Tag Archives: Pcos

Introducing…

Isaac James Rollins

Born 7/28/2013 

7 lbs 5 oz

20.5 inches long

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Sunday, the 28th, at 37 weeks, 4 days pregnant, I slept in due to a killer sinus headache. When I finally got up at 1:30, my parents were congregating in the living room and I joined them to chat, and also began to talk to Edgar over text. I shared with all of them that I had a “feeling” that the baby was coming this week. Part of my reasoning was that while I hadn’t had any Braxton Hicks, I had felt mild menstrual-like cramps very occasionally throughout my third trimester, and I had been feeling them every night for the past week. I wondered, “could this be my body’s version of prodromal labor?” and started getting this feeling I may not even last through the weekend, though I didn’t share that specific detail with my parents or Edgar, not wanting to alarm them.

Then, while sitting there, my water broke.

Not a little bit. A LOT. Niagra Falls, a LOT. And it didn’t stop!

I jumped up and just stood there, on the laminate floor, sort of in shock, until I could gather myself to call Edgar (with whom I was still engaged in text conversation) to tell him my water broke and he needed to do whatever he needed to do to get clearance to come down here ASAP. Then I called my doula. As luck would have it, ALL THREE of her AUGUST clients went into labor the SAME WEEKEND. In fact, she was with one client at the time, who also had her water break (by the way, water breaking before the onset of labor only happens in about 10-12% of births, despite what the movies show!), and that client was also delivering at Harris, where I was to be delivering. She told me she didn’t expect me to give birth until the next morning and to keep her informed and she’d send a backup doula my way and try to share time between us. Then I called L&D to let them know I’d be coming in soon.

Since I tested Group B Strep negative and my fluid was clear, we took our time getting out the door. We secured a flight for Edgar, which would be coming in at 10pm, and gathered our things. I blew up Facebook with a status update. Two hours later as we were heading out the door, I started feeling more cramping that came and went. I knew this was really early labor and I still couldn’t time them, though halfway to the hospital, in the car, I could.

I checked into maternal observation at about 4:30, and my contractions were about two minutes apart, 30 seconds long, and still pretty mild. As luck would have it, all of L&D AND maternal observation was full! There was a running joke that there was something in the air, because just about every woman in there came in because her water broke (remember that 10-12% statistic? Hah!). I sat (on a bunch of towels) in the waiting room with my parents for about an hour before I was brought back. By that time my contractions were still 2 minutes apart and a full minute in length, and slightly stronger.

The nurse checked me and got really confused. She wasn’t sure what she was feeling, but she said it didn’t feel right. She sent for the midwife, who was at first thinking she was feeling the wrong cervix (I have uterine didelphys-double uterus with double cervix), so she checked me herself. Nope, something wasn’t right. That wasn’t a head they were feeling. The brought me to another room where they did an ultrasound and they found that my baby had somehow turned into the transverse position with his legs in some funky yoga move. One foot was tucked behind him while the other was folded in front, tucked into my pelvis, against my cervix… with the umbilical cord. Game over. With his position and the threat of a cord prolapse, there was only one way this child could come out safely, and that was a c-section.

It took a little while to process, but my doula, who managed to take a break from her other client to spend time with me, reminded me that this was one of those few instances we discussed in our childbirth classes where a cesarean was absolutely necessary. She also reminded me that it’s a very good thing that Isaac “picked his own birthday,” and that every contraction I was feeling was not in vain–they were stimulating catecholamines, amino acids that are beneficial to his immunity. I found peace in that. My next concern was that Edgar was now on a plane somewhere on a four-hour flight en route to Texas, and the chances of him arriving before the birth were now next to nil. 

It took an hour and a half to prep me for surgery. In the meantime my contractions got much stronger and started to piggyback (I learned later this often happens with malpresenting babies). My mom and doula worked with me through just about every contraction, massaging my legs, blunting the sharpness of the pain.

I was wheeled into surgery a little after 8, and at 8:31, he was here. My mom took pictures while my doula rubbed my forehead and exclaimed, “your uterus is SO COOL!” Haha! 

He had a lot of fluid in his lungs, so they had to suction him out pretty quickly, so delayed cord clamping and immediate skin-to-skin wasn’t exactly an option, but they brought me to him as soon as he was breathing and wiped down. I held him on my chest while my midwife sutured up my incisions. He was beautiful. He looked just like Edgar except that he had my lips!

