Whitt’s 4th Birthday… 4 months ago.

whittakers-4th-bday-44

The BIRTHDAY BOY on his day!

I have so enjoyed my 4 year old big kid. He is HILARIOUS, incredibly charming,  sweet on his momma, and so full of life. Now that he is well into his 4th year, let’s take a look back on his birthday celebration! Enjoy!

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Eamon – headshots.

Personality. The 7 month old precious boy.

overcoming HELLP syndrome.

Now that we are nearly 7 months post partum I thought I could manage sitting for a moment to share about the journey to a healthy pregnancy after HELLP syndrome. I am NOT a medical professional, nor do I offer tried and true medical advice. The following is my experience alone.

  1. Pray to Jesus. I know – not your standard American health advice. But He made you. He is for you. He did, after all, give his life for you.
  2. Know where your hope is found. I found it repeatedly necessary to reevaluate my focus, to know that my hope is in God and his goodness for me and not any diet, exercise program, supplement or herb.
  3. Seek knowledge and wisdom. Act accordingly. God designed our bodies to function a certain way, yet not every person’s body responds the same way to the same foods, supplements, or stress levels. I learned the hard way that I (quite unfortunately) just can’t consume row after row of scotcheroos and get off scot-free. You can’t care well for your body if you don’t know how it works, so find out.

Let’s talk practically about diet, exercise, supplements and herbs.

But first, the back story. A few months after Whitterboy was born, my gramps became super ill and passed away within just a few short weeks. Those were extremely high stress weeks, flinging my already weak body into an extreme flareup. I had suffered from ulcerative proctitis for many years on and off prior to becoming pregnant and this flareup came on blazing to the tune of bloody diarrhea and a whole lot of mucus lasting over two months. I was anemic, incredibly thin, and fatigued.   My husband came across a diet catered specifically to combat ulcerative colitis and thus began hours upon hours of research and a complete lifestyle overhaul. I learned the great impact teeny tiny gut flora have on our health and how to go about getting rid of harmful bacteria (SIBO) and fostering the colonization of the helpful. Since putting into practice what we learned, I haven’t had a flareup in over 3 years, which also, in my opinion, led to a happy healthy pregnancy and birth.

*Diet. What goes in your mouth effects your whole body. Diet is so extremely important to overall health. While it would be nice to live off of Cheetos and fudge, we (I) just can’t consume high quantities of those foods (and the like) daily and expect to just be fine. Eventually imbalance creeps in resulting in disorder and disease.  –  I understand that this side of heaven there will always be imbalance and disease. Even the most healthy of bodies will still die. O how I look forward to the day this broken world will pass away and Jesus will make everything brand shiny and new – including this warn out body of mine. But until then, let’s make the most of the one body you have by taking good care of it and feeding it nutrient dense foods.  –  I began the healing process by following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) and transitioned to more of a paleo diet after a year or so of healing. The Brewer’s Diet was recommended to me by another HELLP overcoming mama. I followed it to the best of my ability while remaining grain-free to avoid any potential gut issues. Follow the links for more specific details. I also sought the counsel of Melanie at Food4Thought who I found through my midwife. If this is all you’ll read, the primary nutrient stressed is protein. I made a goal of consuming 100 grams of protein every day. From a grain-free protein shake (here and here) and eggs topped with homemade yogurt for breakfast, to cheese, nuts and beef sticks for snacks and a hearty portion of meat for dinner, consuming THAT much protein didn’t seem so tricky.

*Exercise. So I could use some pants kicking in this category. To be honest, I didn’t follow any major exercise program during my pregnancy; however, I DID make a point to walk everyday and I benefited a great deal from doing a select few YOGA poses every morning and evening as well as squatting for a few minutes multiple times a day (both for exercise as well as just hangin out in a deep squat).

*Supplements. (because sometimes you need a boost.) Below are the supplements I used with links included.

