The Real Life of an Elite Gymnast

The Rio 2016 Olympics are coming, if you haven’t noticed. Everyone who has ever been an athlete or enjoyed athletics in any way is pulling out their USA gear and dreaming of olympic glory. And in the midst of all the hustle and excitement, we are usually presented with numerous background stories on athletes across the country. We find out where they grew up, how they got into the sport, and you see the determination in their eyes to bring home a gold medal and realize their dreams.

One of the most popular sports in America every olympic year is gymnastics. Young and old are fascinated by the handful of young men and women who can defy gravity with their bodies and, after a series of flips and twists, land on their feet (not toe-loops, that is figure skating). The sport is mesmerizing, the stars of the sport are dedicated, and the world is watching their every move. However, though gymnastics is one of the most glorified sports, it is also one of the most criticized. Critics, spectators, and even athletes themselves question the lifestyle, coaching, and health of these high level athletes all the time. As a gymnast for nearly 2 decades and as one who competed at an elite level (although not on a world stage) I thought it would be an appropriate time to offer a little bit of real life insight into the world of an elite gymnast.

  1. When Did They Start
    The sport of gymnastics is unlike most other sports. In women’s gymnastics, you typically peak between the ages of 14-18 (in men’s gymnastics it is closer to their mid 20’s). scan0137 2This means that you can’t really start gymnastics once you are 8 or 10 and expect to compete at a high level (although there are a few who have). Most gymnasts you see on TV have been doing gymnastics since the age of 3 or 4. By the time they are entering middle school, which is when most kids start to become involved in a sport, these athletes are more like seasoned veterans. They likely have years of competition under their belts and are training upwards of 25-30 hours/week. scan0146By the end of middle school, if they intend to compete at an elite level, they are usually training at 30+ hours. They have decidedly given up school dances, football games, and weekend parties for the sake of their dream, a decision they don’t regret for one second. Also, they have won the presidential award in P.E. every year since 2nd grade and can do more pull ups than any boy in the school. 😉 I, personally, started traveling to training camps and competitions with my coaches and without my parents when I was 9 years old. Some may think that is crazy, but it was a necessary step in order to achieve my goals (especially since my parents had my younger siblings to care for).
  2. Daily Life
    The day to day life of an elite gymnast revolves completely around the gym. You typically workout 6-7 hours a day with 1 day off each week.IMG_2585 This means that school is fit in around that schedule. For some, they homeschool in order to to have more time in the gym. For me, I took summer classes every year in order to free up my mornings so I could practice. I would wake up and spend 2-3 hours with my coach training in the gym. My coaches would then drop me off at school in the late morning and I would spend the rest of the school day in class. After school, it was home for homework and some food, and then back to the gym for another 4 hours. I would get back home around 9:30, eat the dinner my mom had kept warm in the oven for me, then head to bed. There aren’t really any parties, dances, or other sports involved, but we don’t mind. Most high level gymnasts love what they do. They would rather pursue their dream, especially because the window of time in which their dream is achievable is so small. I’ve heard some argue that this extreme focus on athletics takes away from their education, but I disagree. An athlete at this level has an intense amount of dedication, an ability to focus when they need to, and an affinity for efficiency. For me, and the others that I knew at my level, we were quite successful in school even without spending as many hours in the classroom. IMG_2574I worked hard on my school work while I was at school so that I could be finished and have more down time at home. I was on the honor roll in high school and even managed a few 4.0 semesters. The same was true for the other athletes I interacted with. Sure, we had our academic strengths and weaknesses, but overall we wanted to excel in everything we did, not just athletics.
  3. Nutrition
