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And Nico Makes Three.

On September 11, 2016, we welcomed our third child, second son, into this great, big world. After what seemed like forever we finally named him on his fourth day of life. Nico Elliot.

He is perfection. Delicious. 

 

Nico Elliot

Nico Elliot

Although I didn't blog throughout the pregnancy-- there was much to blog about. This pregnancy and birth was so different from my other two, that I have a whole list.

For starters SPD, physical therapy, diabetes and plugged milk ducts. Stay tuned...

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It's OVER: Weeks 8-12(ish)

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It's OVER: Weeks 8-12(ish)

I am SO happy to announce that we had homemade pizza tonight!! With cheese! 

It's taken me awhile to get to this blog post, but have no fear, we made it through 12 full weeks on the 4R elimination diet and I am here to tell the story.  

Judah and her fancy curcumin drink.

Judah and her fancy curcumin drink.

Weeks 8-12 were pretty much the same as weeks before. For the most part uneventful, so I will try not to bore you with the same old. In a nutshell:

  • Pinterest is my best friend. Why didn't I think of using this meal planning tool before??
  • We started Judah on a DGL supplement --which is essentially a licorice powder supplement that helps with inflammation. She was supposed to take it 3x a day with meals. I was NOT good at remembering this. Also, the extra step of giving her something to eat 3x a day that it can be mixed into was quite a challenge. The other supplement we added in was Curcumin. Mucho thankful for the fizzy tabs that can be put into water with a citrus taste. Much easier than trying to get her to swallow a capsule. 
  • The forum response to Judah's itchy rash was a bit disappointing and the reason we ultimately decided to add in the rest of the supplements. Basically, her issue was a bit to complex to just give advice over a forum. It would require a consult with Dr. Aviva (or another doc, I suppose), and we just can't swing that right now. Plus, I figured we might as well give the last step to the 4R program a shot, first. 
  • By week 10, I found myself sneaking chocolate when the kids weren't looking. I know! So bad.  I have a problem. ;)
  • Before we started the elimination diet, Simon had this kind of bumpy, pimply skin all over his arms and was spreading to his torso. I had read that it could be a sign of gluten intolerance-- and by week 10 I realized it was completely gone.
  • I took the kids to visit some friends in New Hampshire for the day. ONE DAY and the food prep was overwhelming. I didn't want our friends to have to accommodate us, but I needed to make sure we had enough snacks and lunch and dinner so that the kids wouldn't be cranky pants all day long. It was difficult and I began (well, continued, probably) to become extremely SICK of the time commitment that goes along with super clean eating and food prep. Was definitely, definitely feeling DONE. 
  • There was one day that I was scrambling at home because food was completely gone from the previous week and the car broke so we couldn't food shop until dinnertime.  Exhausted, hungry and walking through Whole Foods, I picked up some turkey dogs for dinner. I mean, they were 1/2 legal... boy, oh, boy did my stomach pay for that choice!

Week TWELVE was an exciting one! Judah could see on the calendar that we were at the end so during the last week, we scrolled Pinterest, giddy, deciding which foods to add back in first. We decided to take it easy adding food back in by doing a sort of food challenge to see if we had any poor reactions to certain foods. Overall, we seemed to handle everything well. We did notice that nightshades made us feel bloated and gassy. 

Eggs are back. YUM.

Eggs are back. YUM.

We added eggs back in first, followed by nightshades, cocoa powder +honey or maple syrup, then beef and vinegar and yeast. We saved gluten and dairy for last. Once I started eating gluten again, I felt lots of brain fog and an overall "yuck" feeling-- it hasn't seemed to last but I do notice that processed food and refined carbs/sugar makes me feel  weird (which makes sense!). Unfortunately Simon's bumpy rash has come back slowly-- which tells me that it probably is gluten. He still eats it and I am trying to weigh just how important it is for him to stop eating it considering that, at this point, it's his only symptom. 

DAIRY was the big one. I waited and waited to add this back in. Not sure the best way to go about it, we eventually decided to start with a locally sourced, grass fed, organic, un-homogenized plain yogurt. Judah was in heaven. I only allowed a small bit a day, anything to her was such a treat. A week and a half in though, I noticed eczema on her hands.  We were all super bummed. It was the coldest week we had all winter and she was washing her hands a TON-- I wanted so badly to think it was from that. We cut out the yogurt and the rash went away :(  Next I decided to give her some cheddar cheese made from raw cow's milk-- NO PROBLEMS! We have continued to try cheese of different kinds either from raw cow's milk or cheese made from goat's milk and she has been doing great. It is SO nice to be able to garnish some meals with cheese!!

Mike's bday treat-- vegan, gluten-free, paleo raspberry chocolate tart from Bakerita

Mike's bday treat-- vegan, gluten-free, paleo raspberry chocolate tart from Bakerita

At this point, we are still unsure what her tolerance for dairy actually is, so we have decided to limit dairy to home only so that we can be sure of the source-- and even at home we eat it in small amounts. It has been working well so far. I am so pleased with our results: Judah's eczema is gone, we know where Simon's rash was coming from and I feel like life is SO much easier now that I can eat brie and get Chipotle take out! YUM!

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Friday Favorites: Boppy Nursing Pillow

boppy-4-color-logo-outline1.png

Hello! 

Welcome to Friday Favorites! Today I want to introduce (probably re-introduce to many of you) Boppy! Boppy is a long time name in the pregnancy/baby industry, so when I was pregnant with my first baby, naturally I was given a Boppy Nursing Pillow.  We used the Boppy for nursing and for elevating the baby a bit (my babies are definitely spitters!), but it wasn't until the NEXT pregnancy that I would realize how much I LOVED the Boppy. 

I have a smaller frame and could never quite get used to the giant pregnancy pillows, like the S shaped ones. I'm also not really a pillow person, so they were just too much. The Boppy though, was PERFECT. I used it to hammock my belly and sleep on my stomach as much as possible. Is there anyone that doesn't LOVE sleeping on their tummy? Not to mention this is a wonderful position during pregnancy for baby and also during labor. The pillow was a life saver.

When I contacted Boppy for a nursing pillow, they were very enthusiastic and supportive. When the box arrived in the mail, it was HUGE. Much to my surprise they had sent a long a BUNCH of goodies! 

Check them out here: 

 

A BIG THANKS TO BOPPY!!!! As for the giveaway:

Follow Boppy (here or here) and PVD Doula on Facebook or Instagram and comment on the Boppy Giveaway thread. Double points for tagging a friend. The giveaway will close on Wednesday March 9, 2016 and the winner will be announced Friday March 11th! Good luck! 

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Friday Favorites: The Bradley Method Childbirth Education Classes

Hello again! 

Next up for Friday Favorites is The Bradley Method Childbirth classes.  Let's chat a minute about childbirth education and then I will dive into the Bradley Method specifically. Childbirth education is an important part of preparing for having a baby. For most women, they know very little about pregnancy and childbirth before conception. Childbirth education can provide families with the information and tools that they need to feel prepared and confident throughout the pregnancy journey and labor and delivery. Being prepared can take fear out of the process and in turn make for a much more positive experience. 

The Bradley Method is education for a natural childbirth (As a doula, I support all births and birthing choices so, I would love to post soon about childbirth education for those seeking a different route, but for now, my favorite natural childbirth class). What is so great about Bradley? SO many things! 

