January 18, 2017

How Does Infertility Affect Marriage? A Research Project

Infertility takes a huge toll on a person. I've talked about my own infertility and what I've had to go through to get here. I've asked Hubs to write a little something about my infertility from the perspective of a husband:

Hello all, you all know me as the husband of Knock on Wood. Not too long ago my wife shared our story about the battle with infertility. I'm going to add my perspective on our troubles, and the toll it took on us and our marriage. First of all it was rough seeing all the negative tests. The depressed look on my wife's face cycle after cycle, and there was nothing I could say or do that would help. It made me feel helpless and useless. Our love life became monotonous because sometimes it was scheduled, and to be honest, there were times I didn't enjoy it at all. It was a very stressful time for us and I tried to just go with the flow. She just needed to feel sad, or be mad sometimes, so I let her. I listened and just tried to be there as much as she wanted me to.
Now that my wife is pregnant (YAY!!!!!!) Our relationship has been better, she's been more upbeat, and positive (even thought she's sick right now as I'm writing this). I have been learning how to feed a baby and change diapers with my new nephew around (I've never been around babies). I want to end on this note: despite this hard chapter we've gone through, I love my wife with all my heart, and I think we're going to be great parents.

And all of this leads to the question: How does infertility affect marriage/relationships?

Well, I'm taking a research class this session and I've decided to conduct my own little study. I know some of you, dear readers, have fought or are currently fighting your own war on infertility, so I am asking you to help me out. I've created a survey that is completely anonymous that will hopefully give me a better sense of a possible answer to this question. If you would complete the survey for me, I would greatly appreciate it. If you haven't experienced infertility, but know someone who has, feel free to pass it along those you know who would be interested in participating.

Have you ever participated in an study like this before? 

January 16, 2017

8 Things I Keep On Hand For Blog Photos

Blog Photos. You can buy them, get them from free sites, or take them yourselves (don't steal photos! That is rude). Over the past couple years I have been teaching myself new ways to take, edit, and stage photos for my blog and Instagram all with my iPhone. There are tons of tutorials for smartphone photography out there and you can get inspiration for staging from other peoples photos (especially on Instagram). I've been asked a few times what I keep on hand for my photos, so today I'm going to share my must haves with you!

1. White Foam Board
This is essential for flat lays if you don't already have a desirable surface that can be moved into the natural light. I get mine from the Dollar Tree, so when they start looking shabby, or the cats decide to claw it up, it's easily replaceable.

2. Trifold White Poster Board
Also from the Dollar Tree. These are good for using as a light reflector as well as a backdrop for smaller item photos.

3. Cute Office Supplies
Paperclips, pencils, pens, notepads, etc. I have a couple of different color sets that I got from the Target dollar section. They always have new stuff for each season. Dollar Tree also has some basics too, although they don't always the cute matching colors.

4. Calendar
For 2016 I got a clipboard calendar from Target. And this year I have a spiral one from the Dollar Tree. I use these (usually with seasonal items) for my first of the month photos on Instagram and have used them here on the blog as well for "currently" posts.

5. Fake Flowers/plants
Why spend money on real ones all the time? Especially if you have allergies or a super black thumb. For lots of my photos I have fake flowers and plants in them. The secret is to get ones that look more real than others. You know what I mean, some fake flowers actually look really fake, while others don't. What's great about them is you can store them and use them for several years. I get some from the Dollar Tree (you get lucky when they get in the new shipments) and some from Target, JoAnn's, or other craft supply stores.

6. Candles
Most of you probably have candles around the house already. Pull the ones you already have that match your color palette or season. Or you can get cheap ones at, you guessed it, the Dollar Tree. Walmart also has a nice selection that isn't terrible expensive either.

7. Mugs
We all have mugs because we all can't go without coffee or tea, amiright? These are a staple in blog and Instagram photos. They don't always have to be cute or have a nice saying on them. I have some plain white ones my mom gave me that I use a lot of the time. OR you can always save your Starbucks cup and use it for photos a few more times.

8. White or Light colored fuzzy blanket.
This is a new one for me, but I've been wanting one for a LONG time (I got one for Christmas). They are great for beauty product shots because the bottles won't roll away like they do on hard surfaces. I've seen them used a lot for those sitting-with-a-mug-and-computer/book shots. You know the ones. Check TJMaxx, Ross, and other discount stores for the fake fur rugs and blankets. Walmart and Target have the fleece blankets that have the cream/white fuzzy side like the one I have.

I like to grab little things I have around my house to use in photos as well. Like my elephants figurines, books, eye glasses, jewelry, tchotchkes, etc. Raid your house to find items that go with the theme of the photo you want. Did you buy apples at the grocery store this week? Put some in your photo! Have a giant bag of skittles (just me? ok... #pregnancycravings)? Pop them in a bowl and put it in your photo! Made popcorn for snack? Use it!

I also use my laptop and iPad in photos as well (and sometimes I use my iPhone and take the photo with my iPad). Use what you have already! You don't have to spend a fortune to get good photos.

I always try to use natural lighting when possible. It gives the clearest and brightest images and makes editing easier. And my favorite apps for editing on my phone are Afterlight (it's def worth the $.99) and a free app called Color Story. I use PicMonkey (they now have a phone app!) and Canva to make graphics for my blog. Both are free to use, but have paid upgrades you can purchase.

