My Current Hyperemesis Gravidarum Medicine/Vitamin Regimen

It’s been a while since I’ve updated you all on what I’m currently taking med-wise for the hyperemesis gravidarum.  The good news is that right now the vitamins are outnumbering the drugs.  Hooray!  This means I can keep down vitamins!

Remember: I am taking all of these under the very specific guidance and direction of my midwives.  With any vitamin or medicine you need to consult your medical care team before starting.  Some of these interact with each other and must be taken on a specific timetable.  Always ask before taking a medicine, vitamin, or herb.  Especially if you are pregnant or nursing!

So, without further ado, here is what I’m on:

Drugs:

  • Nexium 20 mg – 1 tablet at night
  • Zofran 8 mg ODT – 1 tablet before rising in the morning

Vitamins/Herbs:

It’s a lot of pills and tablets to swallow, and I’ve really had a hard time remembering to take everything.  I noticed, though, that when I miss doses my body lets me know.  When I forget the cal/mag/pot I get horrible leg cramps at night.  When I miss the multivitamin and the iron I feel dizzy and out of breath.  Or at least more dizzy and more out of breath than usual.

To help me remember to take these, even when I’m out and about, I’ve started putting the day’s worth of vitamins into a little plastic glad-ware cup.  I toss the cup into my purse, and wherever I happen to be at vitamin time, I can break out my little plastic cup-o-vitamins and start swallowing pills.

Taking my meds and vitamins every day at the correct time has really helped improve the way I feel both physically and emotionally.

 

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Antenatal Depression? PTSD? Thanks Hyperemesis Gravidarum

I’m having a bit of a difficult time right now, and that’s hard for me to admit.

This may be a short post.  I don’t really want to write it.  But Kat over at Love Makes a Family and I had a conversation recently about how important honesty is, so I need to be honest about this.  It would be easier to tell you all that things are fine, I’m doing well, thanks so much.  But that would be a lie.  And lies hurt people.  I’m not lying to myself anymore and it would not be fair to lie to you.

I’ve been reading some of the post partum depression posts and tweets from James & Jax which have really helped me get to a place where I can ask for help.

In case it’s not completely obvious from my obsessively detailed protocol, I’m just a teensy bit of a control freak.  I’m sure you haven’t figured that out by now.  Being a control freak means that I “handle” things way past the point of it being wise to do so.  It makes it really hard for me to ask for help.

It’s not a pride thing.  It’s more like, I don’t feel like I should be a bother.  I don’t want to make a big deal.  It’s why I suffered for so long during the hyperemesis gravidarum of my first pregnancy.  It’s why it took me years of writing and rewriting to be willing to show the protocol to my doctor and it’s why the long, gentle, and affirming conversation that I had with my doctor during my preconception visit probably saved this baby’s life.

So last week, I got up the courage to ask my midwife for the names of a few counselors.

But I didn’t call them.  You know, I just wanted to have them around in case I needed them.

Then, this past Tuesday, I ended up basically walking out of the office in tears for absolutely no reason.

Okay.  So that’s not good.  I called my midwife again and asked her to diagnose me with something because I just didn’t feel like I could handle work, home, pregnancy, everything anymore, and she very gently gave me the push I needed to pick up the phone and give those counselors a call.

So, I’ve made the calls.  I’m trying to figure out what’s going to happen with my insurance.  She’s out of network, but there don’t seem to be any in our area that are good for PTSD and pregnancy related mental health issues.  My doctor has also been kind enough to look into it for me as well.

I’ll be 35 weeks tomorrow.  I can’t wait to be Not Pregnant.

Third Trimester Grace

I don’t have it.

I’m not talking about physical grace.  Obviously I don’t have that.  It’s hard to waddle gracefully and moving around requires plenty of grunting and groaning.

I’m talking about social grace.  Emotional grace.  That almost transcendant zen-like glow that some pregnant women seem to have.

I want to stab those transcendent glowy ladies with a plastic fork.

(Gee, Molly.  Tell us how you really feel!)

Look, I’ve got heartburn, alright?  And not just heartburn.  Reflux, too.  Reflux is really special because it doesn’t hurt.  Isn’t that nice?  It just means my food comes out of my stomach and into my mouth when I lay down, bend over, burp, lean the wrong way, or forget to take my Nexium.

