Entering my mid-30’s and still not pregnant

fertility

This week I turned 34!!

Despite the odd title, I’m really thrilled to be in my mid-30’s. But as a woman in my mid-30’s who is trying to get pregnant, fertility is something that I do think about.

Our baby-making journey has been quite rocky, but this is also a neat time. I feel the gravity of it all. Whether we can conceive or not, I think I will always remember this period in our lives fondly.

We started trying last October, after I passed my probation period at work. Like literally right away, on the day my permanent work contract took hold! I know, we are romantic. But seriously, the timing just worked out well. ūüėČ

Us trying was against the advice of Martin’s doctor, who advised us to wait at least another year because Martin was still recovering from chemo. But we had waited 1-year already, and decided that was good enough. Different doctors give different advice, and after reading some studies on our own, waiting 1 year was fine for us risk-wise.

I naively assumed that once we began trying, that I would get pregnant right away. I guess it’s because everything I’ve ever put my effort into, I’ve gotten results. I’m finding it’s not always like that with baby-making though.

We had 2 false alarms during our the last 12 months, which were emotionally trying and stressful. But overall, also fine.

Martin was also recently re-diagnosed with cancer, which had us immediately switch our focus to changing our lifestyle to support a natural cancer healing path.

Now we are in the throes of me switching to a freelancing career (in hopes of supporting both of us financially in the future), and moving to a different city. In between all of this, we have 5 family members visiting from Canada and Asia. It’s going to be a whirlwind of travel for the next 4 weeks, which is bad timing but was planned and paid for earlier this year, and just happens to land now.

I can see that our lives are just too packed, and we need to wind down from the stress of everything that’s going on right now. We need some downtime to relax our minds and bodies first.

We’re also in contact with a fertility clinic and had said that if we tried naturally for a year and didn’t get pregnant, that we’d consider doing IVF or some other type of fertility treatment.

But now that we’re healing cancer naturally, it only seems logical to also try a more natural approach with fertility. I’ve done minor research on it, and no surprise to me, it’s very similar to natural cancer healing. Meaning taking a holistic approach by eating healthy, exercising, and reducing stress. This is to give your body the necessary tools so that it can heal itself, which is what he body is built to do.

I foresee us continuing doing what we’re doing, but getting better at reducing the stress which is our biggest problem now. If we get pregnant, that would be fantastic! If not, that’s also fine. I’m still on the fence about whether I want to have kids or not, but Martin wants kids and I’m up for trying! It’s not that I don’t want kids, it’s just that I’m confused about it. It’s complicated.

This is how I’m living my mid-30’s, and I’m pretty happy about it. ūüėÄ

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2 years and the gift of cotton

futon

Today is our 2nd anniversary!!

We like to follow the anniversary gift themes, where¬†year 1 is paper, year 2 is cotton, etc…

We won’t stick too closely to these themes, because we also don’t exchange gifts for any occassion.¬†Not because we’re trying to be frugal, but because we just don’t care about gifts and like to keep things simple (no stressing about ‘the perfect gift’ here).

Last year Martin did give me a very nice paper gift. He made me a calendar with¬†our couple-selfies¬†from the same month in the previous year.¬† ūüôā

This year, gifting cotton¬†was appropriate because¬†our goal is to live a healthy life.¬†We are¬†slowly detoxifying our home, alongside detoxifying our diets. One of the things we wanted to switch out was our foam mattress with a non-toxic¬†cotton futon. We spend a lot of time on our bed (ha!) and don’t want to breathe in¬†the¬†harsh chemicals¬†that get sprayed onto mattresses. Perfect timing for a second year¬†cotton gift, ja?

We actually bought the futon weeks ago, and have been sleeping soundly on it since. It’s a lot harder than our foam mattress, but I prefer it. Martin is still getting used to it but says it’s fine. ūüôā

Even though cotton futons don’t cost much (starting at 200 EUR for a double), we ended up thrifting it even further by buying it used! I know that sounds gross, but the seller said the mattress was the guest mattress and¬†hardly used.¬†Okay so everyone¬†who sells their mattress says this,¬†but we decided it couldn’t hurt to investigate since ordering a new futon would take 6+ weeks to receive, and we wanted the mattress right away. When we got to the seller’s house, it really was the guest futon! The mattress was pristine, no dents or stains, and also didn’t smell. I actually leaned down to smell it! So for 65 EUR, we hauled it away and have a story to tell. :mrgreen:

It’s been a hard year for us, but marriage is suiting us well. We are used to referring to each other as husband and wife now, which took some adjusting to. We’ve been together for almost 8 years, but only married for 2. So the boyfriend/girlfriend titles were more automatic at first.

