Friday, September 13, 2013

Pasta that's a Fasta

It has been forever since I've posted one of my favourite veganish recipes. Before I delve into how to make a yummy pasta salad, I want to tell you something. Today is Friday the thirteenth. A day of bad luck. Yet at midnight, last night, I was starving and spent a good five minutes looking at my empty fridge and bare pantry, trying to figure out what I could make (I've been working like a fiend on my novel and food is no longer a priority).

Now don't you see this as good luck? Fate? That I made an awesome, easy pasta salad just in time for today's post? Now on to the food. I think I will call this dish: Friday the 13th Pasta Salad or F13PS for short. Yes, it's lame, but this salad is so good you'll forgive the lame name.

The Ingredients:

1 green pepper
3 roma tomatoes (2 if they are larger)
1 onion (sweet onions are best)
1 pack (400g should be good) of whole grain pasta (because it's healthier)
   salt and pepper
3tsp paprika
3tsp oregano
1.5 cups of vegan mayo (to start, then add according to your preference) (I know, not healthy, but that's          why we got the whole grain pasta)
3-5tbs of mustard
   your choice of protein, canned or prepared the way you like (I use tuna or salmon but you can use tofu or beans)

The Magic:

Set a pot of water to boil for the pasta. While you wait, jullienne (love that word) the green pepper, tomatoes, and onions. 
Add the pasta once water has started to boil.
In a bowl, combine the veggies, seasoning, mustard, and mayo and mix. Once the the pasta has finished boiling, strain and rinse with cold water, then add it to the mixture.
Mix until pasta is evenly coated with the sauce.

And that's it. You can add more veggies or just increase the quantities. This recipe is so versatile is should be illegal. And no matter how you switch it up, it's hard to mess it up. Note, I never use a measuring cup or spoons unless I'm baking. The measurements I gave you are rough estimates of what I used.

As a side, this makes approx. 6-8 servings.



Friday, August 30, 2013

Yeast Beast

Now this in't a topic a lot of women like to talk about but it is a huge problem postpartum mama's face. Especially if you were more susceptible to infection before ever being pregnant. I am one of those mama's and I'm tired of my trips to the store to purchase treatments. It's costly and increasing the amount of medication I'm putting into my body. If you know me so far, you know I'm a huge hippie and meds go against my motto. So here's what I do to save money and keep pure.


Probiotics
There are great vegan, probiotic supplements you can get in pretty much any natural food store or section. There are some that are even labeled as yeast killers. These supplements need to be kept in the fridge and taken on an empty stomach, twice a day.

Go Commando!
Yes, it's not a joke. Yeast loves humidity and always wearing panties, specially in the summer, doesn't help. I'm not saying to go pantyless when you're out and about. Just try to stay in a housecoat or nightgown with no underwear when you're at home. Definitely don't sleep with underwear either. This is not only good for yeast, but to air the lady parts out. All parts of our body need to breathe and there are no exceptions! Cutting down my panty time has gotten rid of infections all on it's own!


Cut Down on the Sweets
I know! I know! How dare I suggest such a thing? Well unfortunately, yeast loves sugar and eating a sugary diet feeds it. Eat less sugary fruits and foods. Also, try to eat a less acidic diet. I know making changes to your diet is tough, so try the first two step first. Like I said, wearing underwear less beat the yeast on it's own for me. 





These are my top Yeast Beast killers. What are yours? And what works best for you?

***NOTE*** I am not a doctor or health professional. This is strictly advice that is not intended to replace a doctor's or health professional's opinion. I am simply stating what works for me. Always consult with a professional in regards to health issues. 


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Define: Ursatarian Grrrrr

Okay, so after a lot of thought and a little bit of googling, I finally came up with what I should call myself. I love the flow of Pescavegan but lets be honest, the name is an oxymoron. Ursatarian is more fitting and honest to how I eat. It's derived from the Latin ursus/ursa which means bear. Why bear you ask.

The Bear's Diet
Is very similar to my own. There are few omnivore fellow creatures. Now when I say omnivores, I mean true omnivores. Not pets who are fed berries and peanut butter as treats. My favorite example is the bear. He eats a mostly vegan diet plus fish. Yes they eat other animals but they don't kill them. Those animals are usually killed by winter and bears eat them out of NECESSITY until the plants are more readily available. Hmmm, that sounds a lot like why we had to eat livestock. The only meat they actually seek out and hunt (or fish) are fish.


I'd like to follow their example. The nice thing is, we don't have any famine periods. Fruits and vegetables are always readily available. Sooooooo, since the bear's diet resembles my own (minus the winter killed meat), I will call my diet the ursatarian diet. Add it to your dictionary folks.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Shame

I need to apologize for my absence. It has been a while and I've gone MIA because of...shame. Remember my optimism about starting a mostly raw diet? Well I failed. MISERABLY. I think I lasted about two days. Although I continued my juicing for longer, I just couldn't keep up with it.

So now I'm here, ready to own up to my failure and to compromise with myself. Do I want to go raw? HELL YES! Do I want to give up the delicious vegan substitutes I have come to love and yummy cooked food? HELL NO! 

So what does this mean?

Well it's not about what I want. It's about what I need. I think about my daughter and how I want her to grow up on the best possible diet. At ten months, she is still breastfed and I do my best to keep her diet natural and organic. Guess what? She starting to reach for the food I PUT IN MY MOUTH. This was my wake-up call. How can I expect her to eat like a hippie when I can't do it myself? I wince even more when she reaches for my husband's Pepsi/Coke (which I don't touch at all anymore btw).

So now, my goal is a much more reasonable and attainable goal. I will slowly work my way towards a raw veganish diet. For now, I will strive to eat how I expect my daughter to grow up eating. 

I'm amending my encouragement to:

If you can go cold turkey; please, please, please, please do. If you can't; strive for it. Slowly work your way to eating raw. 

PescaVegan Mama is back and ready to convert you carnivorians into plant eating fiends. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Milk Debate


There seems to be a lot of controversy over whether milk is good or bad for you. Doctors and nutritionist have conflicting ideas and beliefs, but if you base the answer on unbiased research and plain logic, the answer is clear.

Milk is loaded with nutrition.
Milk has Vitamins A, B12, C, D. It's a great source for protein and calcium. Wow!

Milk is loaded with hormones.
Cows are given estrogen to to help produce more milk faster. These hormones are passed on through the milk. Imagine, as women, we already have enough of our own estrogen and now your giving a female hormone to men. Does that sound right?

Milk is loaded with antibiotics.
Cows are given antibiotics to fight illness. The conditions they are kept in are not ideal and illness loves it. These antibiotics are also passed on to us, weakening our immune system.

Milk has cholesterol.
It may have good fats but it also has bad fats and cholesterol. We all know that's bad.

Milk has lactose.
Our bodies were not meant to digest lactose. Those of us who can have adapted to it, it's not the norm.

Milk makes our bodies mad.
Our bodies consider milk an allergen, something that's attacking it. So to protect itself, our bodies create antibodies to fight it. Antibodies, as much as they like to help, cause inflammation within the body.

Milk breaks down bones.
I know doctors and nutritionist say milk keeps teeth and bones healthy, but if you look at statistics, the nations with the higher dairy intake actually have higher osteoporosis cases. North America's misconception about calcium is that it's something you need to load up on to have strong teeth and bones. Really, it's not about how much calcium you take in but how much you keep in. The North American diet is extremely acidic. For example we are huge coffee and soda drinkers. The acidity of these beverages cause our body to leech the calcium from our bones to lower the acidity in our blood. If we were to reduce the amount of acidic food we eat, our body wouldn't need to do this as often as it does.

NOW, let's take a look at this logically.

FACT: We are the only species to drink milk from another species.
FACT: We are the only species that continue to drink milk after infancy.
FACT: Being able to digest lactose is an adaptation, not something our bodies are meant to do.
FACT: Our body creates antibodies when we consume milk.
FACT: All milk from any species is meant for one thing: to nourish and fatten.

Facts that can not be disproved, show we shouldn't drink milk. Think about it. We all get grossed out at the idea of drinking human milk as an adult. What makes milk from another animal's tit any better? An animal with out the ability to practice proper hygiene, who is injected with hormones and antibodies, who bleeds puss and blood into the milk....

