After all of the testing, failed fertility treatments and more discussed in Part 1 and Part 2, I was craving a resolution to it all.
I talked to someone who said it sounded like I have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), due to my daily bloating and constipation, even when eating super healthy, clean meals.
Sugar snap peas and other veggies made me feel awful. I was also at my lowest weight because there were some days I didn’t eat much since I was so uncomfortable. I was referred to a local gastroenterologist, who does the breath test needed to diagnose SIBO. He felt like my last resort to get more answers about my body.
Well, after waiting for an appointment and driving 45 minutes from home, he refused to order the test. Instead, he gave me a medication for constipation with bloating as a side effect. No thanks. What is with these doctors?! I left feeling super discouraged and angry that as a healthy, young person with questions about her health, I was not heard nor valued.
It took me months, but I found a naturopathic doctor who could order the testing for $500. I wanted answers. Low and behold-I had severely high levels of hydrogen in my small intestines, meaning I did indeed have SIBO! This means there's bacteria in the small intestines and by eating certain foods, it feeds the bacteria and it release gasses, causing severe bloating and other digestive and health issues. I decided to focus on this area and hopefully that would help lead me to a healthy pregnancy when my body was ready…
Once I had the SIBO diagnosis, I started researching even more. I joined a Facebook group with over 18,000 members with this frustrating digestive issue. Sadly, I was seeing there was no simple fix to get rid of this bacteria in my small intestines. There were even people on feeding tubes because they couldn’t eat and digest food besides liquid. I personally tried to follow a low FODMAP diet, but it was super restrictive and I still ended up bloated by the end of every day.
I was grateful for answers, but I didn’t know what to do next. SIBO is not well-known, so most doctors don’t understand how to help besides prescribing antibiotics, which I didn’t want to jump into.
I heard about a new Doctor of Oriental Medicine here on Cape Cod, specializing in women’s health. She listened to my long health history and started a variety of modalities from acupuncture to herbs to cupping to scraping and much more. It took a little while, but I started to see some progress. My cycles started to shorten a bit and my digestive issues weren’t as severe. But I was still struggling to keep weight on because of my limited caloric daily intake.
I continued working with her consistently and had another emotional year...
There was one weekend in early summer where my 56-year old uncle and a family friend’s 12-year old son both suddenly passed away. 24 hours later, we found out my other grandmother, my Noni, had breast cancer. I just remember being in shock. I didn’t know how to feel. It was such a devastating time in my family and community. I was also planning my 3rd Hope & Peace Retreat for the following week and had to reschedule or I would have missed my uncle’s funeral.
Not even three months later, my dad’s other younger brother began declining from cancer and we were told he didn’t have long. I spent time driving an hour to be with him and family and visiting my sick grandmother in between. (This is when I realized my gratitude to have my own businesses with a flexible schedule and support.)
All of that grief worsened when my period came. It was such an intense time in my life that really affected me moving forward. I remember crying myself to sleep quite a few times because of the heartache I felt and not knowing what to do. I really tried to trust and understand that there was a plan and I couldn’t control it all. But that wasn’t always easy.
Looking back, I think it taught me so much about life and the momma I would become. My priorities were shifting from working so much to being present and embracing the emotions in life. I learned patience, gratitude and hope.
In the meantime, I launched my HOPE Spray, to give my clients, myself and others a chance to breathe and find a sense of peace throughout the chaos. We sprayed it in my uncle's bedroom while he continued to weaken.
I continued to travel, spend time with family and friends, and enjoy each day, even though it wasn't always easy. I was also prepping for the retreat I had rescheduled. The weekend came and it was absolutely beautiful. The women were so open and it was a very powerful experience. I was getting updates that my uncle had been put on morphine and he passed away the next day. Even though we knew it was coming, it was so hard to watch my cousins lose their father and my dad lose another brother, especially in such a short time.
It was not the summer I had imagined and we headed into the fall depleted and still not pregnant. During this time, I had friends who literally got married and had not one, but TWO kids within those four years! And I had friends who sadly had miscarriages, which was so hard to witness. I didn’t understand that loss, but feel we could relate in some ways.
My life coaching brand is all about giving women hope. And although we never gave up hope, there was times I felt like saying f*** all of this. It’s too hard. I’m lost. But that is where the beauty of action met up with surrender…
I kept going to my acupuncture sessions and following her protocol. I had daily self-care and time with positive people. John and I attended out-of-state weddings and focused more on our marriage, since we had a few busy, rough years and lost some connection.
I visited my Noni often as she continued to decline. Then the holidays arrived and my sister was planning her big move out to California, which was extremely sad for me since we are so close. I remember feeling slightly depressed that Christmas. Not much felt like it was going “my way”...
I went on Facebook and saw two pregnancy announcements and burst into hyperventilating tears in front of my whole family. It was at that point I knew I wanted to look further into In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). I didn’t want another holiday season to go by without being pregnant or having a baby. John and I weren’t entirely ready for IVF before then because we knew there were hormone shots and it was more invasive. However, we felt we had done everything we could naturally up to that point and we were ready to take the next step, especially since I was feeling better physically.
I got in touch with Boston IVF, who made us repeat the testing since it had been awhile and they needed it for insurance to approve our treatment. Luckily, Massachusetts was the first state to enact a mandate requiring insurance companies to cover fertility treatments and procedures after one year of trying to conceive. It is only one of 15 states that have a law like this in place.
During this time, I went to visit my sister who had just moved out to California. Time with her and sunshine helped me to de-stress. While there, I found out we were approved to adopt a puppy, which brought me joy through such a rough time. I was craving being a mom and adding another rescue pet to our family gave me something to look forward to.
We were then told our Noni was put on morphine and declining rapidly. We went to Little Italy in San Diego and celebrated our sweet Italian grandmother. She passed away the next day, while I was on the plane coming home. It brought up so much more grief, but I was happy I spent as much time with her beforehand and she was no longer suffering. She was now with my Papa, two of her sons and many others she lost along the way.
The hardest part was knowing my beloved Nana and Noni wouldn’t meet our child here on earth. That still upsets me, but I know they have been my angels throughout this experience, constantly sending signs when I need them. I'll share more about this in the next post...
Unfortunately, my health insurance canceled accidentally through all of this, creating a curveball and extra stress and doubt. But once we got that resolved, things started moving forward. We were told we could do IVF in March, but we had a trip planned to California with my parents and grandfather. We decided it would be best to wait until we were back in April to get started. We had a wonderful time and John and I even extended our time there to get more rest before our IVF journey would begin...
Thank you for being here! I know this is quite a bit of information to absorb, but I want to give as much insight as possible so it gives others hope. The final part will be all about our IVF journey. I am thrilled to share it since I journaled daily and learned so much.
Any advice or recommendations shared here is for informational purposes only. I am not a doctor and each person is very unique so this is not to diagnose or treat you. However, if you would like to connect one on one, I offer a free phone consultation to give you a sense of hope and some tools to help you move forward on your journey.
Click here to schedule a call before I take maternity leave this winter.
Continue reading the final part:
Part 4: Our IVF Journey