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And the BIG Announcement is…I’m not pregnant.

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After almost 2 years of trying to get my period back naturally, fertility treatments, acupuncture, dietary interventions, supplements, endless doctors’ appointments and bloodwork, I’m still not pregnant. And, I had a miscarriage.

Today, January 23rd, is the day I planned to announce to my parents, family, and closest friends that Rob and I were expecting. I planned the dinner in my head– down to the polite and strategic refusal of a glass of Champagne to get the conversation going. I vividly imagined my parents’ reaction and could hear my sister’s and friends’ excited screams.

The day before Thanksgiving I took a pregnancy test. I cringed when I opened the plastic applicator wrapped in plastic. First because there was so much plastic involved and second because I expected that it would, again, come up negative. After going off hormonal birth control in March 2017, I didn’t get my period back. Over the next year and a half, I flip flopped between eastern and western medicine practitioners and between Chinese medicine herbs and western medications. By November 2018, I was back with my reproductive endocrinologist (fertility doctor) and back on western medication.

I cringed when I opened the plastic applicator wrapped in plastic. First because there was so much plastic involved and second because I expected that it would, again, come up negative.

I glanced at the test. To my surprise, it read “pregnant.” I ran to Rob, tapped his shoulder, and shoved the test in his face (lovingly, of course). We looked at each other shocked. Stunned really. And so incredibly happy.

A few weeks prior, in my never ending quest to find the medical team and treatment plan that I felt 100% comfortable with, I had found a new integrative gynecologist who specialized in fertility. I had made an appointment to have a fresh pair of eyes review my health.

As luck would have it, my appointment with her was that morning. I pranced into the office so excited. I couldn’t wait to tell her that despite the fact that I needed medication to get my period and to ovulate and that I know my digestive and adrenal health weren’t stellar, I did it! I got pregnant. HA!

When we reviewed my labs and my history, I could tell she wasn’t as thrilled with the pregnancy as we were. Underneath my own excitement and disbelief, I knew why– I am after all a health practitioner myself. I was (and had been for some time) low in some essential nutrients and didn’t appear to be absorbing these nutrients from my nutrient dense diet or from my diligent supplement routine. Nevertheless, we reviewed ways that I could best support my pregnancy and I pranced out.

Thanksgiving was extra special. Rob and I loved sharing this amazing secret between us. It was magical. Blood tests were confirming our pregnancy and a few weeks later, we excitedly went in for our early ultrasound, the first scan to see the baby. Rob was a little nervous so I handed him my fertility crystal. I clearly didn’t need it anymore…

As soon as the doctor started probing around, I just knew.

As soon as the doctor started probing around, I just knew.

She reported nothing was there. No sac. No baby.

Ever the optimist, some hope remained as we waited for the results of more blood tests. In the meantime, Rob went into work and I went home.

Later that day, while in the car with my mom, my doctor called. I knew right away that I wasn’t getting good news. She reported that my beta HCG (pregnancy hormone) level had plateaued and I was going to have a miscarriage. If not naturally, she would have to intervene the following week with a D&C.

I sat with the news for a few moments before blurting out “I’m going to have a miscarriage this week” to my mom. She started crying and pulled over. “Everything is going to be okay,” she reassured me. “Is it?,” I thought to myself (or, more likely, snapped at her).

I’ve worried and stressed about just about everything in my life. In kindergarten, I was already stressing about the final project we’d have to complete in 5th grade. I started stressing about law school before I was even accepted and the bar exam– forget about it! (Okay, that’s a legit thing to stress about!).

Interestingly enough, I never stressed about fertility. I never even remotely thought this would be an issue for me. Sure, I knew the statistics and heard stories about women having trouble conceiving, but it never dawned on me that I would be one of them.

Even throughout this process I compartmentalized my issue. At every doctor’s appointment, I reported my problem as “not getting my period,” instead of “not getting pregnant.” It wasn’t until my fertility doctor pointed out that, in my case, not getting my period was a fertility issue that I started to accept that I was one of those women.

I know this might sound silly, but it took a while to wrap my head around the fact that not getting my period was a more serious issue with more serious consequences. (Or maybe it’s not so silly considering most doctors brush this off if you’re not actively trying to conceive).

