Our neighbour gifted me 12 red roses. I got to stay home from school.
My period had started.
I remember wondering how I’d ever again know if I had a tummy ache or period ache.
Obviously I had a lot of tummy aches. I was assured the pain was normal.
Because that’s what my mother experienced, just like her mother.
So I soldiered on – as 10 year olds do.
Looking back – and knowing better – it’s clear I already had severe gut health issues.
I’ve got endo-what?
Over the next 5 years, those niggling mild cramps slowly became the rigour inducing pain and extended heavy bleeding that is endometriosis.
At the first sign of pain I would dose myself up on ibuprofen.
Paracetamol no longer worked.
I spent a week every month 8 hourly dosing myself to the eyeballs.
I lived in fear of missing ‘the pain relief window’. Or else vomiting and diarrhoea would mean yet another ambulance ride to hospital.
Utterly exhausted and severely dehydrated.
Eventually a knowing ER doctor suggested endometriosis. Dispelling my theory I always managed to contract a nasty stomach bug at period time.
I had surgery to remove the wandering endometrial cells.
And then found a holistic GP hoping for preventative wisdom.
She told me about xeno-estrogens, leaky gut and yeast links to hormonal issues.
She recommended I stop eating fruit and sugar, that I use artificial sweeteners and I’d be fine.
When your normal isn’t normal
The pain reduced but the bleeding became so persistent I bled through the contraceptive pill.
Which my gynaecologist had prescribed to control it.
My only option he said, was the Mirena.
A nasty device that sits in your uterus tricking your body into thinking it’s pregnant. Pregnancy being the only real cure – apparently.
If you are ever offered a Mirena – research research research! Better yet heal yourself with food.
It stopped the bleeding but the side effects were awful.
My digestive health went from bad to worse.
And still I puzzled over my health. I tried vegetarianism then veganism.
Eventually deciding I was broken. It was all too hard.
And to just live with my increasingly limited food list and bizarre toilet habits.
Then 10 years later…
It wasn’t until I began researching morning sickness cures (after my first pregnancy) that I happened upon the importance of gut health.
I am still amazed that despite completing a science degree in microbiology and molecular biology – microbiome health was never mentioned.
And appallingly it’s still not openly discussed at work – in a hospital microbiology lab.
Because pathogens and antibiotics still rein supreme. But I digress.
Helicobacter pylori got blamed for my horrendous all-day-all-night, blood vessel bursting vomits.
I recalled having stomach ulcers at university. Treated by my GP with antacids. That must be it!
Then the best/worst thing happened.
Just when I thought I’d sorted my gut issues with wholesome, nourishing and probiotic foods – I spent a week on IV antibiotics.
My cat attacked me. I was still breastfeeding my 10 month old daughter.
Starting from square one again, but with a clean microbial slate, I started digging deeper.
But we were now fighting on two fronts.
My digestive and hormonal issues and our baby daughter’s behavioural problems.
Can you spot the red flags?
After stumbling upon literature describing the maternal microbiome link. The penny dropped.
It all made perfect sense.
Now I’m on a mission to correct generations of microbial ecology demise.
To break the awful cycle and regain health for myself and my family.
With retrospect I see the red flags.
There are too many!
- Childhood antibiotic overuse, processed and sugary foods, household and environmental toxins – a typical upbringing.
- Allergies and intolerances – coincidently arriving together.
- Lots of pain relief – paracetamol and ibuprofen.
- Grain-filled, fat-free dieting, soy-milk – if only I knew!
- Synthetic hormones, spray tans, toxic personal care products – it all adds up.
- Urinary tract infections, yeast infestations, skin problems – a system critically unbalanced.
- Anxiety, depression and mild OCD – emerging after working with laboratory chemicals.
The list is long.
The journey continues
With Mamabiome I hope to reach out and educate women.
About all I’ve learned, and am yet to learn.
Of the absolute importance of nurturing a healthy microbiome.
And to break the generational cycle of dysbiosis passed from mother to child.
To create positive healthy and lasting change.
One mama microbiome at a time.
P.S. Have you heard about The Mamabiome Project ? It’s an opportunity to share your gut health story and connect with other Mamabiome mamas.We are currently accepting expressions of interest. REGISTER to participate!