This month, take some time to prioritize you. September is PCOS Awareness Month, a national event to support the millions of women in the United States who...
Loree Johnson knows the importance of emotional support and internal healing. After working in the mental health field for over 20 years, she’s experienced in helping others prioritize their emotional wellbeing. When she opened her private practice about 12 years ago, she began working primarily with women facing any fertility based struggles. Since then, she’s empowered women to become informed, confident, and encouraged in their fertility journeys.
According to Loree, the women she works with are extremely driven. “At the start of their career, nobody ever plans to have fertility issues. I think it’s a challenge a lot of us have been experiencing,” she said. Women work so hard to build their careers. It’s often when they achieve professional goals, find partners, and feel secure, that they’re ready to start a family. However, this doesn’t always go according to plan. Women understandably feel frustrated and distraught when they face unexpected obstacles in their fertility. When Lorre realized how emotionally exhausting this process was, she knew she wanted to focus her practice on infertility support. Loree has also struggled with infertility herself, so she knows first hand how debilitating these setbacks can be. “I’ve always focused on women’s health issues. That’s always been important to me. But as I started seeing more women struggling with infertility, at the same time that I started having my own obstacles in fertility, it really came together.” Both her personal experience and passion for women’s health lead Loree to realize she wanted to work with the fertility community. She now offers therapeutic coaching to women and couples struggling with infertility, providing them with a holistic and clinical approach to healing.
Loree’s obstacles in her fertility showed her how emotionally challenging infertility can be. “This process is emotionally exhausting. I wish that more doctors would say at the onset, ‘if you don’t have a support system in place, please get one’. That message is lacking,” she said. She works to fix this gap by providing what she calls “emotional consultations”, instead of just clinical ones. Many of her patients come to her a year or two into the trying to conceive process. While she’s happy that they’re seeking a support system, she believes this should happen earlier in the journey. “In the beginning, it’s hard to take stock of what you might need emotionally,” she believes. “I think there becomes a point where they realize that getting emotional help, therapeutically, can be helpful.” Loree strives to provide the emotional guidance which helps women and couples along their fertility journeys.
Loree’s personal experience with infertility inspired her to provide therapeutic support to women going through similar things. She got married later in her life, and started trying to conceive six months into her marriage. She did end up getting pregnant but this ended in a missed miscarraige. This was challenging for Loree, and it took a toll on her emotionally. “I took some time off to heal. I don’t think I really realized how much that first miscarriage really impacted me,” she said. “I have some trauma around that experience, because I really didn’t know what was happening to my body.” Loree took a break from trying to conceive in order to understand and heal from the experience. After fibroid removal surgery, Loree and her husband began trying again, and she once again became pregnant. This pregnancy had chromosomal complications, and Loree ultimately lost the child. She didn’t begin fertility treatments until after this loss. Her body didn’t respond to the full protocol, so they moved on to a longer and slower minimal stimulation protocol. She ended up getting pregnant again, but this ended in a chemical pregnancy. A few years later, she got pregnant naturally yet ended up miscarrying.
While Loree’s fertility journey has been riddled with loss, she’s remained strong by prioritizing her well being and allowing herself to grieve. “It’s been a weird process,” she said. “I’ve had three natural pregnancies, and one from IVF. I’ve had a whole host of messages saying, is it going to happen, is it not going to happen, on top of all my pregnancy losses. In addition to navigating where I’m at in my path to parenthood, this simultaneous process of managing this very intense grieving is overwhelming.” She took some time away from the fertility world in order to have space to heal. However, she finds strength in connecting with members of the fertility community. She strives to empower her patients with information, and help them realize they’re not alone. “If there’s any part of my story that can be encouraging, or provide comfort for somebody else, then it’s worth it. It’s a lonely journey, and I want to give back in whatever way I can,” Loree said.
When describing working with women facing infertility, Loree said, “There is a piece of it that is really healing. I’ve seen so many women welcome their rainbow babies, and it’s nice to know that I’ve shared a part of that by being part of their support system, and helping them get there.” She works both to emotionally support women, and to ensure that they understand what’s going on with their health and fertility. When women starting out in their fertility journeys feel panicked that their fertility is going down, Loree makes sure they understand all of their options. She doesn’t want to minimize any realities, but she works to make sure women know all of the possible paths to parenthood. “I always like women to be knowledgeable. I like them to be encouraged, and I like them to be empowered. Having information is important,” Loree said.
Loree’s own experience with infertility has made her passionate and empathetic towards the women she works with. “It’s brought a different energy to my practice. I feel so strongly about supporting other women,” she said. “Sometimes I even feel like I have to hold myself back a little bit, because I don’t want to be too overwhelming! It comes from a place of love and encouragement. I sometimes feel like no one can support women the way that we can support each other.” Loree believes that the fertility community needs to continue being there for one another. Infertility is full of uncertainty, doubt, and anxiety. Loree works to alleviate these feelings, and provide women with the support, information, and confidence they need to reach their goals.
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