As a specialist in pre and postnatal exercise, my focus lies in supporting women through their unique fitness journey during and after pregnancy. I have witnessed the incredible impact that staying active and maintaining a balanced diet can have on both the physical and mental well-being of women during this transformative phase of life.
So when I was asked the other day , how I met my good friend Kirsty, it brought back her powerful story, that led to our amazing bond but more importantly helped bring our incredible Darcey into this world.
The rest of this blog is written by Kirsty, during and after her pregnancy , please take the time to read:
So why did I write this? I am no expert or trained specialist on pregnancy, miscarriage or anything medical, this is solely based on my personal experience. I feel if this blog can help just one person, give just one person hope in a time that can feel so lonely and helpless, then that’s enough for me. Miscarriage is such a taboo subject. No one talks about it. But when you do, it uncovers many people who’ve been through the same.
So this is my story………
Miracles can happen
“High Natural Killer cells,” they said. “That’s the cause of four of the six miscarriages,” they said.
I had attacked my own baby with my own body! I thought pregnancy was supposed to be the most natural thing ever… not for me it seems. In short – an overactive immune system meant my body was seeing the pregnancy as alien and would attack it. This would result in miscarriage. Add to that another blood condition – apparently I have thick blood that didn’t flow to the placenta. I had some decisions to make. Having already had an easy pregnancy with my son – who was six at the time – this was hard to understand!
It had been a long three years of challenges, hospital appointments, operations and loss. The heart breaking moment of getting to 12 weeks, on three different occasions, at the scan, to be told, “I’m sorry, your pregnancy hasn’t progressed.” I didn’t even know a missed miscarriage was a ‘thing’ – no symptoms or warning signs. On the conveyor belt of those that didn’t work out. One of the pregnancies had an added complication of being a partial molar pregnancy – which results in needing extensive follow up tests and monitoring – not just for that pregnancy, but for any successful or unsuccessful pregnancies forever more. The waiting and recovery felt like a lifetime. The operations became almost normal.
So, what now?
Take control of the situation. That’s what I needed to do. Feeling so out of control has to be the worst. In January 2014, I really didn’t know where to turn next, a close friend had been through the same so suggested I start planning and make some changes to my lifestyle to take some control back. A project if you like. And so it began.
Diet and exercise.
Diet first… And, not just any diet… a detox! For 28 days. Anyone that knows me would know how big a deal this is. Many laughed or secretly thought, “Yeah right!!!” I was Little Miss ‘Eat five packets of crisps in a row’. Little Miss ‘Do really well during the day then reward myself with a bumper pack of Cadburys Buttons’. Due to the number of pregnancies I’d had, my weight had crept up, I was comfort eating. I was miserable. I was unhealthy. It had to be all or nothing. So I started… no meat, fish, dairy, wheat, alcohol (obviously!) or caffeine – and I succeeded. 28 days and I felt amazing. More energy, clear skin and the weight loss – which was an added bonus. So then it was on to the exercise.
Having had a fear of even stepping foot inside a gym, let alone going regularly, this was a really big deal for me! So I roped in my mate (safety in numbers and all that) and off we went searching for the right class. We tried a few. They were ok, but we weren’t blown away. We were looking for a class that would keep us hooked, have us smiling, and get us fit. We went to our local leisure centre and came across Zumba, and shortly after, Insanity (not the smiling bit!). The classes we liked particularly, were with Mickey Wells.
Never in a million years did I think I would become a regular at the gym! But one class a week shortly turned into two, three. And the results started to show…
So what was it about Mickey’s classes? The atmosphere, the music, the routines, the speed in which an hour flew by. Not clock watching, and getting absorbed – being made to feel you could do it – encouraged.
Over the next couple of months I chucked myself into exercising, continued to eat well and reaped the rewards of all the hard work. I felt so much better.
More rewards than expected – when, three months after I started, I found out I was pregnant. My previous pregnancy had included some medication that hadn’t worked – so embarking on another pregnancy with the same medication was scary – but you do everything you can.
At five weeks pregnant I was fully expecting to be told I couldn’t carry on with my exercises – in particular the Insanity class. This frightened the hell out of me! I know what it’s like with pregnancy, there’s an expectation to sit with your feet up, to take it easy. Especially when you have a history of recurrent miscarriage, but thankfully exercise is now encouraged through pregnancy.
