By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN
The New Year always feels like a fresh start, and it’s a time of transition where it makes sense to reflect on the previous year and set goals for the coming year. New Year’s resolutions around health and fitness tend to get a bad rap, because people often have a hard time following through on these resolutions. One reason for this is that these resolutions tend to be too hard or are too vague.
One thing that I think is really helpful is to be very specific about what we want to achieve. Sometimes we make very non-specific goals such as “lose weight,” or “eat healthier,” or “be more organized.” (No judgment here, as I am definitely guilty of this.) It’s important to be specific with your goals, so you know when you have achieved them. The other big piece of this is breaking down the goal into the habits that you need to incorporate into your life in order to achieve those goals. It’s our daily habits that really determine whether or not we meet the goals we set out to achieve. Follow these tips when thinking about goal setting in 2020:
1) Be specific about the goal. Instead of “get healthier,” or “lose weight,” try “sleep for at least 8 hours 5 nights out of the week,” or “exercise for 30 minutes 5 days per week.” Being really specific helps you stay on track and know when you’re making progress towards your goal and when you need to tweak your habits to make progress.
2) Break the goal down logistically. If your goal is to sleep 8 hours per night, then what do you need to do to make that happen? Maybe you need to be in bed by 10 pm, so that means you need to get help from a partner in making sure to get all of your obligations done earlier, so that you have some time to wind down and be ready to sleep at 10 pm. It also might mean prepping breakfast and lunch the night before, so that you don’t have to get up as early to do it.
Weight loss is a common goal, so if that is your goal, it’s important to think about the habits that you need to cultivate to meet your goal. Some examples of habits you might choose to work on over the course of they year might be: fill half my plate with non-starchy vegetables at lunch and dinner. Eat protein with all my meals and snacks. Bring healthy snacks to work, so that I’m less tempted by office treats and so that I don’t arrive home overly hungry looking to raid the fridge. (We’ve all been there!) Eat mindfully – put away the phone, turn off the TV, and move away from your computer in order to truly experience my food. These habits are likely too much to work on all at once, but having a list of 1-2 habits to work on at a time will help you start to make progress toward your goal.
3) Prepare, prepare, prepare. When changing your eating habits, it’s important to think back on what has worked well for you in the past and what hasn’t. This can help set you up for success by not repeating the same things that have tripped you up in the past.
In addition, think about the challenges you’ve had in the past – social gatherings, eating out, family meals, travel? Spend some time thinking about your unique challenges, and map out a plan ahead of time. It’s really hard to navigate challenging situations when we haven’t prepared ahead of time. Things don’t always go according to plan, but you have a better chance of eating in a way that makes you feel good if you plan ahead.
4) Don’t be afraid to change course. Be gentle with yourself in assessing what’s working and what’s not working. You may start out with specific habits you’re working on, and they may turn out to be too hard based on the current season of your life. That’s ok. Reassess, change or scale back the habits and keep going. It can be really tempting to fall into all-or-nothing thinking, in which if we have a rough day or week, we completely abandon the goal. Our progress is determined by what we do most of the time, not by what we do sometimes. The important part is to get back on track and keep going.
Need some help navigating changes to your eating habits and lifestyle to support your fertility or pregnancy in 2020? Make a nutrition appointment today! Get started and save with our monthly special today!
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!
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
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:
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.
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.
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!
By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN
Choline is little talked about essential nutrient for fertility and pregnancy. It is not technically considered a vitamin, as our bodies can synthesize choline though not enough to meet our daily needs. Choline is a major component of all cell membranes and is a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is involved in muscle control and memory. Choline is also converted to betaine, which prevents homocysteine levels from becoming elevated. Elevated homocysteine has been associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease and miscarriage. Choline deficiency may also play a role in the development of fatty liver, as choline is necessary to transport fat from the liver to other tissues in the body.
Choline also has important functions during pregnancy. Choline is essential for baby’s brain development and for DNA methylation, meaning that choline deficiency can have epigenetic effects on the developing baby. There is also evidence that adequate choline intake helps prevent neural tube defects like spinal bifida, which most people associate only with folate/folic acid intake.
