Peace and Joy

It’s been a long time.

If I do have any readers left, it’s probably only those of you who have subscribed and get a random email of my return.  It’s hard to come back after such a long time and post here, but my husband encouraged me to write, thinking there would be people who’d love to hear from us, so here I am.

As most of you know by now, I quit Facebook a while back, I don’t miss it at all, but when I reactivated my account to look for an old video the other week and saw all the things so many of my friends and acquaintances are going through, my heart just sank.  I’ve really been quite secluded from the rest of the world (living under a rock I think is what they call it).  And although I am able to be more present and focused for my little family, it is not without its sacrifices, and I do miss my friends and the adoption community.

So much has happened over the last year, and yet I don’t feel like much progress has been made until just recently.  It’s difficult to write when you have no good news to share, and although there has been ups and downs, the downs seem to swamp the ups and I am often left feeling like we are going ever backward and never forward.  I want to share our journey because I do think we have been incredibly blessed and I want to share our children with the world because they have changed people’s lives and that’s an amazing gift!

On the other hand, I promised that I would not sugar coat things and I’d be honest here.  And sometimes when hard becomes unbearable, there are just seasons that I would rather not share with the rest of the world.  Perhaps that’s selfish of me.  But there are many moments I’m not sure how to survive without being a little selfish.  So I do hope that the world and my dear readers and my cherished friends and loved ones will all forgive my lack of contact.  Whether it’s here or on social media or by email or phone, I have not really kept up my end of the relationship and for that I am sorry.  Especially since you all have been so faithful and kind to our family through everything.

And with that said, I’ll move on to what most of you really want to know.  How are we doing??

We are doing alright.  The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel seems to peek through much more often these days than it ever used to, and for that I am thankful.  I am still very much dealing with my Hashimoto’s diagnosis.  We don’t have it under control, and sometimes it seems that we get things stabilized and then we go downhill again.  Being crunchy I have done my due diligence with autoimmune protocols and elimination diets, but I cannot seem to get to that place where I am actually healthy.

The last two months have been very difficult.  I have gained quite a lot of weight, none of my clothes really fit anymore.  I’m dealing with intense episodes of depression and I’m having migraines that are far too frequent for it to be ok.  And those are just the tip of the ice burg when it comes to symptoms.  At this point I’m ok with not feeling well, I’m ok with being chronically ill.  I just want to be well enough to take care of my family, and after that I’m at peace with whatever comes.  Not yet at peace with my weight, but maybe in time I’ll learn to be more gentle with myself.

I would like to say that the kids are all doing marvelously, the end.  But we all know better than that.  The children are all doing very well, but there are some difficulties there too.  Hope finally seems to have settled after her last episode of medical trauma last year.  She had casts taken off her legs after surgery and it must have triggered some sort of flashback from years past, she literally sat up from the bed (which she had never done) and began punching the poor tech (also she had never done).  For weeks afterward she was a complete emotional wreck.  I couldn’t touch her for three days without her sobbing.  She would start having flash backs again and was totally terrified of any touch or movement.  It was totally heart wrenching.

But last month when we went in to clinic (a long day of specialists) she didn’t cry once!  We were all shocked that through all the prodding and moving and activity that she was remaining so calm.  Doctor’s offices had always been a trigger for her.  At first I thought it was a fluke, but it has held up and she is doing therapy once or twice a day with no tears!  I feel like she is finally starting to blossom.  We have the surgeries (hopefully) all behind us, and she is finally just had time to settle in without any new trauma.  I see so much potential in her and so much life coming back to her sweet self.  I’m absolutely thrilled for her and can’t wait to see how she continues to grow.

(Speaking of therapy, we are currently living at the Ronald McDonald House near the Children’s Hosptial.  Jacob and Hope are in an intensive therapy program, daily therapy for a month!  It’s an amazing program and we are super excited for it.  I’ll write more about that tomorrow if I can.)

Jacob has also made some great strides.  Some things (like academics) seem to be at a total standstill for him. But he is having some breakthroughs.  He just got a new orthotist who fitted him for braces, and she did such an amazing job that he can now stand independently!!  His record so far is nine and a half minutes without falling.  I cried in her office when he stood up for the first time without help; I had been making peace with the idea of it never happening and now we are working on taking independent steps and working toward walking without canes!  He has a long way to go, but we are finally in a good place to start working on some of his goals and figuring out how to best support him so that he can have the best life possible.

Evangeline is doing wonderfully in school, she taught herself how to read.  We’ve been doing little mini lessons on phonics for years, but not curriculum or anything structured.  And she finally put the puzzle pieces together and is reading on her own!  She also loves ballet and does quite well in it.  Her favorite thing to study is science.  She is fascinated with space, animals, earth science and meteorology and the human body – all of it!  And she is quite the artist too.  I’m excited to see where her gifts take her.

Stephen is still our sports guy.  He does gymnastics and t-ball and loves both.  He does some school too, but not too much at this age.  We do a little bit of math, Bible, memory work and reading.  He wants to be a doctor, baseball player, construction worker and a soldier when he grows up, so I’m not sure if he will end up pursuing all of those or narrow the list a bit. I guess we will see. 😉

We still call Kyrie the baby, but she really isn’t anymore.  The therapist called her a toddler today and it made me just a little sad.  I know she’s a toddler, but she’s still just a baby to me.  She loves all her older siblings and wants to do everything any of them do.  She is even developing their attitude so we are nipping that right away.  My biggest concern for Kyrie is her teeth.  They are quite bad and we haven’t seen a dentist who will really give us a direct answer to it yet.  Considering I was seriously hypothyroid with her pregnancy and didn’t know it, it’s not surprising that her teeth did not form correctly, but it is a frustrating problem and I wish I could just make it better.

There are lots of things to come to peace with.  And there are also many things to take joy in.

Peace and joy, those are my prayers for this year.

The Old New Post

So with our less-than-stellar internet connection I usually type out my new blog posts in a Word document and then copy and paste.  Usually that works great.  Except this time I apparently forgot to put my fully written blog on the blog.  This was written a week ago.  Sigh… I’m posting the date as it was originally intended rather than posting it as today’s date.  Lucky for you another post is already in the works so you won’t have to wait long for the next one! Haha!  

IMG_0764Where to begin?  So much is happening so quickly.  As you all know, I was recently diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroditis.  On Monday I had an ultrasound and they would like to follow up with me every six months just to make sure it’s still looking as it should.  Praise God there are no signs of cancer!  I am still not sure if there were visible signs of damage to the thyroid or not, hopefully we’ll get more details in a few weeks.  But the worst case scenario is out of the equation which is a huge relief.

After receiving my diagnosis two weeks ago, I immediately began digging into the literature and seeking wisdom from others who have walked this road before me.  As the name of my blog might suggest, jumping to medication is not exactly my ideal route.  Unfortunately, my doctor gave me no other options.

