Letter From The Heart Kim’s Story

Letter From the Heart Kim Sjoblad

Ralph Waldo Emerson is often quoted as saying, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” It’s a nice sentiment, but for anyone who has ever battled through infertility, you know the destination of a baby in your arms is what you are truly striving towards. Seeing the value in that journey isn’t exactly something most of us are capable of doing while in the midst of that fight.

I am a certified Holistic Practitioner and Fertility Coach. I love what I do, but if you had asked me a decade ago what I would be doing with my life today, it wouldn’t have been this.

Back then, I was in the fast paced, high-pressure world of marketing, advertising and special events. I had been in my career field for over 12 years, and I was good at what I did. Of course, I also worked insane hours and regularly fuelled my body with a steady diet of fast food, lattes and a variety of caffeinated beverages. I was known as the artist who loved her burgers and fries! I didn’t put much thought into what I was eating and I admittedly didn’t take the best care of myself, like so many other women in the world today.

It was almost 10 years ago when I first began the journey towards healthier living; a journey that became all the more urgent when I realised my fertility was also suffering alongside my overall health. But I’ll get to that.

The initial catalyst was the long list of symptoms and ailments I seemed to be accumulating over the years. Severe abdominal pain, constipation, abnormal bleeding, awful periods and skin rashes and more. Over the years, these ailments only became worse, accompanied by other irregularities like my eyes occasionally swelling shut and chest pains I had trouble breathing through.

I saw doctor after doctor, visiting too many specialists to count and submitting to all kinds of invasive tests. I was finally diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, an autoimmune condition that causes the colon to be chronically inflamed.

Letter From the Heart Kim Sjoblad

At first I thought, “Great! At least now I have a diagnosis! Something we can treat!” But over time, I came to realise that nothing they were prescribing me was working. Alleviating the discomfort I was experiencing began to feel completely out of reach.

Forget the fact that my diet was still abysmal, like so many people today, I had convinced myself that the way I ate was totally normal – that it couldn’t possibly be contributing to my condition, because I had eaten the same way my entire life and because everyone around me was eating the way I did. I wasn’t overweight, so surely my diet wasn’t a problem. Right?

I continued to lament the fact that none of the medications I was being prescribed seemed to help. There were days when the discomfort was so bad that I was genuinely afraid to eat. Putting anything in my stomach felt like a risk. This continued for years.

In addition to my diminishing health, my job had started to become less rewarding and more difficult to enjoy. For reasons I couldn’t quite figure out, I was no longer happy in the career I had spent over a decade building. I realised I wasn’t feeling great about most things in my life, and then my husband and I started talking about children – and it became clear to me, once and for all, that I needed to make some changes if I was ever going to be in a position to truly embrace motherhood. I slowly changed my diet and lifestyle, turning my back on fast food and opting for organic options instead. For the first time ever, I began to see significant improvements in the discomfort I had been experiencing for years. I wasn’t ‘cured’, but I was feeling better. Realising I was on the right track, I took another leap and left my job, deciding it was time to start working for myself instead. And again, the shift seemed to be in the right direction.

Over a period of time, I slowly took myself off the colitis medication, and was pleased to find that my symptoms were now at least manageable as a result of the changes I had been making. I was feeling healthier and happier every single day. But over the next few years, we still hadn’t conceived. We tried every month, and every month we faced a deeper feeling of disappointment and fear that it would never be us with a baby in our arms. It had never before occurred to me that it might be this hard. But there I was, watching my friends get pregnant one right after another, while we were still struggling. Still trying. Still hoping.

Letter From the Heart Kim Sjoblad Letter From the Heart Kim Sjoblad Scan

Eventually, we decided it was time to visit a fertility clinic. After a series of tests and even an exploratory surgery, I was diagnosed with Stage IV Endometriosis, a condition that causes the lining of the uterus to implant itself in other areas of the reproductive and abdominal cavity, leading to scarring, pain and a much more difficult time conceiving. So much of the pain I had experienced over the years had been attributed to colitis, but now there was reason to believe endometriosis had always been a problem for me as well. My case was so bad that my uterus, colon and ovaries were all glued together. According to my husband, the surgical photos looked as though my organs were “covered with melted string cheese”. Because of how extremely endometriosis inhibits fertility, we decided to move forward with additional surgeries to remove as much of the rogue endometrial tissue as possible. Thanks to a team of amazing doctors, I was able to walk away with an 80% reduction in endometrial lesions. I was told my best bet for conception would be over the next six months, before the endometriosis returned. Talk about pressure!

I monitored my cycles every month. We added in injections of hormones and did everything the doctors suggested, yet still, a positive pregnancy eluded me. With every failed attempt, my hormone dosage was increased. It was a painful descent into madness, pumping myself full of drugs that would make any woman feel batty, particularly while also facing that heartbreaking disappointment month after month. The imbalance in my system, combined with the trauma of failure, was becoming more and more challenging. But like so many other women in my shoes, I was willing to endure anything if it meant walking away with my baby in the end. So focused was I on the destination.

