Itchy

I recently learned that pregnancy has either made my body super sensitive to a once-minor allergy, or my allergy has intensified over the years.

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After my baby shower, I started showing signs of what we think is a severe allergic reaction to latex (balloons). My hands were itchy and bumpy, but at first I just figured they were really dry after using so much hand sanitizer at work to avoid getting sick. Over the course of the next few days, I broke out in hives in my underarm area, ankles, and groin.

I went out for coffee with a friend one night after work and when I was changing into pajamas upon arriving home, I happened to look down and saw how bright red my legs were. On top of that, the itching was getting unbearable — part of my leg was bleeding from unconsciously scratching so hard on the drive home.

I stayed home from work the next morning and tried to get in with my OB but then remembered she is always out of the office on Thursdays (and that’s when something always happens!). I saw another doctor and she said it looked like some sort of allergic reaction but they also did some blood work to make sure I didn’t have this condition which can pop up in your third trimester. She prescribed a hydrocortisone cream and sent me on my way — I tried the cream but over the course of the next few days, the rash was spreading like wildfire and went from just a red rash to full blown hives.

Within a few days, I was covered head to toe in the most itchy, painful little welts and it is honestly the most uncomfortable thing I have ever experienced. There have been so many nights where it has woken me up out of a dead sleep and I find myself literally howling in pain.

I missed so much work due to this and nothing seemed to be working to get rid of it — I went back to the clinic two weeks after the hives started for my 30 week baby appointment and also to have my OB take a look at the rash and make sure it isn’t this. My OB sent me a referral to a dermatologist, who confirmed that it was an allergic reaction. My options for treatment were to take an oral steroid for 2.5 weeks or ride it out for another 4 weeks or so. Being pregnant, I chose the latter since the steroid would cause our baby to develop at a faster rate than he should and I didn’t feel comfortable putting him at risk in any way.

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The first signs of the rash started almost four weeks ago and although the hives have stopped spreading so quickly, the pain hasn’t ceased. Scratching helps in the moment, but as soon as the scratching stops, the burning sensation is far worse due to aggravating the already irritated skin. Throughout the day / night, my whole body itches so bad that it burns and feels like something is eating my skin, which is about as fun as it sounds. There have been so many tears and many sleepless nights over this rash, which is just ridiculous if you think about how something so trivial could cause so much discomfort.

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Ice packs and this lotion help a small amount, but otherwise nothing really seems to curb it. I tried this line of products as well but didn’t have much luck with it.

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In the areas where the hives have decreased, my skin is super dry and kind of scaly so I’ve been using this cream to help bring some life back to those areas. My hands, feet, and eyes are also really swollen which is probably partially due to pregnancy and partially due to the allergy,

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I’ve found that keeping my skin hydrated helps it to be less itchy which is great, because when I scratch, more hives seem to pop up. Showers and being too warm in general seem to also increase the itching so I’ve been trying to stay cool and dry as my body tries to heal from this.

I’ve always known I’ve had a latex sensitivity, but haven’t had a reaction since middle school when I broke out in a rash at the dentist —however, that was nothing compared to this. At one point a few weeks ago, I had so many little blisters on my fingers and toes that it even hurt to move my hands and feet! I had no idea that an allergic reaction could last this long either — it’s crazy how something so trivial such as blowing up balloons can affect the body in such a large way.

So, that’s what has been going on lately in these parts! I’m trying to focus on the upcoming holidays and the anticipation of our baby as my body works this allergen out of my system. It’s safe to say that we will be a 100% latex free household after this incident! ;)

Are you allergic to anything? I have seasonal allergies and am allergic to cats
Ever had hives?

Homeowners

Yesterday morning we closed on our first home!

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We are so excited to make this house a home filled with lots of memories! We first met our realtors back in November to talk about the home-buying process and fill them in on what we were looking for. We talked about areas we wanted to live in (near my sister, close to work, etc.), types of houses we liked and didn't like, our budget, and how long we planned to live in our first home. We also talked about building vs buying existing since we both prefer new construction.

They set us up with a custom home search to get us started -- we started receiving emails whenever a new home popped up in our budget, preferred location, style of home, etc. 

