2nd Trimester: Energy and Exercise

I did it! I climbed back on the wagon, stuck my trusty old 21 Day Fix DVD in the player, and FINALLY got back to a real workout! 

I know, I’m a freakin’ champion. Thank you, thank you. Now let me enjoy my reward:


That first trimester hits me like a ton of bricks. This was my 4th time dragging myself through the exhaustion, nausea, and fatigue… but the prize is worth the pain, and hopefully this time around I’ll get to hold a new little person in my arms in just 22 weeks and 6 days. But who’s counting? 

I’ve tried to keep moving by taking walks and doing dance workouts here and there, but I’ve seriously struggled with finding the time, energy, and motivation to do a more intense workout. 

Well, today I’m feeling pretty good. I got pretty solid sleep last night for one of a handful of times in last 19 months (thank you Ziva!) and there were no errands to run or business to handle. 

The stars aligned and my desire to move outweighed my desire to lay like a puddle on a pillow of cotton. 

What was my workout of choice? Total Body Cardio with my homegirl Autumn Calabrese. I started my postpartum weight loss with the 21 Day Fix, why not start my pregnancy fitness with the same? I modified some stretches to my comfort level, changed the ab workouts to avoid laying on my back, and went all in!  I used these alternative ab exercises from What to Expect in place of the round 4 floor exercises. 

I FEEL GREAT. I just wish I’d gotten back to it a little sooner since working out actually helps minimize my pregnancy symptoms. 

I’ll admit it, after losing the 1st baby and having the Sub-chorionic hematoma while pregnant with Ziva, and losing the 3rd baby, I have a bit of a semi-subconscious fear of doing anything with my body that could jeopardize the pregnancy. Even if many women and their doctors find it perfectly acceptable to continue working out at their pre-pregnancy capacity, I hold back and hesitate a little with each move. That’s okay though, I’ve decided, as long as I keep moving! 

What’s your Achilles’ heel? Mine is Anxiety


Honesty time.

Anxiety is my Achilles’ heel. Meaning? There’s nothing that can trip me up, pull me ten steps back, and completely derail my health goals faster than a bout of anxiety. I’ve tried so many things over the years to manage my anxiety to make real progress, but some things in life are big, and no matter what self-care, breathing exercises, and positive thinking skills I employ, there is just real anxiety that is a lot to contend with.

For me, the stress and anxiety of pregnancy… and pregnancy loss have sent me like a yo-yo through good times and rough times when I can’t seem to pull myself forward. It’s been about 3 months since my last loss and for the most part, I’m doing okay. I’ve even had some really great bursts of anxiety free energy! I finished a full round of the 21 Day Fix Extreme and lost 9 lbs and 8.5 inches, more importantly I was feeling STRONG, HEALTHY, and POWERFUL in my body. It was amazing to feel such ownership of my body again after the alienating feeling of betrayal and confusion following another miscarriage. But, I’m human.

I may have AMAZING tools at my disposal for managing my anxiety and staying on track physically… but I’m still healing and I’m still figuring things out. In this second round of the 21DFX, I haven’t been doing very well. I’ll admit it. My mind isn’t in the game this round. We’ve made so many big changes in our lives since April, losing the baby, moving across the country back to my hometown, changing our work situations (I now work from home full-time), and all the costs and challenges that these things bring… I think it’s all starting to catch up to me all at once and it’s been rough.

I know that the stressful times are a great test for any lifestyle change. If it doesn’t work for you even through the worst of times, is it really a lifestyle change or is it just a diet? I’m finding that for me, right now, I’m so grateful to have found my Beachbody family. I may not be making perfect progress at the moment, but I’m still moving forward, and doing so is one thing that can help me with my anxiety. Every time I force myself to press play, or at least get up and go for a walk outside so that I can participate in my accountability group, it helps lighten my mood. It helps give me even just the slightest lift so that I can see out of my anxiety haze. Knowing I have challengers watching and relying on me to be an example and a motivator helps me manage the urge to eat my emotions. I may not be making perfect progress every month, but I’m living my real story and being honest as I go.

