It was June 2018. My husband, Daniel, and I had moved into our “forever” home 6 months prior. We were both doing Crossfit 5-6x a week, eating well, and our relationship was on Cloud 9. We had also been, as some would call it, “trying but not trying” for a couple of months. That June, I looked down and saw two lines on a pregnancy test. I could not believe it. It was surreal: scary and exciting all wrapped up into one. I went back and forth on how to tell Daniel. I ultimately landed on having one of our boys (English Springer Spaniel brothers, Winston and George) bring a baby sock into the living room to present it to Daniel. I did it and even filmed it. We spent the 4th of July with our little secret and anxiously awaited the first doctor’s visit.
Two days after the 4th, I started to bleed. I was bleeding hard. I also started feeling immense pain in my hips. It was so bad that I could barely walk. I called my doctor and they said there was a possibility that it was an ectopic pregnancy, which is where the embryo attaches outside of the uterus and can become fatal. We went to the ER and from there it was determined that I, thankfully, did not have an ectopic pregnancy. However, according to the doctor, it was too early to tell if I was “even pregnant at all” and therefore deemed it a “chemical pregnancy.”
Now, I know I am not the only one who has experienced hearing these words, but I know I was pregnant. I was nauseous; I was exhausted, bloated, cramping, you name it in those few short weeks. I KNEW I was pregnant. And I was grieving hard.
Why wasn’t my body working properly? Was there something wrong with me? Did I eat something that caused this? Was it the new paint in the house? Should I have stepped back from working out? WHAT WAS WRONG WITH ME?
The bleeding subsided eventually, but the pelvic pain was unbearable. I couldn't walk. I couldn’t have sex. I couldn't work out. Growing up, I had always experienced terrible period cramps. So bad, that I would actually have to come home from school. Whether it was during the day or in the middle of soccer practice, I had to go home and lay in bed with a heating pad on my stomach. At other times, I would “push through it” like I was told to or take Midol to “help” the pain, but it would always come back with a vengeance. But this pain? This could not compare. As I mentioned before, Daniel and I had been doing Crossfit multiple days a week. I was squatting 200 lbs on my back, so for me to not be able to walk was a problem.
So, I kept searching for answers. I went to an OBGYN who did an internal check and said everything looked good and that it could be a vitamin D deficiency. I then went and met with an orthopedic doctor to see if it was a joint issue. Same response - vitamin D deficiency. Need I remind you that it was the middle of summer here in Memphis and we have a pool...things were not adding up.
I reached out to another Crossfit friend of mine to grab lunch. I told her my story and what feedback I had received thus far. And then she said the words that changed my life: “Have you heard of pelvic floor physical therapy?”
You would have thought she had told me my dad was Santa Claus. I was so confused.
“Yea, I didn’t know much about it either, but it has been a game changer for me since having my little one. We have this basket of muscles in our pelvis that protect our bowels, uterus, etc.”
“No freaking way.”
She then told me more about MOJO Pelvic Health, and that I should be seen right away. So not minutes after leaving Cheffie’s parking lot, I called to make an appointment.
I met with my PT. Being the type A that I am, I brought a printed copy of my history with dates, explanations, etc. I’m pretty sure I even highlighted and color coded. As I started explaining my most recent story, I looked up at her and you could see tears in her eyes. She was locked into what I was expressing. For the first time since the miscarriage, I felt heard. It was like talking to my mom. “I am SO glad you are here”, she said.
Trauma, Period Pain, Pain with Sex
I learned that you should NOT have pain during your period (or during ovulation). You should also NOT have pain during sex. I always thought it was a “good” sign that it was painful upon entry and in certain positions. I thought I was “tight” and had a “strong pelvic floor.”
I got on the table and we both quickly realized my pelvic floor was hypertonic. She told me to belly breathe as she began releasing the tension in my pelvic floor. I didn’t know what that was, let alone how to do it, but did my best. She told me to breathe into the muscle she was working on and that that muscle was likely constricting my ovaries and the area around them.
As I closed my eyes to focus and breathe, I felt a wave of traumatic memories come over me: bad experiences with guys dating back to middle school and high school, feelings of inadequacy, shame and guilt. I started to cry. This was an emotional release like no other. It all flashed before me, and as it went away, I heard my PT say, "Yes! We have blood flow!” I was not getting blood flow to those muscles previously. They were protecting me from physical and emotional harm that was decades old, and I had no idea.
Leaving my appointment, I left feeling lighter. I left feeling taller. I left feeling heard.
We continued treatment for the next three months. At the beginning of January 2019, I had another miscarriage. I will never forget laying in bed looking up at the ceiling with my arms spread out saying, “God, I am putting this in YOUR hands.” Two weeks later I was pregnant. The lines on that test were so dark you would have thought I Sharpied it in.
I went to my confirmation appointment and everything was looking great. Our little miracle was growing beautifully.