Monthly Archives

March 2017

Intentional Living

Gut Health….The Missing Link?

March 22, 2017

I’m a HUGE fan of the Ultimate Bundles. I love how they compile the best of the best into one package on varying topics and cut out the need to hunt out worthwhile resources. I’ve kicked myself a time or two when I missed out on snagging one of their bundles and it ain’t happening this time around!

This bundle is incredibly exciting to me personally as you’ll discover more in the post below. Because I think it’s such a fabulous one I whole-heartedly believe in, I signed up to be an affiliate. That means if you use my link and decide the bundle is right for you, I receive a commission. I am not someone who typically endorses any product or company UNLESS I’ve seen their value to not only myself but how it can be of huge value to others. This was one of those times and I can’t wait to work through the bundle and for it to bless those who need it!

Enough prefacing, let’s get to the post. 🙂

You’ve replaced your household cleaners with non-toxic products. You use alternative health remedies. You eat whole foods, avoid refined sugars, and exercise regularly.

And yet, you still feel like something’s missing when it comes to your health
but what on earth could it be?

I’ve had the same thoughts myself.

Years after going gluten and dairy free, I started to feel pretty good, but certainly not great. Then I decided to go deeper into identifying dietary culprits for my various symptoms, which led me to the AIP Protocol.

This eating plan basically blew the lid off everything I thought I knew about my own body and ESPECIALLY my gut/intestines/digestive system – whatever you want to call it. As someone who had THREE colonoscopies before age 25 and had to take daily Miralax for over a decade, you’d have thought I would’ve stumbled upon gut healing long long ago.

After researching and researching everything led me back to gut healing. It was truly shocking and I stand convinced that poor gut health is the main cause of our specific infertility. And my jaw has dropped so many times in my studies as poor gut health is linked with so many other illnesses today.

Is it possible that one of the most unglamorous organs is behind so many health problems?

Here’s the thing: poor gut health isn’t pretty, especially if you’re fighting leaky gut syndrome, allergies, or fuzzy brain – all symptoms of a gut that isn’t doing what it’s designed to do and symptoms I put up with for far too long.

It can already feel a bit daunting to work on healing your digestive issues (since it can take a while to fully get there!) but then to spend time searching for practical solutions at a price you can afford? Yea, no. Who has time to scour the internet for 3-4 hours a day searching for gut healing remedies from reliable sources? Tried that…wasn’t sustainable and it was just confusing or out of price range for us.

But what if, just for six days, everything you need (and then some) came together in one magical package, for the most affordable price ever? Well, we’re in luck, because that’s exactly what’s happening and I’m telling you, this bundle what I wish I would’ve had a year ago.

The Gut Health Super Bundle includes 16 ebooks, 5 eCourses, 3 videos, and 1 massive summit full of expert videos.

These top-quality resources cover everything you need to heal your gut
 tummy-soothing recipes, meal plans, quick-start guides, in-depth education, and so much more.

For less than the cost of some high-quality probiotics, you’ll get a complete library to help you:

  • End your digestive complaints (you know what they are)
  • Identify your own trigger foods and how to eat for digestibility
  • Discover how to make gut-healing fermented foods at home – and cheaply!
  • Choose the best probiotics and other supplements
  • Simplify your meal planning routine with gut-healing recipes and meal plans
  • and finally get your health back.

Plus, it comes with $40 worth of bonus offers for tummy-friendly, real food products. (When I saw the Kettle & Fire Bone Broth as a bonus – I was instantly sold.)

Here’s how it works:

  1. Visit their website, take a quick look at all the goodness that comes in this package, then click the “Get my copy now!” button to go through their simple and secure 3-step checkout process.
  2. You’ll receive an email with a login to their online access portal, where you’ll begin downloading your eBooks, signing up for your eCourses, and redeeming your free bonus offers.
  3. Use their Getting Started Guide to pick the topic you want to tackle first and start the healing journey!

The most important detail, though, is that this bundle is available for just six days! After Monday night, March 27th, the sale ends and you’d have to buy all of these products individually.

I’d hate for you to miss out, so click HERE to learn more or buy the bundle.

It’s even backed by a 100% happiness guarantee, so you can make sure it’s right for you.

No one should put up with poor digestive health because it costs too much or they can’t get the help they need.

Embracing a healthy lifestyle is an important first step. But to really experience holistic health, you need to get your digestive system back on track.

Learn more or get your bundle HERE .

Below I am including a list of everything it includes so you can see it all laid out!

Foundations of Gut Health

  • Heal Your Gut Summit by Dr. Eric Zielinski $99.00
  • How to Heal a Broken Gut Masterclass by Spark Health $27.00

Getting Started

  • 14-Day Gut Reset by Chloe Breczinski $10.00
  • Zero Effort Gut Health: 10 Shockingly Easy Changes Anyone Can Make For Better Gut Health! by Dena Norton $8.99
  • Heal Your Gut Program by Lee Holmes $59.00
  • Heal Your Gut Starter Kit by Allison Nichols $47.00

Gut-Healing Foods

  • Broth for Breakfast (and Every Meal of the Day): Amazing Broth-Based Recipes for Slow Cooker, Pressure Cooker and Stove Top by Katie (Wellness Mama) $19.00
  • Oh Lardy’s Guide to Fermenting Fruits & Veggies by Tamara Mannelly $9.99
  • Resistant Starch 101 by Heather Dessinger $5.99
  • Lacto-Fermentation eCourse {mini} by Wardee Harmon $40.00
  • Kombucha Bone Broth Secrets: And Other Hacks to Upgrade Your Bone Broth by Dave Lindenbaum $47.00

Conditions

  • Disease-Free Revolution by Ron Garner $4.61
  • Solving the IBS Puzzle: A Patient’s Guide to Treating IBS from Diagnosis to Treatment by Sylvie McCracken $9.99
  • How Your Gut Heath Affects Your Hormone Health (and What to Do About It) by Bridgit Danner $27.00

Candida

  • Candida on Ice: 20 Sugar-Free Ice Creams and Cold Treats by Paula Miller $7.95
  • The Paleo Guide to Beating Candida Naturally: Your Comprehensive Guide to Getting Rid of Candida and Keeping it That Way by Will Nicolson $12.99

GAPS

  • Beyond Grain & Dairy: Delicious, Nutritious Real Food Grain-free, Gluten-free, Dairy-free Recipes from Main Dishes to Desserts by Starlene D. Stewart $24.97
  • Gut-Healing Starter Pack by Cara Comini $75.00

Grain Free

  • 7 Simple Steps to Better Grain Free Baking by Kelly Smith $8.95
  • Go Grain Free by Dr. Jill Tieman $67.00

Additional Recipes

  • Gut Balancing Recipes: Eat Your Way to Better Health, Glowing Skin, and Better Moods by Dr. Karen Lee $14.99
  • Keto-Adapted by Maria Emmerich $14.99
  • Mind & Body Balancing by Kari Owens $13.97
  • Muddled: Paleo & AIP Mocktails to Nourish Your Body & Soul by Amanda Torres, MS $14.99
  • Nourishing Holiday: Grain-Free, Gut-Healing Food for Every Celebration by Jaclyn Harwell $24.97

PLUS These Bonuses

  • 2 free cartons of bone broth from Kettle & Fire ($24 value), $7.99 shipping, available within the U.S. only
  • $20 gift card to Get Kombucha ($20 value), $6.95 shipping within the U.S., international shipping rates apply
Adoption

Our Arkansas Adventures: Part Four

March 13, 2017

We’re in the home-stretch here as I fully intend for this to be our final post about our time in Arkansas…which means it could be a little longer than previous posts, since it covers several weeks of time.

No hating allowed! 😉

Let’s pickup where we left off – Christmas Eve. It was a super rough day because we saw Charlotte regress after having such a rapid turnaround. My parents (who’ve never spent even one Christmas away from Omaha) drove down to be with us in Arkansas. It meant a whole lot to us.

Within an hour of Charlotte arriving at Children’s, they successfully got a PICC line in her leg. WHEWWWWW! They also took some blood gasses and they were starting to look good again, so they began to wean the oxygen down. It was now a waiting game as she received a four-day course of steroids to shrink any swelling in her airways before she’d be ready to come off the ventilator again.

There was always the possibility that it wasn’t actually swelling and there was an obstruction in her airway (like a growth or something) but we’d wait to see if she failed extubation again before getting an ENT evaluation to check for anything abnormal anatomically.

We sang Christmas songs at Charlotte’s bedside that evening. It was so peaceful and we could finally relax because she was doing well again.

Christmas morning was bittersweet because Charlotte wasn’t with us but the family we were staying with really made it special for us. They had a few gifts for our family, which JoJo especially enjoyed since opening presents is a favorite activity of hers.

Jonathan and I had left all our Christmas presents for Josie in Omaha so a quick run to Target and a few Melissa and Doug toys later, we had plenty for her to open. I’d forgotten to buy Jonathan anything until a couple days before Christmas and after assessing his Amazon Wishlist, only one of the items would actually be able to make it to the house before Christmas. It was a nose-hair trimmer so that’s all I gave him. LOL

That afternoon we went back to the hospital and opened some gifts at Charlotte’s bedside. My heart broke as we left when I saw another baby’s bedside surrounded by dozens of loved ones. The hospital has a strict policy of two visitors at a time unless it’s critical enough to invite family back to say goodbyes. We had to walk past them as they wept on one another’s shoulders. My heart shattered for them. The NICU is a place where you realize as a parent how precious and fragile life is and that none of us are in control. All we can do is trust God with the lives of our kids and do our best to protect them in ways we can.

The day after Christmas they ended up losing Charlotte’s arterial line. This was allowing them to take blood from her artery so they could measure her blood gasses but they could poke her heel to test, just wasn’t as easy or fun for her. This meant that I could FINALLY HOLD HER!!! It was just perfect. Jonathan also got to hold her the next morning.

On December 28th, after all the steroids were given, it was time to try taking her off the ventilator again. It’s funny since I absolutely wanted this to happen but I was also super scared it would end up like last time. In the NICU it’s easy to get used to where your kid is at and if they’re stable you don’t want to mess with it. Even good steps can be scary because it always poses a risk of stable becoming unstable. I was at her bedside when they took her tube out and she did amazingly. I even heard her CRY!!!!!! That’s when I was certain the steroids worked and it was swelling and not an obstruction preventing her from breathing. She hadn’t cried the last time because she couldn’t get the sound out so this was quite the improvement.

Gazing at me in first few hours off the vent! Lovin those TMNT socks they put on her hands to prevent scratching!

BUT THEN JoJo, Jon, and I all got struck with the flu!!!!!! Nooooooooooo!!!! This meant that we couldn’t get into the NICU (because hello, sick babies). Thank the Lord that my mom was in town (she stayed while my dad went back to Nebraska for work). She moved into the hospital for the next several days while we took every conventional and homeopathic remedy available to get the flu gone fast.

Of course the day Jonathan finally got better, he had to fly down to San Antonio, TX to attend SEEK 2017. I was also coming out of the woods so I ventured back into the NICU but made sure to wash and sanitize myself every few minutes! Since Jonathan was gone, my mom stayed at the house with Josie and took care of her all day while I stayed with Charlotte.

The house we’d been staying at, while awesome, was 25-30 minutes from the hospital. You can only imagine how much we spent in gas money that month doing several roundtrips each day! I got a call saying they had a spot at the brand new Ronald McDonald House across the street from Children’s. It was gorgeous. The rooms were like a hotel. The living rooms were so comfy and the dinning room/kitchen had a giant glass enclosed playroom off of it where kiddos could play. Oh and they also had a Golden Doodle named Mac that Josie became OBSESSED with. We were so grateful a spot there opened up so I could walk to the hospital but also have access to a kitchen during the day to cook meals. The families we met there were also invaluable as we all got to lean on one another while undergoing some of the hardest chapters of our parenting journeys.

Charlotte’s big task after getting off the vent and oxygenation well was learning how to feed. They predicted she’d have trouble for several reasons. She had a lot of choking going on so we literally had to take it one feeding at a time. We’d offer her bottle and then whatever she didn’t finish in a 20 minute window, she’d get through her NG Tube. With almost every feed she’d do better than the last, which was encouraging since her first feed she only took 9ml…so I thought it would be forever before she’d be able to take the 75-90ml at a feed a baby her size would typically take. We were even told sometimes the feeding issues would take longer to overcome than the initial respiratory! EEP!

It took her a little over a week before she decided to suck down an entire bottle but once she gone and done it, the girl never looked back. She was slamming the bottle consistently so it was suddenly time for us to move into a live-in room to take over her care completely before discharging. I packed up our van with ALLLLLLL the things we’d accumulated in Arkansas and sent my mom and Josie home, knowing we’d only be a few days behind them.

Jonathan flew back to Little Rock on Saturday January 7th right as the Docs said that if by 9am the next morning she’d continued taking her feeds, we would be discharged immediately. Just in time!!

We could hardly believe it was happening so fast. It’s as if she decided she was done with the hospital and it was time to get home! Fine by us, Charlie! 🙂 On January 9th we were discharged from the hospital. We took that last night in Arkansas to visit with her birth family one more time since it’ll be a little while before we make a trip back down South.

The next morning we hit the road to beat Winter Storm Jupiter (which ended up not being as big a deal in Nebraska as they thought it would be!) Charlotte did great on the trip and it was soooo very good to get home and start the settling in process.

It’s funny because while we were in Arkansas for six weeks, it felt like we were never going to leave and we couldn’t imagine life beyond the hospital walls. Here we are, two months since we were discharged, and its starting to feel like a bad dream. It’s getting hazy. It’s harder to recall the horrendously negative emotions I all too often experienced. And when I look at Charlotte, I can’t picture her face with tubes anymore unless I look at a picture.

We’re humbled and grateful we got to see Charlie completely heal and come home. We’re filled with thanksgiving when we think of ALL THE PRAYERS that were lifted up on her, ours, and her birth family’s behalf. We praise God for seeing her through this rocky road and restoring her. Thanks again to everyone who walked this road with us. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Adoption

Our Arkansas Adventure: Part Three

March 2, 2017

We’re picking back up on our time in Arkansas for Charlotte’s birth. In case you’ve missed parts one and two, catch up! Many apologies for leaving y’all hanging for the last couple of weeks. We’ve had some major behind the scenes work to do with our financial beta class and it’s kept us juuuuuuuust a little busy. That and a couple little people who like to have our attention from time to time. 😉

Alright so let’s jump back to December.

After that first full day in the NICU, it’s hard to put into words everything that happened over the next week and a half. The first several days were obviously the scariest and emotional for us, our families, friends, and Charlotte’s birth family. To say there were ups and downs is quite the understatement.

Not only were we completely uncertain as to Charlotte’s prognosis, we were also living in a city where we virtually knew nobody, it was almost Christmas, and Jonathan didn’t take any time off work due to some big projects with hard deadlines. All those factors combined left us suspended in this hazy, weird, and stress-filled vortex.

Jonathan and I didn’t want JoJo to ever wake up without a parent’s face to see first thing yet we weren’t willing to leave Charlotte alone in the NICU so we began to tag team living at the hospital.

I stopped taking care of myself the day Charlotte got sick. After it was obvious that I wasn’t eating (didn’t even know I wasn’t) Jonathan and the family we were staying with brought me groceries and friends started to send gift cards. Even with that, I still lost close to 10 pounds that first week because all I can eat (thanks autoimmune disease) is meat, fruit, and veggies and you need to eat a lot of those to maintain weight and I was eating like a bird.

Around this time there were also TONS of ups and downs with Charlie. Her blood gasses would look great so they’d wean her oxygen a little bit. Then they’d hit a wall and her gasses were poor so they’d bump her back up… sometimes all the way to 100% oxygen (aka starting over from scratch) and we’d have to begin the weaning process again. It was a two-steps-forward and one-step-back situation for sure.

Almost daily they’d have to add some new medication until Charlotte had like 10 tubes sticking out of her little body for all sorts of purposes. It was so hard to see her constantly sedated but I knew she needed the best that modern medicine could offer and that’s exactly what she was getting.

The days ran together and it’s remarkable that even now I can barely remember a full day.

Jonathan had to keep working so he would sit at Charlotte’s bedside working all hours of the day and night until we swapped out and it was his turn to be with Josie. When I was at the hospital, I talked to Charlie and loved on and prayed over her as best I could, but she was sedated and we were told to minimize stimulation altogether. It left me with a lot of time on my hands. I could have been working on big projects for our upcoming business venture but mentally all I had the capacity for was texting, decorating her room for Christmas, Facebooking, scrolling Amazon and watching Fuller House.

