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Finding Hope for the New Year

January 14, 2019

Written by Kateka Goodman, WTF Contributor

We all sacrifice for motherhood in different ways. For me, for a decade, my sacrifice was in using my money to pay for treatments; the sacrifice came when I put my body through hell with injections, hormones, treatments, miscarriages, weight gain, hair loss; I sacrificed my sanity, and my faith, for a while; I nearly sacrificed my marriage. Last year, when I stepped into my 3rd and final IVF egg retrieval (having already experienced two IVF miscarriages before this), I knew that I had to go into it, sacrificing next-to-everything because if it didn’t work, I hoped I’d be able to look back with no regrets. I called it the ALL HANDS ON DECK cycle. We threw every trick, test, and drug into the mix to make sure all our bases were covered.

And then I got pregnant. My numbers were low but they looked better than they ever had before. At my 6 week heartbeat ultrasound, I was told my baby had died. They did an immediate D&C. In that moment, it felt as though the world had swallowed me whole. I had no more embryos. I was no further to having a child than I was when I started this process 10 years before. If anything, all I was was an empty, but heavier, shell of what I used to be. I was bitter, cynical, judgmental, hopeless, numb, angry, stressed, and coping in unhealthy ways (binging on food and tv). I was unavailable to those I loved; my husband, my family and friends, and even, myself. Infertility had turned me into the worst version of myself. Watching your husband mourn the loss of his babies, something that you’ve failed to force into existence, has a way of extinguishing the light you have inside you. What was my purpose? How could I survive yet another failure? What good was I? How could I ever come to peace knowing I’d never pass on my own genetics?

I was purely and utterly lost.

One night, I talked to my mother and told her what a failure I was. She reassured me I wasn’t and told me I was so strong. I sighed and thought, ‘She has to say that.’

That night, while falling asleep, I recalled the conversation with my mom and my mind turned the tables. In my half-awake state, I was suddenly the mom, and my adult daughter was telling me she had her 3rd miscarriage after giving infertility the fight of her life. I could see her pain. I wanted to fix it. I wanted her to understand she was stronger than she understood. She fought every step of the way, even though she had fear riding on her shoulders the entire time. She was not a failure, she was a warrior. I wish she understood how loved she was. I wished she could love herself.

I wrote my strange half-awake dream down and described it to my husband the next day. He told me, if there were such things as angel babies (past or future), that they’d be proud of what we tried to do. In thinking of my angel babies, I had this yearning that they needed me to stop focusing on growing our family for some time, and instead give myself some much needed care; the same kind of care I’d give to any of my loved ones who needed help.

 

(Here I am a few weeks after my D&C in May of 2018, heavier than I’d ever been before)

 

In the spring of 2018, I made myself the priority. Not baby-making. Not scouring online forums and books for “fix-it’s” to my infertility. I worked on giving myself some serious, much-needed, self-care.

My self-care was focused around: getting therapy right away, feeding my body better, getting more exercising, resting when I needed it, finding healthy ways to cope with my emotions, and having some happy things to look forward to (not baby related).

  • In therapy I learned many life lessons, including the importance of self-validation. No one’s words will ever be enough if you don’t first validate from within.
  • I’ve done restriction diets in the past to lose weight or to try to improve fertility and it didn’t help in either way. My endometriosis had done so much damage that changing my diet now would do nothing to improve my already ruined eggs; also, taking away bread and sugar just leads me to binge (and gain more weight). Instead I focused on portion control. I eat a lot of healthy foods, but I still enjoy “bad” foods (in small portions) so that I never feel deprived.
  • When it came to exercise, I listened purely to my body. I started off with light, low-impact workouts, and with time, my stamina naturally improved. If my body was exhausted, I would take that queue and rest on those days. Other times, I was bursting with energy so I’d use that energy to give more to my workouts.
  • Instead of using food to cope with my feelings I paid attention to my body queues. If I needed to chat, I’d either journal or call a friend; if I felt angry, I’d take it out on my workout (making sure to add PUNCHING BAG to my workouts that day); If I was growing obsessive or feeling crazy, I’d work on a craft, puzzle, or meditation to try to distract myself; when I felt like crying, I allowed the rivers to flow, making sure to never stifle any of my feelings; when I needed perspective I would try to serve others.
  • My husband and I planned a trip to Kauai! We were excited for months leading up to our adventure and it really helped us live more presently, instead of in the past, or future. We had a wonderful time there and are anxiously looking forward to when we can travel again.
  • And! I lost 54 lbs. (I have to give my husband a shout out who has also worked on his health and is down 60 lbs right now too).

Allowing my body to purge of all the hormones, eat healthy foods, workout again, and find happiness in TODAY, did so much for my overall wellbeing.

Crazy enough, I feel closer to being the mother I’d like to be for my future children compared to where I was when I had my short pregnancy last spring.

This year, I have many resolutions I am working towards. My husband and I want to get more tests done before we figure out how to move forward next (donor egg, embryo adoption, foster care, or adoption), we need to continue saving money for whatever baby plan we choose, and I want to continue working on my overall health so that if/when babies come into the picture, I can be a mama they’re proud to call their own.

The thing is, whether you have completed the fight, are in the middle of the fight, are about to start the fight, or maybe are taking a break from the fight, we are all following our hearts and doing our best. You are strong. No matter where you are in your journey, make sure this year to take time for YOU. Give the same love that you’d give to your children, to yourself. From one warrior to another, I am wishing you a very happy, and successful, New Year.

With love,

Kateka

 

If you’d like to connect with Kateka, you can find her on Youtube, Instagram, Weight Loss Instagram, or Email!

Babe In My Heart, Blogs, Uncategorized

Taking Back New Years

January 3, 2019

Written by Ashtyn Kalika, Guest Blogger

New years can be a tough journey for the fertility challenged as we reflect on the year that was. The months spent hoping and praying for our arms to be filled, the intense up and down emotional roller coaster, the empty womb.  You can’t help but envision and pray for your dreams to become a reality in the New Year.

I have only been on this journey for two years now. Last New Year’s and Christmas was not a happy time for me. I thought I would be a mom and things were just not leaning that way. Fast forward to now and I’m nowhere closer to the end of this journey. However this year I want it to be a different kind of New Year. I call it taking back “New Years”. I’m taking back the joy that has been stolen this year. I’m taking back the time spent crying and being miserable. I’m taking back control. This journey to motherhood is so out of our control, so I am choosing to spend my energy on things I can control.

My five steps to taking back New Year’s are:

  1. Don’t set deadlines

How many times have you told yourself “I have to get pregnant by my birthday/partner’s birthday” or “by Easter” or “by Christmas”? Let go of these. They put unnecessary pressure on you and emphasize the lack of control you have over the timing of when you will conceive. No one knows how long their journey will be (insert big sigh). We just need to trust that it will all be revealed in His perfect timing.

