Doing your “hamwork,” part 2

August 22, 2012 at 5:04 am

This is the concluding installment of a guest post series from the wonderful women at The Healing Group. Here’s part one if you missed it (with bios about the authors)…

Doing Your “Hamwork” – Part II
By Kristin B. Hodson, CSW, LCSW and Alisha Worthington, BSW, SSW
www.hey-mom.com

In our “perfect is as perfect does” culture, it’s hard for Moms to admit to themselves or others that perhaps motherhood isn’t the blissful, organized, make-up-and-hair-done-after-working-out-at-the-gym world we thought it would be. We want so much to appear like we have everything under control and are now fully content and satisfied with life because we have a baby. And, unfortunately, some of us just about drive ourselves into the ground desperately clinging to the cultural idea that we have to put on our big girl panties and keep trudging forward no matter the difficulty or the cost.

What we are coming to understand is that that idea can be harmful to ourselves and those around us. There are times when we simply don’t have the emotional and/or mental ability to “go the extra mile.” We’re barely making down the hall to the bathroom.

“Postpartum mood disorder” isn’t a popular phrase. It doesn’t ring well. It sounds like “I’m a bad Mom” all wrapped up in three little words, but that’s a negative stigma that has been attached must be unattached—just like no longer lopping off the ham when you have a pan that fits it just fine. Due to the negative connotation, there are too many women silently suffering, needlessly, through a treatable and all-too-common condition. Just talk to the women around you about what they experienced after their babies were born and you will begin to hear stories. Maybe not all of them will have one, but the statistics show one out of eight will. That’s a lot. Maybe you’re one of them and aren’t sure what to do.

Fiery Furnace

July 30, 2012 at 4:33 am

I haven’t been able to bring myself to blog here (or anywhere) for awhile. The things I love… writing, researching, thinking about birth, taking photographs, cooking, gardening… they’ve all fallen by the wayside. I’m in survival mode, and it’s taking everything I have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. This trial has been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever been through. Every trial probably feels that way when you’re in the middle (or even the end) of it, I suppose.  Even so, this one feels especially hard and long. I thought it was over when I wrote this post, but alas I was wrong.

For someone who has spent the last decade of my life passionate about birth and motherhood and babies, it seems so strange that… at present… I have to confess… seeing pregnant women makes me feel anxious, seeing babies makes me feel anxious, thinking about ever being pregnant again or having another baby makes me feel horrified. How awful is that? I just helped write a whole book called The Gift of Giving Life for crying out loud! How did I get to this place? I hope with all my heart that I will be able to once again see the beauty and joy of giving life someday soon.

Doing your “hamwork,” part 1

July 20, 2012 at 5:39 pm

Today I am pleased to share a guest post by Kristin B. Hodson, CSW, LCS and Alisha Worthington, BSW, SSW. First, here is some background about them…

Kristin B. Hodson, MSW, LCSW
Founder, Psychotherapist, The Healing Group
Kristin prides herself on offering hope, compassion and professional expertise in a warm and safe environment. She holds a Master of Social Work, Clinical and Medical, from the University of Utah, and a Bachelor of Social Work, International Emphasis, from Brigham Young University, Hawaii. She also earned an Associate Degree in Psychology from Salt Lake Community College and is pursuing a Postpartum Doula Certification through DONA. For Kristin’s full bio, visit www.thehealinggroup.com.

Alisha Worthington, BSW, SSW
Educator, The Healing Group
As a mom of six children and an educator at The Healing Group, Salt Lake City, Alisha shares her knowledge and passion for motherhood in a nurturing and non-judgmental environment with women of many backgrounds and perspectives.
She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Brigham Young University and is a board member of the Utah Friends of Midwives. For Alisha’s full bio, visit www.thehealinggroup.com.

Call for help

April 25, 2012 at 3:23 am

Alright, friends… I’m going to get personal here.

I’m struggling. For the past six months, off and on, I’ve been battling with some physical and emotional trials, riding a crazy-making roller coaster. During some periods, I’ve been in what I would label as depression. I have good days, and I have bad days. On the good days I feel full of hope that things will get better. On the bad days I feel full of despair that I’ll ever feel totally myself again. Over the past week I have gone from one end of the spectrum to the other multiple times. Yesterday I was in despair. Today I was mostly OK.

I debated whether or not to disclose all of this to you. In this moment I decided that you’d want to know, you’d want to help, you’d want to lift me up in whatever way you could.

Building better breast milk

March 16, 2012 at 11:20 pm

Giving your babies breast milk is one of the greatest gifts you can give them, regardless of your nutritional status. But over my 8+ years as a momma studying pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding, I’ve learned of several ways we can take that wonderful gift of breast milk and make it even more beneficial to our babies. We’ve probably all heard that consuming lots of omega-3 fats (through fish and plant sources) will benefit our babies’ brains and our own emotional health, but there are other ways to improve the quality of the milk we produce for our babies. Here are just a few of them…

1. Chlorella

Not long after my fourth baby’s birth, my mom flew into town with all sorts of supplements. One of the supplements she wanted me to take was chlorella. I wasn’t sure whether it was safe to take while breastfeeding, so I started doing a little internet digging to find out. That’s when I found a Japanese study about the effects of maternal chlorella supplementation on breast milk.

