Anna Maria Locke

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First Trimester Recap and Recommendations!

2019Anna Locke
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Happy March! I’m writing this from my cozy home office on a gloomy rainy Thursday but the days are noticeably getting longer, the birds are starting to chirp, my energy is slowly starting to come back, and I’m feeling little tiny pops inside my belly. If you’re reading this you probably follow me on social media and know that yes, I’m pregnant and due in August!

It’s been quite the journey to get to this moment… the word “journey” always sounds cliche but it’s really the best word.

I’m sharing my daily pregnancy related updates over on my wellness Instagram account @annainspiresjoy, so follow me there if you want more, but also wanted to write an official first trimester recap. As of today I’m 19 weeks, almost half way ! and every single day is a new learning curve. I know this is just the beginning.

So let’s take it back to the start…

Ben and I decided to officially start trying to grow our family back in October 2017.

We went through all the phases of trying to conceive (TTC):

  1. The initial excited “let’s stop NOT trying” and ditch birth control for a few months.

  2. Realizing that even though I track my period and phases of my cycle, I should probably start tuning into my fertility aka if and when I am ovulating. By now I’ve learned that women are only fertile a few days every month (despite everything we learn in high school health class and the fear of pregnancy we constantly live with throughout our 20’s).

  3. Chart my basal body temperature (I used the Kindara app), pay a bit of attention to my cervical fluid (egg white discharge = sperm highway), start to use ovulation predictor strips, basically turn my body into a science experiment!

  4. Start wondering how we had so much energy for sex back in our 20’s. Ahhh youth is wasted on the young.

  5. April 2018, find out I am pregnant!!

  6. May 2018, lose the embryo at about 9 or 10 weeks

  7. Summer of 2018: all the grief, all the healing, all the margaritas (do you know tequila is the only alcohol that is not a depressant??)

  8. August 2018: repeat from step 3.

  9. Learn the hard way that even when you are healthy and “fertile", there is only a 30% chance of conception at any perfectly timed time. Insert ALL THE VARIABLES. (Again, why do we spend so much emotional energy freaking out about avoiding pregnancy in our 20’s?? This shit is hard.)

  10. December 2018: feel all the signs, pee on a stick, here we go again!

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How I found out:

A day or two before I was due to start my period, I went to my friend Juliana’s apartment downtown for a girls night. I was drinking straight kombucha and water instead of wine, so the girls were technically the first to know. My energy felt a little woozy and dreamy, just like it usually does right before my period, but I also felt different. I had a suspicion I was pregnant because it was the same type of jet lag//sore breasts feeling I had when I confirmed my first pregnancy, but I didn’t want to feel too paranoid just in case I was wrong, since I’d been hyperfocused on my body for the past 3 months and every time I got my period again it felt more and more emotionally draining. When you’re actively trying to get pregnant, it’s almost impossible not to obsess during the two week wait aka the time between ovulation and when you get your period.

I waited a few more days to see what would happen (still no period) so on December 5 I woke up early and went straight to the bathroom, and sure enough, line!

Ben was still sleeping but I ran back to bed and told him the news, and we were both a mixture of excitment, disbelief, and “here we go again.”

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Sharing the news

That next weekend I took the train down to central Illinois to visit my family and see my little sister perform in her high school Madrigals, and immediately told my mom the news because i knew no matter what happened, I wanted her support. I somehow made it through the rest of the weekend without telling the rest of my family, but ended up spilling the news to my dad over Christmas after I refused his offer of wine for the 3rd time (very unlike me, lol).

I wasn’t able to schedule my first doctor’s appointment until after New Year’s when I would be about 9 weeks pregnant, which stressed me out a bit because that was around the time I had my miscarriage, and I was anxious to know that everything was developing ok. The first few weeks of pregnancy (they actually start counting “week 1” as the first day of your last period, so by the time you get a positive test you’re at least 4 weeks along) are so fragile and early miscarriage is way more common than we really know. Sometimes the embryo doesn’t start growing, sometimes it doesn’t have the right chromosome combination, sometimes something random goes wrong. There’s nothing we can really do about it, and early pregnancy loss is NOT. YOUR. FAULT. Your body is simply doing its job.

But still, even knowing all that, it’s impossible not to get emotionally attached to this little lentil. The hormone surge is pretty intense right off the bat as well.

Keeping the secret was honestly easier than I expected. After my miscarriage I assumed I’d want to share right away if I got pregnant again, but once it finally happened I wanted to keep the news close to my heart. The hardest part was keeping the secret from my health and wellness accountability groups and coaching team, and also having to stop sharing my cycle updates on Instagram haha. I’m normally such an open book on social media and hate not being able to be honest.

Also, while sharing the news with friends and family is exciting, it also is a lot of work and takes a bit of time to get hold of everyone! Once we had told our immediate family and closest friends, Ben finally with many eye rolls let me post our “baby Benanna” reveal on social media :) I was overwhelmed by all the support we received and it put me on a high for several days!