  1. Don’t play the blame game

Be kind on yourself and your partner. Don’t blame yourself for past actions or hate your body for not functioning the way you want to. Don’t feel that you could have prayed harder or eaten better or had more faith. The negative self-talk is all lies. Don’t believe all the lies and give yourself permission to move on and ignore the lies. Accept the truth instead. The truth is: you are strong, courageous and loved. You are doing the best you can and that is good enough.

  1. Self-Care

Look after yourself. Spend time reading new books, being quiet, meeting new people. Make friends, laugh, and go for a massage or a fresh new haircut. Go for a walk and get some fresh air while enjoying the beauty around you. Spend time doing things with your partner and taking time out to talk and laugh and forget about the journey even for a moment. Try new things together, go on a hike, camp, try a new restaurant, and go on a date night. Just spend time being intentional with each other. Don’t define yourself by your journey. You are more than that. I am not fertility challenged, I am Ashtyn!

  1. Limit the negative words and let go of the jealousy and bitterness

I know it is so difficult not to let feelings of jealousy and hurt creep up when it seems as if a lot of people around you get pregnant so easily. However we just need to be careful as we never know the story in someone else’s journey. The lady you saw in the shops could have fought massive health battles to carry that baby. The woman you walked past could be a surrogate. It’s always harder on us when we hold onto the feelings of jealousy or resentment because we end up being the ones who get hurt not the people we are resenting. Try where you can to replace those negative feelings with positive ones. Replace it with hope. Every day you feel negative or full of resentment or despair replace it with hope. Write down scripture or verses or anything encouraging. Write it on your arm or place it all around your house. Read these anytime you feel you are losing hope.

  1. Keep pushing forward

It’s tough but just keep on moving (as Dory would say: keep on swimming!). Until you choose another option or to give up entirely, keep moving forward. Keep hoping and striving for your hopes. You got this!

I know these are not easy steps to do and I know this journey is tough. My hope is that even one of these steps will make the New Year just a little easier to bear.

Here is to a better, happier, healthier and more positive 2019! May it be the year our prayers are answered and wombs are filled with healthy babies.

If you’d like to connect with Ashtyn, you can find her on Instagram, Facebook or her Blog!

Babe In My Belly, Babe In My Heart, Blogs

9 Infertility Resolutions for 2019

December 27, 2018

Written by Jessica Hansen, Guest Blogger

I rang in 2017 in my pajamas on my couch. I was recovering from a stomach bug that most of my in-laws had caught (but my husband had somehow avoided, naturally). Still, I was optimistic about the new year. Having tried to get pregnant for six months or so by then, I was confident 2018 would be our year.

I was right – and more so than I even thought. What I had thought was my lightest period ever actually wasn’t, and on December 31st of 2017, I was already pregnant. It would be a few more weeks until a growing hunch prompted me to take a test which would confirm it.

And then, just a couple of days later, I wasn’t. I was just under six weeks, but to say “just” or “only” minimizes my grief. I’ve learned since that we are entitled to our pain, no matter which unique circumstances we face. Still, that loss and infertility as a whole have left me wrestling with some ugly emotions I’m still sorting through.

And, 2018 would bring even more loss for us. As my husband lay his mother to rest in the summer – the second parent he’d lost in 18 months – I couldn’t help but grow angry at the injustice of it all. Weeks prior, my family had to say goodbye to the dog I’d had growing up. Certainly, these losses cannot be compared, but pain is still pain. And it’s been a painful year.

But resolutions can be about looking forward without necessarily “getting over” the past – because we all know infertility and loss aren’t simply gotten over. As I look ahead to 2019, infertility is indeed at the top of my mind. While I may be a bit more jaded than I was back in 2017, I try to look at this year as having made me perhaps a bit wiser – and a hell of a lot stronger. So, here it goes. These are my infertility resolutions for 2019.

  1. Become more vocal.

I mean this in a few different ways. For one, with my doctors and nurses. While I’ve been extremely pleased with my clinic so far and they’ve given me every opportunity to ask questions, I still find myself holding back in fear of sounding stupid or coming across too needy. Enough. I am putting too much on the line to be shy.

I also need to speak up with my husband. He is my biggest supporter, but sometimes I go into “shutdown” mode to avoid talking about the painful stuff. He knows this is when I need to talk most. I’ve always been comfortable sharing my emotions but infertility is a different beast; it’s created feelings and thoughts which I don’t even know how to process. I’m learning how to do my part in opening up, even if it comes out as a jumbled mess.

Finally, I’d like to become more open about infertility everywhere to continue building this conversation and bringing awareness to the challenges that one in eight couples face. My immediate network of friends and family has been outstanding in terms of offering support, but in my experience, many others who are unfamiliar with infertility tend to say the wrong things. I believe it’s because they don’t know what to say – which is because infertility isn’t discussed enough in our society.

  1. Try something new.

On a lighter note, cooking was my “thing” this year. I bought a few healthy cookbooks, learned how to use a pressure cooker, and even tried a couple of meal delivery subscriptions. Channeling my energy into creating something has been very cathartic for me, especially when it feels like the one thing I want to create so badly, I can’t.

What will my new thing be for 2019? I’m not sure yet, but I’m excited to find out. I know distraction isn’t always the healthiest way to handle challenges, but at the same time, I also believe having outlets for creativity and self-exploration are important through this process.

  1. Go on more dates.

Infertility takes up a lot of space in my marriage. We’re doing injections, going for ultrasounds and blood work, and planning for the “what ifs.” To think that I’ll look back on the first few years of my married life and associate it with such stress and heartache is upsetting. In 2019, I’d like to work on creating happy memories and actually dating my husband again. I know it’s unrealistic to think we can be completely carefree, but I do believe there’s room for the pain of not having the family we want yet to coexist alongside joy, love, and lighthearted moments.

  1. Take a vacation.

We’ve taken a couple of vacations while TTC, but all have been slightly marred by the emotional roller coaster of infertility. If a babymoon isn’t in the cards for us, I’d like to plan a trip for a time when we might actually take a break from trying – and purchase trip insurance. You know, just in case.

  1. Take on a realistic workload.

Speaking of breaks, I need to know when to take them at home, too. I’m a freelancer and don’t get vacation days or PTO. On the one hand, this makes me extremely fortunate because I can build my schedule around appointments. On the other hand, I tend to punish myself by playing catch-up until I’m working into wee hours of the night. I realize that this is unhealthy and I’m working on building boundaries into my schedule for 2019.

  1. Unplug occasionally.

Social media is both a blessing and a curse. I have found a few support networks that I absolutely adore, which is the reason I started an Instagram to chronicle my own infertility experiences. At the same time, social media is also a place where you’ll find unexpected baby announcements that knock the wind out of you. And, our community has its share of heartache, too. I absolutely love hearing about the successes of other infertile couples, but I also feel the pain behind their bad news, perhaps too acutely at times. I think taking mini-breaks can be refreshing. Plus, there’s comfort in knowing this wonderful network of strong women will always be here when I’m ready to come back.