Not only did he not give me other options, he told me that there was nothing conventional medicine could do to address or slow down my autoimmune disorder or even prevent me from incurring more autoimmune disorders down the road.  All he could do, he said, was to manage my symptoms.

I wasn’t satisfied with that answer.  I just wasn’t.  Since my diagnosis I’ve had over a dozen good friends come to me and let me know that they have the same exact diagnosis.  All of them are on medication, and almost everyone I’ve talked to with this disorder is taking medication for life.  My doctor has prescribed medication for me as well.  But here’s the thing… I’m going to wait on that.

I’m so glad that we have medication for when our bodies cannot function like God intended them to.  I am so happy that our technology has given us the capability to provide synthetic (and sometimes natural) hormones for our bodies to use to replace the ones that we sometimes can’t make ourselves.  But I’m just not sure I fall into that category.

According to my blood work my thyroid was functioning in the normal range until just a couple of months ago, and then it stopped.  Out of nowhere!  It just stopped.  The blood work matched my experience exactly.  During Hope’s hospital stay my health took a terrible turn for the worse and it wasn’t recovering.  Now I know why.

The thing is, there were a lot of factors in play that led up to me having an autoimmune disorder.  It has been years in the making and has been causing me grief for quite a long time.  I simply didn’t know that the reason why I felt so bad so much was that my body was attacking itself.  Once you develop an autoimmune disorder you can never un-develop it.  There is no cure for this disease.

But here’s the great news, you can achieve remission.  You can whip your immune system into shape and put it back in its place (which is attacking real foreign invaders!)  I know this because I’ve heard the success stories, because the science backs everything I have learned about health and wellness and because I am doing it right now.

After my initial diagnosis I spent a few days researching and prepping, and then I began the GAPS diet.  I am using a modified version of it that addresses specific food sensitivities and challenges for people with autoimmune disorders.  You can find that here.

Within a week of this cleansing, healing routine I was practically symptom free.  Almost two weeks in now, my headaches are gone, fatigue is greatly diminished, my depression is gone, my irritability is working its way out, I’m finally able to lose weight, etc.  I feel absolutely wonderful for the first time in a long time.  I haven’t done any new blood work yet, but I am quite excited to see what the next round will say.  I do believe it will show that I’m on the right track.  If not, we’ll rethink the medication.  But I’m excited to be working toward a solution.

The one thing about this route is that it’s very time consuming.  I’m spending all my free time cooking.  I had some much appreciated help from one of my friends at church the last two days, and got a lot of cooking done that I needed for the weekend.

The worst part of all this is… when I cheat I really do pay for it.  Twice already I’ve dipped my foot into the waters of this-is-probably-not-good-for-me-but-I-will-eat-it-anyway.  And both times I’ve paid for days afterward for it.  When I put food into my body that it doesn’t like, my body attacks itself.  I must stay on track 100% of the time.  It really is that important.  Unfortunately, that means fellowshipping over food (which is the best way to fellowship if I do say so myself) has become a little more difficult.

I love our congregation so much, and the pastoral circuit and groups we are involved with and family meals at the grandparents’.  I love going out to eat on dates with the kids or my husband.  But those things are just a little harder now.  My family is already showing huge amounts of support and love, they are even joining me on our journey.  As autoimmune disorders run strongly and on both sides of the family, it’s important that we protect our children through good nutrition as well.

We are fighting for the health of our family.  The healthier we are the better equipped we are to serve our neighbors, and especially our church.  This isn’t a forever thing, especially for our kids.  (And they can cheat here and there without the kind of repercussions I face right now.)  They will be able to get healthy, bounce back and join in with the rest of the community with no adverse affects.  I’m rather sure of that.  For me it might need to be a permanent change.  Only time will tell.  As always, I’m excited to share the journey with you as it unfolds.

About My Diagnosis

Fair warning: This is going to be a long, dense post as I try to sift through all the information as efficiently as I can. I want to explain what’s going on, as this has come out of nowhere for a lot of you and many of these things I never really talked about before. Also, when I announced my diagnosis the other day I was quite vague.  (I wasn’t exactly sure what to say yet.)  So I’m just going to connect all the dots and tell the whole story. Ready? Ok.

First I want to backtrack a little bit. When I was in high school (ok so maybe we are backtracking a lot…) I played sports: volleyball, basketball and track along with plenty of camps and training during the summer. I worked out on a daily basis, and although I wasn’t exactly a star athlete, I was in pretty awesome shape.

But there were a few warning signs that something wasn’t quite right. I was a long distance runner; a typical daily run for me was three miles. I began to notice that during these longer runs I would get really itchy, followed by headaches. I chalked this up to sweating, dehydration, you know the usual culprits.

One day at track practice I had an anaphylactic reaction. I had no idea what caused it, itchy palms, swelling of my face and hands, trouble breathing… I was prescribed an Epipen, it happened once more during a basketball game and then never occurred again. We never tried to understand what had caused the episodes. All I knew was that both episodes had two things in common: exercise and an emotionally charged situation.

I carried my Epipen for a few years, but after sports in college and plenty of exercise never triggered more anaphylactic episodes, I never bothered to get it renewed. So now I was in college, and I began trying new foods, guacamole was a favorite. Unfortunately, after a few encounters with my new friend, I began reacting negatively to the avocado. Eating it caused terrible abdominal pain that’s difficult to describe because it is unlike any other stomach ache I’ve ever had. It rendered me bedridden anywhere from twenty minutes to several hours depending on how much I ingested. I stopped eating avocado.

As time went on, more foods began producing the same reactions. Bananas were the next culprit followed by kiwi (that developed a few years later when I was pregnant with our first-born, Evie). During that pregnancy I also encountered another health issue. Late in my second trimester I developed a painfully itchy rash all over my tummy, sides and thighs. They blistered and scarred and were pretty much horrible.

My midwife thought that it was PUPPPS, but when it flared up after delivery and persisted, she was rightly concerned and thought it would be best to see a doctor. My doctor was totally unhelpful, did not suggest a biopsy and only said that there was absolutely nothing else it could be and no treatment she could offer.

It did go away on its own after a few months, but I experienced mini flare ups in between pregnancies and have had the same issue to varying degrees in all three of my pregnancies. I found that there is another condition, called Pemphagoid Gestationis (PG for short). It is a rare condition that looks much like PUPPPS but it is more serious, can affect the baby, and it is an autoimmune disorder.

I was in no hurry to be diagnosed, because my symptoms seemed quite mild compared to that of other moms struggling with PG. Mine was manageable without steroids (most cases are not) and a biopsy didn’t sound like much fun. What I didn’t know is that if you have an autoimmune disorder, it’s important to know about. They are serious conditions regardless of your symptoms. And once you have one autoimmune disorder, you are at risk for developing more.