My best friend the couch - where I spent most of my time from December through February.

My best friend the couch - where I spent most of my time from December through February.

Frequently Asked Questions

-did you do anything differently the month you conceived?

Not really! It took us 4 months to conceive this pregnancy, and this is when I had a clockwork regular ovulation and “timed” sex just right (the days before and during ovulation). I read that there is only a 30% chance of conception at any given time even if the timing is perfect, it just depends on the sperm and egg, lol. And if I think about my friends who have gotten pregnant, probably 30% of them made it on the first or second try.

-did you feel “pressured” to get pregnant again, since I was sharing my journey so publicly?

Not at all! I love sharing menstrual cycle awareness and teaching women how to tune into the energetic and creative shifts we experience throughout the month, and I am very open about sharing what’s up with my own body. I didn’t feel external pressure to get pregnant right away because I didn’t share the specifics or details of when we were trying again. Honestly the hardest part was NOT sharing details about my cycle or period during the first trimester, before we spilled the news, and pretending everything was normal. I’m sure a few people who watch all my IG stories guessed what was up :)

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-what pregnancy tests did you use?

When we first started trying to conceive 18 months ago, my best friend recommended this Costco sized giant box of ovulation predictor and pregnancy tests. You get 50 OPK and 20 pregnancy tests for $16.50 on Amazon Prime, they lasted me the entire time and I still have some left! They’re super basic, but seem to be pretty sensitive and accurate. If you want the fancy test that says “pregnant” go for it, but I would rather spend my money on cute baby stuff or pregnancy books.

-what are your favorite pregnancy books?

I have always been a bookworm and obsessed with learning and collecting knowledge about things I’m going through, so it has been a fine balance between learning and not wanting to overwhelm myself with other people’s opinions. I want to make sure I’m tuning into MY body and intuition at all times.

However, here are a few of my fave books I’d recommend for holistically minded mamas!

-are you still working out?

I’m so grateful I’ve been able to stay active all throughout my pregnancy. I was working out 6-7 days/week before I got pregnant so my doctor said it was fine to continue what I was doing.

I’ve had to scale back intensity and make some modifications simply because my body won’t let me push myself as hard as I used to. As long as nothing is wrong, I don’t think we need to worry about pushing too hard or doing something to harm the baby during exercise because our bodies have their natural limits… just make sure you listen to what feels good.

I’m a huge fan of home workouts because the mere thought of going to a gym or studio right now makes me feel exhausted. I can only handle 20-30 minutes at a time, and being able to roll out of bed, eat breakfast (because I am ravenous and blood sugar crashes more easily), then get my workout in at home has been so convenient.

I was so exhausted and fatigued that I tried to get out for a walk a few times a week, but since it’s been so cold and icy outside I’ve mainly been hanging out at home, and feel like my 20-30 minute workout is plenty.

I’m still running health and fitness accountability groups and am about to open a special community for pregnant or new moms! If you’d like more info, click here to apply to join us!

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-what food aversions and cravings have you had?

I know that cravings are a huge stereotype of being pregnant, but I’ve had more aversions than actual cravings. Everyone knows what it’s like to have a craving even if you’ve never been pregnant before, but I don’t even know how to describe the weirdness that is a food aversion. Even now I’m out of the first trimester, my body physically rejects meat and veggies. If I force myself to eat something that I don’t want, it tastes gross and I feel nauseous.

I couldn’t stand the thought of meal planning, cooking, or eating leftovers. My strategy was to wander the aisles of Aldi and see what looked tolerable, because the aversions and tolerances shift on a daily and weekly basis.

Overall I’ve felt like my palate has reverted back to my 8 year old self, which Ben thinks is hilarious. All I really want are sugary processed kid comfort foods, basically the 180 of my usual non-preggo health nut.

Actual cravings:

  • Pizza Hut pepperoni pizza and breadsticks

  • margaritas (SADNESS)

  • tortilla chips and bean dip

  • cocoa krispies

  • raisin bran

  • muffins

  • smoothies! SO HAPPY I’ve been able to keep drinking my vegan superfood smoothie, which has probiotics, fiber, and lots of plant based nutrients.

Tolerable foods:

  • citrus fruit and pineapple

  • yogurt and granola

  • pancakes

  • smoothies

  • veggie or cooked sushi

  • tacos

  • pasta

Aversions:

  • chicken or pork

  • pretty much any vegetable, especially cooked veggies

  • most regular “dinner foods”

  • curry or tomato based foods

-how have you been feeling? Any symptoms?

PHYSICAL

I am so incredibly grateful I never threw up! However, I experienced the most annoying nausea ever. Imagine feeling a combination of extreme jet lag, plus bad motion sickness. Eating food only made the nausea worse. That was my 24/7 reality for the majority of my first trimester, and it gave me so much empathy for people with chronic health conditions.

Weird changes in the first trimester:

  • feeling bloated

  • digestive muscles slow down, so feel full super quickly (overeating triggers more nausea)

  • hormonal breakouts

  • luscious hair

  • constipation, alternated with Poos of Epic Proportions (keep a plunger handy!)

