We had been ‘commitedly raw’ (100%) for 2 ½ years when we got pregnant with Mia. An exciting time! We were just finishing up another stint as long-haul truck drivers in the USA and were getting ready to return to New Zealand to continue studying Naturopathy, Nutrition & Herbal Medicine. In fact, Mia was conceived in the 18-wheeler the month before we left, setting the stage for a nomadic childhood. I remember perusing the internet then to find out about other moms’ experiences with raw pregnancies. There wasn’t much out there in 2008, but I did find Jinjee’s and Shazzie’s pregnancy tales which I enjoyed reading. I also re-read the ‘Raising Rainbow Babies’ chapter in Gabriel Cousens’ Rainbow Green Live Food Cuisine and Baby Greens by Michaela Lynn and Michael Chrisemer. I can recommend both books for nutritional information and recipes for pregnancy, babies, children and beyond. Not that we had any doubts about being raw during pregnancy… surely, there can’t be any use in destroying valuable nutrients through cooking and creating toxic by- products in the bargain for ANY stage of life. But maybe there were some ‘special’ suggestions that would lead to a particularly amazing pregnancy, birth and healthy baby? We didn’t come across any new absolutely earth-shattering information, but felt confirmed in our belief that a raw vegan organic pregnancy would be the best thing we could do (nutritionally) for our baby-in-making. I also found the recipes for babies and children useful and Cousens’ recommendations about food preparation for babies (e.g. which foods to start out with and why, the importance of blended and warm foods).
I began taking a wholefood pregnancy supplement (New Chapter) and vowed to take my B12 supplement more regularly. Very quickly I noticed my body changing… most prominently, my boobs getting tender and bigger and my sense of smell getting highly acute. To my shock and horror, I could no longer stand the smell of most raw veggies and the thought of eating them was revolting. Well, damn! Now what? As nuts and seeds weren’t that palatable to me either, I mostly stuck to eating fruit. Had I been comfortable eating huge quantities of fruit at the time, it would have probably been fine. But, alas, I wasn’t. I was still very much convinced that I ought to eat mostly vegetables with nuts and seeds and low-glycemic fruit. To make matters worse, it was winter in New Zealand and the selection of fruit in the health food store was not exactly abundant.
On the trip down to New Zealand we changed planes in LA and treated ourselves to yummy raw gourmet food at Juliano’s and Rawvolution. By then, I had recovered a little from our flight to LA on which I had been miserably wedged between David with onion breath and a darling elderly lady with flowery perfume… I was about ready to retch on their laps!
From LA, we went on to a stop-over in Fiji where we had decided to splurge on a 3 day trip to the Yasawas. We found a place that billed itself as an ‘eco resort’ offering organic food which wasn’t outrageously priced. On inquiry, they said they’d be happy to cater for us with raw veganic fare. Yay! It was absolutely beautiful in the Yasawas, and the family running the place was lovely. The food however wasn’t quite what we had expected: instead of an abundance of tropical fruit we were stuck with eating papaya salad (including non-organic condiments) and coconuts, and not very much of either. I don’t think it would have bothered us much, if the American dude involved with advertising the place and helping the family run it hadn’t made it out to be something different, and charged us accordingly. And if I hadn’t been HUNGRY and pregnant ;-). But nevertheless, the little huts right at the ocean and the bathroom with shower curtains instead of a door charmed us. I fondly remember pinning both sides of the shower curtain down with my hands while I sat on the toilet. Kind of like camping but BETTER, because we were in a place called Blue Lagoon. Still, we were glad to arrive in Auckland :-).
As the weeks went on with me not eating much of anything and loosing some weight, we became growingly uneasy. I had to eat, but WHAT?? In the end, ‘what’ turned out to be cooked veganic. SHEESH! So while David kept on with our normal raw diet, I ,who had wanted to eat only the most wholesome and healthy foods for the benefit of my baby, ate things like cooked quinoa, millet, veggies (because they magically became ‘de-grossed’ through cooking *head shaking*) and yes, even vegan spelt pizza. Interestingly, I noticed that I could stuff my face in the most shocking manner without feeling ‘satiated’. Yes, I was FULL but I could have gone on eating if I hadn’t had a modicum of self-control. With raw foods I’d usually reach a point where even the yummiest dish wouldn’t tempt me to continue eating beyond a certain level of fullness… because I was satisfied. Luckily, the cooked- food-pigout didn’t last beyond 6 weeks. After that, I no longer felt nauseous and went back to 100% raw for the rest of pregnancy. Every day, David made a raw green veggie juice for us and I felt ‘back on track’. The rest of the pregnancy was a breeze and very enjoyable. We could feel and see baby move around in my belly a lot and were so eager to meet this little person. As the days grew longer and sunnier I began making raspberry leaf sun-tea in a huge jar in our backyard and drank heaps of it. Raspberry leaf tea has been used for centuries to ease the pain and shorten the duration of labour.
I also took 1 bottle of Floradix Iron Herbs and ate maca because my blood iron levels were low-ish though not extremely so. Before anyone jumps to the conclusion, let me add that this is very common during pregnancy! In industrialized countries, roughly 1 in 5 pregnant women has full-blown anaemia. So there!
As I was pretty busy studying full-time and working 20 hours a week at the college plus occasional shifts at a health food store, I didn’t read much outside of my school books during the semester. But afterwards I devoured as many pregnancy and parenting books as I could get my hands on. My favourites were The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff, The Diaper Free Baby by Christine Gross- Loh and Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin.
Birth came around sooner than we had anticipated. In fact, after working in the health food store all summer, I had finally had some days off but was still rostered on to work the coming weekend. We expected baby to arrive a little after the due date as this is common in first pregnancies. Mia however was ready 2 ½ weeks before that :-). Yes, there was some pain involved, but it wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated. Mia was born at home 3 ½ hours after my contractions had gotten ‘uncomfortable’ and my water broke. She flopped into David’s hands within 10 minutes of pushing. I loved pregnancy, I even loved labour (no, I’m not into pain, but this is different.. kind of like an initiation), but the moment Mia was born and everything that followed after was the absolute best! These experiences have also taught me a new level of respect for my body and the amazing ways of life. But maybe more on that another time. Suffice to say, that we got the hang of breast feeding quite quickly, my belly shrunk back to normal at an awesome speed and we all remain very much in love with each other.
Our next pregnancy took place 2 ½ years later. This time, I was so busy chasing an active toddler and moving to the US and back with David and Mia, that I often forgot that I was pregnant! That was remedied a bit when my belly grew bigger and baby moved around more within. This time I kept my cooked food exploits to 3 weeks during the first trimester, much for the same reasons. At least I stuck to ‘only’ one cooked meal a day. I was crazy for lentil soup! I tried essene wheat bread once during that time, as well as some wholemeal vegan spelt pizza, and that didn’t go well at all! I felt sort of ‘hung over’ afterwards, yikes. We had lots of green smoothies and I took Vitamin D (I was pretty low when I got tested… once again, very common; it didn’t help that we had 2 winters that year due to our move to the USA), Vitamin B12 and a Prenatal Formula by Garden of Life ( the RAW series), as well as Blood Builder by Megafoods, just in case. I had my blood tested again when we returned to NZ 2 months before our due date and everything was in a healthy range. Once again, I loved being pregnant!! And then our second daughter was born :-). She arrived a few hours past her due date. Labour lasted about 2 hours and Jamie was born within a couple of minutes of pushing. Mia slept through the whole event and woke up to find her little sister in bed with us a few hours later. Heavenly!
And right after the wonders of birth and babies and boobs, we probably most loved the amazing raw gourmet food that our friends brought over for us that night. Saintly people that remembered our base needs :-)!