  1. Control my self-criticism.

This is something I struggle with daily. It’s bad enough to have the flood of thoughts and feelings that come with infertility: sadness, frustration, anger, jealousy, and impatience. But what’s even worse than these thoughts themselves is the way I judge myself for having them.

I think to myself, I should be more optimistic. Then I counter that by telling myself I shouldn’t get my hopes up. I also feel immense guilt, because my life isn’t bad – by any means. I’m fortunate in more ways than I can count.

But at this point, I’ve become exhausted with judging myself for my own thoughts, and characterizing them as “good” or “bad.” For 2019, I’m going to try this meditative practice instead:

I will not judge my thoughts and feelings. Instead, I will simply let them pass, like cars on a highway.

  1. Nourish my body.

I don’t eat poorly, but there’s definitely room for improvement. Instead of eating a granola bar for breakfast because it’s quick and easy, I’d like to set aside time for three whole meals a day. Some weeks I’m good about this and meal-prep in advance; others, not so much. I’m aiming for consistency in 2019. While I know my diet isn’t the cause for not getting pregnant, I do want to give my body everything it needs to support my someday baby.

Likewise, I’ve put running longish distances on hold for now, and will continue to do so for 2019. Again, I’m not saying running 10+ miles has anything to do with infertility. I’ve always hydrated and listened to my body, and I know there are plenty of endurance athletes who have given birth to healthy babies. But this year, I’m approaching fitness in a way that rewards my body instead of feeling like punishment. Activities like long walks and yoga are good for not just my physical state, but my mental health, too.

  1. Connect with a real-life infertile friend.

As I said before, I have an incredible support network of family and friends, as well as online groups. But I also know how desperately I’m craving a real, human connection with someone who’s been through (or is going through) this.

I wouldn’t wish infertility on anyone in the world. But, going through it with someone else might make it a little less painful. I’d love to have an infertile friend to meet up with over coffee, to laugh (and probably cry) with, to cheer on, and to just talk about all of the absurdities of infertility.

Here’s to hoping we’ll both be drinking decaf.

Babe In My Arms, Babe In My Belly, Babe In My Heart, Blogs, Uncategorized

Dear Family and Friends, Part 3

December 17, 2018

Written by Heather, Guest Blogger

Part three in our 3 part series! These journal entries share the ups and downs of the roller coaster that is trying to have a baby when you’re walking the path of infertility. If you are also walking that path, may you be encouraged and know you are not alone.

December 22

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is here again. For the past three years, every November, Allen starts asking me what I want for Christmas. And for the past three years I’ve asked for one thing and one thing only… a baby. It appears that Christmas will come and go again without the us expanding our family with a sweet new baby. But I do feel like we’re one step closer with everything that we are doing. I wanted to update you on our fertility issues, surrogacy, and the adoption process.

Allen and I met with Dr K again on December 2. We have had this appointment booked for three months. After talking with him for over an hour, we both left with our heads spinning. He showed us a picture of our one grade A frozen embryo compared to the three embryos (all grade Bs) that we have put in me- lots of visible differences.  Basically Dr. K doesn’t think a surrogate (actually the correct term is “gestational carrier”) is necessary. Dr K thinks that as long as we can get my body where it needs to be that our embryo would do great in me. So that left us with a lot to think about. Before leaving the office Dr. K ran several more tests on me, since they were 2 yrs old.

Yesterday I received a call from the nurse and most of the test results came back within the correct range. All except for my “AMG” which is my egg quality. It has drastically gone down since January. It was 2.2 and it is now 0.5. So I have to start taking two more vitamins for the next three months so we definitely won’t be transferring that frozen embryo into me anytime soon.

Yesterday we met with another fertility Dr. to get a second opinion. We also left there with our heads spinning. Basically he doesn’t believe in “unexplained infertility.” His method involves identifying the problem and then working to correct it. So we are taking his suggestion and I have to start “charting” myself everyday for the next three months. I won’t go into details because you wouldn’t even believe me. The charting is so specific that I have to be trained on it and meet with this lady every two weeks. UGH!!!!!!

Moving right along…

As for the adoption process things have been very busy! Allen and I both had to fill out numerous discussion questions about our life. Honestly, it’s CRAZY! Here are some questions that we had to each answer separately….

– What qualities, values, and character would you like to develop in your children and how would you promote these?

– What significant events or experiences have shaped your personality?

– What were the positive and negative qualities of your family?

– Describe your parent’s relationship to each other both while you were growing up and today.

– What are your main areas of disagreement?  Do you and your spouse agree on spending and saving?

– What role does your physical relationship play in your marriage?

– Have you ever physically/sexually abused a child?

Yep, that’s right. Crazy, huh?!?! It’s absolutely shocking to think there all some people in this world who don’t want children or can’t care for their children or abuse their children, yet they have children (and usually LOTS).  Then there are people like us who would do anything for a child.

We are currently in the process of working on our finances, references are being turned in, criminal background check, fingerprints, and the interview process. Last night we had a two-hour interview as a couple, including a 30-minute video on child-abuse. Our next interview is Monday. This is will be separate interviews and more video training.

We wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

XOXO

A & H

February 20

Okay, y’all. I had to share this story and ask for your prayers. Hopefully you can follow it. I have shortened it, but hopefully you will get as excited as we did/are!

Sunday I decided to clean out my closet (it was a nightmare). I then posted several items on a Facebook resale site. I had a lady wanting to try on two of the tops/tunics. She came over after school on Monday to try them on and while we were chatting she asked if we had kids. (Who does that??? We’d only met three minutes prior to that.) I kindly replied, “No. We are in the adoption process.” She said, “No way! I’m an adoption attorney.” As our conversation continued she realized that she had already been told about our plans to adopt. She had actually received an email last week from one of my current student’s parents. Needless to say, I was shocked! Here I was standing in our guest bedroom talking to an adoption attorney who already knew about us!

Well, it gets even better! She currently has a birth mother, age 28, due June 5! Don’t let this next part freak you out….but she is in jail. We don’t know why…but there she is getting prenatal care and supervision. The attorney asked for a copy of our birth parent letter and will be taking it with her on Wednesday. She will also have two other options for the birth mother to look at.

So, please pray! Pray for this birth mother. Pray that our letter and pictures touch her heart. Pray that she is in good hands at the jail. Please pray that Allen and I can stay hopeful.

We know that God in is control and He knows the plans He has for us.

Love,  Allen and Heather

March 28

I hope you had a wonderful Easter holiday!

