To Gluten Or Not To Gluten, That Is The Question

This one eats wheat...

This one eats wheat…

This one can not....

This one can not.             

         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did your mom ever do “this little piggy” with you when you were little? Ya know: “This little piggy went to the market, this little piggy stayed home, this little piggy had roast beef, this little piggy had none, this little piggy cried wee wee wee all the way home.”

Well our family’s version would be like:

“This little piggy has Celiac, this little piggy does not, this little piggy fell in love with that little piggy and went gluten-free, this little piggy got pregnant and got one shelf in the kitchen for wheat at home.”  Or something like that.

So what do you do when you get pregnant and you have food allergies in the household? How do you give your baby the best chance at not having issues as possible, knowing he/she is genetically predisposed to them? Note: When I say issues I’m not talking about how this little piggy tends to be overly sensitive and emotional and that little piggy can be a little neurotic and overly analytical. Those “issues” are going to be a toss up in that mixed up genetic soup we’re serving. I’m focusing here on food issues only.

When I was dating my now husband, he found out he had Celiac Disease. We weren’t living together yet but I made sure my apartment was 100% Gluten-Free to support his new life change. He had to make some sad changes in diet and I wanted him to know he had my full support. Also, I didn’t want to risk him being at my place and just grabbing something to snack on with out paying attention and getting poisoned. The horror! So, right then and there, the day of the test results, we began our Gluten-Free living. Now, that isn’t to say when I was out to eat that I would eat only Gluten- Free, but if I was eating out with my man, I usually would since he’d often eat off my plate plus I never liked making him feel left out. This of course continued through us moving in together, at dinners and parties I throw- anything that goes on in our home is Gluten-Free. It works well when his brother (who also discovered his Celiac Disease around the same time) or my brother (who is Gluten-Free for sinus issues and allergies) are in town. In fact, my brother is also dairy free. You should see what goes on around family holidays it’s a whole thing!

When we became pregnant, my husband who loves medical research more than anyone I have ever met, put his skills to work. He tried to learn about what I should do with my eating. Since the baby has a Celiac daddy and a wheat tolerant mommy does it mean it’s a 50/50 chance of Celiac? Well here’s the scoop. There’s no documented research that provides us with any certain answer to these questions regarding gluten. However, my husband did find this extremely helpful study about nut allergies. We know many people with children who have severe nut allergies and we don’t wish that on our little peanut either. Can you imagine? She’s got Celiac and a deadly nut allergy? God forbid. Okay it’s all too much to worry about sometimes I tell you. I just want to give her the best chance I can control to be as healthy as possible.

If we go by this study, not only will I make SURE to eat my nuts (easy I am a peanut butter and cashew a-holic) but I will also make sure to introduce wheat into my pregnancy diet. This way since I can tolerate wheat, our baby girl will get to be exposed to it too! And then honey from there it’s just a big ‘ol fingers crossed!!!

So, now we have a cabinet just for moi, in the kitchen that contains some whole wheat crackers and random little nibbles I like (and haven’t had in quite some time since the Celiac revelation). Only on occasion, if my hubby has been on call and up all night operating and is super sleepy will he go into that cabinet and you can hear me from across the apartment yelling “wheat! wheat! stop!” It’s like I have super powers on that one cabinet I tell ya. When we eat out now I make a point to eat gluten because although at home I have a little, I really still don’t bring too much into the home that I can’t share with my man. Also, let’s face it at 3am if he gets “snacky” after being called in, I’m in the other room asleep and not there to scream “wheat!”

So this little piggy loves that Gluten-Free little piggy and we really hope our little piggy in the womb is enjoying the healthy variety she’s getting fed. Now off to Trader Joes and the local Co-op market I go!

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Welcome to the family, Snoogle

snoogle

We’re having a threesome. Me, my hubby and my snoogle, all cozy in one queen size bed. You might look at this photo and wonder what in the wild wild world of sports did I just buy???! (Points if you know what movie I grabbed that quote from). Well kids, this is the latest and greatest pregnancy pillow to hit the market yet. I did a ton of research (remember I’m a pregnancy nerd I research and read up on all this stuff (so you don’t have to) and this pillow seems to win out over any of the others. I bought it on Amazon and although it wasn’t the cheapest (or the most expensive) option, it was by far the best and worth it. We’ll have this pillow through out the pregnancy and I have a feeling it’ll be around for nursing as well.