I was wheeled back into L&D to recover for a little bit, and my dad arrived with Edgar in tow at about 10:45. 

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Several days later my midwife chatted with us about what she, the surgeon, and the other midwives think happened. Isaac had been faithfully in the vertex position every week, even up to my last midwife appointment two days before delivery. It’s possible that after my water broke, my second, non-pregnant uterus put pressure on the other one and encouraged him to flip with each contraction. Another thought is that the force of my membranes breaking “flushed” him into transverse. We can’t really know for sure, but that if my membranes break prematurely next time, she advises I come to the hospital right away.

She also spoke very positively of my candidacy for a VBAC, telling me that they had done a low transverse incision (most common these days) and double-layer stitched my uterus (not very common these days) to preserve its strength as much as possible. She also said that my pregnant uterus was very healthy-looking. On the other hand, she told me that my second uterus looked “rudimentary” and probably wouldn’t sustain a healthy pregnancy in the off-chance I was even able to get pregnant in that side. This isn’t exactly news to me, but it’s good to have a bit extra information about my second uterus.

While I am going to have to wait a bit longer for my natural birth, I am blessed with the healthy little boy I have now. 

Sons are a heritage from the Lord; children a reward from Him.
Psalm 127:3

He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the Lord.
Psalm 113:9

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(All photos taken by Katie Sanders Photography)

What change a year has brought

 

2012 was a year of subtle, but important change. I didn’t change jobs or do anything drastic like that, like I had in 2011. 2012 was quiet and subdued for the most part, it was a year of preparation for what is to come in 2013.

 

In May, Edgar completed his double-major in Business and Music, and began a journey toward a commission in the U.S. Navy. Shortly after my last post, he received his professional recommendation, then his final select letter, then official swore in a few weeks ago. He will be leaving in a few short weeks to begin his training as a Naval officer.

Around that same time, we discovered another equally exciting pieces of news, which has turned our world upside down in the best way possible:

 

 

Baby Rollins has been given an estimated due date of 8/14/13, though given my double uterus, could be expected to come in July!

This is why I haven’t posted lately. I have been sick between the flu and morning sickness and relentless fatigue, but this week I am working to push forward through the progesterone-induced fog and get this house ready for our impending move, and revive my writing.

Sometime soon, I will go into a bit more detail of the changes I went through before getting pregnant (hint: it involves a lot of eggs and butterfat). For me, conceiving without medication or struggle, while having PCOS, was a big deal, and it deserves its own post.

 

What major change has the last year brought for you?

Metamorphosis

It’s August!

This month is always pretty meaningful to me. Not only is it my birthday month (!!!), but it means the worst part of the year is over and every month from here on out gets better and better!

But this year, in particular, is even more special.

Today marks one year since I began my journey in gluten-free eating. I can’t say that I’ve been entirely gluten free for a year, because that’s obviously not true. But one year ago this week I began my elimination diet which ultimately led me on a journey that has shaped me in ways I couldn’t have possibly imagined before.

On top of reducing (and eliminating over long batches of time) gluten, thus making my chronic and severe seasonal allergies virtually disappear, I’ve changed my thinking regarding proper nutrition, particularly in the treatment of my PCOS (which was diagnosed two months after the beginning of my elimination diet).