I thought I would send an update on where we are. As I mentioned before, Allen and I have been seeing a 2nd opinion fertility specialist, Dr. P.  He recently did a hormone series test on me which included blood work for 3 1/2 weeks (every Mon, Wed, Fri). The results showed that I had low thyroid, low progesterone, and other issues that led him to believe surgery would be beneficial. So, of course, we jumped on it! Surgery was this past Friday and he did four different procedures. It was definitely worth it.

Four findings:

  1. Both Fallopian tubes were partially blocked. Dr. cleared the tubes by expanding them with a wire then flushed with fluids. Typically an open set of tubes would allow 5 lbs of air through them. Mine took 30 lbs to get through.
  2. I did have some endometriosis that he was able to remove. (Tissue that grows on the outside of the uterus.)
  3. My entire abdominal area shows inflammation. Dr. showed Allen and Mom pictures. The area is extremely red and inflamed. (It should be pink) Dr. said this can be corrected with diet and later with medicine.
  4. He removed two cysts.I am just so grateful that they found some problem areas and corrected them.  Hopefully this will help us! I’m pretty sore and uncomfortable now but resting. Dr. H has been amazing!Several of you have asked about our adoption process. I have had several people reach out to me that have heard our story from your shares on Facebook or from friends sending private emails to their contacts about our story. All the women I’ve talked to have adopted and were so positive, encouraging, and uplifting.We are still waiting for a baby whether that be through a birth-mother or biologically. (Or both!) The attorney that came to my house to buy clothes was not able to get to the jail to meet with the birth mother as she had planned. She was going to reschedule and said she would keep me posted. I have not heard anything.Thank you for your continuous love and support.

Allen and Heather

April 8

Today as I was driving home from school I received a phone call from an attorney. This is the attorney that found out about us from one of my current student’s parents and the lady who came to try on clothes I was selling online. Remember as she left our house she said, “This is a God thing.”

Well… It was a God thing. She called to inform us that the birth mother picked us!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, can you believe it??!?! She picked us. She was given three birth letters and she chose us! We are still in shock and trying to process the whole thing.

The birth mother, A, is in her mid-20s and is having a baby boy via C-section on June 8. So I will get to spend my summer vacation with our baby! “It’s a God thing!”

She has asked to meet us, and we want to meet her very much. So our attorneys are finding a time for us to visit her in jail. (It will be my first time ever in a jail!)

Please continue to pray.
Pray for this baby boy.
Pray that he is healthy.
Pray for Mama A.
Pray that she will continue to do what is best for this baby.
Pray for her strength and courage.

Pray for our patience and faith.

Much Love,

Allen and Heather

May 9

Allen and I just left the jail from our first meeting with birth mother, A. Both of our attorneys were present. She seemed at peace with placing this baby. She is concerned about how she will feel after the delivery. She only wants to see the baby after he is born but does not want any other contact while in the hospital. She said she wanted to make sure we would be in the nursery with him. Which I assured her we would be.

Please pray for Mama A and for her to have peace with our meeting and knowing she’s making the best decision for this baby. Please pray for this baby boy. Pray that he is healthy. Please pray that the attorneys can find the father and get him to sign over his rights. Please pray for Allen and me as we anxiously await every single minute of every single day.

Much love,

Allen and Heather

June 2

It has been three years and three months since Allen and I started to grow our family– that’s 1189 days. As you know our journey has been a long and emotional one. With that being said, I can honestly say that Allen and I have grown in our relationship and know that we can pretty much handle anything together.

A BIG thank you to each of you—thank you for your continuous love, prayers, and support throughout it all! Allen and I are in awe of the kindness and compassion we have seen from so many people. It has been so comforting to receive random calls, texts, flowers, and emails from friends and family just letting us know that they are praying and thinking of us.

Baby boy is due in FIVE DAYS.

(the adoption failed, the birth mother was able to give the baby to a friend until she got out of jail)

July 13

Good Morning Family & Friends,

As you know on June 6 we found out that we would not be bringing “baby boy” home. It was beyond devastating for us and still hurts to this day. I find myself thinking about him daily and wondering how he is doing, what he looks like, and what kind of life he will be given. I pray that the Lord watches over him and keeps him safe, happy, and loved.

At the end of our adoption process (June 3) we found out that I was pregnant. It was actually two years to the date that we lost our first baby. For a few days we thought we were going to welcome two babies into this world. We couldn’t believe it! We were blessed with this miracle and prayed that we would one day hold that baby in our arms. On June 15 we lost that baby also. (At six weeks, for reasons unknown)

Allen and I struggle with the Lord’s plan for us. We continue to have faith and hope, even though there are days (or hours) that make it challenging. We know God is good and we are trusting in Him.

We are thankful that the month of June is over!

Which brings us to where we are to date… After much research and consideration, Allen and I have decided to sign with an adoption consulting firm.

Heather and Allen

November 22

Can I be honest?

This time of the year is very hard for me. I mean really hard! I dread the holidays. I know you are probably thinking, “How can Heather not enjoy this time of year?” For the past four years, I have prayed that Allen and I would have a baby to celebrate Christmas with and that has not happened yet. It’s looking like 2016 will come and go without a baby for us.

I know we are waiting on His time.

I know that He has a plan for us.

I know that I am not in control.

I know that I need to be patient.

I know….

But y’all it’s hard. It’s more than hard. It’s exhausting. It’s mentally, emotionally, physically, and financially exhausting.

(Ok, deep breath) Thank you for letting me express my true and raw feelings. Now for an update.

Allen have I have been active with the consultantung firm for three months today. During this time, we have received 46 birth mother profiles. Some profiles are full of details; some have very little information. We are starting to learn that “less could be more.” It is very overwhelming reading 18-22 pages worth of material on a person. Then we struggle with being judgmental. Here we are wanting a baby more than anything, but we are given the choice to present to them or pass. Who are we to judge? We have no idea what type of child we would receive biologically, so why should we be so picky with these birth mothers? All that to say, we have now presented to 7 birth mothers and 6 of them have chosen another family. (yes, heartbreaking to say the least)

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

Dec 12

We are pregnant…no treatments, no meds, nothing but God’s timing! Please pray for our baby!

Dec 18

Tonight we recieved a call and we have matched with a birth mother! Baby Boy due in May!

As many of you know, I have always wanted twins. In high school I wanted to name them McKinsey and MaCaulay. Then in college, it was Taylor and Tyler. Always one boy and one girl. Well the Lord is writing our story and it looks like he’s answering my prayers after all these years…” twiblings.” I can’t wait until we have both of these babies home and in our arms. Allen and I will have an amazing testimony to share of God’s grace and faithfulness.

William was born on May 12 AND Phillips was born on August 23 ….3 months and 16 days apart. We are so blessed and thank the Lord for our “little blessing” and our “little miracle.”

