THE HUNGER GAMES OF CONCEIVING

The things we think about a lot, and need to talk about more…

I make a large effort to take great care of my self, my mind, and I am very in tune with my body. I eat real foods, drink a ton of water, don’t drink much caffeine, take multiple vitamins and supplements, and I try to spend more time doing the things that really matter and make me happy…So when I realized that getting pregnant would be more difficult than I thought, despite all of what I do for myself, I was very surprised.

Ben and I started dating in 2012, and we were married in 2016 right before moving to Norway in July. While we both knew we wanted a family of our own, we also knew that we wanted at least a year to settle in to life abroad and travel. I had one more year left  with my IUD but opted to have it removed prior to our move abroad simply because I knew, after much research, that the wait for a general practitioner took months and to get a OBGYN even longer. I knew it would take some time for my body to re-acclimate and adjust to it’s natural state and it honestly felt really good to get back to that. Since I was now on no form of birth control I started tracking my cycles and ovulation in order to understand it and my body more. I downloaded the Natural Cycles app onto my phone, purchased a basal thermometer to measure my temperature each morning I woke up, and I calendared and journal-ed everything. It felt really good to be this in tune with my body and it’s capabilities. So when we decided to start trying for a baby, I felt like it would be a piece of cake.

No-one ever told me the reality of things – and now I realize it is just not talked about. When you are trying to get pregnant, it often feels like things are not happening quick enough. You make the decision to have a baby, and you forge ahead assuming that you will be pregnant in a matter of weeks. In the reality of trying to conceive, you only have a window of 12-24 hours every month. And within that very small slot of time you have to be diligent…but not too diligent. And even then there are SO many obstacles stacked against you. Conception and a healthy pregnancy are not something that is easy to achieve – it is really hard work! If you understood the millions of chemical reactions and hormonal balances that must occur within a month, in order for you to get pregnant, you would be impressed with the intricacy of your body. In order for your body to hang on to the pregnancy, another group of hormonal reactions must occur in synchronization that would make the Rockettes jealous. So not only was I blissfully unaware, at 32 years of age, that conceiving would be difficult, I was also very unaware that miscarriage was a probability. We had our first miscarriage in August when I was nearly 12 weeks pregnant.

I knew miscarriages happened in the abstract to abstract people, but it just had not occurred to me to be prepared for. In all honesty, I had never even known any woman who had been through this loss or heard it talked about openly. According to the March of Dimes, an organization devoted to neonatal welfare, around 10-15 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage, with pregnancy loss before 20 weeks gestation. The real number may be much higher, as some pregnancies quietly end before women are even aware they’re pregnant. Miscarriages are emotionally intense and very unique forms of grief and trauma, ones that unfortunately occur in privacy and silence. For parents eagerly anticipating the arrival of a new family member, fetal death — whether it occurs early or late in pregnancy — can be devastating. The shroud of secrecy that hangs over these topics seems to make it challenging to talk about, but it’s critical to bring these conversations into the light.

I was in a state of mourning I had never experienced. And maybe it was psychological, but for the next week or so I still “felt” pregnant. Then suddenly, my hormones crashed and I was a total mess mentally. I felt such sadness and shame, but there were also a plethora of other emotions at play that I wasn’t prepared for at all. For one thing, I was irrationally angry at my husband for not being “sad enough”. And every joyful, expectant baby announcement I came across on social media felt like a tiny stab in the heart. I felt like my emotional and mental equilibrium was completely all over the place – which it was. The traditional wisdom of not announcing a pregnancy until after the first trimester — when the risk of miscarriage drops dramatically — can have unintended consequences. Meaning that if couples do experience a miscarriage in this time, they don’t tell people. And this unfortunately results in the profound psychological effects of early pregnancy loss being brushed under the carpet. I wish I had educated myself more on miscarriage and the mental and emotional effects of such loss, especially how to cope after. But I now realize that because miscarriage isn’t talked about a lot, women’s expectations are that everything’s going to be fine. It took many months for my hormones to adjust back to their normal levels and for me to feel ready to talk about the loss openly. Once I started talking about my miscarriage and loss, it became more common for friends and family to come out of the woodwork with stories of their own. Finding community organizations and support groups online helped immensely as well. Hearing that others had gone through the experience helped me open myself to work through the grief and find commonality. I realized it wasn’t my fault, that it was okay to be sad, it was okay to be angry, and it was okay to take as much time as I needed to heal. In being open with one of my coworkers they responded by saying, THAT SUCKS. And I loved it. It did suck. It absolutely sucked. That was the truest thing to say. It felt so honest and empathetic. They weren’t trying to sugarcoat it. And though they didn’t know exactly what I was going through, it didn’t sound pitying.