Also, my back hurts.  And my hips.  And my legs.  Especially at night when I just want to get some sleep already.  I lay on my left side and the left leg starts to ache.  I hoist my giant self over onto my right side, and my right leg starts to ache.  If I accidentally roll onto my back, I wake up dizzy and nauseated.

And you know what else?  The hyperemesis gravidarum is STILL HERE!  Okay, it’s less like 1st trimester HG and more like a perpetual hangover, but it’s there and I am tired of it.

Apparently I’m also huge.  And my baby is going to be huge.  And aren’t I scared?  This is according to my coworkers.  Thanks guys.  Rule #1 of talking to a pregnant woman.  Tell her she looks gorgeous and leave it at that.  I’m honestly not worried about having a big baby.  Fat squishes.  I’ll birth this baby just fine.  My midwives are not concerned, and neither am I.  But nothing makes me feel like the love child of Humpty-Dumpty and a hippopotamus than being told how enormous I am.

All of this means that I am exceptionally cranky at the moment.  No, I don’t want to hear about your cold.  I’ve been living with a perpetual hangover (at best!) for the last 8 months.  I don’t care how sick you are, get out of my cubicle and take your germs with you.  I don’t want to hear about how tired you are because you stayed up late last night watching this really good movie.  I went to bed at 9 PM.  I couldn’t sleep.  I’m tired, too.

“Molly’s not here right now.  These are her hormone’s speaking, how can we help you today?”

Mostly, I’m just done.  I am so over being pregnant.  I’m at 34 weeks and 4 days.  At 36 weeks I’ll be full term and the baby is welcome to choose her birthday any day at that point.

I’m counting down.

Cue the Mommy Guilt

Now I know that I wrote about guilt last week, but this is less of a spinoff from that post and more of a spinoff from Tuesday’s post: All Things to All People.

Guilt that comes from the outside is easy for me to deal with.  Guilt trips are simply a way some people try to manipulate others.  When confronted by someone attempting to manipulate my emotions, it’s easy for me to mentally raise my middle finger in their direction and leave the guilt aside.

When the guilt comes from within as a result of me not living up to my own personal goals and ideals, it’s much more difficult to deal with.

Some things I currently feel mommy guilt about:

  • Feeding the Grasshopper crappy food: Monday-cold leftover pizza and a bowl of honey nut cheerios; Tuesday-A ham, cheese, and mayo sandwich and ice cream; Wednesday-cold leftover pizza
  • Letting the Grasshopper watch way too much TV – TV as babysitter?  Yup.
  • Not getting down and playing interactively with her
  • Parking my butt on the couch and encouraging her to entertain herself
  • Taking her to daycare with her hair uncombed and her teeth unbrushed

Okay, most of these are seriously temporary.  Mr. Grasshopper is travelling for work for a few days this week (comes back today thank god!), and we’re in survival mode.  For the record, he usually cooks nutritious and tasty meals, plays vigorously with her at every opportunity, and makes sure her teeth and hair get brushed in the morning.  Also, for the record, she does have a toothbrush at daycare, so when she arrives, she can run back and brushes her teeth then.

Overall, I know that this is stuff that I can’t really control right now.  At the end of the day, we’re doing well if I can stick food on plates and get the dishes loaded in the dishwasher.  I’m proud of myself each time I have managed to get her bathed this week.  Reaching into the tub is hard.  I’m trying really hard to give myself credit for the little stuff like that.

But we do watch way too much TV.  I try to assuage that guilt by making sure we’re watching the kids channels that don’t show any commercials.  I just wish I could play with her more.  I wish this week could have been fun girlie time with walks/trike rides through the neighborhood with the dog, fun bubble baths, painted toenails, and special activities.

That’s just not in the cards right now.

Right now, we’re doing well to get out the door in the morning and eat food at night.

I can’t wait to not be sick anymore.  I hate the way hyperemesis gravidarum is keeping me from being the mom I want to be.

All Things to All People

My midwife, bless her, gave me a bit of a gentle scolding last week.  I needed it.

