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Monday, July 20, 2020

My Swan Song

Lest you think I'm being dramatic, I'm not actually writing my last post.  But, there was a time that I thought that I would.
You see, on top of caring for two toddlers during the day(mine plus a good friend's), running a household and getting horribly sick with pregnancyitis, I had stopped much.  
But really, it was more than that.  I had some things I needed to think about before I got back to oversharing our life.

In the beginning, I started this blog for the sole reason of keeping all of our family updated on my pregnancy progress.  No more, no less.  It was, essentially, a good enough reason to not have to call everyone on the phone after every check-up because, if you know me, you know how much I hate talking on the phone.  
At the time, I didn't even know that professional bloggers existed.  
At the time, I didn't even know that strangers could read a blog.
(if you look back at the first year+ this is pretty obvious).

After I had Isla June, I suddenly had this urge to share ALL.MY.NEW.INFORMATION with the world.  Because, there's tons of stuff that no one ever tells you when it comes to a newborn.
And life as a new mom.  
It's overwhelming.

I figured that everyone would be as shocked as I was to learn that there are toxins in disposable diapers.

I assumed that I was helping others by sharing this information.  I thought other people wanted to know these things too.
What I learned is that this information can be scary to some.
And it can cause them to feel very, very defensive.

You see, I truly believe that we are all doing what we believe is absolutely the best thing with the information we have been provided.  I haven't made every single right choice as a mother.  I know that.  
But, I can promise that I never stop searching and praying for the answer.  

So, lest anyone think I'm just a google crazy momma, here's a little background on me that I have never really divulged on this blog.  Mainly for privacy reasons and out of respect for others.  But also because I jumped into this whole blogging thing without really taking the time to form some sort of starting point.  


My first job out of college was working full time at a daycare center in the 2 yr old classroom.  I had a child with autism in my group.  He was severe but we had some strategies that would help him function in the classroom.  I guess this spawned my interest in special needs children.
3 years later, I ended up as the Head Teacher in a public school classroom for Exceptional Children (students aged 3-5 with diagnosed disabilities). 

My understanding and implementation of a communication system for children with autism encouraged the children who fell under the autism umbrella to be filtered into my classroom.  
Not all of my students were given an autism diagnosis.  Many, in fact, were not.  
This was the fascinating thing for me.  Similar symptoms, different diagnosis.  Or different symptoms, same diagnosis.  
If I was to truly help my students with their disabilities, I figured I had to find out what caused the disability in the first place.
Thus started my research.
I had medical and developmental history on every child in my care; knowing this information was a vital part of creating an educational plan for them. I scoured over these documents to find some answers that would unlock a missing piece in our therapy.  I spoke extensively with parents about their child's temperament, eating/sleeping habits, medications, etc.  I had the opportunity to speak with many of my student's doctors as well.  I knew my student's and their families more than most teachers ever will, and I had a passion for helping them.

And then I got pregnant.  Let's just say that teaching children everyday who have genetic and environmental factors that effect their development can be a scary realization when you're attempting to grow a human inside of you.  It was a constant reminder that there is so much that can happen to this sweet, helpless baby.  
So I kept researching.  I researched and I researched. 

I've read multiple books from multiple authors about topics regarding vaccines, environmental toxins and alternative health including homeopathy vs. conventional treatments and healing the body through food.
I've read scietific and medical documents.  
Through these years of research, I've learned to be pretty good at digging through the articles that are out there and find the hidden truth.  When you know the medical jargon, it's easier.  
I've been in contact with mothers who have or, are in the process of, healing their child's neurological conditions through detoxification, natural remedies and diet/nutrition.  
Truth be told, it's fascinating.  And, it's overwhelming.

This is the path that God has put me on for my family.  I'm not sure why He gave me a passion for research and health.  I'm not sure why He steered my ship into the special needs arena.  
But, He did.  

