This is Part 2 of 2 of Motherhood, Miscarriage, & Secondary Infertility. To learn our story that lead us to seek these solutions, read Motherhood, Miscarriage, & Secondary Infertility: Part 1 – Our Story.
Within that same week of being told it could take 5-7 years to become pregnant again on our own, but deciding that we were going to take a step back and give this to God, I believe that God sent three people to point things out, that in my opinion, changed everything and lead to my becoming pregnant after having been diagnosed with Secondary Infertility just two months earlier.
*This post contains affiliate links.
Solution Part 1: Cutting Out Gluten
First, my good friend Paula told me that she had read about gluten intolerance causing hormonal imbalances and leading to infertility in some women. At this point, I was desperate to try anything, and even though bread is my favorite food <3 I decided to give it up. You’d think this would be hard, but when you want something as badly as I wanted another baby, you’re willing to make whatever sacrifices it takes! I ended up buying the Whole 30 Cookbook, and tried a lot of great recipes from there that helped me realize I could eat gluten-free without losing all of the flavor in life. 🙂 I actually feel that I became a much better cook because of that book! I ended up losing almost 20 pounds within 2 months of going gluten-free. Weight loss can play a large role in hormone imbalances, so this started to kick my body into a more regular balance.
Solution Part 2: Raspberry Leaf Tea
Second, my good friend Holly brought up Raspberry Leaf Tea, and how she had read that it can really help with reproductive health. I remembered that I had actually been drinking this when I became pregnant with my daughter 3 years before that, and Holly had some on hand that she gave me, then I ended up ordering a bulk supply on Amazon that next day. I started drinking 2-4 cups per day to improve my reproductive health and help to balance out my hormones and cycles.
Solution Part 3: High-Quality Vitamins
Third, my friend Sarah recommended that I try Shaklee Vitamins since she herself had pretty negative experiences with the normal pre-natals from the drugstore. I started taking the Vita-lea, and the OmegaGuard every day. When I switched to taking these as pre-natals I actually stopped getting so many headaches and stopped experiencing the amount of fatigue that I had experienced before.
Side Note: I ended up loving their all-natural and thoroughly tested products so much over the past two years that I’m now a distributor for them, check out my Shaklee Page on my blog for more info!
Solution Part 4: Metformin
At this point, I was also still on the Metformin that my doctor had suggested, which had started to help my cycles become more regular. They were still between 4-6 weeks apart but were not as heavy or irregular as before when they could be anywhere from 10 days apart to 8 weeks apart. I had taken the Metformin for 6 months already, so I don’t know that this had as much of an immediate impact as the previous three things, but it really was a combination of everything in my mind!
Pregnancy #3: Miracle Baby Boy
So, after only TWO MONTHS of being gluten-free, drinking Raspberry Leaf Tea three times a day, taking Shaklee Vitamins, and taking the metformin, I woke up in the morning 5 weeks after the start of my last period and thought, “I might as well try it, I can’t give up hope yet.” AND IT WAS POSITIVE! Again, this was terrifying to me, but I was also overjoyed, and really could not believe my eyes. I probably took 4 tests to double check. (Again, it was nice to have bulk pregnancy tests!)
I called my doctor right away, went in and took blood tests to confirm, my HCG levels were normal for 5 weeks, and we did an ultrasound to make sure everything looked alright. The other thing that I am thankful my doctor checked were my Progesterone levels. Since my levels had been low several times since the miscarriage, it was possible that my body did miscarry before because of super low progesterone levels, which need to be maintained and need to rise during early pregnancy in order to support the growing baby. (When I miscarried I was also breastfeeding full-time, and breastfeeding can keep your progesterone levels low, so it could have been that my body really was just not ready to carry another baby. Really you never know, these are just my observations based on my experience). I have talked to other women though that experienced multiple miscarriages until they started taking progesterone supplements during the first Trimester to support their low levels.
So again, thankfully, my doctor ordered the tests, found out my level was still low (Mine was at 6, the normal is 9-47) so he put me on progesterone supplements morning and night to maintain those levels and allow my pregnancy to progress. I also continued taking the Metformin because the risks to the baby were not very high, and it would have been riskier to stop taking it and throw my insulin and hormone levels back off.