    One question I am often asked is, “are/were you on a diet?” The simple answer is, no. I was given nutrition information at the various training camps I went to, but nobody controlled my food intake or told me what I could or couldn’t eat. However, knowing my goals and the importance of fueling my body, I made conscious healthy decisions from a young age.IMG_2583 By the age of 10 or 11 I was aware that if I ate a bunch of junk food, I performed poorly the next day. I was also aware that if I ate protein the night before a competition, I pretty much kicked butt. When you are training at such an intense level, you become acutely aware of your body and how it works. I could tell you based on what I ate exactly how I would feel the next day. I could tell if the pain in my ankle was  something I had to live with and tape up, or something that needed an x-ray. In America, in most cases, nobody is “forcing” you to do anything in the sport of gymnastics. You could quit at any time. That being said, if you want to be the best, you begin to learn and understand exactly what you have to do to reach your goal. I can probably count on 1 hand the number of sodas I’ve drank since the age of 10. Not because they told me not to drink soda, but because I was willing to sacrifice a can of Root Beer for the sake of success.
  4. Weight Loss and Body Image
    One of the more controversial topics in the sport of gymnastics is the whole body image/weight control topic. The problem is, it is a double edged sword. You can’t do gymnastics safely if you have excess weight. IMG_2582Every joint, bone, ligament, and muscle is put under intense pressure and repetitive pounding for years and years. Any amount of added or unnecessary weight only adds to the given dangers of the sport. If you want to be successful, you have take care of your body. Any gymnast who is eating generally healthy and training the 30 hour weeks will have absolutely no problems with being “overweight.” That being said, there are coaches out there who will pressure athletes in a negative way about their bodies. They will use weight or humiliation about the state of their body to try to “motivate” them to work harder or make a change. I, personally, NEVER experienced this. IMG_2570My coaches loved me as a person and always put my health and safety (mental and physical) before my athletics. There was only one time in my 18 years when the topic of weight was addressed with me, but it was in a private conversation between myself and my coaches, and it had more to do with my overall health and not just my weight. I was not abused or humiliated. No matter what the sport, no athlete should have to endure negative body image from coaches, but it happens everywhere including gymnastics.
  5. Training
    Gymnastics is technical. Your score depends on the skills you do, how you combine them, and how well you execute them. To start with, each gymnast and their coach determines how they can achieve the highest possible score given that particular athletes abilities.scan0175 2 One thing that sets gymnastics apart is that it allows each person to perform skills that best suit them. I was able to compete skills that some of my teammates could never even attempt, but the same was true the other way. Once you have put together your skill sets (routines) it is all about consistency. And to be consistent you need repetition, repetition, repetition. Each training session starts with warming up your body and stretching. Some days we spent extra time focusing on the very basic and core gymnastics skills and drills. The basics are important because everything you do is built on and somehow uses those basic skills and positions. Your body has to know how to correctly feel and execute those basics every single time. After that, you head to one of the 4 events and begin to work either on individual skills or routines. IMG_2573Sometimes you have to hit 10 in a row of every skill in your routine. Sometimes you spend time learning new skills or new combinations to increase your start value. On other days, you literally just do routine after routine after routine to build up your endurance, confidence, and perfection. Once you were done with your assignments on that event, you would move to another event. In our gym, we would usually spend the last 20-30 minutes doing strength and conditioning which consisted mostly of body weight exercises (arms, legs, stomach) and endurance (circuits, running, and the dreaded wind sprints).
  6. The Best of The Best
    Every elite gymnast wants to be the best. Every elite gymnast puts in the time, the effort, the blood and tears, the sacrifice. Every elite gymnast has parents and family who see them only a little each day, who encourage them when they want to give up, who cry with them when they fail, and who rejoice when they succeed. There are more girls out there than what you see on TV. There are more who have given up everything to try to stand at the top of that podium (in 2009 there were 79 elite gymnasts in the woman’s program in the USA ).  So what separates those who win from those who don’t? Well, partly talent. But there are really two major factors:Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 5.14.05 PM

