Thursday, October 9, 2014

Postpartum Depression Update

It's been almost 7 weeks since I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. You can read all about that here. And though the Zoloft was tempting, it appears that my natural remedies (and just straight up endurance) paid off, and now, I feel like the fog is lifting.

I think it has A LOT to do with this smile....




The Formula Dilemma

Researching formula, it seems that every mom-blog about it starts with an epilogue of guilt. "I just tried and tried to breastfeed, but he wouldn't latch," or "I really did everything I could to breastfeed, but my milk just didn't come in." Ok, moms - drop the breastfeeding guilt! Yes, it's a great way to pump your kid full of antibodies, and it's cheap as hell, but what if you just plain don't want to be a milk machine for your newborn? That's ok! Especially with the high rate of postpartum depression; a little freedom can go a LONG way.

So, I will spare you my excuses for why breastfeeding didn't last very long for me (2.5 months, to be exact). Bottom line, formula happened. I went straight for organic, but guess what? It constipated him worse than that first time in the bathroom, right after I give birth....I digress. Plus, organic formulas are major GMO/chemical offenders, too!! That USDA label doesn't mean much these days (that's why now, I'm like, "Farmer's Market - FTW!") If you wanna read something freaky, here's a great comparison of organic formulas and which ones have more bad stuff than others (spoiler alert - they're ALL guilty).

Necessary evil?
The constipation issue was solved when we found Enfamil GentleEase in the ready-to-use bottles (I think the powder form of most formulas had a lot to do with backing babies up). How I loved the fact that William was no longer in pain! But how I loathed the fact that not only were we pumping him full of non-organic milk and chemicals, but also littering the Earth with plastic bottles (that we recycled, but still...)

My DIY formula
I refused to believe THIS was William's only option. Thank goodness for Google! (Hours, and hours, of Google...). I finally found a recipe for formula that jived with all my ideals. It's a twist on the Meyenberg Goat's Milk recipe (and I've already told you all the ways in which I love goat's milk, but mainly, it's just easier for human bodies to digest it than cow's milk i.e. closer to breastmilk than just about anything else out there.) 

This is the recipe I made (pasted below), and William is eating it up! It's all organic, his burps aren't followed by a river of spit-ups, and his bowel movements are regular! Hallelujah! Sure, I have to make a batch almost daily, but it's wayyyy cheaper (about 50 bucks to gather all the ingredients, which will last you MONTHS! I'd spend 50 bucks on two weeks' worth of formula!).

