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Category: Post Partum

Infertility, Loss, Cesarean Birth, and PPD {A Mother’s Story of Two Births}

Infertility, Loss, Cesarean Birth, and PPD {A Mother’s Story of Two Births}

{Editor’s Note: This story comes to us from Rachel. This is the story of infertility, loss, and two Cesarean births – one which was not empowering, and a second that was positive and healing. This is also the story of two experiences with Postpartum Depression and the effects on bonding and motherhood.}

My story starts almost five years ago, it was our wedding day and after a few months of me trying to convince my husband, Pat, we were ready to start trying to have children, he finally agreed. We lived in the small northern town of Wawa, Ontario. It is a beautiful place, a wonderful place to raise a child.

My husband was starting out his career as a police officer and I was working at a daycare. Things couldn’t be better. We tried for approximately 6 months and nothing happened. We did not have a family doctor there, so discussing any fertility issues just didn’t happen.

Pat was given the opportunity to join the Police Force in another town in Jan 2008, so we embarked on our new journey. Although Pat is originally from this town, we were restarting our life in this new town. I was more than happy to move where he grew up, where his family is.

We continued to try, but nothing. After being referred to a specialist, Pat and I both did various blood work and tests. Tests revealed that I suffer from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome which could sometimes lead to infertility. I was crushed. I wanted to be a mother. How could I explain this to my husband? I would not be able to give him any children; all he ever wanted was to have children, to be a dad.

After talking with the Ob/GYN he had given me a prescription for Clomid, a fertility drug known to help women with PCOS. After taking it the first month and going for more blood work, the doctor was optimistic that this would work!

Fast forward three more months, I found myself pregnant. It was a few days before Valentine’s Day in 2009. So I figured I would wait to tell my husband; I bought a bib that said “I love daddy”, some little booties, a rattle and left a positive pregnancy test in a box. My husband has never liked early gifts, but I just couldn’t wait! I told him that he needed it the day before and that it was so important.

When he opened the box he had the most confused look on his face, he did not know what a pregnancy test looked like and didn’t realize what I was giving him until I said I was pregnant. We both shared tears and we so thrilled to finally have this happen for us after trying for 2 years.

I had some morning sickness, just nausea really. I was excited because if you felt nauseous that was a good sign. I had an early ultrasound to date the pregnancy; it was so amazing to see the little life inside me, the heartbeat of this new being that my husband and I created! I was helping this little baby grow. We told everyone, we were so ecstatic to finally have the chance to be parents! Everyone was very so happy.

I was about 11 weeks and had very, very lite spotting and no other symptoms. I called my midwife Amy and told her and she said she would be right over to see if we could hear a heartbeat although it was still early. I told her it was okay and that I would see if it continues, I really didn’t think that anything was happening.

I had no other symptoms of miscarriage, and this couldn’t happen to me! That night I started to have back pain and some mild cramping, I finally told my husband, who tends to be a worry wart. He immediately told me to go to emergency room. I did reluctantly; something like this was not going to happen to us.

They did some blood work and a pregnancy test and told me they would call me as soon as a spot opened up for an ultrasound. I went to work that morning, told my boss that I would need a couple hours off but I would be back after my ultrasound. She insisted I take the day off, I was kind of mad because I didn’t want to miss work. I was fine… I really was sure nothing was happening.

Going to the ultrasound I felt fine, the spotting and back pain were very little. Then the ultrasound tech told me I was not allowed to see anything. That’s when I got nervous. I then had to go and wait again to get my results.

I called my husband to let him know that I was waiting; he asked if I wanted him there, I said no that I was fine. Everything was fine, he had just finished a night shift and he hadn’t had any sleep and was supposed to work that night. He showed up five minutes later! I am so thankful he did!

We waited in the little room; the doctor came in with the report and had to leave but left the report. I looked at it and couldn’t understand a thing. As I am looking at it the doctor walked back in and asked if I understood anything. Of course I didn’t, the page was all these numbers and abbreviations, we sat down and he just came out and said there was no heartbeat.

We were crushed. We saw the heartbeat before; how could it no longer be there? Why would this happen to us? We both grieved at the loss of our unborn baby; we went from being on top of the world to the bottom of a muddy pit.