The turning point

Before last August, I followed something of a “flexitarian” diet. I eschewed most animal proteins in favor of legumes, nuts, and whole grains. Part of this was an economic choice, one I still have to balance, but I felt somehow more virtuous that way in my flawed logic. But what I was really doing was making myself sick, and after several months of this I realized that my body’s ache for more animal products was increasing dramatically. I would wake up every morning feeling like death. I seemed to have headaches all day, every day. My cycles were getting more and more irregular. I was cranky and irritable, and even more so during the weeks I ate no meat at all. After a very unhelpful discussion with my (now former) physician, I sought the advice of holistic practitioner, Kristien Boyle (husband of blogger, Caitlyn Boyle). Through email consultations he led me through a lot of discussion about my symptoms and ordered me a hormonal test panel which revealed several imbalances, most noteworthy being my high estrogen, high DHEA, low cortisol, and low 17-OH progesterone. He also is the one who ordered me to being the elimination diet and urged me to continue being gluten free when I had doubts that it was working. He was also the first to be convinced I had PCOS—even when I doubted him. I went back to my gynecologist and demanded to be tested for PCOS, despite his reservations. Suspicions were confirmed and I was officially diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Dr. Boyle then prescribed a number of lifestyle and dietary changes in order to treat my endocrine imbalances. He wanted to me drastically reduce my carbohydrate intake, and always start the day with a protein-rich breakfast, and to never eat a carb without a protein or fat source, in addition to remaining gluten free. My views on nutrition had to undertake a grand metamorphosis. No longer could I focus on calories and following some trend. No longer was it about keeping the same jean size. Everything revolved around bringing my body into a state of healthy normalcy. And these efforts have led to me to a “new” idea of nutrition. Instead of a semi-vegetarian diet, I’d say my diet pulls mostly from the idea of Weston A. Price and the Primal Blueprint.

A typical day, a year ago might have looked like this:

Breakfast: Overnight oats with banana, soy milk, and peanut butter OR a peanut butter sandwich on homemade whole wheat bread

Lunch: Canned black beans, sweet potato, and sauteed spinach

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Dinner: Some dish with beans substituted for meat OR potatoes roasted in oil, steamed green vegetable, and a small portion of animal protein

Snack: a Clif bar, a bag of trail mix, and fruit. Yes, all of them.

 

 

And a typical day now (is there really such thing as a typical day??):

 

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with salsa and Monterey jack cheese, and a corn tortilla or two OR Omelet with spinach and mozzarella, side of sweet potato (3-4 oz). Eggs are cooked in either butter or rendered lard (local). Fruit optional, but not typical (I find most fruit too sugary that early in the morning). I also usually drink water for breakfast, or a water with a splash of apple cider vinegar and local raw honey. Other days, I drink tea, like this pictured chai, or mint green tea. I’ll also mention that I’ve gotten the corn tortilla-making down to a fast and furious art. I don’t use a recipe anymore and I practically don’t measure. They take as long to whip up as it takes to boil an egg.

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Lunch: Salad with nuts, seeds, fruit, cheese, with either turkey or sardines+GF toast/crackers+butter OR beans cooked with a local ham hock and homemade beef stock, with a side of green vegetable

Dinner: Some kind of moderately-portioned (4-6 oz) animal protein (or more eggs if budget is tight), green vegetable with melted butter and salt, and if we are especially hungry, a bit of potato (sweet or regular) on the side, served with more butter.


(Photo taken by John during dinner. Admittedly a light dinner, but we weren’t famished)

Snack: I’m not usually hungry, but I might roll a bit of turkey and cheese together if hunger strikes at work. If I have cherries or some other super-seasonal fruit, I’d eat it. Occasionally I blend nuts and unsweetened dried fruit together into a sort of nut-heavy larabar-type confection. Or I just down a spoonful of almond butter.

 

New balance

No longer do I fear saturated and animal fats (side note: yes, there is a distinction. Most animal fats are not more than 50% saturated. Pork and poultry fat are typically more than 60% monounsaturated—the same type of heart healthy fat found in massive proportion in olive oil and avocadoes). I have limited my starchy carbs to the normal context of a meal, in serving sizes that do not exceed the amount of protein on my plate. I feel like I’ve found a sort of balance of macronutrients that works best for me. Not too much carb (my cycles go crazy and my blood sugar roller-coasters), not too little carb (it stresses out my body and causes me to bleed erratically and highly abnormally). With exception of the month where my body was dealing with the results of too little carb, and the couple months of “recovery” since, I have found my body inching closer and closer to a real sense of health. My cycles are the closest to normal and regular than they have ever been in my entire life. My headaches are more of a rarity than a rule. I don’t wake up bright-eyed and busy-tailed, but within minutes I feel ready to face the day—rarely feeling like I need to take a sick day. My journey is still in a state of flux. I am constantly learning more and more about how to help myself without the aid of pharmaceuticals. I will continue to experiment, and I may take a few steps back sometimes, but it’s a learning process. The endocrine system is a strange animal. But so am I. So I’m up for the challenge.

 

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How has your diet changed in the past year or two?

