Category Archives: Womenhood & Motherhood

Dear Insurance Company…

Tea ~ Organic Peppermint Tea

To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing to appeal the following claims:

  1. MTHFR mouth swab test for Charles
  2. MTHFR mouth swab test for Wesley
  3. Boston Heart Diagnostics test for myself that includes MTHFR as well as “exclusive advanced risk and genotyping tests which aid in the selection of appropriate therapeutic options, and a comprehensive offering of lipid, lipoprotein, apolipoprotein, cardiometabolic, liver, kidney and muscle tests.”

These appear to be considered either out of network or that “there is insufficient evidence establishing that the service is generally accepted in the Medical Community and/or proven to be effective according to peer reviewed clinical literature and are not covered.” The most recent tests for Charles and Wesley were to confirm that they indeed have the same MTHFR C677T gene mutation that I learned in December that I have through a completely out of pocked broad spectrum genetic test through Genomix Nutrition. I have 1 copy of this mutation and I believe that as a result of the compromised function of what is called the methylation cycle had become very ill due to a reduced ability to detox and reduce inflammation by 30-40%, resulting in Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. And Charles also has 1 copy of this SNP like I do plus 1 copy of MTHFR A1298C, reducing his ability to detox and reduce inflammation by 50-60%, but what I feared and suspected based on Wesley (currently 10 months old) and his frequent ear infections, reflux and sinus issues even though he was born vaginally at a healthy 10 lbs. and 10 oz. and is exclusively breastfed (sounds like a picture of health, right?) is that he has 2 copies of this gene mutation, reducing his ability to detox and reduce inflammation by 70-80%! He should not be picking up every single little virus and bug that floats around. At 10 months old, he already has a compromised immune system. He was born 4 days after his due date, no complications. He also gets extremely constipated or vomits whenever he eats an enriched food product containing folic acid. See more on folic acid below.

17098063_10101894313253174_6118436822135273751_o

If you look back in my file at June and July of 2014, I got really sick starting 3 months postpartum with Charles in about April of that year with stomach cramps after eating eggs, then it was butter. I chalked it up to new food allergies, but eventually, it didn’t matter what I ate. Eating anything gave me stomach cramps. I ended up in the ER in June after throwing up my breakfast on the CTA in Chicago and nearly fainting, all while carrying my 5 month old in a baby carrier on my front by myself. Conventional medicine said there was nothing they could do for me, until I insisted on an ultrasound, which determined it was that my gallbladder needed to be removed even though I had NONE of the classic symptoms of gallbladder disease other than stomach cramps for 4 hours after eating. Nevertheless, my gallbladder was removed in July and things improved. Fast forward to having Wesley in June 2016 and by September, I was having the exact same pain, in the same spot, with the same foods, for the same 4 hour duration after eating eggs, then butter, then it didn’t matter what I ate, it made me very sick. By October, I was lying on the floor after eating asking my 2.5 year old to bring me my phone to call someone for help. So the thing that was fixed by the removal of my gallbladder was not the fix for the problem after all, only a bandaid. I don’t have a gallbladder anymore, so now what do I do? I’m a 6’0” tall former division 1 volleyball player and coach and I still play sand doubles all summer long. I’m in great shape, but now, I’m 15 lbs UNDERWEIGHT and look extremely unhealthy. Why is that?

