Wednesday, January 5, 2011

No More Chocolate...Sniffle Sniffle :-(

You know you are being put on a restrictive diet when you are almost 5 months pregnant and your doctor tells you that you can't have chocolate for the rest of your pregnancy! Really?? You are going to tell a pregnant girl she can't have CHOCOLATE??! Well, yes... along with a bunch of other random stuff! Since we found out my kidney stones are made of calcium oxalate (because what everyone wants to do is stroll into the doctor's office with one of their own kidney stones in a sandwich bag... it's about as awesome as sitting in a waiting room full of people carrying an enormous jug full of 24 hours worth of your own pee... did that on Monday... boy have the past few weeks been extra fun!)... but I digress... at least we know what my stones are made of, so I'm now on a low oxalate diet.

Up until a few weeks ago, I had no clue what oxalates were. Turns out they are naturally occurring in lots of fruits and vegetables, so a low oxalate diet is kind of weird. There are a lot of healthy things that I can't eat... like whole grains, legumes, spinach, potatoes and sweet potatoes just to name a few. There are plenty of fruits and vegetables that I can eat, however, so it's just a matter of getting used to some new standards. Oh, ya, and chocolate. It's loaded with oxalates. Of course.

So, the low oxalate thing is a little tricky just trying to come up with meals that don't contain anything on my forbidden list... but it wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't also coupled with being told I need to be on a very low sodium diet. Hmmm. Okay. What's low you ask? I need to stay around 1500 mg of sodium per day. The recommended daily allowance is 2000 and I would hazard a guess that the average person eats between 3000 and 4000 mg per day... easily! There is sodium in everything! I had no clue just how many foods contained sodium and how much!!! Good grief! So, that knocked a bunch of foods off my list that are low in oxalates... because I have to really watch my sodium.

And last, but not least, I have to reduce the amount of meat that I eat. I can't have more than one serving of meat per day. Alright, so... in addition to the low oxalate, low sodium, reduced meat diet, I have to also make sure I'm meeting my caloric needs for being pregnant and making sure I'm getting enough protein during the day. This would be easier if all the plant based proteins weren't on the HIGH OXALATE LIST! (yes, I'm yelling now!) It's been like one giant jigsaw puzzle! Slightly maddening, but a good challenge.

I'm slowly working out meals that I can eat. I also ordered a low oxalate cook book that came today and looks awesome! So, I'm slowly getting where I need to be. I think the hardest part about all of this is that I feel like I can't eat out at all. Any meal that I could get at a restaurant will have way more sodium than I can fit into the confines of my 1500 mg allowance. It's weird to think that for the next four and a half months, if I want to eat, I need to cook it myself (or have my husband cook it for me... tee hee) but if we are both tired and want to order a pizza, we can't do that. Sigh.

So, where is the upside you might ask? Well, the number one big thing that BETTER be the upside is that I will hopefully be preventing myself from secreting oxalate in my urine and thus not form any more large stones, or make that 6 mm one that's already there any bigger. But some other nice little bonuses have been losing weight ... which I know is not recommended during pregnancy, but I was overweight to start and my doctor is well aware that this will be a side effect and the baby is growing just fine and will continue to be monitored. Also, my blood pressure has dropped. It was always normal, but now it's fantastic! I couldn't believe how fast that happened after reducing my sodium intake. And it's also going to save us money on eating out. I ate out more than I should have anyway, so this is forcing me to plan ahead a lot more and start developing some better habits.

Oh, ya, and my cookbook says I can have white chocolate!!! :-) That might become my new indulgence!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Motivation

Well, let me just say... nothing will motivate you like the threat of a 6 mm kidney stone getting stuck while you are pregnant... and knowing that the only thing the doctor can do for you is put in a stent. Sounds fun, right? Uggh! I'm having a little bit of a hard time knowing that I might have something super painful and uncomfortable happen and that I'd have to deal with it for the duration of my pregnancy. The bright side? I'm super motivated to get the things done that I need to while I'm feeling good, because I know that could change at any second.

I had one kidney stone before this pregnancy. It came a few months after Andy was born. That one got stuck. That was THE WORST pain I've ever been in... EVER! I'd never been so happy to have an IV of morphine flowing into my arm. The worst part was that it happened so fast! I went from thinking something isn't right here... maybe I'm getting a bladder infection to OH MY GOD! I THINK I'M DYING! In about an hour. Yes, an hour. I think that is the only time I've ever called my husband at work and said I need you to come home and take me to the ER... NOW!

So, now I have the threat of that happening again hanging over my head. It's not something I'm constantly worrying about, but I am also trying to be realistic. I have awesome friends here, and my brother and sister-in-law, who I know would pitch in and help out if I need it... but I also don't want my house to be a disaster, or for there to be things that I need to take care of and have them go untouched for months. Paperwork is totally disorganized around here. It would be a nightmare to have my husband sifting through things to find tax paperwork, etc. I really need to sort through everything so that it's easy for him to find what he's looking for if need be.

I know my Mom is going to read this and worry that I'm going to wear myself out and run myself down trying to take care of things... and I'm not going to go to that extreme :-)
But... I do need to make myself a little list of the things I want to get done before the baby comes and then prioritize. I want to tackle one task a week, starting with some of the most important things. I will feel like I'm being smart about preparing myself for the worst, while hoping for the best.

I guess maybe I'll be making a list again after all! But instead of something daily...I'll try and tackle something weekly!

Monday, January 3, 2011

My Break From Blogging

Well, the end of the year has come and gone. The whole point of this blog was to try and accomplish one thing per day for 365 days. It was a pretty ambitious new year's resolution last January... and I came close, but didn't quite make it. All in all, I was able to cross 271 things off my list, but I kind of fell off the wagon somewhere around September.

In November I took on the Thirty Days of Giving Challenge and loved it... but only got through blogging about half of the giving I did for the month. I suppose it's time to finally fess up to the blog world that I found out in September that I'm PREGNANT!!! Yippee!! Tomorrow I will be 18 weeks along. Since I have PCOS, I needed to take Metformin and 50 mg of Clomid in order to conceive. I was beyond shocked when it worked on the first try!!

The first 10 weeks of my pregnancy were pretty rough with morning sickness. That came on top of a month of feeling sick from the Metformin and having crazy hot flashes from the Clomid. I was super excited when I finally started feeling better, but then was thrown for a little bit of a loop...

While on vacation visiting family over Thanksgiving, I thought I was starting to get a urinary tract infection. My doctor started me on an antibiotic, but I noticed I wasn't feeling any better. The day after we got home, I passed a 3 mm kidney stone. I ended up passing 3 more over the next three weeks. All were between 3 and 4 mm. I was able to pass them all at home, with great discomfort, but without needing to go to the emergency room.

I was referred to a urologist and put on a low oxalate, low sodium diet after finding out my stones were calcium oxalate stones. That in and of itself has been a challenging lifestyle change that I'll reserve for another post. I also found out today after a renal ultrasound that I have a 6mm stone in my right kidney. As of right now, it's not causing any blockage. It's too big for me to pass and I'm terrified of it starting to move and blocking my ureter. I'm terrified of having to have stents put in and being uncomfortable and in pain for the remainder of my pregnancy. I'm just praying that it stays put in there as long as possible!!

It's been incredibly frustrating that there aren't a lot of resources or recipes online for a low oxalate diet. It's hard to only read horror stories online from other people who have experienced kidney stones during pregnancy. I am not feeling bad. I'm not feeling sorry for myself. I'm doing everything I need to do diet wise to try and prevent more large stones from forming and I'm viewing this new diet as a challenge to come up with different, but still yummy meals. It's just discouraging to feel like there isn't enough information out there for those who are experiencing kidney stones during pregnancy.

So, that's what has been going on with me over the past three months! I'm starting to feel like I want to blog again, but I'm not really sure what direction to take my blog. Do I make it more of a personal blog and just kind of blog about anything and everything? I know I will have plenty to write about with this pregnancy, but does anyone really want to read about that? I've also thought about blogging about projects you can do to make a cookie cutter home feel a little more individual and personalized, but I don't know how often I could do blog posts because I'm not sure how often we could afford to finish the projects we want to in our cookie cutter house! Hmmmmm.... something to think about! So, I'm not ready to change my blog page yet, but I think I will need a place to post while I'm working it all through, so for now I'm just going to keep things as they are.

I'm so grateful for this journey over the past year. I've accomplished more than I thought possible. I've noticed that my priorities have changed over the past year. I've become more mindful of others. I've realized that I can always be a work in progress, but there are some things I will probably never change about myself and I'm learning to accept myself more for who I am. I'm so excited to be starting a new year by creating and growing this new life. Keeping this baby healthy and safe until I reach my due date will be my big project this year...

And I'm not making any new year's resolutions... I'm going to tackle challenges as they day at a time :-)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

30 Day Giving Challenge: Day 11

Today is day eleven of the 30 Day Giving Challenge and it's also Veteran's Day. I really wanted to do something that would give back to our troops and their families. At first I looked into organizations that I could send a care package through, but honestly, I needed a project that was free, or as close to free as possible! Then I came across this website and learned that US Military bases overseas will accept manufacturer's coupons up to SIX MONTHS past their expiration date at their commissaries!

Since I've been completely slack in the couponing department lately and my coupon binder was in dire need of being cleaned out and I already had stamps and envelopes.... well... this was just the perfect project! After ridding my binder of all my recently expired coupons, I separated all THREE HUNDRED AND FORTY (yes that's right!) of them into seven piles. I wrote a note on an sheet of paper thanking the recipients for their service and sacrifice and then folded the piles of coupons inside. Then I picked seven bases off of the list provided and dropped them in the mail box. I know there is no mail today, but at least they will be ready to go first thing tomorrow morning!

I have to say, that this felt SO much better than putting all those coupons in the recycling bin.. which is what would have happened whenever I finally got around to cleaning out my binder. I will always be slack in this department, and always have expired coupons, so in the future I plan to mail my coupons off to service men and women who can still use them.

Thank you to all of our men and women serving in the armed services. Thank you for your service and your sacrifices and the and never ending support of your families. It is not a sacrifice that my immediate family has ever known, but I am constantly in awe of the strength that military families possess. I'm blessed to call many of them friends and they are friends I look up to with the utmost respect!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

30 Day Giving Challenge: Day 10

I'm really excited about this 30 Day Giving Challenge project! This week, I recruited the girls in my Stitch n' Bitch group to help me make blankets for an organization called Project Linus. It's an organization that provides handmade blankets to children who are seriously ill, traumatized or otherwise in need.

I wanted to do a blanket project that could be started and finished in an evening. A few years ago I had made a simple fleece tie blanket as a baby gift and remembered that it didn't take much time at all to put together. So, each of the girls in my group, along with myself and my Mom who is visiting chipped in $10 a piece. I went over my total by $12 (oops!... this is what happens when you go to the fabric store w/ a toddler in your tiny shopping cart and have to go up to the counter to have fabric cut four different times because you can't fit it all in your cart in one trip! Ha ha... you lose count!) Anyway... I spent $82.19 including tax for 14 yards of fleece... and we were able to make NINE blankets! So, that works out to just under $10 piece. Five are larger size and four are smaller, but there weren't any requirements on size of the blankets to donate... the only requirement is that they be handmade.

It really meant a lot to me that my friends were so willing and eager to chip in their money and their time to help me with this project. It was a lot of fun. It also felt great to accomplish something from start to finish in one evening! That is certainly not the case with our crocheting projects! I really enjoyed working on this so much, I'm hoping to continue to give to this organization in the future. It was such a simple and easy project that will bring warmth and comfort to someone in need.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

30 Day Giving Challenge: Days 6 ~ 9

The past few days were spent doing little things for friends that I hoped would brighten their day. I'm trying to have a good mix of ways to give during this 30 Day Giving Challenge... doing small things for friends and family, taking on some larger projects, donating financially and donating my time. So far it's been challenging, rewarding and also... FUN!

So, on Saturday I stopped at Panera and picked up a bagel pack on my way to work. It was a box full of 13 yummy bagels and 2 tubs of cream cheese and left them on the break room table. I thought that it would be a nice treat for all of my co-workers on a Saturday morning.

On Sunday I mailed a nice card to a long time friend that I don't get to see very often. After going through a difficult patch for a while, I was so happy that things were really looking up for her. I found a card that conveyed the sentiment that I wanted it to and added a little note. I just wanted her to know how much I value our friendship and how happy I am that her life is moving in the direction that she wanted.

On Monday I delivered a vase full of fall flowers to a friend at her office. She was pretty surprised to see me come in! She's been having several rough weeks and I thought that maybe some flowers on a Monday would give a better start to the new week. I also filled out a little card. It was nice because I got to stay and catch up with her for a little bit. Even though she's just getting over being sick and I had to stand on the other side of the conference room and not give her a big hug! ha ha.... but it was still a nice little visit. I value our friendship a lot and I just wanted her to know that I'm always here for her.

And finally, on Saturday at work, I left two boxes of Cheez-it's in my sister-in-law's desk cabinet for her to find today when she got back to work. We work at the same place (she is full time and I am VERY part time). I had to work last Wednesday night. When I was leaving I took a handful of Cheez-its (her favorite snack) out of the box in her desk... but they were really stale! So, I bought her 2 fresh boxes to have on hand and stuck a little sticky note on the box. I think it will be a small gesture that she'll really appreciate.

Tonight I've recruited the girl's in my Stitch n' Bitch group to help me work on a bigger project for my 10th day of giving. I can't wait to blog about it in the morning!!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

30 Day Giving Challenge: Day 5

I'm really excited today because after seven long weeks, my neighbors are FINALLY coming home!!! When we moved into this neighborhood we got really lucky to live by some wonderful neighbors... but my neighbor across the street and I became fast friends. She's also my only stay at home mom friend that I have here in Charleston.

Well, her hubby is a pilot in the Air Force, and for the past seven weeks they have been half way across the country for some flight training. It's been super lonely for me here on our little cul-d-sac!!! I've missed them terribly! I'm not sure exactly what time they are getting home today, but I figured that after being gone for so long they would probably enjoy a home cooked meal... that they didn't have to cook themselves!

Today I made some easy chicken and cheese enchiladas. This is my go-to dish if I need to make a meal to freeze for someone. They are really easy to make and since the chicken is already cooked, I can completely assemble the dish and all that the recipient has to do is thaw and bake for 15 minutes! Easy peasy!

For this recipe you need:
1 pkg of chicken (I like to use the chicken tenders)
1 six count pkg of flour tortillas
2 cans of Old El Paso enchilada sauce (I use mild)
1 pkg of shredded taco or Mexican blend cheese

Boil the chicken until fully cooked. Let cool. Pour a small amount of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of your pan until it's completely coated. Next, lay a tortilla on a dinner plate and spoon some enchilada sauce onto the tortilla and coat one side. Shred some chicken in a line down the middle of the tortilla, sprinkle with cheese and roll. Place seam side down in the pan. Continue for all six tortillas. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the tortillas in the pan. Make sure all surfaces of the tortillas are fully coated. Sprinkle cheese over the top of all.

If you are freezing this dish to give to a friend, then cover & freeze! If not, bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees.

Garnish with sour cream and enjoy!

Ready to freeze!

Include instructions and a note!

Make some extra for yourself for dinner... yummy melted cheesy goodness!