The Birth of Moon Baby

As if you were

on fire

from within,

the moon lives

in the lining

of your skin.

– Neruda

 

Wednesday 31 January

It was 10 days past the day the medical professionals had decided was your due date and the pressure to induce labour was steadily increasing. Our original induction date had been set for seven days past your due date but your dad and I strongly felt that you weren’t ready to be born then so we had begun the process of negotiating another date. This negotiation was somewhat complicated by the fact the hospital’s induction schedule was completely full for the week, with the next available slot putting us at 42 weeks and 1 day. Neither we nor Pete – our obstetrician –  were comfortable waiting that long but your dad and I were equally uncomfortable inducing after only seven days. We agreed to hold off, with the hope an induction slot would open up later in the week.

Throughout the week we had monitoring to check you had enough amniotic fluid and that you weren’t in any distress. At the end of each session we were told what we already knew: you were perfectly healthy and happy in there. These appointments reconfirmed that we were making the right choice to hold of inducing labour.

Although it was stressful negotiating the hospital’s policy of inducing after seven days, I had a feeling all along that you wouldn’t need to be induced and that you were waiting for the super blue blood moon to make your arrival. You needed the powerful energy of the moon to call your soul down to Earth.

All day I had been experiencing light cramping on and off, and I felt called to rest. I decided to get a pedicure done, figuring it would be the last time for a while I would have time for such luxuries. After whipping up a batch of muffins and smudging our home with palo santo to make way for your arrival, I laid down for what turned into a two-hour nap.

At 5:45pm, Pete called to let us know an induction spot had opened up the following afternoon, so we locked that in and decided to go out for one last date as a twosome. I had just changed into a dress and was sitting on the toilet when my waters broke suddenly and rather dramatically. Given that only 15% of labours start with the Hollywood-style breakage of waters, it took me a while to work out what was happening. I had assumed my waters would break some time after labour commenced, or that they would have to be broken for me, so I hadn’t considered that it could happen at home, heralding the start of labour. When the penny finally dropped I called out to your dad, “My waters have broken! This is not a drill!” My heart was racing with excitement as I knew it wouldn’t be much longer until we met you.

We called the hospital and they advised us to come in so I jumped in the shower while your dad packed the car and made us both a salad roll to eat on the drive in. So much for our dinner date!

I strapped on the TENS machine and hopped in the car. Almost immediately, the surges picked up in intensity and frequency, and were soon coming every two to three minutes, lasting 30 to 40 seconds. I focused on my breath and soon got into a rhythm of feeling a surge start, and pressing start on the TENS machine and a timer on my phone.

We arrived at the hospital at about 8pm and got set up in the birthing suite. Your dad put on the playlist I had made earlier in the week, set up the crystals that were charged with loving energy from my mother blessing and energetically cleared the room using the Australian Bush Flower Essences Space Clearing Mist because, #hippyforlyf.

Pete soon arrived and after checking my cervix he told us I was 2cm dilated and that he would come back in the morning to check my progress. After he left, we called Bree – our doula – and asked her to come to the hospital.

I laboured through the night, under the light of the moon. Chris and Bree made the most amazing support team, helping me through each surge. While intense, it was a magical night with just the three of us in a darkened room for most of the time. I felt like I was in between worlds, coaxing your soul down to Earth.

Thursday 1st February

At 7am, Pete came back to another check and found that despite 12 hours of labour my cervix hadn’t dilated any further. You were also still only partially engaged. Pete suggested that I start a drip of syntocinon (synthetic oxytocin) in the hope that stronger surges would push you further into my pelvis and stimulate dilation. After a lengthy discussion, I decided to wait another few hours to see if I could get things moving by changing to a more upright position during contractions and doing some exercises designed to get your head into an optimal position to engage.

After completing the exercises, my contractions became much stronger, lasting 50 to 60 seconds, but they were coming less frequently now at six minutes apart.

We were 16 hours into the journey when Pete came to check my cervix again. 3cm. I decided to start the syntocinon drip, because I was starting to get weary and the thought of potentially another 24 hours of labour was overwhelming.

As soon as the drip was hooked up, my surges got much stronger and more consistent but after 30 minutes they became irregular again so the dosage was turned up. Again, the surges got stronger and more consistent but then destabilised again. You were starting to get annoyed with syntocinon and your heart rate was going up and down so the drip was switched off (which I didn’t realise until later). My surges remained really intense but another cervix check showed dilation still wasn’t happening.

At this point I finally paid attention to what my intuition had been telling me for weeks – that you weren’t in the best position and that you weren’t going to be birthed without some more help. Once I allowed myself to accept that, I quickly became frustrated with each surge and struggled to maintain my focus throughout them because I knew they were unproductive.

At this point I asked for an epidural. During my pregnancy I had done extensive research on every intervention (which I’m sure doesn’t surprise anyone reading this who knows me) so I was already clear on the pros and cons of an epidural, and had decided that I would only use if I needed to rest rather than for pain relief. I also knew it could be used to anesthetise me should I need a caesarean.

The anaesthesiologist arrived and explained the procedure. At the Royal Women’s hospital, they use a new(ish) technique called a Walking Epidural. It blocks out the pain from the surges but doesn’t numb your legs at all. He quickly administered it and I felt relief almost immediately.

Once the anaesthesiologist left we discussed our options with Pete, the first of which being to hook up the syntocinon drip again and continuing to labour with the hope that things would start progressing faster. The risk was that your heart rate would again start to accelerate and decelerate, and then we would have to remove the drip and be back to square one. I also knew that you still hadn’t engaged, so even if the drip helped me to fully dilate the risk of a high forceps delivery was playing on my mind. I voiced my concerns to Pete and he agreed that a high forceps delivery was risky for both you and me, and could very well end up in an emergency caesarean.