I know this might sound silly, but it took a while to wrap my head around the fact that not getting my period was a more serious issue with more serious consequences. (Or maybe it’s not so silly considering most doctors brush this off if you’re not actively trying to conceive).

Calling Rob and telling him the news from the doctor was the most crushing part. Not many people are as lucky as I am. I literally married the dreamiest guy in the world. He might not be Jewish (sorry Grandma 😘), but he’s kind, funny, supportive, handsome, a lawyer, and Scottish and, most importantly, has a very charming accent. Oh, and he loves me so much.

When I called him, my strong, practical side took over. No more tears for me (in front of anyone at least). I told Rob I was fine, everything was fine, it’s all good. I explained the next steps and that this is going to be over soon.

But I wasn’t fine. I felt like my body was failing me. Even though I ate a textbook healthy diet, took my supplements, and lived a textbook healthy life, something clearly wasn’t right. From the beginning of this process, having to take medications and injections to ovulate made me uncomfortable. Why isn’t my body producing estrogen? Why isn’t my body ovulating? Why am I not getting my period? I’m a woman for goodness sake!

This inherent unease with my treatment plan was (and continues to be) part of my problem. I oscillate between calm-all-natural-everything-is-happening-for-a-reason Abby and clock-is-ticking-anxious-you-need-to-be-pregnant-yesterday Abby. When taking Chinese herbs, I want western medications with fast results; when taking western medications, I want herbs and protocols that offer slower, more natural solutions.

As soon as I learned that I was going to have a miscarriage, I repeatedly chastised myself, “You were looking for the magic pill, for the easy way out, and look where it got you.” It bothered me that I might need a procedure. I cursed my body. I can’t even have a miscarriage naturally.

I cursed my body. I can’t even have a miscarriage naturally.

It felt like years before Rob came home that same night. While waiting for him, I dug up all my strength. “I can’t give him a baby, but I can WOW him with my strength,” I thought. And I did.

Over the next day, I fluctuated between being “totally fine” and crying hysterically in my room with the door shut.

And then the first magical thing happened of this whole process. I woke up Saturday morning, two days after learning I was going to miscarry, and did a healing meditation by Jody Shield. I love meditating, but don’t often get “in the zone.” This time I did. I really focused on healing the parts of myself that needed extra support, as Jody guided me to do. I took deep breaths as tears streamed down my face.

And then, coincidence or not, I started bleeding. The relief that came over me was astounding. There was sadness too, of course; this forced me to accept what was happening, that I was actually having a miscarriage. But the overwhelming feeling was of relief. Maybe my body is working? Maybe it’s not completely failing me?

Then, the second magical thing happened. I opened up to my friends and family and the love poured in. As soon as I sent the first text message, I felt better. Why did I think that I had to be strong alone? I most certainly did not. And boy oh boy did my friends and family show up. I mean SHOW UP.

I’ve always said that my superpower is that I attract the most amazing people into my life and this experience proved my case. I felt like Sandra Bullock in that scene in Miss Congeniality when all the pageant girls swarm around her when they see she’s in panic mode before the final performance. It’s hard to admit that Rob and I needed support, love, and to be checked in on and listened to constantly, but we did. We needed a lot of all of it.

I’ve always said that my superpower is that I attract the most amazing people into my life and this experience proved my case. I felt like Sandra Bullock in that scene in Miss Congeniality when all the pageant girls swarm around her when they see she’s in panic mode before the final performance.

See the miscarriage itself isn’t what upset me most. It’s the whole entire fertility process. It’s that life doesn’t stop because I can’t get pregnant. It’s that I can’t hit pause, figure this out, and then press play again. Rob and I can’t put our ambitions and careers on hold. We have to keep going, keep working, and figure this out while simultaneously trying to figure out everything else in life.

Dealing with health issues feels like a roller coaster with no end in sight – a really expensive roller coaster filled with emotions, uncertainty, tough decisions, confusion, an excessive number of Google searches, and, last but not least, an unbearable amount of unavoidable plastic. Getting the phone and video calls, text messages, in-home massage, and zero waste moisturizer from our family and friends made it bearable – see, I told you I attract the best friends.

