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Yves Rocher Botanical Skincare Journey to France

May was a very busy but special month. After celebrating my last childless birthday on the 5th, I jetted across the pond to France for a week to get immersed in the world of Yves Rocher, a brand I have fallen quite fond of over the last year or so. I have been a long time fan of French skincare because seriously they seem to know a thing or two about good quality but I guess you can say my level of interest in this particular brand was extra high the moment I realized the amazing botanical science behind their products.

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Paris bound to Yves Rocher Headquarters. Luggage c/o Rimowa Toronto

The key Yves Rocher skincare necessities waiting for me at Hotel Adele & Jules to help my dehydrated skin bounce back after the long flight

My journey with Yves Rocher began quite differently than a lot of other brand experiences I have had to date and I mean that in the most refreshing way. Sure, our initial meeting last summer consisted of some brand education and why I would be a good fit as a partner, however there was absolutely no hard sell. I was simply encouraged to take my time getting to know their products, specifically their best sellers, over the course of a few months and that “We would go from there…”  Well to me, this meant one thing – Yves Rocher was so confident in their brand, that they knew I would be on board once they gave me the chance to get properly acquainted with their products. And they were 100% right! Offering extensive product lines across all skincare and beauty categories, I took my time initialling honing in on facial and body care and the results have been amazing because I am experiencing my best skin yet. But this you may have already known if you read my post on my Yves Rocher Botanical Skincare Routine in April.

A LITTLE HISTORY ABOUT YVES ROCHER

So there are several things that makes Yves Rocher very different than its competitors, which has made them immensely successful in France and throughout Europe since their launch 50 years ago. A pioneer in natural skincare and beauty, Mr. Yves Rocher founded the company with the belief that nature will be their guide in producing its products, which are made from plants and approximately 250 natural ingredients locally harvested. To this day, it has been the key to their success.

To have discovered the properties of plants is not our greatest achievement but to have made them available to all women is our greatest pride. As the only brand in the beauty industry to have chosen to control all the aspects of our activity, we are able to reduce our impact on the environment at every stage in the life cycle of our products”   – Yves Rocher

If you can imagine back in 1967, the idea of a man launching a skincare and beauty brand without the use of any chemicals, targeted to women and marketed using his name, sounded ludicrous and nobody believed it would work. However, Rocher did not let this stop him. In fact, it motivated him and pushed him and pushed him to get the wheels in motion.

The only way to ensure Yves Rocher’s vision was executed properly meant that from the very beginning he insisted on controlling every step of the production cycle to guarantee safety and quality, providing his clients with products free of chemicals, colorants, and parabens.

EXPERIENCING THE BRAND LIVE IN PARIS

My press trip to France began with a tour of the Yves Rocher Headquarters in Paris to see how the products are made in their state-of-the-art laboratories and to get a deep dive in the company’s rich and rooted history.

Yves Rocher France

Housed in one of the most modern buildings I saw in a city so full of rich and old architecture, there were several labs dispersed on one large floor responsible for each of the brand’s categories; skincare, cosmetics, body care, hair care, bath & shower and fragrances. It was refreshing to see it is run predominantly by young women. Somewhere within the building’s labyrinth was a small room dedicated the the brand’s olfactory family and fragrances. Bottles upon bottles of fragrance notes meticulously displayed in beautiful glass bottles and sleek refrigerators that housed samples of each scent the brand has made categorized per year. While learning about Yves Rocher’s past and present was vital, I was very intrigued to learn more about the direction of the where the brand is heading. As the originator of botanical beauty, how do they stay ahead of the curve in an industry where so many brands are vying for a piece of the “natural and organic beauty” pie, so to speak?

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Yves Rocher France Headquarters Olfactory (Fragrances) Room
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Christine Dalfault-Sara, Yves Rocher Communications Director (Directrice Communication)

I chatted extensively with Christine Delfaut, the brand’s Communications Director, to learn more about the brand’s exciting upcoming product releases for the rest of 2017/2018. While most of the innovations that were shared are still under embargo so I can’t share (sorry guys!) however Christine did allow me to take home their newly formulated, long lasting, ultra matte red lipstick to test out which won’t be coming out until much later in 2017. Having had issues finding the perfect “red” for years, I can say my hunt is now officially over. Without any of the harsh chemicals that usually dry out my lips, this deep red at first goes on with a slight satin finish but after a few seconds it becomes definitively matte and lasts all day.

Yves Rocher France

They have also just launched a range of concentrated shower gels that lasts for 40 showers (shown above front and center) in Mango & Coriander, Olive Petitgrain, and Bourbon Vanilla which is my personal fave. With 4x’s the amount of product, 50% less plastic and greenhouse gases than in their 400ml bottles these heavenly smelling shower gels cost only $8 – not to mention, no parabens or preservatives and with 97% of the ingredients having a natural origin. With every bottle purchased, the Yves Rocher Foundation plants one tree in the community. Just in time for summer, a newly formulated Solaire Peau Parfaite sunscreen without harmful chemicals, The Chic & Bohemian Collection with a cornflower based body wash, eau de toilette and perfumed hair mist that smells heavenly and more.

LOW COST, HIGH QUALITY: HOW DO THEY DO IT?

English (CAN) quality products usually come with a hefty price tag. Sure, at a certain price point you can expect to see brands use aesthetically beautiful packaging, usually employing the help of actresses and celebrity spokespeople to sell their products which can be found perfectly curated in department store kiosks and shop-in-shops. All these bells and whistles that go into the marketing of competitors products come with a high cost, which is ultimately absorbed by the end consumer – YOU!

Yves Rocher’s competitively priced product ranges are only possible because their products aren’t sold in luxury and contemporary department stores but rather in their own stand-alone retail shops and of course online, allowing them to offer prices significantly lower than other brands. However this could be the reason why the brand awareness isn’t as high in North America as it is in Europe. I am fascinated by this idea, so a visit to Yves Rocher’s concept store on Boulevard Haussmann was a no brainer.

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CONCEPT STORE VISIT

Nestled in what appeared to be a bustling and busy district, is a three-storey temple of beauty, where you can receive skin diagnosis at the ground level Botanical Beauty Bar, shop the brand’s extensive beauty line and range of honey, jams and sweet treats, indulge in cold pressed juices developed exclusively for Yves Rocher in their in-house juice bar, or receive personalized face and body treatments in one of the seven private cabins within the Beauty Spa.

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One of the private cabin’s inside the Yves Rocher concept store’s Beauty Spa

Being inside the Boul Haussmann location made me immediately calm and gave me a sense that I was amongst nature thanks to the green and ecological decor botanical concept walls created by Botanist and inventor Patrick Blanc. I promise you, the photos don’t do it any justice, its beauty is much more spectacular in person. I took my time going through the multi-floor flagship, with extra time spent checking out the products not yet available in Canada and cruising the beautifully merchandised fragrance section on the second floor where I was taken on an olfactory journey through the important notes that make up the company’s best selling fragrances – mine currently being the sensual and refined freshness of their  Neroli Eau de Parfum.  

