Wednesday, April 27, 2011

More on the VLCD Diet

And yes, I do know that saying "VLCD Diet" is redundant (like an "ATM machine"). But I'll stick with it for now. :)

As you all know, I've been researching the potential of the "Very Low Carbohydrate Diet" (VLCD) to mitigate NVP. And, as a matter of fact - drum roll, please! - I'm actually on day eleven of the 28-day Phase II of the "Florida VLCD Diet." HURRAY!! I will write more about that later.

Anyway, I have been searching the internet for any success stories using a VLCD, and I ran across the blog of Dr. Jay Wortman, a physician who specializes in treating illness through low-carb diet. You can check out his blog on your own, but here is what I found in one entry:

"The big news is that we have a daughter! Isabelle is almost a year old now and is thriving. She is a low-carb baby. Her mom ate a very low carb diet throughout the pregnancy and since. The only noticeable difference was a complete absence of morning sickness. During the last pregnancy when we were still eating a high carb diet, morning sickness was a big problem. Anne kept food at the bedside and would snack in the wee hours as this seemed to reduce the severity of the morning sickness somewhat. Our cat learned to hang around to snack on the crumbs. Of course, the snacks back then were high carb foods such as muffins and cakes. This time, none of that, just the usual very low carb diet of meats, fish, poultry, dairy and lots of non-starchy vegetables. The other thing we noticed was that there was no excess weight gain."
 And here's what he says about his new little one:

"It is remarkable to think that she has never been exposed to sugar, in utero or since. The kinds of foods we make for her now consist of pureed meats, non-starchy vegetables and dairy products. For instance, we steam and puree cauliflower with a cheese sauce, or a meat and tomato sauce, or spinach with cream cheese. Unlike her brother, she has an enormous appetite and loves every kind of food we give her. Even things you wouldn’t expect like olives and smoked salmon. She loves it all and eats with gusto. She eats with us in her high chair at the dinner table and will try some of our adult food, too. Yesterday, she ate some small pieces of steak. She loves to chew on pork ribs....

"The funny thing is that there was only one instance where she rejected food that was offered to her. I was speaking at a conference in Seattle and Anne and the kids came along as it was on a weekend. I was busy with the meeting so Anne took the kids to a diner for breakfast. The only food they had that she thought was suitable for Isabelle was oatmeal. Isabelle refused to eat it – that’s my girl!"

So I wrote in the comments (scroll down to the bottom to see on his blog):

"Dear Dr. Jay,

"I am really enjoying the material on your blog! Thanks for posting!
"I was especially interested in reading that your wife was successfully able to control morning sickness using a very low carbohydrate diet. I am currently on a VLCD (meat/eggs, non-starchy vegetables, and cheese) in an effort to avoid hyperemesis gravidarum with any upcoming pregnancies. (This is by recommendation of a fertility doctor who found that when he used a VLCD for PCOS patients, their morning sickness also vanished.) May I ask if that was the same diet that your wife used? And did she also have hyperemesis with her previous pregnancies, or just normal morning sickness?

"I’ll let you know if it works!"
 And his reply:

"My wife didn’t have hyperemesis with her first pregnancy. I would say she had normal morning sickness. She found that if she ate something at around 3:30 am, she could avoid or minimize the problem. She kept snacks at the bedside and in those days we were eating a high-carb diet so this would usually be big muffins. In retrospect, it seems to me that the morning sickness may have been related to, or exacerbated by hypoglycemia, but I haven’t taken the time to puzzle out why that would happen only during pregnancy. In non-pregnant people, hypoglycemia is corrected by a VLCD.

"In the second pregnancy, she continued her VLCD and had virtually no morning sickness. I know there is great variability with this problem and that the same woman can have different experiences with different pregnancies so I have hesitated in making general recommendations. I do find it interesting that your fertility doctor observed that this worked with his PCOS patients, though. I am also impressed that he knows that VLCD will correct PCOS.

"The diet we eat is as you describe. In addition, I would advise that you avoid all the vegetable oils except olive and canola because of excess omega-6. And make sure you are getting enough salt to replace the salt your kidneys will be excreting on low-carb.

"As to whether it is harmful or beneficial to the fetus, I have only one case study to report on and, as far as I can tell, it certainly hasn’t been harmful. It’s hard to say whether it has been beneficial. We certainly have a smart, sturdy, thriving and adorable little girl so I tend to think there was a benefit. I suppose time will tell.

"Good luck with your baby-making efforts!"
And my reply!!

"Thanks, Dr. Jay! I appreciate your kind words and also hearing about your experience!