So praise God, within two months of taking a step back, trusting in Him, and finally being able to figure out a few things that were able to put my hormones back in balance, we were on our way through a second healthy pregnancy. Looking back on it now, with my son turning 14 months old this past week, I am still in awe that everything came together the way it did. There were just so many pieces to the puzzle and everything came into alignment and we now have this miracle blessing of a healthy baby boy.
Side Note: Once my son was born, I discovered that you can actually take Raspberry Leaf Tea in pill form, twice a day, instead of drinking 3-4 cups of tea each day. I’m not a tea person so I started ordering these supplements instead. (I will do another post soon talking about how Raspberry Leaf Tea continued to be a blessing at the end of my pregnancy with delivery & recovery time – it really is a miracle tea in my opinion!)
Here is a link to the Raspberry Leaf Tea Pills I take twice a day since giving birth to my son:
Another Side Note: Since giving birth to my son I did experience some more irregular bleeding which we found to be linked to very low Vitamin D levels. I now take the Shaklee Vitamin D Supplements as well, and it has helped bring my cycles back to normal again, with no more irregular or heavy bleeding.
Pregnancy #4: Another Unexpected Blessing!
So today, with a 4-year-old daughter and a 14-month-old son, I am actually expecting ANOTHER baby! After all that we went through trying to conceive with our son, and since I was breastfeeding full time, we decided to not use any birth control methods after my son was born. I honestly thought that we would need to really plan and try, and eat gluten-free, possibly get on metformin again, etc. in order to have another child.
BUT, literally the week I stopped breastfeeding my son, when he turned 1 year old, we conceived a third child! This honestly seems like another miracle to me, and I am in shock but so grateful that I have not had to go through everything I described in my Part 1 Post another time. (Still obviously praying that I won’t.)
For over a year, I imagined my beautiful and outgoing daughter who loves other kids being an only child forever and just feeling my dreams of having a big family slipping away from me. At this point, I know that God was with me through all of it, but that is SO HARD to see in the midst of it. And now, it has been amazing to watch my daughter love and care for her younger brother, and she is beyond excited to have a “baby sister” coming (she tells us that she already has a brother so this one is obviously a baby sister in her mind).
I really believe that the two main things that have turned my hormone imbalances around have been taking pure and all-natural vitamins (Vita-Lea and OmegaGuard), and consistently taking Raspberry Leaf Tea supplements!
Side Note: Now that I am pregnant, I am not taking the Raspberry Leaf Tea Supplements, as they can cause uterine contractions, I do plan to take them during the last couple of weeks of pregnancy again to help my body prepare for childbirth.
For this pregnancy, they tested my progesterone and it was 11, which is in the normal range (even though I had just stopped breastfeeding!), but they are on the low end of normal, so I’m still taking the progesterone supplements as a precaution. It is possible that the Metformin & the gluten-free diet made a strong positive impact on becoming pregnant with my son, but I wasn’t actually doing those two things when I became pregnant this time. (I do try to limit the amount of gluten I eat compared to before, but I definitely eat it, and I stopped taking Metformin after I gave birth to my son.)
Honestly, I still think about the baby that I lost every day. I still think about the frustration and heartbreak of trying to become pregnant month after month, endless tests, procedures, appointments, depression, anxieties, and just a constant heartache. There are moments when it hurts more, like when I went to get my first ultrasound done for my current pregnancy and the nurse asked us how many pregnancies this is for me, and my husband answered 3 and I answered 4, and we both looked at each other and he realized what she meant.
Those moments make me fearful, honestly, that we will have to go through that again. But at this point my hope and trust are in God, I know that he loves me and takes care of me in the pain, and in the joy. I feel strong now, and more mature. I know that I am more understanding of other women and their own journeys with pregnancy, infertility, motherhood, miscarriage, and child loss. There will always be a part of me that aches a little bit, knowing there should have been one more, but I won’t let that pain and fear overtake my life again. Succumbing to that did nothing for me before, and it won’t do anything for me now. I am so grateful for my children that are with me here and now, and the one growing inside of me.