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Yves Rocher Olfactory Wall of Fame. The brand works with some of the best in today’s fragrance industry to help create their signature scents

VISIT TO LA GACILLY

But my trip wouldn’t be complete without taking a trip to La Gacilly, in France’s Bretagne (pronounced Brittany for us Anglo folks) region which is happens to be the birth place of both Mr. Yves Rocher and his namesake heritage brand. A beautiful and quaint village just a three hour train ride from the Paris city centre made up of cobblestone streets, small stone houses, local boutiques and La Grée des Landes, the Yves Rocher Eco-Hotel Spa and Hotel that you may remember seeing on my Instagram and IG stories.

Centrally located in the town, is the childhood home of Rocher, fondly referred to as No. 2 Rue St.-Vincent, where in his early twenties, he turned the home’s attic into a make-shift manufacturing facility for their very first plant based product. A visionary of sorts and a man with thinking far beyond his years, Yves Rocher was the first to introduce the “mail-to-order” concept as a way to sell his products to customers all over France.

Monsieur Yves Rocher’s childhood home where the brand first launched

Below are some shots we captured from inside Rocher’s first home where he used the attic to produce his first product and also acted as the office where he fulfilled his mail-orders from customers…

As he watched the company grow exponentially, he began to conjure up the idea for La Grée des Landes, a truly Eco-friendly establishment built without causing any harm to the environment that feeds guests using only locally sourced products and ingredients from their land. Essentially creating a gastronomy experience of multi-course meals prepared by Gilles Le Gallès, Chef at the hotel’s restaurant, that would legit blow your mind. There was no doubting the freshness and quality of our meals. As we enjoyed breakfast in the mornings, we often saw the kitchen staff in the garden pulling out herbs and vegetables that were going to be used in the preparation of our lunch and dinner later that day. Not once did we look at a menu. Chef prearranged each meal based on what is in season and would make a good compliment to the ingredients grown on the grounds of the property.

Chef Gilles Le Gallès at La Grée des Landes

While many hotel properties believe integrating the word “spa” into their property name means they understand the concept of wellness, most really don’t have the faintest clue as to what that actually entails. Whereas this little slice of heaven, which made sure to include all four elements of nature to ensure a harmonious balance on their grounds, anticipates guests needs before they can even think of it and offers activities and services to help you find your optimal mental and physical wellness with yoga/meditation classes, hiking, underwater workouts (AQUATraining & AQUACycling) plus restorative and relaxation services offered in the hotel’s spa.

I have always used a variety of products from different brands on my skin and to be honest, I will probably continue doing so but Yves Rocher products currently make up the majority of my skincare regimen right now. Taking care of my skin has become a huge priority in my thirties and I’ve seen some dramatic improvements since I have started using Yves Rocher products. I fell in love with the new “Pure Calmille” line while in France and was lucky enough to bring it back home with me prior to its launch in Canada (available here in September 2017!).  After pre-cleaning with wipes, I have been using the Pure Calmille Cleansing Gel mixed with the Scrub to Mix Gommage exfoliant, the Pure Calmille 2 in 1 Cleanser & Toner and the Pure Calmille Moisturizing Cream. For body care, I have become OBSESSED with the Monoï de Tahiti products that literally smell like tropical paradise in a bottle – using the Lagoon Body Wash, Dry Body Oil and finishing off with the Eau des Vahinés Eau de Toilette.

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Overall my trip to France has a success! I got a chance to really get to know the brand and even got to indulge in spa treatments using Yves Rocher professional products. The best part is that all the products I was introduced to are safe during pregnancy. With affordable price points and products for all different ages and skin types, Yves Rocher has successfully made their brand accessible to everyone.

To shop or learn more, visit YvesRocher.com

How To Choose The Right Prenatal Vitamin During Your Pregnancy

When it comes to pregnancy, there are a lot of misconceptions especially in the early stages. There are so many thoughts, ideologies and just sheer nonsense made available to us online, it’s become difficult to decipher what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s considered necessary and what is not during pregnancy. Well, there’s one thing most know for sure, prenatal vitamins are crucial  in helping ensure both mama and baby get the necessary nutrients during this important time of development while they also help to avoid birth defects and potential pregnancy complications. However, many don’t realize the importance of making sure they are implementing a prenatal vitamin option at least six months prior to conception and that not all options on the market are created equal. Both facts, I honestly didn’t discover until after my miscarriage last fall.

At my core, I will admit I am a bit of a granola grinder and naturalist. Part of me hangs on to the idea that if we eat good food, we will be healthy and pass on that health to our growing baby. It’s a very simple idea and one I love but I understand that even eating well balanced meals doesn’t necessarily mean I am getting everything I can use. Not to mention, most foods we eat today, even when made from scratch, can contain genetically modified ingredients, colorants, antibiotics, etc. However, gone are the days of my grandmother’s generation, who were able to get all the required nutrients from the local grown foods on the small Caribbean island she came from, so I’ve come to think of prenatal vitamins as a personal trainer to help mama’s and their babies be the strongest and healthiest they can be.

I’ve used various prenatal vitamins in the past ranging from fancy physician prescribed options to over the counter drug store brands. I guess you can say paranoia crept in when I became pregnant again so quickly after the miscarriage. This time around I wanted to really ensure that both myself and this baby were getting all the required minerals and vitamins for a healthy pregnancy. I obsessed over the labels on the bottles, naturally, then did as much research on the one’s that seemed the most popular.

I decided to take matters into my own hands and try a little investigative testing on four prenatal vitamins I had purchased over the past several months. Nothing too scientific and something any of you can easily do at home. I simply put each of the vitamins in a glass of vinegar and let sit for an hour or so, mixing with a spoon periodically. Knowing, if it breaks down in the vinegar, I could be sure that it will do the same in my stomach allowing my body to easily absorb the contents. If not, I wouldn’t be digesting it properly and could potentially mean there’s a few vitamins just floating around in my stomach doing absolutely nothing. My test yielded some results that were very surprising, and hard to stomach (no pun intended), leaving  Forté Elements Prenatal+ as the only option that completely dissolved in my vinegar solution. So it should come as no surprise that this is the brand I’ve been using ever since. Also, after chatting with my midwife and naturopath, I am taking additional Folic Acid (1mg) and Magnesium at bedtime (300mg), the former to ensure I am getting the maximum amount and the latter to help me with sleep at night. The cool thing about the human body when it comes to supplements is that it knows when it’s received the right amount of nutrients. Anything over and above that is flushed out of your system.

