How are you feeling?
I am okay; I feel that I am balancing between living in the moment and practicing patience, and being content in this phase of my life. On the other hand, I have rough days when the grief and the waiting that comes with infertility consume my mindset and my life.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am a co-owner of the House of A La Ligne. A virtual and brick-and-mortar movement studio. I am a movement specialist. I coach and guide my clients to connect with their bodies and selves through movement—empowering them through meditation, bodywork and breath. I utilize my years of training in modalities such as pilates, kinesiology, and strength training to help them find length and connection—their inner strength and power. I specialize in women’s strength and functional training. I believe movement and the connection to self can heal and empower us in more ways than just the physical.
Recently, you opened about your fertility journey. Why do you think women feel so alone during their fertility journeys?
It can be such an isolating time; I feel every journey is new and personal to each woman. From my own personal experience, I feel that there can be an initial feeling of shame and self-judgment around fertility. Infertility affects one in six women, and miscarriages affect one in four, so logically we know we are not alone; however, it is not spoken about enough. There can be social and cultural stigmas for many women depending on family dynamics and cultural backgrounds. And because it can be so personally devastating, it is difficult to talk about and share your story. This lack of dialogue then creates a sense of isolation. I feel the more women that speak out when and if they feel comfortable to do so, the less isolating it can be. I am so fortunate to have my work that has introduced me to so many women going through this journey even before I started.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Oh, every day is different, owning my own business. I’m either working on the business or taking client appointments. I would say it starts in bed with three breaths of gratitude, always. This allows me to connect to my personal joy and sense of perspective. Then a decaf coffee, a quick breakfast, my prenatal vitamins, and a run out the door because I am usually running late. Haha! I then head to my studio; I usually am training early mornings, so I get there at around 7:00 am. I usually train for 5-7hrs a day and then break for lunch, a workout, or stretch. I finish with an hour or two of work in the office and then shut it down for the day with a walk with a girlfriend or my husband before dinner. My evening routine is something I have recently adopted and am hooked on. It consists of skincare, evening tea, and meditation.
You’re a personal trainer, so I can imagine self-care is something you’re passionate about. What does self-care mean to you, and why is even more important during IVF?
For me, self-care is a mini-vacation from the day-to-day momentum of life. From my skincare routine every morning and evening to my schedule of practitioners, self-care is essential for me. I believe taking time for self is so important when it comes to regulating our nervous system, anything that can bring us to a place of rest and comfort. The fertility treatment process is so taxing on our minds, bodies, and souls. It’s a subconscious battle that our whole beings have to endure, so it is so essential, on a neurological and physiological level, to give your body involuntary prompts to rest. Rest is when the healing happens … when our bodies can settle from the war and battles of life. It’s a time to digest the changes and create new growth and perspective.
What are some things you’re doing for self-care during IVF?
It ranges from movement sessions with my trainers or my online training platform to weekly acupuncture and monthly facials for my skincare. And, most helpful, a daily meditation practice to keep me grounded. Routine and schedules are a must; I find that when I am most stressed or depleted, I am least motivated—having self-care favourites scheduled and habitual before treatment was helpful.
On the topic of self-care … The bedding you’re using is by ettitude, which is made from 100% organic bamboo and full of natural benefits. They use a signature sateen that is soft like silk, breathable like cotton, cooling and hypoallergenic. It also regulates our body temperature and balances hot and cold for a night of better sleep. Have you found your hormones and body temperature fluctuating since starting hormone shots?
With my treatments and hormones (everyone is different), I was very uncomfortable when going through stims (the phase of IVF when you are taking two to three hormone injections a day) and after my egg retrieval. Throughout IVF, I was bloated, I gained weight, my body was running hot, and the drugs caused insomnia or disrupted sleep. I felt evenings were the most uncomfortable for me. My skin also changed. Hormonal acne was something new to me; it came on quickly, and the combination with a mask was also an issue.
ettitude also treats your skin with extra care; their exclusive CleanBamboo fibre is infused with naturally antimicrobial bamboo charcoal to absorb unwanted odours, wick away moisture, and reduce bacteria by 99.9%. You’re deserving of this luxury. It’s time to rest and relax while your body goes through tremendous changes. What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone currently in the process or about to begin the process of IVF?
Oh, there is so much to say. I feel the lessons of surrendering and patience are the ones that have landed on the deepest level for me. Immerse yourself in the process, take time off work, rest, give back to yourself. Surrender to self-compassion, sit into the experience free of judgement and shame. We have no control; the best we can do is be present and feel with an open heart and mind. Surrender and allow the process to wash over you—don’t try to resist the wave because it will only keep knocking you down. It’s not an easy thing to practice, but resisting it, from my experience, doesn’t work either. So find ways to surrender to the moment and take it day by day. Maybe it’s acupuncture, meditation, a walk with a friend or talking to a therapist, but find your own unique tools to help you surrender.
Self-care and mental health go hand in hand. How has your support been?
I had the unique privilege of having many of my clients and colleagues speak openly about their fertility and infertility stories. This really gave me perspective and hope as I started my journey. Because I work in wellness and movement, I see pre/postnatal clients, and I work hand in hand with practitioners, so the support was there for me. I have a therapist now that works specifically with clients who are dealing with infertility, along with my acupuncturist.
There isn’t a lot of information out there about exercise during IVF.
You are right; there is not. Even as a movement specialist myself, I found it difficult, especially because everyone reacts differently to this process. What I suggest is never starting something new when it comes to movement and IVF (specifically in the stims phase of treatment). Stay away from high intensity or heavy lifting, and opt for walking or light stationary biking. Listen to your body, don’t push yourself. For me, my Pilates practice is so important right now, but I train myself as a pre/postnatal client when in treatments. My goal is to move for connection and stress relief. I work mostly arms and do glute exercises. I stay away from any intense core work and focus on my arms and legs, if anything.
Has this inspired you to potentially explore providing/ teaching classes with a focus on women going through IVF?
Yes, right now, as I take a break from treatments, I am filming meditations and movement practices for those on the fertility treatment journey. They should be ready for summer 2021 on my website.
What are your daily affirmations?
I am worthy.
I am abundant.
I am connected to those I love, those of my past, my present and my future.
Lastly, who is your Mother Muse?
My mother muses are all the women warriors who have walked the journey of infertility. The last few months, as I have been sharing my stories publicly with my community, I have had the honour of engaging with some beautiful and strong women; some are old friends, and some are strangers who have become sisters. The courage and compassion they show when sharing their stories and vulnerability have touched my heart deeply. These women have shared their battle scars and current struggles with me, and it has given me hope; it has given me motivation and inspiration to keep going and keep sharing my story. So the women warriors of infertility are my mother muses.