“My” Diet Has Not Helped My Pregnancy Sickness

Fresh blueberriesThe Food-Health Connection Is Real

Discovering the power of food changed my life about two years ago.  Although my mom isn’t very happy with me, I just can’t tell you how much better my husband and I feel (and we wouldn’t even have been considered “unhealthy” by most in the first place.)  Invincible.  Empowered.  THIS is where it’s at.  Let my friends, family, and (ex) colleagues think I’m crazy, I’ve decided this food stuff is no voodoo.  Medical doctors have their heads buried deep in the sands of guidelines and HIPAA and OSHA and Medicare check boxes–they are NOT making time to learn about this stuff.  I didn’t make time when I practiced and trust me, it’s not a part of required typical continuing medical education.

Countless food journals, diligent symptom logging and persistent elimination/reintroduction phases have led our family to be able to control most symptoms we used to medicate.  I never, ever would have believed this a few years ago as a practicing physician, and I sometimes think I must be “goofy” to believe it even now.  Occasionally my medical brain–which I paid so much money for–insists on denial that a real food-body connection exists.  That’s when my husband just shakes his head, “Why’d you eat it?  Why?”

They Said, “Maybe It’ll Be Different With ‘Your’ Diet!”

So I’m all about nutrition nowadays, and if I don’t watch it may put too much store in it.  But life is about learning.  (Homeschooling, if you will.)  And the last few months I had to learn that sometimes even the best diet fails and you truly are helpless to the whims of internal physiology and biochemistry.  (I DID know that already, really, but I guess I needed to FEEL it.)  In November, I was feeling so great.  I felt like all my hard nutritional work over the last two years was really, really paying off, and I was even starting to reintroduce some problem foods with a little success.  Then I got pregnant.  Oh, boy.

Friends and family get informed very early when I am pregnant.  (Sometimes store clerks do too when I lock myself out of my car or forget my wallet.)  None of this waiting 12 weeks here to tell.  Withholding information only serves to make me seem quite irritable, neglectful, and remiss to others if they don’t know “the secret.”  Plus, I have miscarried in the past and people didn’t know I was pregnant.  The first they hear about it is when I’m headed to the OR for a D & C.  “I didn’t even know you were pregnant!”  Nice.  Sob.  I was.

Well, anyway, this fifth time around, many people exclaimed,   “Maybe ‘your’ new diet will make the sickness not so bad!”   I secretly hoped with them. I was secretly confident. I was eating great and had been eating great for two years!  All the recommended “voodoo” stuff:  broths, liver, seaweed, tons of organic vegetables, pastured meats, avoidance of inflammatory foods, some fruit, probiotic, magnesium (plenty of that!), B vitamins, fermented cod liver oil.  What am I missing?  My body was armed and it was ready.

Despite “My New Diet” Pregnancy Symptoms Chewed Me Up.  (Just Like All the Other Times.)Zucchini pizza

The nausea increased and increased. The overwhelming exhaustion consumed me. Odor aversion sickened me all day. Food cravings and aversions hit.  I was so hungry all the time but so nauseated. Some foods left horrible tastes in my mouth. I over-salivated like a loving puppy (medical terms for hyper-salivation: ptyalism or sialorrhea). No matter what I ate, the sickness continued.  Bloating kicked in to the point it hurt.  Constipation fluttered back in and out as it wished.

About the time the nausea started lifting at the end of the first trimester, I got a new twist.  Horrible, migraine-like headaches and an apathetic, flat mood.  I felt like I had gone out of the hot pot of typical morning sickness and into some frying pan. Since adhering to “my diet” clearly had not helped in the first trimester, I had gotten mad in the throes of it and let in foods which I don’t normally eat/eat much of (like egg yolks, nuts, potatoes, tapioca bread, and rice).  “What difference does it make?” I thought.  “I feel horrible one way or the other.”  (Just an FYI.  I tried a cheese quesadilla, a real one, and it was unmistakably unacceptable.  Guess you can feel worse than worse with certain food choices in pregnancy.)  Mess with my GI tract but please don’t mess with my brain.  When my head started getting “attacked,” I ran back to the safety of “my diet”–the home-tailored GAPS/PALEO/SCD/Autoimmune PALEO diet that had got me feeling so good.  I don’t know that it helped, but it offered me some sense of control.

Despite feeling so good prior to pregnancy and eating so well early on, it was turning out NO differently than all the other four pregnancies.  How could life have selected for pregnant women to be so sick?  I would have had to have been left behind by the tribe 10,000 years ago!  Left to die holding the prized liver awarded to pregnant women back in those days.  “Bye-bye.  See you guys.  Thanks for the liver.  I’ll run from wolves the best that I can.”

