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When Life Gets In the Way: Weeks 2-4


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

(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).

2 large sweet potatoes
Olive oil
1 can of refried beans (that do not contain nightshades).
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.



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


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! 



Why I became a Doula


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?”