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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Written By, Katherine Goodman
I thought I had it all figured out. I knew exactly what would happen. After being married for 2 years, we would have you, and then every 18-24 months, I’d have another baby, and we’d complete our family with probably 4 children, before I turned 30 years old. You would have dark hair, your dad’s olive skin, my big smile, light brown eyes, and a butt chin (that your dad and I both have). I was in my young 20’s when I made this plan and didn’t realize, sometimes life doesn’t go the way you think it will.
I remember coming off of birth control around my 2 year anniversary mark, as promised, and assuming I was already pregnant. I cried to your dad, ‘Oh my gosh. I am probably pregnant! What if I am not actually ready for this afterall?!’ And then I was incredibly shocked when I ended up not being pregnant, again and again, and again. That’s okay. I was still young and we weren’t actively trying, so no big deal – I knew it would happen soon enough.
After 1 year of not trying, but not preventing, I grew worried. All of your aunts and uncles, and grandparents, and my cousins, conceived so easily. I went into my doctor’s office, and was given the basics on when to properly time everything to try to get pregnant. Your dad and I tried that for another year with no pregnancy.
We were a few years in at this point and you still showed no inkling of coming any time soon. I tried every diet. I lost a bunch of weight. I bought all the proper vitamins. I went to the doctor again and this time I had blood work done on me, and we had your dad checked for some things too. Your dad came back fine but I was told my progesterone was a little low. I was instructed to try taking clomid.
I remember swallowing that pill for the first time and having a similar reaction to when I came off birth control years before, ‘I can’t believe it. This pill is going to get pregnant. And on the first month too!’ But it didn’t work. We tried for 3 months with clomid and nothing came of it (except for me being really grumpy, and having a lot of headaches).
The doctor recommended we move onto inuterine insemination (IUI). Okay – so THIS TIME. Definitely this time. I just KNEW it would work on the first try. My hormones were perfect. Dad’s sample was perfect. I had 3 perfectly sized follicles growing. I left the doctors office that day and wrote a letter to you about how the procedure went, etc. etc. And then… not pregnant. We tried a 2nd IUI and still, not even a whisper of a pregnancy. My doctor said there was no reason that I wasn’t getting pregnant and labeled me as UNEXPLAINED INFERTILITY.
At this point, I figured the problem was my doctors office and we consulted with several new doctors (one doctor told me to keep trying IUI’s – fired; another doctor attempted a min-stim IVF but monitored my hormones so poorly that there was no way I could have ever become pregnant – fired). Finally, we found a clinic that we felt confident would help us find you.
We had wonderful family members and friends who helped us save for this expensive treatment. We attempted an IVF through this new clinic. This time, I was not confident like I had been in the past, especially when they told me my embryos were poor quality. 6 years of failed treatments taught me that it hurts too much to get my hopes up. And so this time, especially when I felt no symptoms, I was positive I was NOT pregnant. And then I got the phone call from the doctor’s office. The nurse surprised me when she said, “You’re pregnant!” Tears filled my eyes. Finally. FINALLY. We were going to have our baby. However, my HCG # was low at 21, which wasn’t a great sign. I still felt hopeful, and surprised your dad (even though he knew we’d get the results that day) with a baby onesie. My numbers continued to rise, but over the next couple weeks, I began bleeding. We went in for our 6 week ultrasound, terrified. We could see on the monitor that I had lost the baby. We were crushed. Your dad and I cried into each others arms for many, many nights.
A year passed and my doctor said he suspected I had endometriosis. I went in for surgery to diagnose and clear out scar tissue and the doctor told me, not only did I have endometriosis, but that it was stage 4, all over my insides. He cleared it out and then put me on a drug called Depot Lupron to treat any endometriosis he couldn’t reach. I took the medication for 3 months. We attempted IVF a 2nd time, and were able to fund it thanks to some very kind and generous friends who offered to pay for our medication. Luckily, my egg quality looked so much better. This would be it. All this work. All these years. It came down to this. I waited the 10 days and received the highly anticipated phone call, “You’re pregnant… but your number is low… just like last time.” An HCG over 5 is considered pregnant (though, generally, over 50 is considered a good sign). My number was a 5.1. I begged the nurse to let me quit the meds but she told me to continue. So I did. Maybe we’d receive a miracle. I read of a lot of miracles on the internet. Maybe I’d be so lucky too. My numbers increased for a week, and then plummeted. I miscarried again.
