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Cancerous cells, IVF & egg donor | “You are not alone. No, it’s not easy and its ok to be sad”

A journey of hurt, grief and desperation to be parents. We have sat down with a very brave woman to tell her story about her journey with IVF since finding out she had cancerous cysts resulting in removing her ovary’s.

“Watching my friends go through having children so easily pains me, watching other people going through IVF and being unsuccessful pains me also. I wanted so badly to be a mother and now its been ripped away from me and I never had a choice in the matter.”

Your family

My Husband and I live with a very cute Beagle and have been married for 8 years. I am 29 and he is 30. I have a passion for helping people and I love Dogs. My Husband works in IT and enjoys motorbikes and the odd DIY job.

Journey to conceiving

When did you decide you would start to try to conceive?

Initially when I was 24 we decided I would go to the doctor and see what I needed to do healthwise to be in the best position to have a baby. I wanted to be responsible and be the healthiest I could be before we started trying. At this stage there was nothing to suggest we would have any difficulty.

What was your experience trying to conceive naturally, if you were able to try this way? How long did you try for before seeking help?

Unfortunately, we were not able to try naturally. At my doctors appointment it was suggested I go for a scan as when I was a teenager I had my appendix removed and during the procedure they saw evidence I had a cyst that had burst near my ovary (completely normal for most young women, they come and go often, you would never know you had one). 

At this scan they found a 10x9x9cm complex cyst. I was referred to a Gynaecologist to investigate further.

I had my first surgery to remove the cyst and biopsy it. During the removal they had to take majority of my left ovary with it and that is when discussions of IVF egg collection were first started- it may be a possibility if we need in the future. The biopsy showed I had borderline ovarian tumours. These are a strange type of tumour that are not benign and can turn full blown cancerous at the drop of a hat. This was really disturbing and scary news for us to take.

During the tumour removal surgery they do a pelvic wash to check for any abnormalities and it showed that there were indeed more abnormalities.

I went back for a check up and more scans and blood tests. For my blood tests my cancer markers were checked and they came back elevated. When we scanned my abdomen we found more tumours had grown. This time on both left and right ovary.

I went back in for another surgery which resulted in more loss of ovary tissue.

Now was the time for emergency IVF egg collection to try to preserve fertility. I went through 2 rounds of egg collection. The first we managed to get 6 embryos through to maturity, however, my Husband has a genetic heart condition and as we were eligible for public funding for the IVF we were not able to use these 6 embryos as they had all tested positive for the heart condition.

The second round of egg collection yielded 10 embryos, however 8 had the genetic heart condition.

We were able to freeze 2 embryos for use after I was given the all clear from my Oncologist and Gynaecologist.

I ended up needing 3 further surgeries resulting in the loss of both ovaries, tubes and an organ called the omentum. I had a scar vertically down my abdomen approx. 15cm long that had 23 staples. The last surgery was in 2020 when I was 27 years old.

How and when did you discover that you would have to have an embryo transfer to be able to conceive?

This was in July 2020 when I needed to have my remaining ovary removed. I had known for most of that year that It may be an option but it did not make it any easier when time came to take my remaining ovary. I felt like a failure as I was never going to be able to conceive the way regular people do.  I know that I am not a failure but in my weak times I cant help still but to feel this way.

How long was this process, was it invasive, did you feel supported? Is there any advice you would give to people who were going to undertake this procedure?

For me this process was 5 years. I was so lucky to have a wonderful family and friend support system but also a work support system. My Specialists have been amazing as well and are always happy to assist me in whatever I may need.

This process was very hard not only for myself but for my Husband too. If I was to give any advice it would be to communicate your needs and feelings. If you don’t know what you need then let your partner or family know that. There were times when I was so consumed with fear or guilt or mental anguish, I told my husband I didn’t know what I needed and I couldn’t function properly that day. He would take that as a cue to organize dinner and to call friends or family or just to bring me a blanket, put on a cute movie and come cuddle me.

This is not supposed to be an easy process and you are allowed to feel terrible at times. Just know that there are people around to support you and sometimes you need to let them know you need or want help.

How long did you have to wait after the procedure to know if you have been successful? Having found out that it hadn’t been successful, what options were you given? How did you deal with the news?