  • boobs! Went from 34B to 36C. nipples are doing weird things.

  • feeling like I needed tons of personal space and didn’t want my husband to touch me (sorry Ben)

MENTAL/EMOTIONAL

I was prepared to handle all the weird physical changes, but didn’t really consider the mental and emotional challenges of being newly pregnant.

First of all, physically feeling like crap is a downer and I’ve always been a wimp about feeling sick. Add to the fact you’re probably keeping a secret and need to suck it up and pretend everything is normal! I usually deal with a bit of seasonal depression in the winter, but combined with all the changes happening in my body, December through February were extremely challenging months.

I’m going through a crash course in learning how to slow down, being ok with having a limited capacity for productivity (humbling my ego!), prioritizing self care over achievement, working slower but smarter in business, honing in on what is actually important, saying no and setting boundaries, letting go of control, and not to mention the mental component to embracing the physical change!

Emotionally I’ve definitely gone through some major mood swings, and cry a lot. But crying is how I’ve always expressed strong emotions. I feel like my heart has cracked wide open, I am so vulnerable because I have so much to lose, and I can’t even imagine what it will feel like once this baby is actually born.

Random things that have made me cry: singing We Three Kings at church (??), a lonely little Smart car parked outside our window, watching Cat Walk on Netflix, THE F&!*ING NEW DISNEY DUMBO MOVIE TRAILER JUST NO.

Energetically, the first trimester felt like my left brain decided to walk out. Lots of brain fog, memory lapses, can’t hold a train of thought, inability to focus or “get shit done” mode, kind of like how you feel the day before your period x10.

-are you finding out the baby’s sex?

Yup! We actually did the NIPT genetic testing that gives you sex via chromosomes of the mother’s blood so we already know what we’re having, which is surreal! Are we going to have a “gender reveal” party? HARD NO. Haven’t decided how or when to publicly spill the news. If you know me in real life and are dying to know, send me a text and I’ll tell ya :)

-are you using a doula/midwife/birthing center/epidural/etc etc etc?

We’re figuring things out as we go. I will share what feels comfortable along the way but I also want to keep some personal decisions private. Basically, I am keeping an open mind about everything and on a Crunchy Mama Scale of 1-10, would say I am probably a 7. I love traditional holistic wisdom, but also love science, and am grateful to live in a big city where I can find pretty much anything to have the birth experience I want and need.

First trimester bloat is REAL. 8pm vs 8am.

First trimester bloat is REAL. 8pm vs 8am.

Body Image Stuff

Even though first pregnancy bumps don’t start to officially show until you’re into the second trimester, during the first trimester your metabolism goes into an anabolic state…. Which means your body basically becomes a fat storing machine to stock up the energy you will need later on as you literally grow a human from scratch, an entire organ (the placenta) from scratch, and then give birth and potentially support new life with breastmilk.

What does this mean?

BLOAT CITY, BABY!

I didn’t gain more than a couple pounds during my first trimester, partly due to my appetite being really off, but I felt like a puffy blob thanks to all the bloat and a slower digestive system. I also started gaining curves and cellulite around my hips, waistline, my rib cage expanded, and I went up 1-2 cup sizes almost right away.

My best body image tip is to accept the changes, appreciate your body for what it’s doing, and most of all put away any clothes that start to feel a little tight! Investing in some larger stretchy yoga pants that actually fit your new expanded waistline so you can feel comfy in your skin and clothes is a huge confidence boost.

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My fave leggings when you are in the “are you pregnant or have you just gained weight??” pre-maternity phase:

  • Note: I ordered a pair of Motherhood Maternity leggings with the front bump panel when they were on sale, but they are thin, feel itchy, and are not my personal fave.

9 weeks to 12 weeks. This blows my mind!!

9 weeks to 12 weeks. This blows my mind!!

-What is it like to be pregnant again after miscarriage?

I have SO many thoughts and feelings about trying to conceive and being pregnant after pregnancy loss. Everyone is different, but it’s so important to share our stories and the REAL reel, not just the highlight reel, so we can feel less alone and empower each other and ourselves through the ups and downs of being a woman, and this is why I’ve been so open about my experiences.

I honestly feel like my body needed the miscarriage to reset and heal my hormones. After coming off the pill in 2016 my cycles were longish and not super regular. After the m/c, they were CLOCKWORK. Ovulated on day 19, bled the first of every month. It was awesome!

Pregnancy loss doesn’t mean your body is failing you. It means it’s doing its job.

Emotionally, it was pretty rough. We waited 3 cycles to try again, and then it took us 4 more cycles to conceive despite clockwork cycles and my faith in a quick redemption story. This was hard yet cathartic since every bleed I would process/release more grief and deepen my intention to have a baby.