If you’ve been pregnant before, pregnant now or have friends that have filled you in regarding the horrible and often times debilitating nausea symptoms associated with pregnancy, you may be wondering if prenatal vitamins can contribute to this undesirable side effect. Truth be told, 80% of women experience morning sickness and nausea, especially during their first trimester. I had the WORST time for the first 4 1/2 months and seriously didn’t think I was going to make it out the first tri alive and still feel queasy from time to time if not doing anything to help regulate it. When this level of nausea hits you, you will likely stop at nothing to find a solution that works in settling your tummy so you can live somewhat of a humanized life LOL! I tried EVERYTHING and often sought out advice from my followers on IG stories. It’s still unclear as to why these symptoms exist; doctors claim it was to do with the HCG (pregnancy hormone) levels and can sometimes be aggravated by prenatal vitamins. The latter is likely because your body may not be used to the extra nutrients, like iron, and will need sufficient time to adjust. When I switched over to Forté Prental+ I discovered that they also made an anti-nausea supplement and in my desperation, I had to get my hands on it right away. Forté Anti-Nausea contains a specialized blend of vitamin B6, ginger, peppermint and clove that helps ease the struggle fest caused by pregnancy nausea. I’ve been using it religiously for the last month or so and I can confidently say, paired with regular exercise, I think I have finally found the right combination to keep these symptoms at bay.

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Photo by Bettina Bogar

I know that there are endless options on the market for prenatal supplement care but this brand is a pioneer in the development of condition-specfic combinations of vitamins, minerals and essential trace elements, Forté Elements has completely defined a new category of mediceuticalss based on evidence based research. Not a term your probably used to hearing, mediceuticals are nutrient supplements using combos of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other nutrients for things like pregnancy and the postpartum period, that unlike nutraceuticals, are subject to very strict guidelines for quality/safety and are supported by evidence based research. Meaning, you can be assured that Forté Elements Prenatal+ and other pregnancy supplements contain the appropriate amounts of the nutrients pre-pregnant and pregnant women need to help support their growing babies.

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Forte Elements actually has a wide array of nutritional supplements outside of their prenatal category covering joint care, pre and post operative, trauma care, in addition to nerve, brain, bone health. To discover and learn more, head to ForteElements.com.

Why You Should Start Your Day With A Little OJ!

Remember that old saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”? Well for years apples got all the spotlight but it turns out, oranges are really the stand-out star or at least they should be. And when I’m on the go, sometimes a glass of Florida Orange Juice is the easiest and quickest way to get my daily dose of vitamin C. What many don’t realize, it’s also jam packed with tons of other beneficial nutrients.

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I’ve always been a fan of good ole’ OJ…it’s long been my juice of choice because of it’s naturally refreshing and sweet taste obvi and truth be told, mixed with some champers it quickly becomes my fave brunch bevy on the weekends – pre pregnancy of course! When I started taking prenatal vitamins before I got pregnant, my doctor advised me to take my daily pill with a glass of Florida Orange Juice. Why? Prenatal vitamins can sometimes irritate and be tough on some women’s stomach due to the iron content and vitamin C helps aid in the digestion of the mineral. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Orange Juice, although an insanely amazing source of vitamins for all, is a very important part of a pregnant woman’s arsenal. I still find it a bit crazy how this change in my lifestyle has made me realize that my life is no longer about me anymore. The way I workout, how I eat, sleep and even my working hours now all revolve around what’s best for my little bean – who I haven’t even had the pleasure of meeting just yet. Funny enough,  even the most simple things like adding a glass of Florida Orange Juice in the morning and another post workout can make a huge difference, ensuring that we both get other essential nutrients like folate – a vitamin essential to prevent neural tube defects in babies in the womb that is also important for the formation of collagen (an important component of gums, bones, and cartilage). But for those of you out there that are fitness enthusiasts giving cold press juice and protein shakes all the praises, Florida Orange Juice, similar to bananas, is also a great source of potassium, super important for muscle function and plays a role in helping the body maintain it’s pH balance and electrolytes, making it a great alternative to your go-to post workout hydration.

Don’t feel like you’re ever limited to just drinking OJ on it’s own. Because of it’s sweet taste, it can be the perfect addition to your favourite smoothies or cold pressed juices, adding just the right sweetness. Also, if you head to FloridaJuice.com, you will find a treasure trove of healthy snack and meal recipes that include Florida Orange Juice you can make at home – I’m going to be trying out these Oatmeal Orange Pancakes this weekend!

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Photography by JessBaumung.com

I created this blog post as a paid collaborator for Florida Department of Orange Juice. All opinions and advise are my own and I only work with companies I genuinely love and/or have used prior to being contacted. 

4 Things I Didn’t Expect During Pregnancy

Well, well, well…most of you that read my blog also follow me on social media so this will not be news to you but…we are expecting our first baby this summer. The official announcement was posted on my Instagram account exactly a month ago today and while most of you may have thought it was something I was itchy to share, it was quite the opposite. As this is not Rejean and I’s first pregnancy, we suffered a miscarriage last fall (ICYMI, you can read about it here) and were devastated. After the initial joy of discovering I was with child; panic, anxiety and fear immediately set in. I’m not so sure about Rej, but I was absolutely terrified history would repeat itself and I would end up with another non-viable pregnancy and I was unsure whether I could handle another disappointment . I knew even before taking the home test that I was pregnant but to be completely honest with you, I was in complete denial for the first two months until my naturopath confirmed that my HCG levels were soaring through the roof and that there was no mistaking the fact that there was a little bean inside me.

So what next…? After carrying for almost 12 weeks the last time around, I thought I had this first trimester thing figured out but apparently I knew nothing because EVERY SINGLE PREGNANCY IS DIFFERENT. While most women gloat about how amazing their pregnancy experience is, it is not all roses for everyone, trust me! The first four months for me were insanely difficult but thankfully I am starting to finally feel like a normal human being again with the occasional bout of nausea. We are safely in our second trimester and almost at the 20 week mark. I cannot believe how fast the time is going. As the anxiety starts to fade a bit day by day, it is replaced with more and more excitement…and can only hope that the rest of the pregnancy is smooth and stress free.

There’s so much shit that has thrown me for a loop during the first 18 weeks and because I am a control freak, I wish I could have anticipated them but that’s not real life. It’s impossible to foresee the pregnancy future and for one reason or another, a lot of women only stick to sharing the positive sides of their pregnancy. So on that note, I’ve decided to share some of the things I discovered on my own, that I wish SOMEBODY had told me.

DISRUPTED SLEEP CYCLES

Majority of women talk about suffering from severe exhaustion during their pregnancy, especially during the first trimester. I remember feeling like I was in a coma during my first pregnancy but this one has been a very different experience. Rather than wanting to sleep my days away, I was barely getting 3-4 hours of sleep a night during the first couple months. Pregnancy insomnia is definitely a thing and thankfully it’s not harmful to the baby however it can get rather annoying. I assumed that this issue would occur later into the pregnancy with the physical changes to my body making it more uncomfortable to sleep but these early onset sleep issues for me were caused by emotional changes, stress, anxiety and the need to urinate a few times a night.

