Hi, friends. Welcome to Fearless Infertility a podcast for women struggling with the mental anguish that comes with infertility. My name is Jenica and after suffering in silence for too long I was able to pull myself out of the dark, take control over my mind, and create joy during my infertility experience. I’m here to help you do the same, sister. Let’s dive into today’s show.
What's up y'all? Jenica here and I am so excited to have you here again with me today on Fearless Infertility. It has been such an absolute pleasure for me to read through the podcast reviews you've left so far on Apple Podcasts. And thank you, please continue to do so to enter the giveaway for the pajama and sock sets from The Slice of Sun. They are the most buttery soft, next level bamboo pajamas that you'll ever wear. And I just am so excited for all of you to get them.
You can buy them right now on The Slice of Sun or enter to win through leaving a review on Apple Podcasts. And I design them for you in mind because I wanted you to be home and wear something that you felt completely wrapped up in love. And you remembered that you are in this community of incredible women who are supporting you, lifting you up. And you are absolutely not alone in this infertility journey. And I wanted you to be able to feel that from home.
And, I mean, honestly, I wear them every night. They're so comfortable, the waistband is thick, you're not going to want to take them off. So there's your warning there. Can't say I didn't warn you. So please continue to leave those reviews on Apple Podcasts, subscribe, and I will be choosing a winner every week to send out a pair of pajamas and socks to.
The winner for this week, her username is mereviewingtwim. I hope I said that right. Love it. The title of the review was Tribe. And she said, “It feels like comfort food when you can find a tribe of women who have walked the same road you're starting on. We can gather together in support to buoy each other when the storms are raging. Aside from Christ there's no one I'd rather have at the helm. Thanks for the podcast.”
Thank you so much for your incredible review. I could not agree with you more, I love that we have each other and that we are able to share our stories and our lessons with each other so that we can be uplifted and hold hands through this life and through this specific infertility journey. So please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your address and your size, and we will get your amazing pajamas and socks sent out.
If you want to continue to enter I would love for you to do so. And the reason why it's so important for me to get reviews on the podcast is because Apple rates the podcast based on popularity. So if this is helping you and you love it, I would love for you to rate it so that other people who are experiencing infertility, who right now have absolutely no idea who I am, when they search for infertility my podcast will pop up and they'll be able to get these tools into their hands to also improve their lives. So I would love your help in that. And as a reward I would love to treat one of you each week to a pajama and sock set. You will absolutely love them.
Today’s that podcast episode is an interview with my friend Jess. Jess and I met on Instagram several years ago, we've kept in touch, and we've connected over infertility. She is a mom to two miracle kids, a little boy and a girl. Her daughter's name is Blake, her son's name is Nash.
And she's just a really funny, awesome person to follow and be a friend with because she just honestly keeps it real. Like she's absolutely hilarious. And you guys know how much I love laughing. I think it's like one of the best therapies in life. And she's just funny. So I cannot wait to share this interview with you.
At the end of the episode, you'll know a little bit more about PCOS and what that looks like for a lot of people. And how she was diagnosed with PCOS, which I know so many of you are familiar with and have as well. You will know what Jess wishes she would have done to take care of herself in the beginning of experiencing infertility. And what she recommends you do now based on what she wishes she would have done for herself in the beginning. And why it's important to put yourself first, why that's not selfish, and what that means.
So I would love to introduce you here to Jessica Oaks. It's going to be an incredible interview and I can't wait for you to take a listen and learn from Jess and my conversation.
Jenica: Jess, thank you so much for coming here on the Fearless Infertility podcast with me today.
Jess: Yeah, thank you so much for having me.
Jenica: Jess is incredible. We've known each other for several years, mostly online. And I love Jess because she's so good at being real with people and accepting her emotions. One thing I just really love about you and admire in you is that you don't sugarcoat things, but you also are hopeful and positive as well. I love that about you.
Jess: You are just so sweet. I feel like what's the point in sugarcoating things life is so hard in different aspects for people's life.
Jess: So like I try to keep it as real as possible.
Jenica: I love it. I completely agree with you. I think that when you're able to share your story with people then they can just feel less alone. So I love that.
Jess: Absolutely, yeah.
Jenica: Okay, so to start off I wanted to you to give me a summary of your infertility. And kind of let us know what you've experienced and how you got to where you are with two kids today.