Several studies have compared intakes of 480 mg choline daily to 930 mg choline daily at varying times during pregnancy and found a variety of outcomes. For example, supplementation with 930 mg choline compared to 480 mg throughout the 3rd trimester resulted in faster information processing in 4-13 month old infants. In a similar study, children whose mothers took in 930 mg choline daily performed better with a color location memory task compared to children whose mothers who had only taken in 480 mg choline daily. Another study reported reduced attention and behavior problems and social withdrawal in children at 40 months of age in the group of mothers supplemented with 900 mg choline from the 2nd trimester through delivery in addition to baby being supplemented with 100 mg choline daily through 3 months of age compared to controls.
The daily requirement for choline for non-pregnant women of childbearing age is 425 mg. This goes up 450 mg during pregnancy and further increases to 550 mg during breastfeeding. Less than 10% of pregnant women are meeting their daily requirement for choline, underscoring the importance of focusing on this nutrient.
The impact of choline during pregnancy is an emerging area of research, and currently it seems that 450 mg choline at a minimum is needed to support a healthy pregnancy, but up 900-930 mg is safe and may have long-term benefits to the baby. Animal products are better sources of choline than plant foods–with liver and egg yolks being the best sources–followed by meat and fish and cruciferous vegetables.
Because so few women are meeting even basic daily choline needs during pregnancy, taking a prenatal vitamin that contains choline is a good idea, especially if you are a vegetarian or vegan. Pulling Down the Moon carries two prenatal vitamins, both of which contain choline. TheraNatal OvaVite contains 100 mg choline, and PlusOne contains 450 mg choline. Do you have more questions about optimal choline intake prior to and during a pregnancy? Book a nutrition appointment today!
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.
By Robin Miller, RDN
It can be a very overwhelming process when you are selecting a prenatal vitamin. Many questions probably come to mind such as, what should be I be looking for in a prenatal vitamin? Which nutrients should I focus on? Which one is right for me? And so many more.
Here at Pulling Down the Moon, we are making that process seamless for you. We have already done the legwork and evaluated many supplements, including prenatal supplements. Our team of registered dietitians can help you to determine which supplements are right for you.
We are excited to feature a new, comprehensive prenatal supplement option we have available for sale in Chicago, Highland Park, and via our online shop for your convenience!
PlusOne Daily Prenatal packets contain vitamins and minerals to support women during preconception through nursing and postpartum. Here are some of the highlights of what these packets contain to support your fertility journey.
- Deeper dive: This rock-star prenatal Vitamin: contains 1mg methylfolate to support fetal neurological health as well as antioxidants including vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene, and ample B-vitamins to support women vulnerable to B-depleting conditions like birth control pill use and emotional stress.
- In addition, ach packet contains high quality omega-3 fatty acids, specifically 1 g DHA to support fetal brain development and 670 mg EPA to support the body’s anti-inflammatory response, healthy cell membranes and mood.
- Fetal brain development support: Each packet contains 450 mg of Choline, which is an essential nutrient for brain development. Choline may also play a role in healthy genetic expression in early embryo development.
Be sure to check out our Cyber Monday promotion, 20% off on PlusOne Prenatal available for purchase via our online shop!
By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN
This time of year onslaught of sweets seems to start with Halloween and doesn’t end until New Year’s resolutions. We like to talk a lot about adjusting your food environment to set you up for success by only keeping fruits and vegetables on the counter at home, for example. It also helps to keep tempting foods that you’d rather not eat out of your house. This tends to get more challenging as food treats abound around the holidays, and if it’s not at home, the treats are in full force at work or at holiday gatherings. By no means do I mean to imply we shouldn’t have any treats around the holidays. It’s really fun to have the treats that only come around once a year. Where we can run into trouble is when instead of having those treats on a few holidays, we end up eating these foods that make us feel sluggish and aren’t consistent with our long-term goals consistently over a 1-month or longer time period.
Here are some tips to try to keep your eating around the holidays as healthy as possible:
- Stock your house with seasonal fruits and vegetables. Now is the time for delicious citrus and pomegranates and Brussels sprouts to name a few. Enjoy these healthy nutrient and antioxidant rich foods as part of daily eating, but they also work great incorporated into holiday meals.