Why am I telling you all of this?   
Because, I want you to know that anytime I share new research, or an article I've recently read, or a webiste I've found, or reccomend a book, it's because I've taken the time to really know if it's a source that I can trust.  A source that has reliable, verifiable, truthful and documented research of information.  It's information that I believe could be beneficial to your family, because I know it is beneficial for mine.  

But, with all that being said, this is MY path that God has put ME on.  
I'm not hear to judge anyone for making different choices!  I'm just here to share what I've learned.  

So, if you cloth diaper or use disposables,
if you feed your child twinkies or carrots,
if you vaccinate or you don't,
if you breast feed or formula feed,
if you co-sleep or keep baby in a crib,
if you work or stay at home,

I'm not here to judge you because, really, as mother's we get enough of that from the rest of the world (and from ourselves quite a bit).  I'm just here to share.  
You make the decisions that God has called you to make for your family.  

And, if you ever have a question about something I've said or shared, ask me (nicely).  
We don't have to agree, but we can share our feelings.  I don't mind doing that.  

So, this is me, being more brave about sharing.  About telling you the whats, hows and whys of our family decisions.  It's a little scary for me, because of the whole judging thing, but God is stirring something inside of me to keep going, to tell our story.  
And I'm doing my best to listen.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

My Experience with Placenta Encapsulation

I've learned in my old age to never say never.  This lesson often comes to you as a mother because there are now little people running around your house doing everything in their power to contradict any and everything you ever thought to be enforceable.

When I first heard someone tell me that they were planning on ingesting their placenta, my reaction was probably much like any one else: EWWWWW! 
I seriously thought it was over the line and gross.   I wondered why anyone would do it.
My postpartum time with Isla June was stressful.  She was a colicky baby.  And I was taking 3 online college teaching courses.  It was mayhem in our house.  And I was overwhelmed.  
Looking back, I can definitely say that I had the baby blues.  But, I never had post partum depression.

Until I stopped breastfeeding.  
Which wasn't until a year later.

Most people aren't aware (as I wasn't) that weaning can cause a similar fluctuation in hormones that can bring on post partum symptoms.  I had no idea what was going on and felt a little crazy.  I'm sure my husband was confused.  I later found out, after recovering from the symptoms, what had happened.  

And I never wanted to go through that again.    
Enter my research where I stumbled upon Placenta Encapsulation.  Anecdotal evidence shows that it lessens the likeliood of postpartum depression and baby blues as well as offering the benefit of more energy for a recovering mother.  It's also been said to reduce post partum bleeding (something I had already had a problem with after Isla June).

I read evidence based reports and scoured to find other mother's personal stories.  It seemed as though it was worth a try.  The only thing holding me back was the cost.  It was going to be over $200 dollars to have someone take care of the encapsulation for me.  Considering we were already going to be paying for all of my medical expenses out of pocket, I was a little hesitant to add one more thing to the bill.

But, then I got sick.  
And I really felt like my body was giving up on me.
I knew I was going to need everything I could get to make it through this post partum time.

Thankfully, my amazing midwife handled all of the care and set-up for the encapsulation.  She brought the cooler to the delivery.  She handled the refrigeration aspect of it and handed it off to their encapsulation specialist (who was a nurse at the hospital I delivered), and a week later I had these little pills in a cute mason jar that looked a lot like vitamins.  (the placenta is actually dehydrated and ground into a fine powder).

I seriously didn't even see the placenta.  Not.once.  
It was so not a big deal.

My experience with it?
I am so thankful everyday that I made the last minute decision to encapsulate my placenta.  
Considering that I hemorrhaged, twice, after labor, this was a life saving pill for me.  It had a lot of the iron I needed to get my health back on track.  I almost asked for it after labor because I was so tired and scared of the hemorrhages!  I don't know for sure if it would have helped then, but there is a good chance it would have.

I was also so, so much happier this time around.  Even considering the stress of the health issues and bed rest I was put on after the delivery.  The first week post partum, I cried 4 times: because I was happy, because I was sad, because I was overwhelmed; I was just emotional.  Then, I started the pills, and I only cried once in the next two months.  It leveled out my emotions that well.

