For the Days You Want to Quit

April 6, 2017 at 1:14 am

My third child and only son celebrated his 8th birthday this past weekend. I will never forget the first hours of his life. He was born late in the evening, so it was “bedtime,” but I couldn’t sleep. All I could do was stare at him, absolutely, totally, and madly in love. I was on that birth high for nearly a year, totally smitten by this baby boy I called Mister Bubbagoo.

12494775_10153934393101900_7353645016770202922_n

That chubby face still makes my heart melt.

Book Review: The Serotonin Power Diet

March 17, 2017 at 2:10 pm

Last week I was doing some reading about weight loss while breastfeeding. There is a common misconception that breastfeeding promotes weight loss. It turns out this isn’t the case, at least for many women. Prolactin, one of the primary breastfeeding hormones, actually slows the metabolism of fat (Source). I’ve gained weight myself since giving birth nearly 15 months ago. My particular weight gain situation is compounded by a medication as well. The SSRI I take for my anxiety and depression has a side-effect of weight gain for many people. All of my family members have gained weight from taking anti-depressants, so it isn’t a surprise that I would as well.

When I attempted to wean off my medication three years ago, I dropped the weight quickly, but I also descended into a dark, suicidal hell. Those who love me agree that my will to live is much more important than being thin. Initially my medication-induced weight gain translated to being approximately 20-30 lbs heavier than I was pre-SSRI. With my added weight gain from pregnancy and breastfeeding, I am now approximately 60 lbs heavier than I was for most of my life.

plus60lbs

With my 2nd baby in 2007 and then 2016

4 Questions to Ask about Our Children’s Futures

February 19, 2017 at 6:10 pm

A friend of mine has been dealing with some intense challenges with her son’s school. Her sweet but very active 5-year-old son has been suspended three times in the past three weeks. I’m tempted to say he was suspended for rule infractions that could fit under the umbrella of “being a 5-year-old.” Most American kindergarteners are expected to sit still, stand still, be quiet, stay in line, and generally avoid typical 5-year-old behavior at all times. So sad.

While American kindergarteners are denied their one short recess for small infractions, kindergarteners in Finland are given as many as four free-play breaks between classes because “educators and parents here believe that these breaks are a powerful engine of learning that improves . . . executive function, concentration and cognitive focus, behavior, well-being, attendance, physical health, and yes, test scores, too” (Source). Professor Howard Gardner, from Harvard University Graduate School of Education, gave this advice for improving American schools: “Learn from Finland, which has the most effective schools and which does just about the opposite of what we are doing in the United States” (Source).

All of this has me thinking a lot about what really matters and what will really prepare my children for the actual future they will be living in. My research and my gut agree that what is being taught in most American schools is insufficient for and even opposed to what our children will actually need in the future. For what it’s worth, here are some questions I feel we should be thinking about.

4 questions to ask

4 Tips for Improving Life on an SSRI

January 25, 2017 at 3:48 am

Taking an SSRI for depression and anxiety can be life-saving, but anti-depressants aren’t always as helpful as we would hope. Some people don’t find any relief at all, or try multiple types of drugs before finding one that works for them. Science Daily recently reported:

More than half of the 41 million Americans who take antidepressants do not fully respond. Add-on therapies are often prescribed to enhance the effects of the drugs in these patients, but they typically offer limited additional benefits and come with side effects (Source).

I first began taking the anti-depressant Sertraline (Zoloft) in August of 2012. My journey managing life with this drug over the past few years has taught me a thing or two. One of my favorite things to do is to write about and share the things I learn. My hope is always that reading one of my posts will change someone’s life for the better. Here are four tips for improving life on an SSRI.

**As always, none of this should be considered medical advice. These are things that have helped me, but none of them should replace the advice or care of a qualified mental health professional.**

4 tips SSRI post graphic

5 Ways You’re Not Failing as a Mom

December 3, 2016 at 8:47 am

Back in October, I celebrated my 36th birthday. Celebrated actually isn’t the best word. It was kind of an awful day ’cause I was in a horrible mood. As I got thinking about why I was so frustrated, I did a lot of pondering about failure. I feel like I’m failing at a lot of things lately. My husband and sister tell me I’m “not failing” in an effort to make me feel better, but the truth is that I am. We are all failing at something. Some of us are failing at multiple things. Some of us are failing at many things. Every single day of our lives we will fail at something. The question isn’t whether we will fail. Because we will. In ways both small and great we will fail. We simply cannot do it all AND do it all well.

What makes us feel miserable and frustrated isn’t the failures themselves, per se, but what we do with them. Do we retreat into shame and feel incapacitated? That’s pretty much what happened to me on my birthday. And I know it’s totally counter-productive and lame, but sometimes we even fail at failure. Ha! But a voice keeps tugging at the corners of my mind. It says, “Failure isn’t bad. Failure is a gift. Failure is feedback. Love your failures.” I’m intrigued. And I’m wondering what that would look like and what that would feel like. I’m still pondering that.

