During pregnancy, the abdominal region expands and various experts claim that around 1/3 to 1/2 of women experience a diastasis recti injury post-pregnancy. When this happens you might need to practice some diastasis recti exercises to recover from this.
Holy moly. So, first of all, I just wanted to say, THANK YOU guys for all for the incredible love, support, excitement and prayers that have been flooding in, after our little announcement a few weeks ago. I can’t even count the amount of encouraging messages and uplifting words so many of you have shared– they’ve been giving me life lately, so thank you, truly.
And as promised, through this whole journey, I want to be able to share my (real) story and answer all your questions along the way, as honestly as I can.
Because more than anything, the journey to deciding to have a family or not, and the process of getting there — mentally, physically, and emotionally–is so different for every woman, each filled with beautiful things, and also some not-so-fun stuff along the way.
So, no matter what phase or season of life you are in, I hope you know that you are all are welcome here. This isn’t going to turn into a pregnancy or motherhood blog anytime soon, but my hope is that in sharing my story (and some updates along the way), there will be something helpful or encouraging, or confirmation that you’re not alone, no matter what season you are in.
I know for myself, that there have been so many times along the way, that I searched for and asked for so many other women’s real stories and journeys, and was so thankful to those who were brave enough to tell theirs- imperfect and all.
So, this is mine.
And, just a note: I do also know that some of you will not be able to relate to many parts of my story. The subject of pregnancy and motherhood in general, can be a very sensitive and personal one, and I want you to know that I see you and I feel you. This post has taken me way too long to write, because of it.
Why? I’m afraid that some of you might judge me for some of the thoughts I’ve had at various points along the way. Or that my journey wasn’t hard enough. Or that it might trigger some of you. So, please, all I ask is that you do the best to take care of yourself. If this type of story is not something you should read, then just click out of this post. They’ll be so many other great things coming for you here in the next few months.
But for those of you that have been filling my inbox and DM’s with questions about my journey to pregnancy, motherhood, you know….all the things, well, here they are:
Let’s jump in, right from the beginning:
Q: Did I always know I wanted to have kids?
Short answer: Yes! Definitely.
But to completely honest– I have never been one of those women that just couldn’t wait to have a baby, with hearts and stars and rainbows in their eyes as they talked.
It was the same with getting married, actually too.
I wanted both of those things of course, but I guess was more of a realist about it. I knew that both took a lot of work, a lot of time, a lot of self-lessness, and a lot of sacrifice– as most beautiful and worthwhile things in life, do.
Whenever I thought about my life when I was old and gray, sitting with Kyle holding hands and drinking coffee on a big porch somewhere, I always imagined having a big family around us. Lots of love, and lots of little grandkids shrieking and running around.
It wasn’t just kids in general that I wanted and dreamed about in these visions, it was building a family, a life, and a legacy together, and with him.
We both wanted that, and talked about it a lot before we got married.
But, I also knew that I wanted to feel ready.
I didn’t want to do it because it was just the next step , or because everyone else around us was (and truly, they were by the dozen, lapping us with their 2nd, 3rd or 4th children coming).
But I knew that I personally wanted to feel fully present in that stage, whenever it might be. Intentional. Excited. And as prepared as I could be for the full life transition and change it would bring.
So, this whole journey started for me, as most big things in life do: emotionally and mentally first.
Of getting quiet and tuning in. Of ignoring what everyone else was doing, and trusting what my own path and what my intuition was saying:
Yes. But not right now.
After getting married 2 years ago, this was my truth.
Kyle and I both had traveling we wanted to do, we were both in the prime of our careers, we had a house to remodel and design, a new cookbook to create for me, etc. And plus, I loved just being married. Because we found each other “later” than our friends, I wanted to just revel in our time together just the two of us.
Truly, I loved our life, as is. I wanted to treasure every moment. I didn’t feel like there was a void to fill, I guess. I loved our freedom. I love my business, and in many ways that has been my baby for years already. I loved my marriage and our relationships around us. I felt fulfilled and so satisfied with how things were.
We decided to wait at least a year of being married before talking about it again, to just enjoy the stage we were in, without any pressure.