December was a really difficult month. I wanted to end the year strong, confident, ready to make a splash in 2019. But this really rocked me. I didn’t spend December as focused on my business strategy or goals for 2019 as I intended. I spent it ordering books and searching on Google in between doctor’s appointments and blood tests. (I should delete my search history because it’s embarrassing!).

Throughout, I felt this unbelievable pressure to figure out the answers to my fertility problems myself. Maybe it’s just me, but I find that social media paints the picture that we’re supposed to be able to cure ourselves just by “listening to our bodies” and doing our own research.

Maybe it’s just me, but I find that social media paints the picture that we’re supposed to be able to cure ourselves just by “listening to our bodies” and doing our own research.

Wellness blog articles made me feel even worse. The seemingly endless lists of what everyone else did and didn’t do to get pregnant completely overwhelmed me. There are so many options and so much information. And, reading tales of women listening to their bodies to get pregnant after miscarriages and to get their periods back made me angry…with myself.

I’m a smart girl. I went to the University of Pennsylvania (Penn), law school, passed the bar, practiced law, became a dietitian, and started my own business. And yet my body wasn’t giving me answers and my “research” only confused me more. I put research in quotes on purpose. This was not real research. This was grasping at (stainless steel) straws. I ordered books that I didn’t have the patience or energy to actually read and cherry picked articles – reading those that supported what I wanted to hear and discounting those that challenged me.

Not only did I feel like my body was failing me, but I was also disappointed in my inability to find answers. How can “Susie Wellness Blogger” figure this out and I can’t?

I also felt incredibly guilty that I wasn’t sharing this with you, my community. I was posting and scrolling less on Instagram, but you’d never know from my feed that I was struggling with fertility. Until now, I couldn’t really find the words to express myself and it’s still hard to discuss. But I didn’t want to wait until I had my period and pregnancy success story to share either.

This leads me to the third magical part of this experience. In feeling completely defeated and low, I had a profound realization. I needed to accept that in this story line, in this part of my life right now, I’m a patient. A patient going through this fertility journey and miscarriage for the first time.

It’s okay that I can’t anticipate all the questions to ask my doctor and don’t know exactly how to care for my body in this moment because I’ve never gone through this before. It’s okay that I had no idea that I would bleed for 4 weeks and suffer the most excruciating cramps of my entire life because I’ve never had a miscarriage before. And, it’s also okay that I find joy, excitement, and success in other areas of my life. I can be hurting in this story line and thriving in another.

So, here’s the conclusion of this fertility and miscarriage story so far.

In an age of information overload and unlimited access to information, where Google decides which articles we see and bloggers get as much attention and credit as experienced practitioners, it’s okay to take a step back. It’s okay to choose the best professionals to guide you and, here’s the most important part, it’s okay to actually listen to them. I want to prioritize my health, but I don’t want my full-time job to be “researching” around the advice I’m receiving. I want to spend my time on what really brings me joy – my family and friends, my clients, you (my community), and growing my business.

It’s okay to choose the best professionals to guide you and, here’s the most important part, it’s okay to actually listen to them.

This doesn’t mean I’m blindly moving forward; it means I’m following the lead of the professional team I’ve chosen to trust and learning from them. I can calmly learn as I go and use my training as a dietitian to think critically and conduct proper research when I want greater understanding. The silver lining is that this experience, this type of research, and the work I’m doing on myself is making me an even better, smarter, more understanding dietitian.

I also have to accept that I’m never going to be 100% happy with my treatment plan. Why? Because it requires change and patience. As I learned during the first week of my nutrition education, nutrition in health is different from nutrition in disease. We must nourish ourselves differently depending on OUR symptoms and OUR lives and sometimes the answer isn’t in the textbook healthy diet. To see results, I have to stop distracting myself with “research” and with what worked for others and start making changes, changes I might not want to make.

To see results, I have to stop distracting myself with “research” and with what worked for others and start making changes, changes I might not want to make.

I wish listening to my body meant something more to me. But, right now, my body is telling me to just be a patient. And by letting go of the pressure of curing myself by myself, I finally have the space and brain power to do what I really need- heal.

I will have more to share about fertility and health, but this is all for now. I must again give a special shout out to my friends and family who encouraged me to find my voice and share my story.