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  • How Stage IV Endometriosis forced me to find my voice

    My first period came in January 1998. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in eighth grade and I remember saying the cruelest thing I have EVER said to my Mom. I cursed her for making me be born a girl. I still to this day feel awful for those words having left my mouth, as my Mom is the most amazing mother in the world. 

    In high school and college, I would pass out from the debilitating pain and friends, roommates, and loved ones many times would find me in the fetal position just trying to breathe through the pain. What I learned from an early age from classmates, girlfriends, and women in my life is that we as women experience painful periods and it’s just part of being a woman. We (women) all experience this excruciating pain. 

    I went on for the next 20 years thinking it was completely normal to feel stabbing pain for 2-4 days every 28 days. I learned quickly that heating pads and Ibuprofen were my best friend. I always felt that this pain was not normal, but nobody outside of my Mom truly understood and believed me. It was in college where I first learned about Endometriosis and thought, hey I think this is what this pain is all about. 

    From 2007-2018, I saw nine doctors. Most of the doctors I saw, all said similar things, “We’re women, we’re used to dealing with pain. Every woman has painful periods.” Unfortunately, there were only two doctors who truly listened and believed me when I said I think I have Endometriosis. I felt defeated and crazy. I thought all these doctors are telling me this is normal that I feel like I am being stabbed in my uterus each month. I must be making this pain up. I was just surviving month-to-month and most definitely not thriving. As women we have an incredible gift of intuition, so trust that, trust that you know your body better than anyone else. Don’t be afraid to speak up!

    My husband and I began our fertility journey 6 years ago. We tried naturally for 1½ years with no success. After 4 failed IUIs, 4 failed IVF transfers, and 3 miscarriages, I asked my doctor for more answers. She suggested two things: first was to do the Yoga for Fertility program with Beth Heller at Pulling Down the Moon. This was the first time I had been shown how to tune in and listen to my body in a supportive female community. I had never been so seen and loved within the fertility community. I have friends for life from that Yoga for Fertility program.

    Second, my doctor suggested I see an Endometriosis specialist. I had excision surgery in November 2018. My surgery should have taken a max of 1-2 hours, instead I woke up 6 hours later to hearing news from my husband. My husband said “I have good and bad news, which would you like to hear first?” I said, “I want the good news first”. He said, “you were right, you have stage IV Endometriosis and bad news it was so extensive they removed your left fallopian tube.” Even though this news was the worst case scenario with Endometriosis, it was a blessing in disguise. 

    Hearing I was right and in fact did have Endometriosis, was the best news I had received in 20 years. I had finally felt heard, seen, and my opinions were valued. This new information changed everything for me and my fertility doctors. My doctors could now move forward with adjusting my fertility medications and procedure process based on my Endometriosis diagnosis. 

    I know many would be angry having a body that made you feel debilitating pain every 28 days. However, I am incredibly grateful for my Endometriosis journey because it has forced me to find my voice and learn how to advocate for myself and my body. I have also been able to share this information with my nutritionist who can better assist me. It takes practice and time in silence to tune in with our bodies and listen to what it needs and craves. Remember, you are the ONLY one who knows your body inside and out and no one else will advocate as fiercely for you or your body the way that YOU can.

    About the author: Kasia has been a part of the PDTM community since March 2016. She has been trying to conceive for 6+ years, has had 5 failed IUIs, 7 failed IVF transfers, experienced 4 miscarriages, and has Stage IV Endometriosis. She is in the midst of her last and final IVF retrieval and transfer AND beginning her adoption and possible surrogacy journey. She is thriving as a Fertility Coach by empowering, supporting, and inspiring women on their fertility journeys. You can find her blog and contact information over at www.CoachingwithKasia.com

    Learn how Pulling Down the Moon can provide community and support on your journey!  Check our calendar for events today!