I’m grateful that with Beachbody I have a ton of options to choose from, and even though right now my anxiety is too much and I am not up for pressing play on a hardcore boot camp style workout everyday, I’m grateful for the light-hearted options that allow me to workout with less pressure and lower impact. Sometimes all you need is a good dance, a little laugh, and to just get moving.

So, my weight loss story may be a little up and down, my ‘after’ photo may still look like a ‘before’, but I’m so proud of how far I’ve come in managing my hard times. I’m proud that despite wanting nothing more than to curl up in a ball under the covers, this community has pushed me to be the kind of person who gets up and gets moving.

So, despite my Achilles’ Heel, I’m finding ways to keep moving forward.

This got me thinking, for many of us who struggle with our weight and our fitness, there is something that trips us up and keeps us from successfully making the lifestyle changes necessary to allow progress to happen. But, if we are able to identify our greatest weakness. If we are able to figure out what triggers our self-destructive behaviors, maybe we can prepare ourselves to confront them more effectively.

Knowing what sets you off course means you can plan ways to try to keep the negative cycle from continuing.

For me, when my anxiety runs high and I want to hide and eat everything, the number one thing I need to do on those days is to get up and get moving. If it’s not my workout video, than it needs to at least be a walk outside. By breaking the downward spiral, often, I can start to pull myself back up.

On that note, time to go press play.

Big Changes Part 3: Getting Some Answers

Before we moved, before we miscarried, I had done my research and found a GREAT OB to provide my prenatal care once we were to arrive in California. I was super excited to work with my new doctor after receiving countless recommendations from women who had delivered with him. My 12 week appointment was scheduled for our first week in town and after I miscarried I decided to keep the appointment for follow-up and planning for future pregnancies. I’m so glad I did.

My new doctor listened to my pregnancy history– my first miscarriage, the challenges we faced with Ziva’s pregnancy, and this most recent miscarriage. Generally the medical establishment look at early miscarriages as bad luck until there are 3 or more in a row without live births in between. But this new doctor really listened, and he decided that despite my not having had 3 successive miscarriages without a live birth in between, he felt there was reason enough to do some blood tests to take a look at why I may be experiencing recurrent miscarriages. I’m so glad he did.

I went in and had my blood drawn right away and waited till after my next cycle to go back to meet with the doc for my results. I fully expected and was bracing myself to hear that there was no explanation, nothing unusual with my results, and no potential explanation for why my babies keep miscarrying. I’ve never been so relieve to find out there was a problem. I mean, usually a positive test for a medical test isn’t a good thing… but in this case it meant answers. It means I may be able to do something about my recurrent miscarriages and POSSIBLY avoid losing another baby when we decide we’re ready to try again. I can’t imagine a more hopeful result.

Of the handful of tests they ran on my blood I received 2 positive results.

I received an ANA result (Antinuclear-Antibodies) that was positive. I don’t know a ton about this test and I wonder if it could be caused by my Psoriasis, which is an inflammatory autoimmune condition. The doctor wants to retest me for this in a month because it has a high false-positive rate. He did not make any treatment recommendations based on this test. You can read more about ANA here- http://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Diseases-Conditions/Antinuclear-Antibodies-ANA

The second thing that came back positive was MTHFR. I won’t even attempt at explaining it myself, I’ll let my doctor do that:

What Is MTHFR?

MTHFR (5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase – what a mouthful…) is a specific gene found on a specific chromosome within every cell in every person The MTHFR gene produces an enzyme responsible for a multi-step process that converts the amino acid homocysteine to another amino acid, methionine. Specifically, MTHFR irreversibly reduces 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate to 5-methyltetrahydrofolate.  5-methyltetrahydrofolate is ultimately converted to methionine to make proteins and other important compounds. When the MTHFR enzyme “malfunctions” the process gets backed up, so that homocysteine (considered to be somewhat of a toxic amino acid) levels increase.  Elevated homocysteine can cause inflammation in blood vessels and increases the risk of microscopic clot formation.”

