Thursday, 14 September 2017

Our Infertility Story: One Year On

September 14th is significant to me. Not only because it's apparently gobstopper day but because it marks exactly a year since I took my last contraceptive pill.

I look back on a journal entry I wrote on 25th September 2016 and cringe a little. "I guess that means I'm now fertile... I'm trying not to stress about how long it might take". But I remember feeling so sure that it would only take a couple of months. That I'd definitely be pregnant by my birthday in February.

I don't think anyone starts trying for a baby and thinks that in a year they won't be heavily pregnant or holding their baby. Certainly, I didn't expect that a year down the line I'd have had multiple hospital visits, all sorts of scans and blood tests and be due to start fertility drugs next week. 

What would I tell myself a year on?

I'd start by telling myself that I am stronger than I, and a few others, give myself credit for. That I can cry and rage until it feels like my heart might break and then wake up in the morning and face the day again. I've sometimes wondered if people confuse tears and feelings of despair with weakness, they are not synonymous. 

It's been a year of immense lows with crippling anxiety. There have been tears, anger and insomnia. 

But I have learnt so much. Not only about my body, but about myself. 

I'm a much healthier version of myself thanks to the lifestyle changes I've made: acupuncture, swimming, yoga, diet changes. 

I'm more assertive and confident, as a result of pushing for answers and appointments. 

My relationship with God is transformed. I've definitely felt for a while that I've been going through the emotions to knowing how to reach out to him, that it's ok to make prayer more of chatting away than sitting in deep, revered silence and hoping to hear something. 

I've met some incredible people. Including my whatsapp queens, a group of girls who are also experiencing infertility. It has been so wonderful to feel so loved, understood and known by women I count as my tribe. Their stories not only break my heart but bring me so much hope. 

Do I think 14th September 2018 will hold the same level of significance? or by then will I be holding our baby in my arms? I really hope so. But I've learnt to accept that there are no guarantees. All I can do is trust God, believe that Clomid could be a miracle drug for me, and ride each wave with my husband, family and friends by my side and counting every blessing. 

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Wedding Wednesday: What's your First Dance Style?

Hello! Happy Wedding Wednesday! The gorgeous, Roxana is here with us again this week to talk about things dance styles.

It seems that the online world is brimming with tips on which song to choose and which veil to pick for your special day, but how on Earth can you find the right tunes if you cannot define the perfect dance style for you and your spouse-to-be?

The following is a list of wedding-friendly dance styles that can help you decide whether you’d prefer a more traditional slow and squishy approach, or a more unconventional choreography to start off your adventure in style.

The classics for the romantics

Think: waltz or foxtrot, as these are the two most commonly chosen styles among couples who enjoy a nice rhythm to their moves, whether flowy or with a kick. So much music is written in the spirit of these predominant beats, that you’ll have a wide variety of songs to choose from, slow, quick, mild or upbeat.
The greatest perk is that it’s easy to learn, versatile and you’ll be able to use your skills long after you end your wedding dance. They’re perfect for any occasion, and their timeless styles can be easily adapted to many modern songs.

The all-in-one combo for the hyper

Too indecisive to choose one song, or simply too excited to stick to one style? No problem! Select your top tunes, mash up their best segments into a single song, and you’ll have plenty of opportunity to express all sides of your perky personas.
I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You followed by Tutti Frutti, Welcome To The Jungle, Sway, to wrap up with Billy Jean? Why not, the sky’s the limit, and you can improvise on the spot or come up with your own choreography.

The hop for the hip

The free-spirited lovers of dance will appreciate the level of expression offered by modern, hip-hop music, which can be perfect for a memorable wedding dance to kick off your party like a pro. Also, versatile in terms of rhythm, anything from super slow to dizzying tempos can be your tune of choice.
For those who haven’t had a chance to try the style before, or might need an extra nudge to loosen their inner groove, taking adult dance classes is always an option. It’s liberating, empowering, and your feet will fall in love with the beat in no time.

The flash-mob style for the whole party

If your groomsmen and bridesmaids are eager to take part in the first dance as well, you have the opportunity to take your special moment to a whole new level. Couples who love playful group choreographies can create a flash-mob first dance for their closest ones to join them!
Make sure that their outfits allow your desired moves, have someone surprise the guests with the music and who knows, maybe some of your guests will join in if the choreography is simple and catchy enough?

The swing for the flirty

You can pick up the basics of swing in pretty much the same amount of time as the waltz or the foxtrot, meaning that you’ll be comfortable on the dance floor in no time. For more ambitious couples, some of the moves from jitterbug, jive and boogie can take extra time, but will make for a fabulous spectacle.
It’s perfect for fast-paced songs and equally fidgety people, but tricky for those long wedding gowns, so it would be best to change into something more comfortable, such as a flowy dress with undershorts.

