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Infertility and Miscarriage, Uncategorized

Getting and Staying Pregnant: What We Did Differently

October 2, 2014

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I realize that I’ve posted quite a bit about pregnancy-related topics lately. Hang with me if pregnancy posts drive you crazy, because I have some great recipes coming to the site later this month! Since opening up about our difficult journey to baby, my inbox has been flooded with questions about doctors and medicines and acupuncture. I’m always happy to answer each question individually via e-mail, but I wanted to put it all into a single post as another resource for women traveling the same journey.

Before I launch into what we did differently this time around, I want to say that I was a bit torn about sharing this post. First, despite the fact that we’re now past 16 weeks, I have no idea what the ultimate outcome will be of this pregnancy. Second, I strongly believe that the baby I’m carrying is a miracle and a result of so many heartfelt and sincere prayers. I don’t ever want to steal away from the miraculous nature of this pregnancy in favor of condensing it down to a science. We truly have no idea what “did the trick” but believe that God worked through some of the many medical resources available to us.

1. A Daily Baby Aspirin
After our second miscarriage, one of the first things our doctor suggested was for me to start a daily baby aspirin regimen. Aspirin isn’t typically recommended for pregnant women, but in some cases it has shown to have benefits for women who have difficulty conceiving or staying pregnant. Although my blood tests came back negative for any clotting disorders (a common cause of recurrent miscarriage) my doctor said sometimes a small dose of aspirin can prevent small clotting issues that may go under the radar undetected.

2. Acupuncture (a lot of it!)
The week after our second miscarriage, I started going to weekly acupuncture treatments at a practice specializing in pregnancy and fertility at the recommendation of a family friend. Thankfully the treatments were 80% covered by insurance (!!) so it was affordable and extremely enjoyable. I went every week for two months leading up to getting pregnant and every week through the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Now I’m going once every month until the end of my pregnancy, when I will resume weekly treatments.

I can honestly say that the acupuncture helped tremendously with recovery after miscarriage compared to my previous experience and helped my body get back on track right away. It also helped my stress levels and most of the time I found myself falling asleep during the treatments. Additionally, my acupuncturist prescribed me several herbal supplements that I took throughout my cycle and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

3. Lifestyle Modifications
My acupuncturist also suggested several lifestyle modifications that I followed during the first trimester, which included eating organic, grass-fed red meat to help build my blood supply and focusing on exercises that were “nourishing” rather than depleting to my body. That means lots of walking, swimming, yoga and Pilates and avoiding running, high impact cardio and other intense workouts that would deplete my body.

4. Changing My Vitamins 
Almost everything in my blood panel came back normal except for the fact that my doctor informed me I tested positive for MTHFR, a common (but rarely tested for) genetic mutation that inhibits my body from properly processing folic acid (the synthetic form of folate) and B-vitamins, which are key nutrients in pregnancy. My doctor didn’t think it was a big deal or cause for concern, but after doing more research on my own, I talked with her about prescribing me Metanx, a prescription-grade form of natural, active B-vitamins. She agreed there would be no harm to me taking them and wrote me a script. I also switched to a MTHFR-friendly prenatal that would work well for people with and without MTHFR.

If you’ve been diagnosed with MTHFR, I would highly recommend you doing a little research of your own. I started with this website, and this one, too. Or, you can always e-mail me. I’m happy to chat!

5. Added Progesterone
Although I never tested low for progesterone in my second pregnancy (we didn’t test with the first) my doctor and I decided to err on the safe side and supplement the pregnancy with progesterone during the first trimester. She prescribed twice daily progesterone suppositories that were a total pain to take, but worth the peace of mind knowing I was doing everything I could to help this baby grow strong and healthy. I stopped taking the progesterone at 12 weeks, which made me nervous, but my doctor assured me that it was perfectly safe.

I have had this post written in my “drafts” folder for a long time, but I got another e-mail this morning from a friend with questions about getting pregnant, and it gave me the push I needed to hit “publish.” If you have any questions or I can be of any other help, I’m happy to chat!

Madison

*I am not a doctor or medical professional. This is simply what worked for us, but as always, please consult your medical professionals about any lifestyle modifications and medications when trying to get pregnant. 

Uncategorized

Influence Conference 2014

September 30, 2014

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Last weekend I attended the 2014 Influence Conference in Indianapolis. The driving idea behind Influence is to make your online life more meaningful and intentional through the sharing of your faith, the words you use and the mindset behind what you share on things like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.I’m still unpacking my thoughts and re-reading my notes from the two days I spent at Influence. I’m sure that a lot of what I learned at the conference will continue to impact my writing for months to come, but I wanted to share some immediate take-aways while the conference was still fresh in my mind.

1. There is value in doing things that are difficult and uncomfortable.
I’ve said it before, but I’m a closet introvert. I enjoy giving presentations at work and love making television appearances, but I find large conferences and group interactions entirely overwhelming. It’s hard for me to go, go, go without taking some down time for myself to decompress and process, and I find it difficult to constantly put myself out there and meet dozens of new people.

My knee-jerk reaction is to avoid conferences all together and avoid feeling uncomfortable, but in the days following Influence I’ve realized there is much value in being out of your comfort zone now and again. That doesn’t mean I’m going to sign up for dozens of conferences a year, but Influence made me realize that carefully-chosen, intentional opportunities are important for my own growth.

2. Time spent online doesn’t have to be wasted time. 
Sometimes I feel guilty about the amount of time I spend online. There’s time spent on the computer at work (unavoidable) and the time I spend blogging. Add the time I spend scrolling through Instagram and Twitter and Pinterest to the list and it really adds up. Influence got me thinking about being more intentional with my time online, thinking twice about the negative Tweet I’m tempted to send out or what type of affirmation I’m seeking from a photo I share on Instagram. I’m not saying everything I share needs to be happy and rosy, but there’s a fine line between being real and being just plain negative.

3. Everyone (and I mean everyone) has something they’re dealing with. 
When I arrived at check-in for Influence, I immediately noticed the shiny, well-dressed and put-together nature of all the attendees. But as the weekend went on and I heard the women in attendance share their stories, I was reminded, yet again, that no one has it all together. I know this. You know this. How is it so easy to forget? It was a reminder to me not to be too quick to judge or assume someone has it all together just because they’re wearing a cute outfit and have fresh highlights.

4. God wants me to be me, not someone else. 
As I watched the extroverted, bold women lip synching and dancing on stage at the opening black and white party, I started to get down on myself for being on the quiet, introverted side. Extroverts put themselves out there and boldly share God’s word! They’re the life of the party, the people everyone wants to be around, the first to jump in with something to say. I am not that person. I’m 27 years old and sometimes I still forget that God created me with a specific purpose, and that includes my quiet spirit. Instead of trying to be something I think I should be, I’m working on focusing on being more of who I truly am.

I left so incredibly inspired (and exhausted!) after attending Influence! It was such a blessing to meet so many wonderful, creative and inspiring women. I’m already looking forward to attending next year with a baby in tow! If you’re interested in signing up for Influence, tickets are already on sale here.

Madison

Uncategorized

September Goals

September 11, 2014

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Over the last couple months I’ve really let my monthly goal-setting fall to the wayside, haven’t I? First trimester took everything out of me and goal setting was last on my list of things to do, behind basic tasks like cooking, cleaning, going to work and washing my hair more than once a week! Now that I’m staying awake past 8 pm and functioning like a normal human being again, I’m feeling inspired to start back up with goal setting as we welcome in my favorite season.

FITNESS
Do the Tracy Anderson Pregnancy Project 3 to 4 times /week + Continue to Walk 5 to 6 times/week
These videos have been such a blessing to me! I’m only wishing I would have discovered them sooner. I’ve struggled a lot with knowing how much to push myself in pregnancy when it comes to fitness, especially given my history of miscarriage. Although I know many women can safely run throughout their pregnancies, pushing myself to that degree just hasn’t felt right to me, so I’ve been looking for other ways to stay fit. I was fearful that Tracy was going to be a drill sergeant in her videos (just a notion I had about her) but she is incredibly affirming in her approach to prenatal fitness and pregnancy in general.

FINANCES
Stick to Our Budget
Two months ago, Joe and I decided to switch to a cash envelope system for discretionary purchases (aka everything other than mortgage and our auto bill pays) because I was having a tough time sticking to the budget we created in Mint. It seemed I was always looking back on the month’s spending, rather than proactively monitoring our expenditures.

Since I’m a very tactile person, having to deal with cash has been super helpful in curbing any impulse purchases. Plus, it’s fun to see the end of the month roll around when all our envelopes still have a little cash left in them. We’re already putting money away into our 401k’s and into savings each month, but with a baby on the way, it’s nice to save a little extra.

PERSONAL
Spend Less Time on Technology
Gah. Does anyone else find themselves mindlessly scrolling on their phones as they wait in line, sit on the couch and wait for the elevator? I’m finding myself guilty of mindless consumption of technology more and more, and I hate that I always feel glued to my phone. The other night Joe and I were sitting on the couch watching something on TV and I noticed that we were both mindlessly scrolling through Instagram. I don’t think there is anything wrong with Instagram, Facebook and the like, but when it takes away from face-to-face conversations, it becomes a problem. I’m making it a goal to leave my phone at home more often and give more attention to friends and family when I’m with them.

Make Time to Rest
This seems like a cheater goal, doesn’t it? Our fall is already looking super busy and very scheduled. I’m flying once in September and Joe and I are flying once in October and November, plus we have a lot of other social commitments on the calendar. Although all of the things we’re doing are fun, I’m making it a goal to be more mindful of creating restful times during the week and saying “no” when I can so that we don’t end up sick and exhausted by the time the holiday season arrives.

What about you? Do you have any specific goals for September or this fall in general? I had a friend at church say how they felt September was the new January and I loved that idea! Here’s to making September all about fresh starts!

Madison

Infertility and Miscarriage, Pregnancy

Today I’m Thankful

July 18, 2014

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This week we went for a follow-up appointment at my OBGYN office for, you guessed it, yet another ultrasound. I’m thankful for so many opportunities to see our little one, but I’ll admit that the ultrasounds make me nervous and jittery and filled with all kinds of anxiety leading up to the appointment.

We were blessed, and maybe still a little surprised, to see another image of a healthy little baby, who is starting to look more and more like a baby every week. The ultrasound tech, who we’ve come to love, pointed out the head and showed us the spinal cord and the little flickering heartbeat. We even saw our baby move for just a second. Crazy! The little jellybean was measuring right on track, once again, with a heartbeat that had gotten quite a bit faster from our last appointment.

So now we’re entering into uncharted territory, and I find it a little scary. Entering into our 8th week soon will be the longest we’ve ever made it with a pregnancy (though we didn’t find that out last time until the 12th week). Most of the time I feel a lot of peace, much more peace than I’ve felt with either of our two previous pregnancies, which I find strange and wonderful. But sometimes I find my mind grasping onto old memories, feeling fearful of what we’ve experienced in the past, sometimes convinced that we’ll experience that same fate yet again.

I’ve been praying a lot lately, for other women who are on a difficult fertility journey, for our little baby’s heart and that it would continue beating, that our little one would love the Lord and would be a living example of the miracles that God does in our lives. I’ve found so many opportunities in the last few weeks to talk about my faith in a very real way, something that I will admit I was never all that great at in the past.

This week my doctor sat down with me after our ultrasound, all our various scans printed out on a sheet of paper, and said that she was unable to explain how what we saw at 5 weeks turned into what we saw at 7 weeks. You could tell that science was failing her in explaining what had happened, and she seemed very cautious about this pregnancy. And believe me, I get it and I understand her questions. If I didn’t have faith myself, I’m not sure how I would explain it, either. But instead of feeling cautious and fearful, I’m diving headfirst into the scary waters of the next four weeks. Sometimes those four weeks feel like a mountain! Sometimes I wonder how I’m going to get through the next four weeks, with all the uncertainty and questions and our scary past. But when I think about our God, who cares for us and looks over us, knowing exactly what we need, I find a little more peace. One day at a time, Joe and I are stepping out in faith, trusting to walk down a road not knowing where it leads.

Our doctor offered to do another ultrasound next week, the day before we leave on vacation. I decided to pass, not wanting to risk ruining our vacation in any way with bad news, so we are going to have our next ultrasound two weeks from today, on August 1st. We’ll be about 9 1/2 weeks at that appointment. I can hardly believe it!

With two ultrasounds that have been positive under our belt, it might seem like we’re doing good and it’s smooth sailing going forward. But may I continue to ask for your prayers? If anything, I feel like the next four weeks are going to be the biggest hurdle of all, and the hardest path to walk down. Your continued prayers for the sustained life of our very loved baby would be greatly appreciated.

Madison

Infertility and Miscarriage

Praise Be to God

July 10, 2014

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Last night was  a restless night of sleep. As much as I wanted to go into a deep sleep, I kept waking up, tossing and turning, wondering what the next morning would hold. Would we see our little baby on the ultrasound, healthy and heart beating? Or would I be sent to surgery immediately after and spending the rest of the day recovering on the couch, piecing together a broken heart?

I want to be clear that whatever the outcome was going to be today, that it doesn’t change the fact that our God is a good god who loves us and knows what is best for us, even when it’s scary, hard and confusing. This isn’t just, “God gave me what I wanted, so I’m going to give Him the praise.” No matter the outcome, we would be praising Him all the same. But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t desperately praying for a miracle that went against every bit of medical advice we were given just a week ago.

It was one of the most beautiful moments I’ve experienced in my life, to hear the ultrasound tech tell us, “I see a baby,” followed by, “Oh, my gosh, I see a heartbeat, too!” Our little baby was there, heartbeat flickering on the ultrasound, measuring 6 weeks 3 days, exactly on track with my calculations. See that little zig-zag on the bottom of the ultrasound picture? That’s the heartbeat!

We have a long way to go, and if I think about it too hard the next 5 1/2 weeks seem incredibly scary. We’ve heard a healthy heartbeat before, only to have that good news followed by heartbreak weeks later. The next few weeks we will continue to be monitored closely. I think this baby is going to have more pictures by 12 weeks than most full-term babies! And although the road seems long and paved with uncertainty, I am trusting in God’s plan. And I would appreciate more than anything your continued prayers as we go into uncharted waters in the weeks to come.

But for now, praise be to God! Know that if you lifted up a prayer for us in the last week, I believe with every fiber of my being that you had a hand in helping this baby get this far. God heard us, and He answered our prayers today! I know it doesn’t always work out that way, but Joe and I are both rejoicing. Thank you for your support, your prayers, emails, comments, texts and general love. We’ve felt so supported and surrounded, knowing that when we are too weak or weary to pray, others are praying on our behalf.

Madison

 

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