Word of advice: WHAT NOT TO SAY to a woman grieving a fetal loss – “everything happens for a reason”, “it just wasn’t meant to be”, ‘well at least you can get pregnant”, or “if you want a baby badly enough it will happen for you”. While those comments are well meaning, they minimize the loss. That lack of validation can make parents hesitant to reach out and be frank about their experience. Every person responds to trauma in their own way and at their own pace. For friends and family members, respecting and validating that grief is very important. Acknowledging the grief and treating miscarriage and stillbirth as real losses create a safe space for people to talk about their experience.Just be present for them and let them know you are available to listen or talk when they are ready.

Fast forward to today… I am currently in the second Trimester of my second pregnancy and due in November of 2018 – of which the gender will be a welcomed surprise!

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But to be honest, when I thought about having to share the news about expecting this baby, all I could think about was dread and another woman mourning over her loss as I did, worried she would never get pregnant again, and reading about my little one on the way. It felt a bit disingenuous to not also share the struggle it took for me to get here. Once I felt comfortable enough and did decide to share our news, I used my social media platform to express what I experienced in the hopes that it could- in some small way – help someone going through a similar pain. Though the first loss happened last summer, these days, I feel like I have enough emotional distance from the miscarriage to appreciate that without it, I wouldn’t have the healthy pregnancy I have now — I might have another child, but I wouldn’t have the profound appreciation and humbleness that I carry with in myself and for this new life growing in my womb. In the first trimester, I felt fragile, incredibly vulnerable, and like my body was performing an impossible task, one that I honestly wasn’t sure it was up for. I made sure I got outside often, I stretched when I woke up, read more, I pampered myself with some new skin care products, I cooked my self delicious meals, I took vitamins, upped my supplements, threw in a probiotic for good measure, and I booked a week long trip to Prague for some much needed girl time with sushi and pedicures. I was like a very well-cared for animal, trying to use all that self-care to assuage my fears.

It’s funny what being pregnant and having a baby does.

Now that I am nearing the end of this pregnancy, I feel like a tank. I know both that my body can handle the task at hand, and also that anything can happen at any time. The loss that I felt when I miscarried is a part of how we got to where we are now, and it has brought more awareness and appreciation into my life. Miscarriage doesn’t have to be the subject of silent stigma and shame, but that’s a process that begins one person at a time. Being frank about pregnancy loss can reduce the sense of feeling alone, while affirming the validity of grief can help parents feel more comfortable grieving with their community, rather than doing so in isolation.

May the odds be ever in your favor.

HOW I MATCHA

I am not one of the types that necessarily ‘needs’ coffee in the mornings to get going, and I really tend to sway more towards teas. But I do enjoy the ritual of it all and as a way to start my day prioritizing ME, and simply exist without the worries of daily life. Enter the matcha latte. Currently I have fallen in love with matcha and am loving the way I feel after a morning cup. It is loaded with antioxidants and does contain caffeine, though it creates more of a calming alertness with none of the jitters or crash associated with coffee. Matcha is everywhere these days, and I am so thankful that it is because I’m completely smitten.

