September 16, 2016

It’s Complicated

(12 week ultrasound)

So things are a little more complicated with my health than just the pregnant factor. Unless you follow me on Snapchat or are in my very close circle you wouldn’t know anything about any of this because I’ve never posted about it on my other social medias. Mostly because I still don’t have any answers so didn’t feel like sharing my struggles with the internet world when I didn’t even know what they were exactly. I’ve been putting off writing this post because it felt so daunting to try and explain everything that’s been going on but I will try my best to summarize this so just bear with me.

First of all we need to start all that way back at what I consider to be the beginning.
When I was pregnant with Rowan, near the end of my third trimester, I started to have a strange issue with my eyes. It's extremely hard to explain without people confusing what I’m explaining with other symptoms. After 5 years of living with it I eventually found the best way to describe the feeling is that uncomfortable (not necessarily painful) feeling you get when you look as far as you can to the left or right with your eyes without moving your head. It’s just a straining feeling that makes you want to look away or close your eyes. Well that’s what I started to feel on occasion even when I was looking straight ahead. It would make me want to close my eyes or squint. Sometimes when I would be talking to someone I would have to keep looking down because it would feel uncomfortable. Keep in mind there was no double or blurry vision, headache or other symptom for those 5 years. I had seen every doctor and had every test done under the sun and everything came back clear and no one could tell me what it was. The good news was, although it was annoying and frustrating that I didn’t have a diagnosis, it was only occasional and most importantly, it was livable. It didn’t interfere with my life to any extent that really hindered me so I eventually got used to it, explained it to all my family and friends so they would know what was making me have to look away sometimes and life went on. Since I didn’t have a diagnoses I just started to call it my “head stuff”, because even though I felt it through my eyes I figured it had to be neurological.

Fast forward to Rowan turning two and we notice one day that one of her eyes is “drifting” out so off to the doctor we go. Sure enough she was referred to an eye specialist and it turns out that she has Intermittent Exotropia. Luckily she doesn’t have it happen very often, mostly when she’s very tired, sick or in deep thought. It’s so mild it’s required no treatment and she can correct her eyes instantly just back looking at something up close (we just tell her “look at your hands Rowan!” and she does and it corrects). As she gets older she should feel the sensation on her own and be able to correct it. It also may go away as she gets older. We used to go back to her eye specialist every 6 months to keep tabs on everything and make sure it hasn’t gotten worse or interfered with her vision, but it’s been not only stable but has gotten less frequent so now we just see her specialist once a year.

Fast forward again to February 17 of this year, when my entire life changed in an instant.
I had taken Rowan to preschool and come home to do chores and then I worked out on my elliptical. I didn’t do or eat anything differently that morning. Then it was time to pick her up and I was in the car and on my way. About halfway down my street I felt my “head stuff” but it felt unusually strong for some reason and I had an instant panic attack. I wasn’t someone who suffered from anxiety or panic attacks but i had had 1 panic attack before so I pulled over, acknowledged that that’s what it was, calmed down with a quick phone call to my mom and within minutes I was back on the road to pick up Rowan.
Once I got home I just couldn’t shake this feeling of anxiety. I started fearing that my “head stuff” was getting worse and just felt anxiety ridden to the point where I had my mom come over and I rested on the couch the rest of the day while she watched Rowan.
This ricocheted into all kinds of anxiety and other symptoms over the next few days until I finally went to the doctor. Of course, they just wanted to throw anxiety meds at me and send me on my way. Although I knew that I was having anxiety, I tried to explain to them that it was never an issue for me before, and the reason I was having anxiety was because of my scary symptoms, not the other way around. After a couple weeks of feeling terrible I did eventually start taking a very low dose of anxiety medication. I took it for one month, just to get it under control, and once I did I threw them in the trash and never took another one.
Since then I’ve seen eye doctors, eye specialists, been to the balance center, my neurologist, had blood work, MRIs and pretty much any other test you can think of, all of which came back clear and I continued to baffle every doctor I’ve seen.