My intuition was telling me loudly and clearly now that you needed the help of a caesarean to be born so I let Pete know that’s what I wanted to do. This felt like the best option for us both. Pete explained how the procedure would work and said that it was hospital policy to separate mum and baby while mum was in recovery – a policy he doesn’t agree with. I knew the importance of those first couple of hours post birth for establishing breast feeding, so I pleaded with him to ask if they could make an exception. He wasn’t confident they would but he returned after a few minutes with a huge smile to tell us that for the first time ever, they had agreed.

I also knew it was against hospital policy for more than one extra person to be present in theatre but I really wanted Bree to be present for your birth, given she had played such an important role in getting us to this point, and Pete agreed that Bree could attend.

Things moved really quickly from there. As I was prepped for theatre, your dad and Bree packed up the birth suite and changed into scrubs.

I was wheeled into theatre where the anaesthesiologist turned up the epidural. For some reason I needed heaps of anaesthetic in order for the area to be numbed, so this process took a while but finally we were ready to go. We were just waiting for Chris and Bree to arrive.

There was a team of about 12 people in theatre and they were amazing; it was clear they had worked with each other for years and had great respect for each other. The room was full of lively energy as they joked with one another. I felt completely at peace with everything and was excited to finally be meeting you.

When Pete made the incision, he saw your little face, eyes wide open, looking up at him. The medical term for the position you were in is left occiput transverse, asynclitic deflexed. In other words, you were lying on your side, with your head tilted towards your shoulder. Your positioning was what had stopped you from being able to drop down into my pelvis.

After a bit of pushing and pulling, at 5:41pm, after 22 hours of labour, you were gently lifted out of me and held up so that we could see you.

My little spark of infinite light, my darling moon baby, seeing you for the first time was unlike anything I have ever experienced. My heart swelled with a love so intense it took my breath away.

In a single instant, in the afterglow of the full moon, you changed our world forever and we could not be more grateful that you chose us to be your mum and dad.

Coconut, Chai and Turmeric Chia Pudding

turmeric-chia-feature

I have finally got around to putting up my recipe that was featured on the I Quit Sugar site a few weeks back.

Over the many years that I have been experimenting with the best way for me to achieve optimal health, I have found that one of the easiest things I can do is ensure that my breakfast is packed with nutrients. It sets me up for the day and means that even if I make less-than-optimal choices later on, I know I’ve already got in a stack of nutritious goodness.

This sweet treat packs a punch of anti-inflammatory turmeric. For best creamy results, use Pureharvest Organic Oat Milk.

 

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons chia seeds.
  • 1 tablespoon shredded coconut.
  • 1 1/2 cup Pureharvest Organic Oat Milk.
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla essence or powder.
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric.
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves.
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom.
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.

Optional

  • 1 tablespoon Pureharvest Organic Rice Malt Syrup.

Directions

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, making sure no clumps of spices remain.
Add oat milk, vanilla essence and rice malt syrup, stirring until combined.
Cover and leave in fridge overnight to set.
Serve as is or top with chopped nuts and more shredded coconut.

Enjoy!

Laura xo

Miscarriage: to know or not to know why

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 2.38.50 pmWhen I was a kid, I was full of questions. My favourite thing to do was to ask, “Why?” When I was about five, I remember being in a shopping centre with my parents and sisters, the eldest of whom was pushing my niece in a pram. We had been riding the escalators all day and I kept seeing these big read buttons at the top of every escalator. I asked what they did but, given we were in a hurry, I was told not to worry about what they did because it was not important.

It was important to me though so at the top of the next escalator, when my sister was halfway down with the pram, I pushed the button.

The escalator immediately stopped, almost throwing its occupants off in the process. Dad then had to help my sister carry the pram down the remainder of the now-frozen escalator. Everyone was pretty mad at me.

I didn’t get it. Why were they angry when all I wanted to know was the answer to a simple question?

Of course, the button was an emergency stop button but I didn’t realise that at the time and I wasn’t satisfied with being told that I didn’t need to know the answer to my question. I needed to know.

I know my questioning nature drove my parents insane at times but, unfortunately for them, it is something that has stuck with me. For the most part, this has served me well but sometimes it causes me to create more pain for myself than is necessary.

In the case of wanting to know why I miscarried earlier this year, I nearly drove myself insane trying to figure out what caused it and how I could have avoided it or, at the very least, how I could ensure it wouldn’t happen again.

The doctors, nurses and midwives all said the same thing: sometimes we just don’t have an answer. I couldn’t accept that I would never know what caused our baby to die so suddenly just days after seeing their heart beating strongly, but it looked like that was exactly what was going to happen.

That was until last week when I went to my GP to get an iron test done. Those who know me well will be familiar with my struggles to keep my iron at a healthy level. Anyway, he was going through my history and saw that I never received the results of a test I requested when I was pregnant to find out if I had a mutation or defect of the Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase gene. The MTHFR gene for those who prefer to not overcomplicate things. Or the Mother F*cker gene, for those in the natural medicine field who know the havoc that mutations to this gene can cause.

What does the MTHFR gene do, exactly?

The body can’t do too much with folate in its original form, so it needs to convert (or methylate) it into a substance that it can actually use, and that substance is called L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate. The MTHFR gene is responsible for this conversion.

The MTHFR gene can be defective in a couple of different ways, with one mutation being known to increase the risk of blood clots, especially during pregnancy.