Knowing that the time was coming eventually though, and doing what I do for work, I started getting mentally ready, in some small ways:
I started more seriously tracking my cycle on my apps (the flo and the glow app are my favs), just to make sure everything was all good and regular and that I’d be able to know exactly where I was at in my cycle at all times, when the time came.
Side note: this was one of the best things I ever took the time to learn, and is something I would encourage any woman to do, no matter the season you’re in.
I read more books on hormones and how to optimize them, naturally. I started to do a little more yoga and less super-super high intensity workouts, and added in some high quality extra supplements to boost everything up. I got even more serious (if it was possible) about upgrading almost all of my beauty and personal care products (because so many of the chemicals in them are hormone disrupters).
I got all my blood work done with my naturopath, so I’d have a baseline.
A year passed, quickly it felt like.
And still, to my surprise, no crazy baby urges came for me.
Life felt busy and full enough. But I also knew that at 32 years old, I couldn’t really wait forever, biologically speaking. Even if I was the healthiest human, I knew from so many friends that the process to starting a family can take a long time, and is not always a smooth ride.
Secretly, I’d get mad about it sometimes, my feminist self, frustrated. Why was it that women had this time limit- right in the prime of their rising careers? Men can just continue on and up, never having to stop or pause or take a step back to create and grow a family, if that’s what they want. It just didn’t seem fair.
I took a closer look at all the women entrepreneurs ahead of me that I admired and loved following in business, with exploding careers.
None of them had kids. Literally, not one.
But deep down, I knew those were also just fears of mine that were rising up.
Stories I was telling myself about how there is only one way to create and do life. Getting distracted by what other people are doing, instead of trusting the path of my own life.
It was time to really take closer look. If having children was something I did truly want, what else was getting in my way of getting closer?
As with making all big decisions in life, I knew I had to get super honest with myself to tune in a little more. Was there any tiny fears I had to release in the way way back of my mind?
(Most often, whenever I feel stuck with things in life, this is always the case).
I took some time to write it out– forcing myself to journal is the best way to make myself get super honest with myself. Anyone else?
And it was true.
As I started writing, I realized that in very back of my mind, I connected having a baby to meaning I would probably lose all of those things I loved so much (myself, my self care, my identity, my business would suffer, my marriage would take a toll, my freedom would disappear).
And then, the next question came right back at me: why was I imagining it going the worst possible way?
It’s something I talk so much about in the simply real life program and with my one-on-one clients: about seeing things through a lens of fear versus love. And how we get to choose what thoughts we’re letting ride through our heads.
And mine, with babies, apparently still had some fear lingering with it.
So, it took some time for me to work through that stuff, and release them gently, one by one.
And by time, I mean another 3-6 months, easy.
I went to work, to address a lot of those things that were keeping me paralyzed from moving forward with ease and excitement: getting help and more support in my business, learning to scale it just beyond me and my time in a day, and realizing that my story and my life, are part of my business, not separate.
And that it’s ok for it to change and grow as I do.
It also took me finding some other examples of mammas who inspire me– who don’t lose themselves completely, who run businesses and have passions and have great marriages and still travel and make time to take care of themselves. And do it with intention & as much laughter and light-heartedness as possible.
To find examples of all the ways that motherhood can work, and look.
It helped so much.
It was a year and a half at that point. I was feeling so much better about taking the next step, and we started talking about it even more.
Physically, I started to slowly start to prep my body as best as I could, shifting things around with my food and workouts (types and timing), and adding some helpful things to help optimize my body. (I’m more than happy to talk more specifics on this if anyone is curious– just leave a comment below so I know)
But there was one more thing.
It was something that I had been slowly and very privately working on the past year and a half as well: my cycles weren’t regular at all– they were long, consistently. It was a sudden change that had happened to me just 3 years before. At first I just thought it was from stress (aka, in the midst of writing, shooting and producing the 1st cookbook in 6 short months).
But, it didn’t just go away. So for next 3 years I had spent so much time studying and trying to fix my cycles naturally with food, incorporating some different supplements and adaptogens, yoga, acupuncture, meditation, energy work, breathwork, you name it.
