#StartAsking National Infertility Awareness Week

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There was a time when I thought I’d never hold this tiny hand in my own.  I was beaten down by fertility treatments that weren’t working, a body in chronic pain from endometriosis, and a mental state that was fragile from disappointment and hormone therapy.  Even though we are now parents, the scars of infertility still show.  They show when I hear of another pregnancy announcement from fertile couples, or when we feel selfish for wanting a second child (the road to which may be just as rocky as the 3 year journey to our first).

Though it seems I’m throwing myself a pity party here, I’m actually here to tell you we are pretty lucky as infertiles go.  My husband used to work in a hospital and our insurance was amazing.  All of our fertility medications for the first 4 ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology) procedures were covered.  That’s thousands of dollars! The procedures themselves only cost around $10,000 and that’s a steal compared to most other clinics.  I realized this when we moved to a different situation and had to pay for everything out of pocket and the cost was closer to $20,000.  Now, in trying to conceive baby 2 we’ve already spent $6,000 and that’s just the first try.  If we didn’t happen to be in a financially stable situation, our dreams of having a family would most certainly be dashed.  I can only imagine how hard it would be to make that decision of having to dip into retirement funds or a mortgage to basically gamble on the chance of having a child.

You may be asking yourself, “Why not just adopt?” Yes, I was there once too.  I had given up all hope of having a baby that shared my genes, and was ready to welcome a baby that needed a home and loving family into my heart.  Then I looked into the logistics.  It was completely overwhelming, not to mention expensive (even more expensive than IVF in some scenarios).  I was paralyzed by all the legal hoops you had to jump through to adopt a baby and gave up.  *Although, if you choose foster a child first, it may be more affordable.  But then you also risk having to say goodbye to the child if s/he is returned to their birth parents.

So, if you know someone going through fertility treatments or adoption, and chances are you do since 1 in 8 of us deals with these issues.  Be kind to them.  The process is overwhelming financially, physically, and emotionally.  Maybe you don’t quite get it, but sometimes all they need is an empathetic ear and a hug.

To learn more about infertility and how to help spread awareness visit Resolve.org. Because really, we need to change how insurance covers infertility.

 

 

 

Letting Go of FOMO

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FO·MO
ˈfōmō/

noun

informal
  1. anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.
    “I realized I was a lifelong sufferer of FOMO”

Even before social media, I’ve had this problem.  Always wondering if my best friends were leaving me out of some fantastic event, if they liked someone else better, or if I was some kind of social pariah.

I’m not sure where this insecurity began, but I’m trying to stop it now as a 30 something year old woman.  You’d think it would be easy, but as the definition states, social media just exacerbates the problem.  Like Mindy Kaling, I’m often wondering “Is everyone hanging out without me?” It started in high school as, “Did I get invited to that party?” It continued in college as, “Who else traveled abroad without me?” Then in my late twenties it was, “Everyone can have a baby except me!?!” And now it’s cycled back to, “Why wasn’t I invited?”

It’s the weirdest phenomenon because I love staying home or exploring the city as a trio.  My best friend is honestly my husband (he knows my crazy like no one else).  But, when I see or hear of friends doing something without me, it sends me into a spiral of overthinking and analyzing every thing that could have gone wrong in our friendship.  (Told you I was crazy)

I’ve noticed that it really does give me anxiety, make me irritable and distracted.  And I’ve decided, it’s just not worth it.  I know which of my friendships are lasting.  I know what I have is more than plenty.  The FOMO is seriously blinding me and keeping me from enjoying the life in front of me.  This realization came after I stumbled across an Instagram account of a mom/designer/blogger who had recently passed away leaving two very young children and a loving husband behind.  It made me think that this picture perfect family (that I’d probably envy if I knew of her account earlier) was so impermanent.  It made me realize that my own life with those dear to me is so precious that I need to be more grateful of it each and every day! So instead of wondering, “What are  they doing now?” I’m going to try and think, “Looks like they’re having fun, so am I!” How Zen.

 

Favorite Things: ColourPop Super Shock Shadow

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I thought I’d start a series of posts about my favorite things.  After all, I’ve been whining about Ro and being a SAHM far too much for the title of this blog — ‘Mary’s Loves’.  What better way to lighten things up than to talk about frivolous material objects that I can’t get enough of? Yay!

May I introduce you to the best cream shadows that don’t require a brush and somehow have an intense long lasting color (probably loads of chemicals)? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you ColourPop Super Shock Shadows. I had never heard of the brand until I received a collection of four for my birthday.  I had been looking for a matte eyeshadow forever, and was stoked to find that one of them was a neutral matte.  These shadows are a type of cream that doesn’t require a makeup brush, so I dipped my finger in and pressed some onto my eyelids.  I was in love!

I don’t have a ton of time to do makeup in the morning.  My routine looks a little like this:

  1. swipe some eyeshadow on
  2. apply some liner to my lashline
  3. do a few quick swishes of mascara
  4. take bronzer and basically cover my cheeks with it (this one is the one I usually find I’ve over done once I get into the sunlight)
  5. smear on some lip balm
  6. *if I have time I’ll brush some eyebrow powder in place so that I don’t have invisible brows

Imagine my delight when I find out that I can make step 1 even shorter by not hunting for my eyeshadow brush.  Save 4 seconds? Fantastic!