Lately, I’ve been feeling completely drained.  Not just tired.  More than that.  Sucked dry.  Wrung out.  Physically tired?  Absolutely.  Mentally exhausted?  Oh, yeah.  Emotionally worn out?  You bet.

When she asked me how I was feeling, that’s what I told her.  She pointed out that it sounded like I was simply trying to be too many people.

I’ve written before about trying to do too much and how that causes the hyperemesis gravidarum to flare up.  I’ve always thought of it as a physical thing.  When my midwife framed it in terms of being too many people, something clicked in my mind.

That’s exactly what’s been going on, particularly with trying to crank out an article every single day for World Breastfeeding Week.  It’s been completely exhausting.

My midwife suggested I think about my priorities.  Which Molly is the most important Molly?

Who do I try to be on a daily basis?  What facets make me… me?

  • Mommy to the Grasshopper
  • Wife to my husband
  • Cook
  • Partial housekeeper
  • Good employee at the office
  • Keeper of the house schedule
  • Writer/blogger
  • Lactivist
  • Socially responsible consumer (now that takes some hard work!)
  • Pregnant lady
  • Hyperemesis gravidarum survivor/sufferer
  • Gardener
  • Fish-keeper
  • Dog mommy

This list goes on and on and on.

Which of those is most important right now?  Weeellll….  They’re all important.

Some things I’m already letting slide.  Mr. Grasshopper already does all the cooking.  We’ve hired a housekeeper, and whatever she doesn’t do, he does.  The poor dog doesn’t really get walked right now except to go with my husband to get the mail.  He’s taken over taking the Grasshopper to swim class, grocery shopping, laundry, watering the potted plants, and any other chores that come up as a part of home ownership.

He’s carrying so much of the weight of the household right now, and he’s holding up amazingly well under the strain.

My midwife is right, though.  I need to start shedding more roles.  I’m not sure what this means, though.

I think part of it is that I need to let go of the notion of spending every day striving to be The Best Employee Ever.  I’m up to my neck in projects that I’m frantically trying to complete before I go out on leave.

My last day of work will be September 16th.  That’s a little over five weeks away.  That’s not enough time!

I think what I need to do is this:  I need to stop thinking of September 16th as a deadline and start thinking of it as a new beginning.  If I don’t finish every single thing that I wanted to finish at the office, it won’t be the end of the world.  Time passes.  They will find a way to manage without me.

I need to focus on what’s important.  My family, myself, and my baby.

I’m already reaching that stage of just wanting to hide in a cave.  I just want to be left alone to get ready for the baby to arrive.  I want to get the clothes washed and into drawers, the room set up, the car seats installed, etc.  I just can’t right now because of having to work.

So I need to start looking forward to September 16th, not as the drop-dead date for my projects but as the day that I can stop having to be everything but a mommy getting ready to have a baby.  It’s so hard to change that perspective.  I’m a natural project manager, so my instinct is to manage each task and account for all possible outcomes and potential stumbling blocks.  I try in every possible way to foresee every potential risk and develop a plan to minimize or deal with it.  I mean, look at the protocol I put together for the hyperemesis gravidarum.  Effective?  Useful?  Valuable?  Hell yes.  A little over the top? Weeellll….  I’ll leave that for you to decide.

I have got to learn to just let it go.

What’s up with my white blood cell count?

We’re going to go back in time a bit to last week because I realized that I forgot to post about what ended up happening with the high white blood cell count and all the tests they ran on my to find the cause.

We got the iron thing under control with the Floradix, but my white blood cell count was still high, so they tested me on the 13th for a variety of things to see if we could find a cause (other than HG).

The blood test for H. pylori came back a resounding negative.

The urine test to check for a UTI came back negative.  In fact, apparently my urine was just about as perfect as urine can be (whatever that means).

The vaginal swab to check for a bacterial infection came back negative.

Soooo…  What does that mean?  That means that the mystery of the white blood cells continues.  The midwives, at this point, are willing to chalk it up to stress and the hyperemesis gravidarum.  I’m inclined to agree with that idea.  I seem to vaguely recall having elevated white blood cells when the 3rd tri relapse hit with the Grasshopper, so it makes sense.

Hyperemesis gravidarum just screws up your body for a very long time.