I’d upped all those things in the last year, but nothing really changed. So I knew the road might be a little bit longer and/or more complicated than most. But with all the other stuff cleared, I knew this one last piece was something we’d only know once we started trying. The rest I could figure out along the way.
Alright, then. Let’s do this thing.
So, we started “trying”.
But with unpredictable and skipped cycles, I knew that something was off.
I went back in to my naturopath, who knew me (and my daily lifestyle, well). She suggested getting a ultrasound, just to check things out, because I was doing all the things that should help, and nothing was. And even though I had no other symptoms to suggest that something could be off, she trusted my intuition with it.
In March, I went in for the test. A few days later I got a call back from the doctor, with a confirmation they did find something to be aware of.
That day, I was diagnosed officially with PCOS (Polycyctic Ovarian Syndrome.)
Usually found in women who are very overweight, have blood sugar issues, not great eating habits, and even male-pattern baldness. But it’s also when your ovaries either can’t ovulate because they have cysts on them, or you do ovulate but spontaneously and/or randomly, and not often.
I had none of the other symptoms, they said, because I ate so well, and took great care of myself and my health daily. And that if I hadn’t, things could be a lot worse.
They proceeded to tell me that if I was lucky, I might ovulate around 2-3 times a year (instead of the normal 12). So 4-6 days total out of 365 that it would even be a slight possibility of a chance.
Not great odds, really.
But, something I guess. More than a lot of people get, I thought.
The next step would be going to a fertility specialist, to be put on medication to try and help.
Immediately, thoughts filled my brain.
It wasn’t fair.
I ate so healthy.
I worked out (but you know…not too hard or crazy, just the right amount)
I cared and took my emotional and mental health and lifestyle so seriously.
Why is this happening to me?
I do everything right.
I came home in tears that night, telling Kyle. He hugged me, and wiped my tears, just standing there in the kitchen.
I’m not worried at all, he said. We’re gonna have a family somehow, some way. Plus, you know this is always God’s way of working though you. He gives you tough health things that you’re able to somehow figure out and rise above, so that then you can help others with.
I looked up at him with tear filled eyes and cried some more. But, deep down, I knew he was right.
Don’t stress, he said. It’s gonna be fine.
After a day or so of being sad and scared (and after way too many hours googling “PCOS and healthy pregnancy stories” and “can you get pregnant with PCOS? and “how to heal PCOS naturally”).… and finding no positive answers, I knew it was time to just surrender and trust.
This was my next assignment, being handed to me.
I made a commitment right then, that I was not going to be a victim in this, or defined by it. Because what we tell ourselves is what we physically manifest.
I would not feel sorry for myself. I would not let a diagnosis like that overtake me and get me down, but instead I was gonna look at what I COULD do about it.
And would do about it.
In all my work, and in all of the other cases where I’ve healed my body from things that were deemed “non-healable” (SIBO and hyperthyroid especially), I knew that the energy I brought into it, while thinking about it, and my attitude mattered so much.
I was determined — yet again– to try and heal with real food & taking my self care to the even next level. I know for some, this act would stress them out. But for me, it’s the number one power source that we can control, so why wouldn’t I?
So, I decided to step up my game even more. It became my goal, to heal my sweet body, however I could.
And give myself the best chance possible at getting pregnant— without making myself crazy or trying to be perfect at it, in the process.
I did a lot in those next weeks, all as an act of love, not feeling spited or annoyed:
I reduced the coffee intake to a bare minimum (a thing especially for PCOS), and switched to matcha most days.
I made sure I had a little fat or protein with my veggies at both my meals, so my blood sugar and therefore hormones would stay extra balanced and calm.
I took methylated vitamins (all women should do this, if you have it or not– look for activated versions of vitamins, especially a multi with activated folate like Thorne prenatl or Seeking Health brands), based on my bloodwork.
I got back into weekly acupuncture, changed up my workouts yet again, got into the infrared sauna weekly, and just chilled out, knowing that our story would play out as it was supposed to.