"I am going to post the link for you so that you can read up on this doctor’s work for yourself. He is not my doctor, unfortunately (he’s in FL and we are in AZ), but I read about him on a low-carb blog, and we have corresponded – and he was so kind as to send me the document for the VLCD he prescribes for his PCOS clients.
And his final reply:

"Thanks for that URL. I am going to post it here in the links section as I think this is an area that needs a lot more exposure."
So there you have it! I wanted to post the whole thing (insignificant bits removed) so that anyone who wants to make use of this idea would have all of my gathered data available.

I'll write about my adventures in VLCD eating later! Have an awesome day, everyone!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Guest Post, Part II

You can now read the second part of my guest post here. I'd love to hear your comments!

Happy Easter!!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

He Is Risen Indeed!

Tonight is the (celebrated) anniversary of the most important event in the history of creation.... the resurrection of Christ. No human being was there to see it, so we can only imagine how it actually took place. We know only that when the morning came, the tomb was empty - and the women who came to mourn at at a grave found instead an angel at an empty tomb who spoke the most thrilling of words:

"He is not here; he is risen, just as he said!"

A most blessed of Easter Sundays to you all, dear readers! He is risen indeed!

Today I Am Not Here

..... because I am somewhere else! And excited to be there! :)

Today marks my very first stint as a guest birth blogger - on my sister blogger Olivia's birth blog, Write About Birth. Be sure to check out her blog!

Last month Olivia wrote an utterly fascinating article for my birth blog, Giving Birth in Serbia. It is a fascinating article (take a look if you haven't yet!), and after reading it I realized that if that type of hospital was my only choice, I too would be birthing my children unassisted.

Olivia and I agreed to trade blog articles, and for her blog she asked me to write about hyperemesis gravidarum. I'm afraid I got a little bit carried away, because my long-winded article made her wordpress crash, and she is going to be publishing my article in two parts. The first is up today! Check it out here. It is a "hyperemesis primer" - I tell my story, in brief (readers who have read my story before will remember parts of it, which I rewrote from memory for this article), as well as various facets about HG and some various points (those latter parts are coming tomorrow). Feel free to write in and leave comments!

Have a wonderful Holy Week and a terrific Easter, dear readers!!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Quick Update

Just a note that I have posted a link on my sidebar to my HG Protocol, and I will be making all updates to that post. So far I've added kefir, enzymes, and a couple of other things..... I know that I do tend to end up making really top-heavy protocols, but hey, it makes me feel more secure.

I've also decided that I do need a naturopath, so I've started the search for that.

Even if this never goes anywhere, I'm having fun with it!! :)

p.s. Have you ever noticed that HG research is a never-ending endeavor? WOW! I just go over to and start reading forums, and soon I'm lost in a sea of links and articles and conversations and debates, leaving me helplessly scrambling to jot down notes and try to keep up with anything-anything-ANYTHING that might help. It's not an easy task! (Can I get an amen?) Good luck to you ladies as you pursue your own searches, and let me know when you'd like to discuss or compare notes!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Good Intentions, And What Came of Them

And we all know where good intentions lead!

This week, the best laid plans of mice and men definitely "ganged aft a-gley" - i.e. did not happen!

Early in the week I had decided, after some thought, that I would start my defeat-HG diet on Tuesday. So.... Monday, I decided to cut loose a bit from my Paleo diet as a sort of "last meal" in preparation for the uber-hard Phase II. I won't give the gory details, other than that my misadventures included brownies. In the plural, with ice cream. Yum.

However, as the afternoon and evening wore on, I started feeling yuck. At first I thought that I was having some sort of reintroduction reaction, but in the middle of the night my fears were realized by another three a.m. call from our son's room - "Mommy, I need you!" Yes, stomach flu and/or food poisoning. AGAIN. Second time in eight days. Thankfully it was mild for both of us - he did some throwing up, I almost did but was able to get through sans-vomitus. As I said, it was mild. But it lasted a good while - a couple of days of feeling off after the acute phase - and so I was in no mood to dive into Phase II.

With all of that, I am back - sort of - on Paleo and am going to take the plunge sometime in the next few days. I'll post when I do.

As a side note, for anyone who is doing the defeat-HG diet (my new name!), the Paleo diet is a great stepping stone between Phase I and Phase II of that diet. To go from Paleo to Phase II, all one has to do is cut out fruit and reintroduce cheese. Much easier than going from Phase I to Phase II (a drastic change).

I hope to update on our life soon! This weekend is going to be crazy - DH has two-phase periodontal surgery tomorrow (parents, this is why you need to take your kids to the dentist when they're young!), and it's probably going to be pretty intense. Hoping it's easier for the poor guy than it seems!!

Love to all, and a very happy weekend to you! 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

New HG Protocol - Draft Version

I couldn't stand it! Everyone around here had such awesome protocols (Knocked Up, Knocked Over and Island of Grief, Mountain of Joy come to mind)... I just had to have my own!

