My name is Stephanie. I am a special needs mother and a registered nurse passionate about living healthfully. I'm so glad you found my little nook where I hope to share my perspectives about this wonderful thing called life!
I grew up in a suburb north of Boston; attended nursing school at Saint Anselm and married my college sweetheart Matt. We spent 8 years in Boston and now reside back in southern NH with our son Benjamin and two dogs.
My inspiration for adopting a cleaner life began two years after the birth of my son Ben. I'll circle back to that. Historically though, I've always been interested in food and health. From the age of 16, in my sophomore Anatomy & Physiology class, I distinctly remember thinking how fascinating all the functions of the human body are, synergistically working at the same time. (By the way, I'm also a self-proclaimed nerd.) This, coupled with my first job at an assisted living home inspired me to go into the nursing field. I graduated from Saint Anselm’s nursing program and have been a R.N. at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the oncology department for almost 10 years. Wow, did I just say that? Yes.
Food wise, I remember from an early age and a half-Italian upbringing, that food brings comfort. What a joy it is to share a homemade meal with loved ones. I remember fondly all the meals shared with my grandfather, Angelo. During some travel in my early 20's, my palette expanded and I found myself enjoying all the foods, and developing a real love for cooking. After our wedding, Matt and I set on a grand adventure to eat at 50 new restaurants during our first year of marriage. I kept an amateur Tumblr blog chronicling our Boston eats, so I guess that was my first foray into blogging. Within our first year of marriage, we conceived! During my pregnancy, I attended two classes at Cambridge Culinary school. This foundation of Basic Techniques with Chef Steve Nill really took my love for cooking to the next level.
In October 2014, we welcomed our son Benjamin- our beautiful, blue eyed, baby boy. In this moment, this magical hour of just Matt, Ben, and I, all was right with the world. Shortly after, Ben was transferred to the NICU with severe pulmonary hypertension, hypotonia, a congenital heart defect, and laryngomalacia. What felt like eternity, Ben spent 2 weeks in the NICU and spent another 3 months on home oxygen. Subsequently, he has been diagnosed with developmental delays including Autism. It’s been a rollercoaster of highs and lows as we navigate the waters of parenting, with the unexpected challenges of a child with special needs.
Two years after Ben’s birth, and a whole bunch of stressors in, I found myself depleted. There was a 3 hour surgery for Benjamin, ongoing follow up appointments, trending his heart defect with regular ultrasounds, initiating Early Intervention services, purchasing our first home, transferring services, and more. All the while, I was working night shift, two 12 hour overnights. I was managing, but barely. Mon-Fri I needed to be “on” as a mom, and on the weekends/nights I was working at the hospital. After 2 years of this grind, I found myself exhausted. I went to see my PCP in September of 2016. I had mono virus, Vitamin D deficiency, anemia, and a bacterial infection. She gave me a prescription for an antibiotic, an anti-depressant, Vit D, and told me I should switch off night shift. With Benjamin’s new ABA (autism therapy) now 5 days a week, our schedule was more structured than ever. I switched to a day shift position, Per-Diem, at the hospital so I could pick my shifts around Ben’s therapies.
I said thanks but no thanks to the anti-depressant and asked her if dietary changes had any positive effects on her other patients. She said, go for it, that it doesn’t hurt to try. I read the book Clean Cuisine and did a 30 day Paleo Challenge with my barre studio with The Clean Kitchen NH. I did it half-ass but I noticed the changes. Slowly but surely, I started cleaning up my diet from Sept-Dec noting that my energy was in fact better. In January 2017, I convinced my loving husband to join me and do a Whole 30. This kicked all my efforts up a notch. Together we lost 30 lbs, but beyond that we learned how to meal prep and how to make eating whole foods simple and delicious. Now that the Whole30 is over, we are back to eating “cleaner” in general. Basically, we try our best to eat mostly whole foods, and less processed. That being said, we don’t adhere to any strict dogma. After all, food is fun and delicious and meant to be enjoyed.
After cleaning up our diet, this has strengthened my relationship with my body but also my husband, and has trickled into other areas of my life. I try my best to limit toxins in our home. I’m a sleuth when it comes to label reading and I believe in using safer products across the board. I signed on as a Consultant with Beautycounter to better advocate for safer products. I truly feel as a R.N. it’s important to share information that can help others. I educate my patients all the time so it felt like a natural fit, an extension of my nursing practice to educate my friends and family about using safer products.
My “WHY” in all of this is our son, Benjamin. I want to be the best mother and advocate that I can. I want to live healthfully so that I’m there for my son; with sound mind and body to provide what he needs into old age. In doing so I hope to ensure that when I’m gone, he is taken care of in the 20 years after. I know that may seem morbid, but it’s true. It’s my reality and he is my world.
That being said, here I am, jumping into the blogosphere. Bare with me as I choose to “go ugly early” and share my story. I hope to use this space to better connect with others, and to grow myself. Thank you for being here too!