Hannah Bronfman, DJ + Wellness Guru, On speaking out about IVF.

By Colleen Crivello

Brilliant and soulful, Hannah’s a breath of fresh air. This multifaceted entrepreneur, who currently also lists author and founder on her resume, has a little one on the way. Resolved to empower other women through her story, Hannah’s vocalism on IVF has proven to be a beacon of hope for her community.

Rounding out her third trimester, Hannah shares her three-year-journey to becoming a mama, growing up in a blended family, raising kids rooted in their own identity, and learning to slow down. 

Plus, the skinny on her pregnancy wellness routine (take notes, ladies!) and morning ritual of coffee with Rainbo mushrooms, naturally.

Pregnancy feels?

During my first trimester, I had a solid three weeks of nausea, was beyond exhausted, and took ALL the naps, ALL…OF… THEM. But once I hit my second trimester, its been pretty mellow. 

Path to motherhood?

We had difficulty conceiving—all in it took us three years, including a miscarriage and several failed IUIs before doing IVF and getting pregnant. While it felt like a lifetime for us, we were fortunate in the grand scheme of things, especially when it comes to the world of IVF. I often hear from women going through their seventh cycle or sixth transfer with no end in sight. The toll that takes on a woman hormonally, emotionally, and physically is beyond intense. I know for me, my entire outlook on my body, relationship, life, and gratitude shifted after struggling with something that comes naturally to so many women. I can only hope that sharing what I went through can help others feel less alone in their journey.

What did it feel like to start the IVF process?

I remember my first round of at-home shots for IVF so clearly. Brendan has a tremor in his hand called a familial tremor, so there was no chance I would let him near me with needles. I had to muster up the courage to do it on my own and was so nervous. But I did it! After the first one, the fear subsided, and it was game on. My competitive spirit kicked in and I felt empowered do it on my own. Brendan was my cheerleader every step of the way.

How did you feel after the shots and transfer?

Following the transfer, I had to give myself progesterone shots for the first 12 weeks to maintain the pregnancy. Mentally, I loved these shots because they gave me a sense of security that I otherwise lacked. After experiencing such a loss and knowing that my body struggles to do what it’s commonly supposed to do, giving myself a medicated dose to support the baby’s development and pregnancy was reassuring and kept me at ease. Having to go off of those shots was my first source of anxiety, not the pandemic. It took a lot for me to trust my body.

Did you feel supported in the process?

I thank my lucky stars every day to have such a supportive, loving, and calm husband. Having him by my side, through this process, was priceless. I don’t know what I would have done had our partnership not been solid and compassionate; he is my source of strength and inspiration.

How did you learn to trust your body?

Leading up to my transfer, I worked with Liza Roeckl, an all-around fantastic human. She uses ancient abdominal massage techniques and Reiki to harmonize the organs and body. Her methods release lingering emotions that no longer serve in preparation for pregnancy and childbirth. In my case, this meant clearing residual fears related to my miscarriage. Even though it happened a year prior, and I had done a lot of independent internal work, she resolved any remaining emotions. Fortunately, I was able to work with her in-person a handful of times before my transfer. After we went into lockdown, I continued to work with her remotely every week. It’s fascinating how much we have been able to do from a distance.

How do you do energy work remotely?

Every session begins with a conversation about how I’m feeling emotionally. Then, we hang up, and I lay down to meditate while she does her magic virtually. After the session, she calls me to discuss what came up for her during my meditation. It’s mind-blowing! I can hardly believe what she pick-ups or how she could possibly know certain things… she’s just one of those magical people.

Thoughts on alternative medicine practices?

I grew up a believer in holistic modalities and very much the type of person to seek this stuff out. Not being able to do specific treatments like acupuncture throughout my pregnancy has been disappointing—it’s usually a big part of my life. When I had my transfer in February, I went for acupuncture the night before and two hours after the transfer. Nonetheless, I’m making the most of it and digitally leaning into alternatives as much as possible.

