Happy Monday! Hard to believe we have reached the end of our Q & A post series! I am wrapping up the questions today and hosting one last giveaway. These questions have longer answers so let’s dive right in!
Q: Why are you on a Gluten-Free diet? Do you think it helps with infertility?
I had been extremely reluctant to even think about trying a gluten free diet, as I didn’t have any reason to. My sister found gluten caused her extreme headaches and my mom found herself feeling less foggy without it. But I didn’t have a problem with headaches or fogginess. I ignored all articles sent to me and did some mild investigation without many changes. However, as we were going into our 4th embryo transfer in 2013, I decided to look into the research one last time. And what I found was simple yet compelling. One of the symptoms of undiagnosed gluten sensitivity is infertility. But surely I would have other symptoms right? Not necessarily. You don’t have to test positive for celiac to have gluten sensitivity which makes it a little hard to tell if you are really sensitive or not. But that night, I decided to go cold turkey, gluten-free. The reason was simple, if research was showing that gluten sensitivity and infertility are related, and if I was willing to put my body through countless amounts of medicated cycles, then I could give up gluten as well. It certainly wouldn’t hurt. It wasn’t easy at first, but it has become significantly second nature now, plus knowing that this is something that could be making a difference makes it worth it.
Since going gluten free, I have had full and complete healing of all IBS symptoms. I no longer have digestive issues (and when I do, it’s because of my friend Mr. Metformin) and feel significantly less bloated. Also, having PCOS, I need to stay away from carbohydrates and found eliminating the potential of temptation from my diet to be extremely helpful as well. Is a gluten free diet for everyone struggling with infertility? Maybe, maybe not. If this is something that intrigues you to learn more about, do some research. See what you think and how you feel about it. At the end of the day, the only way to be successful with something is to be fully onboard so you have to make a decision that you feel confident in.
Q: What types of exercise do you recommend while dealing with infertility?
I have to be honest, exercise isn’t my favorite thing. I enjoy how I feel after I work out, more knowing that I am done for the day versus those magical endorphins you are supposed to feel. That being said, diet and exercise are the two top ways to combat PCOS symptoms, beh.
While not in the midst of a cycle, I have found a mixture of cardio and strength training to be successful for me. (Josh and I work out at Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping here in the Twin Cities and we love it.) However, when I am cycling and have started any type of stimulation medication, I have to switch to something with low impact, like a gentle yoga, walking, or swimming. When you are cycling, your ovaries swell up – like big time. Anything that could cause an ovary to accidentally twist is dangerous and would cut off circulation, thus losing an ovary. (When my doctor told me this, I gulped!) That being said, activity is still important while cycling because you want to increase blood flow and stay healthy. So be mindful of the activities you are doing and if you have any questions, ask your doctor. My abdomen has been particularly tender this week from the letrozole stimulation and doing a few sit-ups were painful. Be kind to your body and know what feels okay, but also, make sure you are doing something.
Q: What are some of the cutest things your pup has ever done?
I love this question! :) Cali is such a joy in our family and has definitely brought a lot of healing to our hearts. Her intuition is incredibly good and I actually am a little concerned that she does think the world revolves around her, ha! I want to share a million pictures and stories, but for the sake of brevity, I will just share one. This video below is a favorite – I ran into the grocery store and left her in the car with Josh for a couple minutes. She was very ready for me to return and very insistent on watching the store door to make sure she didn’t miss me exiting. :)
Q: How do you keep the faith and maintain hope in all of this?
Many people sent me in a version of this question and I struggle with how to answer it, as it seems so complex and yet so simple. I have written about this before a bit in this post back in 2013. But as I sat down to answer this, I thought back to an email I replied to this weekend from another reader, R. As R struggles to cope with another failed cycle, she asked the same type of question – how do you keep going? The more I thought about how to answer this in my blog, I realized that perhaps my 1:1 answer to her would be helpful to someone else, so here you go:
How do I keep going? Oh, only through strength that is greater than my own. This quote has reminded me that He is still in control, even when the outcomes are different than I expected or hoped:
“We mustn’t lose the hope of a specific promise that God has given us. It may not look like we expect it to (who expected the Messiah to be born in a manager?) or arrive when we want it to arrive (who knew Abraham and Sarah could have kids in their old age?), but God is always faithful to His word. Romans 8:31-32 says, “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” Because this one promise is true, even if you don’t see anything else in your life working the way you think it should, it’s enough! God is still in control. And He is for you. You just have to be patient.” (Craig Groeschel)
R, I keep going when I remember that HIS grace is sufficient for me and His power is made perfect in my weakness. When we come to a point where our prayers haven’t been answered exactly how we wish they would have been, cling to the FACT that HE is all we need. His grace is all we need. I don’t know how I always keep going. There are days when I cry out and ask if I am supposed to keep going. But you know what, He has not yet removed the persistent and desperate calling to be a Mom from my heart yet. And I know Him to be a good God, even when it feels like situations are just ugly, because He reminds me that WE can handle this. Even thought our timing is different than we wish, it doesn’t mean He has left you. And it doesn’t mean you are being punished for something, or aren’t good enough, or are broken. It just means that sometimes the process will be so worth it when we get to the end. The Bible is filled with stories of people waiting and hoping and expecting different – Sarah and Abraham waiting for a child, Mary and Martha waiting for Jesus to come heal their brother Lazarus, Job waiting for his sufferings to end, the Israelites waiting and roaming for 40 years to get to the Promised Land, now all of us waiting for Jesus to come back. Waiting seems to be a crucial part of faith – I don’t know why we can’t be spared some of the pain in the meantime but I do want to reassure you that you are not alone.