Jeremiah 29:11

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

We’re Finally Sending out Christmas Cards

December 15, 2018

Written by Alyssa Hustedt, Guest Blogger

If you have ever been associated with the word infertility, you know that the holidays can be one of the most difficult seasons of the year.  Everywhere you look it feels like there is a reminder that something or someone is missing.

During our first years of marriage, my husband and I briefly talked about sending out Christmas cards.  “Let’s just wait until when we have kids.”  We’ve never used any type of prevention, so we assumed kids would be in the near future, right?  Well, Christmas #1 no kids, Christmas #2 the same, Christmas #3 and so on.

Seven Christmas’ later (still no children) and we are finally sending out Christmas cards.  Seven years later–through the valleys of darkness, sadness and doubts—I’m choosing to believe the truth over the lie…

The Lie:  We will never be a complete family until we have children.

The Truth:  The day my husband and I took our vows to become man and wife, we became a complete family.  Any children we have, whether by birth or adoption, enter into the family we have created with just the two of us.

The Lie:  I will not be complete until I have children.

The Truth:  If I am looking for children to complete me, I’m going to be disappointed.  Becoming a mother is a gift but it should not be my identity or where I find my worth.  If you feel like you’re walking around with a deep hole inside of you longing to be filled, I challenge you to do some soul searching and find your true identity outside of having kids or the desire to have them.

The Lie:  Something is wrong with me if I can’t have children.

The Truth:  Something may not physically be working quite like it should, but it requires two to make a baby and it takes Divine power to breathe life into that little soul.  And maybe God’s plans are greater and bigger than our own.   Faith, no matter how small, can go a long way.

Seven years later, seven years stronger, seven years of a marriage that has remained faithful, grown deeper through trials, and IS a family with hope and a vision for the future… no matter how much longer or how many more tears it takes to get there.

Be blessed this Christmas season and enjoy—even celebrate—your family, no matter how small or big it is.

With love, Alyssa

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The Big Ugly I Word

December 14, 2018

Written by Ginny Helmer, Guest Blogger

Infertility.

I never thought I would see my name and the big, ugly “I” word in the same sentence. While my struggle has not been as long or as extensive as others, it has been quite the hardship for my husband and I. The past 13 months have been some of the hardest of my life. Infertility is so lonely and painful, and as a woman, most of us feel that childbearing is our purpose. When we can’t fulfill that purpose, we tend to feel like we have no real purpose…like you’re less of a woman because you can’t (which, by the way, is so not true).

When Ben and I decided to start trying to have a baby in November 2017, we had only been married about 6 months, but we knew we wanted kids ASAP. We are in summer camp ministry…we love kids!

By other’s standards, we weren’t “ready”, we weren’t “mature enough”, we “didn’t have our lives together yet” and we “shouldn’t be trying.” So, we kept it to ourselves. And we tried…and we expected it to take a little while.

Three different times in the past 13 months, I had a massive bleeding episode (with decent sized clots) with sudden and sharp pains in my lower back and uterus. Each of those times, we had decided to wait a little longer before taking a pregnancy test, so I wasn’t certain I was pregnant, but I was about 10 days late each time it happened. My OBGYN believes it was either a miscarriage or chemical pregnancy, but we don’t have those answers.

Fast forward to now. It’s been 13 months of TTC, and we have yet to see a positive pregnancy test, and we have yet to figure out what is causing our infertility at its core. It’s been quite the journey.

As we move forward into 2019, I admit, it is hard to have hope. It is hard to be happy for those who are announcing their holiday babies. It is hard to be happy for the ladies who are starting 2019 with a baby in their womb. It hurts me to think that I really, really thought I would either be pregnant right now or already have a baby, in a perfect world. 2019 holds more doctor’s appointments, procedures, treatments, and the unknown.

Resolutions were never quite my thing, but I do think that it is a great idea to set goals for yourself, especially when you’re struggling with something like this. I have a few Bible verses that have really been a comfort to me throughout this time, and which have helped me decide what I want my New Year’s Resolutions to be:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Cor. 3-4

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that He cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” Ecc. 3:11

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?” Jeremiah 32:27

My first resolution is that I will give my fertility to God. I have tried to do that since the beginning, but I know that it is in my nature to try and take it back and fix it. I have put my faith in places it shouldn’t be: the doctors, my husband, myself, etc. The truth is, no one but our Creator Himself can make it so. In Him, I will find my peace, my comfort, my solace, my strength, and my joy (even in the hard seasons). That does not mean that He won’t choose to use people in my life to provide those things as well, but ultimately, it will all come from Him.

My second resolution will be that I want to use my struggles with fertility to help others. 1 in 8 women struggle with infertility. Some for just over a year (like myself), and some for much longer. No matter the length of their struggle, we all need a girlfriend(s) to be honest with. I know, in my personal experience, it can be SO HARD to talk openly about infertility. The first (and only) time I talked of it, I was bashed and not believed. Not a lot of people out there understand the hardship that it is, so we need to help those who struggle with this. Whatever that looks like, I want to be a vessel of God’s use. I strongly believe that part of the reason He gives us trials so that we can minister to others down the road.

And lastly, my third resolution is to enjoy the time I have without children. Yes, I know how crazy that can sound! But, this will be the only time that Ben and I will have as just the two of us (plus our two dogs). Once we are blessed with kids, we can’t go back to this time. I don’t want to get so lost in the fertility struggle that I forget to cherish time with my precious (and dang handsome) man. As much as we can’t wait for the time that we become parents, I want to be intentional about spending quality time with Ben in 2019 (and now!).

Maybe 2019 will be the year I grow a baby inside me. Maybe 2019 is the year we officially enter the foster/adoption realm. Maybe 2019 will be the year we get answers as to why we are struggling to conceive. Maybe 2019 is the year we are just content to be a childless family for a little while longer. I don’t know that the future holds, but I know who holds the future.

If you’d like to connect, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

Find me on Instagram and Facebook

I would love to get to know you more and answer any questions you might have! 🙂

 

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His Faithfulness and Goodness

December 11, 2018

Written by Emily Williams, Guest Blogger

This is a story of God’s goodness and faithfulness.

I found myself pregnant at 15 years old. On December 3, 1997, a beautiful baby girl was brought into the world but her time with me was limited. I’ll never forget those moments in the hospital before her adoptive parents came to take her to her forever home. I was filled with so many emotions but I knew that I was making the best decision.

Fast forward to the year 2006 when I married the man of my dreams. I told him well before we planned to be married about my past and he still chose to marry me! We had many conversations about our hopes, dreams and desires for our new life together which included children down the road. We had been married about six years when we decided that it was time for me to get off of my birth control and see what happened. Three years later, still nothing. We decided to see a fertility doctor just to make sure we were both functioning properly and after a series of labs and a procedure (for me), it was determined that there was no reason we shouldn’t be able to have our own children. We carried on with life but the desire was still in my heart.

