News about what’s next

I realized that over the last year, while I haven’t had much time – or even infertility-related news, considering – to keep up on the blog, that my most popular posts aren’t even the ones having to do with medical conditions. I guess with unicornuate uteruses being rare to begin with there just isn’t a huge demand for information for it. No, instead some of my popular blogs have been product reviews and, strangely enough, about Obamacare. It seems weird to me that of all places on the internet, this website is a popular hit among people wanting to find out whether or not Obamacare covers infertility treatmets. And my initial posting on that was rather vague, given that Obamacare hadn’t been rolled out yet. But now we’re almost approaching one year of Obamacare being available, so it’s time to update the post.

I plan on continuing to provide product reviews and updates. I still have a few more posts to go about my experiences with my now five-month-old, and my new life as a stay-at-home-mom (temporarily!). But my next big focus is going to be delving into more details about Obamacare. I personally don’t know a lot about it, only what I’ve heard about in the news or what friends and family have told me about their experiences with it. And in order for me to really be able to answer the question, “Does Obamacare cover infertility treatments?” I’m going to have to do a lot more learning about it. I am not going to be the expert. But I feel I owe you, the reader – and perhaps you, the person who used Google to find me, you who are new to the land of the infertilite – a little more in the way of navigating the answer. It’s going to take me a while, but I hope to have something substantial by the time I’m through. In the meantime, expect some more reviews and updates from me. Thanks for reading and happy fall!

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No to Yes to Carrots Soothing Moisturizer

When I ran out of my last facial moisturizer, I decided to give a drugstore natural product a try.  Having sensitive skin with occasional redness, I looked for something that would help keep my skin calm and protected.  I read the labels for lots of different moisturizers and decided to try the Yes to Carrots Soothing Daily Calming Moisturizer.  It says its formulated for sensitive skin and, as it has natural ingredients, what could possibly cause a reaction?  Cucumbers, aloe vera, and almond oil… sounds good to me.

Except it wasn’t.  The first day I used it, I noticed an immediate burning sensation especially in the drier parts of my face on my cheeks and around my nose.  I brushed it off and thought that maybe I should let my skin get used to it, and vowed to try to use it for a few weeks before I criticized.  But day after day, the burning continued, followed by unusual red blotches all over my face that would eventually fade.  The blotches were in random places too, and not always in the same locations, and not always every day.  At the end of the night, after I would wash my face with my usual natural cleanser and makeup remover, my skin was tight and dry.  All of this was the opposite of “soothing,” “calming,” and “gentle.”

It’s been about a month and the symptoms have not gone away.  While they do fade within 10 minutes in the morning, my makeup has been caking in my drier parts of my skin and doesn’t blend as nicely.  It’s the end of the line for me and I’m finally giving up on it.

Yes to Carrots Soothing Daily Calming Moisturizer: retails for $14.99; EWG Skin Deep rating not available, but the regular daily moisturizer is rated a 5 (medium risk).

While it’s nice to have easy access to an over the counter moisturizer that’s natural, I’ve decided to return to the last moisturizer I used – The Body Shop’s Aloe Soothing Day Cream… arriving at my doorstep any day now.

A Girlfriend’s Guide to Simplify Infertility – Exclusive Look at Content Cont.

Rounding out the books included in this ginormous collection:

  • collection-image-525-x-644Infertility Road to Hell and Back – Azelene Williams (18.95)

Infertility Road to Hell and Back is a memoir of Azelene’s Williams’ struggle with infertility. What about when that longed for baby never happens? When you realize that something is wrong and turn to professionals for help. Tests are done; treatments tried without success. Instantly connect with Azelene in her heartfelt infertility story.

  • Annual Premium Membership to My Hopeful Journey’s fertility organizer & Quick Start Guide ($60)

One year premium membership includes our comprehensive web and mobile fertility tracker. Organize your medications, appointments, test results, procedures and natural tracking in one place. Create custom reports from full web version, write in a journal, task list and much more.

What are you waiting for?  Support Hope (I’m an affiliate) and buy now:

BUY-NOW-ARROW-e1378043014997

Natural Beauty Review: Nad’s Eyebrow Shaper

I like to try new beauty products whenever I’ve finished my current stock, and I’ve been trying to upgrade my products to be a little more earth or body friendly as I go.  Well, one luxury that I’ve let go since I’ve had a baby is getting my eyebrows waxed.  Even if DH takes my son for the afternoon or evening, it’s never easy to find a reliable salon where I can get my eyebrows waxed quickly, without waiting, and have them done right, and not pay an outrageous amount of money.  Because, really, even after paying $15 my eyebrows are going to need waxing in a few weeks again anyway.  So I’ve been doing them at home.