This isn’t my first pregnancy.  I’ve Googled all this “morning sickness” (it’s more than just nausea–it’s overwhelming exhaustion, smell aversion, increased salivation, headaches, you name it) stuff before seeking relief.  I’ve sat through lectures on it.  I’ve counseled patients on it during obstetrical rotations in residency.  I’ve tried this and that and this and that.  But I searched again.   A re-Google did NOT help.  I found things like “The Real Cause of Morning Sickness”, which pinpoints diet, magnesium, and B vitamins.  I was so mad.  “The Real Cause of Morning Sickness,” my foot.

Garden broccoliChin Up and Eat Nutrient-Dense Choices For Two

All this nutrition “jazz” worked for the author of that post and other similar posts out there.  But here is MY post saying, “Hang in there, chic.  Despite your best diet and supplements, pregnancy-induced sickness may bark up your tree.”  It is barking up mine.

I’ll be the first to back nutrition and say you gotta’ try it.  You gotta’ eat right.  I’ll tell you to try to play it safe and not eat some of those urging craving choices, like a cheese quesadilla.  But I’ll admit when I’m defeated, too.  In the Food vs. Pregnancy battle, Pregnancy won here in this house–despite copious pre-pregnancy magnesium, B rich meats and vegetables and supplement, and vitamin D enrichment.  So if this is you, too, it’s okay.  Chin up.  It doesn’t last forever.  Your body is just doing its job and for some reason that makes you (and me) exceptionally uncomfortable.  Eat the best you can and stay in the game.  Don’t let miserable pregnancy symptoms knock you too far off your nutritional choices and goals.

Even if it doesn’t make our pregnancy symptoms better, we have to come out of this pregnancy as strong as we went in.  Baby will take what baby needs.  Reproduction is numero uno in life.  So eat well to make sure you have enough for BOTH of you!  I didn’t come out of pregnancy four very well:  kidney stones, daily headaches, allergies, exhaustion, achiness, and hormonal issues.  I’m determined to come out of this one better than I went in.

Has “Your Diet” Helped Anything?

Yes.  Typically no matter what pre-pregnancy weight I start at–I’ve started anywhere from 135-148 pounds–within the first trimester my weight soars to about 160 pounds.  Seriously.  Right off the bat.  I thought it was just me and my body.  I never fretted since it happened every time and I was healthy.  I always gained over forty pounds each pregnancy.  And each baby has gotten successively bigger–7 pounds, 8 pounds, 9 pounds.  So I’m curious to see how much weight I gain and what this baby weighs.

This time around, I’ve gained 6 pounds and I’m at 16 weeks.  I haven’t done anything except put forth a tremendous effort to stick to whole foods–call it Paleo, GAPS, SCD, whatever you wish, I don’t care.   I’ll be interested to see if it holds.  But as for all other pregnancy associated symptoms, my diet has not helped.  But I know it’s going to help me tremendously in the recovery period.  (And if it doesn’t, I’ll let you know.)

How Far Do I Shake My Conventional Training?

I’m beginning to think about things I’ve never thought about before.–Do I want my baby to get a hep B vaccine at Interior of a passion fruitbirth?  How about vitamin K?  Should I have them delay clamping and cutting the cord?  What’s this strangeness about eating the placenta?–I know you have more.  So lay them on me.  Food is no longer voodoo to me–but all this other stuff is.  So throw these new sacrilegious ideas out there to let me decide how many waves to make at the hospital.  (I’m a conventional medical doctor.  Bear easy on me.  I love to investigate the validity of these new ideas, but my choices will be skewed by my experiences.  And although I already told him to prepare for some waves at the hospital, my husband is slower than I am to embrace conventional medical practice–but still a great trooper.)


30 thoughts on ““My” Diet Has Not Helped My Pregnancy Sickness

  1. mommytrainingwheels

    I was actually hopeful that there was hope in a better diet to ease the pregnancy symptoms. I am SOOOO over the nausea, extreme fatigue and food aversions! But I guess I’ll just keep going at it one day at a time and try to eat well.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Yeah, I was hoping there was hope in diet, too! And probably for some women there is. For others of us, not so. BUT–even though we only need about 300 extra calories for the “two” of us–we need lots of extra nutrients to keep our tanks up! So eat well! (Eat some broccoli with your hot dog tonight. 🙂 )

      Warm breezes your way!

  2. The Vanilla Housewife

    I feel you mama. I was so sick when I was pregnant with the little girl. I threw up a lot and stayed in bed for over 2 months the first trimester. The only thing I could eat were plantains! Boiled and bland. And mashed potatoes, I remember. Anything with no overwhelming scent! Hope the nausea abates soon! xo

  3. FitMomPam

    It’s funny that you bring up all the stuff like vaccines, eating the placenta (oh no way Jose!), etc. I am actually really glad I am done having kids b/c I find it’s hard enough just dealing with my 7 and almost 5 year old! I do hope you turn the corner soon Terri!