The Argentinian traditional for the fiery

A close, intimate embrace and plenty of decorative moves of tango are ideal for those who want to get lost in their wedding dance and completely forget they’re surrounded by people. From traditional accordion-laden songs, all the way to modern electro-tango, there is a whole slew of inspiring songs to consider.

Tango is for the bold and the passionate, and while the basics can be learned quickly, there are expressive moves where both the bride and the groom can turn their dance into one of seduction and beauty.  

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Wedding Wednesday: Booking the Wedding Venue: How to Choose and What to Consider

Today the beautiful Olivia is joining us for Wedding Wednesday, to give her top tips on picking your wedding venue.

Once you get engaged, things have a very interesting way of quickly going from “congratulations” to “okay, when and where?” – and when this happens, you want to have your answer ready. Gone are the days when the couple could just go on and say “Oh, we still haven’t decided on the venue and all” because everyone needs to know months in advance what date they are saving for your big day. Hey, it’s the same everywhere – Sydney (where we are), the US, Europe – the wedding madness keeps spreading and we have to admit we kind of love it, no matter how stressful it may get.  
To speed up your organisation process and help you choose the space for your big day, we’ve brainstormed a list of tips that will definitely help.

Rule #1: Start logically

When you get engaged, you can’t immediately know the exact number of people that will be attending the wedding but you can ballpark. Given that these days booking a venue sometimes needs to be done about 12 or so months in advance, you want to go with a venue that can offer the space you may potentially need and a venue that’s flexible to potential changes. For instance, if you give a number of a 100 guests and it turns out 120 is the final number, you want a venue that won’t have a problem making any last-minute changes of such sort. When talking to your venue manager, ask if the situation we’ve just mentioned would be manageable and then decide accordingly.

Rule #2: Explore the offers close to home

If you plan on throwing a wedding on a budget, you should consider abandoning the extravagant version you’ve probably been designing at the back of your head and get realistic. Holding the wedding ceremony close to home doesn’t have to mean it’ll be any less spectacular than it’d be if it were held anywhere else. Don’t trust me? I’ve been going through some affordable wedding venues in Sydney just to be sure and we’ve got to say – the range of offers is spectacular, even when you are on a budget! Also, a wedding close to home will have a sentimental value to it and your guests will have it easier, too! It’s understandable that you’ll have guests coming from all over but sending them on an eight-hour car ride (or longer!) just to get to the wedding isn’t really a selfless thing to do, is it? So, make yourself a cup of coffee, set a plate of what’s left from your cake-tasting venture and start browsing through venues in your neighbourhood!

Rule #3: Find out if the venue is full service or not

If you don’t ask, you won’t know! Asking is a crucial process of organising a successful wedding, especially with such important segments like service, foods and drinks!
Once you pick your desired venue, talk to the venue manager about the services offered for the price. Most venues offer both kitchen and drinks, along with catering (waiters/waitresses). Plus, these days, venues are open to modifying their menus to agree with the couple’s tastes, so make sure you ask about that, too. Don’t be surprised if you are offered a wedding cake with the service as well, or at least a bakery that can make your cake. We understand that it might be a bit unpleasant to strip someone for questions, but this is your big day and you’ve got every right to do so!  

Rule #4: Ask if the venue comes with decorations

Leave guessing for lotteries and ask your potential venue manager anything you need to know, particulars like decorations included. Some couples love their venues relieved of any decorations so that they could do it themselves; others prefer having the option of an already decorated venue. Whichever one suits you, talk to the manager about the offers they have and ways they change the price.

These days it’s way easier to organise everything as there are a number of fabulous venue options and wedding planners available to couples that are to be joined in marriage. Choose your venue wisely and enjoy everything about your big day!

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Chester: Brunch at Deva Tap

What is your favourite meal? I think I've said it before and I'll say it again, brunch has to be my favourite. An opportunity to have a nice slow start to the day but with the filling power to keep you going.

My favourite brunch? Anything with smoked salmon. I don't care how middle class that makes me sound, I loveeee Smoked Salmon. 

So when I saw that Deva Tap are now offering a race day brunch, I knew I had to get involved, horse racing or not! 
Race Day Brunch at Deva Tap

 We were one of the first people there and were greeted with some surprise (it might be because in my jeans and t-shirt I was evidently not going to the races).

I ordered the "Hot Smoked" - Open toasted pretzel topped with pan roasted smoked salmon. sun-blushed tomato relish, poached eggs, black pepper hollandaise and water cress. with an Apple Juice.

Race Day Brunch at Deva Tap

Race Day Brunch at Deva Tap

Andy went for the "full on" - Bacon, sausage and black pudding pattie, charred tomato, sauteed mushrooms, scramble egg, toasted pretzel, hash brown bites, HP - with an orange juice. 

