I want to share my experience, not to provide a solution, but to provide an honest perspective that maybe you can resonate with. For years I have been interested in the correlation of digestive diseases and eating disorders, specifically the lack of dual diagnosis holistic treatment options. Throwing pregnancy into the mix is a whole new game that has me digging even deeper based on my personal experience. How do we deal with the mind fuck of weight gain and body changes while in recovery from an eating disorder? On top of that, how do we manage dietary restrictions or triggers from a digestive disease in addition to the restrictions and symptoms already brought on by pregnancy? Again on top of that, how do we deal with the emotional triggers that are drudged up by these changes and the added pressure of supporting a new human life? There are a lot of questions I want to explore, but right now what I have is my story and how I have navigated it thus far.
A struggle for me in my pregnancy has been eating, specifically what to eat and how to eat enough. My background doesn’t provide the best foundation for a great relationship with food in general, but because of that I’ve worked my butt off to get to a good spot. For those who haven’t read my other posts,I struggled with an eating disorder and then on top of that my Crohn’s diagnosis fueled additional struggles and triggers. I remember in eating disorder treatment, being there with other women who were struggling with how their bodies changed during or after pregnancy. When I thought of having kids, I always braced myself for this new reality.
When I figured out I was pregnant, all of my healthcare professionals who knew my background immediately began asking me how I felt about the weight gain and my body changing. It was so early on I really didn’t have any issues, plus, I hadn’t gained any weight.
During my first trimester my digestive system was a complete wreck. I had nausea that would never go away. I would try to force myself to eat and just ended up gagging instead, unable to get anything down. My new growing baby was messing with my intestines which brought on some new Crohn’s symptoms. Things were a mess, but it was trimester one so I figured it was par for the course.
At my 12 week appointment, my OB brought up that I had lost a significant amount of weight. I was pretty caught off guard by this since I try to refrain from weighing myself at home, as that is a trigger for me. I also didn’t understand how I had lost so much weight when the only things I could stomach when feeling up to it were gluten free cupcakes and Lucky Charms. We talked about it, but it wasn’t a huge concern yet since I was hopefully going to graduate out of the nausea soon. As I left the office I remember feeling a pang of guilt because was actually proud to have someone concerned about my weight loss. That brought me back to the time when that kind of feedback fueled me. I didn’t necessarily feel guilty for having this thought. They happen and you live with them and move on. I felt guilty because I wasn’t trying to lose weight. I was doing everything in my power to give my baby all of the necessary nutrients to grow. I felt like I was failing and having these thoughts made it worse.
My doctor seemed pretty confident that my body would sort itself out over the next few weeks so I tried to push the worry from my mind. The main struggle I was having was the food that I was craving, I know I couldn’t have because they would trigger my Crohn’s. Things like donuts, waffles, and sandwiches are always a no go for me because of the gluten (yes you can get them GF but no where near the same). I worked to find gluten free options but a lot of those are heavily processed though so that brought in more concerns of messing with my digestive system. I also felt shame for relying on processed foods since I was supposed to be giving my baby the best nutrients. I felt like no matter what I did, I was doing something wrong. Everyday I woke up in a stress fog of what the fuck do I eat today… what the fuck CAN I eat today. I also was balancing the regular pregnancy restrictions on top of those to save my digestive system. For example, I was disgusted by meat and could only stomach seafood, but I had to limit how much seafood I ate. I was seriously struggling to get enough protein.
During this time when I was going through my food crisis, we were also going through a global pandemic. Over these weeks I just mentioned, I also had to relocate from my house, live apart from my husband, and wasn’t able to go out in public to grocery shop for myself. This added a whole new layer onto the problem. I know this part of the situation is not relevant for everyone, but I felt it worth mentioning because it had a big impact on my life at the time. I was out of my routine, I was stressed, and I was just trying to get by. This triggered some increased Crohn’s symptoms to even further complicate things.
When I saw my doctor again, she brought up the lack of weight gain and actually more weight loss. I walked her through my struggles and she basically told me to just eat whatever I can. The baby will be fine if its McDonalds fries or a vegan smoothie bowl. He just needs to get fed. This made me feel better about what to eat, but didn’t change the fact that I rarely felt like eating. (Quick side note here: my doctor did prescribe me anti nausea medication, but it made me so drowsy I could only take it in the evenings. I would pass out immediately so while it is great for sleep, I can’t eat while I am sleeping.) Another issue I had was my natural reaction to not eat when I was having Crohn’s symptoms. Over the past however many years, it is like I have been conditioned to avoid that pain. My stomach hurts, naturally I stop wanting to eat to avoid the pain. In those situations I revert back to liquid or soft diets until my inflammation improves. I knew my child would not be okay if I spent the next 6 months eating chicken broth and popsicles. I mean I would not even be okay if I had to do that. The discomfort I was feeling also just caused me to not feel hungry almost ever. I never thought I would be this person, but I had to remind myself to eat. I think this was escalated by me working from home and being in an environment where there was no designated lunch hour where everyone is grabbing something to eat together. I could work through the day and not even think about lunch.