    • How Well An Athletes Body Can Hold Up.  This sport is so incredibly extreme.
      Your body is pushed to limits that an average person cannot conceive.
      It requires strength, flexibility, power, grace, air-sense, and so much more.
      You can’t go too long in this sport without some sort of nagging injury or major set back. Joints, muscles, ligaments, bones, they all take a beating. While in general, the gymnastics world has gone to great lengths to make the sport as safe as possible, there is just no getting around injuries. The ones who get to the top have either the least amount of injuries or a rare body that heals quickly and completely. Every elite athlete is talented, and obviously some more so than others (*cough* Simone Biles *cough*). But one major test of who can go the farthest lies in who has a body that can withstand the test of time.IMG_2580
    • Mental Strength. You know that old saying, “(Insert Sport) is 10% physical and
      90% mental?” Well, it is pretty accurate. Once you get to a certain level in any sport, you start to understand the power of your own mind. I’m not just talking about knowing and understanding the techniques you are using or the order of skills in a routine. Your mind has the power to keep you on the balance beam or make you fall. It has the power to save you from an injury or cause one to happen. In order to be consistent and to be successful you have to be on the top of your mental game. You have to have confidence. Not the prideful confidence that says, “I’m awesome,” but the confidence that you can execute your routine and skills in front of crowds and judges in the same way that you do in the quiet comfort of your own gym. You have to be able to visualize your routines flawlessly in your mind over and over and over (this sounds simple, but it is really quite difficult and requires practice). You have to be able to block out all the music, the cheering, and the surrounding noises and listen to nothing but the sound of your own voice in your head, and maybe the sound of your coach as well. You have to be able to ignore the things that you know will cause you to lose focus and remain in a state of mind that will keep you on the top of your game. In the same way that you start to train physically at a young age, you also have to train mentally from a young age as well. You are taught how to visualize your sets perfectly. You are taught to give yourself keywords to say in your head throughout your routine that will help you to focus and execute your skills correctly. You learn what it is that helps you to stay strong mentally during a competition, and what things cause you to lose focus. IMG_2588For some, they enjoy watching other athletes or listening to music as it takes their mind off of themselves and doesn’t allow them to get anxious. Others, like myself, have to stay in their own little worlds with their visualization and their keywords and not pay attention to what anyone else is doing. Everyone is different, but the main point is that in order to be successful, your mind has to be just as strong as (or maybe even stronger than) your physical body. It only takes one moment for someone to lose that mental strength and their whole career to snowball. They may have the body and the talent, but if fear or anxiety creeps in and takes over, they will not be successful.
  7. Do You Have A Life? This was a question I was often asked when I was an elite.
    “Don’t you wish you had friends and could go out for ice cream and stuff?” Uh…I think you’ve misunderstood my life a little bit. Often times these athletes are portrayed as sheltered little girls who have no life, can’t eat junk food, and look about half their age. The truth is, we’ve traveled the country (or world) more than most kids have traveled their own state.IMG_2587 We have friends all over the country because of all the competitions, clinics, and training camps we’ve attended. Not to mention our teammates who have been there with us for hours a day. We do eat junk food, go out for ice cream, and sometimes even water ski! 😉 And yes, we do look young because we are young, and we’ve trained so intensely that usually our bodies don’t properly mature until a little later . This is the life these athletes have chosen. We CHOSE to spend our time in the gym because we love gymnastics. We CHOSE to not eat junk food all the time because our goal is more important to us than treats. These girls don’t really feel like they’ve missed out on anything in life. If anything, they probably feel like they’ve lived it more fully than their school peers (no offense).

I’m a firm believer that you are only as good as the effort you are willing to make. If you ever go into a gym and watch a group of gymnasts closely, you will probably notice that the ones who are the best are the ones who take the most turns, do the most work, complete all their assigned conditioning and endurance work, and stay late to do a few extra things. Everybody has the opportunity to make themselves the best they can be. The ones who see success are the ones who actually put in the time and go the extra mile every day. Those are the elite gymnasts. I applaud these girls and I root for every single one of them. They are intensely devoted to their goals and, perhaps, one of the best examples that in order to be successful you have to work hard and make sacrifices. If you only see the sport every 4 years, you don’t realize that these athletes have put in thousands of hours of hyper-focused, difficult, exhaustive work when nobody was watching. Whether you’ve seen them on TV or not, they are out there. Their lives look different, but they wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Poem 100515

You may notice a pattern in my writings. I’m either infatuated and completely engulfed in romanticism or happiness, or I’m heavy in grief or despair. If you look at any significant artist, be they poets, musicians, or even painters and sculptors, you will probably find that their most significant works were created at the epitome of an emotion. Art, in any form, is when something is created that connects with it’s creator (and hopefully others).

