Pregnancy Food

Right after I found out I was pregnant I scoured books and online articles for information about what I should and should not eat.  After exhausting my research I turned to my midwife and doctor.  Here is my most helpful and well rounded list of things to eat and not to eat in pregnancy.

DO

Food

  1. Greens

    Try to sneak as many greens into your diet as possible.  I admit, this one is very hard for me!  I actually slack the majority of the time because greens happen to be the one thing I have had an aversion to since I was about 12 weeks pregnant.  In favor of not upsetting my gag reflex I often opt out of eating them.  However, on the days I’m feeling up to it I will sneak them into my eggs, pick up a green juice with kale or spinach in it, pop a handful of spinach into a smoothie, hide some kale in fried rice, or occasionally even braving a salad.  Who would have thought the world’s biggest veggie lover would have to force feed greens to herself!

  2. Protein

    Eat as much as you can.  As a vegetarian it was recommended I try and get some protein into every meal.  For a snack I’ll often grab a handful of nuts or a hardboiled egg (see Grab-N-Go Foods below).  I default to eggs often but I also have been going for greek yogurt, beans, and protein enriched smoothies.

Vitamins

  1. Multivitamin

    This is your insurance to cover gaps in your diet.  Even if you are a fruit and veggie fiend you simply don’t know how nutritious those whole foods are unless you grow them in your own composted, organic soil.  Take your prenatal with a meal in the first half of your day.  Here’s what to look for in your multivitamin:  400+ mcg of folic acid (folate), 150+ mcg of iodine, 2000- IU vitamin A acetate/palmitate.  I personally recommend a plant based multivitamin because you are more likely to save yourself from experiencing constipation.

  2. Vitamin D

    For women living in the midwest I recommend 5000 IU of D3 daily.  We do not get much sun in the winter and at our latitude any sun we get in the summer isn’t actually that helpful.  My doctor recommended Healthy Origins, 360 softgels.  If you shop on vitacost.com or iherb.com you will save yourself a chunk of change.  Vitamin D should be taken with a fatty meal or alongside your omega-3 supplement.  Low vitamin D levels have been linked to increased risk of preeclampsia and c-section.

  3. Omega-3’s

    My doctor is also a die hard vegetarian but even she gave into taking Omega-3’s because flax, chia, and hemp simply won’t make a dent.  What you want is at least 1000 mg of DHA + EPA.  DHA alone will not help you or your baby, the EPA is the component that will allow the supplement to reach across the placental barrier.  My doctor specifically recommended Carlson labs Fish oil, 16.8 oz (I got lemon flavor for taste).  You can also purchase this on vitacost.com or iherb.com to save yourself some money.  To be honest, I loathe this vitamin.  Whenever I can finally get around to polishing off what I have I plan on getting my fish oil in the form of a capsule.  It’s not the taste.  The stuff doesn’t carry any real flavor.  It’s the texture that gets me.  You try swallowing a spoonful of cold oil a day and tell me if you like it!

  4. Probiotics

    Research is showing that the types of bacteria your baby is exposed to at birth and shortly after may influence the development of their immunity system.  Exposure to lactobacillus and bifidobacteria has been shown to reduce the risk of skin allergy and possibly asthma later in life.  Studies also show that women who take probiotics in pregnancy reduce the risk of having a child with autism.  The best ways to help the baby get these bacteria is to deliver through the vagina, breast feed, and take probiotics.  My doctor specifically recommended a Wisconsin brand called Florajen3 but if you can’t find that brand be sure to take a probiotic that includes both the lactobacillus and bifidobacteria.

Grab-N-Go Foods

Since I was so hungry so frequently I spent some time brainstorming what I could carry around with me.  Both my midwife and my doctor recommended snacking on protein because it would last longer for me and I needed to pile as much protein into my body as I could for the baby and delivery.

  1. Hard boiled eggs
  2. Protein balls
  3. Nuts
  4. Protein bars
  5. Greek Yogurt
  6. Fruit (like apples and bananas)

Don’t

  1. Dyes

    They are totally hard to avoid but if you stay away from candy, soda, and other obviously bright colored things you are on the right track.  Dyes ultimately have been said to lead to all sorts of issues in your baby, some of which may include autism and ADD.