What do you keep on hand for photos?

January 6, 2017

5 Things I Am Missing During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is such a blessing, and I am so grateful to be finally having this experience. However, there is a long list of things you must not do for those nine months. A lot of those things, like eating sushi, I didn't do to begin with, but there are a few that I am missing particularly more than others.

1. Caffeine.
While we were trying to make this baby, I somehow got myself adjusted to Diet Caffeine Free Dr. Pepper. I have cut down on the amount of tea I drink, as a southern girl you must understand how hard it is to give up sweet tea. The biggest sacrifice has been my Starbucks habit. Granted, I only went on days I had class, which was normally 2 days a week. This session, however, I am going four days a week. The horrors. *insert dramatic faint here*

2. Wine
Oh man do I miss wine. I've taken to drinking juices out of a wine glass and pretending really really hard. But a relaxing bath just isn't the same without a glass of cool white wine to chug sip.

3. Energy
First trimester fatigue is very real. I have absolutely no energy or motivation to do things most days. At least its becoming more acceptable to wear yoga pants and leggings as pants these days, so I can just put on a decent shirt and shoes, throw my hair up in a messy bun and run errands or go to class with minimal effort. #pregnancywin

4. Clear Sinuses
I can't be the only one who has had a near constant overload of mucus stopping up my nostrils, preventing normal breathing. Not only am I limited to sleeping positions that keep me awake, now I have to fight to breathe at night. I saw a post about this the other day on one of the pregnancy groups I joined on Facebook and I don't feel so alone in this now. I think what sucks the most about this, is that you are limited on what medications you can take while pregnant, and you are encouraged to try not to take any at all.

5. Teeth Whitening
All those sodas, wine, and coffee we drink (or have give up for good reasons) can cause stains on your teeth, and we remedy this by whitening them. Before I got my two pink lines, I had partnered with Smile Brilliant to try out their at home whitening kit that features custom fitted whitening trays. Smile Brilliant sends you everything you need to get started. The molds for the custom trays were simple to make, and I got the finished trays fairly quickly after I sent the molds in. It was slow going at first due to my super sensitive teeth (I had no idea! I've never had problems before) even with the nifty desensitizing gel step included with the custom whitening tray kit. My consultant was amazing though, and helped me along with different tips and techniques. I was seeing some great results, even with the few treatments I was able to manage. Then I got my positive test, and had to stop the treatments all together, cutting my whitening experience off before I was done. Therefore I don't have adequate before and after photos (boo). But, you can check out some of the other reviews for Smile Brilliant and THIS video about how the custom whitening trays are made and how the two types of gels work.

Even though I can't whiten right now, doesn't mean you can't (as long as you aren't expecting as well!), so I'll be giving away a custom whitening tray kit. Just enter your information below. Can't wait two weeks for the giveaway results? You can use the code "knockonwoodblog" for $20 off your own set of trays during the duration of the giveaway. Happy Whitening!

What did you miss most during your pregnancy?

  Whitening Teeth At Home

January 3, 2017

Pregnancy After Infertility

Now that the secret is out, I'll probably be around a little more. Well I hope so anyways. I'm telling you what, it's hard not to talk about or reference a pregnancy that is happening to you. Especially one that has be much anticipated by not only my husband and I, but all of our friends and family as well. A lot of people have been following our baby journey, and I hope no one is offended that we didn't spill the beans after those two pink lines popped up (we did tell immediate family and very few close friends).

Why not shout it from the rooftops and toss positive pregnancy tests on social media? Fear. And it is very real. Two of my close friends have recently experienced miscarriages. All I could think about after the initial shock wore off was that I would wake up tomorrow and it would be just a dream, that it wasn't real. I took more tests every few days and analyzed every single sensation or symptom. We had a little scare that it might be ectopic, so an emergency ultrasound was ordered at about 5 weeks. Thank God JellyBean was nestled safe in my uterus, and the pains I was feeling were probably the small cysts on my ovaries bursting (thanks PCOS).

After that reassurance, the fear was still there. Symptoms would come and go, and I was googling statistics as each week. I spotted one day and was scared to death. I was counting the days to our first official appointment at the OB, those three weeks seemed to have lasted years to me. I was so excited and nervous and scared. I knew we should be able to see the heartbeat, but knew there was a possibility that we wouldn't be able to hear it yet.

You can only imagine how in awe I was when she found it. There it was, fluttering away on the screen and then she turned the sound on. I couldn't even take my eyes off the screen to look at Hubs to see his reaction. My baby, there on the screen, extremely real. We didn't even remember to take a video of it!

I felt better after that appointment, until we got home. Then the anxiety and fear came crashing back in. "I'm still not past the first trimester, yet. Anything can happen." I tried to stay positive. And I would get irrationally angry at anyone who said anything like "Well I hope nothing happens" or "Hope it's a sticky bean" or "you should probably wait a while to tell people/buy things, just in case."

I reached the 12 week milestone on New Year's Day. And our next appointment is next week. Another anxious weeks of waiting.

I haven't decided how much of this pregnancy I'm going to share publicly. But I do know that you'll probably never see a "bumpdate" in this space or on social media. I've also decided not to share the names we've picked out either. As far as sharing gender and other details... I just don't know yet. Some things should be kept as a surprise right?

When did you share? How much did you share?