Of course I saw the specialist again and he just said sometimes these things happen. (These things weren’t supposed to happen to me.) I started Clomid again as soon as I could, I needed to be pregnant again. The month came and went and no pregnancy… I couldn’t do this. You are always let down every time you start your period and you are reminded that you lost that baby.

I took the Clomid another month and told my husband that if I did not get pregnant this month I didn’t want to try again. It was too hard. When the time came for my period; it wasn’t there… I reluctantly took a pregnancy test. I was pregnant!

I didn’t tell anyone, not even my husband… I wasn’t sure if it was worth telling my husband. I couldn’t carry a child, so why bother him with the grief if we lost another? I would do it alone. He came home that night and I felt extremely guilty but did not tell him. I couldn’t keep it in after 3 days I just sat beside him and showed him a pregnancy test.

I didn’t say a thing, we hugged, and I think we both felt the same way, happy but very scared. We kept this pregnancy a secret from everyone until I was 4 months. Everyone was overjoyed. We were terrified that something was going to happen, that this baby would be taken away from us.

The pregnancy was great, no complications, everything was wonderful. At the end of my pregnancy, all I wanted was to hold my baby. I felt like a whale, like I couldn’t possibly grow any larger. At 40weeks 4days I went to see a naturopath to have acupuncture to try to induce labor, I was fed up!

The day went on and at some point my water broke. At first I was in denial, but was getting contractions every 5-8 minutes. We went to the hospital because I was Group B Step positive and needed antibiotics during labor.

Contractions continued every 3-4 minutes for 12 hours. My midwife Amy checked my cervix, I was only 1cm. I was devastated, I couldn’t possibly go any longer. The pain was intense and my hopes of having a natural labor were gone. I requested an epidural.

At this point my labor had stalled and I was having some relief. Once the anesthesiologist came and left I finally felt great. I tried to rest a bit knowing I had a long time to go but then the pains started again. My epidural was not working or strong enough but I continued to pull through, breathing through each contraction focusing on what was to come, my little baby!

Contractions continued for another 14 hours, Amy and Pat right by my side the whole time. After being there with me for 26 hours Amy had to transfer my care to the on-call OB. As soon as she told me this, I asked for a C-section. I couldn’t possibly go on without her and I was physically exhausted, emotionally exhausted, and disappointed.

At this point everything becomes fuzzy. I had given up and laid there in the hospital bed waiting to be rolled into the OR. When they pulled my little boy out of me I was so drowsy, I just remember them saying it’s a boy, and then he was gone and I went to recovery.

I was in recovery for a while and when I was allowed to go into my own room to see Maksim he was tired and didn’t want to nurse. I was feeling sick, tired and sore, so he went to the nursery. My husband kissed me goodnight and that was it.

In Recovery

Maksim was brought to me in the morning and I looked at him like he was a stranger. Who was this child and what was I supposed to do with him? As time went on I developed postpartum depression.

I truly believe that it was because I didn’t have a natural birth and was ripped of the opportunity to bond with him right after having him. All I wanted was to be able to nurse him, knowing that this was the best I could give him.

With the PPD, I had given up on breastfeeding and pumped instead. I thought that this would help but it didn’t, I felt like I wasn’t able to bond with my baby. I pumped for 5-6 months and quit. I still feel bad to this day for doing this but am grateful for the breast milk he did receive.

There were many days I just did not want to be a mother. I never felt the urge to hurt my child but I didn’t want to be around him. I wanted my old life back; I wanted someone else to take care of him. I saw a counselor and this helped a bit, I went back to work and things seemed to look up.

Maksim was almost a year old and my husband mentioned wanting to try for another. At that time I only wanted another baby to experience a vaginal birth, to nurse my child and to be a mom. Again I needed to go on fertility drugs as my cycle was not regular and I was not ovulating. After two months of the Clomid I was pregnant.

I called my husband right away, he was training and couldn’t come home so I told him over the phone. You could hear the happiness in his voice. This time we waited about a week and started to tell close family and friends, then really made it known to everyone at 12 weeks.