From PTthirty1.com:
"This recipe makes 32 oz. of goat milk formula – or 4-8 oz bottles.  I put all the ingredients in my Ninja blender, then pour in a 32 oz container, seal and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.  Here’s what I use and why:
  1. 4 tbsp powdered goat milk – I first purchased powdered goat milk at a local health food store.  I have since discovered it is sold at Whole Foods and I’ve recently found it online at Amazon.   It is cheapest on Amazon ($9.07 per 12 oz can) plus shipping is free.  Additionally, you get a 5% discount if you enable autoship in which you can pre-order the milk for up to 6 month increments.
    The Meyenberg brand is the only brand I’ve found and it works great!  It is fortified with folic acid and vitamin D as an added bonus for babies.  I have also used store-bought goat milk and diluted it using a 1:1 milk/water ratio (for this recipe, that would be 2 cups goat milk to 2 cups water).  I have read that evaporated goat milk can also be used.
  2. 4 tsp organic coconut oil – Coconut oil is the most abundant natural source of an essential saturated fat called lauric acid which is found in high amount in breast milk.  In fact, breast milk is the only other natural source that contains such a high amount of lauric acid.  Lauric acid helps to destroy bacteria, viruses and fungus in the body.  As well,coconut oil is known for regulating blood sugar and thyroid function.
    I have always kept coconut oil as a kitchen staple.  This was a plus because the initial investment for goat milk formula ingredients can be pricey albeit worth it.  Not having to purchase coconut oil was great!  I purchase my coconut oil fromAmazon as well because I can usually take advantage of free shipping.  I pay about $9 for a 15 oz container of coconut oil.  I know this is sacrilege for me, but I have never done price comparison shopping for coconut oil so if you think you can find it cheaper elsewhere, you probably can :).
  3. 4 tsp organic sunflower oil (alternative: extra virgin olive oil) –Sunflower oil (and olive oil) provide monounsaturated fats and vitamin E.  Unsaturated fats balance blood cholesterol.  Sunflower oil has significantly more vitamin E than olive oil, but olive oil contains more vitamin K than sunflower oil.  I prefer sunflower oil for the milder flavor/scent in the infant formula.  Since both provide enough essential unsaturated fats and vitamins, and we are adding a multivitamin to the formula (keep reading), both oils will work.  I have also read where the oil can be omitted.
    Like most households, extra virgin olive oil is a staple in my kitchen.  I buy it blindly when I shop at low-price leader grocery stores and don’t pay much attention to price.  I’ve even found it at Aldi and Walmart.  Sunflower oil, on the other hand, was much more difficult to get my hands on.  I found it at Whole Foods for about $5 for a 16 oz bottle.  Sunflower oil can also be purchased on Amazon.
  4. 4 tbsp organic agave nectar (alternative: organic 100% maple syrup, brown rice syrup) – The sugar and high carbohydrate content found in agave nectar are necessary for brain growth.  Forty percent of the calories from breast milk come from carbohydrates called lactose.  A breast milk substitute, therefore, would have to be high in carbs as well.
    I have been buying agave nectar in bulk at Costco since I have startedplant-based eating.  It is much sweeter than regular sugar so I use less of it, and therefore, it lasts a lot longer.  I cannot recall how much I paid for it (since I’ve had it for so long).  I do know that it is sold in most grocery stores.  I also keep maple syrup as a kitchen staple for plant-based eating.  I am not particularly fond of maple syrup’s taste as a condiment.  However, it works fine as sugar substitutes in most baked ingredients.  Like agave nectar, 100% maple syrup can be found at almost any grocery store including Walmart.  I’ve found it the cheapest at Aldi for about $4.
  5. 1/2 tsp unsulphured blackstrap molasses – This provides B-vitamins, iron, calcium and trace minerals.  Molasses also helps with alleviate constipation.  I have not had a problem with this amount, but decrease the amount if stools are too loose.
    I found molasses at Walmart and thought I struck gold.  When I got it home, I realized it was notunsulphured blackstrap molasses and the two differ by processing method.  I found the unsulphured molasses at Whole Foods.
  6. 1/2 tsp infant probiotic strain – I had always heard of probiotic in my favorite yogurt products before now, but never paid much attention to it.  Breast milk is extremely high in probiotics.  Probiotics improve digestive functions and boost the good bacteria in our bodies to fight the bad bacteria which prevents infection.  Breast milk contains numerous probiotic strains including lactobacillus genus, lactobacillus gasseri and lactobacillus fermentu.
    The infant probiotic comes in a vitamin bottle and is a powdery substance so it’s easy to add to liquids and foods.  I found a brand by Maxi Baby Care at Whole Foods.  It can also be purchased at Amazon, GNC, Vitamin Shoppe and most health food stores.
  7. 4 tsp natural infant liquid multivitamins (or proportioned amount per package directions and amount of milk being made) – This adds in all the missing and extra vitamins your infant needs.  If you are adding this to his/her daily diet already, I would not advise including this in the formula too.
    I found a multivitamin brand by Maxi Baby Care at Whole Foods.  It can also be purchased at Amazon, GNC, Vitamin Shoppe and most health food stores.  Poly-vi-sol is another popular infant vitamin brand and it can be found at Walmart.
  8. 32 oz warm nursery or filtered water – Goat milk powder is harder to dissolve in cold water than store-bought formula.  Make sure your water is hot or warm for better mixing and clump-free formula."

Enjoy! And remember, stop with the breastfeeding guilt. :)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Post-baby Body

'Just four months after giving birth, take a look at her post-baby bod!' touts E! News anchor Guiliana Rancic as new mom Kerry Washington steps down the red carpet, her figure as petite as the statue she might win tonight.