I did figure out a few ways to help with getting more sleep in recent weeks because after this baby arrives, I don’t anticipate getting much sleep at all:

  1. Drink plenty of water during the day and minimize water intake after 7pm
  2. Eating to sleep works wonders. Eat a healthy dinner to avoid heart burn and just before bed have a late night snack, something high in protein to help keep blood sugar steady throughout the night
  3. Make your bed a comfortable cocoon to help induce your sleep once you climb between your sheets. Make sure to bolster or add a pillow underneath your feet, tuck a pillow between your knees and sleep on your side. Still struggling to get comfortable? Do not pass go or collect $200 – and purchase one of those full body pregnancy pillows. It will not disappoint – I swear by mine!
  4. Exercising during the day will give you the energy you need earlier on but help you feel tired later on so you can get rest at night
  5. When you’re carrying another human being your body temperature is elevated causing you to feel like you’re overheating at times. Feeling hot and sticky does not set the stage for a good night’s sleep. Consider adjusting the temperature in your home or closing a vent in your bedroom to create a cooler environment for sleep.

HAIR GROWTH/HAIR LOSS

Most pregnant women speak praises of hair growth during their pregnancy. Around week 20, it’s highly likely that your hair gets thicker, shinier and looks more healthy than normal, all credit to those lovely pregnant hormones – particularly estrogen. Not to mention the increased blood circulation and metabolism pumping mega nutrients to your hair and nails. Well turns out, everyone’s prenatal experience and every single pregnancy is quite different. I was thoroughly looking forward to the luscious locks of my dreams but I’ve ended up not having any hair gains at all and worse – suffering from prenatal hair loss. Sounds a bit weird I know and there may be several reasons why this occurred.

My natural hair back in August 2016. 

During my first pregnancy I experienced no change to my hair but last November, almost 30 days after my miscarriage, I started to notice a change to the texture of my hair, thickness and length. Initially nobody else seemed to notice the difference, not even my hairdresser who I see on a weekly basis. I am pretty sure at one point she thought I was absolutely nuts. By the end of December the changes were clearly noticeable and enough to not only make me worry but had me feeling a bit depressed. I know it sounds a bit shallow, but I took pride in my beautiful, natural hair that took what felt like a lifetime to grow to the length it was. I was almost certain that when I found out I was pregnant at the end of last year, my hair would start returning to it’s healthy or at least healthier state. Sadly, I have yet to see a difference, even with daily prenatal vitamins and folic acid supplements and it appears that I am still shedding a considerable amount of hair on a daily basis. After playing web detective, which I’m not normally an advocate of, I discovered that hair loss during pregnancy can occur for a variety of reasons; with hormonal changes being one of the top culprits. Whenever the body experiences a drastic hormonal change, your normal hair growth cycle can be halted or disorganized causing excessive hair shedding or what is called Telogen Effluvium. Usually caused by dramatic emotional experiences during pregnancy also explains the state of my locks after the emotional distress I experienced after my miscarriage. Nearly half way through this pregnancy, I am going to have to wait for the condition to correction itself and to see any improvements until at least six months postpartum. In the meantime, here’s what I am doing to help reduce the hair loss during this time:

  • Eat fruits and veggies that contain flavonoids and antioxidants that may add some protection to the hair follicles and encourage hair growth
  • Avoid unnecessary stress to the hair by staying away from tight ponytails, weaves, and braids
  • Use ultra hydrating shampoos and conditioners that contain biotin and silica
  • Avoid excessive heat from flatirons, curling irons and blow dryers. as much as possible

MIGRAINE PAIN

Migraine headaches are like the lottery when it comes to pregnancy. If you suffered from migraines prior to being pregnant chances are there’s a high probability that you will experience stronger ones during – especially early on. However, there are a few lucky ducks who claim that their migraines actually diminish during pregnancy. I unfortunately have not been the exception but rather the rule when it comes to prenatal migraines and spent several weeks hemmed up due to crippling head pain, which caused me to be sensitive to noise, smells, food and even exacerbated nausea and vomiting symptoms. What’s the culprit for this annoying head pain? If you’ve guessed good ‘ole pregnancy hormones, you guessed right! Sadly, there’s not much you can for the pain during a prenatal migraine episode but on the upside, these pain cycles won’t last forever. Most healthcare providers consider acetaminophen (regular strength Tylenol) to be the only safe over-the-counter pain relief option throughout pregnancy but I strongly urge you to consult your treating physician prior to taking any. I personally didn’t have much success with Tylenol and had to resort to a few other tactics to help me with manage the pain:

  • Meditation and mindfulness techniques
  • Exercise (prior to full blown migraine)
  • Cold compress to the forehead and neck
  • Regular massage therapy
  • Warm epsom salt baths
  • Stretching; both preventative and during an episode
  • Increase water intake

NOT ALL PRE-NATAL VITAMINS ARE CREATED EQUAL

This one sort of threw me for a loop and I think that it is one of my most surprising discoveries throughout during this time. Our mothers and grandmothers may not have been popping prenatal vitamins, or even know what they are for that matter, but our generation sure as hell has been made aware that it’s a critical part of having a healthy pregnancy and baby. During the first pregnancy, although planned, we were not aware that I should have been popping this magic pills prior to conniving and that the most important period for brain and neural tube development occurs within the first four weeks of pregnancy. With our lifestyles, nutritional habits and the state of our food being so different than it was in previous generations, it’s imperative that women get the right amount of essential vitamins and minerals during (and even before conception) to prevent neural tube defects and support your little one’s growth and development. I actually never stopped taking mine between the two pregnancies.

Seeing as though the health care industry has deemed these supplements so important for pregnant women, one would expect that there be a set standard amount of each vitamin and nutrient found in each pill. I found out about a month into my current pregnancy that this is in fact not the case and immediately made changes to my prenatal vitamin, choosing one with DHA (omega 3 docosahexaenoic acid that benefits vision and brain development) and also added an additional 1 mg of folic acid. Even though folic is already in my prenatal supplement, I wanted to add some more, just to be on the safe side. There is no harm with taking a bit extra folic acid because whatever the body doesn’t need, it will flush out in your urine. Here’s the basics that you should have in your prenatal vitamin:

  • 1 mg (1000 mcg) of folic acid (folate)
  • 400 IU (10 mcg) of vitamin D.
  • 200 to 300 mg of calcium
  • 75 mg of vitamin C.
  • 3 mg of B1 (thiamine)
  • 3 mg of B2 (riboflavin)
  • 20 mg of niacin.
  • 10 mcg of vitamin B12.
  • 10 mg of vitamin E.
  • 15 mg of zinc.
  • 20 mg of iron.
  • 150 mcg of iodine
  • 30 mg of biotin
  • 25 mg of magnesium
  • 150 mg of DHA

Pregnancy has turned out to be nothing but surprises so far and I’m sure this is just the beginning. Looking forward to sharing all the good, bad and the ugly with you all over the next several months until our little bean arrives.