Grossed out yet? 

The truth about milk is there for anyone to see.

What about the doctors and/or nutritionists who still say "Drink Milk" and swear by it?
Realize that more money in the last few decades have gone towards all kinds of research besides nutrition. Now there are new methods for how to care for the umbilical cord stump, new medication for illnesses, new treatments for cancer. We laugh at the things people used to do because at the time, they were the latest and greatest methods. Only now, research is being done in regards to nutrition. So a lot of the information being taught to health care professionals (if even any) is old and out of date.

Well, there's some food for thought.


Monday, January 21, 2013

I'm Going Raw

Everyone knows that being vegan does not equal healthy. As a matter of fact, since becoming vegan, the amount of processed foods that I consume have more than tripled. Why? Because I need an alternative for this and an alternative for that. I eat "chicken" burgers and veggie dogs and a lot of other chemically engineered meats.

In my veganish journey, I have lost sight of my original intentions. My motivation went from health to surviving veganism. I love meat and especially eggs and cheese. I've spent the last couple of years searching for their equal vegan counterparts, exposing myself to more chemicals and toxins than ever before.

I've allowed myself to get full on bread and rice instead of fruits and vegetables. I eat loads of potatoes in every way possible. I slather my Earth Balance butter and Vegenaise on everything I can. I live off of pasta with marinara sauce. It's my go-to meal. Where is the healthy part of my diet? I feel as if I have failed myself and my baby. It pains me to think I have exposed her to so many contaminants while she was in the womb, and I can only imagine what I've done to my body.

When I had started off being vegan, I took the time and diligence it needed to create healthy balanced meals. I was healthy and energetic. I was too afraid to try the processed vegan foods so I stuck to what I knew. Now, I am tired and moody. I feel guilty with my laziness to assemble a half decent meal.

My wake up call came while watching Hungry for Change, a documentary about the North American diet. We fall victim to the marketing and tricks of the billion dollar food and dieting industry. Vegans are just as vulnerable as the rest. Diet Cola is vegan isn't it?

After I finish my delicious marinara sauce from Costco, I am going raw. I will stock my fridge with colourful fruits and vegetables and am going to start detoxifying and juicing. Once my body is back on track, I will never touch another canned or jarred food again. If I eat a treat, it's because I've cooked foods from the "garden" and embellished it with herbs for seasoning. This is a vow I am making to myself. I am excited and scared but damned determined. I want to feel healthy and beautiful again.

I apologize to my child and my body. From this day forward I will make it up to her and to myself. The next few months, I will update you of my progress and what I'm doing.

Please, watch the documentary. Take the pledge with me and lets get healthy together.

With Love,

PescaVegan Mama

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Family and their Questioning & Misconceptions

I'm sure there are many green dieters who have faced the barrage of questions, comments, insults, and doubts from family members regarding their choice. I know I have. Every time, I calmly explain to them my reasons (that are based on facts) and still, they ask the same questions the next day.

As annoying as it is, you need to understand how foreign the concept is to most people. I was once asked if I could eat peanuts because they weren't sure if it was vegan! I still get asked by family members if I want eggs, chicken soup (because it doesn't have chicken...it was taken out), yogurt (because "it's not actually milk"). To me, and I'm sure it's the same for most, it's a simple concept. If it's an animal or came from one, I don't eat it. Of course, if you follow my blog, you'll know I still do eat seafood, but that's the only exception.

How to Manage Comments & Questions:


  1. Be Patient: instead of getting angry, get passionate. You know why you changed and the reasons were great enough to make you cut out huge parts of your diet. Stay passionate and share.
  2. Take it as an Opportunity to Educate: We were all raised with the misconception of a balanced, healthy diet. Take the opportunity to share what you've learned.
  3. Don't Take it Personal: they're not attacking you. THEY feel like the ones being attacked and are being defensive, not offensive. Once  you understand that, their comments may seem a little less accusatory.
  4. Know When to Stop: I have  a bad habit of not shutting up. You need to learn when words will fall on deaf ears and let it be. Just nod and do what you do. Silence doesn't mean you agree. Just agree to disagree.
  5. Explain Your Shared Right: when all else fails, explain the your shared rights to eat as you please without reprimand. We all have the right to eat as we please, and as long as we are not harming anyone, we should be able to do so with little grief. 



Other funny misconceptions:

Gluten Free = Vegan

Organic = Vegan

Click HERE for a funny conversation I had with a family member.





Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Back from Another Trip to LI

Hello, everyone!

I just got back last night from my trip to Long Island. The drive down was horrible but the way back was great then tolerable.

For once there was no hurricane or hurricane aftermath :D

Christmas was wonderful.

The weather was better...much better than here.

No baby wearing fun this time. Click here --->   ;)  to see why I even mentioned that.

Less drama about my diet this time.

Yet again I was faced with the opportunity to explain why I can't eat cheese. Here's how the conversation went.

Unnamed Person: Here try this, I didn't put the evaporated milk yet.

Me: (had seen her putting cheese in it) But is there cheese?

UP: Yes, but no milk. See...(shows me the can) I didn't put it in yet.

Me: But I can't eat cheese either.

UP: Cheese is bad to?!?!

Me: Well it's dairy.

UP: But it's not milk.

Me: (mentally rolling my eyes) But cheese is made out of milk.

UP: Ohhhh. Ok....(still has an uncertain, confused look on face)

And my baby was an angel during the trip to and back!

Stay posted for my blog on how to deal with antagonizing questions from family.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Vegan Mama vs. Carnivore Papa - The Compromise

Being in a relationship with some one who isn't vegan is like being in a relationship with someone who practices a different religion. You can't tell a grown person what not to eat unless they're health relies on it. Usually, you can work out your differences, but what happens when a child comes along? My husband and I have had long discussions about how our daughter would grow up to eat and sometimes those discussions would turn into arguments. My point: health. His point: culture.

First you need to understand your intentions.

Why do you want your child to eat green? Is it because you love animals? Because you believe it's healthier? If you answered yes to the first question then you really need to consider listening to your partner's side. Your beliefs or feelings don't overrule his. So be considerate.
If you answered yes to the second question then your stance is more factual and less personal. Explain that to your partner. Try to show him the facts you have seen about the negative side effects of meat and meat products. 

Remember, your child is his/her own person as well. When the time is right, you need to allow them to chose what's right for them. As long as everything is prepared in the healthiest way, they'll still be ahead.

Compromises

Here are some compromises my husband and I came up with:

Child will be vegan up until an agreed age. Then, if they show interest in meat, allow them to try.

Some cultures put meat in everything. Try to find ways to make cultural dishes with out the meat and meat products.

If you can't have it all try to get some. No parent has the right to trump the other so agree on one part of the diet. For example: I told my husband that I am a firm believer in excluding dairy so I would like at least that. If he pushes for meat then that's fine. I'll make sure that if our child does like it, I'll prepare it in the best way. 

Reduce the amount of animal and animal products. You can agree to allow your child to have meat once or twice a week for example.

This list of compromises can be used together. In the end, it's not about pride or who's right. It's about your child's best interest. Health is the number one factor above culture or one's love of animals. 

Another thing to keep in mind is; you don't need to shove veganism down your partner's throat. I always try to make vegan versions of his country's food and fun vegan food. When I serve it to him, I don't tell him it's vegan. There were many times when he'd look up at me in surprise because I'm eating with him and he'll ask, "Is this vegan!?!?!?"

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Baby Wearing in Long Island

I forgot to mention this from my first road trip with the baby to Long Island. It's a funny story. Well, I found it funny.

While I was visiting, I went to Costco with my in-laws and carried my baby in a wrap. Where I'm from, it's not common, but it's definitely not uncommon. So I didn't think twice about it. I got out of the car, popped my baby into the wrap and made my way to the store.

I was already getting stares in the parking lot. Once I get inside Costco, the stares multiply. There were lots of babies... in strollers.

Here are some of the comments I received:

"That is such a great idea! It's like being inside the belly again."

"Awe, she's like a wrapped up present."

"Is she comfy in there?"

"That is very neat!"

"You're like a kangaroo."