  1. Bradley classes are 12 weeks long! Phew. That seems a little excessive, no? No! 12 weeks gives the information time to soak in. It provides the time and space to ask many, many questions and to process through the different fears and anxieties that pop up throughout pregnancy. 12 weeks provides time to build a trusting relationship with the teacher and to develop eyes to see your partner as a coach and co-laborer and 12 weeks gives you all the tools you need for a healthy pregnancy, birth and postpartum.
  2. Bradley classes involve the partner. Whenever I meet with clients one topic that always comes up is THE PARTNER and how I can involve them in the process.... will I take their place.... why is there a need for a doula and a birth partner? My answer is always that I support the family unit. I support the partner so that the partner can support the laboring woman well. I am available, so that the partner can be present. Whomever the partner may be, spouse, mother, friend...that relationship is the most important. THAT is where the love and trust is which is so critical to the birthing space. What is amazing about Bradley Classes is the emphasis that they put on this. The partner is given the education and tools needed to be a confident and useful coach. 
  3. Bradley classes cover ALL. The Bradley Method focuses on a healthy pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Included in the curriculum is information on nutrition and exercise. In depth discussions of the stages of labor and what to expect and THEN.... What to do with the baby once he arrives, what changes are happening in the mother's body and what can be done to help for a smooth transition into babyland.

There you have it. In a nutshell, my reasons for really liking The Bradley Method for Natural Childbirth. If you are local and looking for Bradley Classes in Rhode Island, I would be happy to hook you up with one of my favorite teachers :) Her name is Lauren Amand and she's AWESOME. So knowledgeable, passionate about birth and supporting women and families. Her information can be found here. Her classes are held at Bayside Chiropractic in Providence, Rhode Island.

Ready for Bradley NOW? She JUST started a new series this week and could add in ONE more couple. (Did I mention class sizes are small, which creates a very personalized experience-- another perk).  If you aren't quite ready yet, jump on her next class that starts April 27th. For more info get to her site, or give her a call! 

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Friday Favorites: Prenatal Pilates + Giveaway Winner Announced

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Friday Favorites: Prenatal Pilates + Giveaway Winner Announced

I am So happy to announce the winner of the FridaBaby give away. It makes me smile to give someone else such a wonderful product. Congratulations, Julie Blom! I hope you enjoy every snot-sucking, butt washing moment; and please, please, report back! 

A bit of exercise is next up on my list of favorites. I don't pretend to be an expert in fitness and although I do know the benefits of staying physically active, I must say it is still a struggle to find the time to devote to movement. I think this is one of the reasons why I love 10 Minutes Solutions: Prenatal Pilates so much. 

A great pregnancy workout! Lizbeth Garcia in 10 Minute Solutions: Prenatal Pilates

A great pregnancy workout! Lizbeth Garcia in 10 Minute Solutions: Prenatal Pilates


There are many wonderful in-person prenatal yoga classes on my list of favorites (more on those later!), but during my pregnancies, time and money were always a factor, so to have something to go to right at home took away one more excuse I could rely on. 

So what's up with movement during pregnancy and why is it so important? There are many reasons I'm sure, but a few that come to mind are:

1. Optimal Fetal Positioning-- exercise and stretching along with other things like bodywork during pregnancy can help give baby the space he needs to be in optimal positioning for birth. A baby in good position usually leads to a smoother labor and delivery. 

2. Helping the body to process sugar  -- regular exercise can help lower blood sugar by helping the body to break down glucose and control insulin levels. This is especially important with the growing number of women who are diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes.

3. Strength-- staying healthy and strong during the pregnancy will assist in giving the body what it needs to endure the very physical task of childbirth.

Why do I love 10 Minute Solutions: Prenatal Pilates? In this DVD, instructor Lizbeth Garcia breaks down a 50 minutes workout into 10 minutes segments. It can be played in full or individual workouts can be selected. What does this mean? No excuses!  There's pretty much always ten minutes in a day for a bit of movement! I also liked the fact that each 10 minute workout is broken up into a target areas. That way, if I happened to do a lot of walking on one particular day, I could turn on the "upper body" segment and work on just that area to add to what I had already done. 

Because this DVD has a prenatal focus, I could be sure that the exercises I were doing were safe for me in all trimesters and I knew that I was being instructed to stretch and move areas that would serve me in labor and delivery. For instance in one of the segments, Lizbeth focuses a ton on pelvic tilts. I could literally feel the baby shifting and changing in ways that he needed to while giving him the space he needed to do that! Pretty incredible. 

Last but not least-- the 10 minute exercises were the perfect length for working out around a toddler. There weren't many times where I had more than 10 minutes to myself.  But five, 10 minute moments throughout the day would buy me an entire workout! 

Movement is so important during pregnancy-- and really, there's not much that can take the place of in-person instruction-- but Lizbeth Garcia comes close in her 10 Minute Solutions: Prenatal Pilates DVD! 




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Friday Favorites: FridaBaby and a GIVEAWAY!

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Friday Favorites: FridaBaby and a GIVEAWAY!

I am often asked by family. friends and clients what my recommendations would be when it comes to childbirth education, prenatal exercise classes, baby products, nursing products, pregnancy books, etc. etc. etc.  I used to have a giant list on my website, but then I thought, no, wait! Let's do a blog series! I imagined Julie Andrews spinning through the hills singing. I could entitle the series "A Few of my Favorite Things" naturally.

But then I found out that my husband  had never even seen Sound of Music and it got me wondering who else maybe hadn't seen Sound of Music! I quit over thinking it and came up with Friday Favorites! I am SO excited to bring to you the first Friday Favorites post (hopefully, of many) surrounding pregnancy, birth, new baby and motherhood. 

To kick us off this week, we have not only one of my most favorite baby products but also a GIVEAWAY!! Yes! That's right, my first ever GIVEAWAY! The wonderful people at Fridababy have teamed up with me to give one lucky winner a set of four of their incredible products

I have to admit, I am not really a product person. I love education, I love experience gifts, I love good food, but stuff-- eh, not really. Especially for baby. Having a new baby can be a whirlwind (or a tornado) in the first few weeks and the last thing we need is CLUTTER (anyone hearing me out there??). Babies are babies; they eat, sleep, poop and cry in the beginning, right? What more could they need than their parents, a bottle or a boob and a diaper.

I believe this for the most part. 

Every once and awhile, though, a product comes along that is a, really for honest and truly, MUST-HAVE. The kind of product that you won't mind picking up off the floor 10 times a day because it has saved your family's sleep night after night after night. 

Introducing the NoseFrida by FridaBaby.

The best snotsucker in the world. NoseFrida by FridaBaby

 

If you don't understand already, you will soon, how a congested baby can wreak havoc on the entire family. And of course, how hard is it to see our baby miserable? Poor little babe, all full of boogers, wants you to have a Nose Frida.

Let me explain how it works and then we'll compare it to the standard bulb syringe. 

The NoseFrida basically has three parts: a tube (for holding the massive amount of snot that you never thought could come out of your baby), a hose like attachment, with a red mouth piece, for sucking said snot, and most importantly-- the filter. I'll let you guess what that part is for :)  

The various parts of FridaBaby's NoseFrida

The various parts of FridaBaby's NoseFrida

 

With the filter in place... I'll say it again. WITH THE FILTER IN PLACE, the caregiver would put the end of the tube at the edge of baby's nose and the red mouth piece in their own (the caregiver's) mouth. Then suck. That's it. Once you and your baby have had enough, you can take a look at the tube in amazement of how much snot can actually fit inside your little human, rinse it out and proceed to enjoy a congested-less baby! It really is magical. 

So, what's the deal with the snot sucker that you were given at the hospital? Well, let me just say a few things.