Next Level Wonderful Pistachios Crusted Salmon

Elaborate and sophisticated meals is not what I am known for at our house. I leave all the culinary heavy lifting to the Mister. Not quite sure why but the longer the list of ingredients I see in a recipe, the more intimidated I get. Probably because the more ingredients usually means more (preparation) time and more clean up at the end. Neither of which excite me. We made a pack at home to eat dinner together every night and in the kitchen not sitting on the couch in front the TV. I know it sounds a bit corny but I think it’s been integral to the success and strength of our relationship. With our work week hours being later than most, this sometimes becomes a challenge resulting to turning to quick fix dishes that can be on the table in 30 minutes or less.

Salmon is definitely a hit around here because it’s a super easy way to incorporate healthy Omega 3’s into our diets but let’s be real here, when you’re eating fish 1-2 times a week, you need to start getting a bit creative with your recipes. With salmon being so soft and fleshy I thought creating a pistachio crust using Wonderful Pistachios with a touch of honey and mustard would be a perfect juxtaposition of both taste and texture. Occurring to me while woofing down a handful of the brand’s addictive “Sweet & Salty” flavoured nuts. Sure there’s a few other nuts I could have chosen, so why Wonderful Pistachios? Besides tasting amazing, they are a source of vitamin B6, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous and fibre, adding extra nutritional value to this ridiculously delicious protein option. Making this is pretty much fool proof for those of you who also get intimidated with Julia Childs-like recipes (trust me!) and literally goes well with almost anything.

PISTACHIO CRUSTED SALMON


Prep Time: 5 minutes     Cook Tim:e 20 minutes     Total Time: 25 minutes     Servings: 2


INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 salmon fillets (approx. 6 oz each, skin on)
  • half cup of crushed unsalted Wonderful Pistachios
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • 1 tbsp course grain mustard (or Dijon)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tbsp olive or canola oil

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Rinse salmon and pat dry with a paper towel. Arrange fillets on foil (or parchment paper) lined baking sheet, skin side down. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste
  3. In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, lemon zest, mustard and honey. Spoon mixture and spread evenly over top of each piece of fillet
  4. Coarsely chop pistachios in a food processor, coffee grinner or by hand and combine with Panko bread crumbs and oil. Spread pistachio mixture pressing lightly to adhere
  5. Bake until salmon is cooked through to your liking and nuts are golden for approximately 15-20 minutes. Let salmon rest for 5 minutes outside of the oven before serving. Pair with a side of your choice; salad, quuinoa or grilled veggies and enjoy!

This post is sponsored by Wonderful Pistachios®, but all thoughts and opinions are my own!

Snacking Just Got Fresher with Harvest Bakes

Guys, snacking just got a little easier and a whole lot healthier this month thanks to Country Harvest who has just launched the best thing since sliced bread (sorry, I couldn’t resist myself!) I have absolutely no shame in admitting that I am a serial snacker – big time! I eat small meals with several snacks throughout the day to keep me going but just like everyone else, having healthy snacks when I’m on-the-go all the time can be a bit of a challenge.  And let’s be honest, we ALL have good intentions when it comes to our food choices however we are all prone to fall off due to the options, or lack thereof, around us when we are not at home.

Over the past few weeks we (ok, mainly me) have been eating our way through Harvest Bakes snacks prior to it’s arrival in stores to see what all the hype was about. So what exactly are Harvest Bakes snacks? I know for thing thing, they are insanely delicious but to pigeon hole them into just one thing would be unfair. Yes, they are shaped in the form of a square like bread slices but they couldn’t be farther from. A flat bread if you will but will the density and texture of a baked good that is packed full of whole grains, protein, fibre and iron. And covering all the bases and making sure all palette preferences are accounted for, there are three delicious varieties to appease all; Wild Blueberry with Flax Seeds and Rolled Oats, Apple & Cinnamon with Raisons – my current favourite and Super Seedy & Quinoa with Sunflower, Flax, Pumpkin and Chia Seeds…I know that’s quite a mouthful isn’t it? All tasty. Super healthy and the perfect snack to pack, toast or spread your go-to topping on. I have yet to try toasting them, much preferring to smear natural peanut butter over top with sliced bananas sometimes even sprinkling with a dash of chopped pistachios – YUM right?!

Photos by Jilly Botting

Harvest Bakes are now available in the bakery aisle in your local grocery store. To learn more and to discover more nutritional information head to CountryHarvest.com

Joe Fresh #MakeYourMove Collection Week 2

ICYMI, last week I excitedly announced the launch of the curated activewear looks I did with everyone’s favourite accessible retailer Joe Fresh. Full of versatile separates that allow you to mix and match, the collection creates an endless wardrobe of clothes for your workouts at an such an affordable price it will legit blow your mind. Week #1’s was all about classic layering pieces and essentials for spring’s transitional weather that can easily take you to any of your favourite studio classes and workouts (in case you missed it, click here). This week it’s all about adding pop’s of colour, to help us get out of our winter ruts and finding the perfect tight and sports bra for support for our go-to workouts.

As seen on JoeFresh.com 

Tights were the topic of discussion in so many of my snapchat and instagram stories last year, resulting in tons of woman weighing in on what the “perfect tight” is for them. I have been famously known to dislike crops, advocating for the full length because of my long legs however I have become fond of the also flattering 7/8th and I am happy to say that all the full length tights in this collection are tall girl approved. They are also high waisted, like the Melange leggings pictured above,  giving adequate coverage when your bending forward during workouts or yoga poses. But let’s be real, the root of most women’s issues with activewear is finding the right sports bra that provides the right amount of support while still looking flattering. The push-up sports bra (shown above) and the pull-on active bra are my favourites – both under $20.

Photography by Jess Baumung for JoeFresh.com

Reflective Active Jacket $39  –  Push-Up Sports Bra $19  –  Scoop Neck Active Tank $16  –  Stripe Active Tee $29  –  High Waist Melange Active Legging $29  –  Mesh Insert Active Legging $29

Check back here every Monday over the next month as I will be sharing a new look each week built around my fave pieces from the new collection, which will do doubt be yours as well. For more of my #MakeYourMove curated looks and to view the entire Joe Fresh activewear collection head to JoeFresh.com/MakeYourMove.

Train Hard, Snack Smart with Wonderful Pistachios

The two most important factors that play a role in your overall fitness are 1) how you train/workout and 2) how you eat and snack. Everyday I see an alarming amount of people on social media posting their workouts and sharing their runs but no real progress. Most often than not, the reason behind this is poor diet or them not doing the amount of training they claim to be doing on social media. For me, it’s always been simple. I like to stick to functional workouts based on basic training fundamentals, keep my body guessing by frequently mixing up my works and ALWAYS snack smart. And I love the idea of athlete inspired workouts. Why? Because I know they are effective and how could it not be cool to train like some of the best athletes in the world?