I still wasn’t sure about wanting another but the pregnancy was here I just went with it. This pregnancy was so different, I had a lot of morning sickness that lasted all day, at 14 weeks I had unexplained bleeding. We had emergency ultrasounds but all seemed okay.

At 20 weeks the baby was showing two cysts on his brain. This really worried us; we didn’t want to have something wrong with the baby. At 30 weeks the ultrasound tech said he was a really big boy and that the cysts were gone! We were thrilled.

At 40weeks my water broke, I did not have any contractions. My sister and I went shopping as I continued to leak fluid all day! I walked and walked and walked and still did not get any contractions. The OB did not want to induce because of my prior C-section, I should have fought for it but for some reason I didn’t.

After 24 hours of ruptured membranes I was given another Cesarean. This was different! My midwife Amy was in the room with me, she let my husband hold the baby close to me right after he was taken out, I saw him for some time before they took him away.

I wasn’t in recovery long this time and my little Felix – 7lbs 6oz – was brought to me as soon as I entered my room. I was able to have skin to skin time with him and he (with help from Amy) latched on no problem. My doula, Kayleigh was there to capture those moments and to assist with breastfeeding when Amy left.

Baby Felix

What a different experience! What a positive experience. I healed so much faster and was so happy to be a mom. Now fast forward three months – I still long for that vaginal birth, but feel very blessed to have two healthy and happy children.

Having a positive birth experience the second time around has made me love being a mother and appreciate the little things so much more. That first smile, those 3am feedings and when your toddler says “Je t’aime maman” – you couldn’t ask for more!

{An update from Mom: “My little one is now 15 months, I got PPD again but I am on top of it this time and am happy to report that my little one just weaned himself…. Nursing really helped the PPD and this time was easier because I could recognize the signs and asked for help right away.”}

The Family

The Magical Menstrual Cycle

The Magical Menstrual Cycle

{guest post by Samantha Bice}

When did you first hear an explanation of your menstrual cycle? Apart from asking my mom or step mom what pads or tampons were upon seeing them in the cabinet, I don’t have a memory of an explanation until third grade. We all had to get a permission slip signed so that we could learn about our “bodily changes”. Boys and girls were sent to separate rooms in the school…I remember the girls were sent to the computer lab.

We were given small booklets that talked about breasts growing, “periods”, and feminine products and hygiene. We were told that a confusing time in our lives was fast approaching and that we would start to bleed, once every 28 days, and that it was okay. We could use pads or tampons, and as long as we were careful to be ready and if we washed ourselves, no one would ever know that we were “on our period.” Most of the talk was focused on the products we would use to take care of this issue. [And they didn’t even teach about the good ones!]

Fast forward to middle school. I had started my “period” and managed to avoid getting blood on my pants or “smelling.” I still really had no idea what a period was for other than to tell me I was not pregnant. At that point in my life that seemed like a useless thing to do since I was not having sex.  Same story in high school, only add in a small amount of knowledge of an egg dropping and that my period was to get rid of the unused egg each month.

It was not until I was a married woman and thinking about babies that I stumbled upon the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler in the book store. I picked it up, thinking that since I was a take charge kinda girl with everything else that I should add my fertility to the list too. This was also after many unsuccessful attempts at finding the right birth control for me (come to find out, my body hates all chemical birth control), so that was in the front of my mind as well.

That book changed my life.

Imagine my surprise when I read that my “irregular periods” were actually pretty normal, and that I was not broken. Every cycle (not month – we work in cycles, not on a calendar) my body was performing a magical and specific dance of hormones. Eggs matured, temperatures changed, ovulation occurred, hormones shifted, my body prepared. I was amazed. I suddenly had respect for my body and did not find my cycles annoying anymore.

WHY had no one explained all this to me? Why was the focus on managing the bleeding and not on the reasons why it even happened? Beyond knowing “period=not pregnant; no period=pregnant” we were told nothing. We were told that we should perform this task like clockwork, every 28 days. No room for error or we were “irregular”, like a badly cut puzzle piece. The focus was on all the things we needed to buy and do in order to cover up the fact that our body performed as expected.

Now, I want to share some knowledge with all of you. I can not cover everything – hence why the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility (TCOYF) is large. But I can give you the basics on how things work and the basics of keeping track of all this.