  1. When we had our first baby, our pediatrician handed us the blue bulb thing and said "Be careful to only suck out what you can see and not stick the end too far up your baby's nose because it can actually cause inflammation and make the discomfort worse." Hmm...what??? That is a SKINNY little tube on the end of the bulb. How far is too far? And what if I can't see the snot but I can hear the gurgling? I can't do anything to help? Too many questions for this new mom. Plus, ugh, I don't want to cause sinus inflammation! GASP! I will never forget the day a friend mentioned the NoseFrida. Our lives were changed. The NoseFrida's tube is wide, so you don't have to worry about sticking it too far into the baby's nose-- it just sits on the outside. Plus, it was effective. SOLD.
  2. I don't know about you, but I like proof. The bulb syringe was BLUE. I couldn't see through it! With the NoseFrida, a clear tube, I could see that what I was doing was helpful and effective by the amount of goop that the tube held. This brought me peace. 
  3. Lastly, the thing is SO easy to clean. Try googling what the inside of those bulbs look like.... gross. The NoseFrida comes with disposable filters and the rest of the product can be washed clean with warm water. VOILA!

I'll just say it one more time, if you have a new baby or you are expecting one... the NoseFrida is awesome and your baby wants you to have one. Goodness, I should be getting paid for this plug! (I'm not by the way, I just want to share the love). 

FridaBaby was kind enough to throw in THREE more products to the giveaway! What? Awesome. I wish I could say that I knew about these products when I had my babies and had some personal experience to share. Judging by the incredibleness of the NoseFrida I have to imagine that these products are just as useful and magical. Whoever wins, I want feedback! 

Next up! The ButtWasher.

FridaBaby's ButtWasher, for kids who smell like poop :)

FridaBaby's ButtWasher, for kids who smell like poop :)

 

Yup. Just as it sounds-- a buttwasher for your potty-training child. I'm actually giggling right now as I am typing this because I know that as soon as my husband reads this post he is going to text me saying "Simon needs a buttwasher!!" This little bottle is, as the website states, a traveling bidet. No more itchy bums for the kids who haven't learned to wipe properly and no more bunches and bunches of wipes (ahem money) down the drain. I can't even begin to explain to you how many times a day someone in our house says that Simon smells like butt. And it's true, he usually does, poor guy. No matter how many times I wipe him, it's almost impossible to get him entirely clean because he is standing and clenching his butt cheeks.

OMG FridaBaby, you may have just sold us :) Can't wait to hear what the winner thinks!! 

Onto Windi...

The ultimate Gas Passer-- The Windi!

The ultimate Gas Passer-- The Windi!

Baby's crying, cranky, irritable and you don't know how to help. You've done everything you know how to do. The belly massages, the bicycle kicks, rocking, shhshhing, patting... baby is just SO uncomfortable. Maybe you've noticed that they haven't pooped in a bit or you think it could be gas. I remember that. I remember wondering how I could help my small baby to get the poop/gas out of her. Our pediatrician suggested that, when it got bad, to insert a rectal thermometer and sometimes that could help get things going. We would try it, and it usually did work, but not right away, it took some time.

Who has time with a screaming baby???

The Windi is designed to work alongside infant massage and bicycle kicks. Who has ever sat down to rub baby's tummy waiting and waiting for the gas to pass? Raises hand. When it passes, it seems like one should celebrate!

Sometimes it takes longer than you have time to sit for, sometimes you are left wondering if you need to keep rubbing because there might be more? Watch this video here to see how massage is used to get things moving and then the Windi (inserted like the thermometer) helps the gas release. Just like that <finger snap>. It's different than the thermometer because there is a hole at the end, allowing the gas to pass quickly and easily....only I wouldn't have my face as close as the little cartoon lady in the video! 

Last but certainly not least...something for the moms!

The MomWasher

 

Peri-bottle with a twist! 

Peri-bottle with a twist! 

As a birth doula and a mom who gave birth, I can definitely say that care of the perineum after the baby is born is of utmost importance for healing purposes and for comfort reasons. Whether or not one gives birth vaginally, the perineum (area extending from the vagina to the rectum) can be quite sore and messy. Wiping after using the bathroom usually isn't recommended and it definitely doesn't feel good. But ya know what does? Ice. Ice feels nice, sitz baths can feel nice, tucks pads and of course, the peri-bottle!! The peri-bottle is a squirt bottle that is given to moms at the hospital to squirt warm water on themselves to encourage urination and to help clean up afterwards. It feels DIVINE.  

The peri-bottle, is just a bottle and not necessarily designed for postpartum women. So imagine this: a bottle with a long nozzle, meant to be used upside down with amazing accuracy. Enter the MomWasher. These names, ha! Killing me :) This bottle can be used just like the peri-bottle, filled with warm water or an herbal mix-- but this one can aim! Fantastic. 

So, there ya have it! Our four FridaBaby products. BIG, HUGE thanks to FridaBaby for joining in on Friday Favorites and good luck to all of you! The giveaway closes Wednesday February 17th and the winner will be announced next Friday February 19th! Here's how you can enter-- choose whichever way you want. The more ways you enter, the better your chances! 

  1. Like PVD Doula on Facebook or follow on Instagram plus choose at least one of the following:
  2. Like the Instagram or Facebook post featuring the giveaway.
  3. Leave a comment here, Facebook or Instagram
  4. Follow @fridababy_HQ on Instagram
  5. Sharing gets you TWO entries (if you are sharing on Instagram, be sure to tag @pvddoula)!
  6. Last but not least, tag a friend! 

Wow! This is probably the most fun I've had writing a blog post. I can't wait to share more Friday Favorites next week-- and announce the winner! 

 

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3 Ways to Ease the Weight of Waiting.

Pregnancy brings with it a whole lot of waiting. With all the unknowns and uncertainties the waiting can be exhausting, sometimes excruciating, perhaps.

It starts even before the positive pregnancy test. It starts in those very long two weeks between ovulation and the two pink lines.

But it doesn't end there.

The two lines bring 5 or so more weeks until the first ultrasound... it doesn't end there either! Waiting to meet with your care provider, waiting to HEAR the heartbeat, waiting to find out the gender, waiting to feel the kicks, waiting for the partner to feel the kicks and then finally, waiting for the baby to be born. Waiting while people ask "When you are due?" Waiting while people remark "You are ready to pop!" Waiting through the Braxton Hicks, the sciatic pain, swollen ankles and the mental exhaustion of any minute or weeks to come.

I don't know that there are many women who DON'T feel the weight of this waiting-- it may be necessary, it may be preparatory of things to come. But is there anything we can do to ease the anxiety? Maybe to even enjoy it?

Perspective

It's easy to forget that two weeks is just 14 days. That one month is peanuts in comparison to a child's life. It's easy to forget that our bodies are capable of growing babies and most times they know exactly what to do (along with our babies) to grow and give birth. One of my favorite articles about the last days of pregnancy actually names the space in between when a mother is full term and the time her baby decides to be born. It's a beautiful perspective and makes me think that maybe it's helpful to NAME where we are at. If we had a name for the time between conception and the positive pregnancy test, could we be more at peace with it? If we remembered that our baby can't show us his or her gender until a certain point, would we be more patient to embrace the space where he is growing and changing? Our minds are powerful and perspective plays a major role on our emotions and well being. The  good news is we can take on new perspectives! 

Stay Off Google

There's no easier way to confuse yourself then by asking Google! Instead, bring your questions to your care provider, to friends and family whom you trust and respect or to your doula. Have them provide you with the resources you need. Ask yourself if knowing the answer to your questions will serve you or cause you to worry unnecessarily. What do you have control over right now? What is necessary for you to know right now? Answer these questions and then go and read a good book that has nothing to do with pregnancy and birth, start a new TV series or pick up a new hobby! 