That was the physical healing part.
But mentally and emotionally, there were also things I knew I needed to look at.
Sorry if this is too #woowoo for you guys, but I have found over the years that whenever you are in need of healing (usually physical of some sort), that you also need to pay just as much attention to the mental, emotional, and even spiritual work that’s required.
It’s never just one area that holds and gets affected by things.
We get blocked in all of those areas, and they require some extra care and attention to tune into, to fully get better. It’s all a part of our life and health: addressing just one area often times won’t get you where you want to go, or it takes 10 times as long.
I’d mediate and write out my manifesting list to just heal my body, and surround it with love, knowing and trusting that I was being taken care of. And that somehow, someway I’d become a mamma.
Most mornings, I’d read it and pray over it, as a reminder to shift my energy up. And bring in the higher vibes.
I was finally ready to call it in. With peace. And love. And trust.
I did the things I could control, and then let go of the rest: of the timing, my healing, and what our story would be.
I kept testing for ovulation every day, on those weird little strips (thanks Amazon for the mega packs), and starting taking my temperature each morning.
I had daily rituals that helped me calm and take the stress around it, and take the pressure off. Out of LOVE and care to learn my body. And curiosity.
Everyday, I’d imagine my cells filling with vibrancy, getting strong.
I started writing a blog post that’s still sitting in my drafts, this past April on getting diagnosed with PCOS, and what that meant, and what I was doing to try and boost and optimize my chances- just in case it might help anyone else.
With all of these things combined, a totally normal ovulation cycle happened that next month, that I only caught because of the strip testing and temperature taking combined.
(Side note to those of you who are maybe trying: I know those tests can drive people crazy, but if it was up to me to guess and just based on my app and how I felt, I would have picked the wrong days completely. Nowadays I’ve heard about new saliva tests and wrist tracking watches that women can wear if their cycles are more tricky– and, thank goodness.)
I was so excited. A legitimate chance. One of three that we might get for the year.
A few weeks later, I had a feeling.
I waited to test until it was on the later side of things, so I’d know for sure. I was trying to be casual about things, and just trust.
A few days later, early early in the morning, I did.
It was positive.
The darkest line I had ever seen after months of doing a test of some sort daily.
I don’t think anyone expects changes or healing to happen that fast. And maybe it was just a coincidence that we caught one of the 3 times a year that it could have happened, and it did.
But, I cried. It was a feeling of a complete miracle. My body could do this.
But I say all of this, not to say: oh just make these changes and it fixed everything.
Or that there was one thing that made it happen.
Instead, I’m sharing this (in TMI detail, I’m sure) to just show the complete journey of the full process for me, and the un-blocking of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual pieces, all together.
Which I think is something that speeds up any process in life, whether it’s healing, getting healthier, getting pregnant, making a career change, choosing a life partner, etc.
It’s not the path you take, it’s being all in.
Taking care of yourself, on all levels, for healing of all kinds.
It’s aligning. Reminding yourself daily. Doing your part, of course, but trusting in the bigger picture. And then being able to surrender it all.
This sweet little baby is such a gift to me already, in a true testament to that. It’s something I hope I’ll be able to pass on to him one day.
I’m crying a little as I sit here, typing this. I feel so genuinely thankful, and like it’s been a true miracle I’m witnessing unfolding.
Q: How have you felt?
I wish I could say oh, it’s been so great. No big deal. That all that prep work and healthy food really helped me enter pregnancy in a great and super healthy way.
But, in truth, I’ve felt pretty um… not great. Not just a little sick or tired here and there, but nauseous all day, everyday, and throwing up a few times a week, way past my first trimester. Like, last night.
In the first trimester, I couldn’t look at my computer screen or phone for more than 15 minutes at a time, because it would make me so much more nauseous. I definitely couldn’t look at my blog, instagram or pictures of food. I’m sure some of you noticed, but I went a little MIA there, which felt stressful in itself.
(me, in bed at 1pm onward most days)
But, life must go on. Especially when you run a business.
I was shooting the 2nd cookbook. Working on a book deal. (!)
