization.  When I did manage to speak about it, either it felt like no one understood or it was Déjà vu all over again as I found myself greeted with insults disguised as well intended advice. Yes, I was sad I lost my baby just when I thought I beat the odds of getting pregnant again.  After that loss, it did feel like it was time to move on…but to what? On one side, I didn’t want to let go and on the other I celebrated my infertility journey being over!! Yet, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it wasn’t really me deciding, but somehow infertility was. That it again had the upper hand. The fact is, had I not struggled with it, I wouldn’t have been forced up against the pane (or do I mean pain) of my baby window by still trying to push out another baby at 43.

    Where does this leave me? I’m not certain yet, my loss was only 5 weeks ago. There is a new lightness underneath my thoughts when I see my future no longer being held by the chains of infertility that for so long infiltrated my life. To help me through this change, I’ve used breath work (Try this Yoga Breathing Video to get you started!) and a very simple yoga practice. I dream of attending (not just teaching) a full yoga class, but recent life has been hectic and I’ve not prioritized time to do this. Which lead me to my Nook and Cranny practice.  I’m literally fitting it into the nooks and crannies of my life. If there’s a 5 minute slot between tasks, you’ll find me in a forward fold or downward dog. My Nook and Cranny practice has done wonders and I highly recommend it. Just as with starting anything new, start small. That’s the great thing about Yoga, it can be done anywhere for any amount of time and you will benefit from it. I’ve practiced while the kitchen sink filled with water. Heck, I’ve done it in the driver’s seat waiting in the carpool line (my car was off and I was 10 minutes early!). Hello to neck circles and Sama-vritti (balanced) breath. My Nook and Cranny practice relaxed my tensions, cleared my thoughts, and opened my mind. Take time to find your nooks and crannies wherever you are on your journey (Try Yoga Poses You Can Use Now! to get started) as I know it will make a difference!

    If you struggle to do this on your own, let us help you with our upcoming Holiday Survival Online Yoga starting just after Thanksgiving that will get you through the stressful holiday season or plan for a series in the new year! Save during the holiday week with the Holiday Survival Online Yoga Series (12/8-1/12) available for only $50 on Cyber Monday (save $100) or get the $99 Wild Card this month towards a full in-center series in January (save $111)! Call us to learn more at: 312-321-0004 today!

    Cassie Harrison RYT RYPT

  • My Journey to The Moon

    Hello beautiful readers!  My name is Christie Frisch and I’m delighted to introduce myself, having recently joined the team at Pulling Down the Moon, River North.  As a postpartum doula and licensed massage therapist specializing in fertility, prenatal and postpartum care, I am a passionate advocate for women and the women-identifying, especially when it comes to supporting new, expecting and trying-to-conceive mamas in experiencing each unique journey into parenthood to its fullest.  I feel incredibly fortunate to get to do what I love every day.

    My own entry into motherhood was a crucial turning point for me in so many ways, inspiring me eventually to redirect my professional focus into holistic wellness.  In those richly transformative early weeks following my daughter’s birth I recall feeling that no one around me seemed to “get it,” despite my having numerous family and friends nearby.  An internet search led me to a new moms group, where the universal complexity of our experiences impressed upon me deeply.  What other dimension of the human condition could offer the potential for such beauty, and also such rawness?  I was fascinated.  And I wanted to help support women in tapping into as much of the beauty as possible, despite the natural stress and challenge each journey brings.

    I’ve lovingly refined my signature treatment, energy balancing massage, which I tailor to each client’s needs over the expansive course of the childbearing journey.  From fertility enhancement all the way through the “fourth trimester” I seek to lift up and understand each client’s evolving needs, listening actively throughout consultation and each treatment as I integrate sound, reiki energy work, aromatherapy and guided meditation to create the ultimate massage experience (I like to think of it as a “massage plus”). My approach is inclusive and empowering, and we are all about incorporating time-honored healing arts from around the world to enhance our clients’ experience at each juncture.

    2019 has been an exciting year for me for a host of reasons, not least of which has been joining the fabulous community of wellness professionals at the Moon.  It is with much gratitude that I am now offering the five-part Fertility Enhancing Massage protocol to Pulling Down the Moon clients on Tuesdays and every other Friday at the River North location.  I received extensive training in the FEM protocol under Meredith Nathan, which I found to be both complementary and enriching to the modalities I’ve previously employed.