I recently had both embryo transfers and found out both were unsuccessful. As you can imagine I had a big fat ugly cry the instant I found out. Then I went through different stages of grief.

I am currently trying to assess which direction my future will go in now that the idea of kids in it has disappeared.

The wait time after the procedure is 2 weeks, you have a blood test which detects levels of HCG in your system ( this indicates if you are in the early stages of pregnancy or not). Both times no HCG was detected for me. This was really disheartening as I had a great uterine thickness at time of transfer and the grades of my embryos were also great, my hormone levels had been checked before and were all of good levels too. My specialist has no conclusive evidence as to why the embryos failed to implant.

The options going forward are very slim. I will have to use donor eggs if we want to proceed. We would want to use my Husbands sperm but due to his condition we would need to test each individual embryo for it. This comes at a great cost per embryo plus the cost of IVF in general (we no longer qualify for public funding as we used up our 2 rounds). We are currently deciding if it is a good decision to throw upwards of 30k on this with the likelihood we will come out with no embryos to use.

I am still processing this news, it physically pains me every day and I feel like I am grieving for a future that is now not possible. Watching my friends go through having children so easily pains me, watching other people going through IVF and being unsuccessful pains me also. I wanted so badly to be a mother and now its been ripped away from me and I never had a choice in the matter.

Planning for the future, have you been able to make a decision with your partner about next steps? What options are open to you? How are you feeling about continuing your journey to become parents?

We still have not made a decision about next steps. It is such an emotional and financial drain on us not to mention the physical side I have been through and will continue to go through if we proceed.

There are still some options but we need to decide if they are right for us, such as embryo donation (where both of us would not have a biological link to the child but I would still carry it), and as mentioned before the egg donation but with us needed to check every embryo for the genetic heart condition (approx. and extra $1200 per embryo on top of IVF costs).

I am now wondering if we will not be parents and maybe we should put our energy elsewhere? But I still want to be a mother and know I could provide a wonderful life to a child.

Is there any other advice you would like to give, or any other part of your experience that you would like to share?

You are not alone. No its not easy and its ok to be sad.

There are a lot of support groups out there.

I know people think they are helping when they say “just relax- it will all work out”, “We can totally see you with a child one day”, “My friend went through IVF and they had a baby once they stopped with all the IVF stuff” – don’t persecute them for this.

This stuff is not talked about enough, they don’t understand and they don’t know what to say to be supportive. If you can explain to them how you feel and what you need then it will make it easier for them and for you.

It can be really easy to get stuck inside your own head, I know I do. Try to take some time away from social media and get in some exercise or fresh air. Go and do something that will totally distract you from all those emotions momentarily. But if you need then use resources such as councillors to help you come to terms with these feelings.

I would love to say this experience has made me stronger but to be honest I think my tolerance for handling shit has become so much more. These last 5 years have been exhausting and terrifying but it has made me really enjoy the little things and not take anything for granted. My husband and I are so much closer and we know we can take anything thrown at us. We don’t want this to consume our lives because if we cant have children we will only have each other for the rest of our lives so we need to enjoy it.

If this has helped you, would you consider sharing your story to help others too? Please submit your details through this form. Whether your story is about trying to conceive, pregnancy, surrogacy, loss or parenthood, we would love to hear from you.

Mother of 1 | Premature Baby Girl after early pregnancy loss

Your Family

Tell us a little about you/your family.

Our family is the 3 of us. Mitch and I got married two years ago, and have been together for about six years.

Mitch is a professional sportsman and F45 owner, I am an ex primary school teacher and then I moved onto working at F45 before having a baby. Kobe is our daughter who is nine months old.

Mitch is a Kiwi. I’m half South African and half Italian, but I’ve lived in New Zealand my whole life so I identify as Kiwi too.

Journey to conceiving and pregnancy

Our journey to conceive was not a perfect one, we got pregnant just as Mitchell went overseas to play cricket, and then at 11 weeks pregnant we lost the baby. It was really difficult to deal with especially while apart – I was at home and I had a lot of support around me from family but he was far away from us. We were pretty confident that we would get pregnant again as it had happened so quickly, and thankfully when he was back in the country we did.