My doctor tested me for a gene mutation MTHFR (which not only did I test positive for, but so did your dad!). We tweaked our vitamins (taking folate instead of folic acid, adding in special b-vitamins, and baby aspirin), and we also tested me for elevated Natural Killer Cells, which I also tested positive for (some say that elevated NKC can cause miscarriage). I didn’t think I could handle another IVF/miscarriage, especially with the hole it was burning in my pocket, but with all these answers, your dad and I said we would give it one last try. At that same time, your dad and I entered an IVF Giveaway and were one of the 7 lucky couples who won. We had to pay for the pricey medication so it took a long time before we were ready to proceed with our final IVF attempt. But we did. We were scared. It had been 9 years of trying to have you. Once again, even after all the attempts to improve egg quality, my egg quality was worse than ever. But we had 1 embryo that fought so hard and it was good enough to transfer (with an additional embryo that was only so-so). The doctor transferred both embryos and once again, we had to wait the dreaded 10 days to see if we were pregnant. I started an intralipid treatment to try to suppress my immunity from miscarriage. The clinic called me on that 10th day and said, “You’re pregnant… but your number is low.” No. No. NO. This time my HCG was at a 38. Better than I’ve ever had, but still low. However, they monitored me for another 2 weeks and my numbers rose beautifully. I hesitantly allowed myself to think, maybe, just maybe, this time it would work.
The morning of our 6 week ultrasound, I began bleeding, as soon as I entered the doctors office. I began hyperventilating and the ultrasound showed a pregnancy, but no heartbeat. I prayed that the bleeding was nothing to worry myself with, but the doctor confirmed, our baby died. Not only had the baby died, but they recommended I do an immediate D&C so that they could take the pregnancy tissue from inside me and test the baby for chromosomal abnormalities (since we had never tested our embryos to see if they were chromosomally normal or not). They worried that if I waited, that I would pass the baby at home, and then I’d never have answers on the health of the baby. I agreed to do the surgery that same day. It was one of the hardest days of my life. At home that night, I sobbed. I had thought it was finally time to grow our family and the reality of knowing it still wasn’t time, crushed me.
We found out later, the baby we lost was a boy, and also chromosomally normal.
So. It’s been 10 years now. Our doctor has recommended we don’t use my eggs for another IVF so we are debating using donor eggs, or trying an embryo adoption, adoption, or foster care. Though we have grieved so much over our losses over the years, we have learned even more that we still want YOU. You weren’t one of the babies we lost, however, you’ve been with us the entire time. I have felt your heart and your spirit surround us, when we have endured some of our saddest moments. One time, during my first yoga class after my miscarriage, in the final pose, I lay down and had my hands resting open beside me and I could have sworn, there was a small hand settled within my hand.
We know you’ll come to us at the right time, and in a specific way. Your story has already begun and you haven’t even been created yet. When you are finally in our arms, I can promise you, it will be the happiest day of our lives. I have no idea what you’ll end up looking like, but I feel confident (this time I really mean it) that I will recognize your heart and spirit when I see you for the first time. Thank you for being with us, and for being patient as we walk this path. The pain of the past, will all be worth it, when we stare into YOUR unique, beautiful face. You’ve taught me that timing is everything, to be kind to others because we’re all fighting a battle, to be patient because good things are coming, and to enjoy each and every day since they are all a gift.
You are so totally grounded for making us wait this long. I am kidding, of course. But please come to us soon. I can’t wait to kiss your cheeks, stare into your eyes, give my entire heart to you, and watch you experience life. From now, until my dying day, I will be thinking of you always.
Learn more about Katherine on her
It’s true that for some couples, getting pregnant is as easy as one night of fun. But, here’s the dirty little secret that we don’t talk about: It’s not always that easy for everyone because conceiving is really all about timing. No, not only the big picture timing of family and career planning, but also timing in the cycle. When you know your cycle, you can double your chances of conceiving, and Ava’s technology helps women do just that.
Ava recently confirmed that more than 1,000 babies from around the world have been born from women using the company’s cycle tracking Ava bracelet to help them conceive. The first Ava baby, Jace McGee, born in St. George, Utah, was announced in August 2017, and the company’s first “celebrity Ava baby,” Emerson Tolbert (daughter of “The Bachelor/Bachelor in Paradise” stars Jade & Tanner Tolbert) was born last fall.