Mom’s Granola

August 31, 2011 at 4:29 pm

I have fond memories of waking up to the smell of freshly toasted granola.  I don’t know if I’ve ever eaten granola better than my mom’s. And most of the people I’ve ever made it for agree and ask for the recipe. Many of you requested the recipe when you emailed asking for my Treasure Box questions, but last night (as I was making granola with my husband) I got thinking I should just post it here on the blog!  Why didn’t I think of that before?

I would do the same with the Treasure Box questions, but there are a LOT of them and I can’t remember all their sources (they came from lots of different websites). I just don’t feel good about getting traffic from stuff I cut and pasted from other websites without giving them credit.  When I originally created the list of questions, it was just for my own personal use, so I didn’t bother keeping track of where I got them.  Oh well.  I’m still happy to email my list to any and all!

I think I could also call this granola “HELLO-MILK Granola.”  The weeks when I’m eating this granola, my let-down and milk supply are typically much stronger, even too strong!  Makes sense since oats are supposedly a galactagogue and the nuts and seeds are packed full of nutrients.  It’s worth trying, if you’re struggling to keep your milk supply up.  If it doesn’t work, at least it tastes good.

Expectations

August 24, 2011 at 11:49 pm

Sometimes things just don’t happen the way we expected. In fact, this is true so often for me that I wonder why I even bother predicting how things will go! For example…

Harder than I ever expected

  • Establishing breastfeeding.  Shouldn’t something so “natural” come naturally to us?  Holy cow. So hard the first time.  So many contraptions (nipple shield, syringe, pump, etc.) to get us going.  But it was so worth the agony of those first days/weeks and easy peasy with babies #2, #3, #4.

Treasure box

August 8, 2011 at 1:11 am

After my first baby was born, the love and appreciation I felt for my husband expanded and intensified in ways I hadn’t expected.  But. Our marriage would never be the same. Suddenly our time and energy were divided, leaving (what seemed like) only tiny fleeting specs for our marriage. I can distinctly remember, during those first weeks and months after my first daughter’s birth, recognizing that I needed to allow myself to grieve the loss of my former life, including the time and freedom I once had to bond with my husband whenever I wanted to.

A long-term study published in March of 2009 showed that a deterioration in marital relationship functioning was common following the birth of a first baby. It reported:

Compared with prebirth levels and trajectories, parents showed sudden deterioration following birth on observed and self-reported measures of positive and negative aspects of relationship functioning. The deterioration in these variables was small to medium in size and tended to persist throughout the remaining years of the study [eight years]. Mothers and fathers showed similar amounts of change after birth. The amount of postbirth deterioration in relationship functioning varied systematically by several characteristics of the individual, the marriage, and the pregnancy itself. (Source)

So, if you find yourself feeling dissatisfied with your level of postpartum marital bliss, you’re not alone. This is normal. Even after babies #2, 3, 4 or more. But, of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t do anything about it.

Proactive support for new mothers

July 24, 2011 at 10:49 pm

I’ve been busy editing our book over the past several weeks, and in the process have been reading stories from dozens of women. Some of them endured intense physical and emotional trials in their journey to motherhood. Several suffered from (and overcame) postpartum depression. It has reminded me of my own difficulties in adjusting to motherhood with my first baby. At the time, I checked out a book from our local library called Mothering the New Mother. It brought me strength and hope when I felt overwhelmed. As a result, I declared it my new personal mission to ensure that all the new mothers around me knew they weren’t alone in their struggles. It has been almost eight years since then, and I have certainly not followed-through with those good intentions nearly as well as I should have. But today I am feeling a renewed drive to reach out to postpartum women and strengthen them. This post is partly for my own reference (to give me a kick in the pants to get moving), but I hope it inspires you as well.

When a child is born, so is a mother.  She will never be the same again. Conversations with new mothers can, at times, focus at length on how beautiful and precious her newborn is and not enough on the new mother’s needs.  Having a baby can be a very difficult transition, even for mothers of two or three or more. The physical, emotional, and spiritual burdens new mothers face can, at times, feel too overwhelming to bear. But friends and family can be proactive in lifting these burdens. Here are some ideas for those wanting to help:

Mola mei tai

June 22, 2011 at 8:02 pm

Back in the 60’s, my dad lived and served as a missionary among the Kuna people who live in the San Blas Islands off the coast of Panama.  The people called him “Orokua” which translated from Kuna means something like “little round golden girl.”  Ha ha!  It’s kind of a long story how that came about.  My dad loved the Kuna people, and they loved him back.  So, I’ve spent my whole life hearing stories of the Kuna, seeing photos of their distinctive dress, and looking at the stunning hand-crafted Kuna art my dad brought home with him. Molas are part of the traditional dress of the Kuna women. They are elaborate hand-sewn reverse-applique panels with intricate designs. For several of my teenage years, I had a mola hanging just outside my bedroom on the wall. My grandma has a mola hanging in her living room. My dad has many molas hanging in his home.