Jess: Yeah, absolutely. So when I was 17, I had not started a period yet. I'm like we're going to dive right into period talk.
Jenica: Let's go.
Jess: Let's go. So obviously, I went to my OB because at 17 that's not normal. So after tons of testing and whatever I was diagnosed with PCOS. My mom actually had it too, so it was genetic. Like they weren't surprised. That's what it was.
I remember at 17 They told me like, “Just so you know, in the future like when you're going to have kids, it's probably going to be difficult for you to conceive.” And at the time I was 17, I didn't care. I was like, “Okay, like cool. My mom had two kids, whatever.”
Jenica: Yeah, it’ll be fine. Not a big deal, don’t have to worry about it.
Jess: Right, I'm like, “She had two kids so easily.” So I was like, “Cool, that sounds great.” Well, fast forward, I got married to my husband. And we never really prevented it, I guess. I went on birth control like right when we were married for maybe like three months. And then we were like, you know, I was told this as a teenager so let's just, we're not going to stop it. Because whatever is supposed to happen will happen, I guess.
So, you know, fast forward about two years of being married. At that point we were like, okay, now we're like more interested in actually trying and trying to grow our family and whatnot. So I met with our OB, he knew like all my history and stuff. And so he was really, really kind and knew we hadn't been preventing it. And so he directly was like, “You know what, let's just go straight to Clomid because I know you a PCOS. I know this is an issue, but Clomid works really well for PCOS people.” And I was like, “Okay.”
So we started on that. And, you know, fast forward it just was not working. And I had to do all the blood draws for ovulation, and we got up to triple doses of Clomid, which is like the highest they let you go.
Jenica: I didn't realize that you could do that. In one, like so you take like triple during one cycle?
Jenica: Oh wow.
Jess: Isn't that wild?
Jenica: I didn't realize that.
Jess: I was a lot. Yeah. And I'm not going to lie to you, when I was doing that, I was actually really nervous because I'm like, “I'm going to end up with like seven kids.” You know what I’m saying?
Jenica: Yeah, seriously.
Jess: And I was just stressing.
Jess: But the issue with my body is it just doesn't ovulate. I mean, we could not get me to ovulate. We did Clomid, we did Metformin, we did trigger shots with it. I mean we tried tons of different medications. And, you know, you do that, I don’t even remember, is it day 18? It's a specific day and you get blood work after you start your Clomid to see if you'd ovulated.
Jess: And I'm like it was a long time ago that I did this part.
Jenica: Right, try to block that out sometimes.
Jess: I’m like and I just block it out. But so I would go in for the blood work and they're like, “Nope, you didn’t ovulate.” And we did that for about, I don't know, seven months of the pill thing. So at this point we're at like two and a half years. And so then he said, “You know, I'm going to send you over to like an infertility doctor.” And I was like, “Okay.”
So we ended up meeting with them, decided we were not a good candidate for IUI, just because I don't ovulate. So he's like, “Let's just go straight into IVF. You have so many eggs, we just can't get you to drop them. Like, you know, let's do this.” So I started all the blood work that you start for IVF, you know this.
Jess: Like literally just vials and vials of it. And it came back that I was pregnant. Literally, for that whole start of that.
Jess: And that's how have Blake. I don't know how we got her, she's literally a miracle, I say that all the time.
Jenica: I did not know this about you. Oh my gosh, wow.
Jess: Yes. So Blake was literally just a miracle. I don't know how, yeah.
Jess: But now she’s almost six, so that's our Blake. After we had her though, the same thing, we never stopped it. And we ended up having to do IVF for our second baby who's now one.
So that journey was a little bit longer. Our daughter was four when we finally got pregnant with him. But we did IVF, I actually ended up getting really sick in the IVF process. I overstimulated, so I was so sick and it sucked.
Jenica: Yeah, that was after your egg retrieval, right?
Jess: It was. So after my egg retrieval, and he actually thought that would be a possibility for me just because of how many eggs I have. I mean, we got 58 eggs in egg retrieval.
Jess: So I had so many eggs.
Jess: And that's what's so interesting about PCOS is a lot of us with PCOS, we have eggs for days.
Jess: We just don't drop them, like we don't ovulate like we’re supposed to so they just sit there.
