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Hope’s Backstory

January 15, 2018 at 3:16 pm

For two years I’ve thought about writing this post. For two years I haven’t felt ready to do it. I suppose, like Mary, I have “kept all these things and pondered them in my heart.” Today I feel ready.

 

This morning, I awoke as I usually do, with a wiggly blonde toddler named Hope next to me, her still-drowsy voice piercing my sleep, “Mommy… Mommy…” She slid her body on top of mine, no small feat with my growing 24-week-pregnant belly. I gently moved her to my other side, her head nestled in the crook of my arm, pulled her close, and kissed her nose. While I looked at her face, her cheeks still round with lingering baby fat, she scratched at something on her chin. I kissed her cheek. She smiled. In my mind, I silently but feelingly prayed:

Thank you, God, for sending her to me. Thank you. Thank you.

Thank You, Anxiety

January 14, 2018 at 5:39 pm

Last night I woke up my husband, sleeping peacefully next to me, and said words I haven’t said in a long time:

“I need help. I’m feeling anxious.”

The anxiety was mild. But once you have known the horror of debilitating anxiety, even mild anxiety is terror-inducing and can quickly escalate, like a PTSD trigger, feeding itself.

A Sampling of Recent Pregnancy-Related Research

January 8, 2018 at 1:05 pm

Every once in a while, I like to peruse pregnancy-related research on Google Scholar and Google News. Here’s a sampling of research I found relevant from 2017 and early 2018. Some of the findings seem pretty unsurprising, but I felt they were worth mentioning. Study abstracts are linked in parentheses following each summary.

Hyperemesis gravidarum, pregnancy hypertension, pre-eclampsia, and cesarean section are associated with an increased risk for postpartum depression in first-time mothers (Psychological Medicine, January 23, 2017).

Stronger maternal-fetal bonding during pregnancy leads to a stronger maternal-infant bond after birth (American Journal of Perinatology, February 17, 2017).

Childbirth education classes and birth plans are associated with a higher incidence of vaginal delivery (Birth: Issues in Prenatal Care, March 2017).

Mistreatment (including discrimination and abuse) by a care provider during childbirth is associated with a higher incidence of complications during delivery and postpartum (Maternal and Child Health, September 2017).

N-Acetylcysteine for Trichotillomania (and more)

December 29, 2017 at 1:49 pm

Over the past several years, I have shared (or over-shared) the details of my journey with anxiety and depression. Lots of people have said to me, “I can’t believe how open you are.” For many, struggling with mental illness is a private battle. But it was never hard for me to tell my friends, family, and the Internet about the darkness and fear that were plaguing me. I wasn’t ashamed.

But.

For quite a while, but particularly the past couple of years, I have been battling another mental disorder that I have felt some shame about, and I haven’t felt comfortable publicly acknowledging it until now. I’m not sure exactly why this has been harder, but I think it’s partly because I didn’t really know for a long time that some of my strange habits were actually considered a disorder. And this particular disorder isn’t often talked about (at least not vocally or in public). It’s also, admittedly, really bizarre. Even the name is bizarre.

Coming Home Again

December 27, 2017 at 1:19 pm

I’ve given birth in a large teaching hospital, a small community hospital, at home, and at a birth center. There were pros and cons to each setting. You can read more about those HERE. When I found out I was pregnant with my sixth baby in September, I started pondering my options for the birth right away.

Last time, in order to keep my anxiety levels in check, I felt it was best to know I would be very close to a hospital. Blossom Birth Center, the location we chose, is across the street from Phoenix Children’s Hospital and five minutes down the street from St. Joseph’s Hospital. Another reason I chose Blossom is because I was already acquainted with Mary Langlois, co-owner of the birth center. I met her during my third pregnancy and attended a doula training she taught in 2009. I had a strong feeling that Mary was the midwife I needed to attend my 5th birth, and she proved to be just exactly the right person. I will be forever grateful for the nurturing and care she gave to me.

When I started thinking about the birth of my sixth baby, I realized that many of the fears and concerns I had during my fifth pregnancy were gone. My anxiety levels have been very low for the past couple of years, and I just didn’t have the same need to be across the street from a hospital. While I absolutely adore Mary Langlois and would have her attend all of my births if I could, we recently moved a lot further west from where we were.

5 Tips for Avoiding Pitocin in Childbirth

December 18, 2017 at 1:08 pm

Avoiding Pitocin graphic

 

Over seven years ago, I wrote one of the most-shared and viewed (and most controversial) posts on my blog, Pitocin’s Untold Impact. In it, I discussed the potential negative impacts of Pitocin, the synthetic form of oxytocin used in hospitals to speed or start the childbirth process. There has been a huge rise in labor inductions within the past twenty years. The CDC reported that “the rate of induction of labor more than doubled from 1990 through 2010, from 9.6% to 23.8%.” The year my first baby was born (she is now a teenager), the New York Times reported that “one baby in five is now born after the birth process has been started by a drug.” In 2006, in a study of 5500 low-risk, first-time mothers, 40% were induced and 70% received Pitocin at some point during labor (see Jennifer Block, Pushed, p. 5-6).

The Healing Gift of Magnesium [Super Sale!]

December 16, 2017 at 11:18 am

Starting today and going through January 23, Mg12 has their entire selection of Dead Sea magnesium products 20% off! With the “birthfaith” coupon code, you can get an additional 10% off as well! So it’s an awesome time to stock up, and of course it’s an excellent time to share the joy of magnesium with the people you love. I’m giving Mg12 products to a bunch of people this year (just like every year).

Start shopping HERE!

Mg12 christmas sale 2017

The Teen Anxiety Epidemic: Possible Perinatal Factors

December 13, 2017 at 1:22 pm

 

Teen Anxiety Epidemic graphic

Lately I’ve seen a lot of press about the anxiety epidemic among adolescents. It always piques my interest because I have experienced severe anxiety and depression, and I’m especially interested in helping others who struggle with these horrific challenges. Here’s a small sampling of the headlines:

It’s all very troubling to me, and it hits close to home as well. Most of the teen and young adult nieces and nephews on my side of the family are struggling with mental health issues, primarily anxiety and depression. My own teen daughter and several of her friends struggle with anxiety. It’s becoming so common that I’m almost surprised when I find a teen who isn’t anxious or depressed. How did we get to this place?!

Breeding, Bread, and Blessings

December 6, 2017 at 12:27 pm

For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. -Luke 23:29

A couple of years ago, my friend Heather wrote a post titled with the old saying: “Every Baby Comes with a Loaf of Bread Under its Arm.” In the post, Heather shared the news that she was pregnant with her fifth baby, and then she elaborated on the title of her post, saying:

I think that what this saying means, at least to me, is that every baby who comes to the earth brings blessings, spiritual and temporal, for the mother, the father, the family, the community, and the world.

I’ve been reflecting a lot on this concept lately. These days more and more articles, blogposts, and news stories give us a multitude of reasons why we shouldn’t have children:

I could go on, but this is getting depressing, especially given that I’m now pregnant with my 6th baby.

18 weeks

Goodwill Dress: Frumpy to Fabulous

November 19, 2017 at 11:18 pm

So our local Goodwill stores are having a flip contest. When I first heard about it, I didn’t think I had time to submit anything, but with a little nudge from my husband who thought it was “right up my alley,” I decided to buy a dress on 50% sale Saturday. Of course the idea with these type of contests to to wow people with the transformation, so I tried to find something I would never actually buy on purpose. Here was my pick:

GoodwillFlipBefore

Birthing without an Agenda

November 5, 2017 at 12:04 am

Who is to say that this moment is not a part of creation?
Or this one?
Or the one about to arrive, across the vast distance of time?

-David LaMotte

When I was pregnant for the first time, my primary goal with my birth was to get through labor without an epidural. Thanks to my husband’s support and an angelic doula-like nurse, I succeeded.

With my second, I wanted to have a midwife, and I wanted to have an easier recovery (no stitches). With my certified nurse midwife’s help, I was able to give birth unmedicated to a posterior baby with just a “skid mark” and some minor stitches.

For my third birth, I was desperate to give birth with an fully intact perineum. It was a magical home birth experience, and I didn’t tear at all!

After delivering my previous three babies on my bottom, I really hoped with my fourth baby to give birth in some other position. Following a near-painless labor, I delivered my fourth baby on my hands and knees.

My primary goal with my fifth baby was to give birth upright. After an emotional, but exceptionally supported labor, I delivered with my upper body cradled in a birth sling, standing with bent knees.

Our Progenity Test Results

October 30, 2017 at 6:28 pm

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When we found out my 5th baby was a girl, I couldn’t contain the tears. Grief bubbled up from the depths of my heart and oozed in salty trickles down my face. As soon as I was able, I retreated to my bedroom and sobbed. Wailed. The force of my grief stunned me.  But it was raw, and it was real.

At the time, my six-year-old son asked, “Why are you crying, Mom?” The jumble inside of me felt so complex that I had no words that could adequately do it justice, but my attempt to give him the decency of a response came out: “Because I wanted to meet Elijah.”

Dead Sea Magnesium [Giveaway]

October 27, 2017 at 10:50 am

If you’ve been reading my blog for long, you’re well aware of my magnesium obsession. No shortage of posts about its many uses and virtues around here:

OurSource4

The Dead Sea contains vastly more magnesium chloride than any other body of water on our planet

Will My Baby Have Down Syndrome?

October 23, 2017 at 5:28 pm

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I was lying in bed one morning with my eyes closed. It was a couple of months ago, but I can’t remember if I knew I was pregnant yet. Somewhere in that place between sleep and waking, I saw the face of a child with Down syndrome. When I fully awoke a few moments later, I felt a torrent of thoughts and questions about that image enter my mind. Was it a spiritual message? Would I be giving birth to a child with Down syndrome? Or was it just a random flash of a meaningless dream?

The Things We Will Never Do

September 26, 2017 at 9:55 pm

In my nearly 37 years on this lovely planet, I have said a lot of things with certainty. Things like…

  • I won’t get married before I finish college.
  • I’ll never vote republican.
  • I wouldn’t buy an American-made vehicle.
  • I’d never move to Arizona.
  • I’m not one of those people who would take an anti-depressant.
  • I wouldn’t give birth at home.
  • I definitely won’t homeschool my kids.
  • I’ll never own an SUV.

This is just a sampling of the things I would never do. But I will soon have done all of them.

I say soon because we’ve technically never owned an SUV, but we’re in the market for a bigger people-mover. We take road trips every year, and we’re tired of packing every inch of our minivan with stuff, leaving virtually zero leg room for the seven of us. For the past week or so I’ve been exploring our options, and at the moment the ones that seem most do-able, affordable, and practical are giant SUVs. Sigh. I totally used to judge people who drove giant SUVs. The Chevy Suburban is my current top pick.

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