Nicole Hellenbrand, host of Working Girls Don't Gatekeep Podcast, joined Garrett to discuss her conception journey. She goes into the physical healing journey that led to her awakening, and the mental and emotional aspects of trying to conceive. The journey has been frustrating, enlightening, and empowering—and the discussion between Garrett and Nicole will leave you feeling less alone if you, too, are on this fertility journey.


Q: What sparked or began your healing journey?

A: It was physical. I had chronic eczema that was caused—and worsened—by topical steroids. They call it topical steroid withdrawal. It becomes even worse than eczema and covers your entire body—so much so that you can’t wear clothes, you can’t be touched, you have peeling, and it’s really embarrassing. I didn’t want to be seen for a long period of time. My step-mom is a holistic nutritionist, so I was luckily exposed to a lot of different things physically to heal—but that only took it so far.

Then, I started going to some alternative medicine minds and energetic and spiritual people. I started reading the Emotion Code book—loved that—and that really helped heal my eczema. I worked with a homeopathy therapist. So, I really connected with my emotions and that helped with my physical symptoms—and then getting off the steroids for eczema.

I dove deep. I did medical medium. I did Robert Morris. I went all in. I was so restrictive on what I was eating, and still wasn’t seeing results. I thought I might be the healthiest person there ever was. With a huge bill of health, I was able to heal on my own through food, herbs, and wellness.

So, I had this preconceived notion that when I wanted to get pregnant, it would be so easy for me because, look at me, I had done all this detox and I was the healthiest person in the world so I should be able to get pregnant really easily. I got off of birth control four years ago. But, here we are, nine months later and I still have not gotten pregnant.

Q: Did you ever look into what the eczema was trying to tell you?

A: I love Louise Hay and her book Heal Your Body. You can find a spiritual resonance for any ailment. My shoulder hurts. Well, that means you’re not able to move forward or you’re carrying too much burden.

I was very involved in Chinese medicine as well, where each organ holds a different emotion. Eczema comes from the liver and the kidneys, which is anger and fear. The first time I heard anger, I thought “Who? Me?” I am not an angry person. There is no way.

But, I was able to dive deeper into that, and what I have associated my eczema with as a whole—because I think there are a lot of things and it is generational—is that physically I am shedding skin—that was a barrier, a protection, a blanket wrapped around me. So, when I took off that blanket, it was in the form of moving to Florida—moving away from my pack of my family—and it came out in a very physical eczema. Also, wanting to be seen in a way, because it was very much so in my eyes, my eyelids, and under eyes.

I had to be really raw and vulnerable and really see a new layer of myself. Kind of like a snake— how it eerily sheds a whole layer of its skin. I was shedding an entire version of me.

Q: How did you move through this while in a relationship?

A: Who I was when I got married—and the five years before we got married—is different from who I am today. I used to resent my husband because of all the healing I had to do. Like, dude, you eat cheeseburgers and your body is totally fine. In fact, you still have a six pack. And I had to eat literally like a bunny. So, physical.

But also, the emotional. I was going through this homeopathy work to improve myself, and you haven’t done anything. How can I not resent you?

And, I’ve heard those stories of how that is phase one and it’s okay to get divorced and leave because you will find someone who matches you. My husband and I are doing great, and I think it’s because the energy I have is so firm. There was a lot of turbulence in it, but now I know who I am and that means new boundaries—and, in the middle of that, that was really hard. But now, he has kind of raised up to that luckily. So, I think our vibrations just as a couple have raised.

Sometimes, a partner can ask why you can’t just go to a normal doctor. Like, who are the crazy Chinese medicine people and alternatives? Luckily, for me, my husband just kind of stayed out of it. I appreciated that because it allowed me space to try these things, which are expensive. Like, let’s not ignore that. Insurance is not taken at most of these places. It is some trial and error.

Q: Did you always want to be a mom?

A: I’ve always wanted to be a mom. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to be a mom. That is actually something that is helping me through this trying to conceive journey, because I know that the end goal is to become a mom and I know that I will have kids. How long it takes for me is rough and rocky, but the end goal remains strong. So, I think I’m lucky in that way. I couldn’t imagine going through this and not knowing that that’s actually what I want.