Journaling

Write to your baby! Journaling is an excellent way to process your thoughts and feelings, to activate creativity and to keep a baby book without the rigidity of filling in blanks, dates and boxes. Writing to your baby (or to your body if you're TTC) is a way for you to speak out the positive. It's a way to process through anxiety and whatever emotions that may arise. It's a way to be in the moment instead of wishing for the next one and it's also a fantastic way to practice being honest and transparent with your baby-- keeping the lines of communication open always.

What a remarkable time you are in right now. Growing another human. The feelings that come along with it can feel insurmountable. Breathe. Lots of deep breaths knowing that are the best person to grow YOUR baby, you will make the best choices for YOUR family and as long as you are caring for YOU, your baby will be cared for too. 

 

 

 

 

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One Family Member Down: Weeks 5-7

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One Family Member Down: Weeks 5-7

First one down.

First one down.

It was getting too easy. Something wasn't right. Well, for starters, Mike was back at work and that meant...we lost him. There was just no way I was going to be able to prep enough food that he could eat (while driving) from 8am- sometimes 8pm!  It just wasn't happening. So he took one of the team (insert sarcasm) and went off diet when he was at work. At home, he still followed the diet, mostly for Judah's sake. Unless she was sleeping-- because then I would catch him sneaking candy ;)

Now, I only had to focus on planning breakfast, lunch and snacks for the kids and me. We were finding this particularly easy given our new go to: Quesadillas . Slowly, I realized that I wasn't quite off the hook. We had fallen into a routine of eating these EASY and TASTY but PROCESSED tortillas every. single. day. And we weren't eating nearly as many vegetables.

I wish I could say that I snapped us out of it and made delicious fresh, eat the rainbow type lunches for the rest of our diet, but I didn't.

The quesadillas were too convenient. And good. And FILLING. 

At the week 5 mark, I finally sat down for long enough to figure out what supplements we would add to Judah's diet. I knew we would do a multivitamin that contained zinc and was hoping to get her started on L-Glutamine to help repair her gut lining. To my surprise, L-glutamine is not appropriate for children under six years old. So we started her on a Rainbow Light vitamin to start. I chose Rainbow Light for a few reasons: price, food-based, contained zinc and also contained prebiotics and digestive enzymes. 

Our choice for Judah's multivitamin.

Our choice for Judah's multivitamin.

Here are a few more happenings from week 5:

  • PUMPKIN. We went pumpkin picking! We brought the pumpkins home and gutted them for seeds, made our own pumpkin puree and from that we made pumpkin muffins and pumpkin chia seed pudding as two more breakfast options!
  • We made the very best CHICKEN WINGS! Oh my goodness gracious, they were spectacular. Middle Eastern flavored chicken wings from Paleo Diet Basics.  Only thing is, we quickly realized how turmeric stains EVERYTHING. And stains and little kids do not mix well. 
  • Granola! Yum. A long time favorite recipe changed a bit to accommodate our diet. Granola on coconut cream with berries? All kinds of YES.
  • Meal planning was easy! The kids seem to have favorites by this point which makes planning simple. Well, at least every other week :) 
Our pumpkin adventure! Pumpkin seeds, pumpkin chia seed pudding and...

Our pumpkin adventure! Pumpkin seeds, pumpkin chia seed pudding and...

During week 6 I was tired. I attended a really long birth and really long births mean extra planning on my part for when I leave my kids. I dream of the day I can leave them with the sitter or drop them to their grandparents and say "Whatever you are eating, they can eat!" 

Sigh. 

  • Meal planning was hard because I was tired.
  • We had friends over for dinner for the first time since we started this and it was a success! They brought a salad and I made roasted chicken, root vegetables, rice and butternut squash bisque! It feels good to eat with friends, again.
  • We modified an old favorite this week from the Minimalist Baker! We nixed the tahini sauce (because of the sugar) and instead added on a mixture of sauteed onions, black beans, garlic powder, oregano and apple cider vinegar.  Sweet Potato Chickpea Buddha Bowls.
  • Judah started with a yeastlike rash that she had before which was extremely frustrating. We decided to cut out all fruit except berries and see what happens. She is such a good sport and amazes me everyday. Not one complaint. 
  • I, on the other hand was considering modifying my diet to include eggs and tomatoes. I didn't even care about the sugar anymore! All I wanted was eggs florentine! 

Gwenyth Paltrow SAVED my week 7. As I was on the verge of tears trying to plan meals for the week, I happened upon some of her recipes from her cookbook "It's All Good."  So many to choose from! We chose to try  lamb for the first time!  We didn't like it (lamb, that is) but that's besides the point. We also discovered millet, too. How wonderful it was to eat NEW things. 

  • Frustrated by Judah's rash that kept appearing every few days, I decided to hit up the Healthiest Kid's Forum and while waiting for a response I decided to keep a food log.
  • Mike and I had a wedding to go to this week and we did NOT stick to the diet. It was very nice to eat cheese and crackers. I will say that. And I loved being able to stalk the appetizer trays during cocktail hour. Literally stalk them. But the next day, I was feeling all sorts of sniffly and headachy. Just no fun and so interesting that my body reacted that way.
Pumpkin muffins! 

Pumpkin muffins! 

We are pressing on! Well, three of us are. This is certainly not easy but it's getting better. I've learned so much already. Judah's rash has made me want to throw in the towel many times but I'm learning to be patient, to not jump to conclusions and to persevere. 

Until next time! 

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When Life Gets In the Way: Weeks 2-4

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When Life Gets In the Way: Weeks 2-4

After 4 weeks into this 4R-elimination diet-gut repair journey, I've come to realize a few things:

  1.  Most challenges would be quite simple if life didn't constantly get in the way.
  2.  Children are incredible beings filled with strength, determination and resilience. 
  3.  Moving sucks.
Judah preparing lunch for the family all by herself one day.

Judah preparing lunch for the family all by herself one day.

It is pretty unbelievable how my husband and I have whined and craved and exploded over the tiny things throughout these first four weeks. My children on the other hand continue to amaze me. Every single meal our four year old gushes over. She thanks us and tells us it's the best food she's every eaten, meanwhile, I am hoping someone will turn their back so I can stuff my face full of brownies or ice cream. 

Judah's creation! Brown rice with olive oil and salt, leftover seasoned chickpeas, carrots, celery, greens and some extra vitamin C for a sick dad.

Judah's creation! Brown rice with olive oil and salt, leftover seasoned chickpeas, carrots, celery, greens and some extra vitamin C for a sick dad.

I feel a sense of accomplishment each time i need to make another shopping list. Like I am checking off a to-do list. One less week to go. Delish. Meal planning, though, is still daunting. Creativity is lacking and falling into a food cycle makes us pretty cranky. We have found a few ways to mix it up though, and some life saving recipes that I am excited to share.  But, first-- what's new and weekly recaps. 

The high of moving back to PVD was soon shot by my husband throwing his back out. When I got the call that he was lying on rooftop unable to move (he had been power washing rooftop decks)  I wanted to cry. Not for him, ha. But for me! I'm sure that sounds pretty terrible and wildly selfish, but we were moving in ONE WEEK and the man of the house couldn't get out of bed. Not even to pee. I was left to care for the children, him, pack up our entire apartment and hope that we would have enough help on moving day. (Which we did! THANK YOU TO ALL OF OUR AMAZING FRIENDS!!!!!)

On top of that-- this f-ing diet. That's what it felt like in that moment. Such a waste of time and a constant pebble in my shoe. In general, it was getting easier, we were getting into a groove, we weren't constantly hungry anymore and we felt good. But when life throws curveballs, man, everything seems astronomical. 

Here's how it all broke down:

(Poorly presented) Berries and Cream!!

(Poorly presented) Berries and Cream!!

Week 2: Recap

  • I struggled to keep it all together. Every night I prayed that no one would go into labor. Leaving to go to a birth on top of my already scheduled appointments, packing, cooking etc. would be stressful and stress is the last thing I want to carry with me to the arrival of a new baby. One day, a wonderful friend from church, who had heard about Mike's back asked to bring us a meal and I wanted to cry. How LOVELY that would be, except, no. How could we ask anyone to follow the strict guidelines we were on? I dreamt of that meal, though. Daydreamed about it and felt so much gratitude for the offer. I imagined how wonderful it would be to have food delivered to us. Goodness.
  • I realized that when food isn't convenient, I don't eat. I was taking nibbles of the kid's food, eating dinner with the family, but in the busyness of the day, if I couldn't throw some yogurt in a bowl, I really wasn't eating much at all.
  • We really, really, wanted something sweet and we found just the thing. Trader Joe's Coconut Cream stored in the refrigerator, scooped right out of the can with some frozen berries mixed in. HEAVENLY. Perfect after-dinner fix.  
  • My symptoms were lessening! Prior to this diet I had been having some tingling in my fingers. It was annoying but not really painful. More emotionally exhausting then anything. I hadn't realized that it had lessened until I went to prenatal appointment and cheated on the diet. Yup. I did it. My wonderful, incredible clients had WILDFLOUR waiting for me and so how could I resist!? That evening and the next day, I noticed the tingling was back, which made me realize it had been gone!
  • Judah, our four year old, had a strange flare up of eczema (which had been under control for quite some time).  It's gone now and hasn't come back so I'm not sure what that was all about. Also, her red yeast-like rash have improved! 

Week 3: Recap

  • Pinterest is my friend. I don't know what I was thinking but for the first two weeks I was trying to meal plan without Pinterest. Being able to put our diet restrictions in the search bar has been amazingly helpful. 
  • Will there ever be time to prep? Between packing, cleaning and working there hasn't been much time for anything else. It has been such a challenge to not just stop at Chipotle and grab takeout. 
  • Lunchtime has been redeemed by quesadillas! It seems like it is a struggle to make good quality (filling!) food until dinnertime. But this week we added in cheese-less quesadillas on Trader Joe's brown rice and quinoa tortillas. The tortilla wrap things are a bit more processed than I would like but they have minimal ingredients and are gluten free. They also crisp up SO nicely in the oven. YUM.
  • New on the menu this week: Creamy Lemon Chicken from Wholesomelicious This is seriously a delicious meal. If you aren't a mushroom lover, I would suggest cooking with them for the flavor and then taking them out at the end. This is what we do for my husband and kids and it works out just fine.

Week 4: Recap

  • Repetition continues to be hard. I have been trying to add in a new dinner meal each week, at least, but for everything else we pretty much rotate between 3 different breakfasts/snacks/lunches. I really wanted to branch out from the smoothies and banana boats for breakfast but was unsure if we could have oats and if we could, would my kids eat them without a sweetener. I ran to the Healthiest Kid's Universty forum and asked a few questions. Turns out oats are OK as long as they are definitely gluten free, as there is a risk of cross contamination.  Good for us that Trader Joe's (if you haven't already guessed with LOVE this place) has gluten free oats. So does Job Lot, for that matter.  I also asked some questions about sweeteners. Because my daughter has, what seems like, a yeast issue, I wanted to be sure that we could safely give her something without adding to the problem. Coconut Nectar was suggested-- and even though it's quite pricey, it is DIVINE.  We have officially started to have oatmeal once and awhile! 
  • We love cashews so much we ate an entire bag in one sitting. I'm pretty sure the goal here is variety, color and lots of vegetables but nuts make a great snack and perfect for on the go! With that being said, I've found that quality food takes planning right down to the snacks. When I actually map out our entire week (and stick to it!) things seem to go much smoother.
  • New on the menu this week: Sweet Potato Burritos and Chicken Pot Pie from Milk Free Mom with this Sweet As Honey's crust
  • We have officially moved and does it still make sense to go to Trader Joe's???!!  We aren't nearly as close to TJs as we used to be (insert panic). This week I was in a rush, per usual and quickly put together a shopping list and decided to check out Aldi's. AHHHHH!!! I will say that maybe I just went on a bad day or was in such a rush I couldn't spot the gems-- but after that trip, I just wanted to cry. Whole Foods is the next closest but we aren't millionaires, so I packed up and raced to Trader Joe's. Big sigh of relief. Where everybody knows my name. Not sure how we will make out without this place but I will choose to carry on and  worry about that next week ;)
@PVDdoula post of cheese-less quesadillas. Refried beans, hummus, sweet potatoes, artichoke hearts and Trader Joe's Power Greens.

@PVDdoula post of cheese-less quesadillas. Refried beans, hummus, sweet potatoes, artichoke hearts and Trader Joe's Power Greens.

Our Cheese-less Quesadillas
=========
Serves one

Ingredients
(This is just one example, these quesadillas can be filled with anything)
----------
-(1) Tortilla that meets the standards for the 4R diet
(we used Trader Joe's Brown Rice and Quinoa Tortillas)
- 2 TBS Refried or smashed black beans (make sure these do not contain nightshades)
-2 TBS Hummus of choice or mashed avocado
-(1) Handful of greens 


Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.  
Place a tortilla on a baking sheet. 
Spread beans and other toppings of choice on either side, topping it off with the greens. 
Place open-faced in the oven for about 7 minutes or until the edges of the tortilla are brown and to desired crispiness. 
Fold in half and enjoy! 

Sweet Potato Burritos
(adapted from the amazing Two Blue Lemon's Sweet Potato Tacos recipe).
=========

Ingredients
----------
2 large sweet potatoes
Olive oil
Salt
1 can of refried beans (that do not contain nightshades).
Greens
Yellow onion
1 Lime
1 Avocado
Tortillas that meet the 4R guidelines


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Chop sweet potatoes into small cubes.
Arrange in one layer on a baking sheet and toss with a bit of olive oil and a bit of salt. 
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, tossing at the half way mark.
Meanwhile, chop the onion and greens. Slice the avocado and cut the lime into wedges.
Warm the refried beans on the stove top. 
Once the beans are warmed and the sweet potatoes are baked, warm the tortillas to soften over medium heat in a large enough skillet. 
Pile on the toppings, squeeze some lime, roll up and dig in.

 

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What Does A Postpartum Doula Do? 3 Ways You Can Benefit From Hiring One

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What Does A Postpartum Doula Do? 3 Ways You Can Benefit From Hiring One

If you are reading this I assume, like many, you want to know what a postpartum doula does and better yet, why can't you just have your mom or family member help you out once the baby arrives?

These are valid questions and hopefully I can shed some light.

Let's start with what postpartum doulas actually do. Postpartum doulas support families anytime within the first year of having a baby. Starting, most often, during the first few weeks -4 months after the baby is born. This support is tailored to each individual family's needs, and the support changes as the needs change-- sometimes with each visit! Some examples of what a day with a doula looks like can be found here here and here.

A postpartum doula is hired and contracted for a certain amount of hours. These hours can be spent during the day or some doulas even come to your house overnight to give you and your partner a peaceful and deep night's sleep.  Depending on how the baby is fed, in the early days an overnight doula would feed the baby or bring the baby to you and then take the baby back to his room to sleep. The doula would make sure the baby stays safe and content, all while you sleep! In the early weeks, when feedings happen often, a couple of hours of restorative sleep can do wonders for the next day. 

Daytime hours are spent doing things like:

  • cooking,
  • cleaning,
  • helping with older children,
  • holding the baby while you nap or take some time for yourself
  • providing non-judgmental, emotional support and a listening ear
  • providing lactation support and resources as needed
  • helping to navigate the inevitable advice given by friends and family
  • supporting the choices you make for your family

A postpartum doula could essentially be hired to manage the house while you rest and bond with your baby, all while keeping you fed and hydrated.

