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53: How Self Care Helped Me Face My Struggles with Strength (Jen Riday, part 1)

In part 1 of a 2-part series, I share a painful event from my past involving a miscarriage and the marriage struggles that intensified as a result.

And, for fun, here's my bio: (Every other guest has one, so I want to fit in with the “cool kids.”) Jen is a 42-year-old mom of six and Women's Happiness Expert who lives just outside of Madison, Wisconsin with her family. Jen was raised on a farm with the values of hard work and honesty, and today Jen's priorities are spirituality, family, health and helping women find happiness (in that order). In her free time Jen enjoys yoga, meditation, time in nature, and curling up with a great book.

“If there's anything I've learned through my podcasts, through my business helping women, is that we all struggle. Some of us face those struggles more easily than others.”

Here's my low point:

“I earned my PhD in Human Development and Family Studies many years ago when my first two children were born, and then I became a stay-at-home mom. We moved to Madison, WI, where my husband got a job and I really loved it. I had learned all that research in Human Development and Family Studies and I wanted to apply it. I wanted to be the best mom ever. I spent a lot of time playing, and reading books, I tried to make amazing meals, I went to play group, I had my kids involved in things, I hosted elaborate birthday parties…

“I remember one birthday party. I had a newborn just week old. I had this little baby and I hosted a birthday party at my house. My husband was even out of town. It was massively stressful. I don't know why I did these kind of things to myself. There were tons of kids, tons of moms there at this party, and I had a newborn in the baby bjorn on the front of me, and I was barely hanging on. I was so tired. I did all those things. I even baked bread. Loaves and loaves of homemade bread because I was going to be that perfect mom.

“After I had five kids I suffered a miscarriage. It wasn't my first miscarriage, but it was my worst. It was Christmas time and I never seemed to stop bleeding.

“On Christmas day we were visiting my parents. All our kids were with us, and I woke my spouse up and said, ‘I think we have to go to the hospital. I'm really, really dizzy and I almost feel like blacking out.' I'd lost so much blood. We packed up baby Jane, who was one at the time, we left the other four kids with my parents, and we drove to the hospital.

“When I'm stressed out, I get a little bit bossy, and I said to my spouse, ‘You need to change Jane before we go. She's sopping wet, she hasn't been changed yet for the day,' and he completely refused. Of course in interpreted this as, what the heck? He doesn't love me at all? Why would he want me to do it? I can barely stand up! But he was like, ‘Forget the diaper, we gotta get to the hospital.' He was in safety mode.

“Of course the whole thing escalated to a massive fight the whole way to the hospital. I continued to engage in my side of the story with victim thinking, ‘Why are we fighting? I'm about to pass out and I'm having this miscarriage. Why is he being so mean to me?' and of course, he thought I was being critical… you know how these things go.

“An hour later we arrived at the hospital. We parked the van and Jane was asleep in the back of the car. My husband stayed in the car with her, which was fine with me because I was so upset with him. I walked into the ER and said, I need to see a doctor. I'm having a miscarriage. So they got me in, I went into a waiting room all alone, and the doctor finally came in and just looked at me, and I know what she was thinking. That I was high on some drug, and where was the person that accompanied me to the hospital?

“I told her, ‘I'm having a miscarriage. I'm rh negative and need a rhogam shot. I probably need an IV, I feel really dizzy.' She stared at me, then said, ‘Well, I need to confirm that you're pregnant.' We did the blood draw, which didn't go well because my veins were already really small and I was dehydrated. It-took-for-ever. I finally get the IV, and she comes back and says, ‘It turns out you are pregnant.' Then I remind her, ‘I'm rh negative.' So, another blood draw. By this time, it's five hours after I've woken up, and finally we are on our way. My husband and Jane even came in at the end wondering what was taking me so long.

“We drove back to my parents in relative silence. I was no longer angry, but I felt really hurt. The whole experience was awful. We had had this giant fight, I was in the emergency room alone, the doctor completely disrespected me. (By the way, later she must have felt really bad about it because she didn't even charge me.)

“We went back and celebrated Christmas, and I had to deal with all the sympathy of all my relatives. It was seriously just a nightmare day for me in every way.

“After that point and for the next few weeks I was emotionally traumatized and I was upset with my husband. Even though we weren't fighting verbally, I had so much resentment for him. ‘How could he treat me so badly on the day I had a miscarriage?' Frankly, I thought about divorce. I could only see the bad about him.

“My husband is very left brain. He's a scientist, and I'm very right brained. I'm emotional, and we've often had conflict because of how different we are. In fact, we once saw a therapist, and she said, ‘I have never, in twenty-five years of counseling, counseled a couple as different as each of you are. I'm not sure I can help you.' We were fired from marriage therapy…

“So, how did I deal with all this?

“I had the emotions of not really liking my husband at the time, I was exhausted as a mom, and so, so tired, and I had to figure out a new strategy, because I was tired (sick and tired in fact) of not being happy, of not feeling like my spouse was good enough, of not feeling that I was good enough. That winter, I began my journey of self care and I'm going to share all the steps of that with you.”

Nuggets of Wisdom from Jen:

After I clawed myself out of the emotional pit that resulted from events on the most horrible day of my life (so far), I learned several things that helped me let go of the guilt I used to feel when I took time for myself:

  1. Remember, I'm loved and I'm worthy.
  2. I'm 100% in charge of my life and happiness.
  3. The greatest gift I can give my loved ones is my own happiness.
  4. I'm happiest when I take care of myself first (and others second).
  5. The Wheel of Happiness is the perfect guide for my use of time so that I take care of ALL aspects of myself.

A Challenge from Jen:

Grab the Self Care Toolkit and learn the 5 things that will help you get rid of guilt… sweet!

Then… email me at and share 1) one thing you struggle with and 2) 1 thing from the Wheel of Happiness you're going to focus on to help you take better care of yourself so you can face your struggles with strength. You can ask to remain anonymous, or, at the other extreme you can volunteer to jump on a Skype audio call so I can record your voice for Part 2 of this episode, airing next week!


self care

The 8 components of the Wheel of Happiness: Body, Mind, Emotion, Spirit, Contribution, Relationships, Outdoors, Resources.

Listen to Part 2 to get the rest of the story next week.

Louise Hay

Self Care Toolkit

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About jen

Jen Riday is a mom of 6 and life coach who loves to help women experience massive happiness as they let go of stress, sadness or other chronic emotions of negativity.

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