Free Falling into Fostering!

If you have read about our experience with trying to conceive in less than a year, you know that we decided to step back from parenting in that way. Due to my medical issues, it had become risky being off the medications that would pose a risk to the baby but those same medications greatly influence my quality of life. My husband and I are still going to become parents again. We’ve decided to go a route that I am somewhat familiar with, foster-to-adopt. We are planning to try to help as many kiddos as possible, while remaining open to adoption if the opportunity presents itself. I know God will guide and direct each move as we open our heart and home. So, here is what we know so far:
  1. We are planning to foster age 0 – 3.
  2. We are open to any gender, ethnicity and religion.
  3. We are planning to get certified through our county.
  4. We will start by accepting one placement and eventually have 2 – 3 children at one given time.
  5. Our home will be a safe haven. We will love these babes as if they are our own.
  6. We won’t have a lot of background when receiving a placement but even if we do, we cannot discuss the details due to privacy of the child and the biological parents.
  7. We will need support and prayers, as often we will feel heartbroken.
  8. We may have a very different parenting style than you. We aren’t judging you for how you parent. We do have strict guidelines as licensed foster parents that we must follow.
  9. An average placement will be in our home for a year; however, it can be far shorter or longer than that.
Where are we at in the process:
  • We have been in contact with a social worker.
  • We have received our application. It is A LOT of paperwork.
  • My husband and I are on the same page.
  • Our first home study is scheduled.
Remember, “The struggle is part of the story…”


PCOS and Infertility: hurry up & wait.

Zachary and I have been married close to three years and together for about five years. He would tell you, I was ready to grow our family as soon as we said “I do”… though I learned or at least tried to pretend to have some patience as he wasn’t quite as eager at that time.  I wasn’t that girl that grew up picturing my wedding day, my mind skipped right past that step to my happy little family. You see, for me, the best part of being an adult was going to be being a mom. Of course I had never considered that we would be part of the 6.1% of couples who struggled with infertility.
For the last year we FINALLY buckled down and got serious about getting pregnant. For us, there was A LOT of planning that went into taking the first steps towards getting pregnant. If you don’t already know about my medical diagnoses, read more here. I saw my dysautonomia specialist at Vanderbilt, as well as an inherited disease specialist I was referred to. We were cleared at both those appointments and given a list of medications I would need to be weaned off of before trying to conceive. Next up we needed to tackle our local doctors and build “the team”. My obstetrician-gynocologist referred us 30 minutes from home to a high risk fetal specialist, who did reluctantly sign on but referred me to a local cardiologist whom he wanted on the team. That appointment went well and we were given the green light.
Our first notable stumbling block came when “we”, i.e. I, noticed, month in and month out, I wasn’t ovulating. We went into this endeavor knowing I have polycystic ovarian syndrome, so I scheduled with my obstetrician-gynecologist to resolve the ovulating issue. True to character, I had researched and made notes of the treatment plan I thought may best resolve the issue (yes, I am that person). I showed up, notebook in hand, explained the problem and my proposed plan of action. My fantastic, easy going doctor thought my research paid off and agreed it sounded like a good plan. I was prescribed progesterone cream, femara, continued on metformin, started taking ovulation test, logging anything fertility related in my chosen app and doing the necessary blood work each month. Within five months it was clear our issue wasn’t resolved. Like a flip was suddenly switched, as fall approached, my dysautonomia symptoms came on with a vengeance, as a result of being off multiple maintenance medications.  We were fast tracked, due to the additional health issues, to the best infertility specialist within a two hour drive. Once again, I sat through another appointment, discussing how to help my body do what it was made to do. The doctor explained the success rates, treatment options, treatment cost, financing options, and lack of insurance coverage. Yes I looked poised but sitting there I couldn’t decide if I wanted to cry, scream, or even laugh (stress-relieving laughter, not funny ha ha). Anyone who is or has gone through this, I’m sure can relate. We moved forward with a progesterone oil injection, increased dosage of femara, and continued with everything else. My husband was sent for male labs and analysis and his results showed that we both had factors that were contributing to our infertility. We opted for COH/TI and an enhancement protocol for  my hubs. I was told if I didn’t get a positive pregnancy test in November to call and we’d move forward with increased femara dose, goal f or follistim.
With the ever increasing symptoms that had been brought on by fall, it came to a point that I had to go to Vanderbilt for advice. I was having profound orthostatic tachycardia, symptoms that resembled anaphylactic shock and fatigue. I had gone from working out 4-5 days a week to spending as much time in bed as possible. It was my specialist opinion that I needed to start back on those medications I had discontinued for the conception plan. We agreed I would give it until my next expected monthly and see if I would be blessed with a positive test result. November came and I missed missed my monthly!! I was excited but tried to be realistic, since I’ve never had regularity unless on birth control. As I bought my last pregnancy test that I’d ever need, I whispered a prayer begging God for those two bold lines. It was the longest three minutes and as I looked at the result window I finally knew, I would never feel my baby move, or know the closeness that you feel during those nine months but I was resolved to become a mom and make a difference in our future.