I’ve used a Sally Hansen at-home eyebrow waxing kit that came with a little tub of microwavable wax and a little plastic stirrer that has heat-sensitive ink that says “ready” when the wax isn’t too hot.  I’ve had it for years but I have to say after even three at-home waxes the jar of wax got goopy and solid.  It got to the point where I would have to microwave it for way longer than the recommended 90 seconds, then hit it with a hammer to break through the exterior and reach the melty inner sanctum.  Even when that happened, I had a small window of opportunity to scrape out the soft wax, get it on my eyebrows, and peel off the wax while it was still pliable, all while trying not to get the little wax strings in my eye or on hairs I would need.  (And there were several times I had bald spots in my eyebrows from goops going awry.)

Enter Nad’s.  It has been a long time since the infomercials of yesteryear telling the story of a mom who made a natural hair removal wax for her daughter in her kitchen.  In search of a new at-home eyebrow waxing product, the following box caught my eye (and so did its price tag):

For $7 at Walmart, I picked it up and gave it a shot.  So far, two at-home waxes in, I’m very pleased with the results.

Pros: No heating, no stirring, no waiting.  The applicator makes it easy to keep the wax contained.  Instant on.  Natural ingredients.  It is very easy to remove the hair with the included cotton strips (which are completely washable and reusable).  No heating means your skin is much less irritated, which also makes it easier to use more often for touch-ups.  Excess wax washes off quickly and easily with warm water.  No more pulling out hairs trying to get rid of excess wax!

Cons: Sometimes it’s awkward getting the right angle on the applicator to cover exactly the area you want.  You may have to practice a little bit to be able to get the look you want the first time.  The box recommends you clean the area to be waxed with the enclosed cleansing sheet but I get good results with my own facial wash (Neutrogena’s Naturals Facial Cleansing and Makeup Remover) and a clean towel.  I tried the wax on my chin and it worked well for the finer hairs but not for thick, stubbly ones.

Overall: 5 out of 5 stars.  It’s effective, efficient, natural, and pleasing to use.  And at $7 a box, this is a bargain.

Walmart in-store was $7; Drugstore.com has it today for $5.59 (buy it now)

You need to read this magazine

My local library branch is small.  The building it’s in is basically a small modular ranch home; when you enter there is a small bedroom-sized space with all the book stacks, fiction and non-fiction.  The main part of the building is open, with four cushy chairs for seating in a circle, four computers for public use, magazine racks, and the circulation desk.  To the far left, with the highest ceiling and widest space, is the children’s section of the library, with a small desk with crayons on one side and a wooden alligator filled with board-books on the other.  What the library doesn’t have in books it makes up for in two important ways: one, the ability to have books from any other regional library delivered to this library when available; two, a great magazine selection.

Consumer Reports, Real Simple, Martha Stewart Living… ah yes, this is what dreams are made of.   Issues available for the loaning for two weeks, all free and within five miles of my home.  It was on one of these days thumbing through Consumer Reports for phone reviews a few years ago when I noticed the magazine placed next to it.  Brain, Child was the name.  The tagline: The magazine for thinking mothers.  I gave a half-smile, thinking, “Oh good, there will be a magazine to keep my brain from turning to mush when I have kids.”  I was still blissfully ignorant of how difficult of a time I would have becoming a mother at the time, and I tucked away the knowledge of a magazine I had never heard of before into that place where I save trivia for a rainy day.

Last summer, several months pregnant, I happily checked out my first issue of Brain, Child for a 12-hour car ride.  And within minutes of opening the pages, I was crushed: this issue was going to be the last.  I thought It figures, the minute I get close to becoming a mother one thing I looked forward to is taken away.  I read the magazine sad with my knowledge.  I guess there isn’t a market for thinking mothers.

Fast-forward to a few weeks ago.  Now that my son is no longer a ball of instinctual and evolutionary responses and is gasp! learning things daily, I am making more of an effort to give him purposeful activities.  This would include Saturday morning story hour at the library.  While waiting for other children to arrive, we wandered over to look at the magazines and lo and behold, Brain, Child was there on the shelf.  I thought they must have been saving the old issues for posterity.  But no, the date said “Summer 2013.”  Wait a minute, I thought.  Was this an episode of baby brain where I had completely missed the message?  I grabbed the oldest magazine there – Winter 2013 – and brought it home.