Another Milestone! 30 Weeks!

Tomorrow, I will have made it to 30 weeks.  There’s something that feels nice and final about being in the 30s finally.  30 weeks is solidly third trimester.  30 weeks means I’m on the downhill slope.  30 weeks means I’ve only got 10 weeks left!

I had an appointment with the midwives today, and I got the opportunity to meet midwife #3.  I had met midwives #1 and #2 several times, but this was my first chance to meet midwife #3.  I really liked her.

For the most part, the appointment went as they usually do.  I weighed in (172.5 lbs) and then I got my urine dipped.  My numbers are still looking a little funky in my urine, but both midwives #2 and #3 said that because I had just eaten a bagel and had some juice for my Floradix, it wasn’t outside the norm.  It was just my body processing the sugars and carbs from the bagel and juice.  Midwife #2, who is a hyperemesis gravidarum survivor, said that her numbers were strange her entire pregnancy.  The HG just messes up your body for a long time.

Then midwife #3 measured me and listened to the baby’s heartbeat.  Everything is measuring right on target for 30 weeks.  She also felt around on my belly to see if she could tell how the baby is positioned in there.  As it turns out, she’s currently laying sideways.  This would account for the increased pain I’m having in my pelvic bones and sciatic nerve.  Her feet are sticking out to my right, and her head is over on my left.  Midwife #3 explained that she is probably in the process of turning herself head down, and while there is plenty of room and time for her to go back and forth a few times, it’s likely that she’ll settle in head down and just stay that way.

I hope she finishes her acrobatics soon!  I am not loving this side-lying position!  I swear I can feel her pointy little toes and toenails digging into the side of my uterus!  Ouch!

The pain in my pelvis really is pretty bad.  It’s bad enough that it’s been keeping me up at night.  It hurts to lift my legs and put my pants on.  Most of the pain is right where the pubic bones meet in front, but last night my whole sciatic nerve was aching and burning.  I asked for a referral to a chiropractor, so I’m going in to get adjusted and massaged this afternoon.  I’m hoping that will help.  Midwife #3 also suggested just a few cat/cow or pelvic rocks before bed.  That should move the baby up off of my bones and help through the night.

Since I am nicely into my third trimester, we briefly took the opportunity to talk about birthing options.  It’s so strange and refreshing to think that I don’t need to worry much about telling a nurse in the hospital what not to do to me or my child!  I don’t need to gear up for any strong advocacy.  Most of the things I want, like delayed cord clamping, are things that they do just as a part of their standard procedure.

I plan to do a full post on my birthing preferences to help readers who might be interested see the reasoning behind them, but for now, here are a couple of things that I mentioned to midwife #3:

  • Delayed cord clamping
  • No internal checks until I express a desire to push
  • Allow me to birth the placenta on my own without assistance
  • Low lights and quiet voices so I can focus on my hypnobabies techniques
  • Prefer, when possible, for everyone to use the hypnobabies terminology to refer to my pressure waves, birthing time, etc

She was great about it.  She listened, took notes, and generally did not make me feel silly for asking about this stuff.  It’s just really cool that I don’t have to put in big bold letters anywhere NO EPISIOTOMIES!!! and just hope and pray that the doctor on call remembers to look at my birth plan.

It’s just so much more… peaceful with these midwives.

I’m not saying that to knock doctors.  Not at all.  My OB with the Grasshopper was wonderful!  It was a great birth experience and he could not have been more supportive.  And of course, my doctor from this pregnancy is, well… she’s awesome!  The birth center and midwifery practice just has such a calm, quiet vibe.  No beeping machines, no harsh lights, no weird smells, no people barging in and out.  It’s just a completely peaceful and nurturing environment.

We also talked about birth kits and what to bring to the birth center.  She gave me an order form for the birth kit (pads, some herbs, gloves, etc) and a list of other things to pack to bring with us.  The birth kit needs to be ordered and in hand by 37 weeks, which is right around the corner.  Pretty exciting!

And as a bonus, as I was making my next appointment, a brand new mom came out with her baby girl who was born just today in the very wee hours of the morning!  She had wanted to lay still and sleep for a while there at the birth center, so instead of driving home in the middle of the night, they stayed.  It was amazing to see how tiny and perfect that brand new baby was!  I forgot just how small they actually are!