Q: What was your mindset prior to conceiving? Did you have any expectations of fertility when you first started?

A: I mentioned that I went through all this healing and it was going to be so easy because I am the most healthy person. Like, there are literal crack addicts who have kids. They don’t have a house to live in. I have a steady job. My husband has a steady job.

But I also had 28 years of my life saying, “Don’t have sex. Be a good girl. Because if you have sex, you’re going to get pregnant, and you will die.” Now, I had to change all of that and have these discussions.

At the same time, I was never informed of a 28 day cycle and what that meant. Because I was on birth control for so long, 28 days was just 28 pills. It was not a cycle of how you’re going to ovulate for a few days and that’s the optimal time. Or, how long sperm lives or how long an egg lives. I didn’t know any of this until after I started trying.

So, I think I just had a lot to learn. Maybe we can rule out a few months of my trying because I just had to learn. But I did think that it would come easy. I don’t have a family history. My mom and my dad had me really easily, so why would I think there would be anything different?

Q: How did you know you were ready?

A: I always had in my mind that I wanted to have a baby in the summer. My birthday is in July. I’m from Minnesota. So, I had these vivid memories that the birthday parties I went to in January were boring as a kid, but my birthday party in July was always fun because we were at a pool or we were outside. So, I wanted to provide that for my kids.

So that means I needed to get pregnant in September, October, or November. Easy. So then, nine months later, I can have a summer baby. So, that’s when we initially started trying—last September.

Then, I was like, I’m never going to have a December Christmas baby. Absolutely not.

I went to two spirit baby readings because I read this baby called Spirit Babies. The first one was kind of a sketchy Etsy one—spend twenty dollars and I’ll give you a reading. She said I would get pregnant around the Spring and have a baby in December and I said no, I’m not. Not me. I can guarantee I am never having a Christmas baby.

But since that was a sketchy Etsy reading, I figured I should actually invest some money in one. So, I went to someone named Emma Moon who was kind of expensive, but really good. We did a guided one-hour meditation, and she said the same thing. But she wasn’t sure if it meant December conception or December birth.

So, December came and went and I didn’t get pregnant. So, I said, okay, that means in March I’m going to get pregnant so that I have that December Christmas baby. Didn’t happen. So then, I was just angry and confused.

But, that’s what has really been helping me. It’s that my daughter—when I picture my baby, the first one is a girl—is not ready. There are certain lessons that I need to learn and that need to happen in the world in order for her to come in this divine, perfect timing for her.

But, how did I know that I was ready? I think it was just because my husband and I had been married for four years. We have steady jobs. This is what we want.

I also had a hard time because I knew I was not ready like two years ago. All of my good girlfriends all got pregnant at the same time in the fall, and I was so excited for them and not sad. So, I was like, I don’t think I’m ready or I would be really sad if I was.

And that comes out to be true a few months later when I started seeing more people, I felt sad and wished I could have that too and just get pregnant magically or accidentally. I mean, some of my friends get pregnant accidentally.

So, I think logistically I knew I was ready, and also it was always on my mind and my heart. When I finally crossed that bridge, it was just on my heart and I was longing for a baby.

Q: We’re not taught in our society to surrender. We’re taught to plan and strategize and organize, and you really can’t do that in fertility. Talk to us about that.

A: The surrender piece is so big, and it’s almost a preview to motherhood in general and a lesson that you learn before you even get there. So, I’m thankful for that—as much as it’s not fun.

Q: What are some feelings that you are experiencing during this time?

A: Nobody told me about the season of obsessing and overanalyzing. So, a few months in and you’re not getting pregnant, so you start looking things up. Is it this that I ate? Is it this that I drank? Then, you start blaming yourself.

Then, comes the next step. You’re like, is this my period or implantation bleeding? Or like, you get a new freckle and you’re like, oh, this freckle is a little red. So, you look up, does a red freckle mean early pregnancy? I didn’t sleep. Does bad sleep mean early pregnancy?

But my emotions, I think—I’m just going to be super honest here—but there have been times where I’ve felt mad at myself for being upset at other friends who get pregnant so easily. I think I’ve come to terms that's not necessarily a bad reflection of who I am as a character or a friend, it just is like your desire.

