Monday, May 18, 2009

New findings

Now harvesting: Radishes!

Well I finally got the results of my nutrition study. This was the Spectracell Test (link is on right). I went to a holistic MD for this, but my regular doctor (not OB) also does these tests. You have to find a doctor in your area who will do it (you can find the docs on the Spectracell website)...and most insurances don't cover it since it's considered "preventative." As usual, with PPO's you can submit a "superbill" afterwords and try to get some reimbursment. The time with the doc is also not covered. Anyway - the test itself is $300. It's really an amazing test and finding out any deficiencies you may have will not only vastly improve your health, but could prevent some more long term issues you don't even know you have brewing at this point in time.

Anway - it tests many nutrients but I will only cover the ones I was found to be deficient in:
1. Serine - Used to manufacture proteins, energy, cell membrane structure and synthesis of ofhter cell components (DNA and RNA. There may be a conditional need for serine during periods of cell growth or physiological stress.
2. Vitamin A - Eyes, immune function, skin, essential cell growth and development
3. Choline - essential for human cell growth, connected to weightloss (it helps to move fats around) and memory
4. Zinc - Supports enzymes, immune system, wound healing, taste/smell, DNA sysnthesis, normal growth and development during pregnancy, childhood and adolescence

I was also borderline on B12 - Healthy nerve cells, DNA/RNA, red blood cell production, iron function

Do you notice a trend? Every one of these has to do with cell growth, fertility, DNA/RNA, etc. Without going into too much detail, I've found that some of these have been found to be low in many women who have miscarried. I'm still getting to the bottom of this research, and I didn't even get to talk to my holistic MD on this connection yet, but not only is there a connection to miscarriage but also the thrombophilia and antiphospholipid risk factors (my gene mutations for MTHFR and Prothrombin Fac2). Obviously, I have a lot more research to do, but for the first time, I feel like some of the pieces of the puzzle are actually in front of me. Now if only someone out there was actually connecting the dots.

I've often thought doing this nutrition test was going overboard - even though it makes sense to do one of these tests every few years to make sure our "internal" bodies are in good shape. And since sharing this blog with so many others I've had some interesting conversations with others who have miscarried or suffered from infertility/reproductive issues. Most people, the vast vast majority, simply go with what the doctor recommends. I don't know why I have fought so hard against this, especially when I've talked with 4 professionals who all say to just take another chance, there are no answers. But this is how I can explain my maddness. There is ALWAYS a reason. There is a reason for each of my losses, and there is a reason someone may struggle to get pregnant. It's just a lot of work to figure it out. Sure, you can take a pill and things may be fine from here on. Sure, you could just try again and everything could go swell. But you also have an opportunity to ask the question WHY. Why did this/is this happening to me? When a doctor says, "oh, you have low progesterone, or you have high estrogen", ask them WHY. What is causing my levels to be high or low? Is there something I need to fix. Because all of the problems we have in getting pregnant/maintaining a pregnancy stand a pretty good chance of being passed along to our kiddos. And guess what? I'd give ANYTHING to prevent Kaelyn from experiencing what I have experienced. If I don't take the opportunity to learn about myself now, I won't be able to live with myself if she has issues when she is older. It will kill me.

Easy-to-make, healthy snack

I've been trying lots of new recipes. Well, not lots, but some. It's so hard to cook with a toddler. But after 3 attempts at a good yet healthy baked good, I finally found one and it is ALSO easy to make!! I made it while Kaelyn ate an afternoon snack in her high chair - so you know that's easy!!

You won't believe this either, I found the recipe in none other than Family Fun magazine. Impressive!

Energy Boost Bars (they provide 20 grams of carbs for slow-release, sustained energy)
1 8oz bag of raw almonds (I used one cup of almonds since I buy mine in bulk)
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 1/2 cup oats, quick-cooking (I replaced 1/2 cup with rolled oats since they're yummy)
1/2 cup dried cranberries (I subbed with raisins since I couldn't find non-sweetened cranberries - the sugar in most dried cranberries is BAD)
1 cup dried blueberries (unsweeted found at Trader Joes)
2/3 cup maple syrup (always use Grade B RAW - found at Trader Joes. DO NO USE REGULAR MAPLE SYRUP - you know, Log Cabin? The first ingredient is high fructose corn syrup - very BAD)
1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Heat the oven to 275 and lightly grase a 9 inch baking pan with olive oil. Grind the almonds in a food processor until they resemble a coarse meal. Combine the ground almonds and the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and stir well. Using wet fingers, press the mixture into the prepared pan and bake it for 1 hour. Allow the bars to cool thoroughly while they are still inthe pan, then slice them. Makes 20.
(151 cals, 4g protein, 20g carbs, 7g fat, 0 cholesterol, 2mg sodium)

Mike, Kaelyn and myself all like them. And Mike doesn't even like Raisins. Try the recipe as is first, and then feel free to modify with any dried fruit. This is a pretty versatile recipe that I think you could make many substitutions and only improve them for your preferences.