After the holidays, we met with a loan officer to talk about the financial part of purchasing a home. We filled out some paperwork and within a day or so, he sent over our approval letter. With this approval, we were able to officially start our house-hunting process! 

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We looked at a few homes on a freezing cold Saturday morning in January. One of them was a vacant home that had recently been built in a new development -- it had a great layout, but the construction didn't look like the best quality.

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Afterwards, we looked at another home just a few minutes away in an existing neighborhood. This particular home had been sold, but there were two lots available just a couple doors down so we decided to check it out to see if we wanted to build a similar style of home down the street.

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We LOVED this house -- it was seriously perfect! We talked about going the building route and met with the builder, toured another home by the same builder, and started planning things out. It was all fun and games until you realize that if you want to build your perfect home, the price goes up really fast. We talked it over again and again, and ultimately we decided that now is not the time to build. 

Back to the drawing board! A couple weeks later we found another house that we really liked, put an offer in and it was accepted that evening! However, after the inspection came back with a few worrisome items, we decided to decline. I was feeling a bit discouraged by this point -- we were so ready to get this show on the road!

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We looked and looked, but inventory was super low and prices were really high due to the current market. We met with our realtors in April because I was feeling like we weren't going to find anything after months of fruitless searching. They encouraged us by saying that the right house would pop up at the right time.

It was funny, because just a few weeks later, our house popped up! I immediately texted Andy to tell him to keep an eye on the house that they just posted -- it sounded like a great one but there weren't any photos up yet. He texted me back awhile later to let me know that the photos were up -- I was so excited once I flipped through the album online; this seemed like the house for us! 

We made an appointment to see the house that evening, submitted an offer, and our offer was accepted the following evening! I'll be sure to share more once we move in -- it just feels so good to have a home to call our own! 

Have you purchased a home before?
Favorite thing about where you live?

Real Life: Balancing Your Hormones

Today's post discusses female health and hormones with a dash of TMI (if you know me, you'll know I'm an oversharer). If this isn't your thing, feel free to skip today's post and visit tomorrow to talk about planning for the holidays! 

Hormones are definitely one of those things that I haven't really thought about much and they ended up being one of those things that you don't realize how great it is to have them work properly until they don't. Kind of like how it's easy to take your health for granted and you don't realize how good it feels to feel good -- until you're sick.

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Due to a heck of a lot of stress (family, stressful job, and training for a fitness competition), my hormones got all out of whack beginning in May of 2014. At first I noticed some annoying symptoms -- hot flashes, acne all over my back and chest, and weight gain in my abdomen. The weight gain was weird for me because I've never really gained weight in my stomach before -- this was my first clue that it was hormonal.

I visited my primary care doctor and after some blood work, she said my hormones were a little off but nothing to be really concerned about since I was going through a stressful season of life.

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Long story short, the symptoms continued to get work as the stress increased. Along came insomnia, horrible water retention, and my hands, feet, and underarms were constantly slick with sweat. I was also experiencing irritability, constantly feeling frazzled / overwhelmed, and having irregular periods. I didn't sleep through the night for weeks at a time -- waking up at 3am almost every night and never falling back asleep. In addition, I felt so self-conscious because my hands were always bright red and burning hot / sweaty, as shown in the photo above.

Then, during a really hard month (August 2016), things hit their peak -- I was experiencing extreme fatigue, even more stress at work, and the worst part was that I had put on 17 pounds by Thanksgiving that year. I'm only 5' 3.25", so even just 5 pounds on my petite frame is very noticeable. I felt frumpy, fat, and gross. Oh, and constantly hot thanks to the hot flashes. I felt like i had nothing to wear and wasn't putting a ton of effort into my appearance because I felt so uncomfortable in my skin. None of my clothes fit -- even my underwear were too small which was an awful feeling! I cried at the drop of a hat (and I'm not a crier!) and felt overwhelmed at the smallest things such as going grocery shopping. 

I found a new primary care doctor and during our first appointment, it was through tears that I told her I didn't feel like myself anymore. She diagnosed me with adrenal fatigue and said I had also become estrogen dominant. We tried a conservative approach at first -- since my diet was already clean she had me focus on more rest, meditation, and this crazy regime where I'd sit in the sauna for 10 min, followed by a freezing cold shower for 3 minutes -- repeat 3 times a few times per week. There was zero improvement and by Christmas, I was so over it. 