The genetic testing that you currently do not cover has given me more light into how my body functions and the folate (B9) deficiency that I have that is required to give my body energy to run all of it’s systems and I believe has caused my autoimmune diseases as a result. Did you know that those with MTHFR gene mutations should NOT take birth control pills because it blocks B vitamin absorption and clogs up the methylation cycle? That would have been fantastic information 10 years ago when I saw more and more issues pop up and the beginning of my health decline. If an estimated 40-50% of the US population has at least 1 of these mutations, don’t you think it would be a good idea and in the interest of BCBS to test these women before writing a prescription for hormonal birth control of any kind in order to save you money on ER visits that appear to be from food poisoning or flu (this happened to me in 2008), new allergies like silicon contact lenses and food sensitivities (started in 2010 and more and more piled up each year) and even infertility (lack of a period for 10 months between September 2011 and July 2012, lack of ovulation for another 9 months after that). I was prescribed birth control to “fix” the fact that I was not having a menstruation cycle in the first place. I asked “why?” back then and I’m so thankful that I did and I did not start taking birth control again in 2012 after I had stopped taking it in 2010 due to the side effects I was having. Birth control is a bandaid just covering up the problem. I had a full allergy panel in 2015 and actually have very few true allergies. These are not allergies, I’ve learned, these are inflammatory responses and sensitivities because I cannot reduce inflammation or detox efficiently and effectively. Stomach cramps? Inflammatory response to food. And guess what else? In the ER in December of 2015 from uncontrollable vomiting, the doctor diagnosed it as morning sickness. I know the difference between morning sickness nausea (which I had been taking Diclegis for and it had been very helpful; oh hello, B vitamins!). This is all a result of toxin buildup and inability to detox. I believe that those with MTHFR are extremely sensitive to toxins, metals and chemicals – on our food, in our water, and even the ethyl mercury and aluminum containing vaccines which are injected into pregnant women without ever having been tested on pregnant women. Women who are supposed to have a DTaP and flu shot every single pregnancy. Why are we giving newborns the Hep B vaccine if we are already testing mom for Hep B during pregnancy? If mom is negative, then there is no reason to give a baby this vaccine until they might be sexually active. I am not against vaccines, I am opposed to injecting toxins into my body or the bodies of my children when we cannot process or remove the ingredients without harm or injury. These need more testing and need some major changes for me to feel comfortable with that. As I ended up in the ER in October after having only WATER that morning (“enriched” with fluoride and chlorine) and the ER doctor absolutely unable to do anything to help me, I am more convinced than ever that genetic testing is necessary. Most of the typical CBC labs will be normal for me and people like me. No one is listening when we say something is wrong with us and most conventional medicine hands you a pill, which doesn’t solve the problem. Medication does not fix vitamin and nutrient deficiencies. Medication does not fix malabsorption and malnutrition. When my IBS symptoms got overwhelming in October, I saw a GI surgeon and specialist. He was elderly and very overweight and said there was nothing I could do except take medication for the rest of my life. When I asked about diet, he said that would not help. How can that be? That with proper diet and nutrition I would not improve? Turns out that without enough thyroid hormone (Hashimoto’s) you cannot make enough stomach acid (IBS) and it requires a lot of your body’s energy to digest food, and where does that energy come from? B vitamins. So let’s stop treating symptoms in the ER and at the infertility clinic and start looking at root causes and asking “Why?” a lot more.

17917169_10101965829319404_9152168276060590737_o.jpg

So why appeal this claim? Because it is preventative care. It should have been preventative care 10 years ago for me. And this is now preventative care for my children who should not have to go through what I just went through. And it is now preventative care for my husband, because if Wesley has 2 copies for MTHFR c677t, that means that 1 came from mom and 1 from dad. What do I do to prevent this for them? Contrary to the lab results for my sons that say they should receive folic acid supplementation, that is outdated information. Those with MTHFR need to AVOID folic acid. Folic acid and folate are not the same thing. Folic acid is synthetic and cannot be used, absorbed and converted properly by those who already have a reduced ability to absorb and convert folate, again, just clogging up the methylation cycle and then resulting in many seemingly unrelated health issues. That is a big deal for women in pregnancy because we are recommended folic acid to prevent neural tube defects. While this has improved the instance of neural tube defects and other birth defects, for those with MTHFR (again, 40-50% of Americans), their babies are still at risk for those defects because of the lack of ability to absorb and convert folic acid into useable form. Methylfolate is what pregnant women should be taking as that covers all of the bases whether a woman has MTHFR folate deficiencies or not. I have seen great strides in children with autism or sensory processing spectrum disorders with simple methylfolate and methylcobalamin (B12) supplementation! I also supplement with methyl B12 injections weekly and they have helped tremendously. These are not covered by insurance as they are compounded. My thyroid medication for Hashimoto’s is also a compounded thyroid hormone (t3 & t4), not covered by insurance. I pay out of pocket for these, monthly, and they are very expensive. But worth it so I can be there for my children and not so fatigued I can barely get out of bed everyday, even if I’ve had 8, 10, or 12 hours of sleep and 1-3 naps per day. There’s a difference between being tired and being fatigued.

17388955_10101914194510974_7090749498380270717_o

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Sarah Amidon

Advertisements

Mothers Don’t Get Sick Days

Tea ~ Lonestar Chai
In a mug and in my oatmeal this morning

[Reflecting on surgery to remove my gallbladder 2 months ago while recovering from a major lower back injury from a bike accident. Throw in the process of moving just for kicks.]

