Ungiftables Series – Feat. Shanna Hutcheson from Wellness For The Win

We live by two words here at afloat: Celebrate Everything. Those two words are our north star – but what do they really mean? You pop the champagne and celebrate the good times. You send some love on a random Tuesday, just because.  But what happens when someone close to you is going through a hard and messy time? What do you do then? Those “ungiftable” moments are why afloat was started in the first place. To take the guesswork out of gifting and to make it as easy as possible to celebrate the people you love whenever they need it the most. 

Welcome to another edition of our latest series – The Ungiftables: what to do, say or give in those hard situations with experts who have been through it. In this edition, we sit down with wellness expert, nutritionist, mom and blogger Shanna Hutcheson from Wellness for the Win. We talk about something that is rarely ever talked about, but is all too common: miscarriage. 

afloat team: Thank you so much for joining us as our first guest contributor for our Ungiftable series. Please tell us a little bit about yourself!
Shanna:  Thank you for having me! My name is Shanna and I am a Registered Dietitian, blogger and mama located in Kansas City! My son Rhett is 14 months old and he is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Motherhood has challenged me in ways I never thought possible, but it is truly the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I’m so grateful to be his mama. I have also been married to my husband Ethan for almost 5 years, and we have two Australian Shepherds, Harley & Koda! 

afloat team: We love following your content around nutrition, wellness, and mom-ing. What inspired you to start Wellness for the Win? How long have you been doing it?
Shanna: I started my blog & Instagram account in 2015, right after graduating from Kansas State University with my Dietetics degree, and right before I took my RD exam. It was a stressful time in my life, so I was really just looking for a hobby and creative outlet at the time. This was before blogging & social media were much of a thing! At first, my blog was a place I was planning to share recipes & nutrition tips from a dietitian’s perspective, but over the years it has evolved SO much. Now it is really a place where I love to share all aspects of my life, and my hope is that I can inspire women to learn how to prioritize their health without obsession or restriction, and without breaking the bank! I’m passionate about making health and wellness realistic and attainable for everyone, and helping others break free from the all or nothing mindset when it comes to their health. 

afloat team: One topic you’ve discussed on your blog and Instagram is your previous miscarriage before you had your sweet baby boy Rhett. Thank you for discussing such a difficult topic that so many women and families experience – but often don’t talk about. Can you share a little bit of why you decided to be so honest and raw about your experience?
Shanna: Having a miscarriage was one of the hardest and lowest times in my life. In the early weeks before I told anyone what was going on, it was SO incredibly isolating and I felt so alone. My husband and I coped with the loss very differently, as most men & women do, and he just wasn’t sure how to best support me during that time. I had a few friends who had been through pregnancy loss before, and talking to them was extremely healing and validating. Since I had been sharing so much of my life through my blog in the previous years, I knew this would be another opportunity to not only help other women feel less alone, but to help me begin to process the loss and grieve the way I needed to. Like you mentioned, miscarriage is not talked about nearly enough for how common it is. I think it’s important to break the stigma and normalize talking about these difficult topics, because connecting with others who have been there was truly a game changer in my healing journey. 

afloat team: What’s your advice for someone who has a friend going through a miscarriage? On the flip side – what’s your word of advice for what not to do or say to someone going through a miscarriage?
Shanna: If you have a friend or loved one going through a miscarriage, the best thing you can do is be there for them and continue checking in on them. It is common to get a lot of support right in the beginning, but that support typically begins to fade after a few weeks. Unfortunately, the grieving process usually lasts much longer than that. Continue to check in – even if you don’t know exactly what to say, a quick text letting them know that you are thinking of them and praying for them can be so impactful. 

Some things NOT to say when someone is having a miscarriage: any phrase starting with “at least”. Such as, “at least you’re young”, “at least you know you can get pregnant”, “at least it happened early”, etc. These statements are really common, but they are hurtful and completely discount the person’s experience. Try to avoid saying anything like this. Instead, validate their feelings and don’t sugar coat it. For example, “I know this absolutely sucks and it’s not fair. I’m here for you, I love you. Please let me know how I can support you.” 

Also, try to avoid asking if/when they are trying again, as this can be a sensitive topic that not everyone will feel comfortable discussing. 

afloat team: After reading your blog on miscarriage, it seems like after you started sharing your experience with your close friends and family is when you started to feel the most supported. What is the best gift or act of kindness you received while you were going through this?
Shanna: When you are going through a loss of any kind, truly any small gesture that lets you know that people are thinking of you can go such a long way. I had people send flowers, plants, cards, cookies. One of my best friends came over and brought me ice cream and just sat and talked with me for a long time, and I’ll never forget that. Just showing up for people in their time of need is huge, and doing anything you can to let them know they are loved and supported, and/or make their lives easier during that time (providing meals, or helping to watch their older kids, etc.) is so helpful. A quick text goes a long way, too! 

afloat team: If you were to send a thinking of you gift to a friend going through a miscarriage, what would be your picks on afloat? 

Shanna: A few of my picks would be: 

  • Grazing KC Candy Boxes
  • Clifton Collective: candles, Faith Little Words Bracelet, Good Vibes Spray
  • Sweet Petites KC cookies or cookie cake 
  • Pink Antlers: self-care kit or puzzle
  • The Little Flower Shop small arrangement
  • Branches & Twigs flower arrangements 
  • Gift card to Posh KC for self-care
  • Swoon Cookies “thinking of you” 
  • To name a few!! 🙂 So many good options! 

afloat team: Any other words of wisdom to someone going through or supporting someone through this experience? 

Shanna: If you are currently going through a loss, I want you to know that you are not alone, and I am so, so sorry you are going through this pain. You will never forget this angel baby or this experience, but you will come out stronger and hopefully be able to help others in your life who may go through something similar in the future. Give yourself permission to grieve as long as you need to, however you need to, and please don’t be afraid to reach out for support. Speaking with a grief counselor was really helpful for me. 

Lastly, as hard as it is when you are in the thick of it, please try to have hope. Good things will come and this pain will not feel this heavy forever. Thinking of you and praying for you, and my DMs are always open if you need a listening ear!