2016 was a big year for us. In January, I got a Facebook message from my 18 year old biological daughter saying she wanted to meet me. God is so good!!! {so many great details to share about this}

Also in 2016, my husband and I agreed that God was leading us to become foster parents so we signed up for classes. We finished up classes and less than a month later, we received a call, “It’s a girl!”. They shared many details of this infant’s journey that they thought may discourage us but we just said yes! yes! yes! We had about a week to prepare our home for our first child. Our family and friends rallied around us- painting, rearranging, gathering essential and bringing donations. When the day finally came, we knew it was a day that had be orchestrated by God. Her first name was my husband’s grandmothers name and her middle is my name. There has been nothing easy about this foster care journey but on December 10, 2018, after 939 in foster care, she will finally share our last name.

My biological daughter is engaged and our soon to be adopted daughter will be her flower girl. My life has come full circle. It’s an adoptive story of redemption. I wish I could go back and tell my 15 year old self how good and faithful God is and that it will all be okay.

If you’d like to connect with Emily, you can find her on Instagram or Twitter

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A Heart Crushed for Adoption

December 6, 2018

Written by Kelly Briscoe, guest blogger

Adoption.

There’s so much depth in the word adoption.

I knew from a very young age that adoption was going to be part of my story. I’ve felt crushed for it for a long, long time. The Lord has always had it on my heart and now I know why.

When I was dating my husband, Britt, I told him that adoption was something I knew was in my future and he knew it would be something we would do, we just weren’t sure when. Turns out, the reason the Lord had always crushed my heart for adoption was because that was the way He wanted us to grow each little one that would come into our family. I love that so much. He had prepared my heart for adoption in more ways that I can count and that makes me giddy.

Britt and I decided in April of 2017 to begin the adoption process. We knew going in it would be a few things: expensive, long, trying. We had no idea what it would bring and it still surprises me each day, even after bringing our girl home. I thought I knew, and actually I’m glad with how much I’ve learned.

After a lot of Googling, researching, and calling, we decided a consulting agency (that many had recommended) was the direction we felt lead to take. We felt like that was a huge hurdle to jump.

When we finally got our home study approved – it was such an amazing feeling. We made and completed our profile book that was going to be shown to potential birth families. That was such an emotional process. 16 pages of us. We included a letter to potential expectant mamas and we prayed over each beautiful woman who would hold our book. We wanted her to know she was loved and chosen by the one and only. I can’t imagine having to make such a huge decision for your baby based only on 16 pages from a stranger. The weight of that truth is insane.

So profile book done, paperwork done – it was time to start presenting to potential expectant mamas. After talking with our agency, we were anticipating waiting for a good while before hearing “yes, they chose you.” We were sure it would be a while, so we prepared and fundraised (I could talk about this all day because GOD SHOWED UP). We got our first case the day after we went active. Seeing the email come through lead to a rush of emotions!! We praised God because it felt like we would never get there, but here we were, stalking our emails, praying like crazy, and soaking it all in. People ask me all the time how I knew when it was time to say yes to a case. I actually don’t know. I just felt this feeling. So we said yes. We got a call at 8:30pm from our consultant on a Wednesday night. “Mama C chose you!!!” And then tears and tears and more tears. Freaking out. Then more tears. We were so unbelievably grateful for Eleanor’s birth mother had chosen us to be her parents.

Let me tell you one thing to NEVER take for granted in the adoption process. The amazing birth mama, our Mama C. Think about the gift (no really, sit and think) and tell me they’re not completely and utterly amazing. This beautiful woman read our book and decided we would be the ones to raise her baby. Not only that – she would allow this family to be in the room when her tiny babe came into the world. She would let this family cut the cord from her to her baby. Lord Almighty can only write that story. We’re so crazy in love with Eleanor’s birth mama. God gave us each other. We’re so thankful He did. I could speak about this all day long, friends.

Adoption is truly something else. Something that’s hard to describe but it can be both beautiful and hard for everyone in the triad. There’s only one who could knit such a stunning story and process. One Heavenly Father that would bring two families together. One God that would know this is what our hearts need. Not just a daughter to hold, but a birth mother to love, a community to cherish, and a God to thank and praise each day. It brought us so much further in our faith and I am so in awe of that.

So here’s what I suggest if you’re thinking about the adoption process:

  • Take the time and really listen to what the Lord is saying.
  • Pray like you’ve never prayed before.
  • Find your people. Trust me when I say that you need people that understand what you’re going through. Even if it’s just one person. Find them. Don’t let them go.
  • If you hear Him say yes, don’t ignore it. Be kinda scared, but listen like it’s your job. Don’t turn Him down. He’ll make it happen – you just need to say yes.
  • Be the light of the Lord in all that you do during the process.

Starting or being in the adoption process can be intimidating, scary, amazing. If you have questions or just need to chat, please feel free to reach out to me. I would be so honored kellyhallbriscoe@gmail.com.

You can also find Kelly on Instagram!

 

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Infertility and the Road to Comedy

