Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Part 2: A look at how I believe my changing diet with each pregnancy has affected my children and the pregnancies themselves. (pregnancy #2)

Yesterday I shared part 1 of this little series. My first pregnancy was a miscarriage, but thankfully the pregnancies going forward have all been far better, but not without their bumps in the road. 

To read about my other pregnancies check out the links below.

Pregnancy #2
My son, who is now 4.

Feeling "huge" at about 4 months.
After having a miscarriage with my first pregnancy, I wasn't too concerned about getting pregnant again. If it happened, it happened. A part of me really wanted to be pregnant as I was trying to cope with the loss of our first child. Well surprise, surprise that little want was satisfied sooner than I would have thought... turns out about a month after miscarrying I found out I was pregnant again. I was pretty thrilled and headed back to the same doctors office that I had gone to for my first pregnancy. They were not quite as thrilled as I since I had been told to not get pregnant, but I didn't care.

This pregnancy turned out to be harder on me than I had thought it would be. I had a ton of cramping in my first trimester with my son and was overwhelmed with the feeling that I was going to lose him too. I remember sitting on the floor of where I worked bawling because the cramping was bad and knowing that there was nothing I could do. I was an emotional wreck and started wishing that I wasn't pregnant again because I was so stressed out about the whole thing. I was just coming back to walking with the Lord and was still not able to really put my trust and faith in Him to know that whatever happened I would be okay. Thankfully, since I now have a healthy four year old, the pregnancy progressed.

Around 10 - 12 weeks I went in to hear the heart beat. After about 10 minutes of trying the doctor couldn't find it. I tried to not panic. The doctor wanted me to have an ultrasound to make sure the baby was okay, but from the little I had heard about ultrasounds, I wanted to avoid having one if I could. So she grabbed another doctor and had her try and find the heart beat and low-and-behold after about a minute of trying we heard a healthy beat. Turns out the first doctor hadn't been pushing hard enough or searching in the right place (the second doctor showed the first what she was doing wrong). I'm glad another doctor had come in before I got sent to get an ultrasound. After hearing the heart beat I began to relax, especially as I headed into the second trimester.

With this pregnancy I was trying to be more health conscious. Drinking obviously had to stop, although that turned out to be far harder of a thing to quit than I would have thought. It was such a huge part of my social life and also was my way to release at the end of the day. Along with alcohol, I stopped my regular coffee/caffeine habit and started to eat more regular meals. I avoided soy because of some information my mom had sent to me from The Weston A. Price Foundation about how bad it can be for you (reading about the estrogen levels in soy was enough to make we want to avoid it). I also took the best multivitamins I could get which came from whole foods and had no synthetic products in them. Other than that I didn't know much else to do. One place I was very guilty with in my eating habits was my complete indulgence in cravings and boy did I have them bad. The worse one was my complete addiction to hamburgers from one particular fast food joint. All I can say now is... (tear)... how I wish I knew some of what I know now, seeing as how now I avoid fast food restaurants as much as I possibly can.

After the ultrasound incident and recognizing that the doctors I had been seeing weren't particularly helpful unless I followed only mainstream medicine, I decided to switch to midwifery care. This turned out to be more difficult to do than I would have thought. (Notice a theme here, everything can be and often is different than you think it's going to be for your pregnancy, at least with the first one.) No one I knew at the time had ever used a midwife, so I had no recommendations to work from. Nor did I know where to even find names of local midwives. In the end I found out our health insurance had midwives at one of their clinics nearby. This sounded great, so I made the switch. While I'm glad I made the change, the care that I received from the midwives at this particularly clinic wasn't all that different than going to a standard doctor. They simply tended to be more relaxed about things, but all in all still followed most of standard Western medical approaches.

About 6 months along.
At some point in my pregnancy I began to suffer from restless leg syndrome. To say frustrating doesn't quite do the feeling justice. I would be so tired after a long day at work, but my legs felt like they just had to move and no matter how I tried to laid down I couldn't lay still. I didn't know what to do about it, then around 32 weeks pregnant I began suffering from contraction. At one point, I believe around 34 weeks the contraction were stopped at the hospital and I was put on partial bed rest. I asked the midwives why I was having the contractions and what could I do about it, but they didn't have much to say except drink a lot of water and keep my stress levels down. They did mention the contractions were caused by an irritable uterus and was basically something I would have to just deal with. Lovely...

2 days before birth.
During this pregnancy I put on a lot of weight. I went from around 128lbs to close to 190lbs by the time I gave birth. I was always hungry. The hunger combined with the cravings lead me to eating far more than I normally did and often not the most healthy selection of food.....

