How 2021 Changed Me
my story of loss and infertility.
5 minute read | TTC, Stress, Loss, New Routines
Although I tend to share a lot with you all, I have kept a lot to myself lately. You may have noticed that all my social channels went dark at the end of last year. Truthfully, everything went dark for me at the end of last year. Before launching into another year, I wanted to share with you how 2021 changed me.
It has taken me four months to go through the depths of the darkness we can all sometimes experience. In just the last few weeks I have begun to feel more like myself again. A welcome feeling.
So much of my job is sharing intimate and emotional experiences with you and your family. You all let me into your space just days after welcoming a newborn. Sometimes I get to be there for your baby's first breath, the moment you become a parent. The last two years have been filled with family reunions, happy tears, and hearts broken over changed plans. I feel lucky to be there with you and to document these moments for you.
So now it's my turn to share, I really want to acknowledge my experience that was 2021 with you.
I am a strong person who naturally welcomes growth and challenges. I enjoy setting goals, trying new things and experiencing different lifestyles. Somehow though, last year brought me too many changes and challenges too fast. By the end of the year, I couldn't do it anymore.
The year began with a giant lifestyle change as I discovered many food allergies. I was devastated to find out that I am allergic to many foods that I love, but naturally, I welcomed this as something new to experience and handled my new eating habits quite well.
After my diet change, I felt really good. I had lots of energy and clear skin, so I felt like it was worth it to keep up with this change even though it was a lot of work. My body felt great, other than I kept getting sick.
I went to the emergency room a few times with what felt like a raging urinary tract infection, kidney stones, or something horrible. But the tests would keep coming back clear and I would be sent home. It kept coming back over and over and got to the point where I felt so desperate I would do anything for an answer.
Finally, one angel of a doctor put the pieces together and told me I have interstitial cystitis. This is a painful condition that affects the pelvic floor and bladder. There is not a lot of information on it, nor a cure, but luckily it can easily be managed with lifestyle and diet.
Ok, not ideal, but having a diagnosis was extremely validating. Add another lifestyle change to the list.
I was becoming more and more frustrated with my body as the months went on. It was a lot of work to avoid my allergens, avoid bladder irritant foods, and to still have something good to eat. On top of that, we were seven months into trying to start a family with no luck.
Many of you have shared this same narrative. We spend our whole lives trying not to get pregnant and then when the time comes, struggle with it. I had no idea that getting pregnant could be hard. It seemed to happen for everyone around me so easily. Never did I think my experience would be different.
The roller coaster of trying to conceive (TTC) dragged on. The constant build-up of excitement, then the inevitable letdown each month. Exhausting.
Then one morning, a faint positive line showed up! Our hearts were full, I was so excited. It was the best 24 hours ever.
Unfortunately the next day, my body let it go. Just like that, we were onto another month of trying.
As 2021 continued, I began to feel the strain of it all. I was passed the point of self-growth and had moved into survival mode. During the rest of the year we had a family health scare, lost a friend to suicide, endured the never-ending pandemic stress, and watched our province light on fire and then flood... each a heavy stone that was added to my back. I couldn't seem to put them down.
The final event that broke me was losing our little dog, Murphy. My companion of 10 years, we lived 100 lives and grew up together. He had an Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) that he couldn't seem to heal from. Over six months we watched our adventurous little dog become confined to crate rest and dependant on many pain meds. Until finally, he lost his ability to walk and was completely paralyzed.
One day, I had an out-of-body experience and suddenly found myself at the vet's office, ready to say goodbye to him. We tried absolutely everything for him and he let me know he was ready to go. This was the right choice, the hardest thing I have ever had to do.
I went home without him and shortly after Golden's 30-hour power outage began. Maybe the universe gave me the gift of rest and being unplugged. I remember laying in the dark thinking how can so many horrible things happen in one year? Why did this all have to happen at once?
Moving Through The Darkness
I was inconsolable for weeks. Crying in public was my new normal. I still cry when I think about it all.
Luckily, I have the best clients who gave me space to take time off. I spent some time feeling it all, letting the waves crash through me. My friends, family and husband all had so much love and support for me.
One afternoon, I was skiing with my husband and all I wanted to do was go home. I was lost in my head that day and not paying attention... and I fell. Then I yelled at him (sorry honey) and cried in the snow.
For me, this was a moment of realization that I was down deeper than I thought and that I couldn't work through this on my own.
My Intentions for 2022
I welcomed the start of the new year with an open heart, surely things can only go up from here.
Although I am still carrying the weight of last year, the hard edges of my grief and darkness are beginning to soften. Some days I feel pretty fragile, but most days are getting better.
Staying true to myself, I am working hard to rebuild myself stronger. When you hit rock bottom, you have to find yourself and routines again, so I figured I might as well find good versions of that.
My intention for 2022 is to notice what makes me feel good and to do more of that.
So far, I have found a lot of comfort in exercise and meditation. I have noticed that on the days I wake up early, move my body, and set intentions I feel much more grounded and secure.
Currently, I am enjoying an excellent daily routine of sunrise cross-country ski loops, short meditations, and evening yoga practices. The changes are coming slowly, but I can already see how they are positively impacting my mental and physical health, my relationships, and my business.
Eventually, I will get to a place where I can look at 2021 and it will make sense. Right now, I am just really looking forward to continuing to feel better and to seeing what 2022 brings. I am working hard to enjoy this winter phase of life. This year we are looking forward to big plans and also sitting back to see where life takes us.
Thanks to everyone who has reached out, brought flowers, sent photos of Murph, and been patient with me. Taking a deep breath and ready to welcome 2022 now.
I see you. I hear you. I validate your experiences. I am sorry you had to go through so much negative experiences. I’m sorry those experiences have felt hard for you. It’s sounds like you did the best you could and that your best was good enough to get you through to some lighter days. Fumbling around through all of your emotions and experiences wasn’t easy- but you did it. That in itself is an olympic sport and deserves a medal. It is not lost on me how heavy the struggle can be somedays. I love you.
Thinking of you Jena. Indeed these are a lot of big overwhelming things. Know that you are not alone. There’s a big loving community around you. Xoxo
Your words are courageous and eloquent in describing your painful journey over the past year. Your goals to move step by step forward in healing are wise. I have always admired your work and I wish you the very best in making decisions that work the best for you going forward. Thank you for sharing. Again, all the best.
Remember you are loved and never alone ♥️
All our love and kindness … hang in there and know there are always friendly faces “cheering you on pool-side”.
Aww Jena, Very deep! So well written:)
What a year you endured <3 deepest condolences for the loss of Murphy and all the hardships. Thank you for sharing. All the best in 2022
Jena, thank you so much for sharing! One step at a time, doll. Always thinking of you and all the family! Love you
Jena, your strength is inspiring, sending so much love to you ♥️
This real and raw post will probably help other people. Thanks for sharing. You are very brave.
Wow I really felt this. Every word I held onto. I am sorry for your losses and can only hope that 2022 can bring more comfort for you. You helped capture our family (as awkward as we are) you were able to give me something I didn’t even know was possible. Thank you and sending hugs hugs your way!
Thank you for sharing Jena. Love and hugs ❤️
Love you Beanie! ♥️
Sending you a big hug Jena. Hang in there.