For the next year, I’m teaming up with the Wonderful Pistachios brand and will be sharing different ways for you to enjoy them on-to-the go and how they can be incorporated into your favourite dishes at home. Both nutrient dense and delicious, pistachios have long been my nut of choice, mainly because of their monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, fibre, protein and antioxidant content. I know for some there is a concern regarding the calorie count with pistachios but the good news is, researchers say sticking to in-shell pistachios can significantly slow down consumption because the empty shells offer a visual cue of how much you’ve eaten. Actually, preliminary behavioural studies have proven that in-shell snackers ate 41% fewer calories than those who snacked on shelled nuts, which is commonly known as the “Pistachio Principle“.

Thanks to the Wonderful Pistachios team, an exclusive group of us were lucky enough to participate in an intimate workout based on Toronto Maple Leaf’s Left Winger, James van Riemsdyk’s off-ice training at SWAT Health – a high performance training studio for elite and professional athletes. The workout, led by SWAT Founder and former football player Kyle Ardill, was no joke. We kicked it off with some dynamic movements and stretches to get are bodies warm and loosened up, followed by speed and agility work. All elite athletes train hard during their season, which are reflected in their physiques, however hockey players are notorious for the strength of their lower bodies. Specifically, quads and glutes. That means, we were getting ourselves into a 40 minute session focusing on the targeted muscles that allow hockey players to be quick and strong on the ice like; skater lunges, weighted side and reverse lunges, one legged dead lifts, a series of glute activations with resistance bands and a killer core workout circuit. If that wasn’t enough, Kyle had me end the session with some sled work (with him on it of course!) with the weight totalling over 300 lbs.

What many people often forget, what you eat post workout can be just as important as the workout itself. Usually we find it difficult enough to squeeze in a workout throughout the day, let alone take time to prepare a meal post workout, but nobody can ever be too busy for a smoothie. They are quick to prep, tasty AF and when you pack them with the right ingredients, they can actually be rather filling, helping you stay full until your next meal. On hand that morning was Registered Dietician and Abbey’s Kitchen founder Abbey Sharp, who helped create our post workout treat, a Pistachio & Tahini Protein Smoothie that you can easily make at home by using the following:

  • 1/3 cup Wonderful Pistachios, unsalted and shelled
  • 1 cup 2% Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 4 ripe figs, stems removed and quartered
  • 2 dates, pitted and diced
  • 2 tsp, tahini
  • 1 cup 1% milk (or you can substitute for Almond milk if you’re lactose intolerant or prefer the taste

Photography by Charlie Lindsay @DonCharleone

OPTIONAL GARNISH:

  • 1/3 cup Wonderful Pistachios, unsalted and shelled
  • 1 cup 2% Plain Greet Yogurt
  • 4 ripe figs, stems removed and quartered

INSTRUCTIONS:

In a blender, pulse the pistachios until they reach a ground up consistency. Add in the yogurt, figs, dates, tahini and milk. Puree until smooth. To serve, pour into two glasses. Top with sliced fig, crushed pistachios and pomegranate arils.

Stay tuned fin 2017 for more of my snack and meal ideas with Wonderful Pistachios #GetSnackin

7 Ways to Avoid The Festive 15 This Holiday Season

It has arrived. The time of year that I like to refer to as the “Danger Zone“.  Sure, we’ve attended a handful of pre-holiday parties and most of us have done a great job in pacing ourselves when it comes to our food and cocktail intake. Until now. The weeks leading up to Christmas and New Years is when most people are likely to succumb to their weaknesses and over indulge. And how can we not…? If you’re lucky, during the holidays you are spending more time at home if you have taken a few days off, however that can mean unlimited access to the kitchen. Family and friends you go all year without seeing, invite you over and how could this not be a cause for celebration, right? Pair that with the temperature dropping far below zero, hectic holiday schedules, cocktail parties, dinner parties and missed workouts – it’s virtually impossible to escape the dreaded Festive 15. Ok, so calling it the “Festive 15” may be slightly dramatic because who really gains 15 lbs in the span of two weeks BUT by the time the New Year rolls around, it can sure feel like you have.

After feeling like complete and utter crap come January 2nd due to self induced food comas, a couple years ago I vowed to never start off the New Year feeling like I have to put in work to get back to my pre holiday weight. So, consider this my prezzie to you all, here’s 7 full proof ways to avoid weight gain during the holidays:


START YOUR DAY WITH PROTEIN

The way you start your day, is the way you live your life. Eating a protein-rich brekkie combined with some complex carbs, is like a match made in heaven.  Not like you need another reason to devour some Avocado Toast with Poached Eggs, otherwise known as the most popular meal posted on Instagram! This approach will help you feel full longer, prevent you from unhealthy snacking and give you the energy to tackle the day. You’ll also have enough energy to exercise and have the confidence to say “No” to unnecessary sweets.

A SHORT WORKOUT IS BETTER THAN NO WORKOUT!

Let’s not fool ourselves, most find fitting in daily workouts a challenge, so when the holiday season rolls around it seems virtually impossible to get to the gym. The only way to avoid skipping workouts when your schedule is tight is to make them both convenient and accessible.  For those days you can’t make it to the gym or your favourite class, make sure to have a backup plan to workout at home using your own body weight and minimal equipment. Exercise videos and apps, like my faves on AppleTV, are amazing options too. Invest in a medicine ball, resistance bands, skipping rope and/or a kettle bell that can you give you an effective total body workout right in the comfort of your living room.

AVOID BANKING CALORIES

I remember my younger days when I somehow convinced myself that if I cut back on my calories throughout the day, I could indulge at an event later that night. DUMBEST IDEA EVER! This theory, fuelled only by ignorance, just leads to pigging out. Why? You’re effing starving! It’s easy to get out of control when you’re faced with so many delicious options at a party. Always, and I mean always, eat a little something prior to leaving the house. First and foremost, if you’re a picky eater or have food restrictions, you won’t die of starvation for example if the hostess forgets that you’re a vegan or gluten intolerant. More importantly, it will take some of the hunger edge off but still leave you with some room to eat only what you need and nothing more once you arrive.

A mini plate of protein and veggies are my go-to; a salad with chicken or a piece of salmon with veggies. In my personal opinion, this is single-handedly the most underrated tip to avoid a weight gain, bloating, indigestion and binge eating during the holiday season.

CUT BACK ON BUBBLY BEVERAGES – OF ALL KINDS

Yep, I bet you never believed me – the lover of all champagnes and Prosecco, would be saying this however sadly it’s true. Bubbles are not our friends and is the biggest culprit of belly bloat. Even soda and sparkling mineral water like my current obsession Bottle Green, can be an issue. The carbon dioxide trapped in the bubbles of fizzy drinks causes a build up of air, which can often lead to gas.

AVOID MORNING-AFTER FOOD

Are you hosting family and friends at your place this year? Allow yourself to enjoy the meal you prepared or the items your visitors brings as part of a potluck but be sure to send your guests home with food filled tupperware. You may feel as though the tasty leftovers should be your compensation for being such a gracious host, but believe me, it’s the leftovers that will do you in!

BREW SOME HERBAL TEAS

Photo by Jess Baumung

This one should come as absolutely no surprise but research shows that herbal teas like peppermint and ginger, in addition to chamomile,  can help calm stomach muscles and reduce gas. No teabags in sight in your pantry? Boiling a knob of raw ginger in a pot of water or a cup of hot water with lemon can also do the trick.

DON’T SWEAR OFF DESSERTS

Remember that time when Mariah Carey was doing the “morsel diet” a decade ago where she would literally eat only three bites of any food she wanted, before discarding it to limit her intake of calories? Definitely not a healthy or recommended approach for weight management, but this method is quite effective and the perfect plan of attack for the dessert table during the holidays for people like me, who have a wicked sweet tooth. You’ll get that amazing first taste, a satisfying middle one and then the lingering third bite – that should have you satisfied.

Miscarriage: The Exclusive Club Women Don’t Want to Belong To

There’s a private club that exists and none of it’s members want to be a part of it. A “Secret Society”, if you will, that virtually nobody speaks of. Unlike most exclusive clubs where you receive a membership with pride, acceptance into this particular one causes feelings of shame, fear, sadness and anger. “Miscarriage” is the name of the club and I just happen to be it’s newest member. Today, a startling 1 in 3 pregnancies are not viable, meaning thirty-three percent of women looking to become pregnancy will suffer at least one miscarriage. What’s even more scary, the chance of losing a baby only increases with each miscarriage you have.

The Truth About Miscarriage

I’ve received flack in the past for not sharing more about my personal life. I guess sharing motivating and positive posts on social media make people think that I am not 100% authentic – which is ridiculous. I have been very open about my health condition and the challenges that arise from my kidney disease and chronic pain, but prefer to be able to keep some details on my partner, family and home life private. I have felt a wave of emotion since my miscarriage; a rotation of disbelief, sadness and anger, but the one thing that was constant was the feeling of loneliness and isolation. Feeling like I had nobody to talk or relate to. I still feel a bit that way and it’s been almost four weeks but I have noticed that the more I speak about it, the more I discover how many other women I had in my close circles that had gone through one or several miscarriages. I have literally spent the last two weeks picking my mouth off  the ground, I kid you not, from the amount of women who have revealed stories to me. So I have concluded that women who miscarry feel isolated because we are conditioned to not open up and talk about the topic. Like many women’s issues, we are expected to be silent. But if we did feel comfortable opening up, the chances of us meeting and engaging with other women going through the same thing would be significantly higher. I know this sort of post is a departure from the type of content I normally share however, I felt compelled to talk about it, in hopes to let other women who are going through the same thing know that they are allowed to mourn, they are allowed to be sad, they are allowed to feel anger and they shouldn’t feel guilty.

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So here’s the deal…despite my plans for my three year goals which you have probably read earlier this year on my blog, my boyfriend and I decided this summer it was time to start trying to expand our little family. After spending so much time with our nephew Leilan, I think we fell in love with the idea of having our own and that adorable little chocolate chunk made us expedite our baby plans. Before I knew it, there was this sudden urge for me to become Mom. I think some of you were on to me after watching some of my snaps and Instagram stories – saying how maternal I looked with whenever I was around the baby. In August we tried and let me just say, we were shocked to discover I got pregnant so quickly –  on the first try no less. I am in my thirties and without getting too specific with a number – I would say closer to forty than I am to thirty. So naturally, with my age and kidney condition, we thought we may have a difficult time conceiving. Clearly not the case! When your pregnancy is planned, your mindset after learning you’re with child is extremely different than when it is unexpected. Planning for the baby started right away for the both of us. So here I was in late summer, pregnant with a much wanted baby desperately trying to hide the nausea, the gigantic size of my boobs, the changes to my body, which is hard when you normally work out in a sports bra and short tights, and the OVERWHELMING fatigue from clients, when all I wanted to do was scream from the rooftops that we were having a baby. This summer had by far been the busiest I’ve ever been since I started building my brand and as much as I should have probably slowed down, it was so difficult to turn down all the amazing opportunities coming my way.

The Truth About Miscarriage

We all know the rule of staying silent about a pregnancy during the first trimester but for some reason, I actually never believed that miscarriage would happen to me. Silly and ignorant of me to assume that, trust me I know. This was before I knew the startling high rate of miscarriages. I am healthy…take good care of myself. Eat well, exercise and I had no problems conceiving so I honestly thought that I would have a happy, normal pregnancy. Well, if Beyonce, who is basically a unicorn, can miscarry a child – it can happen to anyone.

Throughout the pregnancy I never felt any real major concerns to make me feel like something was wrong. At the time to my knowledge, all of my symptoms were textbook. I still felt pregnant. My hormones were still crazy making me feel like I wanted to rip my boyfriend’s head off like a praying mantis over the smallest things. More importantly, I had no spotting or bleeding. I did however notice some cramping starting around week six or seven but just attributed it to gas, because I had a lot of it, and from what I read, gas was a very normal side effect. Pregnancy has some uncomfortable symptoms and I kept mum about the gnawing pain not wanting to be one of those crazy first time mother’s calling my doctor with a different concern every single day. Once your 35, you’re considered high risk and with my kidney ailment, my family physician was on heightened alert. Highly suggesting I choose a traditional pregnancy path and birthing my plan for safety in lieu of having a home birth with the assistance of a midwife that we so badly wanted. Also, he suggested that I have an early ultrasound, just to ensure everything was ok in the early stages. I was a bag of emotions prior to the eight week ultrasound but mainly excited to hear the heartbeat our little creation for the first time with Rejean. After what seemed like 15 minutes of internal imaging from a technician with a very distressed look on her face, I knew right away something was terribly wrong. “Ms Exeter, are you sure you’re 8 weeks pregnant? Have you had any bleeding or concern that you may have had a miscarriage? Because I am not seeing a heartbeat“. If you’ve had an ultrasound for anything in your life, not just for a pregnancy, you know the technician is not allowed to say anything during your visit. Their job is to take the imaging and send it off to your doctor. Why she was divulging this information to me while I was still lying on the table still puzzles me to this day. My immediate panic made the technician back pedal quickly and tell me that it is not uncommon for a heartbeat to not be visible this early. It could also be because of the position of the fetus. But the red flag was not only the missing heartbeat but also that the size of the fetus in the dating ultrasound, which did not match how far along my doctor and I believed I was in my pregnancy. Results were sent to Dr. Fischer, who could have told me right then and there my pregnancy did not have a chance and discuss my next steps. I was given the “option” to re-test my HcG levels to check my hormone count but it came across as more of a suggestion and not mandatory. We were heading to Chicago a couple days later so I decided to just leave it until we returned. I wanted to enjoy some time away from my partner stress free. I also was in a bit of denial, trying to somehow convince myself that if my doctor felt there was an actual cause for serious concern, he would have said so right away, so all should be good. A follow up internal ultrasound was booked two weeks later and during that appointment it was confirmed there was still no heartbeat at 11 weeks. The fetus had in fact been dead inside of me for 6 weeks. Receiving this news felt like a building had literally came crashing down on me and I was tramped underneath piles of rubble with my lungs gasping for an ounce of air. I could not breathe. It was my worst nightmare coming true and a million and one questions began popping into my head. “Why meWhat is wrong with me? Am I too old? What did I do that could have caused this to happen? Why me? What is Rejean going to say? Is he not going to want to try again? And what about the people we told? How am I going to tell them this news? If the fetus had been dead all this time, why hadn’t it already expelled from my body?” I felt ashamed, terrified, stressed the fuck out and just so very sad.