Seven

 

Here are seven things I’m liking right now!

 

1. Not having TV

About a week and a half ago Edgar and I decided to cancel our cable television service. There was never anything good on anyway, and we figured the extra $20 a month could be better spent elsewhere. I already knew that most the time I had the TV on, it was for white noise, so I reasoned with myself, knowing that if I wanted white noise, I could turn on Pandora or a TV show on Netflix. It’s been a week and a half since we have watched traditional television, and we don’t miss it at all! It’s so nice not having to see or hear television commercials all the time! And as a bonus, we’re spending our time better now since we don’t have the TV as a time suck.

And just for an FYI, I am currently listening to some bluesy, classic rock and roll, and I love it!

2. Baby Johnson

After months of being told that they were having a GIRL, Justin and Aubrey were surprised with an 8 lb, 11 oz, 20” long baby BOY! Little Joshua William Johnson made his public debut a week ago today! I’m so happy for my dear friends!

I got him this onesie!!

 

3. Bread baking

I’ve been going crazy over here with bread baking. In the past week I have baked two different loaves of gluten free bread, and I have a gluten free sourdough starter in the process of growing, feasting, and fermenting on my counter right now.

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I’ve already decided it going into two different loaves—a gluten free sourdough from Get Off Gluten, and a soaked spelt sourdough recipe I’m adapting from this page. I have not been tested for Celiac disease yet, but to do so I need to be eating gluten to some extent. I don’t plan on getting testing until at earliest this summer so in the meantime I think I’m going to utilize soaked spelt and kamut recipes for my yeasted breads and remain gluten-free for everything else. I already know that I tolerate spelt and kamut better than regular wheat. Perhaps soaking (to reduce gut-irritating phytic acid) will help even further? We’ll see.

In addition to this, I’ve been stalking The Fresh Loaf a great deal. I love that place. It’s a big forum for amateur (or not???) bakers. They toss around terms like “autolyse” and “dough hydration” and I have to refer to a glossary when I read just about any post, but the learning experience excites me!

 

4. Birth Without Fear

 

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I was introduced to this blog through a fellow homeschool graduate over facebook. With half the people around me having babies and my unabashed interest in obstetrics and gynecology (a seed planted during my uterine didelphys diagnosis at age 12, no doubt), the concept of birth has been on the brain. It is fascinating to see how starkly different modern American obstetrical protocol is from traditional practices of childbirth worldwide. The average American hospital these days only knows two births—a medicated and “controlled” vaginal birth or a cesarean section, which is quickly becoming more the norm than not. Whatever happened to uncomplicated births? How did people handle breech births before c-sections became protocol? How did people manage labor before the epidural? I’m not against hospitals or medical intervention when necessary, but these questions intrigue me.

5. Honey

But not to eat!

For the past almost-year I have been washing my face with it! Honey is a natural antiseptic, and ayurvedic medicine suggests it is good for oily skin, so I decided to give it a whirl. And it works! My skin started clearing up when I quit washing my face with products containing salicylic acid, and when I made the switch to honey instead of commercial face wash, my skin got even better! If only I knew this as a preteen, then maybe I wouldn’t have spent so much money on junky creams and washes!

6. Pinterest

I have been on Pinterest since last summer, and since then my boards have become a mess of random pins. I have done quite a bit of re-organization in the past few weeks, though, and now I have some boards dedicated exclusively to baking, gluten free foods, and vegetarian recipes! Check them out! (Feel free to check out the rest of my boards as well! Winking smile )

 

7. Fertility Friend

T.M.I. ALERT!

While many use this program to help them get pregnant (or avoid pregnancy, using Fertility Awareness Method), I use it to track the progress of my PCOS management. Since I’m not taking pharmaceuticals to manage my hormone levels, I have to pay attention to my body’s signals and how they respond to lifestyle choices. I take my temps every morning at 7AM. I have a special alarm on my phone, a thermometer by my bed, and an app on my phone I use to log my temps before rolling over and going back to sleep. I later plug in my temps and any other symptoms I’m feeling (headache, cramps, irritability, climate of the netherworld, etc.) as well as things like what medication I took and if I exercised. Then, when it believes it has enough information, it calculates which day I probably ovulated (if I ovulated all!) and seeing the chart patterns over time helps indicate a specific hormonal imbalance that may need tending to.