For people with this type of mutation (the heterozygous version, for those who are interested), miscarriages are common. It is thought that a blood clot forms in the placental blood vessel, causing the baby to be cut off from nutrients and subsequently causing you to miscarry.

This is the mutation that I have.

I think this is why our baby died.

Of course, I know all too well that there are no guarantees in this life, and there is every chance that something else caused the miscarriage. But there is something strangely comforting in thinking that I might have found an answer, even though I’ll never know if it is the answer. It gives me the opportunity I’ve been searching for to see what I can do to try to stop this from happening again. It gives me a direction to start with rather than flailing around in the dark, hoping I’m taking the right supplements and getting the best treatment. As anyone who is dealing with fertility issues – or any health issue for that matter – will tell you, having some information is better than having none.

The science is pretty new around all of this, which means there aren’t many prenatal supplements that include L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate, or even its precursor – folinic acid. My doctor isn’t even sure about what the best approach is!

After trawling my university’s scientific research database to read about the few studies that have been conducted in this area, it looks like the best thing I can do is take a supplement that includes L-5-methylfolate. I’ve found one that looks pretty good, so I’m going to give it a shot when we do decide it’s the right time to start trying again.

So instead of doing nothing and just hoping for the best, I’m trawling my uni’s scientific research database to find answers and I’m determined to get to the bottom of this.

I’ll never stop asking why.

Laura xx

Note: As always, I’m writing about my own experience. I’m not a doctor and while this post might give you the information you need to start your own investigations with a health practitioner, it should not be construed as medical advice.

Adding a sprinkle of ritual to your life

Smudging is one of my favourite rituals.

Smudging is one of my favourite rituals.

I’m a big fan of ritual.

It is the easiest way I have found to intentionally create more space and direction in my life. It has helped me get clear on what it is I want to focus on in life and has helped me to feel more at peace with the craziness of our world.

The great thing about ritual is that it is non-denominational and can be as serious or as fun as you want it to be. It can be as simple or as complex as you like. Your ritual, your rules. For me, keeping it simple works. Whenever I have tried to follow some complex set of steps and rules, I either lose interest or get so overwhelmed about getting it wrong (totally ridiculous given there is no right or wrong way to conduct a ritual) that I ditch the whole thing in favour of a glass of wine and a Netflix marathon. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as partial to binge-watching 18 episodes of Friday Night Lights as the next person but other than making me wish I grew up in Dillon, Texas, the show doesn’t really add anything to my life.

If you would like to incorporate some ritual into your life, here are my top tips:

+ Start where you are. As I mentioned above, you don’t have to spend hours setting up and completing a complex ritual. You can start by just taking some time first thing in the morning to set your intention for what you want to achieve and how you want to feel as you go about your day. If you’re more of a night owl, write a list of everything you achieved that day towards your goals, and put in a couple of things you are going to do the next day that will get you one step closer to your target. Reminding yourself of how far you have come is a great way of maintaining the motivation to continue.

+ Keep it in your budgetThere is no need to go out and spend $200 on crystals, sage sticks, palo santo and singing bowls unless, of course, you want to. Some of my most powerful rituals simply involve getting some paper and writing a list of 10 things that are no longer serving me in my life then putting the paper in a bowl and setting in on fire (be safe with flames, kids), with the intention of releasing everything that was on the list. If burning things isn’t an option, you can tear the paper up or bury it instead. This is a great one to do when it’s a full moon.

+ Include Mother Moon. I like to pop the full moon and new moon dates in my calendar to make sure I know when they are happening. The new moon is the perfect time to get clear on what you want to create in your life. Head outside and sit under her golden light as you conduct your ritual. You could grab some cute little post-it notes and write an intention on each one, then stick them up somewhere you will see them all the time. If you prefer to keep your intentions and desires a bit more private, jot them down in a book instead. The full moon’s energy is about letting go, releasing past hurts and limiting beliefs, and making space for better things to come into your life. The burn-your-past ritual I mentioned above is my favourite thing to do on a full moon. Note: Howling at the moon is optional but totally recommended.

+ Get grounded. The easiest way to ground your energy is to – yep, you guessed it – sit on the ground. If you plant your bum on some grass, or dirt, or sand, you’ll feel more connected to the universe and yourself almost immediately. If you don’t have easy access to the earth, you can try having a bath with some Epsom salts. Throw in a few rose petals or lavender stems for extra feel-like-a-goddess points.

+ Use cards. Oracle cards (or tarot cards, if that’s more your jam) come in all shapes and sizes, and add another element to your ritual. I like to pull a card to see where I need to put my focus for that day. If I have lots of time, I’ll do a more in-depth reading. I like to ask, “What will help me most to remember right now?” If you aren’t sure where to start, The Little Sage cards are lovely. I don’t use cards so much from a spiritual connecting-with-guides perspective. Rather, I more just use them to check in with myself and work with what resonates most from the message to see what I need to focus on that day or week.

+ Meditate. Stressing about everything you need to do tomorrow is not conducive to a rockin’ ritual. To help clear my mind, I like to meditate for 10 minutes before I start my ritual. I usually keep it simple and just focus on drawing my breath into my heart space, creating an ever-growing pool of light until I’m completely engulfed in it and it’s radiating from me.

+ Smudge your house. After I give the house a good clean, I like to open all of the windows and smudge to clear out old, icky energy. I either use dried white sage sticks or palo santo wood, depending on my mood. If you haven’t smudged before, palo santo might be a good option because it has a lovely woody smell. Sage, on the other hand, is quite intense and can take a bit to get used to. If you jump on Google, you’ll find tonnes of examples of how to smudge. My smudging ritual looks something like this: start in the room that is furthest from the front door and as I let the smoke move around the room, I say, “I clear this space of all energy that is not for our highest and greatest good.” I repeat this process until I reach the front door. If I have enough time, I’ll then walk back through the house with a white candle and say, “I fill this space with white light and love.”