(From http://www.stephenwellsmd.com/mthfr.htm)

This is the test that gives me hope. There are treatment options available that may reduce the likelihood of miscarrying due to this condition.

There’s something I can do.

There’s something I can do.

No words are sweeter to a mom who’s lost multiple babies (or even just one). No hope greater than learning there may be something you can do to keep it from happening again.

My doctor recommended that whenever we decide we’re open to becoming pregnant again, or if there is a possibility I will become pregnant, I should start taking a low-dose aspirin daily.

Just one little pill.

Hopefully this is the first step towards our next baby sticking around for the long haul. I cannot tell you what a relief it is to know that there is hope, if even just a small glimmer, there is a little bit of hope that maybe we won’t have to go through an early pregnancy loss again.

May it be so.

 

* This is not meant to be medical advice to anyone. I am just sharing my own experience and what I believe my doctor told me to do for my health. Please consult your own physician before taking anything.

Big Changes Part 1: Cross country move, miscarriage and answers

Whew. We did it!

We successfully moved across the country with a 15 month old, dog, and household of stuff. It’s been an incredibly hard, exhausting, exciting, and challenging spring so far and I don’t even know where to begin. So, I’ll just jump on in. This could get long, so I’m going to break it up into a 3 part series. You can read Part 2 and 3 Here and Here.

Pregnancy and Miscarriage

Positive Test_ReadySetSarahBlog

We found out in early March that we were expecting baby #2! We were THRILLED! I always wanted my kids close together and I wanted to start working on #2 just in case we experienced any trouble (like the first pregnancy which ended in a miscarriage at 12 weeks). The timing was a bit insane, since we were prepping for a cross-country move May 7th, but we couldn’t wait to show up in California with a little stowaway! Well, things didn’t go as planned… do they ever?

First, at what we calculated to be our 8 week appointment (based on my last period), the baby was only measuring 5 weeks. Strange… but our dates could very well have been off since my cycle was nowhere near regular yet. Then, a week later we went back to find a 6 week baby with a little steady heartbeat! A bit slow, but the Doc figured it was just getting going.

Heartbeat_ReadySetSarahBlog

Baby’s heartbeat.

Whew, it felt like we were in the clear and everything from there on out would be the (relatively) uneventful, smooth, and healthy pregnancy I’d always dreamed of… then I saw the tiniest bit of blood the Friday before what would be our  8 week appointment (based on the new dates adjusted at the first appointment). Okay, I’ve spotted with both my previous pregnancies…. those went 50/50, miscarriage/live birth. I trusted my gut and got in that day to have the baby checked.

The baby’s heartbeat was gone. It had stopped developing sometime in the 6th week after we saw it last.

This couldn’t be happening.

I was in shock, disbelief, numb.

Another miscarriage.

Why?

All our plans for another little November baby (like the first we miscarried which was due Nov 2nd, this baby’s adjusted due date was November 15th) were crushed. It took 3 weeks of bleeding before I finally miscarried fully. I had worked from home for a week waiting to pass the baby, but ended up miscarrying in the office on my last day before leaving for our big move to California. April 23rd. Almost exactly 2 years after I miscarried my first baby.

I Love You Forever_ReadySetSarahBlog

I packed away our Sister Bear and Baby bear shirts along with my hopes and dreams for these little siblings who would grow up so close in age. I pushed down the excitement for seeing Ziva as a big sister. I forced myself to see the silver linings this time around. At least I wouldn’t be having morning sickness and fatigue as I packed for the big move, at least I’d be able to lift things, at least, at least, at least…

I promise you, there was and is no silver lining that makes pregnancy loss of a wanted baby feel okay. There’s no silver lining good enough to replace the weight of a newborn in your arms, the kicks of a little growing baby, the joy of their first smiles, the love, the person they become. There just isn’t.