October 18, 2018
Written by Meirav Z, guest blogger and creator of “Inconceivable”
I never thought I’d one day talk so much about infertility.  And it would be about me.  And I definitely never would’ve guessed it could be funny.
So first off, blogging isn’t easy for me. I’d much rather stand on a stage in front of lots of people with a bright spotlight on me.  Really.
My name is Meirav (pronounced May-rahv).  I’ve experienced unexplained infertility and unexplained secondary infertility for a total of about 10 years, including hormone shots (for those who aren’t familiar– those are needles, not drinks), countless examination with that overly-evasive and completely unmagical vaginal wand, industrial amounts of lube, awkward IUI’s, surreal IVF, heartbreaking miscarriages, emotions galore, and everything else that’s very familiar to the ttc community— a community which I only became aware of this past year.
Professionally, I’m in theater, so I’m familiar with putting on a happy face and having that show-must-go-on attitude. And maybe now you can better understand how it’s easier for me to stand in front of a crowd and talk about my private parts and mood bungee-jumps than to write a blog about it.  Yes, “you” as in the one reading this.  Hi there. I know for a fact we already have at least one if not many things in common, and that’s so amazing that it’ll just help get me through writing this.
I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, and as a young adult and adult, I was very aware pregnancy (you have sex = you get pregnant, it’s in all the books, sex-ed classes, movies, songs….How could anyone imagine it not being so?) When I was actually ready to have kids, I was shocked it didn’t happen immediately after my husband and I stopped using birth control.  It took us a long while to figure out that maybe we had some sort of problem.  Did I take birth control for too long?  Was there something that I missed in Sex Ed?? Nobody around us talked about this as an issue, we didn’t know this was something that affected so many couples.  This was all taking place in Israel, where I live now.  It’s a very family-oriented country, but we never really heard anything about problems while family-making.  We were totally clueless, and it took me a while to get over the embarrassment and shame and guilt and contact a doctor to inquire.  I mean, how were we not doing it right?!  I had a couple of miscarriages during that time as well.  Ugh, that horrible feeling of failure…  The doctor’s response was an immediate “oh, this happens to lots of couples, don’t worry about it” and we were sent to start fertility testing.
All the testing showed that everything was fine and in working order with the both of us, so we got the explanation of “unexplained infertility”— The thing you can’t pinpoint and fix because you don’t know what it is.  So off we went to fertility treatment.  I know, I just made it sound like we were skipping and hopping along with joyous background music. Nope. So how can you treat what you don’t know is malfunctioning? Well, with extra hormones, scheduled sex, and lots of intervention by medical personnel who are also complete strangers, of course!  I know, sounds exactly like a sexy resort vacation.
I remember that we were at this tiny fertility/IVF clinic, it was practically a hallway with a couple of chairs.  I was about to begin fertility treatments towards an IUI, all of this being a completely top secret assignment from anyone besides my husband and me, of course.  The nurse gave me a detailed explanation on how to self-administer the hormone shots with this special kit I was given.  I had to start on the third day of menstruation (“Day 3” later became known as this magical day for anything fertility-related). I listened very carefully, I even took notes.  I was a good student, I was going to ace this thing.  Then, sure enough I started getting my period, and I knew could finally begin the sure-to-work treatment in only 2 days.  But then my period wasn’t really, and something seemed off. I called the clinic and spoke with the nurse.  She had me come in and take another blood test, just to be sure.  Later that day the nurse called, congratulating me that I was pregnant, naturally!  We were amazed and so happy, and I got a speedy graduation from the fertility clinic, I felt like a star student.
My husband and I had our amazing daughter and felt overjoyed.
And then we wanted another child, and there we were “trying” again with no pregnancy.  Why?? This time we knew to go back to the fertility doctor right away.  We were then labeled as having “unexplained secondary infertility”, which is like “Really-Unexplained Infertility” or “Unexplained Infertility: The Revenge”.  We got ready to start treatment once again (well, for the first time, technically), and then I found out how little I knew about fertility treatments. I knew nothing. This time, I was waiting for that Day 3, totally thinking I’ll be pregnant again minutes before administering that first hormone shot.  But not this time.  This time I had to go through with it.  And then some.  So many shots, several failed IUI’s, then IVF. Remember that tiny IVF hallway-clinic I mentioned eariler?  Now it was already a few years after that first visit, and that clinic had expanded to be huge and shiny with nice leather couches and sliding glass doors… So many people going through IVF now.
The hormones and fertility treatments were too much at one point.  It was a huge strain on our family, and on our marriage.  We decided to take a break and just enjoy and appreciate what we have, and our daughter will have to make do without a sibling.  A couple of years later, which was about 2 years ago, I found out I was pregnant. Naturally again, and I found out pretty late in.  But within about a 2 week period we got on an insane fertility roller-coaster: Found out about the pregnancy, heard the heartbeat for the first time, and then didn’t hear a heartbeat. We were shocked, crying, I had to get a D&C.  No words.  But we got through it.
My husband always wanted me to talk about all of this with someone, and I wouldn’t.  I just couldn’t.  But then, after that last crazy roller-coaster loop, I decided to try.  But how??  I started collecting all my thoughts on paper, and when thinking about it, I found lots of comedic moments.  That fertility roller coaster is so surreal at times, it’s funny.  I had figured what worked for me.  So I invited some friends over to my house one night, they didn’t even know what they were coming for.  And there I was, telling them my fertility journey.  What it really means.  Everything you have to do, everything that’s done to you, all the feelings involved.  And being an actress who loves comedy, I presented it to them using characters, songs, and lots of humor. I was so nervous, I think I was sitting down reading from my paper the whole time.
When I was done I was so relieved that I got through it, now everyone could go home and that was that.  But instead, they all started telling me I need to turn this into a real show.  And even more surprising, they stayed over for a long time afterwards, because they all started TALKING.  They started to open up about their own related stories, that other friends in the room didn’t really know about.  And there suddenly was this deeper understanding and connection.  That’s when I knew this was worth exploring.  Because it got people talking about this thing nobody ever really talks about. Honestly and openly. And it got people laughing, too.  It’s like the comedy broke the ice of this taboo.
My husband wasn’t in the room that night, I made him stay in the area near our daughter’s bedroom to make sure she wouldn’t wake up and hear random songs and phrases about vaginas, sex, and other child-inappropriate content.  When everyone eventually left that night, he came up to me and just said he had no clue what that evening was about, he only managed to hear bits and pieces, but he was so proud of me and hugged me.  We stood there hugging for a good long while.  He’s been my biggest fan and best partner from the beginning. Infertility is so hard on men, too.  And yes, I’m crying as I’m typing this.
So fast forward about a year later, I now have a new show (this time it’s a solo show… about my personal stuff… yikes), titled Inconceivable: The Totally True One-Woman Semi-Fertile Quasi-“Musical”.
I have the privilege of performing it on stages big and small, including the National Theatre of Israel, and will be making a U.S. debut this October at the world’s largest solo performance festival, the United Solo Theatre Festival in the heart of New York City’s theater district.  My performance already sold out and I’ve been fortunate to receive an additional show date!  It’s crazy!  But crazy good, because now I’m on a mission to get more people talking about infertility, and laughing, and talking some more.  I’m learning about others who are on this mission in their own way, and it’s great.  More talking will create more awareness, and more awareness will drop that associated stigma, help educate, and make necessary changes or lead to advancements.
I’ve performed this show numerous times by now, essentially telling my story over and over again, and despite all the comedy it’s still very challenging.  But I keep doing it for the sole reason of what happens after each performance.  The live experience with this show is so energetic, it’s completely different from reading something or watching a screen which can be powerful in their own right, and this live energy is even more true for the complex topic of infertility.  The response for the show is amazing.  Some audience members find me after the show and tell me directly.  Most confide how they’ve experienced similar journeys and it’s so good to know they’re not the only ones, some thank me for educating them on what their children or friends are going through or have gone through, some are medical professionals who got some clarity to the patients’ side of things, and some just relate to the show in one form or another.  I’ve learned so much from the whole process of this show, both professionally and personally.
I have this guest book where people can write their thoughts, reactions, etc. after seeing the show, which I love reading after I pack up each performance.  One audience member wrote that people all over the world should see this.  And it’s true, people all over the world are going through the same things other people are, and may not even know it.  Thousands of miles apart feeling lonely but in reality so close.  And all of it boils down to the fact that we can all connect on one if not many levels, just like you and I already have things in common, which I find to be so exciting and empowering. I hope anyone reading this can identify with that.
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The Thyroid – Fertility Connection

October 4, 2018

Written byAlyssa Hustedt, guest blogger

Did you know that 1 in 8 women will experience a thyroid imbalance or disorder in their lifetime?  In addition to those diagnosed, there are many others who do not fit the medical criteria of thyroid disease but will feel the effects of poor thyroid function.  The thyroid gland influences almost every cell in your body and its hormones play a huge role in maintaining health, vitality and even fertility. Today, I am here to share with you the signs and symptoms of a thyroid imbalance, which lab markers to ask your doctor for and what you can do to support your thyroid naturally.  