What about you? Do you use ritual to help bring your life into focus? If so, I’d love to hear about what you do.

Laura xo

Life and death and resurrection

IMG_3835

A quick note before we get to today’s piece:

This is the hardest, but most important, thing I’ve ever written.

It has been sitting in my drafts section for some time, with no reason not to be posted except that I couldn’t find the courage to do so.

Two initiatives have taken place over the last two weeks that have helped me to feel like it was finally the right time share my story. Last week was Mental Health Week and I was reminded that everyone is dealing with something hard in their life, and keeping my struggle a secret helps no one, especially not me. Then, yesterday was Pregnancy and Infancy Loss Remembrance Day, and as I read article after article about women struggling through a mountain of grief in private, I realised that the more people who share their experiences about infant and pregnancy loss, the less this topic will be seen as taboo. It is my hope that by sharing my story it will help another woman who has gone through this loss feel less alone. You are not alone. The level of grief you feel is valid, even if society tells you that it’s out of proportion with what they expect from the death of a life they never even knew existed.

 

“Resurrection means that the worst things are never the last things.” – Frederick Buechner 

When I first counted the dates, and counted them again, I didn’t admit to myself what a difference one week could make. But I drove to the shops anyway, to pick up the test anyway, because what were the chances anyway.

Then, as I stared at those two little lines I held my breath for all of eternity, blinking and hoping and not admitting that the impossible could be possible. Pregnant, the lines announced, whispered, shouted.

With shaking hands and hearts in mouths, we hugged and hugged and kept checking that those lines were still there as we basked in the bliss of our new names: Mama and Papa To Be. A mum and a dad. A baby would make three.

I said I don’t know how to do this and he said we’ll figure it out together, this perfect new reality of ours.

And so head-first we fell into what we thought was a given. They provided us with urine tests, blood tests, leaflets, a due date. And I did not admit to the fear that had crept into the corners of my heart that while our due date would come and go, just like all of time does, it would not look the way we wanted it to.

As we gazed in awe at your tiny flickering black and white heart beat, our hearts started beating in time with yours. That’s your baby, she said. Everything looks perfect, she said.

Except it wasn’t perfect. Not even close. Or maybe it was and this is just a different, more painful kind of perfect than the version we had imagined.

When my world turned red and it just wouldn’t stop, I squeezed shut my eyes, started building a wall around my heart, and whispered no no no to a god that wasn’t listening.

For a whole day and night and day I didn’t admit what I knew to be true. I couldn’t admit that I was losing you.

I tore apart my body in search of the strength I knew I had to find to utter those terrible, awful words that never should have to be said. I didn’t admit that I was too scared to call the midwife, too scared to hear what she would say but I knew not admitting would not be enough to stop this train that was determined to derail itself.

This happens all the time, she said. Lots of women experience this and they go on to have healthy babies, she promised.

But promises are just words and, oh baby, words can’t save a life. Can’t save a mother or a father. Can’t save a future imagined either.

And so we drove or walked or swam through an ocean of grief to the hospital, and all the while I hoped I could find the courage I needed to lose sight of the shore and swim into this new world that I didn’t want to belong to.

The pain spread from heart to my soul to my body to you. It blurred the white walls and white bed and white everything, and I couldn’t admit that even as I begged for the morphine that entered my blood I wanted to scream at them to stop because if I didn’t feel pain how would I know you were ever even real.

I shut my eyes or maybe they shut themselves to block out the feeling of cool gel on my skin and listened instead to the screaming silence that filled all of the spaces that were once filled by you.

I think I should get the doctor, she said. What we are seeing is consistent with a miscarriage, he said. We can’t see a foetus, they said.

My baby is gone my baby is gone my baby is gone.

You have options, she said.

Options?

How could I have options when the only option I wanted is no longer an option? Surgery, a pill, just wait it out. These are your options when you have no options.

I opened my eyes to another white ceiling, to murky voices and a second of normality before the memories crashed their way back into my heart, jamming themselves into every corner of this body I used to trust.

Into this world I trusted.

This new reality is not the one we wanted but maybe, just maybe, one day we will be able to see that it’s exactly the one we needed.

Some lives are very long, and some are very, very short but they all leave their mark. And you, our beautifully imperfectly perfect baby, have left your mark all over our hearts.

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Adams Keller

 

If you know someone who you think needs to hear this message, I would be so honoured if you shared this with them.

Laura xo

Sacred rebellion

IMG_3484

Have you ever walked into a room and just known that your life was never going to be the same again, in the absolute best way possible? I was lucky enough to have this experience recently when I completed the first degree in reiki training. Actually, the word training isn’t big enough to describe what I experienced. Transformation is much more accurate.

Having only experienced reiki once many years ago, at a time when I had only the most peripheral awareness of energy work, I didn’t really know what to expect out of the reiki one course. After finding out about Sara’s courses actually took almost a year for me to sign up and commit to taking this next step in my journey through this human existence. I spent months letting my fears of the unknown get the better of me, making up any and all excuses to avoid stepping forward in the direction my soul was crying out to go in. Why do we do that? Let fear stop us? I always find that as soon as I take that next tentative step, everything begins to unfold beautifully. I must remind myself of that next time I’m faced with a decision my mind views as being scary.

