Sunday, October 17, 2010

Successful Pregnancy and Food

The first three- or was it four?- months of this pregnancy I consumed no gluten and no caffeine. After losing our baby at thirteen weeks last year, I spent months researching what I could do to increase the chances that another pregnancy would not end this way. I found some small studies indicating that gluten intolerance might contribute to miscarriage. There is no way to prove gluten intolerance, but I have had, for years, all signs and indicators that I do have that particular problem, so it was a no brainer to take it out of my diet those first precarious months, when the risk is highest. I have found that for me, eating any substantial amount of gluten ends with swelling, headaches, IBS, body aches, mental fog and fatigue. I've been tested for Celiac and came back negative, but the imbalance is clear.

Caffeine was also an obvious substance to remove, as the studies come and go saying yes, it's a problem or no, it is not, or yes, but only in these amounts, etc. Different doctors will have different advice, although most experts these days seem to agree that a small daily amount after the first trimester is safe. I gave up my coffee, my Starbucks Doubleshots, my iced vanilla lattes from Coffee Bean, and began focusing on what I could eat that would increase the babies chance of health and full term delivery. In researching, I found that Vit. B was incredibly important in not only the first trimester, but the successful implantation of egg into wall. As was Vit. D and C, and fish oil. I made sure I was taking these things in supplementation form, as well as eating a diet high in dark colored vegetables and fruits, beans, hormone free milks and meats, almonds, yogurts, and low mercury fish a few times a week. We already eat about 70-80% organic, so I kept to the high end of that percentage, and we already eat very little processed foods, so that wasn't something had to adjust much either. I ate very little extra sugars to keep my blood sugars balanced, and slept a decent amount most nights. Once I became pregnant, I was so tired I slept ten or eleven hours a night at first! Tired takes on a new meaning in the first trimester.

Now that I am at the end of this pregnancy- 34 weeks this Tuesday!- I am finding it very hard to eat the way I want to. I am not someone who says things are 'hard' to do just because I don't want to do them, but save that expression for when goals are physically or mentally extremely taxing, when overcoming the obstacles my body and emotions are throwing up in front of me is a daily sludge. Most of this struggle comes from the stress of the last two months, the stress of the heartache and struggle with Dakota, and the stress that constant weight put on Mr. Curry and our marriage and our two other children. Things are a bit more balanced now, but it is teneous, the way any balance depending on another person's behavior is, and so the real challenge, the real job before me is to guide
myself, to work on my emotions, my reactions, my responsibilities, and inch away from the scale being so heavily weighed on looking at this in my son and my husband. To balance myself is the only real balance. I am the only one I can truly change and control. ( And we all know even that is not %100 true, so the focus must be on doing the best you can )

This used to be very confusing for me: how do you focus on yourself and still have boundries and expectations of those close to you, which are important to have? And it still is confusing, I still don't do it perfectly, but I do catch myself, I do realize that all I can do is communicate in the best way I know how, apologize for mistakes, read and talk and learn to meet the challenges of any situation, and keep refocusing. Trying to do this while pregnant ... not so fun. My every instinct is crying out for stability and peace and to be taken care of, to be ready for this overwhelming responsibility of an entire new life coming into our family.

The stress has traveled from my head to my heart and now, into my stomach. The last two months there have been days when eating anything at all has been very hard. I feel like I will throw up if I eat, then I make myself eat but can only eat a very small amount before feeling sick, and the worst, worst part for me is that stress creates cravings for fat and sugar. Cravings mean that when I feel sick to my stomach, I can think of eating three things, and the only one that doesn't make me want to vomit is the unhealthy choice. Even taking my nightly vitamins has become difficult. I take prenatal and Fish Oil at the very least, in addition to my thyroid medication, and sometimes also take Vit D, B Complex or another.

The stress forms it's own defense mechanisms. For one thing, when I am highly stressed, I find that focusing my mind on what I need or want to do to accomplish goals is very hard. So when I'm stressed, thinking of healthy options for say, breakfast, becomes ridiculously hard. I can literally feel my mind veering and pawing around like a restless horse, refused to be easily reigned in or to stay on path. My heartbeat speeds up, I feel a bit breathless, I feel tired ( another way my body tries to trick me into avoiding things ) and irritable. Just because I"m trying to think of breakfast!

One powerful weapon against stress effects are lists. I am in the habit the last few months of writing the two or three most important Must Do's of the day on the back of my left hand. I also have a purple date book I carry in my purse where I keep all crucial phone numbers and information and it also is a planner, so I can keep track of what I am doing when and what is coming up. This has helped me with budgeting too, and it can help with my eating, if I use it right. I think I will plan ahead for tomorrow's eating as much as possible and see how that goes. I work full time so I usually just see what I can grab at lunch at home or if I"m out.

