Saturday, June 1, 2013

Shannon Speaks: The Connection Between Celiac and Fertility Problems

Shannon starts off The Gluten Free Health Challenge with the post that resonated with so many readers. She entered the contest to become part of this challenge, and was chosen as one of three winners. The following is what she shared with us all.

Shannon will be posting her journal entries on the first 3 Saturdays of every month from now until December. During this time, she'll be receiving free health coaching from Georgianna Dolan-Reilly of Celtic Celiac and Iris Higgins of Your Fairy Angel.  

Hi Iris,

I came across your blog this afternoon while googling GF and Celiac. I saw the challenge and thought, what a great way to begin this journey. Here's my story:

My husband and I will be married four years this July. In October 2010, I found out I was pregnant. We were over the moon. Several weeks later, I miscarried on December 1, 2010. I thought my world had ended. There couldn't possibly be any pain worse than this.

We continued our journey to become parents. After my miscarriage and D&C, I hadn't gotten my period. My OB/GYN gave me medicine to jump-start it. I would get my period, then it wouldn't come back. Finally, after several months of this, he also had me take Clomid to help me get pregnant and it worked! My cycles were so irregular that I had no idea when I was ovulating. We were so excited, yet terrified of another miscarriage. I felt like I held my breath until the end of the first trimester. Then, the day before Thanksgiving, I had my level 2 scan to make sure the baby was healthy. It was then that the tech discovered that he did not have a diaphragm on his left side.

On December 6, 2011, I went for my first appointment at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. We were there thirteen hours, and learned about a possibly fatal birth defect that neither of us had heard of before. My son had a left-sided congenital diaphragmatic hernia. He had a 50/50 chance of survival.

I was told to stay pregnant and enjoy it. On April 6, 2012 at 9:07pm, I delivered a 9 pound 2 ounce, 21 1/2 inch baby boy, who we named Michael Thomas. Michael did not cry upon being born; he wasn't able to. His intestines, stomach, and part of his liver were all in his chest cavity due to the lack of diaphragm. He was rushed to the NICU and I was brought down and hour or so later. I knew it wasn't good because they brought me down right after my C-section.

At 4:03am, Michael left us to be with the angels in heaven.

When I thought my miscarriage the previous year was the end of the world, I was wrong. No pain can ever compare to that of losing a child.

Several months after losing Michael, my husband and I began to see a fertility specialist since my menstrual cycle was never normal and we needed someone to help us. I have taken fertility medications in pill form and I've spent days injecting myself with hormones. Finally, after eight months, on January 1, 2013, I had a positive pregnancy test. I was under close supervision with my specialist, but despite the baby having a strong heartbeat, my hormone levels kept dropping, and on February 6, 2013, I had another miscarriage. Sadly, it was nowhere as emotionally painful as the first or losing my son.

At that point, I began to become more vigilant with what I are and my exercise routines. I lost about ten pounds in a two month period, and the day before what would have been Michael's first birthday, I had a positive pregnancy test. I thought it to be a blessing from God and my angel baby. 

Back to being under constant supervision with the doctor, but to no avail. About two weeks later, I miscarried again. It was at this point my doctor sent me for a full genetics panel of blood. Eighteen vials later we were hoping to get some results. This week I received a call from them that in my bloodwork, the markers for Celiac were very high. I saw a GI doctor yesterday, and upon reviewing my blood, he confirmed that they were, indeed, quite high. He is performing an endoscopy on Monday to confirm that I do have Celiac.

What I didn't know what that there is a strong connection between Celiac and miscarriage/infertility. Apparently even though I had never been physically ill or had outward signs of a gluten issue, my intestines were so damaged that my body couldn't absorb the nutrients and pass them along to my fetus, hence the losses. So I am changing my diet not only because I have to - and in the end, will feel much better and healthier - I am doing it for the chance to be allowed to have a strong, healthy child that I will get to hold in my arms more than once. A child that cries and keeps me up all night. A child that I will have to wash crayons off of the wall. A child who will need a cheering section at their first little league/pop warner/cheerleading/dance event. A child that will come home after his/her first date and be embarrassed to tell me how the date went, but by looking at their face, I will know they had experienced their first kiss. A child who will attend a prom. A child who I will help plan and escort down the aisle at their wedding. A child that will make me a grandmother. A child that will have to bury his/her parents, and not a parent that has to bury my child again.

So that's my story. No more, no less. Whether I am chosen for this challenge, I will be making a lifestyle change to hopefully fix all of this and be able to have all that I want and deserve.

Have a lovely day,


mel m. m. mccarthy said...

Hi Shannon, I'm so grateful for your post. First, let me say that I'm so sorry for the loss you've experienced. I've struggled with infertility for years and only recently found out that I have food sensitivities. All of my research points in the same direction. I look forward to hearing about your journey & wish you the very best of everything along the way! ox

Dorothy said...

Hi Shannon, Your post touched me so much. I don't have any children, but my heart was right there with you as I was reading your story. You wrote it so well. I can't wait to hear how this gluten free challenge impacts your life. Another thing that struck me is that you are in a happy relationship dealing with these health issues. In fact, the other challengers are also in relationships, married or about to get married. So that is inspiring for me as well......that there are men out there who can handle it.....should I ever decide I don't want to stay single. I look forward reading your next post, and the next and the next. Big hug to you, Dorothy

Shann said...

Thanks ladies. Until we found out that I had a gluten issue, I never knew that could be the reason why I was miscarrying. It didn't make sense to me. So here's to hoping that eliminating it and being healthier, will solve the problem. Dorothy, my hubby is amazing. We went out for pizza the other day, and he could have had a regular pizza while I got my GF (this was my first GF pizza and we went to an organic restaurant, so it was a new experience for us both) but he said no, he was eating the GF as well. Said it was one of the best pizzas he has had, mainly because the crust was thin and crunchy, exactly how he likes it. If it weren't for Sean, I wouldn't be able to be doing as well as I have been. He's my rock.


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