Once upon a time, I had believed that when we decided we were ready to conceive, it would just happen. It never occurred to me that we would struggle. And even if we did, I assumed we would just get through it. I made snap judgments about those around me who were trying so hard to get pregnant, wondering why they would allow it to consume their lives. Seeing those women cry, avoiding other pregnant women, and battling bouts of depression; I thought to myself, ‘I will never put us through that’. Funny how life turns out, right?

The lesson learned is to never say never. Because as soon as it was me in those shoes, going through cycle monitoring every morning, daily blood work, regular internal ultrasounds, and scheduled love making sessions, I knew once and for all that I would do anything to have my baby in the end. The destination was, again, all that mattered.

Of course, anyone who has ever been through it knows that it’s not just that simple. You start to doubt yourself, and you certainly start to doubt your body. So I began doing research on nutrition, lifestyle and the impact of environmental factors on fertility; suddenly ready and willing to delve far deeper into making positive lifestyle changes than I ever had before. Unfortunately, I found most of that research to be overwhelming and confusing.

It was only when I came across the Institute of Holistic Nutrition that I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. So intense was my desire to understand my body, that pursuing an advanced education in how to help it function optimally somehow made perfect sense to me. In fact, I was pretty sure I had found my calling. Every time I went to the fertility clinic, I couldn’t help but notice how many other women were there as well. At least 60 women a day, in one clinic. Far too many women were struggling in the same way I was. And I thought if I did this, not only could I help myself, but maybe I could start educating others who were struggling as well.

It had never been my intention to go back to school, but my determination to have a baby was all the motivation I needed to begin pursuing that path.

At the same time, I was being told by doctors that my only real hope for a pregnancy at this point was IVF.They felt.They felt they had exhausted all other options and that this was the last resort. Conceiving naturally, they explained, was no longer a possibility. I was learning so much at school though, yet realised that I was expecting far too much from my body. I needed time to process this next step, and for my husband and I to decide if IVF was really the path we were willing to take. For the first time, the journey seemed to matter just as much as the destination.

So my husband and I decided to take a break from fertility treatments. We thought that a few months off hormone treatments might be a good way to at least get my body back in balance. I detoxed, took daily supplements, continued to eat better and made lifestyle changes to create the best environment possible to have a child in.

The changes that I saw in myself and my health over the next few months were dramatic. I continued cycle monitoring, solely so that we could keep an eye on my progress. Over just a few months, I watched as my hormone The lesson learned is to never say never. Because as soon as it was me in those shoes, going through cycle monitoring every morning, daily blood work, regular internal ultrasounds, and scheduled love making sessions, I knew once and for all that I would do anything to have my baby in the end. The destination was, again, all that mattered.

Of course, anyone who has ever been through it knows that it’s not just that simple. You start to doubt yourself, and you certainly start to doubt your body. So I began doing research on nutrition, lifestyle and the impact of environmental factors on fertility; suddenly ready and willing to delve far deeper into making positive lifestyle changes than I ever had before. Unfortunately, I found most of that research to be overwhelming and confusing.

It was only when I came across the Institute of Holistic Nutrition that I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. So intense was my desire to understand my body, that pursuing an advanced education in how to help it function optimally somehow made perfect sense to me. In fact, I was pretty sure I had found my calling. Every time I went to the fertility clinic, I couldn’t help but notice how many other women were there as well. At least 60 women a day, in one clinic. Far too many women were struggling in the same way I was. And I thought if I did this, not only could I help myself, but maybe I could start educating others who were struggling as well.

It had never been my intention to go back to school, but my determination to have a baby was all the motivation I needed to begin pursuing that path.

At the same time, I was being told by doctors that my only real hope for a pregnancy at this point was IVF. They felt they had exhausted all other options and that this was the last resort.

Conceiving naturally, they explained, was no longer a possibility. I was learning so much at school though, yet realised that I was expecting far too much from my body. I needed time to process this next step, and for my husband and I to decide if IVF was really the path we were willing to take. For the first time, the journey seemed to matter just as much as the destination.

So my husband and I decided to take a break from fertility treatments. We thought that a few months off hormone treatments might be a good way to at least get my body back in balance. I detoxed, took daily supplements, continued to eat better and made lifestyle changes to create the best environment possible to have a child in.

The changes that I saw in myself and my health over the next few months were dramatic. I continued cycle monitoring, solely so that we could keep an eye on my progress. Over just a few months, I watched as my hormone.

Tone Jarvis-Mack
Publisher and writer for Fertility Road magazine I have spent the last 4 years writing about my experiences surrounding fertility.
https://www.fertilityroad.com

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