The Menstrual Cycle: A Carefully Choreographed Dance

I think most of us have the basic knowledge of what the cycle does (generally speaking) – it is the preparation and “dropping” of an egg that then awaits fertilization. If that fertilization does not happen (or if implantation does not happen), you have menstrual bleeding – your period – and a new cycle starts. But lets talk about specifics.

The first hormone that causes things to happen each cycle is the Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). This hormone does just what the same suggests – it stimulated follicles. These follicles are on your ovaries, and each one contains an egg. Generally about 15-20 follicles start to mature each cycle.

During this time period (anywhere from about 8 days into your cycle to more than a month) your estrogen is rising. Shortly after you reach your estrogen threshold (one or two days after), one of the eggs bursts through the ovary and starts the journey down the fallopian tube. Sometimes more than one egg makes it out (fraternal twins or higher multiples – if all are fertilized). The eggs that didn’t “make the cut” dissolve.

This high level of estrogen (which drops off after this peak at ovulation) triggers a surge of Luteinizing Hormone (LH). This surge of LH is what ovulation tests detect and occurs just before the release of the egg during ovulation. [Please note – an LH surge does not mean you *did* ovulate, but rather that your body is preparing to.]

After the egg is released, that follicle that it came from turns into the Corpus Luteum. This will release progesterone for about 12 to 16 days. Normally a woman’s luteal phase (the time from ovulation to the start of a new cycle) does not vary much within that woman by more than a day or two during each cycle. The luteal phase is the one part of our cycles that is locked in for most people and they will have their own “normal” they can depend on.

The progesterone released by the Corpus Luteum is very important. It causes the lining of the uterus to thicken (for implantation) and prevents further egg release that cycle. It also causes a change in your fertility signs (more on that later).

After this 12-16 day period of the luteal phase, if the egg has not been fertilized and implanted, the Corpus Luteum dissolves and a new cycle starts (your “period” comes). The first day of bleeding is the first day of your new cycle.

A Quick Word on Averages

Please note that during this entire post I am going to be speaking in terms of the average cycle. There is a large amount of normal variation within these numbers – and outside them. The 28 day cycle is not a golden rule or number. Each woman has a cycle unique to her – just like the particular color of her eyes or her love of a certain food. Please do not take these average numbers to be the only “normal” and count yourself as abnormal. They are simply for simplification purposes.

Conception

Conception is the process of fertilization – sperm meeting egg. When and where does this take place? Once the egg is released by the ovary, it is sucked up into the fallopian tubes quickly – normally within 20 seconds. The ovary is not actually attached to the tubes by the way – they sort of barely meet at the end of the tubes where the “fingers” of the tube stick out to catch the egg. These fingers are called fimbria.

Fertilization has about 24 hours in which to occur. The egg does not sit around waiting for sperm for the entire luteal phase. Around 24 hours is all the chance we get. The egg is fertilized in the lower third of the fallopian tubes, not in the uterus as is commonly thought. The egg will continue its way down the tubes and burrow into the lining about a week after ovulation, on average. If the egg is not fertilized, it dissolves and is absorbed, or it comes out with the menstrual flow.

In order to stop the process of the shedding of the uterine lining, as soon as the egg implants your body starts to make a hormone – I know, another hormone! This hormone is called Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) and is the hormone that pregnancy tests detect. This hormone not only stops the lining from shedding as normal, but it signals the Corpus Luteum to stick around and keep making progesterone to sustain the lining (which feeds the fetus). This progesterone is important as it sustains the pregnancy until the placenta takes over after several months. [This is why low progesterone causes miscarriage.]

As you can see – this dance of hormones and processes is complex. Complicated steps, but seems effortless and fluid when observed. Our bodies do all this without prompting in most cases, and is just as miraculous as the actual process of growing a baby. Our bodies do a lot of work just to get the egg ready to create the baby, and to maintain the system for many years “just in case”.

Charting: Your View of the Dance

Charting with the Fertility Awareness Method (which is taught in TCOYF) is based on three basic fertility signs. These signs, when charted together, give you a view of what your body is doing and where you are in your cycle.

