Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Nutrition: Eating to Live

It’s Day 56 of the miscarriage. And, hallelujah, I’ve begun spotting. I started yesterday. And what a difference a day and a week make after losing so much blood in that last push to rid my body of pregnancy tissue. In celebration, today I went to belly dance class. I’ve been thinking a lot about being blessed to be in this age, as far as care and feeding go on this healing journey. We know so much now, and are privy to so much information in regards to health, wellness, and nutrition. Please join me on the ramble through my mind. I know people have been curious about what our athletic family eats as mostly vegetarians (sometimes vegans who every now, okay, once a week crave meat and every day crave cheese). So I’ll share.  

Technically, they did my blood work prior to the additional hours of fast blood loss, and from what I’ve read it takes a while for your body to realize it’s anemic. So, even if you’ve lost a lot of blood at once, the labs don’t reflect reality right away. I was bloated from the IV and my body replacing the lost blood volume with the water and electrolytes I’d been drinking for 2 or 3 days. Then it sort of realized that it’s not quite at homeostasis, and then that’s when I noticed it with feeling weak and having no (not little) energy as well as decreased blood pressure and dizziness a few days later.

I’ve approached my healing and recovery a little like the assessment you take upon exiting the water on a triathlon. In a triathlon you run into the water, swim, and as you’re running to your gear, and slipping your bike shoes on as you run, clip in, and take off for the bike portion of the race you assess how to fuel your body and grab gear to help you through the bike leg of the race. What feels good and what hurts?, am I hungry, do I need gel, water, or tape? And off you go. Except I’m really slow right now, so my situational awareness scan lets me philosophize too, joy of joys.

Maybe it’s from being a cyclist and triathlete at the Naval Academy—and those endurance athlete days…, but my body just isn’t happy unless it’s moving. And the last eight days about did me in emotion-wise. If my body can be worked out 2 hours a day, then I’m in heaven. Veritably I feel as if I’m walking on water. Just kidding, I hope I didn’t offend anyone. I just understand my body best and what I need to eat when I’m fueling for workouts.

Before the miscarriage, belly dance Wednesdays was my active “rest” day for the week. Deciding to go today was big—I know that lifting is still out, so is Zumba, and so is a run. However, my body is craving movement. And, belly dancing is all about the hips, and the unilateral movement…yaddah yaddah. Really, I missed spending time with my friends, and being isolated was really doing a doozy on my emotional well-being.

Before I ramble on about nutrition—I digress. I love literature from the 17- and 1800s. Subsequently, I’ve been devouring the Outlander series since September---the 1000 plus page books (I’m on book 5 I believe) set in the late 1700s, ooh-la-la. There is a lot written in there about women and the complications of pregnancy. And, it’s actually been quite helpful in putting things into perspective for me.

Understanding natural childbirth—of which that’s been a journey for me—has led me to where I am now waiting out this natural miscarriage. Of this I know—both of my two previous miscarriages ended in emergency D&Cs, because I was losing too much blood too fast. In any other time, I most likely would not have survived. That is sobering.

Modern medicine is miraculous, but I think you also have to remember that birthing children is a normal, natural thing that women do—and many medical interventions are out of convenience, not necessity. As consumers of modern medicine we have to be informed and educated—after all we’re the ones that will live with the scars or trauma.

So back we go to last Tuesday. After 7 weeks of continuous bleeding, and careful medical monitoring—when I began filling 3 overnight pads within 2 hours—once my husband got back from the gym—off we went to the ER. And there I did a lot of bleeding, and getting monitored. My CBC was okay, I didn’t have clotting issues, and I wasn’t anemic, but my iron was borderline low. And, the doctor wanted to do a wait and see approach after the lovely internal pelvic exam.
Any visit to the ER can be traumatic, when you see blood splatting everywhere, when you lie there and you’ve soaked through everything and it’s going up your back, yup, a little scary. However, apparently, what I’ve been assimilating—this sudden blood loss is normal, like a mini-birth. It does need to be monitored, but does it need to be intervened? And, as the testing showed…I was still in the normal range. Holy cow, right?