These last months are so important for Ever's brain development, SO important- especially to me because of the history of mental illness in our family on both sides. Her brain is forming and the healthier and stronger it is, the better chance she has. I am thinking I have to focus on putting as many bites of healthy food in my mouth all day as I can, one by one. Maybe looking at the mini-picture will help me to stay on track, instead of worrying about all day long. Any prayers for balance, strength and health are appreciated too :)

Ms. Moon said...

Please remember that the last few weeks of Ever's development may indeed affect her brain but also affect her lungs and weight and as such, if you want fat and sugar- eat some, dammit! Especially if you can eat it and it doesn't make you throw-up.

Maggie May said...

OK Mrs Mary Moon

Allison the Meep said...

You're such a good mom. That is all.

clearness said...

And naps, I think the more rest you can get the harder your body can work to make a happy and healthy baby. And the opposite of naps, walking, or any type of exercise your body will tolerate. (In small doses though).

Lots of prayers for a healthy baby and an amazing labor and delivery which is so pain free you blog about how surreal it was.

Anonymous said...

When I was pregnant with jonah, I was always struggling with stress: a terrible marriage, my own eating disorder/body dysmorphia--I was lucky some days when i could choke down my oatmeal. I was NEVER able to take vitamins (THEY SMELL LIKE PEE!), and lord knows, I got enough grief for remaining a vegetarian throughout my pregnancy from many people. But, my midwife (a pretty staid, earthy, all natural liberalish Catholic) stood by me as I refused to take vitamins because i hurled, and told me to listen to my body--if you want to eat that damn brownie, then eat the damn brownie, she told me, better that than nothing. And she didn't see much wrong with my small cup of weak coffee each morning.
And Jonah turned out fine. And I miscarried before him, and wasn't doing anything different. Sometimes, it's not us, but the fetus who was unviable, and something that had gone wrong in its development (so sayeth my bioevolutionary PhD of a sister as well). LADY, you are doing what you can for this little one--your love is fierce for her as it is fierce for your other children. Keep loving yourself as well.

You, btw, continue to give me such hope.

-_Sara, who has migrated to Wordpress to avoid looney-toons.

And near the end of my

Elizabeth said...

I'm with Ms. Moon -- eat a little love food and please yourself. I admire your resolve and commitment and hope that you'll take a measure, a spoonful of sugar and know that you have done everything you can to ensure little Ever is healthy. The rest is up to the abundance of the universe.

Therese said...

Loving vibes of strength and balance are flying to you right now!

I am of the mind that in the last few months of pregnancy anything you can do to decrease your stress hormone and send loving comfort vibes to you and babe are of most importance. So there. There is your unsolicited advise, because you are pregnant after all. And being pregnant pretty much equates to stamping a sign on your forehead that says: judge me and boss me around and give me solicited advise.

If it is any consolation, I drank hot chocolate like water and ate 3 pastries a day for the entirety of Soleil's last 2 months on board. Took my fish oils too of course :)

Be kind to yourself and feed your mind, body and spirit whatever you can!

Therese said...

PS: I may be bossy, but I never judge <3

mosey said...

This, in it's entirety, is the endless struggle we face as mothers isn't it? To put ourselves first so that we can look after everyone else. Be gentle with yourself, eat what tastes good (and stays down), and know it's your best. And that we all marvel at how awesome you are. xx

Annie said...

Hi Maggie,
You'll do your best, and focus on the moment to moment, and you and Ever will be fine. It's important to take your prenatal vitamin, like you are, to eat as healthy as you can, and just to eat. You can be proud of yourself for no caffeine, low sugars and very little processed foods. It's hard to eat right when you're working, too, but it sounds like you are making great choices, and a little slip here and there, at this stage, won't hurt. Ever will get her nutrition first, so every good bite you take will be hers. Pre-planning meals and snacks, and eating small amounts frequently, will help, too.

Simply Mel said...

you know what you need to do, and this is half the battle. Eat, little bits. Baby bites = beautiful baby steps in the future.

rachel... said...

At the end of my last pregnancy, I could barely eat a thing. I felt nearly sick if I ate even a *small* meal. It was really a cruel irony, as I love having the excuse of pregnancy to eat whatever calorie- and fat-laden thing I crave.

I made up for it in the first few months of breastfeeding. I felt constantly starved.

Wine and Words said...

Stress is one of the hardest things on you and the Ever. But it sounds like you are doing all the right things. I love how you are trying to balance your emotions independent of others. I need to learn how to do that.

Petit fleur said...

When I was pregnant, nothing satisfied me as much as protein. Unfortunately for me, in my case it was animal protein... I was not happy about it since I am not a big meat eater. Interestingly (and I know you know this) protein is essential for all kinds of development, brain especially. Not necessarily animal protein, but if you can eat it, it may curb your cravings for other things..? Also if you are munching on almonds and such that's great. Protein smoothies are also a good way to get lots of good fruit/veggies without having to chew and eat them.