And anyone who didn't have anything nice to say kept it to themselves but didn't hide their looks. I got a lot of "that's weird" looks. Needless to say, I was giggling on the inside the whole time.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Importance of Socializing

Getting out of the house becomes an art once you have a baby or children in general. You don't have the will in the first place when you have the struggle of getting you and baby ready. Punctuality is more of a dream than a reality. Fatigue....putting together a nursing friendly outfit......going over diaper bag items to make sure nothing was forgotten.....it all works against us.

BUT! I've learned it is extremely important to make the effort to get out and about. Not just for your sanity but for the benefits for your baby as well.

After going to  a few meet-up groups, I found it amazing how babies that are just learning how to crawl become friends and have preferences and fancies. Babies who have socialized from infant-hood have a head start over those who haven't.

How do you find these meet-up groups?

Start at community centres. Google/call around to find out what's available. Pick one group and go. Through those moms, you can learn about other meet-up groups that are available. The internet, I found, doesn't give up too much about what is out there but you can find enough to get your toe into the door.

Perks for Moms

One thing I loved about these meet-ups was the ability to rant to listening ears. My circle of friends don't really care about mama-hood problems. When I get together with other moms, I'm able to talk about family problems, breastfeeding, baby poop, the whole shabang.

It's a great antidote for cabin fever.

You just may meet some ladies that can become great friends.

Perks for Babies

Like I mentioned before, they're able to learn how to socialize with other babies. They get to see other people who are little like them.

Your baby can make great friends too.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Why Babies Appreciate Their Vegan Mamas

It's no news that people question my dietary choices. People accused me of caring only for myself and not for my unborn baby and now my baby. I'm not providing enough calcium, iron, protein, and so on. Now of course, being vegan the right way is hard enough on it's own. Yes, it becomes a lot harder when a child is involved  but if it's done responsibly, I believe vegan mamas can raise healthy, environmentally friendly people.




The Benefits of Having a Vegan Mama

  1. Baby doesn't have to find out if dairy makes him gassy and/or colicky: How many mothers do you hear have to give up dairy because it makes their baby gassy or colicky? Plenty. That says a lot about the "benefits" of dairy doesn't it. ;)
  2. Baby's mom is more energetic: being vegan allows your body to be more efficient. It spends less energy on digesting foods it was never meant to digest and leaves more energy for you. Logically, this helps out considering sleep becomes a luxury. 
  3. Baby wont be exposed to hormones and antibiotics: Livestock, whether eaten or milked, are pumped full of hormones to grow or lactate faster. Then, they are pumped full of antibiotics because they live in poor conditions so that disease is rampant. Everything is left behind in the meat and meat products that are consumed. All this gets passed along to us.
  4. Baby has a nutritionally conscious mom: Being vegan doesn't equal being healthy. Being vegan and not getting sick requires diligence and responsibility, forcing you to make better food choices. McDonald's french fries are vegan right? Because two major food groups have been cut you do need to make the most out of your food. This knowledge and habit get's passed along to your child.
  5. Baby's mom is more environmentally friendly: I could write a book about the environmental benefits, but this is a blog, not book. In general, livestock are bread to massive, unnatural numbers. This affects soil from grazing, more water is used, more emissions are created, forests are cut down, and the list goes on. (Maybe I'll write a post dedicated to the environmental benefits sometime in the near future.) Baby can be proud of having a smaller carbon footprint.
  6. Baby is a better start in life: This sort of ties in with baby learning to make better food choices. Breast is Best! as it gives children a good start. How about we continue that thought on through toddlerhood. By avoiding meat and meat products, baby's digestive system will be able to continue on its efficient way. Baby will consume less cancerous foods and food that hinders the body's efficiency.

It's always great to raise a vegan but remember, it is not a joke when cutting out two major food groups society has relied heavily on. A child's body is still growing and developing so it is important to make sure he/she get's everything he/she needs from green sources and to supplement for vitamins and nutrients you can't get in a plant based diet.

Side Note: If you haven't read my earlier posts or didn't get the hint from my name :P, I do still eat fish and other seafood. It is the only non-vegan food I consume. Here's WHY, if you're interested. Based on my research (my general finding are in the post I've linked), fish is a healthy choice to use as a source of protein, iron, and the omegas. It's a great food to keep in your diet IMHO ;).

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Vaccines & Cloth Diapers

So Iyana turned two months on the 20th and had her two month appointment on the 19th. At this appointment  she was vaccinated along with her check up. Good news, my angel has gained yet another pound in two weeks!

But on to the fun stuff is the question of whether or not it is a good idea to continue cloth diapering for the two weeks after vaccines. In Canada (or at least in Ontario) it's standard for the baby to get the Rotavirus vaccine. This is a live virus taken orally which is then shed out into the poo for the next couple of weeks.
The virus is still live in the stools. To take the safe route, I decided to use sposies for the next couple of weeks. This is based on logic that the diapers sit there for a good couple of days before being washed, letting this virus breed.

Now we have a few days left of disposable purgatory. Personally, I'm TIRED of blowouts and taking poo stains out of cloths.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Road Trip with Baby

My husband and I decided on a whim to go Long Island to visit his family so they could meet the baby.
That is an eight hour trip with no baby. I'm proud to say that we did it in less than ten hours.

How?
Well we're lucky to have a baby who loves the car so we took advantage of the time she was asleep. To help, we left around her bed time and traveled through the night. She only woke up to eat and have her diaper changed.

Funny things that happened along the way?
When I say funny I mean things that we can look back on and find funny. As I'm sure you know, hurricane Sandy recently visited the east coast. My family was affected and had no power for a week. As soon ad we heard they had their power back we decided to go thinking things should be pretty much back to normal.

NOT!

The GPS takes us through New Jersey where we ended up having to fill up the tank. So we detoured, taking the first exit we saw had a gas station. It was the most eerie thing I had ever seen. The town we were in was in the dark. It was like a ghost town. There had been only a truck that had gotten off the highway with us and a cop car. Point: gas stations were closed around that exit. So we hopped back onto the highway and tried a couple exits down. Nothing. Third time is a charm because the next exit we had decided to try had a gas station open. By this point I was ready to cry because the range on our car was not looking pretty if we couldn't find something soon.

So I pulled up to the pump. And an attendant came up to the car.

"No gas for you. Your odd number," he told me.

"What?" I asked confused.

"Odd number. You can't get gas."

I couldn't believe my ears. "I need to go to a different pump with and even number?" I asked, trying to see what  number the pump was.

He had looked at me like I was deaf or an idiot. "No your plate. No good. Odd number."

Then I understood him loud and clear. Holding back my tears I had begged and asked him to give me at least a little because I was on low and had a baby. He wasn't happy about it but thankfully gave me gas.
The rule hubby and I weren't aware about was that the gas was being rationed. Odd plates got gas on odd dates and even plates/plates ending in letters got gas on even dates.

Anyways, the way back went just as well. We got home in good time with no incidents.



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Last Midwife Appointment

Note: This was meant to be posted earlier but traveling got in the way!

Today was our last midwife appointment. My little one is 6.5 weeks now (time flies!). The visit went wonderfully. Iyana weighes 10lbs 5oz! Not bad for my veganish milk.

I didn't expect to feel so sad about not going back to the clinic anymore. I said goodbye to the awesome receptionist who remembered my name before I remembered hers. It was the first time leaving the clinic with out an another appointment set for the near future.

As I made my way out the door, I delayed leaving as much as possible. I'll admit that one of the things I look forward to when expecting again will be going to the prenatal visits. I feel connected with the midwives and I can't wait for the day to see them all again. They played a big role in the largest event of my life.

If there is anyone sitting on the line about whether to go with a midwife or not, I'd recommend going with a midwife. My first few prenatal appointments were with a nurse practitioner and they weren't the best experience. You're just another patient they need to process. With my midwife, I felt special. I felt like what I was going through was special. They are passionate about what they do; assisting women in labour and birth.

The clinic I went to was designed to feel comfortable and less clinical. Each room was designed like a small siting room with a comfortable sofa. They have a nice play area for children. The receptionist, as I had mentioned earlier, remembers your name and makes you feel welcome. I must say, none of my visits felt 'medical' in any way. Even when I was going to get my blood drawn or take tests. All in all, it's a more comfortable experience.

My rating for midwives: 5/5


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Special Moment!

