Why I Want to Share Naturopathic Fertility with the World
Written by: Jennifer Kurinsky, ND
Until now, I have never spoken or written publicly about my journey with having children. I am in a confident and strong place in my life and feel that my story is something worth sharing for myself and those struggling to find a light that I wish I would have found earlier on.
It was a long road; from my first pregnancy too the first time I gave birth was a 6-year span. Throughout those years I wasn’t always “trying”, but for quite a bit of it I wasn’t trying to prevent pregnancy either. I got married when I was 24 and right away became pregnant. We picked out names, had two different nurseries planned out on Pinterest, and started the baby registry. I just felt so lucky that I was going to become a mom. Then, I had an ultrasound and the doctors said the baby wasn’t growing according to my timeline and that something must be off. They told me to come back two weeks later so they can check again. For those two-weeks, I researched, prayed, cried, and tried to stay optimistic –the whole range of emotions.
At the next appointment, they said my pregnancy wasn’t viable… I was DEVASTATED. I was told it was completely normal, it’s something women go through and to just try again. Although in the back of my head I was trying to convince myself to understand, I had to go through the process of removing the fetus and then was sent home with no answers. While I’m thankful for the professionals that made sure I was safe, the whole process felt cold and impersonal, like it was something they did every day, so it was nothing out of the ordinary for them. But, I lost something big that day, I lost a piece of me I was so excited to gain. I felt ashamed that my body wasn’t doing what I thought was something so natural.
A few months later, I became pregnant again. This time, my optimism and hopefulness were tampered with fear of the same outcome. Weeks later in the middle of the night, I woke up with cramps and instantly knew… I lost my second baby. Twenty-four years old, two miscarriages, and zero answers. No hormone levels checked, no other testing, but again was told this was normal and just give it a few months and try again. Again, I felt very little compassion from my medical doctors. I got no explanation on what to expect, or how to look at my hormone balance.
With the first pregnancy loss, my husband at the time was logical and not emotional. He brought up statistics, echoed what the doctors were saying about it being normal, and just wanted me to move on and try again. After the second, he was a little more compassionate because then he started thinking maybe something was wrong with him. Regardless, it was too late for us as a couple. I completely withdrew from our life and became depressed. In my mind he was not my husband, he was a reminder that I wasn’t able to carry a pregnancy. We stopped trying. We stopped talking. We went to counseling, but I already had my mind made up. We divorced shortly thereafter.
During this time, my best friend was pregnant with her first baby and we were so excited to have our babies together, the fun they would have, how they would be best friends, how we could have play dates, and be there for each other. It was something special that we were going through together until all of a sudden she was still pregnant and I wasn’t. And although I love her completely and deep down was happy for her, I avoided talking to her, maybe out of jealousy, maybe out of frustration, or shame. We were so excited to be pregnant together and have babies the same age. I couldn’t handle it so I withdrew from her as well. I didn’t think she could understand and I didn’t want her to pity me. Looking back, I know she could have been a support for me but I shoved her away. I wish I could have been there for her, but I couldn’t see beyond my own pain. Her little boy is now in elementary school. I still catch myself thinking about those emotions when I see her son, but it’s not painful anymore, more a reminder of that time of my life. She had a boy first, and then a girl. Now, even though her kids are older than mine, we still have play dates and our daughters are best friends.
Many years later, I’m now married to my husband Jimmy. We work well together on so many levels and have two amazing, adorable, sweet, funny, loving children together which is the wildest adventure either of us has ever experienced! Jimmy is my biggest fan and cheerleader. He encouraged me to go to medical school and supported me (financially, cooking, cleaning, and on and on) so I could focus solely on going to school and my studies. Halfway through medical school, a business coach said the best time to have a baby is between second and third year, before entering clinic, then I could take a year off and it wouldn’t be an issue. We knew we wanted a family, so we started timing cycles and trying. Month after month, my period came. I became very familiar with that dreaded two-week wait to take a pregnancy test. I didn’t know about charting cycles and didn’t take any ovulation predictor kits. I was on prenatal vitamins, but nothing else to encourage proper hormone cycles. It was very discouraging. I started to feel those shoved down emotions about myself. What was wrong with me? Was I failing as a female? Why was everybody else able to get pregnant except me? We decided that maybe it was a good thing that we didn’t get pregnant and went forward planning to wait until medical school was over – we’d passed the optimal window for having a baby in med school anyway. So, we treated ourselves to a week-long Caribbean vacation. We reconnected. I let the stress and the worries go. I started taking more long baths, doing yoga, learned a little more about proper supplements to support overall health.
When the next month came, I was pregnant. I clearly remember the pregnancy symptoms that I’d convinced myself didn’t mean anything – fatigue, peeing all the time, I was so thirsty, my breasts were tender… Jimmy said, “what if you’re pregnant” and we both laughed but I asked him to pick up a test on his way home. THEN, OH MY, the test showed positive. That night, we were both so in shock. We cuddled on the couch and watched Netflix and barely said a word to each other. I took another test the next morning and then called my favorite Naturopathic Doctor and Midwife and decided to establish care. She tested my hormone levels right away and I started taking progesterone. At 41.5 weeks pregnant, we became mommy and daddy to the most beautiful baby girl we could have ever imagined. 2 years later, her happy and joyful baby brother was born.
In med school, I paid special attention to all my classes on hormone balancing, adrenal and thyroid health, fertility, pregnancy, and pediatrics. My first daughter was born during medical school. I was pregnant when I took my obstetrics classes, and she was only a baby when I took pediatrics. Working with my naturopathic doctor made so much of a difference for me. She paid attention to my concerns and put me at ease. I’m finding myself drawn more and more to helping others with fertility now that I’m seeing how prevalent this issue is and understand the pain and other emotions that come along with it. Since graduating, I’ve taken Advanced Fertility training as well as other courses specific to women’s health and fertility.
Reflecting back over the years and the journey, there are so many things I wish I would have known along the way. There were times I didn’t know what to do or what to think and felt so shameful and alone. My goal is to help couples along this journey, and not just get pregnant but to maintain a healthy pregnancy and have a healthy baby who will eventually turn into a healthy adult. Everybody has a different story, different circumstances, and I don’t pretend to be a miracle worker. But I want to offer hope and education. So much has changed in my life over the last several years – it’s now hectic and busy and full of joy. I learned a lot about who I was and how to seek out help when I need it. My life turned out much differently than I thought it would, but it’s beautiful and wonderful and I’m thankful for the journey that helped me develop empathy and compassion for couples going through the same thing.