How was your pregnancy?

Our pregnancy with Kobe was pretty smooth sailing, I had the typical morning sickness in the beginning, and for the rest of my pregnancy I felt a lot better.

Did you find out the gender of your baby?

Mitch was really hoping for a boy but every single person said we were going to have a girl (and they were right!), and so because of that we had a really small gender reveal because I knew his reaction would be really raw and shocked! He was haha but that turned to excitement.

We cut a cake that we got from Bluebells, it was pink inside which was so exciting!

Did you practice hypnobirthing, read books, use apps or use a pregnancy journal?

I did a heap of research into hypnobirthing which I found out about through my sister. I really wanted to have a natural birth. I spent a lot of time doing readings, listening to affirmations, and just a huge amount of relaxation, stretching and yoga. Every day I tried to prepare my body to relax and feel at ease about birth and I think that really set me up for a good birth.

Birth story

I made a birth video on Youtube explaining our birth story to share from start to finish. I went into labor at 35 weeks + 2 days which was a bit of a shock. It didn’t really phase me too much, I knew that in the hospital we were in good hands and that she was just ready to come.

I laboured at home for a little bit but since this was my first baby I wanted to check if everything waas progressing okay, so we went to the hospital in the middle of the night and stayed since she was prem to be safe. They broke my waters and progressed from there and didn’t need any assistance when she was born.

We never actually found out why she came early.

Recovery was really good. Being a natural birth, as soon as she was born I had skin-to-skin, showered and then I was up changing and rocking her which was amazing. Had a couple of stitches, but nothing too gnarly so I wasn’t into much pain.

How was the first week?

The first week of Kobe’s life we actually spent that whole week in hospital because she was small, and needed to put on enough weight. She was around 2kg when we went home.

Due to Covid it was pretty tough in the fact that they were really strict rules with who was allowed in and out. We were really lucky that they allowed my Mum to come and stay the night with me, and Mitch to come during the day. Normally it would have been just one person, but my mum is a lactation consultant so it was beneficial for the midwives there to actually have her to help me since they were so busy on the ward.

Mum and Mitch took shifts to help me. We would wake Kobe every 3 hours to feed, and my sister who was also breastfeeding at the time pumped milk for us so she was having her Aunty’s milk for the first few weeks plus my colostrum, until my milk properly came in which was so helpful!

Your little one

How did you choose your child’s name and does it have a meaning to you?

Her name is something that is really special to us. I came across the name Kobe through a friend and It just stuck with me. I loved it straight away and then as soon as I mentioned it to Mitch he it loved as well.

Strangely enough we were sitting in hospital a couple of days after she was born and something came up on Mitch’s phone and he was like oh my goodness it was Kobe Bryant‘s birthday when Kobe was born. So that’s not at all why we named her, but she was also born on the day that we got engaged on that day too, so meant to be!

Tell us about the first few weeks with your baby

As it was the first weeks of lockdown, the only person that was allowed to be here was my mum so she popped around every day and gave us so much help preparing meals and tidying up. She would come and stay the night for a little bit and then eventually got to the point where we were ready to see other people, but our family still weren’t allowed. It was quite heart-breaking that they only got to meet her when she was a month old. It was really nice in a way as we really just got to know Kobe and kind of settle into a new role as parents and figure it out together.

How did you find the fourth trimester?

I have a lot of babies in my family already so I knew quite a lot about the fourth trimester and I had done a bit of reading about it too so I was as prepared as you can be. I just surrendered to it, I didn’t fight anything – just followed her lead. If she wanted to be on me, she was on me. I spent maybe like a good maybe two months with her just basically attached to me every single day and night. It was a really, really exhausting time but I knew that it wasn’t going to be forever.

Must haves for a newborn baby

  • Snacks and water! I used to prep my snacks before going to bed, so that I would had them ready for each feed.
  • Netflix on my phone – those newborn baby feeds take a while, so I would always put Netflix on while I was feeding.
  • Also lots of spare clean sheets ready to go! I got all our sheets clean and organised (both for her and for us) so that everything was ready to go when we needed it – there’s nothing better than to just jump into bed and not worry about laundry.
  • I recommend having comfy pyjamas – especially button down. Peter Alexander do amazing ones!
  • Facetime, since we were n lockdown this is how I stayed sane catching up with everyone.
  • A co-sleeper bassinet next to the bed ended up being a very useful storage place for us in the end as she slept on me, so we hardly used it at all (for around a month when she was older) but she really liked the baby nest in the bed. When I was pregnant I thought it was dangerous to bed share, but it worked for us.