There is something about being an HG mama that induces protocols. They're everywhere! I wrote my own before I knew that others were doing it, and since then I've seen tens of them - HG forums are loaded with protocols.

Why is that? I think it's for the security that it gives. I know that I can't control my pregnancy, but I can control my plans and my research. Last time when I put all of my research into my first protocol, the items on the protocol itself didn't help very much - but feeling prepared and ready was worth all of the effort.

When I look at my current protocol, my main feeling is.... feeling tired. I've already done so much of this, and it has to be done all over again. Ah, well. 

Anyhow. The protocol I have here is very different than my first.... I don't know if it would be of any help at all, but it's always worth it. Here it is!

You will notice that I have censored a few items... this is because they are either personal, or just things that I don't think would be good to share on the internet due to privacy. 

(Ladies, I would love any input here. If I have missed something, or if something is incomplete or incorrect, or you have any ideas - please chime in!!)

Things to do before TTC – Medical:

- Set up with an OB (or CNM?) who is (1) okay with working with a midwife’s client, and (2) knowledgeable about and aggressive with HG treatment
    • Comment: I already have an excellent OB, who worked with me during my last pregnancy, and whom I know would be willing to do so again. And it worked out okay, since my insurance approved Zofran and Zofran was kinda-sorta good enough to get me through. But I never felt confident that she would have been willing to be appropriately aggressive if my HG had turned super-ugly - there were just too many mentions of lemons and ginger. It made me nervous. So while it worked out, I don't have the security of knowing that my current OB would really step up in case things got nasty. Too bad, because I'm really not comfortable in OB-land (I love my midwives!) and I don't enjoy stepping into that realm.... but it's necessary. 
    • Comment (August 2012): My OB supported me through another pregnancy, and was great, so I will stick with her unless there are problems - and this time there were no mention of lemons and ginger! 
    • Blood work: Vitamin deficiencies (Bs, K, D, magnesium, zinc), thyroid, Addison’s, H. Pylori
      • Comment (August 2012): Let's face it, I never got around to this - I'm lazy. What can I say?
    • Get Rx for Primabella wristbands 
      • Comment:  "Knocked Up Knocked Over" said that these don't work worth beans, but.... it might be worth it to try it. However, they're rather pricy, so I'm not sure.Thoughts?
      • Comment: Never got around to this... considering how useless seabands are, not going to bother. 
    • Talk about vitamin shots during pregnancy (Vitamin B6, Vitamin K, magnesium)
      • Comment: This is based on this article.
      • Comment (August 2012) - I did this through the local naturopathic medical college, and would do it again - cost was not high and I think they helped. 
    • Talk about his/her treatment drug protocol (i.e. how does he/she prescribe for HG)
    • Talk about Zofran availability from my insurance

    - Think about [** Issue A **]
     - Comment (August 2012) - Have thought about it, and decision has been made! Now, aren't you all dying of curiosity?

    - Talk to insurance about Zofran coverage (different insurance, boo!)
    - Comment (August 2012) - Thankfully our insurance covered Zofran without too much hassle. Unfortunately, one can't count on that from pregnancy to pregnancy, even with the same insurance, because policies change constantly. But for this time, we didn't have any real snags.
    - Find acupuncturist, meet or email with her - preferably someone who has experience with women's issues, NVP. Maybe start meeting with her now?
     - Comment (August 2012) - I found an acupuncturist during my last pregnancy, who was just awful (refused to see me because of insurance issues) - but I now have a recommendation to a new person. Hurray! 

    - Do I want a naturopath? If so, find and interview.
    • Comment: I actually interviewed and worked with a naturopath a year before our last baby was conceived. However, I never got the feeling that she truly knew what she was talking about - not that she was incompetent, simply that she didn't really work with pregnancy or women's issues. Eventually, I just stopped going to her. Is this worth the time and money? Thoughts, anyone?  
    • Comment (August 2012) - I have several recommendations to naturopaths, and I still can't make up my mind - I really want one, it's just a matter of money.
    - Do liver cleanse/detox
    - Comment: Completed a ten-day cleanse on 5/25/11. Our very scientific method: Went to Sprouts, found what was on sale, bought it, and took the supplements! Have no idea if it did any good or not, but it was fun - never done that before.
    - Comment (August 2012) - Did another cleanse, April 2012. Planning to do yearly.
    - Do [**Issue B**]
    - Comment (August 2012) - Have completely forgotten what that was. Hope it wasn't important!
    - Work on diet – (1) clean, (2) alkaline, (3) grain/wheat/dairy free, (4) paleo, (5) try the Florida doctor’s anti-NVP diet
    •  Comment:I was going to start #5 today, but getting over stomach flu doesn't go well with a carb-free diet! Going to try again tomorrow. Unfortunately there are various aspects that clash between alkaline/paleo/Florida, but they agree on the whole. 
    • Comment: As of 5/26/11, I have been on the diet (the Florida very-low-carb diet) for 40 days and counting! Very pumped about that! It is relatively clean, somewhat alkaline, entirely grain and wheat free, low-dairy and mostly paleo, so it also covers those bases. 
    • Comment (August 2012) - It is my guess that the Florida very-low-carb diet was what made this past pregnancy much more manageable. Only another go-around will tell! 
    - Supplements: Probiotics, milk thistle, prenatal, vitamin B, vitamin D, magnesium, zinc. Maybe dandelion? Adrenal extract? Any suggestions, anyone?
    - Comment (August 2012) - I need to start taking milk thistle. I always take vitamin B, but I need to get a better type. I am taking magnesium in about twenty different forms (liquid, tablet, epsom salt baths, mineral drops, etc.), and I need to take zinc as well.
    - Call Motherisk to confirm treatment plan with Unisom
    • Comment:  I spoke with them before our last came along, but I'd like to do that again (that was over 2 1/2 years ago). 
    • Comment (August 2012) - I did talk with them at the start of our last pregnancy (June 2011), and they were, as always, very helpful. Call them up! See link on sidebar. 
    - Lose 15 pounds – Do this as soon as possible, so that I can do a liver cleanse afterward to deal with toxins released during weight loss (which can contribute to NVP).
    • Comment:Have already lost about eight with paleo!!! Hurray!!  
    • Comment: 5/26/11 - have lost about 18 pounds on the VLC diet - hurray!
    • Comment (August 2012) - I lost 20 pounds. And gained it back during the last pregnancy, so now I need to lose it again!!!!
    - Deal with [**Issue C**]!!!
    - Comment (August 2012) - Mmm.... yeah. Whatever Issue C was.
    - Start making kefir a part of my diet
    • See this comment
    • Comment (August 2012) - Errr... forgot this part. 
    - Start doing baths with Epsom salts for magnesium
    • In process! :)
    • Comment (August 2012) - I am going to make my first order with Azure Standard this week, and epsom salts (a LOT of them!) are part of that order! So excited!! 
    - Start drinking magnesium water if I can find it (recommended by Busca at Birth Faith)
    - Lemon water, half weight in ounces every day (no, I am not posting that) :)
    - Comment (August 2012) - Working on this! I have also heard that this helps with magnesium absorption, as well as liver cleansing. 

    Things to do before TTC – Practical:

    - Get housecleaning help

    - More telecommuting for DH – good!
    • Comment: DH's work has started letting his department telecommute one day per week... the end goal is four days per week, but we have no idea how long that will take. More telecommuting days would be a big help for me. 
    • Comment (August 2012) - DH's work went to two days a week telecommuting.... then back to none.... then back to one. So we're where we were three years ago! 
    - Get baby sleeping through the night
    •  Comment:This is a hard one... No, he is not sleeping through the night yet (we co-sleep after he wakes up mid-night). With his health issues and his "adjusted age" - he is much younger mentally than his 19 months - I am not comfortable doing much sleep training. When our first was eleven months old, we ended night feedings and co-sleeping very easily in two nights using the "Nanny 911" method (or was it "Super Nanny"?). But that would not be cool with this one. Ideas, anyone?  
    • Comment (August 2012) - Baby did not start sleeping through the night pre-pregnancy, but he did start sleeping through the night before our newest arrived - good enough for me! 

    - Get baby on solids
    • Comment:  Again, with our little chap's health issues, he is still 100% on pureed food. He has a gag reflex that can sense texture from here to Milwaukee... and when he does, he vomits not just everything he's had for the current meal, but the last one as well! However, dealing with baby food (making it or serving it) - not fun while pregnant. No ideas on that one. 
    • Comment (August 2012) - I felt well enough to make baby food during the pregnancy (which shows you how good it was, by comparison!), and our little guy is now on soft table food (oatmeal, etc.). 
    - Work on keeping cleaning and organizing jobs done as much as possible so as not to be caught off-guard
    • Comment:  I'm currently on a wonderful spring organizing/decluttering spree! So much fun! I go through this about every 3 months, and it's so handy. I love throwing things out - it is such a stress reliever!! 
    • Comment (August 2012) - This is getting harder and harder with more children around! 
    - Make list of freeze-ahead meals that I can make
    • Comment:  This is a hard one! I've tried to make food before for DH and DS before, and the same inevitable fate awaits it every time. #1 - It usually isn't heated up anyway, and #2 - whenever it is made, only a tiny bit is eaten and they end up going out for fast food. Honestly, I think one of the hardest (and most expensive) family issues with HG is watching one's family subsist on fast food. I'll have to work on a list of foods that will be more popular to avoid that.
    - Make a list of things that DH can do with the kids while I’m sick (park, etc.)
    - Comment (August 2012) - I didn't get around to this, but I did do it for the postpartum period. Guess what? DH didn't look at it once (his usual reaction to lists). So next time I will save myself the bother and let him figure it out on his own (always the best way).
    - Read through my old HG notebook to get caught up on the research I did last time

    - Finish putting together my new HG research notebook

    - Learn how to make kefir! 