Can you call it recovering when it gets worse everyday for a month and no amount of chiropractic adjustments or painkillers, prescribed or otherwise is relieving the pain? I was in this accident to avoid seriously injuring a toddler who was where they should not have been, unsupervised on a bicycle with training wheels on the lakefront bike path in Chicago during rush hour. Did I mention that this path sees 30,000 people a day during the summer months? I thank God that Z was not with me on my bike like he was the day before. And I will never again ride my bike in Chicago. It’s just not worth it.

For 5 weeks, this injury was worse than post-op, but also at the same time as post-op. I say to you – Don’t ever take your health for granted. We say or mean “health” as nonchalantly as “food” or “water” in our culture of privilege. It was the hardest 3 months of my life when the 4-hour stomach cramp episodes started out of nowhere in May. They increased in frequency, with a traumatic instance of vomiting and nearly fainting on the CTA red line and hitting my then 5-month-old’s head into the hand rail in the process of pushing my sweet guardian angel, Katie, an off-duty OB/GYN from Evanston, out of the way so I did not throw up on her while I handed him to a complete stranger. I also handed this stranger my phone and had my husband’s phone number up and ready to go should I indeed pass out. Greg picked me up at the next el stop to take me to the hospital. The ER nearly sent me home because my symptoms were gone after 4 hours of waiting, but not before I insisted on an ultrasound thanks to the suggestion of my brother, Phil, at breakfast that morning. Katie asked me if I was ok. I deliriously replied, “I need to have my gallbladder taken out.” She thought I sounded ridiculous. She also thought I was falling asleep before she came over to my side of the train to check on my baby and I.

Thankful for my health does not even begin to express that need as a mom. Mothers do not get sick days, especially nursing ones. I could not lift Zeke for 5 weeks. I could barely stand upright. I cried…a lot. I called my mom to come 2 days early before surgery because I couldn’t even take care of myself, let alone my baby. It was an extreme emergency. She couldn’t even understand me on the phone because I was sobbing so hard that it was difficult to make out any words. I’m so thankful for my mom! She is perhaps the coolest, most selfless person I know and one of my best friends. My parents are such a blessing! My childhood best friend, Kim, also came to do the heavy lifting for a few days all the way from Baltimore. Greg tried to work from home as much as he could while transitioning to his new job in Indiana.

Looking back on it, I’m not sure how I made it through all of this. Strength and healing from the Lord sustained me through all of your prayers. I’m so thankful to be PAIN FREE. No stomach cramping, no back issues. It’s been about a month without pain. I can run, bike, lift moving boxes from room to room and wear my baby! I think I missed wearing him the most – at the grocery store, going for walks, out on adventures and hiking. It’s the easiest way to bring him contentment. But don’t ever take your health for granted; you can lose it in a second.

If nothing else, I want to stay healthy for this guy!

If nothing else, I want to stay healthy for this guy!

Be encouraged!

Zeke’s Birth Story

Photo by Jaclyn Simpson Photography
Tea ~ Pomegranate Blueberry

Happy 3 months to this guy, Charles Ezekiel! 3 months is really about what it takes to come up for air from what is most certainly the beginning of a life changing experience. The first month, you are so sleep deprived that you don’t really know what’s going on. The second month, you realize that this is your life now, for better or for worse, so you’d better get used to it. And by the 3rd month, you’ve developed some routines and at least for me, the adoration for this little person who looks just like my husband grows immensely and I’m excited for him to wake up each morning and give me that big smile and know that I’m his favorite person in the world right now. Not forever, but at least for now. I’m ok with taking pride in that for this very short and temporary stage of his life.

So how did Zeke get here? Z’s due date was on January 4th, and until a few days before, I had zero signs of labor, not even Braxton-Hicks contractions. We selfishly wanted him to come over Christmas break & before New Year’s, both because life slows down around the holidays and it would be easy for Greg to miss work and enjoy it and for insurance deductible and tax purposes, that would have been nice! But not at the expense of potentially a completely different labor and delivery experience. On the 3rd, I had 10 hours of contractions every 2-4 minutes, so I went in to the hospital to be examined. 80% effaced and 0% dilated. No one told me they should be strong contractions, just that they should be close together and consistent. I got sent home, disappointed and grieving and also feeling like I had wasted everyone’s time. No other signs of labor for another week and there was a scheduled date for testing and possible induction since I was at 41 weeks and 42 is the end of the line. 41 weeks, day 1 came and went. I even went to a Traffick Free Praxis Month event that I figured I would not be able to go to.

Ready for the Traffick Free event!

Off to the Traffick Free event! Taken about 30 hours before delivery.