The service was quick and friendly, as various points we had each member of staff ask us how our meals were.

Andy commented on how creamy the scrambled eggs were and how much he enjoyed the pattie.

Race Day Brunch at Deva Tap

Race Day Brunch at Deva Tap

I am now obsessed with the sun-blushed tomato relish, it was absolutely amazing! I was a bit confused as to why I couldn't see or taste any smoked salmon, I assumed it was because it was mixed in with the relish. Unfortunately, it turned out this essential brunch ingredient had been forgotten and I was presented with an individual bowl of smoked salmon towards the end of my meal, at which point I was too full to really enjoy it! But I can always forgive teething issues in the first day or so - and the rest of the meal more than made up for it! 

Overall, a really tasty way to start your Saturday - whether you're off to bet on horses or going for a nap (guess which I did?)

Race Day Brunch is served at Deva Tap, Brook Street on race days from 10 - 1pm. 

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

(In)fertility Book Club: Dare to Dream by Izzy Judd

I strongly believe there is a solace to be found in reading and comfort to be found in the words, expertise and stories of others. So as I wait for referrals, tests and whatever else may come, I'm picking up books that are specifically related to infertility, fertility treatments or encouraging hope and strength. 

Dare to Dream - Izzy Judd: Review

Starting with Izzy Judd's brand new book, Dare To Dream.

Technically, it's not due out until June 29th, so thank you to Waterstones for getting my copy to me so early. 

I'm not sure what originally alerted me to Izzy and Harry's story or their journey with infertility but I shared my previous blog post with her and received the sweetest words of encouragement in response.  

For those who don't know, Izzy is a violinist, Britain's Got Talent finalist and the wife of Harry Judd, from McFly. Dare to Dream is her story of the struggle to become a mum: documenting the ups and downs of infertility, anxiety and motherhood.

I read the whole book in less than 24 hours, I don't think there's ever been a non-fiction book that I've read that quickly. I was desperate to finish work yesterday so I could come home and read. 

Izzy describes her story as one of heartache and hope. Both of which really resonated with me throughout the book. I found myself recognising myself within the pages. It was refreshing to have someone voice part of an internal monologue. From the feelings of anxiety in early life even before conceiving came into the picture, to the trying not to obsesses when it's natural instinct to plan and prepare, to the feelings of failing and everything in between. 

But in voicing some of these feelings, Dare to Dream has drawn these to account. It's made me more aware, even within the last two days of trying not to think "well I might be pregnant by then". I've really tried not to put my life on hold on this journey, we've continued to book holidays, celebrations, events. But it's easy to think as soon as a date comes up "Will I be pregnant then?", "Can we still do that if we have a baby?". Instead, I'm challenging myself to live in the moment. Also, to take each stage of this journey one step at a time (i.e. appointment by appointment) instead of one long means to an end! 

More than just hope, I found Dare to Dream to be incredibly practical. Pinpointing and signposting specialists who Izzy spoke with as well as referencing some diet and lifestyle changes she made (please keep in mind she's not a specialist, but the advice lines up with a lot of what I've read around fertility and polycystic ovary syndrome diets). 

The inside covers contain words of affirmation and encouragement, such as "even miracles take a little time" and "amazing things will happen". I really wish these were made available as affirmation cards with the book, I'm tempted to create my own for moments of needed encouragement. 

I've finished Dare to Dream now, but I think I'll pick it up again and again. I know there will be some difficult and sometimes dark days ahead and I pray that in those times I'll be reminded that there is hope and it's ok to dream. One piece that really struck me was a quote from Harry that I shared with Andy earlier today "worst case scenario, it's you and me. That's still a pretty good scenario, right?". Isn't that a fantastic reminder to count your blessings and live in the moment? Sometimes you get so lost in the situation it's easy to forget how blessed you are.

I'm also planning on pre-ordering the audio book for myself and for Andy to listen to. If you're on this journey too, I urge you to pick up Dare to Dream and I pray you also find some hope and inspiration in the tough times. If you're not, but know someone who is, this is a really easy place to garner some better understanding, it might help in those moments when you just don't know what to say (it's ok to have those moments, by the way).

Thank you to Izzy and Harry for using their status to break a taboo and for being so open and honest about their journey. Here's to daring to dream! 

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Our (in)fertility Story

I've thought long and hard about writing this post and I know some people will see this as oversharing. Please know I don't write this for sympathy but I was reminded yesterday of the power of stories. Particularly the power of stories from the in the midst instead of from a place of resolution. 

Rising Strong - Brene Brown
Brene Brown

 Besides, this blog is meant to be my space on the internet and it would be wrong to ignore what is currently a huge part of our lives right now.So this is our story and I'm telling it. I also hope that in sharing this I help somebody. That by sharing, someone won't feel as alone as I have felt at times in this journey. Side note, I'm not going into certain details of my relationship with Andy or anything like that, I do think somethings just don't need to be shared! 

