Walter's Birth (or my non-induced labor)

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Like most birth stories, this one is long, but I share it because I love birth stories. My first labor was induced because my water broke and contractions didn't start within the time frame the OB/GYN's office allowed (you can read it here).

On Wednesday, January 20, I was feeling frustrated. I was 41 weeks pregnant and facing a biophysical profile (and probably would be asked to choose a date for a scheduled induction) the next day. I didn’t mind being pregnant past my due date, but I started to get antsy once induction was becoming a possibility (especially after those Pitocin contractions of Liam’s birth). Also I kept having a feeling that this baby would come early, and when he didn't, I did feel a little anxious. 

At 9:56pm, I had just gotten Liam to sleep. I felt a tiny pop, and when I stood up, I realized my water had broken. I was shocked and trembly, and went to tell Jon. I sat on the exercise ball in our sunroom, praying my contractions would start. I remember I just wanted to feel pain so I would know for sure that this was it—the my body was going into labor on its own and I wouldn’t have a repeat labor of last time.

Pretty soon, I was having contractions every five or ten minutes, and they lasted for about 30-45 seconds. Jon eventually went to bed, and I alternated between sitting on my birth ball and watching Fixer Upper, lying in bed cuddling Liam or reading, and once or twice, showering to take my mind off the pain. But I was thrilled to be having true contractions.

Around 3:15am I called my midwife to check in, and she seemed unworried. So we thought we would stay home as long as we could. The contractions were getting harder to rest through, so I eventually took a shower which woke Liam up around 6:30am. He asked for stories in bed and I told him a few, pausing for contractions. After a little while, I asked if he wanted to get up, and he did. I told him baby was coming, and he said he was excited in a high-pitched voice.

I called Mom and woke up Jon to go get her. It was really icy on our deck, but the roads were mostly okay. I made Liam his croissant and egg breakfast. He got really fussy after a few bites and started screaming. That’s when I realized I could not cope with the contractions and anything else.

Thankfully my mom and Jon arrived soon (after Jon had gotten the ice off the car), and I eventually went to lie down. This part is a bit blurry because the contractions were really intense. They were painful, but they didn’t seem to be increasing in length, which frustrated me.

We decided to go to the hospital around 9:30am. The contractions had been every 5-10 minutes all night lasting for 30 seconds to 1 minute. The gushes of water made me feel generally unpleasant, and I was feeling nauseated. I wanted to be in more serious labor before we went to the hospital, but being at home was equally frustrating. I think I subconsciously feel safer in the hospital because I know there are people to help if things go wrong.

I had texted some friends on the way because I was so discouraged and in so much pain. Their texts and prayers helped tremendously. I knew labor wasn’t intense enough yet according to my books, but I also knew I was reaching a place of doubt (which traditionally doesn’t happen until near the transition phase of labor).

We were all checked into the hospital by 10:30am. We went through triage, and they checked my progress. I was 3cm, which was what I expected (though I secretly hoped to be further). After an hour, they confirmed that my waters had broken (which seemed obvious), and we went to a room. We had the best nurses and contrary to all my fatalistic fears, my midwife decided to let me labor without any IVs and with only 20 minutes every hour spent on the fetal heart rate monitor. I was elated; I was so afraid they would recommend induction to speed things along.

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Jon and I had expected to have some early labor chill time in the room, but the contractions were really painful already and took a lot of focus. My timer app mostly shows contractions coming every 3-4 minutes and lasting for 30 seconds to just over a minute until 3:15. Around 1:00, they started being consistently longer than a minute (though there were still some short ones in there). I labored on the ball, in the bed, and in all sorts of weird positions. I prayed just several words over and over at a time, like chanting. It was tough. I didn’t remember it being this tough until the end last time.

Jon held my hand through some and let me hang on to him and rock. Or he would support me as I sat on the ball. It was strange because I didn’t feel like my contractions were close enough or long enough at this point, but each one left me feeling so discouraged and thinking that this was impossible (mainly because I was afraid I had hours and hours ahead of me!).