Relationship

How has having children affected your relationship, what challenges has it brought?

It flips everything upside down! Our lives completely changed and our style of communicating with each other and dating had to completely change. It took us a while to adjust, and navigate tiredness/lack of sleep is really difficult.

We have both had to learn to take a step back, breathe and communicate. Mitch and I set aside time for ourselves too which is very important to us so we are able to do something like going to the gym or going to the shops or even just switching off for a moment. Taking turns is key, and also having time together.

Now that Kobe is a bit bigger, we book time in with the grandma’s hehe! That way we can go out for lunch or dinner, it’s so nice! I remember the first time we went out together by ourselves again (we missed Kobe) but it was also like a breath of relaxation and we also got to talk to each other properly.

Parenting

What would your top 3-5 parenting tips be for a new parent?

  • Don’t force any routine, surrender to the season that you’re in. Every baby is different and things will just find their place.
  • Try not to stress if your hair is a mess or the house needs to be tidied. Live in the moment.
  • Remind yourself to reach out for help when you need it. Having a village is so important!
  • I set aside all her and my clothes the night before, and having everything ready to go for us really helps me, as well as trying to get organised with planning out my diary.
  • For Mums, stop following instagram accounts that don’t make you feel good. Avoid comparing your journey to others. Have a social media account which is good for your mental health and body image!

What is the most helpful advice you can offer to other parents and what advice has someone passed down to you that you’ll always remember?

Staying outdoors and active is important to us – enjoying being outdoors and active as we are so surrounded by technology. When we were pregnant we talked about getting her used to being around people – getting her used to people (hard during Covid!) and now she’s the most sociable little thing.

If this has helped you, would you consider sharing your story to help others too? Please submit your details through this form. Whether your story is about trying to conceive, pregnancy, surrogacy, loss or parenthood, we would love to hear from you.

Mother of One | Emergency C Section HELLP Syndrome

Jahna has recently joined our Forget Me Not Journals team and we took the time to ask her some questions about her family and journey to delivering her gorgeous little boy, Benji. Her story may be of particular interest to those with HELLP syndrome, which affects less than 1% of pregnant women.

Tell me a little bit about you I am a mother of one, I live in Auckland with my fiancé Chad, and our little boy Benji who is 2 years and 4 months old (I hate the terms 28 months… it confuses me)! I am European, my father was adopted so I am not sure on his side, and Chad is Maori.

Relationship

Chad and I met when he owned a beer company and needed a promoter for the Auckland taste festival. His sister in law at the time was an old friend of mine and reached out to see if I was available for the weekend which I was. Chad and I had a really great connection when we met but stayed friends for about 6 months before dating.

We spoke about children very early into dating before we made our relationship official as Chad is a bit older and that was one of his biggest concerns. I, myself am quite an old soul and have always been very independent so I always knew I wanted to have children in my 20’s.

Pregnancy

I found out I was pregnant with Benji very early on. I just knew my body felt different. I actually went to the dr’s for a visit to check when Benji would have only been concieved a few weeks prior and the test came back negative where the nurse actually laughed and said there was NO WAY I was pregnant. A few weeks after this, I took an at home test again one morning where almost straight away appeared two bright pink lines. By this time I was only 4 weeks along. Crazy how you just know, right?

I had such a mix of emotions when I saw the test. I was excited, nervous, a little bit scared….. but also sooooo impatient to tell Chad the news.

He was over the moon. I actually recorded the moment I announced it to him that afternoon after I found out. My phone was propped up on the window, I had a basket of baby things including a giant toy, romper and socks that said (I love dad) and the positive test. When he saw it there were instant tears for us both.

Who was the first person you told apart from your partner when you found out you were expecting? I think I text my best friend Chrystal. But we told Chad’s parents that night together after dinner. We went out and purchased little t-shirts that said grandma and grandad. They took a while to catch on but finally realized and there were screams of excitement since this was their first grandchild.