Ok, so this is normal. It’s okay to be freaked out by the blood, and the OB joked that I was good at listening…, I came in right when I needed to be monitored. Ha ha ha, no. What gets me—as I read Outlander and “rest”—is that in earlier society if a woman was having a miscarriage like the one I’ve been having there’s 3 or 4 things that were different back then, and I think it’s actually for the better:

1—a woman could lie down and rest, if she had family and friends to take up the burden of her family responsibilities. Thank you ladies for the dinners. Thank you sooooo much. I am very grateful.

2—the art of mourning and wearing black; it not only indicates without speaking your period of grief, but allows you to go about your day subdued. You weren’t required to participate. You could listen to conversations and not have to be witty and join in—especially when your mind is miles away on what the heck is going on with your insides…, and as you grieve.

3—the blessing of not knowing. You could chalk it up to a heavy period. Except the continuous bleeding for 7 weeks, I’m sure there would have been leeching and blood-letting somewhere in there; which may have resulted in some complications. However, lots of old wives remedies…, still good today! But, again, you may be put to bed as people guessed at what was going on.

4—women are tough. If you didn’t have the luxury of idleness (very few of us did then, and many of us continue not to have this now…), then up and at ‘em. Think of the amazing women dropping babies in the rice paddies and fields. Hence, deciding to belly dance today, rather than waiting until next Wednesday.

Returning to the little chores and errands slowly over the last few days let me justify why I could begin working out again today. I’d like to think I’ve blended in some common sense by incrementally returning to activity. My body is conditioned to move. Therefore, my recovery will be better if I do what it’s accustomed to rather than staying inert and feeling off.  A lot of fueling your body with nutrient dense food relies on listening carefully to your intuition. It means being very intentional about what I’m doing and eating. And, probably more important during this period is to be at rest when my body says it needs to rest. That’s a hard lesson.

On the days I don’t work out, I’m lost in the sauce. I cannot figure out the caloric intake. All the yummy food friends have been forcing (just kidding—but it really is sooo good) us to eat and no workouts has meant losing muscle tone and weight gain—oh I love being a woman… Right now my life—like yours—is too busy, and I have no inclination to weigh food and count calories.

Bean counting doesn’t work, never has in the past when I’ve tried. And, anyways for me, since I’m still nursing—there really are no accurate calorie-for-calorie counters when you’re nursing—I’ve looked! And the 500 calorie a day increase they tell you to eat, honestly, is for when you’re nursing a newborn up to about 6 months, not nursing a pre-toddler.

No workouts since last Tuesday is huge, and I know from understanding depression, that the best thing is exercise to get your endorphins revved up. However, since I am still nursing and raising 2 little crazies—I need workouts not just to stave off depression, but for my sanity and to feel my soul.  As part of natural bereavement you have foggy thinking and low energy like with clinical depression. Moving your body also allows you to stay in the present moment; which also helps you to emotionally heal as well, because it’s life affirming. And, if I’m going to eat nutrient-dense food, I better start moving again!

I have my eye on 2 a days—and going back to aerial yoga, lots of running through my Zumba choreo, and long runs. I know this will keep me from falling head-first into a depressed puddle. I did that with my first miscarriage, we were devastated. Still are except we know the value of staying connected to our community, humor, and that it really is okay to have the crappy feelings and off days. Looking forward as I grieve, I’m choosing to focus on savoring my for now once a week long work-out days…and to look forward to them again more frequently once the boys are older. They don’t know it yet, but I’ve got big plans involving us and mountain bikes, skis, roller blades, running shoes, and rock climbing gear.
If not for family and friends…

Friends continued to bring dinner over for us over the weekend and the past 2 days, and I will say this—I firmly believe their kind intentions and nutrition-dense meals are what have helped me to bounce back from the blood loss. There is no way I had the energy to cook that way this past week. Sunday I tried a foray to the PX, and got nice and dizzy, fully believing that continued rest was for the birds. Then, Monday and Tuesday this week, I felt like a bag of smashed a$$.

