An Infertility Story of Hope
For as long as I can remember, my heart’s desire has always been to be a mommy. I love the memories I have from my own childhood and wanted a chance to create a legacy with a family of my own. I would dream about quiet, snuggly evenings and park playdates with other moms. I would dream about walking her into her first day of kindergarten and cheering her on at soccer games. I would even go so far as to dream about shopping for a prom dress, visiting her in college and watching her marry a man that she loved as fiercely as I love her daddy.
Unfortunately, the road to achieve this dream was far from easy. You see, at the age of 4, I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and swelling of the joints. My entire life I had to push myself to accomplish things that were pain-free and easy for my friends. At the age of 24, I was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, an annoying little disease that causes the individual vertebrae of the spine to fuse. Eventually, I lost the ability to look up and the majority of the range of motion necessary to turn from side to side. My sacroiliac (hip) joints are also completely fused. Imagine my frustration when I became unable to walk (or even tie my shoelaces) without a great deal of pain and effort.
The same year I was diagnosed with AS, I had the privilege of marrying my best friend. Fertility issues are common in people with autoimmune issues. We knew we wanted a family so, even as newlyweds, we never did anything to prevent pregnancy. We spent two years attempting all the “affordable” fertility treatments before deciding to take it to the next level (IVF). More than one specialist turned us away, advising us to start looking into adoption. (When doctors looked at my ovaries, it appeared that I had never in my lifetime ovulated. My hormone levels were also completely out of whack. This was not a good combination.)
To the average person, I appeared completely healthy. Why was my body failing me at such a young age? I believed I had to be doing something wrong. I began to explore the world of holistic and alternative medicine. As I studied, I read testimonies of people who had greatly reduced the effects of chronic disease by doing nothing more than altering their diet. I also read stories of infertile women who now have babies. After learning to read labels, and realizing how toxic most convenience foods are, I decided I would have to start cooking from scratch. Luckily, my husband has a culinary degree, and he was more than willing to help. With his assistance (and the help of the Food Network), I began to learn to cook real food, the way God created it. As I did this, my body began to heal. Each improvement encouraged me to make another small change, always striving for better.
So did it work?!? You betcha! I am now the mother of two amazing miracles. We were blessed with our first daughter after undergoing a converted IVF cycle that our reproductive endocrinologist almost abandoned. Because we had put so much time and money into the procedure, she agreed to switch it to an IUI but told us not to get our hopes up. The procedure was a success, and Annie Grace was born in January 2008. Both by God’s grace and the commitment I’d made to my health, I was able not only to get pregnant, but carry a healthy, beautiful baby to term.
I vowed to stay committed to healthy eating and whole foods. I kept studying natural health, refocusing a lot of my time and effort on how to properly feed babies and children. I found many studies suggesting the food we feed our babies during the first two years of life can give their bodies the foundation they need to fight off disease in the future, even if they default to poorer choices later on.
As Annie grew, I prayed that God would provide her a sibling, either naturally or through adoption. I prayed that the commitment I have made to my health would be rewarded. Imagine our surprise and delight when, one week before Annie’s first birthday, I discovered that I was pregnant. I did it! I’d triumphed over infertility. Elliana (Ellie) Faith joined our family in August 2009. Our family currently feels complete, and I am flooded with gratitude over the way we have been blessed.
As for myself, God has used my pain for glory as well. I am now a certified nutrition coach with a passion for helping others find their own healing. I am also a published cookbook author (Feeding Our Families: Bringing back the made-from-scratch family dinner), culinary instructor at the Culinary Institute of Kansas City (KCCulinary.com) and educator on the power of exogenous ketones. Most importantly, I now have the energy to keep up with two young kiddos and be an active, hands-on mom and wife. God allows me to breathe hope into others throughout the Kansas City area by providing opportunities for me to speak at local events, mom groups and conventions. Our family’s story is truly beauty from ashes, and I wouldn’t desire it any other way.
Katie Newell is a mama with a passion for helping others become better. You can read more of her story, order her cookbook or contact her by visiting HealthnutFoodie.com.