My post partum bleeding was also pretty much non existent this time.  It was so light and stopped completely at 5 weeks and never came back, MUCH different from my last experience.

Another amazing benefit of the pills is the increase in milk production.  I'm not exactly sure what was going on this time because I never had supply issues with Isla June but, either due to my medical issues (low iron and high blood pressure), which can effect milk production, or the fact that Everly didn't eat very much in the beginning due to her super small size, I felt as though my milk was dwindling.  Two pills later and everything was back on track.  

I still have half a bag of pills left in my freezer that I am saving for the time that we wean, just in case I experience similar issues as before.  It has given me such peace of mind to know that I have something natural to use to help my body recover and support me in this venture.

Originally, I had sworn to never utter a word about this to anyone other than family because of the reactions I knew people would have to the notion of me ingesting my placenta, considering I used to have the same reaction about the topic.

But now, I want to help normalize this issue.  If my story can help just one woman not experience post partum depression, or help a mother more successfully nurse her baby, then I say it's worth it.  I feel as though God has given us something to help support us through a somewhat difficult and transitional time; Why not use it?

(Mommypotamus shares her Placenta Experience and answers some common questions HERE)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Bottle Battle

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Chicco. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and as a thank you for participating.

I have been incredibly blessed with the opportunity to nurse both of my babies.  Despite the rough start Everly and I had in the first few days, every meal of hers has been made by me. :)  We've dealt with food insensitivity and preemie belly upsets, but, we've persevered.  Nursing is one of my favorite things about this newborn stage.

But, with that being said, I do like the opportunity to step away from my momma duties and let someone else help out.  This means I can go on a date with my husband, or a dinner out with my friends, or just take a long, peaceful bath!  I need those moments to recharge.

With Isla June, she was such a hungry little girl that she didn't care what vessel her food came out of, as long as it was momma's milk.  It was so easy to switch between nursing and bottle feeding with her, which was vital considering I went back to work when she was 3 months old.

But, as I've learned, every child is different.  Even if they're from the same womb.  Everly is not a bottle fan.  And on top of that, she really hates pacifiers.  It's been a small source of frustration for this mommy.  I've assured her that life will be easier if she could just accept the pacis and bottles every now and then.  She has yet to believe me.

When Mom Central Consulting and Chicco gave me the opportunity to try out the new line of NaturalFit  bottles, I jumped at the chance.  Maybe this was the answer to our bottle feeding prayers!

The bottles come in 4 different sizes.  Since we were still getting used to the idea of bottles, I started us out with the 0+ months bottle.  Its a small 5 oz. bottle designed specifically for easy transition from breast to bottle.

I really liked that the bottles are made in Italy and feature twin anti-colic valves to help prevent air ingestion, gas and spit up.  Because, every momma knows that spit up is the pits!
Other momma approved features include:

  • a wide base with a soft, flexible nipple to help mimic the mother's breast
  • a uniquely made nipple with a wider and rounder base for proper neck positioning
  • internal ridges that help prevent nipple collapse
  • an angled newborn flow nipple designed for the way newborns feed that reduces air intake and is easy for baby to latch on to due to the soft silicone

The one downside to the bottles, in my eyes, is that they do not have a glass option.  So, we heat up the milk in a glass bottle and then transfer it to the Chicco bottle for feeding.

Because Everly still refuses to take bottles from me (she just chews on them if I try), Daddy became our bottle tester.  He said that she took to this bottle much easier than any other we've tried.  There was less cajoling her to eat and more actually eating.  Hooray!  

Chicco was amazing enough to also send us some pacifiers to try out.  The NaturalFit Deco Orthodontic pacifiers were developed with leading European orthodontists to help support oral development.
Sadly, they aren't taken to by Everly(yet), but I think if I had them in the beginning (like when she was 2 weeks old), then we might have actually had a chance at using pacifiers.  The smaller nipple would have been ideal for her preemie mouth in the first few weeks.  I think that was our problem with every other pacifier.
I'm going to keep trying though!  Between the three options Chicco sent us, I think she'll eventually take to one.