I didn’t feel up to doing anything, and that is not me. I literally laid low. I wheeled our 30 pounder in his push car  to the bus stop so my kindergartener could be waved onto the bus, and then strolled the pre-todd into daycare from the car chuckling at our shuffling, then I climbed back into bed. On Monday it was a HUGE success just to scrub, wash, and cut all our raw veggies for the week. Writing thank you cards and taking containers back—those have been my other “activities,” which make me laugh, because in any other given day it’s not a big deal. That was Monday. Tuesday was a repeat, but I made it to the commissary to shop for groceries with Graysen in tow. He may have pulled out some of my hair, & I’m now officially balding, but we made it!

I may be a pro (definitely tongue in cheek) at this point in telling you what vegetables and legumes have the most iron, B vitamins, and magnesium (zinc, not so much—still learning)… Friends also reminded me to OD on the vitamin C when taking the lovely red iron tablets…to help in the iron absorption. Thanks for the reminder; I’d definitely blanked on that one. However, I started drinking a liver cleanse with blended parsley, chlorophyll, spinach, and black cherry juice…and added  3-5 drops of lemon doTERRA essential oil  to get more Vitamin C. Did you know your body can never get enough of Vitamin C—and in the presence of an abundance of Vitamin C; it’s hard for your body to get sick. If I correctly recall, Vitamin C is one of the only vitamins you can safely overdo without side effects. Which was (is?) a real concern to me in the last few days, because of the sepsis threat and dizziness is one of the first symptoms of sepsis.

Upon deciding to do belly dance this morning based on how whacky my energy was yesterday, I began fueling my body the way I know best—as if I’m getting ready for a workout. This morning I was so excited when I glanced at my Vega protein shake with almond milk’s nutrition information. I knew it made me feel great, but it also has really high levels of both iron and magnesium. A friend had suggested (thanks Christine!) I focus on magnesium intake too—so I had ramped that up in the past day—and that seemed to really make a difference, in addition to increasing my B vitamin intake (hello kombucha and lipovitan!). I did have coffee…(I know—good for you or not?) and a vegetarian “sausage” pattie on a piece of unbromated sourdough so I wouldn’t get shaky. Then, before the class I added Vega pre-workout to my water.

My lunch today (see pic below) was a 15-bean veggie soup (thanks C), doTERRA vitamins  (took other half before breakfast to give my body time to absorb), iron tab, my fav red and yellow beets, hydrating with my liver cleanser and a few sips of kombucha (Bs, antioxidants, and enzymes).
Skinny pop popcorn as a mid-day snack and a malta goya (thanks F)! I’ve taken Fenugreek for nursing, but had never heard of this for energy (and to increase milk production). 

My 20-month old is up!! And 6 year old is home from school. Back to work!! 

And for dinner we had yummy leftovers!  Some more 15 bean veggie soup; lots of raw veggies—beets, carrots, cucumber, avocado, and celery; along with a bowl of Thai noodles, cilantro and veggies (thanks L!); and then some vegetarian “chik’n.” [If you’re curious Alex also had more of the “chik’n,” hummus, and cheese pizza—this guy EATS!)

Reading through this with G on my lap..., I admit he hand fed me his trail mix--so I got in more nuts (protein and fat whoopee!) and raisins (iron!!). Totally unexpected. But I saw without any tagging of keywords almost 400 people have read the previous posts, so I guess someone is interested?

And although our pumpkin from Halloween is staring at me—we didn’t have the chutzpah to carve it earlier I wonder why--I'll have to save harvesting the seeds for magnesium until tomorrow.

After writing everything I ate..., that's a lot! Now you know why I like working out, especially lifting weights...shoot! In all honesty though when i don't workout it's either just the Vega shake in place of chewing food breakfast, or no Vega that day--which is where the superb nutrition comes in to place. On the days I do heavier cardio & lifting for 1-2 hours I also have energy gels, electrolytes, post-recovery drink,. and either a bar or shake (all Vega) as well. Complicated? 

After A's hockey, we're in the home stretch for bedtime routines. whew! Peace, love, & blessings to you.

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