Most new people who meet me at work don’t know I’m married, because I don’t wear a ring and rarely talk about ‘my husband’. At first I was nervous to mention a partner at all, because I’m hyper aware that everyone assumes newlyweds are trying to conceive (which we are, sort of – more of this later!), and I didn’t think it was good for my career.

But I noticed that Germans don’t have this hang up with whether women will have a baby or not, and that it’s okay to have a partner. I even had a senior director drop by my office¬†to convince me to get pregnant! He would say “f#$*% [company name]” – and go on a tirade about¬†how I should do what I want,¬†and that having a family is important. I seriously felt like I was in the twilight zone, but quickly fell in-trust with him and shared that we were trying. This is the same¬†man who¬†mentored¬†me¬†on negotiating my freelancing contracts. Sounds¬†creepy, but he’s a¬†swell guy!

Marrying Martin was also me agreeing to live in Germany. So one big positive to add to my Germany-list is that as a woman of child-bearing age, speaking about wanting to have kids is not taboo in a corporate setting. Or at least not having to go out of my way to avoid the topic like the plague.

Anyway, happy anniversary dear!! ‚̧

What it looks like to fight cancer naturally

Cruciferous_Vegetables

Our lives now revolve around FOOD.

We are constantly eating and buying fresh, organic produce.

For starters, we raided the organic sections of Lidl, Aldi, and Edeka. They don’t have everything we need though, so we’ve started travelling¬†to organic supermarkets (denns, pro biomarkt, Biohaus). By far,¬†our favourite¬†is going¬†to the organic farms and buying directly from them. If you’re in Germany,¬†use Bioland¬†to search for organic farms near you.¬†The food is usually cheaper and¬†so deliciously¬†fresh!

Every cancer patient who is going the natural/alternative route needs to have a cancer diet. Mr. G’s cancer diet¬†is a raw vegan diet with a focus on cruciferous and allium vegetables.

This is how his daily food totals look:

  • 8 cups¬†of freshly juiced carrots/beets/ginger
  • 4¬†cups of fruit smoothies
  • 8-10 cloves of raw garlic
  • 50-100 mL of aloe vera juice
  • 2¬†humongous salads (red & green cabbage, baby spinach, chard, broccoli, cauliflower, leek, bell peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, sunflower seeds)
  • fruits and veggies as snacks
  • liberal use of cancer fighting spices: turmeric, oregano, cayenne

We track everything on CRON-O-Meter – to keep a food record but also to make sure we’re eating enough calories. So far we’ve been under in the calorie department. We’re working on it as we¬†aim for the recommended¬†2500 kcal for men and¬†2000 kcal for women. We are killing it in the micronutrient department though. ūüôā

I’m also on the same diet so I can support Mr. G. We’re in this together!

And we feel great.

trampoline

We bought this used for 15 EUR!

Everyday we rebound (aka jump on a trampoline) to help our lymphatic system, and we go for hour long walks and take some time to think in the park. On weekends we go for a run if the weather is nice.

It’s a very positive and empowering way to fight cancer.

I’m not worried about Mr. G physically.¬†If he had chosen conventional treatments, I’d be worried sick.

What I am¬†worried about is how he is feeling. He’s the type to keep his¬†feelings to himself, and¬†I’m concerned about¬†how he’s taking it all. Whether he is stressed, scared, upset, frustrated, etc… He is all of these but what we are doing gives him strength, he says. I cuddle him a lot for extra measure.

The root of the problem is that Mr. G’s immune system is too weak, which is why the cancer cells have built up (tumour). Cancer cells are normal, but¬†a strong immune system will kill/detox it. Since we are interested in curing him rather than managing¬†his symptoms, we’re overdosing¬†on nutrition to support¬†the body in¬†healing itself.

Cancer Tutor is a fantastic resource, and Chris Beat Cancer gives his first hand experience of curing Stage 3 colon cancer, plus interviews of other natural survivors.

Mr. G and I feel so fortunate to have all these resources at our fingertips.

