Lessons from the Thyroid (part I).

I apologize for the small hiatus I took: we got sick the first week and my parents came to town the second week for an early Thanksgiving celebration. I had all kinds of grand ideas about writing while they were here, but it turns out those ideas weren’t exactly realistic.

At any rate, I’ve been wanting to write about my thyroid journey for a little while now, so I thought today would be a good day for that.

When the wee one was about 9 months old I went to a doctor for a standard physical. Just to make sure I was doing alright after having a baby. I guess I knew something was off, I just wasn’t sure what that something was, or where to start looking. I didn’t have any of the usual thyroid symptoms like weight gain or sensitivity to cold. Sure, I was somewhat of an emotional wreck and I felt like I was going to die if I didn’t take a nap every day, but I thought that was a normal part of being a new mom. I’m sure it is to some extent, but I had it pretty bad.

So the doctor ran a standard lab panel, which I guess includes TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) now, because we didn’t discuss needing a TSH at the visit. When I got the results in the mail about a week later my TSH had been highlighted -it was over 10, which is the standard medicating point- and there was a prescription for levothyroxine included. There was also a small note from the doctor that basically said I was hypothyroid and needed to start medication. No call, just two sentences written on a piece of paper.

Of course I overreacted a bit, but I also knew that I didn’t want to have anything to do with the medication I had been prescribed. I was off and on hormonal birth control for a few years prior to meeting my husband and I had decided when I stopped that, if I could help it, I wouldn’t take any more prescription medications, particularly involving hormones. I also knew that TSH alone isn’t necessarily a good indicator of what exactly is wrong with your thyroid although it is a great indicator that something is wrong.

I went back in. I don’t remember why, but the doctor (of course) asked how the prescription she had written was going. She was a bit taken aback when I told her that I had decided to try and treat with diet. It was obvious what she thought of my idea, but she told me to come back in 3 months. I ended up returning in a month or so (again, I don’t remember why) and seeing the nurse practitioner who found out I was trying to lower my TSH with diet and was flabbergasted. She immediately wanted to order another TSH to which I had her add free T3 and T4, and thyroid antibodies just for fun. I left after a lecture about how no one had ever (ever, I say!) lowered their TSH with diet, and awaited my results.

I got a call from the nurse practitioner a few days later saying that my TSH was, in fact, 4 points lower and that I should come in for a follow up test in 3 months. The rest of the results were normal, so I knew I didn’t have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. I returned for the follow up test (which showed a normal TSH) and I haven’t been back to that doctor since.

I made a lot of changes, and I’ve learned a lot about my body in the time since those doctor’s appointments. It has been a long journey, but I’m very glad I started down the road I did rather than just taking the prescription down to the grocery store and filling it.

The first thing I did when I chose a midwife was to order a thyroid panel to make sure I was okay for pregnancy. We ordered a total of 2, the 1st of which was borderline low, so I started back on a thyroid support supplement and the 2nd was normal so we haven’t tested since the second trimester. I hadn’t been feeling like I felt before I made all of the changes, but it’s always good to check.

Now, I know if I’ve done something that my thyroid dislikes because I’ve learned how to pay attention to my body.

The biggest, most important lesson I’ve learned from my thyroid is to pay attention to yourself. The way you feel, your intuition. This also applies to taking care of yourself. Especially moms, because we tend to forget ourselves in the middle of the chaos that is every day with small children.

Gluten Free Banana Muffins.

IMG_0712I love banana bread. It’s even better if it’s made in an easy to grab form like a muffin. I look for overripe bananas every time I’m at the store, specifically for these muffins. They make an awesome snack to take along to parks or road trips. You can also eat them for breakfast, but be prepared to eat three or four in one go.

I’m at a point in my pregnancy where blackstrap molasses sounds incredibly good. If you’ve ever had blackstrap molasses you will know how strange that is. I haven’t grown a taste for eating it by the spoonful yet, but I want to add it to everything I can, like mashed sweet potatoes or anything I bake. So the last time I made these and I only had 2 bananas I added some blackstrap to the batter because it was too dry, and why not? They turned out really well, so I’m including the adjustments as a variation at the end of the recipe.

Gluten Free Banana Muffins

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: 35 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
1 3/4 cup flour blend (I use this one sans milk powder)
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup coconut oil (or butter)
1/8-1/4 cup sucanat
2 eggs
3 bananas

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Put paper muffin liners into a muffin tin.
  2. Beat sugar and oil until creamy. Add eggs and mix until combined.
  3. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl. In another bowl, mash the bananas.
  4. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the bananas to the sugar/oil mixture. Start with half the flour, mix until combined then add the bananas and mix until combined. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix until combined.
  5. Scoop batter into muffin cups lined with paper liners. Bake for 17-20 minutes, rotating muffin tin halfway. Allow to cool in the muffin tin for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

Variation:
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 cup blackstrap molasses
2 bananas

“Morning” Sickness

As my husband says: my eggo is preggo! The new little one is due in December, right around Christmas. So that should be fun.

This picture is taken in my kitchen because snark. I like to poke fun at the people who use the phrase “barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen” to imply that religion that prohibits birth control is super oppressive to women.

So today I thought I’d write about what helped me deal with my “morning” sickness. The term morning sickness is really a misnomer. It’s not fair to tell people who’ve never been pregnant about morning sickness as if it only happens in the morning. I felt pretty duped during my first pregnancy because I was sick all the time. I never threw up because of it, but I was pretty miserable.

So here are some things that can help:

Magnesium. You can get a supplement, or use a magnesium oil. I found that the oil worked better for me because the supplement was too much for my body. As a side note, magnesium also helps with period cramps. So if you’re period is usually painful you might consider trying a magnesium supplement or oil before you even get pregnant.

L-5-MTHF. While I was doing Live Blood Analysis to help with my health problems we noticed that I was consistently folate deficient. I was taking a good B-complex with folate in it so I tried a form of methylated folate in case I had the MTHFR gene mutation. Basically the mutation prevents your body from producing the enzyme you need to properly assimilate folate. This helped me a lot. I went to Grand Junction for a few days and I didn’t bring this with me. I felt miserable. When I got back home I started taking it again and I felt much better.

Ginger water kefir. To make this you just brew the water kefir normally and add about a teaspoon of dried ginger root to the second ferment. I sipped this slowly and it served as a great pick-me-up.

Water. Staying hydrated is really important when you’re pregnant. I kept a glass of water in the bathroom so I could drink some every time I got up to pee. I still do this. It kept away the worst of the morning part, because I felt worse before I ate anything in the morning.

Whole milk. Drinking a glass of milk before I went to bed was another thing that helped me. I’ve read that milk helps stabilize your blood sugar and I’ve also read that morning sickness is mostly a blood sugar issue (hence the advice of eating saltines before you get out of bed).

Raw milk cheese. I snacked on cheese, but anything with protein probably helps for the same reason milk helps: blood sugar balancing.

Exercise. This one is harder because you’re feeling miserable, but taking a walk outside or doing a little gardening really does help you feel better.

Enzymes. This helps with morning sickness and pregnancy poop. Your digestive system slows down during pregnancy, so it’s a good idea to lend it a helping hand.

That’s about it. Do you have any tricks to stave off morning sickness?