At least this time I had Ziva. At least this time I could hold her and find joy in her as she grows and changes… at least this time I know that I can survive, and life will go on, and eventually the sharpness of the pain dulls.

At least I was preparing to move back home where I could be close with my family and have a wide network of support for whatever the future holds. Our little family of 3 (4 with doggy Brinkley) would continue and move forward and move on, missing one more little angel.

The Day that Almost Was

Tomorrow is significant for what it’s not.

It was the day that we thought we might have our first child. It was the day that I memorized immediately after finding out we were pregnant last February. It was my due date.

Now, it’s just Sunday.

It may seem silly to hold on to the date, like it once held some magic. Especially silly since most babies aren’t born on their due date. Truth is, the baby measured small at that first and only ultrasound. They probably would have moved the date about 4 days like they did this time around. But still, the anticipation of November 2nd has stuck with me.

In April all I could think was, “Oh G*d, I hope we are pregnant again by Nov 2nd, or I’m not sure how I’ll manage the day.” In truth, sitting here almost 6 months pregnant it does seem to ease a bit of the hurt. The loss. But I can’t shake the feeling that something was taken. That this day was supposed to mean something.

Sometimes when I get sad thinking about the first baby, I remind myself that I am grateful for the one inside me now. Maybe, just maybe it had to happen this way so that we’d get this particular little spirit, due on the very same day we found out we were pregnant with the first.

Sometimes I think I’m silly for mourning something that really almost never was. Just 12 weeks. But, in my heart I know fiercely that I felt that little spirit with me… And I felt them leave. It was like someone had left the room. Like the opposite of the feeling you get when someone is watching you, the feeling of absence.

Have a very merry unbirthday little one.

You are missed. You are loved. You were, and I will never be the same.

 

For more on our experience with pregnancy loss: 

21 Weeks and Counting

Baby Lubetsky at 20 weeks.

Baby at 20 weeks.

Baby is 21 weeks now!

We got to see the little one on Friday for a follow-up anatomy scan. Though baby seems to love laying facing backwards and curled up all nice and cozy, we were still able to get a good look at all of their parts to confirm they are developing well. We got to see their little heart pumping away, and all the little bones and other organs. It’s funny how certain parts, like their face, fingers and toes make it all seem more real. That’s a real mini-human inside me. Mind blowing.

We discovered the other night that baby has started reacting to music. At least that’s how it seems. While watching Nashville baby would start to move around when the music was playing. Pretty crazy! Each time a song came on the wild sensation of movement from my womb would start-up again. Such an awesome feeling. I’m going to start playing baby some good music regularly, now that they seem to hear it. That way baby can enjoy the calm and joy I get from it (I’m sure that carries to baby somehow). It will also be a good bonding activity for us.

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about how far we have come since April. It feels so far away now… but the one part that had stuck around like gum on my shoe is the fear. Fear of getting too excited or attached to this little one. With the last pregnancy, I felt a strong emotional connection with the baby and music, and listened constantly. I almost immediately felt the presence of the little spirit with me and was keenly aware of it throughout my day. When we found out we were pregnant this time, I kept waiting for that elation to show up, but it hides just underneath the fear a lot of the time. There are times when I really connect, and of course there are many moments of joy and excitement, but they are almost always followed by a feeling of worry that I shouldn’t “count my eggs before they hatch.” For example, haven’t been listening as intently to music as I did last time, or focusing as hard on creating experiences for the little one in my womb… not because I don’t want to, but because I’ve been afraid of the potential for pain that I’d be opening myself up to. Gradually, I’m opening myself back up to the potential for the future.

Boy or Girl?