I worked with my doctor to come up with a solution of supplementing my diet with Ensure shakes. These were easy for me to get down and digest, plus they would help with my protein intake. Now I want to pause here for a second. I know there are people reading this that will be mentally shaming me for not choosing a natural option or not creating a protein smoothie for myself at home, blah blah blah. Look, this is what worked for me and my life so that is that. These have been a lifesaver for me throughout this pregnancy. Of course, I don’t just drink Ensure, but knowing I have that as a safety blanket has allowed me to relax and listen to my body more on what it actually wants. It is pretty funny to me that I have seen Ensure as such a helpful tool. When I was in eating disorder treatment it was the bane of my existence. I would (not electively) drink four of these a day on top of my meals to get back to a healthy weight. I swore I would never touch them again after treatment, but now look, they are helping fuel my pregnant body and help my baby grow. Oh how the tables have turned.
My nausea and discomfort subsided a bit for the latter part of my second trimester and a quick bit of my third, but are now back in full force. I also am feeling the effects of being off of Remicade this trimester so that has added some more turbulence to the situation. I am struggling to identify which symptoms are a result of pregnancy or a result of Crohn's. Right now the cause isn't necessarily my worry, it is how I am going to make this work for the rest of the pregnancy. I have gained weight which my doctor was pleased with and it really hasn’t bothered me as much as I was worried it might. I haven’t gained a ton of weight, but enough to be on track. I am told I should feel “lucky” that this is the case. Yeah, I guess I feel lucky, but I also feel ashamed that this has been and continues to be such an uphill battle. I can’t help but wonder, how would I feel if this wasn’t the case and I did have a normal weight gain during this pregnancy? Would things feel easier or would other feelings be triggered?
To be really honest, I have had countless breakdowns crying on my sofa frustrated about food over the past 8 months. I’m in pain, but I need to eat, but I don’t want to eat and everything I actually might want will make me sick so then I’ll feel worse, but then baby needs nutrients but if I’m sick that hurts him too so what the fuck do I even do. There have been lots of tears and lots of my sweet husband showing up with ice cream, one of the only things I can almost always stomach. He doesn’t understand necessarily what I am going through, but he makes the effort to help in any way he can which is more than enough for me.
It is difficult to unpack all of the emotions that are a part of this journey. I reflect daily on how I am doing and have an honest check in with myself to make sure I am not drudging up old patterns of thinking. It’s hard, but I am confident in the work I have done and the strength that I have. This situation has forced me to revisit painful thoughts and walk through guilt and shame and I’ve decided that is okay. Pregnancy is not a mutually exclusive event and we are still handling other things, physically and emotionally as we go through it. At the end of the day, I think we need more answers on how to support pregnant women in these situations but I don’t know if those solutions are coming anytime soon. This highlights even more the importance of taking care of your own mental health as you prepare for and go through pregnancy. Find others who are going through the same thing, see a therapist, rely on your support system; do whatever you have to do, feel what you have to feel, and most importantly know that it is okay.
f you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please check out the NEDA website for details on resources and treatment options.
In May, right after my last Remicade treatment, I shared a post with an update on my experience with having Crohn’s and being pregnant. In that post I opened up a ton about this journey and ended it with a kind of “to be continued...” especially around what my treatment would look like through the rest of my pregnancy. Since then I have received a lot of questions around what my next steps were and how things have been going since that update. So here we go....
I made the decision to discontinue Remicade for the third trimester of my pregnancy. I was back and forth about this decision for months prior to making it. I got medical input from my gastroenterologist, my OB, my high risk OB, and my genetic counselor. On top of that I also did my own research and had conversations with Matt. What it really came down to is what felt right for us. As so many things with pregnancy, I feel like this is the case.
What really surprised me was the lack of certainty any of my doctors had around the decision. They presented me with facts, some more thoroughly than others, but the decision was always up to me. I appreciate that freedom, but in this situation I really craved a professional just to tell me the right thing to do. I know there are conflicting views, which I feel like I’ve heard all of from different members of my care team, but I wanted more guidance. Especially with hearing how conflicting these opinions were, I quickly realized the lack of consistency across my care team and the reality that Matt and I would have to make the final decision.
Let me backtrack a little and say, I know you always have a choice if you take a prescribed medication or go through with a specific treatment. Usually it is a lot more cut and dry though and there is a specific recommendation from your doctor based on plenty of research and experience. With Crohn’s and other autoimmune diseases it never feels as certain, and this is even more true in pregnancy. These diseases are still so misunderstood as is their effect on the body. This makes treating these diseases a challenge and even more so when you are concerned about the health of a baby.
Originally part of the reason I started on Remicade was because it has been on the market the longest and had the most studies proving that it was safe for pregnancy. This was very reassuring and I felt pretty confident about the safety of the drug. Then when Covid came into the picture things kind of hit the fan. One of the concerns of Remicade is that the effects on the baby aren’t totally known as they pass through the placenta in the third trimester. One of the risks I heard the most was that the baby could be born immunosuppressed and it could take him a while to build up his immunity after getting the Remicade out of his system. In normal times this didn’t seem so bad. It’s not like I was going to be out and about with my newborn all the time and of course I would take appropriate precautions as I do for myself. Well, once an international pandemic is running rampant, the thought of bringing my child into the world with the potential of a weakened immune system was something I could not get behind.
I continued to gather information but the situation with Covid really pushed Matt and I in the direction to stop Remicade after my last infusion at around 21 weeks. There was talk about trying to fit one more at the very beginning of the third trimester but I decided against it. I was concerned that if the baby came early that would cause an issue and I didn’t even want that to be and additional worry we had.
Originally my OB’s were pushing me to stay on Remicade throughout the whole pregnancy because if my health was bad it would impact the baby’s health. Luckily throughout the pregnancy so far my blood work has been better than it’s ever been and my symptoms have been manageable. When I knew stopping Remicade was a very real possibility, one of my gastro’s started me on Apriso (oral pills) that are safe for pregnancy and would hopefully help to soften the blow of going cold turkey off of Remicade treatments.
As I said before, I had my last treatment between 21-22 weeks and would have been due for my next treatment last Friday if I were to continue. Over the past two weeks or so, I have noticed an increase in symptoms but nothing alarming or that would be risking for baby. I’m monitoring my body closely and my OB’s are monitoring me and baby very closely, so I feel comfortable moving forward. I’m trying to make sure I keep symptom triggering things at bay, like stress, and I am being very intentional about listening to what my body (and baby) need food and sleep wise.
Overall, what I’ve realized is that pregnancy with Crohn’s requires a lot of research and following your gut (no pun intended) just like having Crohn’s without being pregnant. There really are no cut and dry answers and opinions between professionals are often very conflicting. Having the uncertainty of an unprecedented global pandemic thrown in really shakes that up as well. We had to make the decision that felt right for the baby based on the current situation. The uncertainty of if I have made the “right” decision weighs on me very hard, but I try to remind myself I am doing the best I can and that’s all I can do.
Looking at this outside of just my personal experience, I think this brings up some gaps in the healthcare system as well as reiterates the additional emotional stress those impacted by Crohn’s and other autoimmune diseases have to endure. As far as the healthcare system, let me say that I truly love my providers and trust them so much. I don’t think the uncertainty is a reflection of them, I think the issue is the underlying lack of cohesive care that could be provided through increased communication among providers. I’ve experienced this before where Crohn’s impacts so many systems in your body, you are seeing multiple doctors, but there is no consistent communication between the providers. I don’t want an OBGYN who is an expert is gastrointestinal diseases, I want one who is an expert and delivering my baby of course! That is why there are doctors specializing in different areas, but that doesn’t do us any good if there is a lack of communication between a patient’s care team. Again, I don’t think this is the fault of my providers, I think it is an issue deep rooted in our medical system. All of the uncertainty puts more pressure and responsibility on the patient to do their own research, be the liaison between doctors, and ultimately make the final decision on treatments based on often conflicting advice.
Pregnancy with Crohn’s has been quite and adventure and one I am still going through! I feel like I say this all the time, but I truly am so thankful to have this platform to share my experiences. Throughout pregnancy I’ve leaned on online resources and communities, just as I did after my Crohn’s diagnosis. I believe there is a lack of resources about such a niche topic, but a topic that still impacts so many. Hopefully getting my experiences and opinions out there will help another Crohn’s mama who is looking for support.
Recently on Instagram I shared the progress we have made on decorating Baby P’s nursery. In my “Pregnancy” highlight I got into the details on my inspiration for the nursery design along with how we are keeping it budget friendly. Over the past few months I’ve done a lot of research on where we can get the most bang for our buck and quality for our little one.
I wanted to put together some links on where I have found some of our favorite budget friendly items that are still high quality and chic.
Crib + Mattress
After shopping around we decided to go with the Delta Children Essex 4-in-1 convertible crib. We decided on Delta because the brand go great reviews and most of the styles are under $200. They have a variety of different styles so you can pick the perfect model to match your vibe. After research we went with this mattress from Target as well. We went middle of the line with the mattress, some of them can get really pricey which I didn’t think was necessary.
Target has plenty of ways in which you can save. If you have the RedCard you automatically get 5% off and free shipping. They also run a variety of different sales. We got ours when they had a deal for a $40 rebate and 20% off of a crib mattress. The delivery was quick and the set up was easy.
For rugs, RugsUSA is always my go to. I love their moroccan styles and the low price point (they are pretty much always having a sale). We have gotten multiple rugs for our house from RugsUSA and they never disappoint.
We went for this moroccan style one for the nursery. It has a durable weave and is perfect to add some texture and pattern to the room. It even has a little metallic flare woven in.
Lighting was an area where I went back and forth on. I originally wanted to go with a brass floor lamp. The more I looked into it, I decided that a floor lamp was not the best option safety wise. Our nursery doesn’t have a ceiling light already so we are insisting the help of my father in law to install one. That is only one part of the challenge. The other part was finding a light that fit the small space. There is an abundance of adorable chandelier style lighting for nurseries, but finding a flush mount for our small space that was our style was more difficult.
We found the best options from Wayfair and Shades of Light. We ended up going with a white and brass dome light. We also didn’t want to spend a fortune. I would have invested more for a statement chandelier but for a standard flush mount I knew we could find something more cost effective but not blah.
My in laws wanted to gift us our glider which was so amazing and generous of them. I did a ton of research to find one that was comfortable and would fit our small space. I ended up deciding on the Olive Glider from Davinci Baby. After getting it delivered and trying it out I stand strong with my decision. It is incredible comfortable and the back is high enough that I will have full support during long nights of nursing. It is pretty compact but somehow feels like you are sitting in a huge comfy chair. I also love the modern look. The Davinci Baby chairs consistently were rated well and actually were not at the top of the price point scale. I made sure to do my due diligence before deciding on one so that not only could we have a quality piece but I also wasn’t asking my in laws for a huge investment. Since this was a generous gift we were lucky enough to not have to make the investment ourselves but if you are able to do so I highly recommend this one. The more I sit in it to break it in, I realize that is basically going to be my bed for the first part of my baby’s life, so it had better be comfy!
Other Cost Saving Tips
My stepmom is amazing at refinishing furniture so we took advantage of her skills and turning an old dresser into a dresser/changing table to match the crib. If you can find a way to repurpose or paint existing pieces that can be a big cost saver.
We looked throughout our house/decor storage to see what we could repurpose. Since the vibe of the nursery matches well with our whole house vibe, the decor is pretty consistent. I have been able to swap some accessories in other rooms to repurpose decorations and pillows that will look perfect with the nursery.
Where We Splurged
Two things I knew we needed to have from the minute i started designing the nursery was the In the Wild Barefoot Dreams Baby Blanket and this pillow from Clairebella Studio. I explain it on Instagram but I basically designed the whole room around this pillow so it was a much needed splurge. It was around $50 but great quality and brings the room together. The Barefoot dreams blanket isn’t just an aesthetic thing even though it goes great with my jungle vibe. I have a barefoot dreams blanket myself and my life has never been the same. I know it sounds dramatic but I am in love with this blanket. I sleep with it in bed every night and it makes me feel so cozy. I thought about my baby being out of his warm habitat and into the world for the first time and wanted to make sure he had the ultimate cozy blanket to keep him feeling safe and snuggled.
More to Come
We have the essentials down and most of the accessories I have already picked out and am just waiting for a deal. I always really love Target for lamps and mirrors. Amazon had also been one of my go to’s. For items that don’t have to be super high quality and are just used for show, I’ve been getting ideas from Pottery Barn or Crate & Barrel then searching for dupes on Amazon. They have a lot of textured hampers, chic hangers, and little accessories to add some extra depth to the room.
As we continue to add to the nursery I will provide updates, along with any sales I see that are too good to miss. I’ve enjoyed this process so much, not just because I love putting rooms together. I have been so passionate about creating this first space that my baby will get to know in this world. I want him to feel safe and secure while also making it full of cool things for all of his senses to explore. This is truly my favorite project yet.
For those who want to see my original idea, this is my vision board below. I provide more details around the backstory on Instagram.
I wanted to post a quick follow up to my Sephora Sale Pregnancy Must Haves that went live yesterday. I got a few questions about how to sift through all of the recommendations and decide on just a few products that you can order so you don't break the bank.
I put together a few suggestions that will give you some great products while sticking to a reasonable budget. One of the things I love about Sephora are their mini sizes which allow you to try new products before investing in the full size versions.
The Acne Trifecta
When hormonal acne hits, this trio has been what has worked for me. In my original post the spot treatment I recommend is the Belli Acne Control Spot Treatment which is pregnancy approved. This is what I am currently using but I have used the Umbrian Clay Mask by Fresh as my go to spot treatment before I was pregnant. I actually ran out and figured out I was pregnant before I had a chance to restock so I went with a new one from a pregnancy brand. After doing some more research, I believe the mask from Fresh should also be pregnancy approved (still double check for yourself, I'm not a doctor!). If you aren't pregnant, no worries then and you should be adding this amazing gem to your cart right now. You can also get The Deep Cleanse from Tatcha and the ACV Peel that I recommend in mini sizes to try out. You can get all three for under $50 during the sale!
Best Bang for Your Buck
For under $100, you can revamp your whole skincare routine with The Littles set from Drunk Elephant. This set contains 8 products from the line that are total game changers. It contains the Marula Oil, Protini Cream, and Umbra Sheer Physical Sunscreen ,all three of which are on my master list for pregnancy. According to Drunk Elephant's website, all of the other products are pregnancy safe but I have been shying away from the Glycolic Night Cream due to the salicylic acid. You can always save that for after your little bebe is born or if you aren't pregnant than you don't have to worry!
Top 3 For Glowing Skin
You can get these three items (all on my favorites list) for just a little over $100. These are the perfect combination of products to achieve glowy skin and if you were going to only invest in three basic products, these are what I would recommend. The duo from Drunk Elephant gives you their bar cleanser and exfoliant (both of which I love). These you can start with in the mini size since a little really does go a long way. The Water Cream from Tatcha I would go big on from the start. You will be lathering this everywhere morning and night. Last is the Healthy Glow Tinted Moisturizer from Charlotte Tilbury which I have been living in instead of foundation during quarantine.
This post was super quick and I just wanted to get it out there to answer some questions! If you have any other questions I didn't answer or additional suggestions, just drop me a message!
In quarantine I have been capitalizing on every little exciting thing that is happening, making it something big to look forward to. Well this week I don’t have to create my own hype because the excitement for the Sephora Insider Sale is REAL. For VIB member is starts on Tuesday, April 21st and I am ready.
Swapping out your regular beauty routine for pregnancy safe products can be expensive so this is a great time for mamas to be to stock up. Just digging through the crazy advice on the internet to decide what you are comfortable with ingredient wise is a hassle enough, at least when actually buying the products you decide on you deserve a break.
I’ve went through my fair share of products as I’ve experimented through these first 18 weeks of pregnancy so I want to share with you all what has ended up actually working for me. Unfortunately not only have I had to make the usual pregnancy product swaps, but I also was blessed with some crazy pregnancy skin. I had the “pregnancy glow” for maybe two weeks until it turned into hormonal acne and stretch marks, so don’t worry, I have products for those too.
I know going through a list of all of these products can feel overwhelming, but remember I am a product junkie so I love trying new stuff and budget each month for it. Don’t feel like you need everything at once. Try a few that feel most relevant to what you need and go from there. This is by no means a list of things you MUST have, just a list of things that have worked for me. I also am not a medical professional so always check with your doctor if you are unsure about a product or ingredient. These are the products I have choose to use based on my research and conversations with my doctor. There are enough crazy mommy blogs out there shaming you into spending $500 on a new beauty routine so you don’t “harm your baby” (and most of those are bullshit in my opinion). After almost falling victim to that myself thanks to all of the guilt I started feel, I have made an effort to be super careful about how I word these posts. I want the takeaway to be, “here is what worked for me, hope this helps” because none of us are experts and even the actual experts have conflicting advice! The best we can do is make informed decisions based on our research, so I hope my trial and error can help you narrow down what you may want to purchase, and keep you from wasting money on products that don’t get the job done. I also have to say, a lot of these products I was using even before I was pregnant and based on what ingredients I am okay with, they passed the test to be used during pregnancy as well. I didn't decide, oh I'm pregnant, lets buy new everything. That is totally unrealistic, so I urge you all to take a look at the products you already have and see what you can make work. I'll say this again for the people in the back, these are just recommendations for the swaps you do want to make or when you are out of a product and looking to restock!
As I am super excited for the Sephora Sale, not every product I love can be found at Sephora, so I have included links to those too. Most are not super expensive so won’t break the bank even without a sale ticket price. A lot of these products can also be purchased in mini sizes so if you want to try them out before you invest, these are prefect. I find out about most of my favorite products through sample sizes and purchasing the mini versions. This is also a great way to stick to your budget if you want to try a few things at once instead of splurge on one big item.
This Tula Purifying Face Cleanser Is a product I used before I found out I was pregnant and luckily could continue to use into my pregnancy. I love Tula products because they are formulated by a gastroenterologist and the line focuses around probiotics. This cleanser is gentle but gets the job done so it is perfect for everyday use.
In pregnancy I have limited my chemical exfoliants big time so I started to notice more build up on my skin. Especially as I started to break out more, I also noticed these tiny bumps on my face, neck, and chest that could only be remedying with some good, old fashioned, physical exfoliant. The JuJu Exfoliating Bar from Drunk Elephant has become my 'go to' because I feel like I can really feel it making a difference. It leaves my skin feeling noticeably smoother but not irritated. I use it on my face and down to my chest.
Moisturizers are where I will spend the big(ger) bucks. I am a true believer that the right moisturizer is a game changer. After trying so many, these three have really stood out as hero products since I've been pregnant. The Protini Polypeptide Cream from Drunk Elephant is my usual night time moisturizer. I will layer the Virgin Marula Oil from Drunk Elephant under it when I need a little more love in the hydration department. My favorite daytime moisturizer is The Water Cream from Tatcha. It is so light weight and soothing, plus it really makes a difference on how makeup lays on your skin. For a while I was wondering if Tatcha was worth all of the hype and the price but after trying a sample size and falling in love, I have to admit, it is worth every penny.
Drunk Elephant's Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser is the easiest way to remove makeup. With a little bit of this stuff, your makeup will just slide off of your face. No pulling or scrubbing and it works really well on stubborn mascara too. I first discovered this product in one of Drunk Elephant's mini sets. I love these because you get to try multiple products for less than $30 and decide which ones you like. In this case, I ended up also falling in love with the moisturizer that came with it. The Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer is one of my favorite moisturizers, so you can try out two of my favorites for only $22. I am always surprised with how long these tiny products last for too. Tip: Even if I end up purchasing the full size product, I save the tiny containers so I can refill them for traveling.
These Josie Maran Bear Naked Wipes are so soothing and are prefect for lazy nights when you can't imagine leaving your comfortable bed to get up and wash your face. I leave these in my nightstand for convenience. These wipes are my favorite because they slide smoothly over your skin so you aren't pulling or rubbing to wash the day off.
Pregnancy fatigue is NO JOKE. I looked in the mirror when I was about 8 weeks pregnant and it looked like I hadn't slept in three months. Well I know I'm only going to get MORE tired once baby gets here so I'm locking this in as a long term staple in my skincare routine. While mamas to be may have to limit their caffeine intake, that doesn't mean we can't use a little on our skin. The Rose Glow & Get It Eye Balm from Tula is a savior. It is cooling, brightening, and moisturizing. With a mixture of caffeine, hyaluronic acid, and rosehip oil (nature's retinol) this eye balm helps to treat your tired eyes while making them immediately look better.
Even though I have been more acne prone during my pregnancy, I still also have issues with hydration. I love the Jet Lag Mask from Summer Fridays because it is hydrating without making your skin feel oily. This is a must for me to have whenever I fly and during the cold winter months. This is another product I used prior to being pregnant so I was thrilled I would be able to continue using it through my pregnancy.
Another hydrating favorite from Summer Fridays is their new Lip Butter Balm. Hydrating, not sticky, pregnancy safe, pretty self explanatory.
No chemical sunscreen was the first pregnancy skincare rule that I learned. Basically every product I had for daytime, whether makeup or skincare, had chemical sunscreen in it. I would say the chemical SPF was the number one reason for many of the makeup products I had to swap out. I am big on sun protection so I needed to find an alternative quickly, especially since in my first trimester I was vacationing in Hawaii for two weeks. The Physical Defense Protection from Drunk Elephant is the best physical sunscreen product I have found so far. I put a little on in the morning mixed with my moisturizer for everyday use. For serious sun exposure I use this on my entire body. It is light weight and didn't make me break out, which is always a big concern for me when it comes to sunscreen. There was a bit of a learning curve when applying it because it is a lot thicker than my usual formula. A little goes a long way with this stuff!
I know there are mixed reviews when it comes to getting spray tans during pregnancy. I decided against it based on the conversations I had with my doctor. As someone who religiously was getting sprayed, I was desperately searching for a comparable option. My search for these products was also escalated due to my first trimester trip to Hawaii. Both of these products have exceeded my expectations in delivering a bronze glow. I usually add the D-Bronzi Sunshine Drops from Drunk Elephant into my moisturizer to use on my face and neck. I use the Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops in Dark for the rest of my body. I mix these in with my daily body moisturizer for easy application. I've also used the Isle of Paradise drops on my face which worked out perfectly fine as well. The Isle of Paradise drops pack more of a punch in delivering an immediate and darker tan, so I used these on my face while we were in Hawaii and will probably start to do so more in the summer. The color lasts about a week so you really only have to apply once a week which is super convenient. The D-Bronzi Drops are better for daily use in my opinion since they have more of a subtle, buildable color.
The Acne Trifecta
Pregnancy acne is NO JOKE. At first I thought a few little patches of hormonal acne would be no big deal. I was used to some weird break outs that corresponded with my Crohn's flares so I thought I was prepared. Well, I wasn't. I realized that the heavy hitters I was using to knock out my breakouts before were not safe to use in pregnancy. This lead me on quite a journey to identify what the heck I could actually use and what worked. I finally feel like I have things under control and I have seen a big improvement.
First off I had to bring in a bit of a heavier exfoliant to use every other day. The Deep Cleanse by Tatcha has really helped with the tiny bumps I have been getting and has been especially useful along my jawline. All of my usual peels were off the table, as were my spot treatments so I had to really get creative here. My doctor recommended trying to stick with benzoyl peroxide products for acne treatment but BP always does a number on my sensitive skin so that was not going to be good for me. Instead I use the Volition Apple Cider Vinegar Peel Resurfacing Pads once per week, specifically concentrated around where my hormonal acnes is occurring. Every other night I use Belli's Acne Control Spot Treatment. Belli is skincare specifically formulated for pregnancy and this specific product uses sulfur as the acne fighting ingredient. This spot treatment works great, but can be a bit drying, hence why I am using it every other night. The other nights I make sure I am focusing on hydration and usually layering my Murula Oil under my Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer.
So far Palmer's Coconut Oil Body Lotion has been my 'go to' for hydrating and trying to fend off stretch marks. I know they are pretty inevitable which was proven as over the past three weeks, despite my struggle to gain weight during my pregnancy, new stretch marks have made themselves at home on my sides. I am on the hunt for another product to add into my routine in conjunction with this body lotion, but nothing can replace this tried and true staple. This is also great to mix your tan drops in with and it smells like a vacation.
I've really paired down my everyday makeup routine thanks to never having to leave the house. This has made making my routine pregnancy safe a lot easier since I've eliminated a lot of steps. These products are the ones I have been wearing when I do wear makeup. This is all you will see me wearing on Instagram these days as well. As much as I love getting glam, I am holding off until I have somewhere to be.
Nail Polish (What I Have Been Using in Quarantine)
Last, but not least -- nails. I won't lie to you all and say I was going to stop getting my SNS Dip manicures while I was pregnant. I stopped getting them because I am in quarantine and can't leave my house. If you know me, you know my nail tech, Tracy, is an angel of a woman and has been doing beautiful things to my nails since 2017. I have consistently seen her every 3-4 weeks since July 2017, until now. I am a little lost and on my own since it has been a while since I've painted my own nails (first world problem, I KNOW). I remembered that one of the brands I loved when I was DIYing my nails was Deborah Lippmann. Well, not much has changed and the products are still great. As a plus they are also a lot safer when it comes to ingredients and they don't require UV exposure. I also am very horrible at painting my own nails and I can actually make them look decent with this kit. I recommend the Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro base and top coat as your initial investment. You can purchase full size Deborah Lippmann polishes from Sephora, but I really like the set of mini polishes since I rarely ever use a whole bottle anyway. These have been the six colors I have had on rotation since the beginning of quarantine.
I know this was a long one, but I hope it helps! I have really been so excited to share these products with you all because I know how challenging it can be to find advice on what to use during pregnancy. The Sephora Sale was just the icing on the cake to make this post that much sweeter since that makes a lot of these amazing products more affordable.
I am also working on a post detailing new items that I want to try and purchase from the Sephora Insider Sale and a post breaking down the best combination of products to get on a budget.
As always, let me know if you have any questions and I can't wait to hear what you all buy from the sale this week!
I hope everyone is getting through quarantine alright. If you saw my post on Instagram, you know that unfortunately I had to relocate to my parents' house to quarantine for the safety of me and Baby P. You can catch up on the whole story here but the overall gist is that my husband is a nurse and on the front lines helping Covid-19 patient. I am so incredibly proud of him, but heartbroken that we will be living apart until things settle down.
Although it feels like this pandemic is the only thing going on in the world, life is still moving along, and mamas are still pregnant! Today I wanted to talk about something on the lighter side and share the 'must have' items for pregnancy so far. I've pulled together items that have helped me through my first trimester, most of which I still use now 17 weeks in. Whether you are currently baking a little one or are hoping to soon, take a look through my list and rest assured you can safely order all of these online without leaving your quarantine.
My Favorite Pregnancy Tests
Up until I was frantically trying to decipher a positive vs negative results, I didn't realize there was such a thing as a favorite pregnancy test. I also didn't realize why there are so many different ones out there until I started really getting familiar with the whole testing process.
First Response Early Result, in my experience, was best when you were testing before your missed period. They are very sensitive and help decrease that nerve wrecking time you have to wait between ovulation and when you can accurately test. What I didn't realize was that if you are testing very early on, the second pink line may be faint. Even a faint line can mean a big fat positive and it darkens as the pregnancy hormones increase in your body.
If you are a crazy person like me and know you are going to take a ton of pregnancy tests at every moment you can to see if there are any changes in 'your line', I highly recommend stocking up on some more cost effective options like the Accumed Pregnancy Test Strips. There are 25 tests in a box for only $8. They aren't as fancy as the pricier options but they get the job done.
Once I got some promising pink line tests, I confirmed with Clearblue. At first when First Response was picking up a positive, the Clearblue digital tests weren't since it was still early. Once I was technically supposed to have missed my period, the Clearblue tests starting reading positive and gave a very clear 'PREGNANT'. These are very straight forward and there is really no way to misinterpret these, so they are a great way to really confirm you are, in fact, pregnant.
My 'Go-To' Prenatal
I started taking prenatal vitamins before I actually found out I was pregnant since we were trying to conceive. I already took Ritual multivitamins so I easily switched my subscription for the prenatal. The Ritual prenatal doesn't make me nauseous and it easily packs everything I need into two pills. I also love, especially now that I can't go to the store, that they come via subscription so I never have to worry about running out. With pregnancy brain in full force, this is definitely helpful.
So In the first trimester you may not even start to actually show but you will feel bloated and uncomfortable in basically anything you own besides sweatpants. About 6 weeks in, my bloating was out of control so I needed to invest in some basics that would make me feel more comfortable. These maternity tank tops are great because they are longer than usual tanks so they accommodate your growing belly and can cover things up if you need to start unbuttoning those jeans more often. Underwear was also something that just felt entirely uncomfortable to me. On a whim, I ordered these 'under the bump' underwear that were a total game changer for me. They are SO comfortable and don't feel restrictive at all. I can't recommend these enough, even if you don't think you need them, you do.
I debated waiting until I got bigger to buy a pregnancy pillow but I am very happy I got one early on. As someone who always sleeps on their stomach, this helped me get used to side sleeping. It also is great for getting comfy when lounging on the sofa, which you will be doing a lot of in your first trimester. Later on in my pregnancy I may upgrade to one with more support but this is perfect for beginning stages and under $40.
My Everyday Savior
Staying hydrated is so important when you are pregnant but it was certainly not one of my top skills. I literally need to have cold water accessible via a straw to me at all times to enforce hydration. That is exactly what I made happen. I love these Simply Modern tumblers so I ordered the blush pink/baby blue one along with some reusable straws the I ONLY use for water. With my senses (taste + smell) going wild, I needed a cup that would be free of any other smells or flavors. Water only please. This cup keeps my water cold, travels well, and is a fraction of the price of other ones on the market.
That is my roundup of the what you need in your first trimester! I will continue to update with more of my favorites as my pregnancy progresses. If you have any favorite products that mamas to be should check out, feel free to drop them below!