When my husband came home to see this pillow on our bed he gave me a REALLY hard time (once he finished laughing hysterically). He thought it was ridiculous looking and could not believe how much of the bed it took up. I said I hadn’t even tried it yet I had just washed it (always wash the cover when you take it out of the box, before using) and put it on the bed. Now let me be clear, when I say he gave me a really hard time I don’t mean he was nasty what I mean is he took this as an amazing opportunity to make fun of me (one of the many ways he’s a lot like my brother who teases me as a show of love, of course). I mean, come on the name is “Snoogle” it looks like a big snake, it takes up most of my side of the bed, it’s totally weird and also…it seems premature because I’m not even showing yet!

Okay okay so here’s the skinny on why I bought this thing before I even started showing. It’s because I haven’t slept through the night in 3 months. That’s right! Not one night. Why? I can’t get comfortable. My boobs are heavy and big and hurt when I toss and turn. I’m not supposed to sleep on my back or my stomach anymore. My lower back is starting to bother me at night (because my uterus is doing it’s growing and pushing things thang) and oh yeah, I have to pee every couple of hours, so I’m waking up anyway (again, uterus thanks so much for pushing on my bladder- awesome). Instead of continuing to suffer every single night I decided to take matters into my own hands and buy the pillow I’d been reading and hearing about.

I had been working in the other room while my husband was reading at his desk in our bedroom that night. Upon entering our bedroom for the first times since all the teasing about the Snoogle I was stopped dead in my tracks by a sight I mean a sight for sore eyes! What was it? My husband, all cozied up not at his desk mind you, no no no…but reading on his ipad laying all wrapped up and happy on my damn Snoogle. The first one to snuggle the Snoogle? My teasing sarcastic husband. Don’t think I let that go for one minute.

All teasing aside, that first night with my Snoogle was the first full nights sleep I had in 3 whole months and I woke up rested and sooooo happy! That doesn’t mean the teasing has stopped, no sir. The next night my husband joked that he couldn’t believe we were having a threesome….him, me and Snoogle. The joking won’t stop but neither will my sleeping through the night! Snoogle, welcome to the family. Prepare to develop thick skin.

“No matter what, make sure your nails always look nice”- My mom

Safe nails1

Perhaps you’re like me and you can hear your mom inside your head saying “No matter what, make sure your nails always look nice” or perhaps you just dig the polished look. This thought came from my mom’s mom (who’s now 93 and yes, her nails look stunning) and has somehow made it’s way into my brain. I totally have an “oh my God my nails look terrible, I can’t go out like this” complex and really do try to have nice looking nails as much as possible (even if they’re painted black which is a look I love). Plus, who doesn’t love a little mani-pedi action whether you do it yourself or get it done at a salon. Well ladies, I am here to tell you that just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you have to ditch the manis and pedis! In fact quite the opposite!

If you’re concerned about the harsh chemicals in polish and polish removers with pregnancy, you have every right to be. That’s why you really should avoid them. Lucky for us, we now have more options than ever with pregnancy safe polish, removers, base coats and top coats. I have done some trial and error with this myself. As soon as we started TTC, I started using the safe products (just in case we did conceive, I didn’t want to risk the chemicals on my body).

safenails2

Here are my favorite brands many of which are now available in nail salons and all of which you can find online. I also found a pretty great nail polish remover (it takes a bit longer to get the polish off but it’s totally worth the peace of mind).

ManiPure

Butter

PRITI NYC

nailpolishremover

The important things to look for when picking nail polish and products that are pregnancy safe are:

What’s known as the “Toxic Trio,” Toulene, dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and formaldehyde. These chemicals can seep through your system right to your developing baby. It’s SO not worth it ladies.

Once you’ve invested in these safer polishes, the good news is, if you end up having a little girl then you can use this polish on her one day! Coming from a long line of women who think your nails should always look nice, it’ll be interesting to see if I end up programing my little girl the same way!