But wait, why can't your mom do all of this? Or an experienced friend or family member?

Maybe they can! And that is absolutely wonderful if you have that type of support. But just for kicks, let's consider a few reasons why one might hire a doula:

1. It Takes a Village and Most of Us Don't Live in One.

Sometimes I wonder about how mothers back in the day lived without letting their kids watch a TV show once and while. Now, I definitely ere on the more conservative side when it comes to screen time, but sometimes, I feel like I NEED to stick a 2 hour movie on so that I can do some work or clean the house in peace! I also used to wonder how many women can have 4, 5, 6, 12 (!!) kids, until one day I looked around at my filthy walls (I know, I know, do people really take note of their walls and feel like they need to be cleaned? I do, apparently) and I just had to clean them. I got out a sponge and a bucket of soapy water. Suddenly I had attracted my troops! The kids were here to play and that's when it hit me. THIS is why people have a lot of children.

A lot of children = a lot of helpers. ;)

I realized two things. First, things have changed. Our society has changed. Most women have to work and when they are home, they are living in houses where they are isolated to just their immediate family. This can either make one mind numbingly bored or extremely stressed to work, care for the children and the house on their own. Second, I began to think about my own travels to countries like Haiti and Greece, where village life is still very much alive and the village kids and families are at each other's disposal. There's no need for TV: when kids can roam freely, parents don't have to entertain them.

Better yet, there's always someone around to lend a hand.

So what does this have to do with postpartum care?  It has everything to go with postpartum care!

You are coming home from the hospital and you need to rest. You need to be able to nurse, sleep, snuggle and enjoy these moments. Maybe you have older children who can't wait to see you and spend time with you, your partner and the new baby. You don't need to be doing dishes, you don't need to be making food (but you do need to be eating food!) and you don't need to be worrying about laundry. You could benefit from some sleep, a nutritious meal, maybe a shower or a bath and your body needs to recover.

Maybe your partner can help with this for a little while and maybe your friends and family can come over and help too. But we don't live in a village. Much of our support doesn't live close by. If they do, they have to work and care for families of their own. This type of help makes a lovely and refreshing visit, of course, but is it sustainable? Does it feel helpful and secure?

 A postpartum doula is trained in this type of support and is with you ONLY for that very reason: to support you and your family well and they stay with you for as long as you need to feel safe and confident.

2. When We Know Better, We Do Better

We have an overwhelming amount of information coming at us. We want what's best for our families and we are part of a generation of people who will not just do what the generations before us did if it doesn't seem best. We research, we observe, we learn and we try to do better. A postpartum doula can help you navigate information found on google by providing current and evidence based research specific to each of your concerns. A doula can also remind you to tap into your own intuition regardless of outside information; encouraging you, that YOU and YOUR PARTNER know what is best for you baby. A doula doesn't judge. A doula supports, listens and provides the space for you to make the decisions you know are best. This can be especially valuable when it feels as if you are swimming upstream. 

3. A Doula Knows the Reality of Postpartum Depression (PPD)

I almost didn't list this as a reason why a postpartum doula is beneficial, but then I thought to myself. NO. With one in seven women dealing with some kind of mood or anxiety disorder, it needs to be said. PPD is a very real issue that mothers face every day. It can be scary. It can be overwhelming. It can feel like it will never end. But it can and it will. There is so much support and help available. It does not have to be something to fear. 

A postpartum doula is trained in helping mothers to decompress and process their pregnancy and birth. Postpartum doulas welcome all emotions and provide a safe place to be real and raw. A doula can tell the difference between (and help the partner tell) what are normal hormonal changes and what seems as if mom could use a bit more support. She can give referrals to specialists who can help navigate the sometimes, very dark, places of postpartum depression and help find a way out. 

So, there you have it!

Hopefully I have provided a bit more information as to what a postpartum doula does and how you can benefit from hiring one. If you are here in Rhode Island, I would love to chat with you more about this wonderful service. Feel free to reach out with any questions or just to say hi! 

 

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Week One: Learning a new normal + some of our favorite recipes

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Week One: Learning a new normal + some of our favorite recipes

I would say on a scale of one to ten, this week ranked as a five. It wasn't awesome, it definitely could have been better, but it wasn't terrible either. Maybe very typical of learning a new normal. As my body craved brie and crackers and dark chocolate, my mind kept thinking "Only X more days, no, shoot. 3 more months!" With that kind of thinking it was easy to feel discouraged. Early on I realized what a job food does on the mind. I couldn't think in terms of time, I had to think in terms of what was normal for our family right. now.

The first challenge was breakfast. We can't have eggs. We can't have toast. We can only have limited fruit: a choice of 1 cup of berries and 1 apple, 1 banana or 2 kiwis. So what do we do for breakfast?? This was the first question I asked on Dr. Aviva's Healthiest Kids forum. The answers I got were exactly what I was dreading. 

Dinner for breakfast. Leftovers for breakfast. Pumpkin pudding...sweet potatoes...

INSERT SOBS.

The first morning Simon woke up and immediately went to the fridge. He does this every morning, looking for an apple. He may do this because it's really the only snack he can get for himself while everyone else is still in bed-- but I like to think he eats an apple every morning because when I was pregnant with him, Mike would toss me an apple before he went to work. If I didn't eat before I got out of bed in the morning, I would pass out and an apple was the easiest fix.

Moving on... I had decided when I was prepping for the journey that we would have to eat smaller portions of fruit so that we didn't run out of snack choices before the days end. Limiting fruit is very challenging for us. I offered Simon a half of an apple (which miraculously, he seemed to be ok with) and then I proceeded to make the grossest smoothie ever. I don't even remember what I tried to put in it. I've blocked it out. Sorry. 

In hindsight, we should have stayed home this first day to get a handle on things. But alas, we went out for the morning. I packed what I thought would be enough snacks-- but I was dead wrong. Limited kiwi sent the kids into a maniac whirlwind. 

Lunch was next. I had planned Meghan Telpner's Heck No Mayo Salmon Salad with quinoa, over a bed of spinach. Hummus and a choice of carrots or cucumber. For me, I skipped the salmon but I had everything else. I am not a seafood person. At. All. 

This seemed to go over well except Judah was not pleased by the lack of mayo in the salmon salad. 

Dinner was, well, dinner was DELICIOUS. Here is what we made:

Roasted chicken and vegetables over brown rice! Sounds so simple doesn't it? It was easy to make, tasty, clean, filling, and made great leftovers. After a full day of hunger pangs we were all incredibly thankful for this meal.

Roasted chicken

Roasted chicken

Roasted Chicken and Vegetables
=========
Serves 4 (roughly)
Ingredients
----------

1 Whole Chicken
1 Lemon
1 Head of Garlic
Salt
Pepper
Dry Mustard
Garlic Powder
Olive Oil
3 Sweet Potatoes, chopped
4 Carrots, chopped
1 Head of Broccoli, chopped
1 Red Onion, cut into wedges

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F
  2. While the oven is preheating, prepare the chicken and chop all vegetables. Taking into account how long the individual vegetable takes to cook through, the vegetables should be roughly the same size.
  3. To prepare the chicken start by taking out any giblets and filling the chicken with lemon wedges and garlic cloves. You may want to truss the chicken too, but I didn't. 
  4. In a small bowl mix together a few glugs of olive oil, some mustard, garlic powder, salt and pepper. The amount is different every time I make this. You will have to adjust to your liking-- but my advice is to go a bit heavier on the spices then you think you should.
  5. Once everything is mixed cover the chicken with the mixture. Make sure to cover the whole thing and even a bit inside the opening of the cave. Cave, yes. I don't like to use actual body part terms because well, I get too grossed out. 
  6. Place the chicken in a roasting pan along with all of the vegetables. Sprinkle a bit of seasoning on the vegetables and stick in the preheated oven.
  7. After 15 minutes turn the heat down to 350 degrees F and roast for 20 minutes per pound.
  8. Serve over brown rice. 

