second try

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Mommyhood and My Journey Into Nourishing Food: Part 1

My mind is thinking about God, babies, birth, fertility and food. Having just had a new baby 8 weeks ago, I guess that could be called normal. I pray and eat to grow babies and then I birth them. Then I get hungry when I breastfeed and I think about food- again. For some time I have wanted to share my journey into eating real food and becoming a mostly traditional eater. For me, it is all wrapped up in this thing called becoming a mom. It was my gateway to learning about how food affects our bodies and our babies. This journey has been a huge part in my answer to prayer for our family.

I will start by going backwards. In our first almost two years of marriage we had only one pregnancy, a year into it. Since then I have come to learn that it shouldn't have been that hard. A woman in optimum health should really have little trouble conceiving, unless of course there is some kind of physical issue or other medical reason. I have now read about tribes of people who knew that something was really wrong if a couple got married and didn't become pregnant in the first month or two. Well honestly, I probably don't know anyone who eats the way they did! And I also did not know that women could get pregnant that easily and quickly in an entire people group, although I had heard the term fertile Myrtle. Knowing people who were trying to get pregnant for lengthy periods, including years, was familiar to me. And I thought that Myrtle person was just a random, exceptionally fertile lady for no particular reason. At any rate, I have since learned to see things a little differently. At the time, however, I didn't see our first year as unusual. I had prayed intently for God to give us children since shortly after our wedding, as scripture tells us it is God who opens and closes the womb. In having children Christ is my constant. I always go to Him for them, because I trust He wants to show himself faithful. And so, about a year after our wedding, we had a positive test when we were out of town, in Redding, CA. Thus began a love that will never die in my heart.

Fast forward to a couple weeks later and I was in tears as my body was passing our sweet baby. We only had her (just felt she was a girl) about two months we were told. I was in denial until we were in the ER, because of heavy bleeding and cramping, and both an exterior ultrasound and a vaginal ultrasound found an empty uterus. Then I grieved because I knew it was final. I had to say goodbye. And so I did. I could have gotten mad at God but I consciously chose to worship Him for being faithful. I chose to trust that He doesn't steal from me. I chose to rejoice because it was the first time in my life I had the opportunity to offer God praise when it cost me everything. I had worshiped Christ in painful times before but nothing compared to the pain of saying an earthly goodbye to a child I will never hold in this realm. As I lay on that table in the ER, after getting mad at the doctor who said basically it was no big deal as I should be able to get pregnant again (as if I would ever have another opportunity to carry that one child!), I lifted my arms and sang to Jesus. I told Him how worthy He was. Peace like I can not explain wrapped His arms around me and put my heart into ecstasy over the love and tenderness I felt tangibly. Then we went home and cried... and peace remained though the healing process.

It has been years now and my heart is healed but sometimes I still cry. I am fine with that. I will always have a baby girl in heaven and I will always wish she was here with us, sitting next to our other daughters. We had named her as we said goodbye and I wonder what it would have been like to have her growing up next to the rest of us. I tell her that I love her from time to time, and ask Jesus to please tell her that I have not forgotten her for I never will. Yet in the midst of the grieving I really prayed all the more fervently for another child. A child that would be whole and full term, born lively and healthy. I believe it is God who gives every gift of a child, and I always run to Him for them. 

Almost a year later, we still had an empty womb. A dear friend coming to visit asked if she could share some things with us about nutrition and fertility as we had been discussing nutrition in a limited fashion over phone calls. Of course I said yes. I have a lot of respect for this friend and her advice I highly value. Her visit was incredibly enjoyable, but the nutrition conversation we had with her proved to be not only life-changing, but God's sweet answer to me in my regular prayer for children.

She said that nutrition was such a vast topic that she didn't know where to start, but that the Holy Spirit had lead her to talk to us mainly about fats and oils. And so began an initially overwhelming adventure of learning what I had never even heard before. My husband and I took notes, literally. It was so much to take in, and I think we only talked for about an hour! She recommended I read a book which I will recommend: Nina Planck's, Real Food: What To Eat and Why. It took me about a year to get around to reading it and it was an amazing, engaging and easy read. I think this book could have made learning about eating traditionally go a lot faster for me had I read it at first, as it is simple enough for anyone to get a grasp on food and what it does for us. But as it was, I learned slowly. 

My friend had given me a great starting point. I learned that our two years of regularly consuming soy products was not only harming my fertility and health but my husband's as well. We never bought tofu or soy milk again, though I do keep a traditionally fermented Soy Sauce on hand that I buy from Trader Joe's. I learned that good fats and oils, the real ones that people have been eating for thousands of years before all of these new weird ones were pushed into the food supply, actually aid fertility and help sustain a pregnancy once begun, in addition to providing much needed nutrients to the growing baby. And finding out that people's heads are supposed to be round? (In my mind's eye I am envisioning young models round faces drinking their Coca Colas when it was a new product...) Well, that was a new one on me... I thought it was just genetic. And this was before I knew the word epigenetics, but that is another topic. During this discussion I got up and trashed my huge jar of Crisco that I had always used for baking (should not be used for human consumption!), threw out my white rice, white sugar and white flour. In all these years I have only bought white sugar for making kombucha, and white flour for something I needed to make for others last year.

This is only part of my journey, but suffice it to say that after ridding my kitchen of those harmful "foods", I added into our diets the good fats and oils my friend said were great for us. I put tons of butter on my bread, freely ate cream with strawberries, etc., and began taking cod liver oil daily. Oh, and all that stuff I threw out? I simply purchased brown rice, whole wheat flour (now I grind my own) and rapadura, raw honey, stevia (husband hates that one!) or real maple syrup for sweeteners. Virgin, cold pressed coconut oil slowly joined our pantry as a regular staple. That damaging soy milk? It was in with the whole milk again, yum! And presently, since I am about real food, it has become raw whole milk for us. The result of our early changes? Within just one month we were pregnant! Thank you Jesus as He answered my prayers! Real food the way He made it was healing us. It was a missing link that has now helped to give us three beautiful girls.

There is so much more I could say as that doesn't scratch the surface of my journey. The biggest reason I want to share my journey is because I want to encourage other women who have had miscarriages, infertility, etc. that perhaps eating real food traditionally prepared may help. I am thinking particularly of Christian women, because usually we are already praying and that is the most important step. However, even in my prayers, God sent an answer in the form of my friend's wisdom. I have not stopped learning, reading, researching and reading other people's research. I recognized my friend's visit as God answering my cries to Him to be a mother with a child to hold and raise.

Before, when I was single, I had faith for people to conceive when I prayed for them. I love seeing God move and give people children! Oh, He is so good. Now, I feel like I am armed with the spiritual and the practical. There is so much I do not know, but one thing I know, is that I keep seeing people I know get pregnant with a few minor changes such as I made. And I keep reading the same type of testimonies from women all over the world who went back to the roots of eating and preparing food and found their way out of infertility, complications, etc. For those that choose to pick as time when they start trying to get pregnant, I think it can be good to spend some time building up their body with whole, traditional foods for a period of months before trying to conceive. However, for those like me who are always trying, I think it is just important to be very committed to a whole foods based, fat rich diet. Click here to see an excellent pregnancy diet that has worked for many people, even those with polysystic ovary syndrom , fertility issues, history of miscarriage, etc. It might not solve everything, but for many people, it has changed everything. God used it to change us from a couple into a family. My prayer is that someone reading this would start on a journey that gives them the children they desire. I went first to God and remained there, and eating this way, in the steps of so many for so many thousands of years, is where He lead me. And I am grateful!

I will post more later about this journey of mine into real food and kids in my arms... but for now, that's it. :)

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