Turns out the magazine did end, but not long after someone had come along to purchase the magazine and keep it up and going.  The new owner/editor, Marcelle Soviero, was a reader who, like me, couldn’t let the deliciousness of the magazine slip away – and I am so grateful she took the leap to keep it alive.

You need to read this magazine, especially if you are an infertilite, but it’s not going to be easy for you.  Every poem, article, essay, and letter is written by a mother.  But every poem, article, essay, and letter is moving and impactful and considers different perspectives on what it means to be a mother, and what it means to have a family.  The Winter 2013 issue alone hears the voices of women who’ve had miscarriages, who are searching for egg donors, who are foster-cum-adoptive parents, who are infertile.  And I have cried at their stories, able to know exactly what they mean and so grateful they were brutally honest about their thoughts, emotions, experiences.  Brutally honest.  But underneath it all, every story is written by a “mother” in however way that means for her.  Unlike other pregnancy or parenting magazines which focus on what chic stroller you should buy or the latest in teething biscuits, this magazine gets to the root of discovering what it means to be a mother.  The decisions you make on behalf of your children and how you think through those; the emotions of reproductive endocrinologist waiting rooms and their travertine floors; understanding teenage neuroscience…  It’s all peacefully co-existing in the pages of one relatively-ad-free (there are a few) judgement-free magazine.

You won’t find this magazine easy to find.  There are no beautiful cover models.  The cover story of this issue is “Playing God? Do kids really need religion?” and beneath that, “Babies and BMI: How big is too big?”  Those headlines fall below the main water color painting on the issue of two red-brown owls with large magnetic black eyes.  But if you let yourself listen to these women and take the time to hear their stories, you’ll find that not only are you not alone but that there is hope for you too.

Go, now.  http://www.brainchildmag.com or @brainchildmag.

Natural Beauty Review – Josie Maran Argan Matchmaker Foundation vs. Almay Smart Shade Foundation

I can be a late-night tv infomercial sucker.  Friday Night Beauty on QVC always introduces me to new products I didn’t know I’d want or need – and let’s face it, there’s nothing else on tv on Friday nights anyway.  One Friday night I was drawn into the Josie Maran products, particularly watching a white product miraculously transform to perfect skin-tone matching shades, and for that foundation to also have lots of great properties for your skin while being natural, I was intrigued.  Intrigued enough to march straight to Sephora and get myself a sample to try for a few days.

Until that point I had been very happy with the medium and long-lasting coverage I got from my Estee Lauder Double Wear, but I wasn’t so thrilled with it being not-so-natural.  For one week I wore the Josie Maran Argan Oil Matchmaker Foundation on one side of my face and my regular Estee Lauder on the other.  At the end of the day, I couldn’t tell which makeup was on which side of my face.  And the Josie Maran side looked a little less shiny than the Estee Lauder side, which you wouldn’t expect from a foundation with “oil” in it’s name.

So for a few months I went along with the Josie Maran makeup.  What I really liked about having a “matchmaker” foundation was that it was a lifesaver during the early months of new motherhood, when I had a few precious moments to make myself look presentable (or at least look like myself) and not a lot of time to worry about blending in a lot of products.  But once I went back to work it was clear I was going to have to get a product with a little more durability and coverage. 

Josie Maran Argan Matchmaker Foundation Pros: Feels great on your face, like you’re not even wearing makeup.  A little goes a long way.  Makeup you don’t feel guilty about wearing. 
Cons: It does not have lasting power.  Often I’d wipe off the makeup around my nose within an hour if I had to blow my nose – which is the reddest part of my face and needs the most coverage.  No SPF.  The color tinting was a little bit more yellow/brown than my skin tone and often needed more blending around my neckline to look flawless.  You may have to get creative about using up what’s left in the jar because it’s a pump.  And I didn’t see any benefits from the foundation like anti-aging or flawless face perfecting.  But I also didn’t apply it with the foundation brush they recommend.

Hmm, bummer.  The late-night miracle product wasn’t perfect.  What to do?  Enter challenger Almay Smart Shade Foundation.  I had actually always wanted to try this foundation but I never thought the “smart sensing” technology would actually be able to get my skin tone right.  It seemed too good to be true.  But once my sister gave me her unused bottle, I had no excuse not to try it. 

At first I didn’t like it as much as the Josie Maran foundation because it was heavier, but that was due to its having SPF in it.  Once blended, it didn’t feel much heavier than other foundations and it didn’t leave my skin slick.  The shade was a little bit lighter and less yellow, which made it a more natural fit for my skin tone.  A little goes a long way as well, except the Almay doesn’t wipe off easily. 