Using sensor technology, this bracelet can monitor key health measures and determine a woman’s unique fertility window in real time, , all while she simply wears it during sleep. Women sync it with the Ava app in the morning, avoiding the hassles, mess and invasiveness of other fertility tracking methods like ovulation strips and BBT thermometers. The Ava bracelet was proven ,in a recently concluded clinical study at the University Hospital of Zurich, to detect an average of 5.3 fertile days per cycle—in real time—with 89 percent accuracy.
Hear from the women whose journey to motherhood was possible with the help of Ava:
Lauren welcomed her baby boy Landon after years of struggling with painful and debilitating endometriosis. Managing this condition was difficult, involving multiple surgeries and the possibility of infertility. She said, “When I thought about getting pregnant originally, I thought you just went to it and you try and you prayed for the best. But with Ava, I got to see that you could see what was happening from your pulse, from your body temperature, from how much sleep you’re getting. I realized that there were so many other components that went into it that I never knew or even thought to know beforehand.”
Briana, like many women, thought it would be easy to get pregnant. She even says, “My mom always said with her and my dad, the second they tried, the next month she would be pregnant, so I thought it would be the same for us. But, it didn’t really turn out that way.” She adds, “I had been trying all these other things for 11 months unsuccessfully, and the first cycle I use Ava, we become pregnant, finally.” She also found that, “The most important thing I learned about my cycle is that I was ovulating a week outside of when my fertility apps told me when I was ovulating, so that was definitely the biggest and most important factor of all.” Briana welcomed her baby girl Ariana earlier this year.
Jade, a contestant on the Bachelor, started trying to conceive shortly after getting married but felt like she didn’t quite understand how to approach the process. She found that, “I think one of the biggest misconceptions that I had about trying to conceive and ovulation is that I thought you had about a 48-hour window to get pregnant, and so I thought it was really hard to get pregnant. And using the bracelet, I found out that there are actually five or six days, and that just gave me some relief to know that there is more time that I actually could get pregnant.” After two cycles of using Ava, she was pregnant, and she welcomed her baby girl Emerson last year.
Lindsay, who works for Ava, found that even with all the knowledge of fertility and cycle tracking, there were still bumps along the road. After experiencing a miscarriage, it took another three cycles before she was pregnant. She says “The nice thing about Ava is that there are so many things that are outside of your control when you’re trying, and it can be really stressful. But, I knew that at least the thing I had control over—timing intercourse around ovulation—I had under control, and I could cross that off my list, and that was the thing I didn’t have to worry about.” Lindsay welcomed her baby boy Wyatt in May 2018.
Dafne welcomed the first Ava baby in Spain. After trying for months without success, she turned to Ava and was pregnant within in her first cycle. She says, “I can definitely say that the Ava bracelet was my amulet in this process, helping me complete my dreams and never could I have imagined it would be so simple and fast.” She also found that Ava continued to help her during pregnancy, sharing “I continued to wear Ava while I was pregnant because it gave me control, and I could download the charts and share them with medical professionals.” Dafne welcome her baby boy Luca earlier in 2018.
Rebekah welcomed the first Ava baby in the U.K. She found out she was pregnant just before celebrating her 25th birthday, and she says, “My favorite thing about using Ava is that everything is all in one place. You’re not trying to collect all these bits of data separately and then put them all together yourself. You just open up the app, and it’s all there.” She also found that the Aa communities supportive, saying “It’s really nice to speak to other people going through the same things, so you can all obsess about your [Ava] graphs together.” Rebekah welcomed her baby boy Benjamin in March 2018.
Sabrina welcomed the first Ava baby in Switzerland. She began using Ava after her first child was born and was trying for a second child. She says, “I breastfed my firstborn for a long period, which had had a big impact on my cycle. So, when I wanted to get pregnant again, I wanted to avoid any frustration during this process this time around. I really wanted to be sure to use an efficient and recognized cycle tracker.” Sabrina welcomed her baby Noemi earlier this year.
Written by Kathleen Hedges, guest blogger
If you asked me at age 5 what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would answer quickly and with such pride “a mom!” I grew up with that dream of motherhood forever in my mind. On January 3, 2014, I met the man of my dreams, we quickly decided on forever and both of us wanted a family so when we got married on May 9, 2015, we started trying to grow our family.
I tracked my cycles, read books, followed old wives tales, and we prayed, prayed more, and waited but each month the test was still negative. Each time I took a test my heart broke a little more. I felt so helpless and alone while all my friends were getting married after us and getting pregnant before us. It felt like each month passed so slowly waiting to see if we were pregnant yet.
