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 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 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 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 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. 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 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 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.

June getaway | Sarasota

A few months ago, Tad and I decided that it’d be a good, fun and beneficial thing to get a way just the two of us, post-nursing Linley and pre-baby ‘a’ #2. So we did some research booked two flights and made our way down to Sarasota, FL. (For those of you Iowans looking for the cost effective way to do this: fly Allegiant into a nearby city, rent a car if you’ll be doing that anyhow, drive to your destination and save $.)

Tad has gotten into the habit of always asking the front desk for free room upgrades, so that we did and this is what we got!

We were a little weary of bad weather during our 2 day stay on the beach (it was my first time away from LL, so leaving Thursday morning and returning early Sunday morning for a 2 day stay was just right). The forecast was about 70% chance of rain or higher the entirety of our stay, but we resolved that if it rained, we would just go play in it!

We arrived at our destination before dinner so we were able to walk around a bit and found a place to fill our bellies. Dining outdoors when the weather is lovely is probably one of the most enjoyable things to us, so of course we opted for outdoor seating, despite the discount they offered for indoor seating. But no sooner did we start our bread and soup did the rain come’a pourin’! Can you see the splashes on the ground in the image below? We were getting wet at a table across the walk and moved to this one.

*Side Note: the dish seen on the table was the most delicious gazpacho I’ve tasted!


Praise the Lord, though, that before we were finished with our dinner, the rain went away, and we were able to enjoy an evening walk on a nearby beach.


Because we had a full kitchen and balcony to enjoy at our room, we decided to head to the downtown Sarasota Whole Foods and pick up some snacks and breakfast items to enjoy for the morning.

The cherries were so delicious – so pricey – and so delicious!


For breakfast the next morning we opted for vanilla yogurt with granola and OJ with the birdies serenading us. (We watched a bird couple build their nest just a few yards away.)


Oh, yes – coffee.


Despite the NINETY PERCENT chance of rain that day, it was sunny and warm at 9am, so we made the most of the morning and headed to the beach. This is the entrance side of our room looking out to Long Boat Key.


And this is us in our foolishness blissful ignorance – because even between the hours of 9 and 11am in the Florida sun is enough to be fried. But it was so pleasant while we didn’t realize the damage being done. We both read while listening to the ocean. We soaked in the water and enjoyed the waves. It was lovely.


And then we began to realize. So we breaked for lunch. (still not ONE sign of rain!)


After realizing just how badly burned our skin truly was, we decided it’d be wise to go get some sunscreen (we should not have assumed!), aloe, and black tea to soak in – we had heard that it was good for burns.

So we brewed a handful of bags and carefully applied it liberally. I’m not really sure just how much it helped, but at least we tried. Perhaps soaking in a bath of it would have been best.

Despite our pain, we were still able to enjoy a sweet night out with surprise company – friends from home! We found out that we’d be vacationing just a few miles apart and our time would be overlapping so why not make a double date of an evening?


We went to a fun tapas bar called Ceviche in downtown Sarasota and enjoyed dinner and conversation before returning to our homes. Oh, and THEN the 90% of rain became more of a reality when we left the restaurant to this. Tad was offered an umbrella by one of the waiters and ran to provide us with curbside pickup!

Afterwords, I was remembering how I only had a handful of photos of LL in utero, so Tad snapped a few quick ones. Thank you to my friend Lindsey for providing me with a dress to wear that night.


Needless to say, we did NOT soak out in the sun day two and last day on the beach. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t enjoy it! We drove over to Siesta Key beach to go for a walk and enjoy the less ‘shelly’ sand in our toes – tshirst + pants! – before grabbing lunch and a cabana at the beach at the resort where we stayed.


I had to take a picture of the purple/blue flag up when we came back to Long Boat Key. On the way down a little boy stopped us and said, ‘hey, there’s a shark down there.’ Tad’s response, ‘hey, cool!’ :) Not minutes after, however, people began returning to the water and enjoyed the afternoon.


And so did we. But we spent most of our time covered, reading under the cabana, and limited our time in the water and in the open rays to about 20 minutes WITH sunscreen. Even though Long Boat Key beach is much more shelly and the beach is more rough, it’s also much less populated and therefore more peaceful. Not to mention, Tad found a souvenir as we were exiting the water.


All the shells washed ashore:


Let me just take a moment to confess just one of the many reasons why I love Tad. He is a planner and thinks of things that I, well, I do not. One reason we only had two nights in Sarasota was because he knew that our flight was leaving early and that we’d still have an hour or so drive back to St. Petersburg where we flew in to. So instead of sleeping there one more night, we booked a hotel in St. Petersburg near the airport and enjoyed an evening out there. We parked downtown, enjoyed a meal (you guessed it – out doors! In fact, I don’t think we ate inside once on our trip!) and then guess what we did?! We went to a MOVIE! Something we almost never do at home. Dinner AND a movie is just too long of a date to have someone stay at our place to babysit, so we usually opt for the dinner or dessert portion and skip a movie/other entertainment altogether. Not this night though! We went for it!

Tad at ‘Muvico’ downtown St. Petersburg.


Tad being fun and my red face before seeing the Hunger Games.


We then packed our bags so they were ready for the morning, rested for a few hours, boarded the plane and flew home.

It was a lovely – well worth it – weekend June getaway, and I’m looking forward to more of these shorties. It was just the right amount of time, as we were (I was especially) ready to return home to the little babe. I had heard awful stories of feelings of abandonment when parents left for a few days, so I was a bit anxious. But LL acted as though we’d been gone for an hour and was just as happy as could be! She even saved a surprise for us until we returned home!

Too bad she’s struttin’ around in her dipe, but we’ll take it. Just one day shy of 14 months! Way to go Little Lady! Welcome home to us!