A note about manicures and pedicures at the salon: Make SURE to tell the nail technician that you are pregnant. It’s very important they know this as they may tweak the massage or what they use on you. I recommend bringing your own nail polish and remover in a bag with your own nail tools. This is not the time to get an infection from a nail salon ladies! Also make sure to check the over all cleanliness of the nail place. You have to make sure it’s pregnancy safe. I’d also make sure they have the water warm but not hot as pregnant women shouldn’t soak it extreme heat in general.

There’s nothing like that foot massage while you’re getting a pedicure. When you’re pregnant the foot massages can’t possibly happen to often.  I swear I live for it right now! If you can’t get a pedicure then go for it and ask your partner for a little foot rub and paint your own nails. It’ll be just as awesome if not more.

It’s a GIRL!!!!

This is the song that immediately came into my mind when we found out the sex of our baby! Then I found myself in pilates class a couple days later only to have it come on in my instructor’s playlist. I’m pretty sure I was doing squats on the reformer using some serious inner thigh and core control when the song came on. All of a sudden I started smiling like a total weirdo (everyone else looked pained by the squatting). The song immediately took me out of my physical body and into some dream fantasy world where I was doing this work out with my little girl and then I was teaching her how to dance and we were doing some kind of free form modern ballet thing in the living room together, laughing and having the best time. Then I was in the kitchen with her and she was helping me cook and learning from my no recipe free form creative style of cooking. Then we were walking hand in hand on the beach, talking about what was going on at school and with her life, she was looking to me for advice and I was able to take from my own life experiences to help her. And then…

The music switched to something else and we got to stop squatting. You’d think I’d snap back into my body but nope…for the duration of the class I felt like my work out was with someone else and I was taking care of her too not just of my own body. I felt like we shared something special and unlike anything I’ve ever felt in my life. The names my husband and I have been toying around with all floated in and out of my ethereal state. What will she look like? What will her laugh sound like? Will she like fashion and girlie things or be the opposite of her mom and be sporty? Will she take after me and become a dancer? Will she take after her dad and become a scientist? A doctor? Will she like to draw and paint like me or be a musician like her father? Will she like boys or girls? Will she like to cook with me? Will she like to be in nature or prefer the city? Will she get the travel bug like both of us? And of course, everyone is making bets on will she have curls or not? Will she have blonde, brunette or even red (it’s in the genetic pool) hair? Will she get the blue eyes or will they be darker? Will she be tall like us? All legs like her mom? Will she be shy or not? Will she love to snuggle like we do?

As the days have gone on knowing we’re having a girl, I’ve been thinking…

Will she be brave? Will she be strong? Will she be emotionally intelligent? Will she be proud? Will she be compassionate? Will she know how to love unconditionally? Will she be able to receive love with out fear? Will she be kind, gentle, nurturing? Will she be outspoken and stand up for what she believes in? Will she care for humanity and be gracious? Will she know her own strength of character, mind and body and feel grounded in that? Will she have love of self and self worth for what is inside her? Will she be passionate about life and love, all the world offers up to her? Will she create joy in her life? Will she take risks while striving for happiness? Will she be able to feel sexy for other reasons than her physical beauty? Will she approach life in a positive way? Will she find what she loves, what makes her happy and go for it no matter what?

Will she know she is loved with all my heart, soul, every ounce of my being, even now, and for always, no matter what?

So many of these answers I can’t wait to find out and only time will tell. Others, are in my husband’s and my hands as we set her foundation from the moment she enters this world. I can’t wait to meet her and show her love and ya, how to dance around the house to great music with out a care in the world!

We’re having a girl. Watch out world!

(And THIS is what my husband has been singing around the house since we found out…)

Morning Sickness or All Day Sickness: How To Make It Through

Ginger Root

Ginger Root

If you are reading this blog because you are suffering from “morning sickness” or as I like to call it “all day sickness” then first off, my heart goes out to you because this is ROUGH STUFF! Hopefully I can give you some tips and tricks that I found worked for me (with lots of trial and error). First of all, know you are not alone. Many women experience this during the first trimester and you’re in good company. Also this usually gets better as you ease into the second trimester. So you have that to look forward to. Very few women are sick their entire pregnancy although I know it feels like it will never end when it’s happening to you.