    Upon BFP - Medical:

    - Get an appointment with Jenny (our wonderful chiropractor!) for the adjustment of a lifetime

    - Get an appointment with acupuncturist, set up regular visits

    - Get appointment with OB

           o Start vitamin shots - B complex, K, magnesium

    - Start anti-emetics - Bendectin

    - Order Primabella wristbands; start wearing as soon as they arrive

    - Buy and start taking Morning Sickness Magic (recommended by a friend)
    - Comment (August 2012) - I did this, and I don't know if it helped, but since it's just a ginger and Vitamin B supplement, I would definitely take it again.
    - Eliminate sugars/grains, pump proteins!!

    - Make final decision on [**Issue A**]
    • Comment: I'm not writing on this one, because it is rather private, but.... this is one of those super-hard decisions that I'd rather not have to make!! Aarghh!!! 
    - Ginger
    • Comment: I guess. Maybe. Really, why bother? It doesn't help. Sometime I'm going to make a series of T-shirts that say "Ginger" with a big X through them. 
    • Comment (August 2012) - I think I took ginger. Or maybe I didn't. One way or the other, it doesn't really matter since the stuff doesn't work!!!!!
    - Sea bands
    • Comment:Again... maybe, but why bother? This is if I don't get the Primabellas. With my first I wore them religiously... with my second I got them out for a day then tossed them back in the box. Again, they don't really work, and one has to spend all of one's time dealing with questions or funny looks. I probably won't bother. 
    • Comment (August 2012) - I no longer bother with those blasted things. 
    - Enzymes, before meals
    • From this comment on
    • Comment (August 2012) - Errrrr... forgot about this.
    - A-F Betafood by Standard Process
    - Kefir - lots of it!
    • Source - see same comment
    • Comment (August 2012)  - Need I say? I forgot about it. 
    - Start mega-doses of probiotics - minimum 4 capsules, 4x per day - every time I eat, 1 minimum - use a good brand, maybe Beeyoutiful or Gr8dopholis
    Upon BFP - Practical:

    - PRAY!
    - Comment (August 2012) - No need to remind me about this; I think I spent the first trimester on my knees.
    - Buy lots of paper plates/bowls/plates
    - Comment (August 2012) - Yes, this really helped. Definitely do this!
    - Buy lots of easy kid snacks – goldfish, juice boxes, etc.
    - Comment (August 2012) - Yes, for sure!
    - Arrange all of baby’s therapists to be home-based
    •  Comment: Oddly enough, this happened without my even having to bother much about it. Done!

    - Go to the dollar store and buy a bunch of disposable aluminum baking pans in order to…..

    - Freeze one heck of a lot of meals in advance!!!
    - Comment (August 2012) - This one does not work for me, because nausea hits early and hard - by the time I get a positive test, cooking is out - not to mention that DH doesn't eat the stuff I make anyway when he's on his own (hello, fast food!). But this might work for you if you have a breathing space before the NVP hits.
    - Make and Freeze a TON of baby food!!!
    - Comment (August 2012) - See above, so this didn't work for us. If I needed it, I would just buy prepared baby food. I don't usually buy baby food, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
    - See if anyone has an extra freezer we can borrow to store extra food in

    - Is it possible to get baby sleeping through the night?

    - Contact friends to form prayer group for my pregnancy

    - Kick it up a notch with house cleaning and organizing to be prepared

    - Contact my mom and see if she is available to come out should we need her
    • Comment:  Unfortunately, both sides of the family have made it pretty clear that they don't support us having any more children, so I can't count on this one. Not to mention that my parents are considering moving twenty hours away from us (instead of six). *Sigh.* I didn't realize how hard it was not to have family in town to help once one had children!!


    Upon First Nausea - Medical:

    - Start Zofran, with colace (*sigh*)

    - Pepcid, Zantac, Prilosec
    •  Comment: These are just OTC drugs I've seen bandied about in different places. Input as to usage, combinations, dosages, anyone?
    - Coconut water (not coconut milk) for hydration
    • Comment:  Read this one somewhere!!
    • Comment (August 2012) - Forgot about this one. 

