The Lonely Road of Infertility

I’ve always told myself that I would share my story of infertility after I got pregnant or had kids. But almost 6 years after Dwayne and I started trying to build our family I’ve realized that the ascent up the mountain of life doesn’t happen in a straight line. There will be rocks to climb over and even dips along the way. You might not end up being able to take the original path you set out on or even make it to the top. And while this is by far the most vulnerable story I have ever shared, telling it now feels right in hopes that I can not only offer some support and compassion to myself but to anyone else who might be suffering with their own challenges.

Our story starts off on a happy note when a little less than a year after we first decided to start our family I found out I pregnant. As someone who has always been conscious of her health I was surprised by how long that seemed to take compared to most of our friends. Still seeing those positive pink lines was one of the happiest moments in my life.

But it wasn’t even a week later that I knew something was wrong when I started bleeding and having cramps. Without trying to worry too much I went to the emergency room where I spent hours waiting. I was sent home and then to a larger hospital the next morning where after many tests I was told I had a miscarriage. It was one of the saddest experiences I’ve had to endure. For the next week I couldn’t move far from the couch as I grieved the precious baby we were already so excited to bring into the world.

But something still didn’t feel right.

I continued to bleed and have cramps for another week. My doctor told me not the worry however as this can be normal with miscarriages, but would send me for ultrasounds and test just in case since my HCG levels were still rising. Of course a small glimmer of hope rose up in me but I tried not to get excited knowing how hard the past week had been.

Another week had passed and I finally got in for my ultrasound. Nothing showed up on the regular ultrasound but thankfully the tech wanted to do a trans-vaginal just in case. There she and the radiologist discovered an ectopic pregnancy in my left fallopian tube. Due to how long it had gone undetected I was immediately sent upstairs to have emergency surgery given the life-threatening dangers an ectopic pregnancy causes when the tube ruptures if left too long.

After the surgery I woke up feeling even more grief than before. Not only is it impossible to save the embryo with an ectopic pregnancy, but they had to remove my left tube as well since it was too damaged. I had to grieve the loss of our baby not once but twice within a few weeks.

Almost 5 years after my surgery, several trips to the IWK and fertility clinic, and many tests later we have been diagnosed with what’s called “secondary infertility”. That means there is no known reason why we haven’t been able to conceive again. And while this sounds like it should be a positive thing, this also means there is nothing for us to be able to specifically treat and it definitely gives us no closure.

Of course the good news is that it doesn’t mean we won’t be able to conceive a child. But it’s also hard for me not to think that something is wrong with me and to look for the cause so that I can “fix it”. Trust me when I say we have tried almost everything (including taking a year off “trying”) and it is emotionally and physically draining.

Infertility has been the hardest and most isolating challenge I have ever experienced. And while I have had some great support in the process, both from those who have gone through similar situations and those who haven’t, it’s not something anyone else can truly understand because each of our stories and cases are different.

While there has been more and more awareness in recent years infertility is still not something that is talked about openly. There is a stigma and shame that is associated with infertility, assumptions, and lack of knowledge. Talking about it can make others feel uncomfortable or even say things they might not realize are hurtful. I’ve heard them all…

“Trust me you don’t want kids.” OR “You’re better off without kids”.

“I’d never want to have kids in today’s day and age”.

“Don’t stress. It will happen when you least expect it”.

“My friend tried x, y and z and it worked for them”.

“Your so lucky you don’t have kids”.

Just to name a few, each one as painful as the other because they all come from people who are not in our situation. We want to have a family and that is OUR choice. And while I generally try to brush them off or chalk it down to people not knowing what to say it’s one of the main reasons I haven’t told my story until now.

If there is one thing that infertility teaches you quickly is that many of us actually have a lot less control over our fertility than we realize. But we’re unfortunately not usually taught that which can make those of us struggling feel shame, unworthy, and like something is wrong with us.

As young girls playing with dolls we are told we will make a good mommy someday. And then when we are a young newlyweds not wanting to start a family quite yet we do everything we can to prevent it. Then when the desire to start a family grows we’re not taught how long it takes takes on average for a couple to conceive, how that changes as we age, or how it doesn’t necessarily happen for everyone. It’s often not long after marriage our families and friends start asking us when we are having kids, or even telling us we don’t want to have kids assuming we have a choice or that they should impose their opinions on us. It’s no wonder there is so much stigma, shame, and misunderstanding associated with infertility.

While infertility is a medical condition it is often not recognized by others because it’s an invisible illness. But studies show that the stress of infertility is similar to the stress of cancer and other serious medical conditions. That means the mental health implications of infertility are the same as these serious conditions, so asking someone not to stress about infertility is the same as asking someone not to stress about cancer. But the deference is most people would never tell someone with cancer not to stress…

Of course I’m a big believer that a positive mindset, gratitude, and faith can help you cope with any challenge. It’s what’s helped me get though these past 6 years. But it certainly hasn’t been an easy road so compassion for myself and taking care of my mental health are key.

