Saturday, July 8, 2017
Wednesday, July 5, 2017
A year ago, one of my favoritest-of-favoritest blogs, Like Mother Like Daughter, published a post on cooking while mama has morning sickness:
Plain Cooking: Surviving Morning Sickness and More
At the time, while I wanted to write my own post on the subject. But I couldn't, because... I was suffering from morning sickness.
Oh, the irony.
(By the way, when you're reading the above post, make sure you spend the time to go through the comment section. So much good information there.)
Back to what I was saying:
Now that said pregnancy is over, and baby is four months old, I wanted to come back and write that intended post.
And while I love-beyond-love the blog above linked, the information in that post doesn't work for me during pregnancy.
Cook sweet potatoes while pregnant?
You must be joking.
I can barely handle food or open the refrigerator, let alone do something crazy like cook sweet potatoes.
If I'm ever blessed with easy pregnancy in which I am able to continue cooking throughout the duration, I will rejoice with great rejoicing.
Until then, I am here to provide the big reality check. And while I don't know that this post will be too-too-too useful, as in, of any actual use to a real human being, hopefully it should alleviate some of the guilt occasioned by mamas who suffer from severe morning sickness.
What I've learned about cooking during morning sickness is this:
And that's really the main point. I don't, because I can't.
I've tried to push through. I've tried to tough it out. It doesn't work, and it's actually worse when I try to be brave. Oodles of food gets wasted, recipes and smells are branded indelibly in my forever-mind as "do not touch or try these ever again, because they're now associated with nausea." I get frustrated and teary, and nothing improves.
Instead, when my nausea starts (which is early - current record at 2w6d),
(1) I stop buying vegetables.
Because if I don't, several months later I'll be pulling a slimy mass of goo out of our vegetable drawer and throwing it out (while throwing up some more).
Soon after that...
(2) I stop cooking.
As I mentioned before, when I try to cook while super-nauseated,
(a) I end up with horrible long-term food aversions to whatever I try to cook. I even end up with horrible aversions to whatever I'm thinking about cooking. (Just ask. I can categorically list all of my trying-to-cook aversions, by pregnancy.) Additionally...
(b) It's a futile fight that I end up losing. Wasted time, wasted food, wasted effort.
At that point...
(3) I go into survival mode.
This means 100% cold foods for the children (cheese, crackers, fruit, milk, cereal, etc.), and for dinner, my husband is - unfortunately - on his own.
And that's where we have, in the past, run into serious problems.
My husband is a wonderful man. But he's not a cook. I can't even get the words, "Honey, I don't have anything planned for dinn-" out of my mouth before he's out the door and on the way to getting fast food.
This creates two problems:
(1) The more children we have, the more expensive this is.
(2) Fast food is rotten for your health. Seriously rotten. (Remind me not to tell you that story some time.)
Long story short, we decided that we needed a plan - and I've been working on that plan ever since. We used part of this plan for the rest of our last pregnancy, and I am developing it further to prepare for our anticipated next pregnancy.
Here is THE PLAN:
(1) We developed a list of meals that my husband and children can prepare by themselves, with relatively little work.
We're talking seriously simple, folks. As in, "open can of beans and add chopped hot dogs" kind of simple.
Not super-healthy. But it keeps them away from Taco Bell.
(See my list of super-simple meals (and a shopping list template) at the end of this post.)
(2) I am working currently on developing a list of freezer Crock-pot dump recipes.
Crock-pot freezer dump recipes are recipes in which you put all of the ingredients into a freezer bag, freeze, and then later thaw and place directly into the crock-pot. Cook, and serve.
Of course, having a crock-pot in the house while I'm nauseated is an absolute NO-GO. (Oh, the smells.) But that's why God gave us back porches and garages, folks. I plan to make use of mine.
(The further from the house, the better. Too bad they don't make houses with electrical outlets two blocks away from the actual house. Gee, that would be convenient for morning sickness. While you're at it, move the coffee pot, microwave, and toaster oven - if you have one - out to the garage too.)
I am planning to prepare several weeks of these when our current baby is 18 months old. That should fit our time frame fairly well, so that they'll be available when I need them.
(Waiting till we conceive is not an option, as I'm usually too nauseated to cook within a very short time of conception - sometimes even before I can get a positive test, like this last time.)
(3) Additionally, I am working to make our children food-independent.
Teaching littles to pour their own water. Teaching the bigger children to prepare simple foods so that they can get their own breakfasts and lunches.
I once had a friend who expected that her serious health problems would take her life at any time. Consequently, she taught her daughter very early in life to be extremely independent in all areas of life - brushing her hair, cooking, doing her homework, etc.
My friend didn't end up dying - she's still with us! - but her work had the pleasant side effect of teaching her daughter excellent life skills at an early age.
That's my goal too.
On the whole, I would say that I tend to be deficient in the area of teaching life skills. My tendency is toward laziness - the "it's just so much easier to do it myself" mode. (Bad. Bad. Bad.)
So while a friend of mine had a ten-year-old out there winning chili cook-offs, my own ten-year-old was more along the lines of, "Mom, can you make me a piece of toast? I don't know how to do it."
(Bad. Bad. Bad.)
But pregnancy has really helped me to loosen up and to allow my children to be more independent. This has been really good for both them and me. Over the past year, our now-11-year-old has developed into an excellent beginning cook. I wish to foster this independence and the development of invaluable life skills as much as I can. Looking forward to the needs of future pregnancies gives me the motivation to do this.