    Photograph by Anna Stidham

    Kasia S. McGuire

    Fertility Coach

    www.CoachingwithKasia.com

    Instagram: @KasiaSMcGuire

    Mobile: (773) 844-2117

    Email: CoachingwithKasia@gmail.com

  • Ride the Roller Coaster

    by Alece Demaray, RYT 500 + CPYT

    New Year’s goal setting is tough when your goal (BABY!) is not in your control.  No matter the timeline you allot yourself or how hard you work to make it happen, it may or may not come to fruition.  As a goal driven woman, that is heartbreaking to accept.  

    I like to work toward things and celebrate when I achieve them.  When trying to conceive, I started to do everything that was in my control…see a reputable Reproductive Endocrinologist, adjust lifestyle factors, modify my diet, take proper supplements and get weekly acupuncture.  I adopted a mood of empowerment, to make my healthiest self to prepare for conception. I am still upkeeping the changes…and I am still trying to conceive.  

    I am currently on clomid in prep for IUI #3.  As I started a new cycle, it struck me that my emotions have developed a unique cycle of their own:

    Cycle Day 1-3:  Depressed because I am not pregnant

    Cycle Day 3- 7 :  Swallowing down clomid with a dose of forced optimism.  Emotions run wild. 

    Cycle Day 8-14:  Anxious anticipation to see how I responded to the meds and when the IUI will be scheduled

    Cycle Day 14- 24:  A mix of hope and positive thinking swells the majority of the two week wait

    Cycle Day 24-28:  The last few days of the two week wait brew anxiety and negative thinking, as if I already received a negative pregnancy test result

    Cycle Day 28 – Upset and mad at the negative result of the pregnancy test.  

    Repeat Cycle.

    The yoyo of emotions is real and it is tiring.  I want to be hopeful and believe it is possible, but being pulled to the other end of the spectrum becomes more painful, feeling like a positive pregnancy test is the impossible dream.  I began to think…How can I learn to ride this fertility roller coaster better? Sure, there are some unexpected twists and turns, highs and lows, but can I learn to EXPECT those challenges and manage my energy BETTER around them?

    My new goal is to strive for balance regardless of the cycle phase.  Remain present for all that is coming up for me emotionally and physically, but not allowing it to throw me.  I will root down and rest into the truth that I WILL BE OKAY, regardless of the outcome. It is a PRACTICE and everyday an opportunity to try the ride again, inviting more ease.

    Here are some suggestions and inquiries to support you in remaining cool, calm and collected, regardless of what cycle day it is for you and your emotions:

    1. Schedule some space directly after your appointments.  Use this time to journal and process what things in your life ARE going right.  Gratitude journaling can help to reframe your perspective and shift your mood in a positive direction for the rest of your day.
    2. Take 3 deep, calming breaths before opening the message from your doctor.
    3. Remain aware and nonjudgmental of your emotions as they fluctuate with medication.  Be kind to yourself and thank close ones around you for understanding 🙂
    4. At the beginning of your two week wait, remain active with safe exercise (yoga!) to keep your mind at ease.
    5. Prior to your pregnancy test, affirm to yourself (at least) 3 times that you will be okay, regardless of the outcome.  You are loved, regardless of the outcome. You are worthy, regardless of the outcome. Try an Unwind the Mind Massage to get through the wait!
    6. Post pregnancy test, allow yourself to process:  do you need to cry, scream, call someone or celebrate?  Allow yourself adequate time to digest the information as opposed to rushing off to the rest of your day, without dealing with your feelings.
    7. Give yourself permission to begin again (mentally) at the start of your new cycle.  Reignite the flame of possibility and reaffirm to yourself that YOU ARE CAPABLE AND WHOLE.

     

    If you would like to practice riding the roller coaster together, join me for Yoga For Fertility at Pulling Down The Moon, on Wednesdays evenings.   In addition to managing emotions and digesting experiences, YFF will increase blood flow to optimize your fertility. To find more balance on this path, call Pulling Down the Moon to get started in March at: 312.321.0004.  I hope to see you on the mat!