Walking into that room two Saturdays ago I took a breath and exhaled my fears. I knew if I was going to get the big, juicy stuff out of this experience I was going to have to surrender to everything that was about to happen. All of it. Not just the parts I felt safe with. Not just the bits that already sat squarely in my comfort zone. No, I needed to grab hold of the stuff that circled outside of the fence of familiarity I have spent my life building. I needed to let go of control and oh boy is that not any easy ask of me.

Let me tell you, dear one, that dropping the reigns on control is so very worth it.

So many big, beautiful shifts have happened that I’m still trying to process and integrate fully into my soul print; a process that will take some time. I’m actually not sure that on a cognitive level I’ll ever really process everything that transpired over those two days, and you know what? That’s OK.

One thing that in particular that Sara talked about did stick and that was the idea of being a sacred rebel.

Sacred rebel.

These two words hit me with such force that when she said them I felt myself inhale sharply, almost as if my soul was whispering, “Yes, these words are for us.”

What does sacred rebellion look like to me? It looks like remembering at a cellular level that we are connected to and part of everything and everyone. There really is no separation in anything except for our minds. It means realising we are stronger when we lead with our hearts than with our minds. It looks like filling our lives with wonder, gratitude and kindness, and are doing no harm but absolutely not taking any shit. It means shaking up the status quo and not taking, “That’s just the way it is,” as an answer anymore. It’s about being playful with our growth and not taking life so seriously, but seriously questioning the engrained beliefs that are stopping us from moving forward. And it means no more hiding under what we think is normal but, rather, shining the unique light of soul out brightly to the world. Yes, definitely that.

We’re waking up and becoming more conscious of what needs to happen in order to heal the world. And you know what? Healing the world simply means healing ourselves from the past hurts, the misunderstandings, the mistreatment and misalignment of our actions with our true purpose. It all starts with us.

It’s time to heal. Will you join me in the ranks of sacred rebellion? From my soul to yours, I sure hope so.

Laura x

How to pimp your hot drink

Golden Latte

Serotonin Eatery’s happy turmeric latte.

Hey lovely people! It’s been a while since I’ve posted because in the last couple of months life has picked me up by my feet and shaken me to my core. I’m still working out how to navigate my way through this new reality. These last few months have brought with them some of the most incredible experiences but also some of the hardest and, if I’m honest, I’m still recovering. I will share more about that all in time but for now, on a lighter topic, I want to talk a bit about what’s been happening in the world of hot beverages.

If your local cafe is still dedicated wholly and solely to perfecting the art of the long black then you might not be aware of the revolution that’s happening to the humble old latte. No longer is it confined to the classic shot of coffee with frothed milk. Cafe owners with a bent towards the health conscious have expanded their menus in recent times to include a couple of hot drinks that are full of health-giving properties.

So, what are the main two pimped drinks that are popping up all over town?

Turmeric Latte (otherwise known as Golden Milk)

As far as I’m concerned, the turmeric latte is the pinnacle of hot drinks. The list of things turmeric helps with is so long that if I had to recommend only one addition to your herbs and spices rack, this would be it. Amongst many other things, the active component – curcumin – benefits immune function, digestion and liver health. It’s a versatile, vibrant little number that will transform the flavour and health qualities of any dish. In our house, it goes in soups, scrambled eggs, on roast veggies, in smoothies and, as soon as my milk frother arrives, in homemade turmeric lattes.

The ingredients in a turmeric latte vary from place to place but the main ingredients are coconut milk*, turmeric, cinnamon and black pepper. It sometimes comes with almond milk instead and you can add cayenne pepper and ginger if you’re after an intense kick.

Matcha Latte

The green hue in matcha lattes comes from ground whole-leaf young green tea leaves, mostly of the Japanese variety. Like its golden friend, this green drink is packed to brim with health-giving properties. It’s loaded up with antioxidants, chlorophyll and amino acids, specifically L-theanine, which relaxes the body and mind.

In a matcha latte, you’ll generally find coconut milk (hello, friend of fat soluble vitamins!), matcha tea powder, hot water and a sweetener of your choice.

So, if you’re after that ritual of having a warm drink without the downsides that can come with a standard cup of Joe, why not try pimping your drink next time you’re out for breakfast!

* Coconut milk is great to use because its high fat content helps your body absorb the fat soluble vitamins in your drink. If you consume these nutrients without fat, your body won’t have as easy a time storing them.

Laura xo

Truth, beauty and plate of sardines

Sometimes I get overwhelmed with the uncertainty and contradictory nature of this world we live in where we simultaneously have access to so much information, yet so little truth.

When we can quickly ask Google to tell us about any topic and within seconds we have thousands of links, each calling out to us to choose them, how can we know (I mean really know) that the information we’ve found is correct? That it’s more correct than what we would have found if we plugged in a slightly different question? If someone else asked the same question on a different day when the general consensus on a topic had changed?

Sifting through the endless barrage of journal articles for my naturopathy studies, opinion pieces for cultural and societal issues, and books for new perspectives and ideas, is at times down right confusing and anxiety-inducing.

You know how we sometimes find ourselves defending our position on something with scathing conviction, riding tall on our mental high horse, confident that our opinion or view of the world is the correct one? Those times when we look at someone else and wonder how they could see the world through such an incorrect lense?

Why don’t they see how obvious it is that I’m right?! 

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we’ve got all the facts on a topic and that we can sit back and relax, safe in the knowledge that we have landed on the correct point, isn’t it?

The older I get and the more I learn, the less I know. Instead of getting clearer on where I stand on topics, I find myself becoming increasingly more of a fence sitter, a hedging-her-bets kind of girl. I pause before offering up what I think I know about something. The certainty I once had is gone. And that’s a very good thing, for when I’m certain about something, I’m not learning or growing. I’m stagnant. And that’s not alright by me.