Have fun!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Official "Healthful Living Day"

Well, as some of you may recall, today is a very big date for us. It should have been Maya's birthday. I've been thinking about, dreading, and waiting for this day for a very long time. I couldn't imagine what I would do - the only thought that came to mind was to go to the hospital and sit in the parking lot all day. Somehow today has come and miraculously that is the last thing I want to do. I went to accupuncture this morning and followed that with yoga. I didn't even cry which was very surprising.
In preparation for today, I went to a support group last week and mentioned this to them - that I didn't know what I wanted to do for this significant day. Many who have lost later-term pregnancies celebrate the birthdays of their lost little ones with cakes and singing, others release butterflies. They told me that it would come to me and I would know what to do.
Up until last night, nothing had "come to me." But suddenly, it was clear as day. There is nothing good that can come from losing a child - a child of any age. But there has been one very positive thing for us. Without our losses, we never would have embarked on this journey of more healthful living. All of this research, all of the books on raw food, beating disease through food, etc - I would never have spent a moment on any of it if we hadn't lost both babies. So what we've decided is that forever more, May 13th and October 4th (Liliana's due date) will be our family "Healthful Living Day." Much like the world celebrates "Earth Day" on April 21st, we will make sure that each year we do something on these special days to either educate ourselves or educate others on how we can continue to live more healthfully.
When I started this blog, I did now know if I would ever share it with anyone. I still have only shared it with a couple of people who I wanted to share the research with for their own personal health journey. But now I know that today is the day to share this with everyone. I don't know if it will ever impact anyone who reads it, but I know that the efforts that we record here and make in our lives will impact one special girl for the rest of her life. Miss Kaelyn. I am so grateful for our little angels for giving me the opportunity to take a step back and evaluate all of the choices we make so that their sister Kaelyn will have a better chance at motherhood as well as all the other potential health struggles she may face in her life.
So welcome to this site. I hope you had a happy "Healthful Living Day." I welcome all questions, comments, suggestions, and most of all, your curiosity. If there is ever anything I can do to help you on your own Healthful Journey, let me know. And feel free to share this blog with others. It's not easy to be open about all of this, but the reason I am is because hearing other's stories was the ONLY thing I've found helpful during these difficult months.
If you want to keep track of this blog - sign up to follow it on the right side of the site at the bottom of the page. And stay tuned for more.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Vitamins and Supplements

I've been looking into vitamins and supplements. The more research I do, the more "things" it seems I need to get into my body. It also has become clear that the vast majority of vitamin supplements out there are not even absorbed by your body. So although you can buy vitamins for $10 a month, you're not really getting anything for your money. So I found Pure Synergy( at a local Raw Food restaurant in town. I trust a Raw Food restaurant more than anyone. If someone is so into alternative eating as to risk everything and open a Raw Food restaurant, they obviously care what goes into their bodies!!! Upon researching the Pure Synergy products, I'm extremely impressed. I ordered a month's supply of Vita Synergy as well as Pure Synergy. They are whole-foods based supplements, specially processed to retain the plant value, encapsulated in a way that allows your body to absorb the nutrients properly, and organic/non-GMO (not genetically modified) and the list goes on. If you go check out the website, you will be impressed solely by the list of ingredients. Holy cow.

In the meantime, my holistic doctor recommended Juice Plus Vitamins. Conveniently, my accupuncturist also knew of them and recommended. We took those for almost a month and found them to be fine, but didn't notice any differences in energy or anything else. I find the company to be a little more commercial and they use a tiered marketing strategy, which I'm always a little leery of. Anyway - I'm still investigating, but they seem to be a good alternative and a little less pricey than the Pure Synergy lineup. The doctor said they work as a complete pre-natal vitamin too, so it replaces the need for something else if you need a prenatal.

