FERTILITY humility

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Last week, I posted in stories about being at the doctor— again. Although I received concerned questions, I was reticent to say why I was back at the doctor; I feel like a broken record. It’s more fertility stuff (if you’re new here and curious about our journey, search “FERTILITY” in the search bar at the top of the HOME page, or scroll down to the featured posts at bottom of this post). But after a few days, I figured, why not share our struggle via a blogpost?? If there are other people out there feeling the same way, I’d like them to know they’re not alone! I understand the frustration, disappointments, emotional roller coaster, desire and pressure it puts on your marriage.

I feel like this post is a bit redundant, so I apologize. Even if it doesn’t interest you, perhaps you find yourself talking to someone or a family member in the future that it would help. And if you have anything to add, I hope you will leave in comments?! I’ve already learned from you all!

There’s a term in the medical world called “secondary infertility.” Hayden was conceived easily, but the journey to have another child has not been straightforward. This is not for the weary. It’s humbling. But, when I get down emotionally, I take my time away from the world and pray about it. I end up nesting at home, disconnecting from things and even sometimes people. I’m learning this a personal journey with God, Joel and our family unlike any other we’ve ever attempted.

As I start to open up, I’m amazed by the people I know reaching out via email, calling, texting with their own experiences… and even more amazed with people I don’t know emailing through the blog, DMing on social platforms. This life issue is common. It’s a real desire. And as hard as it is to go through, the journey cultivates the virtue of humility.

NEW STEPS I WISH I HAD TAKEN TWO YEARS AGO…

The book I talked about in previous posts, IT STARTS WITH THE EGG, is worth the read if you’re looking to get pregnant. A reader on this blog recommended it to me. Then the doctor reiterated what supplements I need to be taking everyday and I had already read about them in the book, so I was prepared. 

Because many of you have asked for my list, below is my current regimen of supplements and vitamins that I started. From my understanding, these are common during TTC, but once you DO conceive, some should be stopped (DHEA, Co-Q10 especially), so here’s my disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I am just sharing my latest bit of knowledge, PLEASE consult your doctor before taking anything as each body chemistry is different. I’ve also recently been told (and read) that a low dose aspirin is helpful, but I have not taken that. I heard from multiple people that taking muscinex can help, but I have not done that, either.

DHEA 75mg/day

Alpha Lipoic Acid

Methyl-folate

Ubiquinol (Co-Q10)

Pre-Natal Vitamin

Vitamin D

Iron rich foods

low caffeine 

Plenty of water

Minimize processed and saturated fatty foods

low sugar

melatonin 


Find what and WHO might help YOU. My doctor recently was my cheerleader. My favorite part of the meeting was when she had to step out and “do something quickly.” She returned with a huge smile, laughing, saying, “That will be you soon; a patient a bit older than you that is well into her pregnancy dropping us a visit.” By the way, I hear there are great support groups on facebook. Anyone know of one in particular?  

xoxo

AAJ

Beautifully BLENDED

Since I met Joel and started sharing some of our family life with y’all, many of you have commented about being a part of blended families OR potentially being a part of one in the future. After being asked the same questions over and over, I thought it’d be easiest to answer in a blog post! I am not a professional by any means; I’m only commenting from personal experience. And maybe I learned a thing or two from Jerry McGuire. Ha! #sorrynotsorry Or from my big beautifully blended family on The Bold and the Beautiful (now that is BLENDED). Wink, wink. 

Disneyland Day

Disneyland Day

Before I dig in, the term “blended family” has never sat well with me. I have images of a blender slicing things. Can we come up with a better term? PLEASE?

The question I get asked the most: What would I tell someone who is interested in seriously dating an individual with children.

I wouldn’t tell them anything, but I would ask them a few questions. Blended families are beautiful blessings when you you are ready for that responsibility. Again, I’ve learned from trial and error. I’m just trying to be the best wife, mom and step-mom I can, but miss the mark sometimes.

1) Do you enjoy long talks about poop, math quizzes or soccer goals? 

In other words: are you ready to be a mature, parental figure that puts the kids first (because they did not ask for this)? You will not be newly weds in the traditional sense. You don’t get that alone time in the beginning like two single people getting married. You are an instafamily. And an instaparent of sorts. Ready for that? (I wrote about the instant changes that occur in my column for PEOPLE here.)