Jenica: Yeah, they don’t go down the tubes into the uterus where they’re supposed to go.
Jess: Exactly, exactly.
Jenica: Ow wow.
Jess: So then that's why too, people with PCOS you get so swollen. You get really swollen all the time like, you know, just monthly because you're just so full of eggs and like these follicles.
Jenica: Yeah, they have nowhere to go.
Jess: Exactly. So anyways, we got all these eggs, and I did, I ended up overstimulating because, well, I had a lot going on in there.
Jenica: Yeah. You know what’s interesting? I actually overstimulated too after my second egg retrieval.
Jess: Did you?
Jenica: I’m with you there. It was so unbelievably uncomfortable. I was getting dehydrated. And for those of you who don't know about what it is, and honestly, I don't even know a ton about it myself. But my abdomen started filling with fluid and like the fluid all goes to your abdomen. So you literally get dehydrated because it doesn't go in the normal places where it's supposed to go.
So I had to get mine drained out, did you have to do that as well?
Jess: I did, I was just going to say they drained it. It was wild because it was literally, like you could just hear it draining. It was a whole thing, yeah.
Jenica: Oh man, it's insane.
Jess: It is.
Jenica: Yeah, I had an IV and I was like, “Oh my gosh, I feel like myself again.” Because it's like, yeah, it was interesting.
Jess: Right, you’re like getting fluids, but like also draining fluids. It’s like a whole process.
Jenica: Yeah, such a weird thing.
Jess: It really is. So anyway, so that happened. Obviously, we did a frozen embryo transfer because of that. I had to wait a certain amount of time before we could transfer.
Jenica: So your body could heal.
Jess: Exactly. And then when we did that, we really felt like we needed to put two in. Our doctor was like, “You know what Jess, I'm telling you, I think one's good. You're going to end up with twins or triplets or, you know, whatever.” He's like, “One, you just need to do one.”
Jess: And, you know, Marcus and I said, “You know, sorry, we're doing two.”
Jess: And so we transfer the two embryos in January, like many January's ago.
Jess: And I ended up bleeding a ton that week that we transferred. So naturally, in my mind, I was like, “Hey, it's all over. Like there’s that one.”
Jenica: Yeah, didn’t work.
Jess: Yeah, but one ended up sticking. And so Marcus and I, that was our answer of why we needed to transfer two.
Jenica: That's amazing.
Jess: Right. All the bleeding was the other embryo, and then our little miracle Nash was the one that stuck. And I had him in September of 2019.
Jenica: That's so amazing. And good for you for following what your intuition was. And tell me a little bit about how you guys made that decision when your doctor was recommending doing one embryo and you felt differently.
Jess: Right. Right. So that was actually kind of hard. Just because you're getting like this medical advice, you know what I'm saying? But you're disagreeing with your doctor. So it was like an awkward thing but I mean, Marcus and I both we’re obviously strong believers in God and we just felt like this is what we're being told to do.
Jess: And he was really respectful of it. But he did tell us like several times, he's like, “Hey, I'm telling you the warnings, so like you could end up with triplets or quadruplets.” And I'm like, “Okay.” Like you know. And I was terrified, I'm not going to, I was not playing it cool like this. I was obviously terrified, I’m like putting all my faith in. I'm like, “Okay. Okay, this is what we're doing. But like I hear you.”
Jenica: Right, you’re like a little bit contradicting what I think and what you think, yeah.
Jess: For real, but it was actually, like it was a good experience of just like having that faith, you know what I’m saying?
Jenica: Yeah, absolutely.
Jess: Like trusting your instincts that they were right.
Jenica: I love that, that's really awesome. Because I get asked that a lot on my Instagram and through emails. It's like, how do we make that decision? And I think it's such a personal decision and I think all of us have access to that personal revelation.
You and I both believe in God. And I truly believe that you can pray and get that for yourself. And really trust yourself. Because yeah, these doctors are really smart and they are like incredible with what they do in the medical field. But when it comes at the end of the day, you really need to trust yourself and really advocate for yourself, and your health, and your family.
Jenica: Okay, so I would love to hear a little bit more about PCOS. How is it affecting you now? If it is still.