In the meantime, however, I’d like to offer you (and myself) 5 ways you are NOT failing as a mom. Even though failing is something we shouldn’t feel ashamed about, it’s still nice to remind ourselves sometimes that we’re doing better than we think we are.

5-ways-you-arent-failing-as-a-mom2

When Your Baby is Sick

September 10, 2016 at 7:22 am

Two days ago, I found myself searching the Internet for something to lift me up. I had spent several days and nights consoling my very sad, very sick baby, and the stress had taken its toll. I needed some validation, encouragement, understanding. But all I could find were articles and memes and blogposts that weren’t quite what I was looking for. Even 5th-time moms get discouraged when their kids are sick. Now that my baby is feeling more like herself, and now that I finally have a few moments to myself, I’d like to write the post I wish I had found when I was searching. I’ll address it to you, the weary mother who hasn’t been able to put the baby down in ages.

img_20160907_093251

The Mother-Baby Dyad: Sacred Synergy

July 4, 2016 at 5:03 pm

A few days ago I gathered with some lovely women for a Gift of Giving Life party. While there I shared with them some of the fascinating and beautiful insights I have been learning about the sacred interchange within the mother-baby dyad. The “thesis” of my message was this: mothers and babies are the key to creating a peaceful world. Without nurturing mothers and peace-filled babies, we will never see humanity overcome the evils that tear us apart. The love of a mother is so crucial, so irreplaceable, so powerful. Below I will share some of the slides from my presentation.

The Mother-Baby Dyad- Sacred Synergy

What I Learned from Our First Year of Homeschool

May 28, 2016 at 2:35 am

Last night I was reading John Holt’s Teach Your Own before bed, wishing it wasn’t a library book so I could highlight my favorite passages. Instead I kept ripping up a piece of paper to mark the parts I loved. It seemed there was something on every page. This might be a book I need to own. I’ll share some John Holt quotes in this post, in part because I want to have them written down somewhere to refer back to.

firstyearhomeschool

This blogpost has been writing itself in my head for several weeks now. But it never felt like the school year was complete for the same reason that it never feels like the school day is complete. Homeschooling never ends because children are always learning. We have “school” plans that extend throughout the summer. It seems sort of strange to even define grade levels now. I can see how they will all bleed together as we simply incorporate “school” into our lives year-round. But since the traditional school year has ended for the local kids, I suppose I can write this blogpost now.

The Power of Babies

February 19, 2016 at 10:00 am

Babies are such a nice way to start people. -Don Herold

DSC_0005

When my husband and I were engaged, we talked once or twice about our future family. We agreed that we wanted children, and it seemed to both of us that four kids was a good number. Three seemed too few, five or more seemed too many. But four sounded “just right.” Now, here we are, fifteen years later with baby #5.

Keeping Up

February 15, 2016 at 5:21 am

One year ago today I started yoga teacher training! It seems sort of surreal… did that really happen? I was a totally different person then. And a new person again by the time I graduated. And then I birthed yet another version of myself when I brought my fifth baby earthside on Christmas day. I wonder who I will be next Valentine’s Day?

As I reminisced about my first weekend of yoga teacher training, looking over my notes and recalling so many beautiful epiphanies and experiences, I thought… gosh I miss this. It has been several months since I had a daily yoga/meditation practice (a casualty of the third trimester, I suppose). Given a choice between doing yoga or relaxing/sleeping/taking a bath, well… yoga lost just about every time.

I think maybe I need this beautiful watercolor painting created by one of my yogi friends Siri Kirti Kaur. Yogi Bhajan always urged his yoga students: “Keep up and you will be kept up.”

keepup

Hope’s Birth: The Right Words

January 12, 2016 at 8:39 am

wordsquote

[Part one of Hope’s birth is HERE, part two is HERE, and part three is HERE.]

That’s when I dropped my pants.

Funny how few circumstances there are when going bottom-less in front of other human beings is totally appropriate, but childbirth is one of them. I was ready to get in the tub. So I settled into the warm water, my husband held my hand, and Cherise knelt beside us and started pouring water over my belly. A few moments later, Mary came and stood at the foot of the tub. She must have known somehow that I was still feeling guilty about giving birth on Christmas, and she knew I needed a way to let that guilt go. The words she said to me… oh those words… those beautiful, beautiful words. Perhaps I’m not quoting her exactly right, but she looked straight into my eyes and said words very similar to this:

There is no greater gift to God’s service than what we’re doing right here right now.