I had a lot of travel that was already planned.
I had meetings that were huge for my career. Women are amazing, you know that? I’m still in awe, now knowing what some women experience while not being able to tell people anything.
So, when I found out, I was in the midst of a back-to-back 6 week travel schedule, flying all over the country non-stop. Let me just tell you– there was a lot of airplane bathroom moments, throwing up secretly in between business meetings, and ginger chews binges in those first beginning weeks.
I tried all the things to help– ginger chews, ginger teas, ginger anything (which I now can’t even look at), lemon, peppermint, spearmint, and cinnamon essential oils, drinking lemonade, drinking ginger beer, wearing sea bands everywhere but the shower, getting acupuncture twice a week, using magnesium spray nightly, taking my vitamins at night, taking B6 and unisom together, etc.
I tried eating every 2 hours, and in a low moment, even bought a pack each of jolly ranchers, hot tamales, and chewed my way through a pack of mint mentos on an airplane– all based on suggestions from other nauseous friends that swore by them. Verdict: mint mentos actually helped– or delayed the throwing up until I was at least off the plane.
But still, nothing has really helped besides just trying to stay off screens all day and sleeping when it got too bad. Not exactly convenient when you run a business and online platform, but I know it was a lesson in grace and giving myself space and letting up on the pressure. I’d cry everyday being so thankful for my angel assistant, who just kept the ship running while I was in bed.
It’s something I’m sure I’ll be using and tapping into way more this next year- being ok with needing help, and knowing that I can’t do it all.
Q: What have you been eating?
In all realness, for the first 3 months, all I could keep down was fruit and cereal (which I had never bought before as an adult, or since being gluten-free. The healthier stuff came right back up, so for a good 16 weeks there, honey nut cheerios, and rice chex it was).
By 2pm I’d be in bed, and by 5pm I was on the couch usually in tears from the pain and intense sickness when Kyle would come home.
Up through week 17, the only other food I could usually only get down a few bites of refried beans and rice from the somewhat sketchy mexican joint down the street for dinner– that Kyle would pick up in bulk orders.
Not even GF toast or GF pasta sounded good. I’d wash it down with a glass of natural lemonade, cream soda or ginger ale (the weirdest, but something about the sugar and carbonation helped).
Now, at week 19, I’m finally over the refried bean phase being the only solid food I could eat (thank god).
But still not feeling great or back to my usual self.
So, as of late, I’ve been able to try and add back some other things. Lately I’ve been existing on fruit, cereal, iced tea with lemonade, some kinds of veggie based soup, and now GF mac and cheese.
Ok. Mac n’ cheese. I don’t even like it. Never really have. And if there’s any confusion here– this isn’t a more “real” homemade kind, but Annie’s boxed kind. The white cheddar kind, to be specific, because orange cheese freaks me out.
Update: Lately I’ve been able to add a little vital proteins collagen powder to the cheese powder, because lord knows I’m not able to get any other types of protein down yet. Also, I just found a company called Banza that has chickpea pasta based mac and cheese, so I tried that too yesterday and was so happy…. until I paid for it all afternoon. Well, I’m just gonna keep trying.
Is it totally pure, real food? No. It’s close. And it’s the best I can do and it stays down. I don’t get too bent out of shape about it, because I know it’s temporary.
Now, at 19 weeks, some other great news: I’ve upgraded my morning cereal game to Kashi Honey Oats, gluten-free oatmeal with raisins, and Mesa Organic Sunrise Flakes with Raisins.
And. If that wasn’t enough, I was also able to eat the Photoshoot Salad twice last week, which was just about the first vegetables and/or “normal meal” to enter my mouth in months. Lentil or split pea soup has worked too, some days, which I am thrilled about, even in this 90 degree heat.
It’s the little things, ya know? I feel proud of it.
Other new thrilling additions just this 19th week: sliced heirloom tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and sea salt on toasted gf baguettes, peaches and cherries got added to my OK TO FRUIT list, and sometimes I can do dill pickles, or cottage cheese with fruit. And iced tea mixed lemonade EVERY DAY after lunch has been saving my life.