    Upon First Nausea - Practical:

    - Move coffee pot to garage
    • Comment:   Thankfully, the microwave and toaster oven are still out there from our last pregnancy - we never moved them back, LOL!! :)
    - If we don’t have housekeeping help yet, arrange for that

    - Talk to my mom about coming out


    Two closing points:

    #1 - Thinking hopefully, maybe maybe maybe I wouldn't be sick with another child. Maybe. Hopefully. I can dream, can't I?? But it's always best to be prepared.

    #2 - We have no idea if God will ever bless us with another child. I might go through all the pre-TTC work and then never get pregnant again. But really, as above, it's best to be prepared. Receiving a positive pregnancy test is the time to sit back and let one's plans work for one - not the time to be scrambling about madly trying to find all of the resources and healthcare providers that one needs. So, regardless of the future, I do need to work through the pre-TTC tasks in order to be prepared.

    I welcome your input, ladies!!

    DONA Recap

    Greetings, gentle readers!

    Our plans for the day have - for the second time in two weeks - been derailed by a nice case of stomach flu/food poisoning (thankfully mild). We just got up an hour or so ago after having been up all night with various family members' needs, so today is going to be a day of loafing at home while we deal with the tail-end of this thing (it may be mild, but it's rather long-lasting).

    And so, a bit of time to blog!

    I had promised to write about my DONA birth doula training from a week and a half ago, so here goes!

    This was a three-day training, starting with a Friday evening session. We ended up driving over as a family, a fact for which I am devoutly grateful, as hitting metro Phoenix during rush hour is NOT something that I enjoy. Or that I would have lived through. Not only would I, on my own, probably have ended up good and lost (if not in an accident), but Phoenix has these horrible center lanes which are sometimes for through-traffic, sometimes for left turns, sometimes off-limits - entirely depending on the time of day. They are evil. So DH, who could find his way anywhere blindfolded, got us over instead, and it worked perfectly.

    I loved St. Jo's, where the training was held. I know that they just got kicked out of Catholic fellowship for ethical issues (which is sad and disappointing), but there were still many evidences of their original Catholic heritage - pictures of the nuns who used to staff it, statues of various priests who had helped build it, etc. - a very sweet, peaceful atmosphere.

    Friday night's session turned out to be a time for each of us to tell - in brief - the story of how each of us was born, and also how our own children had been born. It was a fascinating time, with lots of widely varying stories - some very inspiring and beautiful, some extremely sad (miscarriages, abortions, etc.).

    However, you can guess that with 40-50 women, there was no way in the world that we could have finished with that in two hours - and we didn't! The session was supposed to end at eight, and I finally left at nine (since I had two kidlets who needed to get to bed) - I was told later that those who remained didn't get through till sometime after eleven!

    I didn't get to tell my stories - too bad, since my mom's birth story with me is a fairly interesting one! (Not to mention my own first and second and third births!)

    Saturday's session was all day, and it was a lot of fun. I can't recall all that we went over, but there was a lot of material.

    In terms of birth science, I actually didn't pick up that much new information, which is, I think, just the result of four years of hard-core reading and birth-junky-ist participation, plus subscribing to something like a hundred or more birth blogs. However, I loved hearing about Mary's experiences and picking up all of the details that come across when hearing a highly experienced birth professional tell about her work as a doula and midwife. For me, the highlight of the day was seeing Mary's birth video for her last birth (her tenth!!!), a fact for which I greatly admire her - it takes guts to show all-bared birth videos of oneself to a room full of strangers! (Of course, if I behaved as gracefully and beautifully during birth, I might be willing too! But as it is, no. LOL)

    Though I was disappointed that her birth seemed as difficult as it did - my thoughts about a tenth birth would have been like were something like "Oh, I think I'm in labor! Oh, here's the baby!" Nope, it was still lots of good hard work. Too bad! :)

    Something that I did learn a LOT about on Saturday was about doula politics and the role of the doula. I had never understood why DONA had such stringent policies about doulas staying out of all medical roles (cervical checks, interpreting heart tones, etc.) and also staying out of adversarial patient advocacy - DONA does not want its doulas to speak on behalf of the parents. Mary really explained all of that perfectly, and it made so much sense... put simply, doulas need to keep their profession in good reputation among hospital staff. If a doula is rude, adversarial, sneaky, or a problem to hospital staff, she can ruin a good thing for all doulas coming after her - leading to bad treatment of doulas, doula bans, etc. If, however, she is a blessing and a help to her clients and to hospital staff, good things can happen for all involved. I really learned a lot about doula politics and practice ethics.

    In participant makeup, the training was quite surprising to me. Firstly, I was expecting a small, intimate group of about 10-15 trainees - instead, it was a packed 40-50, plus babies! Secondly, I was expecting that the group would be composed of all hard-core birth junkies. There were some birth junkies there, plus some birth professionals (L&D nurses, long-time doulas who needed the training for certification), but there was also a huge percentage of the group who did not seem to be at all a part of the birth community - which was interesting, and wonderful!