We all have experienced, are experiencing, and will experience these moments in our lives. Utter and complete joy, absolute despair, renewed hope (this is not limited to Star Wars), or head-over-heels love. How do you express that? How can you express such large amounts of emotion? Is it possible to even begin to convey? In its fullness, probably not. But we may as well try.

Poem 100515
How long must one uphold those tiresome things
When grief has turned a heart of flesh to stone
And though thou loves those whom the heart has turned
Yet in the midst of many, is alone
For like the claws adorned by monstrous beasts
which tear from bone the flesh that once did live
So it is for he who is betrayed
Whose soul in its entirety did give
For though he did himself all things lay bare
In truest love show all known to be real
Their eyes can only see what they desire
And know not of the truth that was revealed
O, weary soul, make haste to altar’s floor
To supplicate in reverence and in fear
And cast thyself before the mercy seat
In hopes that those you love may soon draw near

Why I Love “Doctor Who”

I’m just going to put it out there: I love Doctor Who. I know not everyone agrees, but oh man does this one take the cake for me. It’s right up there with BBC’s Merlin (which if you haven’t watched, you should). I know this post may seem random, but the topic of “love” has been on my heart for quite a while. Love is the thing that inspires us. It inspires all forms of art, music, poetry, expression, dance, and pretty much every motive of human nature. We live for love, we are in despair when love is lacking or when it dies. Love makes us and breaks us and picks us up again. It’s real, and it is important. And love is why I love Doctor Who. So, if you wanted to hear a mild mannered but deeply personal rant about this iconic British television show, here you go…

I don’t love Doctor Who because it has great graphics. I don’t love it because the person playing the Doctor is attractive. I don’t love it because it is popular or because the story line is amazing. I love it because the Doctor is one of the best examples of love I’ve ever seen. He’s passionate about people. He cares about every living creature and will quite literally go to the ends of the universe to stand up for what is right and save those who need saving. He understands the foolishness of war and the wisdom in forgiveness. He knows kindness, pain, courage, bravery, life, death, friendship, love, loss, and the value of life better than anyone because he’s lived so many lives. Every single being is important and nothing is impossible and you never, ever give up even when it seems all hope is lost. He continues to help and care and save regardless of species, color, gender, shape, or size. His care and love for others is so strong that even when they have betrayed him, his love doesn’t end. Everyone is extraordinary if they would only take the time to be that way. And, above all else, he shows that it is not about how long you live, it’s about how you live and love in the time you’ve been given. You think Doctor Who is corny? I think you’ve missed one of the greatest examples of true love that television has ever portrayed.

Samaritans Purse: Operation Christmas Child

(Image ©Samaritans Purse 2015 via https://samaritanspurse.exposure.co/beyond-beaches)

Have you ever given someone a gift, and literally watched their eyes fill with delight? I’ve been privileged enough to witness this a few times in my life, and it’s magical. I was blessed with a mother who has one of the biggest hearts I’ve ever known. When I was young, she worked as a nurse. She was the special kind of nurse who would become a part of whatever family she was working with. I remember on many occasions riding along with her to the store to buy groceries, then taking said groceries to the house of someone I’d never seen before. They would meet her at the door, see what she had done, then their eyes would fill with tears of both joy and sorrow and they would hug her and cry. My mom would stand there as long as they needed her, and cry with them. I had no idea what was happening nor did I know what that person was facing. But I knew that whatever my mom just did had changed that person.