It was extra stressful that I couldn’t get to the doctor until 9 weeks, over a month after I had a positive test and also the same week I lost baby uno. And couldn’t drink my tequila happy juice to chill out, haha. Seeing a healthy 9w4d bean on the ultrasound was literally an otherworldly experience!

I will say that knowing what it’s like to have a miscarriage is a double edged sword. On one hand, I was LESS afraid because I knew what to expect and that I’d be able to get through it, but on the other hand it was literally the worst experience of my life, so I wish I DIDN’T know what it was like.

Tips for first time moms navigating early pregnancy

My biggest sanity tip is to find community with other women who are in a similar place as you. I’m lucky that several of my friends and family are either currently pregnant, going through miscarriage/TTC, or have just had a baby too so I’m leaning on them for camaraderie and wisdom! New mom friends are the best when you’re pregnant because they are so happy for you and will be super excited to hear all about the nitty gritty details of everything you’re going through, and will let you snuggle or babysit their baby for practice :) If you don’t have anyone in your inner circle, this is where social media can be incredible. Use hashtags, search for local Facebook groups, and also leverage your local network! I’m planning to start going to a prenatal yoga class and join some local meet-up groups for new moms. Your hospital might have a new moms group too!

Overall I’ve been focusing on self care and SOUL care, healing my inner crap and preparing myself energetically and spiritually to bring a new human into the world while at the same time letting go of control and surrendering my own timeline, trusting my body, my baby, and most of all God’s bigger vision.

Sometimes it seems like everyone either struggles with “infertility” or gets pregnant on the first try and has a textbook experience... I don’t think it’s easy for anyone but wanted to share my story of being somewhere in between.

No matter where you are on your own journey, you are never alone 💗

xo Anna

**this post contains affiliate links, so I may receive a small kickback if you purchase something at no extra cost to you!

13 weeks pregnant… is it bloat or bump?

13 weeks pregnant… is it bloat or bump?

Life lately - summer updates, recovery, and behind the scenes

2018Anna Locke

Happy August!

I know my last post was a bit heavy, but before I re-launch the blog back into "business as usual," I wanted to share a life update and behind the scenes on what I’ve been up to this summer and how I’ve been feeling. To remind you (and myself) that it’s ok to feel like your life is a hot mess. That it’s still possible to seek meaning and joy and work towards your dreams and business goals while processing grief and loss and all the shit too. Big love and hugs all around!

Our deck has become my happy place.

The weather has for the most part been cool and glorious and I love spending my mornings camped out on the wicker loveseat Ben gave me for my birthday, reading and journaling and thinking and be-ing. Feeling the breeze, watching the squirrels turn the power lines into their circus arena, watching the airplanes glide into O’Hare, trying to ignore the occasional wafts of summer trash smell coming from the dumpster right below.

Sometimes our neighbors across the alley blast mariachi music.

My little sanctuary in the city.

May and June were a whirlwind. Loss and grief as I went through the miscarriage, the high of our annual coach Summit, travel to Florida and Tennessee, bills on bills on bills. Between losing a pregnancy and having two new biopsies done on abnormal spots I have been an expensive human being this year.

So how have I been feeling, really?

Some weeks I’m doing great and flying high, but for the most part I’m just trying to put one foot in front of the other and enjoy summer and not drink too many margaritas and keep my business afloat and serve my clients and be a good friend/wife/daughter and not be wracked with uncontrollable envy when I see my pregnant friends. Because everyone and their mother is apparently pregnant right now, did you notice? I am happy for you, I truly am.

They tell me I am being so strong and I say “well, life happens!” and change the subject before I start crying.

But a piece of me likes playing victim and pity party too. I hear that the only cure for miscarriage grief is getting pregnant again, but at the same time I am terrified of losing all my energy and losing my body and being exhausted and can we even afford this? Am I actually ready to be a mother? FUCK I DON’T KNOW! They all say it’s worth it, in tired strained voices as they bark at their misbehaving toddler in the same breath.

I recently took the Enneagram personality test (here is a great free version!) and was “diagnosed” as a 4, which apparently means I'm good at processing grief, experiencing melancholy, and don't just have feelings ... I AM my feelings. YOU DON'T SAY. I feel like I suddenly understand myself so much better. I feel it all.

When July hit, I was desperate for a fresh start and threw myself into the pursuit of “reclaiming my joy” and my body.

But this week I had a fleeting thought: I think I’ve been putting too much pressure on myself.

I want this year to be my year so bad. The year my business finally blasts through the stable comfy plateau it’s been sitting in. The year I grow into myself. Confidence, gratitude, give zero F’s, overcome fears. The year we start a family.

I want this to be the year that good things happen. That life isn’t so hard. (Ha!)

My biggest fear right now is that I won’t be able to grow a baby and grow a business at the same time. That we won’t be financially prepared for this next step. That we won’t be able to afford to buy a house until we are 40.

But so what if we need to stay in our little apartment for a while longer? I can claim a plot in the community garden down the street.

I tend to focus on what's missing from my life, so I'm making an effort to practice gratitude and look at what is already here. Because overall I'm pretty much living my dream, and life is good.