After about 6 months I knew something was wrong. It felt like such a struggle. My parents and my mom’s parents also had a hard time conceiving. My parents had to take hormones to conceive me and did an IUI for my sister. My grandparents couldn’t conceive so they adopted my aunt and then ended up having 3 biological kids after, so in turn I felt infertility was apart of our story as well. I called my OB-GYN and set up an appointment after about a year of trying. She ran every test she could and they all seemed normal. She then requested a semen analysis and when the results came back, she didn’t quite know how to explain them, so she sent us to a urologist (who probably had the worst bedside manner of any doctor ever!). We went to see the urologist about a week before my birthday and he looked over the results, examined my husband, and told us 100% there was no chance we would have children of our own. He didn’t tell us about IVF but I knew we were meant to be parents. When we left the office I couldn’t believe it I was in shock and then hysterical. I didn’t know what to do.
About a week after I had come to terms with infertility, I called our insurance. I wanted to know about fertility coverage and if there was anything we could do. By some miracle our insurance covered both IVF and IUI at 100%. It was the only thing I needed to hear. I called the doctor’s office who had done the semen analysis and who my OB-GYN has recommended and booked an appointment. I figured I would meet the doctor and see if he was the one for me or if another one might be better. A week later when we drove up to the office with all our test results in hand to show him. I was so terrified. I didn’t know what was about to happen.
But, Dr B was amazing! He looked over our tests. He was honest and genuine and I knew we were right where we were supposed to be. He said there was almost no chance we would ever have children on our own but with invitro fertilization we could. I remember so clearly the tears flooding my eyes because he told us “We will get you your baby”.
Our first round of IVF was set to begin and they sent us the drugs and syringes. Wow -it was overwhelming. I sat in shock when I opened up the box. How could all of this be the way to get our sweet baby? The hormones, the tears, the needles…I hid it all from those around me, except for my husband and a few people no one knew how hard this journey was.
Our egg retrieval was great! They got 19 eggs and 9 were fertilized and made it to day 5! We had 9 embryos! We transferred the best looking one and I had to spend 3 days on bed rest and continue taking the hormones. On November 23, we found out we were pregnant! It was so wild because almost instantly, I was so sick. I could hardly eat, wanted to sleep all the time and remember thinking “How could this be? I’m only 10 days pregnant”.
December 5th we went in for our first ultrasound at 5 weeks pregnant. They could see the sac and the baby growing inside. Everything seemed to be growing correctly and the doctor brushed off my extreme sickness. We went back a week later and the doctor said “There is the baby…and there is another baby!”
I can’t even remember how many cuss words came out of my mouth. I made him check again. “Yes there are two!” The shock was overwhelming. We couldn’t get pregnant and we had transferred one embryo and we were having two babies! Identical twins. I couldn’t get over it. The doctor said sometimes one twin doesn’t make it so we would check again in a week. So we did 7 weeks and our little twins were still there and we got to see their heartbeats. We would have a few more appointments before the fertility doctor would release us back to an OBGYN who specializes in high risk multiple pregnancies to be cared for until our little ones came. The next week we came back and there they were both little twins tucked in tight and hearts beating strong. Dr B was happy our littles were growing and after Christmas we would have one final appointment with him, then we would get to meet our new OB.
Over the holidays we announced to our families we were expecting identical twins due August 3. I was still extremely sick and I lost 12 lbs in a matter of weeks. I was happy our family was finally growing by 2 blessings! I was extremely worried about how they would grow inside me and if I would make it to full term, if they could be healthy. My husband tried reassuring me that everything we be wonderful and our two little blessings would be here before we knew it.
We started our new year in Yosemite talking about how it would be our last one before we had two littles along with. Our next appointment came Jan 6 and for some reason my heart was still worried. The doctor brought up the ultrasound and there were our babies and no heart beats…no movement…no life inside me and I didn’t know. My life came crushing down. How could this happen to us after all the struggles it took us to get here why were we disappointed again? It was surreal leaving the office. How did we come in expecting two miracles and leave with our dreams crushed? Our identical twin girls were now our angels. The lives we had planned for them in our minds were gone. Jan 9 I had a D&C which was the worst thing to ever experience and suddenly it was just us again. No family to grow. I couldn’t stop thinking about the twins.
My husband has got to be the strongest man I know. Everyday my heart broke, everyday I broke down and he picked me up he helped me to find my strength in all this mess. I don’t know how I would have ever made it without him. We lost our two precious baby girls and he carried us and our marriage and protected it with all he is. We still wanted to grow our family and decided to go forward with our IVF journey. In March, we started again with the pills, shots, and the craziness. It only seemed harder this time.
