Your Path to Pregnancy: Q&A with Arden Cartrette, Founder of the fertility blog Hello Warrior

 

Your Path to Pregnancy is an interview series highlighting conception stories from real couples, brought to you by Beli Vitality for men, a vegan-friendly men’s multivitamin formulated to optimize fertility and overall health. 

We spoke to Arden while she was at home with her newborn son about coping with pregnancy loss and taking control of her own fertility health.

Thank you for chatting with us, Arden! Congratulations on the birth of your son Cameron! What first led you to start a blog that chronicles your journey to parenthood?

I started Hello Warrior about six months into trying to conceive. During the first months that I kept seeing negative pregnancy tests, I was devastated. I remember crying in the bathroom at work after negative tests. I thought I was going to lose my mind without someone to talk to, somebody who was going through it too. I decided to make a blog about my experiences, and have stuck with it through infertility treatment, two miscarriages, and finally the birth of my son.

On a fertility journey, all the tips and tricks and product recommendations and scientific information on infertility can get overwhelming.

It’s really overwhelming! I started to journal my cycle online in hopes that the different strategies I tried could give insight to someone else. I did in depth reviews of products and strategies I tried. 

You don’t want to put something in your body that’s not going to be good for your body. I read It Starts with the Egg, a book that discusses environmental toxins and how they play a part in egg quality and your odds of getting pregnant. I switched to clean makeup and skincare, but I also wanted to do it on a budget. I started to look for clean supplements that were better for me.

That’s so important! There’s a lot of evidence that clean ingredients in the right quantities can support fertility health, for both men and women. We created Beli so that dads-to-be would have access to a simple, single multivitamin that would help their families achieve a healthy pregnancy. How did you find the right supplements for you?

It was a lot of trial and error! The online community is very loud about products that they love or dislike so I felt like those were reviews that I could go off of. You really want to take supplements and vitamins that benefit your entire bodynot just your reproductive system.

When did you decide to seek healthcare for infertility?

We were eleven months into trying to conceive when I made an appointment with the fertility doctor. We started with some testing on my hormones, and some preliminary genetic testing. All our tests came back normal. Our doctor suggested we start with letrozole and timed intercourse. But then, a month before we were set to do our first fertility cycle, my first pregnancy happened. 

To this day, I have no idea how I got pregnant. It was a miracle! But then, I went through a miscarriage. It was a really big blow. Whatever I was told about preparing for miscarriage, I couldn’t find a single thing on the internet that prepared me for what it was really like. 

The experience of miscarriage isn’t often openly discussed.

It’s true. Everything I read told me to expect a heavy period, but this was totally different. 

Hoping that my experience could help someone else, I decided to write about my miscarriage in extreme detail. I didn’t leave anything out. It’s really raw, and it can be scary. I put it on Hello Warrior in September of 2018. Since then, a lot of people have found that post when they’re looking for information on miscarriage. Even though it’s hard to read, people feel it helps prepare them for what to expect. 

It’s quite generous to share your most difficult moments in order to offer some solace and clarity to someone else.

I’m not really an open book kind of person, but I have become open about this. I remember feeling kind of embarrassed that my husband and I were trying to conceive, and having trouble, and that we were going to a fertility clinic. I thought, If anybody were to find out, I would be so mortified. But then I thought, Why do I feel like this? Wanting to be a mom is not a terrible thing! I decided to stop hiding and help other people come forward.

After the first miscarriage we jumped into the letrozole treatment and got pregnant again. We felt really fortunate that the treatment had resulted in a pregnancy, but it ended in a miscarriage also. Since we had a second miscarriage, we were able to do other testing that looked more deeply into our genes. They still didn’t find anything wrong. After another letrozole cycle, we got pregnant with Cameron, who is our rainbow baby! 

How did you feel when you were pregnant with Cameron after experiencing loss?

Pregnancy after loss can be difficult. I was able to do a lot of ultrasounds in the beginning to manage the anxiety from week to week. It’s so scary. Once you’ve been through loss, you’ve already been through the worst, so you think it will happen again.

I think writing and sharing those hard moments helped me cope. I tell myself: You have no choice but to get through this. You can be afraid of it all day, but you’re going to get through one way and or another.

 With this pregnancy with Cameron, I told myself I didn’t want to be afraid every day. With my first two pregnancies, I didn’t take any bump photos or get any printouts of ultrasounds. I had nothing to remember the pregnancies by. With Cameron, I took pictures and tried to enjoy each day as best I could. This is the only time I would be pregnant with this baby. I wanted to make it count.

 My journey struggling with an infertility diagnosis, and going through two losses, has already impacted the way that I deal with the harder moments of parenting a newborn. Whenever I feel overwhelmed or anything like that, I just feel so thankful for him that I don’t feel like it affects me as negatively as I would have expected it to. Now I just feel a love like I never would have imagined.