hello friends! so, this installment of ‘life changer thursday’ is coming at ya a day early, but i figured with thanksgiving just around the corner (ie: tomorrow!) this would be a great way to start off the holiday! my friend angel so graciously agreed to share her incredible story with us and let me tell you, it’s truly inspirational. so enjoy today! eat lots of yummy foods tomorrow, and be blessed and inspired by angel’s story! happy thanksgiving!
Since this is “Life Changer Thursday” here on Treasure and Heart, I thought I would share my story- and what I am most thankful for!
From July 2012 to June 2013 I suffered three miscarriages. My experience was a little different than the average infertility or recurrent miscarriage case. I have two healthy children whom were conceived easily. Both pregnancies were problem free, and both babies were born very healthy. I could not figure out why my body wasn’t cooperating this time around. I would get more frustrated and weary as each month passed and each pregnancy ended. I was begging God for answers, praying for peace, trying to see the good, all while wrapping my head around the reality. It was a long year.
As a little back story, (hang on, this will all tie together at the end, I promise!) shortly after my almost three year old daughter (and youngest child), Veda, was born I was having heart palpitations. They were bothering me enough to where I made an appointment to see a doctor. Or…. my husband was sick of my complaining so he forced me see a doctor. :) The EKG and the 48 hours of heart monitoring came back normal. Even though I still had the palpitations I felt more at ease knowing the test results didn’t show any red flags.
As time passed I eventually decided to ask my chiropractor about my irregular heart beats. Dr. Josh suggested that he check my adrenal glands because stressed adrenal glands can cause irregular heart beats. Sure enough, they were stressed. He explained that the adrenal glands can become fatigued from physical stress, emotional stress, or intestinal stress (which would be like your body dealing with a food allergy). I just chalked the fatigued glands up to emotional and physical stress, as I was a new mother of two kids under two, not sleeping enough and having a lot to stress about. I took the cortisol supplement to repair my glands, and not only did my heart beats go back to normal, but a huge chunk of energy, that I didn’t know was missing, came back as well.
Problem solved. Maybe…
Fast forward to June 2012 my husband and I decided that we wanted to expand our family with another baby. To our surprise things were not happening as we had hoped and planned. Eleven months, two chemical pregnancies and one early miscarriage later we were both devastated and stumped.
After I experienced my first chemical pregnancy, followed by a miscarried at 7 weeks I met with an OB. I knew something wasn’t right. He first insisted both losses were flukes, but to keep me happy he offered to do a dye test. This is where they insert dye into the uterus to check for blockages or polyps. The fertilized egg could have been attaching to a polyp and not surviving which would have explained the losses. He also prescribed me progesterone (unfortunately, without doing any blood work to see if my levels were in fact low). Well, the dye test came back normal and the progesterone just made me really sick.
After the third loss, another chemical pregnancy, I went back in to see the OB. This time even more confused. The Dr. didn’t really know what to make of it, but ended up prescribing me Clomid (What?!). I decided not to take the prescription (I figured I’d just end up miscarrying multiples!) and went to a recurrent miscarriage specialist who offered a lot more help. She arranged more testing to check for blood clotting diseases, chromosomal defects, thyroid issues and low progesterone. All came back normal except for the thyroid.
The specialist had me see my family doctor regarding the thyroid labs. It wasn’t that my thyroid was just off, it was oddly off. Let’s just say one of my levels was so low that the doctor was questioning cancer. But seeing as I had no symptoms which would have included: drastic weight loss, swollen thyroid gland, anxiety, trouble sleeping, racing heart, he concluded that the lab results must have been wrong and suggest I retest.
The second lab results came back and although my thyroid stimulating hormone wasn’t as low, it was still low. With all of my other levels of my thyroid in normal range the doctor didn’t know what to make of it so he referred me an endocrinologist.
In the mean time I had been doing my own research. Of course, Google can either be a huge blessing or just create a ball of anxiety as I self diagnosed every little ailment I’ve ever experienced. I will say, I did not find any situations just like mine, but there were enough anecdotes about women suffering infertility due to gluten intolerances that I decided to omit gluten from my diet for a few months just as a last resort, plus I wasn’t able to get in to see the endocrinologist for 6 weeks anyway.
Two weeks after I cut out gluten (which, yes, I did have shaky withdrawals, it was nuts!) I decided to contact my chiropractor again and just get his take on my situation. And boy am I glad I asked for his help, but that he did!
Right away he confirmed I needed to stop eating gluten. He then explained:
“Your thyroid is like a canary in the mine, it’s the first gland that typically malfunctions when something is wrong in the body. Over 50% of thyroid problems are autoimmune in nature, meaning they are caused when your immune system mistakes your thyroid cells for a foreign invader. This most often occurs through a process called cellular mimicry in which the protein sequence of your thyroid cells looks similar to a food or pathogen you’ve become allergic to. The offending allergen or pathogen can also create a situation where it binds to the thyroid turning it on or tuning it off.
How this can relate to maintaining a viable pregnancy:
The last case I’ve heard of that reminds me of your situation was one of a gluten allergy causing miscarriages. Not only was the female having thyroid issues but she was also undergoing autoimmune attack on her tissues of pregnancy because they share a protein sequence similar to the gluten molecule (anti-endometrial antibodies).
Ok, yes! things were starting to make sense. Maybe I wasn’t dying of cancer after all. The heart palpitations, the thyroid, the miscarriages, it was all coming together. Full circle, baby!
It takes the body 4-6 weeks to rid itself of gluten and often times up to six months (depending on the damage gluten has already done in the body) for everything to level out (thyroid, intestinal damage, etc..). Four weeks after going gluten free I got pregnant.
Hip hip horray!
I could tell this was different than the previous three positive pregnancy tests I had taken. The second line on the pregnancy test was dark and I started to actually feel pregnant around week five. This is the only time I totally welcomed and was excited about nausea and fatigue!
Now I am 18 weeks pregnant with a healthy baby. And my thyroid levels have all normalized.
This is a happy ending for us and for that I am so grateful. I really am. But I can’t help but be sad that this information is almost nowhere to be found for other struggling women. The specialist, the midwives, the OB, the family doctor were oblivious to gluten even being an option for the wacky thyroid or the miscarriages. It makes me sad to know that the three losses could have easily been prevented, and even more sad to know that there are probably many other frustrated women out there who do not have answers.
My hope and prayer is that this information gets out and in turn women who are suffering from unexplained infertility or miscarriages at least get informed and tested for a gluten sensitivity. (As a side note, celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are not the same. You could pass the celiac blood test and still have a gluten sensitivity). Also, I totally understand that there are a number of reasons as to why women struggle to get pregnant or stay pregnant and gluten may only make up a small percent, BUT, if I can help one person it would make my long journey that much more worth it!
The moral of this story is…a lot of things… but mainly take care of your body and be your own biggest advocate. I choose to see the good in this because I know that although God didn’t take those babies from me, He does not waste a single experience. Had I not figured out and done something about my gluten sensitivity, I could have not only had a longer string of miscarriages, but also a long road ahead of me of health problems. And now with Leah opening up her blog to a friend who has a story to tell, I hope that you or someone you know will benefit from this information. Then that would be a season of suffering not wasted!