As soon as her message penetrated my heart, it was as though the guilt instantly released its grip on me, and I began to cry. It was a massive, monumental, beautiful release. I sobbed, “Thank you…” and Mary didn’t skip a beat before responding, “Thank YOU.” Cherise and Mary both encouraged me to cry and let it out. This was the first time I had ever cried in labor, and it felt good. Releasing those trapped negative emotions allowed my body to move forward, and the contractions became even stronger.

Hope’s Birth: The Right People

January 9, 2016 at 8:15 am

[Part one of Hope’s birth is HERE, and part two is HERE.]

My midwife partners and I at the The Farm learned by observation and experience that the presence of even one person who is not exquisitely attuned to the mother’s feelings can stop some women’s labors. All women are sensitive. Some women are extraordinarily so. -Ina May Gaskin

Apparently, reading Ina May Gaskin is a great way to boost oxytocin levels. My contractions had fizzled out when I curled up in bed to read, but within twenty minutes or so they were back. I kept reading for a while, but eventually I turned off my lamp and slept through the waves. As I slept, I noticed the contractions, but they were never strong enough to wake me completely.

Sometime around 4:00 a.m. my husband got up with an earache. I decided to get up too and start timing my contractions again. It was not the ideal time for him to be sick (ha, is it ever?), but I did my best to make him more comfortable with all the various natural remedies up my sleeve. It was looking highly likely that we would be having a Christmas baby, so he promised he would focus on supporting me despite his aching ear.

I really didn’t want to call my midwives. It was Christmas morning! And I especially didn’t want to bother them if it was just a false alarm. I waited until contractions were coming between 5 and 10 minutes apart and lasting a minute. And finally I bit the bullet and paged them. Amy was the one who called back (she was on-call until 7:00 a.m.). I told her I felt like maybe I was holding my labor back because I wasn’t yet at my birth location, so I felt like I should probably come in. She said that was fine and that she would meet us at the birth center.

Hope’s Birth: Sadness and Surrender

January 6, 2016 at 12:32 am

[The first part of Hope’s birth story is HERE.]

As I wrote in the first installment of this story, giving birth is such a multi-layered experience. And what a woman is feeling has such a deep impact on how the birth unfolds. With that in mind, I can’t really give the full scope of what I went through with Hope’s birth without sharing some deep emotional upheaval I experienced a week before. In my last post I shared one layer of my pre-birth emotional state: fear about letting my baby come out. Today I’ll make Brené Brown proud with some hard-core vulnerability and share another layer.

owningourstory

Hope’s Birth: Early Labor

January 3, 2016 at 10:46 pm

He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust. -Psalms 91:4

With each of my births it has gotten harder and harder to write about the experience. A birth carries with it so much depth, so many layers of emotion. I feel like human language doesn’t have the capacity to truly encompass or articulate the profundity of it all. At the same time, I think that writing is an important way to process intense experiences, and I value having a record of important events. So, despite the weakness of the written word, I am sitting here with my baby strapped to my chest and my birthing music playing in the background with the intent of documenting my fifth venture into giving life.

I was afraid to let her come out. Having this baby inside of me had been such a peaceful journey. As my belly grew, my mental health steadily improved. I felt so stable. I felt so safe. But giving birth was going to create a lot of inevitable upheaval. And I was afraid of what was going to happen to me. Would I plunge into darkness again? Would my stable, happy world crumble to pieces as it had more than once before? Would I be able to give my baby the love she deserved?

In the weeks leading up to the birth, I spent a lot of time processing those fears. And I knew that those fears could potentially interfere with labor progress if I didn’t figure out how to let them go. When I woke up early in the morning on Christmas Eve with contractions, I felt a bit of panic. And when I used the bathroom and noticed the blood, I knew I had to finally come to peace with letting this baby come out of my body. My husband comforted me for a bit, and then I told him to get some sleep. I texted several friends and family members about the bloody show and mild early labor contractions. Then I sat in the early-morning glow of the Christmas tree and meditated.

12309885_10153659653886900_8801262211806197084_o

Our Christmas Hope

December 27, 2015 at 9:43 am

Science has suggested that it is the fetus itself who signals the start of labor. This is related to certain proteins in the baby’s lungs, but proteins aside, it does seem fitting for a baby called Hope to choose Christmas morning for her birthday.

DSC_0003

I really didn’t want to give birth on Christmas, but give birth I did anyway. :-) The experience was so many unexpected things, just as this pregnancy and all of the past year has been. I have never been so emotional during a birth, never before cried, never before vomited, and never felt so supported. I have never been filled with so much gratitude even amid the hardest pains. Most of my tears were just that… thankfulness… to my birthing team, to my baby, and to the Divine forces at work. I will post the full birth story later. Still processing.

Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On TwitterVisit Us On Pinterest