And there you have it. If you can cook while pregnant, great. If you can't, do your best but don't guilt yourself to death over it. (I'm still working on that.) In all cases, simplify, simplify, simplify.
And while you're at it, hire some housecleaning help. I did this - twice - during our last pregnancy, and it was an enormous blessing. Totally worth it.
Continue to fight the good fight, dear mamas!
(1) Baked beans with hot dogs
Ingredients: baked beans, hot dogs
Directions: cut up hot dogs, optional sauté them, add baked beans, heat
Serve with: fruit or baby carrots
(2) Rotisserie chicken, macaroni and cheese, frozen vegetables
Ingredients: rotisserie chickens, boxed macaroni and cheese, milk, butter, package of frozen mixed vegetables
Directions: cook boxed mac and cheese, microwave hot dogs
Ingredients: GF tortillas, refried beans, shredded cheese, sour cream, salsa
Directions: heat refried beans
Serve with: fruit
Ingredients: canned chili, chips, shredded cheese, sour cream
Directions: heat chili
Serve with: fruit
(5) Peanut butter and jelly roll-ups
Ingredients: GF tortillas, peanut butter, jelly
Directions: spread tortillas with peanut butter and jam, roll
Serve with: fruit and/or baby carrots
(6) Easy mixed beans and rice
Ingredients: rice, 2 cans chili beans, 1 can black beans, cilantro, spices, sour cream, salsa
Directions: follow recipes
Serve with: frozen green peas
(7) Macaroni and cheese. hot dogs
Ingredients: boxed macaroni and cheese, milk, butter, hot dogs
Directions: cook boxed mac and cheese, microwave hot dogs
Serve with: frozen green peas
(8) Soup with cheese and crackers
Ingredients: canned soup, GF crackers, cheese, optional ham/tomato/pickles
Directions: heat soup, slice cheese
Serve with: fruit
Ingredients: spaghetti noodles, jarred spaghetti sauce, optional 1 lb. hamburger, parmesan cheese (green can kind)
Directions: optional saute hamburger, drain, add sauce and heat, cook noodles
Serve with: salad and dressing
(10) Cheese and crackers
Ingredients: GF crackers, cheese, ham, tomatoes, pickle
Directions: slice cheese, ham, tomatoes, pickle
Serve with: fruit
(11) Sandwiches (lunchmeat/cheese or PBJ)
Ingredients: GF bread, peanut butter and jelly OR mayo/lunchmeat/cheese
Directions: assemble sandwiches
Serve with: baby carrots or fruit
(12) Nachos with beans
Ingredients: chips, shredded cheese, sour cream, salsa, refried beans
Directions: assemble nachos, heat refried beans and add
Serve with: fruit
(13) Hummus and vegetable tray, cheese
Ingredients: vegetable tray, hummus, cheese
Directions: slice cheese, serve
(14) Ground beef and macaroni and cheese
Ingredients: boxed macaroni and cheese, 1 lb. ground beef
Directions: cook boxed mac and cheese, saute ground beef, drain, add to macaroni and cheese
Serve with: frozen green peas
(15) Hot dogs with “buns”
Ingredients: hot dogs, GF bread, condiments
Directions: microwave hot dogs, assemble
Serve with: fruit
(16) Hamburger patties, mashed potatoes, peas
Ingredients: frozen hamburger patties, boxed potatoes, milk, butter, peas
Directions: cook hamburger patties, make mashed potatoes, cook peas
(17) Black bean soup
Ingredients: canned black beans, chicken bouillon/broth, salsa
Directions: follow recipe
Serve with: chips and sour cream
(18) Breakfast dinner: Choose fried or scrambled eggs, optional spam, cereal/oatmeal/toast
Ingredients: eggs, optional spam, cereal/oatmeal/bread
Directions: cook whatever your choices are!
(19) Tuna and crackers
Ingredients: tuna, mayonnaise, pickles, cheese
Directions: make tuna, serve with crackers, slice cheese to go with it
Serve with: fruit
(20) Baked potatoes
Ingredients: potatoes, butter, sour cream, cheese, optional hamburger
Directions: scrub and poke potatoes, bake or microwave, optional cook hamburger
Sample Shopping List
_____ Milk _____ Lunchmeat
_____ Cream _____ Hot dogs
_____ Sour cream _____ Hamburger
_____ Shredded cheese
_____ Canned pineapple
_____ Canned green beans
_____ Salad dressing
_____ Paper plates
_____ Paper bowls
_____ Apples _____ Frozen peas
_____ Bananas _____ Frozen corn
_____ Grapes _____ Frozen berries
_____ Baby carrots
_____ Bagged salad
_____ Vegetable tray
Posted by Diana at 4:38 PM
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Hello, dear friends!
This post will be of interest primarily to those of you who stop by for information on nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. Feel free to shoot me any questions.
This is our sixth pregnancy (the first five comprising one first-trimester loss and four live births).
This pregnancy was unplanned. I should say, in the interests of clarification, that it was intentionally unplanned. (We have had two planned pregnancies, two surprise pregnancies, and two intentionally unplanned pregnancies.)
This is our earliest postpartum conception - we conceived at 19 months postpartum. (Previous conceptions were at 29, 20, and 24 months postpartum.)
I have a history of severe nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, something that would be characterized as mild hyperemesis gravidarum (manageable at home with a combination of OTC and prescription medications).
