A fitness influencer revealed how she faked her perfect life on Instagram — but behind all the smiling pictures she was actually dealing with two devastating miscarriages.
Natalie Uhling, 34, first got pregnant in 2016 with her husband, Drew, and decided to share her pre- and post-pregnancy journey with her following on Instagram. But during her 10-week ultrasound appointment in December of that year, the expectant mom discovered she had her first miscarriage.
‘I couldn’t believe what was happening,’ Natalie, who is based in Denver, Colorado, told Cosmopolitan. ‘When I imagined sharing the bad news with the family members, colleagues, and friends I’d already told, a deep dread settled over me.’
Not only did she have to deal with telling those close to her, but Natalie had also started to share her pregnancy story with her followers online.
Natalie underwent a D and C procedure, which surgically removes lining in the uterus, three days after hearing the news.
‘Afterward, I bawled all the way home,’ Natalie told the online site.
‘And yet, when I got there, I instagrammed a photo of me smiling broadly with the caption, “You cry a little, and then you wait for the sun to come out,” purposefully avoiding specific references to my miscarriage.’
Because Natalie saw her Instagram as a business — where she has amassed 65,000 followers by promoting her fit lifestyle — she didn’t feel the need to explain her miscarriage. But afterwards, she started to share pictures hiding areas of her body so followers wouldn’t know.
Besides promoting her brand on Instagram, Natalie created 60-minute fitness classes entitled NUFit that worked the entire body. Dealing with a miscarriage forced Natalie to cancel some of her classes in order to handle the news.
As time went on, Natalie and her husband decided to try again for a child even though she was still struggling with her first miscarriage.
‘My social following kept growing at a steady pace, but [in real life]I was at one of my lowest points. I felt isolated and alone.’
In May 2017, Natalie found out she was pregnant again while visiting Portland, Oregon. She was only able to celebrate the news for one day before she found blood in her underwear.
Hoping her baby was OK, Natalie got on a plane to head back home to Denver.
Once she arrived at the airport, though, she realized she needed to go to the emergency room because of how heavy she was bleeding. Natalie was having another miscarriage.
‘I didn’t even think about Instagramming what had actually happened to me—it just felt too raw,’ she told Cosmopolitan. ‘Besides, I had no useful information or advice to provide, so using the forum to discuss my second miscarriage seemed pointless.’
The couple visited a fertility clinic to get answers about why Natalie was having difficulty caring a baby. She revealed they spent more than $20,000 only to be told no issue could be found.
During that time, Natalie continued to post on her Instagram account because the family relied on the income she received from sponsored posts. But her heart was not in the content.
Natalie said: ‘Uninspired, I would sit at my desk and think, “I don’t really give a s**t.” I told myself I just had to push through, even if it took longer to come up with ideas that seemed authentic and engaging.’
It was recommended for the couple to start in vitro fertilization, but they decided to continue to conceive naturally in hopes the effort would produce a viable pregnancy.
In October 2017, just when Natalie was prepared to start birth control again, she discovered she was pregnant.
The pregnancy was kept a secret from family and friends for 12 weeks until the couple felt comfortable with sharing the news.
‘But I still felt torn about sharing the news on Instagram: Sure, it would help me connect with my mom-to-be followers, but I knew what it felt like to see a pregnancy announcement on social media and feel so empty inside,’ Natalie said.
She finally shared her news at 15 weeks with her followers. In her Instagram post, she unveiled hints about what the couple had dealt with over the last year to get pregnant.
‘I have been flooded with emotions this week knowing that we would be announcing my pregnancy to the public,’ Natalie wrote. ‘For so long it has been just Drew and I’s little secret and something that I have held onto so tightly for fear that it might be taken away at any minute.
‘This has been our experience in the past, and I can tell you that being tormented by “recurrent pregnancy loss” is a deep-rooted fear that never leaves my daily thoughts.’
Although the journey to conception was emotionally exhausting, Natalie was able to carry her baby to term and the couple welcomed their daughter, Sky, in July of this year.