My Story of Eczema, Infertility, and Miscarriage

There is one thing that eczema, infertility, and miscarriages have in common…

All three can make you feel very alone and very tortured physically and mentally. I’m sharing my story with you because I think it’s SUPER important to change attitudes on child loss AND, inform people about the link between inflammation, autoimmunity, and infertility.

Bear with me first though- some confessions.

First, you’ll note as you read through this that I started writing it in December. I started but couldn’t bring myself to finish it, let alone publish it. I was afraid and still broken.

Second, because of the inspiration of some of my superwoman friends and colleagues in the health space, I’ve been able to process my traumas and gather the courage to share this with you all. THANK YOU to Anna Cabeca, Brie Wieselman, Christine Faler, Jaime Ward, Jenn Fugo, Jessica Drummond, Jolene Brighten, Keesha Ewers, Sheri Fox, and Steph Gaudreau.

You ladies all inspire me. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

I have so much gratitude for having you all in my life. We don’t tell people often enough how much they matter to us, so I want to let you all know.

Third, there are some very raw and vulnerable moments, so you might cry reading it as I have writing and editing it.

My Story

Miscarriages SUCK and are still taboo in our culture. This is really unfortunate because those of us who have suffered in the dark know what a lonely, hellish place they can be. NO ONE should have to suffer in silence when they’re dying inside. And sadly, no one can really relate unless they’ve ever suffered the loss of a child. It leaves you with a hole inside that never goes away.

[Initial thoughts from December] I’m doing something I never do right now. I’m attempting to write this in the throes of many emotions. On one hand I’m extremely happy because my little sister just gave birth to a healthy baby boy. It’s a pretty exciting time for our family this year since I had my little girl almost 5 months ago.

On the other hand, I’m feeling very sad. Alone. Gnawing pain.

Because today is the anniversary of my first miscarriage. That was one of the hardest days of my entire life.

Worst day ever.

Looking back, it taught me many lessons about life, autoimmunity, and eczema. But that doesn’t make it hurt less.

On Christmas day two years ago I was trying to act like it was a normal day. I should have been extremely happy to watch my almost three year old open his presents and have family over.  I was in the kitchen prepping Christmas dinner, but deep down inside I knew something was very wrong.

I was wearing a shirt that said “joy” and I couldn’t have felt further from that. I knew deep down that I was probably having a miscarriage. I went through the day thinking, “things like this happen… women have spotting and cramping and they still have healthy babies.” I was in complete denial.

I made it through dinner and went to bed, but I couldn’t sleep. I had a sense of impending doom that would not leave. And like many women, I tend to labor in the middle of the night. The cramps got worse and then my worst nightmare was realized. I was definitely having a miscarriage.

If you’re far enough along it proceeds exactly like a labor. I’ll spare you the details because it was HORRENDOUS as I’m sure you can imagine.

The experience is seared into my brain. I wish it was a foggy memory but I can’t forget. I remember sitting on the bathroom floor just sobbing and feeling so alone. My husband was there but I don’t think he knew what to do. I just sat there for what seemed like an eternity.

Eventually, I laid back in my bed next to my husband, but I felt like I was the only person in the world.

I couldn’t go to sleep so I went downstairs to our couch, laid in the fetal position and cried for 4 hours. Literally to the point I was nauseous and had no tears left.

The next several days were a blur.

I was largely catatonic. My sister was one of the few people I told and she came over and brought me flowers which I really appreciated but it still felt unbearable. I’ve had a few low moments in my life but I don’t think I’ve ever truly felt depressed.

I was quite depressed after this. I was numb. Thankfully, I had my son because if I didn’t I really don’t know what would have happened.

I got pregnant again in March and was cautiously optimistic. Things seemed to be progressing fine. I made it past the 8 week mark and was breathing a minor sigh of relief since that is when I had my first miscarriage. But then at 12.5 weeks, I had another one.

This one was different. Still agonizing, but I felt like I knew what to expect and went through the motions.

Almost like an out of body experience.

Again, I’ll spare you the details. And again, I really only told my sister and super close friends.