Surrender, part 5

May 22, 2011 at 8:34 pm

I’ve debated off and on whether to post about this. I guess you can tell which of my inner-dialogue teams won.

My birth story didn’t end with my daughter’s birth. Some things happened afterward that I would say were an extension of that birth. They’ve been sitting on the back burner in my mind, waiting. I suppose I’ve been holding them back because I just wasn’t quite ready to process them yet. Pondering and writing this post was an intense journey of realization and discovery and spiritual revelation. I don’t know exactly why I feel like I need to share it, but I do. What follows is a little graphic and a lot personal. If you choose to comment, please be respectful. Here goes…

My uncle somehow always seems to know when I’m pregnant before I make it public knowledge. This last time, after we shared the news, he said, “I think you’re having twins.” We laughed.

Done? Revisited

May 16, 2011 at 5:52 am

I keep going back and forth in my mind about this.

But here’s where I’m at with it.  I don’t know if we’re done having babies or not.  Maybe we are, maybe we aren’t.  For all I know I could change my mind in a few years anyway.  As I’ve pondered it, I’ve come to peace with either path.  I feel OK with being done.  And I feel OK with not being done.

It is interesting to note, however, that my five-year-old told me a week or two ago that I was going to have two more babies.  Another boy and another girl (not necessarily in that order).  She’s also the one who told me, “It’s OK, Mommy.  You’ll grow another one,” when I pushed out my placenta, remember?  Maybe it’s all just silly five-year-old ramblings.  Or maybe she’s just as spiritually in-tune and intuitive as I’ve often suspected her to be.  We shall see, I suppose.  I think God knows that all would need to do is see a child in my dreams to give me a nudge in that direction.

Healing your home

May 14, 2011 at 10:54 pm

So… air pollution. We hear so much about the global warming debate, but we rarely hear about how toxins in our air may be impacting human health and happiness. This subject has been on my mind a lot over the past week, and I felt impressed to do some digging about it. How are those toxins impacting pregnant women and their babies?  And how can we protect ourselves?

What I found was that prenatal and early exposure to air pollutants has been linked to a growing number of health and behavioral issues. Here are a few:

Preterm birth

“For the first trimester, the odds of preterm birth consistently increased with increasing carbon monoxide exposures and also at high levels of exposure to particulate matter . . . . Women exposed to carbon monoxide above 0.91 ppm during the last 6 weeks of pregnancy experienced increased odds of preterm birth” (Source).

Reduced fetal growth

“Over the past decade there has been mounting evidence that ambient air pollution during pregnancy influences fetal growth. . . . We found strong effects of ambient air pollution on ultrasound measures” (Source).

The Science of Parenting

April 23, 2011 at 9:32 pm

In February of 2010, I heard about The Science of Parenting by Dr. Margot Sunderland (director of education and training at the Centre for Child Mental Health in London) in a Canadian news article with the headline ‘Crying it out’ may damage baby’s brain. Now that’s a heavy headline, eh? I was definitely intrigued, so I decided to dig further into this.

My initial reaction to the book was: it looks and feels like a text book. Lots of pictures, sidebars, bullet points, etc. The tone of the writing also reminded me of a text book–one that was giving you basic information without personality or fluff. But I was sort of disappointed because the book repeats phrases like, “There is a mass of scientific research showing…” but it only speaks in very general terms about what those studies actually show. I guess I expected a book called “The Science of Parenting” to delve more deeply into the science of parenting.

Building a better bond

February 19, 2011 at 7:28 am

It is now officially my “due date.” I’ve never been pregnant this long before. My other children came 9 days, 5 days, and 10 days early. All of my mother’s six children came either 9 days or 6 days early. I’m not certain, but I think all of my sister’s kids came early as well. I was under the impression that the women in my family “cook ‘em fast.” So my husband and I have been quite surprised to see this pregnancy continuing as long as it has. But I’m totally OK with that. I’ve learned some important things over the past week, and I feel I have God’s and my baby’s wise choice of timing to thank for those valuable blessings. I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned.

You may be aware from prior blogposts (Pitocin on the Brain, On loving baby slime, Mothering my children, healing myself) that bonding with my freshly-born babies has been a struggle for me in the past. With each child, the bond has come more quickly, but it has still never happened as quickly and strongly as I would like it to. My past experiences have led me to believe, at times, that I’m not capable of experiencing that instant “love at first sight” some parents speak of. But it doesn’t keep me from fantasizing about experiencing it. Especially when irrational fears creep up in the recesses of my consciousness filling me with doubts that I’ll even be able to love this new baby at all.

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