Despite the wonderful meal, the evening brought some irritable feelings effecting all of us, but by the next morning we were back at it. Mike was off to work and the kids and I discussed how the day before went for us. We openly expressed how hard it was and how we were sad and frustrated at times. I asked them if they wanted to continue on (mostly Judah) and they said yes. In that moment, I was so proud of their determination and I already felt better about Day #2-- we had learned so much the previous day. I decided on something different for breakfast, set specific snack times to avoid the constant asking for food (and the possibility of running out!) and I spent the morning making large batches of our new staples.

For breakfast we each had banana boats and a half of an apple. The kids LOVED the banana boats! Morning snack consisted of black olives, almonds and a choice of carrots or celery. For lunch we had leftovers of the salmon salad over quinoa with a side of black beans and sweet potato. Afternoon snack was a 1/2 cup of frozen berries and for dinner I served leftovers of the yummy chicken (with absolutely no complaints)!

Banana Boats with almond butter, hemp seed and coconut flakes.

Banana Boats with almond butter, hemp seed and coconut flakes.

Banana Boats
=========

Ingredients (Serves 1)
----------

Half of a banana
Almond butter; unsweetened (we used chunky)
Ground flax seed, hemp seed, chia seed --whatever you prefer
Unsweetened coconut flakes
Pecans

  1. Slice the banana lengthwise.
  2. Smooth on some almond butter, sprinkle some flax, coconut flakes and pecans.
  3. Eat!

Here is my FIRST WEEK RECAP!

  • Making a shopping list takes a massive amount of time. I need to plan ahead for this.
  • Pasta is my BEST FRIEND. We found a brown rice and quinoa pasta at Trader Joe's that is not only delicious but meets the criteria for our diet. Although processed foods are frowned upon, the pasta has saved my sanity for when I need to make something fast, or when we have nothing left and shopping is not an option. Hallelujah! 
  • Making large batches of things like quinoa, brown rice and sweet potatoes is a GAME CHANGER.
  • Setting snack times and sticking by them is super important for all of us. The kids are crazy if I don't do this and that makes ME crazy. It was interesting to see how much eating we all do out of boredom, having set snack times has pushed us past that into CREATIVITY.
  • Oh, and Mike and the kids are sick. Interestingly enough this is often a sign that the body is detoxing! Yahoo!
  • AND!! We got our apartment! Looks like PVD doula is moving back to PVD! 
  • Husband says that he's "not hungry, he's just not satisfied." Our addiction to flour and sugar is really coming out, eeek!  But, we survived the first week and we are mostly smiling. This is good.

We can do this! 

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A Little Prep (for a long elimination diet!) Goes a Long Way

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A Little Prep (for a long elimination diet!) Goes a Long Way

Elimination diets aren't easy. For anyone. I know this. What I didn't realize was how hard it was going to be for me to even begin.

About 3 years ago, we started realizing that our oldest child was having some issues with her skin. At first, it seemed like her skin was "sensitive"-- whatever that means. She would react poorly to different types of soap and she had some really gnarly patches of eczema. As time went on, it seemed we couldn't figure out what her triggers were and it was rather frustrating. Have you been there? Could it be this? Oh it's definitely that! Wow, look! She seems to be clearing up!

Not.

I had about had it, and then poop really hit the fan. (Side note: What? Hit the fan?) She had been having this red burn-like rash on her bottom (different than the patches), it would come and go but when it came, it was painful! Our pediatrician assured us it was because she wasn't keeping herself clean and dry and for us to consider helping her wipe after she went to the bathroom. Could this really be the issue? Such an easy fix-- although my heart did sink a bit, as I would have to take back the happy dance I did when I realized I had finally broken free of wiping her butt!

Time went by and I just wasn't convinced.

What we were convinced of was that sugar and highly processed foods made it worse. So we avoided them. Even fruit.

Things would be good. And then the rash would come back. F.

Spring of 2014 rolled around and she got a strange bite on her neck accompanied by a very high fever about two days later. Unsure if it was Lyme or not, our new and very conservative pediatrician apologized to me profusely but said that he would like to put her on 2-3 weeks of antibiotics. I partially knew about the negative effects of antibiotics on our gut, but not to the extent I know now.

And I hate Lyme. So we went for it.

A few days into the prescription, her red rash turned purple. A few more days go by and we let her have a BITE of birthday cake and she turned into a maniac. Screaming in pain that her bottom hurt. Crying. Waking in the night... the whole thing.

What does a mother do when her baby is in pain and there is nothing she can do to help? Google. Ha. No, really. We all do it, don't we? I read and I read and I read. And I ended up...

Confused.

I started to think back on her life a bit. In her 3 years of living she had antibiotics at birth, she had prophylactic meds for Malaria (for our trip to Haiti) and now another round of antibiotics right around her 3rd birthday. Was this considered a lot? Could the antibiotics be contributing to the problem?

After much prayer and thought and research and frustration, we decided to (randomly, this had not been on our radar) cut out dairy from her diet. To our surprise in 3 months her eczema was completely gone and her rash on her bottom was gone and it didn't come back!               CUE THE CLAPPING!!!!

I was finally able to REST. And she was finally able to eat a damn apple again.

She kept on me though, kept asking when we would try to figure out what was going on. The girl is persistent. So I finally did it. I set a date and I didn't budge on it.

Let me tell you. Prepping for this sucked. Meal planning for this first week had me in tears.

The 4R's stand for Remove, Replace, Reinoculate and Repair. So we planned to remove anything that could trigger inflammation, to replace with healthier choices and a digestive enzyme, to reinoculate with probiotics but then...

DANG, this was EXPENSIVE; so we decided to hold off on the repair for now.

Let's chat a minute about making a shopping list for myself, a husband, a four year old and a two year old when all of our go- to snacks were on the naughty list. And I'm not talking about candy or fruit snacks either, I'm talking about mango and bell peppers! (The top photo isn't accurate, we can't even have freaking bell peppers). Yogurt, cottage cheese... EGGS! Wh

Life was sweet. For awhile. Until she really wanted some yogurt and I really wanted to let her have some.

I wanted to get to the root of the food sensitivity.

Which is what led me to Dr. Aviva Romm's Healthiest Kids University and the Allergy Epidemic. In this course she discusses the root causes of some allergies and even auto-immune diseases and guess what one of them was? Antibiotics, yes, but more specifically, treatment using antibiotics for Group B Strep during birth.

BINGO.

So began our journey with Dr. Aviva's 4R program. Well, in theory anyway. Anything sounds good in theory right? I would set dates to start, and then cancel them. I would think about how to prepare and then not prepare. She and I would talk about it at length and she would get excited at the idea to eat cheese again, possibly-- but then a family party would come up or she would get invited to a friend's birthday or we could go away for the weekend and I would put it off.

Because who the heck can fit an elimination diet like this into their life? Don't get me wrong, we cook the majority of food at home anyway-- we eat well, mostly vegetarian, I pay attention to the dirty dozen, we brew our own Kombucha for goodness sakes! But what if I wanted to quickly grab Chipotle one night? Or go to a friend's home for a meal? What happens then?

It seemed impossible.

Dairy-free. Gluten-free. Sugar-free. Red-meat free. Limited fruit. No nightshades.

AND THE LIST GOES ON.

