Tuesday, September 2, 2014

How To Be A Grown Ass Woman: Romantic Relationships

Last month, I launched my ecourse The Post College Survival Kit. In honor of trying to be the best adults we can be (regardless of our current age) I'll be posting about how we can become awesome, grown ass women.

doesn't this photo make you think of Lowered Expectations

Few things have brought so much joy and so much heartbreak to my adult life as my romantic relationships. I've spent about 13 years of my life in relationships (yes, that's lots of boyfriends, Mom) and I have learned a lot from them.

Here are nine ways you can learn from my dating mistakes and hopefully find your person with slightly less hassle. 

1. Know who you are + what you want
Now, knowing who you are is easier said than done and that process really deserves a blog post onto itself (this one might help you get started.) Once you've got that figured out, life (and dating) gets about a million times easier. Before you dive headlong into dating, think about the sort of relationship you're looking for at this point in your life. 

Do you want to date a series of interesting cuties? Are you looking for something that's exclusive but low-pressure? A summer fling? Your future spouse?  All of these are perfectly acceptable! Your romantic life will be a lot more enjoyable if you know what you want and then date accordingly. (re: don't try to force a summer fling to be a life-long commitment and don't pretend you're interested in girlfriending when you really just want something fun and open.) 

2. Be honest about who you are + what you want
True story: I met my guy online. My headline? 'I will go camping with you but I'm totally not watching football.' A lot of guys probably avoided me because I sounded like a bitchy, non-sports-watcher. My guy hates watching football and thinks I'm hilarious.

When you're honest about who you are - online or off - you create a self-selecting group of suitors. When you water yourself down and try to appeal to everyone, you get lost in a sea of sameness and your perfect someone can't find you.

It's equally important to be really honest about what you're looking for. I know it's tempting to play yourself off as a Super Breezy Laid Back Girl Who's Not Looking For Anything Serious (and if that's who you really are - awesome! also: how do you do that?) But if you're looking for a boyfriend or you want to get married in the next few years, check those effing boxes in your online dating profile. 

3. Get specific about what you're looking for in a partner
Has anyone ever told you you're 'aiming too high'? Dude, you are allowed to ask for more in a partner than 'cute, nice, funny.' You are allowed to want someone who has a job they like, takes care of themselves physically and emotionally, loves their family, has an active social life, isn't saddled with five figure credit card debt and knows how to communicate.

At the risk of getting all rhyme-y and life-coach-y on you, you have to name it to claim it. It's hard to find what you want if you don't know what it looks like. Get out a notebook and give yourself over to fantasy. Make a list of alllll the qualities your perfect partner would have. Go light on the superficial stuff ("blonde with a six pack") and heavy on how this partner would make you feel ("would support my dreams of world travel and tell me I'm funny at least twice a week.")

4. If someone's not right for you, communicate that respectfully + promptly
You know what's The Actual Worst? The Slow Fade. Worse yet? When someone simply stops responding to your texts or emails after you've gone on multiple dates. Gross. We're better than that, right?

When you realize someone isn't Your Person, respect them enough to tell them so. Don't drag it out for another three months while you try to convince yourself that you like them. Don't act like a jerk till they dump you. Here's a great post on how to end a relationship in a classy manner. 

5. Figure out how you feel about monogamy + communicate those feelings
One of the hardest times in any relationship is around the third-fifth date when things are heading in the Bedroom Direction but have not yet headed in the What Are We Doing Direction. Like, are you officially dating? Is this person your boyfriend or girlfriend? Do they still have an dating profile up online? If you're someone who appreciates monogamy here's a little speech you can give, pre-bedroom activity.

Soooo, we've been hanging out for a bit now and while I'm not looking for a super serious, Facebook-official thing, I'm not comfortable sleeping with more than one person and I'm not really comfortable sharing sexual partners. I like to limit myself to people I actually, you know, like. And I like you. If that doesn't sound like something you're into, no worries, I just wanted to be open with you about where I'm at. 

(and then you need to actually not sleep with them if they're sleeping with other people.) 

6. Don't take your solid, committed relationship for granted
I know how easy it is to take your partnership for granted. It's so, so easy to only look cute when you have to be seen in public and to be your snippiest, least awesome self when you're at home with your person. Let's not.