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Yeah. I thought it was behind me, too! Life is a big “Ha! Ha!” 🙂 But that’s okay. Long ago I wanted four kids–until I was pregnant!

      I sure do hope I turn that corner, too, Pam. I get really mad at being sick like this. I’m a do-er and this just isn’t cutting it.

  4. Jackie

    Thanks for posting about this. I’m very interested in diet during preganancy!

    I’m sorry about the morning sickness! It is cruel to feel nauseous AND hungry all at the same time, I can’t imagine smell aversions on top of it. Have you tried ginger capsules? They’re stronger than the tea and help me a lot, but of course (I hope?) I am not pregnant. Strangely, the cheapo Walmart brand (Spring Valley, you can also buy it on Amazon) seems to be the freshest/most potent. I take one or two when I wake up then as needed. They don’t work instantly, but for me, they often do work. This is especially true if I stay ahead of the nausea but I’m not sure if you’re getting the chance to get ahead since it sounds nearly constant. I am sure you already know about digestive enzymes, but those help me too. They get the food out of there and into my intestines where it is safe from expulsion. 😊

    I just read somewhere vitamin K tends to go down in the third trimester in most women, but I see you are aware of vitamin K… and your diet is not the diet of “most women”. I have been learning about how vitamin k needs to be supplemented if vitamin D is, pretty interesting and worth a google search sometime if you’re not already ahead of me.

    Are you aware of the term “attachment parenting”? I follow some Facebook groups on that, and they are often doing things the opposite of mainstream. Their love of baby wearing seems to be becoming mainstream. Just an idea for yet another google search term if you have not already tried it. One group you could follow is Nurture ~ Natural Parenting Magazine. It is Australian based. You can even private message them from their page and explain what you’ve done for morning sickness and ask for ideas. They’ll post it on your behalf and it’ll go out to all of their 30,000+ members news feeds and you’ll get all sorts of responses. It’s pretty neat!

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Good information, Jackie. I’m not ahead on this one–thanks for telling me! I’ll look up about vitamin D/vitamin K connection. (Have you checked the Perfect Health Diet by the Doctors Jaminet? I really like the way they break down nutrients, how to get them, what if you get too much or don’t have enough, some synergy among the nutrients, etc–there may have been something in there about this vitK/vitD now that you jog my memory–I’ll have to look.)

      You’re the second person to suggest the ginger capsules. I’ve tried the homebrewed tea, but not the capsules. Those would be easy and safe to try.

      Thanks, too, about the group(s) you suggested. I have lots to read! Don’t we always?! Now I just got to quit going to bed at 7 pm and find some more time. ~~Terri

      1. nontoxicnurse

        A MD/ND told me that this is a great book for those who want to learn more about Vitamin K2: http://www.amazon.com/Vitamin-K2-Calcium-Paradox-Little-Known/dp/0062320041. K2 is the particular form of natural Vitamin K that is of interest when it comes to issues of Vitamin D supplementation and calcium deposition (i.e., whether the calcium you eat is deposited in your bones, where you want it, versus in your blood vessels, where you do not want it). K2 is the form of Vitamin K found in grassfed butter and is thought to be the health giving “X Factor” that Dr. Weston A. Price spoke of. There is also Vitamin K1, which is the natural type of Vitamin K found in leafy greens, which promotes clotting. The form of Vitamin K given to neonates by injection is actually a synthetic form: phytonadione. I think that the synthetic nature of the vitamin in the injection, the mega dosage in the injection, and concerns about the inactive ingredients, are the reasons why some parents are refusing the injection. I read somewhere that you can choose for your baby to be given oral K1 instead of the synthetic injection.

      2. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        I knew about the K2, and I actually picked up some of the butter oil to take during pregnancy (not only rich in K2 but also butyrate!). I had been afraid to try it the last year or so because no matter what dairy I try, I never do well. I took some when I bought it and it seemed like the headaches came around then–but I KNOW now it wasn’t that because the HAs persisted much, much beyond that time! But I try to get my kids the grass fed butter and yogurt so they make sure and get the K2. From what I have read, it is invaluable! Thank you for the link to the book. I look forward to checking that out!

        I am tickled by the pearl about the K1 oral you mentioned. Irish Mum (in the comments) mentioned she gave drops instead. So that must be what she did. Anyhow, I would really like to read on this because the level of vitamin K when they give it to newborns exorbitantly above normal,physiologic levels bothers me a bit (but I haven’t read up on this yet).

        Thanks again for your comments!

  5. nontoxicnurse

    I had the exact same symptoms you describe during my pregnancy. From what you have written, it sounds like you have tried the max safe dose of B6 already. For me, what did the trick was the max safe dose of B6, in divided doses, along with ginger capsules. It was the magic combo, suggested by my highly-evolved conventional OB-GYN, that stopped that awful CNS nausea. I think the ginger tea described in the GAPS book would be fine in lieu of the capsules (maybe even better as it comes from fresh ginger), but I had never heard of the GAPS book when I was pregnant . . . which, unfortunately, as you will read below, worked to my child’s detriment.