The Insanity classes are the toughest on the timetable – 50 minutes of high intensity, max interval training, using your own body weight for resistance. It was this class in particular I was bracing myself to be told I had to stop! But – the response from Mickey… “You can carry on, I’ll look after you, let’s take it easy to make sure you feel safe.” And that, is exactly what happened. Each week went by, another scan, more medication, another drip, more steroids – I’d give the reassuring nod as I walked into class to signal all was still OK, stand at the front so that I could be sure I was doing the right moves, in a safe way. I’d also check in with my consultant each time I went to update him on my exercise routine to ensure he was happy with what I was doing. Each day, each week, I was expecting things to stop progressing. Mickey was discreet, which I valued hugely. Not making me feel like a special case, but striking the balance with making me feel looked after and comfortable. The classes quickly became my safe place. An hour when I didn’t have to think about anything other than the workout was total heaven.
It wasn’t just mentally that this helped, 12 weeks passed! 20 weeks passed! The medication continued! It turns out the doctors were sure the exercise was counteracting some of the side effects of the medication like excessive weight gain and the danger of gestational diabetes. I was able to continue under close supervision and with the go ahead from my consultant. Then I found out that the high natural killer cells were leveling out and that the exercise could be supporting the medication and playing a part in this. I also didn’t feel tired and had more energy than I thought possible in early pregnancy.
I was soon encouraged to attend a pregnancy conditioning class. This was a huge step for me – but a healthy one. What a great concept for any mum to be – a chance to talk about how things are going, an opportunity to ask questions and to hear tips and information about pregnancy, diet, labour and birth along with being able to exercise and build strength. Everyone new coming into the class is always made to feel at ease regardless of fitness level. Time is spent on lunges, arms, with time on the yoga ball, exercises designed to help you feel more comfortable during pregnancy and build strength in preparation for labour, birth and beyond. This class is a great way to meet others and share experiences.
At the time of writing this, I’m 31 weeks now. And so far so good! Although I still want to say it’s early days, but it isn’t, is it!?
I have 9 weeks left and I’m still exercising, still doing Zumba… but most of all, still doing Insanity. Much to a lot of peoples surprise that is, but I feel great! I really didn’t think I’d still be able to continue the way I have, especially with Insanity – but Mickey has adapted moves, given advice and looked after me all the way through and as my shape changed so did the workout. This has meant I can continue going to classes. A tailored workout with safe pregnancy moves has kept me feeling at my best. I feel better than I did with my first pregnancy, and I cant recommend this enough.
For me personally, I really believe this has been the difference with this pregnancy being successful. Exercise is helping to naturally level my blood, support the medication and suppress any side effects. With the added bonus of staying in shape. For any Mum to be, I know research tells us exercising can be beneficial for labour, birth and for recovery – but this has taken being pregnant to a whole different level and has done so much more than just the norm.
I’m looking forward to getting back into exercising after having the baby and attending the Baby Boogie class to introduce little’un to Zumba, although at this rate she’ll know all the moves and music and come out dancing!
Darcey is now three months old. I pinch myself on a daily basis. I can’t believe she’s here. She was born two weeks early in a speedy hour and a half! The labour and recovery were straight forward and I feel great. I continued with Insanity and Zumba right up until I had her, and was in Zumba two days before she arrived.
Darcey has now been introduced to Baby Boogie and Tone. She loves it, the music, the other babies and looking at herself in the mirror whilst I get to exercise. Being able to take her along with me is a real joy, especially when I didn’t think we’d even get to our first .
Update 29th May 2019
Darcey is now 4, still dancing and still singing —- and still interested in home workouts with me!
Update August 2023 and written by me, Mickey Wells
Darcey is now 8 years old and I am so proud to be part of the reason she is here.
She is an incredibly strong ,funny, energetic, sassy and very very kind young lady .
She has competed in marathons, sports days and cross country events and just recently completed her first team triathlon! This lady is one force not to be reckoned with and that is why I love her so much.
From the time she was conceived , she was fighting and showed her strength against all odds and fought through all that was trying to get her and I am so very very proud to call her our MWAH mascot because she is, she represents everything our community stands for:
Strong, independent,caring ,and kind but with a splash of sass!
Thank you Kirsty and Darcey for sharing your story x
JUST REMEMBER MIRACLES DO HAPPEN, SO NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS!