In 2015, four months after my son was born, I was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease. Graves’ is the most common disease related to hyperthyroidism.
For about two months prior, I had noticed an increase in anxiety, irritability, frequent nausea which culminated in rapid weight loss, night sweats, and insomnia. While I didn’t mind the weight loss, I knew I couldn’t spend my entire motherhood an anxious, sweaty mess.
Thankfully, I was diagnosed after my first visit with my General Practitioner. He noticed my thyroid was enlarged and ordered a myriad of tests, including a full thyroid panel. When I got my results, my thyroid numbers were literally off the charts. Anti-thyroid medication got my numbers down, and I was counseled to go easy on carbs to stave off potential weight gain.
However, I was not told that I also had antibodies for Hashimoto’s (a cause of hypothyroidism), and I definitely wasn’t advised to try natural remedies, like taking selenium or altering my diet.
Five months after my diagnosis, I was still on medication, but my labs were stable, and I got pregnant with my second baby boy on the first try. My pregnancy was easy and apart from having a repeat cesarean after planning to try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), everything went well.
During my second pregnancy, I switched endocrinologists, and she told me I had both Hashimoto’s and Graves’. She was more concerned about me going hypothyroid after my pregnancy, so we monitored my thyroid levels regularly, and I would see her every three to six months (depending on my labs).
After two years of stable levels and no medication, my husband and I tried for our third baby, and again got pregnant on the first try!
I thought my thyroid issues were behind me, and I was blissfully entering into what I hoped was my last pregnancy. We miscarried at six weeks, and my endocrinologist ordered another antibody test to see if maybe that was a hidden cause.
One year and two miscarriages later, we are pretty sure that my Hashimoto’s is causing secondary infertility. Even though my thyroid numbers are stable, my thyroid antibodies are in the 4000 range (the highest they have ever been).
So, I’ve started my journey to remission the holistic way.
I am not opposed to medication, and will continue seeing my MD, but I’m ready to take charge of my own health, to do research, and to try as many non-invasive, non-medicated ways to lower my antibodies.
The first thing that any autoimmune book will tell you is to heal your gut, which typically means a huge change in diet. I’ve been aware of my need to eliminate gluten for a while and I try to avoid excess dairy and sugar, so the hardest change for me is no caffeine and no nuts.
Right now, I am pursuing a diet between Whole30 and Auto Immune Protocol. I’ve eliminated caffeine, alcohol, dairy, gluten, sugar (mostly), soy, grains (mostly), and nuts. I am working toward not eating tortilla chips (they’re my fave!), and possibly no eggs. These dietary changes are simply to calm inflammation, heal my gut, and to determine what my body can handle. This is not a lifelong diet.
I’m convinced that my adult life is just drinking increasingly weirder things in the name of health …
Like maca lattes, bone broth, and apple cider vinegar. Right now, my favorite is sparkling coconut water! I have also tried to cut back on perfumes and other potential endocrine disrupting chemicals like fluoride. It may sound kooky to some, but buying fluoride free toothpaste and not eating cake for a while won’t hurt me long term, like this autoimmune disease can.
My long term health is so important to me. I need to be around for my boys, and I need to keep up with them. I have these dreams of being their soccer coach, or boogie boarding at the beach with them, and they need a healthy mom with enough energy to do that.
Do you, or a mom friend you know, have an autoimmune condition? What are ways that have helped them?