*Herbs. Aside from a colorful diet and high protein intake, herbs, in my opinion, contributed most to my overall wellbeing. Most of the herbs I’ll reference I consumed in the form of tea. A LOT of tea. I would steep and drink at least a quart per day of the following.

alfalfa-leaf

Alfalfa leaf. Alfalfa leaf is believed to contain essential vitamins including the entire spectrum of B-vitamins, A, D, E and K. It is also believed to be a source of iron, niacin, biotin, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium.

burdock-root

Burdock Root. “Burdock root has been valued across continents for thousands of years for its ability to purify blood and cool internal heat. Internally and externally, it has potent anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects on the human body. Recent studies also show that burdock contains phenolic acids, quercetin and luteolin, which are all powerful, health-promoting antioxidants.” draxe.com

dandelion-root

Dandelion Root. “Dandelion root has a natural diuretic effect, allowing your liver to more quickly eliminate toxins. It also helps strengthen the immune system, balance blood sugar levels, relieve heartburn and soothe digestive issues.” – drake.com

milk-thistle

Milk Thistle. “Milk thistle is an herb that’s been used for thousands of years to support liver, kidney, and gall bladder health. It contains the flavonoid silymarin, which is thought to be responsible for many of its beneficial effects, including liver protection and antioxidant, anti-viral, and anti-inflammatory properties.” – Mercola

nettle-leaf-tea-organic-1210

Nettle Leaf. Nettle leaf (also known as stinging nettles) is an herb commonly found in pregnancy teas and recommended by many herbalists and midwives. “It’s a fabulous source of vitamins and minerals, including iron, vitamins A, C and K, and potassium,” says Hirota.” – fitpregnancy.com

oatstraw

Oatstraw leaf. Oatstraw is highly nutritive, containing minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamins, and a variety of other constituents which deeply nourish the entire body and are especially soothing to the nervous system. This gentle restorative herb is for those that are cold, depleted, tired, and have “frayed nerves”3,10,12 or for the type of person who drinks too much coffee and is chronically burnt out. 13 It is also helpful for soothing and nourishing inflammatory skin conditions, building up strength in degenerative wasting conditions, and for enhancing the mood. – mountainroseherbs.com

red-raspberry-leaf

Red Raspberry Leaf. “Red raspberry leaf tea comes from the leaves of the red raspberry plant. This herbal tea has been used for centuries to support respiratory, digestive and uterine health, particularly during pregnancy and childbearing years. While usually known as a female herb, red raspberry leaf tea can also help support the prostrate and various stomach ailments in children.” – mamanatural.com

Not pictured that I also used is fennel seed and red clover leaf. I also added Mother wort to the mix POST delivery to help with uterine contracting according to the sweet gal at our local herb shop.

I’m sure I missed noting a few things. In short, eating well, moving your body, and gaining knowledge about how your body functions best is only going to help overcome HELLP. Do the research for yourself. May this journey to a healthy happy pregnancy and birth be filled with so many good things for you mama!

 

 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

HELLP Syndrome, Adoption, and Being Pregnant.

Whew. Where to begin.

Psalm 9:1-2 is a good place. “I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High. 

Meet Whittaker. Our 3.5 year old little gentleman. He’s sweet isn’t he? I’m bias, but if you’ve met him you totally follow and agree!

Asay Easter 2016-4

Let’s back up 3.5 years for just a moment. This is Whittaker immediately following his traumatic entrance into the world.

IMG_1384I was roughly 38 weeks pregnant with this sweet boy when I developed HELLP syndrome. You can read his (heated?) birth story here. After he was born and having been told it would be dangerous and/or risky for us to become pregnant again, despite feeling fairly confident we would have three biological children before adopting, we felt as though this condition was the Almighty’s way of using an awful experience for good and saying through it, ‘Start pursuing adoption now!’ So we did. Not 7 months later we were signed on with our agency and and beginning to pursue adding a sweet kiddo to our family from Eastern Europe.