2) Are you ready to make comprises, keep your promises and plan ahead?

Kids take planning. There are no “ let’s jump on a plane to Mexico for the weekend” (unless it’s not their weekend with the kids, but single parents are tired! Their spontaneity may have wained considerably). Also, if you make a date with a single parent on their custodial time, KEEP IT. Don’t flake. They may have moved mountains to get a babysitter. 

3) How serious are you about this individual? 

If the relationship is ready for a serious commitment, it’s may be time to involve the children. Children need stability, though, so if you’re one foot in— do not meet the kids.

4) Do you understand the “package deal?”

The most important thing to remember is they are a package together. The chid/children were there before you and will always be the priority. It’s extremely important to make time for each other, but it’s harder. You have to be flexible.

The other thing to remember is that part of the package is the ex-spouse/partner. If they are still in the picture, they will be a part of your life, good or bad. I am learning for most blended families, it’s an adjustment that takes time. And if you think the ex-partner will not affect your life in some fashion, that’s not true (at least not in my experience or most people I know). So, try and keep that relationship with the ex as positive as possible with open communication. When both parties cannot agree about what is best for their child, the law and lawyers get involved. Lemme tell you, this is not fun, but it IS expensive and often unfair. (I could write another blog post about this).

5) Do you like to DANCE?

The exchanges going back and forth with the two families, figuring out schedules and holidays and vacations— it’s not always easy, patience, sacrifice and compromise go a long way. Consider if you are ready for that juggle.  If you notice, Huck isn’t always able to be with us. We share him. So, when we want to do family activities, I coordinate around many factors. To be honest, it’s a really pain in the bum sometimes. I just wrote out a series of examples, then deleted it because this isn’t about my laundry list, it’s about YOU. 

6) Do you like being second fiddle? 

I am a stepmom and a mom. I don’t like the there is a distinction, but I can appreciate it. The only part of our family that technically makes us “blended” is Huck. And Huck already has a mother. I will never take that place in his life, but I can be a “bonus mom,” another parental figure in his life. And occasionally, my husband’s focus is on handling situations with his first son and ex-wife.

7) Can you rule without an iron fist?

With my son and stepson at the happiest place on Earth. We coordinate family weekends based on our time with Huck.

With my son and stepson at the happiest place on Earth. We coordinate family weekends based on our time with Huck.

Someone once told me that rules without relationship cause rebellion. In my situation, I met Huck when he was 2. His father did the majority of disciplining. Over time, we developed our own relationship. One that is familial and maternal and rewarding. Now, we have rules and structure, but I had to earn that over time.

If you or someone you love is considering making life decisions that involve children, these are points to consider from my personal experience. (Not sure how this turned into a PSA! ha!) They are basic concepts, just a sounding board to get a conversation flowing. Because you’ll be doing a LOT OF COMMUNICATING. 

It’s almost impossible to comprehend all of this when you are dating, but if you’ve met someone and started falling for them (and the child), it can be your fairytale. You’ll have the opportunity to love and affect another little human positively. I promise the little munchkin (or big munchkin) will be a blessing in your life and just might make YOU a better person. But the greatest thing to remember is there is no “right way,” there is only the right way for you. Be smart, listen to your gut instincts, follow your heart and remember the power of FORGIVENESS.

I’ve appreciated reading your notes about being from blended families. What I treasure most are hearing your thoughts about being a stepmother yourselves, or remembering moments from your own step parents. I wanted to open that discussion up here, too. I LOVE LEARNING FROM YOU.. So, feel free to share your beautiful blended stories. 

xoxo

AAJ

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TAX DAY REFLECTIONS with a PRO

Hi everyone. Happy After Tax Day!! If you’re like us, you’ve taken a look at your deductions, credits, spending verses saving habits and promised yourself to make changes in 2019.  I recently blogged about financial matters.  I was surprised how many of you visited the blog post, asked questions here or via email and wanted to know more. This is NOT a sponsored post. But, after chatting with Morgan McGovern, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share our conversation. CFP® professionals are held to strict ethical standards and take a holistic approach to financial planning, so I felt comfortable taking her your questions and reporting her answers.
As parents, we have to think about summer camps or childcare, vacations, saving for college, retirement, life insurance... it’s a lot. Money is a terrible master but can be an excellent servant. If you’re interested in ways to make 2019 a financially better year for your family, keep reading. 