Since the holiday season is quickly approaching (10 weeks until Christmas!?) I thought now is the perfect time to mention Samaritans Purse. This organization has numerous relief projects, ranging from agricultural to construction to disaster relief.  But one of it’s most unique projects is Operation Christmas Child. In this project, you pack a shoe box with toys, treats, school supplies, and even hygiene products. Once your box is packed, it gets collected and shipped off to children around the globe. You can track your box to find out where it goes, and even send a letter along with it and maybe get a response back! Included with each gift is a small, colorful book about the Gospel. While I realize not everyone is religious, I think one thing we can all relate to is hope, which is something these boxes can give. It’s amazing how just a little bit of hope for something better can change a persons life.

One of my favorite aspects of this project is the opportunity for someone to receive a gift with the same amount of joy and delight as described above. Some of these children will not have this kind of opportunity again. To be able to give something like that is, truly, priceless!

If you want to follow them via social media, here are a few accounts:

The national collection week for these packed shoe boxes is November 16-23, which leaves you a good 3-4 weeks to get them packed! You can find all kinds of resources to help you out here. A little love goes a long ways, sometimes all around the world. Cheers!

“To Make You Feel My Love” Cover

Have you ever had to speak in front of a crowd? It’s scary. Have you ever sang in front of a crowd? It’s even more scary. Have you ever written a poem and shared it with people? Anxieties galore. Now try writing words and music, and THEN singing it in front of a crowd.

I love to sing. My parents used to say that I was singing before I was talking. My dad used to sing to me and dance with me as a baby while listening to Willie Nelson or Ricky Skaggs to get me to sleep. However, putting your own stuff out there for the world to see is, in all seriousness, pretty terrifying. Partly because you are your biggest critic and you usually think whatever you are presenting is not as good as it could be. But also because the things you create are a part of you. You are, quite literally, baring a part of your soul and allowing others to accept or reject it.

All of that to say, I’m going to share a cover song with you. I know, sorry. But I have to intrigue you first and keep you coming back for more, right?! I first heard this song when Garth Brooks covered it and always loved it. It’s meaningful, it’s simple, and it’s fun to sing.

UNICEF

If there is one thing that tugs on my heart strings daily, it is children. Beautiful, young lives with open futures and unlimited possibilities. The problem is that situations beyond their control often cause pain, anguish, and suffering to children. This happens everywhere. There is probably a young child in your neighborhood who will go to bed hungry tonight. There are many children in your city who will be abused this week. There are thousands in our nation who will be bullied by their peers this month. And there are so many more in the world who will be hungry, uneducated, un-treated for health conditions, displaced by conflict, and so much more.

I hope to introduce you to many different charities and non-profits who can provide support and aid to children in each of the above mentioned situations. However, first I’m going to start with one of my favorites: UNICEF.

As stated on their website, their goal is to support and aid children around the globe and to help provide them with the safety, health, and opportunities they deserve:

“As world leaders set out a roadmap for human progress over the next 15 years, it is vital that every child is included, and that children everywhere are at the heart of the new global agenda.”

While it seems like such a giant undertaking, they have actually made huge strides in many of their projects. For example, they have supported major campaigns to help immunize 3 million children! They also support and target such things as education, emergency aid, and child development. While many of us prefer to “stay local” don’t forget that even a small donation of $10 or $20 to initiatives like UNICEF can have a huge impact on a child’s life.

One of my favorite ways to keep up with charities is to follow them on twitter. Short and sweet updates about what they are doing and how you can help. They have MANY accounts that are country specific, city specific, even campaign specific! Depending on where your passions are, you can follow and support where you like. Here are a few of my favorites to get you started:

While I know there are hundreds of thousands of charities out there, it’s always good to know what is going on and how you can help. We don’t have to give to everything, but there are so many other ways we can support those who need our help. We all share this world together, why not try to make it a better place while we are here?! Cheers!