Fast forward to the fall of 2015. All of our paperwork had been submitted and was in the renewal process and we had been waiting to be matched with our little love for roughly 12 months when it worked out for us to take a short trip to China to visit a few friends. You can read about that here!

I’ll pause there for a moment to fill in on, well…my feelings.

When I was pregnant with Whittaker, I had a strong feeling we would have him, one more boy, and then adopt, and when I developed HELLP syndrome and was given the medical counsel we were given, I thought, “well, perhaps I was wrong?” It took nearly two years to fully grieve and become completely content with where God had our family. We were joyful to begin the adoption process when we did and I finally, through the laying down of my own wants and desires, choosing to be content, and trusting in the goodness of my heavenly Father, was at peace with where we were. I no longer had feelings of longing upon the sight of a newborn or big bellied woman. I could even smell that new baby smell (you know the one I’m talking about) and enjoy its simplicity without a growing discontentment.

And even in my peace and believing we would no longer have another biological child, I still prayed very specific prayers over any possible future pregnancy…frequently! I would pray, ‘Lord, should we EVER become pregnant again, I just do NOT want to know. I don’t want to know that I’m pregnant until I begin to notice a growing belly or something. I don’t want to have to worry about the outcome for sooo many months.’ And I would pray, ‘Lord, the only way I would ever want to become pregnant again is if I do not become sick again.’ Those were the two things I would pray over and over again as pregnancy would come to mind. The one I prayed because in the four previous pregnancies we’ve had (2 miscarried babes, LL, and W) I knew just two DAYS after we conceived that there was a babe growing in there. I felt the same each individual time. The second I prayed because, who wants to have failing organs and a possibly pre-term newborn?

Back to China.

Remember my reference to Mr. Mai’s coffee shop/English corner? When we returned to visit with the owner, we heard about his business model, his time spent in Wuhan, as well as about his family. We in turn shared a bit of our story, about our kiddos, our adoption, etc. Toward the end of our conversation, after having gotten to know each other’s baseline stories, he turned to me and said something like, ‘You know, you sat down and I feel like I have a word from the Lord specifically for you, and I can tell you right now that you are just as pregnant right now as you were before with your other babies.’ 

Hot flash. Chest pumping (aumentan los latidos de mi corazon!). And I knew.

I replied with, ‘well, I AM 5 days late.’ And to my knowledge it was all do to the change in altitude, time, and the long flight, but as soon as the words came out of his mouth, I felt as if the Lord was saying, ‘I want you to know that I heard you – I heard your request to not know. And I want you to know.’ What a God. To clarify a bit, the owner had meant to encourage me that the kiddo we were in the process of adopting – I was just as much pregnant with him/her – he/she is just as much OURS as our bio kids. But still, I knew what God had meant through those words. And even still, we waited until we returned home to take a pregnancy test.

Less than 24 hours after landing, we purchased an in-home test which, of course, read positive.

Complete shock and denial set in. I think I probably said out loud to myself and to Tad my husband daily for the first 28 weeks, ‘We’re pregnant. There’s a baby in there. We are having a baby. This. Is. Crazy.’

Shock was followed by an attitude of, “Yeah. We’ve got this. This is great. God is good and we can trust Him. This is going to be great.”

This rockstar faith attitude was followed by depression. Anger really. I was so mad. I didn’t understand what was happening. Hadn’t I already grieved and become content with our circumstances? During this season, our church had begun singing ‘Good Good Father‘ and I. Could. Not. Sing. The lyrics are below:

You’re a Good, Good Father
It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are
And I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

Cause you are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways to us

You are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways to us

Oh, it’s love so undeniable
I, I can hardly speak
Peace so unexplainable
I, I can hardly think

As you call me deeper still [x3]
Into love, love, love

In my mind (and let’s face it – reality) God’s love hurt. I was MAD. I was mad that I wasn’t promised that I wouldn’t become sick again. Sickness had dominated my life for the past number of years in a fairly substantial way and I was done. I didn’t want any more and yet, I was being carried along in an oarless boat and there was nothing I could do but trust in the one promise I did have. That He would be with me. He would be with me. HE. HE would be with me. That’s the promise. Not that sickness wouldn’t arise again – there is no promise of that. And it took a short season of constant agony to realize how purely amazing the one thing that is promised is. I knew where I needed to be and I just wasn’t quite there yet. I knew I needed Jesus to point into even darkness and say, ‘Go there,’ with my saying ‘Yes. Okay,’ filled with complete peace and confidence.