3:15am on January 12th, as I was about to get out of bed to use the restroom like I usually did around that time since pregnancy started, I felt a gush and I slinked off the bed just as my water broke. Well, I guess it’s go-time, no doubt about it! My parents were already at our place waiting with us and I woke up Greg with the good news. Thankfully we had already done the “get everything together and get to the hospital” trial run, so we weren’t as anxious to forget anything. Since my water leaked every time I moved, and I had some concern for cord prolapse as that can happen when your water breaks, I stayed in the shower on my hands and knees until Greg was packed and ready and I called the hospital during that time. My contractions hadn’t started at this point, so my midwife said they may have to induce me with pitocin. I was sad to hear that because I wanted a natural childbirth experience, but I understood with the chance of infection increasing the longer we waited to deliver. But by the time we got to the hospital, the contractions started and my midwife didn’t see a need to induce and would just let it run its course. Oddly enough, the midwife who examined me 9 days prior in triage, was the same one who would deliver me.

There are 9 midwives at Swedish Covenant, so I was surprised and excited since I enjoyed Libby’s upbeat personality. Libby asked one of the nurses before coming in if I was mad that she had sent me home. Of course not! Why would I want to hang out at the hospital with no baby coming? At least this time I skipped triage and went right to my labor & delivery room! Soon after getting to my room, an announcement came over the PA, “The coffee is ready in the break room.” We all cheered!

Hair up for this event!

Hair up for this show!

I knew going in that I would have to have an IV because I was Group B Strep Positive (bacteria that everyone has in their gut at one point or another, but if there is enough of it, it can give the baby an infection when passing through the birth canal) and needed antibiotics administered every 4 hours. Not a huge deal, I would get unhooked after each round to labor freely as I needed to. Unfortunately, it became a huge deal. The antibiotics burned going in and hurt more than my contractions at that point, so they had to slow it down. It took 2 hours for the antibiotics to go in the first round. And then they made me incredibly nauseous. I was so glad when that first round was over so I could focus on laboring and moving around, going for walks, etc. And then I kept throwing up. For the next 12 hours. I couldn’t keep anything down, not even water or tea. It was really starting to wear on me. My midwife said it was rare to have nausea from IV antibiotics and that she hadn’t seen this before. I’ve heard the, “this is rare, I’ve never seen this before,” thing a lot in my life. I’m just that lucky. Having contractions is one thing, having contractions and throwing up before, during or after them is quite another. It was hard to get out of bed at all. I took a shower to maybe get some relief and it seemed to help. I broke down and cried in the bathroom after that and asked Greg to pray for me, I was just having a hard time. I was so hungry and so tired and so nauseous all at the same time while the contractions kept coming. Then a doctor walked in, looked at me mid-contraction and introduced herself. She said, “are you ready to go home now?” What?! “Why?” I whimpered. I was doing so well and progressing I thought, I didn’t want to be sent home again! Then the doctor realized she was in the wrong room and apologized profusely. Sigh of relief.

Laboring with Ashley

Laboring with Ashley

At about 3:15pm, my midwife checked my cervix and I was 90% effaced and 4 cm dilated. After 12 hours of this, that was IT?! I was this empty shell of a person from all the vomiting. It was becoming routine to ask someone to hand me the bucket in the middle or end of a contraction. They said I handled it like a champ, though. So after that check, I was seriously considering throwing in the towel on this whole natural thing because of the throwing up. I couldn’t handle exhaustion from that and labor at the same time. I looked at Greg with desparation and asked him what he thought because, after all, he is the head of our household and this was his experience too and he knew what I really wanted. Our code word for drugs was “Santa’s got a brand new bag.” I was ready to say it. He said, “4 is a heck of a lot closer to 10 than it is to 0.” I didn’t see it. The diagram on the wall that showed the size of each centimeter circle, it was not my friend right now. All I could think was that 4 rounds closer down to 0 than up to 10. But he & my mom asked if there was perhaps some sugar water and anti-nausea meds through the IV they could give me to help with relief of the symptoms. There was, yay!

Greg was a great coach! And my Pretty Pushers dress was amazing!

The first anti-nausea meds didn’t work. The second, Zofran, was amazing! FINALLY! The nausea subsided from the antibiotics. I still threw up on occasion from an intense contraction here and there, but not to the degree it was before. Now that I could labor without any distraction, I could even sleep! I slept on and off for about an hour. My contractions had let up and slowed down to every 5 minutes so I could rest. That was such a relief and a huge blessing to have that time. Greg even got to nap while my mom and Ashley (my doula) helped with massage, water and bucket-holding support. When I woke up from resting, I knew I could do it. That sugar water saved me! I had some energy again! I was ready to move around and get going. I thought I would bounce on the birthing ball a bit, but as soon as I sat on it, I jumped back up. Zeke was sitting SO low that it was incredibly uncomfortable. Even standing was so much pressure that it was hard to walk. I was back in bed and continued to labor on my right side where it was comfortable for me. Libby checked me again and at 5pm, I was 5 cm. By 5:30 I was at 8cm and I wanted to push, but she told me to wait a little bit longer if I could.

A little after 6pm I was at 10cm and ready to push. I had an army of people surrounding me and encouraging me, holding my legs, reminding me to breathe and make noise in low tones instead of high squeaky ones because they were more productive. Visualizing waves washing over me was not at all helpful for me because I could not get out of reality. I wish the waves worked! Massage oils and diffusing lavender were great and we had the lights turned down low and had battery candles around the room for a calming ambiance to go along with our Josh Garrels Pandora station. At one point, Libby told me to reach down and feel my baby’s head and I kept saying “My baby…my baby…my baby,” after I felt that full head of hair. Some other chants included, “Ohhhhh boy, ohhhhhh boy,” and felt that “Ring of Fire,” I had read about. I was in transition for about 20 minutes with 2-3 pushes and he was here! Greg caught him and everyone cried! Everyone but me. Even the baby cried & screamed non-stop! I wish I could cry like I always do when I watch movies and documentaries where babies are born, but I was too happy (and tired)! They put him immediately on my chest and I couldn’t believe how big he was. I was under the impression from some previous midwife appointments that he would be more my size (at 7 lbs.) than Greg’s size (at 8 lbs. 12 oz. at 3 weeks early). Zeke weighed 8 lbs. 12 oz. just like his daddy (but 8 days late)! He was bright red and received an Apgar score of 9 (no one scores a 10). We held him for about an hour and nursed within the first 20 minutes before they weighed and measured him.
1052211_628085035683_835614266_o

1025571_625531897193_1782956472_o

Great memories for me were how great my support team was. Seriously, who you have in that room with you will make all the difference. I was so happy and honored to have my husband, my good friend Ashley to serve as my doula with having 2 girls & a variety of labor & delivery experiences, and both of my parents present. It was really special having my mom & dad there because my mom was never able to have vaginal and natural births the way she wanted to, she had to have 3 c-sections. I was so thankful to be able to labor and deliver without pain medication. Zeke was so alert from the first moment he arrived and I was happy to avoid the risk of complications, because if they were to happen to anyone, they would happen to me. It was amazing to experience the miracle of birth as God intended it and that I had studied both Scripture and pregnancy books on the subject. [Read Part 1 & Part 2 of my previous blog posts on this based on my research, its pretty interesting]

And nursing has been really special and continues to be. I’ll write more on what I’ve learned later. But I would have to say that breastfeeding was harder (at least for me) than labor and delivery. Perhaps because it lasts a lot longer than 15 hours. 6 weeks of breastfeeding bootcamp is pretty intense with a newborn relying on your progress, but man, you come to the other side of it SO proud of yourself!

Thanks everyone for the love and support. We love our little Zeke and look forward to making many more memories together as a family! If you haven’t seen our video slideshow introducing our little cutie pie, you’re in for a treat!

Photo by Jaclyn Simpson Photography

Photo by Jaclyn Simpson Photography

Having a Baby is Like Studying for a Test – Part 2: Pain Management

Tea ~ Orange Swirl Rooibos

This is Part 2 of 2 – Read Part 1 here
I think every woman fears being a mom at one point or another. Is it becoming a parent we fear, or is it childbirth we fear? For me, it’s the latter. Pop culture does an excellent job of exaggerating life and life events, sometimes funny and sometimes not so funny. The problem with it is that it morphs into our perception of reality. Let’s take pornography, for example. If your child’s first introduction into sexual relationships between 2 people is the porn they’ve run across on the internet or that a friend shows them at their house? It makes sense that this becomes the foundation on which they build their expectations for future intimate relationships. And no one has told them otherwise – – that IT’S NOT REAL! Setting yourself up for failure, my friend.