Just a shot that was taken when I was going through questions on turbo tax a bit ago. This exact top is (so comfy, boyfriend cut) on sale in plus sizes. I linked exact cut and other options below;)

Just a shot that was taken when I was going through questions on turbo tax a bit ago. This exact top is (so comfy, boyfriend cut) on sale in plus sizes. I linked exact cut and other options below;)

MONEY AND RELATIONSHIPS For many married couples, money is such a trigger in their relationship. “Money is tied to emotion,” McGovern said. She encouraged couples to take the time to figure out what their values are independently, as a couple and as a family. “Your spending and your saving habits should align with your core values. You ideally should spend not only your money, but also your time and energy, on the things most important to you and your family.” When you understand this logically, it’s easier to implement when things get emotional. 

There’s a plethora of reading material out there about relationships and money. Get ahead of the game. Know what works best for you and your partner before it becomes an issue. Are your values currently aligning as a individual, couple and family? I think this is a great exercise for all of us to sit down and write out our values once a year. Values are based on our core beliefs that determine our priorities.

RETIREMENT VS SAVING FOR HIGHER EDUCATION I got a considerable amount of DMs from people stating they’re more worried about saving for their children’s college fund than retirement. I imagine this is true for many Americans. I appreciated McGovern’s response: Education costs are increasing but retirement costs and healthcare costs are also increasing. The most important thing to remember is that loans can be taken out for children’s education, but you cannot take out loans for retirement. That really struck me. And inspired me to add more to retirement every year. It’s a discipline; saving is a way of life. 

TAKING FULL ADVANTAGE OF TAX CREDITS AVAILABLE The “child tax” credit has doubled for 2018 to $2,000 per qualifying child. There’s also a family tax credit, now known as ‘The Credit for Other Dependents’. McGovern explained that it’s important to be well informed of all the potential credits and deductions offered to us each year. Professionals learn your family dynamic and history, and can help you understand the best way to implement new policies, as opposed to someone plugging numbers into a program.  No matter how little or much you make, there are opportunities offered to each of us which we should take full advantage.

For us, we’re a blended family and child tax deductions currently do not apply for both boys. It’s imperative to know legally what your options are. (Plus, I work in Canada sometimes, from home a lot of the time, have a corporation, etc.) I feel more confident having another set of expert eyes look over our taxes and help plan.

BUT WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO CONSULT A PROFESSIONAL and start planning for retirement? What if I don’t have a lot of extra money right now? “The best time is now. It’s always better to do it sooner than later,” she said. “The more time you have to save anything, the better.” But it’s never too late, either. There are always OPTIONS. FIND out what ALL yours are! As far as being able to afford a professional, she explained there’s a number of different fee structures with a CFP® pro; there’s both comprehensive and modular planning options, and some advisors charge an hourly fee if that works best. Why not take a list of questions and sit down for an hour?

Specific Note for today: I’m heartbroken looking at the footage of Notre Dame today. My family and I had the privilege of getting to visit. I’ve luckily been able to go several times in my life. I look back and am grateful my mom and dad make it a financial priority to travel together. That didn’t happen without planning. Today is a sad reminder that there’s no time like the present to make a plan to make things happen. 

So, I hope this gets you thinking! If you want more info on a professional like Morgan, I urge you to check out letsmakeaplan.com. It’s an easy and very resourceful website. I like their blog. But, mainly I want us to continue this conversation often. Share your ideas and tips on planning for your future. A few of you had excellent advice in the comments of the last post. Do you make sure to put money in a pension or a 401K every year? Are you relying on property for your investments? How diversified are your investments? And (this has always been important to me) do you have a nest egg put aside for emergencies? Do your research and figure out what works best for YOU.

Lady In Waiting: the two week wait

If you’ve come here to this post and don’t know what I’m referring to, my guess is it won’t be that interesting of a read for you. If BBT reminds you of Big Bang Theory and not TTC, this post wasn’t written for you! (Unless you’re a man and your wife is going through this… might be beneficial? Just saying. lol)

I’m talking about the journey of trying to conceive. The time between ovulation and celebration. Or disappointment….sometimes devastation. 