For the past ten years, I have researched prevention of hyperemesis gravidarum. At first, I followed the more traditional model of looking for the "magic bullet" solution - something that I could take when pregnant that would stop the illness. This was a complete bust. Herbs were useless. Prescription drugs managed the condition, but it was still miserable.
My search next turned to healing the body so that my body would no longer present with hyperemesis gravidarum - that it would handle pregnancy in a healthy manner without developing this debilitating condition. Our last pregnancy was what I call our Big Success Pregnancy. Not only did I not develop HG, but I was able to manage on a minimum of medication and did not throw up once. Yes, I was nauseated for the entire pregnancy, and somewhat minimally functional during the first half of the pregnancy, but with a history of HG, this was an overwhelming success. (Deo Gratias.)
This success was achieved primarily through two channels: the probiotic approach and the very-low-carb (VLC) diet. I also used a minimum of supplements.
With this current pregnancy, as I have before mentioned, I had had a much tougher time staying on the VLC diet pre-conception with any regularity. The VLC diet may have achieved miracles health-wise, but it is neither easy nor the least bit enjoyable. When we conceived, I was kinda-sorta-VLC and kinda-sorta-Trim-Healthy-Mama. I was being regular with the probiotic approach and was taking a much more active approach with supplements and super-foods.
The results lined up with my expectations: This pregnancy was much rougher. While definitely non-HG, I put in some definite time throwing up and was on a much higher medication dose to achieve those lesser results. (I will note the comparisons below.)
My conclusion is that each of the legs of my three-legged approach is vitally important to my pregnancy health - supplements, the probiotic approach, and the VLC diet. If we are blessed with another baby after this one, I will plan to be more vigilant with all three components.
And now to review this pregnancy (#6). I will be comparing some statistics with our previous pregnancy, #5 (the Big Success Pregnancy).
At 2w6d, I experienced an entire night of strong nausea. This scared my to death, as I knew how early we had to be in my cycle. Incidentally, this is the earliest I have ever been nauseated in a pregnancy. (My previous earliest-nausea record was 3w3d or 3w4d.) Of course, the pregnancy test that I took was negative.
In the Big Success Pregnancy, I did not experience first nausea until 3w6d, the day after I got a positive pregnancy test.
Needless to say, this caused me to jump back on the VLC bandwagon, big-time. This was a good thing, as it helped me to be less panic-stricken when I got a positive test the following week.
Over the following week, I had several episodes of strong night-time nausea. All pregnancy tests (and believe me, I took a lot of them) were negative.
At 3w4d, I finally got an extremely light (as in, holding up to within two inches of my eyes to detect the line) positive pregnancy test. Much rejoicing, much shock, much fear. I immediately went into survival mode - rushing to Sprouts for supplements, getting on the internet to order even more.
Only post-HG mamas can understand the panic that a post-HG pregnancy causes. It hasn't been as bad since I have experienced a non-HG pregnancy, but it's still there. I spend the first four to eight weeks of pregnancy in a state of suppressed panic, wondering how bad it's going to get and if I can hold on. Y'all know where I'm coming from on this one.
At 3w6d, I had an extremely bad night of nausea. The nausea kept me up until 1:00 a.m., and then woke me back up at 3:00 a.m. for the rest of the night. Needless to say, I was a panic-stricken mess after that. Thankfully that was mostly a one-time event. I learned that I had to sleep propped up quite high to avoid really bad night-time nausea. (That was new. And weird.)
Something that I experienced during this time of early pregnancy was chills. Does anyone know what I mean by this? I'm not talking about head colds, but that horrible experience of going from normal-one-minute to, within the space of about five seconds, bone-wracking whole-body shaking from intense cold (even if it's not cold temperature-wise). It lasts for 5-10 minutes and has a long recovery period (about an hour), and is absolutely exhausting. I had never experienced chills until my fourth pregnancy, and now it recurs any time that I am in a weakened state - early pregnancy, any time I'm struggling with severe nausea, during the early postpartum period, and whenever I am very sick. I'd love to hear if anyone else deals with this.
Early pregnancy seems to hit me like a semi-truck. It's not a gradual increase of symptoms - it's sudden, all at once, and hard. Sometimes it actually gets better after that initial full-body impact. Apparently my body does not take kindly to the initial surge of pregnancy hormones.
The nausea continued to get worse weekly. Not a fun time. I started taking three doses of Unisom (in half-tabs) in week 4, continuing through week 20, when I tapered down to two doses. I tapered down to one dose in week 22, and discontinued entirely during week 25.
In the Big Success Pregnancy, I took one half-tab dose of Unisom from week 9 to week 16.See the difference?
Vomiting, measured in episodes, totaled at 46 episodes* of vomiting during week 8 through week 25, with one outlier in week 30.
(*A friend once asked me how to measure "number of times vomited." Answer - I don't know, and still don't! But I have decided to count it in episodes, meaning that when I go to the bathroom to throw up, I count that as one episode, regardless of how many times I threw up during that episode. Make sense?)
In the Big Success Pregnancy, I didn't throw up once.
Again, a big difference.
I should note, in case anyone doubts it, that I am extremely grateful that this pregnancy was non-HG. Throwing up 46 times over the course of a pregnancy is nothing in comparison to active HG. Some HG mamas throw up that much within the space of a day or two. I am, however, noting that this pregnancy scored considerably worse with regard to NVP than my last.
Here is a chart comparing the two pregnancies:
“Big Success Pregnancy” (#5)
Most Recent Pregnancy (#6)
February – November 2014
June 2016 – February 2017
My age during the pregnancy
Healthy Live Birth at ~ 39w0d
Healthy Live Birth at 37w5d
Diet utilized before conception
Very Low Carb
Trim Healthy Mama
Other pre-conception protocols
- Magnesium therapy
Number of vomiting episodes during entire pregnancy
Vomiting occurred during:
Weeks 8-25 with one outlier in week 30
1-3 episodes per day when occurring
Weeks 9-16 = 1 dose
Weeks 4-20 = 3 doses
Weeks 21-22 = 2 doses
Weeks 23-25 = 1 dose
You can see the difference: With this last pregnancy, the nausea arrived nearly a week sooner, I took more medication for a longer time, and I experienced a much worse outcome. I really missed that added support of the longterm pre-conception VLC diet.
I should say that I hopped back on the VLC bandwagon as soon as I first experienced pregnancy nausea. But the VLC diet is not meant to be a measure to take when one is already pregnant (though I think it can help) - it's really meant to be done for a considerable time pre-conception. I didn't have that pre-conception hormone stabilization behind me, at least as much as last time, and I paid for it.
The Gender Question
Our Big Success Pregnancy (#5) was also our only (known) girl pregnancy.* That creates some problems with confounding variables.
(*We do not know the gender of baby #1, who we miscarried at eight weeks.)
Technically, the statistics show that HG is more likely to manifest with girl pregnancies.
However, the increased risk is extremely slight. A friend of mine, a fellow HG mama, told me that her boy pregnancies are always harder than her girl pregnancies.
Time will tell. If we are ever blessed with another girl, I will have the opportunity to see if there is a consistent trend.
Notes on Supplements
During the early days of pregnancy, I made a daily schedule for taking my supplements and medications. The same supplements at the same time, every day. I cannot recommend this practice highly enough. During the first trimester, when I was in a constant state of panic, and when I was truly feeling awful, having a daily schedule of supplements was a godsend. It helped to anchor me to the present and get me through my days in an organized fashion.
Here is my the supplement-food-medication schedule that I used during this pregnancy:
(Some items are listed by specific time; others were just a "do this sometime, in this order" sort of thing.)
*4:00 a.m. protein shake
*5:00 a.m. nuts and cheese
(The protein shake, nuts, and cheese were kept in a cooler by my bed every night so that I could have a solid intake of protein in my system before doing anything crazy like getting out of bed.)
*Upon arising: Unisom, Bio-K probiotic, magnesium spray
*All day: apple cider vinegar water, water with lemon, magnesium spray
*With breakfast: cocolaurin, apple cider vinegar tablet, magnesium, digestive enzymes, lacto-fermented food
*Protein shake with 1 tbsp. coconut oil
*Trim Healthy Mama muffin made with cinnamon and coconut oil (both antimicrobial)
*With lunch: cocolaurin, apple cider vinegar tablet, magnesium, digestive enzyme, coconut cream, lacto-fermented food
*Baking soda in water with 1 teaspoon colloidal silver
*Protein shake with 1 tbsp. coconut oil
*Epsom salts bath
*With dinner: cocolaurin, apple cider vinegar tablet, digestive enzyme, lacto-fermented food, coconut cream
*5:00 p.m. vitamins
*7:00 p.m. Bentonite clay in water
*9:00 p.m. 2 hard-boiled eggs, protein shake with 1 tbsp. coconut oil, Unisom+B6+melatonin
Frankly, I can't believe I kept up with this schedule. It was long and complicated, and all that I remember is a haze of nausea and exhaustion. But just writing out what needed to be done was so helpful, and I plan to do it again.
Don't think that I came up with this schedule cold - it was really developed item by item, in a very organic way. Add something here, take away something here, oh, and let's add this other thing over here. I started with what I knew, added other things as they came into the picture, and made changes as needed.
This schedule changed over time in two ways:
(1) At the beginning, items were removed as I could no longer tolerate them. For example, the two boiled eggs at bedtime. It's a great piece of anti-nausea advice that I read in a book somewhere (i.e. keeping solid protein in your stomach overnight to regulate your morning blood sugar levels), but there's a small problem - after a brief period of a few days, I couldn't get them down. The first time I threw up, actually, was in trying. (Ah, throwing up in the sink. So fun.) So off the schedule they went. My morning muffin with coconut oil and cinnamon similarly went out the door fairly early.
(2) After the worst of the nausea started to abate, items were removed as I no longer needed them. (Hurray!)
If you're contemplating pregnancy, or are in the middle of one, a written supplement schedule can be an incredible blessing.
Notes on Nausea Recovery
During week 12, I was still continuing to feel worse every week. This was alarming, as I usually peak around week 10. I added CBD oil to my supplement repertoire this week, and I think it helped.
I started to feel a bit better during week 13. This was encouraging.
During week 16, I cooked my first dinner since the first week or two of pregnancy. During week 17, I made it back to church. During week 18, I took the children to our first outing by myself.
I continued to feel nauseated and exhausted for the entire pregnancy. It was a tough time. After the birth, the nausea took about a month to recede completely.
Thoughts on Superfoods
During the pre-conception time for this pregnancy, I see - in hindsight - that I became pre-occupied with superfoods.
Superfoods are foods that are reputed to have especially high nutrient levels of some sort or another, and thus have a positive influence on restoring health.
I believe that my preoccupation with superfoods stemmed from guilt. I knew I wasn't being faithful to the VLC diet, and I wanted, subconsciously, to do something to make me feel less scared (of repeat HG) and less guilty.
But let me tell you, friends, that chasing superfoods is an exhausting and never-ending business. There is always another superfood to discover. And as the never-ending list grows, one then has to actually eat said superfoods, which leads to a never-ending to-do list.
Here is a short list of some of the superfoods that I came up with. (There were more. This is just from memory, a year later.)
- Brazil nuts
- Nutritional yeast
- Gelatin and collagen
- Coconut oil, coconut cream, coconut cocolaurin
- Blueberries, blackberries
- Green vegetables
- Cruciferous vegetables
- Rice bran
- Apple cider vinegar
- Lemon juice
In preparing for any upcoming pregnancies that the Lord gives us, I will focus on a healthy diet (which will by default include superfoods), but I will not chase superfoods themselves. It's a tiring pursuit that ultimately did not result in any real benefit.
My primary conclusion is the same as last time: We can fight the fight against hyperemesis gravidarum. It is not our inevitable fate. There is hope.
For you ladies out there who have been through the nightmare, don't give up. Join the Preventing Hyperemesis Gravidarum Facebook page. Check out Pink Stork Solutions. Research. Read relentlessly on the subject of natural health. Seek out other HG mamas and compare notes. Keep going, keep reading, keep praying, keep trying.
My specific conclusions from this pregnancy.
(1) The VLC diet works extremely well for me in preventing hyperemesis.
(2) The Trim Healthy Mama diet was also helpful, but not as good as the VLC diet in HG prevention.
(Note: There is the possibility that I have leftover positive effects from my strict two years of VLC dieting, and that may have affected our outcome in this pregnancy.)
(3) The probiotic approach is also extremely helpful (essential!) for me.
(4) The super-food approach didn't really help at all.
(5) Supplements are important, but not - for me - quite as important as diet.
(6) I cannot count on past successful non-HG pregnancies to protect me in future pregnancies. Constant vigilance is the order of the day.
My plan for the future:
Our newest little one is almost four months old, so I am now in early planning stages for baby-number-next.
We don't know, of course, if the Lord will bless us with another baby. This week I will be turning 36, so my childbearing years are definitely numbered. The baby that we have could conceivably be our last, or we could have another seven. Both extremes seem rather unlikely.
Regardless, I want to be ready.
I am currently transitioning from my "eat anything, yay!" postpartum mode back into Trim Healthy Mama. My birthday present this year is going to be a copy of Briana Thomas's Necessary Food (check out her blog, YUM), and I am looking forward to getting back into Trim Healthy Mama mode.
Eventually, I would like to get back into Very Low Carb (VLC) mode. The above information seems, to me, to show that the VLC diet is the most effective for hyperemesis prevention.
The big problem, of course, is that the VLC diet is an absolutely miserable experience. Unless you are one of those rare persons who thrives on a super-low-carb diet, being carb free is 100% awful.
It's not that low-carb food is bad. It's not. Most of my favorite meals are low-carb. But being low-carb itself, and eschewing a majority of available foodstuffs, is a miserable experience for the majority of humanity, myself included. It can be maintained only by an exercise of extreme willpower, and most of the time, I don't have that kind of willpower.
But I should. And I need to. At least during our childbearing years.
Again, time will tell.
I should say that I do not believe - for most people, at least - that very-low-carb is healthy for long-term living. We do need carbs. This diet is great for healing, and for HG prevention, but I don't think it needs to be lifelong or long-term. In fact, it could probably be harmful in the long run. So even if I do go back to VLC living, it will be for short-term HG prevention only.
In the next month or two, I plan to update my HG prevention plan (supplements, etc.), which I will publish on this site. Since our conception this time was so much earlier than usual (19 months), I want to be ready. And HG prevention isn't something that can be achieved in a week or two, or a month or two. It needs serious time. I hope to be in serious HG-prevention planning mode by the time baby is six months old.
Additionally, I have a couple of health concerns that need to be addressed - something that can happily coincide with HG-prevention prep:
(1) Baby weight - I have more than a little baby weight that needs to go.
(2) Fatigue - I have recently sensed the creeping return of my other health arch-nemesis, fatigue. This is a very difficult problem, and one that I do not want to worsen or continue.
I have some work to do!
Ladies, I would love to hear about the pre-conception work you're doing to prevent hyperemesis gravidarum. Please leave a comment and fill me in on what you are learning!
Love to all, dear friends!
Posted by Diana at 4:33 PM
Saturday, May 20, 2017
Hello, dear readers!
I have been extremely lazy with writing my birth story. Usually I'm starting the process within 48 hours, but here we are: Baby is three months old, and no birth story. While I'm purposely trying to neglect my blog at the moment, I also know that I need to write down my story or risk forgetting precious details.
And so, here goes:
This pregnancy was challenging. While it was non-hyperemetic, it wasn't as smooth as our last pregnancy. I threw up a lot more, was super-nauseated through the whole thing, and had a very difficult third trimester in terms of mobility and back/pelvic pain.
As I neared the second half of this pregnancy, I also dealt with a recurring problem - a deep fear of childbirth. This is not new - I have written about it before. This time around, I even named it my "EGAD!" phase (Extremely Grumpy About Delivery).
I ended up praying two specific prayers:
One, for the grace, courage, and strength to face this birth and the postpartum period.
Two, for joy in the journey. That I would approach our birth time not with fear and dread, but with joy and anticipation.
Both my prayers were most joyfully answered. This time through, I was finally able to await the arrival of our sweet little one much more peacefully and joyfully, and without the same high level of fear. It wasn't perfect, but it was a huge improvement.
Our due date for this little one was March 13th.
Thus, I wasn't quite prepared for a February entrance. But that's what happened!
Here is the story - not of the birth day, but of the birth week. This baby chose a rather meandering route for his entrance.
As our 37th week dawned, we felt very status quo. Several more weeks to go, etc. etc. etc. Same ol', same ol'.
But on Monday, February 20th (37w1d), I woke up with an upset stomach. Usually, this is my first labor-is-coming-in-the-next-day-or-two sign.
I wasn't sure whether to take it seriously. I'm still not sure if that was a coincidence or not.
But that night, going into Tuesday, February 21st (37w2d), I woke up unexpectedly at 4:00 a.m. with strong false labor that lasted for two and a half hours. (Ouch!) Very suddenly, everything had changed.
(False labor is labor contractions that feel every bit as painful and regular as the real thing, but - while having a purpose - do not effect any cervical dilation or lead directly into actual labor.)
That morning, I could tell that my body had really changed. My uterus had gone from "generally well-behaved" to "irritable, cranky, and painful." Whether labor was on its way soon, or not for weeks more, we were definitely moving quickly into the last stages.
That night, leading into Wednesday, February 22nd (37w3d), false labor began as soon as I laid down and lasted for another three hours before stopping and finally letting me go to sleep. (Ouch again!)
I was getting a bit tired. It's hard to live constantly on edge, forever thinking, "Is THIS it? Or is this it NOW?"
But we soldiered on.
The next night, leading into Thursday, February 23rd (37w4d), I went to bed dreading the inevitable hours of painful false labor. To my surprise, there was none! Not one contraction! (YAY!)
But when I woke up in the morning, I found that I had blood-tinged cervical fluid (sorry to be so graphic, folks). This has always been my "Labor is coming TODAY" pre-labor symptom. This really brought things into clearer focus. We were not weeks, or even days out - this baby was coming, and likely that day.
But the day waxed and waned with no baby, and no labor outside of occasional painful contractions that never became regular.
Going to bed that night, I had no idea what to expect. But labor-or-false-labor contractions started right away - thirteen minutes after I laid down - and kept right on going until 6:30 in the morning. I then finally fell asleep - and woke up twenty-six minutes later! Time to start a new day! (*Sigh*)
That day was rather odd. I could tell that we were right on the brink of labor. At the slightest provocation, my uterus would start another painful contraction. But... it wasn't labor. Not yet. And life continued on. Again.
After lunch, I sat down to nurse our two-year-old prior to nap time. And immediately, contractions started coming hard and heavy. (I think the two-year-old was rather puzzled by being flung away while mummy shouted, "Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!") And from there, the contractions didn't stop. I tried to nap, and couldn't, and so ended up timing my contractions for an hour (10 minutes apart) before texting our midwife.
One thing I am learning of late is to accept my husband's suggestions, rather than immediately brushing them off in the approved "His opinion is automatically wrong, and my opinion is automatically right" mode. Thus, when my husband suggested calling in our birth team at around 4:00 p.m., I went with it and agreed (instead of doing my usual "Oh, I'm sure we don't need anyone yet!" bit).
The first assistant midwife arrived at 4:30 p.m., and she immediately began unpacking our birth supplies and preparing our room. Our midwife arrived at 5:00 p.m., and the second assistant midwife arrived shortly thereafter.
During this labor, I took a big (for me) step - I asked my birth team for time to labor alone. This is not normally something I'd have the guts to do, because it sounds so rude: "Go away and leave me alone!" But during our last labor, I discovered that I like to labor by myself, and during this labor I got up the nerve to ask for that. Of course, our wonderful midwives graciously arranged for me to be alone, with our midwife simply coming in every few minutes to listen to baby's heart tones. It was a lovely experience, and I greatly appreciated their willingness to go along with it.
And now, I will tell you something that has been super-exciting: I have found something that helps me handle labor!
This is just so exciting, amazing, and earth-shattering. Seriously.
I normally do not handle labor well at all. I do not "work with it," or learn to handle contractions well. I panic, tighten up, and end up moaning or screaming through contractions because of the pain.
Some people label vocalizing as a "labor-management technique." No. Just... no. One does not look at a man being stabbed to death, and say: "Goodness, listen to that screaming! He sure is dealing with the pain well!" No. It's simply a reaction to pain, and that is how I have reacted to labor pain, being completely unable to cope in a constructive way.
During this pregnancy, however, I randomly borrowed a book from my midwife's lending library: The Labor Progress Handbook by Penny Simkin. I was really just looking to brush up on my labor and birth terminology - now that I am not an active birth blogger, I have found myself slipping in remembering a lot of the basic terms.
But - and this was really a God thing - I found what I needed for this birth (when I wasn't even looking for it).
What I found was a simple description of breathing techniques for labor - "slow breathing" method for early labor and a "fast breathing" method for later, more intense labor. I copied the information and practiced the breathing at night for a couple of weeks.
And... it worked.
I used both techniques: the slow breathing technique for all of the nights of false labor, plus early "real" labor, and the fast breathing technique for late labor and transition.