What Worked for Me:

Ginger! Ginger! More Ginger! I found that eating or drinking ginger helped to calm my nausea. I bought ginger candy and would always have it in my purse. At home I would buy ginger root, peel it and boil it in water to make a tea (very strong but really works) or I would just use organic ginger tea bags you can buy at the store. I’d add ginger to food I was cooking and we were always stocked up on ginger beer (the good stuff not ginger ale that is full of bad for you chemicals). It’s VERY important to stay hydrated while pregnant but when you are nauseous water can often times make the feeling worse. So, in order to get my water down, I would add some ginger beer to it- even a splash would go a long way. Plus the bubbles do help settle the tummy as well.

Eating! You do not feel like eating but you have to eat! In fact, eating just might make you feel better even though it’s the last thing you want to do. What I suggest trying is to eat very small amounts of food often. Do not sit and eat a huge meal it’ll make you feel horrible, trust me. Even if you’re out with others don’t worry what they will think- you have to take care of you and baby right now, they can deal. Just eat a little bit and let it digest and ease through until you feel you can stomach another little bit of food later and so on. The thing you must know is that the first weeks of pregnancy are extremely important and that a growing fetus needs certain kinds of foods. The reality is, you really need to try to force yourself to get some nutrition down even if you’re sick. I like this link to help you know what’s the most important and in what foods you can easily get it from. The bottom line is, it’s not all about you right now and so despite your tummy you have to take care of this growing fetus which means, you need to try to feed it the right stuff.

The New Saltine: It’s been programmed into our brain that when we’re nauseous we should just eat saltine crackers all day. Well this absolutely might make you feel better BUT you are not getting any nutritional value out of doing this and sort of wasting your ability to get food down completely. That said- crackers help! Carbs help! It’s totally true. (Also this is not a time to be anti-carb ladies. Carbs are your friend right now plus have you noticed you are pregnant and not on a diet)! Try this…go to the local health store and stock up on a few different types of multi-grain or high protein and fiber style crackers. Try noshing on those puppies next time your nausea hits! It should help and at least you are feeding your fetus some good nutrition at the same time. Try it with a side of ginger tea and you may just feel a whole lot better soon!

Most important…hang in there. This is such a hard part but it will pass. Oh and have your partner do what mine did, he reminded me every time I felt so miserable I was on the verge (or past the verge) of tears that…this means the pregnancy is moving forward and the fetus is okay. It’s true. If you feel sick- this is a great sign that things are progressing. So just keep reminding yourself and have your partner do the same. It is the one thing that can make it totally okay to feel totally not okay.

Saving Your Boobs

mama-mio-boob-tubeDo you like your boobs? Do you even I don’t know, kind of love your boobs? Are you terrified they will get stretch marks and drop down to the floor and flatten like pancakes from pregnancy and nursing? Are your boobs killing you because you are somewhere between 4-12 weeks pregnant? Have your boobs gone up an entire cup size or more over night because you’re 4-12 weeks pregnant? Are you loosing sleep because your boobs hurt so much that they actually wake you up/keep you up at night? When you wake up in the morning do you have to hold your breasts up because they drop like painful Playboy sized weights the moment you get out of bed? Has your partner forgotten where your eyes are located while talking to you since you found out you were pregnant?

If you answered YES to any or all of these questions chances are you are 4-12 weeks pregnant and you are desperate to save your boobs!

This was me but I have found some solace and I want to share my boob saving tips with you!

The Cream: Featured above is Mama Mio’s Boob Tube. It’s worth every penny and a little goes a long way (even if you’re boobs are larger than life right now). I researched this to death and discovered this amazing cream. I use it 2x a day and I noticed a change after the first day of using it! I now swear by it. If you tell me you just found out you’re pregnant I’m going to tell you to run don’t walk to your computer, order this cream and start using it right away!