So last night, I had the most special moment with my little one. I've been dying to have her in water and be done with the sponge baths. I have no idea why but I just felt she would love it. So we got rid of the bath sling and used the baby bath on it's own. Huge disappointment. The water barely came up past her hips.

So I told my husband I would love to take a bath with her but that I was too scared. He agreed it would be great but was worried about a slippery baby. Still, last night, he pushed me to fill up the tub and take a bath with the baby. I did.

I scrubbed it down (I'm a germaphobe) and filled it up with water. After my husband tested the water (I can't tell when water is too hot even with the elbow test), I got in and he handed me the baby. He stayed by the side of the tub to offer an extra hand.

It was the most amazing, bonding experience of my life. At first, Iyana was pensive. She wasn't sure whether or not she liked it. After we turned her over on her belly, holding her up by her chest, she calmed down and enjoyed it. She was cooing and kicking her legs the whole time. We did skin to skin time in the water. I nursed her too.

Best of all, I felt a strong bonding moment between all of us, not just me and baby. I truly felt connected to my husband and baby as a family and I could feel the bond between my baby and husband. What an amazing family moment.

For any parents who are a little afraid of babies in water, don't be. We didn't put bubbles or soap in the water so we weren't slippery and you use such little effort to hold the baby above water because they are buoyant. For myself, I liked having my husband there to help with the washing as I held the baby when soap was involved.

Bath time is such a great opportunity to bond and a great way to get some skin to skin time. I can't even explain how special and amazing it was for the three of us. You don't know your baby until you him/her kicking their legs in the water. Cutest thing ever!

Remember to never leave your baby unattended in water. Infants can drown in 1 inch of water. Always test the water before putting baby in.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Cute Things Babies Do & Nature vs. Nurture

Since having Iyana, my days are filled with moments of oohs and awes from all the cute things she does. I go crazy trying to catch the things she does on camera so I'll never forget exactly how she looked when she did what she did.

During the weeks following her birth, I can see her personality slowly unfolding and revealing itself. For one, I was sure that she would turn out to be a tomboy. My mother was one and she had me....the ultra girly girl. So I figured the pattern would continue. Now, I'm starting to doubt my hypothesis. Iyana does the cutest, girliest things with her hands. I swear when she does that whine before the cry that it sounds girly. Just her whole persona oozes "I'm a girl."

After seeing her start to grow into her own little person, I'd have to say that nature definitely plays a part in personality. Looking back at myself in pictures, I was a girl girl from the get go too, despite my tomboy mother. So my brief two cents on it: I strongly believe it's nature and nurture that shapes and forms a persons being. (As, I'm sure, most observant people believe it as well.)

So here are some cute photos of my little angel. I know I don't have many, if any, readers just yet but if you are reading this and have a photo of something cute your little one does, please send it to me and I'll add it to this post. After all, who doesn't want to see a bunch of cute babies doing cute things.

Think Fast: How many times did I use the word CUTE in this post?   ;P


So whenever Iyana falls asleep, she does it striking a pose. Notice how expressive she is with her hands? Hee hee :) I've dubbed them all with a title or a caption.


"After a hard day at work."



"The Philosopher"                                                                                                    "The Intelect"
"Oh my! Was that me?"

"Gosh it's boring out here."



If you can think of better captions, by all means let me know in the comments and I'll update them giving you the credit :D










Tuesday, October 30, 2012

My Thoughts on Parenting

As mentioned in my previous post, we're living in an age of what's best and "what's best" seems to be shoved down parents' throat from numerous sources. A lot of time this advice is out of date, inaccurate  and just plain unwanted.

We're obsessed with putting a label on everything and micro analyzing it to the point where everyone goes crazy and nothing seems right. Parenting seems to be another victim. So here's my theory of what parenting style is best.

Are you ready for it?

INSTINCT....GUT......INTUITION whatever you want to call it.

Before science and technology......before research....before studies, mothers mothered and fathers fathered. Things just worked. Maybe not all the time but most of the time they did.

Every parent is their own person. As much as people may think otherwise, a baby is their own person too. To negate how a relationship goes between two individuals the same way all the time is ridiculous. I believe a mother naturally knows what is right for her child when it comes to comforting, bed time, teaching. etc. Of course it's always good to listen to others with experience but in the end, a mother has to follow her gut. It's why she has it.

Like all parenting styles, there is a fault to this one.

Women are so deaf to that inner voice of intuition their rendered incapable it seems of mothering the way she should. Modern day has taught us to trust doctors and science before we trust our body. We rely so heavily on the latest research that we forget to rely on ourselves.

Even if you're not deaf, outside voices drown out your own to the point where you can't hear it at all or you can't hear it well.

I've gone through some trying times with in-laws and parents and doctors and nurses and studies.....

I thrown up my hands and decided to take them as suggestions and to just do what I feel is right for my baby and what's right for me.

I breastfeed. I wear my baby. I go to her the minute I hear her cry. I hold her until she's asleep. I feed on demand. I sing and read so she can hear my voice. When she's awake and alert, I spend every minute with her. I do skin to skin.

All these things feel right. When I'm told not to go to her when she cries, I still go because I cant fight the urge to try and comfort her. When I'm told not to rock her to sleep, I still do. I don't do it because I want to, I just do it with out realizing. So why fight my body and mind's instinct. I say follow it. We are all still animals and we need to learn how to listen to the knowledge buried deep within our beings.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cloth vs. Sposies

First an update on weeks three and four. Baby and I are thriving. Iyana is gaining more than what the doctors require (go pescavegan milk). 

My fave go to foods to keep baby and me healthy:


  • lentils
  • whole grains
  • beans, beans, and more beans.....beans of all kinds
  • fruit smoothies
My appetite honestly hasnt been great and I do tend to forget to eat but when I do eat, I make sure to pack it with lots of nutrition.

Now on to the topic at hand. With everything regarding parenting and what's best there are a lot of opinions. One thing I'm starting to find is that research, doctors, parents, in-laws, etc don't seems to agree on the same thing. So I won't sit here and tell you what IS better but what I THINK is better. 

First off, I've chosen to use cloth diapers over disposables. I'm currently using a hybrid system as I'm still trying to get into the swing of things but cloth is my intended route. They are easier on the pocket and environment and they put less chemicals on my angel baby's bum. These were the main reasons to go this route. Once I started cloth diapering I found many more reasons to prefer it.

The first two weeks after having Iyana, I used disposables exclusively because I couldn't make the trek up and down the stairs to so my own laundry let alone diapers. 

Pros:

  • Using disposables in the first two weeks allowed me to avoid meconium stains on my cloth diapers.
  • Slightly (only slightly) more convenient.
  • More travel friendly
  • Have a little groove for umbilical cord in NB sizes.
Cons:

  • More blowouts.
  • Tough to find a barnd that didn't irritate skin.
  • Heavy diapers sometimes broke, getting jellies all over baby's bum (research shows these jellies can be cancerous).
  • More waste.
Then once I was able to tackle my stairs, I started cloth at about two weeks. 

Pros:

  • Almost no blowouts (only one so far and that's because hubby didn't put it on well)
  • NO chemicals. 
  • Poop rarely reaches the baby's genitals. With disposables, my baby's privates were always covered in poop.
  • Saves a lot of money.
  • Less waste.
Cons:

  • There are a couple extra steps that can sometimes be tedious.
  • Gives the baby a big bum.
  • Takes extra care to maintain maximum absorbency.
  • Too many types to chose from and it can be confusing.

After using both, I love my cloth diapers. Why spend money and hurt the environment (it takes a diaper 500 years to START decomposing) for a little extra convenience? When it comes down to what's best for baby, there really isn't much difference. That's my unbiased opinion. Other than the jellies (which can be avoided by making sure to change baby often) there really isn't much about a disposable that's bad for the baby. 

Oh! and an added bonus: cloth goes well with the hippy image :P 

Diapers I'm using:

These are prefolds.


I use Snappies to secure them.


And I use a waterproof cover similar to this one. 

          



So you see, there aren't ancient artifacts that I dug out of the ground. Cloth has gone modern and I think every parent should at least consider them. 