The fallacy of knowing the facts has been a repetitive theme in my life lately. It keeps showing up in conversations I’ve had, while I’m writing essays or reading a book. Contradictions are rampant and the further I dig for answers, the more I realise that multiple truths can and do exist at the same time.

I can study how each individual nutrient works in the body while understanding the flaws in learning about holistic health in such a reductionist way.

I can appreciate the miracles of modern medicine, while reeling at the atrocity of the thousands of prescription drug deaths that occur every year.

And, I can acknowledge that while there is a lot of compelling science for a plant-based diet, I’m listening to, and meeting, my body’s current demands for a small amount of meat.

Yep, I’m eating meat. Well, to be more specific: fish. For now.

Only once per week and of the sustainable variety, but oh wow the guilt! I feel like I’ve been keeping a dirty secret and I also feel like a total fraud. A fraud because I can spout off the benefits of being vegetarian without a second thought, but also because I’m eating fish and I’m still not convinced that I should be. Yes, everything I’m learning at uni points towards the importance of eating fish. What about the ethical issues though? Sure, I’m eating sustainably caught sardines but I’m still participating in an industry that says it’s OK to kill another being for my own benefit. Is it though? How can I sit with pride in my decision to eat fish when I know I only have this privilege because I’m human? Because I live during a time when I can outsource my hunting to someone else?

Someone went and killed that fish on my behalf, because I sure as heck couldn’t stomach the thought of killing it myself. If I can’t reconcile the idea that what sits on my buttery toast was once a living creature, and if I need someone else to do the killing so that I can pretend death wasn’t involved, what right do I have to eat the result?

If I’m being really honest with myself, I don’t think I do have that right and yet, I wholeheartedly believe we should strive to get our nutrients from our food wherever possible.

Therein lies the discomfort.

I’ve recently finished reading Dr Campbell’s latest book, Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition and it reminded me of how pivotal Campbell’s first book, The China Study, was in my decision to switch to a vegetarian diet. Campbell gave me the final push I needed to dive head-first into vegetarianism. He provided the science and the rationale behind how animal protein switches cancerous tumor growth on, and why a whole food, plant-based diet is the healthiest way to eat. His argument was compelling and, although I’m now studying the biochemical reactions that need things like B12 and omega-3 fatty acids (nutrients that can only be obtained in useful amounts from animal sources), I can’t ignore that the science is clear about meat’s contributing role in health conditions like cancer. Equally though, I can’t ignore the importance of getting adequate levels of B12 and omega-3 fatty acids. Those little nutrients are bloody important!

Where on Earth does this leave me?

For all of you playing along with the ‘What’s Laura eating now?’ game at home, here’s how I’m currently eating:

  • Once per week, I’m having a tin of Fish 4 Eva sardines to make sure I’m meeting my body’s requirement for omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Other than that, the rest of my diet is still vegetarian. I still strive to eat organic, locally grown and produced food where possible.
  • I still believe in the importance of supporting local businesses, who care about the quality of the food they’re producing.
  • I will continue to eat some cheese, no milk, and occasionally some full-fat unsweetened yogurt.
  • I’m also supplementing with a good quality soil based probiotic, organic iron and magnesium (because our soils are so depleted that even eating organically doesn’t guarantee I’ll get enough of this macromineral).
  • To avoid confusion, I’m still going to call myself a vegetarian (as much as I despise dietary labels). The only difference is that a few times a month, I’ll be tucking in to a tin of sardines.

For now, this feels right. Mostly.

I’m yet to find that perfect balance of achieving a diet that is 100% ethical, local, organic and meets all of my nutritional requirements. I’m not convinced that such a diet actually exists.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s OK not to have all the answers. And, you know what? It feels good that I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m OK with shifting my perspective and knowing that I don’t have to always eat a vegetarian diet, just because that’s what people know me as.

Laura xo

Is the vaccination debate distracting us from a bigger issue?

Do we need to chop down some trees to see the forest more clearly?

Do we need to chop down some trees to see the forest more clearly?

A quick note before we get to today’s post: This post is not designed to be a forum to debate whether or not we  should vaccinate. I have no desire to weigh in on the slinging match about the merits and risks of vaccination because this topic has, at its heart, parents who are doing the very best they know how to protect their kids – on both sides. I’m not a parent and haven’t studied the research about vaccination, so I’m not in a position to comment on who is right. I do know that hurling abuse at others for their views is not something I will tolerate or accept, both on this blog and in my life. I will delete any comments that are rude, aggressive or disrespectful. Thanks for listening! Now onto the today’s post:

Much has been published about the vaccination debate recently. (Oh, you hadn’t noticed?) It’s being discussed in great detail, and rightly so. It’s an incredibly important topic.

I have been keeping my eye on the seemingly never ending deluge of articles about the issues surrounding vaccination rates and I have started to become increasingly uncomfortable with the amount of times I have seen the words ‘make vaccinations mandatory’. As I said at the start of this post, I’m not interested in discussing the merits of vaccinations right now. What I want to talk about is what I see as being a much bigger issue – an issue that is hiding in plain sight behind those three little words: make vaccinations mandatory. It’s an issue of our rights. Our right to decide what medical care we do and don’t want. Our right to choose which medicines we are happy to take into our system and which ones we want to avoid. Our right to weigh up the risks and make decisions about our own body and health.

These rights are so very important.