In mid-January, I went back to her office and told her I couldn't do this anymore. I wanted my body, energy, and happiness back and was willing to do whatever it took. She wrote me a prescription for bio-identical progesterone cream and instructed me to really watch my stress levels. I started using the cream daily, while taking the week of my period off. After two weeks, I noticed that I felt like my head was more clear -- I didn't feel so frazzled like I had in the months prior.

I also took this and this which helped a little but I noticed the most success with the progesterone cream.

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A month later, I noticed that my clothes started fitting a little better. I went and bought a couple pairs of jeans before our spring break trip and had gone down a whole size. The acne cleared up and the hot flashes and sweating began to taper off.

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Not too long after that, I quit my job that was making me so unhappy. In the months that followed, the weight continued to drop off without me making any diet or fitness changes.

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This fall, the rest of the weight has come off putting me back at my happy weight -- the weight I was before all of the hormonal changes. The photos above were taken 9 months apart from one another -- hormones a mess on the left, and back to myself on the right! There is a 17 pound difference between these two photos, (which you can really see in my face), but the most important thing is that I feel like myself again! My confidence and energy / enthusiasm are back and it feels SO GOOD to feel like myself again! 

Here are the things that didn't work for balancing my hormones:

  • Working out like a madwoman
  • Constantly stressing over my body
  • Dieting

Here's what did work:

  • Implementing bio-identical progesterone cream
  • Managing my stress
  • Focusing on relaxation: meditation, essential oils, going for walks, etc.

Going through the past 3 years of having unbalanced hormones was so challenging and something that I wouldn't wish on anyone. If you're struggling with hormonal imbalances or have any questions, feel free to contact me! 

What's your favorite way to relax?
Ever overcome hormone issues before?

Real Life: Bad Days

I typically like to keep a happy and optimistic mindset, but it's normal (and okay!) to have a bad day every once in awhile. Yesterday, I woke up and started my day as usual but felt like everything kept going wrong -- you know, dumb little things like we were out of coffee, my hair wasn't working out, it was pouring rain, and I had a dental appointment on the calendar. I also realized halfway through my day that my leggings were on inside out, so there's that.

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Normally these things wouldn't be a huge deal, but for some reason I was just in a funk -- causing me to feel more frustrated with each little thing that went wrong. I could have easily called it a "bad day" and used that as an excuse to wallow in my misery, but instead I decided to turn it around. It was a glorious 56 degrees outside (aka my fall-aholic self was in heaven), so I dressed up in my favorite rain boots, showed up, and got on with my day.

I texted my sister to see if I could swing by for a quick brow reshaping session (my sister is the BEST with all things beauty), and after spending time with her and my nieces, I felt a million times better. Heck, I even arrived to my dental appointment with a smile on my face -- which was quite the turnaround from how I felt about going to the dentist earlier that day.

Here's what helps me turn a bad attitude or situation from turning into a bad day:

1. Remove Myself from the Situation
Even if it's just for 15 minutes, this helps me so much! Leaving for a "real" lunch break, taking a walk around the block, or running an errand helps me refocus my outlook for the day.

2. Make Plans
Sometimes alone time is great, but whenever I'm in a funk, spending too much time by myself results in overthinking things -- which makes me even more frustrated. An impromptu coffee date with a friend, scheduling a pedicure, or even just scheduling 30 minutes of your day for a workout helps so much!

3. Listen to Something
If I notice my thoughts going crazy, something that helps me is to either listen to my meditation app or to listen to music / a podcast to get my mind focused on something else.

4. Journal
There's just something about getting thoughts / feelings OUT of your head that helps so much! My mind feels clearer and it can often feel like a "fresh start." I don't typically carry my journal with me, so I like to utilize the "notes" app on my iPhone to jot down whatever is bothering me.

5. Dress Up
You guys know that I'm a huge advocate of dressing for success! Whenever I don't put effort into my appearance, I don't feel my best -- pair that with an already grumpy mindset and it's a recipe for disaster. Dressing in something where I feel confident and put together helps me to focus on being the best version of myself and immediately helps me to feel better!

P.S. I'm linking up for Tuesday Talk today! 

What's something that helps you turn your day around?
How do you handle bad days?