Now I know that whatever I face, I can survive it and find joy on the other side. And if you are reading this and experiencing any of the things that I did, you can too, girl! I was WEAK mentally, emotionally, physically, and God carried me through it to strength and joy. There is no way for me to know if you will experience the same results I did in the end, because we live in a broken world, and many times life sucks. But I’m going to keep hoping and keep living for those beautiful moments when life brings joy, and I pray that you can find joy and trust God in this difficult journey as well. <3
Just as a resource if you want to try some of the things that I believe helped me in my journey, here are links to the products:
Raspberry Leaf Tea
Raspberry Leaf Tea Pills
Whole 30 Cookbook
Bulk Pregnancy Tests
A couple of weeks ago I sent a message to the other women who help lead women’s ministry at our church and asked them to pray for me: “I’m so tired, Levi won’t sleep through the night still, all I want to do is stay in bed all day. I don’t feel motivated to get up in the mornings. I’m in a really down and negative state of mind a majority of the time. I’m also feeling a lot more anxious than normal. Please pray for me.” I don’t know if you’ve been in that place (it isn’t always because of a baby), but it is really difficult to break that cycle of negativity.
Especially since becoming a mom, I’ve had to learn to handle a lot of anxiety, and even some depression. I suffered from post-partum anxiety after my daughter was born, which was alleviated by anti-anxiety meds. However, while I was on them I miscarried a baby, and could not get myself to continue taking them after that. I then suffered from post-partum depression, was eventually diagnosed with secondary infertility (which was unexplained), finally was able to become pregnant again, and had a healthy baby boy! At this point (after a lot of support from friends and family, and prayer), I finally felt like I was in a place where I had my negative thoughts and anxiety under control. I was at a point where I could distinguish my crazy thoughts from reality. During these several years, my go-to verse has been 2 Corinthians 10:5 – We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ:
(Thank you YouVersion Bible App for the Image!)
This, along with staying in prayer & conversation with God throughout the day, is a HUGE comfort, and brings me a lot of peace, especially during times of intense anxiety. Committing my thoughts to Christ allows me to recognize what is going on inside of my head as set apart from reality; which of my thoughts are coming from a place of fear and pain, instead of confidence in the goodness of God.
However, over the last several months when I have only been sleeping for 2 to 4 hour stretches at a time, (Yes, with a child that is almost ONE!) it becomes much more difficult for me to maintain that daily commitment to taking the time to read the Bible, and taking the time to pray. This ends up just spiraling to the point where I am texting my friends asking for THEM to pray FOR me!
So one of these friends, who works in the mental health field, calls me to encourage me during this time and gives me the suggestion of doing a 30-Day Positivity Challenge. *Sigh* One more thing to do, right? Again, this is coming from a place of exhaustion and negativity. But I tell her that sure, she can send me the link and I’ll check it out. Here is the Challenge she sent me (That this post is based on!) It is called the 30-Day Be More Positive Challenge.
What I really liked about this was that each day was just a short, simple suggestion. “I can handle that.” I thought. Then, while thinking about it I realized that I usually don’t follow through with this sort of thing. So, I decided to BLOG about it! I knew that once I posted the first day, I would have to follow through and post one every day, so if you are reading this, thank you for being that motivation to keep going through these challenges!
In honor of REALLY doing this Challenge, here are my reflections on each day of the challenge so far. (Days 1-6):
Day 1: For every worst case scenario you think of, imagine the best thing that could happen.
This was actually a HUGE help for me, and I’m glad this came on Day 1 because it helped motivate me to do this challenge. Worst case scenarios are kind of my thing. My husband is always a little in awe of the things I come up with that could happen in any normal, everyday situation. Here is an example:
Brandon: I’m going to take Joy to get some ice cream.
My brain: Should I let them go? What if he crashes the car and I lose half of my family in one afternoon?
Now, to someone without anxiety this sounds made up, but its the first thing I thought. So once I recognized that was a worst case scenario, I instead said to myself:
What if they have a really fun time, Joy gets to have a special memory with her daddy, and I get a break for an hour from having two kids with me?
Woohoo! Success for Day 1. This stopped me from feeling anxious and wasting my free time worrying and allowed me to enjoy some one-on-one time with Levi.
Day 2: Spend 5 minutes imagining your dream life, & write down what steps you need to take to get there.