Let's schedule in those all-important date nights, find cuter versions of our hang-around-the-house clothes, sing our partner's praises at dinner parties and make their coffee how they like. It matters and it makes a difference. 

7. Don't forget about your friendships + hobbies now that you're in a relationship
Those regular date nights you schedule with your partner? Make them with your friends, too. And all that cool stuff you did before you guys got serious? The dance classes, the road trips, the book club? Keep doing 'em. Your relationship should be the icing on the cake - not the whole cake.

8. Know that fashion, bodies, hobbies change. Intelligence, personality, ethics rarely do
It's a forgone conclusion that we judge people by their looks and it's incredibly easy to scroll through someone's online dating profile, check out their favorite bands/books/movies, note their skinny jeans and mentally prepare to marry them. It's also easy to think that because you both love traveling and snowboarding that you're a match made in Boulder.

I'm not saying you're wrong. I am saying that the likelihood that you'll still be obsessed with Chuck Klosterman and carving the fresh powder when you're 65 is pretty low. Perhaps we should all give a bit more consideration to the person who remembers their sister's birthday, listens when you tell them about your day, and stands up for their beliefs, even when it's inconvenient.

Sometimes the best person for you doesn't come wrapped in a perfectly chiseled, plaid-wearing bow. Sometimes they're wearing athletic sandals. Maybe they have a goatee. And we're adult so we can decide not to be hung up on silly things like that.

9. When you go through a breakup or you get fed up with dating, give yourself a break forpetessake
Few of us make good decisions when we're broken-hearted or overwhelmed and freshly single one night stands rarely end well. When I've gone through bad breakups, I put myself on a three month dating hiatus and the same can be said for dating overwhelm. Deactivate the account, delete the app, and go enjoy your friends and some fresh air. All those profiles will still be there when you come back.

Do you feel like you're pretty adult in romantic relationships? Share your best tips or advice in the comments!

P.S. How To Be A Grown Ass Woman: Friendships and How To Be A Grown Ass Woman: Your Professional Life

photo by David Cooper // cc

Monday, September 1, 2014

True Story: My Husband and I Created A New Last Name

This is one of many True Story interviews in which we talk to people who have experienced interesting/challenging/amazing things. This is the story of Sarah, her husband, and their new last name.

Tell us a bit about yourself! 
I'm an almost-30 former-teacher-turned-freelance writer in Virginia. My husband is a history teacher, and for fun we draw comics and promote his Christian music

Growing up, did you have any particular attachment to your last name? Or any strong feelings about women changing their last name after marriage? 
My family of origin is awesome. I have three successful, friendly brothers, and my parents raised us with a sense of pride in our last name. I also played a lot of sports, so my nickname ended up being my last name. I still have friends who would be more comfortable calling me Marbach, even more than Sarah. 

All that is just to say that marriage seemed like a far-off proposition all the time, so I never gave much thought to the idea of changing my last name. When the time came, it felt like I was being kicked out of the club of awesome and pushed into someone else's life. "The way it's supposed to be," and "tradition," didn't feel like good enough reasons to suddenly merge myself into a different family.

When did you first come up with the idea of combining your last names?
Here's the ironic part: in college I had a professor who created a new last name with her spouse and I was less-than-understanding about it (read: I snickered a lot). When the time came to be Mrs. HisLastName, I just couldn't wrap my head around years of being, simply, Marbach, to people, and then suddenly taking on someone else's family identity. It didn't feel like a partnership or a complete blending of our lives, or any of the things we had been talking about during our engagement. 

What were some of the other combinations you tried?
At first, we played around with our names like anagrams. We dismissed Greebach almost immediately. Marson was in the running for a short time, but it sounded so much like Manson and my husband didn't like that. I would have loved to just drop down to Bach, but once I started down that road, I had an epiphany and texted him ".....Greesonbach!". He loved it immediately, and it felt right right from the start. 

How did the people in your life respond to your decision?
We knew there would be fallout on both sides of the families. I won't pretend it's commonplace or normal! We thought it best to let everyone react in private and so announced it in our first family Christmas letter. I got one or two calls asking if it was a joke and then a little awkward silence when I said it wasn't. 