I have always wanted to be a mum, for as long as I can remember. When we got married we decided to enjoy the first year, just us and then try for a baby. But, obviously I was impatient so it was more like 9 months. Most of what I'd heard from people around me was that getting pregnant was easy, so I told myself the voice in the back of my head telling me something was going to go wrong, was just me being a worrier and assumed I'd be pregnant within a month or two (I now know on average it can take between 12-18 months regardless). While I tried to tell myself that I wouldn't be obsessive, this is me, so of course, I tracked things on an app and kept records and honestly, now I'm glad I did. 

In December I was late, that never happens. Several negative tests later I went to the doctors. Where the nurse proceeded to make me cry. She started with "Well, those tests are very accurate so you're obviously not pregnant" (a lovely way to talk to someone who has just said they want to have a baby) then gave a long lecture on being obsessive, worrying too much and how I should relax (one day I might compile a list of things not to say to someone who is trying to conceive, this would be the top!) Then ended with, "aren't you a bit too young to try for a baby?" I left in tears and vowed to change surgeries. 

Six months into trying and my cycles were everywhere. Which for me was the bigger than concern than not yet being pregnant. So having changed surgeries, we went back to the doctors. Andy accompanied me this time because I'm pretty passive and would have accepted a brush off. 

This time, they were fantastic. He suggested it was perfectly normal, that these things can take 12-18 months but they'd send me for initial blood tests to check there wasn't anything "glaring". Well, it turns out there was something.

Three days after my first blood test, the surgery rang to say they needed to discuss my results. Naturally, I freaked out and wasn't placated by being told that there was a 2-week wait for an appointment. There's an ongoing joke at work that I am useless at asserting myself, not this time. I rung the next day and got an on the day appointment. 

The GP we saw that day was absolutely amazing. The blood test had shown abnormally low hormone levels (and coincidentally, Vit D so he suggested I go somewhere sunny, I mean, ok.. can you give me a doctor's note for that??). The plan of action was to send me for another blood test at a later stage that month. But then he asked how long we'd been trying, around 8 months at this point. I held my breath for "well, you'll have to wait until the 12-month mark". But instead, he said, "life is too short. You have better things to do, have these tests and we'll refer you" I could have kissed him.

So last week my second blood tests came back. The same results, unfortunately, we saw a different GP. Who said, "you'll have to wait until 12-months". Again, I think I'm developing some sort of Mumma-bear instincts for my unborn babies because for once, I was assertive and insistent they refer us. 

The 12-month mark is the stage at which we are classed as infertile. Hence the brackets in my post title. 

So, now we wait, they may well push back and make us wait until September. They can also take up to 18-weeks to see us. For me, the patience and the waiting are the worst part. They are definitely not my strong point. Also, it's rare that I don't have a plan so I'm floundering at this point. 

So what do we do now? We wait, and we pray. I'm definitely learning how to pray for this and not run to other people to do all the supporting. While we wait I'm going to keep tracking so I feel like we've got all the facts when we see the specialist. Hilariously, my friend said on Friday if anyone was going to be the perfect patient for this kind of thing it would be me! I'm also looking into what changes I can make to my diet and potentially acupuncture.

How do I feel? Mostly sad, I'm grieving for the life I expected this time last year. I'm sad that my body isn't doing what I hoped it would do and as a result, I feel like I've let Andy down. I feel angry. But I'm also trying to feel hopeful and thankful for Andy, for the unwavering love and support of our family and friends, for proactive, kind doctors and the ability for us to get these test and get these answers.  

I'm sorry for this blabbering, essay of a post. If you've stayed with me this far, thank you for letting me tell our story. 

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Mayberry Jamberry Picks May 2017

Chloe from Mayberry Jamberry is back this week with her Jamberry picks for May.

Oh wow...where did April go?  Completely missed writing my blog post..  sorry guys and girls! 

But I'm here for May. So hiya! Anyone that missed March please feel free to read it here... 

My top pick for May actually isn't a wrap (shock horror) but one of Jamberry's super lovely trushine gels! 

Before we got trushine in the UK I had massive nail envy of anyone wearing this gorgeous, pink and sparkly gel...

Introducing.. Tutus and tiaras!

It's massively versatile

Here's my jamicure wearing it alongside going dotty wrap.

Mayberry Jambery

And my mum wore it with simply plaid... 

Mayberry Jambery

But you can also wear it on its own or use it to add a little sparkle as an accent nail over a more subtle gel such as we're blushing. 

Mayberry Jambery

Shop the full trushine range here. The full kit is an absolute bargain (the same price of 3.5 visits to the salon!) 

For more info on jamberry follow this link or find me on Facebook Mayberry Jamberry!
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