    It’s already been abundantly rewarding to work with Meredith and the massage therapy team at the Moon, where I’ve found so much like-mindedness among us.  My approach has always been grounded in the view that at its best, massage therapy has the potential to activate and enhance the body’s self-healing ability, producing real results that can positively impact our clients’ lives.  I view my work as nothing short of guiding my clients toward realizing this potential for themselves.  There’s no greater privilege than working with others who share such belief in the value of our work and I greatly look forward to the chapter here ahead.  I look forward to taking care of you when you schedule your massage therapy appointment!  Take time for your this season and let us support your journey at each stage!  Book Now

  • Guest Blog Feature: My Journey

    We have been honored to be part of this amazing journey with Christina. Today, she opens her heart to you and shares how she owned her personal journey with support at The Moon to get through.💗

    “After a many years of trying to conceive, I decided to see a reproductive endocrinologist. We went through several rounds of clomid and IUI without any success. My doctor told us that we most likely would not be able to have children naturally, so she suggested IVF. I was lost at this point, because they couldn’t find anything wrong with me or my husband, Andrew. We were told that we had a really high rate of success of conceiving with IVF. So, we went through our first round of IVF thinking our struggle was finally over. After the egg retrieval, we received a phone call that all of my eggs were immature, but they were able to mature some in the lab and fertilize them. In that cycle, we ended up with 3 embryos, 2 of which survived to transfer. After the dreaded two week wait, we went in for a blood test, but the pregnancy test was negative. My reproductive endocrinologist told me that she wasn’t confident that another cycle would yield different results and that I could have something rare called ‘oocyte maturational arrest.’ I was crushed, but took a few months to think about the next steps. During this time, we tried naturally and still nothing.

    We decided to see another reproductive endocrinologist. After our second egg retrieval with a different stimulation protocol we received the phone call that again all of my eggs were immature and this time, none were able to be matured in the lab. We got zero embryos from that cycle. My doctor told me that if I did have oocyte maturational arrest, there really wasn’t anything that could fix the outcome and if I was going to try again, I should try at CCRM in Colorado.

    I am an ICU nurse and was at work when I received this news. I panicked and just wanted to literally run away, but obviously I couldn’t. I had what I would consider a nervous breakdown right in the middle of the break room. To be honest with you, I felt like a piece of me had died. I had never felt such pain in my life. This is where Pulling Down the Moon came into the picture.

    At my first Acupuncture appointment, I tried to keep it together because I felt like a crazy person. In my mind, I kept telling myself things like ‘you shouldn’t be this upset. It’s not like you were diagnosed with something life threatening’ or ‘you’ve only been through two cycles, so don’t complain.’ Well, I couldn’t keep it together. I ugly cried as soon as Dr. Shimmel sat down and introduced herself. And this is the moment the transformation began.

    Dr. Shimmel, and all the staff at Pulling Down the Moon, nurtured me during a time that I was my most vulnerable. For the first time in years, I felt like I had an outlet. They actually understood my pain. Through the holistic approach, I learned to better to take care of myself both mentally and physically. I don’t know how to explain it other than bringing a plant back to life little by little. Every week after Acupuncture sessions, I had one more tool to help me cope with the trauma of infertility.

    And by the time I was ready for another ivf cycle, my mind and body felt so rock solid that ‘no matter the outcome I was going to be okay. No matter what I was going to be a mommy’ (one of the mantras she helped me develop). Also, can we talk about my (fertility-enhancing) massage sessions with Chrissy? Chrissy’s energy is SO powerful. During your massages with her, you feel a warmth and embrace that nurtures the pain away.

    After 6 months of preparation at Pulling Down the Moon, we booked a flight to Colorado for our one day workup. We did an egg retrieval with CCRM several months later, and in this cycle, ONE MATURE egg out of 18 eggs retrieved, fertilized, and made it to a blastocyst. This one mature egg—out of 55 eggs retrieved over 3 cycles, gave us a glimmer of hope, but we were aware that our chances to conceive were very low. That little embryo that took will be born this January and we could not be more thrilled to meet him.