The Sleep Bra: It’s extremely difficult to be in the very early weeks of pregnancy. You may be one of the lucky ones and feel amazing but most of us aren’t so lucky. You might be bogged down with morning (or all day) sickness, headaches and serious fatigue. So on top of all that, not being able to sleep through the night because your boobs hurt too much is just that- too much! For me, this was off the charts painful and I was feeling pretty horrible anyway. I tried sleeping in my bras, sleeping in my sports bras, sleeping in different positions. Nothing helped and in fact the bras and sports bras made it worse and were so uncomfortable to sleep in. This is when I did my research and discovered this magical thing called a sleeping and nursing bra. Note: Even though you’re not in need of nursing bras at this early stage, they are the best to sleep in and you can kill two birds with one stone by buying them now as you’ll need them later anyway! I bought 10 different sleep/nursing bras and finally found my favorite one (I returned the others. I love Amazon.com). This is the one I adore but you might need to do a trial and error test for yourself. Each woman’s needs, sizing and pain level is different. The great thing about these bras is you can totally wear them during the day as well or if you’re just lounging (or let’s be honest, if you’re just hanging over the toilet with your buddy morning sickness) these bras are super comfortable and supportive for that too!

The Bigger Bra: There will come a point in your first few weeks of pregnancy where you will no longer be able to fit your new boobs into your old bra. Try and try as you might, there’s a moment where you realize those beautiful bras are going to get put into the back of the undies drawer not to be seen for many months. Since I had my sleep bra situation handled I felt like I could get away with only buying 1-2 new bras. I often roll out in my sleep bra because it’s so comfy and I live in a pretty casual city. But, there are times when I need under wire and a thinner bra strap so for those times, I decided not to give up beauty (at least not just yet). I’ve been wearing Victoria Secret bras for a while and I know which styles I like so I went online, found a bra sale and just went up a cup size in the bras I already love to wear. This proved to be a great way to ease into the next phase of boob growth and pregnancy. I think a woman can still look sexy in her underwear even if she’s got morning sickness, headaches, is exhausted and her boobs are killing her. I mean my goodness, something’s gotta give right? As it turns out my hubby thought my new VS bras were really pretty but when I told him my new cup size…his mouth dropped and he said “we’re running out of letters.” What? They don’t make a DDDD??? Shoot!

So, ladies I say go to the bras you already love, make it easy on yourself and just start jumping up. If you’re a D go DD, a DD go DDD and I am not going to jump into the next letter (for as long as I can wait it out in D’s)….but that’s just me!

Your Partner: You might look like you’ve had a boob job and are the new Playboy Playmate of the year to your partner but, what he doesn’t know is that those new sexy busting boobs of yours HURT SO MUCH! You almost want to say “look don’t touch!” But that’s no fun right? So, I suggest being really honest with your partner about how you’re feeling. If you don’t, he may grab you or hug you super tight and then feel terrible for accidentally hurting you when he was probably trying to make you feel good. Communication is key in everything including pregnancy boob awareness month(s)! Let your partner know when you’re having a good boob day, when you’re in agony and can’t be touched and when to be gentle and aware but still close to you. You’re carrying their baby, the last thing they want to do is hurt you. So, speak up and also come on…let them enjoy winning the boob lottery. Even if they were great to begin with…this is a whole new level!!!

Dare to Bare….My Hair???

PureVibranceWe’ve all heard about the big hair issue of pregnancy. No, not how gorgeous and thick your tresses will get while your pregnant or how fast it will grow. I’m talking about the issue of whether to dye or not to dye. That is the question. Now if you’re like me, you always envisioned your pregnancy with this beautiful natural flowing mane of hair, looking all earth mama boho chic beautiful…natural and sexy. Right? Okay perhaps that’s just me. But the reality is that if you’ve been dying your hair or even highlighting and/or low lighting it (which is what I’ve been doing for years) then you will be forced to decide to either continue to do so while pregnant or let your roots run wild and your natural color show for all the world to see. There’s a ton of literature available about this issue but no hard medical facts that substantiate hair dye to be dangerous to the fetus. It is only suspected that hair dye on your scalp is potentially dangerous to your baby’s health. So, this decision is yours and for some of us it might be a big one. For me, it wasn’t hard to chose. I had pretty much decided to do pregnancy sans hair dye since before I even met my husband. That said…it was a process.