I'll post more on my vitamin/supplement journey later - just wanted to share my findings so far!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Visit with the Perinatologist

What a day. We had a 4pm appointment on a Friday. Big mistake. I was counting down the last three minutes I was willing to wait for this guy before walking out and demanding a refund on my copay when he finally walked in. He could tell we were disgruntled after being stuck for an HOUR in a 10x10 space with an 18 month old. So he took us to a different room - all of 4x6. Oh was it fun to try to have a detailed conversation while dealing with Kaelyn DURING dinner time.
To make it all worse, he provided ABSOLUTELY NO NEW INFORMATION OR ASSISTANCE. Basically, a perinatologist is simply more in tune with "problem" pregnancies. So he will be helpful if we have any issues that come up with a subseqent pregnancy (not necessarily a miscarriage, but say there was a chromosomal defect or difficult pregnancy). So I supposed he'd be good to have on hand next time since a regular OB pretty much can't help you out if you have any kind of trouble (would have been good to know this a long time ago - what is the point of an OB???). But in general, he was pointless. He said to go talk to a Reprpoductive Endocrinologist to get more information about the issues with Mike's side of the family.

So I'll be making that appointment for after we get the chromosome study back on Mike, and I'm also going to make an appointment with an immunologist - just to see if we make any better headway.

I know this all seems in vain and pointless. But the fact is, there IS a reason for every miscarriage. They just don't put the effort into finding out what that reason is. And there is no way I'm going through this again only to find out that there was something wrong that no one found out. So on we go...

Visit with the geneticist

We finally got to visit the geneticist at the end of April. She was very nice and seemed pretty knowledgable. She was not concerned about the MTHFR gene mutation because of my specific mutation and lack of trouble with my homosysteine levels.

The Prothrombin Factor II is more of a risk though and is worth talking with doctors about the aspirin recommendations.

She also was concerned with the triploidy from our first loss. Apparently there are two ways an egg can be fertilized twice. Either two sperm fertilize the same egg or one sperm fertilizes it and then the egg also fertilizes itself. This can sometimes happen where an egg will fertilize itself in the absence of a sperm. It's then considered a molar pregnancy. The strange thing is that molar pregnancies increase your risk (forever) of a certain type of cervical cancer. So the geneticist thinks I will always need to test my pregnancy hormone (take a pregnancy test) to make sure I don't get a false positive. If I ever got a false positive it would mean I have the cancer. Obviously - this is another point for more research.

I was also told to talk with all of my family members about the importance of talking with their doctors about the gene mutations - since all of us can have the same mutation.

On another note, after going over Mike's family history, (pretty much everyone on his maternal side has had recurrent pregnancy loss) she recommended a chromosome test on him just to see if there are any issues there. It is surprising to me how little attention they pay to the father's role in any of this.

Test results rolling in

So my test results began rolling in after a few weeks. Basically, everything came back normal except for two things. I have two gene mutations, both putting me at higher risk of blood clots (or deep vein thrombosis).

MTHFR - homozygous (means I got the mutation from both parents) but I have normal homosystein levels which means I probably don't have an issue absorbing folic acid or vitamin b6/b12

Prothrombin Factor II - heterzygous (means I got the mutation from only one of my parents)

Long story short: the doctors can not say that either of these gene mutations are WHY I had the second miscarriage (we already know the first one was from triploidy, a unique and very random occurance). But people who have had miscarriages are more likely to have these mutations.

Recommendation: take a baby aspirin a day while pregnant. Some say to do it for life or at least when having a major surgical procedure...but there is debate there.

So again, I started researching - what are the pros/cons of aspirin? What are more holistic ways to thin the blood? Turns out many. I'm still researching, but basically, Vitamin E, Milk Thistle, Vitamin C, Ginko Biloba, Fish Oil (Omega 3s) and Garlic can all thin blood or at least keep it from thickening. So now I'm looking into each of these.

In the meantime, our new garden is beginning to flourish and it is certainly a very "healing" experience. If there is no new baby to nurture, at least we have some green things to watch grow!

Starting with Diet

The most immediate thing we could control was our diet, and of course exercise. Mike had already started going to the gym 3 days a week so he had a head start. I struggled with fitting in the exercise but tried to do fast walks more with Kaelyn or Kingston at night.

On March 29th, I did a juice cleanse at a local juicing shop. It's run by a guy who fought his way back from stage 4 cancer through juicing organic veggies and fruits. This cleanse was 3 days and on each day I had a different juice combo to drink (a whole half gallon). For dinner I ate a sensible meal - salmon and veggies. On April 1st, we did the following:
-Completely gave up all refined sugars and processed flours.
-We decided to give up dairy for a month just to get it out of our systems (dairy has a big impact on our immune systems), but we wouldn't give up the cheese on a salad or random dairy in small doses, provided it was organic, to avoid making us intolerant of dairy.
-We decided not to give up meat completely, but we would eat no more than 15% meat with any meal, and all meat has to be organic.
-We only eat whole grains - so our bread is made from 100% whole grains and natural ingredients, it's organic, and we only eat 1-2 pieces of bread each day. We were pretty much already doing that, so it wasn't a change really.
-No more coffee (well, I decided to allow it only once on Sunday!)
-Most importantly, we had to stick with 60-80% veggies/fruits at each meal.
-Furthermore, we'd eat one (completely organic) egg for breakfast every day and take a new supplement made from whole foods (we are currently trying the JuicePlus brand and will probably try Pure Synergy next - it's a LOT of research!).
-We would try to get most of our food from the farmer's market each Sunday. Luckly we have 3 healthfood stores within 2 miles of our house, so supplementing is not a problem. But it is still better to buy from local "organic" farmers because you are more likely to eat seasonally - which is better for the environment as well as for our health.