I asked. And I asked. And I asked and one day, I understood, and He granted my request and has given me unexplainable peace regarding the outcome of this season. I know that I’m not promised a healthy pregnancy. But I’m still asking for it in very specific ways from start to finish and even in the aftermath. And I know that He will do what He will do for my ultimate good and for His own name sake. Even if that means allowing me to become sick again. (After all, HELLP syndrome led to the beginning pursuit of our adopted honey!) If you read the birth story, it was traumatic. I don’t want to go through it again. When I look at Whitterboy, I think, yes, one thousand times yes! I would go through it again for you. This thought spoke so loudly of the gospel to me. That Jesus underwent an excruciating death so that I could have life.  And not only life, but his very Spirit in me. With me. Always. So I don’t have to be afraid of any sickness or death that might come.

But. A big BIG but – not mine (too much?) – I praise GOD with my whole being that thus far at 39 weeks, my blood work has remained completely and well within normal ranges. My blood pressure has been perfect every time and there are no other signs or symptoms of any approaching preeclampsia or HELLP Syndrome. Not to say it won’t come, but for now, I am oh so grateful and I will let my gratitude be known!

While my hope is not in what I can do or any diet I can follow, but rather in the God who controls all things, He has allowed us to know that there are wise ways to live and not wise ways to live, and I am doing everything I know how to maintain a healthy body and sustain a healthy pregnancy. I have completely changed my diet since I was pregnant with Whittaker and am far healthier in general now than three years ago.

In a post to come I can share about the diet I followed and the supplements/herbs I also included to help support my body and growing babe.

 

Cheers to what’s to come! We are now so excited and thankful that God chose to give us another little arrow to add to the quiver and even more excited to see who he or she will grow to become! My mom says this about me, and I’ll say this about this babe, ‘you were planned… just not by us.’

Pray with us that this would be a completely complication free pregnancy, labor and birth.  I want to be laughing at how simple it will be and then probably crying at the goodness of God. He said I can ask – so I’m asking! Ask with us!

Linley’s fifth birthday.

Because tomorrow marks one entire year since I’ve updated our blog, though we’ve had many, I thought it timely to finally update with a big event – LL’s fifth birthday! She’s been five for nearly a month and she has been loving every minute of it! She is growing in generosity and contentment, still has plenty of spunk and has definitely not lost her strength of will. If time allowed I would comment on each and every image – for now, you’ll just have to pretend you know what’s going on and how wonderful it all was. So scroll on and check out some of the celebration of our sweet girl below! Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-2LL 5th party girlLinley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-8LL 5th partyLinley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-16Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-19LL 5th party cakeLinley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-28Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-31LL 5th party whitter cakeLinley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-33Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-34LL 5th party3Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-35Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-36LL 5th party 0-5bookLinley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-42Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-43Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-44Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-50Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-77Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-76Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-80Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-56Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-60Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-63Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-64Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-65LL 5th party 2Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-68Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-70Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-71Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-72Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-75Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-83Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-88Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-90Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-95Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-96Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-97

Whittaker’s Second Birthday celebration

Below, moving back to front, are a few of the happenings of Whittaker’s SECOND birthday celebration!! I still can’t believe he is a two year old boy. ‘They’ all say ‘it’ goes by so quickly, and it. is. true. Thank you to the family members who were able to come make the party a party (almost a month ago – so we’re a little behind)! To view any image larger just give it a click! xoxo. – Whitter’s moma.

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