Pregnancy Health Hacks

pregnancy-health-hacksAs I am nearing the end of pregnancy, I thought I would share some “health hacks” that I found helpful during pregnancy.  All of these “hacks” are safe, natural methods for dealing with pregnancy symptoms and in preparing for labor.

Chiropractor Adjustments – I’ve been seeing a chiropractor regularly for years and can’t imagine life without it.  I continued my regular visits, increasing frequency to once every week or two, depending on how I was feeling throughout my pregnancy.  Not only did I not suffer from lower back pain, which I know is a very common pregnancy ailment as the belly grows, but she was also able to help with other symptoms.  I ended up having some shoulder and neck pain as I started sleeping on my side that she addressed.  She kept my hips in alignment, helping greatly with the round ligament pain.  And, most surprisingly, she was also able to adjust my stomach to relieve most of the indigestion/heartburn caused by pregnancy (up until the last week before the baby dropped). Lastly, my chiropractor is also trained in acupuncture, which can be a great help for natural labor induction- now that I am past my due date, I’m going to see just how well it works!

Prenatal Massage – I’ve always considered massages more of a treat than a necessity, but I really tried to get at least one prenatal massage each month throughout pregnancy.  Studies show that massage during pregnancy can help improve sleep and reduce stress/anxiety.  Of course, they are also greatly helpful for pain relief and overall relaxation (you deserve it, mama!).  Look for a massage practice that has staff specifically trained and certified for prenatal massage AND one that has a special pillow so that you can lay face down, instead of on your side.  Those 30 minutes of laying “on your stomach” were magical because you never get that luxury.

Magnesium & Potassium – Suffering from middle-of-the-night painful leg cramps?  These two supplements are a must; they worked to completely take those cramps away for me.  Magnesium is also beneficial in helping to calm you before bed, leading to better sleep, and for helping to keep you regular if you are suffering from constipation.

Probiotics – I highly recommend everyone take probiotics regularly, not just pregnant women.  We encounter so many antibiotics in our food and other toxins in our environment- we need to consistently restore our levels of healthy bacteria. The health of our digestive system has a strong correlation to the abilities of our overall immune system, so probiotics are essential for supporting your immune function.  They are also helpful for keeping your bowels moving if you are suffering from constipation.  Lastly, I definitely believe that regularly using probiotics was a big reason I tested negative for Group B Strep.

Essential Oils – I am a big fan of essential oils and use them every day for both my health and around my house.  Here are a few that I used most commonly during pregnancy:

  • Copaiba – An anti-inflammatory oil, this helped relieve my indigestion; I rubbed it on my chest/throat/stomach.
  • DiGize – Another one to help with indigestion and to prevent constipation.
  • Peppermint – Great to smell or add to water when you experience morning sickness; it helps relieve nausea.  I plan on bringing it into labor also in case I experience nausea then; but I will put it away while I am breastfeeding since it can cause a decrease in milk supply.
  • Thieves – I put a drop of Thieves on the bottom of my foot every day and diffused it often to boost my immune system.  I also cleaned my house with it to keep everything chemical-free.
  • Frankincense – I definitely suffered from the “daughter stealing beauty” thing and had lots of breakouts on my face from the hormones.  Frankincense mixed with coconut oil was the only thing that works to heal blemishes fast.
  • Lavender – Very useful for overall relaxation and to help promote good sleep.  Mix some with distilled water and mist over your pillow each night. It’s also very moisturizing, so I found it helpful when I was itchy from my belly stretching.
  • Clary Sage – Only to be used at the end of pregnancy when you are full-term, this oil helps ease the pain of cramps and promotes uterine contractions.

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea – I drank this tea often throughout my third trimester.  My midwife recommended it as a way to tone pelvic and uterine muscles to prepare the body for productive labor contractions.  It’s full of great nutrients like magnesium and vitamin C that are also beneficial for sleep, nausea, leg cramps and immune function.  For more information, Wellness Mama wrote a great blog post about the benefits of this herb.

Evening Primrose Oil – Another recommendation from my midwife, the oil of evening primrose can help soften the cervix to prepare the body for labor.  You can find the capsules in your local pharmacy and it’s usually recommended to start after 36 weeks.

Ginger Candy – I carried this in my purse constantly when I was battling pregnancy nausea (aka morning sickness that lasts all day).  You can make them or find them in a store; the hard candies last a bit longer in your mouth, but crystallized ginger is also yummy to chew on.