'Whats your secret?' G asks once Kerry meets her on the aisle.

'A lot of working out,' the actress announces, as if she practiced in the mirror.

Me, curious about my own 'post-baby body'
Then Megan Fox, just two months post-partum, tells a tabloid her slim post-baby body comes from a strict paleo diet.

Now, if I, almost two months post-partum as well, can barely stand the pressure of regaining that pre-baby body... for these Hollywood actresses, the expectation looming over them must be suffocating.

Those three months after the baby aren't called the 'fourth trimester' for nothing. Dealing with the round-the-clock demands of a newborn, lacking sleep and energy, and experiencing extreme hormone changes calls for a hibernation of sorts - to cope and recover. And while 'working out' (light exercise like walking and yoga) is certainly prescribed by experts to help new moms stabilize, it is definitely NOT the first thing we are apt to do in between diaper changes, and our bodies aren't truly meant to do it heavily until at least 6 months. So, it's slightly bothersome that anyone is expected to 'bounce back' even within a year of giving birth.

I have been very grateful for compliments about my post-baby body, but irked that THAT's what new moms are applauded for. We just created life, and nearly died pushing it out! I'm still a little proud of this weirdly loose abdomen...don't make me scrutinize it yet! I haven't even fully processed birth, let alone thought about erasing all signs of pregnancy.

Sorry if this sounds rant-y; I just hope we can be a little gentler in our expectations of new moms and their ever-vulnerable 'post-baby bodies.'


Saturday, September 6, 2014

How Does a Yoga Teacher get Postpartum Depression?

I'm the only yoga teacher I know, who's depressed.

Tears came when, during my 6-week postpartum checkup, that little postpartum depression survey concludes that I am one of the 20% of mothers suffering from it. My midwife prescribes Zoloft against my will; assures me that it's worked miracles for moms, and that I'd likely only have to use it short-term.

Dude. I don't even take Tylenol. I had an unmedicated birth for a reason.

Hesitation and fear are written all over my face.

"You don't have to suffer," she almost pleads with me. "You don't have to do this alone."

Postpartum Depression affects 20% of mothers.
Photo ©Yoga Parties by Amanda, LLC
Two weeks ago, I was fine. Overwhelmed, but fine. But when William's four-week birthday came along, I found myself dreading, fearing, anticipating, well, EVERYTHING. It was fine when Chris was home, but when he went to work, I'd sit frozen in fear of putting Will in his carseat to go to the store. 

What if he's uncomfortable? What if he cries in the car? What if he doesn't like his carseat? are all thoughts I'd have. I think you can guess if I ever ended up going to the store.

Then it got even worse. Once I made it into the shower, I never wanted to get out. One day, I woke up and laid there like a corpse, and had the (now terrifying) thought that, I wish I was one. I noticed how often I was crying. I'd dream of drinking all day or anything else that would numb my emotions. I didn't know how to accept my now 100-percent-different life. I didn't think I could balance caring for both of us. I just had this overwhelming sense that everything would go wrong; that every day, I'd be this shower-less, starving wreck of a woman, bouncing a crying baby on my hip, sitting in the filth of a tornado-wrecked house.

Wait, what am I talking about "had?" I STILL FEEL THIS WAY!

I know these thoughts are irrational. And I do a decent job of putting on a brave face, being nice to my husband, making googly eyes at the baby, interacting with friends when they come over, dragging myself out of the house to grab something from the store. But it's hard. Not just to have PPD, but that I was so sure I'd never get it. I mean, I eat all organic. I do yoga. I freakin' meditate, for crying out loud! Depressed people don't do any of that!

I know I need help, but I cannot bring myself to take the anti-depressants.

What I'm about to say only pertains to postpartum depression, not depression. Plus, I am not a doctor, so don't take what I say as medical advice. AND I'm not judging anyone for taking medication or telling them it's wrong - in fact, many people say it is what cured them. But let me proceed with my opinion.

Some doctors tell you postpartum depression is caused by an imbalance in your "brain chemistry" or "serotonin levels." That is a theory, and, according to a new study, may not have anything to do with serotonin at all. Other doctors tell you that PPD is caused by environmental/social/emotional factors such as unrealistic expectations, lack of support, and more. Well, if anti-depressants are only addressing the brain chemistry theory (by increasing your serotonin levels), what if my PPD is caused by the other factors? I'd be messing with something that ain't broke! Plus, the sertraline in most anti-depressants carry a risk of serotonin syndrome, and have not been around long enough to know what long-term risks may exist.

So, meds are out for me. I'd love love LOVE to start feeling better, like my midwife and several friends have told me I will if I take the meds, but I just can't. It's been one week since my diagnosis, and this is what, I'm learning, helps me.

1. The knowledge that PPD is, by all accounts, temporary
2. Therapy. I'm going to my first support group next week, and continue one-on-ones with the amazing Kim Smart.
3. Kava Kava, Passion Flower, and Valerian root (all natural "calming" herbs - you can buy at Whole Foods) - The Kava and Valerian have a more tangible effect, I've noticed. Here's a list of other natural supplements that could help. Some people even swear by small amounts of marijuana (too much can make PPD worse).
4. Yoga. Even though it gives me anxiety to set the baby up in his swing (thinking he might cry and interrupt my yoga at any moment), I fight through it and feel massive relief once I start moving. If you don't know yoga, you can find a ton of free videos on YouTube and free subscription sites like DoYogaWithMe.com. Yoga has been scholastically proven to help treat depression.
5. Hot showers with drops of essential oils on the shower floor. The warmth relaxes muscles, and oils provide aromatherapy. Some of my favorite scents are (uplifting) lemon, orange and grapefruit, and (calming) lavendar and clary sage. Since this is a must-do-daily sort of thing, the other day, I took a shower with the baby in his bouncy seat right outside the curtain. You do what you've gotta do.
6. Walks/Being Outdoors. Getting outside and knowing there is a world outside my dark little head. The sun feels so good, too! Doctors often recommend light therapy for depression.
7. Friends! I feel so withdrawn that it takes everything in my being to accept a visit, but once I do, I am so happy I did! Friends commiserate, allow you to vent without judgement, get you to LAUGH! Laughter SAVES me.
8. On that note, have a BUDDY. A buddy to call you and nudge you to go on a walk, to the store, even to get out of bed. My buddy is my husband, but I have to be really careful about using him as a crutch, and even a punching bag. But his encouraging words in the morning really help to get me putting my pants on one leg at a time.
9. Eat fresh foods, and drink tons of water and tea. I've noticed heavy foods don't do anything for me, same with caffeine (the come-down is more noticeable with PPD, I think). When you eat foods that are "alive," I think that transfers a little extra good energy into that bod.
10. Cuddle and laugh with that baby! Your baby doesn't have depression, so be inspired by their radiant light! I will read to him, or try to make him giggle. And, of course, kiss, kiss, kiss those chubby cheeks! Even writing about it cheers me up!

Postpartum depression is real, and it sucks (man, women really get the shit end of the stick with all this motherhood stuff). But this hopeless feeling is temporary, and there is relief. We can do this. We're women, after all. ;)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Birth Story

...
My eyes are rolling back in my head. The pain - thundering through my entire being. I am completely at its mercy. I'm in a bathtub, I know that much, and a crowd of faces surround me. Except I really can't establish whose faces; I am more seeing auras. And if I think I'm about to die NOW - in hour 8 - just WAIT till we get to hour 9, 10 and 11.

Hard to imagine less than 12 hours ago, Chris and I are making pancakes together, giddy with excitement at each small contraction. It's finally here. 6 days past due date. Chris and I had been doing EVERYTHING we possibly could all weekend to get labor started (not to mention a false alarm at the hospital the night before). But now, 4 a.m. Monday morning, it's the real deal.