Around 3:15, I hopped in the shower before my second check and the next hookup to the monitor. I stood under the water for so long and felt like I had to push with each contraction. This was odd because before, I had texted Mom that I just could not do it anymore. I knew this all was a sign of nearing the end, but I couldn’t believe I was actually near the end.

What I remembered was the Pitocin contractions of my first labor. Those induced contractions consistently got harder and longer, sometimes with no breaks. These contractions were very painful, but they still did not seem consistent enough.

When I finally came out of the shower and was checked, I was 6cm. This was discouraging in some ways. I told the nurse, Kelly, that I couldn’t do it. She was pleased though and said when people say that, it is near the end. She left at 4:15, and I texted Mom my progress. I thought I still probably had a ways to go because last time, I progressed so steadily through each centimeter.

When Kelly came back in the room minutes later, I told her about the urge to push and she taught me how to breathe in a way that would keep me from pushing. Then all of a sudden, things took off. They were rushing my midwife and saying I was super close and bringing in all the gear for the delivery. I was shocked, thinking they were just trying to encourage me.

When I was checked again (probably less than twenty minutes later), they said I was almost fully dilated, and Katie (my midwife), said I could go ahead and try pushing. The next hour was so intense, much more intense than what I remembered with Liam. I pushed and groaned and screamed. I felt much more in control of the pushing than I had with Liam, but this was kind of scary too because I had to decide when to push (I guess the Pitocin the first time made it impossible not to push, and I was so out of it after those intense Pitocin contractions all day).

With every contraction, the baby made progress, but I so expected him to be born quickly. We went through several of “I can see his eyebrows… almost done!” but after each one, I would say, “I can’t do it!” They all were so encouraging, and Jon was awesome at encouraging me. They all were so excited when we could see and feel his head.

At 5:29 after another push, Walter was born and they put him on me immediately. I felt his umbilical cord pulse with his heartbeat, and helped wipe him off. He was so beautiful and loud, and I was fully present suddenly. Nothing was a blur. I was laughing while my midwife stitched a tiny tear. It was so much more peaceful than with Liam. With Liam, I was elated but also a little bit out of it. This time I felt really, really good. 

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We were shocked that he was 10lbs, 5oz. Everyone in the room laughed, especially considering how big he looked lying on me now. 

After a while, Mom and Liam came. I teared up as my little boy toddled in wearing his penguin sleeper, all quiet and happy to see his brother. People told me he might look so huge and old, but really he just looked like my sweet little Liam. We let Liam give Baby his book Honk, Honk, Beep Beep and Baby gave Liam The Ultimate Book of Construction Site Vehicles. Liam came over to pat Walt’s head and see him. Liam sat with Jon for a while, and eventually when they took Baby Walt to the nursery, Liam sat with me. I was still in the delivery unit and hooked up to Pitocin (to prevent hemorrhaging). Eventually, Mom and Liam left and we waited to be wheeled into our room.

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Before they left, Liam said, “Roo might need you, Mama” so bravely and he teared up. It was so hard to realize this was his first night without me, but I kept reassuring him that he would be fine. He seemed so little and sweet.

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Getting up for the first time was not nearly as bad as when I had Liam. Then we finally arrived to our room around 10. We couldn’t wait for them to bring Baby Walt, and it wasn’t long. We had a relatively peaceful night (though little sleep). During the birth itself, I would never have said it was easier than my induction with Liam. I still don’t. Birth is just hard.

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But I do think recovery was better and the moments after delivery were much better without induction. The pushing was also better in the sense that I was in control and didn’t tear badly at all. Though the contractions were just as painful as the Pitocin ones and not nearly as predictable, the resting in between made it bearable. The ability to shower was huge in getting me to the very end. And the quick progress in the last hour of labor shocked me after my more consistent progress on Pitocin.