Our second cycle didn’t take and it was another month with a negative test. We scheduled our third cycle we kept praying for our miracle. During the third cycle, we found my husband was being transferred for work and we were moving 300 miles away so during the shots and tears and madness we moved. My husband started a new job and couldn’t come for our transfer so my mom and I drove 300 miles back to Southern California and stayed with one of my best friends. My mom drove me to my transfer and held my hand while we waited. When we finished, we spent the day binge watching tv and laughing. The next day we drove back home, I was so nervous to get my hopes up but when we stopped at a gas station to use the bathroom I bought a scratcher and won! I saved the cash and as we drove home I couldn’t help but have hope. We had moved back to my hometown, we were near our people, this was part of God’s big plan.
A week later on our wedding anniversary we found out our little miracle was coming! It was shocking and hard to feel excited at first. But as the weeks passed and we traveled to appointment after appointment and finally heard the magical sound of her heart beat it got a little easier to believe. We hit 12 weeks we got to go to a regular OBGYN and we got to see her little wiggly body on the ultrasound and it all became real. Our rainbow baby was on the way, after the worst storms we could have ever imagined. As my belly grew so did our joy and excitement. I was sick again but this time I didn’t mind I couldn’t believe I was growing a little human! 19 weeks in, we did genetic testing and our anatomy ultrasound. With our families surrounding us we found out a little girl would be joining our family. My pregnancy was wonderful, I felt stronger and more proud of my body than ever. I was growing a healthy baby girl! I continued running and coaching fitness classes until the day my water broke.
My water broke and I thought our little girl would be here in a hurry. I had carried so small and only gained 12 lbs so I thought our baby girl would pop out tiny and easily. But just like our journey to finally get our baby, fast and easy was not in the plan. I was in for a surprise, this stubborn little girl wasn’t quite ready to make her appearance. After my water broke I endured 39 hours of hard labor, 24 of them completely unmedicated, she was not coming. We got taken in for a C section. To my luck, my OBGYN and the doctor I had nannied for for the last year were the two on call and both got to deliver our miracle. Raegan Kathleen was born at 7:56am January 22 8lbs 1oz and 20.75inches long.
Our rainbow baby girl is here. She is healthy and happy. Each day with her is such a blessing. As I sit here writing this I get to look at our sweet girl, our miracle. This journey was anything but easy but it was worth every shot, every tear, every night I spent awake praying for our baby and I am so glad this helped us to grow together in our marriage and to become the best parents we can be.
What is a rainbow baby? A rainbow baby is a baby that is born after a miscarriage, stillbirth, or passing away of an infant. These babies are the rainbow after the storm.
They are a sign of hope, promise, healing, and remembrance.
Here at What the Fertility, we want to celebrate these precious babes and honor the journey to their arrival. On August 22, we hope you will join us in celebrating the first ever National Rainbow Baby Day!
How can you participate?
We want to see your rainbows! Share the story of your rainbow baby on social media using the hashtag #NationalRainbowBabyDay and honor the rainbow in your life! You can also download the pictures below and use them to spread the word leading up to August 22nd.
Are you still waiting for your rainbow? We hope you will use this day as a reminder of hope and that other have walked in your shoes. This community is waiting and yearning to support you, so please reach out for words of encouragement or advice as your travel your journey.
Buy goodies at our fav shops to help a family bring home their rainbow! We’ve teamed up with some amazing small businesses who are generously donating a portion of their proceeds to Baby Question Foundation, who provides grants to people experiencing infertility. What an awesome way to celebrate and help a fellow infertility warrior! Check out:
Or you can always go directly to Baby Quest Foundation, and donate!
In the days leading up to August 22, we will be sharing stories from those who have weathered the storm and we want to see social media light up with rainbow babies! We want this day to be heard around the world so we can bring awareness to infertility, miscarriages, infant loss, and also the light that we can find after the storm.
Remember: use the hashtag #NationalRainbowBabyDay when sharing pictures and stories of your littles. Or share the images below to bring awareness to the day so others can join in! Be sure to tag us on Instagram at @WhatTheFertility and on Facebook! We can’t wait to celebrate with you!
If you have questions, or would like to collaborate on something special for August 22, please contact us!