    1 in 8 couples are struggling with infertility. While this is not a life threatening diagnosis, it is a hard and long battle that no one needs to fight alone. For those struggling, I am here for you. I will continue to fight for you. Your pain is my pain.” -Christina @cfeli6891

    Learn how we can help you on YOUR journey at: https://www.pullingdownthemoon.com/our-center/ and call us to get started at: 312-321-0004!

    (📸: Jamie Colette @colettepark on IG at: https://www.colettepark.com/)

  • Unwinding Your Mind Using Art 

    by Chrissy Langford LMT

    “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.” ~Georgia O’Keeffe 

    “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” ~ Thomas Merton

    Drawing and painting has been a form of therapy for me since I was a child. It was a way to escape, a way to calm my mind and spirit and a way to express myself when I couldn’t find the words to do so. I could spend hours just lost in a creative zone. 

    After every Unwind the Mind session, I tell my clients to make sure they are practicing their favorite relaxation techniques at home to ease stress and anxiety post massage during the 2 week wait. The two week wait can be a time where anxiety levels are high and emotions are heightened. It’s important to take time for self-care and relaxation. 

    Creative art therapy can help one reduce stress, improve self-esteem, explore emotions hard to explain with words, improve symptoms of anxiety and depression and cope with a difficult or traumatic life event. It is known to calm the nervous system. It can create a quiet and meditative state of mind. 

    I like to use art as a form of meditation. After a long day and usually right before bed, I will take a moment to do some deep breathing exercises and then get to doodling. I put on some music and light candles and incense to set a vibe. Sometimes I just sit in silence and really check in from within. I try not to think about what I am drawing/painting and I just let my mind/pencil/paintbrush just flow. The art I produce in these moments is for no one but myself to see so there is no fear of judgement. I use colors that fit my mood in the moment. Blues and greens can be calming and healing. Reds can stimulate energy and passion. Yellows and oranges are bright and radiate warmth.  I love drawing eyes and lips, leaves and flowers, different patterns and random shapes. At the end, I often am left feeling lighter and free of whatever was hanging over me that day. 

    Again, you don’t have to be an artist to use art as a way to unwind. Try picking up an adult coloring book, doing a collage, origami, beadwork, knitting, embroidery, vision boards and even dance. All are great ways to just let go and quiet the mind. You can also keep an art journal using collage and doodles as a form of self-expression when words are not easy to come by. 

    Join us for a FREE experiential event in Chicago to unwind and learn more about the benefits of Fertility Enhancing Massage for your journey! Save your spot today for Creative Expression to Unwind the Mind on Thursday, November 14th at 7pm here!

    Chrissy Langford LMT

    Here are some great articles and blog posts about using art as a form of meditation and to reduce stress:

    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/study-says-making-art-reduces-stress_n_576183ece4b09c926cfdccac

    https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07421656.2016.1166832?journalCode=uart20#.V2GKm-YrI6g

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/arts-and-health/201606/art-making-and-stress-reduction

    https://mindfulartstudio.com/meditate-through-art/

    https://www.health.harvard.edu/mental-health/the-healing-power-of-art

    If you would like to find a professional art therapist or dig deeper into what art therapy is:

    https://arttherapy.org/ 

    10 Minute Mindfulness Drawing Meditation Tutorial you can easily do at home: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kcAFq7C_CA

  • 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

  • Myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol for PCOS

    By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN

    We’re sharing some of our best tips for managing PCOS with diet, lifestyle, and supplements to support patients not just during PCOS Awareness Month but all year long! We love working with clients with PCOS, because there is so much you can do by changing your habits to positively impact PCOS. A PCOS diagnosis is based on the Rotterdam criteria, which includes 1) irregular menstrual cycles with absent or irregular ovulation, 2) cysts on the ovaries, 3) elevated androgen levels. Two of these 3 characteristics must be present for a diagnosis of PCOS. 

    Another common characteristic of women with PCOS is insulin resistance with 60-75% of women with PCOS have insulin resistance regardless of body weight. When you have insulin resistance, your insulin isn’t working as effectively as it should to get glucose out of your blood and into the cells of your body to be used for energy. The pancreas compensates by pumping out more insulin. These elevated insulin levels seem to be at the root of the elevated androgen/testosterone levels commonly found in women with PCOS. Thus addressing the insulin resistance in PCOS may help lower insulin and testosterone levels and improve menstrual cycle regularity. You can read more about managing insulin resistance here.