Good luck Maggie. Sending balancing vibes to you.
xo pf

Mechelle said...

You are doing the best you can. A little fat will not hurt now and then. Try not to feel so guilty and fretful. If you like making lists, try making a list of semi healthy "junk food" that will go down better. Maybe granola bars, nuts, whole fat yogurt, whole fat ranch dressing on salad, or whole milk. Take care. Thoughts of love and peace coming your way. Mechelle

Marion said...

I had my 2 babies in the 70's and ate pretty much anything and everything in sight, but I didn't drink coffee then. We weren't as enlightened as y'all are now. (I think of my Mom smoking AND drinking beer through her 5 pregnancies. OY!) Both of my baby girls weighed 7 lbs 9 ounces and were very healthy.

My advice is to not obsess too much. You've done a GREAT job of taking good care of your body and Ever's and I just know she'll be fine. I'll send you good thoughts and prayers. Blessings!!

Sarcastic Bastard said...

EAT SOME JUNK! Ms. Moon says it's okay. She should know.

Love you doll. Hang in there.

call me any name said...

It has been my experience and a very difficult task in itself to let go of the mind and just trust my body. If you don't feel like eating - don't. You'll get hungry when your body needs food. You know, our bodies are such marvels, they keep on sustaining our ever questioning and worrying minds through all these fads and crazes and eat that/do that moods and whatnots.
Trust your wonderful body to know what's up. Even nausea is a good signal, it means "stop", "no", "no more" or even, "too much going on inside these guts" etc. When I was in labour and things kind of stalled - for hours! - my lovely elderly midwife put a bowl with smelly disinfectant under my nose, I duly vomited and hey presto my baby arrived.
You are both going to be just fine.

Lil Muse Lily said...

hang in there. you are almost there and have been such a good mama so far.
sending well wishes. :)

Diana said...

I've never been pregnant but I do know how it is to discipline yourself. Just the fact that you are worrying about it proves you are going to be an amazing mother. I don't even take my vitamins!

Terresa said...

This post brings me back to my pregnancy days, notably, when I was pregnant with my twins.

My husband grilled a lot of rib eye steak. I would belly up to the table and then eat 3-4 bites. That's all the room I had in my stomach.

Then I would cry.

It was cyclical, enormous, crazy, and wonderful all at once, that pregnant precipice, one I've tried to capture in writing, in memory, and equally forget.

But it was a time that grounded me as a mother. I am her, still, and she is me. And I did it, ate well enough, in between bowls of Fruity Pebbles (my midwives would have been horrified if they knew). I home birthed twins.

Blessings to you, Maggie. You can do it, one bite, one breath at a time. :)

PS: Rest enough, love love love yourself, keep loving yourself and your baby within. We are all with you.

Barrie said...

I think you are a wonderful mother and wife. And I can't believe you are already THIRTY-FOUR WEEKS!! Wow!

Kristi said...

this is such a heavy i just want to say go lightly mama. i will be sending you light and love. xo.

Mwa said...

You are trying to juggle so much at the same time!
I'm with Ms. Moon - sometimes if you crave something, it's not always bad for you. Have some bad stuff - it could be good for you!
I'm cheering you on in these last few weeks!

Caroline of Salsa Pie said...

Maggie, a history of mental illness runs on both sides here. I used to worry about my children but then one day I stopped worrying about it when I was determined to believe that life is not just a crap shoot. I think the fact that you ARE such a wonderful mom will make certain that your children turn out just fine. That doesn't mean that they won't stumble or suffer at times, but they will be grounded in the love you have given them no matter what imbalance chemically (if any) they ever have. Love is a powerful force.

katiecrackernuts said...

I have the same gluten thing going on. I am currently being tested with massive doses of magnesium and zinc. Apparently people who suffer an intolerance to gluten can't absorb these minerals and though I seem to be taking mine-like qualities of earthy minerals, I am not absorbing. And the minerals make me dizzy - all the time. I am at the point where if they tell me I am not going to die from ingesting gluten I am just going back to normal eating and putting up with being bloated and feeling like my bottom is about to fall out. (Too much?)

the real mia said...

All my best wishes to you.

Megan said...

I will say this once and hope that everyone agrees with me... If you are craving something at anytime in your pregnancy, than it is something that your body is low on in the development of the pregnancy, baby and yourself to stay healthy. There are actually women who crave dirt because their body is lacking the minerals that they need. Trust me if you are craving dirt, don't eat it. There are other healthier options. For me, I have been craving macaroni and cheese and chocolate. IE...fiber, calcium, and antioxidants. And don't forget, a little sugar and fat is actually good for you in moderation. It just means that your body is prepping you for labor with things that can help fuel you with energy in the coming weeks. Trust me, if you eat what you crave, or at least something close to it, then you will be feeling much better and actually getting nutrition that your body needs.

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