We were thankful for an uneventful birth, and I'm so glad I could compare induced vs. non-induced birth. I'm also so thankful for the hospitals and their staff--we have had awesome, confidence-boosting care both times. It's also funny that my water broke both times the day before my biophysical profile was scheduled.

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We went home twenty-four hours after Walter was born and loved getting cozy in front of the fire while it snowed outside (perks of a January baby!). 

P.S. This post overviews what I did to prepare for labor the second time around.

Less Waste with Babies and Toddlers

IMG_1002I recently read Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson, who, along with her family of four, creates only one quart of garbage per year. I knew we could learn something from a family that can go that extreme (they aren't big recyclers either!). I love her ideas--like buying in bulk, simplifying so you have only what you need, and learning to make things at home (like yogurt or bread). I cleaned more of the excess from our kitchen. I bought reusable produce bags (which I love). I've tried to look for better packaging when possible (purchasing our milk in glass jar that you return for a refund, for example, and preferring cardboard and paper to plastic.

The craziest thing is how it seems like going zero waste or organic will cost more time and money. But that's not always the case. Simple, inexpensive, and mindful living often all three go together seamlessly. As an example, I once dreamed up a post about my "lazy" parenting decisions, and the list was very similar to this one.

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One thing I found in both The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Zero Waste Home is that neither author is applying their method to the baby/toddler years. These years are sometimes filled with more survival tactics than future years, and it can be extra challenging to cut down on waste or even save money when you're just trying to survive.

Toddlers often take long (and frequent) baths. They like prepackaged snacks and snacky foods (like squeezable yogurts and juice boxes). They collect tons of toys. And yet each little stage goes by so quickly. As parents, we do need some convenience in our lives and can't always go full force with zero waste in these years (at least, I'm not sure I can).

I thought through a few things we've done (most unintentional) that have helped with this, and a few new ideas for going forward. Please realize that I'm only sharing what's worked for us or what I want to try, not what I feel everyone should do. I would love to hear your ideas for reducing waste while parenting babies and toddlers!

  1. Cloth Diapers and Early Potty Training

This is a simple way to save tons of money waste, but it involves an initial investment and some extra work (although never running out of diapers is a nice trade-off!). By eighteen months, Liam was mostly potty-trained, which also helped.

Unfortunately, we now go through 1-2 diapers a day (naptime and bedtime) and washing that few cloth diapers (every 2-3 days) seems like a waste of water. Plus the cloth weren't absorbent enough at night. So I've tried to make peace with our 1-2 disposables a day until we get fully night and nap potty-trained. I'm interested to try earlier potty training this time around, but time will tell. (I wrote a little bit about the start of cloth diapering here).

  1. Use Regular Glasses and Dishes

Because I was so fascinated with the Montessori method, we started Liam with a shot glass for drinking (rather than a plastic cup). We don't have any plastic kid plates or bowls and only two sippy cups getting dusty in the back or our cabinet.

I love that this saves space and that Liam knows how to use regular, adult dishes. We've had maybe three breaks, which isn't so bad. (The only downside is when other kids come, they often are not used to dishes that will break). This seems like an easy way to cut down on plastic use and teach a child about control of error.

  1. Exclusive Breastfeeding/Baby-Led Weaning

Obviously I realize that not everyone can do this. But exclusively breastfeeding (no bottles) saved us lots of money and, I feel, lots of work. Again, this isn't for everyone (some moms have to use bottles or love using them!) but it worked for us.

By trying out baby-led weaning (letting the baby start with table foods rather than purees) also saved us a lot of time and money. I didn't have to buy or make jars of baby food.

  1. Toys

 Again, because of Montessori, we prefer wood and metal toys and toys that encouraged open-ended play. Liam's favorites are his blocks, his wooden train track and trains, and any cars. He also loves his play kitchen. (Although to be fair, when I was looking through pictures for this post, there were tons of him playing with his favorite plastic toys, as well!). IMG_8723

The biggest thing I've learned about toys is to be moderate and thoughtful. It's easy to think of all the things he might love for Christmas (which I'm doing right now), so we have to be careful as parents not to go overboard. We're preferring memberships to the children's museum and zoo now.