Written by Tiffany Johnston, WTF contributor
For those of us who are unfortunate enough to be fluent in the language of infertility, there are few words, so innocuously strung together, that are more likely to elicit a punch in the face as when we are asked “Are you guys having kids?” or “Will you be having another?” When you’ve struggled with infertility these types of questions will never be a simple “yes,” or “no.” We are more accustomed to responding with “Maybe.” or “We hope so!” upon which it’s not hard to assume that the answer truly is far more complex and seeped in misery than the poor soul that dared to ask said question ever assumed. Realistically there is a 98% chance that the poor unfortunate soul asking the question at hand has no idea that you have endured months or years of disappointment, and that weekly you face a myriad of doctor appointments, shoot yourself up daily, and that you have come to track every single day of your month. Recently I brought up this topic with my postpartum counselor and wanted to talk about some strategies and “canned responses,” as she called them, that could help keep us on the right side of the law when those dreaded questions are asked:
1) Take A Deep Breath
Simple enough right? This is probably the most critical part in this interaction, because at this point in the interrogation your heart rate is elevated, pits are sweating and you are suddenly in fight or flight mode. The first few times you run into this question while struggling to conceive, will be like stubbing your toe; all at once your body will suddenly go rigid and it will feel like you just got the wind knocked out of you. In this moment of complete and utter panic, if you only do one thing, remember to breathe.
2) Remind Yourself That It’s Likely Not An Interrogation
Our society has created pre-formulated ideas on when and how we should reach certain milestones, so when we stray off the ‘typical’ path those around us are bound to become inquisitive. What you must remember is that most people are only mildly concerned about your life choices, so no matter how you answer them it is unlikely that it will have any long term ramifications to their day. So aside from a few follow up questions at most, the annoyance should be short lived and fairly painless once you have a battle strategy in place.
3) Consider Using a canned Response
The goal of this is to keep the conversation within YOUR comfort zone, because you do not owe anyone anything, especially not when it comes to your family and body. Come up with a short, sweet, and free of excuses response that you and your significant other are comfortable with sharing. The answers can vary slightly to match the circumstances or audience. We like to have one appropriate for work, family and friends. It is up to you to decide how in depth you go with each group of people but for your sanity have some kind of canned response ready for when the questions start flying.
4) Remember That It’s Okay To Have Boundaries
Our society is one that values simplicity, non-controversial topics, and likes to hide from taboo subjects. This type of thinking tends to lead to superficial conversations and naivety. So, though it is difficult, remember that you and your partner are the ones on the rollercoaster of bitter disappointment, painful procedures, and tough choices. You get to decide who gets the front row seat and who gets the seat in the very back. If your choice is not to share any of your journey with anyone, then own that. Make sure it’s your hand on the on/off switch, no one else’s. There will always be someone that could never relate and has no concept of conversational etiquette. Thus, it is your job as a couple to firmly place and uphold your boundaries, for your sanity, relationship and for the sake of our judicial system.
Most importantly remember that you dear one, are powerful beyond measure, and deserve to feel heard during your journey. Though each of us are different, I encourage you to strive to be vulnerable and connect with other women openly and courageously, strive to root yourself in finding a new more empowered and accepting you. That is capable, and willing to educate others while striving to grow a community full of empathic and enlightened individuals ready to support those facing the rollercoaster of infertility.
Written by Nicola Salmon, guest blogger
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t on a diet. Every positive thing I did for my health (and there were lots) was a weight loss attempt in disguise.
I started a couch to 5K running program and limped round a couple of 10K running events. I tried a shake replacement diet. I went paleo. I brewed and drank disgusting Chinese herbs.
I could go on but I wont bore you.
My life goal was to lose weight. The amount I wanted to lose varied with my waist size as it seemed the more I tried to lose weight, the bigger I became.
I was diagnosed with PCOS at 16 and told I wouldn’t be able to have kids. After doing some research about PCOS, I found information (I have no idea now how reliables my sources were) that suggested that having PCOS meant you were overweight and that it was very difficult to lose that weight.
So that was my story and it became my identity. I was the fat girl with PCOS who couldn’t lose weight.
The problem with that is that in our society being overweight is unacceptable. Being fat is the worst thing you can be and people make awful judgements about you based on this.
People have laughed in my face on the train. One old man stopped me on the street and told me I would be so pretty if I lost weight. And these incidents are a tiny drop in the ocean compared with other abuse fat women have to deal with on a day to day basis.
I dread to think about the amount of my time and energy I have wasted obsessing about what I “couldn’t” eat, feeling guilty about what I did eat, bingeing because I thought I’d fucked it all up then waking up the next day and doing it all over again.
I’ve never been diagnosed with an eating disorder but I know that this is not a healthy way to think about food. My every waking thought was about food – that and how much I hated my body.