Waking Temperature (Basal Body Temperature)

This is the fertility sign that gives you a view of what hormones are acting at the moment, and when you have ovulated. It is the “graphic” portion of the fertility chart. To get this information you need to take your temp first thing in the morning before you get out of bed. You need to use a Basal Thermometer for the best results, as they are more accurate than a fever thermometer. They are usually available in the fertility section of your local drug store or WalMart/Target. That would be the aisle with the pregnancy tests and contraceptive devices.

Before ovulation your temperature is lower (between 97.0 and 97.7 on average) due to the temperature suppressing effects of the rising estrogen at the start of the cycle. After ovulation, within a day or so, your temperature will rise due to the heat producing hormone progesterone. If you conceived, the progesterone stays around and your temp stays higher. If you did not conceive, the progesterone stops and your temperature drops as well – a sign that says your menstrual flow will start soon.

A few notes about your waking temperature. 1) You need to take it at the same time each day, trying not to vary it by more than 30 minutes or so. When you first start to chart, try to be as precise as possible in order to get your “normal” readings for a few cycles before messing with anything. 2) You need to take it after at least 3 hours of sleep (this gives your body time to regulate and get to the basal state) and before you get out of bed. Keep it on your bedside table. 3) Your readings may be off if you have a fever, have drank more than a drink or two of alcohol (or if you rarely have alcohol), or are using more warming devices to sleep than you normally do. Illness can also effect the temp in other ways – think about if you normally sleep with your mouth closed, but then sleep with it open because you are congested. This would cause your mouth temperature to be lower in the morning.

There are two ways to get your temperature. Orally – the way you do for a fever, or vaginally. Vaginal temps tend to be more precise for many women and you do not have to worry about the effects of occasional mouth breathing either.

Cervical Fluid

Cervical Fluid, or cervical discharge, is an important fertility sign. In my opinion this is the sign that we should absolutely be taught about from day one of becoming a woman. The normal fluid our body makes – which changes throughout the cycle – is not dirty. It is not defective. It is a sign of where our fertility is at that point. I suggest you begin to think of it as awesome and not dirty (in other words – not “discharge”) because this stuff is cool.

You have several types of fluid. I will work from least fertile to most fertile. First is the lack of fluid – this is called a dry day. This generally means you are not currently fertile. This normally occurs right after menstruation ends, and after your fertile period (ovulation). Then there is sticky fluid. This is the dry feeling fluid that clumps and looks almost like rubber cement (a type of glue). This is also considered not fertile. It usually occurs after menstruation but before ovulation – and sometimes for a few days after ovulation. The next type is creamy – this is usually thick and white or yellowish, and feels and looks like lotion. This is not a fertile fluid, and normally occurs before ovulation, and occasionally after ovulation. All of these types leave no mark in your underwear, or they leave a streak or line.

The first type of fertile fluid is called watery. This is just the way it sounds – like water. Usually clear or only slightly colored, it leaves a round wet mark on your underwear due to the high water content. This is a fertile fluid. Fertile fluid is one in which sperm can survive. You must have a fertile fluid present for sperm to live and move in. This fluid usually shows up around ovulation. If you see this, assume you are fertile. The other fertile fluid is egg white. This is the most fertile fluid and is what you want to look for if you are hoping to conceive. It looks just uncooked egg whites, sometime streaked with pink or yellow but is mostly clear. Sperm love to live in this and can swim well in it. This will also leave a round wet mark in your underwear due to moisture content. It is also stretchy between the fingers – stretching up to a couple inches or more.

A typical pattern of fluid would go like this: Menstrual blood, dry, sticky, creamy, wet/egg white, dry or sticky, menstrual blood. Again – this is just an example and each woman will have her own pattern. After a cycle or two of charting, you will see your personal patterns. Occasionally a woman gets a last surge of fertile fluid just before menstruation. This is not another ovulation but rather a reaction to the drop in progesterone.