I would definitely recommend these new Chicco bottle and pacifiers to moms with new babies, especially preemie's whose mouths and sucking reflexes are small and still developing. 
(They can be purchased in store or online at buybuy BABY)

Did your baby have trouble taking a bottle or pacifier?
This is new territory for me, so I would love to hear about other mommy's experiences!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Before the Birth Story

The day I wrote my last post, I also had my 36 week doctors appointment.  Little Girl and I loaded up the van and drove the two hours to Charleston for, what I thought, was going to be a routine appointment.  I was actually wondering how I was going to convince my midwife to let me schedule my next appointment for 2 weeks instead of the recommended one.  

And then, everything changed.  
My urine test showed elevated levels of protein.  
My blood pressure was unnaturally high.

At first I thought it was just a fluke.  
I was frustrated and figured that hanging out with a 3 yr old had caused a little bit too much stress.  
But then my midwife uttered the word Preeclampsia.  
And I was floored.  There was a name for what was going on with my body.
She mentioned "hospital birth", and I fought back tears.
I agreed to go home with instructions for modified bed rest and twice daily blood pressure readings. 

And of course, I googled the crap out of that word.  
THAT didn't help my blood pressure.

Hubs and I spent the next two days in a "rest but scramble to get all of the last minute things done because this baby needs to come out sooner rather than later and who knows whats going to happen"  state.

Two days after my appointment (a Saturday), my blood pressure was consistently staying around the 140/90 limit my midwife gave me.  Reluctantly, I called into the oncall midwife under the assumption that she would just tell me to lay down and rest.  
Instead, she insisted I check into the hospital to be put under 24 hour montioring.  

shock.  tears.  anxiety.

I felt like everything was spiralling out of my control.  And, it was.
My amazing husband packed us up and thankfully, my stepfather was already in town to care for Isla June.  

The car ride down there was strangely calm.  
I think I was actually enjoying this one-on-one time with my husband that we so infrequently get.  

When we walked into the hospital, it was eerily quiet.  
The labor and devlivery nurses were already expecting us and set me up on the monitoring system, took my blood work and instructed me on how to collect my urine for the next 24 hours.  (Yay.)
We put a football game on the large flat screen in my room and I practiced my deep breathing to try and trick my blood pressure to return to a lower state.
Once my blood work came back as normal, the baby showed no signs of distress and my blood pressure was keeping consistent (though elevated), we were moved to the recovery wing.  

At this point, it was kind of like a vacation.  I wasn't allowed to leave my bed except to pee.  All I could do was read or watch TV.  I didn't have to chase a 3 yr old around, worry about laundry or cooking dinner.  I was actually, almost enjoying it.  As long as I didn't think of the long term scenarios.
Most of the nursing staff told us we would probably be going home the next day under orders for bed rest.  I was anxious to hear that from my midwife and get home to my little girl.  

Unfortunately, that's not the news we ended up getting. 
The protein in my urine was off the charts.  My midwife scheduled an induction for the next morning.

I was so strangely calm about this news.  I began texting and calling to organize care for Isla June and to let our family and close friends know what was going on.  
And, I asked for prayers.  Lots and lots of prayers.  
I knew that was the only way I was going to make it through this.  
Knowing we were being lifted up in prayer helped keep me calm.

Just before we were given the news of my induction, I wrote the following post.  
I never published it because I was having crazy pregnancy brain and couldn't decide if I had actually written a coherent sentence or not.  
I'm still not sure if it's any good, but it's what was on my heart that day.  

When All of your plans change......

Alternatively titled "the post I never thought I would have to write" 
"the post I almost never wrote because I just don't want to talk about it."

But then I realized that, like so many things in life, this is an opportunity.  
Boy, does God like opportunities.

You see?  I'm currently in the hospital under observation.  I am possibly a "high risk pregnancy".
crazy talk in my book.