What I chose to do:

My hair is naturally blonde. My hair is also naturally curly. It’s kind of been my thing to have blonde big curly hair (even though I occasionally partake in a blow out for a little treat). Over the years however, I started to do the highlight thing and then the highlight/low light thing to give my hair dimension. As I’ve gotten older I can tell my natural blonde has gotten darker. It’s considered “mousey blonde” or “dirty blonde” at this point. Neither term sounds too appealing to me. Since I’ve gone so long with out seeing my hair in it’s complete natural state, all I have to go on is what color my eye brows are and other hair on my body. So, okay I’m still blonde but I don’t want to look “mousey” or “dirty.” When hair dressers have done my color in the past they often comment at how light my natural color still is. That’s always made me feel good but whenever my roots have grown out with highlights, to me they always look dark. That said, when I thought about growing my hair out and letting my roots go wild I immediately freaked at the thought of that horrible line you get when your roots grow out and then multiplied that look x9 months of growth! Oh hell no!

The beauty of planning to try to get pregnant and preparing body/mind/house and spirit prior to TTC also includes making time to get your hair in order! When we moved to Seattle in July I began my hair journey so that once we started TTC my hair would be where I wanted it to be for the duration of a pregnancy. The first thing I did was research colorists in my area and also people who are good with curly hair. If you are a curly girl, you will relate to this: cutting and coloring curls is totally different than cutting and coloring straight hair. When I lived in NYC I discovered Devachan and realized that cutting and coloring curls is an art and these people were the artists who wrote the book. Actually they did literally write a book!

Since my curly hair revelation I have tried to find Deva-trained hair dressers and colorists in every city I have lived in. It just so happens that in Seattle, they are all under one roof at the very chic and hip salon Vain. I made an appointment with a stylist there and explained to her that I wanted to get pregnant and while pregnant, I want to still look good (my hair at least). I explained my issue with growing out my roots and also the fact that I wasn’t exactly sure what color of blonde my natural hair really is anymore. So we devised a plan of attack. This was, to take out the highlights and match my low lights by doing an all over color that would wash out as I washed it over time. She promised me it wouldn’t be too dark in the end even though in the beginning it may seem that way. So, I went for it and sure enough….full freak out mode. It was not too dark it was WAY TOO DARK. I could hardly look at myself. This was not even blonde anymore this was looking brown! So, I went back for a fixer session a few weeks later after washing my hair like a mad woman 2-3x a day to try to get it to fade. The hair dresser was super sweet about it and realized that in fact this was maybe over kill. She did some kind of a rinse and toner and threw in some golden highlights that she felt were very close to my natural color so that as it grew out, it would blend and not have a line.

As it turns out, the second time in worked great and so began my growing out phase while anxiously waiting to see what my real color would look like. I still gave myself enough time to change the color if need be before TTC. Fortunately, I realize my natural color was pretty and I even started to get lots of compliments on my beautiful natural blonde curls! Who would have thought?! Don’t get me wrong as delighted as I am that I can live with this color for 9+ months, I will 100% be going to get some dimension added back in via color when I am done being a vessel for a little one. I miss having little funky streaks of lighter and darker shades mixed in, however now that I know I like my hair I will probably do highlights/low lights less frequently and more sparingly than before. I am starting to fall in love with my blonde shade…it’s more “goldie locks” and less “mousey locks” (thank you God or shall I say, thank you genetics)!!!!!

Hair Products I swear by that are baby safe too:

What I’ve been using on my hair, I am fortunate enough to be able to stick with through TTC and pregnancy because it’s all totally safe for baby! I go between two sets of hair products: Arbonne and DevaCurl (from the Devachan curly girls).

You’ll see me talk about Arbonne products a lot on this blog because everything they create is totally safe to use on your largest organ- your skin! I live for their products and I’m 100% about them for my skincare, my make-up and body care. The only place I let anything else touch me is when it comes to my curls because I can’t live with out my DevaCurl products and have found my hair is looking and feeling it’s best when I mix it up wit Arbonne! The DevaCurl products and Arbonne products are sulfate-free and paraban-free, which is very important. I’ll give you my scoop below:

My Arbonne picks for dry, thick, wavy, curly or color treated hair:

You can check them out directly through my site (yes I love Arbonne SO much I sell it and you can get amazing discounts through me). Click on “hair” and you’ll find Pure Vibrance Lustre Fortifying Shampoo, Pure Vibrance Fortifying Creme Conditioner and Pure Vibrance Texturizing Mousse, all of which I absolutely love! Not to mention it smells so good and never irritates my skin or face as it washes out.

