Monday, February 25, 2013

The Stork Flies In

I think I owe it to you to tell you that I am expecting. As in, "the stork is coming," or, "there is a bun in the oven." I am almost 12 weeks along and only just recently discovered this. I apologize to all my dear friends or family who are finding out about this on a blog. For me, it's just easier to say here than to blab it out in the middle of church, over the phone, at exercise class, or picking up my kids from school. I hope you can understand that.

You see, at first I just thought I was sick. Getting sick over and over. Sinus congestion, indigestion, nausea, fatigue, headaches, dizziness, hot and cold flashes. Paul kept telling me, "You're pregnant." And I just responded, "No, I'm not. It'll never happen. I'm broken." Well, Paul was right, and I was most definitely wrong. I am so very used to having to seek out doctor's help and medications for fertility treatments. So to be expecting without jumping through all those medical "hoops" is something very new to me.

I was very excited when I first found out. Woo hoo! Right?...morning sickness kinda' dampens excitement. If you've read this post (actually one of my #1 read posts, surprisingly), then you understand my difficulties with hormone imbalances. I almost wanted to shout out, "I'm cured! Whole foods has helped me cure my ailments!" But of course I can't scientifically prove that. Correlation does not necessarily mean causation. Although I do think it is strongly related, there are other factors like the fact that I took Vitex (a natural women's hormone supplement containing a mixture of Chaste Berry, Red Raspeberry Root, and other herbs), and have had 3 children previously (albeit with the aid of fertility treatments).

Let me just take a moment to say that I know many, many women with fertility problems, including the popular health food "nut," Robyn Openshaw, who suffered infertility for a while until she changed her eating patterns to reflect a whole foods, plant-based diet, and lost weight. Maybe that solved her infertility, and maybe it solved mine. But maybe it won't solve everyone's, and that is not their fault.

I mention this because it is such a sensitive topic. No one should be pointed at and accused of causing there own infertility because of what they do or don't eat. While transitioning to a whole foods, plant based diet has solved so many of my health and physical concerns, I believe this issue is one to be handled with so much care. Many beautiful women that I love and care about cannot have children, or additional children, for any number of reasons. I just have to believe that God is in charge, and loves each of His daughters. I don't know the reasons for all trials, but I know that God cherishes His daughters and that all things wrong on this earth will eventually be made right through Him.

For now, I can't stand the thought of cooking. All things food related make me sick. Which I am very sorry about because I kept promising posts of fantastic recipes that my family had recently enjoyed. I think even blogging about food would be nauseating for me. All recipes in this house are currently compliments of Mr. Sub Way, Mr. Jason's Deli, Dr. Bell, and other various chefs. I avoid my kitchen and the grocery store like the plague. Poor Paul. Doing all the grocery shopping, and picking up takeout every night to feed the family. And he does all the laundry because the smell of laundry detergent is just repulsive to me right now.

Carbs are the foundation of my diet, but I have to say I am doing better with this morning sickness than I have with the three previous. I am actually able to eat raw salads and plenty of cooked vegetables (as long as I didn't have to prepare it). That has never been the case before, usually all things veg are absolutely untouchable. My morning sickness with my second pregnancy was actually so bad that I remember living completely on corn chips and ginger ale for weeks and weeks, and I was only able to keep those foods down because I was taking nausea medications given to me by my doctor.

I am very much wondering if the severity of morning sickness is also because of eating plant based or not eating plant based. This is my first plant-based pregnancy, and so far, although still quite challenging, it has been the easiest. And I am the healthiest -- I can actually exercise and eat vegetables.

I have a theory on that. I ran across a newsletter by Dr. McDougall where he discusses studies done on morning sickness, and how it actually may be the bodies' defense mechanisms to prevent the expecting mother from eating meat. Here is an excerpt from that newsletter:

Morning Sickness Protects Babies from Meat

Drs. Samuel M. Flaxman and Paul W. Sherman in their classic article “Morning Sickness: A Mechanism for Protecting Mother and Embryo,” explained how nausea and vomiting during the first trimester of pregnancy cause pregnant women to physically expel and subsequently avoid foods that cause harm to mother and infant.7 Approximately two-thirds of women experience nausea or vomiting during early pregnancy. Women who develop morning sickness have less risk of miscarriages and a better chance for survival of their infants. Their research revealed that aversions were greatest to meats, fish, poultry, and eggs. In an analysis of 20 traditional societies in which morning sickness has been observed and seven in which it has never been observed, they found the latter were significantly less likely to have animal products as a dietary staple and significantly more likely to have only plants (primarily corn) as staples. Reducing the intake of toxic chemicals found in high concentrations in animal products would be one of the greatest benefits from morning sickness.

