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There are so many diets and theories and opinions when it comes to health. I've experimented with many of them! As I celebrate another year of life I'm so excited to finally be able to find joy in nourishing my body.

How to Find Joy in Nourishing Your Body

There are so many diets and theories and opinions when it comes to health. I’ve experimented with many of them! As I celebrate another year of life I’m so excited to finally be able to find joy in nourishing my body.There are so many diets and theories and opinions when it comes to health. I've experimented with many of them! As I celebrate another year of life I'm so excited to finally be able to find joy in nourishing my body.

“You have to be healthy to eat healthy.”

It’s something I often say to people frustrated with trying to eat the “right way” but still not feeling great. There are so many diets that promote real food and healing. They all have merit, but that doesn’t mean they work for everyone.

I know this because I’ve tried them (read some of my thoughts HERE). And the only thing I got was severe obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety, more food intolerances and infertility. But no healing.

The real problem is they all include rules. Specific diets place restrictions on what you can eat and categorize food as good or bad. When a food is deemed bad or forbidden guess what happens? You want it! You are left with this constant decision making between doing the right thing or the wrong thing. And feeling guilty if you choose wrong. Or worse food starts to cause anxiety.There are so many diets and theories and opinions when it comes to health. I've experimented with many of them! As I celebrate another year of life I'm so excited to finally be able to find joy in nourishing my body.

It took me the last twenty years to move past feeling like food is either good or bad. But I did it.  And I love it! It is so freeing to finally enjoy food.

Sound Familiar? There’s help!

Are you hung up on trying to find the right diet for you? Are you wondering if low carb or grain free or high fat is right for you? Does it make you stressed just thinking about it? Here are some simple tips to get past the fear and back to joy.

  1. Start listening to your body.
    Take note of how you feel when you eat certain foods. Keep a food journal for a week or two if need be. If nuts bother your stomach, take a break from them. If you feel better eating more carbohydrates and less fat then go for it. Eat what makes YOU feel good, not what helps your neighbor or your favorite blogger. If you are dealing with an autoimmune disease or allergies that will impact what foods hurt or help.
  2. Get rid of the rules.
    Stop viewing food as good or bad. As long as it’s real food it’s ok. Enjoy a piece of homemade chocolate cake and ice cream. Make a big stack of pancakes with butter and real maple syrup for breakfast. When you restrict foods because you think you shouldn’t eat them (instead of restricting because they actually make you feel bad) they create more stress. Ditch the diet and rigid rules.
  3. Start focusing on nourishment.
    This is where the fun begins. When you let go of unnecessary rules and you’re not constantly debating between eating a salad and digging into a container of ice cream you can focus on really taking care of your body.

Finding Joy

I spent far too many years trying to eat the perfect diet. Only to feel stressed, anxious and deprived. Then I had to go the other direction of eating anything and everything to try to restore metabolic health (you can read about my journey HERE and HERE). All to find a place of balance. Now I find great joy in nourishing my body. Not because a diet tells me to. Because I want to.

I heard someone recently say that happiness is external and joy is internal. Being happy comes from your circumstances, but joy is a state of being that comes from within. And it’s true. Good food does make me happy. But it’s the joy and peace I have inside that motivates me to make healthy choices every day.There are so many diets and theories and opinions when it comes to health. I've experimented with many of them! As I celebrate another year of life I'm so excited to finally be able to find joy in nourishing my body.

Balance is Key

Today eating is like an exciting adventure for me. I try to pack as many nutrients into my food as possible. I add desiccated liver and fermented kale to smoothies and salads. I eat sardines and anchovies a couple times a week. I eat pastured meats and eggs regularly. I aim for a rainbow of vegetables and plenty of healthy fats daily. I drink herbal teas for added minerals and to support my body and get my hormones back in balance. It’s almost like a fun game to see how many vitamins and minerals I can get each day. I feel good and the joy comes pouring out.

But I also enjoy a dish of ice cream when I want it. Sometimes I eat a bowl of mashed avocado and tortilla chips for breakfast (quick and delicious…and it’s easy to add liver to avocado!). I like to bake with my kids and make special sweet treats together (like gluten free Oreos® and salted honey chocolates). It’s even rare that I go a day without at least a little bit of chocolate.There are so many diets and theories and opinions when it comes to health. I've experimented with many of them! As I celebrate another year of life I'm so excited to finally be able to find joy in nourishing my body.

There is no more should or shouldn’t with food. There are no rules. There is no restriction. Which in turn eliminates cravings (imagine that!).

Now I love to fuel my body, and I love how it makes me feel. That does not mean my diet is perfect. Not every single bite of food has to be nutrient packed. And less healthy foods here and there don’t negate all the good stuff I put in my body every day.

Let go of the Guilt

There is no guilt or feeling of reward for eating a certain way. I just truly love to eat nutrient dense food. No rules or special diets. I don’t eat GAPS or Paleo or AIP or low carb or any other specialized diet. I just eat real food that makes me feel good and that I know is helping me take care of my body. One day I might eat grain free while the next I might need some extra starch. And they are both just fine!

It’s very freeing to let go and find joy in nourishment. And it’s the healthiest I’ve ever been!

I am very blessed that I do not have an autoimmune condition or severe allergies. But I do have some sensitivities and health issues I’m still working through. But I try not to let them get me down. I nourish my body as best I can with my limitations and keep striving for full healing.

Eating real food is easy. There are limitless options. Eating real food that meets your needs can be hard. But once you figure out how to do it you’ll love how you feel.There are so many diets and theories and opinions when it comes to health. I've experimented with many of them! As I celebrate another year of life I'm so excited to finally be able to find joy in nourishing my body.

Foods That Nourish

Some of my favorite nutrient dense foods are ferments. They are packed with natural probiotics. What I really love is how easy they are (take a big scoop and enjoy!) and how much my kids like them. My toddler can’t get enough sauerkraut. While we do make our own sometimes, I don’t always have time to pound cabbage.

I recently got the chance to try sauerkraut and fermented pickles from Cultured Guru.There are so many diets and theories and opinions when it comes to health. I've experimented with many of them! As I celebrate another year of life I'm so excited to finally be able to find joy in nourishing my body.

Both the kraut and pickles have just a few simple ingredients and taste amazing! Using traditional fermentation these products are teaming with probiotics. They make great additions to a meal or are the perfect quick snack.

My oldest can’t get enough of the pickles. She has oral SPD and doesn’t tolerate any amount of spice. So even though she likes pickles it’s rare we can find any she’ll eat. But she loves the Cultured Guru pickles! She loves the sauerkraut too. Another rarity for her.

If you want to try some Cultured Guru ferments you’re in luck! You can get 25% off off using coupon code PROBIO.

I’ll be stocking up too. My kids and I can’t get enough!! Such a blessing when working on healing allergies!There are so many diets and theories and opinions when it comes to health. I've experimented with many of them! As I celebrate another year of life I'm so excited to finally be able to find joy in nourishing my body.

Super Charged Bites

Another super food that tops my list is a traditional staple – organ meats. I get mine by adding Perfect Supplements desiccated liver to just about everything. I even make caramel with it! I also love the fermented kale, collagen and aquatic greens from Perfect Supplements. I add them to most of our smoothies.

You can get 10% off any of these Perfect Supplements products with the coupon code TAKE10.

Some of my other favorite foods include sardines, salmon, eggs, raw milk, butter, lard, tallow, pastured meats and a rainbow of vegetables. They all make my body smile.

You have to be healthy to eat healthy.

I’m so excited to finally be healthy so I can enjoy eating well and nourishing my body every day.

Are you ready to let go of rules and enjoy eating again? Ditch the diets and find joy in nourishing your body.

Today is my birthday, and I’m starting it with pure joy. Joy that I’m taking care of myself and this beautiful body God gave me.

Want to see what I eat for my #nourishingbreakfast #nourishinglunch and #nourishingdinner? Follow me on Instagram! It may inspire you…or it might gross you out. In my husband’s words, “You eat that for breakfast?!”There are so many diets and theories and opinions when it comes to health. I've experimented with many of them! As I celebrate another year of life I'm so excited to finally be able to find joy in nourishing my body.

Disclaimer: I am working with Cultured Guru for this post. I have been compensated for my time but all opinions are my own.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Sometimes you tell yourself to just keep going. But sometimes you can't. I can't. I'm slowing down. It's time to listen to my body and take action.

I’m Slowing Down…

Sometimes you tell yourself to just keep going. But sometimes you can't. I can't. I'm slowing down. It's time to listen to my body and take action.

I’m slowing down.

Whether I want to or not. I am. My mind is. My body is.

Here’s the problem.

Life is not.

In fact life is going in the complete opposite direction.

I have three very active children that seem to keep growing…don’t they know they’re supposed to stay little forever?

With those growing kids come more and more activities like soccer, t-ball, piano, church activities, time with friends, etc. As each child starts the activities multiply.

Full Time Work.

Then there is work. I work from home. I started my blog shortly after my oldest was born as a hobby. But it has grown into more than just a hobby. I have to work on it daily. And it’s a LOT of work. But now instead of just my own blog I help with someone else’s blog and write for several other blogs and magazines. Those hours add up very quickly. And none of them include child care.

I also started home schooling this year. Which I absolutely love and can’t believe I didn’t do it sooner. But it does take work. I have to be more organized and I don’t have as much free time during the week.

Did I mention we are moving to a 10 acre farm by the end of the year? That means we’re in the process of packing and cleaning right now. Soon we’ll be selling our house and then doing the big move…during the holidays. Yeah, it’ll be busy.

No Big Deal?

This all sounds like normal stuff. Most people can handle it.

But I’m struggling.

It’s not something I like to admit. But I am.

I am the kind of person that likes to say yes to everything and everyone. I also don’t like to ask for help. Those two traits don’t go so well together.

I also don’t have any help aside from my husband. We don’t have close family in town. If life is feeling crazy and hectic I just have to deal with it. I can’t call Grandma to take the kids for a few hours so I can catch my breath. Instead I get a few minutes of nap time to scroll through Facebook or Pinterest before jumping back in.

What Happened?

The thing is I used to be able to handle more busyness. So what happened?

I didn’t listen to my body.

I wasn’t honest about my struggles. I never accepted help. I never asked for help. Not even from my husband!

I’ve had a lot of really big stressors in my life over the last fifteen years. Bigger than I realized. And they took a toll. Major colon surgery. Years of infertility and treatments. Years of anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder and working with a psychologist.

I thought I was over a lot of the major stuff after that. So I didn’t even realize until just now how stressful the last three years have been.

Sometimes you tell yourself to just keep going. But sometimes you can't. I can't. I'm slowing down. It's time to listen to my body and take action.

Three Years Of Worry.

In mid 2013 I went through my last (7th!!) round of IVF…which ended in a miscarriage. The miscarriage lasted over a month. And my adrenals and thyroid went haywire. My whole body was swelling. I was gaining weight every week. Things were out of whack. I was trying hard to make huge lifestyle changes.

And just when I was making some progress I got pregnant with my miracle baby…the thing I had been working towards.

I was so happy, and the pregnancy went smoothly.

But it caused me a lot of anxiety. I worried about the health of the baby every day. But I just dealt with it. As I did my adrenals continued to suffer.

Wait, It Gets Worse?

After my daughter was born things were good for a bit. Then she had multiple severe vaccine reactions. And I spent the next year and a half fighting for her life. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more alone than I did during that time. I worried about her and cried about it almost daily.