I suffered in silence.

I don’t want that for you.

It’s the worst feeling in the world.

And, it’s the opposite of what you should do.

For mamas that’ve experienced any loss, you know your world will never be the same. There will always be a hole in your heart for your little angel. As time goes on it hurts a little less but it will creep up on you when you least expect it and that empty, hollow feeling can return.

Mother’s Day will never be the same, even if you have children. The two Mother’s Days since I’ve had my miscarriages have been filled with both love and sadness. Last year when I was pregnant was particularly hard. I was sad and silently hoping that everything turned out fine because I didn’t know if I can handle another even more dramatic loss. I cried A LOT on Mother’s Day in a mix of hormones, fear, and grief.

Rainbow Baby

Thankfully, my story had a happy ending. My amazing and beautiful rainbow baby was born in August of 2018. She’s such an amazing little girl. She’s been so sweet and so happy from day one. People comment on how smiley and what a good demeanor she has.

I don’t take for granted how incredibly blessed and lucky I am because I know that there are women out there that won’t get that chance.

Women’s health, fertility, pregnancy, and birth are sacred. We need to support each other through the good and the bad. We need to make a long-term commitment to each other not just in the days and weeks after a birth or a loss, but in the months and years that follow. Because these moments become the fabric of Who We Are and intertwine us all together. They form the blanket of support that we need to give one another.

So, I want you to know, I am here for you.

And those ladies I thanked above- they’re in your corner too. They are all in the health and functional medicine space too- many are women’s health specialists- but all are darn awesome women.

A few of them (you know who you are) are probably why I was able to get pregnant and keep the baby to term.

Together, we ran a bunch of tests on me. My hormones were low across the board (thyroid, adrenals, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. I had dysbiosis from stress and previous birth control pill use (that’s another long and horrible story).

The likely culprit for my losses began as STRESS. Long term stress. That stress depleted my hormones, damaged my gut, and caused food sensitivities, nutrient depletions, and my eczema.

You need progesterone to maintain your pregnancy and I couldn’t make enough. Had enough to get pregnant, but not enough to stay pregnant. This is a big problem for women today. We’re all depleted from the stress and abuse we put our body’s through.

So, I got to work.

The Fix

Since my hormones were a mess I got on compounded, bioidentical DHEA and progesterone. I also upped my dose of compounded T3/T4. I knew I needed to get my hormones going in the right direction quickly and this was the best way for me, especially since I’ve had reactions to other types of hormone support in the past.

I went on an AIP rotation diet to calm my system down and start to heal my gut. Then I did 8 weeks on a dysbiosis protocol for pseudomonas and staphylococcus (using herbal blends, monolaurin, and rotated probiotics) with liver support. I followed that up with 3 months of gut terrain rebuilding and immune support. I also did some work on resolving past traumas too.

In all, this process took me 8 months, but then….

I missed a period and found out I was pregnant even though I wasn’t actively trying.

Again, mixed emotions.

I was so happy, but so scared. I went through 75% of the pregnancy scared. Loss traumatizes you in ways you can’t imagine. I was super paranoid and had been before.

I took progesterone for the first 20 weeks of my pregnancy- 4 weeks longer than was recommended because I was that worried. It worked…and you know the rest of the story.

I had my beautiful rainbow baby.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t scars and wounds that surface from time to time.

So, I need my tribe, which now includes you.

I’m here if you need me, because I want to help mamas be healthy, clear eczema, get rid of autoimmunity, and have healthy babies.

That is my mission.

And, we have to support each other. As women we need to have a voice and not stay in the dark.

It took me a couple of years to come out and share this, but I’m so happy I did. Because if I help even just one mama get through her dark time or resolve her root causes to have a healthy baby, I’ve accomplished my goal.

I hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day 2018 no matter your circumstance. Earth babies and angel babies all count!! It’s okay to feel both happy and sad too. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

If you know anyone that could use support, please share this with them. I really wish I had reached out for more help or someone gave me a little nudge to get more support. If they aren’t ready, just be there for them through the process and step up when called upon.