Not all days of my journey are bad days. In fact I have good ones more than not. But even so the little reminders are always there.

Every month when my period show ups. Every baby shower. Every pregnancy announcement. Every time someone asks us if we have or want kids. Every special moment I spend with my friends’ beautiful children.

Don’t get me wrong I love my friends kids and enjoy seeing the joy their children bring. But I’ve realized it’s ok to be happy for others and sad for myself at the same time especially when becoming a mother is something I’ve desired most of my life. And that’s where self-love and empathy come in. I know we will have a family of our own someday whether it’s soon or in paradise. And until then I’m not giving up hope.

If you are reading this and are struggling with infertility, pregnancy loss, or any other challenge I want you to know you are not alone even though I know it often feels that way. You are not broken and there is nothing wrong with you. You are resilient and as much as it is hard you will make it through – one day at a time.

With all my love,

Krissy – xo

Why I’m making the switch to non-toxic products (and why you should too!)

I have been a quest for the past few months to find the best non-toxic beauty and household products. This includes everything from skincare, to make-up, to hair products, and household cleaning products. Basically everything I am putting on my body, breathing in, or using in my home. I am so conscious of everything I put in my body nutrition wise, it only makes sense that I have the same approach for all of the products I use. There is so much information out there however it’s hard to know what is actually safe to use and what to avoid. Keep reading for the reason why I made the switch, why you should consider doing it too, as well as a few tips to get you started.

I first started becoming conscious about what was in my beauty products when I adopted a vegan lifestyle 6 years ago and discovered that a lot of brand named products were tested on animals. While I am not a vegan anymore (click here to see why) this made me realize I needed to learn to read the labels on products just like food labels, and look for approved symbols on products such and “vegan” and “cruelty-free”. I made the switch to many “natural” products at this time, but only did so based on making sure they were vegan and cruelty-free. What I didn’t realize was that just because a product was labelled “natural”, “organic”, “vegan” or “cruelty-free” didn’t necessarily mean it was healthy.

The next change I made was to my cleaning products. As someone who is very sensitive to smells and chemicals I was already picky with what cleaning products I would buy, gravitating towards unscented options. I decided to switch most of my household products to Norwex products which are free of harsh chemicals and better for the environment. Making this change made me realize just how sensitive I am to many smells and chemicals. I now get a massive headache around anything with a strong, chemical, or perfume smell, and even get itchy/red eyes and break out in hives. My body is obviously telling me these chemicals are bad for me.

Then came my discovery of Breast Implant Illness and my ruptured silicone implant (click here for the full story). I found out that the chemicals in my breast implants were toxic, some carcinogenic, and many were endocrine disruptors which cause certain hormones to become more dominant, throwing off our natural hormonal balance. This sparked me to look further into other endocrine disruptors and I discovered that many of the so called “natural products” I was using also contained these hormone disruptors, carcinogens, and other chemicals not healthy for our bodies. I knew I had to make changes to many of the products I used and thus began my search.

While I was tempted to just throw out every beauty product in my house and start fresh I knew that wasn’t an option, not only financially but I also didn’t know where to start. The beauty industry is a over a 500 billion dollar industry and natural or “clean” products have continued to gain popularity over recent years. Many of the big brands are jumping on board and labels such as “natural,” “pure”, and “green” are popping up everywhere. The scary thing is there is a massive lack of policy around chemicals in beauty and personal-care products in North America. The FDA has not updated the law passed in 1938 that gives them almost no authority to regulate beauty products. Right now, companies are allowed to put nearly any chemical into personal-care products sold in the US—even known carcinogens—without any safety testing and without disclosing all the chemicals on labels. The FDA in the U.S. has only banned eleven potentially harmful ingredients in cosmetics, while the European Union has banned over 1000! Companies are allowed to market and label their products as “natural”, “organic”, “non-toxic”, “clean” (you name it) and it means absolutely nothing. How terrifying is it that we are putting these products on our skin everyday and letting it absorb into our bodies through our largest organ!

Thankfully there are many good companies out there who are committed to making products that are truly non-toxic. I’m sure by this point you are wondering where to get started. Don’t worry though, I am actually still transitioning some of my products so I don’t expect you to do it overnight. I suggest making the switch to new products slowly, perhaps as you run out of one, or are ready to try something new. There are 3 products I recommend swapping out first however: deodorant, body lotion and laundry detergent/softeners.

Deodorant:

It’s no “Secret” that the chemicals in antiperspirant are bad for us (see what I did there haha). These chemicals have been linked to several health conditions including cancer and Alzheimers. Antiperspirants are also designed to block our sweat ducts and their natural ability to sweat. This isn’t good for our health long term.