The best and most addicting part of all is that this line is basically $5 a pop.  I may just have to order a ton of other colors.  From what I can tell, you can only order online since I can’t seem to find a brick and mortar shop.  I can’t vouch for their other products, (though the blush and highlighters look tempting) but trust me when I say these shock shadows are vibrant, easy, and affordable!

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Family Fun: Franklin Canyon

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Looking for a fun place to take a stroll and escape city life for a breather? Want to go on an easy hiking trail (nature walk) or even just a stroll around a lake?  Well, look no further! Franklin Canyon is a perfect spot to do just that.  Not only are there tons of ducks, turtles, and fish, there are also lots of trees to keep your explorations shady and cool in the scorching San Fernando Valley.

I’ve been here a handful of times with Ro, and each time I’m reminded of what a perfect retreat this place is for the both of us.  She’s at that age where she can’t quite manage a hike with me without toppling over the edge of a cliff, but she’s also too big to be carried in the Beco carrier for too long.  The ponds full of ducks and turtles are perfect to walk around and take in a little nature.  Here’s one of the many large turtles you’ll see sunning themselves in the reservoir:

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If you come at the right time of year you’ll see some amazing varieties of ducks in the Heavenly Pond.  We were here in February and were lucky enough to see some Wood ducks, Mallards, a very freaky looking Muscovy duck, and a really pretty tan and white duck.  Who knew there were so many types? It’s almost enough to make me want to get into birding.

The Heavenly Pond is probably my favorite spot at the park.  There are picnic tables, and benches for reflecting, and the kids love walking around it and watching the animals swim around. Added bonus: you can get some pretty heartwarming pictures of baby friends having fun.

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It’s only 10 minutes from the hustle and bustle of Ventura Blvd. which makes it the perfect escape from the noise of the daily grind.  If you don’t have a toddler with you and have a chance, check out one of the many trails at the park.  We’ve done the Discovery trail with  baby in a carrier, and it was a nice little hike that was totally doable.  So, what are you waiting for, pack up your family and get moving!franklincanyon

Foggy Brain, An Effect of Being a Stay at Home Mom?

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For the past few months I’ve been having these really obnoxious symptoms:

  • lethargy
  • dull headaches
  • inability to form complete thoughts/carry on a coherent conversation
  • general feeling of malaise
  • feeling like my head is foggy
  • feeling cross eyed

These are not medical terms, but it’s how I can explain my general feeling day to day.  I also have guilt.  Lots of it!  At first I thought all of these symptoms were due to caffeine withdrawals, but we’re now a few weeks out and I still feel them.  I notice that they go away when I’m outdoors in the sunshine.  Approximately 10 minutes after returning home, I’ll start to get that foggy feeling and want to just take a nap.  Which of course I cannot as I have a 17 month old to care for.

I started to think that perhaps these feelings are related to some kind of depression.  But that can’t be, right? I have a wonderful kid that I get to spend every day with.  We have friends we see, and I have the best hubs in the world.  I don’t feel weepy, and in fact feel grateful most of the time.  I feel grateful that I have a hubs that comes home from a long day at work and helps me wash dishes and does bath time.  He gets up early before work to play with Ro and gives me a chance to get myself together.  I feel grateful, but at the same time I feel guilty.  Why am I so spoiled? I should be doing all these things with a grin on my face, especially since I don’t have a full time job to do on top of it.

After talking about this with a fellow SAHM (my sister in law), I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not being stimulated and maybe my brain has checked out and left a fog behind.  I’m going to try something my sister in law told me may help: take time for me.  I’m going to attempt a few things to maintain my interests and keep my brain sharp and see if this cloud doesn’t dissipate.  Here’s what I’ve got so far:

  1. Go to the gym (leave Ro with the kids’ club for an hour and get the blood flowing at least 1x a week)
  2. Work on the quilt that has been collecting dust in my craft room which has been taken over by junk
  3. Research sewing workshops that can fit in my schedule

I think 3 things is reasonable for now.  Let’s see if they help me get back to being me.

On the Edge of Madness

Growing your family should be a happy, carefree experience.  Throw caution to the wind (and birth control), make whoopee, and see what happens.  For us, it’s not so much (check out A Neon Princess for all the dirty details).  We throw birth control to the wind, whip out ovulation kits, and then see a fertility doctor.  If you get to be part of the first group of old fashioned mamas and papas, count yourself lucky.

We are starting the process of growing our family and it is no walk in the park.  Sure we have a few frozen babies waiting for us, but they’re all the way in another state.  I didn’t think this was going to be such a big issue, but it has proven to be quite a hurdle.  We have to be monitored by a clinic down here, and then fly up to Washington a few days before the transfer.  Sounds easy enough, but add in the fact that we want to do it on a natural, unmedicated cycle and things get a little annoying.

