Archive of ‘Simple Natural Living’ category

A Health Update {Hashimoto’s, pregnancy, fertility, and food}

19wkbelly

It’s been quite some time since I’ve talked about my health here, and I know some of you might be curious how things are going with treating my autoimmune disease (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis) naturally, and how it has affected my pregnancy.

Quick background: I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s in summer 2013, after years of not being able to find any answer to why I felt completely awful so much of the time. This diagnosis lead to massive changes in my already “healthy” diet. Over the previous years I’d been vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, avoided processed and refined foods, done detoxes, and yet still had very little energy and got debilitating headaches more days out of each month than not.

Once I learned the root cause of all of these problems, I was quite determined to learn to manage it naturally and very much wanted to avoid the need for any medication. I began researching a ton and found that much of what I’d always known to be true in the realm of nutrition, actually wasn’t (at least not for every person). In the midst of all of this I was also trying to conceive our third baby, and after 1.5 years of trying was diagnosed with PCOS. I learned that hormone balance depends on an abundance of healthy fats, and that I needed more quality proteins to help keep my blood sugar stable. I was told to avoid gluten, as it increases inflammation for people with autoimmune disease, and as I dug deeper I found that same to be true of legumes, sugar, dairy, and grains in general. All signs pointed to a grain-free, primal (paleo) diet, and I decided to give it a try.

I haven’t eaten any gluten at all since January 2014, and permanently quit dairy and corn a while after that upon seeing so clearly how much they affected how I feel. I rarely eat sugar (refined white sugar, almost never) or legumes, and I have gone many stretches being completely grain-free. This has been such a huge change, and definitely not always easy. I miss lentils and bread, but when I think about how I used to feel when eating them frequently, it really doesn’t seem so bad.

ultrasound

So back to pregnancy. After over a year and a half of trying to conceive, even with all these dietary changes my progesterone was still low, so I was put on a natural compounded progesterone. We found out in late June of last year that I was pregnant, just weeks after starting the hormone treatment. At 8 weeks, it ended abruptly in a miscarriage. I don’t know, and will never know, if Hashimoto’s was to blame at all, but after it happened I became a lot more careful with my diet, avoiding inflammatory foods and increasing healthy fats and veggies. In January, after more months of overusing pregnancy test strips and wondering if it would ever happen, once again I was faced with two little pink lines. This time felt so different though. The anxiety that had surfaced after my miscarriage attacked with a vengeance, and I fought it every day with prayer, faith, and essential oils. When I passed the 8-week mark where I’d been last time, and especially when I reached the 12-week mark where risk is considered much lower, I began to relax. Twelve weeks happened to come almost exactly when I’d been due with the one we lost, which was bittersweet but also healing for me. With the second trimester came the end of my constant nausea, and I entered the phase of truly enjoying this pregnancy.

My morning (read: all-day) sickness in the first 12 weeks made it basically impossible to stay as strict with my diet as I had been. I still avoided gluten, sugar, dairy, and most legumes, but added some grains back to save my sanity. Protein-rich foods often made me feel ill by simply thinking of them. Even now, I’m eating rice or a piece of millet bread here and there, and simply trying to listen to my body and discern what it needs on any given day. Sometimes that’s a big green smoothie with kale, pineapple, mango, coconut milk, banana, avocado and coconut oil. Sometimes it’s sweet potatoes, or raw coconut oil chocolate, or some eggs or grass-fed beef. Most of my cravings have been along those lines, though sometimes it’s for things like donuts or ice cream and I’ve had to find creative healthy ways to satisfy that!

breakfast

Pregnancy can affect thyroid problems pretty drastically at times, and for the first time I have needed a low dose of thyroid medication. I don’t love being on it, and am hoping to be able to stop after baby comes, even if it means getting even more strict with food for a while. I truly believe that the body can heal itself, but I don’t want to do any experimenting with thyroid levels while I’m pregnant.

Despite that, this has overall been the best I have ever felt while pregnant. I have more energy than I remember having with the boys, much fewer headaches, and most significantly much fewer digestive problems. My first two pregnancies involved almost constant tummy issues—painful indigestion practically ever time I ate—and now it’s pretty rare and usually directly linked to slipping up and eating something I shouldn’t (like some corn chips, hummus, or peanuts).