And as much as I've been craving nature and mountains and wilderness...

Chicago isn’t too bad.

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A sneak peek behind the scenes:

Even though I tend to go into hermit mode, I’ve been making an intentional effort to get together in person with friends and family as much as possible, and create more coffee dates//networking opportunities with other coaches and entrepreneurs here in the city and I am so immensely grateful for the support and love and connections I have in my life.

I went to Iowa for my college roommate’s daughter’s baptism.

I went to my first Tony Robbins event, Unleash the Power Within (and the power was unleeeeeeashed). You can watch my re-cap video here!

My friend Amanda and I launched our workshop and wellness event business, Empowered & Free.

I've been running the beta round of my Cycle Sync Your Biz program with a small and awesome group of women.

Ben and I started LIIFT4, a new strength program together.

My mom in law Pat came to visit. We went to a concert in the park and other summery things and it was really fun.

I've been getting back into yoga, getting back into church, and spending lots of downtime reading Game of Thrones and watching Bachelorette, Nashville, and Real Housewives.

 

August Intentions

Heading into the final stretch of summer, here are my intentions!

  • I want to continue to focus on in-person relationships

  • launch my Cycle Sync Your Biz program! (email me if you're interested)

  • get back into a blogging groove

  • be intentional with social media consumption (loving the Facebook News Feed Eradicator plug in)

  • turn my piles of fabric into headbands and scarves for the fall season in the Etsy shop

  • dive back into the baby making journey without stress.

  • add more free resources to this blog!

Notes to self/you:

-it’s ok to be solitary, to dive into projects and work (I don’t have to be present on social media every day)

-it’s ok to have enormous goals and feel like there’s no way I can do it all. (lean on trust and faith and baby steps)

-don’t be afraid to show up and LEVEL UP. Do the work/hold the space/life the life/claim the energy as if I am already there.

-take action before I feel ready (I’ll never feel ready)

I'm excited about what's to come, but at the same time I'm content with how things are right now. I think that's a pretty good place to be :)

xo Anna

The stuff no one tells you about having a miscarriage

2018Anna LockeComment
Miscarriage is birth and death simultaneously...ecstatic connection and unquenchable loss. The uterus dilates and contracts, as in the process of birth. In its wake follows an ancient grief, the grief of grandmothers and women who have lived before, pouring forth…
— Tami Lynn Kent, Wild Feminine
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Trigger warning: in case you can’t tell by the title, this post talks about miscarriage and is relatively graphic so if you are currently sensitive about those kinda things, feel free to stop your scroll!

In May, I had a miscarriage.

It has been equal parts the worst thing that I've ever experienced, and the most fascinating thing I've ever experienced.

I'm ok. 

I'm ready to share.

I know getting this off my heart will make me feel better, as well as provide encouragement and solidarity (or at least TRUTH) to other women, so cheers to facing and moving through discomfort and hard shit!

That’s the purpose of this post.

I'm writing this for my own benefit and healing, as well as to provide a resource for other women going through miscarriage, or who know a friend who has gone through it. Besides the hot mess vortex of message boards or the cold and clinical medical perspective, it’s hard to find a blog post or resource that tells you exactly what happens when you go through a miscarriage, especially the physical side of things, and especially if you don't know of any family or friends who have gone through it too.

It blows my mind how common miscarriage is, and yet how no one talks about it! Until it happened to me, I knew literally 4 women who had gone through this. But when it happens to you, it's like you join a secret club and you learn that a large percentage of all woman over 30 that you know (especially mothers of multiple children) has had at least one loss too.

I want to talk about the stuff no one talks about.

The stuff that happens to us, for us, and by us on this crazy adventure called life. Because we're never alone, and when we speak our truth, we open the door for so much magical healing and connection.

Here's what I've discovered and learned in the past two months (that have felt like two years):

First of all, no one tells you that the typical 40 week countdown of pregnancy starts with the first day of your last menstrual cycle, NOT the date of fertilization or even ovulation, so by the time you find out you’re actually pregnant you’re already 4-5 weeks along.

No one tells you that getting pregnant is actually a little more complicated than you’ve been led to believe by your high school health instructor.

How awesome would it be if high school girls were taught menstrual cycle awareness in health class, not just about abstinence and STD’s? If we learned how to understand and appreciate our complex yet powerful bodies? That would be so empowering.

Instead, we spend decades actively trying to prevent pregnancy and feeling paranoid, living in fear, suppressing and hiding our natural cycles with pills and hormones, when really we’re only fertile for a short window of a few days each month and our eggs only live for 12-24 hours after ovulation. Men, on the other hand, are fertile 24/7 and can shoot a load of sperm practically on demand … but of course birth control, reproductive rights, and fertility are not considered MALE issues by society, the medical community, or politics. Le sigh.

I found out I was pregnant April 5th.