We also have an alkaline/acidity chart up on our fridge so we can see when we are eating something that is acidic or alkaline. Basically, our bodies need to be in an alkaline state. When we eat something acidic, our body has to fight to get it back to the alkaline state. With all the acidic food in our American diets, our bodies are so busy maintaining the appropriate PH that it can't fight of infections and diseases such as cancer. Pretty eye-opening and very motivating.

I will tell you that the first week or so was difficult only because we were finding new routines with our food. Eating so many vegetables/fruits takes a lot of time and this is exactly why Americans have gotten so far away from eating fresh veggies. But we never found ourselves hungry. Actually, we were always stuffed. After a few weeks, I figured out that I was taking our regular meal and adding veggies trying to get the 60-80% veggie goal at each meal. We made ourselves start by eating the veggies and always had a hard time eating the meat or meal part. So our meals were getting tossed into leftovers which was fine (and helping to stretch the budget), but I finally decided to start filling the plate with veggies and then adding a little portion of a meal (about the size of my palm). This worked much better, so we weren't quite so stuffed. And our budget should be leveling off soon b/c we're just trading one thing for another. The budget did go up for the first few weeks because we were trying new things and buying a LOT of stuff. But I will tell you that we never wasted a single item - I couldn't believe the lack of waste.

Digging into research

Obviously after two horrible losses like this, it left me a little less than wanting to move forward with anything in life. Luckily having Kaelyn brigtened each day for me, and gave me a reason to get out of bed. The only other thing I was motivated to do was research. I looked everywhere. I looked into recurrent pregnancy loss, I looked into infertility, I researched triploidy (the reason for the first miscarriage) and so much more. To make this very simple, there were two conclusions I came to from my research:
1. Do everything I can to find an answer for my miscarriages (rather than just "rolling the dice again" like the doc suggested), and
2: Think about our health in a more holistic way (change everything about the way we eat and rethink the type of "consumer" we are).

So first I had the doctor do a "recurrent pregnancy loss panel" - this consisted of twelve viles of blood and tested for the following factors:
-Hemoglobin A1C
-Lupus Anticoagulant
-Cardiolipin Antibody Screen with Reflex to IgG and IgM
-Protein C Antigen
-Protein S Antigen
-Leiden Factor V
-Prothrombin Gene Mutation
-Chromosome Analysis

Here's a site that gives information on the possible tests:

I also had her write up lab slips for hormone tests (estradial and progesterone) to take at the appropriate times in my cycle.

I also made an appointment with an accupuncturist, a holistic doctor (a holistic doctor incorporates nutrition into his/her medical practice), a geneticist, a perinatologist, and started looking into reproductive endocrinology, immunologists, and fertility specialists.

It became clear very quickly that this was not an easy or short road ahead. The easy road is to just try again - as your OB will tell you to do. There aren't easy answers and miscarriage is generally under-researched. Digging deep isn't generally supported, and HMO's won't allow you to investigate anything until you've lost at least 3 pregnancies. From this standpoint, I'm very lucky to have the information I already have. But no one seems to know what to do with it until you go to a more alternative doctor. Dr Beer is an amazing doctor, tho controversial, but just proves how paying more attention and being open to alternative thoughts can give people not only hope, but healthy babies!!

I did, however, find so much helpful and hopeful information about positive changes we could make ourselves by simply changing the way we eat. No matter what I read, whether in regards to miscarriage, infertility, cancer, autism, scoriacis, menopause, aging, heart issues, you name it... the same diet was always recommended: avoid acidic meat, no dairy, no processed flours or refined sugars, eat high alkaline foods...only eat vegetables, fruits, nuts, soy, water, and seeds. Yikes. Turns out, we can prevent all illnesses with just eating the right foods. The American diet is FAR from eating the right foods. More on this later, but I started coming up with a plan for changing our diet. I didn't want to become a vegetarian or a vegan and I certainly didn't want to complicate our life, but one simple rule was what made it easy to change how we ate: look at your plate. It should be 60-70% vegetables at all meals.