I've got my yoga background; my deep breathing DOWN, I think to myself. This is going to be EASY. I've chosen a non-medicated birth for this reason - my confidence - as well as wanting to be aware of when my body tells me to do something, and possibly even prevent complications.

Chris and I run some errands before casually checking in at St. Mark's around noon. "Are you in pain?" asks the check-in nurse.

No, I thought, but I'm having contractions, and I don't want you to send me home, so I say yes.

"Good, we'll get you all settled into your room."

We get settled into our room. I lay out all my comforts that I think I'm going to use during labor. Music. "The Lego Movie." My stuffed animal. Essential oils.

Midwife comes in and breaks my water. Chris and I then go for a walk to get him coffee at the hospital cafe. I start doubling over with contractions on our return trip. Back in the room, my midwife gives me Clary Sage oil to rub all over my tummy. I do that. 10 seconds later, I'm in the bathroom and my body COMPLETELY cleans itself out, if you know what I mean. It's amazing how the body works. It doesn't want you to worry about going to the bathroom during labor or delivery.

Right after that, I am IN IT. I come out of the bathroom, and I am moaning. I kind of stop remembering at this point, because it's the same type of thing for the next few hours to come. I know I'm on the bed on all fours, and when I have a contraction, I moan as midwife, chris, my mom and the nurse rub my back and press on my hips. I have zillions of these, so it's amazing how dilligent they were at making me comfortable for, gee, 11 hours? I am so impressed. Eventually, I go the bathtub, which hurts to sit on the hard floor so I yell, and Chris holds my back, which is on fire. This could have been going on for hours. It's bad pain. I want to die. I think I can't handle it. I look at Chris and he has tears in his eyes, seeing me like this. I yell. LOUD. For hours. the nurse tells me to "drop my octave," and grunt gutterally, which actually helps me push later (brings the energy down through your body. I'm back out of the bathtub. Midwife says I'm dilated to 9.5 but my cervix is still in the way. She has me sit so the pressure is ON the cervix. This is DEATH. After two hours of this, I start crying "Help me!" and whimpering and balling and saying I can't do it.

Did I mention I would puke throughout? The pain of the contractions were irritating me like a buzzsaw and then all of a sudden, the panicky need to puke? And heaving during a contractions? That was the worst.

I'm in this state of utter pain and chaos for three and a half hours. My mom says during this time, "transition," my contractions chart showed they were full blast, and right on top of each other (no breaks in between). Right now, I'm naked, and push the midwife away when she tries to cover me up. I snap at Chris for whispering, "you're doing great, baby."

"Don't whisper!" I yell, feeling his words grating on my nerves.

This feeling that I had to go "no. 2" had been irritating me for an hour or so, and finally, it comes to the point where I think it's just gonna happen right there on the table (the thought of moving to the bathroom during a contraction was too much to comprehend).

"Turn away!" I yell at Chris, thinking I was about to have the most embarrassing moment of my life.

"What's wrong?" asks the midwife.

"I've gotta go to the bathroom!" I yell desperately. "Look away!"

"Oh, then you can start pushing! That's the baby coming!"

The idea alone that I had "progressed" to a new stage is enough to give me hope. I had been yelling for an epidural moments before this, thinking the pain was literally going to kill me if it lasted any longer. But pushing? This is new. I can do this.

With the contractions, still full-blast, i flip over on my back and instinctually prop my feet into the nurses hands. On the contraction, I push, and feel relief. I breathe, calming down, knowing that this would not be as hard as what I just went through. I know I can take my time here. So I breathe, and push. Chris, who formerly did not want to watch the baby come out, is right there in the action zone, coaching me to keep pushing. He sounds excited. It makes me feel encouraged. I push hard. I know that pushing this hard is doing something bad to my genitals, but I don't really care. I feel sharp pain as something that isn't supposed to rip, does. But I push on the contraction, because it feels better than sitting through the contraction. Chris is cheering me on. I know I'm not going to have a bowel movement on the table. So I feel safe, and know that I am going to see my baby soon.

