With only three weeks left until my due date we are in full baby swing! We’ve taken photos, found a pediatrician and had three amazing baby showers with all the people I love most in life. I’ve been busy washing adorable tiny clothes, packing my hospital bag and organizing all the infant paraphernalia in our gender-neutral nursery. I’m down to 2 shifts a week for my new part-time schedule and using my extra time to frantically search consumer reports for “best baby swing” or texting mom friends about what I actually need from Babies R Us. It’s been a whirlwind of excitement mixed in with some epic midday naps and some sleepless nights. With all the activity, here’s an update on several aspects of our life right now:
Health/Colitis: Aside from the natural aches and pains of pregnancy (including some truly horrifying intermittent back pain), I’ve had an easy and healthy past nine months. Thankfully, I’ve gone sans complications thus far and my physician expects me to have a perfectly normal labor. Honestly I didn’t anticipate enjoying pregnancy so much and I think I can partially attribute that enjoyment to having few “symptoms” and simply being able to enjoy this little nugget moving around inside of me. With no vomiting, only a few instances of heartburn, and really no swelling yet, I’ve had it easy and I am truly thankful.
In addition, and in keeping with my pregnancy trend, I have had absolutely no colitis complications despite indulging in some foods that I had written off forever. I won’t lie to you- Seth bought me Valentine’s chocolates and we ate the entire box. There have been late-night instances with regular, gluten-filled pizza and Sprite. We have gone places we never thought we would return to in the depths of greasy Mexican food but we’ve tried to keep those encounters rare for several reasons.
First of all, I want to maintain a healthy diet for baby and me simply from a nutritional standpoint. A growing human needs the proper nutrients and despite prenatal vitamins I want to ensure I am giving this baby what it needs to develop correctly and grow adequately. I think any mother would agree.
Second of all, even though I’ve had no outward colitis symptoms, I want to maintain my gut health especially since new moms with autoimmune disease are prone to flares after delivery due to a loss of those protective hormones. We’ve spent years fighting inflammation and restoring my gut balance and I don’t want to ruin all of our hard work. Because I was in remission for about a year prior to getting pregnant, I hope I won’t have a flare but if I do we’ll combat it in the same ways we did before: bone broth, healing foods, and rest. But over the next few weeks I would appreciate your prayers that we are spared a post-delivery flare with a newborn. Because that doesn’t sound fun for anyone.
Thirdly, I am still adamantly ideologically against refined sugars and processed foods. Despite the delicious, fleeting taste, after I eat those foods I still think, “was that really worth it?” I lived and ate quite well without all of those foods prior to pregnancy and we will return to a strict Paleo diet after delivery. I still care about the quality of our ingredients including buying organic, grass-fed meats and organic produce. All of the knowledge I gained over the past several years didn’t just disappear, although pregnancy cravings did throw a non-rational thinking curve ball or two. In short, I’m thankful for this surprise interlude from a super strict diet but I’m just as happy to return to our previous way of eating. I’m not going to throw a temper tantrum because eating healthy can be even more delicious and I sleep better at night knowing that I’m fueling my body with the best of foods.
From a medication standpoint, I am still taking my Lialda daily and getting Remicade infusions. My last infusion was at 32 weeks so I’m scheduled to get my next one the week after the baby is born. Hopefully this will also keep a flare at bay and thankfully all of my medications are safe during both pregnancy and breastfeeding. Because Remicade infusions are not a routine procedure for most people, I am under the care of a high-risk physician but have had absolutely no issues. Again, I’m beyond thankful.
Meal Preparation: Along with a return to strict Paleo will be a return to frequent cooking. With the fatigue of pregnancy, we’ve resorted many a night to an egg scramble with veggies or a simple Crock-pot meal and ironically that’s prepared us to go simple and easy for the next few months. I will not be engaging in a day long affair to make a Paleo banana creme pie and my Instagram account will suffer. But you’ll have to get over it. Most likely it will turn into mom-survival-guide and I’m hoping that people still find that helpful because having a newborn isn’t the only stressful life experience that requires ease and speed.
Since our families know about our dietary restrictions in detail they will be helping us, along with friends and family who have graciously offered to bring us meals post-baby. And if someone brings a dish that’s not Paleo, it’s totally alright because Seth can eat anything; he just chooses to eat Paleo with me because he’s awesome and supportive. At the end of the day, there are plenty of people who are not going to let me starve and I might be too busy to even notice at times
I’m in the process now of making a list of casseroles and freezer-friendly foods that I will prepare over the next three weeks. I’m hoping to have a sufficient stash of quick meals and snacks I can take out of the freezer and make with ease. I’ll keep you updated with that list and hopefully I can do another post after delivery to give my recommendations on how to eat a strict diet with the hectic schedule that accompanies a newborn baby.
Over the past few months though we’ve tried some commercial Paleo-approved products out of convenience sake so I’ll share our thoughts. I’m not endorsed by any of these companies so my review is purely my own unbiased opinion.
Julian’s Paleo Bread- Almond I found this treat at Whole Foods and despite it’s price (nearly $10 for a loaf) I decided to give it a try to hopefully satisfy some of my “carb” cravings. I honestly wasn’t sure about it at first but now I have grown to enjoy it. While I still believe that you could make a tastier version at home yourself, you’re buying it for convenience and the fact that it can stay frozen until you need it. It does contain egg so make sure you look at the ingredients before you buy if you have certain intolerances. It tastes like a very dense version of a piece of whole wheat bread and the fact that I could make myself a grilled cheese (yes I’m eating cheese right now) means I’m sold.
Tessemae’s Salad Dressing In a perfect world you would always make your own salad dressings from scratch and they would be flawless. But when that doesn’t pan out, Tessemae’s dressings are an excellent option. Using only a few simple ingredients and producing a variety of flavors, Tessemae’s provides some great products for a reasonable price. I pretty much keep a bottle in the fridge at all times now. You can find it at health food stores (I got mine at Whole Foods) or order online.
Wild Friends Organic Sunflower Butter All nut butters are not created equal and you will especially love this find if you are nut intolerant but still want the consistency and taste of a jar of nut butter. Not only is it organic and sweetened with organic honey, it’s delicious. Not joking, I could eat it all day. AND I found a large jar at Costco for less than $10. The Wild Friends company also makes peanut and almond butters (including vanilla espresso almond butter!) but still check the ingredients since some are sweetened with other ingredients besides honey. You won’t regret buying a jar of this treat.
I will keep you updated as we try new products and develop a cooking schedule. Keep an eye on my Instagram account for exactly what we’re eating and cooking.
And last but not least I hope you’ve enjoyed some of these absolutely gorgeous maternity photos that my friend Amy Vaughn of Garnet Lane Photography did for us! Besides the fact that she’s a dear friend, she has an incredible mission and ministry with her photography to help children in Africa. If you’re in the DFW area, I would highly recommend checking her out!
Seth and I are both overwhelmed with the fact that there’s a growing six-pound baby (with hair already!) that we will get to meet very soon. When I think about how he or she has developed with all it’s intricacies, with each bone and muscle in place, I can’t comprehend the miracle of it all. Changes have come and we expect many more but we are beyond excited to move into this next phase of life, knowing full well that sleepless nights and tearful moments won’t even compare to the joy of interacting with our little human. There are fears and uncertainties at times but the awe of carrying this little person outweighs any trepidation I have and I’m confident that God will sustain us no matter what the future holds and will continue to give us joy we can’t even imagine yet.
Hopefully I’ll have time to do a post or two more before baby comes but if not, follow me on FB or IG to see what we’re up to! Wish us luck!