It doesn’t start that way… the first, say, several months are so promising and exciting! You’ve made the decision to have a baby! The adrenaline from just that process can carry you for a few months. But some point, that adrenaline wains and you want to see results. Maybe you were just “trying to see what happens.” But now find yourself clocking your cycle in apps or consulting doctors, doing bloodwork, getting ultrasounds, acupuncture, taking herbs, taking medications, taking your BBT (basal body temperature)… etc.

This photo was 3 years ago at our little make shift photo shoot when I was pregnant with Hayden.

This photo was 3 years ago at our little make shift photo shoot when I was pregnant with Hayden.

For those of you that have never gone through this arduous process for one reason or another, it most likely seems foreign and possibly crazy. Perhaps you conceived your children easily, or adopted, or chose not to have children. Some of you tried for a long time to get their miracle baby, or came to terms with not having biological children.   

When I was 38, I got the feeling from doctors that I was going to have trouble conceiving. I thought it would take me a very long time. I was almost mentally prepared for the process to take  6-12 months. But, it happened quickly. We were blessed. 

This time around has been different. Yes, I know I’m older , so there’s that issue. I try not to put pressure on us or myself, but I know  it must be there. The pressure, I mean. I posted on instagram right at the new year talking about using an ovulation test. I started using those because the first several months of trying, nothing was happening for me.  After consulting with a doctor, I was told to track my cycle. I got hyped up and excited thinking it would work miracles within months, like it does for many couples.

This is when it starts to get difficult. I discussed the topic in this post here. I got some great advice in the comments last time I posted about this, so I wanted to continue being open about fertility. I found an acupuncturist. It’s not cheap and the herbs taste terrible and you’re suppose to de-stress, change your diet and have frequents sessions with the acupuncturist. It’s just one step that some women take during this process. I also am taking a break from hot yoga (that I LOVE) because you’re not suppose to do that right now. I should be going to regular yoga, but I don’t like it as much. I appreciate those of you that commented and shared your experiences. I instantly felt less alone and more supported. For those of you wondering, there’s a decently large group of us out there around their 40s wanting to conceive as naturally as possible, or any way possible. 

How many of you are in or have recently been in this two week waiting period time and time again? (I can’t help but laugh at this phrase. It gives “lady in waiting” a whole new meaning.) I want to run to the store and get pregnancy tests but my doctor says it’s too early and would only create more stress for me to think that way. I just need to be patient. UGHHHH. And my question is: do you feel supported? How are you getting through it? Do you go on forums or have people to talk to? Of course we have our DH (dear husbands in the TCC community) or partner that may or may not totally understanding. I’m also TRYING to remember that I need to be supportive of my husband during this time, too. So, I’m learning it’s unfair of me to expect him to understand this emotionally charged time. I try not to vent too much or stress out to him about this topic (hence my venting here— wondering if he gets this far in the post-lol). Of course, Joel and I are in this  together. It’s our family. Our triumphs. And our stress. That strengthens us. (eventually;) 

Anyone out there feel this way? Fertility in 40s.

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Anyone that frequents this blog knows we are trying to have another baby. Sometimes I say “discussing” it or “considering expanding the family” in posts and such. I think I do that to take the pressure off of us, make it seem like we are okay no matter what happens- baby or no baby. 

And, of course, we are. Hayden and Huck are amazing blessings straight from God. When I walked into Hayden’s room this morning (bright and early cause he needed to go potty) he said, “I’m so excited to see you, Mommy. I had a good sleep.” I mean, just so precious. And Huck never forgets to say, “I love you,” when he leaves to go to his Mom’s house. We have the family I prayed for long ago.

I haven’t talked about this openly much, if at all really. There’s still a strong feeling we are not done. We have been trying. There were a few months I felt for sure I was pregnant. It must have been psychosomatic feelings. Anyone that has gone through this process knows the disappointment every month when you see a negative on the pregnancy test, or your cycle comes. 

I know it can take time. It just happened quickly with Hayden. I also was pregnant with four of my closest friends. This time it feels different for us. I shouldn’t speak for Joel, but I feel more alone going through this process at my age now. 