Supplements are also pretty important when growing a human, and must go far beyond a simple prenatal vitamin.
I take a prenatal multi recommended by my nurse practitioner (who treats my Hashimoto’s). It contains methylfolate instead of the standard folic acid, which is absorbed much more readily by my body.
My other dailies are: fermented cod liver oil (one of the very best sources of essential fatty acids and vitamins A & D), a quality probiotic, curcumin (turmeric capsules, for inflammation), a special thyroid supplement from my nurse practitioner, and a magnesium/calcium drink.
I also use various essential oil daily according to what I need. One of my favorites is the Gentle Baby blend, which is specifically for pregnancy and babies. The book Gentle Babies has been a great resource for figuring out which Young Living oils can be used while pregnant.

gentlebaby

I think that just about covers it (for now anyway). What a wild ride this has been! I’m so thankful for all the knowledge I’ve gained and help I’ve received that has helped this pregnancy along so far and helped me grow the healthiest baby possible, and feel as well as possible so I can enjoy every moment of this. Now at 24 weeks, I am deeply aware of the magic of being her home for these months, her nourishment and protection. Every kick and squirm I feel is so very precious.

The Natural Medicine Cabinet: Essential Oils for Cuts & Scrapes

cutsandscrapes-4s

I’ve got a new little gig contributing natural living posts to Oh Dear Drea! I’m so excited, because it’s a topic I am so passionate about and her blog is just the coolest. My first post, a little recipe for a cut & scrapes blend using Young Living oils, went up this week.

Check out the full post here.

cutandscrapes-2s

Seasonal Sweetness

My husband’s parents have the most amazing backyard. Hammocks, sitting areas, and so many beautiful (and delicious) plants. Thankfully, we spend a fair amount of time with them and are able to enjoy it all.
Right now, the mango tree is reaching its peak. We have the tastiest mangoes I’ve ever eaten, literally anytime we want. Here’s a glimpse of the bounty…

It’s things like this that make me thankful to live in this place.

If you know any awesome mango recipes, please post in the comments. We don’t want any to go to waste!

A Glimpse.

I’m woken early. Too early, considering I stayed up late working the night before. Begrudgingly I stumble out of bed as Seth begs for cartoon and a banana. I will my mind and body to awaken. I take care of my son and start my coffee, doing a few stretches as it brews, trying to bring some energy into muscles that would rather still be in bed.

By the time I’ve finished half my cup, the caffeine has begun to have its effect on my mind. The gears are turning now, and I jot down ideas as they come- for business, photography, writing, my to-do list and grocery list, and other random ideas. The thoughts are uncategorized in my mind and just want to be expressed. They push like people rushing to get out the small entry of a building- they’re limited only by how fast my hand can write. I’ll come back to this later, but for now I finish the last sip of coffee and move on.

After Seth and are fed and dressed, we head outside to dig and plant and water, until the Florida sun drives us indoors once again.
I love nurturing seedlings, planning the space, watching life come from tiny seeds, and most of all sharing it with my son. I pinch a basil leaf and hold it for him to smell, and he enthusiastically says “mmmm!” and laughs. His amazement at every new thing is precious and contagious. I can’t help but marvel at the smallest things and be thankful.

Life is truly beautiful.

garden progress

Summer has been pretty good to my plants. It’s been a challenge to keep Seth from trying to pull things up, or throw dirt- he’s just at that age right now- so I don’t get out there as often as I’d like. I did away with the cantaloupe plant entirely- It was taking over, wrapping itself around the other plants, and not looking extremely healthy anyway. Lesson learned- I think I’ll reserve the growing of melons for when I have a field of some sort behind my house, rather than a 3×5 foot raised bed… and I will research a plant for buying it on a whim from now on, hehe!

{almost} sunflowers
The sunflower seeds I started are doing well- It looks like I may see some flowers soon. (I hope!)

malabar spinach
malabar spinach
above two: malabar spinach.

red rubin basil
Red rubin basil. Started from seed. It’s doing okay, but is getting eaten a bit by something.

basil
I started this from seed, and it is definitely my most successful gardening venture yet. This plant is huge- over two feet tall {probably should have pruned more in the beginning- I’m learning :)} It flowers like this all the time lately but I trim them off since I quite obviously have enough for now.

potted basil
{Potted basil} This is the product of my first attempt to root something in water. They’re doing really well!

frangipani {plumeria}
I bought this clipping at an art festival last year, and it finally sprouted leaves! I cant wait for the flowers.

It has been so very hot and humid, and there were things I didn’t plant in the spring because I read that they grow better in the fall in Florida- like tomatoes, lettuce and kale. I’m looking forward to starting those later this year!

Another gardening post…

What can I say?- it’s just that time of year, and I am so excited about my garden that I have to share. Yesterday we spent most of the day in the backyard building a planter box.

Here is the picture everyone has been waiting for: me using power tools.

watch out world

It was empowering. And deafening. My neighbors probably hate my guts.

{oh by the way check out my frangipani, in the pot behind me- it has finally sprouted some little leaves! I bought it at an art festival months and months ago and was wondering if it would ever do anything, but it is!}

Seth got in on the action too.

helping

little builder
Literally, in. This was before we put down weed blocker and added dirt.