    As for the other important questions you raise, I will share my experience of learning to listen to my “mommy gut voice” over my “nurse brain voice.” I learned it the hard (very hard) way and my learning curve caused harm to my child. I refused the Hep B vaccine the day my baby was born. Being a NICU nurse, I have seen how physiologically difficult the transition to extra-uterine life can be and my “mommy gut voice” told me that an organism going through such an adjustment did not need an immunological challenge on top of it. The Mom-Baby Unit nurse incredulously asked, “but aren’t you a nurse?” when I told her I wanted to postpone. I explained my rationale to her, but it was clear she thought I was nuts. Thankfully, disapproval from a peer meant nothing to me–it actually made me wonder if she understood how Hep B is transmitted, haha! However, future disapproval from a pediatrician would cause me to cave, and, unfortunately, my “nurse brain voice” overpowered my “mommy gut voice” from then on.

    In accordance with my “mommy gut voice,” I wanted to space out my daughter’s vaccines, just to be safe, given our family history of sensitivity to medications, autoimmune disease, and atopic conditions. The pediatrician treated me like I was ridiculously stupid and would be endangering my child by spacing out vaccines. The pediatrician was in agreement with my “nurse brain voice,” so I succumbed to conventional medical wisdom and I let her have the Hep B and all the other scheduled vaccines, as scheduled, from that day forward.

    I cried in the car after every round of vaccines because my “mommy gut voice” was screaming as loudly as it could that there was something unique and different about my child. Vaccines seem to affect her more severely than the four children for whom I had been a nanny in college. She was feverish for longer than other kids, seemed strangely distant and somnolent for up to a month afterward, and would drool through (literally) 5 or 6 terry cloth with polypropylene back bibs per day. At 9 months old, she got a dose of flu vaccine while she had an URI and a low grade fever. My “mommy gut voice” had told me to wait until she was well, but the pediatrician assured me that it was better to do it while she was sick to “get it all over with,” and, again, the “nurse brain voice” and the pediatrician won.

    By two weeks later, she had developed an otitis that lasted from November until March and affected her balance, hearing, and speech (which had previously been very advanced). It took 3 rounds of antibiotics and 6 months of Zyrtec for her to be able to hear again. Just as the ENT was about to resort to tubes, the serous fluid finally cleared up.

    Despite my having given her probiotics during the antibiotics, she developed a chronic candida rash literally all over her body. The pediatrician did not believe me that it was yeast. On our third visit in one month’s time, for the same rash, I had to be forceful and point out the satellite lesions and explain that, since our last (futile and frustrating) visit, the rash had responded to the Lotrimen I decided I was going to smear all over my poor miserable kid three times per day. She made her disapproval of my using an OTC without her permission clear, but, with an eye roll, she told me to keep using the Lotrimen if it was “working so well.” I explained that it was keeping the papules from coalescing into red, raw skin, but that it was not eliminating the rash effectively. She said, “Well if you are so convinced it is yeast, then maybe we need to send you to Peds Dermatology.” “Yes please,” I replied. She rolled her eyes and sighed at me. I wanted to scream, but stayed calm and said, ” I feel like staying with the topical is akin to putting out a house fire with a garden hose.” My calmness and candor was rewarded: I got a script for a course of Diflucan literally thrown at me in disgust, and then the pediatrician turned and walked out with a big loud sigh. . . fun times. I held in my tears until I got to the car.

    The rash started to clear up by the 3rd day on Diflucan and was never heard from again (she never took antibiotics again either though). From then on, after vaccines, I noticed she had strange hives and red plaques on her face, neck, and chest. These were dismissed by our new pediatrician as “heat rash.”

    At 18 months my mommy gut voice was proven right: my kid was different after all. After a round of vaccines, she developed a month of non-stop diarrhea. Within another month she had developed blatant ASD symptoms and absence seizures. She started getting the hives and red plaques on her face, neck, and chest outside of just after vaccines. She went from being an advanced child who could literally read road signs, restaurant signs, and whatever Golden Books you put in front of her at age 18 months, to using books to hit people during her rare breaks from her new habit of running in circles while making a high-pitched squealing noise. My formerly agreeable and gentle child began having tantrums that lasted hours during which she was extremely violent. I noticed the hives, plaques and behavior were all worse 30 minutes to 1.5 hours after meals, and then they would all calm down a bit until the next meal. I started keeping a food and behavior diary and noticed that meals with grains or starches seemed to set off worse behavior and seizures.

    When I explained to the pediatrician that my daughter had had major behavior changes and had lost her ability to read, I was told, “It is not normal for an 18-month-old to read.” From there on I used my PPO insurance (no need for a referral to specialists) to my advantage. I took her to an allergist/immunologist and demanded allergy and immunological testing. The allergy testing came first. She did not have IgE allergies to anything but hops (which I had never given her, but have read is a common contaminant in grain products), but he explained to me that she could be having delayed sensitivity reactions and that if his kid acted like that after meals with grains he would go by the in vivo evidence, as it is the gold standard. I demanded immunological testing–he felt like it was overkill, but I made it clear I wasn’t leaving without it. The testing came back that she had agammaglobulinemia!!!! The “mommy gut voice” was vindicated. She WAS different and she WAS fragile! It turned out that she was NOT a candidate for live vaccinations or probably even the typical vaccination schedule without careful monitoring of her immune system.

    I found the GAPS book on the internet. After 4 months on strict GAPS, her symptoms had improved greatly. I asked for repeat immunological testing. Her Igs were all increased to low normal! Within six months the seizures and ASD behaviors cleared nicely, and only those I had told noticed that she was a bit different. The seizures, some stimming, and some strange stuttering reared their heads again a year later. By that time she was so far recovered that return of symptoms was both blatant and extremely disconcerting. The food and behavior diary proved helpful once again, and a move to an Autoimmune Paleo way of eating was our fix that time–the food diary made it clear that green beans, dairy, and eggs, allowed on GAPS were triggering acute and severe episodes of the stimming, stuttering, and seizures. On Autoimmune Paleo, she returned to neuro-typical within about a week and a half. She will develop speech symptoms if we accidently let her go more than two days without a bowel movement, but we have learned to not let that happen.

    After going on GAPS, I had read about MTHFR and put her on methylated B vitamins, just in case she had it. They seemed to accelerate her recovery. More than a year after my child’s health crisis first started, we found a wonderful (MD) geneticist who understood all we had been through due to her familiarity with nutrigenomics and her understanding of the complex and delicate interactions between the neurological system, gastrointestinal system, and immunological functioning. My suspicions of MTHFR were confirmed with genetic testing. The geneticist hugged me and said that my “going rogue” and putting my daughter on methylated B vitamins, when I had first read about MTHFR, had probably saved my daughter’s brain and had been integral in her recovery. Then she had me up the doses based on my daughter’s labs. On the increased doses, my daughter was much less cranky and her academic abilities began to amaze us.

    Obviously, the preceding is a retrospective case study. Actually, it still boggles my research methods and statistics trained mind. However, what I have taken away from the preceding experience is the following. (1) I think all children need immunoglobulins and T Cells drawn before being vaccinated (like Dr. Campbell-McBride suggests in the GAPS book), especially if the family has a history of autoimmune disease, GI issues, neurological issues, or medication sensitivities. Without testing, you will never know if you have a kid with altered immune function, and, in my experience, you do not want to vaccinate an immunocompromised child on the regular schedule without monitoring their immune status. (2) I think that knowing ones MTHFR status, along with the status of other key SNPs, through nutrigenomic testing, is important when making vaccination decisions. That tiny bit of mercury, aluminum, or other adjuvant (e.g., tomato lectin) may not be a big deal for a kid whose methylation machinery is in tip top shape, but add in a couple of SNPs and you can be headed for a real disaster . . . especially if that child has inherited an autoimmune genotype. (3) I think we should never let the dogma bestowed upon us by our education get in the way of taking our “mommy gut voices” seriously. As you state, conventional medical educations are severely lacking when it comes to the intersection of nutrition and health. Add bio-individuality, nutrigenomics, and epigenetics to the preceding situation, and I think we can account for why a mother’s intuition may sometimes trump conventional medical wisdom and piles of RCTs. It is just so hard for me to wrap my empirical brain around, but once I accepted the fact that we now know that ontogeny does indeed affect phylogeny (via epigenetic processes) it got a bit easier for me to swallow.

    I am not sure I could eat my placenta either. However, I did have a mom of a NICU baby whose mid-wife had dried her placenta and put it in capsules for her to take. She said I was the only nurse she told, because I seemed “cool.” (If she only knew the half of it–haha!) Just wanted you to know that there is evidently an alternative to the knife and fork method. That is the extent of my knowledge regarding placenta eating;-)

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Nicole, Thank you so much for sharing your story–all of it–the tips, the insight, the journey. It is a story for me (meaning, the story I needed to hear–as I don’t like to make waves typically unless I am absolutely confident I am right–and I’m typically somebody who gives others the benefit of the doubt over my self and my knowledge.) I appreciate what you shared so very, very much. My daughter is sitting here hounding me about her snack so I’m going to click “approve” so this can be posted immediately. I will come back to read this again “in peace” because there is so much valuable information here for me to investigate. Thank you so much again. Do you by chance have a website? I clicked quickly around to follow but couldn’t find what I needed (but again–pregnancy induced headache and little one begging for treat 🙂 ). Take good, good care.