The vast majority (89 to 99 percent) of synthetic chemicals, including pesticides, herbicides, building materials, and industrial wastes that are known to cause an increase in infertility, spontaneous abortions, recurrent miscarriages, and birth defects gain access to the body through food. More specifically, the foods with the highest levels of chemical contamination are those that are high on the food chain: meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products.8-12 The reason that these animal foods are the primary source of pollution is because their fatty tissues attract and concentrate chemicals—a process known as “bioaccumulation.” Consuming organic foods would be another big step to having a cleaner body.

My theory is that since the offender (meat, and in my case, also cheese and dairy) are not present in my current diet, my body does not need to build up such high defenses, or have such severe morning sickness in order to prevent me from eating the above mentioned "offensive" foods. Much of my online reading from mainstream websites (not vegan websites) concludes that low fat, high carbohydrate foods are the least offensive foods for the expectant mother. I have experimented with this and found it to be true for me. On my good days I have made banana bread and applesauce muffins with no added fats. I was able to easily digest these foods. Juicing has also worked very well for me because the nutrients are so readily available for my body with little digesting involved.

I have clear memories of only wanting mashed potatoes and fries during many of my previous pregnancies. Sometimes chips and soda. Foods with easy access to sugars, or simple carbs because they are so easy to digest. I also remember a well-meaning friend recommending that I have cheese on toast to help with morning sickness. I tried it, and promptly my body expelled that food. Cheese was by far the number one offender during previous pregnancies with things like yogurt or dairy based cream sauces right behind.

And so I have actually been very curious. Do other women who switch from the SAD diet to whole foods, plant based diets in between pregnancies experience similar results? Have you had or heard of easier morning sickness experiences on "vegan" diets as compared to previous pregnancies on the SAD? How sound is my theory?


  1. Congrats that is so great! In my experience I don't have much morning sickness, but the little lack of appetite/ nausea I have was similar in all five pregnancies, three before my mostly vegan diet, and two after. BUT I did eat meat and cheese sometimes even during those pregnancies, so there were slips. I did notice if I exercised, I had much less nausea that day. Hope you feel good soon and again congratulations, that is so exciting!

  2. Congrats Ashlee! That is so exciting! I have never been pregnant while eating whole foods, so I can't help your curiosity. I will say that my sister who easily got pregnant with her first three children is now having trouble getting pregnant with her 4th, after switching to whole foods. Strange, right? Please keep your blog friends updated on your pregnancy! But only when you feel well enough and actually have the energy :)

  3. Whoa! Whoa! Just found the stork button! Had to click on that when I was actually looking up a previous recipe! Congrats!!!

    Your lifestyle sounds exactly like mine right now except mine is from ear & sinus infection!!! Brandon has had to take over so much and there is no food in the cupboards so it is eating out tons. I was just too sick to even make it to the kitchen! I am finally in recovery mode but only after eight days of being this ill!

    Yea Ashlee! I bet you are jumping for joy! Do you think it is a boy or a girl?! I am glad you can still eat! It needs to be a boy right? That way you can have 2 girls and 2 boys, just like mine! Teasing! Calm yourself! Now we can compare notes right? on having four kids under one roof! Can you believe Joe just turned 15?? Crazy! Love Ya!!!

  4. Congtatulations! That is so exciting. I bet you are so thrilled that you got pregnant on your own without a doctor's help. You can officially have peace now, before you jump into the craziness of four kids. :)

  5. It seems like the viability of any species would be the ability to reproduce without intervention. It's really amazing what you've done/proven. A lot of "fertility" diets encourage copious amounts of animal products as the main thing that will increase fertility, stabalize hormones and level blood-sugar. It looks like that's not necessarily true. Congratulations on healing your health.

  6. Congrats, Ashley! I am a little behind on reading this but I still wanted to comment. I am the sister Katie mentioned above and yes, I have been through 3 cycles now without any luck after getting preggo on my first try with the previous three. Weird, but definitely not blaming it on the PBWF diet. I am actually looking forward to eating said diet in the next pregnancy- hopefully I will have more energy and gain less weight. But can't wait to follow you while you go through a plant based pregnancy!

  7. I'm also behind on reading, but I want to say CONGRATS! Yay for big familes. As for us, Joseph & intend to have a least a dozen ;).

    I'm excited & happy for you, & hope you are doing everything to enjoy the process, & take care of yourself!

    ox, Janae