In the letter and in conversation, I found it was very helpful to first admit that it's weird, but then thank them in advance for being so welcoming. Two years later, there's still a twinkle in my mom's eye when she says my last name, but it's good-humored, and my husband and I have no regrets. Our names of origin feel like they're missing something to both of us now!

Did any (particularly sexist) people hassle your husband about changing his name? 
Especially as a teacher, he's had to deal with some weird looks and nagging-maybe-rude questions from students and coworkers. On the whole, though, he hasn't experienced any flat-out "Wow, you're not a man anymore." We still get cards written out to Mrs. Josh Greeson, but they're always from people over 70-years-old, so I figure they've earned the right to do what they want (or, at least, it's not worth the fight). 

This choice has, though, allowed me some insight into the perspective of some men (okay, just one). I received my one and only piece of hate mail from a man whose fiancee read my story on The Everygirl. He mockingly thanked me for "putting such an idea in her head" and told me that he hoped I didn't end their engagement. (Quotations used to express my amusement that he doesn't think his fiance's brain is capable of original thought). 

I don't mean to say that everyone should do this -- for some women, it feels natural to take a new last name and they might even have looked forward to it for a long time. But to think that it's not even on the table -- that you're not worth marrying if you won't change your name -- is something I cannot understand. At the very least, bringing the topic up might be the start of a good conversation to make sure you're both on the same page before getting married. 

Is the process for two spouses changing their last names to a new one any different than the process for a new Mrs. changing her name?
I was very surprised how easy it was for him to change his last name. I suspect that more people than we think change their last name -- for reasons other than marriage -- and perhaps the people doing the paperwork assumed it was something else when they filed ours. We just had the court order from our locality, then took it to the social security department, and then used that paperwork to change over bills and financial information.

If you have a daughter, what will you tell her about getting married and changing her name?
I can't for the life of me remember where I heard this quote (either Real Simple or Oprah Magazine), but I will tell her to "Go with the choice that feels like freedom." I hope she'll agree with me that it's important to have the same last name for a sense of family unity, but I also hope she'll know enough to follow her gut. In the end she's the one who will live with her choices -- not her mom, her mother-in-law, or her friends. And so long as she and her spouse reach the decision thoughtfully and with respect to each other's needs, I don't know what there'd be to get upset about!

Thanks so much for sharing, Sarah! For you married readers - what's your last name situation? I don't think I'd change my last name but I've always joked that any future husband of mine is welcome to slap 'Von' on the front of his last name.

P.S. How to fight fair and How to date a younger man

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Web Time Wasters

Friends! How was your week? As you read this I'm in Seattle with my guy, celebrating my recent birthday. I also spent four days in Portland with my wonderful ladies Alex, Shauna, and Kelly. We had The Most Fun. On the docket for Seattle? Whale watching and eating. Yay!

Links! For you!

Co-signedA person gets an immense amount of satisfaction from the knowledge of having done good work and of having made the best use of their day.

My idea of richness.

Have you ever wondered what it's like to be a social worker?

100 ways to reduce stress. Yes!  I particularly love #23 and #36.

If your twenties aren't quite turning out as planned, don't worry. You're not a hap-hazard has been.
Somewhere in the last 7 years, that certain, sugary-sweet, and eternally optimistic girl has become someone who has a tendency to scrawl out everything in a day planner, (slick black ink, please). Who sometimes chooses to nap instead of careening down a dirt road to a tiny mountain town. Who occasionally worries that I’ve lost it–whatever it is, that used to make me so magnetic. But who knows that I’m finding my way back, finding my way forward, fighting my way forward into exactly who I want to to be.

Do you ever get out of your depth on DIY projects? 8 home projects you should just pay someone else to do.

This studio apartment is perrrrfect! That floating wall with the mirror! So clever!

Also: I love this Scandinavian-style cottage in New Zealand.

I've heard nothing but good things about this. Have you tried it?

It's possible! How to wear a crop top in your forties!

Things to make/eat/bake: spaghetti pie, raspberry and pomegranate smoothie with green tea ice cubes, almond butter and fig sandwiches.