Our culture has made it the norm during childbirth to receive an epidural, with anywhere from 60-80% of first time moms in the US opting to receive one. But why is that? With my recent history of extreme reactions to not only drugs, but allergic reactions to foods, I question a lot of things that go into my body. We discovered in April that I have a gluten intolerance, and we’re pretty sure it was causing infertility for at least the previous 1.5 years, because I got pregnant right after giving it up after trying every non-drug method and treatment leading up to that point. We even went to a fertility clinic just to get blood tested and see what my hormone levels were. Before I had a single drop drawn (13 vials to be exact), the doctor sat us down to give us our options – we could start Clomid or move on to IUI or IVF. Whoa whoa whoa, slow down, sister! We don’t even know what’s WRONG and immediately you want to pump me with drugs to fix “something?” You’re fired. We did not return.

After having a thyroid antibodies test done to reveal an intolerance to gluten (not to be confused with having Celiac’s Disease or to be tested for that, it would be negative), it makes perfect sense that if your body & thyroid are working overtime with the digestive system to break down & process things it can’t, what’s the one body system that is the least “necessary” and may not function properly until everything else is up and running as it should? The reproductive system. We even had an MRI done because we were concerned there was something wrong with my pituitary gland in my brain, or maybe even a tumor. There wasn’t, and never once did my neurologist ask me about my diet, something that I suggested when I called to cancel my follow up appointment after discovering the gluten allergy and ruling out a neurological problem. Symptoms of gluten intolerance for me included:  migraines, fatigue (never felt rested, even after 10 hours of sleep), anxiety, constipation and infertility. Symptoms of a gluten intolerance can be anything, by the way. It’s a good place to start (or any food allergy) if you are having chronic issues of any kind. I was 10x more fatigued on gluten than I am pregnant, if you can believe it! Do I miss bread & pastries? Of course I do! But do I want to be healthy and feel well, or do I want to eat gluten? Not a hard decision to make, and I am so thankful I had a diagnosis I could do something about! How did we get so careless about what we put into our bodies? Don’t get me wrong, I still love a good dose of artificial colors every now and then – love fruity candies…hey, they ARE gluten free, after all.

Scripture is pretty clear about our curses from The Fall in Genesis. My fear comes from this as well:

“Then he said to the woman, “I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth. And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.” And to the man he said, “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.” – Genesis 3:16-19

I can tell you from personal experience of basically being pre-menopausal for 10 months (no period whatsoever, no real hormonal changes either) that the “desire to control your husband” is what we call PMS. That bitchy-ness we all get monthly, that is part of our curse. Someone asking if it was “your time of the month” based on my behavior used to offend me. After I did not experience those up’s and down’s, Greg & I can call it what it is. As painful as it was to be infertile, I’m so thankful for that time and for the truths of Scripture to shed light on my humanness. I encourage you to meditate on these verses in Genesis and shed light on how you handle your PMS and then call it what it is – part of your curse, and own up to it.

The other part of our curse as women is the pain in pregnancy & labor. If you are a Bible-believing Christian, let me ask you this:  have you ever considered being obedient to your curse? It says it right there in black and white that this WILL happen. Have you considered that by voluntarily and automatically (obviously there are exceptions to every pregnancy and birth) defaulting to pain-relieving medication, you are actually cheating yourself (and your spouse) of not only a rite of passage, but one of the most incredible God-given experiences of your life? I haven’t read a single book on this subject from a Christian perspective – I’ve read this pile of books in the photo above, none of them by Christian authors or scholars, and come to this conclusion based on both this Scripture in Genesis as well as what I read in these books and all the amazing things that God designed women’s bodies to do in response to pain during childbirth! Have you considered that we have these long labor phases (early, active, pushing, etc.) so that our brains can release pain managing hormones to ease our labor pains? If you get an epidural or other pain relief medication, you block these endorphins. And what’s worse is if it doesn’t take or work, you will be in far more pain than if you had never received them in the first place. No time for your body to catch up there! There is risk for what some women have called the worst headache they’ve ever had in their lives for hours, even days or weeks after giving birth with an epidural. Imagine the disruption in breastfeeding for you and your new baby (issues with breastfeeding is another risk, even without the headache). If you have an epidural, you cannot move around into positions that seem innate to you to labor in, you have to remain in  your bed as you will not be able to feel your legs (though you can try to move into positions in your bed to labor and deliver, but labor will most likely slow down if you are not moving around. Keep moving!).

I am really excited to not only see what I am able to do in labor and delivery and hopefully come to the other side with a new sense of empowerment and confidence in myself and what my body can do, but I am just as excited to give Greg an opportunity to take an active role in the process! He’s going to be an amazing coach and father! Why do I want to cheat him of that opportunity? One of the videos we watched in a birthing class that was going through different birthing options showed a woman laboring with an epidural. When she got her epidural, she slept and rested and her labor slowed drastically, forcing the nursing staff to give her pitocin (a drug that mimics oxytocin to increase uterine contractions). She went back and forth with her epidural and pitocin doses just to deliver her baby, and she couldn’t feel her urge to push with the epidural (Note:  This video was in no way trying to convince us that one way of labor was better than another, these were just my personal observations). I turned to Greg and said, “Are we here to work, or are we here to take a nap?!”