Day 2 is something that I actually did when I started this blog, but it was nice to just think about the things that I want for myself and for my family in the future. Some of the things from my “dream life” include being able to travel, doing missions work, having more kids and/or adopting a child. It also includes living somewhere warm! Our most important step to make it there is to make good financial decisions, pay off all of our student-loans & mortgage & be debt free! On a smaller “step” scale, we are going to only eat out once or twice a week. (This still might seem like a lot to some people, but this is one of our biggest struggles financially! We don’t buy random things, we buy food)
This practice is helpful because it helps you to look beyond the struggles & irritations of today. Instead of dwelling on the negatives and picturing miserable outcomes, you see that best version of your life and work to start creating it! For me, being able to pray over those things is vital too. Obviously, you don’t always get what you pray for 🙂 but God knows the desires of your heart, and I think that praying for His glory in all of it allows him to reveal his plans for you to bring Him glory in ways you never imagined.
Day 3: Do 3 things to cut negativity out of your life. Unfollow, delete, & remove negative feelings from your life.
I took this from more of a “social media” standpoint, and went through my Instagram & Facebook and unfollowed anyone who consistently posts things that make me feel anxious or create negative feelings. This is something that I try to stay on top of anyways, so it did not take long. This is not to completely shield yourself from reality, but when you are already anxious about irrational things, it doesn’t help to read crazy or super negative news stories or horror stories online. So that is something I don’t do!
Some funny things I did get rid of in my home that made me feel negative were some workout DVDs and at-home workout equipment. I NEVER use it, we don’t even own a DVD player, and every time I saw it I just felt negative and guilty about not using it like I had planned. Now it is gone, I don’t feel negative, instead, I use that energy to get myself to the gym (with free childcare) for some free time & exercise.
Day 4: Have lunch with someone you admire, or someone you run into today.
This one was easy because I already had lunch plans with someone I admire! My friend Katie is someone who gives her heart & soul to the youth in the area as a director for Youth For Christ’s Campus Life. She is bringing light & life in Christ to kids who are seeking something bigger than themselves, many times hurting, and at a crucial stage in their lives! She is passionate, fun, encouraging, honest, and real! She is a friend who checks in, builds you up, helps you find your strengths, but is there when you need someone to talk through the tough stuff. She even teaches me house renovation tricks because I am helpless with tools. She also loves & encourages my kids! We went to Chili’s for the amazing chips & salsa, and little Levi even joined us. (I admire him for obvious reasons). <3
Going to lunch with someone you admire might be a big step for some people, but maybe even just having a conversation with them can be an encouragement. When you’re feeling negative and/or anxious, looking outside of yourself and caring about someone else’s life can be uplifting because it stops you from caving in and only focusing on your own life. You probably admire people for good reason, and they most likely have an ability to be encouraging to you in a way that you can’t do as well for yourself right now!
Day 5: Choose a positive mantra for the day. Google a mantra if you can’t think of one.
Mantras always seemed kind of weird to me, but in the spirit of committing to this challenge, I decided to go for it. I googled a few, and wanted something light & fun so I chose, “I don’t sweat the small stuff.” Because I DO sweat the small stuff, and it was a mental state I wanted to change. So throughout the day, every time I thought “Ugh, why is life so HARD!” instead I said, “That’s ok because I don’t sweat the small stuff!” And then I convinced myself that it was no big deal, dealt with it quickly, and moved on. For example, getting poop on my hands while changing a diaper, my preschooler peeing her pants because she wanted to keep playing instead of running to the bathroom really quickly, forgetting the diaper bag at a friend’s house. ETC.
Day 6: Give a genuine compliment to 3 people.
Again, the focus here is not ourselves, but others! Looking out is essential in finding positive mental health. When we seek and find the good in others, we are better able to find it in ourselves as well. This isn’t something that always comes naturally though as we go about our day in a rush. This one required me to slow down a bit, actually look the people around me in the face, recognize what they were doing, and point out the great things to them! Most of mine on this day were more surface compliments like, “I like your haircut!” or “Cute jacket!”, but in the future, I definitely am looking for opportunities to point out things I love about my friends in regard to their actions or character. I also am seeking out opportunities to compliment my kids & husband especially! This is something that needs to be done constantly with the people closest to you. I think it lets them know you are not taking them for granted, and that you truly appreciate the small things they do for you. <3
Okay, that is it for now! Hopefully, this was encouraging or helpful to you in some way! If you want to read more about this challenge check out my Reflections on Days 7-12! Also, check out some more of my suggestions that have helped me with my struggles to get out of bed in the mornings: Three Morning Essentials for this Momma