What was it like finding out you were pregnant at the start of Covid-19, after so much uncertainty?

It was chaotic, joyful, and confusing with so many unknowns and so much change. Our transfer was on February 26th, and I found out I was pregnant on March 5th. The following week on March 11th, I took my mom to a Broadway show to tell her I was pregnant—so grateful to have been able to do this in-person. The next day, Brendan told me we were leaving the city and going out to our house in Long Island indefinitely, where we stayed until July 4th.

As strange as the timing was, I’m thankful we could do our transfer because so many IVF cycles got postponed as soon as the pandemic hit. I can only imagine how hard it was for couples who had to stop without knowing when they would continue.

A silver lining of quarantine?

Before the pandemic, my lifestyle was intense. Being on a plane four times a week is less than ideal for pregnancy. Due to quarantine, Brendan and I have been together for over 200 days straight, which would not have been otherwise. In an unexpected, kismet way, I’m grateful to have had this time with Brendan every night, at home, in our bed. After three years of trying to have a baby, nesting as a couple has been an enormous gift and a massive silver lining.

Why speak up?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned by opening up about IVF is how impactful sharing my story has been to my community. The more we all share, the more familiar the conversation becomes. We must continue to expose the raw and real moments to normalize the conversation.

Of course, IVF is one of many topics that I’m interested in shedding light on as I continue to learn. Over the last few months, I have been shocked by the statistics regarding BIPOC communities being the largest to use formula and are targeted explicitly by formula companies. I also learned that many women lack the right amount of Omega-3s. I recently spoke to the founder of NEEDED, a pre and postnatal nutrition company on a mission to provide moms with the right amount of Omega-3. They explained that a lack of Omega-3 could cause preterm labor or lesser quality breastmilk. While there are many factors at play here, I’m motivated to bring awareness where and when I can.

Pregnancy experience through Covid-19?

Other than the lack of human interaction, it’s been pretty great. I’m very much an in-person-person and love being part of a community. At the start of my pregnancy, I was excited to meet a group of mamas through birthing classes and workouts. Unfortunately (as we all know), that went out the window, so I, like everyone, had to adapt. I found a phenomenal virtual birthing class with Patti Quintero, doula, and Uma Mother founder. Her 6-week course turned out to be an incredible experience and a strong support. The range was a fascinating mix of 16 moms, both new and second-time at different stages of their pregnancy, Considering we’re all missing in-person interactions, this created a sense of community for me.

Cravings, much?

To my surprise, I’ve had no weird cravings! I have to say I was a little bummed after hearing all the stories. For as long as I can remember, my mom had talked about these specific olives she had to have from the Four Seasons restaurant when she was pregnant, but nope, not me. Now, don’t get me wrong, I certainly wanted more carb centric foods during the first trimester, including a fair amount of pasta and pizza, but nothing crazy. After hitting 13 weeks, my diet shifted back to my pre-pregnancy habits of mainly fresh fruits, veggies, avocados, and lean proteins.

Now that I’m in my 3rd trimester, my appetite has dwindled, and I’m not snacking (which is strange as I’m usually a big snacker). Instead, I find myself having delicious meals that keep me full until the next meal, plus I’m drinking so much water! Very randomly, I’ve suddenly become a coffee drinker when I never was before (perhaps that is my craving!). I have one every morning with Rainbo 11:11 super-mushroom extract mixed in.

Birth plan and post-birth plan? 

Recently, I joked to my husband that, ‘I kill it at the main event. I’m trained to show up, perform, and do a great job!’ So, while everyone seems focused on the labor (the main event), I feel I’ve got that in the bag and am more interested in postpartum and healing. While I certainly have my preferences for how I’d like it all to go down, I know there are no guarantees, and I’m prepared to go with the flow.