Did you experience morning sickness? I have no idea why it’s called morning sickness, because I was sick all of the time. I remember throwing up at work during the day, having a bucket next to me at dinner time… it was not fun!

What cravings did you have? My cravings changed often. I remember a whole week, I wanted cheese on everything. I mean everything, and A LOT of it haha! Then one day Chad made me dinner (pilled with cheese of course) and I looked at him in disgust saying “I don’t like cheese anymore”. He was so mad! I also loved Shweppes lemonade and juicies toward the last trimester as it was right in the heat of summer.

Did you have a birthing plan? No, I didn’t want to make a plan and then possibly be let down if I wanted anything to go a specific way. I stayed very open to all options.

What city/country was your child/ren born in? Auckland, NZ.

What did you pack in your hospital bag?

3 top items

  1. Breast pump
  2. Nightie/floaty clothing
  3. Adult nappies (highly recommend these, they also sit nice and high over c-section scars)

3 items that were a waste of time/unecessary

  1. Hair care (I just kept my hair up, you honestly don’t care after being so exhausted)
  2. Toys
  3. Dressy clothes, don’t do it. Comfort is key

How did you deliver?

I had an emergency C-section. We went to a clinic for a checkup to see if we should have a induction. They checked my blood pressure and then re checked and rushed us to hospital, I had no idea what was going on and we weren’t aloud to go home first to get our bags. They monitored me and found I had something called HELLP Syndrome. Something I had never heard of before. HELLP syndrome is a rare disorder, affecting less than 1 percent of all pregnancies. However, it is a major health concern and can be life-threatening to both the mother and the unborn baby. They told me later on after I got rushed for a c-section and once Benji was delivered that if I didn’t go into the clinic that day, I wouldn’t have been so lucky and it would have been fatal for me and my baby. This was scary and has been something I have wanted to bring awareness to for a while in the case where I could help another parent avoid this.

What feelings did you have with a c-section? It was hard not being able to do the first nappy changes, walking around to soothe my newborn and just doing everything Chad could do while I was bed ridden. Also, for a while after having Benji I became conscious of my scar, but in no time it heeled and it’s so low that you can’t see it over my underwear. There are days were I am more conscious than others with this, as well as my stretch marks which is normal, but I am just grateful my boy was delivered safely.

What was your recovery like? The first few days were really difficult and I was in a lot of pain. But I am a fighter and pushed through as mother’s do. I think it is important to rest when you can, easier said than done in my experience. I had a lot of family around helping, my mum delivered lots of food and snacks and stayed overnight with me in the maternity ward since men aren’t allowed in the ward overnight in the hospital where I birthed Benji. Chad was a great cheerleader and encouraged me to become stronger to walk again. I loved the positivity.

Baby’s Arrival

I had benji just before the big lockdown so I had about a month of visitors before we went into level 4. I had mixed emotions with this but I think lockdown was a blessing in disguise in some aspects as it allowed us a breather to all get to know eachother.

I honestly think next time we have another baby, I will say no to visitors for a few weeks because it get’s very overwhelming having every single friend and family member wanting to visit and I was already so tired and navigating having a new baby. I love having close family visiting but it’s a good idea to give a clear boundary to everyone else. Don’t feel guilty for this, they’ll understand.

Did you feel pressured by anybody to see the baby? I felt extremely pressured and honestly exhausted. I felt like I had to keep up appearances for guests and to be very open, I was not 100% present. It’s lovely having your friends and family over to meet your newborn, but as exciting as it is for everyone else you need to put yourself first.

Advice to new parents

My main advice is, everyone will jump at you to give you all the tips and tricks, advice. But every baby and parent is different. Take bits from people and what works, works. What doesn’t, doesn’t. Also don’t be afraid to stand your ground. I was bad at this and had strangers picking Benji up and kissing his head…. I had no idea what to do or say but it made me feel extremely uncomfortable. Looking back now, that is your baby and you have every right to pull someone up about something. Be the mumma bear you are!

One last thing, enjoy the little things. Time really does fly!