So, if you follow along on Instagram, you know 2020 has been a big year for the Pickens so far. It is weird to be going through one of the most exciting times of our lives while simultaneously the world feels crazier than it has ever been. We announced very exciting news that we are expecting, about a week before social distancing got serious here in Maryland. We had the first 12 weeks to share all of our emotions just with each other and close family and friends. We had been trying to get pregnant so this news was not a shock to us, but the timing kind of was.
I had a visit with my primary care doctor about a cough/cold that wouldn’t go away back in December and during my visit she expressed serious concern about my thyroid being enlarged. She told me to put a hard stop on trying to get pregnant since a lot of issues I was having, lead her to believe that something was wrong. Matt and I were so upset when we heard this news and I started scheduling my follow up appointments and tests immediately so that we could figure things out and get back to baby making ASAP. After already having Crohn’s that played into my fertility and pregnancy concerns, I was terrified of having another hurdle to jump.
Well, I had my imaging done and as I was waiting for my appointment with my endocrinologist we had a little surprise. One weekend after a few glasses of wine at dinner with our friends, I started feeling horrible. I was in bed all weekend feeling exhausted and like I had the worst hangover of my life. I didn’t worry about our boozy dinner out because, well, we had put trying on hold per doctor’s orders. It isn’t uncommon for me to feel like total trash for a few days thanks to my Crohn’s, so there was nothing super alarming about this. What really tipped Matt and me off, was our dog Rhaegar. Usually Charleston is attached to me 24/7 and Rhaegar is a daddy’s boy through and through. Up until this point I was his peasant who cleaned up after him and fed him, but he’s so freaking cute I dealt with his obvious disinterest in me. Well all of a sudden, he wouldn’t leave me alone. He had to be touching me at all times and spent most of our time together just laying directly on top of me. At night he migrated to my side of the bed and just laid on my tummy. At this point I told Matt that I was either dying or I was pregnant because this was so out of character for Rhaegar.
Thanks to his strange behavior I took a test. Well, I took a lot of tests and it was still very early so I had basically a lab set up in my powder room comparing test strips and how dark the two lines were. At first the second line was very light and I thought maybe I was going crazy. I kept taking tests like a crazy person everyday and made Matt go out to get different kinds of pregnancy tests to be sure. Well the ones he got, I read on a mommy blog that they were not the best, so while he was sleeping I ordered 40 more on Amazon. I am not kidding… I ordered 40 more pregnancy tests. So as Matt considered revoking my Amazon priveleges, the new tests arrived and of course, the first one out of the 40 was a BIG FAT UNDENIABLE POSITIVE. I took a few more just to be 100% sure. Now, I didn’t do a whole ‘reveal’ for Matt. He was with me every step of the way, examining my pee sticks, so romantic. But it was for real… we were having a baby!
I made my initial appointments, all the while freaking out because of course this happened the month we were NOT supposed to get pregnant. I was so worried something was wrong with me or the baby. Everything checked out with the OBGYN and my endocrinologist said to put everything with exploring my thyroid on hold until after giving birth. She said to be thankful and enjoy that I was on track with a healthy pregnancy and if there were issues, as long as they weren’t affecting the baby, we were fine. This still really freaked me out, but I understood once she explained if there was something seriously wrong, I wouldn’t have been able to get pregnant in the first place.
It took me a little to get that this was actually real and accept the beautiful fact that we were on track with a healthy pregnancy. With so much anxiety due to my health throughout our whole journey of trying to conceive, it seemed so unreal that this was actually happening.
Our anxiety continued as we would wait from appointment to appointment to make sure our little gummy bear was on track and doing well. It has eased up with milestones like hearing the heartbeat, seeing the baby move, and making it out of the first trimester. Of course, the anxiety still is with us (especially me) but I am learning to cope better and better.
While the first trimester was full of anxiety, it was also full of enjoying our little secret together and even escaping to relax in Hawaii for a couple weeks. I couldn’t wait to share the news with everyone in our lives and especially you all who have been here with me through everything in the past few years.
I’ve had a ton of things I have wanted to share about this journey and I have been taking notes all along the way. I wanted to start sharing all of the details and behind the scenes as soon as we made the news public, but with Covid-19 wreaking such havoc on our world, it took the backseat. After a few weeks in quarantine, realizing this is the new normal, I decided I need to start sharing. It feels uncomfortable talking about anything but the pandemic right now, but I know I have value to share in my experiences and now more than ever us pregnant mamas have to lean on each other.
This is the first post of many and I am going to be completely candid and vulnerable throughout this whole journey just as I am with pretty much everything here. I am beyond thankful to be able to share this story of bringing baby Pickens into the world. If I get too much into it I’m going to start to cry (love those pregnancy hormones) so I’ll put a pin in that for now. Thank you to everyone who has supported us so far in this journey and continues to do so. Your kind words and love mean so much to us.
Blonde babe. Maryland native. Crohn's crushing puppy mother to two sweet rescues.
Welcome to my unfiltered commentary on crushing chronic illness in your 20's and everything that goes along with that.