As time went on I continued to find I was sensitive not only to kiwi and banana, but to many other foods. Eggs and any kind of fresh melon would cause a reaction. About six months after moving to Missouri our family went on the Whole30 diet to alleviate some tics that Stephen was experiencing. I also found, after eating clean for thirty days, that my food sensitivities were much better. As long as I ate in moderation, I could eat eggs and avocado and whatever fruit I liked.

In my naivety this was proof to me that I could get healthy again simply by getting my diet in order, that there wasn’t anything seriously wrong with me. It actually gave me the freedom to put aside maintaining that healthy eating while we were focusing on finishing the adoption. After all, you can’t eat Paleo while travelling in a foreign country with two small children! It’s just not practical. Or so I told myself…

And for the next year and half I had a plethora of excuses to not get our family back on track nutritionally. As you well know, we’ve had a lot going on. And my health began to show it. I went into pre-term labor with Kyrie’s pregnancy last winter, a known risk with PG pregnancies. I went on bedrest and we managed to keep the baby where she needed to be, but it took a huge toll on our family and on my health.

After Kyrie was born we were relieved. We thought the worst of it was over and healing could finally start for all of us. But more health problems were around the corner. I had a uterine infection a few days after the birth; I became very ill and had to go on a week of antibiotics.

We attempted public school as a way of lowering everyone’s stress levels. It was a bust. Jacob did very poorly in school due to his institutional history and they didn’t give us any good options for schooling Hope. I was beyond stressed, the amount of paperwork and meetings and planning we had to do for school only increased my work load and made life harder.

In April Hope’s shunt failed and she needed emergency surgery. By this point my body was totally depleted in every way. I was sick all the time. If I ate food it made me ill, if I didn’t eat I was sick. I was lethargic, couldn’t think, horrible mood swings and blood sugar crashes. I knew my stress levels were too high. I knew I wasn’t taking care of myself, and I knew that I had a lot on my plate. I didn’t realize it was anything more than that or anything that couldn’t be solved by addressing those external factors.

By July we were definitely at an unhealthy point. Something had to give. We needed to find a solution. I didn’t feel like we were at any kind of emotional or mental state to radically change our family’s eating habits to get us off the crazy cycles we were on. Let alone time! I had no time to do any of that! I was lucky to get PBJs on the table as it was. I started looking for simpler solutions.

Enter Plexus. An adoptive mama friend of mine was selling it. I saw awesome things about it. Most importantly, it works to balance out those pesky blood sugar levels. We dove in and tried it. Two days before it got to us I was having such severe crashes that I was not even functional by the afternoon. I was hurting and exhausted and had to lay down for hours at a time.

I went on the Triplex, hoping that would help me work through my digestive issues as well. The first day we went on it we felt like brand new people. It was amazing! I even felt motivated to eat better and my cravings were gone, my mood swings were gone, my depression was gone. I had so much energy. It was great. I remember saying “I’m so glad we started this, because things were getting so bad that I was about to head to the doctor to find out what was wrong with me!”

Two days after we found that miracle, life struck again and Hope was back in the hospital. This time it was a two week ICU stay and two surgeries. The stress we were under was incredible. My symptoms began to return. I assumed it was just the stress, when in reality the stress had triggered something much bigger.  (Stress is very bad for autoimmune disorders.)

Over the next few weeks I kept expecting my happy Plexus Self to return. That never happened. I could tell that it was helping me to function properly, but I couldn’t find that symptom-free person I was. I decided to start trying harder, eating better, exercising. The kids and I went for little “runs” around our parking lot and did fun exercises together. It was a great way to start and I felt a tiny bit better.

Then, on the second day of that, I had a terrible, itchy rash and a headache. I had had it the day before too. I tried to think back to if there ever was a time that I didn’t run without having a reaction. Never… in about a decade of running. My mind flitted through all of my history of symptoms from exercise-induced anaphylaxis, food intolerances topregnancy rashes… something was wrong.

I decided to go to my doctor, and she agreed I should be referred to an immunologist. The rest, as they say, is history. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease, an autoimmune disorder where your body mistakenly attacks its own thyroid. The immunologist told me that over the last several weeks I had jumped off of a “hormonal cliff”. In other words, my thyroid quite suddenly just stopped producing any hormones at all.

Everything my doctor read in my blood work was exactly what I was feeling. Things began to come together and make much more sense. So where do we go from here? Next week I will be going in for a thyroid ultrasound to check for any suspicious nodes that could be pre-cancerous, as is a concern when your thyroid is so damaged.  As it is, my thyroid is incredibly compromised.  Fortunately, it is supposedly still at a treatable stage. We do not know exactly what the next steps will look like from here but I’m already making some changes that are starting to help. Stay tuned for that!

What We Didn’t See Coming

This is not the post I was expecting to write to you all today.  Next week was actually supposed to be our back to school week with all the frills and fun that that brings.  I had just finished concocting my weekly chart, and was so excited to get to use it.  I couldn’t wait to blog about it and tell you what our first full-fledged homeschooling year would be all about.

That post will still happen, just not today.  And my lovely school chart will be used, just not next week.  Yesterday life threw us a bit of a curve ball.  They seem to be coming one after another these days, which makes it so hard to tell you how we’re truly doing.  One day we’re great, and the next we’re devastated, and then we find our footing again before finding something new to stumble on.  This entire last year has been this way and it’s quite exhausting.

Usually, though, it’s a health issue with the kids or emotional setbacks or our car breaking down.  This time it feels different, because… it’s me.  Growing up I was always the “healthy one”, I watched my brother and sister go through allergies and asthma and all kinds of hardships.  The worst thing I ever went to the doctor for was a broken finger and strep throat.  I’m used to being healthy, and I’m used to taking care of sick and fragile people around me.

Now it’s my turn to be sick, and it’s not something that will be leaving me.  I have a diagnosis, a fun little medical label that now gets to follow me around for the rest of my life.  The doctor is anxious to get me on medication, supposedly medication I would need to use for the rest of my life.  I have specialists to see and screenings to be done.  I am out of my comfort zone friends.  Specialists are for my children, not for me… right?  Right??

I won’t lie… this is hard.  But hard is not always bad.  The truth is, I haven’t been healthy for a long while; I’ve mostly just been ignoring the warning signs my body was giving me.  The ever-fluctuating hormones of post-partum, along with the stress of the last year, have seemed to trigger my underlying issues and have caused a downward spiral in both symptoms and severity.  It got to the point where we could no longer ignore the issues, and we decided it was time to find out what was wrong.

