7 Steps To Finding Astonishing Fitness Results After Miscarriage And Hysterectomy — With Photos
In February 2004, after losing twins at 19-weeks, a D&C (which failed as I wouldn’t stop hemorrhaging), then a hysterectomy — which seemed to go well and was done vaginally — until 2 hours later I felt “off” and the nurse realized I was bleeding out, and then a final surgery to stop internal bleeding, I felt lost. I’ve had 17-years to process what the 7 steps were to find astonishing fitness results after the miscarriage and hysterectomy.
When I woke up after the third and final surgery, the doctor told me he had to call in a second surgeon to help stop my bleeding. He cut me hip to hip, removed my organs, used a machine to recycle the blood, known as a cell saver which is used to collect what a patient loses during surgery, rinse away unneeded fat and tissue, and then centrifuge and separate the red cells, which are then returned to the patient. I received 5 blood transfusions, 3 of which were my own recycled blood. The doctor told me I was dead on the table and he had no idea how I survived.
My husband at the time was a doctor, and as he looked at the clock after 2 1/2 hours had gone by, he knew my chances of survival were slim and he began planning my funeral. Fortunately for me, God wasn’t ready for me yet, and I have no recollection of a “near-death experience”.
I have been told that in the above photo, I look like my soul had left my body, and indeed that is an apt description of how I felt. It was my 7th pregnancy — pregnancies that were a surprise as I had begun my journey in infertility and — after nearly a year of infertility that included 7 surgeries, and maxed on medication — was told I wouldn’t be able to maintain a pregnancy if I was able to actually become pregnant. Despite the odds, I delivered 4 babies — all girls, all via natural childbirth, 3 at home, 2 of them water births. I truly felt so beyond grateful that it was even possible for me to give birth. I did lose 3 pregnancies, which was challenging, although in my mind I was more grateful for the opportunity than disappointed by the loss. Until that final pregnancy. Expecting to lose a pregnancy, and doing so at 11 & 13 weeks is FAR different than losing twins at 19-weeks. That loss was both physically and emotionally traumatic.
There I was, post-surgery, having lost those twins so far along, knowing how blessed I was to have given birth at all, and yet struggling with feeling like less of a woman because I had lost the parts of me that “proved” I was female. I came out of the surgery 35 pounds heavier — more weight than I had gained in any pregnancy — and one thing I knew was that it was time for me to reclaim my body, my life, and regain my self-esteem surrounding my feelings of being “less than” because I no longer had a uterus and cervix.
In this picture, there is so much going on “behind the scenes”, and although we all look happy and I’m getting in shape, there’s so much sadness. Two of my girls had “boy haircuts” because we had been battling lice that I just couldn’t get rid of — and it was the two of them bringing it home repeatedly, where the other kids were relatively saved from it.
Retrospectively, although the girls asked me to just shave their heads, I should have cut their hair in uneven bobs and had them fixed later — to save them from the embarrassment and trauma of being ridiculed in school. Asking for a pixie cut because you want it is far different than feeling forced to have your head shaved to get past all the lice treatments.
It wasn’t their fault or mine, it was months of the school sending home lice cases over and over, having a soon-to-be ex-husband not in the home to help, waiting for his date to go to prison, looking into going back to work after a decade of being a stay-at-home-mom, and still reeling from the loss of the twins and re-learning my body after a traumatic surgery.
We had also recently moved from Alaska to Reno, NV where I didn’t know anyone. The surgery happened less than a year prior to the move, my husband went to prison within a year after the move but had stayed behind in Alaska to sell the business, so he wasn’t able to be there often in that interim year. When he went to prison, I went back to work — sometimes working up to 4 jobs, and on top of that, I left a religion that (in my opinion) is a cult and there was so much backlash from that, it would need several of its own blog posts. I also filed for divorce.
Needless to say, it was the most difficult couple of years I’ve experienced. Within that, one of the things that kept me sane was getting in shape again. Reclaiming my body, and having a goal to work towards.
There are 7 things I did to accomplish my goals:
- I ate a healthy diet for most of my life and continued with that, however I began tracking food better
- I began exercising again with a gym membership
- I hired a trainer, and then switched to a better trainer. I went to the trainer once a week to save money, and he gave me “homework” for the other days of the week
- When I lost weight, I did the photoshoot below
- I set goals with fitness competitions to push myself, have accountability, etc..
- Once I decided to do fitness competitions, I kept track of my progress. I wrote the date, my weight, bodyfat, and measurements and took photos regularly
- I did the emotional work through different therapies
Navigating who I was after the loss I felt was a difficult journey for me and the photoshoot was part of how I pieced together this new identity as a woman. As I struggled, a good friend went shopping with me. It’s the only time in my life I’ve gone out shopping to completely re-do my wardrobe, and the fact that my husband at the time encouraged it, I am exceptionally grateful. I remember purchasing shirts I could tuck in (no more pregnancy or breastfeeding), a belt, and shoes that were less “sensible” and I began to regain a sense of who I was outside of not only being pregnant and breastfeeding, as a woman separate from my kids entirely.
The photoshoot after losing weight and reclaiming my self-esteem
The first trainer I was working with suggested I enter fitness competitions. Although it was never something I had considered, it gave me a goal and a timeline, which I loved. The day of my first competition, I had no idea what I was doing, bought the wrong “outfits”, didn’t use self-tanner (my fellow competitors helped me with that backstage which was great although I did look orange), I didn’t understand posing, and was disappointed my trainer didn’t prepare me better. Ultimately it was a great experience, although physically through this first competition I also realized I wasn’t feeling all that great.
Another trainer in the audience approached me after the competition and told me he could tell my diet wasn’t right for me and that he could fix it, and since I wasn’t feeling great (although I looked pretty good), I switched to him that week. He was an amazing trainer and encouraged me to do more competitions. I learned the ropes of posing, self-tanner, and how to change your diet in the two weeks leading up to a competition. He also made pretty significant changes in my food plan as well as my exercise and I had amazing results. My most impressive statistic is that I squatted 195 pounds and I felt invincible, strong, capable, and sexy.
Two magazine articles and some stage wins
Although I loved how I looked, it wasn’t easy to maintain. I had gotten sucked into the competitions with great intentions, it just wasn’t something I was passionate about. I was taking 1st-3rd place in the categories of model and fitness, I just didn’t want to keep up with the schedule, the strict diet, cooking separately from my kids, and the cost. I was in two magazine articles, which felt amazing — and was also quite unexpected -and during this time I reclaimed my self-esteem and definitely worked through the baggage of not being “enough” of a woman because I lost my “female parts” in the hysterectomy.
Although I did better and looked better, the pictures are awful!
I was 34 years old when I ended this phase of my life — with some hesitation. I had come so far emotionally in the year after my surgeries. Despite this being one of the toughest times in my life, I also have incredibly fond memories of this phase. So much change, so much embracing the woman I was inside and adding all the richness my life and experiences had given me.
What helped you get through an incredibly difficult time in your life?