So what changed?
One day I realised that I had a choice. I could waste the rest of my life trying to reach the perfect body or I could bin the scales and do something important with my life.
I started small. I stopped weighing myself and vowed to never weight myself again (2 years and still going strong). That number defined me for far too long.
And now I want to help you. There are a million people out there who want to help you lose weight in order to get pregnant. I’m not one of them.
If you are sick of being told that you can’t get pregnant because you are too fat. If you’ve been told you need to lose weight before you can get any medical support then this is for you.
This is NOT a weight loss program. This is a be healthy, get pregnant and f*ck what anyone else thinks about your size program.
And I know this first hand. I got pregnant with both my healthy happy boys easily whilst I was “morbidly obese”
If this is exactly what you need, sign up for the waitlist here.
Nicola Salmon is a gentle warrior for fertility freedom and a proud, fat feminist.
She supports women to reclaim their health and fertility, regardless of age, size, sexuality or ability, using natural medicine, support and virtual hugs. Every woman should have access to fertility support, no matter where her journey has led her in the past.
Her life mission is to change the way that women are supported when they are creating their families. She wants to give every woman the opportunity to embrace their bodies and fertility, messily and without judgement.
By Rachel Roth, guest blogger
When people would find out that we struggled with infertility, two topics were commonly brought up: fertility treatment options and adoption.
My husband and I came to adoption after exhausting our fertility treatment options financially and emotionally. (If you don’t know my story, you can read about it here). We researched agencies and different types of adoptions. Upon choosing an agency, they told us that domestic adoption has an average wait time of one year whereas international adoption can have anywhere from two to five years depending on the country. Since at the time we went through this process we were childless, we decided on domestic infant adoption.
The process began with a lot of paperwork. 75 pages worth. It felt like being back in school with a TON of homework. Then there were physicals. And clearances. And SIX letters of reference. All of that was before we got to the three interviews, which were two hours each. Once accepted into the program, we had to make something called an adoption profile book. It’s like a digital scrapbook for expectant families to look through to get to know you as a family.
Once that was made, we began to wait.
Does this sound familiar to anyone who has had fertility treatments? That dreaded “two week wait”? You would think we would be MASTERS at this whole waiting thing after just having gone through all of that. Not so much.
When there is an expectant mother/family we might want to show our profile to, our agency will notify us on a private message board online. We get details about the situation and have about 48 hours to pray and think about whether we are ok with the known aspects of the situation – the expectant mom’s medical history, expectant father information (if available), how involved the expectant mom wants to be in the baby’s life, number of visits per year she desires, etc. If we feel comfortable with the information, we tell the agency it is ok to show the expectant family our profile book. However, if we say yes to showing our profile, we are committing before being chosen. If we show our profile and she chooses us, we are expected to move forward. It’s a lot of pressure to make the right decision in 48 hours.
A few weeks ago, we were notified of an expectant family. It was a difficult decision because there were some things in the medical history that concerned us. We ultimately decided that God wanted us to adopt and that meant trusting Him through the process. So we told the agency it was ok to show the family our profile. A few days later I received a phone call I have not gotten in 6 months of waiting: “The birth mother wants to meet you.”
It was a strange feeling – on the one hand it was thrilling to get this far. To know that we were closer to bringing home a sibling for our son. On the other hand, it brought along a whole host of questions and concerns.
What do I wear? I don’t want to show up in my Sunday best, but I’m certainly not showing up in my yoga pants.
What do I say? There are so many aspects of this that are sensitive. I don’t want to say or ask anything that might offend her, but I also don’t want to be dishonest and misrepresent ourselves.
What do I ask? There are a couple of topics that are off limits because of her specific situation.
How do I act? I can feel awkward in certain social situations and this definitely fits that category. We will be sitting in a room with a woman who has a child that we are hoping she allows us to take home to be a part of our family. Oh, and it won’t be just the three of us. It will be the three of us, her mom, the social worker, the pregnancy counselor, and the intern. Just an awesome circle of awkward.
What do I bring? Our agency suggested bringing a gift to her as a way of saying thank you for meeting us. Problem is, we are not the only couple she is meeting. She hasn’t chosen us and may choose the other couple. This is basically just an interview. The agency suggested flowers or candy, but that isn’t us. (I eventually settled on a homemade “thank you” card and a candle of our favorite scent).
Mind you all of these questions came to mind in the 10 seconds I got off the phone with the social worker. The next few days were spent doing research, talking to the social worker, and praying. In the end, I figured it was likely the expectant mom felt as nervous and awkward as I did!