We will also speak with a Heilpratiker (naturopath) soon to see what alternative treatments he recommends, and whether we need to tweak Mr. G’s cancer diet. We’ve¬†spoken with¬†a few Heilpratiker¬†already¬†but didn’t click with them or their treatment plans. But¬†we have high hopes for this upcoming one.

This second cancer diagnosis threw us for a loop. I seriously was never planning to blog about cancer. But we’re¬†on such¬†a¬†positive path that it feels good to share. Maybe¬†this can help someone out there. I know it’s helping me.

How cancer affects our finances

lifebasket

I used to think that the *theme* of my 30’s was to retire early. That I would be strong, and smart, and work a decade to make that all happen. But now I know that early retirement is only a sub-theme. The real theme to my 30’s is to live a healthful, anti-cancer life. Which includes early retirement.

Neither Mr. German or I had any first or second hand experience with cancer. It was always that awful disease that happened to someone else, far removed from us. While our hearts went out to people, it didn‚Äôt hit us until it hit us. In my case, it happened to hit my rock ‚Äď the love of my life; my best friend.

2 years ago, Mr. German was diagnosed with a cancer that had spread. He had emergency surgery and chemotherapy. Everything was fine afterward. He recovered and we made some big changes to our lives.

  • We got married
  • We moved in together
  • Mr. German turned vegan

Since this is a personal finance blog, I want to give a snapshot of how cancer has affected our finances.

At the time, we were living 70km apart and only seeing each other on weekends. We had our own apartments and expenses. When Mr. German went on sick leave, he started getting ~60% of his income paid through his insurance, which thankfully covered all of his expenses.

My income dropped 80%. I practically stopped working so that I could take care of Mr. German. Luckily, I worked for a small company that was very understanding, and they gave me the flexibility I needed. Working on 20% of my income was not enough to cover my expenses, so I happily dug into my savings. (yay to having savings!)

Now, fast forward 2 years. I changed jobs to be closer to Mr. German, and we moved in together 6 months after getting married. Our expenses more than halved, because it’s so much cheaper to live together than to live apart. My income also rose (due to the job change), and Mr. German’s income fell (strict doctor’s orders to not travel for work = no travel stipends). We fell into a nice groove of saving 65% of our take home pays.

In total, insurance covered all of¬†Mr. German’s¬†treatments, but we¬†were not able to save¬†money¬†during that period (about a year). That’s more than¬†great for us.¬†Money was the last thing we were thinking about anyway.

We‚Äôre not done yet. Mr. German has been going for regular monitoring and in his last ultrasound, it was discovered that he has another tumour that has blood vessels going to it. It’s an early discovery, and the prognosis is good.

This time, Mr. German wants to do things differently. While it’s still early stages, he has made the decision to forgo surgery and other conventional treatments for now.

Insurance will cover all conventional treatments, but will only cover up to 500 EUR of alternative treatments per year (depending on what it is). We’re still investigating what’s out there, so don’t know what the costs will be. But we do know they will be out-of-pocket.

Last time we didn’t make any changes to¬†Mr. German’s¬†diet, because¬†his oncologist’s¬†advice¬†was to¬†eat the same way. But with all this¬†hard evidence linking cancer to diet,¬†Mr. German¬†switched to a¬†vegan diet¬†about a year ago,¬†and is¬†now on an organic, raw vegan diet with an emphasis on the strongest cancer fighting foods.

Previously we ate only the easy-to-find organic produce from the regular supermarket. They only stock organic potatoes, apples, bananas, and carrots Рwhich is a good start but not enough for us. Now everything has to be organic, and we’re going out of our way to find it (organic supermarkets, organic farms). While we haven’t totalled it up yet, it looks like our grocery bill will exceed our rent!

If you’ve read this far, thank you! In the next while I will¬†be MIA. I devote my time to¬†helping Mr. German and researching cancer. We’re also looking for¬†a good Heilpraktiker/in or Artzt/in that specializes in alternative cancer therapies. We live in the Ddorf region. If you happen to know someone, please contact me.

Much love, Jessica

On track = less fights (hopefully!)

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Finally, we closed my Deutsche Bank Girokonto, Sparbuch, and MasterCard today! Basically, all my accounts with DB.

Although I had a good run with DB, I didn’t like having to pay for services that I didn’t use.

I much prefer the free online accounts that we’ve opened earlier this year.

