Before trying to get pregnant I would have thought I was the picture of health. Rarely ill with ailments like the common cold, my only main complaint was my hypothyroidism, which I thought was being managed properly until earlier this year. That’s the thing about being young: usually our bodies are resilient and even if we have unknown issues like MTHFR happening in the background, toxins build up silently and physical symptoms sometimes don’t present until later in life.
Trying to get pregnant brought many health issues to my attention and led me to the discovery of my genetic issue and also the fact that my body wasn’t converting the T4 I was taking into T3, which is an essential process for those taking only T4 thyroid medication like Synthroid or Levothyroxine. When doctors say that birth control pills, which I took for almost a decade, mask underlying problems, I never thought that would apply to me. Of course, having MTHFR meant that I never should have taken hormonal birth control to begin with. File under lessons learned too late.
The start of this year was tremendously difficult and physically and emotionally draining. After trying for months to get pregnant I had a very early miscarriage in February. It was so early that we didn’t even tell our families about it (if you’re reading, sorry everyone). The emotions were mixed. We were elated that we could actually become pregnant, yet terribly sad that we were going to have to wait longer to become parents. We toyed with the idea of trying again right away but I wanted to get my thyroid in order. As we were living overseas at the time as expats, this was very difficult. The Norwegian healthcare system can be difficult to navigate and I couldn’t even get the medication I needed over there.
Around late March I had some strange symptoms that came on suddenly. My body felt overloaded and I have come to learn that all the folic acid and unmethylated B vitamins I had been taking for over a year under the advice of pregnancy books and websites was a likely cause of the strain on my system. I can pretty much separate my life into pre-February 2013 and post-February 2013. Following the miscarriage I have been struggling with side effects: anemia, tinnitus, headaches and intermittent fatigue.
Luckily we were moving to the United States to live and I could investigate my health issues further. I found out about my MTHFR about six weeks after our move. Of course, the move itself was full of angst and stress: I think events unfolded like toppling dominoes, one stressful event crashed into the next one and now my body is desperately trying to recover. My first choice of doctors here was an awful one, so I’ve been delayed a couple of months in getting to the bottom of my issues.
This week I finally saw two new doctors who are some of the best in our local area. The wait was worth it. I have made complaints about doctors before on this blog and I still think the truly good ones are few and far between. I blame the entire healthcare system, which is broken. But when I find doctors who are obviously dedicating their lives to their work and have bravely pushed the boundaries when it comes to the exceptional care of their patients, I’ll be the first to sing their praises. My new endocrinologist was fully knowledgeable about my thyroid issues and even took the MTHFR seriously, referring me to a maternal fetal medicine specialist who I will see for a pre-pregnancy consult in a few weeks. She is running more tests, including a saliva cortisol test just to rule out adrenal issues. I also have a new internal medicine doctor who is fully knowledgeable about MTHFR. She treats fibromyalgia patients routinely and knew exactly what to do with me. That is such a relief.
So we’ve put TTC on ice for the time being. Fertility specialist, Iva Keene, recommends 120 days of any new health regimen to allow time for your body to heal. My acupuncturist concurred that it can be better to wait sometimes for the effects of a new diet and lifestyle to effect improvements to the reproductive system. She is also working on my hormonal imbalances. When I went to see a reproductive endocrinologist (more on that next week), she was quite aggressive about rushing me into doing something immediately. It felt like she was trying to scare me into pharmaceutical fertility treatments and to be hasty about it (I’m not getting any younger!) As you may have noticed I’m more inclined to natural medicine. If I don’t have to intervene with drugs I won’t. And given the genetic issues and autism risks, I will wait as long as I have to if it means giving my child the best possible chance in life.
But waiting is hard! I had hoped we could start trying again by November but this round of testing will tell. It could be longer, which is not ideal for us but what can we do? I’ll be sharing all my test results and options the doctors give us on this site. If you’re going through something similar, I’d love to hear your story!