The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped organ at the front of the neck and its function is to take iodine and other nutrients and convert them into thyroid hormones—thyroxin (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).   Every cell in the body depends on these hormones for regulation of their metabolism. Thyroid hormones regulate body weight and control the rate at which the body produces energy from food thereby directly impacting energy levels.  Hypothyroidism can cause infertility by preventing ovulation and adequate levels are critical in pregnancy because these hormones greatly influence growth and development of a growing baby.

Signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism can include feeling sluggish or tired, difficulty losing weight, dry skin, hair loss, constipation, cold sensitivity, lack of sweating, feeling mentally sluggish, depressed, experience a “pins and needles” sensation like when a limb falls asleep, puffiness in the face and/or neck or have loss of the outer 1/3 of the eyebrow.

Not as common–but just as concerning–are the signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism.  These can include increased BMR, weight loss, increased appetite, heat intolerance, hypertensive tendencies, feeling anxious or irritable, difficulty falling asleep, may suffer from rapid or irregular heartbeat, brittle hair, an increased number of bowel movements per day and hyperpigmentation of the skin or flushed skin (a red face).  

Many, if not all, of us have had our TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) tested because many doctors solely rely on TSH to determine if there is a thyroid dysregulation.  TSH is not a thyroid hormone itself—it is the hormone that the pituitary gland uses to signal to the thyroid to release thyroid hormones. Anything below .5 can be considered hyperthyroid and anything above 5.5 hypothyroid depending on the lab you use.  These numbers may be a bit opposite of what you would expect and that is because when your thyroid hormones (T4 and T3) start to get low the pituitary will begin to “yell” at the thyroid gland resulting in higher TSH.  In other words, the pituitary starts to send more TSH to the thyroid to signal it to start releasing more hormones. The opposite is true as well: when thyroid hormones are sufficient or too high in the body, the pituitary will back off sending TSH to the thyroid and the number will drop.  As a functional practitioner, I like to see TSH between 1 and 2. This is a much narrower range than lab range but is generally where a person feels the best. The closer the TSH gets to 3 and beyond, the more you may begin to experience hypothyroid symptoms.

The problem with only testing TSH is that you could be missing some key components in the equation.  For example, your TSH could be perfectly normal (so between 1 and 2) but your T4 and T3 might be out of lab range low and cause hypothyroid symptoms because you are not obtaining adequate amounts of actual active thyroid hormones.  When I run a lab panel, I like to see the full picture. This includes TSH, Total T4, Free T4, Total T3, Free T3, Reverse T3, T3 Uptake and TPO & TGB antibodies. Testing for the TPO & TGB antibodies is important with any thyroid imbalance because this will indicate if you have any thyroid autoimmune (meaning that your body is producing antibodies that attack and destroy the thyroid gland itself).  This is something to be concerned about and supplementing for autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s or Graves ’ disease may look different than only having a thyroid imbalance or insufficiency. The autoimmune component in any system of the body should not be ignored.

SO what can you do to support your thyroid gland?  

  1.  If you have any type of thyroid imbalance, dysregulation or autoimmune, it is crucial that you eliminate all gluten from your diet.  Gluten is like the Devil to your thyroid gland. Besides the fact that gluten is a gateway to leaky gut and other autoimmune conditions, thyroid hormones and gluten molecules look very similar.  Gluten sensitivity can exacerbate an attack on the thyroid and in return Hashimoto’s can set up gluten sensitivity.
  2. Focus on eating a nutrient-dense diet.  Throw out the packaged foods, sugary drinks and drive-thru meals.  Eat to nourish, not deplete your body. Choose whole, well-sourced foods.  Shop on the outer edges of the grocery store and always check labels for added chemicals and preservatives.Specific nutrients to fuel your thyroid include:  Iodine which can be found in sea vegetables. Selenium (which helps turn T4 into active T3) found in well-sourced brazil nuts, fish, eggs, raw dairy and grass-fed meats.  Zinc is in seafood, beef and lamb, pumpkin seeds and mushrooms. Magnesium can be found properly prepared beans and nut, brown rice and green leafy vegetables. Other nutrients to support thyroid include Vitamin C, A, B2, B3 and B12.  You are likely to obtaining these vitamins if you are eating a nutrient-dense, well-sourced diet and if your body is properly digesting. Side note: You can have a pristine diet but if you are not properly digesting and absorbing your nutrient rich foods, you can become deficient.
  3.    Removing toxins.  Toxins will compete with iodine specifically.  Remember that the thyroid’s job is to turn iodine into thyroid hormones.  Certain halogens have a similar structure and will compete with iodine—specifically fluorine, chlorine and bromine.  One of the reasons you may be struggling with an underactive thyroid is that you are not getting acquiring adequate amounts of iodine and in turn your thyroid is displacing iodine with these toxins.  Estrogen dominance is another condition that will affect the thyroid. Also emotional toxins affect the thyroid. Prolonged stress will fatigue the adrenal glands and cause the thyroid to put on its breaks.  This can be any kind of stress—illness, being in a bad relationship, work stress, overuse of caffeine or alcohol, lack of sleep, excessive exercise, prescription drugs, persistent fears, financial stress and more.  Any kind of stress if it becomes chronic can become toxic to your life. Learning how to manage stress is the key.
  4.  Lastly, if you struggle with thyroid issues, I encourage you to find a functional practitioner to work with to help you investigate further into where the root of your imbalances lie.  Is it poor digestion? 20% of your non-active T4 is converted to active T3 in the gut. And 40% of that conversion process happens in the liver so if your liver is not functioning correctly it can prevent that conversion from happening.  Or maybe it is adrenal fatigue or food sensitivities, anemia or heavy metals. Working with someone who can help you support these systems, not just manage them but work towards healing can seriously change your life.

It has changed my life.  I have spent most of my life in a state of extreme fatigue and being able to experience the flip side has been amazing.  Life truly is so different when your body is working the way it was intended too and the opposite is true as well—life can be so crippling if you are facing a chronic illness or if you have a thyroid imbalance.  My heart goes out to you today. Don’t give up. Keep searching, keep seeking, find a practitioner that can give you answers, guidance and direction and move you towards a full and happy life. Doing things naturally is not easy—it takes some determination, disciple and patience but it is WORTH it.  YOU are worth it.

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