Even with books, I try to be moderate. I love having plenty of beautiful books in our library, but I no longer feel like I must purchase every book Liam loves.

  1. Hand Me Downs

We were fortunate enough to get tons of bags of hand me downs from cousins and friends. Clothes can also be a great gift idea, too--my sister has given Liam most of my favorite outfits for him. (Plus it cuts down on the clutter of receiving only toys!).

I was also surprised by how many other baby items we received as hand-me-downs (an exersaucer, two highchairs, and a bouncy seat, for example). Going back, I would have purchased even less before he came and waited to see what we actually needed (and if anyone else had something we could buy/have secondhand).

  1. Snack Foods

So many toddler favorite foods (and baby foods too) naturally produce a lot of waste. We've done our fair share of buying individually packaged crackers and yogurts. I don't think this is necessarily bad, but after reading about zero waste, I've tried to evaluate what we actually need.

Liam is eating a lot more homemade yogurt (thanks to my mom) and homemade treats (like healthy muffins). I also try to pack more sliced fruit instead of snacks, and I can pack these in containers for him to eat in the car. The secret seems to be in not having the snack foods around in the first place and then he stops asking all day long (although we still love our big bags of veggie sticks).

  1. Freebies

This is something both Marie Kondo and Bea Johnson advocate--don't accept freebies. Whether it's a cheap party favor or a hospital gift bag with formula samples, as I've decluttered, I've realized that most freebies just end up being wasted. Plus I think it sets a good example for our children when we don't accept every freebie.

  1. Wipes and Paper Towels

 I cringe to think of how many wet wipes and paper towels I went through when babysitting (I had no idea then how expensive those things can be!). I am too irresponsible to be allowed to buy wet wipes (and by that I mean that I will go through a whole pack in a matter of days). So we just don't. We use towels or washcloths, even when on the road. Or we find a sink and just wash hands (and sometimes faces). Having an extra set of clothes for Liam also helps.

Going Forward

Thoughtfulness and awareness are the biggest lessons I have gleaned from Zero Waste Home. When I buy something disposable, I try to think about it as part of the larger picture of garbage.

As I mentioned above, we're trying to be more creative about snacks, which has also helped Liam be healthier. He will eat homemade bread with jelly or cheese and he loves leftover soups.

When we run out of Play doh this time, we'll probably make our own to save money and packaging. However, I don't think we're going to be able to give up markers yet (something Johnson recommends in Zero Waste Home).

I'm also more committed to teaching my children to care for the earth and be mindful consumers. Sometimes it feels so overwhelming and as though nothing makes a difference. Zero Waste Home reminded me that is simply not true. We are composting more again, and Liam helps. I try to fill our kitchen with more glass than plastic and to always take my reusable shopping bags when we might stop by the store.

I also don't want to teach him to love stuff, and so we're trying to take an active role by thinking through Christmases and birthdays.

Still, when in this phase of life, it is important to be reasonable, so I didn't say "no" when he asked for a fancy yogurt at the store yesterday, and we still do use ziploc bags (we'll see about phasing those out). I'm sure we'll continue to see places where we can cut down our waste (and often our spending, as well).

The Right to Question: The Vaccine War

photo (19) I didn't think much about vaccinations until I had a baby. However, my research on natural childbirth had also brought up questions about vaccines that became much more concrete when I held my newborn son.

I read the fact sheet, and my son was given his first vaccination in the hospital. But after that, I hesitated. I researched constantly and came away more than a little confused. For one thing, it wasn't just a question of whether to vaccinate or not. If I did decide to vaccinate, I needed to decide whether delays or spacing were important.

In the end, I appreciate vaccinations, and my son receives his. But I also appreciate the complexity surrounding the issue.