    On that line, it came to me during this training that a birth doula training is something that could be beneficial to all women, regardless of their interest in birth work. In the old days, all women had experience attending births simply because women attended their family members' and neighbors' births. Now, many women - myself included - have never been at a birth until they give birth themselves. Birth rites, knowing how to support laboring women, and all the female mysteries that come along with childbirth, are an intrinsically female knowledge that can only enrich and benefit all women. So, dear readers, if you are at all interested.... I really recommend a birth doula training, even if you have no intention of becoming a birth doula! While trainings are sometimes expensive, there are occasional low-cost trainings (like this one - $50 for the whole weekend) that are so worth it!

    Our little guy, who accompanied me both days, was an angel, and he only made me miss about an hour total of Saturday's ten hours. What a champ! He was just great. And there were at least five other babies there, which made me feel so much better about having him there, and about the minor amount of noise that he made.

    When I got home on Saturday evening, we ended up heading out again almost immediately to attend our local annual jazz festival, which is an amazing and wonderful event (if you're in the area, come next year!!). Last year we went for a substantial amount of time and really enjoyed it. This year we only stayed for about three songs, due to the fact that (a) I was exhausted, and (b) our little chap decided - after spending all day saying that he wanted to go to the jazz festival - that he did not want to be there and was going to complain the entire time. However, it was still awesome, and I was glad we got to be there, even if only for a token amount of time. My favourites are the Dixie-style bands! Love them!!

    I spent the rest of the evening getting ready for Sunday - making lunches, etc. And since I insisted on washing and sterilizing everything that we took with us - since we were at a hospital - that meant unpacking everything, doing laundry, etc., and repacking - quite a bit of work!

    After a very long day, we went to bed and prepared for another long day on Sunday.....

    ..... Until about four hours later, when I was awakened by a three a.m. call of doom - "Mommy, I need you!"

    Yup, that's right. Stomach flu for our older son, thankfully not severe, but enough to keep me occupied for the rest of the night with changing clothes, changing sheets, rinsing trash cans, giving medicine, sitting up with him, etc. etc. etc. And that was the end to my participation in Sunday's part of the training.

    I was disappointed - I had been looking forward to a birth doula training for a long time. And from what I heard later, I missed a ton of great information (this was probably the day when I would have been blown away by new information).

    However, I wasn't heartbroken. Why? Because Saturday's session was enough for me to conclude what I have suspected for a long time, which is this: At least at this time in my life, God is not calling me to be a birth doula. I simply do not have the desire or the proper character qualities, and it would not be a good fit for me.

    So, while my participation in the training was incomplete, in many ways it closed a chapter for me and lifted a burden from my shoulders - the burden of feeling like I should become a birth doula (since most birth junkies eventually end up in that role). If the Lord wants to develop me in that direction so that in ten years (or next week, whenever it happens) I do feel that calling, well and good. But for now, I am no longer going to push myself in that direction.

    Being a birth junky for the past four years has been mildly frustrating, simply because I have not felt a concrete call to any of the traditional birth junky roles - childbirth educator, birth doula, postpartum doula, lactation consultant, etc. Many women I know who have entered the birth community much later than I are already practicing and flourishing doulas, while I have remained a groupie. Yes, it has been frustrating. But in many ways, I believe that God is calling me just to wait, to focus on my family, and to wait on His timing. And considering that I do not do well with a super-busy schedule, that's probably just as well.

    Another thing that struck me while I was at Saturday's training was how much I love my job as a stay-at-home mom. As a SAHM, I am almost never away from home and family for that long (12 hours). And I didn't really like it! I realized how much my heart is wedded to my home - how much I love being a worker at home, a keeper of the home, a wife and mother. It is the most fulfilling work I have ever done, and I am so thankful for it - and for my husband's support in that role (it is a huge priority for him). I am very, very blessed.

    And that's that!

    I want to update on our life too, but I think I'll take a break and come back to a new entry for that. Oh, and I have something else for you - my new and improved HG protocol! Aren't you excited??? I'll post later.

    Happy Tuesday, all!

    Saturday, April 9, 2011

    Fun With Food

    It all started so innocently.

    Now? Now, of course, I'm in waaayyyy over my head. But it's fun anyway!

    So, to go back a month or two....

    It all started with Lent. Lent, as you may know, is the 40 days preceding Easter (this is a church tradition, not a biblical mandate). It is a time for focusing on the sufferings of Christ, on His temptations in the wilderness, on the journey to the cross. Traditionally, it is a time for personal prayer and reflection, for slowing down and contemplating the person of Christ, and for practicing habits of self-denial such as fasting or giving certain things up (desserts, TV, whatever).