    So this is where inositol comes in as a really helpful supplement. Inositol is a nutrient found in beans, grains, fruit, and nuts that research has shown to be beneficial for PCOS. There are 9 different forms of inositol, but two forms have been shown to be beneficial for PCOS. These are myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol.  Myo-inositol in combination with D-chiro-inositol may help lower insulin and testosterone levels and increase menstrual cycle regularity in women with PCOS making it a very helpful tool in your PCOS management strategy. The body’s normal ratio of myo-inositol to D-chiro-inositol is 40:1, and a recent study has shown that this is the most effective ratio in supplemental form for restoring ovulation in PCOS. At Pulling Down the Moon, we carry Ovasitol, which contains the recommended 40:1 ratio of myo-inositol to D-chiro-inositol.

    Beyond PCOS, myo-inositol also may improve egg quality and may reduce risk for gestational diabetes when taken during pregnancy. Book a nutrition appointment today to further discuss ways to help manage your PCOS, check out the PCOS specific features in our online store for your convenience, and check out our upcoming FREE Boost Your Egg Quality IQ webinar today!

    Reference: Nordio M, Basciani S, Camajani E. The 40:1 myo-inositol/D-chiro-inositol plasma ratio is able to restore ovulation in PCOS: comparison to other ratios. Eur Rev Med Pharm Sci. 2019;23:5512-5521.

     

  • Finding Calm

    by Christine Davis, LAc MSOM

    With each passing year, things seem to get busier. More appointments, more work requirements, more life events, more things to do. Then there’s the well meaning family members and friends: why aren’t you pregnant yet? My friend tried This Thing and it worked for her, so you you should try it, too! Then there’s social media and the internet: EVERYONE seems to be happier and more successful than you – here’s what you SHOULD be doing to do to be happy ALL THE TIME. It’s all a never ending stream of NOISE. Where does it stop? How can you simmer down and quiet the stream of mental debris that constantly stimulates worry, fear, anxiety, and frustration?

    Here are my suggestions. They aren’t a complete list, but these are the important ones. It may take time to incorporate them all: 

    1. Say it with me: “No.” “I’m sorry, I’m not available.” It’s ok to put yourself first and say “no” when what is being asked of you will compromise your wellness. Clear a path for your ability to think clearly, breathe, and do the things you need to do to feel balanced. Much like Marie Kondo’s method for clearing physical clutter, you need to decide what’s important in your life mentally and emotionally. Say YES to the things that create the life you want (even though they may be difficult, too, sometimes) and NO to the things that are holding you back from that life.
    2. Disconnect. Social media has been fun over the past couple of decades, right? There are some good and some (really) bad parts, but study after study emerges showing the negative impact that it can have on your mental and emotional state. If you are having trouble completely disconnecting – especially if work or other interests require you to connect with SM – limit your interactions with these apps/websites. Give yourself a specific time frame in which you allow yourself to use them in a positive, uplifting manner.
    3. Get help. There is no shame in reaching out to a professional if you need help with mental wellness. This could be a mental health professional, a religious guide, etc. Someone who you trust, who is impartial, who has training in helping to guide you is ideal. This doesn’t mean you are signing up forever – sometimes a few sessions can really help to clarify and ground you. I feel like the best therapists are the ones who hold a “mirror” up, so to speak, so that you can see things as they are, then help you to appreciate the beauty that you see.
    4. Center yourself. This could be with meditation, prayer, yoga, journaling, long walks by the lake – whatever helps you to focus on one, two, or ten things–instead of the thousands of thoughts that are constantly flooding in otherwise. I like to think of Georgia O’Keefe’s “Sky Above Clouds” painting – the thoughts are just clouds floating past. Try not to hang on to them and instead just observe them and let them float past. There are some amazing smartphone apps: FertiCalm and FertiStrong, Insight Timer, MindfulIVF, Headspace, etc. that have tons of guided meditations for everything from general anxiety to trouble sleeping to going through an IVF cycle.
    5. Find gratitude. Keeping a Gratitude Journal helps with this. Write just a line or two each day about something you are grateful for. It could be the delicious muffin you had for breakfast, the painless phlebotomist experience, your favorite song coming on the radio, the friend who went out of her way to give you the support you needed. Many studies have shown that focusing on the positive aspects of life actively literally rewires the brain to feel happier and more positive.
    6. Try Acupuncture. A modality of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), acupuncture is a therapy for the mind, body, and spirit. With regular (once or twice per week, usually) treatment, you will see many aspects of your physical, mental, and emotional self come into balance. Acupuncture is known to be helpful for everything from pain to allergies to digestive stuff to fertility, but it can also be helpful for balancing the mental state and emotions.