Jess: Yeah, I mean, honestly, it affects tons of aspects of my life still. PCOS is interesting because it's so different for every single person. So for the majority that I understand most people either have very long periods or they don't have periods. For me I don't. I mean I literally will go years without a period.
Jess: Unless I'm on something. So obviously like that's a huge thing, because it affects all the things. I'm bloated all the time; I get cysts in my ovaries because that's what happens when you get too many follicles and then they just build up. And they’re really painful.
Jenica: Oh, is that what they are? It essentially builds up, like what doesn’t shed out during your monthly cycle?
Jess: Yeah, so that can be the cause of it. And some people also just are prone to cysts, so they just get cysts.
Jenica: But yeah, so I get cysts, and they're freaking painful and they suck. And most of them you just have to let them do their thing and pass. And then there's other parts of PCOS that suck too, that are like you just don't feel good and your hormones are really, really off.
So for me, I've had to change like my entire diet and lifestyle and just all these things to be able to like manage it and feel good. So I mean, I eat a very specific way. Just all sorts of stuff so that I have the energy to keep up with my kids and not have to lay in bed all day.
Jenica: Yeah. Can you talk about that a little bit? Like what specifically has changed in your diet since you've been trying to get this more under control to feel well.
Jess: Yeah, absolutely. So I don't eat dairy and I don't eat gluten. Those are probably the two main things. And I try and really limit sugars. And it's funny because people used to tell me all the time that that's what you needed to do. And I was like, “Okay.” I'm like, “Yeah, please. I love myself some gluten. That's never going to happen.”
Jenica: I feel you, girl. That’s a hard thing to hear.
Jess: Like, “It’s just never happening.”
Jenica: Yeah, I mean, like who doesn't?
Jess: I know. So, I was actually diagnosed lactose intolerant like last year. So then when I was diagnosed that I was like, “You know what Jess, just like just get your crap together and do both and let’s try it.”
Jenica: Like, “I’ve got this.” Yeah.
Jess: I know. So, but you know what? It's funny, I did it and this is the best I've felt in literally probably 15 years.
Jenica: Interesting. So you're willing to kind of like go out on a limb?
Jess: Yeah, whatever it is, it has worked. And I don't know, it's great. But the other thing with PCOS too, that I'll leave off is like, this is gross guys. We're just going to get real comfortable here.
Jenica: That’s what we do here.
Jess: You get facial hair really bad.
Jess: So like your testosterone is higher so literally, like you deal with all of that way more than the average person.
Jenica: Okay, interesting. So do you use like the Tinkle razor?
Jess: Oh, Tinkle? Yeah, Tinkle razor every week, you know it.
Jenica: I love it. I do too. I wonder, you know what? Interesting, I mean, I’ll have to look into that myself. I actually don't know if I have PCOS or not. So we'll have to kind of look into that a little more. But I don't get, I mean, I do have periods and I do ovulate, I think. But I just feel like I haven't looked into my cycle a whole lot since my twins were born. But I do get a little bit of facial hair, so I got to check that out. That's good to know. I didn't realize that.
Jess: It is, it's a weird thing.
Jenica: Yeah. So as far as like your diet changes, have you had anyone supporting you in that? Because I think making big changes like that is hard. Have you had any emotional support or anyone that's helped you?
Jess: It is really hard. And honestly, people have been great with it. Marcus has been super supportive. And he knows like I'm only going to cook one dinner. So he has just kind of learned to love it. Marcus is my husband for those that don't know.
Jess: And, you know, the kids are too young to care and know, honestly. So they're like, whatever. But it's great. I mean, my family has been really supportive. At first, I remember my mom being like, “Jess, come on.” But now she, you know, her and my mother-in-law too are like, “Here, we made this for you separate.” Like they've been great.
Jenica: That’s so awesome.
Jenica: Yeah, it's hard because I've been trying to eat less sugar and flour this year, too. And I literally was like, “I can't. Like, no. Like that's like my happiness in life.”
Jess: It’s exhausting, yeah.
Jenica: But yeah, you realize that A, you're stronger than you think you are. And if you really want to do it you can. And B, it really does make you feel a lot better. Which honestly is amazing, and it sucks at the same time because you don't want it to be true but it is.
Jess: Right, right. Isn't that so funny though? I remember being like, “This sucks.” But then after feeling good for like so many months I'm like, “No, okay, this is worth it Jess. Like don't be dumb, don't be dumb.”
Jenica: Yeah, totally. I know. I wish that it didn't taste so good, you know?
Jess: For real though.
Jenica: It's just a shame.
Jess: Chocolate is just really good.
Jenica: I know, why does it have to be so good? Oh my gosh. Okay, so my next question for you is, I think that whether you know you'll experience infertility or whether it's a surprise, I think it's really uncomfortable sometimes to be vulnerable and asking for help. So I'd love to hear about first of all, the emotional aspect of it. Were you able to get the emotional help and support that you needed at the time? Or looking back would you have maybe asked for more?
Jess: I would have asked for more looking back. No, I don't think I did. And I don't think a lot of people understand how to react to it. Especially if they haven't gone through it, you know what I'm saying?
Jess: Like somebody, you'll tell them you're going through it and it's either like this like, “Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry.” Like this over sympathy, which is fine. Or it's like, “Well you guys just got to stop trying so hard.” Like that thing, and I'm just like, “Oh my gosh, I can't.”
Jess: Like, “Okay, yeah, let me stop trying.”
Jenica: Yeah, let me just not care.
Jess: Right, exactly. So yes, I wish that I had gotten more help on it. And honestly, you know what I wish I had done? I wish that I had started therapy at the same time of going through infertility. Just so that I had somebody to actually talk to and like get my feelings out. And I don't know, just validate me.
Jenica: Totally. Yeah, I love that suggestion.
Jess: Yeah, that would have been nice.
Jenica: I think that I'm probably the same way, where I just didn't honestly know what to even expect. And so I was like, “It's fine, everything's fine.” And it wasn't fine. And I tried to like suppress these negative emotions, because I didn't feel like I was allowed to feel this way because there were so many good things happening in my life. I had a great job. I had an amazing marriage.
So I just didn't allow myself to feel these negative emotions. And then it kind of like snowballed, and all of a sudden I'm turning to these bad behaviors like overeating and like eating a lot of candy to make myself feel better. And things that just, I wasn't allowing myself to process those emotions and be a human being.
And like looking back on it now I'm like, if we were to try again I have like all of this emotion that comes up that I honestly just kind of suppressed. And if I were to try again I honestly think I would get either a coach or a therapist to help me with those big emotions and process them so I don't feel like so anxious and like sweaty when I think about it.
Jess: Right. No, seriously. I mean, that's my biggest advice when people ask me things. I'm like, “Get at least somebody you could talk to.” A therapist though is like the way to do it, in my opinion. Just because, yeah, I mean, there are, there's so many emotions that get attached with it.
And like something that I even did now that I've started is, so I had complications in between having Blake and Nash. And so pregnancy for me in the future is just really not an option.
Jess: So if we want a third, which I'm pretty sure we do, we'll have to either do surrogacy or adopt.
Jess: And so I've even started therapy for myself for that. Because it is a huge thing to be told that you're not able to have kids anymore. Like that sucks.
Jess: So I've learned from my, you know, eight years of infertility between those two that that's something I needed to work on and start right away.
Jenica: Yeah, I love that. That’s amazing, I love that you see what you need and you're allowing yourself that support. I think that's so important. And I love that you're loving yourself through that. Because I think that something that's so important that I learned is that we need to take care of ourselves like we would somebody that we love like unconditionally. Like we would our kids if you have kids, or you would your sister if you have a sister, or your mom. And so I love that you're seeing what you need and planning in advance so that you can have a good experience throughout the whole process.
Jess: Right, yep.
Jenica: That’s awesome.
Jess: I think that’s what is important to remember though, is you. And like it feels almost selfish, it feels like a weird thing like you said, because you're like, “But I have all these good things. I have this.” Like, you know, as I'm going through it the second time, I'm like, “I have a kid already.” But I don't know, it's just it's you individually. Like you need to focus on you, and just because you're looking at the outside and like “Oh, this isn't that hard for me compared to other people.” It is freaking hard for you.
Jess: Like that’s your challenge in life and that sucks.
Jenica: Exactly. I love that. I love that you said the word compare because, yeah, there's always going to be someone in life that you think has it harder than you. Like there's some people that can't afford to buy food. Like, yeah, that's probably harder, you know. It doesn't matter.
Everyone has their challenges. And all of us here in this life are here to experience challenges, and we all grow from it. But it also doesn't mean that we should push our feelings aside because they're there. And regardless of whether you acknowledge them, they're there. And so we might as well take care of ourselves and do it in a healthy way that we can process them, and then learn from it.
Jess: Yep, exactly.
Jenica: Okay, so I would love for you to share with us, Jess, one takeaway. Like if you were to be talking to past Jess and telling her things that you know now, what would you tell her?
Jess: You know, my biggest advice would be to find you. When I started our infertility journey I, first off, I was young. I had no idea who I was as a person. And second off, I mean, anybody who's going through infertility can relate to this, you hate your body. You're frustrated with your body, especially if you're the cause of it. You know what I'm saying? Like it's a sucky feeling.
So I think ultimately, like take that time because the reality is it's going to work somehow. Somehow, someway it's going to work in the end. It might take 10 years to get there, but it's going to work in the end. You know, you don't know which way, but somehow it will. So I think, take the time that you have this huge challenge and trial in your life to find you. Because in the end, you know, after we had Nash, I knew who I was more than anything. Like I had learned so much about myself that if there was a positive that came from it, that was it. You know what I'm saying?
Jenica: Yeah. I think that's such great advice, I love that. I think it can be very difficult, because like you said, sometimes we think it's selfish to put ourselves first. And I think that's such a thought that's not true. I think that thought is a lie. Because if you do not take care of yourself first, one, who will take care of yourself as well as you can? Because no one knows you like you do. And two, it's not selfish because when you're completely empty, you don't have anything to give to people around you that you love.
And so in my opinion, I genuinely think that putting ourselves first and our own well-being first is the least selfish thing that we can do. Because then we're able to give from a place of abundance, and love, and fullness, than from a place of lack. And I’m just a huge advocate for that. So I love that you said that.
Jess: Yes. No, absolutely. And that's a hard thing to learn, it really is.
Jess: It’s something I've worked on for years. But I mean, like you said, it's so true. You need to come first before you can even be who you want to be with anybody else.
Jenica: Yeah, I love that. And I think that there's such a fine line between being selfish, right? Because obviously we're taught to put others first, but I think that what gets left out is the fact that you need to advocate and take care of yourself first. Because yeah, like I said, it's just not going to happen for anything else. And you're not going to get to the goals that you want of being this incredible person that can uplift others when you're broken yourself.
Jenica: Okay, you are so amazing. Thank you so much for coming on this podcast and sharing your precious time with us. Jess has an amazing Instagram account. She is so much fun to follow, she shares life with her kids, she shares about products that she loves. And Jess is someone that I can always trust, because she's not going to tell me that she likes something when she doesn’t. And I really appreciate that.
She's also absolutely hilarious. And always a good time. So Jess, can you tell us where people can find you if they want to come hang out?
Jess: Yeah, if you guys want to find me I'm on Instagram. It's Jessica S Oaks or people think Jessica Soaks, but that's not it.
Jess: But yeah, that's where I'm at.
Jenica: Okay, perfect. And we will include Jess’s website information and her Instagram account information in the show notes as well. So you can just easily click there. And thank you so much, Jess. I appreciate your time and your incredible insight. And is there anything else that you want to say before we sign off?
Jess: Nope, I think we've done good.
Jenica: We’ve covered it people.
Jenica: Okay, thanks Jess. Talk to you later.
Jess: Thank you so much.
Jess: Okay, bye.
Jenica: To celebrate the launch of the show I'm going to be giving away pajama and sock sets from The Slice of Sun that I have personally designed. They are the most buttery, soft, delightful things you'll ever put on your body. And I'm going to be giving away five bundles to five lucky listeners who subscribe, rate, and review the show on Apple Podcasts. It doesn't have to be a five-star review, although I sure hope you love the show. I genuinely want your honest feedback so I can create an awesome show that provides tons of value to you who are experiencing infertility.
Visit thesliceofsun.com/podcastlaunch to learn more about the contest and how to enter. And I'll be announcing the winners on the show in an upcoming episode.
Thank you for listening to Fearless Infertility. If you want more tools and resources to help you during your infertility experience visit thesliceofsun.com. See you next week.