About three weeks ago I wrote my first “Five Things for Friday” post. Time for another quintuplet of randomness, I think.
I learned a fun fact about kissing and breastfeeding this past week. Many of you probably saw this on facebook, but I want to share it again here just in case. It’s rare that the word awesome is applied to something that is truly awe-inspiring, but this really is:
Kissing your baby changes your breast milk. Did you know that the undeniable urge to cover your baby in kisses serves a biological purpose? When a mother kisses her baby, she samples the pathogens on baby’s face, which then travel to mom’s lymphatic system. Mom’s body then creates antibodies to fight those pathogens, which baby receives through breast milk. What?! Amazing, right? (quoted from 10 Things You Might Not Know About Breastfeeding)
I learned something similar related to nipples and “baby backwash” a couple of months ago. Katie Hinde, a biologist, associate professor, and blogger at Mammals Suck… Milk! shared these fascinating details with Angela Garbes for her breastmilk post on The Stranger:
According to Hinde, when a baby suckles at its mother’s breast, a vacuum is created. Within that vacuum, the infant’s saliva is sucked back into the mother’s nipple, where receptors in her mammary gland read its signals. . . . If the mammary gland receptors detect the presence of pathogens, they compel the mother’s body to produce antibodies to fight it, and those antibodies travel through breast milk back into the baby’s body, where they target the infection (Source).
I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling pretty jazzed about the fact that I get to wear those kinds of superpowers on my chest every day. :-)
Also, in case you’re curious about how kissing your man is also awe-inspiring and biologically beneficial:
Apparently one of the biggest challenges faced by the over-35 crowd is difficulty conceiving. Considering that I was trying not to get pregnant, I guess fertility isn’t a problem for me.
Also, over-35 moms are more likely to experience high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, placenta praevia, pre-eclampsia and premature birth. So far I still have freakishly low blood pressure, my placenta is not low-lying, and I’ve had no preterm labor. Hoping my gestational diabetes screening will come back normal as well.
I also happen to almost be a grand-multipara which brings its own set of risk factors. But I’m not going to think about those right now either. Sigh.
I can definitely say that I’d prefer to be in my twenties and pregnant. It’s much easier with a younger body, in my opinion. This mid-thirties pregnancy has got me more physically uncomfortable than ever. I should definitely be more consistent with my yoga and exercise. Hello, pubic symphysis pain!
I used a birthday gift card to buy a book I’ve been wanting to read for several years. It is The Worst Is Over: What To Say When Every Moment Counts, by Judith Acosta and Judith Simon Prager. I first heard about the book from Karen Strange at my neonatal resuscitation (NRP) training back in 2011. She highly recommended it as a priceless resource for learning how to talk to people in crisis situations and in the aftermath of those situations.
Karen Strange stressed over and over the importance of acknowledging verbally that something big and powerful and sometimes traumatic (like a birth or a resuscitation or accident) is over… to place the ending… to hear or speak words (as you see in this HBAC video) such as:
“That was a lot. But it’s over. It’s over. I know that was so hard, but it’s over. We did it. We did it. You’re safe.”
Now that the worst is over in my own personal/emotional life, I finally feel like I’m ready to read the book. It seems like one everyone should read, especially those who might find themselves helping women through pregnancy and birth complications. I’ll post a review once I’m finished reading it!
The homeschool honeymoon ended with me in an overwhelmed, emotional heap a couple of days ago. After too many days/nights of putting my own self-care on the back burner, I turned into a grumpy, irritable, less-than-ideal version of myself. A friend told me that self-care is the secret to successful homeschooling. I responded that it’s probably the secret to everything.
After a good night of sleep, some meditation, and a nap yesterday afternoon, I’m back to myself. I know better than to run myself into the ground. I know what happens to my emotional and physical health when I don’t take care of myself. The cliché is true: if momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. It’s probably about time I did something like this:
I had chronic headaches for years. Starting in adolescence and all the way up until after my second baby was born, I popped ibuprofen pretty much every day. Finally, I figured out that the primary culprit for me was MSG (monosodium glutamate) also known as processed free glutamic acid (which comes in a billion different forms and is on most grocery store labels in one of those billion different forms). Cutting out or at least minimizing my exposure to MSG basically eliminated my headaches, and for maybe a decade I no longer used pain relievers.
Then in the summer of 2014 I was prescribed the benzodiazepine Clonazepam (or Klonopin) on a short-term basis for my anxiety. I’ve written before about the horrendous experience I had with this drug (which I sometimes not-so-affectionately refer to as “the devil”). Benzodiazepenes can create long-term negative effects for even brief users (a fact the Internet is packed with). Also, I learned the hard way that if you drink a raw pineapple smoothie every day while taking a benzodiazepine, its effects will be magnified intensely. Oops.
As I began weaning off the drug, I began experiencing horrible headaches (a “normal” withdrawal symptom) in addition to other horrors. After a decade being virtually headache-free, they were back with a vengeance. The frequency and intensity of the withdrawal headaches has diminished over time, but I am still having them, despite avoiding MSG and eating a healthy diet. This is frustrating to say the least.
I think it all has to do with my GABA receptors (targeted by benzodiazepines) and my glutamate sensitivity. Ibupropfen is a glutamate-blocker, so it’s no wonder it was my go-to drug for so many years. I did a ton of research on how glutamate affects anxiety levels in 2014 (which led to a crazy obsessed glutamate-restricted diet), and how GABA reduces anxiety. I researched how to boost GABA levels through certain probiotic strains and through meditation and yoga. (Maybe someday I’ll share all the stuff I learned.) But all my efforts weren’t enough to keep me from suicidal thoughts, and so I submitted to the pyschiatrist and let Clonazepam “trick” my GABA receptors into thinking I had plenty of GABA floating around. Which then, of course, threw off my body’s own GABA production and messed with my GABA receptor functioning. Ugh. Even a year after quitting Clonazepam, I am still dealing with the consequences. I pray my brain can continue to heal, and hopefully I can go back to living headache-free soon.
Well that was a kind of depressing #5, huh? Let me find something a little more cheerful to end with…