All in all, it was a great appointment.  We’ve gotten past the anemia scare with the Floradix doing a wonderful job at bringing up my iron, and I’m doing great!  You know.  Aside from the HG.  And today has been a 2 Zofran day.  One before bed and one after breakfast.  10 more weeks.  10 more weeks.

How’s that Hypnobabies thing going?

Way back in March, I posted about hypnosis and childbirth.  It’s been a while since I talked about that, so I wanted to give you all an update on how that’s going.

Long story short: It’s awesome!

I selected the Hypnobabies method of hypnotic childbirth, and at this time I have completed the home study course.  Just this week I started in on the maintenance part of the program.

The course itself is easy and pleasant to go through.  The book is divided into 5 lessons with each lesson building off the previous one.  For the hypnosis part, the hypnosis tracks (which are on CDs that you just lay back and listen and follow along with) start by simply teaching you very basic, guided visualization and self-hypnosis.  From there, the tracks build on that until you learn to put yourself into hypnosis using what they call the finger drop technique.

The finger drop technique is a cue that you train your mind to accept that triggers you to go into deep relaxation and hypnosis.  This is the backbone of the program and one of the main tools I will use during my birthing time.

Hypnobabies is big on associations and cues.  It’s basic operant conditioning when you think about it.  You simply teach your mind to react in a specific way to a specific stimulus.

For Hypnobabies, those stimuli (cues) include the finger drop, where you bring your finger down like switching off a light switch, and words such as “release” and “peace.”  Every hypnosis track starts the same way and has the same music, so I have also learned to associate the voice of the woman reading and the music with the feelings of deep relaxation.

At first, entering the hypnosis feels a little challenging.  The mind wanders and it’s hard to really relax.  Hypnobabies plans for this, and because I listen to the tracks over and over and because the association cues are consistent from track to track, it becomes easier every time I try.

In addition to the new associations that Hypnobabies is teaching me, they’re also working to disassociate old feelings about childbirth.  As a part of this, Hypnobabies uses its own vocabulary to help you disassociate pain from childbirth.  Here are a few examples that you will see me start using in future posts about birth (old word=hypnobabies word):

  • Labor=birthing time: Doesn’t the word labor just sound difficult and unpleasant?  Birthing time is just so much more pleasant to say.
  • Contractions=pressure waves: Everyone knows contractions hurt, right?  We’ve all seen the movies.  Pressure waves though?  That doesn’t sound so bad.  And if you’ve been in the ocean, you know you can ride waves, let them carry you, flow with them.  It’s exhilarating.  When you fight ocean waves things get difficult and out of control, but when you dive into them, go deep, and let them carry you, they will move you and take you places.
  • Transition=transformation: Transition.  That’s that part in the movies where the woman starts screaming at her husband, right?  Pretty scary.  Transformation feels better to say.  It’s less frightening to think about.

Hypnobabies also does not use the word “pain” in any discussions on childbirth.

By dissociating birth from fear inducing words, Hypnobabies teaches you to better handle the intensity of the moment and embrace it with joy instead of shrinking back with fear.  In fact, the very first class talks about the cycle of fear and how that can actually slow down and prevent your body from doing the work it needs to do.  Clenching muscles and panic do not make it easier to birth a baby!

Lest you thing Hypnobabies is just a bunch of CD tracks, let me assure you.  It’s not.  The home study course takes you through a complete childbirth education.  They talk about interventions and risks vs. benefits, stages of birthing, etc.  We took Bradley classes when I was pregnant with the Grasshopper, so most of this is review.  However, if you are a first time mom, you will still get the information you need to help you navigate the birth process from a practical and intellectual standpoint.

So far, I’m loving Hypnobabies (if you couldn’t tell!).  I fall asleep every single time I listen to a track, which is apparently not a problem at all, and when I wake up in the mornings, I feel so much better.  I feel better rested, more confident, and just generally happier.  When I wake up at night, I use my finger drop technique to help me go back to sleep quickly.  When I had blood drawn at the midwifery appointment, I was able to use the finger drop technique to relax and get through it in a calm and peaceful way.

