I've had my own person closet of secrets and shame for the better part of 5 years now, and I'm tired. I'm tired of worrying about what other's will think, tired of trying to act like everything is fine, and tired of all the self hate that has come from keeping quiet. So here it is, here's my story....
When I was attending beauty school in 2009 I was loving life, until I inexplicable got sick May of 2010. Without any warning I started getting extreme stomach pains, was unable to keep food down, and was nauseated every morning. It was so bad that while I was with clients I would have to run to the bathroom, or call in to school in the morning. My illness was taking over my life. I had been seeing my family doctor trying to figure out what was wrong and all he could come up with was running blood tests. So blood test after blood test came back negative and I was left without answers. The day I collapsed from pain while mixing color was the day, and started crying while eating lunch because I knew the pain that would follow, I took matters into my own hands. I started keeping a food journal, and after a few weeks I discovered I was lactose intolerant. Dairy! Dairy of all things threw my life into havoc! After 3 months of being sick and losing close to 30 pounds, I now had an answer and also found myself in a state of depression.
I don't care what anyone says, depression is not like the commercials with the egg looking thing moping around. At least not for me. I acted out and self medicated. I wanted so desperately to seem "normal", even though I had no motivation to do anything except lie in bed all day long, but my behavior was nothing short of a cry for help. I hated my body, I hated how I felt, and I hated people (even though I forced myself to socialize). Every morning I would stare in the mirror and hold in the tears as I stared at bones, and every day I would eat as much crap as I could to try and gain weight. How stupid was I? My mother, smart as she is, caught on and got me medicated. Eventually the depression subsided and I returned to my expected behavior. Anti-depressants were a band-aid.
Fast forward 2 years. I'd been dating my now husband for 1 1/2 years and we just got engaged! I was head over heels in love and like could not be better, except that nothing had changed. I was still eating terribly to try and gain weight. With the wedding approaching, my days were filled with stress and dessert tasting and before I knew it I had gained back the 30 pounds and then some. My wedding came and went while I was at the highest my weight has ever been. It was at this point my depression reared its ugly freaking head. My dear, sweet husband just didn't get it. He has never lived with someone who suffered from depression and didn't understand why I couldn't just shake it. I hate, hate, hate being on medication and so to keep my mind off of the doom and gloom I was imagining, I drowned myself in work. Then in May 2013, while Justin was gone to Germany for two weeks, I ended up in the hospital.
The day before, I had been at work and kept feeling a pain on my right side every time I took a step. My mom advised that I just go home, take a hot bath, and that maybe it's just a tight muscle. So that's what I did. I took a hot bath and slept with a heating pad on. The next morning I felt great! I got up, took a hot shower, and took one step out of the shower when agonizing pain hit! I was doubled over and in tears! A girl from church hurried over and drove me to the hospital. This sweet thing sat there with me for hours, bra-less and morning breath, while I had blood tests and ultra sounds. At 2:00pm it was confirmed that I had an Ovarian Cyst the size of an orange rupture. No damage had been done to my lady business, but I had to return for further testing. Over the next few months, my cycles were extremely irregular and I had been diagnosed with PCOS, Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. Every woman produces cysts on their ovaries, but mine are over productive and don't always do what they are supposed to. If I don't get checked regularly, my cysts can essentially suffocate my ovaries and make it nearly next to impossible to become pregnant.
With much prayer and many long talks, Justin and I decided that in the fall we would stop preventing the growth of our family. The idea of pregnant was a real kick in my pants. I weighed too much and ate crap all the time; there was no way I was ready to grow a human being. I began going to the gym every once and a while. Our diet became slightly better, but my love for brownies won every time. In 6 months I had lost maybe 5 pounds, but my "hard" work was not giving me the results I wanted.
For New Years Eve in 2013 a group of our closest friends were going to a cabin to celebrate the new year! We had all the cars packed, and meals planned, and while our car full was waiting for the rest of the group my friend Sam opened a bag of chips. Not a big deal normally, but today this bad of Sour Cream and Cheddar Ruffles made me want to barf. From the minute he opened the bag I was dry heaving. He had to get that crap out of the car now! Being the awesome guy Sam is, he put the bag on the roof and ate his chips one at a time! When the rest of our friends showed up we drove out to the cabin in Bear Lake. If you haven't been, Bear Lake is absolutely beautiful in all year round. To make the story short, everything containing cheese made me sick that weekend: fruit dip, Nacho Cheese Doritos, and cheddar cheese on our sandwiches. Two days later I found out I was pregnant.
The weird thing was, I had been bleeding for 5 weeks! Sorry if that's TMI, but I told you I was coming out! I had called my OBGYN and she said that if it lasted past New Years to come in, but she was attributing it to my irregular cycles since my cyst ruptured. Two days after New Years I was 7 weeks pregnant. Justin and I were so excited that I could even get pregnant! We told our families 2 weeks later when he happened to be in Washington for his Air Force Drill Weekend. Our parents were thrilled and couldn't wait to see the ultrasound pictures that we would get a few weeks later on February 4th.
