I find myself staring into yet another gray rainy day, despite the daffodils and budding trees reminding us that spring is going to come, and am caught in this space of lethargy due to the weather, not to mention the world political situation and the anxieties associated with that. Yet, it is contrasted with the familiar stirring of purpose and excitement for a new project to welcome the spring. In the past two years as I scratch my country girl creative itch here in the city I’ve focused on terrariums, small container gardens, calligraphy, and other small hobbies without many associated tools due to the small nature of our apartment and intentionality required with storage. But… here I am with a stack of my herbal reference books on the footstool in front of me, approximately 594 tabs open on my computer, 6 sets of lists of supplies strewn in front of me, and 19 more books I need right now open on Amazon. This spring fever I am returning to one of my favorite pastimes that I’ve been missing since coming to the city, given the space and materials required, but, if ever there was a time pregnancy and becoming a stay at home mom are it. So, what am I diving into this spring? Making my own herbal salves, infused oils, and other baby and mama care items.
For someone who vehemently believes and practices that good food is preventative medicine, and can help provide good health I had a wake up call and needed to adjust my expectations in pregnancy when I was floored by the reality of “morning sickness” and “cravings”. Now, if you haven’t experienced, let me continue to break down these myths. For me, I’m in a state of perma-nausea, and cravings are less “Get me some New York Super Fudge Chunk ice cream NOW” and more, “I think I won’t vomit if we have Pad Thai.”
I had visions of kale salads, avocado kombucha smoothies, roasted squash, and a myriad of healthy mostly paleo foods. As I sit here sipping ginger ale, with a mostly eaten bowl of Chicken Ramen I laugh at this idealistic woman with the best intentions of health for her growing baby. I’ve never eaten so many saltines, or processed foods. Yet, I trust that this won’t always be so, and on the better days I try to make choices that make up for the worst days. Last week I blended beets, carrots, fresh turmeric, fresh ginger, some lime, parsley, green apple,and water in the Vitamix for a smoothie/juice hybrid. It was spectacular. It was what I had envisioned doing on a daily basis.
Do I allow myself to feel guilty for this? No, it isn’t productive. Feeling bad for keeping food in my body is the last thing I need to do, and trust me, I already feel sick enough. I don’t need any more negative emotions related to how hard it is to grow a human. I remember basic chemistry and focus on the fact that right now our baby can’t tell a carbohydrate from a saltine from a sweet potato. Sure, the micronutrients vary but my Pregnancy tea (recipe to follow) helps with vitamins and minerals, and most days I can stomach my MTHFR friendly pre-natal multivitamin (Shout out to Thorne) which will fill in the gaps. Now isn’t the time to scour my nutrition books to worry about what I could be lacking, it is time to thank my body for the huge undertaking of growing a person, it is a time to be kind to myself, to rest, to take warm baths (with a meat thermometer making sure it isn’t over 99 degrees…), and to find community with other pregnant mothers at prenatal yoga- all just trying to do best by our growing babies.
Two weeks ago, on a particularly bad day (it doesn’t help that it is gray winter in Seattle- take your vitamin D folks!) I was googling “I hate being pregnant”. I needed to hear I wasn’t terrible for thinking it. I needed to hear I could be absurdly excited to be growing this human, but absolutely detest the process. I needed to know other women also felt this sick and awful during a time when we talk about pickles and peanut butter, glowing, and make light of swollen ankles and feeling tired. I was moved to tears, and not just because of pregnancy emotions, by the number of women who had similar experiences. Turns out so, so many women feel brainwashed and let down by how we are supposed to feel during this magic time. Of course my brain then got fired up on how this is just another area where false expectations and information damage women. Why aren’t more women talking about the realities of pregnancy? Yes, it varies vastly from person to person. This doesn’t change that the whole range of experiences shouldn’t be out there. As someone who loves to research, I would have been more comforted by a range of stories.
Well now what, you ask, and why are you using your blog as a personal rant space, you say? I write this because I have had to adjust my expectations of how to grow wellness right now and I want this to be a reminder that we all have challenges and occasions where things don’t go as we wished they would. This is a reminder to dig deep and find the joy in those occasions. It won’t be easy, you are still allowed to pout and lay around in your pajama pants all day. I’m never one to discourage acknowledging the realities of our choices sometimes. I am about choosing to find balance, and having the tools to do that even when it is hardest. Here is to life’s challenges, and finding the joy where we can.
Remember how I see the act of making and drinking tea as meditation? I’ve been figuring out that a lot of things in life can be meditation- even your wardrobe. Our clothes make an impression and I have always created an outfit based on what role I am playing. Wait a second, shouldn’t I just always be me?! Why did it take me so long, the lover of “What Not To Wear,” to consider that my wardrobe has been hampering the truth and vibrancy of who I am and therefore has been bad for my health?
My nature is such that when I become interested in something or put my mind to it I go into an information vortex- researching, experiencing, discussing, and living whatever it is. So, pour yourselves a big mug of tea folks and settle into your favorite spot because you can go into an endless internet-tab journey with this… I am sharing my path with the hope that it can help you extend your roots and continue toward being your most fabulous self. All of this information is the tip of the iceberg, I know there is so much more information out there and I’m not saying all of these approaches are the authority I am just here to give you some seeds.
Sticks and stones may break my bones… Or a shopping cart. That’s right folks, my first broken bone is from hyperextending a finger when it was caught in the holiday rush. I’m trying to embrace the awkwardness that is a splint on my dominant hand and research all of the things I can be doing to promote fast and full healing, aside from physical therapy and care from my orthopedist “the hand guy.” I am lucky that I don’t need a lifestyle makeover, this just involves a boost in daily practices to reduce inflammation. Continue reading
There is a damp chill in the air and I’m starting to think of sweaters and a whole blissful season of root vegetables (Beets! So many beets!) and making everything pumpkin. It also means my brain is shifting from salads and smoothies to soups, lots of meals from the slow cooker, and steel cut oats slowly cooking on the stove. Today, that means making a big batch of chicken stock (bone broth) with veggie scraps I’ve been saving in the freezer, and the leftovers of the last two week’s roast chickens. It is also getting to be cold and flu season and turns out the tradition of having chicken soup when you are sick originated with science! Dr. Stephen Rennard, a pulmonary specialist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, found that chicken soup elicits an anti-inflammatory effect on the body, primarily due to the mineral-rich stock of its base. The viral bugs that cause a cold or flu stimulate formation of inflammatory compounds in the body, which are to blame for most of the icky symptoms.
Making your own chicken stock is not only cost effective (I do mine from scraps with a couple of additions) it also can be a great way to target the base nutrients you are looking to add to your diet.
I love tea. No, really, I LOVE tea. Just look at my tea drawer:
Partially, it is the ritual of slowing down, waiting for water to boil, needing to slow down and cradle my mug in my hand as it cools, bringing my face close and breathing in the hot fragrant steam while I wait. There are also the benefits of whatever tea is steeping in my cup- medicinally, nutritionally, and emotionally, but I’ll come back to this.