When you've lost a child and science doesn't know exactly why, you begin to look at your health and your baby-factory-body and start asking some hard questions.
Some studies say that the neuro tube defect called anencephaly that took my daughter Goldie from this earth might be caused by a lack of folic acid in the first trimester, and since I didn't really take many prenatals in the first trimester while carrying her, you can imagine the compounding guilt that piled on my heart like hot coals right after she died. I pleaded with God, “Please, let me meet a mother whose baby died of anencephaly who took her prenatal vitamins! Please, Jesus!” The thought that something as seemingly insignificant as my casualty in taking vitamins had played a part in her death threatened to drive me crazy for days on end. But within 48 hours of that prayer, I found myself in conversation with a mother who gave birth to an anencephalic son who assured me she took her prenatal vitamins every day without fail.
Believe me, that conversation helped. But at the end of the day, I actually hadn't done everything I knew to do during my pregnancy, believing that God would protect me as long as I believed, and thinking that giving birth to a baby with no skull happened to ‘other people.'
After Goldie passed and I began to write about my process of grieving, I received a flash flood containing thousands of emails from women who had also lost children—sharing pictures, telling stories, and revealing their deepest pain. Mother after mother who miscarried. Mother after mother who find themselves barren. Mother after mother whose babies had accidents in the womb, or were diagnosed with fatal diseases and watched those same children die in their arms.
As the stories came and came, something inside felt a red flag…..There's something wrong with this picture. This seems like these stories are becoming more and more common, and they didn't used to be.
I'm a hippie at heart, as you know from my decision to forego medical ultrasounds and hop in a birthing tub during a home birth, so living an organic, natural lifestyle wasn't something far fetched to me. Years before I wrote God Loves Ugly and while I struggled with an eating disorder, eating healthy wasn't for the purpose of actually being healthy. It was tethered to a poisonous addiction to food and obsession with body image. For several years while God was walking me into a land called freedom, I needed the pendulum to swing far in the other direction for a while, learning to eat anything and everything without shame or fear. But after a few years of freedom where I might not have consumed an actual nutrient (unless you count french fries a vegetable), God began pulling my heart and behaviors towards a healthy balance of freedom and eating foods my body actually needed to thrive.
And once body weight wasn't a factor and health was the goal, the things I began to learn about our foods in American were both shocking and horrific. The amount of foods in our grocery store with actual, healthy nutrients are becoming fewer and farther between, and will continue to be that way as long as the FDA is influenced by big business and lobbyists who pay to get their products on the shelves. Most product ingredients in the center of any regular grocery store begin with sugar, corn syrup, and end with all sorts of words I'll never be able to pronounce.
Because I'm believing for God to knit life in my womb again soon and want to be as healthy as possible when He does—spirit, soul, AND body—there were a few things I needed to do in order to take responsibility for my part of the equation. Many times in the past, I was so ready for God to do His part, but I didn't do much to make sure I had done mine. And that just doesn't make much sense, does it?
Since Goldie died on March 5, just five months ago, my Studhubs and I have gone primarily Paleo. When we got into CrossFit, it just seemed to be the natural second step, and because he's the cook in the family and was preparing the meals, I tagged along because I simply wanted to eat.
And I must say, I've never felt better in my life.
Eliminating refined sugar, flour, and most dairy (I say most because cheese will always be my love language!) has completely changed the way I feel. It's altered my energy, my digestion, and my elimination. My attempt to go the trendy vegetarian route in college proved a total disaster, and because I'm type O blood and need meats in my diet, the carnivore thing is something I'll always need.
But let's not just talk about the types of foods. Let's talk about where the foods come from.
Like I said earlier, most foods in the middle of your grocery store are GMO (genetically modified), have little to no nutrients, and are loaded with sugars that spike your energy, and then you crash hard—then needing more of the same bad foods to keep you going. And don't forget, they're filled with toxic chemicals and ingredients, some of which are banned in other countries.