You can guess, because I'm not 9 months pregnant, that it didn't go too well. When Justin and I sat down in the ultrasound room he was making jokes about twins, or being able to tell that it was a boy already. The doctor started the ultrasound, but there was no heartbeat. There was no baby, but there was a mass. Near my left ovary there was a suspicious looking mass. She performed another ultrasound on a different machine, and still couldn't tell exactly what that mass was. Dr. Smith ordered a blood test, and it confirmed I was indeed pregnant, but there was no baby. I was presented with 2 options. Either A: I wasn't really 12 weeks along and the baby hadn't descended into my uterus yet, or B: my pregnancy was Ectopic. Dr. Smith sent me home to return in 2 days for another ultrasound, but I was told that if I had any pain I needed to go straight to the ER.
The next night we went to the Village Inn for dinner with friends and I knew. I was having cramps, and I knew my pregnancy was ectopic. The earlier mentioned Sam, and Justin gave me a blessing and then we went straight to the ER. At that point after an ultrasound and blood test, it was confirmed that my pregnancy was ectopic. For those that don't know what this is, my impregnated egg had implanted itself on my Fallopian Tube instead of traveling down to my uterus. If this isn't caught in time the baby can continue to develop and eventually rupture the Fallopian Tube. This can result in death of the mother or loss of the tube making getting pregnant extremely difficult. Every 1 in 3 deaths that occur during pregnancy are because of ectopic pregnancies. I was scared out of my mind and sad beyond belief. My little nugget wasn't a little nugget. That night I was given a shot called Methotrexate, a chemotherapy drug meant to separate the mass from my Fallopian Tube and allow my body to reabsorb the mass. I spent the night in the hospital having my blood drawn every two hours and crying myself to sleep. My husband was my rock and stayed by myside the entire time.I cry even now thinking about the experience. I do not with this on anyone.
For the next 4 months I had my blood drawn every Monday to test my HCG levels. I couldn't eat Spinach or anything with Folic Acid so that I didn't encourage growth. Until the last week of May, I could have tested positive with a pregnancy test. Anytime someone told me they were pregnant I wanted to scream, and yet my facebook was flooded with pregnancy announcements. I wasn't mad at any one person, but I was mad at myself. Why couldn't I do the one thing a woman was meant to do, carry a baby. Illogical and irrational thoughts flooded my mind, and back into a depression I sank. In the middle of all of this, my friend Tilly started a challenge group for the 21 day fix, a beachbody program. Everyone has heard of Insanity, but I had never heard of the 21 day fix. The program focused on eating a balanced diet, portion control, and exercise. I fell in love with the program, Shakeology, and I began spending all my spare time at the gym. Any time I wasn't around people who knew what happened was time I didn't have to spend feeling sorry for myself. The gym became my safe haven, and slowly I saw my depression sink back into its' closet. I had finally learned that working out keeps my depression at bay! I didn't need medication, I just needed to eat right and exercise! Since this realization, I have focused on my health. Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. It is time to start loving my body and loving myself. I am a woman, so what if I have a hard time with pregnancy?! I can be an example to many other women and children without having birthed them. I gained weight, so what?! I can work my butt of and earn the body I want, I have now lost 19 pounds.
Depression and infertility are serious. I feel for every person who suffers from these. Know that you are not alone, and you do not need to stay silent! There is no reason to feel shame or embarrassment. We are human and imperfect. Through these imperfections and trials we become stronger, we learn, and we can choose to overcome.
I do not say all of these things to have my life public, but I am trying this new thing. I am breaking my silence with the hope that maybe, just maybe, my hardships can help someone. Maybe someone can learn from my mistakes. Maybe someone won't dread Mother's Day. Maybe someone will stop avoiding cameras.
For those that know me well, I have always been a creative person. My parents enrolled me in art classes as a child. I enjoyed pottery and choir in High School. My attempt at attending a University was derailed by Cosmetology school. You get the drift. For the last year I have been managing a Salon & Spa that I love dearly and learned more about the industry that I could have in any other setting. But life was lacking. I kept grasping at anything creative only to find clouds in my hands. I just couldn't hold on to anything that was fulfilling. I wanted so desperately to be behind the chair, to see my clients face after a style change, to feel like I was helping.
This weekend I took a trip to see an old friend and we began talking about bath products. Since moving to Utah I just haven't found anything that leaves my skin feeling the way something as simple as Washington air could. Then it hit me. I have the knowledge, or access to knowledge. I have access to resources. Why am I paying for things I don't love? Products that have me lathering up daily only to be left wanting? I can do that.
So the research stage started today. I found myself engrossed in books and websites for hours reading about fixes oils, essential oils, butter bases, and the exfoliation differences of salt and sugar etc. HEAVEN. I finally don't feel stagnant! Isn't life all about learning and growing?! Finally I can get a taste of fulfillment! The hope is that I will be able to create my own exfoliating scrub and body butter. One that is tailored to MY skin type in this dry desert air. Lip balm, Face masks.. the sky is limitless! I might even be able to help others!
Stay tuned.... I'm excited!
Every year that I have lived in Utah I have made it a tradition to drive to Salt Lake and see the Temple Lights. There is something about Christmas Lights that brings out the kid in us all. I find myself pointing in excitement "Look at those!" This is one of those rare times when I actually consider myself lucky to live in Utah. Nothing compares to Temple Lights.