  • 90-Day Prep? Start Here!

    by Cathy McCauley, LMT

    Whether getting pregnant naturally or using some form of assisted reproductive technology (ART) like IVF, fertility clients come to Pulling Down the Moon because they want to increase their chances of fertility success. I often see clients have better success after a 90-day prep. 

    Because the cycle of an egg is about 90 days, it’s helpful for you to prepare and optimize the health of your ovaries, uterus and your whole body at least three months before trying to conceive. In that time, you can monitor your nutrition, increase your vitamin intake, become intentional about improving blood flow and lowering stress levels. All of this can help enhance fertility and create a healthy environment for a pregnancy.

    Want to create a 90-day prep plan for enhanced fertility? Start here!

    Nutrition

    Preconception nutrition research shows that what you eat can impact the health of your ovaries and eggs either negatively or positively. Yet trying to navigate all the information out there can be overwhelming. The ART Prep/Recovery Program is unique to Pulling Down the Moon and exactly what it says: A science-based nutrition program (with some teachings and techniques from Traditional Chinese Medicine and yoga added) especially created to help you prep for your upcoming treatments. 

    With this program, our nutritionists will help you set goals, regulate blood sugar levels, support the liver, assist in getting your gut and thyroid to function properly, discuss sensitivities, look at possible food eliminations, decrease inflammation and safely cleanse. Your nutritionist will also be an accountability partner and will provide support, encouragement, ideas, and recipes to help you meet your goals while simultaneously working to improve your egg quality.

    Vitamins and Supplements

    Pulling Down the Moon has been working with medical doctors for over more than a decade, as well as, keeping up with the latest research and literature in the emerging field of supplements. We can provide recommendations on specific supplements for your unique situation and also help you streamline an overwhelming supplement regimen to include the supplements with the most research behind them for fertility. From finding the right prenatal vitamin to taking a probiotic to getting on a supplement of CoQ10, we can help you make the right choices as you work on enhancing your fertility during your prep.

    Blood Flow and Stress Reduction

    Increasing blood flow and reducing stress go hand-in-hand when optimizing your body for conception. Acupuncture, yoga, and massage can all help you achieve healthier circulation and reduce stress.

    Studies show that embryos with the highest implantation potential are from follicles that have sufficient blood and oxygen. If you want optimum egg health, promoting oxygen-rich blood flow to the ovaries is essential. 

    No doubt, stress influences your body in many ways and your fertility is not spared. High levels of stress can create an abundance of hormones, which in turn, can disrupt ovulation. By reducing your stress levels, you can have a positive affect on your fertility and your overall well-being. 

     

    Here are some approaches:

    Acupuncture

    In very simple terms, acupuncture is believed to clear blockages in the body in order to allow energy, greater health, and the feeling of emotional well-being to flow freely within the body. And more and more, acupuncture is becoming a widely accepted and sought after natural treatment for restoring fertility.  

    Some research shows acupuncture may improve ovarian functioning, balance the endocrine system and hormones, increase circulation to the uterus and improve egg quality. 

    Additionally, the treatments are balancing, relaxing and offer clients an opportunity to unplug and feel grounded. Many clients fall asleep during their sessions.

    Pulling Down the Moon acupuncturists are well-trained in working specifically with fertility clients. They are knowledgeable in treating your whole body and can provide you up-to-date information on fertility health and wellness.

     

    Yoga

    Pulling Down the Moon’s Yoga for Fertility (YFF) offers you another way to prep for enhanced fertility.

    At each class, you will learn a series of yoga postures designed to improve fertility by increasing blood flow into the pelvis, releasing stress and anxiety and balancing life energy flow in the body. 

    In addition to this physical practice we explore concepts from yoga philosophy that frame the fertility journey in a way that reveals our personal strengths, reinforces the joy of everyday life and empowers us to create the family we are meant to have. Through this class you will also join the wonderful, positive healing community of Pulling Down the Moon and enjoy the energy of all the amazing women who have shared their journey with us.