If you’re a curly girl like me then you might become a lifer as I call myself, with Devachan products. You can buy them online.

I use:

No-Poo Cleanser

One Condition

Frizz-Free Volumizing Foam

Light Defining Gel

Good luck with your hair journey ladies and don’t worry, if you can’t dare to go bare while pregnant no one is judging you! (Well at least not me)!!!

Modern Medicine Rocks

no this isn't my belly but it's a cute one!

no this isn’t my belly but it’s a cute one!

I’d like to preface this blog by saying that although I think modern medicine rocks, it does not mean that I don’t believe in doing things as natural and organic as possible. I personally try to eat and live as natural, organic, safe and pure as possible. That doesn’t mean I can’t ALSO partake and benefit from modern medicine. To me there is room for it all in life and being inclusive not exclusive when it comes to health. So ya, modern medicine rocks!

Why does it rock? So many reasons but let’s focus on why it rocks for pregnancy and what’s going on that’s hot right now. First off this year is even better than last year for expectant mothers because we now have access to even more non-invasive tests than mothers that came before us. I’d like to focus on this because if you are reading this and expecting I urge you to consider looking into this new test called Chromosomal Aberration Screening which is prenatal genetic testing. It was brought to my attention by our dear family friend, Dr. Eric Topol. Check out Eric speaking on it here. This test was also recently featured in the New York Times.

What we did with this information:

Okay so first of all, because my husband and I are both Ashkenazi Jews, we knew that I needed to be tested for being a carrier of Tay-Sachs disease. The way it works is if the mother is a carrier then you check the father, but if the mother is not a carrier then you’re in the clear. Since we knew that we wanted to try to start a family sooner than later after we got married, I decided to get a full genetic panel done before we even got married. Knowledge is power people! This full genetic panel would be useful for anyone considering getting pregnant. It checks for so many things I was in shock when the report came back negative for 3 pages of weird genetic diseases I had never heard of! If you are interested in doing this I suggest you ask your OB-gyn as there are many different options available and different cultural background have different risks associated with them. It’s very good to know what your risks are and then make decisions from there with your partner.

Knowing that we had that panel done and everything checked out fine was a great start but not enough information once we found out we were pregnant. My husband began to do extensive research on the companies doing the genetic prenatal testing. What we found out was that the main options were:

Verifi

MaterniT21

Harmony

Panorama

We narrowed it down to MaterniT21 and Verifi until I found out that MaterniT21 won’t give the test to anyone under 35 years old. 35 seems to be the magic number with all these test mostly when it comes to insurance. It seems as though if you’re 35 and up you will most likely be able to get this test covered but if you’re not then it’s likely your insurance will deny the claim. Each company has different set ups with payment. I suggest you do your own research and evaluation of this financially. Also call your insurance and get as much information as you can from them before making a choice. We opted to go with the company Verinata that does the Verfi test.

I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am for this test’s availability to me. With one tube of blood taken at 11 weeks we were able to find out with in 4 days that our fetus tested negative for the following covered by Verifi: Trisomies 21, 18, and 13; optional expansion detects sex-chromo- some abnormalities (monosomy X, XXX, XXY, and XYY) and may aid in stratifying the risk of X-linked disorders (e.g., hemo- philia, Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy, and ambiguous genitalia). The big one in this test is Downs Syndrome. It tests 99.9% accurate for Downs Syndrome. When my doctor’s office called with the results of this test my heart felt peaceful, grateful and relieved.  All I could think is “Modern Medicine Rocks!”