As I read this today in an article on NaturalOn.com today, I stopped in my tracks:
“Fruits that are non-organic are contaminated with some very dangerous pesticides such as atrazine, thiodicarb, and organophosphates, as well as high nitrogen fertilizers.
Atrazine is banned in European countries but still used here. This is a weed killer that causes severe problems in humans, especially in our reproductive capabilities.”
Our cows are filled with antibiotics, and our chickens are pumped full of growth hormones (causing all sorts of problems in our children)—all because we want things to be cheaper, bigger, and more convenient. Our vegetables and fruits are sprayed with poisons banned in other countries, and someone told me the other day that the FDA just approved RoundUp to be used on potatoes in America—which just happens to be another poison that will now be on every french fry and potato chip in America.
When I was a kid just 30 years ago, cancer was a rarity. And now, if you don't know someone dying of cancer, you're a rarity. I know several friends my age who are dying of fatal diseases. So what happened over the last 30 years as cancer, deformities, diseases, and medical problems are at an all-time high, even when medicine has advanced so far? The US alone spent 3.8 trillion dollars last year in healthcare, but we're discovering more and more problems in our children, our young people, and those who seem to be healthy.
What's the missing link here?
Within our home, we try to avoid GMO foods, white flour, refined sugars, soda, artificial sweeteners, hormone/antibiotic filled meats, and anything that's not organic—especially fruits and veggies. Do I have a piece of cake at a party from time to time? Absolutely—and I can tell the difference immediately as the sugar hits my blood, feeling physically terrible. I'll never use what I know as an absolute, but I definitely want to use it to aid in my life experience, and the life of my family.
This article on 16 Cancer Causing Foods You Probably Eat Every Day is full of invaluable information and will open your eyes to the dangers within many of our foods—dangers that are completely avoidable.
For years, I used antiperspirant deodorant. And then I realized my body was actually created to sweat, and as I sweated, my body eliminated toxins it needed to purge. Then I learned that there was aluminum in antiperspirant, and realized my armpits were directly by my milk ducts—the milk ducts supplying the sold food for my infant son.
There's been some debate whether or not antiperspirant is linked to breast cancer in women, but here is an excerpt from WebMD claiming that some studies have found a connection:
“A few studies in recent years have theorized that aluminum-based antiperspirants may increase the risk for breast cancer.
According to the authors of these studies, most breast cancers develop in the upper outer part of the breast — the area closest to the armpit, which is where antiperspirants are applied. The studies suggest that chemicals in antiperspirants, including aluminum, are absorbed into the skin, particularly when the skin is nicked during shaving. These studies claim that those chemicals may then interact with DNA and lead to cancerous changes in cells, or interfere with the action of the female hormone estrogen, which is known to influence the growth of breast cancer cells.”
I'm not here to debate whether or not antiperspirant is linked to breast cancer. But at the end of the day, I simply don't want aluminum going into my body—especially when I'm trying to make a baby.
And almost everything that touches my skin and goes directly into my blood stream is now natural or organic. I've switched to Caudalie Natural Skin Care, make sure my shampoo is sulfate and paraben free, my deodorant is all natural (which means I have to reapply during the day, but hey, it's worth it). My soaps are goat soaps and all natural, my lotions are made from things God put on this earth, and I learned from a professional makeup artist that many of the ingredients in our American makeups are banned in other countries. To find out the toxicity of your makeup, pull out your cosmetic bag, and head over to this helpful website.
This blog is getting far too long, and I haven't even written about essential oils and electronics yet, which means, this hippie will have to save that info for another day.
So I'll leave you with this. Am I to blame for the death of my daughter? That is a question I will never ask myself—because that question will only lead to more pain. And believe me, I've been through enough pain for a lifetime in the past 5 months. Instead of dwelling on the past and asking questions that I'll never know the answer to that will most definitely drive me crazy, I have a choice every day to make better choices with what I know, doing as much as I can to make sure my body is as healthy as possible for the children I will carry in the years to come.
Is God responsible for knitting more children together in my womb? Absolutely. And as a good steward of my temple and my body, I want to do everything within my power to get ready for the miracle of growing life once again.