However, from what I’m reading, I am not at all alone. According to a recent study, the only female age group that saw an increased birth rate was for women 40-44! The percentage of millennial women having children is at an all-time low! The surge is mostly women my age, so I’m wondering how many of you out there are in the same boat? There’s got to be some!

I don’t want to dwell too much on anything negative, but it is a very depleting, anxiety inducing, crazy making process at times. It’s hard not get down on ourselves. We’re suppose to relax and let stuff go, yet my instinct is to be proactive. 

So, I am trying to be as proactive as possible. Cutting way down on the following: caffeine, sugar, wine, processed food and Diet Dr. Pepper. I’m not being crazy about that list, but trying very hard. No hot yoga (ugh, I love it, but I can do every other kind of yoga). I started seeing an acupuncturist that gave me the most disgusting herbs I’ve ever tasted to drink everyday. (She suggested three times a day). I’ve only seen her a few times, so I’m thinking I should increase the frequency. Thoughts?

I never froze my eggs. I haven’t tried any fertility methods. I’m absolutely supportive of all of that, I just haven’t done it….yet.

I’m seeing my doctor (OBGYN) today. Gonna drive over the hill in the pouring rain later. 

I would much rather write all this as post-journal success story. I’ve been waiting for that. But, that’s not our journey right now. I believe it will be. We don’t seem to talk about this stuff much. I understand why, but I wish we did discuss it more. So that’s why I’m writing this stuff here. This is a personal blog about lifestyle, fun, food, family, style (sometimes!) and it makes sense to find out if there are more of you out there feeling the same way I do? What steps are you taking? My hope is to make us feel more connected and less alone. If you have success stories- please share! 

PLAN FOR THE FUTURE

I’m thrilled about our new sponsor: CFP Board. They’re shedding light on something I want all of us to think about and discuss – our finances. It’s not always comfortable, but it is extremely necessary.

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As you may already know from my other posts, Joel and I are thinking about expanding our family (eeep!); this has led to discussions about our finances.

Lately, I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night with my mind racing about these discussions. I know stress is not the best during this “process,” but it’s also hard to avoid.  Joel and I both have family in the financial world that have impressed upon us the importance of planning for the future. We were told it was time to get help and make a plan created by a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional.

First off, I’m learning that many people without the necessary qualifications call themselves financial planners, so just beware. It’s essential to get someone who has a CFP® certification upholding the ethical standards required of a CFP® professional. Just like you want a doctor that has the proper license, you want someone guiding your finances that has the proper qualifications.


Like my desire to KonMari style organize my house is strong, my desire to get organized financially is even stronger. Meeting with a CFP® professional near us (letsmakeaplan.org) can help Joel and I start working on all of those questions that keep popping up in the middle of the night. I mainly want to plan for education (from preschool to college) and know how much we should be putting away for retirement and life insurance. It must be our age, but retirement seems to come up in conversation a lot lately. It’s easy to get stuck in the day-to-day and be happy just making ends meet every year, but I know there is a way to WIN the rat race one day–and enjoy retirement–IF we stay on a targeted plan.  

AshandHuck.ashleyajones.com


Like most Americans, our financial needs range and change. The above thoughts are my urgent issues today, but I also have so many others. For instance, lots of little questions about our personal taxes for those of us with blended families. A CFP® professional will work with us today and grow with us as our needs change, especially if (and when!) another little one joins the family. How can we make our money work for us, not the other way around!??  My father gave me the best reason to work with a CFP® professional: worry less. He said money is a terrible master, but a wonderful servant.

Do you feel like your money is working for you? I hope so! But could it be working harder? I’m excited to let the professionals do what they do best, so I can be the best for those I love and be the best at what I love.

It’s so easy to just meet with a CFP® professional. Go to letsmakeaplan.org and find one in your area. The best part of CFP® professionals is that they work with you to build a plan to take care of a myriad of needs–both big and small. If you are starting your own family, there is NO better time than now to start planning ahead and securing your future. If you’re even younger, let me tell you: when I bought my first house in my 20s, I thought that was enough to secure my financial future, but in hindsight, I could have done so much more had I retained a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional. See what they have to say!

If you’re interested, I hope to share our journey with you all–and show you how much financial planning can serve you in your lives. It can be a lifelong relationship, my CFP® pro and me!

As always, any comments below are welcomed! Have you ever worked with a financial planner?

xox

AJH

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