In the midst of this we finalized Charlotte’s adoption in court on December 20th, 2016. While we were certainly over the moon to call her our daughter officially, it was still a somber occasion for many reasons. Charlotte wasn’t with us as JoJo had been for her finalization. We hadn’t even held her at that point, seen her face without tubes, or seen her awake. A very surreal experience indeed.

Adoption (at least for us as parents) is one of those double edged swords – incredible joy for the beautiful soul joining our family but sadness for Charlotte not being able to be raised by her birth family and sadness for her birth family because we could see the unspeakable pain this decision brought them. Sure we could just do what some adoptive families have done and completely blow off and not care about our children’s birth families… but that’s not us. We care about them like family….because they are. We aren’t replacing them. We don’t desire to cut them out. They aren’t problems to be swept under rugs. When they hurt – we hurt. And joyful occasions such as a finalization can get mixed with sadness for them and our daughter’s loss and that’s OK.

A little over a week after birth, Charlie successfully weaned her oxygen down to room air (21%) and completely weaned off Nitric Oxide. Woot!!! So it was time to take her off the ventilator. They also took her umbilical line out per protocol to decrease chance of infection but we weren’t too concerned about that since she wasn’t going to need her line for sedation anymore once the ventilator was out and she was breathing on her own.

I’d been at the house with Josie the morning they wanted to take her off the vent and when I heard it was happening that morning, I sprinted to get ready and head into the hospital. I remember seeing Charlie’s doctor in the hallway and she said, “My Christmas gift for you is to hold your baby girl!” I was excited, emotional, nervous, and stressed.

I ran to Charlie’s room and the vent was gone!

She was breathing on her own with the help of a nasal C-PAP. About 15 minutes went by (all the while I am in disbelief that she had this sudden turnaround in the last 24 hours and feeling like it was too good to be true) and she opened her eyes. These beautiful eyes locked with mine and we had a very peaceful couple of minutes looking at one another.

But then I could tell something was off. She started to get agitated. She was arching her back trying to breathe. Her chest started retracting (caving in upon taking a breath). I looked up at the monitor and her blood oxygen levels were falling. I ran to get help and the room crowded with doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapist staff. It was obvious she needed re-intubation because her airways were too swollen and she couldn’t get air to pass through them. I crumbled onto the nearby couch and just cried silently as they brought out the supplies to hook her back up to the vent.

Holding her on Christmas was officially out.

They needed to give her a course of steroids to shrink whatever swelling was likely present from her first traumatic intubation over a week prior. But in order to do that, they needed IV access, which is tricky in newborns as IV lines don’t hold long in babies. We were told it’s great if you only have to change the line daily because sometimes their tiny little veins can only hold a line for a shift! Her steroids needed to be given through her IV as well as her continuous sedation since she was on the vent…so the ideal line would be a PICC line but they’d just taken hers out.

It was now a race against the clock to get a PICC line. She had an IV in her foot at that point but it had taken several attempts to even get that. Over the course of about 12 hours they tried to get a PICC line a half a dozen times and they couldn’t get it. They even had to shave her head to attempt one but no luck. I didn’t know they’d done this until I walked into her room and saw her hair gone…and I immediately started just bawling because I wasn’t present for my baby’s first haircut.

UAMS staff weren’t hesitant to say we’d reached the limit on their scope of care and that Charlie needed to be transferred to Children’s Hospital in Little Rock to get a PICC line, as they had more technology to help them get one in.

All the while they were still measuring Charlotte’s blood gasses since she had her failed extubation incident and they were getting worse and worse with each draw. She was regressing. They had to bump her way back up to 100% oxygen again and the called the Children’s Angel Flight staff to bring an ambulance over for her transport.

The team arrived around 2:30pm and it took almost an hour to get her ready to get in the ambulance. At one point I almost fell over and forgot I hadn’t eaten that day so Jonathan got in his car to go grab Chipotle and Starbucks (it was gonna be a long night!) and meet me at Children’s Hospital so I could eat while they settled Charlotte into her new bed. It actually turned into quite the funny and heart-warming story:

It was Christmas Eve and I remember thinking the next 24 hours will either make Christmas a wonderful day or a very sad day in our family over the years to come.