  6. IrishMum

    Poor you 😦
    I think I may still be pregnant, I forget my wallet and key all. the. time!!

    Yes, I will be interested to see what you do after the birth. I was a little iffy on the shots, way back then, so my boys didn’t get Vit K, but I gave then drops over a few weeks. I do remember the nurse trying to give the shot to my son, and it was a bit of a battle saying no. That was nearly 15 years ago, and I am sure things have changed since then.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Well, then I feel better about the keys and wallet, then!

      They’ll fuss and fuss at me for changing up things. They don’t like to change things. They label patients as difficult and unreasonable. But I’m not a difficult patient, and I’m not unreasonable. So I just need to practice my smile (easy) and not getting riled up (hard) and remaining firm (depends). But I have to be convinced that I am right so I’ve got to read up and make sure I’m fully educated.

      Oh, I thought this was behind me. I didn’t want to read about these issues. Just food. C’est la vie.

  7. nontoxicnurse

    Have to love those daughters: I was only able to post our journey in decent detail, because my little shadow decided to take a random nap . . . and when I started this post, which I have had to come back to at least 8 times, she was eating;-) I am absolutely the type you describe in terms of not making waves or challenging authority unless I know I am right . . . especially in the medical sphere. Nursing is a second career for me and one I entered just two years before I had my daughter, who is now four. I think nursing school and medical school both train us to not make waves or challenge unless we have an iron clad-case before we open our mouths. Every nurse knows the type of fall-out that might be experienced if she/he questions a more experienced nurse or a doctor without being absolutely sure they have a bullet-proof reason to question. I think it is the same for doctors: I have seen many attendings go up one side and down the other of residents who legitimately dared think outside of the particular attending’s frame of reference or the standard of care. I think this is part of what makes it so difficult to listen to our “mommy gut voices,” once we have any sort of conventional health care training.

    I do have a blog. It is: http://www.non-toxicnurse.com. I have not confronted the above issue or events on there. There is a fair amount of information posted on my blog from when I was feeling better and was first thrust into having my medical horizons broadened. It mostly deals with toxin avoidance, including discussion of the non-thermal effects of man-made electromagnetic frequencies on human physiology. I have not been posting much lately for health reasons. I have battled the beast known as dysautonomia since at least age 4 (when I developed my first arrhythmia), but only recently learned its name. I have dangled my way through orthostatic hypotension and kept on marching with various arrhythmias, but, after ablation surgery for a post-partum arrhythmia exacerbation, my illness decided knock me down a few pegs. I developed POTS two years ago, after the surgery, along with autoimmune Post Cardiotomy Inflammatory Disorder (pleural effusion and pericardial effusion). After 6 months of not being able to do much, I became well enough to return to work for a year part-time, but was a shadow of my former self. Then, several months ago, I developed neurocardiogenic syncope accompanied with weird episodes of hypertonia and decerebrate posturing, and the neurological fun has not let up since . . . so, to borrow your use of “brain” as a verb, my brain doesn’t always want to brain well. Currently, I spend the fleeting hours that my brain will brain trying to identify my root causes before this illness completely ruins my life as I know it. It has already taken away my career and my ability to drive–at least for now. I found your blog via a comment you had left on the Lethargic Smiles blog. My husband and I had planned on homeschooling, so I clicked your link. Love your blog!

    The questions at the end of your blog post seemed to be my invitation from the universe to put my family’s experience out there, encourage others to listen to their “mommy gut voice,” and explain that sometimes the “mommy gut voice” is actually supported by cutting-edge science that just might fly in the face of conventional medical wisdom. Also, you do not seem at all like the type of MD who would dice me up into bloody bits with the fierce sword of dogma. You seem like the antithesis of the neonatologist who once turned to me and said, “I think that any parent who refuses the Hep B vaccine for their child on day of life one should be put in prison for child endangerment, period.” (Irony is that, out of all the nurses in our 150-nurse unit, he said that to me while my family was going through the above experiences.) Perhaps it was all the talk about poop that made this a safe place for me . . . poop is a favorite subject at our house too;-)

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Aw, man. Man. Man. You guys have been through way too much. I’m sorry. But I know you will persevere and I know you will feel like yourself again one day. I know it is possible. I haven’t had time this morning to go through your blog, but I marked and followed it. Plus, I can’t wait to read the Amazon K2 book you recommended. Very applicable to us as my husband is an orthopod. When I started learning about K2, he hadn’t even heard of it!

      You pegged medicine correctly. That is exactly how it is. A big attribute to success was knowing when to keep my mouth shut, particularly around tough attendings. We are kind of brainwashed into a pecking order! Even when we are out working.

      My husband and I talked about hep B last night. I really, really hope I can get together a post on our thoughts. He is okay with my decision to post-pone, so this two doctor family would be “put in prison.” Where did this neonatologist think this newborn would be getting hep B? Well, my husband shared with me last night from his research that the risk comes (if parents don’t have it) from there inside the hospital from us healthcare workers–when they have to do sticks. Not very reassuring.