For Brian’s birthday (around 17 1/2 weeks pregnant) I surprised him with an early gender scan at one of those 3D ultrasound places. It was worth every penny to sneak a peek in on our little gummy bear and see how they were doing. After the Subchorionic Hematoma started to shrink we went back on a “normal” appointment schedule rather than weekly visits. I’ll admit it, I really wanted to know the gender so it was as much a present for me as for him… But I also wanted the video of the ultrasound. I wanted to have a video of it moving about, alive, even if on the inside. So, it was a relief to see the little bugger moving about. Baby played a little coy and didn’t want to give us a good view of the goods, but we did get a peek when they uncrossed their ankles for a couple of seconds! I have to say, seeing the baby and finding out their gender was a big turning point for me. Suddenly, the abstract idea of baby became more real.

Knowing what biological gender our little one is has really helped me attach and connect with it more these last few weeks. I hadn’t realized just how self protective I had been up till that point, but the feelings of love and bonding I had so early last time took over immediately after finding out what it is. Not that it matters so much, just that it’s something new to make this little one real to me. A person, not just a gummy bear. My son or daughter, not just a pregnancy. I can imagine that when we start seeing their movements from the outside, when Brian can feel the life moving in me, it will bring things to a whole other level of real. I can’t wait!

Only 19 more weeks to go!

Side note: I haven’t had much in terms of cravings recently, though there are days when I just need, I mean NEED vegetables. My feet have started swelling a little at the end of the day if I don’t remember to put up my feet at work, but it’s nothing I can’t handle. Nausea rears it’s head occasionally, but is manageable. Generally, I feel good, though uncomfortable, and I’m plugging along.

Rainbow on its way- The first trimester

PregnancyAnnouncementReadySetSarahBlog

We’re pregnant!

It was somewhat shocking to find that just one cycle after my miscarriage we are already expecting again. Along with the joy that came with the news, our initial reaction was also weighted by our still fresh pain, and fear of what could happen. But we had to believe the best, and we haven’t stopped believing. We’ll see this little one through, hopefully all the way till they’re in our arms safe and healthy! I took the first test before work and Brian and I both looked at the faint positive line in disbelief… so on my lunch hour I walked up to the drug store to get one more. No denying it this time!

Didn't believe it until the second test!

Didn’t believe it until the second test!

A rough start

Things quickly became more complicated when, once again, I began to spot at about 7 weeks. At 9 1/2 weeks, due to a heavy, heavy, bright red bleed over our Anniversary weekend in Traverse City, we spent our first anniversary in the ER expecting the worst. We were overjoyed and shocked when the ultrasound showed a healthy developing baby with a strong heart beat. It was determined by our OB at follow-up that we had experienced a subchorionic hematoma that had bled out. I continued to bleed lightly through the week, as the doctor warned us would happen. But it slowed to a stop by the end of the week.

The following weekend at 10 1/2 weeks I woke in the middle of the night to another rush of fresh bleeding… again, to the ER. We were again happy to find an even bigger growing baby and strong heart beat… But this time my cervix had begun to dilate. Crossing our fingers and praying to G*d we left the ER on rest until our follow-up appointment.

Baby Betsky at 9 1/2 and 11 weeks

Baby Betsky at 9 1/2 and 11 weeks

A long, worried wait

At our follow-up appointment we learned that the Subchorionic Hematoma (SCH) was still there (despite the 2 big bleeds), and that we would just need to wait it out and see if it would heal and reabsorb or bleed out on it’s own. From what I understand, there’s not much that can be done to treat a SCH. Some doctors believe that bed rest is the only treatment to help keep it from getting worse, others don’t buy it.