*Photo ©UNICEF/NYHQ2015-2391/Romenzi (here)

Poetry and Song (Poem 092915)

There are a few things I love in this world. My husband, truly the most amazing man I’ve ever met, my children who make me want to be a better person every day, and music. Music can literally transform me. And there are many forms of music, instrumental, songs with lyrics, and poetry. Yes, I consider poetry a form of music because when you read or hear poetry it flows smoothly, it has rhythms, and it can take you to another time and place. I grew up reading and writing poetry. I was inspired by folks like Shel Silverstein who made poetry fun and relevant. I also love Shakespeare. Not because he is famous, but because there is such beauty and eloquence in his use of words and rhythms. Little known fact, I’m actually related to him (although don’t hold me to his standard)! So, as I introduce you to the creative corner of my brain, know that it has been a true joy and practice of mine since I was just a young girl. Music is beautiful.

Poem 092915

When on the restless things my heart does dwell
And slumber is a stranger to my eyes
I am, myself, a burden to my soul
And my own mind a thing that I despise
But if my heart would hasten to your presence
And lay bare all that casts a dreary glow
Renewed can be the joy that once did fill me
And beauty be the friend my soul will know
For love is all encompassed in your being
And peacefulness a fruit of your divine
And I, when truly humble, am before you
Reflect thy face, and thy fruit becomes mine

© Jade Sokoll

I Agree With Jon Stewart

This photo hit a soft spot for me. I relate on so many levels. Originally, I posted this to Facebook, but I want to share my thoughts with all of you as well.

Photo from Miss R•EVOLutionaries (https://www.facebook.com/MissREVOLutionaries?fref=photo)

Photo from Miss R•EVOLutionaries (https://www.facebook.com/MissREVOLutionaries?fref=photo)

What Jon Stewart said relates to so much more than just the police. I should be able to disagree with homosexuality and still love and adore my friends who are gay. I should be able to disagree and be saddened by abortion without being considered unsupportive of women and against women’s rights. I should be able to say, “boys and girls are not the same” without it being assumed that I mean women are weak and men are superior. I should be able to disagree with the standards by which money is “handed out” by our government without being told I have no heart for the underprivileged. I should be able to be against certain gun control laws without being considered someone who in some way supports all the gun related tragedies that happen.

They are not mutually exclusive.

I love my friends dearly, I am heart broken for women who feel they are out of options, the current status of underprivileged families is appalling and I will always give whatever I can to help, and my heart will always mourn with anyone who has lost a friend or loved one to someones wrongful use of any kind of weapon. We all need to be careful what kind of sweeping generalizations we make. I will always give help and love, as much as I possibly can, to anyone and everyone who needs help. I will always work to protect the citizens of this great country.

This is the very reason why we need to look at what a person is actually doing, not what a few well televised people are saying. “Disagree” is not equal to “hate.” Hate, and actions done in hate, will never create the outcome you want to see in this country, or in this world. Love, people. Love is what we need to do and what we need to look for.

So, I did a thing.

Jade SokollHi, my name is Jade Sokoll. I’m the real Jade Sokoll (and I would stand up but, let’s be honest, at little over 5′ tall it doesn’t really allow you to see me any better). I like short walks on the beach followed by surf lessons, music that touches the heart or soul or internal “start dancing a little” button, food that is truly excellent, anything that can be included in ComicCon, and (more than all the previously listed) my husband and children.  Long ago, I had a blog. It was an attempt to share my thoughts with the world. However, this attempt was a bit “mom-ish” and was not really what I wanted to do. So this is a new place. A place of truth. A place of information. A place where I am going to post creativity, mediocrity, and yes, sometimes hilariosity (not a real word).

I can hear you now, “Why? Why do this thing?” Here is why. Well…okay, i’m not completely sure. Partly, because I want to share stuff with the world, and this is one way to do it that is greater than 140 characters and 15 second videos.