     

    Massage

    The last treatment service we offer is dear to my heart. I’ve been a massage therapist at Pulling Down the Moon for several years and have seen women experience much success after receiving massage as part of a fertility prep plan.

    What we offer is unique. Our FEM Protocol™ is a five-part series using massage and related techniques to enhance the health and functioning of the pelvic and abdominal organs, and to promote the client’s mental, emotional, and physical well-being.The five parts of the protocol focus on cleansing and detoxification, enhancing reproductive circulation, oxygenating the pelvic organs, and combating stress. Benefits may include:

    • promoting egg quality by improving the follicular environment and increasing its supply of oxygen-rich blood
    • lowering hormone disruption through stress management and clearing lymphatic congestion (a common storehouse for excess hormones and toxins)
    • supporting uterine lining and alignment through melting abdominal scar tissue, clearing circulatory pathways, and releasing structural tension patterns
    • encouraging relaxation and an overall sense of well-being during your fertility journey

    We offer a massage treatment schedule to keep you on track during your 90-day prep. And once you’ve actively started trying to conceive, whether naturally or through ART, we encourage you to continue to receive the FEM Protocol. It is safe any time in a cycle and we are trained in helping you determine what will be the best treatment for you no matter where you are on your fertility journey. 

    Get started with a 90 day prep and save with one of our New Year, New You Passports to Wellness!  Have questions about how Pulling Down the Moon’s unique services can support your journey?  Call us at: 312-321-0004 for us personalized support today!

     

  • Yoga for Holiday Stress

    by Christina Thompson Olson RYT RPYT

    It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right? But if the onslaught of holiday parties, shopping, and family gatherings has you feeling a bit stressed out, you’re not alone. How many more times is Aunt Ginny going to ask when you’ll be having a baby? Before you snap or find yourself making up stories to distract from your fertility situation, try these simple yoga techniques to stay grounded and let all that chatter melt away.

    Get into your breath

    Before reacting to someone or something, check in with your breathing and see if you can allow it to slow down. Try Samavritti pranayama, or equal breath to help calm your mind and relax your body. Start by bringing your attention to the tip of your nose, inhaling and exhaling through your nose if comfortable. Notice the length of your inhale and exhale, and work towards equal breathing by silently counting to four on your inhale and exhale: “In-2-3-4, Out-2-3-4”. Let your breath move deeply through your abdomen, expanding your diaphragm as you inhale and gently drawing in as you exhale, working towards twelve rounds of breath.

    Gently move your body

    Try some easy yoga poses to relieve stress, even if you’re in the restroom at a holiday party! One of my favorite moves to ease tension in the mind and body is the forward fold, which can be done in a variety of ways. Try a halfway forward fold or L-shape, walking your hands down a wall (or on a countertop) as you take your feet hip-width distance and create an L-shape with your body. Take 4-5 deep breaths to relax your shoulders, lengthen your spine, and send your sitting bones back evenly behind you. Then take your feet wider and find a dynamic squat-forward fold by bending your knees as you exhale and returning to the forward fold with an inhale for another five rounds of breath. 

    From this wide leg forward fold, with hands either supported by a wall or on blocks, take a gentle open twist by bringing your left hand under your face and lifting your right hand up towards the sky, or to your right hip. Breathe deeply for several rounds of breath to gently massage your digestive organs in this twist, and then repeat on your left side. Take one more symmetrical forward fold of your choice, coming up slowly when you’re finished, and hopefully you’ll return to your holiday season feeling a bit more at ease in your body.

    Beat the Winter Blues in the New Year with a FREE Yoga for Fertility Community Class (with me!) in Chicago or in Highland Park with Cassie on January 11th at noon!

    Did you know Yoga for Fertility can reduce anxiety by 20% or more in just six weeks? Join my next series in the New Year to support your journey starting on Saturday, January 25th at noon!

  • 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.