I’m excited to see how it works out during my birthing time.

Here’s another cool thing:  Hypnobabies sells individual hypnosis tracks for a variety of different purposes.  I’ve already ordered Needles are Ok! to help me deal with my needle-related fears, but there are lots of others that are intriguing: Baby Come Out, Breastfeeding Success, Peaceful Sleep Now for All, etc.

Hint: If you “Like” Hypnobabies on Facebook, you can buy the CDs and MP3s there at a reduced cost!  That’s what I did!

There is one that I will never buy, however: Eliminate Nausea Now.

I do not think this CD would be at all appropriate for someone suffering from HG.  Aside from the very definite fact that there is absolutely nothing about HG that is psychological or in the mind, think back to what I said about associations.  The temptation might be there for a desperate HGer to give this a shot.  To me this seems like a very, very bad idea.

Trust me when I say that associations are powerful.  Heck, I was into Firefly when the hyperemesis gravidarum started to hit.  Simply watching that as the nausea started to build has been enough for me to associate this show and everything about it with nausea.  The theme song, the title sequence, and the voices of the characters have become triggers for me.  Heck, it was all I could do to link to that Wikipedia article and write this paragraph.

You do not want this kind of association built for your childbirth method!

The last thing you need to have is an association with fear and vomiting when you hear the Hypnobabies music and the woman’s voice starting to read the scripts.  I think that the possibility in an HGer directly relating the hypnosis techniques for intractable nausea is a strong one.  This is why I choose to stay away from this track.

This track is probably great for women with morning sickness, but I doubt it would help an HGer and the potential for harm is definitely there.  It’s simply not worth the risk in my mind.

That said, the entire Hypnobabies experience has really left me feeling empowered.  I’m looking forward to a beautiful birth.  I’m excited about joyfully welcoming this new baby into the world!

The Hematologist Visit

Yesterday was my appointment with the hematologist.

It started of rather badly.

When they called me back, I was expecting to be weighed and have my blood pressure checked.  I was not expecting to do this in the room where they were doing blood draws.

I walked in, saw the chair with the little drawers with all the needles and blood-draw-related supplies and jumped back.  I’m not sure why it caught me by surprise.  I mean, it’s a hematology office after all, right?  Blood is what they do.  But it did.  I guess I just didn’t expect it to be right there.

I weighed.  Managed to sit down.  And then I started crying.  I told the nurse that I have issues with needles, and she was super nice about it.  She gave me some tissues and promised it would be quick and that she’s really good and it wouldn’t hurt.  She didn’t lie.  She was excellent.  It was just a tiny finger prick.  No big deal.

Yet, still I had to sit there shaking and crying and trying to pull myself back together.  It was so embarrassing.  All that for a little finger prick.  Honestly, it wasn’t the finger prick that bothered me.  It was the chair and seeing the supplies.

Afterwards, I went to the restroom and washed my face and tried to pull myself together.

The doctor came in right away.  They had a lab there in the office, so my results came back immediately.

She had great news:  My blood looks just like it should look for any pregnant woman at 28 weeks.  She didn’t see anything abnormal.  The iron was a little low, but not low enough to class me as anemic.  It was 11.9, up from 10.6 last Wednesday.  She said my platelets were well within normal range.

She did agree that my white blood cells were a little high, but they looked normal.  I guess there are different kinds of white blood cells and they mix of mine was what she would expect to see.  She said there is some indication that there might be an infection within my body, but there are other things that can cause high white blood cells, including stress.  While this seems a pretty likely factor in my case, my midwife has already agreed to test me for H. pylori next time I come in, and the hematologist suggested checking my urine for an infection in my bladder.

She said that I should definitely keep taking the Floradix iron supplement, and that it would be something to continue throughout pregnancy and until I’m done breastfeeding, but she said she wouldn’t worry.

She also looked at my blood under a microscope and that it looked good there, too.  She even went through my med list to see if there was anything I was on or that I had been on that could have caused issues with my blood.  Nope.

She was pleased that my midwife had taken the initiative to go ahead and refer me.  She said that it’s certainly better to play it safe and have a look at things rather than closing your eyes and hoping it will all work out.  One more point in my midwives’ favor.  I like them more and more every day.