Controlling Blood Sugar – I wrote a whole post about the diet, exercise, supplements and water intake that helped me keep my gestational diabetes under control – check it out here.  If you want to limit weight gain during your pregnancy, this is definitely the protocol to follow; plus, the diet+exercise simply make for a healthier lifestyle that will help you avoid much of the discomfort of the 3rd trimester.

Is there anything natural you tried during pregnancy that helped you?  Please share!

A Recap of 2016

Wow… is it really almost 2017!?!  As I look forward to the huge life change that 2017 will bring, I wanted to take some time to reflect back on 2016.  If you’ve missed any of my blogs this year, this will be the perfect opportunity to catch up!

2016 was certainly a roller-coaster for my health.  The year started off with me still trying to figure out what was causing my random high cortisol responses and unexplained weight gain.  Then, in May, we found out we were expecting, even though doctors had told me I wasn’t supposed to be able to get pregnant. Pregnancy brought on constant nausea and exhaustion that kept me down and out for a few months, and then a gestational diabetes diagnosis rocked my world.

Here’s a recap of the blogs I wrote in 2016:

Travel

VeniceI’m a huge believer that vacations are super important for your overall health and well-being.  We all need to take a break and relax, and traveling to experience different foods and cultures is great way to relieve stress. The past couple of years, we have taken two trips to Europe that were incredible.  I got so many requests for advice, I just decided to write all about our itineraries and recommendations right here:

My Favorite Natural Products & Organic Grocery Deals

BruschettaHealthy Recipes

Pregnancy:

Essential Oils

Thieves Essential OilHighlighting the benefits of some of my favorite essential oils to both your overall wellness and to creating and keeping a natural home.

Happy New Year!!

2016-recap

Controlling Gestational Diabetes Naturally

At my 28 week appointment, I took the dreaded pregnancy glucose test.  Since my pregnancy nausea was still pretty bad at the time, I was most nervous about trying not to throw up for an hour on an empty stomach.  I never would have imagined that I would get a call the next day saying I didn’t pass.  The following day, I had to do it all over again.  This time, I had to drink 2 of the glucose drinks and get my blood drawn 4 times over 3 hours.  I was extremely nauseous and faint, but resting in the fact that if I got through those 3 hours, it would all be over.

On Monday, I got the call that I had failed and was officially diagnosed with gestational diabetes (GDM).  I was shocked.  I didn’t know much about GDM at the time, so I went into full on planning & research mode to figure out how to fix it.  I was also scared; my plans all along had been to deliver at a birth center instead of the hospital and I was nervous this diagnosis would risk me out of that option.  Plus, what did it mean for the baby and for my own health? How did this happen to someone healthy like me?

That week, I got my glucose monitor and started the 4 times/day finger pricks to test my blood sugars.  I researched the gestational diabetes diet recommendations extensively and immediately began following them- mostly adding in more snacks and protein.  Because of my continued pregnancy nausea, my diet had not been great (lots more carbs than my diet pre-pregnancy), but I was committed to try my best.  I was surprised to find that sticking to the GDM diet recommendations, my blood sugar levels continually tested high.  Post-meal levels were okay, but I was only passing around a quarter of my morning fasting levels.

When I went in for my next doctor’s appointment, they were alarmed at my results.  I told them I was following the exact diet recommendations given and didn’t know what else to do.  Besides recommending a 30-45 minute walk every night after dinner, they didn’t have any other ideas for me.  At my pleading, they gave me one week to try to have PERFECT morning fasting levels; if I didn’t, I would be put on medication (glyburide) to control my body’s insulin response.  Getting put on medication would officially label me as high risk and guarantee a hospital birth with continuous monitoring and insulin during labor. Plus, after researching the medication, I wasn’t confident it was safe for my baby either. I was devastated.

Pregnancy is certainly a lesson in loss of control.  Of course, I’m sure God designed it that way to prepare us for parenthood.  I’ve felt out-of-control for my entire pregnancy… nausea I couldn’t fix, diet I didn’t want to be on, hormonal emotions, and now this. I had no idea how emotionally taxing a diagnosis like this could be.  You blame yourself. You worry about what it means for the baby you’ve been trying so hard to protect.  And the constant blood testing and attention to diet is a continual source of stress and anxiety.  And don’t forget, you’re not supposed to be stressed during pregnancy- it’s bad for the baby. Ugh.

I was determined to not let this diagnosis get the best of me.  I continued my research. Google-ing “natural ways to lower blood sugar” or similar searches came up with nothing.  No one online seems to want to try this; they all just assume that you will end up on medication or insulin and recommend you simply try your best to eat healthy for baby.  Finally, I pieced together some different ideas and resources to make a plan.

By a complete miracle, I was able to have perfect blood sugar levels that next week and return to the doctor with confidence that I could continue without medication.  But the next week, Thanksgiving came along… I splurged and enjoyed just one holiday meal & dessert and my fasting levels couldn’t recover from it; my levels became unpredictable again.  I was defeated as I walked into the doctor’s office the next week, certain they would put me on medication this time.  But my midwife was gracious and knew how hard I was working- she said it was probably due to a lack of routine, and once again I was given one last week to try.

Since that visit, I’ve been able to keep my blood sugar levels totally under control.  Even the morning fasting ones. Praise God! So, for those of you pregnant mamas diagnosed with gestational diabetes who are looking to stay off medication/insulin and want to control it naturally, I want to share what’s worked for me in hopes that you can have the same success.  I can’t point to one particular thing that made the difference; it wasn’t until I did all of these together that I was finally able to bring my levels under control.

  • Prayer – I’m listing this first because I truly believe God is the only one who has the power over all of this. I consider it a miracle that He’s kept my levels low when they were SO high and unpredictable to start with.  Pray before each meal and each finger prick- that dependence on Him will help calm you and help relieve the never-ending cycle of stress that only causes higher levels.
  • Minimal Carbs – Aim to eliminate carbs completely from your diet.  Everyone processes carbohydrates differently, so there’s not really an exact amount that’s “safe.” The nutritionists who write diets for GDM will give guidelines like 25 carbs for breakfast & lunch, 35 for dinner and 15 at two snacks.  And they’ll say that as long as you balance with a protein and fat, those carbs will not convert to glucose.  If I followed this ridiculous protocol, I would be on medication today. The only thing that worked was when I basically eliminated carbs from my diet; that means no bread (not even multi-grain), no rice, no potatoes, no corn, no oats.  It even means avoiding high glycemic produce, like fruit (some can tolerate berries, but I haven’t really been able to).
  • Eat High Protein, High Fat & Veggies – Focusing your diet around these items is the best way to avoid blood sugar spikes.  Healthy fats are especially great at keeping blood sugars stable and keeping you full.  I can’t stomach it with my nausea, but I’ve seen several recommendations that a teaspoon of coconut oil before each meal can help a great deal.  I just try to include it in what I make instead.  Search ketogenic recipes for meal ideas that fit this diet; I also have quite a few here on my blog – veggie noodles with lemon cream sauce being my fave.  My favorite snacks have been: cashews, cheese sticks, Greek yogurt and Graze meat sticks. Breakfast is the hardest on rushed mornings, but I try to alternate between hard-boiled eggs with breakfast sausage links, scrambled eggs with avocado and Greek yogurt with nuts.
  • Satisfy Sugar Cravings Safely – I know, pregnancy cravings are real and having gestational diabetes, especially over the holidays, is just the worst. Of course you have to eliminate sugar (and always avoid unsafe sugar-free products), but I’ve found a couple ways to satisfy my intense cravings for sweets: Stevia leaf naturally helps to lower blood sugar, so I’ve been using that in the tea that I drink or to sweeten Greek yogurt a bit.  And dark chocolate is also helpful to lower blood sugar- make sure to get a bar that is 75%+ cocoa and soy-free.  My go-to nightly snack has been whipped coconut cream (high in good fat!) sweetened with a bit of stevia and topped with a few dark chocolate chips – here’s the super easy recipe.
  • Walk After DinnerEvery single day. For at least 30 minutes. This is one of the hardest from a scheduling perspective and because it is uncomfortable when you are hugely pregnant and tired.  The first week is the hardest, but I promise your body will start to crave it.  It will help with digestion, relieve indigestion/heartburn and is also great at getting your body ready for labor.
  • Herbal Supplements – I talked with both my naturopath and the herbalist at my local pharmacy to see if there were any supplements to help with blood sugars that would be safe for pregnancy; they recommended two that I’ve been using these past months.  I take Diaplex before meals (started with 2 pills before each meal, but I’ve gone down to just two before lunch now) and Glukokine once in the evening right before bed.  Since I had done my research and talked with the right people, my doctor’s office was fine with me taking these; as always, you should check with your doctor before taking any medication or supplements during pregnancy.
  • Drink Lots of Water – If you are diabetic, one of the most common symptoms is frequent thirst, so this shouldn’t be a hard one to implement.  Hydration is one of the best ways to control insulin response, so you should be drinking around 2 gallons per day.  I know you are already peeing every 30 minutes, but this is crucial to stabilizing your levels.  Add some fresh lemon slices to your water for even further blood sugar stabilizing benefits. And, more importantly, drink water every time you wake up at night – it’s crucial to not let yourself get dehydrated overnight and I really think this made a huge difference with my fasting levels upon waking.
  • Consistency – Ultimately, I’ve found that a consistent routine is key to predictable levels, especially the morning fasting ones.  Schedule your meals and snacks to be at similar times each day.  Keep a food journal to track what you are eating to see if anything affects your levels.  This is not a typical diet where the occasional splurge is okay; you have to stick with it. Wake up at the same time every morning and go to bed at the same time each night. A strict schedule is the last thing I wanted to implement before a baby entered my life, but it’s certainly been worth it.

35-week-picNote: Don’t be surprised if you stop gaining weight or even lose weight once you put this protocol into place.  I was a bit alarmed that I’d only gained 12 pounds by 37 weeks, but my midwife assured me that it is completely normal since it’s all being done in a very healthy way.  I’m not crash dieting or exercising too much; it’s safe. Enjoy this one benefit to all your hard work and be excited that you will have less to lose after baby!

Lastly, I want to encourage you mamas not to blame yourself.  The diagnosis isn’t your fault. If you are trying everything and still failing your levels, it is not your fault.  Your placenta is causing this and sometimes it is not something you can control.  Do your best and be at peace with that.  I’m so proud of you for trying.

P.S. A great resource I finally found online was a UK website on gestational diabetes.  I definitely recommend that you check it out for great information, ideas and encouragement.

DiGize Essential Oil

digize-oilLooking for natural help with digestive issues? DiGize is the oil to try!

DiGize is my go-to whenever I have an upset tummy or I’m suffering from pregnancy indigestion.  It’s a blend of several different oils creating a powerful combination:

  • Tarragon – traditionally used to fight intestinal parasites
  • Ginger – a very common stomach-calming item, especially helpful with nausea
  • Peppermint – many cultures chew mint leaves or drink mint tea after meals to relax stomach muscles and help with digestion
  • Juniper – helps to detox and cleanse
  • Fennel – stimulates the digestive system and helps prevents gas
  • Anise – shown to help calm spasms and increase the flow of bile
  • Patchouli – very helpful in alleviating nausea
  • Lemongrass – traditionally used for it’s anti-inflammatory properties for the digestive system

I’ll admit it is my least favorite oil in terms of scent (I think it’s the fennel maybe?), but I use it all the time regardless of the way it smells. It’s totally worth it!  You can also get the Vitality version and put a couple drops in a capsule to swallow so you don’t have to smell it.

Another great home remedy for digestive issues is activated charcoal – learn more about that here!

For more about essential oils, visit this page.

Mini Pumpkin “Pies”

pumpkin-pieI was recently diagnosed with gestational diabetes (I’ll be sharing more about that soon) and it’s pretty much the worst news to receive right before the holidays. I’ve been craving pumpkin pie lately and while the real thing isn’t the most unhealthy dessert you can choose, it is certainly loaded with sugar and simple carbs that I can’t have right now.

I experimented a bit this past weekend and came up with a delicious option that would satisfy my pumpkin craving and help keep my blood sugar low.  Two of the ingredients are powerful at lowering blood sugar – cinnamon & stevia – and it makes the perfect bedtime snack to keep your morning fasting levels low.  Plus, as with all recipes you’ll find on this blog, it’s super easy and quick to make.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (15 oz) organic pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup organic heavy whipping cream
  • 4 soy-free, free-range eggs (beaten)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 teaspoons pumpkin spice (I make my own and just re-fill the container each fall to keep it fresh: 3 parts cinnamon, 2 parts nutmeg, 2 parts ginger, 1 part allspice and 1 part cloves)
  • 2-3 teaspoons liquid stevia

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl or with your stand mixer until smooth and combined.
  3. Use a bit of coconut oil to grease your ramekins (6 small ones or 4 large ones)
  4. Pour the mixture evenly into your ramekins
  5. Bake for 45 minutes (if a knife comes out clean, they are set)
  6. Let cool then place into the fridge – best served cold!

Topping Options: homemade whipped cream sweetened with stevia, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon roasted walnuts/pecans, soy-free 70% dark chocolate chips, whipped coconut cream (recipe here).  You can also create a grain-free crust by chopping up nuts with some butter and pressing into the bottom of your ramekin before pouring in the pumpkin mix.

How to Love Your Pregnant Friend Well

Before I reached this season of life, I had no idea how to be a good friend starting from the moment a friend announced their pregnancy.  I would offer to help host a shower or bring meals when the baby is born, but now I’ve learned from being pregnant there are a few other ways that I can care for a friend even before the bump starts to show.  These ideas may not apply to your friends who have easy pregnancies and just love that magical time in their lives (I really am so happy for them), but others may be struggling, especially in that first trimester, and could use your support.  Here are some ways you can help those mamas:

Give them some ginger drops – a friend gave some of these to me and they were a lifesaver when I started experiencing pregnancy nausea a couple weeks after taking the test.  When it hits, you have no idea what to do/try; having these on hand was quite the gift and they worked super well.  Another sweet gift for this time would be a pair of accupressure wristbands or a box of peppermint tea.

Bring them meals – someone experiencing bad pregnancy nausea + food aversions would definitely appreciate a meal they don’t have to plan/think about/shop for/cook. This could be as simple as chick-fil-a, a yogurt+strawberry+banana smoothie or comforting mac n cheese.

Reach out to hang out – Similar to chronic pain/illness, suffering from pregnancy nausea / lack of energy can be lonely.  While your friend may not be up to the usual going out for dinner or drinks, try to initiate hanging out in another way that will be more comfortable for them. Suggest you spend a couple hours relaxing in the pool, get a mani/pedi, go to a movie or set weekly dates to watch a tv show together – I always looked forward to my weekly Bachelorette nights with my girlfriends in the first few months of pregnancy because it was a time I could hang out without exerting much energy.

Help them with their baby registry – If you are already a mama, this is the perfect way to help.  Trying to decide on strollers, car seats, and all the little things you need for a newborn is overwhelming.  Registering for a wedding gifts was so easy and fun; registering for baby items can be stressful.  Plan a date at a coffee shop, order yummy tea, find a registry checklist and browse for items together, providing your recommendations and wisdom as you search.  Or go to a store together and help as they scan.  For unique items, invite them over to look over your nursery stash- we are planning to cloth diaper and a friend took me through her whole collection, explaining what worked best and what she recommended- it was so valuable as I went to register!

Pray for them & encourage them often – there were days I just wanted to sleep all day I felt so bad and I really needed some encouragement as I was trying to make it through the work day.  Having friends and my husband tell me they were proud of me & praying for me, texting me throughout the day/week, was what got me through.  Also, if you know a doctor’s appointment or ultrasound is coming up, let them know you are praying for them – there can be a lot of anxiety leading up to those appointments, worried if the baby is healthy and growing.

Pregnant gals / mamas- any other ideas I should add to this list?

What I Learned in Early Pregnancy

half-way-pregnancyThe idea of becoming a mother and the impending great responsibility of raising a daughter has made me quite reflective lately.  Here are a few thoughts of what I learned in the first half of my pregnancy that I hope can be encouraging to those of you expecting:

  • Focus on nutrition pre-pregnancy – If you know me or have ever visited this blog before, you know how important I think the right nutrition is.  I’ve done a lot of reading on epigenetics (one of my favorite books that explains it well is Deep Nutrition) and have been convinced that I have the ability & responsibility to impact the genes of my future generations by changing what I eat and my exposure to environmental toxins.  With all the health problems I have experienced in my lifetime, I really wanted to change my gene expression to give my children (and future grandchildren) the best chance at great health.  I’m confident that since I’ve seen benefits myself, that my diet and lifestyle changes over the past 5 years will be even more beneficial to this growing baby. And another reason to focus on nutrition pre-pregnancy is…
  • Giving myself some grace – Before I got pregnant, I thought I would be the type to continue exercising and eating the best possible foods, not giving into cravings much.  That all went out the window when I was hit with a wave of all-day nausea (the term “morning sickness” is a cruel joke) and lack of energy that made simply getting through the day an achievement. Going to work took everything out of me; 5 o’clock naps and 9 pm bedtimes became my norm and exercise was the last thing on my mind.  The thought of any kind of food repulsed me, so I was in survival mode- anything that sounded remotely okay at the moment is what I could eat.  Mac n’ cheese, PB&J, applesauce and popsicles became my go-to food items for the first time in many years. There are so many mom blogs out there that talk about doing crossfit during pregnancy or eating super healthy green smoothies and liver for nutrients.  Good for them, but that is not realistic if you are experiencing these symptoms- it’s not possible to just “push through” them. The nausea finally started to subside after Week 21 and I was able to add in some more protein and veggies, but I’ve had to give myself grace.  It doesn’t make me a bad mom or a bad blogger or unhealthy person; I’ll continue to do my best to be healthy in the remainder of pregnancy.  But, I’m just thankful I was healthy enough pre-pregnancy to pull me through this season.
  • How to rest – This may not be an issue for some of you, but for those like me who can’t go to sleep without doing at least one productive thing each day, it was a hard lesson to learn.  Sure, it was forced upon me, but I’ve learned the value of slowing life down and getting some rest.  I’m certainly not taking it for granted – I’m learning to appreciate lots of sleep and quiet weekends at home with my hubby, as I know those will disappear for many years after baby is born.  You’re growing a human and it takes a lot of energy- use this down time to read and pray and prepare for the craziness to come.
  • To start ignoring judgmental comments – I’ve seen this happen with moms I know that judge each other on breastfeeding vs bottle feeding, cloth vs disposable diapers, vaccines, or discipline and it’s terribly sad and disappointing.  I knew to expect it in motherhood, but wasn’t quite prepared to face it so early on in pregnancy.  As soon as I found out we were expecting, I began my search for a birth center with midwife care.  I knew that if I had a healthy, low-risk pregnancy, I didn’t want to give birth in a hospital.  Personally, I’ve had terrible doctor and hospital experiences that make me nervous to even visit friends in the hospital, so I knew it would not be the most relaxing, comfortable location for me to labor. I have bad reactions to pain medication, so I don’t want to risk complications and I believe a place that focuses on natural childbirth will be the safest for me and the baby.  Women have been having babies without pain medication for thousands of years, and I believe I have the strength to do it.  Funny how the norm can become so alien to people now used to babies in hospitals.  I never bring it up, but people always ask where I’m having my baby and so I tell them the truth.  The response is almost never encouragement; rather, I usually get raised eyebrows and a sarcastic “good luck” or “good for you.”  Maybe some have the best of intentions or for whatever reason feel judged themselves, but it has continued to surprise me that moms want to encourage otherwise… “that’s why we have doctors/hospitals,” “you aren’t weak because you choose getting an induction/epidural/c-section,” “you have no idea how painful it is,” “you better plan for things to not go your way.” So to those of you mamas who want a natural childbirth- you’ll get no judgment here: you are strong and know what’s best for you and you can do it!
  • A new appreciation for the value of fighting for LIFE – While this pregnancy was planned, the news was a bit of a surprise (see this post).  Finding out you are pregnant can bring on all kinds of emotions (the surge of hormones doesn’t help); it is life changing and body changing and full of unknowns – My friend Emily wrote a great blog about the totally normal mixed emotions of pregnancy for those of you dealing with those unexpected feelings.  This season of life has made me even more compassionate for women who find out they are pregnant and don’t want to be.  It’s scary and uncertain and really, really hard.  Add the news of a baby to early pregnancy symptoms and it becomes even harder. I cannot imagine doing it without a lack of support.  I have the utmost amount of respect and admiration for the strong women who chose to believe their baby is more than a fetus, that he or she is a life worth saving and who decide give that life a chance.  It is incredible to see week-by-week how the baby grows and how developed they are even by the time you find out you are pregnant.  We heard the heart beat at just 8 weeks, but it was beating weeks before that.  Pregnancy is a miracle and all babies deserve a chance at life no matter what the circumstances of their conception are.
  • To Practice Thankfulness – Though this pregnancy has been really tough on me physically, I can never forget 1) that I wasn’t supposed to even be able to get pregnant and 2) that so many couples struggle for years with infertility, miscarriage, loss or go through the long adoption process to become parents.  No matter how hard the day, I try to focus on the fact that God has blessed us with the life of this baby girl and that she is healthy and so am I.  I’m learning to practice thankfulness daily by taking time in the evening and throughout the day to reflect on what I’m grateful for.

Pregnant?  What did you learn in the first few months?