When we focus on the specifics of what is being proposed (changes to our legislation to make vaccinations mandatory) it’s easy for us to get caught up looking at the benefits of such a decision and forget that this change has more far-reaching consequences than just enforcing a vaccination schedule. Let me put it a different way: what happens when the push is to mandate that you and your family take a drug you aren’t comfortable with? What happens when you think the risks of taking that drug outweigh its benefits? By allowing mandatory vaccinations, we are opening the door to a new precedent in enforced medication. Whether or not we agree with someone else’s decisions regarding vaccination, it isn’t our right to force someone else to take a drug. Nor is it our government’s right, but it will be if this legislation is passed.

I am very aware that this may seem melodramatic and I’m certainly not saying that big pharma and the government are out to get us. Not at all. I’m saying we need to be mindful of the broader implications of legislation changes like these. I’m saying we need to really consider what it means to take away someone’s right to decide what medicine they want to take. Because the government won’t just be deciding for someone else. They’ll be deciding for you too.

All drugs come with side effects and risks. We know this. The aim, of course, is that the benefit of the drug outweighs the side effects and risks. Vaccines are no different. Much of the vaccination conversation centres on the risks associated with the drugs found in these vaccines. Like every other drug, there are risks associated with vaccinations – no one is pretending that there aren’t. The general consensus though is that the benefits to both the individual receiving the vaccination and to those who can’t be vaccinated for whatever reason, far outweigh those risks.

Let’s look at a different, equally common drug: the oral contraceptive pill. Like vaccines, the benefits and risks of this drug are well known. In case you’ve been living under a rock, the pill helps prevent unplanned pregnancies but it can cause issues like increased risk of blood clots and some cancers. It can also affect your long-term chances of conceiving because (at risk of stating the obvious) the drug’s purpose is to suppress your fertility. Taking a fertility-suppressing drug for years is likely going to mean your fertility is suppressed, at least for a while, after you stop taking that drug. Doctors know this and I hope the women they prescribe the drug to know this. Unfortunately for a lot of women, the pill has suppressed their fertility for so long that their body no longer knows how to be fertile and those women must embark on a long journey to heal before being able to fall pregnant.  Most women I know who have been on the pill started taking it in their teens and didn’t stop until their late 20s, so they’re looking at 10-15 years of taking a drug that screws up one of the body’s most important processes.

We’ve been conditioned to believe that the pill is a harmless drug but that simply isn’t the case. Every drug comes with side effects and, just like vaccines, the pill is no different. 

A lesser talked about side effect of the oral contraceptive pill is the impact it has on other people. ‘What is she on about?’ I hear you all asking. Well, what I’m talking about is how someone else’s decision to take the pill affects everyone else’s health, along with our planet’s health.

The synthetic hormones (namely ethinyl estradiol)  found in the pill are flushed from the body during urination. These hormones make their way into our waterways, where they set to work creating intersex fish. Yes, you read that correctly. We are demasculinising male animals, destroying their ability to reproduce, through our decision to take the pill. Ethinyl estradiol isn’t the only thing to blame for this but it is a big contributor to the problem. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, we don’t really know if we can actually remove ethinyl estradiol from our waterways. Ecotoxicologists think we might be able to but it’s going to cost a bomb.  You can read more about this here. 

Setting the (huge) impact to our wildlife aside, let’s look at how this affects other people’s health. Because this is my blog and I get to call the shots, and because I can only really comment on my own experience, I’m going to talk about myself for a minute.

I want to be as healthy as I can be.

I want my body to be in the best possible shape for when my partner and I decide we want to fall pregnant.

I want my body to be free of synthetic hormones.

I stopped taking the pill years ago when I started to realise the damage it was causing me. I don’t want synthetic hormones in my body yet they are in my body because they are in the water I drink. They are in the water I drink because a large percentage of women in Australia take the pill. And it is categorically their right to take the pill.

It is their right to take the pill, even though it negatively affects my health.

It is their right to take the pill, even though it could affect my chance of becoming a mother.

It is their right to decide which drugs they are comfortable taking and which drugs they are not comfortable taking. Not mine. Not yours. Certainly not the government’s.

Where am I going with this? My point is that although someone else’s decisions about their medical care can and do impact our own personal health status, introducing legislation that forces people to take a drug they are not comfortable with is not something we should be advocating for. Taking away our fundamental right to make our own choices about medical care isn’t something I can stand for. By handing over our power to the government to decide what and how much of a drug we should take, we are handing over our power for them to make decisions about more than just vaccinations. We are handing over our power for them to make decisions about what risks we are subjected to, based on which medication they force us to take. I’m not OK with this and I hope you aren’t either.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Remember, I’m not talking about whether or not people should vaccinate. This is about our right to weigh up the risks and benefits of any medication and make the best choice for ourselves and our kids. If you want to debate vaccinations, there are countless other forums you can do that on 😉

Laura xo

Diary of a sugar addict: I quit sugar

Pre-sugar quitting days.

Pre-sugar quitting days.

Week one: edging away from sugar

I woke up on day one with a feeling of dread. My regular diet is, by no means, sugar-laden but I am partial to the odd Magnum and struggle to say no to chocolate if it comes my way. The prospect of giving up the sweet stuff completely for eight weeks was, quite frankly, terrifying. After three bites of the first meal of the program (scrambled eggs with avocado, on homemade gluten-free toast) though my fears started to subside. As I sipped on my bulletproof coffee, I thought, “This is pretty much what we have for breakfast on weekends normally! Maybe this won’t be so hard.”