Chris, my mom, the nurse, the midwife all emit some sort of sound that just sounds like pure joy to my ears, and I don't necessarily feel it physeically, but I know that his head is out. I am in shock. My legs are shaking HARD. I know that a few more pushes will get William into this world. I push even harder, the pain a distant feeling as I experience what feels like a bowl of limbs tumble from me. He's out in 13 minutes.

There's crying, and I see a grey form being handed to me, but I don't so much look at him, as I  FEEL him. I will never forget how he felt. Slimy, just this bundle of limbs, warm. Vibrating from his cry. Whenever he cries now, and I'm about to get frustrated, I remember that moment and how he felt, and soften up at how as a team, we got him here.

I pull him to my chest and am hyperventilating. I hold him for just a moment before handing him to a tear-dampened Chris who just cut the cord and is now taking William off to get a bath or shots or something. I am still in shock. Everything has an aura. I cannot believe I am alive.

The next hours pass slowly, and surreally, as I am patched up and put in bed. As William is handed to be to nurse, and as Chris and I drift to sleep for the first time as new parents.

During labor, I thought I would use all sorts of yoga breath, moves, different positions, my comforts...no. I used nothing but the sheer will not to kill myself. And I couldn't have done it without Chris. He was 100% present with me, at the expense of his own comfort (who doesn't eat or can press on my back for 11 hours?). Endurance is the only trait that comes in handy during a non-medicated labor. And I almost ran out. But if I am capable of surviving that, I can survive anything. And that thought has come up many times during recovery, emotional dips, and overall, just this whirlwind of new parenthood.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Why this Feminist is Anti-Birth Control

I was right there with the best of 'em...hootin' and hollerin' about the injustice towards women regarding the Hobby Lobby ruling.

Taking away a woman's right to free birth control ... we can't let the Man win this one!

Men don't get to decide whether a woman will get pregnant or not!

Men can't stop women from having recreational sex!

That's just wrong!

But as my OB/GYN wretched her wand inside of me, planting a copper IUD inside my most tender of organs (me, wincing and nearly fainting on the table, of course), I started singing a different tune.

I am totally anti-birth control.

Now, I still believe in a woman's right to decide whether she gets pregnant or not.

And to be able to have recreational sex.

I just am against birth control...the product. 

I have to put that, WHERE?
Why do I have to have a foreign object in my life-giving uterus, risking my life at the chance of proliferation (it poking a hole and making its way into your abdomen, which would require emergency surgery). 

Why do girls and women have to be subjected to the hormonal Black Friday of "the pill," facing weight gain, mood swings, and - with all those chemicals - possible carcinogens?

What about men?

Dudes - now, they get to whisper-on a condom. No overactive thyroid or achy nights of cramping and bleeding involved. 

Even in the "extreme" case, where they get "snipped," a vasectomy surgery is far less invasive for men than it is for a woman to get the "equivalent," tubal litigation. A male vasectomy is usually an outpatient procedure that takes less than half an hour, and has a recovery of a day or two, while the female procedure requires general anesthesia, hours or days in the hospital, and a recovery time that lasts for days. Males face almost no risk of complication, while females, according to VasCenters.com, face risks of perforation of the intestine, infection, complications from anesthesia and even pulmonary embolism. Common lasting effects can include painful menstrual cycles, pelvic pain and a controversial complication that is still under study, called "post tubal ligation syndrome."

So you think every dude would be the tail-wagging volunteer in the relationship. Nope, according to a study by the Center for Disease Control in 2002, about 16% of reproductive-age women had the surgery, versus 6% or men. A more recent statistic shows worldwide, 5 times more women get the surgery than men. 

I'm gonna have a bad taste in my vagina about birth control, at least until guys get to share more of the load (no pun intended). Invent the male IUD. Maybe like a urethra plug? Something needs to change, so that women aren't the ones having to solely bear the (often painful) responsibility of preventing pregnancy. 

Now if THAT were Hobby Lobby's argument, they may not have lost me as a shopper. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

My New Life

This pretty much sums it up:


(camped out on the couch, nursing 13 hours out of the day, Daisy at our side, etc.)

And if the boobage is freaking you out...I offer you this: