Friday, April 27, 2007

How I Became GreenMAMA

Chapter 3: A Mothering Revolution

Life changed dramatically when we decided to have a baby. We sort-of rushed into it (not even married). It sort of went like this. We broke up. Cried a lot. Decided to get back together. Decided we were soulmates committed for life.


"Let's have a baby."


"Not now, necessarily."

"Oh, darling.....Oh, oh, OHHH!"

One month later....

"Well, honey, the test is positive. Ready or not..."

Yeah, not the most coherent planning ever undertaken.

Influenced by my parents and my own belief that Nature knows best, I was really interested in having a natural childbirth. This led me to take a Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth class.

The Bradley Method is wonderful in many ways and I learned so many invaluable lessons in the class, but their dietary recommendations are less than healthful. The BradleyMethod promotes the Brewer Diet for preventing toxemia and preeclampsia and for growing a "blue ribbon baby" i.e. a mammoth whale of a newborn. The Brewer diet appealed to me because it was just like my mother recommended when I was young, lots of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, eggs, and milk. The cornerstone? 100 grams of protein! We were given sheets to count up our protein grams. I was proud that as a vegetarian, I could pack in that protein. However, I also discovered I had pica. When I began dreaming of hamburgers and my midwife warned me that my iron was low, I added some meat back into my diet, mainly poultry and fish. I also took Floradix, a natural iron tonic, but couldn't get myself to take it very often.

I dutifully packed all of the healthful foods in, along with that protein and a couple of pints of Ben and Jerry's a week. I gained a whopping 45 pounds on my already overweight body.

I failed my first glucose tolerance test. But I passed the fasting one, so no gestational diabetes for me, right? And I felt and looked fantastic. I was a fantastic whale of a pregnant woman and I loved every minute of it. Everyone praises and encourages a pregnant woman to eat more. I was having fun!

As I considered my impending role as a mother, I began thinking of how important my mother's role as cook for our family was. I wanted to instill healthy eating habits in my child. I, of course, planned to breastfeed. I had read that a breastfeeding mother's diet could impact the nutrition of her milk and could influence her children to like healthy foods. I began buying magazines like Vegetarian Times and Cooking Light and trying out recipes. My husband was encouraging and we sometimes entertained friends, who were complimentary.

Our money concerns led us to try to eat out less, and of course, drinking was out while I was pregnant.

Finally, our son arrived. Our birth was not what we wanted and a small part of this was due to his very large size, 9 pounds 6.5 ounces, a blue ribbon baby all right! Being a new parent, and then a pumping full-time working mom in a big city with traffic and a stressful job took a heavy toll on my emotional health. Not to mention our debt and the wedding which we planned and paid for and held in a distant place close to our parents. We also moved 3 times within 2 years. We were constantly stressed out. Yet our eating habits had improved quite a bit.

I now regularly cooked healthy meals. We ate out 2-3 times a week instead of 5-6. I gradually phased the meat out of our diets after about 6 months. Between the small improvements in our diet and breastfeeding, I managed to get my weight down to about 155 at 18 months postpartum. I also had 1 full year of respite from my period because of the breastfeeding, which resolved my iron deficiency and pica, and gave my body a much-needed break.

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