We had just returned from Hawaii back to the cold, rainy Chicago and it felt like my jet lag wouldn’t go away. I was exhausted and due for my period to start, had extra sore breasts and was a few days late but my cycles range from 29-36 days so wasn’t overthinking it. My friend Deidre was convinced I was pregnant so I took a pregnancy test, and sure enough saw a suuuuuper faint line on the pee stick. Apparently ANY line, even a faint one, indicates the presence of hCG hormones aka pregnancy.

A lot of pregnancy feels like your life has become a string of days spent trying to impatiently pass the time between doctor’s appointments. It is the craziest most frustrating feeling to not be able to do anything except trust things are developing fine until you have your first appointment or ultrasound. I find it extra crazy that in our society you have to keep your pregnancy a big secret until you’re 12 or 13 weeks and have made it through to the safety of the second trimester, when risk of miscarriage is very tiny.

I understand and respect why women want to keep the news a secret until it’s “safe” to share, especially if it involves your job or workplace. At the same time, I think it is complete and total bullshit that the whole time you’re trying to conceive through early pregnancy -- a period of time that lasts at least several months up to years on end -- is such a taboo hush hush period of time in a woman’s life. This is the time we should be rallying together to support each other and celebrate our womanhood regardless of what happens, NOT the time we need to feel isolated and alone!

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But back to the story.

I was pregnant.

We gave it a nickname.

I downloaded all the pregnancy apps and read all the pregnancy books. (Highly recommend Expecting Better if you're a paranoid hypochondriac like me!)

I stopped going to hot yoga.

My boobs grew an entire cup size which was awesome, not gonna lie.

I had the WORST food aversions to vegetables, chicken, and leftovers, and only wanted to eat cheeseburgers and fries and oatmeal. So many fries.

I didn't experience the extreme fatigue I'd heard about, but my energy was definitely lower and I was incredibly spacey. It felt like I usually do during my period, except extra strange.

We spent an entire evening picking out baby names.

We broke the news to our parents over my birthday weekend and celebrated with my mom and dad here in Chicago.

We told Ben’s grandma that only the best grandmas are promoted to “great.”

We planned to tell my grandma when we visited her in the Quad Cities over her birthday/Mother’s Day weekend.

I started mentally rearranging my work and travel schedule over the next year.

We started mentally rearranging our furniture so we could convert my office into a nursery.

And FINALLY around what would have been my 8th week I went in for my first ultrasound appointment to get a more accurate estimated due date.

You can usually detect a heartbeat and see an embryo via vaginal ultrasound at around the 6 week mark, so I was nervous and excited to finally see something, make this pregnancy feel real, and confirm there was actually something growing inside of me and I wasn’t just having what felt like a bad hangover 24/7.

Another thing they don’t tell you - to measure and view your reproductive organs and embryo they do an internal ultrasound which means a giant wand is shoved right up into your vajay. I had experienced this before so luckily it wasn’t an unexpected suprise! Yay womanhood.

So I go into this ultrasound expecting to see a little jellybean hanging out inside my uterus.

Instead, all to be seen was a yolk sac - the precursor to an embryo, and everything was measuring at about 5 and a half weeks along. The tech didn’t seem concerned because this isn’t an uncommon occurrence, it usually means I must have ovulated and conceived later than we thought.

But it was still a pretty crushing shock, especially since I had been so in tune with tracking my fertility and knew deep down that something was wrong.

I scheduled a follow up ultrasound the next week to see if the embryo had developed (they grow fast!), and also had my hCG or pregnancy hormones tested to make sure they were increasing.

That next week was the longest 8 days of my life.

I spent way too many hours on the internet, binging on message threads and reading about other women’s experiences. I know this doesn’t sound like the best thing to do, but I really needed to feel like I wasn’t alone.

It was so hard to have zero control over the situation, and impossible not to worry.

To make matters more stressful, a few days later I started to spot. Again, spotting in the first trimester doesn’t necessarily mean anything is wrong, but it wouldn’t go away. And then it turned into light bleeding. And then my nausea let up and my breasts stopped aching. I tend to be a hypochondriac, but I still knew that it was ending.

I journaled a list of all the things I could do this summer if I wasn’t pregnant.

Get back to my high intensity workouts.

Lose the 10 pounds I’d put on.

Drink all the beer and margaritas.

Have energy to pour into my business goals.

The following Thursday Ben took the morning off work so he could come to the follow up ultrasound with me. I was bracing myself for the worst, and just wanted to know what was happening and gain some certainty over the situation.

I didn’t think of it as “preparing for bad news” because miscarrying didn’t seem bad or wrong to me, it was just neutral.

The ultrasound did show that a fetal pole had developed (the first stage of an embryo), and the tech could detect a slight fluttering she measured as a heartbeat, but it was extremely slow, and everything was still measuring at only 5 and a half weeks along even though I should have been over 9 weeks by then. So yay growth! But …

I feel extremely grateful for our ultrasound tech, she was a mom herself and so friendly and positive and told us we still shouldn’t assume the worst until we got the results of my blood test back.