Come the end of the week and I was pleasantly surprised at how painless the transition to a sugar-free diet had been. Sure, I had moments where I contemplated sneaking in some sugar but it wasn’t hard to convince myself that it wouldn’t be worth the short-term pleasure. The biggest struggle has been keeping on top of the cooking schedule! As someone who is usually pretty haphazard about dinner plans, I found it challenging to have to be so organised and spend so much time in the kitchen. I’m incredibly blessed to have a boyfriend who a) loves cooking and b) knows how to calm me down when I have a meltdown while trying to prepare dinner.

Week two: turning my back on getting sweet relief

This is the week we gave up the sweet stuff entirely. Not even the odd raspberry or tomato would find its way onto our plates. (Gulp.) I hit the ground running on Monday, feeling good about having stuck to the program for one week. The spiced coco-nutty breakfast muffins were delicious and so satiating that I made it through to 1pm without any pangs of hunger. I was starting to feel like maybe this sugar-quitting caper wasn’t going to be so tough after all.

Come Tuesday though, it was a different story. The first thought that popped into my head when I woke up was, ‘Doughnuts. I want doughnuts! Now!’ This was weird for a couple of reasons, with the biggest one being that I can’t actually remember the last time I had a doughnut, so they aren’t exactly something that featured heavily in my diet before I quit sugar. The doughnut cravings lasted all week but I managed to distract myself by going for a quick walk, having a(nother) herbal tea, or a high-fat, high-protein snack like a piece of cheese.

Week three: I can do this! And then I fell off the rails.

‘I can do this!’ was my mantra this week. I repeated it over and over as I went about my day, feeling like I was dodging temptation at every corner. I was guzzling water or herbal tea any time I felt a niggling to eat sugar, and it was working. Sugar-free? Too easy! And then I fell off the rails a bit. I went out to my favourite pizza haunt with my bestie and my god son, and had a (delish!) bowl of pesto gnocchi. I knew the pesto was sugar-free but I couldn’t say the same thing about those fluffy balls of potato goodness. About halfway through my meal I started to feel really fidgety and felt a headache coming on. My mouth was dry and I just didn’t feel right. I couldn’t believe how badly the sugar was affecting me! After only a couple of weeks without it, my body couldn’t handle it. This came as a shock to me. I mean, I knew sugar was bad but that bad? Yikes.

Week four: clean week

Give up sugar? Sure. And gluten? Done. Alcohol? Ah, I’m not so sure about this but I suppose I can hit the pause button on my love for a glass of red with dinner. Coffee? No. Freakin’. Way! Are you kidding with this? It’s my first week back at uni this week and you’re asking me to get through that without caffeine? As old mate Darryl Kerrigan said, ‘Tell him he’s dreaming!’ This was far and away the hardest week of the program. After missing my morning coffee by just a few hours I started to feel a headache coming on. I made a dandelion, chai and almond milk latte in the futile hope that I could trick my body into thinking I’d just had some coffee. No dice. Turns out my body is smarter is than me. Wait, what? The next 24 hours were a foggy haze of aggravation, nausea and pain. It would have been easy to forgive me for ditching the no-coffee rule just to find some relief at this point; however, it would appear that I have more will power than I thought because I somehow managed not to succumb to my cravings. And boy am I glad I didn’t, because come the next day I felt immeasurably better. The day after, I felt better again.

Give up coffee for a week? Absolutely 😉

Week five: last week sans sweet

Week five! Who would have thought I’d make it this far? Certainly not me. After one month with no sugar, I was starting to wonder why I ever wanted to eat the stuff to begin with. It suddenly occurred to me that I couldn’t remember what ice cream tasted like and when I thought about it some more, I realised I didn’t actually want to eat it again to remember. This was definitely a break through for me because up until then, I still didn’t believe I would ever get to the point where I didn’t want to eat sugar. That, my friends, is what we call progress.

Week six: sugar’s back. Gulp!

To say I was nervous about this week is a massive understatement. I was petrified of reintroducing the substance I had invested so much time, energy and willpower into quitting just a few short weeks ago. I had visions of taking a bite of a piece of fruit and turning into a raving sugar beast as I turned the house upside down, looking for all things sweet. Turns out my premonition was a little melodramatic though (who would have thought!).

While I really savored the sweet taste of the peach we included in our salad, with the exception of a stressful walk down the ice-cream aisle at the supermarket where I had to muster all of my determination not to reach into the freezer and grab out a Golden Gaytime, I managed to not fall straight back into the sugar-binge cycle.

Week seven: almost there

With just two weeks to go, I could see the light shining down the end of the tunnel and, quite frankly, it scared me. It seemed I had come full circle: before starting the program, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to stick to the program, and now I was worried that I won’t know how to eat properly without it!

This week, I also realised just how much I am looking forward to loosening the reigns a bit when it comes to fruit. This program has made me realise that I was eating way too much fruit so I certainly won’t be going back to my pre-program volume but I do find it hard to resist a ripe peach in Summer!

Week eight: we did it!

By the time the final week rolled around, I had well and truly got the hang of navigating through life without sugar. There were two massive bowls of lollies at work this week and I walked past them without a second glance. It was such an empowering feeling to no longer compulsively reach for sugary treats!

I’m so happy that I finally took the plunge and quit sugar. For the first time in my adult life, I feel like I am in control of what I eat and it isn’t a daily struggle to stay on track. I simply don’t want sugary food anymore. Many people have asked me if I will stay off sugar for the rest of my life but I have learnt not to set restrictive boundaries. We are always changing and evolving, and what works for me now may not work for me during a different stage of my life. I’m going to stick with sugar-free living for as long as it serves me to do so.

P.S. Don’t forget to enter the competition to win yourself a copy of That Sugar Book. The competition closes this Friday (27 March). Find out how to enter.