Ladies, becoming a mother is a wonderful thing.
While motherhood is something that has been a topic in our lives for as long as we can remember, the journey to motherhood can be a complicated one as many women are met with pregnancy loss or infertility. As a result, conceiving naturally is sometimes not an option for women who desire to start families. That is something that DJ, fitness influencer and founder of HBFIT, Hannah Bronfman knows very well. Although Hannah is now the mother of her first child, a son named Preston Miles Thomas Fallis, it wasn't without struggle.
To show women they aren't alone in their journey, earlier this year, Hannah, alongside her husband, Brendan Fallis, shared with the world their pregnancy journey and how they have overcome multiple obstacles along the way. After experiencing a miscarriage late last year, Hannah decided to look into different fertility options to increase her chances of having a viable pregnancy. She was ultimately able to get pregnant through a process called IVF (in vitro fertilization).
Courtesy of Hannah BronfmanPhoto Credit: Terence Connors
Since, Hannah has made it a mission of hers to show other women that we have options when it comes to creating life inside ourselves. With the reality of miscarriages and infertility diagnoses, Hannah is being honest about her experience with IVF and encouraging other women to learn more about what is available to them when it comes to starting a your own family.
In a recent conversation with xoNecole, Hannah was able to share that while the journey to motherhood can be tough, there is light at the end of whichever path you choose to take.
*This interview was conducted before Hannah gave birth to her son.
xoNecole: You and your husband have been very transparent about your journey to a successful pregnancy. What inspired the both of you to tell the story of your miscarriage and then your subsequent IVF journey?
Hannah Bronfman: For Brendan and I, after we miscarried, we spent 6-7 months trying to get pregnant through different ways. We tried naturally a few times, then we went to the next step called IUI. IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) is when they time your ovulation cycle and have your partner's sperm inserted in your uterus to be fertilized. When that did not take, we both decided that we should try IVF. It honestly was good timing for us as well because we weren't traveling for that month, so we were able to prioritize the process.
For those of us who are unfamiliar with IVF, can you break down what it looked like for you physically?
The IVF process definitely takes time. My IVF process was 11 days total. You have to go into the doctor's office every morning for monitoring and you have to take shots every day. I think it's important to note that everyone is different in how you react to the hormones that you are injecting.
For me, it was super mild. I did feel bloated after the first couple of days, but other than that I felt fine. I am someone who doesn't have crazy mood swings or feeling fatigued around the time I have my period. So since I am pretty even-keeled in general, I didn't have major reactions to the hormones. For others who may be more susceptible to symptoms of PMS, they have a higher chance to have bigger reactions to the hormones when doing IVF.
Pregnancy loss is difficult for any woman and is something that unfortunately a lot of us experience, as someone who is very tapped into their body and wellness, what were some practices that you gravitated towards as a means to heal after loss?
It's crazy how fragmented our society is around reproductive rights and health. Because the pregnancy journey is such a complicated thing. All we are told is that you don't want to get pregnant when you're a teenager, so you get on birth control. Then all these complications happen when you're an adult and you think to yourself I wanted to get pregnant years ago. So when it comes to healing after a miscarriage and dealing with the stress of trying to get pregnant month after month, a few things have helped me.
I have done meditation, acupuncture, and EMDR therapy tapping. The EMDR is when you tap yourself in certain areas while reciting positive narratives. When you do that, the nervous system starts to input the positive affirmations and output the negative ones. I think it's important to feel all of your feelings when grieving. It is so important to release instead of trying to hold it all together. It feels so good to cry and we should lean into that a little more as opposed to acting like we are super humans without emotions. Super-women should lean into embracing their emotions.
Did the process strengthen and/or test your marriage?
I honestly feel so blessed to have a partner who has been by my side every single day. I think everything that we have been through has brought us so much closer. I know it's hard for people who don't have a partner to take on the stress with you and it can be a struggle for relationships. Even for the partners who are really meant to be together and have the strongest of foundations, are tested.
"I think it's important to feel all of your feelings when grieving. It is so important to release instead of trying to hold it all together. It feels so good to cry and we should lean into that a little more as opposed to acting like we are super humans without emotions. Super-women should lean into embracing their emotions."
Courtesy of Hannah Bronfman
Photo Credit: Terence Connors
As a Black woman, why do you think that this type of visibility about IVF is important?
Well I think it's important to normalize IVF for all women, regardless of race or age. Some things I would hear would be, "Oh, you're so young, you'll be fine." But I think we are seeing more fertility complications with millennial women. As a woman of color, I want people to understand that yes, this can be an expensive option, but the one thing that I noticed when I would be in the waiting room was the diversity of women. I think sometimes we talk about these expensive healthcare means for women who are white, but at the end of the day, women of color have access as well. We definitely need to talk about it more, so I hope a story like mine gives people hope in knowing there are possibilities out there.
As a first-time mom during such unprecedented times, what has your self-care routine looked like since the pandemic?
I have been loving bath time while being pregnant. This baby really knows when I am in the water. It is so relaxing and so grounding. Having the moment away from social media and soaking up time just for myself is definitely a priority, while it still can be.
"I think we are seeing more fertility complications with millennial women. As a woman of color, I want people to understand that yes, this can be an expensive option, but the one thing that I noticed when I would be in the waiting room was the diversity of women... We definitely need to talk about it more, so I hope a story like mine gives people hope in knowing there are possibilities out there."
Courtesy of Hannah Bronfman
Photo Credit: Terence Connors
What are some things that you are learning about yourself during pregnancy?
I have learned that I'm a Type A person. I like to have control over a lot of different aspects of my life. I felt that way through the IVF process and I had a plan. But being pregnant during a pandemic has thrown all of that out the window. With that, I have been really embracing going with the flow. For the first time in my life, I am at a place where whatever happens, I am cool with the pivot.
How did you manage to balance your health with your career while pregnant during the pandemic?
Work life has never been crazier. It's all good things, so I feel lucky as a content creator. At the beginning of the year, some brands didn't know what to do or what was going to happen. The attention that black creators got, especially around the BLM movement, I feel we have benefited from that in a healthy and positive way. I actually ended up launching a product, which is a CBD bath bomb. This product is something that is helping people relax, decompress, and release stress. Let me tell you, we are also in an anxiety pandemic and so I know people really benefit from it. I was nervous about launching a product honestly during the pandemic, but the launch of the product couldn't have been more timely.
Courtesy of Hannah Bronfman
What is one main thing about the IVF process that a lot of women should know about?
To be transparent, this doesn't work for everyone. It's important to know that because you could go through it once and have to go through it again. I really do believe that if you put positive energy into what you're doing, you will have a better result than if you put your negativity into it. For example, I was talking to my girlfriend the other day and she is going through her first IVF cycle. When she first started, I told her I was so excited for her and she replied, "Excited is not the word." (Laughs)
I say "excited" because it's one step closer to the outcome that you want. When you think about it, it's two weeks of your life that, yeah kind of sucks, but for the best outcome you could ever imagine. I will admit that at first it was hard for me to accept that IVF was going to be a part of my journey. But once I accepted that this was my path, I gave it my all. It's key to stay positive.
For more of Hannah, follow her on Instagram. If you are interested in learning more about the right questions to ask when choosing your IVF plan, feel free to check out Hannah Bronfman's IG Live chat with Dr. Ghadir.
Featured image courtesy of Hannah Bronfman