Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Scared Mom-to-Be, Let the Guilt Begin: A gluten-free pregnancy

These past 4 months have been amazing and overwhelming.  In October, my husband and I welcomed a baby girl in to our little family.  She is strong, active and loves to smile and sleep.  At this very moment she is snuggled in next to me, little shallow breaths, arms sprawled as she snoozes - I spend so much of my time just watching her, amazed at this little miracle.  I am thankful, every day, that she is such a happy and healthy girl.  I'd love to say that I enjoyed being pregnant, but honestly, I was worried and anxious quite a bit. 

I remember the night Austin and I found out I was pregnant - so much excitement, especially knowing that both Celiac and Thyroid diseases can cause infertility - I was relieved, but skeptical too.  Some not-so-morning sickness, extreme fatigue and one doctor's visit later I was convinced.  It wasn't long, though, before I found my feelings of "am I REALLY pregnant" had turned to scary thoughts and "what if's" about the baby's growth and health as I carried little him or her (we didn't find out :).  At first, it seemed normal that as a first time mom I would be concerned about the unknowns of this life-changing experience - but it went beyond that.  I battled anxiety throughout the entire pregnancy, mostly related to my autoimmune diseases and how they might effect that tiny person's health.  Before my pregnancy I felt confident in dealing with these diseases - but the thought that one of my mistakes (accidentally ingesting gluten or missing a dose or two of my synthroid) could harm the defenseless little-one became unbearable at times and consumed my thoughts most days. 

My anxiety was fueled when I decided to ask my OBgyn to check my thyroid levels - which had been on my mind for a few weeks beforehand, but with all that was going on I had forgotten to ask.  My levels came back way out of whack." Well, that was it - I was convinced our baby would suffer the consequences of my mistake and suddenly my anxiety was coupled with an equally overwhelming sense of guilt (I know, I'm a mom now, I should get used that feeling :).  I also found myself craving foods with gluten - not just a cheeseburger...a cheeseburger on a regular bun, a real pie crust, things I hadn't cared much about since those first couple months after going gluten-free.  I felt deprived but the last thing I was going to do was anything else that could potentially hurt our baby.  I felt selfish for even thinking about gluten foods...knowing that my body's reaction to them could do the baby harm.  Pregnancy, for me, wasn't difficult because of it's physical demands, but because of the emotional ones.  Of course, my roller-coaster thyroid hormones didn't help either!

What a lesson in faith it was the moment she was born - a healthy, alert and perfectly put together 6lb. 10oz. baby girl.  Since she's been with us I haven't cared much about gluten or anything else for that matter other than watching her grow and develop her charming little personality. Now I deal with a more "normal" level of anxiety as a new mom, and I'm already researching and planning how and when we are going to introduce gluten and monitor for Celiac Disease and Thyroid changes. 

Couldn't resist sharing some photos of her over these 4 great months.

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