All of my years and years of research have allowed me to sit in my little corner of the world, look out, and continually tell myself, "that won't happen to me".  
Sheer determination? Or naievete?
I'm not sure.  

But, like I said, God loves an opportunity;
And He LOVES to humble me.  

I can't even count the number of times I have had a fleeting moment of superiority and ended up tripping and falling flat on my face.  literally.
Took a little while, but I learned my lesson on that one.  
God will always give me opportunities for humility.

And here I am again, being humbled.

All of my research and diet and nurtrition couldn't stop my blood pressure from creeping up to unnaturally high levels.  There is no rhyme or reason to this.  I'm not predisposed to the condition, I have no risk factors, I eat the diet reccomended to prevent this condition.

This is God.  I know it.  

There may have been times, in the past, where I sat in my corner and thought "that won't happen to me" when women told me about their preterm baby, or their labor induction, or c-section, or fetal monitoring, or extensive lab work.  I didn't try to judge, I just always felt like that was someone elses problem.

Now I believe we are all warriors.  Bringing a child into this world requires strength and determination.
I don't care how you do it.
Our bodies are our armor and we fight.  We fight for this little person we haven't even met yet.
That takes courage.  And sacrifice.

I see that now.  I see it in every mother I meet.  The strength she has to give up herself for her child.  We may all have a different story, but they have the same theme.

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. ~2 Corinthians 11:30

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Natural Remedies for Morning Sickness

I lived through morning sickness the first time.  And I had somehow convinced myself that it was all in my head.  I swore that I wasn't going to get as sick, I couldn't get as sick.  It just couldn't happen again.
And really, it didn't.  Because this sickness was different.  This sickness was debilitating.
With my first pregnancy, food helped.  Keeping my blood sugar up helped.  Throwing up first thing in the morning helped.  
This time?  
If I threw up, I wouldn't stop.
I could barely get out of bed kind of sick.

It was terrible.  I spent a lot of time in prayer.  And thankful for my good health.  
Because there are people who feel like this all the time.  I knew that this had to stop (eventually).

And, thankfully, it did.  
Here's how I managed and what I learned along the way.

Nausea Wrist Bands
I remember one of my good friends in high school using these whenever we were on long trips in the car or a bus.  And honestly?  I thought that they were more of a placebo than anything else.  More to calm your nerves.  
But truly, they work.  I walked/laid around with them on for 2 solid months.  
(warning: they are a dead giveaway that you are pregnant)

Magnesium Supplement
After reading THIS article linking pregnancy illness with low magnesium levels, I spent a lot of time trying to up my stores of magnesium in an attempt to keep morning sickness at bay before conceiving.  I was taking oral magnesium supplements, drinking bone broth and soaking in Epsom salt baths.  I thought that I would be ok.
Unfortunately, I wasn't.  (getting pregnant in the winter months means my vitamin D and magnesium levels were already running a little low)
I learned that the best way to increase your magnesium levels is through topical applications.  It's how God intended our body's to absorb it, so naturally, that's going to be the best method.
Once I started using Magnesium Lotion, I saw an immediate difference.  
Better sleep and less sickness.  Thank the Good Lord!
I will sing the praises of this product over and over again.  And I wish I had tried it so much sooner.

Bone Broths
This was the only thing that I could keep down most mornings.  Plus, it's full of good magnesium and calcium; lots of good stuff for baby and mommy.  Make a big batch to freeze ahead of time so that you have a big reserve to get you through the tough months.
Great recipe found HERE

Vitamin B6
A friend of mine is a former OB/GYN and gave me some tips/tricks for my sickness, Vitamin B6 being one of them.  I wasn't able to stomach my liquid b complex, but I could take single pills of B6.  3 times a day (you need high doses).  I really saw a difference with my energy levels once I started this therapy.

Protein Powder
Not being able to eat is not conducive to growing a baby.  I couldn't keep much down.  I couldn't take any of my supplements.  I was worried.
Every morning, hubs would bring me a big thermos of almond milk and this protein powder.  I settled my stomach and it gave me (some) of the nutrients that baby and I so desperately needed.  
It's the best protein powder I've found on the market.  It's full of good stuff and free of the bad. 