What the heck would we eat for breakfast, I want to know??? I can only seem to scrounge up recipes for dinner, but am at a complete loss for breakfast, lunch and snacks.

I plan on having smoothies (which take up all of our fruit choices) for breakfast almost every single morning. For 3 months. Everybody laugh along with me!! Only a crazy person would attempt this with whole family.

Hello, nice to meet you. I'm CRAZY.

When we aren't having smoothies-- well, I guess we can have bananas and almond butter.

Lunch: Rice and carrot sticks? Will my two year old eat a salad?

Snacks: Green beans.

Is that enough? Ha. I'm tired already. That's it folks. That's all I've got.

Wish me luck!

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Group B What?: The Ins and Outs of Group B Strep (GBS) and a Three Month Adventure to Repair the Gut

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Group B What?: The Ins and Outs of Group B Strep (GBS) and a Three Month Adventure to Repair the Gut

Late pregnancy belly

Late pregnancy belly

Hello there.

You're getting close to your due month. How exciting! You're feeling pretty good. Maybe you are ready to have this baby, maybe you need a bit more time. Overall you are happy to have had such a healthy pregnancy. Then your care provider tells you, you've tested positive for Group B Strep.

Group B what?

Group B Streptococcus.

You may have some questions. Here are some answers.

Bacteria

Bacteria

Group B Streptococcus (Group B Strep) is a bacteria that lives in the intestines of many people. It can travel down to the vagina, urinary tract and rectum. Often, it is the culprit of urinary tract infections (UTI). But for the most part it lives in the intestine and doesn't seem to be much of a problem. Some women find out that they have a GBS infection which would show up during routine urine testing, but most women would only know they were Group B positive because of a swab test around 37 weeks pregnant.

So what's the deal with pregnancy, then?

Well, here's the deal. If the GBS moves its way into the vagina and/or rectum during the last weeks of pregnancy it can get passed on to the baby (in other words, baby can become colonized with GBS) during a vaginal birth. It is not alarming when a baby becomes colonized but developing an infection is. The chances they would develop an infection are small but if they do, they can develop meningitis, pneumonia and sepsis. This is why, in the US, we screen for GBS and the standard is to treat with antibiotics during labor and birth.

Pretty straight forward, right? Sort of.

When I was pregnant with my first baby I tested positive for Group B Strep. I didn't know much about gut health and the negative effects of antibiotics on our bodies.

In fact, I didn't know anything.

I was concerned about mobility. I wanted to move while I labored and I wanted to make sure that this Group B business wouldn't take that away from me. I was told that I would have to be hooked up to an IV periodically to administer antibiotics but it shouldn't restrict my movement. That's all I wanted to know.

But there's so much more.

How many babies actually develop a GBS infection? What are the short term and long term effects of antibiotic use for the mom and baby? Do the benefits outweigh the risks? and is there any way to avoid testing positive for GBS?

There is a wonderful resource on this grand Wide World Web called Evidence Based Birth. Here, they lay out the research and what it has to say regarding pregnancy and birth issues, including Group B Strep.  If you want answers to the above questions, this should be your first stop.

Second stop, right here: Dr. Aviva Romm has some truly wonderful information on Group B Strep for the thoughtful mom, including how to protect against an infection. She also has interesting research, over at Healthiest Kids University that connects antibiotic use in newborns with allergies, eczema, asthma in childhood, obesity and diabetes.

So begins our journey. My baby is four now. She has a dairy sensitivity, eczema and another recurring rash that we have yet to explain. It doesn't sound too complicated, but when I began to realize that eczema, skin issues, even allergies are our body's way of telling us there's something wrong, I needed to get to the root of the problem!

Hoyles at a PVD playground.

Hoyles at a PVD playground.

Our family is embarking on a 3- month (at least!) hunt for healthier guts :) We will be following Dr. Aviva Romm's 4R program and although I am excited to begin trying to help our daughter kick some of her symptoms (and maybe some of mine too!) I can't imagine it will be easy with a 4 year old, a 2 year old and a husband who loves ice cream and coffee milk.

Join us week by week for highs, lows, recipes and more!

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Why I became a Doula

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Why I became a Doula

“So… how did you decide to become a doula?” 

That’s a question I often get asked when interviewing with a potential client.

I usually smile, remembering my very own journey through pregnancy and birth and then proceed to tell them that it was a gradual happening starting with my daughter’s birth and ending some time after she was a year old; when I realized how much I loved all things birth and had naturally fallen into a support role as my peers began to have children right alongside me.

But that’s a lie. I’ve been lying.

I didn’t realize it until two days ago when Randy Patterson from Prodoula asked me: “Who is your business’ hero?”

Umm…. what? My business’ hero? I’m not very good on my feet– plus this was an intense question!

I sat and thought. I thought back to the story I always tell. I thought back to Judah’s birth– is she my business’ hero? I thought back to my friends’ births and their postpartum periods, were they my business’ heros?

I thought back to the very first birth I ever witnessed. Suddenly my face became hot and tears welled up in my eyes. 

I was 17 years old. I remember the day like it was yesterday. I was taking a nap not expecting any company, when I felt a tap on my shoulder. Kneeling by my bed, was my cousin, 17 years old, just like me.

She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said: “I never got my period. I’m pregnant.”

I sat up– still fuzzy– not knowing what to say.

She continued on… and the story wasn’t a pretty one. 

She eventually looked at me and said “I don’t know what to do. Everyone says I should have an abortion. What do I do?”

Suddenly, me, a 17 year old high schooler without a care in the world, who was obsessed with her boyfriend and auditioning for school plays, was assuming the position of authority in things BIRTH related. <GULP>

Lord knows if I even knew HOW a baby was birthed, never mind if my partnerless, jobless, senior in high school teenage cousin should go through with her pregnancy!?

Did I mention I’m not quick on my feet?

I took a breath and muttered “I’ll help you. Whatever you need. I’ll help you”

For the next nine months, I quietly watched. I watched as her body changed and grew. I watched as she was congratulated, was given loads of advice and I watched as she was stared at and probably talked about behind her back. I watched as she navigated school as, quite possibly, the only other kid growing another human being.

I watched her strength.

Springtime came, and I was playing Peter Pan in my high school’s yearly musical. I got word that I would be needed bright and early the next morning for my cousin’s induction. My director gave me the day off and headed to her house.

The night before, we packed her bag. I remember the little diapers… I was so excited. A baby was about to be born!

When I think back on it now, I wonder how she must have been feeling.

Nervous? Embarrassment? Dread? Resentment? Guilt? Shame?

The details that I remember from the birth are unlike the details that I remember when I attend births now. I remember taking videos, I remember writing down different things that she was saying during the labor. I remember playing card games and I remember falling asleep outside in the hallway while she got her epidural.

I remember how she pushed. I remember how hard it was physically but how incredibly intense and beautiful it all was.

I remember that I wasn’t afraid.

I remember his black, fuzzy hair and his red skin and squishy nose.

I remember holding him. I remember that she didn’t want to hold him.

But I remember how she did, anyway.

SHE is my business’ hero. SHE is the reason I love birth and I support families.

Because the journey is long sometimes, and the journey is unexpected sometimes. The journey is bittersweet sometimes. It can be joyful, it can be easy, it can be enjoyable, but not always.

This is not a position on abortion. This is not a position on epidural or induction…on purple pushing or passive descent.

This is about supporting a mother in making the decisions that SHE thinks are best for her and her family. This is about the STRENGTH within a woman that defies circumstance, feeling and plans.

SHE is how it all started for me. Thirteen years ago on a sunny day in April, when if someone would have mentioned the word “doula” to me I would have tilted my head and said:

“What? What’s that?”

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