I wanted to avoid having to shut down my body’s hormones, and instead use my body’s natural hormones.  It’s how we conceived Ro and I wanted to do the same this time around.  Except it’s been 2 years since we did it, and I forgot that it means a lot more ultrasounds and blood work, and timing is really tricky.  Let me add that if you’re being monitored by a clinic that isn’t going to be doing the transfer, they are not helpful at all.  Virtually no clinic will see you on a weekend if you need blood work or an ultrasound, and your in office visits don’t come with chit chat.  They’re merely there to scan you and send the results to your managing doc that will be doing the transfer.

So all of this back and forth has been a major headache, along with the actual headaches I’m getting from caffeine withdrawals (story for another time).  I’m hoping that this cycle works out, but it may just be that the timing is off and it has to be canceled.  Then we have to do this all over again next month.  So those of you who can just romp around for a few minutes and be with child, count your lucky stars.

The Importance of Family Friendships

Growing up, my parents had a handful of friends that had children our age.  These family friends came over for BBQs, went on vacations with us, camped with us, and traded kids for sleepovers (I only realize now, that those sleepovers gave our parents a much needed break to just be a couple).  We are lucky enough to have some of our dearest friends have children around the same age as Ro, as well.  And, we’ve also found a few new friends along the way.

When Ro was a newborn, I felt pretty isolated.  All my friends were working moms with children a little older.  They made playdates, but I felt left out since Ro was a few years younger, which meant we were in a completely different world as their children.  Instead of wallowing in my loneliness, I decided to join a few Meetup groups.  I was too cheap to pay for Mommy and Me classes, and figured, if the Meetup thing didn’t pan out, I could always join a class later (bad idea: most moms join these groups when their children are 8 weeks old and form bonds that an outsider at 6 months isn’t going to get).  As it turned out, I made two wonderful friends from these Meetups.

We all know how hard it is to make family friends, let alone genuine mommy friends.  Somehow these two families met all the criteria.  Not only do we get along, our spouses get along, and our kids play together beautifully.  While our parenting styles are not all the same, we never judge one another (for real!).  If one of us is in a bind, the others are always there to lend a hand.  I’m hoping our three girls form bonds of friendship even though they themselves could not be more different, just like the three of their mamas.

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Easter 2016

Easter is one of my favorite holidays.  It’s one that reminds me of new beginnings.  No matter how dark your winter may have been the spring blossoms and baby chicks renew your hope in what’s to come.  Having a young child makes this holiday infinitely more enjoyable.  To see the excitement of an egg hunt through a child’s eyes is magical.

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Last year was Ro’s first Easter, but she was such a blob back then that I just carried her around hoping she’d notice that kids were hunting eggs.  This year though, she actually got to participate.  While it only lasted 5 minutes, it was so much fun to witness.

Luckily we got to experience two Easter egg hunts!  Our friends host an annual pre-Easter egg hunt for all our littles, and we were so excited to get to participate this year.  This was sort of her warm up for the real hunt on Easter Sunday.  You can see everyone’s eager to get out and collect their goodies, except Ro who has NO clue what they’re lining up for.

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Obviously I had to help her find eggs.  Here she is with her first hidden treasure:

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On Sunday we went to our family’s Easter celebration.  Ro got to experience Dzoo Dzoo for the first time, as well.  (Life is so exciting when it’s full of firsts.) Dzoo Dzoo is a game that Armenian children play outside of church on Easter.  Everyone brings their decorated eggs and sees whose is strongest. You basically hit the egg tips against each other to see which one cracks.  The unscathed egg wins and keeps the broken egg.  The champion has a basket full of eggs and weeks of egg salad ahead of them.  It was the sweetest thing to see her aunt, grandpa, and cousins teaching her how to play.

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Our Easter was full of joyful reminders of how precious new beginnings are.  I hope the spirit of Easter sticks with us for a little while longer.

Kid Fun: The Petting Zoo at LA Zoo

This week we went to the LA Zoo for the third time.  We have a few friends with LA Zoo memberships who let us tag along since I’m too cheap to pay $20 for what will inevitably be a 2 hour trip to the zoo (between naptimes and mealtimes, that’s all we can muster).  We’re lucky to have generous friends.IMG_6231

The first two times we went to the zoo Ro just kind of went along for the ride. She sat in the stroller compliantly and didn’t really have a reaction to the animals.  She was most excited to crawl in the filthy playground at the back of the zoo.  Talk about panic attacks for a semi-germophobe.

But this time it was like her eyes were open for the first time.  It was a true joy to witness her excitement to see all of these animals we read about and sing about at home.  Our first stop was the Petting Zoo in the children’s area.  The moment we entered the gates and she saw the goats and sheep, she was sold. Someone handed her a paddle brush and she was on a personal mission to groom every animal in her path, including herself (germophobe she is not).  IMG_6230IMG_6237

We visited one petting zoo a few months ago, but she was scared of the gerbils and didn’t really want to pet any animals, so I was thrilled to see her fearlessly walk up to animals and touch their faces.  When it was time to leave, I had give her warning for fear of a potential meltdown.  To my surprise, she let me carry her out and even passed on her brush to the next enthusiastic kid entering the petting zoo.  No meltdowns, lots of laughter, truly engaged kid, and a hand washing station right in front of the petting area! All of it made for the perfect activity for this toddler and mommy.