So we went home to wait for the doctor to call since I chose the earliest possible ultrasound and the office wasn’t even open yet. Annnnnd then the attending OB was called into an emergency delivery. So I had to wait for several hours. My bleeding kept getting worse and worse, so I knew what was happening before she called back and shared that my hCG levels weren’t rising and that I would have a miscarriage. She said it was ok to pass everything at home, but to go to the emergency room if I started bleeding very heavily.

I didn’t really have any feelings at that point, I was just grateful to have answers and know what to expect, or at least to know what was happening. After the longest week ever of worrying it almost felt like a relief.

Except then I just had to sit around and wait for the miscarriage to actually happen, and had no idea what it would be like or if I’d have to go to the ER.

Ben went into school to teach his afternoon classes but my friend Amanda came over to be with me, and we sat on the couch and binged American Idol because watching talented teenagers chase their dreams was just what I needed to escape my reality.

Amanda eventually had to leave for work too, but I felt stable enough and although I had started to cramp, it wasn’t unbearable pain.

Pretty soon after she left, I went to the bathroom and passed a small gush of blood and two larger globs of tissue, which wasn’t as traumatizing as I had feared but still the saddest thing that had ever happened to me.

So at 7:45am that morning I learned our little tadpole had a heartbeat of 58-62 bpm (for a healthy baby it should be at least twice that).

By 4pm in the afternoon I was flushing it down the toilet.

That is what crushes me the most.

After that the bleeding never got worse, so I had Ben pick up my favorite burger and fries on the way home (my biggest pregnancy craving), and we cracked open two cans of bubbly we had in the fridge because I honestly just wanted to drink.

It was the saddest and most surreal day of my life.

Side note: having a miscarriage three days before Mother's Day?

LITERALLY THE WORST.

But wait, there’s more! The miscarriage doesn’t end when you pass the tissue and fetus!

Everyone is different, so there’s really no way to tell what will happen to your body. Sometimes you need to have a “D&C,” short for dilation and curettage, where they literally dilate your cervix and suck or scrape out the remaining tissue if your body doesn’t pass it on its own.

I didn’t need a D&C because my bleeding was never too crazy heavy, so I let things happen on their own time. It still took me almost two weeks to stop bleeding. It was like the neverending period from hell.

Think of it this way: when you have a regular period, you’re shedding your uterine lining that has been building up for 10-14 days or so. When you have a miscarriage, you’re shedding the fetal tissue PLUS the uterine lining that has been building up for weeks and weeks to make a nice cushy home for your baby.

I went in the next week for a check-up, and my doctor removed some of the remaining tissue which might have helped reduce my bleeding, but then I just felt like someone had punched my uterus from the inside for the next couple of days.

And then the following weekend (so 8 days afterwards) I flew to Florida for a retreat with some of the health coaches on my team. I knew a good girls weekend would be really good for me, and it was, although I was so depressed even hanging out with my squad couldn’t really lift my energy. I also avoided the pool or ocean because I didn’t want to risk infection, which was kind of a bummer. At least I could drink my fave kombucha margaritas! At risk of sounding like an alcoholic, being able to have margaritas this summer has been the biggest consolation.

AND THENNNNN…

Monday morning we planned to clean up the AirBNB, before flying back to Chicago that afternoon. At around 7am I started having cramps again, and they quickly intensified to the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life. I’ve never felt anything like this before and now I’m curious to actually go into labor to compare the feeling, because it felt like I was having contractions.

Every 30-45 seconds or so the pain would ease up for 5 seconds, and then another wave would hit. This went on for a little over 2 hours and I didn’t know what to do. I took three ibuprofen which seemed to do absolutely nothing for the pain. I tried to drink a little water and eat half a banana, which I promptly vomited right back up. I felt like I was literally in hell. Couldn’t think, couldn’t move, couldn’t talk. The weird part was that my bleeding never got worse - if anything, it was lightening up.

I called my doctor’s office to see if they could remotely prescribe me some pain killers but they told me all I could do was get to urgent care and then come in when I got home. So Amanda (who I am starting to think of as Saint Amanda) drove me to the nearest urgent care, where they gave me a shot of pain reliever (in my butt, HAHA) and a prescription for Vicodin so I could survive the plane ride home.

Within an hour the cramps eased up (PRAISE THE RISEN CHRIST) and I never ended up needing anymore meds, although I started to cramp again around 3am the next morning by the time I finally made it home (oh yeah, after an 8 HOUR FLIGHT DELAY, go figure) I popped a few more ibuprofen and went to sleep.

I think it was my uterus saying “F this sh*t, I’m done” and taking one last stand to expel any remaining tissue because after that the bleeding stopped fairly quickly.

Stuff no one tells you about miscarriage.jpg

Stuff no one tells you about having a miscarriage:

No one tells you that if you let things pass on their own, the tissue you’re losing might start to smell STANKY, sort of like rotting meat. Because that’s literally what it is. (I warned you this was gonna get graphic!) But NO ONE TOLD ME THIS and WebMD told me a bad smell was the biggest sign of a uterine infection which can spread to your blood, make you infertile, and cause all sorts of deadly complications. So of course I lived in a state of paranoia for several days, convinced I was going to die.