As it turns out, all my questions were moot. I received another phone call that I haven’t ever gotten before: “The birth mother changed her mind. She only wants to meet the other couple.”
My first reaction was “Why? What did we do? What’s wrong with us?” The answer is nothing. We just are not a fit for this expectant mom. It’s not meant to be. And that’s ok.
And so we continue to wait. Wait for another opportunity. Wait for another phone call. Wait to be chosen. Wait for our child.
Written by Shannon Hughes, guest blogger
Once upon a time, my husband and I had the conversation about building our family and after about 2 minutes, we decided that it was time to start trying. Little did we know that it was not going to be as fun and stress free as they make it seem. Flash forward 3 years, and there were still no babies in our house. Something wasn’t right.
After several tests, on both our parts, we were diagnosed with infertility and jumped right into this world filled with appointments, medications, ultrasounds, injections, emotions, a lot of questions and A LOT of waiting. At the time, I was working as a nanny, but the appointments and non-stop feeling like crap (no better way to put it) led me to the life of unemployment. I didn’t mind, because all I wanted to do was sleep.
I had been toying around with the idea to start this side hobby of making t-shirts and selling them, just to give me something to do, but mostly to help distract me from the stress of IVF. Once my job transitioned to ‘stay at home wife’, I took the t-shirt biz a little bit more seriously, and decided that if I was going to do this thing, I was going to do it right.
With that decision, Nine 16 Designs was officially launched as an online apparel shop! 9/16 is the date that my bearded hubs and I had our very first date, so we thought it was fitting for the name of our new venture. Also, it made the logo easy to design and just sounded cool.
The first few months of business were pretty lackluster, but it kept me busy. This was something I needed once we got the results from our first round of IVF…negative. The transfer didn’t work. I was devastated…like, couldn’t breath or stop crying kinda vibes. It was a huge blow to our confidence that IVF was going to work. We never had a doubt in the world that it wouldn’t. To make matters worse, they ran some tests afterwards to see if they could find the reason as to why our embryos didn’t implant. The results were even more devastating than the negative BETA results.
They found cancer in my uterine lining. IVF was off the table for a minimum of 6 months, maybe even more. Now what? What am I supposed to do for 6 months, while we work to get my body clear of cancer cells?
I decided that I wasn’t going to just sit around and mope, so I jumped back into the business but this time, I decided that it needed something more. I wanted to DO something more.
I had been trying to think of an organization that we could team up with, to donate a portion of our proceeds to, but nothing was really clicking for me. I wanted it to be a good one, one that I would have a passion for. I didn’t really want to team up with big companies that wouldn’t directly benefit from our donations.
Then one day it hit me.
I had gotten to know SO many individuals struggling with infertility and the number one topic, or cause of stress during this process was money. The cost of fertility treatments is overwhelmingly high. You could buy a brand new car and pay cash for it, then probably buy a few designer purses or Rolexes on top of that. That’s the kind of money that people are dishing out, just for the CHANCE of having a family of their own.
So that was it. I wasn’t going to work with an organization, or any big companies. I was going to work with individual people, and I was going to work with as many of them as possible.
With that, Project 1:8 was created, and I was SO excited about it. We started asking people to share their stories with us, and spread the word. We would choose a couple, or individual, and work with them for a two week time span spreading the word about their story, sharing their pictures, and just letting the world get to know them. Any order that was placed during that two weeks, a portion of the proceeds goes into a pot for the couple to get. We also opened up a direct donation link, for those that didn’t really see anything in the shop that they liked.
When we started, our list of applicants was about 10-15 people. We are now only a few months into it, and our list has grown to over 100! It is our goal to work with every single one of these warriors, and even though what we donate might not be in the thousands, we know that every little bit helps. We’ve helped pay for entire orders of progesterone, we’ve shared the word with friends and families, resulting in large direct donations, and most importantly, we’ve helped get the word out about infertility.
As my husband and I struggle through our own treatments, it has been a very welcomed task to organize and run Project 1:8. We are thrilled to be able to help others who aren’t fortunate enough to have insurance coverage. We are even more excited that we are getting the word out there. I will continue to spread the word, share the love, encourage and support any and all men and women who are going through this extremely difficult time.
At the time this post is being written, we have donated over $2,000 to our applicants, and it is my hope that that number grows exponentially over the next several months.
Want to win some Nine 16 Design swag of your own? Head on over to our Instagram page for your chance to win!