Her malnutrition and fighting to keep her nourished through nursing impacted me so much that even now, at 2 years old, every time I nurse her I have heart palpitations. Even though she only nurses a couple times a day and is a great eater. It’s my body’s natural response…worrying she won’t get enough.

To add to the stress of the last three years we’ve dealt with health issues for my other two children. It started as allergies and general gut health and has now turned into neurological issues.

As I’m typing this I’m still trying to unwind from a morning of my five year old constantly screaming at me and responding to everything I say with an extreme negative. Sometimes to the point where he shuts himself in the closet and screams over and over that he wants to kill himself.

It’s exhausting, disheartening and just overwhelming at times. All I can do is keep praying.

Allergies.

It is also a lot of work to cook for my family. With so many varying allergies I always have to cook multiple meals and make just about everything from scratch…even if I don’t have time.

There is no such thing as ordering pizza or going out to eat when I just don’t have the energy. Or even pouring a bowl of cereal when I can’t even think about breakfast.

It is a huge responsibility on my shoulders. If I don’t do it my kids can’t eat.

Sometimes you tell yourself to just keep going. But sometimes you can't. I can't. I'm slowing down. It's time to listen to my body and take action.

Waiting For Our Dream.

Over the last year we have had some huge ups and downs in our house search too. We have had multiple offers accepted but then things not work out for one reason or another. It’s been very emotional and at times has felt very similar to our infertility journey. We are praying this house is really the one and we can move past this by year’s end.

Deeper Thoughts.

When I was growing up my mom dealt with anxiety and depression. At about the same age as I am right now she had a nervous breakdown and was in in-patient care at a mental health facility and was on lots of medication. We got to visit her once in a while and had to have my grandparents help take care of us. I was in third grade. My little brother was in kindergarten. Right now my daughter is in third grade and my son is in kindergarten. Yeah, it really makes me think about how things could go if something doesn’t change. I don’t want that to happen to my kids.

I’ve also always thought I’d have four kids (just like my family growing up…girl, boy, girl, boy. Right now we’ve got girl, boy, girl). From the time I was five all I wanted to do was be a mom…and have four kids. There were times during my infertility journey I wondered if I’d ever be a mom at all. But I still held on to that dream of having four kids.

Now here I am with three kids…and the desire is still there, stronger than ever. But I also know my body is not healthy enough right now for another baby. And I’m not getting any younger. And life isn’t getting any easier. It weighs heavily on my mind almost daily. Though I try my best to remember that God’s plans and timing are perfect. We’ll see what the future holds.

Taking Its Toll.

Through the last few years of pregnancy and breastfeeding and stress my body has become extremely depleted. Which really doesn’t do good things for you, trust me.

Over the last few months I’ve started having more and more heart palpitations (which freak me out). I have started to gain weight in my abdomen over the last nine months (something I’ve never dealt with).

I thought maybe my thyroid was getting worse. I had my levels checked…perfect. I still tried increasing my medication just to be sure. No luck. If anything it made me feel worse.

So I did a 24 hour saliva cortisol test. It’s really not bad. My levels are in the normal range most of the day. But I think they are working very hard to stay there.

My adrenals are really being taxed on a daily basis.

Adrenal Health.

So I’ve been doing some research on adrenals. A few of the things that always come up:

  1. Get more sleep and go to bed by 10 pm.
  2. Don’t skip breakfast and eat a good balance of protein and carbs.
  3. Reduce stress.

I always thought sleep was my biggest problem.

But I don’t really think it is. I go to bed at 10 every night. I have for many years. I’m not a night owl. And although I am an early riser I get about 7 hours of sleep a night. So I could improve, but it’s not horrible.

I never skip breakfast. I am ready to eat the minute I get out of bed. I’ve been that way for many, many years. And I eat a big breakfast.

I also don’t skimp on calories throughout the day. So I’m not restricting in any way when it comes to quantity…a huge bonus for adrenal health and your metabolism.

Oddly enough the things that are a hindrance to most people are the things I’ve been doing right for years.

Sleep and morning routines are great. It’s the rest of the day I have to figure out.

It comes down to two things – stress and a limited diet (due to a nursing toddler with allergies).

So…

So now what? I can’t just stop life. Can I?

Well, not exactly. But I can make some changes.

Sometimes you tell yourself to just keep going. But sometimes you can't. I can't. I'm slowing down. It's time to listen to my body and take action.

My body is getting older and slowing down. Life is getting busier. I’m ready to switch that around.

So I’m making a few goals for myself. And if I share them with you it will help me stick to them.

Maybe you want to join me?

These are goals for my myself as an individual and for my family.

  1. Lay down during the day for 5 – 15 minutes. Resting isn’t always enough. Physically laying down can really help recharge your body.
  2. Eat a snack in the afternoon to help with blood sugar regulation (I can’t wait to learn more about this in the Fix Your Blood Sugar course!!)
  3. Eat less before bed to give my body time to rest and truly recharge at night instead of working on digestion.
  4. Change my exercise routine. Try more T-Tapp and yoga and do less cardio.
  5. Sleep in on the weekends (this is a HARD one for me…but I am really going to try)
  6. Take time off from work (another really hard one…I love sharing my stories and my food with you…but it’s a lot of work…I may be MIA here and there over the next few months/years…it’s because I’m heeding my own advice). Keep the weekends more open for family time.
  7. Use our move to get the house organized and more functional for us so we spend less time with chaos and cleaning.
  8. Start using some hormone-supporting essential oils (still researching these a bit).
  9. Start the big kids on some herbs that help with calming their nervous system and a cleanse to get rid of parasites.
  10. Continue to have my oldest work with the functional neurologist to also improve the nervous system. And possibly have my son start as well.
  11. Take time for my marriage and connecting with my husband (it’s been over 2 years since we’ve been on a date due to the above situations…I think it’s about time!!)
  12. When my toddler is done nursing I can add a few more to this list – hormone level testing and another hair tissue mineral analysis to see where I’m at. Then go from there with flooding my body with the nutrients it needs.
  13. Read as many of the books and take as many of the courses in the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle as I can. After I download them I’ve got them for life. So I can take my time. But for once I am going to make the time. There is just such a wealth of knowledge contained in the bundle. It may take me a few years to get through it all. But I really hope to. I’m starting with the Perfect Periods course and the Heal Your Gut Summit. Then I think I’ll switch over to some of the books on kids’ health. Maybe I’ll even include it in our home school curriculum and read it with my kids!!

Life Is Still Crazy.

I know the next two months are still going to be pretty stressful with moving. But I know that up front and am going to take measures to deal with it as best as I can.

I also know that there is much more to the root issue than adrenals. I’ve got to work on hormone balancing and overall gut health.

Sometimes you tell yourself to just keep going. But sometimes you can't. I can't. I'm slowing down. It's time to listen to my body and take action.

Then once we get settled I’m ready to start a new lifestyle.

One that includes home schooling all of my kids, starting a farm and watching them learn about raising animals, getting away from the busy pace of life and just slowing down. Having that goal in mind keeps me going.

If I can remember I hope to do an update on this in a year. I love to look back and see how much has changed. See where God has led me and how He has directed my path.

God’s Plans.

Even this post was not one I had planned to write at all. I just sat down in front of the computer and started typing. Really. I wanted to share a piece of me with you today. And that is one last goal. To do more of that moving forward.

At the start of this year God really laid it on my heart that this would be a year of huge change. I had no idea what. But I knew stuff was coming. He also told me to be fearless. And I am trying my hardest (though it is REALLY hard for this natural worrier). So far He has been true his intentions. If you had told me at the start of the year I’d be nursing a healthy toddler, home schooling my oldest and getting ready to move to a 10 acre farm I would have said you were crazy. But God is good.

I feel more changes still to come.

Including even more change in focus in my writing. I’m not even sure what that means. But I trust God does. And He’ll guide me.

Do you have any goals you’d like to share? Did any of this resonate with you? I’d love to hear about it!!

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

This metabolism boosting salted caramel not only tastes great, it is packed with nutrients and a secret ingredient!

Metabolism Boosting Salted Caramel {With A Secret Ingredient!}

Looking for an easy way to get some liver down the hatch? This metabolism boosting salted caramel is easy to make, tastes great and is loaded with Vitamin A!

This metabolism boosting salted caramel not only tastes great, it is packed with nutrients and a secret ingredient!

This recipe was an accident.

For about a year now I’ve had so many things I can’t eat while breastfeeding that I stopped making salad dressing. I can’t do tomatoes, dairy, nuts, peas, coconut, mustard, garlic, eggs, vinegar. Seriously.

Getting creative.

But I LOVE salad. And I was not about to eat plain lettuce. So I would just put some olive oil, honey and salt on my salad and call it good.

After a while I decided to experiment a bit and added desiccated liver (this is the brand I use). Who knew I’d actually love the taste?! And it’s so healthy for a slow oxidizer like me with high tissue calcium levels. I need all the Vitamin A I can get.

I’m not one to mix up a bottle of dressing. I always just add the ingredients directly to my lettuce and mix it all together. But one day I tried mixing up the dressing first to see if it was easier.This metabolism boosting salted caramel not only tastes great, it is packed with nutrients and a secret ingredient!

Not what I expected.

Imagine my surprise when instead of a dressing I ended up with a thick, gooey salted caramel! And my kids gathered around like baby birds begging for bites.

That is how my nutrient dense salted caramel came about.

It tastes great, is easy to make and my kids love it. Want to know something else? It’s great for boosting your metabolism too!

The perfect combination.

If I am low on energy or haven’t gotten enough sleep this is the perfect pick-me-up. A little salt, a little sugar, a little fat and some vitamins.

This metabolism boosting salted caramel not only tastes great, it is packed with nutrients and a secret ingredient!

My girls and I all have slow metabolisms and are in need of some serious rest and recovery. So this salted caramel makes a great snack for all of us.

A toddler favorite.

In fact, my toddler eats half of the lettuce and cucumbers out of my salad just because of this dressing. She’ll suck it off and then eat the vegetables. It’s that good!

You can eat the salted caramel with a spoon. I like to dip banana in it. Then you even get some starch with your sugar, salt and fat. It’s the perfect combination for a metabolic boost. Any fruit you like will work.

A long road to recovery.

My journey with healing my metabolism has been a long one. You can read about what happened to me in 2013 and all of the things I learned in the process.

One thing that was pivotal for healing was The Nourished Metabolism by Elizabeth Walling of The Nourished Life. I have recommended this book to more people than any other book or real food resource.

I’ve probably read it five or six times myself. And I learn something new every time. I’m so glad I have a hard copy now! It’s a great reference.

Elizabeth is running a sale on The Nourished Metabolism now until June 30, 2016. You can get 20% off using the coupon code SUMMER20.

I’d snatch a copy before the sale is over! I think just about everyone could benefit from Elizabeth’s advice. Especially all of my sleep-deprived mama friends. Even children and teens these days that are over scheduled, over stressed and under nourished need some help with their metabolism (have you checked your child’s body temperature lately? You might be surprised how low it is…it’s supposed to be 98.6!).
The Nourished Life
Whip up a batch of salted caramel (with liver!). Grab a spoon, your favorite fruit or even a homemade graham cracker for dipping. Then dive into The Nourished Metabolism. Trust me, you won’t be able to put it down. I read it almost cover-to-cover the first time through.

Have you assessed your metabolism lately? What are you doing to keep it running at full speed?