My other reason, however, is because I have a voice. “We all have a voice,” you say (and I assume you mean figuratively). Yes, but I would like to share mine, not because it’s more important, but because I feel I have something of value share with you. I believe I can share hope. I believe I can share love. I believe I can share joy, sorrow, victory, defeat, and you can maybe (just maybe) know that you are not alone. You matter. We all matter. We can all help to make the world better. Sometimes all it takes is one person to rally us, one moment or motivation to unite us. Maybe that can be here. Or maybe you just come to laugh, or get an idea, or share an idea. That’s cool (like bowties).

So, I don’t really know. Also, I doubt many of you will read this first post, so I think I’m safe sounding a little bit like a motivational speaker with a dream of being an actress and also being in a band while raising 3 children and being married to a freaking stud of a man. But guys, seriously, I hope you enjoy.

Life After Miscarriage: A Personal Follow Up Post

After receiving a lot of comments on my blog post about our miscarriage, I thought it would be good to write a follow up on what it is like to continue with life. I first want to thank everyone for their kind words and encouragement. As I stated in the post, my husband and I really want to help those of you out there who may experience the same situation. That is why I am writing this post today as well.

Initial Postpartum Thoughts.
After things with the miscarriage had settled down, there were several thoughts that would run through my head from time to time:

  1. Pregnancies of others. I had a few people who also had miscarriages talk to me about some struggles with handling the pregnancies of friends and family around them. I will admit, when you see people around you getting pregnant and having healthy, happy babies, you do feel bummed. My personal struggle leaned more towards feeling as though others didn’t really appreciate how much of a blessing it is to have a child! I understand more than ever how each of those little munchkins is truly a gift! I had to choose to turn my feelings of “they don’t understand” into, “I should be joyful along with them so they DO understand.” I had to change my perspective. It’s not an easy thing to do, I know. But I encourage you to take that step and see how your change in attitude will not only help you, but those around you as well!
  2. What if it happens again? This is a very real fear, one that you will most likely face, and one that remains a struggle for me to this day. And why wouldn’t we be worried about this? The first time you have a miscarriage, you don’t necessarily know what caused the complications and you can tend towards a path of, “what if this is the end? what if I won’t have any from now on?” Talk with your significant other or loved ones. Allow yourself to face the fear and use it to be prepared for whatever might be in your future, good or bad. At this point we don’t know what the future will look like, but it does not leave us hopeless! There are other ways to have and grow a family. (Adoption, Foster Parent, etc.) Don’t let this fear rob you of your joy in what your are experiencing in life now, or from the potentially amazing things you and your family can experience together!
  3. Everything is out of control. There was a short period of time where I felt like I had absolutely no control over my emotions and feelings. I had an overwhelming feeling of anxiety, heaviness and fear. Some may call this postpartum depression. In my opinion (and after looking back on the situation) this was largely due to the massive changes my body just went through. I literally went from being pregnant to not being pregnant in a matter of hours, and especially after being far enough into pregnancy that some major changes had already been happening in my body. There was no “normal” postpartum cycles as you have after a birth (i.e. no nursing, no mothering, etc.). I’m pretty convinced that my hormones were on a roller coaster trying to figure out the correct balance. The biggest help for me was to have family close by at all times and to make sure I was talking and praying through the moments when I felt at my worst. I strongly recommend if you experience this to tell your significant other or loved ones. Let them help you, sit with you, talk with you. You are not alone and when your body recovers you will overcome these feelings!

Continuing a family, with a few “good to know” facts.
After our loss, my husband and I decided we were not going to purposely wait for any period of time before getting pregnant again. We both felt that we were ready to continue growing our family and the doctors told us there was no reason not to continue right away. So we went about our normal lives without birth control, and without really knowing what to expect.

I think it is important to say here that while we have dealt with the loss of a pregnancy, it doesn’t mean we never think about it, or that feelings of sorrow do not creep in. There were a few things that come up after a miscarriage that I didn’t know about until experiencing one myself.

  1. Crazy Cycles. In the same way that your body does not get back to a normal hormonal cycle after birthing a child, it takes a while to get back to normal after a miscarriage as well.
  2. False Positives. Despite the fact that you are no longer with child, the hormone levels in your body do not go back to normal right away after a miscarriage. This means that for up to several months after your pregnancy, you can still have a positive pregnancy test and not be pregnant.