  2. Caffeine

    A cup a day won’t hurt but do yourself, and the baby, a favor and choose more sleep instead.  If you really have to have coffee go for decaf, but be aware that digestion in pregnancy gets a little hosed up and coffee is one of the first things they tell you to cut out – apparently coffee makes the esophagus lazy, caffeinated or not.

  3. Seafood and sushi

    A little won’t hurt anyone.  The key to eating habits in general is everything in moderation – particularly the “bad” stuff.  But, according to my reading, tuna and other fish are ok, swordfish and shark are a no-no, and shellfish and other bottom feeders are ok but should be consumed only rarely.

  4. Alcohol

    Apparently even a glass or two of wine is ok now-a-days.  Earlier in the pregnancy I would restrict myself to occasional sips of someone else’s beverage, but I have now cut it out completely.  Despite my findings I feel a lot more comfortable foregoing altogether.  I figure, if the stuff gets me a little bleary eyed so quick I can’t imagine what it would do to the baby.  But what do I know right?

  5. Refined sugar and flour

    This is a pretty broad category but ultimately you want to avoid carbonated beverages, packaged foods, and things like that.  Ideally it is best to stick to a whole foods diet and cooking meals yourself (and that goes for always too but particularly when pregnant).

  6. Deli meat

    My doctors didn’t specifically mention this but I’ve read it all over online.  I don’t eat it ever anyway but I sure am not going to start when pregnant.

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First Symptoms

Bemusings of a Baby Life

As some of you may have already read in my “Beginnings” post the tell tale signs of pregnancy kick in right away.  Or at least in my case they do, apparently not everyone experiences such early and obvious signs.  That’s just what I’ve heard.  Anyway, I will be very open because I am the kind of person that loves to know these types of things.  And when I read the book Belly Laughs: The Naked Truth about Pregnancy and Childbirth Josh was very insistent that I not only should and could share my pregnant stories for educational and entertainment purposes but that I would enjoy telling them.  Well, he’s right.  Also, the side benefit to all of this is I plan to take these stories and insert them into my baby scrapbook!  What a good way for writer and photographer mama to capture the memories right?  I’m not afraid to share, but I will forewarn you that some of you may think TMI at some points.  To you squeamish males, if you stick it out you might learn something!

My Symptoms in my First 4 Weeks of Pregnancy

Sign #1 | I have to pee… again.

Yes, this happened right away for me.  After several trips to the bathroom in the span of a couple of hours I remember thinking, “I don’t think I drank this much water.”  Then my next thought was, “is this a sign of pregnancy?”  Like a good little college graduate I looked it up and, indeed, it was!

Sign #2 | extra discharge

So for those females who have learned their body we know that there is a cycle of discharge and each different type of discharge has a different a meaning.  The beginning of this cycle is the first day of your period.  Then you move to a stage of dry fluid and this is also an infertile time.  As you progress onward the fluid becomes more fertile.  Next is a sticky fluid.  Then a fluid best described as “egg white.” And finally, the most fertile fluid is dubbed as “watery” and appears as a little, circular wet spot at the bottom of your panties.  From then on you rapidly drop down the scale again, spending the rest of the cycle mostly “dry.”  For me, the minute I didn’t go dry I started wondering.  In fact, I was always very watery.  So, again, a faithful little college graduate I looked it up and found it certainly was one of the first signs of pregnancy.

Sign #3 | sore breasts

If any of you have ever experienced the discomfort of a breast cyst you know how my breasts felt.  However, unlike a breast cyst, it felt like the whole base of my breast was a cyst… except minus the lumpy cyst.  For those of you who don’t know what this feels like, the best way I can describe this feeling is that it feels like the blend between growing pains and sore muscles the morning after a heavy work out.  My boobs hurt so bad I had a hard time with even gentle hugs!  Poor Josh had to hold me like I was a porcelain doll.  Do I have you wondering if you hugged me in this faze?  I’m a tough kid, so I offered solid hugs like always so maybe you’ll never know.  Mwahahaha… 😉

Anyway, I was puzzled and was ready to be concerned if a pregnancy test didn’t come up positive.  But it did, so turns out these sore knockers are just a normal sign that I’m pregnant.

Sign #4 | no period

For me this confirmed everything even when I was only a few days late because I am always on the button with my cycle.  But I waited to take the test until I was a good 5 days past when Josh came home again so we could enjoy the seconds of anxious excitement during the test processing together.

Congratulations, you made it!  Now you know a little something about what the very beginning of pregnancy can feel like!

Our Annual Photo Spree + Our 3 MO Belly!

Every year, around our anniversary, Josh and I take pictures together. They end up added to a collage we have in our living room that one day will cover a whole wall I’m sure.  I LOVE our tradition!  This year I loved that we got to do our photo fun with Mandy again!  First of all, she is a wonderful, sweet, dear friend!  Second of all, she is an incredible photographer!  She also did our engagement photos and wedding.

Anyway,  I love our tradition because I truly love the time with Joshua and then being able to put up pictures of our ever growing love up around the house!

This year, our shoot was a little more special because we’re having a baby and couldn’t be more happy about it!  In this year’s blend of images you will see some “pregnancy” geared images.  (Our little peanut is 13 weeks cookin’ in these pictures – so, roughly, 3 months.  As I post this we are 17 weeks into this adventure!0001 0002 0003 0004 0005 0006 0007 0008 0009 0010 0011 0012 0013 0014 0015 0016 0017 0018 0019 0020 0021 0022 0023 0024 0025 0026 0027 0028 0029 0030 0031 0032 0033 0034 0035 0036 0037 0038 0039

Big thanks to Mandy Henry for the beautiful images!

Baby Beginnings

We are having a baby!  Yippee yippee yay!!!!!

As most stories start, I want to start this one at the very beginning.  Our big news starts well before conception.  An important tid bit to know about me is I don’t make decisions lightly, particularly not big decisions.  I have an unintentional rule of thumb for myself that I have to have 3 solid reasons for making any big leaps.  For example, before I got my eyebrow pierced I asked my parents for their approval.  When I did ask them my dad asked for my reasons, because he knew I would have them, and I have him these:  one, I was called a “goody-two-shoes” all through grade school because I didn’t flub up morally or rebel so I thought it was time to try and fix that a little, at least physically, specifically in the hopes of reaching those kids that might be afraid to approach a “goody-two-shoes” like me otherwise; two, my dad worked at a second chance high school and I wanted kids like those to feel like I was approachable; third, I thought they looked so cool.

So, you can imagine that if I thought so long and hard about getting a little eyebrow piercing, how convinced I would have to be in order to start a family.  Hence, the Lord obviously prepared my heart for welcoming kiddos into our family for at least a year and in doing so gave me a good, long list of solid reasons to have a baby.

I suppose the very beginning started when Josh and I got married.  We decided we were going to have kids, if we were going to have them, in about ten years – when I was about 30.  None-the-less, we still talked about kids fairly frequently.  We talked about what kind of parents we wanted to be, what our kids might be or look like, and what sort of traditions we would want to have with our family.

When I photographed my first set of twins with Bella Baby Photography at Good Shepherd Hospital our conversations picked up from a rare occasion to increasingly frequent.  There was something about photographing twins that really made my heart swell lovingly.

Then God took me another step forward and decided on the approach of talking to me through some key people.  First, my good friend Hannah had her first little boy about a year ago.  In talking with her about her pregnancy, delivery and keeping up life with an infant my eyes were opened to the reality I had hoped for in having kids.  Hannah has a similar personality and lifestyle to mine so hearing her story confirmed my hopes and dreams about maintaining an active pregnancy, delivering responsibly but naturally, and continuing to pursue career passions with a child.  These things are totally possible and I am so excited to tackle them myself now!

Then one of my best friends from high school, Alicia, had her first little boy.  Again, I had another woman with a like mind to talk to about pursuing a career and a natural approach with children.  Besides, when a best friend has a baby you fall head over heels for that little nephew!

Now, my friend Becky really did me in.  She not only booked me for 3, 6, and 9 month maternity photography but also for newborn and once a month photos of Scarlett over her first year of kickin’ it on planet Earth!  Scarlett is the epitome of adorable.  She’s got those big eyes, round face, and an adorable, dimpled, willing smile.  And I see this cutie once a month!  I remember asking Becky my list of questions after she had Scarlett.  How was your delivery?  How are you feeling?  How are you sleeping?  Were there any surprises with being a mommy?  With this last question, which is really my code question for “is this baby sucking the life out of you,” she answered just as my friends Hannah and Alicia did:  “yes I’m exhausted but I’m so happy to be.”

I hope I’m not putting words in your mouths dear friends, but when I asked you all my questions the first time I saw you with your babies you all totally won my heart over to the side of motherhood.  In the end, the key with all of these women was the fact that they not only were pursing dreams alongside raising their adorable children but they had amazing love testimonies to share!  Truth is, having a family scared me before because I usually heard blurbs about how kids suck the life out of you, how incredibly hard it is, and how they take over your whole life.  But these women told me and showed me what I had hoped for, that having kids is ultimately a blessing and that every day they are overjoyed to be moms!  These women have children in their lives, not children taking over their lives and dreams.

So now my baby fever meter was officially tickled.  I love kids.  I love Hannah, Alicia, and Becky’s babies.  And though I knew I loved kids, I was perfectly content just seeing them now and then.  But God had different plans, so He took to some more drastic measures to really get my attention; He chose a select set of days to turn my baby making decision upside down.

Key day #1:  We had a pregnancy scare.  Scare is harsh because we weren’t scared, and I think that’s the moment when we both realized separately that we were not only ready to welcome a kiddo into our family but that we were hoping the “accident” took an we were, in fact, pregnant.  I guess God didn’t want to impose that on us though, he wanted us to willingly give way before blessing us with a peanut, because we didn’t get pregnant at this moment.

Key day #2:  I photographed a very large and very adorable family.  As the story goes, Beth was desperate to get a session in with her dad and all of his family because she had gotten word he may not even have two weeks left.  He had been battling cancer for some time and the cancer was now officially winning the fight.  It took some maneuvering to get my schedule and that of all her family members aligned but we did it!  Not only was I touched by the story behind making this session happen but, more importantly, I was so moved by the closeness Beth’s dad had with all of his kids and grandkids; throughout breaks in shooting, various kiddos would walk over to him and make faces or sit on his lap or play some other silly game.

Key day #3:  I photographed a vow renewal ceremony.  This was a family of a 6 years married couple and 3 toddlers.  I fell in love with the family almost right away and the couple’s level of patience and absolute joy for their kids.  I also fell in love with their youngest daughter Kaia.  Sounds narcissistic I know, but if you look at the pictures I took of her you’ll see that it was those round, bright blue eyes and adorable chubby face that won me over.  I remember hopping in my car with a full heart and thinking, “I want a family like that and I think I might be ready now.”

Key day #3 continued:  I talked to my mom a little about the idea of having kids.  When I got home from my vow renewal ceremony I chatted with my mom in the kitchen for a while.  We easily ended up on the subject of kids since it obviously was now at the forefront of my brain.  A few key points came up in our conversation:  a good time for me and Josh to have a baby would be in the summer when he is more frequently and predictably home, Mom would come and help me with the baby, and me wanting another puppy was actually me wanting a baby.

Key day #3 continued some more:  I talked to Josh about my new revelations.  My mom asked me the other day how long Josh and I talked before deciding to start our family.  My answer, about 5 minutes.  After I chatted with my mom upstairs in the kitchen I went downstairs to see my hubby.  I fairly quickly worked into what was on my mind, “Hey so I just realized that summer would be a good time to have a baby since you’re home more and Mom said she would help take care of the baby on weekends we both have gigs.”  His reply was just as shocking, “So do you want to make a baby?”  I think I blushed, which is funny because I’m married to the guy, and I stumbled on my words mumbling about how that’s not what I meant but that I just wanted to share my new found wisdom.  He simply asked the question again.  We got pregnant within days and found out officially on October 7th via a pregnancy test.  The coolest thing about all of that is that I had a specific prayer since photographing that set of twins at the hospital that if and when Josh and I were supposed to start the baby making journey that Josh would give us the green light, not me.

So maybe you’re wondering what my list of reasons to make this baby were?  Yes, it is important to me to be able to follow our dreams while raising a family. Yes, it totally meant the world to me to confirm that it was, in fact, more than possible for babies to integrate into the life structure you created instead of them taking over the whole show.  And yes, I did want a baby.  But, honestly, my list was only this long.

  1. God asked us to let go and let him make our little miracle.

That was all I really needed to know.  I know our journey may be tough at times, but I am so excited to be taking this adventure with the love of my life.  I think we are going to have some fun!

Happy New Year everyone!