    Usually, I have wonderful intentions regarding Lent - but forget all about said intentions until Lent is half over, at which time I think "Oh, okay, well, next year..."

    This year, I remembered it! Thus, I decided to give up desserts and/or sugary things for Lent. That's a big one, as I have a major sweet tooth.... but I decided to give it a try.

    And I did pretty well! Except for two days off for St. Patrick's Day (green ice cream! yum!) and an occasional forgetfulness episode, I didn't do too badly.

    That was step #1 into the madness.

    Then, a week or two later, I finally got a book from the library that I'd had on hold for months - "The Paleo Diet." The paleo diet is something that I've been hearing about for months on food/nutrition blogger sites, and I was intrigued! So I dove into that book.

    Incidentally, I have created a new phrase - aren't you excited? Here it is: "food lifestyle." I am not crazy about the term "diet" because anyone who hears it assumes that one is trying to lose weight. Well, I'd love to lose some baby weight (as someone put it, "That baby sure was the end of your figure!" LOL), but when I'm researching human nutrition, I'm really after so much more. Trying to find the ideal human diet, getting more energy and working on my fatigue issues, working toward better health, avoiding the degenerative diseases of old age - weight loss comes after those in my mind (though it's present!). So now I have a new descriptor to describe my efforts!

    I loved the book and I love the Paleo diet. It is blessedly simple and easy to follow. It simply says "you may eat these food groups, you may not eat those food groups." So simple! I've tried other diets ("food lifestyles") before that are so horribly complicated - long lists of foods that are okay or not okay, which change by which "phase" one is in - I find those frustrating and counterproductive. I really like the Paleo style.

    One thing that blew me away was how much better I felt on this diet - immediately! More energy, needing less sleep, waking up earlier and more refreshed - it was amazing! Yes, I've lost weight without trying, but the energy was what got me really excited.

    So that was step #2!

    Lastly, my HG sisters may remember that I have been going on about a diet from a Florida doctor that is reputed to prevent NVP on some level. In reading the diet sheets over again, I found that he developed this diet specifically as a remedy/treatment for PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and then found out accidentally that it cured or helped other conditions, such as migraine headaches and morning sickness. (You can read all about that here.) In one of his emails to me, the doctor mentioned that one HG mother who had aborted seven times due to HG was able to carry to term using this diet. So, though I'm not counting any chickens, I think it's worth a go.

    However, Dr. Fox told me that it would be best to be "comfortably settled" into the (I think) third phase of the diet before conceiving. And since babies have a habit of arriving when they please, I would like to work through this diet and be ready for the future.... regardless of whether the Lord ever blesses us again with another child.

    Also, the Paleo diet is only one step away from the harder phase of the "Florida diet", so I have decided.... that as of Wednesday, I'm going to give it a go. There, I said it! I'll check back in and let you all know how it's going. If anyone else ever tries this, do let me know! (And feel free to leave your email if you'd like to see the diet sheets for yourself.)

    Happy Sabbath, all! I'll write to update on our lives soon.

    Friday, April 1, 2011

    This Weekend: DONA!!!

    This weekend I am finally doing a DONA birth doula training in Phoenix.... I am very excited!! Also nervous. Why nervous? Nervous because I have to drive into Phoenix, of course! :) I find driving into the city (or any unfamiliar place, for that matter) to be quite intimidating, and my sense of direction is equal to a blind and drunken mole rat during the depths of hibernation (i.e. non-existent). I always manage to get lost! (And stressed out regardless of whether I'm lost or not.) So wish me luck!

    I'm also nervous because our little guy is going with me. There is no way he would stay with daddy for such long days, so I'm going to bite the bullet and take him (and about five bags of baby supplies) with me. Thus, he'll either have a great time, or I'll spend most of the training in the hallway walking with him while he fusses. Thankfully there are going to be at least two other babies there, so it should be a cheerfully noisy event (as opposed to the dead silence while everyone glares accusingly at the sole noise source in the room - my baby!).

    In retrospect, I probably should have waited to do a doula training till our little guy was old enough to stay with daddy..... I just couldn't resist the price! And I've been wanting to do one for ages. I was actually registered to go to one two years ago, but ended up being too sick (NVP strikes again!) to make it.

    All of this would naturally lead one to conclude that I am studying to become a birth doula. Well, not really. I haven't really felt "the call" to become a birth doula, and in honesty I think I'd be pretty awful at it. Time will tell. I have not yet felt a distinct call into any specific type of birth work - which is just as well, as I don't handle an insanely busy schedule well, and I think God may be waiting on this one for a different season of my life (don't quote me on that one). But in the meantime, I am still passionately interested in birth work, and I'm really looking forward to learning all of the skills and information at this workshop - if baby lets me attend any of it, that is!

    I'll check in after it's all over! Have a great weekend, all!