Young, chronically ill & coping.

Before dysautonomia, I was an average teen, living in a small town. I was carefree, full of joy and surrounded by great friends and family. I played volleyball, spent a lot of time in the water.
At age 14, the summer before freshman year, I started having debilitating headaches, neck pain, and fatigue. My mom took me to see my family practitioner and he sent me home with the the thought that I just had a passing virus. I continued with my high school activities, not letting up and soon after I was beyond exhausted. I seldom even wanted to eat. When I did eat, the food would cause nausea. I went back to my general practitioner several times and eventually was diagnosed with mononucleosis. I was instructed to strictly rest until I felt back to myself. Life was never the same! Eating caused intense stomach cramps. During showers or while standing, I often would get a sharp pain in my stomach, feel dizzy and pass out. Thankfully my mom was home the first time I lost consciousness. While I was completely oblivious, thinking quickly, my mom took my vitals and was unable to get a heart rate. We went to the nearest emergency department and from there was referred to a local neurologist. Based on the clinical symptoms, he thought we should try medication for a seizure disorder. That didn’t improve my condition and I continued to decline. I was sent for some testing, but the results were negative. After months of being sick, a colleague of my mom that worked as a radiology technician, suggested having a tilt table test. I was scheduled with the best cardiac electrophysiologist, in our area, who preformed my test. During my tilt table test, I flatlined for 18 seconds, until I was tilted down. I had an emergency dual chamber pacemaker placed. The doctor wasn’t sure of the underlying cause. Needing answers, my mom got my referral to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN and I was accepted as a patient. At Mayo, I had a team of doctors working together to run test and diagnose. While my initial diagnosis was a great start, after 17 years and the work of Mayo Clinic, Vanderbilt and Cleveland Clinic, we now have a grasp of the syndrome as a full picture. My diagnoses are as follows:
Dysautonomia, which is an umbrella term for a malfunction of the autonomic nervous system (the system that quietly works behind the scenes): small fiber and autonomic neuropathy, hyperadrenergic postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (hyperPOTS), mast cell activation disorder (MCAD), gastroparesis,  & I have struggled with insomnia, BEYOND dysautonomia: polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)/insulin resistance, ehlers-danlos syndrome type 3 (EDS3)  (this is a genetic condition that I have had my whole life, though was only diagnosed two years ago).
Becoming chronically ill changed my life both positively and negatively. It has given me wisdom beyond my years. Without dysautonomia, I wouldn’t have this old soul. It has allowed me to grow, have a deep heart for others and live with zeal. I love meeting new people who are genuine, interesting, quirky, and above all else perfectly themselves. I’ve learned to be spontaneous, make memories, focus on the good and let go of the bad. As Peter Pan said, “To live will be an awfully big adventure!”

Living Organic: mama’s going back to school!

For the last couple years I have worked harder than ever to develop a fitness routine that worked for me and began to really pay attention to what foods made me feel good and which negatively influenced my health. I started eating grass-fed, organic and actually increased the amount I ate in a day. In that time, I have lost 60 pounds! Weight loss and more food, WHAT?! I began to see symptoms get increasingly better and began to have more energy than I have in the  last 15 years, since becoming chronically ill. Seeing these changes has really inspired me to consider a certification in wellness. I like the idea of getting to the root of a problem. Whether I choose to use that knowledge to benefit my family and friends, or decide to launch a business using these skills, I am excited about the idea of immersing myself in all things nutrition and learning all I can for the next 12 months. After researching some of the top schools for this type of coaching certification, I’ve decided to enroll at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. So, what will this look like? And how will life change? For the next year, I’ll be fully committed to finding lifestyle balance and learning how to get the most out of what we eat. I’ll have a full class load and it will be online. And for anyone else who has taken classes online, we all know it is a lot of extra work. I want the opportunity though to be learning from some of the leading experts in Integrative Nutrition and Functional Medicine. Some of the people that I will get the honor to learn from is: Mark Hyman, MD, David Wolfe, Lissa Rankin, MD, Joe Cross from “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, Neal Barnard, MD and Andrew Weil, MD. It’s exciting to think of the insight I’ll gleam and be able to share with both those I love and possibly clients. This experience has the possibility to change my life and yours as well!

What will this mean for you? I will share with you the things I learn. Recipes with moms in mind, do it yourself food prepping ideas, we’ll dive into controversial topics like GMO, conventional and organic foods.  Have something you would like to discuss? Comment below. Let’s get the conversation started!