I recently read (listened to) On Immunity: An Inoculation by Eula Biss. Biss presents new ways of looking at vaccinations, focusing almost less on the science and more on language and literature, which makes for a fascinating discussion (although there is plenty of science, too!).

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I especially loved how Biss makes us reconsider the word, "natural," how she shows the relationship between vaccinations and literature, and her tactful discussion of our communal responsibility to vaccinate.

1) Redefining "natural": Generally anti-vaccinators are associated with babywearing, organic, attachment parenting type people (like myself!) who are scared to ruin their perfectly natural baby with foreign substances. However, Biss shows that disease itself is natural, and we can't equate "natural" with "good" or "the way things should be."

This helped me realize the importance of a word like "natural." It has come to mean unsullied or pure, but those are not correct definitions. Much of the natural world is dangerous to humans, and safety precautions may seem unnatural, but that does not mean they are bad.

2) Vaccines and language and literature: The English teacher side of me loved this aspect of the book. From the myth of Achilles to Dracula to Silent Spring, Biss shows how literature has influenced how we look at vaccinations and disease and conversely, how vaccinations have played into literature. She weaves this throughout the book.

Language shapes how we view vaccinating our kids and ourselves. Do we call vaccinations "shots" or "jabs"? Do we see germs as invaders that our bodies need to fight? How do we refer to our body's cellular work--do cells have minds and brains?  Is it a war or an intellectual work? Our language--both spoken and mental--shapes our beliefs, usually more than even science does.

 3) The community responsibility: I understand that people take this too far. But Biss also shows that we do have a community responsibility. I was especially fascinated by her section on vaccinations and "the other"--how people equate certain diseases with "them" and not "us," labeling other groups "dirty" or "impure." Biss weaves her own story in here, speaking about her decision to vaccinate her newborn even for diseases not part of his immediate community.

We can't neglect the fact that we are part of a community in considering our own--or our children's--health.

It never feels as though Biss is trying to persuade--or even take part in the vaccination war. But she ultimately does convince the reader to look at vaccinations from a new standpoint.

Biss talks about the history of forced (often at gunpoint!) vaccination. Obviously the right to question--and even refuse--vaccinations is important. This is why we need to rethink how we talk about and view vaccines.

Too often, groups on either side of the vaccine war try to convince using worst case scenarios or terrifying stories. This is not helpful. It is also not helpful to portray the other side as ignorant. Angry, hate-filled articles pop up often on my Facebook, talking about how irresponsible it is to even consider not vaccinating your child. This doesn't make it a dialogue, nor does it honor the complexity. In my experience, most medical professionals also make it hard to ask questions. But the right to question and research must be protected. The more we can make sure facts are responsibly presented, the better.

I was finally convinced by seeing the vaccine sheets--the part where it shows the common or potential results of the shots side by side with the side effects of the disease itself. This made me willing to expose my son to potential vaccine side effects rather than the disease side effects (which were often death).

It also helped me to read articles that showed the true effects of diseases like Polio and hear from older people who would have been thrilled to have the option of vaccinating. Their stories helped me appreciate something that, to me, seems scary.

The dialogue and freedom are what made me finally decide and reach contentment with my decision.

It's important that mothers be content with their decision. If they feel forced or peer-pressured into vaccines, how will they feel if their baby does experience the small percentage of negative side effects? I needed to know I was making a responsible decision, and that I was willing to accept the consequences.

It's scary to bring a beautiful, seemingly-perfect baby into the world and then inject that baby with "harmful" substances. The thought of disease itself is utterly terrifying to mothers. We need to acknowledge that the choice of vaccines is what makes the responsibility so heavy. Finding new ways to look at vaccines and their history, as Biss does, is a huge step in the right direction.

P.S. I read the audio version of On Immunity on Audible and loved the narration.

How We Failed the Whole30 (And Why I'm Glad We Did)

IMG_8786 To save face, we call it our 21 Day Paleo Experiment. In reality, it was a failed Whole30.