    Firstly, an acupuncture visit is usually very relaxing! Most who haven’t tried it don’t believe me when I say that, but when else do you take 30 min to just lie still, no phone, not going to sleep (although it’s ok if you do!), not talking or listening (except to quiet music)? This is a deeply restorative time to be quiet, soft, grounded.

    Acupuncture has mounting  scientific evidence showing that regular treatment can help with reducing anxiety, depression, and other emotional disorders. In TCM, there is a strong connection between the physical state and the emotional state. By creating a state of harmony throughout the physical body, balanced mental/emotional wellness is the natural outcome. 

    In TCM, fertility is associated with the element of Water. When water is too abundant or too scarce, the earth and all forms of life suffer, including our own bodies. The element of Water shows its emotional imbalance in the form of Fear/Anxiety. When we are in a constant state of stress (life, work, family, infertility, etc), we put ourselves into a constant state of “fight or flight.” This creates a situation in which our bodies focus only on staying alive for the moment rather than long cycles like those required for fertility. By using acupuncture, we are able to break that constant loop of stress, find grounding, and reconnect with our natural cycles which can lead to improved fertility.

    Choosing to find serenity in this life takes effort. Just think about when someone says, “Calm down!” or “Relax!” Has anyone ever calmed down or relaxed just by hearing that? I don’t think so. By regularly making the choice to build the space for quiet, for reflection, for balance, you are creating a foundation for the life you are searching for. 

    Learn more during our upcoming webinar “Acupuncture for a Medicated Cycle” on Tuesday, September 17th at 6pm! Click here to register to view it live or watch the replay at your convenience!

    Ready to get started? Book your appointment now and save with the You Pick Two special this month!

  • From Practitioner to Patient: A Different Kind of Journey

    by Jillian Thomas, LMT

    Never in a million years did I think I would be in the position I was a few months ago.  My In Laws met my husband, son and I at a diner near our house.  They had just come back from a cruise the day before.  My mother in law proceeded to tell us that the doctor had told her she needed to go on dialysis-that she was  in Stage 5 Kidney failure.  Instantly the idea popped into my head.  I knew my blood type was 0+ and while sitting in that diner, my gears were turning.  After we left the diner, I told my husband my thoughts.  I wanted to get tested to see if I could donate to his mother.  Over the next two weeks I nervously thought of how to offer my kidney to her.  We invited my In-laws over for dinner one night, and while chatting in our family room, I told her.  We had been trying to conceive for about 9 months for our second child- to no avail.  I shared with her that I believed that there was a reason why we weren’t getting pregnant and that was so I was able to give this gift to her. She was speechless.  It took her two days to be able to come up with the words to thank me for offering.  We scheduled our initial appointments at University of Illinois at Chicago to get onto the registry.  After several vials of blood and several meetings with various health care professionals, we were sent on our way. Two weeks later, I received a call from the nurse coordinator to tell me that I was a perfect match. My mother-in-law and I both laughed in disbelief at the news.  This was really happening. Here we are now, with the transplant planning process started, still in disbelief that this had come together so fast.  It is amazing to me how there had to be an incredible amount of situations that had to line up in order for this to become a reality.  How could this be incidental? Our desires for a second child must be put on hold for a while, but this means that our child and future children can have their Nana around a while longer. No good plan survives its first encounter with a harsh reality.  Maybe sharing my story might be able to resonate with others going through difficult times and having to make difficult decisions.  

    As I am preparing for the next steps, I scheduled my Cleanse Massage and my Therapeutic Nutrition Consultation with the team at Pulling Down the Moon to support my wellness during this process.  I am grateful to have found ‘The Moon’ and joined the Massage Team to support women on their journeys with fertility, pregnancy, postpartum care, and all the stressors life brings.  I will go on leave for this journey after my mother-in-law’s clearance is finalized and looking forward to supporting your journey before, as well as, after my recovery!

    Let us take care of you on your journey and book your massage today!