Monday, October 8, 2012

First Two Weeks and Booby Traps

The first two weeks home with Iyana weren't easy but they weren't the hell everyone warns you about either. Every baby is different though so I guess I'm just lucky. In general, everything is well. I'm healing, baby is healthy and gaining, and no one has had a nervous breakdown....yet.

The topic I would like to touch on is Booby Traps. As a paranoid first time mom, I did a lot of research on breastfeeding. I plan to breastfeed at least until my baby is a year old and was worried about low supply or my milk "drying up." The fact that my mother couldn't breastfeed for too long only fueled my fears.

Through research, I discovered that only a small percentage of women actually have supply problems and that it's not a common issue. So why do so many women claim to have supply issues? Why do so many women need to supplement with formula? Asking these questions led me to the term booby trap. Witty isn't it?

What does Booby Trap mean?

When a mother has been booby trapped, it usually means she had been given false advice/information by health care professionals or other, what are supposed to be, reliable sources. By following the false advice/information, the mother interferes with the body's natural process of creating milk based on supply and demand.

Common Booby Traps

  1. Your baby is not gaining weight. In the first few days, it's normal for babies to  lose weight. 
  2. You're not producing enough milk. Until your milk comes in, your breasts produce colostrum  Colostrum is not produced in large amounts where you could literally squirt it out but it's extremely important for your baby. It gives your baby antibodies to help fight infections. During the first few days, your baby stimulates milk production. Milk does not come in until the third to fifth day.
  3. Something goes wrong? The answer is always formula. And it shouldn't be. There are other routes to follow before resorting to formula. 
Through stories and my own experience, Booby Traps aren't as simple as the few I listed above. Even though breastfeeding is widely supported and even recommended by doctors, they throw us into a pit of quicksand and ultimately lay the blame on us.

It's not your fault!!!!

If you can't breastfeed, it's not your fault. Everyone likes to lay the blame on us and our bodies when really, it's not the case. Even with all of the research I had done, and my awareness of booby trapping, I almost fell victim to one myself.

My Booby Trap Story

Before I continue, I'd like to say I escaped this trap out of pure luck.

I delivered Iyana with a midwife, so I gave birth and went home the same day. Midwives go to your house on day 1, 3, and 5 of your baby's life to check up on mom and baby. On the first visit, my midwife found a large bruise on Iyana's head. She had gotten it from birth. My midwife said it was normal but still had to be monitored. She sent me to my doctor's clinic so they could check up on it. 

The doctor did a routine check up as well. Iyana was weighed and had lost 200g. The doctor wasnt concerned. I had to return to the clinic a few days after that so they could monitor the bruise. This time I saw a nurse practitioner (if you've read my earlier posts, you'll know who I'm talking about when I saw it was 'that' nurse practitioner). 

**Side note: she was a lot nicer this time around....sort of.

So they did another check up, bruise was fine but Iyana had lost more weight. The nurse practitioner warned me that if her weight wasn't up by the next visit, I'd have to supplement with formula. I was feeding on demand as I heard this was best. On Iyana's schedule, she was eating every three to four hours and sometimes five. The nurse said that was definitely not enough for a newborn and said I considering the amount of weight lost, I need to amp up the feedings to every 2 hours. Keep in mind, my milk came in late the day before, so I wasn't really given a chance at all.

So I went home and my husband kept on pushing to follow the nurses advice because he knew how against supplementing I was. The next couple of days were hell. No matter what I did, short of torture my poor baby, Iyana wouldn't wake up every two hours. I tried changing her diaper, leaving lights on, lifting her up, wiping her face with a cold cloth. I felt like a monster bothering her so much. 

When she would wake up, she would wake up crying. I would give her my breast and she'd take it then fall asleep after a minute. We were both miserable and tired. I was frustrated because I felt guilty for bothering her and I felt that if I would let her be, she would wake up with in three hours and feed well. With the waking up nonsense, she was barely eating because she was so tired. SO, instead of her eating more, she was eating less. My breasts were engorged because she wasn't eating so I was even more uncomfortable.

Luckily, the next visit, Iyana had reached her birth weight and passed it. The nurse didn't expect it because she seemed surprised when the other nurse came back with the numbers. 

In hind sight here's what upsets me. Why would I need to supplement when the problem wasn't my supply but the fact that my baby wouldn't wake up. If a sleeping baby wont wake up for the breast, why would she wake up for formula? This was a major booby trap.

A quick search of Booby Trap + Breastfeeding will give you a host of sources for more information.

Also a site I liked ----> http://www.bestforbabes.org/

My Advice:

Don't doubt yourself or your baby. 

Go to a real Lactation Consultant before resorting to formula.

Join sites (my preference http://www.babycenter.ca/) where you can find support from other moms. This helped me stay confident in my body. You'd be surprised how many moms are willing to share their experiences and insight on breastfeeding and other prenatal/parenting topics. They have a group for breastfeeding. Stick to that for breastfeeding advice as it's pro-breastfeeding. 

Follow reputable blogs such as Alpha Parent that promote a more natural approach to parenting. 

Stay away from breastfeeding advice on formula websites. Think: Why would they promote breastfeeding when it's their #1 competitor? 

The internet brings you so many resources to your fingertips. You just need to be smart and find the good ones.

There is so much information out there and I wish I could write it all out but this post is long enough as it is. If you have any questions, feel free to ask and if I can, I'll answer them.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Baby has Arrived!

My little princess has arrived. Iyana (pronounced ee - ana) was born September 20th at 11:45 a.m.. It was a natural birth and my baby (coming from a "pescavegan" womb), was 7lbs9oz. Iyana is healthy and alert with a full head of hair and chubby chipmunk cheeks. How's that for a veganish baby?



New Name

Since I'm no longer pregnant, I've changed the name of my blog to accommodate my new motherhood. So welcome to my new phase and follow me as I face new challenges. If I thought people would be judgmental about my diet while being pregnant, I had no idea what I was in for now that I'm breastfeeding.

Funniest thing I heard: "How can you produce good milk without cows milk?"

Let's stop and think about that one for a minute. We should ask the cows the same question. I'm sure if we spoke and understood cow, they would tell us that they just eat grass. Interesting isn't it.

Now, not only was my baby a healthy weight when she was born, but she's continue to put on weight well with my breast milk as I continue to stick to my diet.

As for myself, I'm still completely healthy and recovering at the same rate as any other mom. I've ventured out of the house the day after I gave birth and people were surprised at how well I looked. Even now almost a week later, I'm passing expectations. The only worry is my iron levels are slightly low but I believe that's due to the fact I had a small-mediumish hemorrhage a few hours after I gave birth.

So now, at the end of my pregnancy journey, I think I've proven, and I'm sure like many other green mamas have already, that you and baby can maintain good health during pregnancy while on a green diet.

I will try to post updates and tips as often as possible (in other words: as often as Iyana will allow me). I can't wait to start this journey of raising a green baby.

Click HERE for my full birth story.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Iron

Now I may not have the same problem as a vegan mother when it comes to iron because I still choose to eat fish, but people still tend to worry over how much of it I'm getting. Before I continue, I'd like to say my iron levels are great, better than meat eating moms even.

That said, there are two key things to keep in mind when worrying about iron, iron, iron.
  1. What are the iron rich foods?
  2. What will help my body absorb the iron?
Have good iron levels or stores isn't just about how much of it your pumping into your body, it's also about what will help your body absorb it.

Iron Rich Foods:
  • Beans and Lentils
  • Soy products
  • Spinach
  • Quinoa
...are a few examples. A quick search will shower you with all the options you have to enhance your diet with more IRONNNNN.

You see, the problem isn't finding vegan sources of iron. The real problem is that iron from plant based sources isn't absorbed by the body as well as the iron found in meat. Which brings us to what we can do to help the body absorb it.

Iron's Best Friend:

Vitamin C

It's that simple. Coupling iron with vitamin C will allow your body to get the most of what you eat.

So, iron isn't this mystical, unobtainable mineral for vegans as people would like to think. Keep in mind, a lot of vegan products are fortified with iron, along with other vitamins and minerals that meat eaters think we're lacking in.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Homemade Frappuccino!

Lately I've been addicted to Starbucks. It doesn't help that they're vegan friendly but not pocket friendly. I think I've easily spent more than $30-$50 in one week. I crave their Mocha Frappuccino that I order decaf with soy.

So, after spending loads of change at Starbucks, I set out on  mission to make this drink at home. It's not as good but it sure is enough to kill the crave. So here's how I make it.

***I use the Magic Bullet***

Ingredients:

  • Ice
  • Coffee
  • Milk (rice, soy, etc.)
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Vanilla/Hazelnut syrup

Directions:

Fill the container/cup/pitcher (whatever you would like to call it) with ice. Pour in coffee (decaf is better if you are pregnant) Fill it up half way or a quarter of the way if you want only a light coffee flavour. Add two teaspoons of vanilla or hazelnut syrup and one and a half tablespoons of chocolate syrup. Fill in the rest with milk. Blend until all the ice is pulverized into a slush. 

Tip: Pulsate the blade until you don't hear chunks of ice anymore, then blend. 

Serve with a chocolate drizzle to make it look coffee shop authentic ;) and enjoy!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Heartburn - The Natural Solution

If you're like me, heartburn has been your unwanted companion during your pregnancy. Unfortunately for me, I've had it since maybe week 14 or 15. There were some nights that I had to prop myself into a sitting position because the moment I would lie down the acid would work its way up.

If you're a hippie like me (I'm not actually one, but think like one), you avoid as many pills as you can. Yes, I don't take Tums even though it's just calcium. And I don't take Tylenol either unless my pain is 11 out of 10 bad.

I don't take Tums because I can't seem to find out whether the calcium is from a vegan. Their website states that the calcium is derived from limestone but at the same time say it's "kosher dairy" so I have no idea what to believe.

So here is a list of things that have worked for me. It's all food (some that I eat more for pleasure than for heartburn) and all vegan. Remember, everyone is different so I can't guarantee it would work but it's worth a try.

Melon:
All kinds of melon but especially watermelon seems to soothe the burn. Why? I have no idea. All I know is one day I was ready to pass out from the pain and I couldn't eat anything. Some one offered me watermelon and my eyes lit up. Turns out the eyes were right because the burn was reduced. It didn't make it go away but it was a lot better than before the melon.

Coconut Water (Preferably the one by Grace because it tastes really good):
Same as the watermelon, finding out this was a burn buster was a total fluke that I was thankful for.

Alternative Milks:
Rice milk, coconut milk, soy milk.... Are all great. They are fortified with calcium which helps. Whether it's the added calcium or the milk itself, I don't know but it sure helps me.

Pudding:
It seems the only vegan puddings you can easily find are ones made with soy milk. Buy the ones that are refrigerated, I find they work better and taste better too.

And then, my midwife recommended papaya enzyme. You can get them from the supplement section. I never had a chance to try it but it seems to be the natural go to for heartburn.

On top the list I gave you, here are some tips to avoid heartburn or to further agitate it. 



  • Avoid physical activity for a little bit after eating.
  • Avoid bending over.
  • Don't lie down after eating, instead, prop yourself up on some pillows.
  • Avoid spicy and/or acidic food (I know it's obvious but if your like me, when the food is in front of you it becomes less obvious.)
  • Chew your food well and eat slowly.
  • Don't chew gum.
  • Drink lots of water and non acidic juices (not too much juice though).


Well, this is what I use to treat my heartburn. Hope something works for you!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Simple Hot Cocoa - Recipe

I wanted hot cocoa one day and the only hot chocolate mix my family had had milk ingredients in it. So I resorted to melting a couple pieces of dark chocolate and mixing it with vanilla soy milk. It made the best hot cocoa I've ever had. It's creamy and smooth and great for satisfying those chocolate cravings. 


I enjoy it in the morning with toasted bread and Earth Balance butter. I grew up in a Romanian household and something my family does a lot is dipping over toasted, buttered bread in our hot cocoa. It's actually really good. 

Ingredients:
  • 1 mugful of vanilla soy milk (or your preferred milk alternative i.e. almond, rice, etc) If you don't like soy, I       recommend rice milk. I find almond and and coconut milk don't work well for hot beverages.
  • 2 pieces of Swiss Delice Dark Chocolate (can be found at Costco) or your favorite dark chocolate brand. 
  • 2-3 tsp of brown sugar (if you used plain milk instead of vanilla)
  • 2 tsp of oil (rice bran oil is the healthiest to cook with)

Instructions:

Heat the oil on medium heat and add chocolate pieces in a small pot. Once chocolate is melted, add a small amount of milk to blend the chocolate with the milk. Keep on adding the milk in slowly until the chocolate has completely melted again. Add sugar if you want it sweeter. Heat until the milk starts to foam. 

Serve into mug and use a spoon to strain the the foam. Add foam once you're done pouring. 

If you'd like, you can sprinkle some cinnamon on top to add some flare to your hot cocoa.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Protein

I'm sure getting enough protein was a daunting enough task when you weren't pregnant. Now you have the fear of your baby's health too. Well here's something to ease your mind. Yes everyone says you need protein, protein, protein, but unless you're a body builder, you don't need to load up on it. Of course, it's a whole different story when you're pregnant. Still, it's not impossible to get enough for you and baby.

Meat does have that more complete chain of amino acids, and protein from plant based sources don't. Imagine it as building blocks. When meat is involved, you need less blocks. When you rely solely on plant based sources, you need a few more. Remember, as much as certain people want you to believe it, even meat on its own isn't enough to give you complete, perfect protein.

You need to mix up your sources of protein. You can get it from beans, whole grains, soy products, and nuts. If you still eat fish it makes it a little easier on you. By mixing up these different foods, you can ensure that you're getting all the building blocks you need to complete that chain of amino acids. It doesn't all have to be in the same meal. As long as you have more than one source of protein with in a day, you and baby should be just fine.

My favorites for protein are:

Lentils - Great for protein and as a bonus, it's loaded with iron, fiber, folate and magnesium.

Quinoa - Is a super food. It has the most perfect string of amino acids out of all the grains. If you can include this in your meals as much as possible you're already ahead. It's a great addition to any meal and is extremely versatile. Antoher plus: it has lots of fiber too which is great for constipation caused by the pregnancy.

Trail Mixes -  Nuts have always been known as an alternate source for protein. Trail mixes make, great healthy snacks that are easy for on the go mom-to-bes. They're great for that extra energy boost too.

Brown Rice - Doesn't necessarily kick butt on the protein scale but I like to mention it because it's such an easy switch rather than an "add-on" to your current diet. You up the protein by a bit but it's an everyday staple in most cultural cooking and pantries around the world. This goes for all grains. By switching to brown (whole grains), you'll get more protein and lots of other goodies that comes along with whole foods.
Whole grains are also great for filling you up and keeping you full longer. Because the carbs aren't refined, it takes your body longer to break them down. This gives you a steady stream of fuel rather than the sugar spike refined carbs give you.

Soy Products

Soy has to be one of the most versatile food in the world. It can be made into pretty much anything it seems.

Soy Milk - Not one of my favorite milks on it's own but the chocolate is delicious. Even making your own hot cocoa with it is great. It's one of the creamier milks when you use it in hot beverages but it's great cold when it's chocolate flavoured.

Tofu - Like some people out there, I'm not a huge fan of tofu. I force myself to eat it to get used to it and it seems to work. I find if you stick to the extra firm tofu, you'll enjoy it a lot more. At least I do. My fave way to have tofu is scrambled. It's a great alternative for scrambled eggs in the morning. I'll post my own recipe in the near future.

These are really the only products I personally have opened myself up to. Tempeh is great as well because it is made from fermented soy beans. I find it a little bitter but it can be helped depending on how you prepare it.

***Watch the amount of soy products you eat. Processed foods are already saturated with soy and too much of one thing is never good. It's been proven that soy can suppress hormones your thyroid produces causing health problems. Limit your soy products and when you can replace them from time to time with something else. (ex. bean burgers vs. soy burgers, rice milk vs. soy milk)

I also add protein to my morning fruit smoothies. It's great to balance out the natural sugars so you don't get the sugar high and then suffer from sugar cravings all day. Be careful with the protein you choose. Make sure it is safe for pregnant women. I use pure pumpkin seed protein powder. Pumpkin seed is great as a source of magnesium as well which can help you stay calm. I use Omega Nutrition's pumpkin seed powder.

Health food stores are a great place to get more info on how to stay healthy while being green. I always stay away from synthetic supplements unless certain vitamins can only be derived from non vegan sources other than fish. Health food stores always have knowledgeable employees who work in the supplement section. They can help you pick out the right, natural, vegan supplements for you.

Remember, you should only take supplements if you can't get certain vitamins and nutrients from your regular diet. ALWAYS try to get everything you need from food first. Supplements should only be an insurance plan and not a source of everyday nutrition. Your body absorbs nutrients and vitamins better from whole foods than a pill or powder.

***Remember, always consult your primary care provider and/or a nutritionist before taking any supplements other than ones that are specifically made for pregnancy. I am not a nutritionist or doctor. This is what I do based on the information from my own personal research and the information my nutritionist and midwife have given me. Every one is different. I put the ideas out there so you can ask the questions.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Pregnancy Pet Peeves

There are a lot of things that come along with being pregnant. The nausea, the back aches, heartburn, restless legs, mood swings, and body transformations to name a few. On the bright side, there's the joy of bringing a new life into the world, the realization that you're no longer number one, the gift that you and your partner get to enjoy together, and obviously there's much, much more.

Then, there's things that are said and done that are said and done because you're pregnant. As a first time mom-to-be, I find I'm bombarded by all these strange.... I don't even know what to call them. Some are good and some are bad. What's good and bad depends on the person, but I'm sure there are a lot of pregnant women that run into things that annoy them or make them feel uncomfortable.

Here's a list of my top 10 pet peeves in no particular order:

When I'm asked, "How's the baby doing today?"

You know, I'd like to know too but unfortunately the baby isn't talking to me yet, and I can't see much considering he/she is hiding inside of me.

I find it awkward and strange to say "The baby is good?" like I would actually know.


When people stare at my belly while talking to me. 

O....M....Gosh! I'd rather people stare at my breasts. There's nothing interesting going on there so why are they staring as if a movie is being projected onto my bump?

Oooooorrrrr, maybe the baby is talking to them. I should ask them the next time this happens if THEY can tell me how the little one is doing.


When random people touch/rub my belly.

It seems being pregnant gives everyone a free ticket to rub or touch the belly. My personal space, my bubble, my circle....is very small. There are few people I feel comfortable within my personal space. And I'm talking about something as simple as a hug. I can count on one hand how many people I feel comfortable hugging. If you see me hugging someone not on that list, it's because I'm being polite. Believe me, I'm cringing the whole time.

So imagine my horror when I have to cringe and be polite to people who want to rub my belly all the time. I personally find it worse when they actually ask.

"Sure, knock your self out! Have fun!" *I stick out my belly so they can touch it*


When I'm told, "OMG you're huge!" or "OMG you're showing!"

I think this bothers people depending on their personality. I just don't like comments about my size period. I'm happy with my bump but I still struggle with my self esteem and the last thing I want to hear is that I'm huge. The other day, some one made a comment that I`m not gaining weight anywhere else other than my belly. Now that`s acceptable =D.


Did the baby move yet? No? Not yet?

I hate when people ask me the same question everyday. If I've been asked once or twice, I'll get the point and tell you when the amazing thing happens. I also find they're pushing in on my moment. This is something I want to share with my husband and family first. So by asking me for play by play details, I feel like people are shoving their way in on special moments that I want to savor with my husband first, not with other people.

I've even grown so spiteful that I lie to certain people whether I've felt anything or not. I just don't want to share my joy with them because they've pressured me the whole time. One girl even had me worried when at eighteen/nineteen weeks I still didn't feel anything, and she insisted that she felt her baby move long before that.Well, everyone is different and every pregnancy is different.


When women who were pregnant have a completely skewed memory of their pregnancy.


I'll be asked how far along I am, my due date, if it's a boy or girl....

Then, if the person had been pregnant, they go off about their past pregnancy and I feel as if their memory is completely off about details such as; their size, when they FIRST FELT THE BABY MOVE, their symptoms, or how great being pregnant was and how could I not enjoy it (and that's after they complained about all the symptoms). I find women may remember what they went through but they don't remember what it felt like going through it. And once again, they have to realize every pregnancy is different and that no, I didn't experience everything they did . (My baby is kicking right now btw) 

I find it's like when you go on a roller coaster ride. You may remember your pee-in-the-pants-fear as 'thrill' rather than being ready to cry. Or like when you see someone cry over a paper cut and scoff at them because they're crying over a scratch you can't even see. At that moment, you don't remember how painful it is and that when you get one, you even wish it was a full blown cut because it seems those hurt less.


When women who miss being pregnant try to relive it through you.


Gahhh! You have no idea how much this annoys me. They have had their moment and now it's mine. This is referring to the same people who over ask certain questions and try to crowd in on YOUR special moments. If certain people miss it so much they can get pregnant again.


When people don't see you anymore, they see a pregnant woman.

I'm not saying this is absolutely annoying but sometimes if feels as if this pregnancy has ripped away my identity. I guess this is sort of linked with people staring at my belly while talking to me. No one sees me anymore. I find family is the worst for it sometimes. I feel as if I'm only seen as this vessel that's carrying a future grandchild, a future niece or nephew, or a future cousin. If I'm lucky, they'll say hi to me before addressing my belly/baby. Which leads to....


People seem to think all I want to talk about is the pregnancy.

Yes, I'm excited and yes, I love to talk about the pregnancy but there are other things I still enjoy talking about. There's only so much that happens in a day. I can complain about the symptoms and gush about how many times the baby moved today. I can talk about my hopes and dreams for the baby's future and my plans to buy a house and what colour the nursery will be. Within the seven or so months (considering I didn't find out I was pregnant right away) that I'm waiting to meet this new little human being, these topics can become redundant. Unless I'm flipping back and forth on the colours for the nursery, there's really nothing much to say other than the odd updates about how everything is going.

Now I know there are women who live and breathe the whole pregnancy thing but honestly, I find it just drags things out and makes the wait longer.


When older women imply I'm a wimp.

This goes back to women who's memories are slightly skewed about what it's like being pregnant. Earlier, I had a girl in mind who just got off of mat leave. So imagine women who were pregnant twenty some years ago. Remember how I said every pregnancy is different? Well some women truly don't understand that. My hours have been cut down at work because of fatigue and back pain. An older woman actually looked down on me and stated proudly that she worked the whole way through and that she worked thirteen hour shifts. Good for her. I happen to be a big baby, just ask my husband. Either way, that woman doesn't know what kind of pain I'm feeling and for that reason can not judge me.

If any of you feel like you're wimps or whiners, don't. For some (I think for most) pregnancy is hard. Specially if it's the first time you're going through it. A lot of things are happening physically and emotionally, and you have every right to do what you need to ease the stress of the pregancy and everything around you. If you need to stop working earlier than expected, do it. If you have to cut down on your hours, do it and never feel ashamed. Remember, bringing a new life into this world isn't easy. It's a miracle, but it's science and nature too. Unfortunately, in our case, nature is a bitch.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Twizzlers and Starbucks

I don't know how disappointed many of you were when you found out the Muslims weren't lying about there being pork in many chewy candies. Pork is against their religion and it's against our diet. I was heart broken and disgusted to find out that gelatin was made from pork junk a little while back (ignorance was bliss).

So naturally I avoided all chewy sweets including licorice. BUT! I found out last night that Twizzlers are in fact gelatin free!!!!! They do contain glycerin which can be derived from plants, animals or synthetically. The PETA does list Twizzlers as a vegan candy so we can all assume it is animal product free. Click Here for PETA's list of vegan sweets.

And I'm pretty sure you heard about Starbucks buggy situation with their strawberry flavoured drinks. If not here's a quick review.

Starbucks has been using cochineal extract. It comes from a type of red bug that's dried and ground up to use for colouring. Not vegan at all, and kinda gross. Of course it's great that Starbucks opted for a more natural way to colour their strawberry products. But bugs?

Thankfully, after the stir it's caused, Starbucks has announced that they are using tomato extract instead.

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!

What a nice compromise. Still natural but not buggy.

So drink on my green friends.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Big "C"

And I mean the "c" as in calcium.

Osteoporosis

I think this is the word of my....lifetime? I swear it's all I hear.

"Oh my gosh. You don't drink milk? Your bones are gonna turn to dust!"

Aaaaand I resist the urge to roll my eyes and possibly stick out my tongue in a childishly petulant manner.

Everyone these days (everyone as in women) seem to be so preoccupied with getting enough calcium so when they get older, there bones don't crumble away. Remember when I mentioned the dreaded misconceptions that are fed to us day in and day out? Well this is one of them. Dairy will not guarantee healthy bones and teeth. I grew up with lots of dairy yet I have problems with my teeth.

The simple truth is: this paranoia is only getting the milk people paid and is not making healthy strong bones. Best example of how we don't need dairy. In Africa and Asia, dairy intake is extremely low, in some places unheard of. North America and Europe consume the most dairy compared to the rest of the world. Who do you think has higher rates of osteoporosis? If you guessed North America and Europe you're right.

Osteoporosis is virtually non existent in most parts of the world where dairy consumption is very low. So, you do the math.

Now I don't discount the need for calcium. It is an important part of our daily nutrition, but just like every other health fad, in the end, we all find out too much is just as bad as nothing at all.

Being pregnant definitely asks for more diligence when it comes to calcium. What ever you don't take in, the baby will suck it out of you until it needs no more, possibly leaving you with not enough.

Great ways to increase your calcium intake the green way.

     
  • Eat lots of dark greens. They are a great source of plant based calcium.
  • Drink calcium fortified beverages such as soy, rice, almond, or coconut milk. Be careful with soy milk. A lot of processed and pre-prepared foods have a lot of soy product in them. Too much soy isn't good for the thyroid. My fave alternative is rice milk for hot or warm uses. Coconut and and almond milk I find are better when left cold. Variety is good. I always have one of each in my fridge. If you don't like the taste of these milks, try them in vanilla, it makes a world of a difference but still allows the milk to be versatile.
  • Avoid!!! Caffeine. A lot of people are worried about putting calcium into their body, when they really should be worried about keeping it in. Caffeine is the worst for making your blood acidic. So to balance your pH levels, your body will actually leach the calcium from your bones. So now, you have that coffee you had in the morning and the baby taking calcium from you. Talk about a double whammy for your bones. Avoid chocolate (reduce it at least, who can avoid it while pregnant?), cut down/eliminate your coffee and caffeinated teas intake, and stop drinking pop (soda) such as Coke and Pepsi. There's really nothing good in there for you. Gingerale is your best friend if you can't let go of the bubbly. If you rely on coffee to get you going, try other natural alternatives such as; eating an apple in the morning, washing your face with an invigorating face wash, lukewarm showers, eating a proper breakfast, or going to bed earlier and waking up earlier to give yourself enough time to work your way out of bed.  
  • Find a natural (non synthetic), plant based supplement. Natural food stores should carry this in their supplement section. I use a German brand called Salus by Salus-Haus. They have many good, natural products. I use their Calcium Magnesium, with Zinc and Vitamin D Liquid Formula. It tastes OK. It looks gross but it's sweet as it's derived mostly from fruit extracts. It can be a little pricey (where I get it from, a 500ml bottle costs around $47.00 at 30ml dose/day) but it's worth it. It's as close as you can get to actually getting the calcium from real foods, just more efficiently. And it's Kosher too!!
I find that these four ways to get your calcium is more than enough. I meet my daily required intake values, and maybe even more on some days. If you decide to take a supplement, don't use it to replace eating real food. Supplements are meant to help fill in what's missing, not replace it. Also, always take it with food, your body will absorb the supplements better that way.

***Remember, always consult your primary care provide and/or a nutritionist before taking any supplements other than ones that are specifically made for pregnancy. I am not a nutritionist or doctor. This is what I do based on the information from my own personal research and the information my nutritionist and midwife have given me. Every one is different. I put the ideas out there so you can ask the questions.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Obstetrician/Doctor vs. Midwife: From A Vegan's Point of View

Now I'm not sure how it is in other provinces, but in Ontario, midwives are covered by OHIP. Which is nice because it gives moms-to-be options.

The Doctor


Before I say anything, doctors these days are generally more open minded about the holistic approach to health. I find where you live can largely impact just how many doctors think this way. Keep in mind I don't live in a rural area but definitely don't live in a city like Vancouver or Toronto.

My first prenatal appointment was with a nurse practitioner at my clinic and it was a train wreck. I had just had my pregnancy confirmed earlier that week and was still excited and some what in disbelief, that I was actually pregnant. I cried, I laughed and I cried some more when I found out. Not knowing how everything worked, I walked through the first few steps laid in front of me by my clinic.

They booked me in for my prenatal appointment after confirming the pregnancy. I went to that appointment and was asked a gazillion questions about family history and my lifestyle. I was handed a bunch of requisitions that weren't quite explained to me and handed over a couple vials of my blood.

It all seemed so...clinical. It didn't feel like the most amazing thing in my life was happening to me. It felt more like I had a disease that needed to be monitored instead. What was worse, the nurse threw this obscene statistic in my face that 50% of pregnancies end in miscarriage! So now, I was giving my blood for God knows what tests and I was an emotional wreck because this woman put it in my head, that keeping this baby was a fifty/fifty chance.

I was around seven and half weeks pregnant when this happened, and the next few weeks after were probably the darkest weeks in my life. I feared every cramp and would check my panties for spotting every few hours. Looking back, that woman must have been one bitter b**** to say something like that to me.

Some may say she may have felt she was just doing her job but I made it clear that I WANTED this baby. The stress I went through from the fear in no way benefited me. What's worse, what she said wasn't even completely true. The statistic included unknown and chemical pregnancies, pregnancies in women over forty, etc. This number included every situation possible; situations that didn't apply to me. This is something I didn't know then and would have been nice to be included with the number she whipped at me.

*Side Note* Don't rely on Google too much for answers. People are motivated to share the stories with bad endings, not good ones. So you'll find a lot of what went wrong rather than right. Avoid the stress and always ask your doctor or midwife if you have any concerns. It'll save you the heart ache and worry. Stressing yourself is bad for you and your baby so avoid it!

The Midwife


Around two weeks after that nightmare appointment and about a week after finding out there was another option, I decided to start hunting for a midwife. Most clinics were booked in my city for my due date (reassuring but also frustrating). I had called the last option that was half an hour outside of town and I got the same answer, "We can put you on a waiting list."


I gave up and decided I would stick with the bitter nurse practitioner and wait and hope. An hour later, I got a call back from my last hope and was told they could, and would take me. I was nervous about switching but I felt it in my bones that I would regret it if I didn't.


My first appointment was night and day compared to my previous experience. The clinic was comfortable and no where near as clinical. The rooms where you meet with the midwife were set up almost like a living room. The first thing that was given to me was a folder filled with information on midwifery, pregnancy, and support numbers. I was walked through their philosophy and any tests I hadn't taken at that point were explained to me and thoroughly discussed with me so that I could understand what they were for. What was great was that I was told, that in the end, I was the ultimate decision maker.


Nothing is rushed, every one gets to know you and you get to know them. What I loved most is that I was told that "Pregnancy is a state of health." Sounds a lot less like the disease I was starting to feel I had after my first experience.


Bonus: You can't just page or call up your doctor when you have a concern. With a midwife, you have your midwife and the midwives in the clinic there to speak to you whenever you have a question or concern. I have my midwife's pager number. Do you have your doctor's?


In the End


My experience with the nurse practitioner may be an isolated case as I'm sure there are lots of doctors who are more personable and have better people skills. Still, midwives devote their health care profession to pregnancy and child birth. My advice is to give them both a try. As a "Pescatarian," I find they are more open to holistic medicine (midwifery is a holistic alternative in itself after all).
When I explained my dietary choices to the nurse she sort of just rolled her eyes, sighed and said she would have to set me up with a nutritionist. When I explained it to my midwife, she understood and stressed the importance of monitoring my diet. Two completely different attitudes. One being more supportive, the other more skeptical and exasperated with my choice. At my midwife clinic, I am respected as a decision maker and not just another patient who knows nothing. And I must say, it's kinda nice.


My advice is to give both a chance to see what's best for you. Just be careful, you can't see both at the same time. At least in Ontario, OHIP will only cover one primary care provider.