It was incredibly helpful. I was able both to manage the pain and distract myself from the pain. And, incredibly, I was able to avoid any type of vocalization. For me, this was a good thing. As I've said, vocalizing does not help me with the pain at all. I also find it highly embarrassing. But I haven't been able to help it, despite my best efforts, so I've just had to go with it. But during this labor, I didn't have to resort to vocalizing once - except during pushing, when it would truly take a miracle from Heaven to avoid. But aside from that, I was able to have a quieter and much more peaceful labor.
I personalized the fast and slow breathing techniques by adding a beginning (when I feel a contraction starting) and closing (when the contraction is mostly over) "cleansing breath," taken from Lamaze technique. (I can't believe I'm finally getting around to this eleven years after I watched that old Lamaze video).
All of this makes me think that we moderns may be doing Lamaze birth methods a disservice. Such older birth methods have been, in recent years, completely discarded. Nowadays, the only reason one hears of Lamaze is as the object of a childbirth joke. And instead of the scripted breathing methods prescribed by Lamaze and others in previous years, one is much more likely to hear something like "focus on your breathing."
For women like myself, however, I can say that "focus on your breathing" is nothing short of absurd. To return to our man being stabbed to death, someone standing by and shouting "Focus on your breathing!" would be... worse than useless. It really doesn't mean anything, and it doesn't give any concrete help during labor either to women who struggle with fear and panic at the onset of hard contractions, and I'm guessing it's not really that helpful to most women.
For myself, being given a basic prescription on exactly HOW to breathe was incredibly helpful. It was night-and-day difference in being able to deal with contraction pain, and it is definitely a part of my labor plan going forward.
(I should note that my own mother is a huge proponent of traditional Lamaze, and defends it vigorously against the barbs of modern-day dismissal of the method. She used it for 20 hours of unmedicated labor herself when I was being born.)
And to clarify, the methods described from the book were not Lamaze themselves, but being that they were a prescribed breathing method (rather than a generalized "focus on your breath"), I am likening them to the more prescriptive methods of breathing such as Lamaze.
The one caveat is that I felt that this labor was - at least possibly - easier than my others. I don't know if I could have handled a harder labor completely with this method. However, in the end, childbirth is childbirth is childbirth. It's hard, and it hurts. And I'm so happy with how it turned out using the above method.
And now, to return to our story:
I labored in bed for some time, with our midwives camped out in the living room. At some point I decided to move into the tub, so I got up and ran a bath and hopped in. The lovely thing about getting into a warm bath is that it nearly always gives one a brief break in contractions, and I enjoyed that very much.
At some point, I remember thinking of praying that baby would be out soon, as I did not want to labor through another night. The lazy part of me then thought, "No! That would mean more pain!" So, after debating the matter for some time, I ended up praying that baby would come easily, rather than sooner or later. (The lazy part of me won.)
Note: During this birth I finally got around to using the "miracle birth red raspberry tea" drink. Hard to drink during labor, but I can't argue - I definitely had an easier labor. (I had also used red raspberry tea during the last month of pregnancy.)
My husband came in a bit later and said that he thought our midwives should probably come in. I agreed completely, so he summoned them and they tiptoed in quietly and sat out of sight in the bedroom.
A short time later, I called to them and told them that I thought they should come in. I was starting to feel some pelvic pressure - which is worse than contractions, oddly enough - and probably had a feeling that things were getting close.
The midwives came in, and a short time later (just a few minutes, I believe), I said suddenly, "I think someone should get my husband." One of the assistant midwives ran to get him, and as he ran to come into the room - about ten seconds later (or less) - I was slammed by my first (and only? not sure) pushing contraction.
Things got little bit crazy. My husband didn't have time to take his sweatshirt off, or even push up his sleeves, so he got soaking wet jumping over to catch the baby. At the same time, he was asking the midwives to grab his phone from his pocket so that we could catch some photos before it was too late.
Of course, I didn't notice any of that, being a bit preoccupied.
However, an odd thing did happen, which was rather neat:
I am not a fan of pushing. If you ever see me protesting something, I'll probably be marching along with a sign that says "American Moms Against Second-Stage Labor." I am simply not a fan.
But this time, as soon as the pushing contraction hit, I made an instant and utterly unpremeditated decision - that I was not going to put up with this. Since the only way out was through, I was going to push with every ounce of strength that I had, as hard as I could, until this baby was out. And I did. I did not stop pushing in between contractions, and I didn't care if I tore "from nave to chops." This baby was coming OUT. And NOW.
And baby did!
We checked immediately, and found to our surprise that baby was a BOY! Somehow, we'd both assumed that since we'd had one girl, we'd start having more girls. But nope - the count is now four-to-one, in favor of Team Boy.
We had picked our boy name - at last! - only 24 hours earlier, so baby immediately had his name.
We got all cleaned up, got all exams done, and had our birth team home in time for bed.
While childbirth is always a challenge, this was our best birth yet.
We would like to thank our wonderful team of midwives who, as always, provided a safe, happy, respectful, and joyful entrance for our newest!
Born February 24th @ 6:28 p.m.
Six hours active labor
8 lbs. 4 oz.
We don't have any pictures from the labor (okay, a few, but they're not showable!), so here are all the post-birth shots:
We're still in the early days of parenting. I've dealt with babies, toddlers, preschoolers, elementary, pre-teen, and severe special needs, but there are so many areas I haven't yet traversed on this road - teens and young adults, teaching high school and college, graduating children, and parenting adult children and their spouses (and grandparenting!). I have so far to go. But the journey has been amazing, though challenging (and exhausting), and I know the Lord has so much more to teach me in the next few decades.