Now let me explain my actual symptoms, from February to June, which is all before I got pregnant by the way.
By far my least favorite symptom is “the boat”... it’s basically land sickness. It is not vertigo, i.e. it’s not spinning. It’s literally the feeling that I’m rocking or swaying on a boat on the ocean. Luckily it doesn’t interfere with my walking but sometimes it’s so strong it makes me nauseous and it gets worse when I get a cold and I’ll actually throw up. Now I know what you might be thinking.. “It’s an inner ear problem!” right? That’s what it seems like to me too but like I said, I’ve been to the balance clinic and had extensive inner ear testing and they swear that my inner ear is healthy and perfect as can be. Also I should note that looking at my iphone (the scrolling/looking at something so up close I guess) is the #1 trigger for my boat symptom at this point (although it used to just happen all day every day in the past). That and small white spaces like the shower and our downstairs bathroom that is painted white.
Another symptom is of course my “head stuff” which is stronger now. Sometimes it even feels like I’m going cross-eyed even though I’m not. Cut back to why I wrote about Rowan’s Exotropia. After seeing an eye specialist he discovered that if one of my eyes is covered, the covered eye will drift out if I’m looking at something up close with the uncovered eye (but not if I’m looking at something far away). Now he doesn’t think this has anything to do with my symptoms but I did get some special prism glasses to wear when I look at things close up (like my phone, reading, etc). So far it hasn’t seemed to help any symptoms but I was shocked to find out that I even had this issue. It finally gave us some insight as to why Rowan has Exotropia. Anyway back to my “head stuff”- now it’s actually triggered by noticeable things like big stores and florescent lights. I can feel fine one second and then walk into Target and I start to feel uncomfortable and have to take it very slow. I usually leave my sunglasses on because I’ve found it helps a lot and I can actually get my shopping done.
Another symptom is that I started feeling lightheaded if I don’t have food in my stomach at all times.
I’ve noticed that sometimes my blood pressure is kind of low when I lie down but that doesn't really explain feeling lightheaded while I’ve been standing the entire time.
I’m also very sensitive to caffeine now. I can only have decaf coffee but can handle the caffeine in a soda or even my favorite Chai from Starbucks. Even though the venti size has 150mg it doesn’t bother me at all. Too much caffeine not only triggers my “head stuff” but also my boat symptoms. Looking on the bright side, at least I had already cut down my caffeine before the pregnancy so it wasn’t a big deal when I got pregnant.
All of this really started to interfere with my every day life. Simple things became difficult for me to get through. There were weeks when I struggled just to drive Rowan to school and walk her in, then I’d go home and lie in bed all day before having to get through picking her up and getting her home and settled again. I didn’t see my friends and pretty much became a hermit. At times I still am now because I just don’t feel well. I just have to take life day by day. The other thing I struggle with is that, although I don’t even know what exactly is causing this yet, it is an invisible illness. Meaning I seem 100% fine to everyone around me and if I’m not reminding you daily that I don’t feel well, people assume I’m fine and it’s a little isolating. It’s hard because on one hand I don’t want constant pity from anyone but on the other hand when people treat you as if they expect a certain “normal” from you it gets frustrating. One of those “I need help but I don’t want to ask for it” things I guess.

Anyway I think that covers pretty much everything until June.

Now Derek and I started seriously considering having another baby around March/April. Of course, it couldn’t have been worse timing for me to catch baby fever right? I mean what kind of crazy lady starts having baffling health issues (that are still undiagnosed by the way) and then says “hey you know what? I think I wanna complicate things even more by throwing a pregnancy into the mix!”
Well that’s me. I’m that crazy lady.
I started talking with my doctors about getting pregnant and asking them basically if they thought I was nuts to even be considering it and the overall response I got from everyone was to just go for it. Because the good news was that all of my major testing did come back that I was generally healthy and if I wanted another baby, I may as well just do it and hope that it doesn’t make my symptoms much worse. If it did, it would over in 9 months right? When it was all said and done I knew in my heart that I wanted another child and wanted to try asap since Rowan and the baby would already have a large age gap between them as it is. It was worth the risk.