    (Pictured: Jillian Thomas and her Mother-in-Law Joan)

  • Guest Blog: The Stress of It All

    by Kellie Stryker MSW LCSW

    According to reproductivefacts.org, “Infertility often creates one of the most distressing life crises that a couple has ever experienced together. The long term inability to conceive a child can evoke significant feelings of loss. Coping with the multitude of medical decisions and the uncertainties that infertility brings can create great emotional upheaval for most couples.” 

    Kristin L. Rooney, BA and Alice D. Domar, PhD with Boston IVF wrote: “Infertility is often a silent struggle. Patients who are struggling to conceive report feelings of depression, anxiety, isolation, and loss of control. Depression levels in patients with infertility have been compared with patients who have been diagnosed with cancer.1 It is estimated that 1 in 8 couples (or 12% of married women) have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy. Despite the prevalence of infertility, the majority of infertile women do not share their story with family or friends, thus increasing their psychological vulnerability. The inability to reproduce naturally can cause feelings of shame, guilt, and low self-esteem. These negative feelings may lead to varying degrees of depression, anxiety, distress, and a poor quality of life.”

    It’s normal to experience times of stress throughout the infertility process. However, it becomes a cause of concern when the feelings become persistent or prolonged. 

    According to reproductivefacts.org, if you experience the following symptoms for a prolonged of time, you may benefit from meeting with a mental health professional. 

    • Loss of interest in usual activities
    • Depression that doesn’t lift
    • Strained relationships
    • Social isolation 
    • Thoughts that are consumed by infertility
    • High levels of anxiety
    • Diminished ability to concentrate or accomplish tasks
    • Change in your sleep patterns, appetite or weight 
    • Increased use of drugs or alcohol
    • Persistent feelings of pessimism, guilt, bitterness, anger or worthlessness
    • Thoughts about death or suicide

    Help Is Out There 

    The following resources are dedicated to helping you improve your Reproductive Mental Health: 

    • RESOLVE: The National Infertility AssociationRESOLVE provides free support groups in more than 200 communities; is the leading patient advocacy voice; and serves as the go-to organization for anyone challenged in their family building. 
    • ASRM : American Society for Reproductive MedicineASRM is a multidisciplinary organization dedicated to the advancement of the science and practice of reproductive medicine. The Society accomplishes its mission through the pursuit of excellence in education and research and through advocacy on behalf of patients, physicians, and affiliated health care providers. The Society is committed to facilitating and sponsoring educational activities for the lay public and continuing medical education activities for professionals who are engaged in the practice of and research in reproductive medicine.
    • Pulling Down The MoonHolistic care for family health and fertility should be highly personal, compassionate, and customized to meet the unique needs and complex challenges of each patient. Founded in 2002, Pulling Down the Moon recognizes the stress and emotional turmoil and fatigue that can come with infertility as well as your day to day health. 
    • Shine Fertility Shine supports women through mentorship, community and education. We empower women by encouraging a proactive approach to fertility health and fertility preservation.

    Taking Care of You

    It’s ok to be sad, frustrated, angry, resentful, bitter and whatever emotions you may be feeling at this very moment. You are allowed to feel all of the above and more. Sit with it. Don’t force yourself to put on a brave face when you are going through unimaginable pain. However, when you are ready, allow yourself to work through the emotions you are experiencing. 

    Georgia Witkin, Ph.D with Progyny wrote: “You may not have control over the physical effects of fertility treatment, but you can take control over many of the psychological effects. What you think and what you do shapes what you feel, so choose thoughts and behaviors that reinforce your sense of control.”

     

     

     

    Kellie Stryker is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and owner of Rain to Rainbow Counseling. Kellie has over 10 years of experience in the mental health field. Kellie currently lives in Crystal Lake, IL with her husband and 1 yr old daughter who was conceived through infertility treatments. Kellie’s mission as a Reproductive Mental Health Counselor is to provide support to others as they navigate through their infertility journey. 

    Rain to Rainbow Counseling offers supportive services which are focused on all aspects of Reproductive Mental Health which include infertility, grief, loss, miscarriage, stress management, adoption and pregnancy counseling. Rain to Rainbow Counseling is currently in network with Blue Cross Blue Shield of IL and Optum United Health Care. In Person and Online Telehealth Sessions are available.