After lots of experimentation and trying different concoctions, I have found my perfect blend – delicious, earthy, and chalk full of adaptogen goodness. – The adaptogens you choose for your potions are entirely up to you. Based on what benefits you are hoping to reap, there are SO many options – I personally LOVE Tocos as it is serious food to hydrate skin and connective tissue. It’s literally good on anything, eaten straight, or just mixed into your morning cup of coffee or tea where it will dissolve instantly, producing a creamy texture without actual cream. As a general rule of thumb, I don’t usually put more than 3-4 adaptogens in each potion. I’d also advise to keep portion size small. You only really need a 1/2 teaspoon of each adaptogen. In the recipes below, there are a few suggestions, but I encourage you to do your own research and see which adaptogens call to you. In terms of brands, I recommend Sun Potion, Moon juice, and Mountain Rose Herbs.

Additionally you can add in MCT Oil/Brain Octane – This is great to add if you need that extra pep in your step and is not something I add in everyday. With the addition of MCT oil or Brain Octane, you basically have a Bulletproof matcha. KAPOW! If you’ve never used either, I would start with a teaspoon or less. I prefer to use the MCT oil powder from Perfect Keto as it does not cause stomach upset and can literally be added to anything. It also leaves no oily film on the surface of liquids it is added to and actually adds a creaminess as well.

My Everyday Matcha Potion:

2 cups hot water OR 1 cup hot water + 1 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoons high-quality drinking matcha ( I like Wild Foods)
1 tablespoon tocos
1/2 teaspoon cordyceps (or adaptogen of your choice)
1/2 teaspoon mucuna pruiens (or adaptogen of your choice)
1/2 teaspoon ashwaganda (or adaptogen of your choice)
a pinch of raw vanilla ( Wild Foods)
1-1 1/2 tablespoons coconut butter or ghee
A hefty sprinkle of cinnamon

{If you prefer a sweeter flavor add 1 tsp raw honey or 4-5 drops liquid stevia)

Add the hot coconut milk and water to your blender – let cool a bit before doing so. Then just add all the other ingredients in and blend for 1-2 minutes. On days where I feel I need a little help with inflammation I will add in 1/4 tsp of organic Tumeric in place of the cinnamon.

 

*UPDATED* For Fall 

Pumpkin Spice Matcha Potion:

2 cups hot water (160°-175°) OR 1 cup hot water + 1 cup coconut (or any other kind) milk
1 1/2 Tablespoons coconut butter
1 1/2 Tablespoons pumpkin purée
1 1/2 teaspoons matcha
1/2 teaspoon maca
1/2 teaspoon chaga powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
Pinch of pink salt
Optional: 1 teaspoon raw honey

 

 

 

10 THINGS

Who else is having all of the Autumn feels?? The leaves are turning bright shades of yellow and red and I am finding myself craving warm soups and matcha lattes more often. Not to mention that Oktoberfest kicks off here in Oslo this weekend! We camped up on the lake near our home earlier this week and it felt so good to get back into the warmth. Here are ten things of interest and current favs of mine:

1. I just started reading Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes and it is feeding my female soul.

2.  A pizza farm with Nick Offerman…and taquitos. Watch this

3. I lOVE Tarte and am currently obsessed with the Rainforest of the Sea Deep Dive Cleansing gel.

4. Listen to folk band Hiss Golden Messenger  on Spotify + the new album drops this weekend (22nd).

5. Netflix’s Chasing Coral is visually stunning and could be a total game changer in terms of public perception.

6. I am missing Columbus a lot lately, as is Ben and I have been hankering for Buckeye Pho something fierce.

7. If you are intrigued by True crime stories, enjoy laughing, and also love podcasts – check out Wine & Crime.

8. Putting this Clarisonic Mia Fit on my Christmas wish list.

9. Thirteen winter cocktails to get you through the cold.

10. Really curious about this new Darren Aronofsky movie Mother and if it’s worth seeing. Thoughts?

Incredible Autumn photo above of the Alpine winter cabin in Norway via Cabin Porn