No one tells you that your hormones will go crazy as you have the biggest hormone crashes of your life. Your body thinks that it’s having a baby. You might experience the worst depression or mood swings ever.

No one tells you that getting your period back might not make you feel happy. It might make you relive the miscarriage again and make you feel like you’ll never stop bleeding. It might make you sad that your body is back to “normal” like your pregnancy didn’t even happen, like it was all a dream.

No one tells you that it will feel like a knife to the heart every time another friend announces their pregnancy on Facebook. And that it will seem like EVERYONE AND THEIR MOTHER is getting pregnant.

No one tells you that social events will be excruciating. Having to make small talk and pretend that everything is fine when on the inside you are falling to pieces.
 

Things that have been interesting to discover:

Your maternal instincts kick in as soon as you know you're pregnant. It doesn't matter whether or not you have a "real baby" or even an empty gestational sac inside of you, or if you're even excited and happy to be pregnant. You will love that theoretical baby with all your heart and soul.

I have felt a new range of emotion deeper than anything I’ve experienced before, like a new level has been unlocked in my creativity, feminine power, and general humanity. By expanding our capacity for grief and pain, I believe we inversely expand our capacity for joy and love as well. At least that’s what it felt like for me, and the thought of being able to hold that limitless joy gives me a lot of hope.

I’ve also been interested to discover my deep resistance to expressing negative emotion. My first instinct when sharing my sad news is to apologize for bringing down the vibe of the conversation or group. WHAT? 

I have this deeply rooted fear that if I allow myself to be depressed, angry, or sad, I’ll be rejected - by society, in my job, even by my husband. I know this sounds crazy when you write it out, but inside my crazybrain the fear is real and has triggered some deep opportunities for emotional healing.

This has allowed me to re-frame how I relate to my job as a coach - it’s not just about being a beacon of positive energy. Coaching is about keeping it real, holding space, and sharing the full spectrum of human experience.

It’s ok to be sad. It’s ok to be “low vibe” if that is in alignment for you.

We HAVE to process our feelings, if we shove them down and ignore them it’s like trying to hold a beachball underwater, it will eventually pop up and explode unpredictably.

It is important to be vulnerable and open up in order to receive support and experience connection.

I do NOT feel like my body failed me, or blame myself at all, which I was relieved to discover. It’s tempting to want to second guess every decision we made or drink we had before we knew we were pregnant, or feel like a failure when we have a miscarriage, but our bodies are resilient and it’s actually pretty rare to miscarry an embryo or fetus if you and the baby are healthy and everything is developing normally. Most miscarriages happen because of chromosomal abnormalities in the embryo, and the embryo basically aborts itself since it won’t be able to grow and develop. I trust that this wasn't my fault, and that it was just one of those random shitty things that happens for no apparent reason.

In the end, I am so incredibly grateful that it’s literally my job to take care of myself, and that through coaching I’ve built a community of other women to support me through the ups and downs of life. A few of my clients had miscarriages earlier this year, so being able to connect with women who have been through the same thing has helped so much. Finally, the ability to stay home and take care of myself without having to use up sick days or go back to work before I was ready has been a huge ginormous blessing.

I am grateful that I know my body CAN get pregnant (although knowing this doesn’t make loss any easier or less sad), and I’m grateful to have had the fascinating and miraculous experience of pregnancy for five weeks.

And I am SO GRATEFUL for all the work I’ve done with menstrual cycle awareness, it has given me such an appreciation for my body and allowed me to enjoy getting my period again each month because it meant another month I could experience my full cycle! I actually love being on my period because it’s my time to chill, rest, and do deeper visioning and inner work. My entire business and creative flow revolves around my cycle and I knew I’d actually miss it once I was preggers.

I actually did get my period back this week, just 26 days after the miscarriage. It’s definitely been heavier and crampier than normal, but I’m glad my body is getting itself back on track. My energy has also been improving, and I feel a little physically and emotionally stronger every single day.

I’m not sure when we’ll start trying to conceive again.

For now, I want to enjoy the summer and be fully present in the moment. Despite the grief and hormonal craziness, having my body back just for me again feels really good right now.

If you want to follow along with my journey, I share more personal updates and real talk on my Facebook page, and especially inside my private wellness community which you’re welcome to join here! It’s a positive, encouraging space to connect with other women who are working towards embodying our best selves every day. And in case I haven't emphasized it enough, COMMUNITY IS SO FREAKING IMPORTANT!!

Thank you for listening and allowing me to share my story.

xo Anna

p.s. If you're wondering what to say to a friend who has experienced miscarriage (or basically any kind of loss), a simple "I'm so sorry for your loss" and a giant hug are the best :)

Also "do you want to talk about it? Because I'm here to listen" (when you are actually in person//on the phone).