I went into labor on my due date. My waters broke at home a little after 11 PM and about two hours later we headed to the hospital. Once there my labor drastically slowed down, a very normal occurrence when going to a hospital. After about 12 hours I was still only dilated about 2-3 cm, which was extremely discouraging. The midwife tried scraping the membranes, but nothing much happened, so later the midwife on call at the time encouraged me to consider having pitocin. The only thing I could think about was first I had wanted to have a natural birth, but I also wanted to avoid have a cesarean section at all costs. Typically they give you about 24 hours to give birth after your waters break before they start to seriously look at making the decision for a c-section. I decided to go ahead and have the pitocin.

Two parents-to-be having no idea what they are about to get themselves into.
I tried my best to not have pain meds, but after about 5-6 hours of true, true agony I couldn't take it any longer. I hadn't slept in 36 hours, was exhausted and found out I still wasn't dilating much, I might have been 3-4 cm at this point. I went ahead and had an epidural, which I will NEVER do again if there is any way to avoid it. My back is terribly sensitive. The doctor just putting his hands on the place where the epidural had to go in made me shake and scream almost unbearably. The midwife and my husband held me as tight as they could and the doctor almost had to give up. This is not everyone's experience, actually most people I know who've had epidurals have thought they were great. That just wasn't the case for me.

A little over 21 hours into the labor I was told it was finally time to push. I pushed for almost two hours. During that time we tried an episiotomy to see if that would help in the delivery of my son. My room was packed with different nurses, a midwife and finally a doctor who was called in to consider if our son was going to have to be delivered by vacuum extraction. I was horrified. I tried to muscle every ounce of strength I had in me. It was the last bit of motivation I needed and our son was finally born. I was elated, beyond exhausted, but elated. We got to hold him for a couple of minutes before he was taken away because he had a fever. Actually we both had fevers, the labor had been very difficult.

In no time at all I was told that I had to try and walk. I remember thinking "are you nuts?" I kept telling them I needed food. At this point I knew I had a problem with hypoglycemia and I tried telling the nurses I needed something to eat first. I hadn't eaten since early on in the labor and I knew my sugar levels were extremely low. The idea of trying to walk when I didn't feel right, not to count that the epidural hadn't worn off completely was absurd to me, but not walking was not an option.

In the end was it the worse delivery experience, no, but it certainly wasn't the best. Over the years since my son's birth I've learned a lot more in how vital nutrition is during pregnancy and how many of the things I experienced could have been avoided if I had a better handle of my diet. Mind you, I really wasn't that unhealthy. I did eat organic, I was trying to eat more balanced meals, the problem was they were the type of healthy meals your hear and read about in magazines, on TV and at the doctors office.

The Breakdown

Weight Gained: 
~65 lbs

Tiredness, mild nausea, constipation, dry and easily irritated skin, extreme cravings, restless leg issues, irritable uterus (which caused contraction starting at 32 weeks)

Whole food prenatal vitamin, Cod liver oil? (I think I started taking fermented CLO towards the end of pregnancy.) 

Birth date:
Labor started on due date and son was delivered the next day

Labor Started: 
Waters broke 

Length of Labor: 
23 hours 40 minutes

Birth location: 
At a hospital with a midwife 

Waters broke, went to hospital. Was only dilated about 2-3 cm. After about 6 hours membrane was stripped, nothing progressed so then Pitocin was given. Six or so hours after Pitocin, I had an epidural. A little over 21 hours later I started pushing. Had an episiotomy because my sons head would not come out. A little over 23 hours a doctor was called in to consider vacuum extracting my son. That was the last bit a motivation needed, son was delivered 23 hours and 40 minutes after my waters had first broke.

After Birth: 
Both my son and I had fevers. My son was taken away to cool his body temperature. We did do the vitamin K shot and eye ointment, but nothing else.

Son's Birth weight: 
8lbs 9oz

The first year and going forward.

Once we were home my son developed jaundice, which we discovered at his first doctor's appointment. I also had a very hard time nursing him. He wouldn't latch on properly so I went to see a lactation consultant. She gave some very helpful information about ways to hold him and how to encourage him to latch properly. After about 4-6 weeks of rather intense nursing pain, we got in a rhythm.

3 months old.
Around 3 months my son stopped putting on weight and my milk supply went way down. He had been sleeping through the night starting around 6 weeks, but then was up every couple of hours from 3 months to at least 6 months. Our pediatrician recommending us to start feeding him rice cereal mixed with breast milk, which he hungrily accepted and enjoyed. Around this time I was starting to also do more research on ways to feed my son when I read about The Weston A. Price Organization's recommendation to start feeding egg yolks around 4-6 months. We added this to his diet and he again would get very excited every time is was time to eat solids. I still nursed him, but we fed him solids at least once a day. Around 6 months we then began introducing him to other foods as well and I believe it was at this time we started giving him fermented cod liver oil. By around 9-10 months we were also giving him some fabulous organic, raw milk from grass-fed cows.

7 months old.
During the first year of his life our son was overall very healthy. He never got sick, however he was in the low percentile for height and weight (but they were in proportion to one another). Our pediatrician had him go through quite a bit of testing to make sure everything was alright. I remember how anxious we felt as we headed in for numerous test and visited different doctors. In the end he was always fine, just on the smaller side. He still isn't overly big, but a good part of his family isn't either, so no huge surprise there.