Our doctor put us somewhere on the spectrum at taking it easy, with no running, jogging, or general exertion. Brian and I weren’t going to take any chances. We read as many studies as possible and made our own decision. I spent the next month mostly seated or laying down. I’m telling you, MAD PROPS TO BED REST MOMS. It was seriously hard to stay inactive… especially not knowing if it would really help. The big fear with the SCH is that it can lead to serious complications later in the pregnancy if it doesn’t go away (miscarriage, premature labor…etc). Brian dutifully drove me to work everyday (to avoid the uphill walk from my parking lot), and I did everything I could to keep rested. The bleeding kept up for weeks (sorry for the gross factor of this post, if you’re grossed out by this stuff). But from what we can tell, the rest and time got us through.

Good to go- 20 weeks and counting

Now that we are on the other side of the first trimester (and midway through our second), I feel grateful that we didn’t have something worse to contend with. It felt like the world could come crashing down at any minute. The emotional stress was probably the worst part of it all. I’m amazed now how many small little things have to go right to get a person here. It makes me grateful that we have made it this far. I’m in awe of the seemingly “easy” pregnancies some people have (I know, I know, no such thing as easy), but grateful for every minute of this one.

We were fully cleared last week. The hematoma is gone and our little one is growing and kicking and making their way to the world. I started prental yoga and it feels like a little of the weight has been lifted. There may still be clouds lingering, but we can see this little rainbow shining through. I can’t wait to get to February to meet the little one!

First Trimester Cravings: not much… string cheese, cucumbers, carbs. Lots and lots of carbs. Really goes well with inactivity (hello miraculous multiplying booty).

Self-Care after a Miscarriage

All of the views expressed here are my own. I have used “alternative” care most of my life and find it helpful in combination with western medical care, particularly in caring for my overall wellbeing.

SelfCare_ReadySetSarahBlog

1 Month Today

Today marks the 1 month point since I lost the baby. We would have been starting our 4th month of pregnancy today, and instead we are mourning and reflecting on 1 month since our loss.

Self-care is particularly important when my strength and resilience are stretched thin by a circumstance like this, outside of my control. I stay on the look out for ways to manage the stress and anxiety that flare up for me from time to time. But in a time like right now, when my emotions are high, and can come up unexpectedly, I find it even more important to make a concerted effort to maintain balance and practice thoughtful self-care.

A traumatic, stressful, sad life event is the perfect storm for making stress and anxiety hit a fever pitch, and I’m determined to get through this in a healthy reasonable way.

Here are a few of the things I’ve been doing to take care of myself since the miscarriage:

Scale Back.
One of the first and strongest feelings after returning home to Michigan after the miscarriage was that the feeling that family and home are the most important things to tend to in my life right now. This meant cutting back on outward commitments to save my energy for work, family and my personal care and interests. Sometimes getting out and getting active is a good thing, but right now it feels like all of the extracurricular commitments would just cause me to avoid my feelings, avoid thinking about things, avoid quiet moments to process our loss and grow past it. I decided that sticking to the things that matter most: my family life and health will help me heal more quickly and more fully so that when we are ready to try again I am balanced and ready.

Sure, I have had moments of guilt for dropping out of some commitments to groups I’m involved with. I tried my best to be respectful of their needs and communicated what was going on as promptly as I could. I just know that if I don’t take care of myself now, the grief will only come up later in disruptive ways. Right now, beyond my job, my main responsibilities and my all of my energy are dedicated to healing our family, tending my bond with my husband, and  caring for my physical and emotional health. These are my only and main concerns, and that is okay.

Get sleep.
Letting myself get over tired is a big no no when I’m under emotional stress. When I’m over tired everything feels harder and I get more reactive and it’s harder to stay positive. My negative thinking can get out of hand quickly, even in the best of times, and when you heap being over tired to the equation it’s a recipe for disaster.

Sleep is healing. I often work things out in my dream life. It’s really important to keep up a healthy sleep routine when emotionally tested. Not too much, not too little. I’m trying to stick with a solid 8 hour routine to keep myself on track. In the late hours if I’m not in bed and ready to sleep, the sad and longing thoughts of loss creep in, the arguments and emotional, irrational behavior pick up quickly. If you are anything like me, do everyone a favor and give yourself an early bed time and a regular wake up call. When that alarm goes off, get up and get going with your day.