It’s so funny how my body just knows what it might be able to keep down– and what it can’t. It’s fascinating, and really just a reminder that I’m not really in charge or in control, so to just go with it.
I do still feel sick most days, especially in the afternoons and nights, even though I’m way past 1st trimester and almost to the halfway point next week.
But, I try to laugh about it as much as I can, because the whole thing is so weird. And I’m thankful just to be pregnant. So I’m just trying to do my best, take pictures to document it, and take one day at a time.
So, there you have it. Life as of late.
Q: Have you been working out?
For me, consistent workouts have always been a part of my daily life, for as long as I can remember. So, even on the sickest days, working out and getting in some fresh air or movement of some kind helped me, and continues to do so. Maybe it was purely out of routine and making me feel like my normal self, or maybe it was the movement itself. Either way, that’s still been a big non-negotiable in my day.
I’m not running marathons or doing crossfit or anything crazy, but my normal spin and/or free weights classes (30 mins of each), TRX, barre classes, and walking all feel great. I’m aiming for at least 7,000 steps a day, although I’m a little slower than usual at getting there. I was doing my normal yoga classes in the beginning, more so for mental reasons- but now those feel weird. Time for a little pre-natal yoga action I think.
Either way, my goal is to just keep moving every day, keep listening to what my body needs, and to keep taking care of myself this way, doing what feels good.
And, a love note to Lululemon’s Align pants. They were already all I wanted to wear before, but they are literally saving my life lately. I’ll get a pair in the next size up as I need, but am so thankful for the 2 I have now that still work.
Q: Are you taking any supplements?
Yes, I’m taking Seeking Health’s Chewable Prenatal (because 1) the regular non-chewable ones were coming right back up, and 2) because they use activated/methylated folate and B vitamins— which you need if you have the MTHFR gene. If you don’t know if you do or not, it can’t hurt to stick with methylated kinds for prenatals. Oh, and make sure your vitamins are made with activated or methylated folate, not folic acid). I’m also taking activated B-12 from Seeking Health, and magnesium spray on the inside of my arms and feet at night, which I was doing before pregnancy. Also I can only say good things about ANDROGRAPHIS Pure 800 MG – Fast-Acting Strength, Healthy Immune Function, Physical Wellness for Seasonal Protection – Full-Spectrum & Standardized – 60 Vegetarian Soft Capsules the spring in my step was clearly noticable.
Q: What foods or things do you miss the most?
Ok, don’t roll your eyes at my answer, but I really really do miss my veggies. I miss salads– especially kale salads– and green smoothies and how I feel eating those foods daily. I also miss my foursigmatic mushroom coffee, and adaptogen powders (they’re not suggested during pregnancy because they can help regulate and balance hormones. Which is usually a good thing, but when pregnant your hormones are doing their own crazy thing, and it’s better not to mess with it). I miss my matcha too. Soon enough. I def miss rose and wine for sure this time of year, although I feel to sick for it to really sound good. Also grilled salmon/burgers and protein sounding good.
I think more than any one specific food, I more so just miss being joyful and excited about food overall. And having options. You guys know that’s my thing. Right now it feels more like forced feeding, so hopefully with some time this will trickle it’s way back in.
Q: Will you still run your business?
Yes! I’m planning to take a maternity leave for a few months (thank goodness for my tiny but mighty team!) but as anyone who runs their own business knows, there’s no such thing as a true break or time off for more than a few days at a time. So, I’ll be doing the best I can to plan and prep a lot of stuff ahead of time so they keep running without me, and most importantly: stay present, focus on what’s important, and to not have guilt, no matter which way things go.
After that, yeah baby. Working mamma entrepreneur life, here we come! I’m excited to navigate it, and create a way to do it that feels good to me.
Next up? Our 20 week and halfway point ultrasound next week. If you’re the praying and sending good vibes type, please send them this way for a healthy update.
Ok, well…. I think this might be one of my longest posts, so I’m gonna stop here.
Do you guys want updates on this part of my journey? Let me know below. And def let me know what other questions you have over on instagram at @simplyrealhealth, or below.
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