So, if anyone is listening to this and may have never gone through trying to conceive and may not know how to act around your other friends, I think there is something to be said about still including them. Like, I just had a friends’ baby’s first birthday and she invited me. I don’t have any kids and I thought that was really nice.

I also think a text message first is really helpful rather than telling me face-to-face that you’re pregnant. I’ve gotten a lot of “Hey, do you want to get together for lunch?” And I haven’t heard from her in six months, so I think she’s going to tell me she’s pregnant at lunch. And now I have to prepare myself to not be sad and not feel my real emotions and also really be excited for them. Because, give me a day, and I’m going to be really excited for them. The initial shock is shocking.

I have moved past that season. Now, I can be happy for people. I’m not as sensitive. I’m also numb and, at a certain point, you’re like, isn’t that depressing? But it’s a way of protecting you.

So, all of those feelings and emotions, for anyone listening—nothing is off the table. You can be angry, guilty, sad, upset with yourself. But, at the end of the day, knowing your end result I think is the most reassuring piece of it.

Q: How are you thinking about your future with work and motherhood?

A: What I’m doing for work right now is I currently have a full-time software job, which is not what I want to be doing—but it’s where I’ve landed right now. I have had entrepreneurial journeys in the past where I have owned my own schedule. I’m trying to put together something different. Maybe go back into real estate again so that I can own my own schedule.

Also, at the same time, my husband is trying to see what it looks like to buy his parents’ business. So we’ve got a lot of moving pieces.

I think that, subconsciously, I don’t have an answer. I don’t want to go back to a full-time job where it’s nine to five and I have to send my baby to a daycare. How can I incorporate a little bit of this and a little bit of that? And that’s really my ultimate goal in my journey, but I don’t have an answer as to what that looks like once that comes together. I think, potentially, it’s possibly part of this delay or part of like our karmic lessons and learnings.

I personally am someone who wants to continue to work somehow and bring in my own money somehow, but it’s not going to be full-time.

Q: What is the most annoying or helpful advice you have received on this journey?

A: I’ve definitely heard it all. Like, sit upside down with your legs up for five minutes. I’ve heard that that’s actually not true, so you don’t have to do that.

And, people are like just stop tracking. I’m like, what do you mean stop tracking? I, in my head, even if I’m not taking tests, I know when I’m ovulating, I know when I’m going to get my period. I just know. Physically, we have things that tell us. We are more attracted to our partners. We have cervical mucus during that time. So, we know. So, that’s kind of annoying.

But there are a few things that I’ve actually found kind of fun to try, and these are relatively new and what I’m doing right now. My acupuncturist told me about royal jelly, which is this specific honey that honeybees make only for the queen so that the queen can produce an exorbitant number of eggs and live a longer life than the rest of the honeybees. It’s this very special stuff that in Asian culture or Eastern medicine culture, they tell all women trying to conceive to take royal jelly. You literally dip something like a plastic spoon (cannot be metal) and consume it one to two times a day on an empty stomach. Worth a shot. You never know.

I’m still working on my emotional codes. Homeopathy. Acupuncture. Things like that. But really, I think the number one piece of advice that has been really helpful is to find a community or friend who is also going through it because I can have whatever thought and know she’s not going to be judging me for it.

Q: Are there any other podcasts or books that you’ve enjoyed on your fertility journey?

A: Emma Moon. I follow her on Instagram. She’s actually from Emily the Medium, that’s the podcast. Emily the Medium is a woman who owns a business who also has some spirit baby readers underneath her. You can find her on Instagram as well. She has tips on how to connect to your spirit baby.

My friend Courtney does a really good job of being vulnerable on TikTok on emotions she’s going through. She’s a Christian. She’s also honest about the relationship that she and her husband have. Because, during this time, I think it really could be scary to talk about how your relationship with your partner changes. You talk about some weird stuff you’ve never talked about before. Like, sometimes sex is transactional and I hate that, but sometimes it feels like that in the middle of this journey.


This blog post was written based on kozēkozē Podcast Episode 367: The Vulnerable Side of Trying To Conceive with Nicole Hellenbrand.

If you’d like to listen to the conversation first-hand, tune in here.


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