Little wormy friend:
worm friend

And the finished product:
new planter box
I transplanted my basil, malibar spinach, and cantaloupe plants, and I sowed seeds for red rubin basil, lemon balm, marigolds and sunflowers. I have eggplant, bell pepper and rosemary seeds starting inside that I will transplant when they’re ready.

I am so sore today- but it’s a good sore. I love this kind of work- it makes me feel like I am really connecting with the earth, growing food that I will {hopefully} serve to my family in the coming months and beyond.

Growing… gardens and children.

Today was supposed to be a big gardening day, building my planter box and getting lots of things started, but the rain caused it to be postponed until tomorrow. Tonight I am closing out my internet browser, and I am not opening it again until Seth goes to bed tomorrow. I feel like I’ve been to attached to this screen lately and I need to reconnect with the physical world and my family. I will only check my business email, but other than that tomorrow is computer-free for me until evening : )

Here is a picture I took of my basil plant (grown from seed by me) the day I got my new camera:

happy, healthy basil
{doesn’t it look happy?}

Speaking of growing, Seth has been doing entirely too much of that. I get misty-eyed if I think it about too much. But really, it’s so wonderful to watch. He is a joyful, sweet boy, so full of life and very smart. He can walk pretty much across a room now; it’s so cute.

i love this kid

the smile that melts my heart

swing, swing

he thought it was a dandelion :)
{blowing on a flower because he remembered about dandelions : ) }

little world-changer

i don't doubt it
{I love this shirt.}
oh, I don’t doubt it, my love-
you’ve certainly changed my world.

this is just the best

Dear Planet,

Thank you for your green and blue wonderfulness, for your miraculous existence. We, your inhabitants, basically suck at taking care of you. You support our every breath, and yet we are rarely thankful. We rarely give back. In fact, most of us appear to be doing everything in our power to destroy you. This makes me very sad. Some of us are trying to change our ways, trying to become one with you once again. I promise to keep trying. Today is your day (though everyday is, really)- thank you, Earth, for everything.

Sincerely,

Hannah

oh so yellow

{this bush on the side of our house is just bursting with these yellow flowers! it makes me smile}

Today we are getting my garden all set up, and I am so excited! We’re building a planter box/raised bed of sorts, and it is going to contain eggplant, bell peppers, rosemary, two types of basil, lemon balm and sunflowers. And marigolds for pest control. What a perfect day for such a project!

Oh and in other news, this photo is a finalist in the Greeblepix contest for April. I’m so excited :) Voting is open until tonight!

a desire to {grow}

I have not always had good luck with plants. Maybe it’s a combination of impatience and forgetfulness, but I just seem to kill them one way or another. I have an intense desire to garden though, to grow food for my family- to watch seeds I plant with my own hands grow and thrive.

We have a very small yard, but when we moved in I saw a lot of potential for a container garden. And here’s where the impatience comes in. I didn’t take the time to learn about container gardening- I just planted things and watered them and let it go. It turns out I chose the wrong soil, and at the wrong time of year, and I should have started the seeds inside first. So now I have but one or two little basil shoots that managed to survive my ignorance (but have not gotten any bigger in months now). Here is one of them:
basil
cute, isn’t it?

So I am starting over. This spring and summer I picture myself and Seth outside, him playing happily in the yard while I prune and water and do other garden things. I have been so inspired by my aunt Taina who has a natural green thumb and has always grown things, and my sister-in-law Carolann, who grew a ton of food last year in her beautiful garden. I cooked with some of her own dried parsley when we visited recently; they have been eating preserved things from her garden all winter. She told me a story of looking all over the house for my little niece, only to find her sitting in the garden eating “matoes” off the vine! I love to think of Seth growing up watching his food grow, picking and eating strawberries and peas.

I recently read these two articles from Simple Organic: 1, 2, and I borrowed Organic Crops in Pots from the library. I am considering doing  a small (about 2×3 feet) raised bed, as well as things in containers this time. Some crops will just do better with a raised bed, I think. I want to do basil, parsley, and some other herbs, and strawberries, bell peppers, some leafy greens, and maybe eggplant. I am going to start seeds soon in cardboard egg cartons, and I’ll start preparations for my raised bed. I also want to look for some unique containers to re-purpose- some ideas I’ve seen are olive oil cans, galvanized buckets, big metal colanders, and wooden fruit boxes.

Do you have a garden? or a few things in pots? Any advice for a newbie?

Wish me luck- I am determined not to kill them this time! {gracious, if I can grow a person, plants shouldn’t be that big a deal, right? hehe.}

Oh I also love You Grow Girl and am planning to borrow or buy the book Grow Great Grub.