- Try nuts in the shell, like walnuts. Nuts in the shell become more widely available in grocery stores. If you haven’t tried nuts in the shell, they often taste so much fresher than shelled nuts, such that they taste like a real treat! Plus it takes time to crack and remove the shell from nuts, which helps us eat more slowly and mindfully.
- Make dishes with butternut and acorn squash. These winter squashes are nutrient-rich and are lower in carbs than regular potatoes. There’s nothing wrong with having some regular potatoes. It’s just that white potatoes tend to dominate our plates along with other starchy dishes at holiday meals. Winter squashes are also rich in fiber, vitamin E, folate, and beta-carotene.
- Eat mindfully. Work on eating slowly and checking in with your hunger and fullness cues before and while eating. Avoid distractions like your computer, cell phone, or TV, as we often eat more when we aren’t focused on the eating experience.
- Avoid eating sweets on an empty stomach. Save sweets for after meals or after a satisfying snack with protein. You’ll be less likely to overeat sweets that way, and your blood sugar will rise more slowly such that you can avoid being on a blood sugar roller coaster.
6. Don’t skimp on sleep. It can be tempting to sleep less when we’re so busy, but less sleep often leads to overeating and more difficulty making healthy choices.
What to learn more? Book a nutrition consult today! Get support and save this month on an Initial Nutrition Consultation, Initial Acupuncture Consultation, Fertility-Enhancing Massage, or Yoga for Fertility series with the $99 Wild Card!
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!
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!
Here are some great articles and blog posts about using art as a form of meditation and to reduce stress:
If you would like to find a professional art therapist or dig deeper into what art therapy is:
10 Minute Mindfulness Drawing Meditation Tutorial you can easily do at home: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kcAFq7C_CA
Essential oils wonderfully enhance the spa-like experience during your acupuncture treatment. At Pulling Down the Moon we offer this additional option to our acupuncture patients. Different essential oils can be used to treat different ailments. One amazing oil is Bergamot, and I love to use it in the office on my patients. It is helpful in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to regulate the qi flow, which means it keeps the energy flowing in our bodies and minds smoothly and evenly. It is a great mood balancer for that reason. So, if your anxiety is high and you cannot seem to ground yourself using Bergamot oil will help to calm you down. If you are feeling low and depressed, it also has the ability to bring you up and help lift your spirit when you are down. It works wonders for your emotional state during the holidays and is especially useful during this season!Another oil I use to help alleviate mental tension and has a nice Christmas time scent is Peppermint essential oil. Dabbing a small drop of these oils behind the ears or at certain stress points on the body can help achieve its therapeutic effect. If a patient prefer not to wear the oil, they can take a few deep inhalations of it instead. At Pulling Down the Moon we also use specific essential oils for each phase of the menstrual cycle when trying to conceive, whether naturally or throughout a medicated fertility treatment cycle. The first phase oil is called Activate The Blood & Qi, it is meant to be used during the period. It helps detox the body by riding toxins through the shedding of the uterine lining. The second phase oil is called Nourish the Sea of Blood, it is meant to be used after the period has ended to leading up to ovulation. It helps with building the lining back up and with enhancing the quality of the developing egg/s. The third phase oil is called Lift Spirit and is meant to be used at ovulation time. It helps ensure ovulation occur. The fourth phase oil is Nourish Yin & Blood, it is used after ovulation has occurred up until the period begins (it is one of our oils used during pregnancy). This oil helps strengthen the quality of the luteal phase of the cycle, bettering the chances of implantation of an embryo where conception is the goal. The oils are safe and indicated during trying to conceive and during pregnancy when used in the correct manner as done by our experienced acupuncturists.* Another way of reaping the benefits of the oils without having to wear them is using them in an essential oil diffuser if you are concerned at all about placing them directly on the body. Of course, if our acupuncture patient requests no use of oil we respect that. Any oil used during your treatment can help boost the healing you get from the acupuncture itself.For further information or any questions please feel free to email me at email@example.com and to schedule an appointment for Acupuncture or any or our holistic health services, please call our office 312-321-0004. To purchase any of our fabulous oils please visit our offices in Chicago or Highland Park and/or our online store, including the Fertility Wellness Sampler (including Activate, both Nourish oils, Lift Spirit). Learn more at our FREE in-center Chicago event “Essential Oils for Love and Fertility” on Feb 4th!
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.
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.”
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