Almay Smart Shade Foundation Pros: SPF 15 and more of a match for my fair skin (with redness but yellow undertones).  A slight more coverage than the Josie Maran foundation, but not as much as with a full-fledged department store foundation (such as my Estee Lauder Double Wear).  Drugstore prices and easily accessible.  No fragrances and formulated for sensitive skin.
Cons: Not as natural of a product but does limit toxins and other additives that are considered harmful.  I’m not sure how the heavier (initial) feeling of the foundation will react with hotter summer temperatures. 

My decision: Well, I’ll be using my Josie Maran until it’s empty but only on days when I don’t care what my makeup looks like (aka, when I’m not going to work).  Every other day I’ll be using the Almay.  I’ll probably buy the Almay again and use it again, though I still wish I could find something more natural but with the SPF and matchmaking/time-saving/no-mirror-required-to-apply benefits. 

My next beauty review in a few weeks – The Body Shop’s Aloe Soothing Day Cream vs Clinique’s (aka better beauty through chemistry) Redness Solutions Day Creme.

Infertility in the style of Downton Abbey

DH and I just finished watching season three of Downton Abbey. It was a season watched hurriedly over many meals together, squeezing in 20 minutes when we could find them when the little one was quiet and satisfied. This season is its most unbelievably soap opera-ish season yet, which, at the end of the season, left me less interested in the show and terribly upset. Yet this season sought to humanize one of the main characters, Mary, and make her into a nicer, more supportive person, though in my opinion she gets very two-dimensional character development toward that end. 

If you are a Downton Abbey fan and have not watched all of season three, do not keep reading!  ********SPOILER ALERT*********

Mary and Matthew Crawley are the heirs apparent to the Downton Abbey estate.  Now happily married, Matthew starts talking about filling the house with their children.  This talk is especially escalated knowing that Mary’s sister Cybil is pregnant and due any moment.  But whenever Matthew brings it up, Mary gets a little sullen – her eyes dart to the side and you sense her hesitation in sharing Matthew’s optimism for filling the house with kids.  We as the audience begin to wonder immediately if Mary knows something we don’t… is she pregnant?  Is she unable to get pregnant?  Is she not thrilled about having kids?  We don’t know.  But Matthew is nothing but googly-eyed over it.

A few more months go by and Matthew begins to wonder if the problem is with him due to his war injury.  He keeps talking to Mary about it, wondering out loud if he’s to blame for her not being pregnant, but she remains kind of silent on the issue.  Matthew goes to a doctor and is assured he’s not the problem.  He is quite relieved and returns home to Mary.  Mary, in the meantime, is reassured by her mother that with a certain doctor she would be in good hands.  We as the audience assume this means she’s either pregnant or looking into the issue herself.

Finally we learn that Mary had some anatomical problem that required a minor surgery that was hindering her ability to get pregnant.  She relates to Matthew that now there shouldn’t be a problem.  And lo and behold one year later, she’s well on her way to mommy-hood.

At first I thought Downton had missed an opportunity to talk about infertility.  After all, Mary and Matthew were married long enough without children that everyone began wondering when they were going to have kids (presumably one to two years).  That would fit the definition of being infertile.  But then I reflected on the values of the 1910s and 1920s in the UK.  Women don’t have the right to vote, they can’t inherit property (otherwise Mary wouldn’t have had to marry, which was the whole premise of Season 1), and gentrified women don’t hold jobs outside of charity work.  It would make sense that Matthew felt absolutely comfortable being open and honest about his own fears of being infertile.  Meanwhile, Mary knows she’s got a problem – a problem that is never defined – but can’t even share it with her husband.  It is a silent, unnamed shame that she has to bear until she is able to go alone to a doctor for assistance.  As a woman once in her shoes, I couldn’t help but feel oppressed for her. 

I don’t know if the show meant to show that dichotomy and contrast Matthew and Mary’s societal cues about having children.  If they did, kudos to them for being honest about it – but I wish they still didn’t keep it a silent, undefined issue.  After all, Mary’s hesitancy seemed to be written in more for dramatic effect and as a plot device rather than an actual thoughtful presentation of infertility.  Which was kind of my problem with the season finale, actually – but we won’t get into that.  It was just too upsetting.

What did you think?  Did Mary and Matthew’s fertility arc this season make you feel validated or distanced?  Did you see Mary’s “minor surgery” as a convenient afterthought or an honest portrayal?