Ladies, let me ask you another question. Do we not expect our spouses to go out and work to provide for our families? Go back and reread that passage in Genesis. What is the man’s curse? Firstly, Adam listened to his wife and ate from the tree God commanded them not to eat from. Is that not a constant temptation for men and fathers to just let women or their wives take on the leadership role? If you’ve been asking where the “real men” are in our culture these days, this is sin manifesting itself in their lives from Chapter 3 of God’s Word. The reality is, they are fighting their curse of lazy, self-centeredness as much as we are fighting our curse of controlling them and our world around us. And if we expect our husbands to be obedient in their curse of work and toil without taking shortcuts and looking for the easy way out, should we not be obedient in our curse of increased pain in labor and childbirth? While our pains may last as little as a few hours to our entire pregnancy (or multiple pregnancies), our husbands have 30-40 years of living out their curse and even longer for taking a leadership role in their marriage and with their families.

What beautiful opportunities for obedience men and women have been given! It brings joy and pride to my heart to see my husband taking responsibility for himself, our family and his curse from The Fall as I’m sure it will bring great joy to his heart to see, support and be proud of me for taking my curse by the horns. I don’t want to be cheated of an experience and blessing like this that will most likely take our marriage and friendship to a level I never dreamed! It sounds like an exciting adventure – oh, and then there’s a baby too. BONUS!

I really invite you to do your research and to consider your options and the risks & rewards of childbirth. Birthing from Within was really empowering (I checked all our books out at the Chicago Public Library), and The Business of Being Born is a really great documentary that is on Netflix Instant that I highly recommend.

Be encouraged!

Having a Baby is Like Studying for a Test – Part 1

Tea ~ Moroccan Mint

You know when you have big events or life changes going on and that is sometimes all you can think of to talk about? Or when you don’t know someone very well, that is all they can think to ask you about? If you’re in college, they ask, “So, how’s school going?” or if you’re getting married, “How are the wedding plans coming along?” or if you’re expecting a baby or adopting, it’s “How are you feeling?” or “How is the adoption process getting along?” I’ve observed this over many years and I really try my best to not monopolize a conversation with the “obvious” stuff about me. Of course, if people ask I will be polite, but let’s get down to the nitty gritty and past all the fluff. Life is too short for a lot of fluff.

I’m not going to talk about how I’m feeling or our baby registry or what color we’re going to paint the nursery because honestly, those things matter very little in the grand scheme of things. A couple of years ago, my heart started to change and God was moving me in a direction of a real desire to experience being a parent and pregnancy. I never thought it would happen. People assume that because I’m a woman that I automatically want to serve in kid’s ministry or hold other people’s babies. Nope. Too fluffy. Greg & I weren’t sure we even wanted our own kids when we first got married. We knew adoption was part of the plan at some point. So when I told Greg, who was not anywhere near a place to desire having our own children, nor did I expect him to be anytime soon or to just flip the switch and start now, I said, “I just want you to know, my heart is changing in this area.”

He only said 2 things:  1) “Ok, thanks for telling me.” and 2) “Why do you want to have kids?” A perfectly legitimate question. I think I’m crazy for wanting kids! This does not come naturally to me at ALL. There is not a single moment in my life, before telling Greg a couple of years ago, that I had this aching desire to be a mother. You can’t get much done as a parent. You’re tied to your house and your baby’s schedule for years, and then school & extracurricular activities after that. I felt like I would accomplish nothing as a parent and be incredibly frustrated by the whole process. I wanted to do things that mattered instead of selfishly procreate like everyone else (we also considered adoption as doing something that mattered).

I shared with Greg that I want to have kids because I feel that I have hit the ceiling on my understanding of God’s love and sacrifice for me. I want to know and comprehend just a glimpse of a love as passionate as a parent for their child. The heartbreak Abraham felt for Isaac as he walked with him to the place he would sacrifice Isaac as an offering to God:

“Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together. When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

Sacrifice of Isaac by Rembrandt, 1635

Sacrifice of Isaac by Rembrandt, 1635

Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.  So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”” ~ Genesis 22:2-14

Wow, I cannot even imagine this! I’m not a parent yet and I cannot comprehend how difficult this must have been for Abraham. What’s even more crazy is that God experienced the full weight of this with his son, Jesus. God tested Abraham in Genesis, but it was not a test with Jesus Christ, it was Redemption Day for all of us when all the sins of the world were put onto the shoulders of the one man who had never sinned. I want to know and understand that love, the love that God has for me every single person!