      Perhaps if my colleagues and myself could have fixed my constipation in a simple fashion, I would stand steadfastly behind all that I had learned. Poop doesn’t seem like a big deal but very few doctors can treat it! We have to start treating people as people and not as guidelines. We don’t do that anymore. So much doesn’t allow us to. Our medical society’s guidelines. Government check lists. Our own ignorance and arrogance.

      By the way, do you do GAPS? I’m just curious as to how much benefit people (outside of my experience) get from it. When friends ask nowadays, I kind of just listen to their situations and health goals and kind of pick and choose from these diets that seem so similar in many ways.

      (And I LOVE homeschooling my kids! It’s the best!) ~~Terri

      1. nontoxicnurse

        GAPS is what got us out of the thick of my daughter’s issues and got her about 90% back to normal. However, as her body healed, it became more and more particular and let us know with the scary relapse I described above. We made the move to Autoimmune Paleo with her relapse and it worked like magic. AIP is what I came up with when I researched about why a person would react to the green beans, dairy, and eggs, allowed on GAPS–since the food and behavior diary suggested those were the foods that were triggering the relapse Ss. Shortly after going AIP and getting her about 98% better was when I found the (MD) geneticist who is versed in nutrigenomics and learned that we all three have autoimmune prone genotypes and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that would predispose us to having issues with the dairy allowed in GAPS. Interestingly enough though, my daughter also has CBS upregulation . . . so is it the sulfur content of the green beans, eggs, and dairy that bother her, is it inflammation resulting from these foods’ ability to stimulate the immune system (the reason they are not allowed on AIP), or is it both? We may never know.

        My husband and I made the move from GAPS to AIP along with our daughter. After a year on AIP, I was able to throw out a 12″x8″x8″ bin of OTC and Rx gut medicine and another 12″x8″x8″ bin of OTC and Rx allergy medicine when we moved recently. I went from a Zyrtec per day with Benadryl or whatever else PRN and still being miserable, to nothing. During high pollen season my eyes might itch a bit, but 1-2 doses of Quercetin, along with my daily Turmeric (I suspect) knocks it right out. I went from several Tums per day and long periods of needing Prilosec to only occasionally needing ginger tea. My husband’s eczema went from a flare per month to an occasional flare when he wears Nitrile gloves to repair our cars. He doesn’t take any supplements regularly, so for him it has to be just the diet change.

        My daughter is still on strict AIP and, thankfully, she loves what she eats. My husband and I stay mostly AIP, although I must admit my husband and I do occasionally eat nuts and seem to tolerate them alright. I eat raw organic cacao also, after giving it up for a year, and it doesn’t seem to bother me at all–plus it is a great source of resveratrol. My daughter and I seem to do better with getting our carbs from veggies–I often wonder if we both have SIBO. I break out (acne) if I eat very many non-veggie carbs (e.g., baked AIP coconut flour treats with raw honey). She acts extremely hyper and cries over nothing if she eats any more than a tiny amount of baked AIP treats . . . and we learned to never let her have a baked treat unless she had just eaten a meal with plenty of protein and fat. One of the SNPs that she and I have can also lead to blood sugar lability, so it could also be that for her. With our carb issues and our poop issues, I have been very interested in your butyrate series.

        I share your husband’s fear of healthcare worker spread nasties. I had an explicit birth plan that stated that my daughter was not to be taken out of my or my husband’s sight, and that she was only to have blood drawn (glucoses, etc.) with us watching. I trained my husband to insist upon hand washing and proper blood drawing techniques–just in case something happened to me. Actually, while I was pushing, a nurse came in and set a (icky germ magnet) chart in the radiant warmer where my daughter was to be placed once born. I made them move the chart and change all of the linens. Boy did that cause a lot of eye rolls. In the NICU, we wiped the charts with Cavicide every 12 hours, because infection control had actually tested the charts and proven them to be just as germ ridden as one would expect. This same nurse accessed a Y-site on my IV without cleaning it too. I didn’t see it, but my mom (also a nurse) called her out on it, and it was eye-roll city once again. Then, she so nicely offered to in-and-out cath me (for her own convenience only) because she said she didn’t have time to help me up to the bathroom. I refused and told her my mom would help me. You can never let your guard down in a hospital, unfortunately:-(

        I would love to read you and your husband’s thoughts on Hep B. Prior to my pregnancy, I had seen some peer-reviewed articles on Hep B vaccines being suspected of triggering autoimmune conditions, but at that point in my life I really didn’t think twice about it, because the benefits seem to outweigh the risks. I haven’t really had a chance to read up on it since becoming interested in these types of things other than happening to be given a link to this abstract http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22235045 and this commentary http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10648110 .