Cervical Position

This is the one sign of the three that is considered optional when charting. However, I would encourage you to try it. It really does help with charting (especially when your other signs do not seem to match up) and teaches you a lot about your body. It does take practice. My “favorite” way to check my cervix (in other words, the easiest) is to squat down all the way – bum on my ankles – and feel for the cervix. Your cervix is a small “bump” at the end of your vaginal canal or rather at the bottom of your uterus – it feels much like the end of your nose for most of your cycle, only with a dimple in the middle (the cervical os).

When you are not fertile, your cervix is low and firm and closed (keep in mind, those who have birthed children have a slightly open cervix for ever after in most cases). When you are fertile, the cervix moves up higher and becomes soft (like your lips) and opens a bit. It is also very wet when fertile as it puts out a lot of good fertile cervical fluid. To notice these changes, you need to check yourself each day in the same position. You will start to notice after a cycle or two what your normal fertile and infertile patterns are for your cervix.

An amazing site to look at is The Beautiful Cervix Project. This site has collections of photos of real cervices in all stages and ages. Being familiar – and comfortable – with what all portions of our body look like is an important part of embracing the whole woman, our whole self. This project is dedicated to helping with that.

Other Signs

Not every woman has these signs but they are worth charting if you have them. Midcycle spotting, pain or aches around the ovary area (note the side), increased libido, full or swollen vulva, bloating, increased energy, breast tenderness – all are rather common signs during the cycle. If you chart them, you may see a pattern. For instance, women who get midcycle spotting tend to find through charting that it occurs around ovulation. The pain in the ovary area has a name – mittelschmerz – and typically indicates the release of an egg.

Charting

I think the easiest way to explain charting as a whole is to show you a chart. I will add one of mine to illustrate.

Chart

This is one of my older charts. You can see the lower temperatures before ovulation. The “cross” is the day of ovulation. You see that my temp rose after ovulation and stayed above the “cover line” (the horizontal line) until shortly before the new cycle started. This cycle was 32 days with ovulation on day 2o and a 12 day luteal phase. The blue days are infertile days, the green days represent likely fertile days, and the orange/tan days are the luteal phase.

As you can see on my chart I have a few things that are not typical. First, I tend to have a few random days of fertile fluid before ovulation. I also have what is called a “slow rise” in my basal/waking temperatures. These are both a variation of normal and are normal for me. I am able to line up my typical cues of ovulation to know when I have ovulated – for instance I always get ovulation pain and chart it. This is (for me) a very reliable sign.

Sometimes you might not ovulate. This is called an annovulatory cycle. Most women have these from time to time for various reasons. Stress and illness are two big reasons. I once had a cycle that lasted 147 days – during which my husband and I were apart for my job. After we were under the same roof again, a new cycle started the same week and things went back to normal. Here is an example of an annovulatory cycle for me:

Annov. chart

As you can see, the signs are all over the place, and my temperatures never really get a pattern. I may have ovulated around day 34 or so, but no other signs confirmed that other than a slight rise in temperature.

Getting Started

For more information I highly suggest the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility. It really is an amazing resource and goes into full detail of how to chart and how your body works. I have simply given you the starting building blocks. There are several methods of charting fertility, but FAM (Fertility Awareness Method) as taught by TCOYF is my favorite. You can find classes in most major cities about fertility charting as well.

Fertility charting can be used both to help conceive, and to avoid conception. I have used it for both purposes.

When using to avoid pregnancy, and you understand it thoroughly and use it correctly every day, you have only a 2% chance of conceiving within a year. That is if you use condoms during the fertile phase (correctly) or abstain while fertile. [Condoms have a failure rate of around 2%.] If you use other barrier methods during your fertile time then your chances would be close to that of whatever barrier method you choose. Keep in mind that the failure rate and user failure rate are different, and you should research any barrier method you decide to use with FAM. Also, the user failure rate of NFP (Natural Family Planning – which includes multiple types of charting or fertility tracking) is anywhere from 2% to 20% depending on the study you look at. This is not the fault of the method, but rather the user. “Cheating” (not following the rules) is much less forgiving with NFP than it is with other types of birth control.

When using this method to achieve pregnancy it can be very helpful. First and foremost – you learn about your normal. The 28 day cycle and day 14 ovulation is probably the biggest myth of womanhood. That is a “clockwork” example and is simply not true for all women. In fact, you can have a 28 day cycle and still not ovulate on day 14. And as we learned – the egg is only viable for about 24 hours. If you miss the egg, you miss it – and thinking you ovulate on day 14 when you ovulate earlier or later can mean that you miss the egg again and again.