It has been some time now since we made the momentous decision to be open to whatever children the Lord would choose to give us. It was a hard decision, and it took a long time to make (over six years). But I can say without hesitation that it was the best decision we have ever made. I am so grateful for each one of our children, and am eager for more.
Do I have any regrets? Yes. I regret that we did not make this decision earlier.
I also regret deeply using birth control pills in particular. We know now that doing so likely caused the death of our first child by miscarriage. We did not know what we were doing, but we were complicit nonetheless.
I have not written about this subject deeply on this site, because it is a difficult topic and I am not a brave writer. But for anyone reading who is considering being open to God's gift of children, I want to encourage you. Even with difficult pregnancies, it has been a blessed decision.
The waves are rough, but the water's fine.
"Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
\Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them"
- Psalm 127:3-4a
I am still staying off of the blog as much as possible. In the next week or so I will be publishing a couple of random posts (tips for birth and postpartum, and a quick family update). I will then work on getting my nausea-and-vomiting summary post up as quickly as possible before retiring back into hibernation. Thank you all for your patience!
Posted by Diana at 5:44 PM
Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Surprise! Our newest addition made his debut last Friday, February 24th!
HE (yes, another boy!) weighed in at 8 lbs. 5 oz. and is perfect in every way (as they all are!).
For anyone wondering, "Hey, what happened to mid-MARCH?" - yes, this little guy came super-early! Our first 37-weeks baby. But he is perfectly healthy with no prematurity issues, and we're thrilled to have him here.
Update on my blogging break:
I am still on a long-term (possibly permanent) blogging break, but I will be stopping by (sometime, not soon - life is crazy!) to publish two upcoming posts:
- Baby's birth story
- This pregnancy's nausea and vomiting update
I miss blogging very much, but I have also been convicted that not blogging is where I need to be now. I am also working intensely on keeping my internet time down to 20 minutes a day, and I have already seen incredible blessings from this discipline.
I have so much in my life that needs hardcore work - my parenting abilities, my home, development of my homemaking skills. Blogging (and the internet in general) was just sucking too much of my time and energy.
I have so much in my life that needs hardcore work - my parenting abilities, my home, development of my homemaking skills. Blogging (and the internet in general) was just sucking too much of my time and energy.
In the meantime, I am still answering blog emails and blog comments, so you can always reach me when necessary! I think of you all, and I love corresponding with those of you who are able to do so. Feel free to reach out when you need me, or have prayer requests!
I will publish baby's birth story soon... or at least within the next half-year!
Love to you all!
Posted by Diana at 4:14 PM
Thursday, December 1, 2016
Hello, dear readers!
I am going to take a blogging break.
(Yes, I know. Half of my blogging is taking blogging breaks.)
This time, I am going to take a big blogging break - by which I mean that I am not going to blog, and I am also going to shut down my blog reader (I will miss you, dear blogging sisters!).
My life for the past 15 years has been in two phases (1) a steep increase in internet use (I think most people my age experienced this), and (2) a gradual weaning from internet use. Unfortunately, step 2 is much harder than step 1 - and much more heartrending. One does get so attached.
I love the internet. I love blogging. I love all that I learn from you wonderful ladies out there. But the internet has the tendency to suck me in and leave me wondering where the last half-hour went... while my floors stayed dirty, dinner stayed unmade, and a stack of children's books went unread.
I want my family to remember a mother who was fully present - who read books to her children, baked cookies and pies, and kept a clean home. I don't want family memories of "My mom checked Facebook a lot" and "My mom stared at her phone all the time."
(I don't actually have a phone or a Facebook account, but the internet does still suck me in.)
And so... a break. This is part of my continuing journey. I don't know if I'll be gone two days, two weeks, two months, two years. One of those.
If I am gone longer, I will pop back in with baby news and also with my nausea and vomiting write-up for this pregnancy.
I will also continue to answer blog comments.
If anyone wishes to email me, do feel free to do so. I love keeping up with people, and am always available via email. I am also always available for prayer requests, so do let me know of your families' needs.
In the meantime, have a lovely, wonderful holiday season, and a very merry Christmas! My love to all of you!
(I should mention that the above is not meant in any way to disparage blogging. Some of you are incredibly gifted and are used of God for wonderful purposes. Keep it up.)
Posted by Diana at 7:28 PM
Sunday, November 27, 2016
Here are those pictures/videos I promised!
One Friday this past July, my husband took the children out to the porch to watch a monsoon. A few minutes later they saw - actually saw! - lightning strike a palm tree in our neighborhood's common area. The tree caught fire immediately, from top to bottom.
My husband was on the phone with 911 within ten seconds. This video was taken about 2-3 minutes after the strike.
The second video, below, was taken just a minute or so later. The strong winds quickly spread the fire to surrounding trees, and within a matter of seconds we had a mini-firestorm on our hands. I have never seen a fire spread so quickly.
Thankfully the rains started almost immediately, which helped to slow the fire's spread. I don't know what would have happened without the rain, because this was one mean fire. Even with the rain the fire stayed intense, and our neighbors (directly behind the trees) sustained substantial minor damage from scorched car paint and burned patio furniture. Garden hoses did nothing to stem the blaze.
The fire department arrived about one minute after this video was taken.
We've been next to a lightning strike before, which was frightening, but being that it struck a metal carport, there was no fire. This was a completely different story! Yikes.
Posted by Diana at 9:19 PM