Real talk. Something isn't your #1 priority if you have 50 of them.
The only reason we’re “so stressed” and “so busy” and constantly feeling like there “isn’t enough time” is because we’re trying to do too many things at once. That’s it, that’s the reason. And do you want to know why we do this in the first place? It’s because we don’t have a true priority. That anxious feeling of not having enough time is a direct symptom of not knowing what the top priority is, because when nothing is important everything feels urgent, and we spend our lives crashing around from one thing to another thing, checking our email “just one more time” or whatever crazy habits we’ve fallen into to make ourselves feel fulfilled through the trap of “more more more.”

I spent six weeks in a Nepal a few years ago and got to know my hiking guide pretty well. I was fascinated by this post about Mount Everest, climber culture, and how the climbing industry affects locals.

Isn't this dress pretty? I'd pair it with motorcycle boots and a big, black hobo bag.

Yes! A template for your online dating profile.

What the bride took 
The bride took her husband’s last name. The bride took her mother-in-law’s bracelet. The bride took six gold candlesticks from the reception hall. The bride took her sister’s dignity and her cousin’s eyes. The bride was last seen heading north.

This photography is magical.

I love these prints with bits of gold ink.

Ha! I've always suspected as much!

Good tips for taking great photos with your smart phone - without using apps or filters!

Is pelvis the new cleavage?

Totally overpriced. Super pretty.

Some Yes and Yes posts you might have missed: That time I did a police ride-along, Mini Travel Guide: Sri Lanka, 5 must-do travel splurges (even if you're really broke) 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Sweet little coin purses + 'healthy' cocktails + An old fashioned summer

It's Saturday! Let's not try to catch up on work. Let's peruse links from this month's sponsors instead, shall we?

Favorite stuff:
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Twitter // Pinterest // Instagram

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Would you like to see you face or url here? In front of 11,000+ readers? It's cheaper than you'd think and suuuuuper effective. Check out rates, traffic, and testimonials from previous sponsors here or drop me a line at sarah (at) yesandyes (dot) org and we'll get you started!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Notes To My Younger Self

This is the last week of The Post College Survival Kit blog crawl. The last week of being inspired by wiser bloggers' insights. It's particularly appropo because today is my birthday and lo, there are many things I'd tell me younger self. 

Ten years ago, I was celebrating my birthday in Taiwan. I'd just moved there with a boyfriend who wasn't right for me and the country had just been hit by a huge typhoon. The water mains in my huge, tropical city were damaged and we spent hours every day filling buckets with water and strategically planning when/where we'd go to the bathroom. Our new apartment did not include an air conditioner or a fridge and - afraid of food I didn't recognize - I was living on yogurt and Pringles.

Eventually I got my footing. I bought a scooter and tore through back roads on my days off. I fell in love with teaching and with my terrifyingly bright kindergarten students. I learned to identify cubes of congealed duck blood (which look disconcertingly like seasoned tofu) and negotiate prices in Mandarin.

I wish I could travel back in time and tell Younger Me that it would all work out.
That I'd find a way to cobble together a job that fed my passions and actually paid that bills.
That I'd (finally) find the right guy.
That I could keep traveling and I get to define 'settling down' however I want.

But enough about me and my twenties. Let's steal some wisdom from my friends!

Molly // Hey Eleanor! 

Pay your dues.Three months of data entry, running errands and grabbing lunch at an internship is not paying your dues. Paying your dues will probably take years. Until then, be helpful at work. Offer to stay late to assist a coworker. Save your complaints about mindless grunt work for happy hour with friends. Don't just dump your coffee mug in the break room sink, do all the dishes
. Read the whole post here.

Stephanie // The Loudmouth Lifestyle

Stop feeling obligated, learn to say no, and live your own life. Growing up, I was always a people pleaser. I aimed to please my parents and teachers. When I got older, I switched my focus to making my friends and boyfriends happy. I hated the thought of hurting anyone's feelings and was constantly taking everyone (but me) into consideration. I wish I would've done more for myself but instead I allowed the fear of not being "nice" enough control me.
Read the whole post here.

Courtney // Bowdenisms

You will do this. It's hard to know in the moment if all that effort is ever going to pay off. If the road clouded with dark patches will end in the light. I know how it feels to be on the endless path of striving, just try try trying until (and past) the brink of exhaustion. But stick with it. Read the whole post here.

