What are you doing here?

"Do you have kids?”

“Not yet.”

“How did you become a part of BIRTHFIT then?”

……long pause….

Almost 100% of the time when I meet a new client or start a new BIRTHFIT series, I am asked these questions. It’s taken me almost a year to finally feel comfortable with my response. I understand the question helps women make a connection with me in this sacred space, or for others outside the Tribe to comprehend my motivation for being in the space when I am clearly not a mother.

There are two versions of my rehearsed response to these questions, both contain a little darkness, that I know make others uncomfortable, but are my darknesses and my truths.

The first and the initial reason is somewhat long winded.

I found BIRTHFIT through my own period of sickness in late 2016, I was recently married, working as a 5th Grade Teacher in the Bay Area of California at an “underperforming” Title 1 Elementary School down the street from Google’s HQ. Believe it or not, this job was very stressful, not just emotionally for the children and families I worked with, but also the unrealistic expectations from District Administration for our students’ performance standards. (I’ll spare you the rant) During this time I was also an avid “Crossfitter” attending classes 5 days a week at 6am in order to be school by 7:30am. Every morning I took my intensity to 100% by my own spirit and the encouragement of coaches. Physical activity has also been my stress relief by using this as “my 1 hour” a day, where as I now reflect, of self punishment for not ever feeling good enough, whether because of my job or in comparison to the men in my gym. By October of that school year, my body physically began breaking down, but I couldn’t see it. The initial sign was a stress rash on my face and mouth, that quickly went away, but was followed by loss of appetite due to my stress. Still working out every morning, eating a small breakfast on the go, working through my lunch, I sometimes felt so nauseous that I had to force myself to eat food. The only thing that kept me going, and could ingest while teaching was coffee, becoming caffeine dependent. This went on for 2 months, where then I started having a period every 2 weeks for a week at a time. I also experienced extreme night sweats at least 3 times a week, waking up drenched in sweat, soaking my sheets, having to get up and shower and finish my nights rest on the floor to sleep. I hadn’t noticed until my mother-in-law at the New Year, told me “Jackie, you look so skinny,” for the first time in a concerned and somewhat panicked voice. I stepped on the scale for the first time since my wedding and had lost almost 15 lbs (I have been practically the same weight since college). I looked in the mirror and saw my gaunt face, thinning skin, my hair had also been coming out in small clumps, all signs I ignored. Most other people were complimenting how great my body looked, but I could finally see what she saw. A week later I decided to make some doctor’s appointments to figure what was going on, my weight loss and what felt like constant menstruation weren’t normal and I needed to start listening to my body. Run of the mill blood tests, symptom screenings, physicals, an in-uterine ultrasound to rule out fibroids, a couple of re-tests for high Creatinine levels (waste product of creatine break down for kidney function), and nothing could be determined. My physician said, all of my symptoms were the same for menopause, that I might be going through Early Menopause at 28 years old.

How could this be??

I am an epitome of health, I eat clean, exercise, read every best seller improvement book, listen to podcasts instead of music. Always trying to be the best at what I am doing. Saw vulnerability as loss of power or control and could never let anyone see my weaknesses. So healthy! Listening to one of these podcasts of self improvement (Brute Strength), I found BIRTHFIT in Jan 2017 shortly after my “diagnosis”. Here was this bad ass lady, Lindsey Matthews, talking about women’s health. I found their blog and podcast and immediately listened to every episode from the start. I felt like I had found my place of being both strong and woman, I wanted to join this tribe. Through reading and listening I was able to change doctors, who claimed I did not have early menopause, but I needed to get off birth control, and taught me the Fertility Awareness Method to relearn the rhythms and cycle of my body. Needless to say, BIRTHFIT showed me to advocate for my own health and find my own solutions.

Now the second answer, which is less long winded, and can really make others uncomfortable is through this journey of being in BIRTHFIT my husband and I have been trying to conceive (TTC) for nearly 18 months.

18 months of ovulating, trying, and no success.