If this has helped you, would you consider sharing your story to help others too? Please submit your details through this form. Whether your story is about trying to conceive, pregnancy, surrogacy, loss or parenthood, we would love to hear from you.

Adapting F45 while Pregnant (and Returning Postpartum)

It’s only now that I look back on my pregnancy, labour, and – perhaps most especially – the ‘fourth trimester’ (three months postpartum) that I truly appreciate how staying fit and healthy helped me along that journey. I’ve had a lot of messages on my personal instagram about how I ‘bounced back’ so quickly, and a continuation of messages about my journey with F45 while pregnant, as well as the choice to return to exercise just a few weeks after having Teddy.

I should start by saying, I did not experience severe morning sickness during my first trimester, but I was completely and utterly exhausted from the sixth week of pregnancy, right the way through to the 41st. From around the 25th week, I also experienced severe Sacroiliac (SI) joint pain pain and saw a physio once a week. I was still able to exercise, in some way, almost every day of my pregnancy, and was at F45 right until the day I went into labour.

I hope you find this article useful! Have a look at made with love – pregnancy journal before you go.

I’ve detailed my first and second trimesters at F45 earlier, so this will focus on the third and ‘fourth’ trimesters. I’m sure a lot of people will say that I did too much, or returned too early (I am sure of this because they message me to tell me…). I know I found it all a lot ‘easier’ than any other article on pregnancy or postpartum fitness would have me believe it was. This is the main reason for sharing my own fitness and F45 pregnancy/postpartum journey online – to dispel the idea (and fear) that it’s impossible.

I don’t know why I found it easier. Every body is different, but I certainly don’t think mine has any super powers over any other. Sometimes, I think those who find it ‘easy’ are afraid to say so, for fear of judgment, being accused of showing off, or making others (those who don’t find it easy) uncomfortable. Well, I’m willing to take those risks, to continue to be honest about my journey, and I hope it will encourage others to do the same. Fitness has always been part of my life, and in the past I’ve even over-done it, so during my pregnancy and postpartum journey, I was really mindful of my body’s limitations and the health of my baby, while also feeling amazing, fit and strong. If you’re exercising well into your second and third trimester, make sure to also look at Best Maternity Pants and Pregnancy Clothing – it made such a difference to me staying comfortable while exercising.

Third Trimester: F45 Adaptations, and lots and lots of walking…

I think it’s important, no matter what stage of your pregnancy (or postpartum) you are at, to remember the ‘why’ rather than just the ‘how’. In my humble opinion, it’s not just about how to adapt an F45 workout, or whatever exercise you are doing, to suit your body’s current capabilities, but also why you are making those changes, and of coursewhy you are continuing to exercise at all.

Certainly, during pregnancy, and especially during your third trimester, you’re not likely to be trying to increase your ‘personal best’, get fitter, faster or stronger. You’re not trying to lose weight or even tone up. My mindset had to completely change during pregnancy – I needed to stop being competitive (with myself or others) and completely surrender my body to the changes it needed to make. Instead, I wanted to allow my body to stay as fit and strong as it possibly could, while growing another little person inside it.

In my third trimester, this was especially so, because that little person was no longer feeling so little. My husband is 6’4 and I’m only 5’5, and as our midwife told us all along, we had quite a tall baby on board. I’d already reduced the intensity of my exercise significantly (goodbye box-jumps and burpees!), stopped anything with a falling risk (i.e. assisted pull-ups) and stopped lying on my stomach (obviously!) but the third trimester also saw me slow right down when it came to any cardio exercise. During my second trimester I was still able to do 9 cardio classes and 15 ‘mixed’ strength/cardio classes over the three months. During my third trimester I did almost no cardio classes, and the mixed strength/cardio classes I did do, I adapted so that they were almost completely strength based.

On the mixed days I would substitute exercises such as box jumps for step ups, and jumping lunges for plié lunges. Burpees became burpee walk-outs, and any running or jumping became resistant band lateral walks or wall sits. Late in pregnancy it is also advisable not to spend too long lying on your back, so I would also modify any of those exercises . At 31 weeks pregnant I filmed my entire work out and saved it to my baby on board highlight on Instagram so have a look at that here (it’s around half way through the highlight).