It’s not always easy.
In some ways, these two facts mentioned above were strongly working against our sanity.While we made the choice to continue without birth control, I did not think about taking these factors into consideration. And even though looking back I would have still made the same decision, I wish I would have made sure I understood these facts.  For almost 3 months we were constantly in a fog, not knowing 100% for sure what was going on with my body.

About 6 weeks after my surgery, I had to take a 5 hour car trip through the mountains. As a person who struggles with car sickness, I desperately wanted to be able to take some motion sickness pills for the drive. Unfortunately a few unclear pregnancy tests left me unable to take anything and car sick in the back seat. A week later my first cycle since the miscarriage began (7 wks after surgery), however I still questioned whether this was a normal cycle or another miscarriage not knowing if the previous pregnancy tests were false or not. While my husband and I were tempted to let the whirlwind of emotions take us over, we decided not to let our fears get the best of us.

Five weeks later and another positive pregnancy test, my husband and I were so confused. We had NO idea what was going on with my body. How long before my body is back to normal? When will we see some stability?

Are We Ready For This?
Two more positive pregnancy tests over the course of 3 weeks finally confirmed in our minds that we were, in fact, pregnant again. This was the point where I was actually most shocked at my emotions. We were very happy and excited, yet I couldn’t help but think of the little one we lost. I was joyful and sad all at the same time.  And to be honest, I’m not quite sure why. I think the excitement of what was to come reminded me that I missed out on meeting, holding, and kissing one of these precious little ones. I was happy for another opportunity to have a child, but sad to be reminded that we had one that didn’t make it. I can’t say for sure, but I would think that these kinds of feelings would be common. It was almost the opposite of what I felt before: losing a child made me appreciate the one I had, but this time finding out we were expecting another child made me miss the one we lost.

Life Goes On.
Seven months later I’ve gotten more comfortable with the pregnancy and the excitement and anticipation of another child is building. However, I still struggle with the “what-if’s”. I feel as though I’m paying more attention than I did before to how I eat, what my body feels like, every ache and pain and even fetal movements. It is hard sometimes knowing that even my extra “effort” in tracking this pregnancy won’t necessarily change the outcome, good or bad. Other than the obvious health concerns, I don’t have control over the outcome. But as I mentioned above, I’m working on not letting my nervousness or fear cloud me from the joy of what I’m experiencing right now. Do your best to be healthy and maintain a positive attitude. Allow others to help you out and remind you of all you have to be happy about! What we experienced in the loss of pregnancy was real. The fears and emotions we have now are real. But they do not have to hold us back from being joyful again!

A Note To You.
I realize that while we are fortunate to be expecting again so soon, this does not happen for everyone. I can honestly say I had no idea what to expect or when to expect it following the miscarriage. However, I do know that when you are trying and hoping to get pregnant, it can be hard not to get discouraged when any amount of time goes by. You are not alone. There are those who have been there before you and those around you who love and care about you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Seek advice and support. No matter what the outcome, this is not the end, and there is always more to hope for!

*A Personal Disclaimer*
I hope that in the post above you were able to find some insight or understanding into a tough situation. There is always a next step in the process, so don’t give up! For my husband and I, each trial and difficult moment was met with a reaction based on our faith in Jesus Christ. Everything I described above is true, the fears and emotions are real. However, I choose to handle my struggles with the love and hope that Jesus offers. I still struggle today, I still get scared and am fearful and it’s not easy. But my faith tells me that God is good, that He loves me, and that He has a plan for my life and my children. Through this I am able to be joyful, to let go of those fears, and continue moving forward. If you haven’t, I encourage you to look into the hope Jesus Christ can offer you, both in this situation and in the rest of life!

If you have any questions or thoughts, I would love to talk! Feel free to contact me at any time. And thank you again, everyone, for your support. It means more than we can express.