How I Solved My Pregnancy Constipation

I’m going to share how I achieved amazing poops since pregnancy constipation is one of the worst symptoms women often have. For some, that claim sounds unattainable. I was one of them given my experience with baby number one…

My First Pregnancy

During my first pregnancy, I suffered from horrible constipation. My stools were little, tiny rabbit pellets that took forever to come out.  Plus, I wasn’t going every day.

I was miserable because I was used to having perfect Bristol scale #4’s.  As a functional medicine practitioner, this is what we view as ideal. Now I was having #1’s which signifies severe constipation. I tried several forms of magnesium, eating more vegetables, and dried fruits such as prunes, and nothing changed. I resigned myself to the “sentence” of pregnancy constipation and chalked it up to hormones.

After the birth I figured I was in the clear…

No such luck. Things got even worse. I didn’t think that was possible.

My First Post-Partum

I was reluctant to share these details, but I know how important it is to have healthy bowel movements. And, I don’t want you to go through what I went through.

The delivery of my son was wonderful (not easy, but wonderful). My midwives said to make sure I pooped within the first couple days, but I was caught up in baby bliss and didn’t really pay attention. I tried to go several times, but I was still really sore from the delivery.

Truth: I pooped during the delivery and that was the last time I’d go for 2 whole weeks!

On day 14, I had an extreme urge to go since the stool had been building up. I sat on the toilet for 30 minutes. Nothing. I got up, moved around, squatted a little, and tried again. Nothing. 45 minutes later, my husband was concerned so he came to check on me (to make matters worse we had visitors and they wondered where I’d disappeared to).  Talk about embarrassing!

I told him what was up and sent him away. I was too proud to ask for help.

I hung out in the bathroom for another hour and still nothing. I had to feed the baby so I took a break and finally asked for stool softeners and an enema. The stool softeners didn’t help so I swallowed my pride and tried the enema. All by myself.

Not a good idea for anyone, let alone someone who just gave birth. I’ll spare you the details, but there was lots of crying, a mess, and I ended up having my husband administer it. Probably the most humbling experience of my life. BUT I HAD RELIEF!

After that, my stools slowly became more regular and I was back to normal.

My Second Pregnancy

I vowed if I got pregnant again, I wouldn’t let myself stay constipated.

This time my diet was dialed in from the beginning and I was taking probiotics, fish oil, and Natural Calm magnesium. It staved off the constipation until around week 14. I slowly went from #4’s to 1-2’s again as the progesterone ramped up in my body. Progesterone causes the muscles in the walls of the intestines to relax resulting in constipation. It’s also responsible for slower emptying of the stomach and heart burn.

My midwives suggested a different magnesium supplement that also had calcium. I gave it a try and it helped a little, but not enough.  So, I put on my clinician’s hat and thought, “What would I tell a patient?” When working with patients and magnesium doesn’t help, we usually suggest adding in other minerals like potassium and calcium via food and/or supplements.

Ding! Ding! I had a major “a ha” moment. That’s when the magic combination was conceived!

Pregnancy Constipation Relief

I made myself a smoothie loaded with fiber, healthy fats, and important mineral rich foods since these are known to combat constipation. It actually works so well so sometimes I need to dial down the fiber!

Pregnancy Constipation Smoothie

The starred ingredients are important since they either have high fiber or mineral content from magnesium or potassium. Avocados, dates, and bananas are the real whole food stars here.

8-12 ounces of water (can substitute coconut water* or liquid of your choice)
½ small banana*
½ avocado*
1-4 dates (I used 1-2 for the first 2 trimesters and 3-4 during the third)*
½ – 1 serving of this fiber blend*
1 serving of protein of your choice (I rotated between collagen and pea/chia protein)
½ cup frozen berries

Additions: 1 handful of leafy greens or tablespoon of raw cacao powder to change it up.

This recipe can be altered to taste and amounts for effectiveness. It’s a nutrient bomb for growing baby and mama, as well as keeping constipation away! It’s kept me going for most of the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, and I’m hoping postpartum too!

What have you tried to remedy pregnancy constipation?