“If I’m just adding a green smoothie and I feel this much better, how much is it going to improve if I keep incorporating more vegetables and fruit into my body every day?”
– Pam Chavez
It started with a single smoothie.
That’s how, in the depths of grief from multiple miscarriages, Army wife Pam Chavez began to turn around a two-year stretch of loss.
Doctors had said there was nothing Pam could do to change things. So far, all her tests looked normal.
After her third miscarriage, doctors mentioned that she could pursue further testing, however, her military insurance wouldn’t cover it until after a fourth miscarriage – a fate Pam desperately hoped to avoid.
“I went home from that appointment and spent a few days just being angry and mad,” Pam says. “I had to remove any ounce of guilt that it’s something I’m doing that’s causing this. I just wanted to free myself of those feelings.”
A Season of Loss
Ironically, Pam had spent years trying to prevent pregnancy. From age 18 to 31, she had taken oral birth control pills while in long-term relationships.
Then, in her early 30s, she and her husband were ready for a family. Fortunately, Pam got pregnant quickly.
However, the joy of planning and expecting an addition to their family evaporated overnight when she miscarried.
“As soon as you see a positive test, you have an instant bond with this child in there,” she says. “And then when that’s taken away from you, it’s so incredibly difficult.”
It was a feeling that, unfortunately, she endured two more times. The repeated sting made it hard to get excited about a positive pregnancy test.
“People kept telling me, ‘At least you can get pregnant.’ People are always trying to be helpful, but your instant reaction is, well, it doesn’t matter if I can’t stay that way,” she says.
Adding to the frustration, matching her ovulation with her husband’s work schedule was like aligning stars as he would leave and return from Army special operations missions.
A Search for Answers… Leads to Food
An enthusiastic researcher, Pam began exploring online for any insights she could find.
She soon learned just how common miscarriage is. About 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage.
Likely, that number is even higher, however, since many women may not report miscarriages. And many may occur too early for the woman to even realize she was pregnant.
Pam had personally learned firsthand just how common it is, after friends and family shared their own stories after learning of her loss.
In the search for information, Pam turned up a wealth of ideas from alternative or holistic health. She had grown up in a conventional medicine family, with a physician father, and thus had no experience with non-conventional approaches.
She came across some of the big names in the functional medicine and alternative health space, including Dr. Mark Hyman and Dr. Joseph Mercola.
A common theme emerged.
“It all kept coming back to food and something just kind of clicked,” she says. “I can absolutely control what I put in my body.”
Pam decided to first clean up her diet, beginning with eating only organic foods, and then progressing to organic and locally sourced options. Living in Washington state, she had easy access to bountiful produce.
For starters, she began blending a green smoothie each morning. For that, she invested in a Vitamix blender, which felt like a major indulgence at the time. But it proved well worth it.
“I started drinking one green smoothie a day to just get more veggies inside of me,” she says. “And by the end of a week, the dark clouds started to lift. I wasn’t feeling as foggy and exhausted. I had already had arthritis setting in my fingers and in my ankle. All of that started dissipating.”
“The light bulb went off,” she says. “If I’m just adding a green smoothie and I feel this much better, how much is it going to improve if I keep incorporating more vegetables and fruit into my body every day?”
Pam gradually added more produce to her plate, particularly leafy greens, and roasted and raw vegetables.
With a culinary degree, she had always been a foodie. Now, she just changed the way she cooked. Feeling the results made it easier to keep going.
“Over time I just kept feeling better and better and better,” she says.
Chinese Medicine for Fertility
Early in her research, Pam had come across an Eastern medicine book, The Infertility Cure: The Ancient Chinese Wellness Program for Getting Pregnant and Having Healthy Babies.
The information within led her to begin seeing a Chinese medicine practitioner for weekly acupuncture and a personalized mix of herbs to address her challenges.
She also developed a new-found mind-body awareness. If she could control her thoughts and feelings, then they wouldn’t affect her physically in the same way. Meditation proved instrumental in helping her tame her thoughts.
“I am such a type-A personality,” she says. “I have very much a creative brain. It’s always firing. I really had to retrain myself to not think that way. I swear meditation has really helped me to be able to quiet my mind.”
At bedtime, she’s now able to turn off the mental chatter and sleep restfully. “I totally attribute that to meditation because I’ve never been able to do that before,” she says.
3 Boys, No More Miscarriages
Within four to six months of implementing these new practices, Pam once again became pregnant. And again, she proceeded tentatively and nervously.
“I don’t think I ever really relaxed until probably the final trimester because that trauma’s just ingrained in you,” she says.
But she went on to deliver a healthy baby boy.
Because of their previous experience, Pam and her husband didn’t wait long to try again, knowing it might take a while or that a miscarriage could derail their plans. But she got pregnant the first month they tried, putting her first two boys 16 months apart.
After that, they waited a while. Three years later, she gave birth to a third son.
Following her organic diet and Eastern medicine practices, she never miscarried again.
Better than Ever and Paying it Forward
With three boys, ages six to 10, Pam runs a busy household – often solo as her husband travels.
Along the way, she went back to school to earn her certification as a holistic nutrition consultant, after years of self-taught practices. She then founded Health on the Homefront, where she’s dedicated to helping other military spouses lose weight and turn their health around with simple practical changes despite their stressful, unpredictable lifestyles.
When her family re-located to South Korea, she discovered the incredible farmers markets, and began taking fellow military spouses on tours of the markets to help them identify foods and learn how to cook with them.
Now in Kansas, Pam continues many of the practices that helped her become a mother and shed longstanding arthritis. These days, her diet has evolved to be mostly gluten-free, dairy-free and plant-based. And she continues meditation.
In her mid-40s, she’s never felt better.
“I feel better every year,” she says. “You think you’re feeling really amazing and then you discover something else or integrate a new habit and that takes it to the next level.”
- Pause after birth control – Following years of oral contraceptives, Pam later learned that it’s recommended to wait at least six months after stopping the pill before trying to get pregnant – to let the body regulate.
- Start small – Pam began with a simple green smoothie to get more nutrients in, and began feeling better the same week.
- Check out your farmers market – Look for markets to find organic, locally grown foods in your hometown.
What works for one person may not work for another. Consult your health practitioner for professional health advice.
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