Try some salted caramel and all of Elizabeth’s tips in The Nourished Metabolism.  You’ll be amazed at how great you feel.

This post is linked to Allergy Free Thursdays.

This metabolism boosting salted caramel not only tastes great, it is packed with nutrients and a secret ingredient!

Metabolism Boosting Salted Caramel (With A Secret Ingredient!)
Serves 1
A simple gooey caramel that will boost your metabolism and your nutrients with liver!
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Ingredients
  1. 3/4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  2. 2 Tbsp. honey
  3. 1/8 tsp. unrefined sea salt (adjust to taste)
  4. 1 capsule Perfect Supplements desiccated liver
Instructions
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Stir until well mixed. The mixture will thicken in about a minute.
  2. Eat with a spoon, with fruit for dipping or with graham crackers.
Notes
  1. This can be used as a salad dressing if you increase the oil to make it thinner.
  2. You can add one capsule of Organic India moringa to the mixture when using it as a salad dressing for extra nutrients.
Just Take A Bite http://justtakeabite.com/

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

The Best Christmas Gift | Just Take A Bite

The Best Christmas Gift

I was challenged by Stonyfield to write about the best Christmas gift I ever received. After thirty five celebrations it’s hard to settle on just one! Mine comes in a small package.

The Best Christmas Gift | Just Take A Bite

When it comes to gifts the most significant ones for me always seem to revolve around babies.

Lately I hear a song on the radio a lot called “A Baby Changes Everything.” Every time I hear it I pause and reflect.

The most important birth was that of Christ Jesus. Long ago in a stable in Bethlehem. That baby sure changed everything! What an amazing gift that God sent to us. He is the reason I am even writing this post. There is no Christmas without the birth of our savior.

I received another “baby” when I was five years old. It was a birthday present. My first Cabbage Patch Kid. It was all I wanted.

Every store was selling out as soon as the dolls arrived. Finally one day just before my birthday a store nearby got a few. My mom called to ask…there were ten in stock.

By the time we got there only five were left!

It took me all of ten seconds to choose the one I wanted. She had a little tuft of blonde hair and a pacifier. She was mine. I named her Caroline Rebecca. I never wanted to let her go.

From that moment on I knew (even at five years old) that all I really wanted to do when I got older was be a mom.

I took her with me wherever I went. I played with dolls any chance I got. I pretended to nurse her, feed her, change her. She was my world.

Fast forward about twenty years. Happily married. Ready to start a family and have the children I have been wanting for so many years.

But it would not be that easy. In 2006 we started our long, lonely walk through the world of infertility.  The one thing I had dreamed about since I was five years old seemed like just that, a dream. I didn’t know if it would become a reality.

The Best Christmas Gift | Just Take A Bite

But in 2007 God gave us our first miraculous gift after various fertility treatments.

I found out I was pregnant in August and my daughter was born in April of 2008.

We started the journey again in 2009. After five emotionally and physically draining rounds of IVF we found out in September of 2010 that I was pregnant. My son was born in May of 2011.

Two precious gifts.

The Best Christmas Gift | Just Take A Bite

Yet I knew my family was not complete. I had dreamed since I was five years old of having a big family. I always wanted four children.

In 2013 we did our last round of IVF. Unfortunately it ended in a miscarriage. My dreams were crushed.

But after 6 months of hard work, a lot of physical challenges and healing and days and nights of prayer we got our best Christmas gift.

In December of 2013 I found out I was pregnant. We got to share the good news with our children and extended family as a special Christmas surprise. My oldest was the first to find out. Her reaction at only five years old was priceless (as you can see in the photo at the top).

The Best Christmas Gift | Just Take A Bite

In August of 2014 my daughter was born. She has changed my life in so many ways. She has brought me down a path of healing. A baby was the only motivation strong enough to get healthy. She has taught me what it means to truly sacrifice as I have had to give up a lot to keep her nourished and thriving over the last sixteen months – food, time with friends, outings with my family, travel. None of it was as important as taking care of my little miracle.

She has taught me about contentment and true joy.

Johanna means “God is Gracious.” He is indeed. And she reminds me every time I get her out of her crib and she gives me a big hug, every time she runs over, hops in my lap and snuggles, every time she comes up behind me and gives me kisses on my back, every time she laughs so hard she almost falls over.

A baby really does change everything. A baby (all of them) has been the best Christmas gift I ever received.

The Best Christmas Gift | Just Take A Bite

Whether or not there are any more precious gifts in my future I don’t know. Whether or not my childhood dream of a large family is part of God’s plan I don’t know. That is in God’s hands. His plans and his timing are perfect. I just know that the miracles He has entrusted to me so far have truly changed my life.

It is said that good things come in small packages. I wholeheartedly agree. From a tiny little baby in Bethlehem to the precious little ones sleeping upstairs as I write this. God has been gracious and changed my life through the miracle of a baby. It is the by far the best Christmas gift ever.

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Health Update 2013 Part 2 – What I Learned

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Every time I think about writing what I learned in 2013 my mind goes in a million directions.  I learned so much.  I learned it all the hard way – through first hand experience.

I know I’m not alone.  I know I’m not the only one struggling with these problems.  So I want to share my journey with others in the hopes that someone else doesn’t have to go through the struggles like I did.

So here is my attempt at sharing some of these lessons.  I hope to go into more detail on some of the topics in separate posts later.  For now, here is some of what I learned in 2013 (and over the last ten years).

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1. Eat enough food.

I fell into this trap for many years.  And I see it in so many well-meaning sites and books.  Time and time again it is suggested that women should eat 1200 – 1500 calories a day to loose weight and be healthy.  This is far too little to sustain your health.

Unless you are on complete bedrest and can barely move your body most women should eat a minimum of 2,000 calories a day.  You should consume even more than that if you are active and exercise.  If you starve your body it will not function well.  If you feed your body you’ll feel great.  Combining enough quality food with moderate exercise is a great way to maintain your health in the long term.

2. Eat what works for your body.

Don’t follow a prescribed diet (GAPS, Paleo, low carb, etc.) just because someone else says it’s great.

This is another lesson I had to learn the (very) hard way.  I’ve been on every diet you can think of to try to feel good.  For me it was never about losing weight.  I just wanted to feel good and heal my body.  So I tried the IBS diet, low fat, high fiber, dairy free, egg free, wheat free, red meat free, grain free, GAPS, low carb,…I’ve tried them all.

Where did that get me?  Feeling worse than when I started.  Over the last 10 years I have learned to eat what works for my body.  And that is what makes me feel good.

Just because your friend tried eating paleo and feels great doesn’t mean it’s the perfect diet for you.  Just because someone says grains are evil doesn’t mean they don’t work for you.

I have read over and over about how things like potatoes, bananas and root vegetables are “safe” starches and much better for you than grains.  I am living proof that this is not true for everyone.  If I eat potatoes and bananas I will be in so much pain.  But I MUST eat gluten free grains daily to feel good.

All this boils down to – don’t restrict your diet just because someone else says it’s good.  Eat a variety of real food that makes you feel good and gives you the energy you need.  Don’t cut foods (real food) out of your diet if they aren’t causing you problems.  You won’t find your “perfect” diet in any book.  You have to figure out what works for you.

3. Real food is great!  But sometimes it can be beneficial to stray away from it.

I know this sounds contradictory to what my site is all about.  But it’s true.  I still firmly believe in fueling your body with healthy, homemade real food…most of the time.

But depending on the state of your health, there are times when you can benefit from some less than ideal foods.  For someone that has been on a strict diet (like paleo or GAPS) and is underfed and unhealthy, processed foods can be a great jumpstart to getting back to full health.  Processed foods are easy to digest (yes, frozen pizza is often easier to digest than a big plate of vegetables).  It is also easy to quickly increase your calorie intake with processed foods.

I am not recommending this as a permanent solution to health by any means.  But it can be beneficial if you are recovering from undereating or a condition called orthorexia.  Once your body is not starving anymore you can go back to eating real, quality food.  You just have to be sure to eat plenty of it.

Having bad morning sickness was a good way to break me of my orthorexia.  I do love to fuel my body properly with quality food.  But sometimes I can be too strict about it…and it fuels my OCD and anxiety.  I had to just learn to eat whatever I could manage for the last couple months.  I am really looking forward to getting back to eating mostly healthy food.  My body is ready for it.  But it was nice to have a break and just eat whatever I wanted.  It was a great way to change my mindset and figure out how to find balance.

4. Don’t drink too much water.

One of the best things I did for my health in 2013 was to stop drinking so much water.  There really is no science behind the 8 glasses a day rule.  And if you really think about it, it doesn’t make sense to force yourself to drink water.  If your body needs fluids it will let you know.

Drinking too much water is a great way to slow down your metabolism, lower your body temperature and feel cold all the time.  It will also flush the vitamins and minerals out of your body.

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5. Get plenty of sleep.

This sounds like common sense.  But there are probably very few people that actually get enough sleep.  For a healthy individual seven hours of uninterrupted sleep is the minimum needed.  Most people need at last eight.  And for someone that has been sleep-deprived for a while nine or ten hours is ideal.

Quality sleep with no problems falling or staying asleep is a sign of good health.  While you sleep is also the time when your body repairs itself.  So if you’re trying to heal and you’re not getting enough sleep you’re setting yourself up for failure.

I went for years and years getting very poor sleep.  I had too much to get done in a day to spend my time sleeping.  But at some point I just had no energy and could barely function.  It has been great over the last couple months to get nine or ten hours of sleep a day (night time + a nap).  My body really needed it.  Hopefully soon I can stop taking a nap every day and just stick with my eight hours a night and have it be sufficient.

Even if every other part of your lifestyle is ideal, if you’re not getting enough sleep you won’t feel your best.

6. Exercise is great…if you are eating and sleeping enough.  

If you are not eating or sleeping enough, it can be beneficial to take a break from exercise.  When you do exercise it’s good to do a variety of things like weight lifting, yoga and walking.  You don’t have to push yourself to extremes to be healthy and fit.  Too much aerobic exercise may be harmful.

I used to run every single day.  And do nothing else.  Now I still enjoy running.  But I don’t do it every day.  Actually I haven’t done any running in a long time because my body was not healthy enough.  When I was healing I stuck to short walks and bikes.  I also did gentle yoga.  I got new weights for Christmas…but haven’t been able to use them.  Maybe by next Christmas I’ll be able to start lifting weights 🙂

Move your body doing what you enjoy.  Make sure to do a variety of things to work all parts of your body.  And combine it with enough food and enough sleep.  That is the way to stay healthy.

7. Basal body temperature can tell you a lot about your health.

Basal body temperature is your temperature when you first wake up in the morning.  Another great thing I did for my health in 2013 was to check my temperature every single morning and keep a spreadsheet of it.

Your bbt can tell you if your metabolism is working well or not.  For women it can also tell you when you ovulate/how your hormones are functioning.  So it is a good indicator of health (since metabolism is a key factor in health).  It is also great for understanding fertility and either getting pregnant or preventing pregnancy.

A healthy individual with a well-functioning metabolism should have a bbt of at least 97.8 F in the morning.  Higher is even better.  You can also check your temperature throughout the day to get an idea of how your food and activity level impacts your body temperature.  It will help you see what keeps you warm (boosting metabolism) or makes you cold (suppressing metabolism).  Then you can adjust your lifestyle accordingly.

For women, bbt is lower (but still usually around the 97.8 range for a healthy individual) in the first half of your cycle when estrogen is dominant and progesterone is low.  When you ovulate there is often a temperature drop for one day.  Then after ovulation progesterone increases, raising your temperature.

It will take a few months of charting your temperature to get an idea of how your body works and to see if there are any patterns.  For example, as I was healing and charting my bbt there wasn’t really a pattern that I noticed at first.  My cycles were not regular.  But after a while I noticed that if my bbt dropped into the 96’s (or below) even for one day my body was way off and was struggling to get my hormone levels up.   And it would be at least two weeks before ovulation.  A bbt below 97 meant a restart for me.  If my bbt stayed in the 97’s for two weeks I knew ovulation was coming.  And after ovulation my bbt was always at least in the 98’s and sometimes 99’s.  Once my bbt started dropping that meant the start of a new cycle.

Charting my bbt was the easiest change I made the whole year.  But it told me more about my health than just about anything else I did.

8. Focus on health, not looks.  

I think I’ve been saying this for years.  So it’s not completely new.  But deep down I don’t think I fully believed it.  I did shift my mindset to focus on health a long time ago.  But I didn’t ever drop the focus on looks and size.  I still wanted to be thin.

In 2013 my control over my size was taken away.  With my thyroid totally out of whack my weight kept going up and up.  There was nothing I could do about it.  For the first time I truly had to focus 100% on my health.

Did I always like how I looked?  No.  Did I want to loose some weight?  Yes.  But that was completely secondary.  My health was front and center.  And it always will be now, no matter what size I am.

When I look to the future I think about how I want to impact my children.  I would much rather teach them to take care of themselves and be healthy.  I don’t want to teach them to be obsessed with looks and size.  So I am done with that.

Don’t try to be a certain size or weight.  Treat your body well.  And give your body what it needs to be healthy.  You’ll be so much happier.  Love yourself and take care of yourself.

9. Change is a very gradual process.

Change does not happen over night.  No matter what the next fad diet or workout video tells you.  If you want to make changes that are sustainable long term it will be a very gradual process.

Do you want to loose weight?  That’s fine.  But know that it will take a while.  Do you want to eat healthier?  That’s a wonderful thing to do.  But don’t go crazy trying to do everything at once.

Small, consistent steps each day will get you where you want to be.  Don’t get upset because two weeks into making changes you haven’t noticed any big improvements.  Give it time.

Healing takes time.  Weight gain or loss takes time.  A healthy diet takes time.  Don’t rush it and set yourself up for failure.  I’ve been working on getting healthy for about 15 years now.  And I’m finally getting there.  One step at a time.

10. Your thyroid can have a big impact on your health.

I was diagnosed as hypothyroid in 2006.  I was put on a synthetic thyroid hormone and had my TSH checked about once a year.  I really knew nothing about thyroid.  I figured the doctor knew what he was doing.  I didn’t have any hypothyroid symptoms that I knew of.  So I didn’t bother to learn about it.  I didn’t think it was that big of a deal.

Seven years later I finally had to learn more about it.  I wish I would have researched it sooner.  I didn’t realize just how much your thyroid could impact your health.  I think there are about 200 symptoms that can be attributed to thyroid dysfunction.

Last year I learned so much about the thyroid.  I learned what blood work you need to get done and how to interpret the results.  Just because your levels are in the “normal” range does not mean you are on the right dose of medication.  You have to look at the symptoms more than the numbers.

I learned about the different kinds of medications, how to take them and how to get correct dosage.

I learned how other hormones can impact your thyroid and vice versa.

I learned that iron levels and adrenal problems can mimic thyroid problems.  And they need to be addressed first.

I can’t say that I have my thyroid problem 100% figured out yet.  It is the last piece of the puzzle that I’m still working on.  And I will be writing more on this topic in the future.  I will be getting my thyroid hormones levels rechecked in a week and go from there to see if adjustments need to be made.

11. Manage stress.

Stress can be as bad for your health as lack of sleep, a poor diet and lack of exercise.  Stress can suppress your metabolism.  It can alter your hormones.  It can come in many forms too.

Find a way to manage your stress to stay healthy.  Take time to do things you enjoy – reading, writing, visiting with friends.  It’s also important to find techniques to relax such as walking, yoga or reading the Bible.  Figure out what works for you and make it a priority.

12. Adrenal health is very important.

Your adrenal glands play a huge role in your health.  If you are not getting enough sleep, aren’t eating enough, are exercising too much or are too stressed, your adrenal glands have to work overtime to compensate.

This works for a while.  That is what they are for.  They raise your cortisol levels to compensate.  But if you do it for too long you stress the adrenals and eventually it leads to adrenal fatigue.  Then your cortisol bottoms out and it takes a lot of work to get it back up.

If you think you are suffering from adrenal problems it’s great to do a 24-hour saliva test to check your cortisol levels.  I had it done early last year.  I’m thankful that my levels were just slightly raised.  Which means I was doing ok, but starting to make them work a little too hard.  By altering my sleep, diet and exercise I was able to get my cortisol levels back to normal.

13. Birth control is not for everyone…and probably not good for most women.

This is another less I had to learn the very hard way.  But it wasn’t until years after I stopped birth control that I realized how much it had harmed me.

A few months before I got married I started birth control.  That’s what you do, right?  I knew nothing about what it was or what it actually does to your body.  But had I not made that one decision I probably never would have struggled with infertility for so many years.

When I was in college I got my health under control.  Things weren’t perfect, but I was eating enough, sleeping enough and exercising regularly.  I had found a good balance.  And for the first time in my life I had regular cycles every single month.  This lasted a few years…until I started birth control.

Once on birth control things started to change.  The changes were gradual.  And I never attributed them to the birth control.  But now that I have done a lot of research I can see the big picture.  I started to gain weight.  Five pounds or so.  Nothing major.  My anxiety started to get worse.  My OCD started to get worse.  Eventually I started having panic attacks.  My gut got so messed up that I started restrictive diets to try to help.  My weight went way down from restriction.  I was a big mess.  I even had to switch to a new form of birth control because I was starting to puke every month from the hormones.  In case you haven’t noticed by now my body is extremely sensitive to any hormone fluctuations.

After stopping birth control three years later it was too late.  My hormones were non-existent.  I was underweight.  I was hypothyroid.  My OCD was so out of control that I could barely function.  My anxiety was so bad.  I had to start seeing a psychologist.  My digestive system was so messed up that I had to have major colon surgery.  Eventually we started fertility treatments.

I think almost all of this could have been avoided had I not taken birth control.  It messed up both my mind and my body.

I know not everyone reacts the same way to hormones.  And I’m sure there are cases where it can be helpful.  But please do your research before considering any type of birth control.  I know that it is something I will never take again.  It has taken me many years to get my life back.  I’m not going down that road ever again.

14. Be your own advocate.

One big lesson I have learned over the last ten years is that you have to stand up for yourself.  Don’t let doctors brush you off or tell you you’re fine when you know you’re not.  If something doesn’t feel right, find a doctor that will help.

I had GI problems for years.  I finally was brave enough to talk to my doctor about it.  He referred me to a gastroenterologist.  Great.  I thought I’d finally get the help I needed.  He asked a few questions, felt my stomach and told me I was healthy and fine.  Eventually I got him to run a few tests.  But he still said I was fine.  I knew I was not.  I had to research and research and finally diagnose myself.  Even then when I told the nurse at my doctor’s office what I thought was the problem she said “you don’t have that.  You’re too young” without missing a beat…over the phone…without asking me a single question.  I’m so thankful I was persistent and didn’t just say ok.  I finally got referred to a colon surgeon who confirmed my diagnosis and immediately scheduled surgery.

This has happened time and time again to me.  I go to a doctor, even specialists, trying to get help.  And they tell me I’m fine.  Even though I know I’m not.  I have had to figure out all of my problems on my own…and just use doctors to get medications and treatments.

15. PCOS is a confusing topic.

When I had my first appointment with an endocrinologist he asked some questions and made an assumption about my health.  He assumed I had PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome).  He ran some tests and did an ultrasound.  His conclusion?  I had what he called polyfollicular ovaries.

Great.  What does that mean?  I never really did find out from him or anyone.  I tried to research it for years.  Nobody else used that term.  I have come to some of my own conclusions (as usual).  But it’s still confusing.

Many women with PCOS are overweight or have trouble maintaining their weight.  Many women with PCOS have irregular cycles and heavy, painful periods.  Many women with PCOS struggle with facial hair.  Did that sound like me?  Not really.  I just had no periods.

The common solutions for PCOS are losing weight, eating low carb and taking Metformin to help with insulin resistance.  Did I need any of that.  No.  In fact, eating low carb made my situation worse.

Where did that leave me?  Basically my body would try to grow some follicles/eggs each month.  But my hormone levels weren’t high enough to mature the eggs.  So instead of having one dominant follicle that released an egg (ovulation) I’d have lots of small follicles that did nothing but sit there.  Which on ultrasound looks like little cysts.  They are really just lots of follicles…polyfollicular.

Even when doing IVF I would have tons of follicles start growing.  But very few actually matured enough for the egg to be good (hence our seven rounds of IVF and two good eggs out of almost forty that were retrieved and fertilized).  That is also why I would have a condition called hyperstimulation every time.  There were too many follicles.

I still don’t have a full answer about what this means.  One endo said it’s from bad communication between the brain and the ovaries.  Could I technically be classified as having PCOS?  I don’t know.  I don’t really have the symptoms.  My condition is helped by being a healthy weight and taking care of myself.  Finding balance with sleep, exercise and food.  I also think it is related to my thyroid problem.

All this to say that if you have been diagnosed with PCOS please do your research to figure out where you fit into the criteria and what treatment is best for you.

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15 weeks

16. Let God have control.

I’ve known my whole life that ultimately God is in control.  But I also know I can make choices.  For most of my life I’ve tried to be in control.  I ask God for things I want.  I ask for things to go my way.  If things are good I say it’s God’s plan.  But when things aren’t going so well it’s hard to believe it’s still true.

I have such a strong desire to be in control that I could not let go on my own.  In 2013 God took the control out of my hands.  And it was wonderful.  It doesn’t mean that my life was great.  Actually it was very hard.  But it gave me such freedom to not have to hold every little detail of my life in perfect balance.  It was terrifying and wonderful at the same time.

It is so good to know and have proof that God really does have things in his control.  He knows what I need.  His plans may be different than mine.  His timing may be different than mine.  But I don’t have to worry about it.

On my own, trying to keep control, I probably would not have had any more children.  I would not have made the necessary changes on my own.  But with God in control we are expecting baby #3.  And the door is open for more.  That is something we can decide as a couple down the road.  But just to know the door is open, even if we decide not to have more kids, is amazing.

17. OCD does not have to control my life.

It’s no secret that I’ve struggled with pretty severe obsessive compulsive disorder for many years now.  I was finally diagnosed/finally realized that I had it about five years ago.  And I’ve been working on treating it ever since.

It has been a long and difficult journey.  No matter how much I told myself my compulsions were silly and illogical I couldn’t stop.  I went through a lot of exposure therapy and have made progress over the years.

Over the last seven months once again God has allowed me to change.  When He takes the control, my OCD does not have to control me.

Especially during the first trimester of this pregnancy I had to just let everything go.  I just had to do what I could to get through each day.  If that meant laying on the couch most of the day, then that’s what I did.  If that meant eating less than ideal food, then that’s what I did.  If that meant my digestion was so messed up that I was in pain, I didn’t let it bother me or make me anxious.  I just kept on going.

I’m so happy to be able to continue this process of eliminating my OCD.  My fear does not have to take control.  I can give it to God.  And I’m never going back to where I was.

It’s hard to think back to when I was first married.  It’s hard to think about all the time I wasted being consumed by my thoughts and compulsions.  I am very blessed to have such a loving husband that never judged or got upset with me.  He helped me through it.  And with each child I’ve let more of it go.  I’m a type A person.  So I will never be 100% cured from OCD.  It’s part of my nature.  But it will no longer control my life.  It will only be an asset and be used for good things.  It is what fuels the drive and determination I’ve always had.  But if it hinders my relationships or my life it has to go.

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Final Thoughts

It feels so good to share all of this information in hopes of helping even one other person.  But even more than that it feels good to write it out and be done with the things that have burdened me for so many years.  I know how to be healthy and happy.  I’m ready to move on to 2014 now.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post I’ll be digging deeper into some of these topics later.  For now if you’d like to do some research on your own, here are some great resources I’ve come across.

The Nourished Metabolism (20% off 6/10/16 – 6/30/16 with coupon code SUMMER20)

Eat for Heat

Diet Recovery 2

The Nourished Metabolism (20% off 6/10/16 – 6/30/16 with coupon code SUMMER20)

Go Kaleo

Your Eatopia

Stop The Thyroid Madness

Natural Fertility and Wellness

What have you learned over the years about your health and how to really live?

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Health Update 2013 Part 1 – What Happened

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The health changes I experienced in 2013 were beyond my wildest dreams.  Looking back I am truly amazed at all that has happened.  That being said it was a very painful and challenging process.  And one of the hardest parts was that it was out of my control.  God knew what I needed.  Even if it took heartache to get there.

There is so much to share.  I’m not even sure how to capture it all.  So I’ll go through the year one month at a time.  This is my story of a year of healing.  There was no magic secret.  No one thing I did to cause change.  But I did learn a lot.  Today I’ll share how the year went.  And soon I’ll be sharing everything I learned in the process.

January 2013

I started 2013 quite unhealthy.  I was nursing a 20-month old (quite draining on an already undernourished body…with no break from fertility treatments to pregnancy to almost 2 years of nursing).  I was sleeping about 5-6 hours a night, always interrupted.  My diet was quite restricted.  Although I was gradually trying to add foods back into my diet after almost a year trying GAPS, I was still scared to eat.  I exercised daily, more than I should for the state of my health.  And it was always cardio.  I was stressed both physically and mentally.  I knew I was not healthy.  I knew I wanted change.  But I didn’t want to give up control.

I decided to see a new doctor.  She ran tons of tests.  The results?  I had lots of food intolerances, candida, high cortisol, low mineral levels and heavy metals.  She had a laundry list of foods to avoid, supplements to take, etc.  If I wasn’t stressed enough before, now I was more anxious than ever.  But I took the supplements and adjusted my diet once again to see if it would help.  I started a rotational diet to try to eliminate some food intolerances.  It was not easy.

But I kept going.  I wanted to be healthy.  In the back of my mind I knew I wanted to prepare my body for another round of IVF and hopefully another pregnancy.  It was the thing that kept me going.

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February 2013

In February I made a big change that would have a huge impact on my health for the rest of the year.  I had been diagnosed as hypothyroid in 2006 and had been on Synthroid ever since.  After research I took it upon myself to get my doctor to prescribe me Armour Thyroid instead, a natural form of thyroid hormones.  I was very hopeful that it would be a good fit.  I started at a very low dose since I was on a low dose of Synthroid.

I also stopped nursing.  I wanted to give my body 3 months of break before starting fertility treatments again.  It had been 6 1/2 years since I had given my body a break from fertility treatments, pregnancy or nursing.  And I wondered why my body was undernourished.  Sheesh.

March 2013

In March I gained a few pounds.  It was my body’s response to not nursing anymore.  I also had bloodwork done to check my thyroid and my reproductive hormones.  I was curious where I was at.  My thyroid levels came back pretty normal.  My free T3 was actually a little high.  I now know that is a sign of adrenal problems.  But my doctor said they looked fine.  So I figured that was taken care of and the switch to Armour was a success.  And I didn’t give it another thought.

Unfortunately my hormone levels were not so normal.  Both my estrogen and progesterone levels were basically the same as that of a 10 year old girl.  Non-existent.  Not good when you’re wanting to get pregnant.  But I knew we were doing another round of IVF regardless (which doesn’t require my body to do anything on its own).  So it was one more thing to think about down the road.

April 2013

In April life was fairly normal.  I was still sticking to my rotational diet.  I was trying to make gradual health changes like getting more sleep.

We also had our consult with the fertility doctor and got our schedule and medications.

May 2013

May is when life started to get crazy.  And the journey that I never dreamed I’d be on began.  I started my progesterone pills to induce a period and start the IVF process.

A few days after starting we received a letter from our fertility specialist.  He was ill and had to retire immediately.  And that was that.  What now??  We were hopeful about things to come.  We were just getting started.  And now what?

Thankfully we have two endocrinologists here.  So we had to immediately get in to see a brand new doctor.  He was able to squeeze us in to his schedule so we didn’t have to stop and wait.  But he knew nothing about our history/our story.  And it added a lot of stress for me.

The following week I started my estrogen pills to prepare my uterus for the IVF transfer.  Little did I know that the simple act of taking a pill would be the start of both my heartache and my healing.  I had done this before many times.  Take estrogen, then progesterone, then do the transfer and wait.  But this time it was different.

Within days of starting the estrogen pills I started to gain weight.  I had done enough research to know a little about estrogen dominance.  So I figured it was just a temporary thing while I was on the high dose of estrogen for a few days.  And my weight did go back down a few pounds after decreasing the estrogen and starting progesterone.  So I figured that was it.

A few months later I went back and read the information that comes with the estrogen pills.  It specifically says your thyroid medication dose may have to be adjusted when taking them.  But my doctor never even asked about my thyroid.  And I was on the new medication…and would later find out I was not on the correct dose.  All of that combined was the perfect combination for what was to come.

June 2013

On June 1 we transferred our 3 remaining embryos that had survived the thaw.  That was it.  Our last chance.  Over the next two weeks I waited and rested.  I felt awful.  But I had been down this road before.  I knew that the hormones I was on made me feel like I was pregnant.  So symptoms didn’t mean much.

On June 11 I had my first pregnancy test.  It was positive.  We were overjoyed and relieved.  Our final chance had worked.  Our family would be complete.  And we would be done with fertility treatments forever.

On June 24 we had our first ultrasound.  It was too early to see a heartbeat, so there wasn’t much to see.

On June 28 I had pain and spotting.  I had another ultrasound that was inconclusive.  Another hcg check showed that my levels were barely rising.

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July 2013

On July 1 I had my final ultrasound where the doctor confirmed that it was a blighted ovum and not a viable pregnancy.  I stopped the hormones and waited for the miscarriage.  I expected it to take a week or two for things to complete.  And then I’d work on healing.

What I didn’t expect was that the bleeding continued into early August.  Over a month.  It was pure torture to be reminded day after day after day of what would not be.

In addition I continued to gain weight.  At a check up to make sure things were ok I asked the doctor about the uncontrollable weight gain.  His response was that I was probably eating more or exercising less than I realized.  Not much of an answer.  More like a brush off.

What the doctor should have told me was that my thyroid was messed up.  But he just dismissed me with no answer.  It took me almost 5 months researching and experimenting on my own to figure it out.

One very positive and critical step I made during July was that I started tracking my daily basal body temperature.  Little did I know that one simple thing like checking my temperature each morning would be key to assessing my health and becoming pregnant.  I knew body temperature related to health.  But I didn’t know about its relation to hormonal cycles.

August 2013

In early August the miscarriage finally ended.  In hind sight I know that the extended bleeding was due to my messed up estrogen, progesterone and thyroid levels.  Again, I had to figure that out on my own.

I had a lot of bloodwork done to check for any autoimmune issues or genetic reasons for miscarriage.  It all came back normal.  I also had my estrogen levels checked.  It was now up to 42.  It was in the normal range.

Part way through the month I had more spotting due to my fluctuating hormones.

My weight was also still going up.  By the end of August I decided to stop weighing myself.  I couldn’t handle watching it go up day after day.  And I was hitting a low emotionally.  I wasn’t pregnant.  And now I had no energy and had gained over twenty pounds.  I also had severe swelling in my legs and constant pain when I stood for more than a few minutes.

At the time I figured the swelling, water retention and weight gain was my body’s response to years of disordered eating.  So I just waited.  I figured it would work itself out in a month or two.

September 2013

By September I had one goal – getting healthy.  I thought it was possible to heal my body and get my reproductive system working again.  I was studying anything I could find about balancing hormones.  I was still checking my basal body temperature every morning to monitor how things were going.  And to my amazement the first week of September I ovulated on my own for the first time in ten years!  I felt a new sense of hope.

Although this was so exciting I was still very swollen and in pain.  My weight continued to increase.  And I was very worn out.

October 2013

In October I started seeing a chiropractor for the first time.  I have had scoliosis since I was a teenager, but never did anything about it.  I thought it might help balance my body to deal with that.  So I started to go to the chiro twice a week.

I was charting my temperatures and trying to predict when I might ovulate again.  This was almost impossible to do since nothing was regular about my body.  But about 4 weeks after I had last ovulated I thought I might have ovulated again.  So I had my hormone levels checked.

I was very disappointed to hear that my estrogen was 47 (about the same as before) and my progesterone was 0.6…still non-existent.  In other words, I didn’t ovulate.  And my hormones were still very low.

So I kept researching and kept checking my temperature.  Two weeks after I had thought I ovulated…I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had ovulated again.  It wasn’t just a one time fluke. My body was really trying to work.  Although not on schedule yet.

Again I had my hormone levels checked.  To my great joy I got much better results.  My estrogen was 121.  And my progesterone was now 15.4!  In the normal range for after ovulation.  My body was actually making hormones!!

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November 2013

By November I was getting excited that I was on the right track.  I had ovulated twice.  My cycles were a little longer than normal, but not too bad.

On the down side my weight was still quite high.  I still had a bloated abdomen, swollen legs and pain every day.  I was still tired.  I knew that something still was not right.  I had experimented with my diet.  But that didn’t seem to make a difference.  I wasn’t eating any more than I used to.  I was still exercising daily.  But nothing changed.

I read and researched and read and researched.  Finally.  God gave me the answer I had been looking for.  It was my thyroid.  I don’t even remember what I read or what made me think of it.  But I figured out that I was on the wrong dose of Armour Thyroid.

I called my doctor and she said it was ok to increase my dose.  I started increasing it immediately and hoped I’d notice a difference.

With all of my research I also realized that I had been taking the medication incorrectly the whole time.  So I started making sure I was taking it properly – chewing instead of just swallowing the pills, at least 4 hours apart from any vitamins and splitting my dose into two parts so I would have some in my system all day.

I also figured out that millet is one of the strongest goitrogenic foods…which are horrible for people with thyroid problems.  The gluten free bread I had been eating daily had millet as the first ingredient.  So I stopped eating it.  All of these changes combined started my body on the right track to finally feeling better.

On the other hand I was discouraged that I had gone over a month and not ovulated again.  My cycles were getting longer instead of shorter.  I started to worry that things were getting worse instead of better with my reproductive system.  But I kept charting my temperatures and tried to predict when I might ovulate.

The last week of November I thought ovulation was coming.  My body temperature was good.  All the signs were there.  So for the first time in our 10 years of marriage my husband and I decided to actively try to conceive.

We knew it was not likely to happen.  Especially since we have both male and female factor.  But we figured it wouldn’t hurt to try.  So we gave it a go for the week before I thought I would ovulate.

December 2013

On December 1 I did ovulate.  I was just excited to actually ovulate again.  And was happy that we would be able to try to conceive over the next few months with an actual chance of it working, although very slim chance.  We knew that even if my body was working we still had the male factor that was a big unknown.

I also talked to my doctor and increased my Armour dose again since I still wasn’t seeing major signs of improvement.

Life was super busy.  So I was going, going.  By December 12 I was excited that I had not started my period yet.  That meant I did not have a short luteal phase.  One more step in the right direction to getting my body healthy.  My cycles were not regular, but when I did ovulate at least things seemed normal.

Around December 13 I expected a new cycle to start.  But the day came and went with nothing.  December 14 I was sure things would start any time.  But the day came and went with nothing.  I decided to give it one more day.  I had ovulated on December 1.  So surely by the 15th things would start.  But the day came and went with nothing.

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December 16 I woke up with a still very high body temperature (actually my highest ever for post-ovulation – 99.75!).  And I got to do something I never thought I would do.  I took a home pregnancy test.  And it was instantly positive.  I was in complete shock…and so was my husband.  Could this really be happening?!?  I don’t even remember how long it took me to stop shaking.  The rest of that day was kind of a blur.

I called my OB that day to get a blood test to confirm.  To my complete amazement my hcg level came back at 611 (higher than the normal range for 4 weeks pregnant).  I was also shocked to hear that my progesterone level was 25.4…on the high end of the range for the first trimester of pregnancy.

Not only did we conceive on the first try.  But my hormone levels were more than adequate to sustain a pregnancy.  No pills, no shots, no procedures, no nothing.  I didn’t have to supplement progesterone.  My body was doing it all on its own.  This is what “normal” pregnancy is like?  It didn’t feel real since I wasn’t going to doctors and giving myself daily shots.

Two days later I had another hcg check to make sure the levels were rising.  This time it was 1352.  Perfect.  Everything looked good.  But I’ve been down this road before.  I know there is a lot that can happen early on.

I hoped and prayed and did my best to trust that this was God’s plan.  This was God’s little miracle for us.  And I knew that He was taking care of this baby.  And that God would get all the glory.

Yes, I went through a LOT this year.  Yes, I had to go through a lot of struggle.  Yes, I had to keep pushing myself day after day.  Yes, there were a lot of small steps I  made that added up to big change.

But none of it was really my doing.  It was not in my control.  It was only by the grace of God that this little miracle was created.

On December 31 I had my second ultrasound.  And I saw the most amazing sight.  A tiny little baby with a tiny little heartbeat.  What a way to end my 2013.

I have been waiting years to write a post like this.  I had always hoped I could share a story of real food, real healing, real hope and real faith.  And now it has finally come.  2013 was my year of trials, perseverance and miracles.  God is good.

Be sure to come back soon and see what all of this has taught me about health and healing.  I’ll be sharing what I learned in 2013.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

My Little Secret

secret

If you follow me on facebook I recently mentioned that I’d be sharing my little secret.  Today’s the day I’m ready to share.

I apologize if you came here looking for a weight loss secret.  Because I don’t have one.  Yes, I have lost some weight recently.  But that’s not what this is about.

What I do have to share is my journey with infertility and my story of God’s love.

Over the last seven years my husband and I have gone through the joys and sorrows that come with infertility.  God has blessed us with two amazing children.  But we have also been through seven rounds of in-vitro fertilization and dealt with many disappointments.

In June of last year we went through a miscarriage after what we had hoped was our last round of IVF.

That left us in confusion.  Where do we go from here?

It took a while, but God gave us the answer.  In fact, he was giving us the answer before we even started our last round of IVF.

Throughout 2013 God was allowing changes in my life that I didn’t even realize.  Just little steps that seemed irrelevant at the time.  But they added up to big changes.

Even heartache, frustration and confusion led to big changes that I could not have made on my own.

I will share all of the details of my healing journey over the last year very soon.  There is a lot to share!!

But that’s not really what this post is about either.

This post is about my one little secret that I’ve been waiting to share.  And it hasn’t been an easy wait.

This post is about the Christmas miracle that God gave us.

Here is a picture of my daughter opening her last Christmas present.  I have been waiting to share this photo.  The expression on her face when she learns our secret captures our feelings better than any words ever could.

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God is so good.  God can and does do miracles.  God has given us another chance when we thought our chances were over.

Today I’m beyond excited to share my little secret.  My miracle secret that will be joining our family at the end of August.

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After years of both male and female infertility, round after round of treatments, I am pregnant with baby #3…conceived naturally.

We are so amazed and so thankful.  God is awesome!!  He gives us hope when we think all hope is lost.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

And just in case you were still wondering about the weight loss.  I don’t really recommend spending most of your time laying on the couch, eating small amounts of whatever you can manage…mostly junk food.  It really isn’t the way to go.  But I’m thankful I get to do it.  I just hope I start feeling a little better soon.  And then I’ll be back in the kitchen and sharing recipes again.  Thanks for being patient while I hid my secret.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

How I Really Spent My Summer…

*Note – This will be a long and personal post.  But I think I need to write it.  I need to let it out and let it go.

Baseball game.

I made a post on our family blog recently about what we did all summer.  We did a lot of fun things like cherry picking, Michigan’s Adventure, my brother-in-law’s wedding, baseball games, camps and time with family.  Sounds like a typical summer in Michigan.

But I left out one teeny, tiny detail.

I left out a detail so small that you can’t see it…without an ultrasound.  And at some point you can’t see it at all.

I did a lot of fun things this summer.  But I really spent most of my summer feeling sick and sad.

On June 1, 2013 I did my 7th IVF transfer (just getting to this point was a bit crazy with our endocrinologist getting sick and retiring in the middle of the process and having to go to a new office/doctor).  The transfer went well.  I waited through the two weeks of torture.

I felt every pregnancy symptom possible.  And on June 11, 2013 we got the exciting news that I was pregnant! Two days later I had my second test.  Another great hcg level.  I was feeling sick and so excited.

On June 24, 2013 I had my first ultrasound.  We were so excited about possibly seeing a heartbeat or two!  Instead we saw a sac and what was probably an embryo.  It was still early (5 1/2 weeks).  I had another hcg test – normal.

 

Strawberry picking on June 28.

On June 28, 2013 I started to have pain.  And after a quick strawberry picking trip with the kids I started bleeding.  I was terrified.  I went in for another ultrasound.  Again, inconclusive.

I had another hcg test – it hardly rose from a week earlier.

On July 1, 2013 I had a final ultrasound that confirmed there was no heartbeat.  It was a blighted ovum.

I stopped all medications/hormones and waited for the process to begin.

 

4th of July parade the day before things started – my face says it all.

On July 5, 2013 my miscarriage began.  It was quite difficult the first night.  I was up in the night in pain.  Then the physical part gradually got a little easier.  I had no idea what to expect.  A lot of emotions.  A lot of physical discomfort.  A lot of isolation and sadness and anger.

What I did not expect was for the process to take over a month to complete.  To be reminded of what would not be day after day after day and not being able to start the true healing process.  It was brutal.

What I did not expect was how lonely it felt.  Even people that knew what was going on did not say a word.  Nobody asked how I was feeling.  Nobody asked if I needed help.  I did my best to keep up with daily life, taking care of my kids, cooking meals, writing, etc.  But inside I was crushed.  Some days about all I could do was get myself dressed and make sure my family was fed.

My hormones were still crazy.  My emotions were all over the place.  And physically my body was making changes that were completely out of my control.

 

A trip to the beach in July – trying to enjoy some time with my precious kids in the midst of pain.

Over the course of about 2 months I gained almost 20 pounds.  My body was swollen.  My belly was puffed out.  I couldn’t fit into my clothes.  So I wasn’t pregnant, but it kind of looked like I was.

My mind pondered the “why” and the “what now.”  This was not our first failed IVF cycle.  But it was likely our last.  And we’ve never been in this situation before.  There was always a next time.  A hope for the next try.  But not this time.

So what has happened to the “why” and the “what now”?  God has given me some answers.

Why?

I have struggled with disordered eating and obsessive compulsive disorder for almost 20 years now.  I have gone through ups and downs with both disorders over the years.  But they still had a tight grip on me.

And I didn’t know how to give up control.  I longed to give it over to God.  But I couldn’t.  Until he stepped in and made me do it.

I knew it would be good for me to gain a little weight.  But I couldn’t do it on my own.  So God took it completely out of my control.  And it still is.  I have not weighed myself in almost 2 months.  But I know I am still up about 20 pounds from where I started in June.  And there isn’t really anything I can do about it.

I’ve wanted so badly to let go of my compulsions for many, many years.  But they controlled my life.  They controlled my daily routine.  But over the last 2 months I have let go of almost all of them.  And I feel so free.

God knew that the only way to get these issues resolved was for Him to take control.  And for me to have the only motivation possible that means more to me than anything…more than being thin, more than looks, more than being in control.  The only thing that I would give up everything for is to have another child.

 

My precious little guy after coming home from the hospital.

And that is my drive now.  On days where I feel so uncomfortable in my skin and in my clothes I remind myself what I’m longing for.  On days where my legs are so painful from the swelling I think about all the healing that’s going on and what could be possible.  On days when I don’t feel like eating much I think about how important it is to nourish my body to get it fully functional again.

Why?  If I had gotten pregnant through this last round of IVF I would have called our family complete.  I would have stayed in my same disordered frame of mind.  I don’t know how long or how much damage it would have done to me or my family.  But I am thankful that God gave me a way out.  I wish it didn’t have to happen this way.  But I am stubborn.  I like to be in control.  And God had to get me to listen.

What now?

That’s a tough question to answer.  For now I’m trying to heal in so many ways.

The miscarriage spurred on some disordered eating healing without me even realizing it.  My body is in repair mode right now.  And I have no idea how long it will take.  I still have swelling all over.  I still have a lot of extra weight in my belly as my body makes sure there is no sign of starvation any time soon.  It’s not fun, but it is necessary.

And it is working.  My adrenal system is back to full function.  I get plenty of rest now.  And I have much less stress.  So my body can start to wake up other systems again.

And they are.  My reproductive system has been shut down for over 10 years now.  Ever since starting birth control in 2003.  The birth control itself made me sick.  It made my digestive issues worse.  It made my anxiety worse.  It made my OCD worse.  And lead to a long journey with restricted diets, trying to figure out how to feel better.  But it just fueled my psychological problems and made me lose a lot of weight.  Which in turn shut things down.  Even just earlier this year all of my reproductive hormone levels were in the pre-pubertal range.  Basically non-existent.

After 3 years on birth control my reproductive system was completely non-functional.  And my health was poor.

I do have two children.  Both through IVF.  Going through that process put more strain on my body.

But now just a couple months after a miscarriage I have ovulated without medication/fertility treatments for the first time in over 10 years!  That is truly amazing.  And I praise God for how he has already started this healing process.

I still think almost daily about what life would have been like if I hadn’t had a miscarriage.  I’d be over 20 weeks pregnant and getting excited about a new life in February.  I still cry sometimes because the sadness is great.

It’s still a struggle to see other pregnant women.  I think the miracle of a baby is such a blessing.  And I am truly happy for anyone that gets to experience it.  But it still reminds me of what will not be and how messed up my body is.  (If you are pregnant and I tend not to look at you/talk much with you please don’t take it personally.  It’s not about you.  It’s just hard for me.  And if I don’t congratulate you on a pregnancy announcement I apologize.  I really am happy for you.  But it is hard.)

It’s still a struggle to go about life feeling like I have a big secret.  It’s hard to appear happy on the outside when inside you’re crushed.  Which is why I wanted to write this. Walking into church last Sunday I realized I felt like I was walking around hiding something.  Three months after this pregnancy ended and my hope was crushed I am ready to share my story.

I am thankful for a few friends like Renee and Donielle that helped me walk through this by sharing their stories and allowing me to talk to them and ask questions.  And I hope I can be that person for someone else.

I am hopeful for the future.  But I still have a long way to go.  I still have a lot of healing to do.  I still struggle each day.  I struggle each time I’m with other women and I don’t feel “normal’ because my body can’t do what most can.

I’m still trying to figure out each day what my body needs – what to eat, how much rest to take, how much exercise my body can handle.  But I know it’s in God’s hands.

The waiting and wondering is hard.  Sometimes I don’t think I can wait one more day.  Sometimes my entire body aches with the desire for another child and I can’t bear the thought of the “what if” it doesn’t happen.

So I’m holding on to hope.  I’m focusing on the good that has come from this experience.  I’m focusing on how God has taken control and allowed me to heal in so many ways.  I’m focusing on the little triumphs each day as I see more signs of healing.  I’m trusting that God has good things planned and that He will use this as one more part of my story to share with others and be a help to others.

Throughout the last three months God has allowed me to open my eyes and ears to his little whispers throughout the day.  Little things that I may not have noticed before.  Little reassurances from him that He’s taking care of things.  Maybe a book my child picks out and brings to me to read.  Or a song that comes on the radio.  Some little reminder that makes me smile.

 

A few days before my first ultrasound – trying to hide how sick I felt while seeing family.

Yes, we had a fun summer.  But it was also the saddest summer of my life.  I can hardly even look back at pictures from June and July.  All I can remember is what was going on at the time.  I hope and pray that next summer is much more joyful.

And I hope and pray God will use me through my experience.  God is good.  All the time.  All the time.  God is good.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

The Nourished Metabolism

I’ve been meaning to get to this post for a while.  Last month I got a copy of The Nourished Metabolism, an e-book by Elizabeth Walling.  And I immediately wanted to tell everyone about it.  But I’ve been busy reading it, re-reading it and doing my own health updates (Part 1, Part 2) that were spurred on by the book.

I’m finally getting around to it…with only a few days to spare to get a copy for 35% off!!  Sorry about the late review.  But even if you miss the May 31 deadline I think it’s worth every penny at full price.

Here are the topics Elizabeth covers:

You’ll learn why sleep is so, so, so important…a lesson I’ve learned the hard way.

You’ll learn why you might need to add salt to your diet and drink less water.  More salt and less water alone made a huge difference for me in raising my body temperature and even helping with digestion.

You’ll learn why sugar is not evil…in fact you need some.

You’ll learn about listening to your body instead of a diet or routine that someone else prescribes.  No vegetarian.  No paleo.  No low carb.  No high fat.  Just do what works for your body.

https://www.e-junkie.com/ecom/gb.php?cl=237114&c=ib&aff=245996

The first time I opened the book I went through the whole thing…in one sitting.  I could not put it down.

I could go on and on and on about how great this book is.  But I will let it speak for itself.  Do yourself a favor and order a copy today.

Until May 31 you can get it at 35% off and get a FREE copy of Elizabeth’s e-booklet: Emotional Eating Myths and Solutions.

Do you struggle with:

  • Low body temperature
  • Mood swings
  • Inability to handle stress
  • Dry skin, dandruff, brittle nails, psoriasis, eczema
  • Poor digestion, constipation, diarrhea, allergies
  • Erratic sleep patterns, insomnia, trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Exhausting, alternating between wired and tired
  • Blood sugar crashes, 
  • PMS, irregular menstrual cycles, low sex drive and other signs of hormonal imbalance
You probably have a stressed metabolism.  Start nourishing yours today to start feeling great!!  Order a copy of The Nourished Metabolism today.
I know this review is kind of short, but hopefully it’s to the point.  And I wanted to be sure I got this up before the sale ends.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Natural Fertility Bundle May 6 – May 13

***This bundle sale has ended.***

If you’ve ever wanted to know anything about natural fertility, pregnancy and reproductive health, listen closely.  For one week only you can get a Natural Fertility Bundle that includes books, meal plans, tips and more!  There are even giveaways.

This really is an amazing deal.  You get 92% off all of these resources!!!  It only lasts for one week.  So hurry and get your bundle today!!  All of the details are below.  It’s almost too good to be true.  So many resources all packaged together for such a low cost.  Take control of your fertility today!

9 ebooks about fertility and health

Fertilise Yourself by Natalie Kringoudis of Melbourne Natural Fertility ($19.95)

This ebook is all about priming your body for fertility, with plenty of tips and tricks for a wellness overhaul, and the ‘how to’ steps to set yourself up to win. If you’re struggling with your fertility, or even just your general health, this ebook can help you navigate your way to being fueled and fighting fertility fit!

Making Super Sperm by Bridgit Danner of Joyful Mammas ($29.00)

The genetics of your baby are 50% from the dad, and 30 – 70 % of infertility cases involve male factor. Get a strong start for your baby by Making Super Sperm from the start!

Fertility Smoothies: Elixirs for Optimal Fertility by Hethir Rodriguez of Natural Fertility Info ($19.95)

In this book Hethir shares with you how to create a wide variety of delicious superfood smoothies to help boost your fertility naturally.

Overcoming Infertility with EFT by Sarah Holland of Fertile Mindset ($20.00)

The ultimate guide and practical workbook using the cutting edge technique of EFT for emotional healing on your fertility journey. Includes detailed but simple to follow EFT instructions, and easy to use worksheets to recognize and reverse your own negative beliefs and self-talk surrounding trying for a baby, heal yourself from traumas and damaging experiences that may be harming your fertility and much much more!

Eat Your Way to Parenthood by Gabriela Rosa of Natural Fertility Breakthrough ($35.00)

Gabriela Rosa reminds us how a balanced and nutritious diet provides the building blocks for a healthy sperm, egg and baby. This book is both a guide to the process of fertility and the basics of good nutrition, as well as a manual of recipes that cleverly combine the scientific research with balanced, tasty and nutritious ingredients.

Maiden to Mother by Stephanie Brandt Cornais of Mama and Baby Love

The Mama and Baby Love Guide to a Conscious Childbearing Year, containing easy-to-understand information about everything you absolutely must know as you begin your journey to motherhood. Stephanie gives you all the juicy tidbits, and lessons she has learned from working with pregnant couples for the past decade and from her own experience with being pregnant and a new mom.

Zero in on Ovulation by Sally Moran of Get Pregnant Fast ($17.00)

Knowing when you ovulate shouldn’t be a mystery, but many women struggle to understand when their most fertile time of month is. Learn about the different methods of determining ovulation, what can delay ovulation, what herbs help promote ovulation or cervical fluid, symptoms of ovulation, problems with ovulation (including PCOS and luteal phase defect), the effects of using Clomid or Femara, and more. Bonus sections on male infertility, baby gender selection, frequently asked ovulation questions, as well as one-on-one e-mail consultation with the author.

A Modern Girl’s Guide to Natural Fertility by Marni Hotchkiss of Bridge to Baby ($15.00)

Natural fertility in today’s modern world encompasses the foods we eat, our behaviors, and our thoughts. Take a deeper look into how tools/apps as well as the right foods and other holistic approaches can positively impact pregnancy success.

Cleansing for Conception by Donielle Baker of Naturally Knocked Up ($6.95)

There are times in our life where we need to simply slow down and allow our bodies to clear out the toxins we’re exposed to on a daily basis. One of these times is when you’re thinking about becoming pregnant. This ebook will show you the many ways that you can alter your diet and lifestyle so that your body naturally and gently cleanses in preparation for conception. (pre-release copy – no one else will see it until late summer 2013!)

Three Strategies for Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Russell Davis of The Fertile Mind ($9.97)

Research shows utilizing mind-body techniques can double your chances of getting pregnant. This ebook contains practical steps to get off the emotional roller-coaster, find a sense of peace on your journey and actively utilizing your mind-body link to increase your chances of success.

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2 ebooks that speak to the heart

Pain Redeemed by Natasha Metzler of NatashaMetzler.com ($4.95)

The author of Pain Redeemed takes you on a journey through her own walk with infertility and with honesty and raw truthfulness tells the story of God meeting her there, right in the middle.”

Celebrating Pregnancy Again by Francesca Cox of so this is love ($8.00)

This book is to encourage any bereaved mother experiencing pregnancy again, and help her embrace this bittersweet journey.
 

12 real food recipe ebooks

The Food Healing Recipe Book for Endometriosis by Melissa Meyer of Cure Endometriosis ($27.00)

Specifically chosen recipes to help women with Endometriosis. Having personally used these recipes and this way of eating, I decided to compile some of my favorite recipes. My partner, also happens to be a chef, so they are all tasty and nutritious!

Meal Planning Guide for Healthy Thyroid by Magdalena Wszelaki of The Thyroid Diet Coach ($17.00)

Struggling with meal ideas? No time to cook? Bored with the same menu each week? Confused what you can or cannot eat for thyroid health? Then this guide will equip you with tools to make cooking fun, easy and nourishing. Learn about evolving meals, 15-min meals, dressing ideas, get healthy snack lists and a meal plan.

Thrifty Food Plan Experience by Millie Cooper of Real Food for Less Money ($8.95)

You can enjoy traditional foods while on thrifty budget. 67 pages of thoughts, tips and ideas plus a 2 week menu plan, over 40 recipes and links to many more.

Divine Dinners: Gluten-Free, Nourishing, Family-Friendly Meals by Lydia Shatney of Divine Health From The Inside Out ($14.95)

A collection of recipes that can be paired together to make entire meals. All the recipes are lower in sugars/carbs than that of the standard American diet. Recipes are gluten free and tested time and time again on family and friends with great results.

Lacto-Fermentation by Wardee Harmon of GNOWFGLINS ($20.00)

A 155-page, 23-lesson digital book with detailed instruction on fermenting fruits, vegetables, beans, meats, dairy, and grains. The book will expose you to a variety of fermentation methods — using salt, whey, or other starter cultures. Recipes go beyond fermentation methodology and include spices and seasonings to improve the flavor of the final product.

Real Food Ingredient Guide by Kelly of Kelly the Kitchen Kop ($22.95)

Confused about which ingredients are good for you and which ones to avoid? Get a quick-reference list of what to look for at the store or farm, with many listings including a good-better-best recommendation. Also this newly REVISED edition includes bonus material: Bringing Your Family from Junk Food to Real Food!

The Everything Beans Book by Katie Kimball of Kitchen Stewardship ($8.95)

Fall in love with legumes because they’re frugal and delicious. Kimball’s recipes span everything from appetizer to dessert, and the introductory pages will help you cook dry beans like a pro, understand their health benefits, and even get ideas to reduce the…you know…flatulence often connected with beans.

Just Making Ice Cream my Marilyn Beard of Just Making Noise ($12.00)

Because we all deserve a special treat now and then – but it doesn’t mean we can’t choose to do it in a healthier way! It includes 113 pages and over 70 recipes to choose through all 4 seasons of the year… who says ice cream is only for the summer?!

Grain-free/Gluten-free Baking by Stephanie Brandt Cornais of Mama and Baby Love ($9.99)

If you can’t cook and you can’t bake – this book is for you. I taught myself how to cook, and then I taught myself how to bake. You can too. 20 easy recipes, full of tips and tricks for beginners; recipes for cookies, cakes, pies, pizza crusts and more!

Simple Food for Spring by Shannon Stonger of Nourishing Days ($10.00)

Simple Food {for spring} is a grain-free cookbook that emphasize real food and sustainable living. This 80-page edition contains all of the freshness of spring with a focus on cultured dairy salad dressings, wild edibles, and using all of those fresh greens. Each of the 28 recipes includes full-color photos.

Simple Food for Winter by Shannon Stonger of Nourishing Days ($10.00)

Simple Food {for winter} is the first of what I hope to be four seasonal cookbooks that emphasize real food and sustainable living. This 58 page book contains 30 recipes, 10 full-color photos, and three essays.

Happy Mom, Healthy Family Meal Planning Workshop and eCookbook by Lisa Byrne of Wellgrounded Life ($29.00)

A practical, flexible and enjoyable way to make peace with the task that comes every day: preparing meals. This workshop equips you with techniques to make truly family-friendly, whole-foods recipes through a webinar presentation, meal planning templates & worksheets, demo videos plus a downloadable cookbook filled with 89 tried-and-true delicious recipes. Who could want more? (Besides a personal chef perhaps!)

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6 pregnancy and birth ebooks

Healthy Pregnancy Super Foods by Kate Tietje of Modern Alternative Mama ($8.95)

If you’re struggling with how to eat healthy to prepare for and during pregnancy, simplify it with this book. There are only two rules: avoid junk, and eat super foods. Plus 30 healthy, super-food-filled recipes!

UnBound Birth by Jenny Yarbrough of UnBound Birth ($4.99)

Unbound Birth: How to Have a Natural Birth in the Hospital is an inspiring collection of natural hospital birth stories. With determination, information, preparation, and support, Jennifer offers women hope for the beauty of a natural birth within a hospital setting.

Breast to Bib by Kate Tietje of Modern Alternative Mama ($8.95)

Make feeding babies easier with this practical guide to healthy breastfeeding, introducing solids, and handling picky toddlers. The book also includes over 30 baby and toddler-friendly recipes.

My Buttered Life: Baby Edition by Renee Harris from MadeOn Skin Care ($5.00)

This ebook includes 5 recipes, each with 5 ingredients or less. The recipes include baby massage oil, baby balm, creamy baby lotion, diaper rash cream and oatmeal milk bath. Each recipe has an accompanying video, a list of where to buy ingredients and supplies, and a cost analysis to compare with store-bought products.

Forty Weeks of Pregnancy Development by Angela England of The Untrained Housewife ($9.95)

What happens during each week of pregnancy? Now you’ll hear how each week of pregnancy brings changes to both you and your baby! Enjoy the extra information about common issues such as morning sickness, back pain, and more!

Embracing Beauty: practical style for every shape and season of motherhood by Trina Holden of trinaholden.com ($9.00)

A style guide that gets to the heart of beauty, and helps women identify and embrace their personal style through all the changes of motherhood.

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Bonus Material

7 week long meal plans

To help you get started on a whole foods diet, we’ve also included a variety of meal plans to fit your needs!

  • Jess Pedersen CHHC of Be Mama Be Well The Be Mama Be Well Meal Planner is an alkalizing plant-based, gluten-free, dairy-free plan that excludes highly processed foods. The Be Mama Be Well Meal Planner is meant to help you detoxify your body, cleanse your liver, balance your hormones, eliminate food-induced mood swings, and boost your nutrient intake.
  • KerryAnn Foster of Cooking Traditional Foods The Cooking Traditional Foods’ Menu Mailer covers breakfast, lunch and dinner based on the guidelines in the Naturally Knocked Up Fertility Foods Checklist.
  • Mary Vance of www.MaryVanceNC.com Autoimmune plan for those who have Hashimoto’s autoimmune thyroiditis or other autoimmune conditions. Excludes the inflammatory foods most likely to aggravate autoimmune conditions: gluten, dairy, soy, grains (for the most part, at least corn), nightshades, nuts, eggs.
  • Jill Marks of Modern Alternative Pregnancy Proper nutrition plays a vital role in fertility, pregnancy, and breastfeeding. This meal plan is gluten-free with real, whole foods to optimize your health and give your baby a wonderful start!
  • Therese Asmus of Artistta This menu plan does it’s best to include a variety of meals that aren’t only pleasing to the pallet, but are also excellent sources of the many nutrients needed for a healthy pregnancy.
  • Amy of PCOS Diva Spring Meal Plan (includes: Getting Started Guide, Recipes and Shopping List) is a whole food based, gluten-free, processed soy-free, and low dairy (or easily can be made dairy-free) plan. You don’t need a crazy diet to increase your fertility, you just need to get in the kitchen and start cooking delicious, nutrient-dense meals.
  • Joanna Steven, author of Well-Rounded. Plant based, whole foods based, with a mix of nourishing raw and cooked recipes for the vegan or vegetarian woman.

Bonus Offerings

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Giveaways worth $908.00!

But that’s not all – it’s $908.00 times two! There will be one grand prize winner who will receive each and every one of the following products/services.¹ All of which will help you on your way to growing your family. And then we’ll be giving away each of the products separately to individual winners as well, so you get more chances to win these fabulous products.

$25 gift certificate to MadeOn Skin Care ($25.00) – Choose from Simply Soothing Rash Cream, or Beesilk Jr for your baby. Or, shop for you and buy Beesilk hard lotion bars or a pack of tinted lip balms. All products are made with safe and natural ingredients. (includes free shipping)
Fertility Detox Cleanse Program from Bridgit Danner ($125.00) – Get your body primed for baby with this professionally-led detox program (food supplies to be purchased by recipient.)
Still Standing mug from Still Standing Magazine ($13.99) – Still Standing is an online magazine for those dealing with infertility and baby loss, offering resources and hope.
Making Babies DVDs from Bulk Herb Store ($75.00) – Three fun, informational, and colorful DVDs include deliciously healthy recipes, remedies and herbal concoctions that cover the fertility, pregnancy, and post-partum time in your life. At the Bulk Herb Store we want to teach you what we know and inspire you to learn and research beyond that with our homemade herbal remedies, our experiences, and the tested wisdom of others.
ibasal thermometer from FairHaven Health ($59.95) – The ibasal is a computerized digital basal thermometer that helps you maximize your changes of conceiving by accurately measuring your BBT and interpreting this data to produce a fertility prediction in advance of ovulation.

One bottle of FertilAid for Women from FairHaven Health ($28.95) – FertilAid for Women is a fertility enhancing supplement designed to help restore hormonal balance, support reproductive wellness, and optimize your chances of conceiving.

Femmenessence MacaHarmony from Natural Health International ($69.98) – Femmenessence MacaHarmony is a natural approach to hormone balance and supporting fertility without introducing hormones from outside of the body.
Medium Fertility Kit (LH and HCG tests) from Kisses from Above ($18.00) – Includes 30 ovulation and 10 pregnancy tests. Everything you need in one easy-to-order kit! Both the ovulation and pregnancy tests will come in the strip format, as shown in the picture.
Herbal kit from Mountain Rose Herbs ($56.20) – FecundiTea, Nurse-Me Rhyme Tea, “Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Years” by Susun Weed, Evening Embrace Aroma Spray, and 4 oz. each of Red Clover, Dandelion Leaf and Raspberry Leaf.
One bottle of cod liver oil from Green Pasture ($44.00) – Green Pastures is dedicate to providing their customers with high-quality sacred-food oils just as they were made prior to the industrialized food and farming revolution. They are committed to providing the community with nothing but pure, unadulterated, non-industrialized wild-caught fish liver oils.
Set of six essential oils from Plant Therapy ($48.68) – Romance Set Includes 100% Pure, Therapeutic Grade of: Sensual, Peppermint, Energy, Headache Relief, Tranquil, & Invigor-Aid. 10 ml each
Natural Cycle Relaxation Program from Circle and Bloom ($59.00) – Start today to feel in greater control over your fertility success with our downloadable program which includes 28 unique guided meditations to support you in communicating with your body and tapping into your innate ability to create.
Year subscription to Fertility Flower (sympto-thermal charting) ($40.00) – Fertility charting is simple, effective and teaches you about your body. When you “chart”, you learn to recognize when you’re fertile and when you’re not so that you can target your baby-making activities at the most fruitful time.
Complimentary consultation at the Metabolic Treatment Center ($100.00 value) – Dr. Schuler or another metabolic treatment specialist at Metabolic Treatment Center will review an individual’s history, medication, supplementation, diet, and symptoms and provide an initial assessment review (phone, Skype, or at the Bloomington office).
SpermCheck Kit ($39.99) – The only at-home sperm test for men! Results in 10 minutes, 98% accurate, private and convenient!
Preseed lubricant from Baby Hopes ($21.50)- Pre~Seed lubricant replenishes your natural moisture while providing an optimal environment for sperm.
A Practical Guide to Children’s Health ebook by Kate Tetje of Modern Alternative Mama ($17.95) – A well-researched ebook on raising healthy children.
The Woman Code book by Alisa Vitti ($25.99) – WomanCode by Alisa Vitti will guide you on how to Perfect Your Cycle, Amplify Your Fertility, Supercharge Your Sex Drive, and Become a Power Source.
Naturally Knocked Up book by Donielle Baker ($18.95) – Your guide to increasing the odds of conception through natural living and nourishing foods.

Rebuild from Depression book by Amanda Rose ($19.97) – This book on depression describes the research basis for the nutrient-depression link, highlighting the nutrients with the strongest basis in research. With seven specific nutrients in mind, the authors review each of the food groups recommending how to improve the diet for the long-term.

 

Extra discounts for bundle purchasers

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Important fine print to read 1) All purchases are non-refundable due to the short duration of this sale and no late sales will be offered. 2) All giveaway products are sponsored by the individual companies, most of which are limited to shipping within the United States. The grand prize package will be shipped by Naturally Knocked Up LLC and is available to US and Canada, excluding the consultation which is available only in the US. ¹To enter the giveaway without purchase send a 3×5 postcard to Naturally Knocked Up LLC PO Box 26 Burnips, MI 49314 by May 14, 2013. 3) All products are downloadable ebooks and audio files. You will not be shipped any physical goods with your purchase of the natural fertility ebook bundle, but will be sent a link where you can download all of the material. 4) It is your responsibility to download all the files before June 1th, 2013. 5) Bonus offers are only eligible once per purchase, expire at midnight on May 31, 2013 and are the sole responsibility of the sponsor. 6) The above links are affiliate links, thank you for supporting this affiliate partner. 7) Please understand the information shared through this natural fertility ebook bundle is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, but rather to encourage perhaps a new discussion or conversation with your own physicians and health care providers and to inspire you to continue to research healthy alternatives.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.