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An abormally…normal…ish chart. This was last month—the shortest cycle I have EVER had, and the earliest day of ovulation I have ever observed (it’s normally observed around day 19 for me). Exercise (the 02 spot at the bottom) obviously managed my hormones levels to the point where my cortisol rose, my DHEA lowered, and my cycle didn’t last so frickin long. Of course, my scary low follicular phase temps might be a cause for thyroid concern despite my “normal” TSH blood test results. Another typical part of PCOS treatment I need to consider.

And in case you are wondering, no, we are not planning for children in the near future. We have some career and possible relocation decisions to make before then. Winking smile

Fight Like a Girl

This weekend I had the pleasure of participating in the Lubbock Race for the Cure.

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I’ve said before that I don’t like running, but I do enjoy 5K races. And of all the 5Ks I’ve “run” (Okay… like.. 4), this one was easily my favorite.

The atmosphere of hundreds and thousands of people all gathering together in shades of pink, with smiles, with pride, with signs on their backs stating the name and/or relationship they have with the “1 in 8” they are running for…

“I’m running in celebration of the best grandma in the world!”

“I’m running in memory of my sister…”

 

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On Saturday we ran/jogged/walked/congregated for something bigger than burning calories. There wasn’t an attitude of athletic competition. It was about coming together for the greater good. It was about raising money for the cure as well as implementing those habits that help one heal. There were many survivors at the race. There were many who will face cancer themselves someday.

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I didn’t wear a sign because I didn’t see that particular table in the registration room (oops). But if I had, it would read, “I’m running in celebration of my super-mom, Linda Sanders!”

My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in January of last year. Several months later, after a double mastectomy, she became a cancer survivor. She has since changed her life and her health for the better.

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My mom with part of her surgical team

She has also documented her cancer journey in a series of photographs, which she has presented to various audiences in hospitals and otherwise.

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As long as I’ve known my mom (hah!) she’s always been an adamant about patient advocacy. When she was diagnosed with cancer, she wasn’t given many options, but she wasn’t satisfied with what she was told. She did her research and found a doctor who would perform a different operation—one that wasn’t widely performed. She had to travel to San Antonio (roughly five hour drive) for her surgeries and doctors visits, but she got what she wanted. And she is now cancer free.

I may also say that I was running for myself.

Yesterday I was officially diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). While this endocrine disorder itself is not that dangerous, ignoring it (and the lifestyle habits that exacerbate it) could cause a snowball effect of other more serious health problems, such as infertility, diabetes, heart disease, and different cancers. I am blessed because my healthy habits over the past two years have reduced my symptoms to the point where I am a mild case. I visited my OBGYN for my annual checkup and presented my symptoms and they were brushed off as ‘nothing’. I wasn’t satisfied. I visited a holistic practitioner who strongly suggested that I may have PCOS (which I doubted—until I did my research and compared it with my own symptoms and medical history). I went back to my OBGYN insisting that I be screened for it. Turns out my holistic doctor was right!

I am not afraid of PCOS, cancer, diabetes, or any other malady of the body. There is no reason for me to feel anything less than empowered by it! My mom didn’t shrink and shrivel when she was diagnosed with cancer. She did something about it! She got rid of the bugger and has been doing what she can in order to prevent cancer from returning! She has been spreading awareness of both breast cancer itself and being your own health advocate. She effectively fights not only for herself but for her family, friends, and strangers she meets on Facebook. Winking smile

I now fight a similar fight. Maybe not as presently dangerous, but a threat nonetheless. In a way, I fight for stability. I fight for balance. I fight for awareness. Simply being aware of my PCOS helps me in the future. It helps me be more conscious of how food, exercise, and stress affect me. It helps me make others aware. PCOS affects about 10% of women of childbearing age and is the most common cause of subfertility/infertility in women in the United States. It is often a precursor to heart disease and diabetes, and if left ignored can also lead to endometriosis, uterine cancer, and to some extent (in the case of estrogen dominance, which occurs frequently with PCOS patients, including myself) breast cancer.

We fight for the future. That way we can show others that illness can be reversed, prevented, and controlled. We don’t have to be crippled by it. It cannot and should not get in the way of living a full, happy, and loving life.

 

Who do you fight for?

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