May is designated as National Celiac Awareness Month. As such, I thought it would be a great opportunity to share my celiac journey.
My third pregnancy was relatively routine. Like my first two pregnancies, I experienced exhaustion, low blood pressure and the occasional bouts of nausea, but it was an experience I cherished. Five days before my baby was due, she flipped. This normally means that the baby goes head down into birth canal ready for deliver, however my little monkey decided to go bum down (also known as Frank Breech). This resulted in an emergency c-section.
For months after my c-section, I noticed strange symptoms going on with my body. I was constantly bloated, I was nauseous and gaseous all the time, and had a constant case of the dropsies (i.e. for no reason, I would drop whatever was in my hand). At first I thought they were side effects of the c section, but it wasn’t until I began vomiting nightly, spending more time on the toilet then off and discovered that my solely breastfed baby had stopped growing, that I took it seriously.
After visiting several specialist and an invasive biopsy, I discover the cause of all of my problems: Celiac Disease.
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing parts of food that are important for staying healthy (NCBI). It is an autoimmune disorder whereby your body sees gluten and wheat products as poison. The villi, small hair like projections in the intestines, lie flat and don’t function normally to absorb nutrients as they are suppose to. This causes the body to go into a form of starvation, no matter how much food you eat. Sometimes the disease is triggered by events such as surgery, pregnancy, childbirth, a viral infection, or severe stress. In my case, I believe I have been fighting a mild case of celiac disease all of my life, but it became severe when my last pregnancy ended up in an emergency c-section.
How has life changed?
Celiac Disease has no known cure, but it is manageable with a strict gluten free diet. Working with a dietitian and educating yourself on the foods that contain gluten, you slowly reduce the signs and severity of your symptoms. Maintaining a gluten free diet can be very difficult as gluten hides as different names in different products. Its very important to learn how to read labels and determine if a product contains gluten before ingesting it. After several months on a gluten free diet, your intestine will begin to heal and the symptoms will become manageable.
I have been on a gluten free diet for almost two years. Although, I still battle with hidden gluten and cross contamination, I have learned how to minimize my symptoms and live a pain free life. I have personally become passionate about the lifestyle and work hard to spread awareness and help others enjoy a gluten free lifestyle.
You can find Jenn and her crazy crew over on her blog, 1Heart1Family, and connect with her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Jenn is a working mom to two amazing boys and one Princess. 1Heart1Family is a blog about raising children, life with celiac disease, delicious Gluten Free recipes and helpful product reviews to help you survive the crazy journey called parenthood!