Acupuncture Therapy
After a full day of vomitting and not keeping anything down, hubs got scared.  Real.scared.
So he called the accupuncturist for an appointment first thing the next morning.
At that point my fear of needles was a moot point.  I was more afraid of being admitted to the hospital to IV fluids.
It worked.  
For the first time I actually asked for food.  
It was a miracle.  It didn't make everything go away and it didn't last forever, but weekly appointments made a huge difference in my recovery.

What I Wish I Would Have Known:
  • Magnesium Lotion- use it now and use it liberally
  • Being Gluten free is difficult when it comes to being pregnant.  A lot of the early cravings for bread/starches caused stomach upset.  Udi's make's great gluten free products that are GMO free.  Keep some in the fridge/freezer in preparation.
  • Cook ahead of time.  Even if you don't end up needing it, having leftovers that your family can easily prepare and feed themselves while your too sick to enter the kitchen can be a lifesaver for all involved.
If you've ever experienced severe morning/pregnancy sickness, please share what worked for you in the comments!
My heart goes out to anyone who has been through it.
Just remember, it does get better eventually.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Going Green: A Big Girl Room for a Little Girl

I've been thinking about this big girl room ever since Isla June turned 1.  I guess because of the move and the looming thought of her out growing the crib, and maybe the over planner/researcher at heart that I am, I spent two years over thinking this space.
Now, that does not mean that I have everything for it.  By no means am I finished with the final details.  But, the basics are there.  And they are as green and non-toxic as I can afford them to be.

Almost everything is second hand.  That's the great thing about being green, it's actually more affordable when you think about it!  Plus, thrifting has become so chic lately.  
Let's all pop some tags (unless that means some sort of stealing.  This white girl is lost on the lingo).

Isla June's new to her bed was mine growing up.  I love the classic-ness of a rod iron bed.  
This thing should be around for her children.  
Most of my 2 years of growing research involved Isla June's mattress.  Now, her crib mattress was organic.  And we loved it (THIS ONE.Naturepedic No Compromise Organic Cotton Classic 150 Seamless Dual Firmness Crib Mattress   )

I knew when we upgraded her that I would want something comparable.
But, here's the thing.  Organic mattresses are ex-pen-sive.  
My plan was to get a second hand twin bed and an organic cotton mattress (THIS one Naturepedic Organic Queen Size Mattress Quilted)
Then, hubs and I got a new king size bed and we ended up with two extra Queen sized ones.  So, it seemed silly to have all these extra beds/mattresses floating around and not use them.

Oh!  The conundrum!

Enter the bed wrapping.

It's an affordable way to make an older/non organic mattress safer to sleep on.  It's main purpose it to keep the chemicals from leeching out and into your lungs while you breath at night.
(more info about toxins in mattresses can be found here)

The food grade plastic had no odor when I opened it (such a relief!).  But, I will say- it's cumbersome.
Took hubs and I some good planning to get it all settled on the bed.  And, it's loud.
As Isla June says, "my bed's a little noisy."
I'm hoping to get an organic topper for it soon to help muffle the sound.  
It's worth the peace of mind for me.

The rest of the room is second hand as well. 
From the craigslist dresser (refinished in chalk paint- no odor!), to the rocker that we kept from her nursery.  The mirror was her Gramma Lee's and was in our bedroom previously.  
Even the lamp lived in another part of the house for the past 5 years.
All of the accessories were in her nursery. 

And, of course, there is a plant and an air purifier in there to help keep her lungs as healthy as possible.

I've got plans for a patterned quilt/comforter for her (in this summer heat, it seems pointless right now) and coordinating curtains.  But, for now the what-we-already-have-on-hand bed linens (washed in vinegar) and the simple black-out shades seem to be doing the trick.

Now, if only we could get her to actually stay in her big girl bed all night!

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