Skipping ahead a little, our son weened himself right around 12 months. The last time I nursed him was actually on his first birthday and he never tried to nurse again. By 18 months he was beginning to talk pretty well and many people commented on his vocabulary and pronunciation. We kind of joke that our son came out talking. He always had plenty to say from a very early age, even if it wasn't in a language we understood.

Around 18 months we started to see that he wasn't reacting well to wheat or gluten. While I was trying to make our own bread I wasn't using fermented sourdough methods yet and honestly I didn't know how bad today's wheat can be on a young developing digestive system. (Just a side note here, but at this time I had wheat/gluten intolerance myself, so him suffering from the same things wasn't a huge surprise.) What first alerted us that there may be an issue was each time he'd eat wheat he would become over-active, irritable and we had an extremely difficult time getting him to sleep. It was almost as if we were giving him caffeine every time he had wheat. After a while I decided to take it out of his diet and he'd begin to do better. Over his life thus far I've gone back and forth giving him wheat and not. Once I started using soaking and fermenting methods by making sourdough products all of his wheat issues seemed to go away (he was around 3) and he could even tolerate eating other wheat products. We kind of thought that he must of grown out of the allergy or that his digestive system was stronger from all of the homemade yogurt and kefir we were giving him. Then this summer he started showing sensitivities again and got eczema on his face and ears. This happened during a very stressful part of our summer and while we were getting ready to move, so stress likely played it's roll too. It took us about 3 months to get the eczema to clear up. We did this by increasing the probiodics in his diet and cutting down wheat and only letting him have homemade sourdough products. Over the holidays this year though each time he'd eat any type of wheat he'd break out in hives down his legs. It was the first time we had seen such a strong reaction externally on his body right after eating wheat, especially processed white flour. Starting in January I have taken him off of all wheat and we are going to see if we can't go for a couple of months without it in his diet, while also trying to boost his gut with more probiodics. Hopefully stress levels will stay down for a couple of months while we explore how severe of an issue the wheat allergy or intolerance is.

December 2011
I share all of this because I whole heatedly believe that my diet while pregnant and nursing, along with introducing him to grains so early in his life contributed to his allergy. This is not to say that everyone who eats the way I did will have a child with an allergy such as this. My body was already suffering from a wheat allergy, I just didn't know it at the time. Everyone's genetic make-up, basic nutritional levels and overall gut health is different. Some of us are going to be more susceptible to certain issues, BUT that doesn't mean those issues can't be corrected by changing our diet and giving our bodies what they need to easily process and digest the foods we eat for the best vitamin and mineral absorption.

The only other issues I have seen with our son is a slight discoloration on his first tooth that came in. The rest of his teeth though are perfectly white and straight! Overall he's a healthy, smart, active young boy who loves to learn. No joke! He literally was begging me to teach him how to read, which we started doing more actively about a week ago. Thankfully he's never had an ear infection and the sickest he's been is once with a stomach flu bug. In the end that did put him in the hospital for a night because he became so dehydrated. I can tell you we tried everything to get liquid in him, but he just wouldn't have it. Up till this point we have also opted to not vaccinate him. This is something I've looking into a great deal and not something I take lightly. It's vitally important to research child nutrition to make sure you are doing all that you can do to help boost your child's immune system and this does mean looking into alternative research and health care.


A side note about OB care.
Through each of my pregnancies I have learned that it is very important to "shop around" for the best doctor/midwife for you. As you'll continue to read I changed to different doctors/midwifes with each pregnancy and found it almost shocking at the difference in care and the overall approach to pregnancy. The first clinic I went to primarily reached out to very low income households that where in the neighboring area. The office waiting room was filled with a variety of people, some clearly not happy to be pregnant. I remember on one occasion of just looking at a woman, for no particular reason other than that she was in my line of site and she just went off on me. Talking something about me thinking she's a hooker, etc., etc., etc. It was startling to hear and a bit frightening to see how angry someone could get for just glancing at them.

The office itself was a rather cold environment. The receptionists were often very rude and unfriendly.  It certainly wasn't what I expected. I was so excited to be pregnant, but the people in the office treated me more like I was a street walker or something. It was very strange to say the least. The doctors weren't a whole lot better. They were very medically oriented and showed little to know emotion, they were just there doing their job. The only doctor who had been very friendly, and who was actually only interning in the office, was the one who said it was possible that I had endometriosis. The unfriendliness got to me and also the lack of answers they gave me. After one of the doctors couldn't find the heartbeat of my son and wanted to send me off to an ultrasound ASAP, and then only to find out that she was looking for the heartbeat in the wrong place I knew it was time to change doctors and boy am I glad I did.

1 comment:

  1. thank you for sharing your story. I loved reading it. Can't wait to hear more.


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