It’s okay to curl up and cry all day. It’s okay to pour out your disappointments to Him and keep praying, even when it feels really quiet. I believe that even in the quiet, that He is right there with you. I just want to come give you a big big hug.
I have been in your shoes many times, I feel your pain. It wasn’t until just this year that I found out that I have a pretty severe blood clotting disorder known to cause third trimester miscarriages, plus many other life-threatening risks associated with traveling, surgeries, etc. The fact that I have been spared so many times without my knowing about this disorder gives me goosebumps. I never wanted to experience early miscarriages like I have, but then I think, what if – what if I was spared from a third trimester miscarriage, which I think would have been an absolutely horrific thing to go through. What if all of the failed cycles were protecting me from an even more tragic outcome that I would have never imagined. What if all these failed cycles were for me and not against me. I choose to believe that the pain you are feeling is not in vain. Even if we never find out the why’s, hang tight to the promises that He cares for you so much. I am praying for you extra today and am so sorry that you have to experience this sorrow. It’s real and valid and I will continue to lift you up in my thoughts.
To all my readers wondering how you keep going, continue to pray about it. Continue to offer your desire up to Him and ask Him to open and close doors to help direct your path. When the calling is still there, just concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other. Just get through today, don’t worry yet about what tomorrow looks like. Cling to a favorite verse when your heart seems to overwhelm you (some of my favorites are here). Keep opening the Bible and reading His stories. Do you know that there is not one story in the Bible where someone is mentioned as barren or desiring a child that ends with them not having a child? I believe God answers the desires of our hearts, even though the timing is not always our own. Take needed breaks when you are too overwhelmed and never, ever stop crying out to Him.
Q: Have you ever considered adoption? How do you determine that timing?
The loaded question! Many people ask infertile couples about adoption, often with good hearts, wanting that couple to be relieved of the pain of wanting a family and feeling like adoption is a simple answer. The tough thing that many people don’t fully take into consideration is that adoption is a calling. Adoption is not a band-aid for a couple struggling to have their own biological child. The process of adoption is beautiful and needed but God didn’t create every couple with the personalities, wirings or desires to go through the process. You open yourself up to background checks, lengthy waiting lists, and strenuous psychological testing. Then you have to answer questions like domestic or international, open or closed, known illness or special needs or the known, newborn or older, through an agency or finding someone on your own, ethnic difference or similar to you and your spouse …. and what happens if the biological mother or father chooses to change their mind about the adoption, having up to 60 days post-birth in most states to do so? You’ve already fallen in love with that child. Then the questions when they get older. Why was I given up for adoption? Can I have a relationship with my birth mom? What about my birth dad? Who am I? These are all special questions to be answered and dealt with by the people that God has called to be a part of the gift of adoption.
Neither Josh or I feel called to adopt and I know that many people may not understand that, and you know, that is okay, because we feel strongly at this point that it’s the God-given decision for us. Might that change someday? Yes, of course! I believe God puts and changes the desires of our hearts in His timing. There are people who are made with giftings, desires and strengths to handle all of the unknowns and details that come with adoption – many of them already with children, or many of them feeling called to adopt long before they knew their struggles. There are couples going through infertility that feel passionate about creating their family this way and that is beautiful, special, and perfect for the story God has written for them. But there are others who aren’t called to adopt and that is beautiful and perfect as well.
I have had people share that they just don’t think they could ever handle going through IVF. That they don’t feel called to do that, that they aren’t sure they could handle all of the questions that go with it, or the physical brutality of the process. It re-enforces to me that not everyone is called to the same journey of starting their family. If God has put adoption on your heart, I think that is a wonderful thing. I could fill this page with verses that support adoption, fostering and all the other wonderful things. I also know that God doesn’t put everything in everyone’s heart and that not everyone is equipped in the same way.
I so greatly admire people with the heart and calling of adoption. It is one of the most beautiful processes and I have so many friends who have made this look effortless and have handled it all with such joy and grace. My heart prays for you all often as I know the path that you are on is emotional and full of its own unique stresses and struggles. And likewise, I ask that you continue to respect our journey and calling as well, whatever that turns out to be. Adoption is a big deal and we all are called to start our families in different ways. Isn’t it beautiful how God uses so many unique opportunities and processes?! Everyone has the chance to adopt if it’s something they choose. There shouldn’t be guilt associated with that choice either. So there’s my thoughts on that. :)
If you have made it to the end of this post, congratulations! I feel like I should hand you a lollipop or something. Or how about I offer you the chance to win 2 sets of Jamberry nail wraps and a manicure set? My amazing cousin Lindsey offered up these goodies for a giveaway, simply because she has a heart for my readers and wanted to help spoil someone. How amazing is she!? (Giveaway open now until Friday morning, where the winner will be announced during Friday Favorites. Free entries are a great way to win!)
Enter Here: a Rafflecopter giveaway
Until next time! XO!