Oh, Kate. You need to stop being so horribly shy and scared to live. It's a lot easier to break that mold now, it's a lot harder when we're getting closer to (gasp!) thirty. Talk to other humans, it's not that bad. Go outside more. Learn to drive and then drive somewhere far away. Take day trips alone, make friends and take day trips with them, too. Go to the movies once in a while. Try new foods. Find a cute, smart guy and ask him out. It won't be the end of the world if he says no. Read the whole post here

Jaime K. // Save the Kales
Being yourself is not a phase.The punk rock kids you meet in high school and college will not only turn out to be some of your best friends, they will show you things that become part of your life and part of you. Social awareness and activism are the foundation of you life’s purpose, crayon-colored hair comes back in your 30’s, and cut and paste ‘zines eventually become “blogs” and set you on the path for an unconventional career. Read the whole post here

Kate // Betty Means Business

You rarely get points for effort. At once sadly and fabulously true, this was a big lesson for me. When it comes to work, I’ve found your results are mainly what count. Your boss or your clients probably aren’t going to want to see your working in the way your maths teacher did on your exam papers.Beware: you’ll still often get out of your endeavours what you put in, the trick is knowing where to best invest your energy for the greatest return. Read the whole post here.

And if you're curious, you can download a free, 26-page sample of the course here

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Real Life Style Icon: Carelia of 'My Small Wardrobe'

This is one of many Real Life Style Icon interviews in which we talk to funny, interesting humans who also happen to be incredibly stylish.

Location: North Carolina
Online haunts: blog // facebook // instagram // tumblr // pinterest 

Three reasons you're awesome:
I am 43 and I am proud to say it.
I am the mother of two wonderful grown up boys
I never forget where I come from...Honduras.

What are you wearing right now, as you type this?
Adidas workout suit and trail running sneakers. Getting ready to go for my six mile run.

What is the last item of clothing you bought?
H&M Floral Maxi dress. 

What is the item of clothing you most covet at the moment?
Burberry Trench Coat. I saved this search on Ebay hoping to find one used and with a reasonable price. I just love the fabric and the fit of their coats. 

Tell us about a favorite childhood memory about your clothes.
Way back in the early 80's in Honduras, I cut off the sleeves of a sweater to wear them as leg warmer. Yeah, you couldn't find leg warmers in a tropical country and who would need them? In my defense, they looked cool and I even saw a couple gals at my school wearing the cut-off sleeves as leg warmers later in the year.

What is your best thrifting score?
A vintage needlepoint bag, so Dolce & Gabbana!

Could you tell us your top three style tricks/DIYs?
1. Mixing patterns, colors and textures is one of my favorite tricks when getting ready. Life is too short for a boring look.

2. Juxtaposition is another way of mixing in order to give a certain edge to my looks. Perhaps combining soft and girly with tomboyish pieces is always a very refreshing combo.

3. Styling with high, low and vintage pieces is my third way of making my looks more personal and unique. I don't feel the need of wearing designer name brands from head to toes in order to look chic.

Thanks so much for sharing, Carelia!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Read // Eat: Pink Penguin Cocktail from 'Where'd You Go, Bernadette?'

This Read // Eat guest post comes to us via Alicia of Jaybird fame. When she's not making a mess in the kitchen, she tries her hand at home DIY projects and elaborate picnics. Go be friends! Twitter / Instagram.

pink penguin cocktail

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple is the story of a family: one proudly eccentric mom, one work-obsessed dad, and one precocious teenage girl named Bee.

When Bee’s mom, Bernadette, disappears after some disastrous social encounters, there is no question that Bee will follow her. Putting together clues from emails, faxes and a mysterious package, Bee struggles to track down Bernadette. Though their marriage is far from perfect, her husband Elgie joins the search party in an attempt to both find his wife and bond with his increasingly distant daughter.

The journey takes Elgie and Bee on a cruise to Antarctica, originally planned as a family adventure. There they meet naturalists, all kinds of passengers, and the best part: plenty of penguins.

“It turns out the lady is a scientist at Palmer Station,” Dad said. “And the pink penguin is their official drink.”

I couldn’t find an official recipe for the Pink Penguin cocktail, and the book didn’t give any hints, so I decided to whip up my own. This Pink Penguin is a classic gin fizz with two twists: watermelon juice and the addition of basil to the simple syrup.

Though these fresh ingredients may not be readily available on a cruise ship like the one in the novel, I figured I could take some creative liberties for those of us making drinks at home. The Pink Penguin is sweet, but the flavors of peppery fresh basil and herbal gin balance out the watermelon and sugar. I hope you’ll enjoy this while relaxing on a sunny patio somewhere.

Pink Penguin Cocktail from Where’d You Go, Bernadette?
Makes one 8 oz. cocktail

Basil Simple Syrup (makes 2 cups; plenty for later)
a handful (around 10) fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
1.5 cups white sugar
1.5 cups water

4 1” chunks of ripe watermelon
½ oz. basil simple syrup
¾ oz. fresh lime juice
2 oz. gin
ice cubes
a splash of club soda
a sprig of basil for garnish
optional: frozen blueberries

In a small saucepan, combine ingredients for simple syrup and bring to a boil while stirring. Once sugar has dissolved completely, remove the pan from heat and let the syrup cool. Strain into a jar to store in the fridge for up to a month.

To make the cocktail, muddle watermelon in the bottom of a cocktail shaker (I mashed it with the handle of a wooden spoon). Add simple syrup, lime juice, gin and fill the shaker with ice. Close and shake until thorough combined, then strain into an 8 oz. glass.

Add club soda to top off the glass and frozen blueberries or ice cubes as desired. Garnish with basil. Extra points for a twee straw.

What’s your favorite literary-based cocktail?

P.S. How to throw a J.D. Salinger-themed dinner party and Cheryl Strayed granola

Monday, August 25, 2014

True Story: I Had 2 Miscarriages

This is one of many True Story interviews in which we talk to people who have experienced interesting/challenging/amazing things. This is the story of my friend Kaitlin and her miscarriages. It's estimated that 10-25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage.

Kaitlin and her husband

Tell us a bit about yourself.  
I'm from Minnesota, currently living in San Francisco, but soon to be moving back to Minneapolis (yay!). I'm 34 and, although I have far too many degrees, my present job (in property management) is not really related to any of them.

Growing up, how did you feel about having kids? 
I can't say that I daydreamed about being a mother, but I've always been fairly confident that I wanted to have a child. I've thought about other ways to build a family -- one of my younger sisters is adopted, so that option has always been something I've been willing to consider. However, I have a strong desire to experience carrying a baby, giving birth, breastfeeding, etc.

Can you tell us about the circumstances surrounding your miscarriages? 
My husband and I started trying to conceive when I was 32. After about nine months, we were successful. We were thrilled and I was pretty nervous. My mother had four miscarriages and, growing up, she was quite open about her experience. So, for me, the possibility of miscarriage wasn't just this thing that happened to "other women"-- I knew quite well that it was common and could happen to me.

Nevertheless, we were optimistic after an initial dating ultrasound at 6.5 weeks. We saw a little heartbeat so, even though we knew it was really early, we told our parents about the pregnancy that night. 

How did you know you were having a miscarriage? What did you do when you realized what was happening?
I think one of the big misconceptions about miscarriages is that they are these instantaneous events--everything is fine one minute, and the next minute the women is cramping and bleeding and she knows it's all over. That does happen, but the process can be a lot more drawn out for many women. 

With my first miscarriage, I had no idea that anything was wrong. When I was about 9.5 weeks pregnant, I went in for an ultrasound that was unrelated to the pregnancy. During the ultrasound, the tech let me peek at the baby on the screen and there was no fetal heartbeat. The baby had stopped developing at about 7.5 weeks, but my body had not yet recognized that fact. I hadn't had any bleeding or cramping.

I was given three options: 1) I could wait a couple of weeks to see if I would miscarry on my own, 2) I could have a D&C (dilation and curettage -- where a doctor goes in and manually removes the pregnancy), or 3) I could take medication to help my body expel the pregnancy. I opted to wait two weeks and then, when my body was still showing no signs of recognizing the miscarriage, I had a D&C.

I ended up getting pregnant again just a few months later. This time around, we went in for an ultrasound when I was 7.5 weeks pregnant and there was only an empty sac visible. After some follow-up blood work and another ultrasound, I was diagnosed with a blighted ovum (the sac develops, but the embryo itself does not). I had another D&C.

How did you cope - emotionally, physically - after the miscarriages? Were there any resources/books/websites that really helped?
I was absolutely devastated after my first miscarriage. When I became pregnant again rather quickly, I was hopeful that the new pregnancy might allow me to swiftly move past the loss. So, needless to say, having two miscarriages back-to-back took a huge emotional toll.

I was so ANGRY, but there was really no logical place to direct that anger. I started picking ridiculous fights with my husband and we argued a lot during that time. I eventually decided to join a therapist-led infertility support group and I've made some friends via an online support forum, both of which helped tremendously.

I'm also someone who is comforted by research and information gathering. To that end, I found one particularly helpful, comforting podcast "Creating a Family" which features expert guests discussing different issues related to fertility and family building. 

Finally, my mother has been a huge source of support. I can't exactly say I'm glad that my mom had miscarriages, but it does mean that she knows exactly what to say (and what not to say).

Have your miscarriages affected other aspects of your life? 
The miscarriages (and infertility) were definitely hard on my marriage at times. I think it has really been a test of our ability to communicate and support each other.

It's also sometimes been quite difficult to see some of my friends get pregnant and have children with (seemingly) no difficulty. I don't want anyone to struggle, obviously, but it can feel very isolating to feel as though everyone around me is having a completely different experience with family building than I am.

Are you planning on starting a family? 
I'm happy to say that, more than a year after my second miscarriage (and with the help of infertility treatment), I am pregnant again. I'm eight months along and, although I have my fears, I've had a number of ultrasounds and everything seems to be progressing well.

As far as preventing another miscarriage, trying to prevent another one depends upon what caused the first two. After two or three miscarriages in a row, doctors will typically run a bunch of tests to see if they can identify a reason for the losses. Beyond chromosomal abnormalities, possible reasons include blood clotting issues, autoimmune problems (like Lupus), and uterine issues (like fibroids or a septum), among others. Most of these issues can be treated if discovered and, if a couple goes through in vitro fertilization, testing can be done on the embryos before they are transferred to try and make sure that they are chromosomally normal.

Quite often, no issue can be identified. Research shows that most couples who have miscarriages do go on to have healthy pregnancies, however.

Unfortunately, we weren't able to get genetic information about our prior pregnancies themselves, and all other testing has come back normal. Chances are they were due to chromosomal issues. With this pregnancy, I've been prescribed a couple of “can't hurt, might help” measures: progesterone supplements in the first trimester and low-dose aspirin. There is some evidence that these things can improve outcomes and are unlikely to cause problems.

If someone we know has suffered a miscarriage, what can we do to be supportive? What are some of things we SHOULDN'T say or do?
Different women react to miscarriage differently. Some women don't grieve as strongly as I did. That said, I'd recommend treading lightly. I think the best thing you can do is say that you are sorry for her loss and offer to be a listening ear. Unless you have had a miscarriage yourself (or you are a Reproductive Endocrinologist), I wouldn't try to offer advice (the same goes for infertility, by the way). Chances are she knows more about the issues than you do.

When I tell people about my miscarriages, the first thing many of them tell me is how common miscarriage is. While true, this is not news to a woman who has gone through it and it can feel awfully dismissive to hear others remind us. The fact that it is common doesn't make the loss feel any less real.

Likewise, hearing things like “It is nature's way [of dealing with chromosomal issues]” didn't help me, either. It doesn't make it easier to hear again and again that I probably didn't have healthy pregnancies. I'm grieving the fact that they WEREN'T healthy.

Finally, “You can try again” isn't comforting. First of all, not all women get pregnant easily, so it might be many months or even years before she can get pregnant again. Secondly, even if the women can conceive again quickly, that doesn't change the fact that she is grieving the lost pregnancy. And any subsequent pregnancy is likely to be filled with much more anxiety. Her “innocence” is gone and many women also grieve that fact. 

What advice would you give to others who have had miscarriages and are struggling to get past them?

Mostly, I would say be kind to yourself. Not everyone will recognize that you are grieving a very real loss, but that doesn't make your grief any less legitimate. Seek help where you can. Consider speaking with a therapist who is knowledgeable about the grief surrounding pregnancy loss (because not all of them are).

Thank you so much for sharing your story, Kaitlin. Do you guys have any questions for her? Have any of you experienced something similar? How did you get through it? 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Web Time Wasters

How was your week, guys? I joyfully killed some brain cells watching Step Up - All In, attended a friend's baby shower (where I bought this amazing thing off her registry), and now I'm with seven friends at a cabin in western Minnesota attending Potato Days. There's mashed potato wrestling! And a Miss Tater Tot Pageant! And a potato cook off! Obviously, I'm in heaven.

Anyway. Link for you!

Well, this is adorable. A scented necklace THAT SMELLS LIKE CHURROS.

A photo tour of an abandoned amusement park in Berlin? Into it.

When you're a woman, what does it mean to be a boss?

An ice cream recipe for when you feel like yelling.

If you live in the Twin Cities and you've had a questionable, sexual harass-y experience with Uber (I know a looooot of people who have) check out Ride Sqirl. Uber requires you to pay an extra 'safety fee' (!!!). Ride Sqirl is lady owned and operated!

A new favorite Pinterest board: things that don't need to exist.


I think there's a lot of confidence and self-worth that comes with building a life + career on your own without the connections or lots of financial support. Sting thinks so too and isn't going to let his kids be trust funders:
I certainly don’t want to leave them trust funds that are albatrosses round their necks. They have to work. All my kids know that and they rarely ask me for anything, which I really respect and appreciate. Obviously,” he added, ” if they were in trouble I would help them, but I’ve never really had to do that. They have this work ethic that makes them want to succeed on their own merit.

I loved this mini movie about a legendary pizza delivery guy.

Isn't this ring lovely?

I love Germany and I love New Zealand. As such, I loved this little video.

Things I never thought I'd be linking to: the story of an art school student who started playing baseball at 19 and got drafted by the Minnesota Twins!

If you hear people making rape jokes, you can use this approach.

The Onion reminds us that maybe we shouldn't be so snarky about friends from high school who stuck around our home town.

Sooooo, what exactly is the deal with Blake Lively's new lifestyle site? A serious (re: funny) attempt to understand it.

I'm not sure I could pull this off come winter, but it's so chic!

What does it mean to 'Columbus' something? It means you've 'discovered' something (usually something that's very popular with another culture) that's not even vaguely new.
Of course, there is no bouncer, but we can be careful not to Columbus other culture's traditions. Before you make reservations at the hottest fusion restaurant or book an alternative healing therapy, ask yourself a few questions:
Who is providing this good or service for me?
Am I engaging with them in a thoughtful manner?
Am I learning about this culture?
Are people from this culture benefiting from my spending money here?
Are they being hurt by my spending money here?

Related: why do so many people pretend to be Native American?

Some Yes and Yes posts you might have missed: Just do what you're doing, True Story: I met my birth mom, That time I ate dinner in a fancy restaurant - all by myself

Saturday, August 23, 2014

I'd Like One of Everything, Please.

This post is brought to you by the desire to win at gift giving, really cute stuff, the letter U, and Uncommon Goods

Guys. Pull up a chair because I'm going to be real with you for a hot minute.

Here are some things I like to 'win' at:
1. Potlucks
2. Giving great gifts
3. Having the cutest apartment ever
4. Filling said apartment with adorable, fascinating, you-don't-see-that-everywhere things
5. Purchasing said adorable things from a company who values the same things I do

Luckily for me (and you?) Uncommon Goods helps me check every item off that list.

1. You will win every potluck if you serve things IN A BOWL WITH FEET.
2. They make gift giving easy peasy - gifts for women (here), handmade gifts (here), personalized gifts (here)
3. Cutest apartment = fox pillow
4. Target doesn't sell shower squids

Most importantly, Uncommon Goods has built social responsibility into their business in a big way. They donate $1 from each purchase to a non-profit of your choice. They offer health insurance to all their full-time (and most part-time) employees and provide a living wage. They sell products that contain recycled components and don't carry products that containing leather, feathers or fur.

Just the excuse I need to buy that scratch-off map I've been wanting.

I write two sponsored posts each month. If you'd like to introduce your products to my 11,000+ amazing readers, you can check out traffic info here or drop me a line at sarah (at) yesandyes (dot) org.