      2. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Thank you for the links and more details! I, too, had success with AIP above and beyond GAPS–although still keeping the broths and fermented foods–and then for me butyrate and resistant starch. However, with pregnancy the picture is all too confusing!

        It is good to hear other people’s experiences with nutrition. I did okay with your discussion of those and I did okay on the supplements you mentioned, too. But the tests and genetics you mentioned, well, you might as well have been telling me about my car engine! 🙂 I will get there. It’s a marathon not a sprint for me!

  8. Anonymous

    Despite your body not thanking you for the “your” diet now, I am sure it will after the pregnancy symptoms abate. 🙂 I am impressed that you are atill writing this blog. I think back to when I was pregnant and I don’t think I could do much besides work and sleep! Hope you feel better soon.
    Oh, and we chose not to give Z the hep b shot at birth or the eye antibiotic. We did do the vitamin k though. We also have done a very modified vaccination schedule, picking and choosing what we thought (after much much research) was most important and necessary.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Well, even though I still got sick, I know that my body is much better tanked up to be able to give nutrients to the baby (which it’d steal from me anyway) and have some leftover for me this time, too! I was just so hoping I could write a post that said this deviation from the Standard Diet made it better. But that wasn’t to be for me.

      Thanks for sharing what you did with Z! I really, really enjoy hearing other people’s takes and actions on these kinds of matters. I know I will forge my own path, but I think we can all benefit from considering other alternatives before settling on our own path. One issue my husband brings up is our love of travel–and how some illnesses (hepatitis as one) are more prevalent in places we’ll go.

      Anyhow, one day at a time! Actually, one hour at a time right now–as I can think I’m good and then all of a sudden “Bam.” Nausea, vomiting, and HA! I have some more articles I wanted to write and more encouragement for families trying to “eat better.” So I hate to lose all my readers before I get those things accomplished. So I’m trying to get out a post every now and then.

      Thanks for your comment!

  9. nontoxicnurse

    Here is a crash course on single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs–which is actually pronounced “snips”)and nutrigenomics written by a functional cardiologist who finds the knowledge useful in treating his cardiac patients: http://www.heartfixer.com/AMRI-Nutrigenomics.htm . I have been reading about them for two years now and I am sure I only understand the tip of the iceberg:-)

  10. rachelmeeks

    I’ll be particularly interested to hear your decisions on the shots. I’m very anti chemical but I always thought I’d get my kids vaccinated because if it’s preventable why not prevent it? Though I know there are all kinds of stories of the shots causing autism and stuff, very confusing, very hard to find facts without a PhD.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      I’m wading through it. And it is very, very hard. Too much non-truth telling on both sides (for and against). My husband is pretty stickler (he’s also a physician) about vaccines, so the best I’m hoping for is a delayed schedule. Picking the ones that are “most important” in my mind. We’ll have to find a compromise that suits us both.

  11. JenH

    I’m so glad you posted about this. When I first saw this post I decided not to read it; I had a miscarriage in Nov. at 12 weeks and I just didn’t feel ready to deal with the subject again. However, it occurred to me that since we are planning to start trying again this month I had better read it now because it is already tough for my non-sciencey brain to wade through this, if I manage to get pregnant again it will be hopeless. What I can add is that with this last pregnancy I was going into it with the same idea: this is going to be so much better ’cause my diet is so great and & have my mag levels up (think I read the same blogs you did!). And, just like you, the nausea, fatigue, bloating, constipation and barely functioning brain just flattened me (although I also gained a TON of weight which I hadn’t in my first pregnancy, wonder what that was indicative of?). It is what it is I guess!


    Thank you so much for sharing your story, it has given me a lot to think about, both as a parent and as an early childhood special educator, and I know your experience is without a doubt going to benefit other families. One thing I’ve learned since starting this journey is how critical it is that individuals share their stories/experiences (what would we do without the internet? this just wouldn’t be possible & that is hard for me to say because my natural tendencies are more toward the Luddite camp).

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Dear Jen,

      Thank you for sharing that. I’m sorry you miscarried.

      I appreciate having someone else, too, stand up with me and say, “Yeah. We did the best we could. We followed the diet, the recommended foods, some supplements, etc. And we still had pregnancy problems.” As a woman, I know I always feel guilty–like there was something more I can do/should do.

      Non toxic nurse is a wealth of information! She does have a blog!

      Ha! Ha! You Luddite! I vaguely remembered that term from teaching history to my kids the last year! But the internet exceptionally facilitates learning!

      Much success this time around! Don’t forget iodine and vitamin K2! (I’ll tell you now while you can still think!)


  12. JenH

    Oh, I forgot to add that poop is also the FAVORITE topic at my house as well. Definitely gotta love 4 1/2 year olds (or any school age for that matter when it comes to all things bodily function), they give you perspective and keep the mood light!


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