I hope that in a while from now the insurance companies will start to let women get covered for these tests who are under 35. I am 34 and when we give birth will be months from 35. To me, the risk I have is the same as it would be if I were a few months older. The process is what it is right now but I really hope it changes and this test becomes much more affordable. We can only make this happen by having more women get these tests and spread the awareness about them to wake up the insurance companies! My fingers and toes are crossed on this one. For now though, I am one grateful mamma to be for that tube of blood and what my results were from it.

Dreams DO come true…We’re Pregnant!!!!

double checking!

double checking!

Dec. 8th, 2013. The day our life changed forever!

We had been “going for it” for 2 months. The first month I went a little crazy…I cut out drinking, coffee, raw fish, unpasteurized cheese and was living like a pregnant woman JUST IN CASE we got pregnant. I also had a OB-gyn appointment that month with my new and super awesome doctor. At the appointment I explained to her what I was doing and she told me to “stop it.” Yep! She told me I was putting too much pressure on myself and too much focus around getting pregnant to actually “get” pregnant. She told me to just do life as normal and not worry about it and then I’ll be relaxed and I’ll have an easier time conceiving. She also told me to make sure we have sex on days 10,12,14 & 16 of my cycle (counting day 1 as period start day). So, after that appointment I went to meet my mom and my dear friend Barbara who was in town visiting Seattle and we had some oysters and a glass of wine! I follow directions well!

After that my husband and I just enjoyed life and I’m not going to lie, we had sex every single day that month just to really put it out there and go for it. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had making anything in my entire life! (Thanks honey)!!! Also yes, I did those silly shoulder stand yoga poses almost all the time after or I would just lay in bed for at least 15-20 minutes to give the sperm the best chance it had to do what it needed to do. It may or may not have made a difference but I did it anyway and if anything it often just cracked us both up (because I looked ridiculous).

Fast forward from period start date Nov. 8th to Sunday, Dec. 8th. There I was pushing myself to get on the elliptical machine despite how weirdly tired I was. I was also extremely thirsty so I chugged a huge glass of water then started my work out. About 15 minutes into my cardio I got this intense wave of nausea and dizziness. I had to stop, get off and sit down. I told my husband it must have been from the water chugging. Oh sure because that would make a lot of sense right? Not so much. My husband had been secretly wondering for a few days noticing how oddly tired I was and that I had an insane hamburger craving that week and even ate the entire burger and bun (extremely unusual for me). Not to mention the handful of very extreme emotional reactions I had had that week to things. So he asked me about my period. I said I was one day late. He looked at me and said “do you want to take a test?” With in a second my heart skipped a beat. “Yes!” So, he went to the store and bought us a pack of tests. My nerves were going crazy, they were all over the place. I wanted more than anything for the test to be positive but I also remembered my doctor telling me this could take up to a year to happen and that was normal.

Here goes nothing I thought and peed on the stick. I shut the bathroom door and waited in the kitchen with my husband. I was too nervous to go look so he decided to do it. This I will never forget…He took me in his arms, wiped my nervous tears away and said in the most calming, assuring and loving way, “No matter what it says, we’re in this together. We will get through anything good or bad. No matter what it’s going to be okay and I love you and am with you. No matter what we will have a baby even if we have to adopt. It’s going to be okay either way.” He meant it and I believed him. This calmed me and I said okay let’s find out. A moment later he emerged from the bathroom holding the stick to face him, looking down at it. My heart stopped and the world seemed to pause for what felt like an eternity. Then, he looked up at me and said, “Let me see the box…I want to make sure I know what the signs mean…” and turned the stick outward at me and I FREAKED OUT!!! And yes, showed him the box to reassure both of us!

Screams of joy, hugging and jumping up and down, tears of happiness and excitement went on for a while. Then…I had to double check, of course! So, we took one more test to confirm and then we made the best phone calls ever to our parents and immediate family. My mother’s first words were “I knew it! Every time I hung up the phone from you this week I told dad, “Sarah’s pregnant and she has no idea.” Never underestimate the power of a mom!!!

As exciting and happy as all of this is, what my husband told me before going to look at the test, he told me many more times after because things do happen in the beginning of pregnancy. It doesn’t always stick, people have miscarriages, life happens. But, I knew that no matter what, we were in it together in love and support and that I would be okay.

And now the pregnancy journey really begins!