After speaking with a midwife and my naturopath, I now know that I should have be told right after the first ultrasound that the pregnancy wasn’t viable and given options on next steps. I should have been instructed to have my HcG tested immediately and without question, a follow-up ultrasound should have been performed a couple days later, not a couple weeks. I was referred to St. Joseph’s hospital right after the it was determined it was a silent miscarriage to have a D&C procedure to remove the fetus and clear out any waste from the uterus. However after nine hours of blood work, internal pelvic exams and waiting, I was sent home without having it done due to lack of bed availability at the hospital which is ludicrous. I was instructed that I could either wait for nature to take it’s course or get a prescription for Misoprostol, a pill to help induce the passing of the fetus, and tylenol 3 for the pain. I decided to ask for the script from the doctor – I didn’t want something that wasn’t alive in me a second longer after knowing it was sitting there for six weeks. Well, after a long day in doctor’s offices and the hospital, by the time I was discharged at 1:30am, the bleeding and cramping has started to begin on it’s own. It was too much stress on my system the so my body finally started to do what it needed to do. Nobody really prepared me for what was going to happen next. Not even the OBGYN student assigned to me, who was doing her residency rounds that night. Before leaving the hospital we were not given adequate information to prepare for what was to come, which was 12 hours of severe cramping or contraction-like pain one would expect during labour, having to see the remains of my pregnancy leave my body and having to pass the placenta that had developed during the pregnancy a day later. Trust me, there are just some things you can’t unsee. I, like most women who had never had a miscarriage, thought it would be similar to a bowel movement – some stomach pains and a trip to the washroom and it was over…leaving you to deal with the emotions afterwards. Not even close – or at least for me in my situation. Drug free, it was very painful, extremely traumatic and afterwards feeling your pregnancy symptoms slowly disappear as your hormone levels start to drop, acts as a cold reminder that your body no longer houses another life.

So what happens next? Well, to be honest it’s a very strange and troubling thing. Although most women feel heartbroken, guilty, shameful and have endless internal questions, we for some reason feel as though we must put on a brave face and keep it moving. Go back to work like nothing ever happened, coo over a friend’s new baby or attend a baby shower with a smile when we’re devastated and still in mourning or hide our tears whenever we feel a wash of emotion come over us. Because while losing a friend or a relative activates an immediate support network of sympathy and understanding, losing a baby brings a very lonely silence. With the rise of miscarriages today, it is not uncommon for someone to know at least one person who has gone through it, however that person has probably spared their friend, sibling, colleague, etc all the gory details and ugly truth as to what they actually experienced, leaving people who have never been through it to say things like, “Oh wow, sorry to hear that. It’s just so common now…so many women have them.” – marginalizing the situation as if you have just contracted a common flu or cold. If I had a dollar for every time I heard this response, I would be retired and rich living on a private island in the Grenadines. Others will elaborate and mention that they know people what have miscarried and went on to have healthy pregnancies, which I will admit, is much more comforting than the former response. There are some, thank God, who have been so kind and showed so much empathy, filling our home with flowers and our hearts with love. For those who have called, texted or come by – I am so very appreciative!  As the calls decrease, the flowers die and the visitors stop coming, shit starts to get real. It had become extremely difficult for me to see a pregnant woman or a woman with a young baby. Believe me, I have come undone at the seams more times than I want to admit in public. What was probably the worst part was going from sharing the excitement of pregnancy with a few of my friends who were also expecting, to then having to watch them continue through their pregnancy while I was battling these emotions. It FUCKING sucks. It’s like a constant reminder of where I should have been if I was still pregnant and as a friend, I am so happy for them but still so very sad for myself. Not an ideal situation and it’s been hard for some of them to have empathy and understand that.

Just like many  other women who have just gone through a miscarriage, I wanted to find a way to make my feelings of sadness and lost disappear as soon as possible. So my first thought was to get pregnant right away. Sounds absolutely nuts doesn’t it? Well, it would to me if someone else told me that. My advice to someone else would be to chill, rest, take some time to digest, etc but nope, I had my mind set on a baby and decided that I needed to get pregnant ASAP. There are thousands of online discussion boards where women are expressing they are frantically trying to find ways to conceive again quickly. They say that you become more fertile 60 days after miscarrying or having a baby, so many women quickly get back into baby making mode on a quest for what is called a “Rainbow Baby” to fill a void. I was not thinking rationally but after speaking to my partner and Naturopath, I have come to my senses and have decided to press pause and take a much needed break. And a vacation and time off work wouldn’t be a bad idea either. Getting pregnant doesn’t seem to be an issue for us, I just need carry my next pregnancy to term and the best way for me to do that is to wait for my pregnancy hormone level to go back to zero, allow my uterine wall to build back up and improve my Kidney Chi via weekly acupuncture sessions to improve my chances of a healthy, full term pregnancy the next time around.

As you can imagine, I have replayed my entire pregnancy over and over in my head. Searching for clues, trying to figure out what went wrong, what I did or what I could have done differently and the answer to that is – nothing! The body is highly sophisticated and intelligent, knows when there is going to be an abnormality or issue with the baby, which results in the pregnancy not progressing. I am learning to accept this and understand that nature’s interception in my pregnancy did more good than harm. More importantly, a miscarriage does not mean I won’t go on to have a happy, healthy pregnancy in the future. To help my recovery over the last week, I have been talking to a lot of women, especially those who have one or more children. Some I know personally and even women I just met. I think so many of us make the assumption that women who have a child probably had no issues with their pregnancy journey. When it turns out, so many I’ve spoken to have suffered multiple miscarriages secretly or had fertility issues that they hid because they were either embarrassed or felt that they didn’t have anyone who could relate to them. It seems as though that with time and a healthy pregnancy, these women are able to now talk about their experience with a tiny bit of detachment and I long for the day when I can do that too. In the meantime, I am finding solace in the small network I have built from being open and honest and if any of you reading this post is going through a miscarriage, do not suffer in silence. Once you start opening up you will discover a support system around you, you never imagined existed. It’s as if women don’t want to say anything until you say something first. Trust me, you will be very surprised. If you’ve made to the end of this beastly long post, thank you for taking the time to read this. As much as I hope this may be helpful for someone else, writing (or typing) these words have been extremely cathartic for me and has helped me in my recovery. xoxo

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