I want to be a parent to love others better. I want to be a parent to grow in understanding of God’s love. I want to be a parent to grow in Christ-likeness and character that brings glory, honor and praise to our Savior. I want our child’s life to be a living sacrifice to God. After all, He is giving us this blessing & responsibility. Yes, He wants to give us good things for our pleasure, but what will bring me the most pleasure is seeing our son grow in his own knowledge of God’s love for him and sharing that love with others. That is what matters, and I trust that The Lord Will Provide.

Be encouraged!
Read Part 2

Mastitis

~Orange Juice

20130910-125640.jpg

My right breast just kept hurting, it didn’t matter how Eliza was latching on it always hurt. Then like sudden accident my breast started to hurt so badly I couldn’t move. I was crying in agony because nothing I did helped. I had tried massage, heat therapy, mineral and salt therapy, warm bath, cool therapy, pumping a lot, breastfeeding as often as possible, Tylenol, Advil, lanolin, vitamin E oil, and rest. It was apparent to me that I had an issue. I had had a clogged duct before and my breast tissue felt so different this time. I called in my reinforcement, my OBGYN. Over the phone she diagnosed that I had mastitis and potentially a breast yeast infection. She kindly sent some medication to my local CVS and I started a medicinal regiment immediately. The pain took 4 days to become tolerable and 3 weeks to disappear. So, all this to say. you can try any of the methods I did, if none of those work most likely you have an infection inside your breast. The biggest indicator besides the pain for me was my milk production was WAY down. I generally exclusively pump but for 3 weeks I was attempting to exclusively breastfeed. It went really well until I got my infection. Here is my suggestion if you are a breastfeeding or exclusive pumping mother.

First and foremost, Ladies it is so important to know your body. Feel your breasts every time you feed your baby, massage the milk down toward the nipple before you latch on and while the baby is latched on. Not only will this prevent any sort of clogged duct from occurring but you will be more confident when something is wrong.

Fenugreek is a natural supplement you can find at GNC I take 3 pills 2 times a day, Breakfast and Dinner. It helps your milk supply.

Beer, Budwiser has 8oz cans now they are so cute. Beer will help your milk supply, if you have one a night it’s not going to hurt your baby or get them addicted to beer. http://www.babycenter.com/404_is-it-true-that-drinking-beer-increases-a-breastfeeding-moms_10303158.bc
Non Alcoholic beer will have the same affect, something scientific about what the barley creates stimulates your milk supply. And from everything I’ve ever read, the alcohol will leave your milk supply the same time it leaves your bloodstream.

Heat therapy is such a great way to assist your breasts to “let down” your milk. Just place a warm compress on your breasts after massaging them and either latch on baby or start to pump. I like to use this product it is also compatible to do Cold therapy.
http://www.lansinoh.com/products/therapearl

Cold Therapy should take place after you have finished breastfeeding and/or pumping. It will remove swelling from a sore breast and help the breast heal.

Advil/Tylenol will help with pain and swelling don’t over dose. Read the labels carefully but you can “double up” or take them both so the Advil would be taken and a few hours later you could take the Tylenol. That way you would always have a pain reliever.

Lanolin/ Vitamin E Oil what ever you like to use for moisturizer on your nipple is your preference but use SOMETHING!!! Dry cracked sore or bleeding nipples are no fun so just do yourself a favor and don’t assume you are super boobie mom, just put it on after you feed or pump for good measure.

CALL YOUR OBGYN or MIDWIFE or DULA or LACTATION CONSULTANT
These men and women are HIGHLY trained and educated as far as breast health goes. Your knowledge and understanding of what to do to keep your breast heathy is really important to them. They are always willing to answer any questions, call you back or have you in for a visit to really talk about what challenges you are having.

You are NOT alone. You have resources. You have a cure. Please try natural health first and if you are in pain consult a professional because breast infections are serious and dangerous if it goes untreated.

Last thing I was going to say is that it isn’t your fault that this happens, sometime there are natural factors like sweat and heat that cause problems. Don’t be discouraged or defeated when it comes to using your body to feed your child. Keep pumping, keep latching, it will get better and you will once again enjoy feeding your darling child. I got through it and I am so glad I powered through all the pain.

Amy Girl