Weight wise: during my third trimester, quite honestly I felt so sick eating any more than half of a meal, or eating any fatty food. This, combined with my continued F45 journey actually resulted in me putting on no more weight than I had by the end of the second trimester. I kept asking my midwife whether that was okay and she assured me that it was.

Obviously my baby was going to weigh a lot less than 10 kg, which I had already gained, so she wasn’t at all worried that I wasn’t getting any heavier. The bump did continue to grow a little.

If you did have a look at my story highlight above, you’ll be able to see how big my bump was right at the end, as I pulled up my maternity activewear over the huge sphere. That was almost 41 weeks pregnant. I went into labour later that day.

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Happy due date baby, feel free to join us at your own convenience… ⌛️??????? #40weekspregnant

A post shared by Megan Hutchison ? (@meghutchison_) on

As well as continuing to enjoy F45 right until the end of that last week, we also went on lots and lots of walks – especially as I heard that they could help to induce labour when your body was ready. Apparently mine wasn’t, as even five days of acupuncture in the last week seemed to have no effect on my body. However, of course, when Teddy was well and ready he made it known he was ready to come out.

I can’t say for sure whether my level of fitness had any bearing on my birth, but I do like to think that it did help me to maintain the stamina and strength it takes to push a baby out, especially after hours and hours of intense and regular contractions.

The Fourth Trimester

I don’t miss my pregnancy at all… how could I miss having Teddy on the inside when I love him so much on the outside? However, I do already miss the ‘fourth trimester’ and we’re only just out of it. The fourth trimester describes a time when your baby is adjusting to their time outside the womb – and as a Mother you’re still adjusting to that too. I spent most of the fourth trimester holding, carrying or ‘wearing’ my baby, and indulging in letting him feed to sleep, or just fall asleep on me. I risked making a ‘rod for my own back’ by teaching him ‘bad’ habits, but it was worth it to enjoy every moment (and he’s since learned to self-settle and re-settle, so I think we are okay – touch wood).

The only time I actually took away from Teddy was to go to F45. It’s four minutes’ drive from my house, so it was less than an hour away, and usually when he was asleep. Many people (perhaps even many of you) will say that I was in too much of a hurry to return – doing so at four weeks postpartum – but I took professional advice and I know my body was ready. If you want to message me for a women’s health physio recommendation, I’m happy to help.

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Finishing off this morning’s workout with a little “body weight” exercise ????

A post shared by Megan Hutchison ? (@meghutchison_) on

Before recommencing exercise I saw a women’s health physio, and also spoke to my midwife, and felt very comfortable with my decision. That didn’t stop the warnings from others (unqualified others, might I add) – telling me I’d wreck my pelvic floor, if not do other damage to my body by returning to exercise. Well… he’s 18 weeks now, I haven’t peed myself yet, and so far everything else is working okay. I could feel a small gap in my abs (diastasis recti), or what was left of my ‘abs’, but that seems to have completely healed.

My current exercise looks like this most weeks:

1 x f45 cardio
2 x f45 strength
1 x f45 mixed (‘Hollywood’)
3-4 x outdoor walks with the dogs

I eased my way into it – I wasn’t doing any box jumps my first week back, that’s for sure, but after about four weeks (so, eight weeks postpartum) I felt totally back to ‘normal’ and was able to participate in all workouts, albeit possibly with a little less gusto than I used to. I definitely started off a lot less fit, but that was totally expected after a year without much cardio exercise. However, it was definitely a lot ‘easier’ than any article on postpartum fitness would have me believe. This was also the case for my pregnancy exercise, and the main reason for sharing my own fitness and F45 pregnancy journey online – to dispel the idea that it’s impossible.

I don’t know why I found it easier. Every body is different, but I certainly don’t think mine has any super powers over any other. Fitness has always been part of my life, and in the past I’ve even over-done it, so during my pregnancy and postpartum journey, I was really mindful of this, and I know I’ve done the right thing for me. I’m writing this to answer questions which are asked of me all the time, but I would never advise anyone to just blindly follow what I did. There are many specialised personal trainers and physiotherapists who can give you specific advice and let you know whether you can follow a similar pregnancy or postpartum fitness regime.

I hope you found this article useful! Please have a look at made with love – pregnancy journal.