I’ve tested out a few natural deodorants and my favourite is by far Primally Pure’s Charcoal Deodorant. It smells amazing, goes on clear, and worked instantly. Don’t fret if you sweat a little more in the beginning as you get used to a new deodorant however. This is your body’s normal detox process and it will go away after a few weeks.

Body Lotion:

It only makes sense that because our bodies largest organ is our skin that we be conscious of what we are lathering on such a big surface area. We absorb chemicals from toxic products through our skin and the more of it we put on the more of these chemicals we will absorb.

As I mentioned above I am very sensitive when it comes to smells so the lotions I use need to have a very gentle and natural smell. I also tend to have dry skin and want to keep it looking young and healthy. I love the Almond + Vanilla Body Butter also by Primally Pure. It is made using grass-fed beef tallow which has so many amazing health benefits. It is rich in Vitamins A, D, E and K, anti-inflammatory conjugated linoleic acid, and antimicrobial palmitoleic acid which deeply moisturizes the skin.

Laundry Detergent & Softeners:

Since our clothing is the closest thing to our skin it’s no surprise I am also recommending this as one of my top 3 recommended products to switch first. Chemicals in laundry detergent and fabric softeners coat our clothing and then transfer onto our skin. Bounce sheets are the worst and contain so many toxic chemicals. Just look at your used dryer sheet the next time you do laundry. It starts off crisp and then ends up soft and thin. Guess where these chemicals are gone? All over your clothes and absorbing into your skin!

Since my skin is so sensitive I also need to make sure I use something gentle that doesn’t give me a rash and has little smell. That’s one of the reasons why I love Norwex’s laundry detergent and wool dryer balls. The dryer balls can be used over and over again and the laundry detergent does an amazing job at getting clothing bright and clean. Only a small amount is needed for each load.

What’s Next?

It’s no doubt that more and more people are making the switch to healthy non-toxic beauty and household products. But how do you know it is truly non-toxic and what should you look for on the label? Stay tuned for my next post where I’ll help you find out if your product meets the list.

Did you find this article useful or interesting? Please give it a like below, subscribe for future posts and share it with someone who can also benefit.

Naturally, Krissy – xo

Anti-Inflammatory Bone Broth

Bone broth has been getting a lot of attention lately but what exactly are the health benefits and how do you make it? Keep reading for my tips and super simple preparation method.

Bone Broth Health Benefits Include:

  • Reduces Inflammation
  • Improves Joint Health
  • Boosts the Immune System
  • Helps with Food Sensitivities
  • Can Help Heal the Gut
  • Beautifies Hair, Skin & Nails
  • Avoids Food Wastage
  • And so Much More!

Sure you can take collagen and other supplements to help with the above but why not save money and decrease food wastage by making your own tasty anti-inflammatory superfood!

I am going to include 2 recipes below:

  1. How to make bone broth using raw bones.
  2. How to make it using already cooked bones.

I switch it up depending on how many bones I have saved. I keep a container for each beef and chicken bones in the freezer. You can also purchase raw bones from your local butcher for a very inexpensive cost. We buy ours locally for $1 a pound!

Making Bone Broth Using Raw Bones:

Step 1: Place 2 – 4 lbs of raw chicken or beef bones* in a large pot, cover with water and bring to a gentle boil. Discard water and strain bones. This is to get rid of any nasty bits on the bones. Don’t discard the highly nutritious marrow inside the bones though!

*Choose grass-fed, antibiotic, and steroid free bones when possible.

Step 2: Spread bones out on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and bake for 15 min at 450 degrees F.

Step 3: Place roasted bones in an instant pot or slow cooker and cover with fresh water.

P.S. I highly recommend an instant pot as it cuts down cooking time greatly. If you don’t have one already they are truly life changing! Click here for my recommendation.

Step 4: For instant pot: Place lid in sealing setting and set manual time for 3 hours (you might need to break this up into 2 hr and 1 hr if you are using an older model). After 3 hours use the quick release method.

For slow cooker: Set slow cooker on high, cover and simmer for 24 – 48 hr.

Step 5: Allow broth to cool.

Step 6: Strain broth into large mason jars and store in the refrigerator. You can save the marrow if you like to use later but I try to strain as much as possible from the broth.

Step 7: Enjoy! To get maximum health benefits enjoy 1 cup of bone broth a day heated up in your favourite mug. At this point you can add pink Himalayan sea salt to taste and season as you like as it really doesn’t have much taste on its own. Use broth also to make soups and sauces.

Bone broth will last a long time in the refrigerator as long as a layer of fat remains on top. Make sure to include some of this fat in each servings because it’s oh so good for you!

Making Bone Broth Using Cooked Bones:

Start at Step 3 above. Since your bones would already be seasoned I recommend waiting to taste your broth first before seasoning.

Please let me know how you enjoyed this recipe by leaving a comment below and please share with someone else you think would enjoy it.

Naturally, Krissy – xo