When I say that I’m not concerned about labor, I recognize I’m saying this from a place of privilege, especially as a Black woman. The overwhelming death rate of women of color during childbirth is very real and disheartening. While I can’t let these stories seep into my psyche, I am using my platform to highlight the horrifying situation Black mothers face.

Plans for your 4th trimester and maternity leave?

Nutrition-wise I plan to focus on warm, nutrient-rich foods that are whole and nourishing—lots of bone broth. As for maternity leave, I have no idea.

As an entrepreneur and content creator in the lifestyle space, many incoming opportunities revolve around storytelling this particular time. Seeing as I’m in the business of oversharing, I’m sure there will be moments I want to throw myself into work and create meaningful content for my audience. Equally, there will be times I want to be present with my little family free of deadlines and partnerships. I don’t entirely know how it all looks, but I’m sure it will reveal itself quite naturally to me.

Importance of community?

Having a superstar support system is essential. Mine looks like a mix between dear friends and family, wellness practitioners, and my social community.

With my first pregnancy, we held off telling anyone that we were pregnant for weeks (because that’s what you’re “told” to do), including our closest friends and family. When we lost the baby, it was tough as most people we wanted to share our loss with didn’t even know we were pregnant! We ended up having to tell them we were pregnant and lost the baby in the same breath. It was a lot. This time around, we shared the pregnancy with our nearest and dearest almost immediately. Having that sense of support from the onset made a world of difference.

Plus, I have a phenomenal community of trusted wellness professionals and mentors that I tap into regularly. This includes my fertility acupuncturist, Aimee Raupp who’s a wealth of knowledge and has powerful meditations, plus my colon therapist, Tracy Piper, and Liza, whom I previously mentioned.

As for my social community, when I finally shared my pregnancy news, I was blown away by the love we received. I didn’t show for the first six months, and while everyone told me it would take a while, I was anxious… after all, I had been waiting for this bump for three years! The week before I announced on social, it finally appeared! Since then, it has been such a love fest; everyone has been incredibly supportive and showered me with positivity.

Plans to have more kids?

I come from a blended family with a total of seven kids. I’m the baby of the first litter and then became the middle child with the second litter. I have two older siblings from my mom and dad, and four younger from my dad and stepmom. I always loved being from a big family. Brendan, on the other hand, has one sister and loves his little tribe of four. Ideally I’d like a bunch of siblings in the mix, but we’re going to take it one at a time.

Raising mixed and conscious children?

From a young age, my mom taught me that my combination is what makes me special and unique. Plus, I’m Jewish, and she always explained that while I may look different from most of the other kids at Hebrew school, I come from a strong line of Jewish people. Because of her, I’ve always embraced every aspect of who I am. Our society puts so much pressure on skin color. The truth is, I have no idea what our baby is going to look like in terms of how much or how little melatonin she or he will have—this is the least of my concerns. Instead, I’m focused on raising kids fully-rooted in their identity and heritage, which was essential for me growing up. After all, it’s not about what you look like, but rather where you come from.

My husband is Canadian and raised in a loving family. They’re very spiritual people that treat others with kindness—positivity is their religion. We plan to raise our kids spirituality with a mix of Jewish traditions. As for anti-racism and hyper-awareness, these teachings come naturally to me because I’m Black and I feel prepared on that front.

As for my husband, he’s learned and unlearned so much over the last decade since we’ve been together and even more this past six months of social reckoning. He’s excited to be on this path and finds a lot of empowerment in the way that he is learning and unlearning.

Hope for the future?

I hope our kids can grow up in a more compassionate and sustainable world with less hate and violence. I want our kids to socialize, go to school, travel, be part of and give back to the community—while basic these things seem kind of out of reach right now.

Pregnancy were a song?

Definitely ‘Treat You Better’, by Rufus du Sol.

Advice?

Be super gentle with yourself right now, with an extra layer of love. As hard as this moment is, we have to adapt, be compassionate, meditate, support one another and lean on our community like never before.