We use comdirect for our joint account, Mr. German uses DKB for his personal account, and I use ING-DiBa for mine. We’ve talked about downsizing our personal accounts too, and only using the joint comdirect. But so far we feel comfortable keeping our personal accounts open and doing our own thing in there. One day we’ll consolidate but right now, our system is working well for us.

My ING-DiBa has a balance of 0 EUR! Which I’m very proud of because I sent all my cash to CapTrader to buy VWRLs!!

This is probably a very boring post but just wanted to say that I’m very happy with our progress!

We started off the year stressed out, when I announced I wanted to retire early and completely caught Mr. German off guard. Here Mr. German thought we were doing great and living well already, yet I was suddenly so displeased.

As we live in this fair country of his, I needed his help to get us set up. This caused lots of tension and wasn’t so fun. I cried a lot, Mr. German was at wits end a lot, and in general we argued a lot.

It doesn’t help that we’re both stubborn first born children, who happen to want our own way all the time without compromise. Fun times!!

But we needed to get over that hump and I think we have. There will still be hiccups I’m sure, but things should be smoother sailing now. At least from the administrative point of view.

Vielen Dank f√ľr die Hilfe, meiner lieben! ‚̧

Living on one income

oneincome

To support our ability to FIRE in 7 years, we know that we need to get in there and start investing.

Last month I started off with a bulk purchase of index funds, and bought another small batch with my last pay cheque. But I still paid my share of the expenses.

Until now.

We decided that I will now invest 100% of my income to our index fund strategy!

While not a huge shift, it’s a start that’s easy to execute and understand.

Ideally, I would like it if we switched and invested Mr. German’s higher income into stocks, while living off of my pay.

But Mr. German is still hesitant of stock investing and likes the security of having lots of cash. This is something I too had to confront within myself, so I’m not trying to push him at all.

We’ll see how things flow organically.

There’s no right answer, just a difference of speeds and comfort levels.

I feel so lucky that this non-‘problem’ is ours. I’m more than happy and excited to be able to invest 100% of my next pay!

An ode to my job

thankful

Sometimes I can get pretty down on my job.

Especially when things get stressful. I resent that I have to put up with it all, and early retirement can’t come soon enough.

But that’s the wrong attitude. It also makes it difficult for me to endure.

I am VERY grateful to even have a job, let alone a good job. It’s not so easy to find work as an immigrant, especially for one who doesn’t speak the dominant language (well).

My job actually requires a PhD in the field, which I don’t have. Instead I have a mildly (as in 1%) related Master’s degree. A Master’s is considered the minimum level of education in Germany, like how North Americans view Bachelor’s degrees.

The step from a Master’s to a PhD is huge, and Germans love credentialed papers. So having a Master’s is not overly impressive when I’m applying to a job requiring a PhD.

But I got it! I was lucky, because I’m GREAT at interviews. I made everyone love me. No joke, that’s exactly what happened. No one cared about my [lack of] skills, they just thought I was a super person and they were right! :mrgreen:

This also means that I fit in with the corporate culture at my company, which makes it a pleasant environment for me. I’ve worked in companies where I didn’t feel I fit in, and that was much harder.

My job also gives me the chance to connect with people and make friends. It can get lonely as an expat when your whole life revolves around 1 person (your partner), because you lack a network and don’t speak the main language.

Having a job really lets me forge a life that is independent from my husband, and that’s healthy for me and our relationship.

I feel very productive at my job too. This feeling of productivity is essential for me to feel happy, not just at work, but in life. I don’t like to feel stagnant.

There are also functional perks to having my job, asides from getting paid. Like having a company iPhone + a sleek new laptop (also allowed for personal use), free German lessons, running marathons, receiving monthly investment contributions, and travel. Even though work-travel is not very fun, but I put it in anyway because sometimes it’s fun and I appreciate getting out of Germany once in a while, and not on my dime.

Of course, I’m also grateful to have a stable income so that I can plan for an early retirement. This is a HUGE privilege in itself, and the gravity is not lost on me.

Anyone interested in writing an ode to their jobs? I’m curious to read it. I can guess at what sucks about your job, but what’s great about it? What do you appreciate about your job? Other than a paycheque, how does your job help you reach your goals? Is this the best/worst job you’ve ever had? Please leave me a comment if you blog about it. Inquiring minds want to know!