Talk About It
If you need to talk about what has happened, go ahead and talk about it. Don’t wait for others to ask, or expect others to bring it up. Not to say you should share when you don’t feel comfortable, or all of the time, but I’ve found that most people are nervous to bring it up for fear of reminding me or upsetting me… so it’s up to me to bring it up if I’m feeling the need to share a thought or feeling about what has happened. It can be a dark place in the days after losing a baby, don’t spend your energy being upset with people for not asking, or being angry with them for something they don’t know.

Find the people you feel safe talking with about your feelings. It doesn’t have to be everyone, but find a few people you can share your thoughts with and go ahead and talk. Telling your story, recounting memories, sadness, and concerns can be a release. Hearing about the sadness other people I love are experiencing has also helped me feel that I’m not alone in my grief (not that I want anyone to be sad, but it is validating to know I’m not the only one grieving the loss of the potential life of our little one).

Assume that people mean well. Many people don’t understand, can’t understand what it means to lose a child early in pregnancy. Many will say things that can be a bit upsetting… assume that they mean well and move on to find people who will support you in the ways you need. I found that speaking out publicly about our loss allowed me to find other people who have been through pregnancy loss. Sharing with them and discussing the deep feelings of grief and fear has been really helpful. Knowing that they understand that this was a child we lost, and not just a blip on the radar is comforting.

For me, sharing in writing has been as cathartic as sharing in person (and is available whenever I need it). You can read my story, and some of my musings about the miscarriage herehere, and here.

Physical care.
I saw my OB Gyn in the first weeks after the miscarriage to make sure I was medically ok. That was the first step and the minimum of what I could do to care for myself physically. I’ve written in the past about developing a meditation practice, and my forays into acupuncture (you can read about those here and here).  Acupuncture, chiropractic care, and massage have been really helpful ways to support my wellbeing.

In the week or two right after the miscarriage I suffered from severe lower back pain and headaches. I’ve read that these are common symptoms after a miscarriage due to dropping hormone levels and the body readjusting and the uterus shrinking back down. The physical memories of the pregnancy and the pain of the miscarriage were overwhelming and often led to emotional pain. While some of this just had to be endured, I decided to take initiative and fix what I could.

The chiropractic office I go to, Optimal Wellness Family Chiropractic, has been a great source of support and care during my years in Royal Oak. I discovered Dr. Michaela through a Groupon for a massage at her clinic and have been going back since (Brian, my husband, now goes there as well). This office happens to focus on pregnancy and pediatrics, so I felt this was a good place to go for post-miscarriage care. Sure, it was a small splurge to get Brian and myself each a massage, but it was worth it to provide my body with the physical relief and relaxation after such a traumatic event. The chiropractic adjustments, caring concern, and listening ear that Dr. Michaela provided in those first few days alleviated not only some of my physical pain and discomfort, but also helped me feel cared for and safe in my grief.

Exercise and healthy diet. 
We are taking this new-found pre-babies time to work on my physical health. I gained some lb’s over the winter and  during the pregnancy I couldn’t make any drastic changes in exercise routine and diet. Now that I have the time (whether we want it or not) I’m committed to taking care of my body as much as possible. I’ve been following the Buzzfeed Clean Eating Challenge as a way to manage my diet and “reset” my eating behaviors that led to the weight gain (you can read more about that here). Brian and I have also been following a 30 day ab challenge to work on toning up, and we are taking advantage of sunshine for long walks with our pup.

These things not only make me feel happy because they are things I like to do, but the exercise and healthy eating make me physically feel great and boost my overall mood. Sure, there have been times I’ve wanted to eat my feelings during the last month, but I’ve decided to not engage in self-destructive behaviors that will only make things worse. I can’t take the chance right now of pushing myself even deeper into grief, and a potential depressive episode. Right now, I’m going to do everything I can to lift myself up.