I was really happy that my iron levels had already gone up in the last few days.  This really gives me hope and makes me feel less victimized by my own body.

Update: My midwife called me back last night and wants me to go ahead and come in early to find out what’s going on with the white blood cell count.  They had gone up since the initial blood draw on 7/6 and she wants to track it down.  I had an appointment originally scheduled for 7/21, but she wants to see me tomorrow.  She’ll test for H. pylori, a vaginal infection, and a UTI.  If there’s something that she can do to make me more comfortable, she wants to do it quickly.  I love her!

Natural Ways to get Iron

This Sunday, I’ll be jumping off my previous posts of the week and talking about iron.  Since I recently found out that I’m pretty anemic, it seems like a good topic choice.

“Molly,” you might ask, “Why don’t you just get an iron pill?”

A very good and very important question.  I don’t get along well with iron supplements.  First and foremost, they aggravate the nausea.  It’s a huge part of the reason I do not take a prenatal vitamin.  The high iron just makes me ill.  They also can be very constipating, and believe me, I get enough of that from the Zofran.  Finally, they can be difficult for your body to absorb.

Nutritional supplements can be good, but often they pass right through your body.  The trick is to get your vitamins and minerals from food.  For the vitamins that I do take, I try my best to find companies that source theirs from foods.  New Chapter vitamins (my daily vitamin) are sourced from food.  So is Floradix, my new iron supplement.

Sourcing nutrients from food also means they’re easier on the stomach.  So far, I’ve not thrown up a New Chapter vitamin (everyone knock on wood!), and the Floradix seems to sit pretty well, too.

I would like to find some other ways to safely and gently incorporate iron into my diet through simple and easy changes to my eating.  Now, anyone who has had HG knows that this can be difficult.  Finding snacks that don’t make me sick can sometimes be a challenge, so I did what anyone would do!

I called my mom!

And when you call in my mom, she springs into action in a big way!  She pulled out her trusty copy of Prescription for Nutritional Healing and went straight to work looking up foods for me to try.  Some of the ones she listed included (but is not limited to):

  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Dark leafy greens (NOT spinach)
  • Purple grapes
  • Plums and prunes
  • Carrots
  • Dried Apricots
  • Liver (yeah right!)
  • Meat
It also listed foods to avoid (also not limited to):
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Other dairy products
  • Sugars
  • Chocolate (damn!)
  • Spinach

Wait a second.  Avoid spinach?  Apparently so!  According to the book (and wikipedia backs this up), spinach contains a compound called oxalate that can block the absorption of iron.  Good to know!

I also asked the good folks over at the Natural Parents Network Facebook page for some gentle and natural ideas to help with adding iron into my diet.

Those ladies came through in a big way.  I got a big thumbs up on the Floradix, but they had some other suggestions as well.  I’m not sure how ready I am to try powdered colostrum or terramin clay (or where I can even find those things!), but they also suggested some simple things like:

  • Cast iron skillets (check!)
  • blackstrap molasses
  • Stinging nettle infusions (will have to check and see if that’s safe for pregnancy)
  • Avoid corn and wheat (not sure how well I can do that since I’m on a bread-heavy diet right now)
  • Fresh parsley
  • Turnip greens and carrot tops
  • Foods high in vitamin C to help the iron be absorbed into my body

The most appealing suggestion, though, was to try out some green smoothies to see if they are palatable to me.

Now I have to admit:  I was not exactly sure what a green smoothie is.

If you’re clueless like me, here’s the gist of it:  Green smoothies are a fruit-based smoothie into which is blended a leafy green of some sort.  This can be spinach, kale, chard, lettuce, dandelion greens, or anything else leafy and green.  They look green, but the flavor is that of the fruit

I swung by Trader Joe’s today, and here’s what I got for my green smoothie experiments:

  • Kale
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Fresh medley of cut pineapple, papaya, and mango
  • Orange juice
  • Coconut milk
  • Coconut water
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Unsulfered Prunes (can be soaked to reconstitute for blending)
I’ve also got in my pantry:
  • Organic blackstrap molasses
  • Flax meal (high in omega 3s)
  • Agave nectar (if I need to sweeten it)
Let the experimenting begin!