    Benefits of Online Telehealth: 

    • Confidential: Rain to Rainbow Counseling uses Simple Practice, a secure and HIPAA compliant program.
    • Online Client Portal: No software to download. Private login and password for each client. 
    • Same benefits and techniques: Only difference is we see each other on screen instead of in person.
    • Convenience: Can literally be done from when and wherever you are comfortable.

    References:

     

     

  • Put On Your Rose-Colored Glasses

    By Alece Demaray RYT 

    I consider myself an optimist and a person who is capable of staying grounded through the whirlwind of life.  This is generally speaking, because being positive is a practice and life is always willing to test you.

    When I started to see a specialist on my fertility journey, I became quickly overwhelmed at the amount of appointments I had to fit into my already full schedule.  Thankfully most of the appointments could be completed early in the morning prior to work, but the early wake ups, finding parking and long days started to wear on me.  In addition, I was feeling stressed at trying to plan ahead of what cycle days I would have to go in, so I could plot my schedule/travel around my new commitment. I became agitated and overwhelmed.  NOT what you want when trying to conceive.  

    Once I got in the routine of the appointments and how they fit in my life, I started to appreciate them more.  For one, I am so lucky to live in a place where this top-notch care and specialty exists. I also began to feel very grounded around my early morning appointments because of what I was doing after them.  After each appointment I would carve out some time go to get some breakfast prior to moving into the rest of the day. While nourishing, I would reflect on the good, what I was grateful for… the level of care I was able to access, my supportive partner, my flexible work schedule, the warm food in front of me.  I would write around 5 things and often that act of writing 5 things stimulated more words to flow. I found that my ritual would leave me feeling calmer and connected to myself. It prepared me to take on the day ahead with a renewed sense of vigor.  

    It can be difficult to find the good when you are feeling down, but I assure you- it is always there.  There is always something to express gratitude for, even if only the shoes on your feet or a snuggle with your pup.  Finding gratitude has a myriad of benefits including improved sleep and fostering a greater sense of contentment. A study carried out by Emmons & McCullough in 2003, also confirmed that people who practiced gratitude daily exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical aches and pains, felt more connected to others and were more optimistic, thus improving their ability to make progress towards their goals. 

    Gratitude has a way of slowing you down and filtering your view of life, allowing you to see the rosy hues.  They are there, BUT it takes some reprogramming of the brain to recognize them BEFORE you see the dark tones.  Believe it or not, we are programmed to find the threat in things first. This stems from way back, when humans were being chased by lions and tiger and bears (oh my) and had to defend themselves to survive!  Thankfully we do not need to operate that way, but our mind is still programmed to scan our environment for what is wrong, what is threatening us. As a result, we can see “threats” in people that we don’t like, jobs that over-stress us and get caught up in drama, losing sight of the bigger picture.  

    There is good news.  We can take conscious action to retrain the way our mind works.  We can flip our attention to see the good. To notice the sun before the feeling the humidity, to savor the doughnut before counting the calories, to admire your accomplishments before obsessing over what is left to do.  

    So how can you make the shift?  It is easier than you think, but it takes a daily commitment that you are more than capable of doing.  Get a notebook and spend 5 minutes every day to jot down 3-5 things that you are grateful for. That is it! Commit to your gratitude journal for 30 days and then check in.  Do you enjoy it? Have you noticed any shifts in your mood, relationships and life?  Good things, abundance and high vibes attract more good things, more abundance and higher vibes.  It’s time to put on your rose-colored glasses, so you can see and experience the beauty around you, your life.  So, start now. What are you grateful for today?

    If this conversation lights you or if this conversation agitates you, let’s talk about it!  I will be at Pulling Down the Moon for two FREE events this summer and will kick off a Yoga For Fertility series in August.  Dates are included below. I hope to meet you soon… and in the meantime, stay grateful, bask in the sun and taste the sweetness of the season.  Soak up the goodness that life serves daily.

    All at Pulling Down the Moon in our Chicago Location.  Check out Yoga for Fertility and our Calendar of Events on our website for more details!

    • Go Prana Go:  8/24 @ 10am, FREE –> Space is limited. Register here to save your spot!
    • Yoga For Fertility SeriesJoin the current series on Sundays at 11:30am with rolling enrollment through September 22nd and then the next series starts on Tuesday, September 24th at 7pm –> Register via MBO here.

    Questions? Let us help at: 312-321-0004!