Check yourself (before you wreck yourself)
Don’t risk traveling down the road of spiraling negative thinking. It takes a lot of work and practice to learn to recognize negative thought patterns. Knowing what to look out for and how to turn your thinking around is a great place to start learning how to check yourself. I’ll admit… I slip up all of the time. Just last night I was deep in a cycle of spiraling negative thoughts, I was near the edge emotionally and it was not good. I let my deep feelings of sadness spin into negative feelings about my life, relationships, and everything in-between. I was deep in it before I realized I was in a spiral, and by then harm had been done. With the tools of self-reflective thinking, support from my husband, time, and a little sleep, I was able to pull myself back up a bit to make it through today.

It’s a constant process of catching myself on my way to, or in a place of anger, bitterness, or self-pity, and then purposefully and thoughtfully drawing my mind away from those destructive thoughts. Here are some resources that talk about how to recognize negative thinking, negative self-talk and how to “talk back”:

Things aren’t great. Bad things have happened. I choose to keep going, I choose to focus on making our lives better and fighting for the chance to try again, even if I’m scared shitless about what could happen if the unthinkable happens again. I’m going to be a fighter. That’s my choice.

Buy yourself flowers
Or whatever small acts that make you feel joy.

SelfCareFlowers_ReadySetSarahBlog

A Prayer for Mother’s Day

Happy Mother's Day, Love ReadySetSarah

Happy Mother’s Day, Love ReadySetSarah

A Prayer for Mother’s Day,
Author Unknown

To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you

To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you

To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you

To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you

To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you

Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is

To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you

To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you

To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you

To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you

To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience

To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst

To those who have aborted children – we remember them and you on this day

To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be

To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths

To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren -yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you

To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you

To those who placed children up for adoption — we commend you for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart

And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you

This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst.

We remember you.

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A lesson in patience this Mother’s Day

Patience while waiting until we were ready to start trying (I was practically born ready)
Patience as we waited to see that second pink line each month
Patience knowing it would be 9 months before we could meet our little one.
Patience waiting for the first trimester to be over share our happy news.

Patience now, waiting to be ready to try again. Wanting a little one with us now.

Patience, patience, patience.

This whole experience has been a lesson in patience. I’ve always wanted to be a mom. Waiting until I was “allowed” (allowing myself) to try to get pregnant took patience. And now it seems we are back at square one.

Rabbi Corey (who officiated our wedding and was a huge support during our wedding year) sent us an email this week checking in on how we are doing as Mother’s day approached. He shared an article about facing Mother’s Day after pregnancy loss, written by a Rabbi who experienced not one, but two miscarriages. You can read the article here. I connected with some of what she said in the article, mostly with the last lines:

“I don’t know what I want or what I need this week. Who am I kidding? With Mother’s Day around the corner, I just want to be a mom.” –Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin

I feel like this is my first Mother’s Day understanding what it really means to live for someone else, to give over your body for their life, to love them harder than you ever thought you could… even without knowing them… even if they weren’t “real”.

Maybe I’ll be an emotional wreck all day. Maybe I’ll be fine. I don’t expect other people to stop celebrating just because I’m sad, but I do wish we were celebrating too. Instead, we’re celebrating our own mothers, and milling over our experience of almost being a mom and dad… I know we can get beyond this. I trust it will happen for us some day (fingers crossed).

But like the Rabbi said, I just want to be a mom.

Until then, Happy Mother’s Day to all of the incredibly lucky, hard working, strong loving mamas out there.

Remember, today and everyday, how lucky you are that you have the great joy of holding your little ones and watching them grow. It is truly a miracle when a child comes into the world. We take it for granted that there so many, but it really is a miracle each and every time.

Happy Mother's Day to my sweet loving mama.

Happy Mother’s Day to my sweet, loving mama.