In a nutshell, the goal of the Whole 30 is to remove all foods from one's diet that cause intestinal issues (which contribute to a whole host of other issues including allergies and asthma or even fibromyalgia and infertility). These foods include dairy, processed foods, grains, and legumes. You also remove all sweets. That leaves you with nuts, meat, eggs, healthy fats, and vegetables.

I've known about Whole30 for a while, but it always seemed a little faddish--a little unnecessary. We didn't have serious conditions that urge people to try it. In fact, we eat and feel well most of the time.

But for some reason over Christmas I started looking into it in depth. And when I found out the intent of the program I thought, "Okay, maybe we could do this." I read lots of posts and lived on the Whole30 blog for a few days. We bought a cookbook, cleaned our pantry and fridge, and took "before" pictures of ourselves.

Jon and I decided to start on January 5. Initially I was surprised that it was a struggle for me. I've always tried to limit sweets, but over the past couple of months, I've allowed them back in my diet far too often. The cravings were much more intense than I expected the first few days, but we powered through. We survived a day trip to visit Jon's family, our small group dinners, a surprise birthday party, and two-night guests.

But by Day 16 or so, we were talking seriously about quitting. We weren't seeing anything especially positive and were feeling increasingly miserable. We kept encouraging ourselves and one another and talking through it. I used the forums on the website to try to figure out what we were doing wrong, but it boils down to this: we were spending excessive amounts of time and money on food and food preparation, but we were always hungry and had no energy. In the afternoons and evenings, we were exhausted and irritable.

I rarely felt full, even though I had tried everything the forums say to remedy it. It could be due to breastfeeding, but it was very frustrating to feel hungry all the time. It felt like the food went right through me. I couldn't stop thinking about what to eat next, a problem I've never had before. A piece of whole wheat toast with breakfast or a bowl of yogurt really seem to help me in terms of energy and feeling full. I also had some fairly significant joint pain around the two week mark that we think might be related to breastfeeding and doing the Whole30 (upping my vitamin intake solved this).

I kept thinking it would get better. Surely we were just doing something wrong! We ate more frequent template meals (meat, veggies, and healthy fats), incorporated more healthy fats, and kept up the positive talk.

But by Day 21, we were miserable. We both felt like we were living in a fog, and the expense in terms of time and energy was just too much. We tried to convince ourselves that we were so close-- just nine more days! But even nine days of feeling so poorly seemed like a long time. So, with the encouragement of friends and family, we decided to call it a worthwhile experiment and end it.

What drew me to the Whole30 was the "Only do this if you plan to succeed" mindset. I do not like to give up and never expected to. We went into our Whole30 with tons of preparation and feeling confident. But we saw no benefits worth feeling as tired, hungry, and stressed as we were. The intensity of the philosophy made it hard for me to realize that it was okay to stop and that maybe the Whole30 does not work for everyone.

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I'm glad we quit because:

  1. It was a conscious decision. So many of the "giving up" stories I read were due to incredible temptation or poor preparation. Neither of these were our issue. We quit consciously after days of thought and effort, knowing what we were doing.
  1. We accomplished our goals. The goal for us was not to find the cause behind any issue. We went into it feeling well and eating fairly healthily. My overall hope was that it would lead me to be aware of what and how we eat again. We hoped to learn how to incorporate more veggies and to learn new cooking techniques. Both of those goals were met, and we have continued to incorporate much of what we learned.
  1. We needed energy. Not only was the fog enough to make us want to kill each other by evening, but Jon was taking a new position within his company and I chase a toddler around all day. When the fog wouldn't lift, it just wasn't worth it to continue.
  1. It was dominating our lives. Okay, I'm probably just not good at it; I know some people are so good at doing Paleo diet on a budget, and many people are so much more efficient than I am in the kitchen. However, I felt like I spent all day in the kitchen (and it wasn't far from the truth). I planned my life around food for these three weeks. Our power, water and food bills were all double, and I know that a huge portion of this was due to the intensity of meal preparation. Again, this wouldn't be an issue for those more efficient at saving money and planning meals, but it was significant for me.
  1. Quitting felt right. I've become better at trusting my instincts over the past year. And in this case, by the time we decided to quit, I knew on a deep level that it was the right thing to do. And though I thought I would hate myself for giving up, I haven't regretted it at all.

But at the same time, I'm glad we tried it because:

  1. Cutting out sugar and processed foods was great. I loved how our tastebuds changed to appreciate whole foods again. Sweet potatoes became exceedingly sweet! I needed to see how much sugar I had gradually allowed into our diet. I'm reading labels again and making more of my own sauces. But it is still really easy for me to let sugar cravings get out of control.
  1. It made me really think about food, and it reminded me to be aware. I loved trying new foods (hello, jicama) and making my own mayonnaise, ketchup, and barbeque sauce. It was a great reminder of how food contributes to our health and daily well-being. I also didn't realize how often I wasn't getting enough protein and vegetables, even though I was eating mostly whole foods. I've started incorporating more protein-filled breakfasts and lunches like eggs with veggies or healthy leftovers.
  1. We are cooking better. Because there's no covering poor flavor with cheese or bread, Paleo recipes tend to be excellent in terms of flavor and technique from what I've found. I have learned that I can google Paleo versions of our favorite meals to find recipes that leave out less healthy stuff. I now think nothing of cooking dairy-free or gluten-free meals for friends or family because I have a repertoire of delicious recipes. (P.S. I love Well Fed 2, a Paleo cookbook, and still use it multiple times a week).
  1. We are eating veggies more frequently. The Whole30 was a veggie bootcamp. I learned that we love cauliflowered rice, the importance and ease of keeping bags of frozen veggies in the freezer, and how to eat veggies for breakfast. Some of the soups (especially this one!) were delicious.
  1. We saw the benefit of Paleo dinners. We both did sleep better and wake up with more instant energy, and we think a large part of that was the lack of carbs before bed. So we're trying to have Paleo (or mostly Paleo) dinners.
  1. I became better at planning for and preparing Jon's lunches. After all the work of those three weeks, it seems like nothing to make extras and cut up veggies for Jon to take to work. This is still a work in progress though (because I am a chronic under-buyer/under-preparer).
  1. It has given me a lot to think about. I didn't realize how often I had sniffles or allergies until I didn't have them for 21 days. My allergies are generally not severe, but I did find that I had very few during the twenty-one days. My eczema was better too. The lack of occasional allergies was not worth feeling so tired and hungry while on the program (because neither eczema or allergies are huge issues right now), but it is something to consider. We will probably experiment with dairy and grain to see if there is a main culprit, especially depending on the severity of allergy season.

My Overall Thoughts

My mom says that health is an art, not just a science. I found this to be true. I'm not so sure that food is just about physical health and nourishment. Being able to eat meals with friends and family is such a gift, as is the occasional chocolate chip cookie or the freedom to make a bowl of oatmeal. Our bodies and body types can differ, and what works for one person may not work for another (something Beth's post more eloquently touched on here).

This experiment also reminded me how easily our habits and mindset about food can get bent out of shape. I found myself obsessing about food during the Whole30 since I was never full. I kept overthinking whether I was hungry or not. And I found that I had to retrain my brain to realize that some of the non-Whole30 food are not bad for me.

I'm not sure about the sustainability of a Paleo diet in general. This post and this post talk a bit about that. In addition, it was frustrating to forgo organic or ethically-raised meat due to the vast quantity of meat we had to buy.

Ultimately, it was solid in terms of an experiment. We accomplished our goals, learned a lot, and added to our framework for thinking through food and nutrition. However, it taught me that it takes a certain kind of wisdom and humility (and tons of encouragement from friends and family!) to know when it's time to call it quits.

Have you tried a Whole30? What's your approach to healthy eating?

P.S. I just read Beth's post here about their subsequent Whole30, and it is worth a read if you're thinking through the Whole30.