Fast forward through going off the pill, getting pregnant in June and now let me catch you up on my pregnancy so far.
The first month was actually pretty awesome and gave me a lot of hope. Not only did I not have many of the “bad” pregnancy symptoms yet (only minor stuff), but suddenly all of my pre-pregnancy symptoms were much better. Like almost non-existent better. Some doctors and even some of my family members had said to me “hey, maybe this pregnancy will help!” and I shrugged that off but suddenly I thought maybe they could be right. It was a pretty great month and a much needed break from the everyday scenarios I was getting used to dealing with. After that first month the morning sickness, food aversions and uneasy nights of sleep started. Then slowly some of my "head stuff” crept back in, followed by catching a cold from Rowan that made my boat symptoms go INSANE and I puked all week more from motion sickness than from morning sickness. The lightheadedness came back when I didn’t eat enough (not that I skip meals but I have to constantly have food in me even in between meals) so I really try my best to stay on top of snacking because feeling lightheaded really scares me. Especially when I have to drive Rowan to and from school.

Mostly I’ve been resting in between stuff that I have to do but my sister visited last week and it really forced me out of the house a bit more. By the end of the week I realized that I had felt better that week than the weeks previous to that. Now, I’m not sure if that’s because it was better to push myself and move around more or if it’s just a coincidence of the pregnancy progressing and coming into my second trimester. Either way it was nice and I just hope that it continues to get easier for me to get out and about more.

So that’s everything. We’re all caught up and it will be a lot easier for me to mention things in future posts as the pregnancy progresses. After all, I’m here to document it all right? This is kind of a big factor that I felt needed to be included. Maybe there’s even someone out there who’s gone through something similar who will stumble across this post and can suggest a helping tip or two. You never know.


  1. Just shows you that appearance means nothing. I'm so sorry that you have been going through this struggle. I hope this little baby is going to help with these issues. You look as gorgeous as always and I will hold a good thought for you.

  2. Oh my gosh!!!! So many things going on for you! Feeling awful really is a struggle isn't it. I have completely different symptoms to you but for a few months now I've been "unwell" and feeling like I don't know what to do next because according to the doctors I'm "completely fine". I feel like I'm being such a lame person and shit mum because everything is a struggle and I always feel yuck. As for the caffeine think I experience the same during pregnancy. I'm so excited to be following you again through another pregnancy! We were pregnant and due at the same time last time and I kinda wish I was on the road with you again this time but alas no baby fever here haha.

  3. I'm so sorry to hear about your health issues. I wish I had something to say that could help. I hope you get some answers one day. Congratulations on this new pregnancy! I have a daughter who's exactly Rowan's age and we now have a 9 months old son as well. The age gap is not a problem, my daughter is an amazing big sister :) I'm glad you're back to the blogging world, I've been a a reader (all the way from France!) since the time Rowan was a baby. Good luck with everything!

    1. Wow thanks so much for reading and the well wishes! Love to you and yours as well.

  4. I'm sorry to hear about the issues you're going through. I wonder if it could be some sort of deficiency you're having that is causing these symptoms? There are tests such as NutrEval that can tell you where your vitamin levels are at, etc. that could perhaps point you in the right direction. Well wishes!!!

  5. I was speaking to my father yesterday and we both realized we occasionally suffer from the same strange symptoms, similar, although milder to yours. Upon investigation I came across this info - - which then led me to this info - - which sort of explains my issues, and my father's. I thought of your post from months ago and thought it might be worth mentioning, although it seems like you have already been seeking a lot of help so it might have already been ruled out.

    1. Thank you! Yes in my own extensive research (as we all do when something like this happens and google is readily available) I have come across both of these. I don’t think that it’s derealization and labyrinthitis is closer to my experiences but doesn’t quite explain them all. It’s either something else entirely or a mixture of multiple things. Recently I’ve noticed a trigger that really leads me to believe it is inner ear related but my specialists swear that based on the testing, that’s not the case. I think I’ve just never gone in for an appt at the perfect time for them to see it, since my symptoms change quickly but I can’t ever just walk into my specialists' office right as it’s happening because they have a (annoyingly) strict policy about referrals and making appts. There are days it’s so bad I just KNOW they’d see something but by the time I call/ get into the office, it’s different. My search continues.. thank you for thinking of me and passing on the info though, it means a lot that you would go out of your way to share, just in case it might help. <3