I am thankful we went in.  I’m thankful we have answers, even if I am not happy about what the answer was, we knew it couldn’t be anything great.  Nevertheless, now that I have a name for my malady, I can start finding some tools to alleviate it.  I extremely grateful that it is treatable.  Sickness and death are a part of the fall, they happen to all of us.

I am not immune from this, and am grateful for the opportunity to remember that life is a gift, each day is precious.  Being reminded of one’s mortality can be a spiritually healing experience.  I rest in the knowledge that God works all things to good for us, and that He is already using this curve ball as a catalyst to healing in our home in more ways than one.

I know that you all are praying, and I am so humbled and comforted by that.  Love to you all.  More to come soon.

Kyrie’s Birth Story: Part I

Kyrie Rose

February 14th 2015

8lbs 2ozs – 20 1/4 in.

Five weeks after I was let off of bed rest and there I was, still pregnant. I could not believe it. My mom and brother were in town to meet the baby who was not here yet, and I was a week past my due date which had never happened before. Needless to say, I was ready to get this little one out into the world! We had one more day before my family had to leave.
The days before we tried stripping the membranes with absolutely no results. I dilated a tiny bit from 2cm to almost 3cm, but nothing else of note. On Friday evening my midwife came over with one last option to try.

She gave me an herb regimen to use that night and the next morning. It included Evening Primrose, Verbena and Cottonwood.  She told me that at this point she didn’t want to get too aggressive trying to kick start labor, and I agreed. As much as I wanted to have this baby, I wanted the baby to be ready above all else. I started with the Verbena; I was to take it every two hours that I was awake and to switch to Cottonwood the next morning.

My first dose of Verbena was at 5:45pm, I immediately noticed that my contractions seemed more persistent. We had gone walking at the mall earlier in the day, which had set off some good contractions, but they had been dwindling through the afternoon. This seemed to revive them a bit. I felt optimistic, but wasn’t going to get my hopes up yet. After a month of contractions and false alarms I was over trying to guess if I was in labor, but it felt better at least trying something.

I took my next dose of Verbena at 7:45pm, but it didn’t seem to have the same effect. My contractions were waning again and this didn’t pick them up too much after the first twenty minutes or so. I did a lot of walking, swaying, squatting and sitting on my birth ball that evening. I ate some jalapeno cheetos, joking with my mom that maybe the spicy food would help.

Mom and I retired upstairs and chatted while we waited for 9:45 so I could take a final dose of Verbena and go to bed. I told her that I didn’t want to go to sleep because that just meant one more day of not having the baby.  After all, my contractions always petered out when I laid down. But away I went, consoling myself with the knowledge that we could try the Cottonwood first thing in the morning. I took my last dose of Verbena along with the Primrose oil and went to bed.

Jake had not been feeling well so he had gone to sleep with the kids a few hours earlier. We talked for quite a while, it had been a long day and we both needed to decompress. Sleep didn’t come easily, I kept having little contractions that did nothing more than to remind me that I had been having the same ones for months and they meant absolutely nothing.
By the time I was finally dozing off, Evie woke up and I jostled Jake to go check on her. He was gone for several minutes so I checked my phone to see what time it was – 11:49pm. Two hours since my last dose of Verbena.

Well… I was awake so might as well get up and take another round right? Within fifteen minutes of laying down I had another contraction, a different-feeling contraction. It was certainly the best one I’d ever had laying down! I decided that if I had another I would sit up and see what happened. Sure enough, several minutes later another contraction started, I sat up and maneuvered into a modified squat, trying to put as much pressure on the cervix as I could while still in bed.

Ouch.

Several things went through my mind…  I had forgotten what actual labor feels like. — That was definitely an actual labor contraction. — I’m not sure I actually want to be in labor after all.— If I have any more of those I will actually be in labor.

I had another one. Just as painful. After posting to Facebook (because that’s the most important thing right?) I went to go find Jake who had fallen asleep cuddling with Evie. All I said was “Jake… ouch,” while pointing to my tummy. He got up and I caught him up to what was going on at  that point. We both started looking for clothes so I could go downstairs and walk through the contractions that were coming about 2-3 minutes apart.

On my way downstairs I knocked on the office door where my mom was sleeping for the week and let her know that I thought I was in labor and asked if she could listen for the kids for us since we’d probably be preoccupied. I knew my midwife had had two straight nights with no sleep, so I didn’t call her right away.

IMG_1406The contractions were strong from the beginning, I could talk through them barely, and I had to stop what I was doing to hold onto something. My brother was still awake downstairs so we enlisted him to take a few pictures before things got going.  I decided to do a cute little heart shape, being acutely aware of what day it was.  And Jake is texting people to come on over.  :)

I took a quick shower to see if the warm water would help relax me during contractions. It didn’t help too much so I got out and asked Jake to start filling the tub. I called my midwife at 12:51am, but told her not to come out just yet. I didn’t know how quickly labor would progress and I felt bad making her get out of bed sooner than she had to.

My mom came down shortly after that and we started prepping the birth room, I turned on my music playlist, which was awesome for helping me focus through the contractions. I don’t think I made it more than ten minutes before asking Jake to call the midwife back, this labor felt way too much like Stephen’s labor and I knew we didn’t have a whole lot of time.

The timeline becomes a bit of a blur after that. Somewhere in there I went to the bathroom a million times thinking I had to go, but not really needing to; my midwife arrived; and we ran out of hot water, so my dear brother went on boiling water brigade (heat water on the stove, put it in the tub, repeat) and that was his job for pretty much the rest of my labor. He’s a swell guy, and single by the way ladies. 😉

I also changed into my labor gown, and started getting really grumpy with Jake if he wasn’t helping me through contractions. I actually remember joking with him after one that we knew we were in labor when I start yelling at him to “pay attention” during a contraction. He’s not allowed to talk or be distracted, lol! During all of my labors he has been my biggest support, though I’ve needed him in different ways. This time he rubbed my lower back through contractions which helped to take some of the pressure off.

IMG_1423
My midwife wanted to check baby’s heartbeat and to see how far dilated I was. I told her I didn’t want to be checked yet, and she only had to see one contraction to know that I was quite actively in labor. I asked her if I could get in the tub, because I wasn’t sure if the water was deep enough yet. She told me to get in whenever I felt like it, which I did very promptly.

The water was noticeably more comfortable. I briefly considered asking someone to get my essential oils out, but I knew that at this point in labor they really would do nothing for pain relief, so I decided against it. Jake continued to rub my back through contractions from outside of the tub.

To Be Continued…

34 Weeks… and Counting

I made it to 34 weeks yesterday, praise God!  What a crazy week it has been, I can’t even express the insane amount of things we have needed to get done, and with half the hands to do it all.  My husband is the most amazing husband of all the husbands.  I guess when he said “in sickness and in health” he really meant it!  He is absolutely my hero.

So here’s where we’re at right now, a week ago I started having regular, working contractions.  Despite my attempts at “resting” (aka only getting one child ready for Church instead of four) they continued to get longer, stronger and closer together.  A visit to the midwife and some medication were able to knock them out, but they aren’t gone by any means.

I have had contractions every day since then, they are triggered by movement and standing, or if I sit up for too long.  If I starting having them and don’t take steps to stop them (lay down, take an Epsom salt bath, etc.) they will gain momentum and we’ll be right back to where we started.  The more times I go too far, the easier and faster they seem to be triggered.  I could do more without triggering them at the beginning of the week than I can now.

I had to take some more medication on Christmas because I went to the service the night before and did just a bit too much walking between rooms on Christmas day.  So by the time evening rolled around, they had gotten themselves into a comfortable 3 minutes apart again.  (They’re always worse in the evening after being awake the whole day, and sometimes non-existent in the mornings after laying down for several hours straight.) Needless to say, I pretty much spent the rest of the next day in bed.

It doesn’t look like the contractions are going away any time soon, so the plan is to make it to 36 weeks at least.  I’m hoping I can go off of bed rest that day because it also happens to be January 10th.  It’s Hope’s very first birthday home with us and I’d love to be up and bustling around to help celebrate!! I have plans!  There will be more Christmases but this is her only 10th birthday, her golden birthday, her first birthday home!  I really, really want to be up and about.

So… here I sit resting and resting and resting and hoping that in two weeks I will be ready to do some moving and that this baby won’t come out for three weeks.  (If I make it to 37 weeks I get to use my new birth tub!!)  Thank you all so much for everything!  What a crazy year it has been.  Maybe we’ll get all the craziness out in January and we can just work on settling in as a new family of seven for the next eleven months.  I think I’ve had plenty of excitement for a year or two.

Merry Christmas, and if you don’t hear from me before then, a Happy New Year as well!

The Birth Story: Prologue

I am accustomed to writing my birth stories after the birth of the baby, but this little one has thrown us for a bit of a loop!  Labor started unexpectedly Saturday evening at exactly 33 weeks along.  I didn’t realize it at first, of course.  I had been having contractions for about two months at that point – a few here and a few there.  Nothing to be concerned about.  I was using them to gauge whether or not I was doing too much with the other kids.  “Contraction?  Ok, I guess I’ll sit down for a while.”

Then my contractions went away completely last week as I upped my protein and tried really hard to take things slow.  I thought we were doing pretty good!  But about 4:00 pm on Saturday night, back they came.  I started to notice them while eating dinner with the kids and waiting for Jake to come home.  I had no reason to be alarmed at that point because everything seemed normal… although I wondered why I was having contractions on the one day where I was lazier than any other day?  (I mean dinner was frozen pizza for Heaven’s sakes!)

After about an hour and a half it became clear that sitting down and resting was not making them go away, and I could tell that they were coming in regular intervals.  On top of that, every time I stood up it triggered another contraction.  I sat down to time them.  Four minutes apart.  That’s odd… I knew that pre-labor contractions would probably not be so regular.  After the kids were all settled in bed I chugged a big glass of water to see if that would stave them off.

No go.  On they kept, and they started feeling stronger.  Time to call the midwife!  She told me to eat some protein, to take four doses of my Calcium Magnesium and to get in an Epsom salt bath and then see if that would knock them out.  Getting in the bath was reassuring, they stopped immediately… only to disappoint me by kicking right back up once I got out.  I called again and convinced her that I thought I could make them go away by laying down, so she told me to sleep and if they kept me awake to call again.

The contractions dissipated in bed and I did go into a fitful bit of sleep, but it was more my own worry keeping me awake at that point.  I also caught some sort of a bug (maybe that’s what triggered the whole episode?) so I felt miserable on top of it all.  The next morning I woke up with no contractions, but they started as soon as I stood up.  I grabbed a notepad and wrote down every single one, and what I was doing when they happened.  Four minutes apart, unless I was doing something, and then they were two minutes apart.

I got the kids breakfast, dressed Evie for church and sat on the couch as much as possible, but to no avail.  They were just getting stronger and closer together.  I called my midwife and she told me I had to come over ASAP.  Grandma and Jake were both at Church and I had three other little ones with me, so I called Jake’s mom and thankfully she was in a position to come over right away.  By the time I was dressed she was there, and I headed out the door.

So glad my midwife only lives about five minutes from us!  She hooked me up to a fetal monitor, which was a totally new experience, but kind of cool.  I had no sign of infection, great blood pressure, awesome heartbeat and movement from Mambo and my contractions were barely visible on the monitor.  She said she was really pleased with everything she was seeing until… she checked me.  I was 1.5 cm dilated and was already presenting very soft and thinned out.  Those contractions weren’t much… but they were working.

At that point she gave me a shot of medication, which stopped them in their tracks.  Jake had just finished up service and his mom told him in the handshake line what was going on.  Poor guy, he tried to call but we had terrible reception, so he just drove over.  I assured him I was alright and that we had gotten the contractions under control, but that I felt pretty shaky and funny from the meds.  He drove back to the church, asked someone to drop him off, and then drove me home.  Sweet guy :)

I was not ordered to go on full bed rest.  “Queen of the Couch” is what my midwife called it.  I could sit, go up and down the stairs to go to bed, etc. but I just needed to be delegating from the couch and doing nothing else.  So for the rest of the day that’s what we did.  I had to take some more medication orally in the evening from contractions starting up again, but everything seemed to be going well.

The next day I woke up still feeling miserable from whatever I had caught, I couldn’t eat much all day.  Late morning my contractions started regularly at ten minutes apart.  I called the midwife, she said we could deal with ten minutes – as long as they stayed there.  They didn’t.  Almost as soon as I hung up they went to 7 minutes… 5 minutes… 4… 3… 2… each contraction was closer than the last.  And stronger.  By the time I got her on the phone they were a minute long with only about 30 seconds between them – and these were actually uncomfortable.  Not the cute, warm and fuzzy “Oh my tummy feels like it’s giving me a hug!” sort of contractions.

Amazingly she was driving by our house right that minute and pulled in to see me.  Not exactly what I thought our first home visit would be like, but ok!  I took another dose of medication and was instructed to lay down.  Sitting was only for short periods, but mostly I needed to get that pressure off, because every little bit was causing more contractions.  Bed rest, still not strict bed rest… but bed rest.

We fought off contractions for most of the rest of the day.  This was the first time I was really worried we weren’t going to be able to stop the labor for longer than a couple days.  It came on so quickly for no reason.  Every little change of position would trigger another contraction.    I was also still feeling miserable, I couldn’t eat even though I really needed to.  When I finally did go up to bed, just that two minutes of being on my feet triggered very strong contractions that I was having trouble getting dressed through.

My midwife thinks that we will be able to hold off labor for a few more weeks if I can behave myself and stay put.  She doesn’t think they’ll go away completely, but that hopefully we can make them a little less touchy so I can have a bit more freedom than I have now.  She really wants to get me to 37 weeks (January 17th) but will allow me to give birth at home as long as we make it to 36 weeks (January 10th).  Today I woke up feeling completely healthy (hope it stays that way!), my appetite is back and we haven’t seen any unwarranted contractions.  No medication yet, praise God!

I still have them every time I sit or stand, but for the most part they’ve been easy to ward off.  I am so grateful.  We have a fridge full of delicious homemade meals and already and we’ve had so much support.  I think we are covered as far as help goes for this week of Christmas, but if and when that changes we will certainly let everyone know what we are in need of.  Thank you all so much for your prayers so far!!  I am a little sore from lying on the couch, but other than that we are doing well, are in good spirits and hanging in there!  Hopefully the rest of this birth story won’t need to be written for another month or so!

Protein Latte (No Powder Necessary!)

On Monday I had an appointment with my midwife… one of those appointments where you go in like a child who is misbehaving because she knows she hasn’t been doing her chores.  Ahem.  The last few weeks had not gone well for me.  I was probably eating about the same amount of calories a day as my seven year old.  Not. Ok.  But when you are exhausted with four little ones, and another baking in the oven, and you have no appetite… the very last thing in the world you want to do is go make yourself food that you have no desire to eat.

I knew I hadn’t been doing well, so two weeks before the appointment I had cut out a lot of sugar, no desserts or sweets.  I thought that if I cut those things out it would force me to eat something with substance.  But no, I just had zero appetite and nothing sounded good.  Welcome to the third trimester.  The vicious cycle of not eating.  The less you eat, the less your body wants to eat… and on down the rabbit hole we go.

I guiltily confessed all of this to my midwife, but secretly I was glad to be there.  I knew she’d be able to set me straight.  I needed someone to stand up to my despondency and who better to do that than the lady in charge of my health and the health of our baby?  She listened very empathetically, and then gave me a piece of paper with several instructions scribbled on it.  The first?  100 grams of protein a day.  Fun fact, apparently swelling in pregnancy is always due to not getting enough protein.  I knew how much protein I needed to be getting,  but I just couldn’t make myself eat that much.  I was getting maybe 40 grams on a good day.

So what’s a pregnant lady to do?  Food aversions and lack of appetite hit me on both ends of pregnancy – first and last trimester.  Not to mention, finding the time to cook extra food for myself with all these little ones to feed and clothe and love on is less than easy.  I knew I needed to get creative, and this morning was the perfect opportunity.  I woke up late and had a meeting with the special needs director at our local school first thing.  I ate a little breakfast, but it wasn’t near enough, and I knew I needed food as soon as I got home.  But I had been gone all morning,

I had things to catch up on, I was even hungry, but the only thing that sounded good was a cup of coffee.  So that’s what I had.  And it was amazing.

photo (55)Delicious, warm, comforting, beautifully frothy… and packed with 33 grams of solid protein.  Yes, I had a stroke of genius this morning.  It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes I get lucky.

This was so much easier to get down than a protein smoothie or protein bar!  Those things can be quick, easy substitutes too, but sometimes that’s even more than my fickle appetite is willing to do.  But this?  I would be up for this any day.  How has this never happened before?

Protein latte… you are my new best friend.

Ingredients

(Protein listed in grams next to each ingredient to make the math simpler as you consider substitutions.  With pregnancy brain, there’s nothing I appreciate more than making math easier on people!)

1 ½ Cups Milk (12g)
2 TBS Instant Coffee
2 TBS Cocoa Powder (2g)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
¼ Cup Pumpkin Seeds (19g)
Sweetener of Choice

Instructions

Gently heat milk to not-quite-boiling.  Stir in instant coffee and cocoa powder.  Pour into a high-powered blender and add vanilla, pumpkin seeds and a sweetener if desired.  (I used just a couple teaspoons of sugar and it was plenty sweet enough.)  Blend on high until seeds are pulverized.  Pour into your favorite coffee mug and enjoy!

Notes

I suggest raw milk for the highest amount of quality protein.  But it can easily be substituted for whatever milk you like, dairy or non-dairy.  Just be sure to adjust the amount of protein.  If I had maple syrup on hand I would have used that instead of regular sugar and omitted the vanilla.  Another fun twist might be adding peppermint extract for holiday flair!

If you do not have, or don’t like the taste of pumpkin seeds you can substitute for ½ cup of almonds instead.  It will probably give it an even milder flavor, and you only lose 7 grams of protein – so you’re still getting about as much protein as you would in a protein bar, which is pretty great for a cup of coffee I’d say!

It is really so flexible and adaptable.  Simply use milk instead of water, and blend in some high protein seeds or nuts and you’ve got a great, energy boosting comfort drink for your morning!  You might also want to be sure to use decaf if you are pregnant or nursing like me. 😉  Go ahead and try a cup and let me know what you think!  I’d love to hear your recipe variations in the comments too.

Warm (and Delicious) Wishes!

18 Notes for 18 Weeks

photo (29)1. Baby is doing great.  Although Mama wasn’t too convinced of that the other night.  I suddenly got super worried that something was wrong.  I felt a kick about two weeks ago and then nothing… at all.  I kept thinking “Any day now…”  And after about two weeks of that I started to be concerned.  Thankfully my midwife lives just a few minutes down the road so I hopped in my car and drove over to check fundal height, hear the heartbeat and get my peace of mind back.  All went awesomely, I felt much better and then…

2. She brought out the ultrasound machine.  I knew she had it, but I did tell her we don’t really do routine ultrasounds.  I’m not a big fan.  I mean I am crunchy, right?? Crunchies don’t do routine ultrasounds… Ok so justification time started in my head. This wasn’t really “routine” after all… and it is a low-level ultrasound so it shouldn’t be too bad… right?  And it might be fun to see the baby just once… ahem.  So I didn’t object.  I was sad Jake wasn’t there to see too, but I did take pictures!  And oh-my-goodness how adorable, and I feel like a first time, giddy mama all over again.

Here is Mambo’s very first picture, baby is looking straight at the camera with super sweet eyes and pooched out lips.  Ack!  Can’t stand the cuteness.  And yes, I have always judged moms who think their babies’ ultrasounds are cute, I mean come on… really?  But I can’t help it… I just want to squish those chubby little adorable tiny cheeks!

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In this picture the baby looks a tad bit more alien-ish, but you can see the whole body and the tiny little legs that were kicking and trying to get comfortable after we disturbed the poor little one with the big, prodding stick.  And, yes, they were kicking the placenta… which is why I don’t feel it.  Good to know!

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And the last one is possibly a favorite, you can just barely see some fuzziness by the face here (it’s a side-profile).  That’s baby sucking it’s fingers!!  I got to see the sucking motions on the ultrasound screen and they were so clear and it was just breathtaking.  I was smiling from ear to ear the whole way home.  Made. My. Week.

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3. God’s Newest Children!  Jacob and Hope were both baptized on Sunday.  Praise God!  It was all quite wonderful and I can’t wait (literally) for people to send me pictures so I can tell you all about it!!

4. So many things, so little time…  This was definitely one of our busiest weeks so far.  Jake did have his day off on Monday, mostly, though he did have a couple hours of work to do.  And the rest of the days have been chock full of pastoral duties.  He was doing so many visits and extra services that today is an office day, as he didn’t get his usual office stuff done during the week.  I think we handled it pretty well though, which is encouraging with Advent peering around the corner!

5.  Learning to reach out.  Zhanna Hope has bug bites right now.  She scratches them until they bleed, poor baby!  Two nights ago she was furiously attempting to itch them and Daddy was sitting with her making sure she couldn’t get to them.  Such spunk this girlie has; she tried everything.  One time she had her hands innocently up by her face, then slowly, nonchalantly moved it onto her leg and… itch, itch, itch!  She got him on that one.  She also had lifted a piece of foam she was playing with up by her leg for a while and hid her scratching under that.  She is wicked smart.

Once Daddy caught on and took her hiding spot away, I think she realized the game was up.  She made the saddest most awful pouty face you have ever seen, then glared at her Dad and tried to scratch obstinately… while he was watching.  He moved her hand away and she looked like she was going to burst into tears!  She didn’t, but boy was she mad.  I knew it was distraction time, so I came to save the day!  I put on my most fun, sweet mommy voice on and said “Come here sweet girlie.”  As soon as she heard me she looked up and reached her arms out!!  She has never ever done this before.  She has allowed us to pick her up before; she has enjoyed being picked up before… but this is the very first time I have seen her so plainly ask for me to hold her.  We were stunned and so excited for this new milestone!

6. She called me Mama!  Yes, she really did, I think!  Ok, so the very next day after the first bug bite incident, we were sitting in the living room and she was trying to scratch again.  I was sitting there this time, covering it with my hand.  After a few minutes of that she started moaning, like she does when she’s grumpy, but it wasn’t just a moan it was a “Mamaaa!”  I immediately turned to her and said “Da Zhanna?  Mama?  Mama slushaiyu Zhanna.”  (Yes Zhanna?  Mommy is listening to you.)  I said it a few times and she was tickled about the Russian but no more attempts to communicate her unhappiness.  So I turned away and sure enough, not a minute later “Maamaaaaaaaa!”  Then I played and distracted and cuddled on her for a bit and no more grumpies :)

Mama was one of the babbling sounds she made when she was still in the orphanage, but this is the first time I feel like she really used it appropriately in context, so I am cautiously super excited :)  Is it possible to be cautiously super excited?

7. Jacob has been having some great days too!  For the first time in weeks he went an entire day yesterday without raging about something, and we’re still going strong today!  He’s also started calling me “Mamitchka” again, which I haven’t heard in quite a while.  Our bonding was pretty temporarily damaged by all the visitors and craziness last weekend, but things are finally starting to get back to awesome and we’re thrilled!

8. Hope had her first swim!  Ok so it wasn’t “swimming”, but she did sit in the pool and she did splash in the water and she did have a really great time!  She sat happily there for a good 45 minutes at least, and she usually hates being outside that long.  I was ecstatic and can’t wait to get her in the water more often.  I am a real fish so it’s always fun for me when my kiddos enjoy the water too!

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9. Sleeping Beauty.  When you adopt, the little things really do become the big things.  This is true for all parents I think, but especially for parents of children with special needs and those that come from hard places.  For her whole life Hope had done nothing but lay in a crib.  The first time we saw her in a stroller she was scared to death of it.  She got used to that fairly quickly, but falling asleep not in a bed?  Not happening.  She has always needed to be laying down.  But the other day we were playing outside on a summery, warm afternoon and I caught her doing this…

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You go baby girl!  I was stoked.  She fell asleep in her stroller… sitting up. 😀  Maybe this means we’ll be able to take longer car rides soon?

10. A Blessed Bounty.  I couldn’t write about the past week without mentioning the amazing welcome home gift we were given by the congregations in our area.  They overwhelmingly surprised us with a huge shower of gifts for our family.  I came close to tears unpacking everything and laying it out.  The love from so many… it’s just too much to take in all at once sometimes.  Thank you.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

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11. What About Matins?  Umm… oh yeah, do I keep saying we’re going to start that soon?  Hmm… remind me next week.

12. Whole 30 Prep.  In other news, we’re eating all our junk and gearing up for the Whole 30 on Monday!!  Woohoo!  I cannot wait to see our family back on good, real food.  Seriously.  Tomorrow is the big throw-away-everything-non-compliant party.  Remember to join us on the forums!  Here is a link to the thread I created just for our team: September 2014: Team Awesome

13. My Babies (Attachment Update).  Some adoptive parents say that in the first weeks home with their new child they look at them and feel like they are babysitting someone else’s kid.  I must admit, this is how it has felt with Hope and Jacob most days… but this last week something amazing has happened.  All that love I have been acting out is starting to have feeling behind it again.  Several times I have looked at my new children and thought “That is my baby.”  I am bonding and attaching and feeling more and more like the Mommy these children should have always had from the day they were born.  I am beginning to honestly, truly adore these blessings from Heaven.  I’ve seen their dark moments, watched their tantrums, changed their dirty clothes, lost sleep for their sake, been annoyed and frustrated and at my limit… and yet… I still feel so much love for these little people.  It really is starting to come.  We are starting to feel like the family that we are.

14. I’m not the only one!  Jake and I have talked about this and we both sense the feelings growing toward our new littles.  But it’s not just us.  This morning Daddy overheard Evie and Stephen fighting over whose sister Hope was.  It was happily resolved when Daddy intervened and let them know that she was both of their sisters.  😀

15. Hymns are the medicine of the soul.  I have started a new thing where, when I feel frazzled during the day, I just start singing hymns.  We flip through the hymnal and sing for however long or until I can think of something better to do.  Some children enjoy it more than others, but they all love it when it’s their turn to pick a hymn.  Having the words and melodies in our home is like a healing balm on the craziness of our days.  It’s my favorite way to do Mommy Time Outs, because let’s face it, sometimes we need one too!

16.  First Gymnastics Classes.  After a few months of hiatus Evangeline is back in gymnastics.  I think the break was the best thing for her.  She was getting overwhelmed by it, but after being away for a while she was excited to get back and more ready to master the skills than before.  Stephen is also just begging to have “his turn” at the gym.  I’m going to ask about getting him in a Spring class even though technically he’ll be a little young.  He is definitely ready, and potty trained so… bonus right?

17. Kids are too honest.  Conversation with Evie today….

Me: Would you like me to get you a cookie?
Evie: Yes, but I can get it myself.
Me: Oh, you can?
Evie: Yes, because I’m a big girl now.  I’m four and not little at all anymore.

*Part of my Mommy heart breaks a little…*

18. The honesty of kids makes my heart smile… and my favorite note.  The last one because it happened just tonight!  Jacob told me he loved me.  I was saying good night and I love you and he replied “I love you too mom.”  He said it in his not-so-clear way, but I heard every word.  It stopped me in my tracks.  Never before has he told me he loves me in Russian or in English.  This was the first time.  I really believe him.  My heart is full.

Who’s With Me?!

whole 30

Before you begin this post you might want to read about what exactly a “Whole 30” is HERE.

Now that the craziness has died down for a few days, I am refocusing my attention on my family’s health and gearing up for our second Whole 30.  The first one we completed earlier in the year went so well and really made a big difference for all of us.  Here are the results that I wrote down in the Whole 30 Forum after completing our first round (if you needed any motivation to try!)

My husband lost 25 pounds, his pants are falling off of him, and his moods have been much more even.  He used to always have an energy crash in the afternoon, not anymore!  He is eating much better portion sizes and nighttime snacking has become the exception rather than the rule.

I lost 13 pounds, I feel amazing.  I am wearing clothes I haven’t been able to wear since I got pregnant with our first child.  I just feel happier, less mood swings and although my sugar dragon is simply hibernating and not dead, (got to be careful!) my cravings have diminished drastically.  I am now also able to eat small amounts of avocado, banana and kiwi without getting sick.  Those are food sensitivities I have had for years!  I can’t sit down and eat a whole avocado but guacamole is definitely back in my life!

I have noticed the greatest changes in our daughter.  I had no idea that her daily tantrums and mood swings were so tied to her diet.  She must have been living in a constant cycle of blood sugar highs and crashes!  It was terrible.  Now she is very mild mannered, rarely gets in trouble and throws tantrums only when she is extremely overtired.  (She’s had maybe three?)  The transition was hardest on her, but it’s reaped the greatest results.  She now eats tons of things she never would touch before: carrots, onions, raw cabbage, beets, cauliflower, strawberries, apples, grapes, etc.  And when we go to the store and say no to cookies or candy she is totally fine with that!!  

Since he’s still nursing mostly the change didn’t affect our 18 month old son hardly at all.  He laughed as the three of us went through detox and KATT.  [Read about KATT and the Whole30 Timeline here.] But other than that, his palate has opened up to more tastes as well, which is great.  And his tics completely vanished after day 5.  We will be keeping a close eye on it so they don’t come back!

So grateful for the reset this has given our family, and if things ever get out of control again we definitely know what we can fall back on!  I won’t lie, I’m really glad to be done, but I’m even happier that we did it.

This time I’m going to be doing it a tad bit differently.  The first change we’re making is that the little ones are not going to be doing it with us.

We did that last time and it was incredibly hard.  Now with a language barrier and attachment issues in the mix, there’s no reason to make things more difficult than they have to be!  For the most part, everyone will be eating the same food at mealtimes.  I will make a couple little adjustments here and there for the kids, a little sprinkle of cheese on their taco salad, a peanut butter sandwich for snacks, etc.

Even with those compromises they will still be eating 100% better than they are now!  And it will still be hard, and it will still be an adjustment.  But it will be an adjustment with a little comfort on the side for the littles, and that’s ok.  I also am not going to take their raw milk away from them.  That is one yummy treat that their little bodies need!  This minor tweak for the kids will make it easier on me as far as meal planning and expense.  If I have some cheap and easy, but mostly benign, fillers in their diet, it helps make sure everyone has a full tummy without Mommy going crazy.

Whole 30 eating can get expensive and it is a lot of work.  Not making the kiddos do it 100% with us is a happy compromise we’re willing to make this go round for success’ sake and keeping our long term health goals in mind.  One other thing I am doing this time is a proper reintro!  In our first Whole 30 I felt there was too much going on for that.  Big mistake.  All that hard work right down the drain!

This time I will be resisting the urge to splurge!  Instead we will do the suggested reintroduction of foods to our diet and try to hit a great balance that works for our family for the long haul.  Rather than just jumping back on to the donut bandwagon of doom…  Ahem.  And so here is the part where I invite you to be a part of our second Whole 30 Challenge!

If you like what you see, join us.  The more the merrier!  Support in a group is awesome.  If you want to do a Whole 30 at or around the same time as our family, and want to join our “team”, I will be making a thread on the forums just for our little group.  All you have to do is leave a comment here, email or message us on Facebook to get connected!  For those who are interested I have linked some important resources to get you started:

The Shopping List: The perfect handy sheet to take to the grocery store with you so you don’t forget anything!

Meal Planning Template: How to arrange the food on your plate to have a truly Whole 30 meal experience.  You must remember to follow this template in order to get the full benefits of your challenge!  Also note that nursing or pregnant women and children have different needs.  I eat two extra mini meals a day along with the little ones in order to get enough of what I need.  This is where the forums are really helpful in making sure that you are getting the right portions for your body’s individual needs!  Your Whole 30 can potentially be miserable and totally unsuccessful if you don’t follow the meal planning guidelines, and we don’t want that!

Whole 30 Tight-Budget Style: This was truly a life saver for me those first few grocery trips!  If you don’t have a fortune to drop on food (which is most of us) and you are wondering how to make this work, this link is for you. You can do a Whole 30, even if you have a food budget that won’t quite… budge.  😉

The Produce Planner: Want to spend less and get more out of your produce shopping?  This guide helps you choose seasonal (fresher and less expensive!) options as well as giving tips for what is important to buy organic and what you can buy conventionally with no worries.

If you are planning on joining us, don’t forget to sign up for the forums.  It’s free, of course!  I will post a link in sometime this week when I have a thread set up.  Be sure to meet us there!  There is a ton more information on whole30.com so just go check it out and start plan, plan, planning for a successful challenge!  We will be beginning our challenge on Monday, September 8th.  You don’t have to start that same exact day, but it’s kind of fun to all be in the same spot on The Timeline.  Excited to get back to real food, definitely can’t wait!

P.S. – I also wanted to add that I am not affiliated with the Whole 30 website in any way, nor do I get any kind of compensation for promoting their challenge.  I am doing this purely because I truly believe in it, I would love to help others on their journey to health and it’s so fun to do as a group!  I know this blog post kind of looks like an advertisement, and maybe it is, but it’s certainly not monetarily motivated advertising!  Hope to see you at the forums on the 8th!

 

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