You also start to see your patterns. You notice when your cervical fluid changes and what the fertile period looks like for you. Past cycles do not dictate future cycles – BUT they can help you to get a good guess going of when to time intercourse to catch the egg. Another thing it does is alert you to issues. You would be able to see if you do not ovulate, or if you do not have fertile fluid when you need it. You can catch a short luteal phase (which means the fertilized egg may not have time to implant) and possible issues with progesterone. In other words – you can arm yourself with information and avoid some expensive and time consuming testing.

Please keep in mind that I have only given you the basics here – the building blocks. Now it is up to you to research and read or take a class. Please do not run with this small amount of information and use it to avoid pregnancy, and on the same hand – please don’t chart for fertility just based on what I have written here. My hope is to clear some myths, help you learn, and help you appreciate your body a bit more. Please feel free to post questions below and I will try to answer them as best I can. I am not an expert or teacher, but I have read and researched the subject extensively and used the method in both ways for several years.

A Mother Fights Through PPD After Induction and Cesarean Birth

A Mother Fights Through PPD After Induction and Cesarean Birth

{Editors Note: This story comes to us from a strong young mother. When our births take a turn we did not expect, it can effect how we feel as mothers and women. Postpartum Depression is real. Mothers – you are not alone. Seek support and help in the best way possible to help you heal.}

At nineteen, I found out I was pregnant. My boyfriend and I started talking about what to do. Adoption? Abortion? No, this lady was mine and I was in love with her (we found out at 20 weeks because I was still having periods, so I didn’t have to wait to find out gender!). The next few months felt like they took forever, with multiple complications in the mix.

At 39 weeks, I was induced because of hypertension. They started the pitocin, placed that ball [a Foley Bulb] in to get me started on dilating, and we were on a roll. At 3 am, they checked me, said I was at 5cm, and said that at the rate I was dilating, I should be pushing by dawn. For the next 14 hours, they kept checking with no progress.

They had maxed the pitocin to the highest it was allowed without direct doctors orders. I was contracting, hard. My daughter was stuck, there was no way she was coming out vaginally. At 20 years old, I felt like a failure. I felt like I couldn’t do what a mother should be able to do. As they wheeled me back to the operating room, I cried.

Not because I’d see my daughter soon, but because I didn’t get to experience what everyone else I had talked to got to experience. I hadn’t talked to anyone that had a c-section yet.

At 5:20 pm on May 3, 2012, my daughter Ameriellys was born. She was beautiful. It was wonderful. The hospital stay was fine, though I barely slept because they’d take my daughter to the nursery if I fell asleep at night with her (since I couldn’t move all that much to get her out of the bassinet or change her or anything).

First Moments

It wasn’t until I got home that I suddenly felt horrible. I was upset all the time. I was snapping at her father constantly. I cried every time I tried to breastfeed because I still hadn’t fully brought in milk, and I felt like it wasn’t going to work. I wanted to do nothing but sleep. I couldn’t do what a normal mother should be able to do because I had major surgery and could barely move.

I felt, again, like a complete failure because I needed help. I realized I had PPD. I tried to fake being happy, but everyone saw I was a wreck. I never went to counseling, I never went and got medication. Instead, I surrounded myself with my wonderful family and support system of friends and the massive family Ameri was born into, and day by day they slowly helped me realize that my daughter needed me.

I may not be perfect, but she loved me. She calmed down when I talked to her, she felt safe when I was near. I may have needed help, but no one became the perfect mother overnight, and every mom asks for help and needs support.

Mother and Daughter

She is currently almost 11 months old, and while I still am not perfect, I’m the perfect mother to her. I filled my time up by going back to school and starting work back up, which helps the 3 sets of grandparents see her because they get to watch her while I do that. Rather than allowing myself to fall back into that darkness, I pushed myself to go do things that I, and my daughter, would be proud of me for doing.

From The Darkness Into The Light {A Story Of Postnatal Depression}

From The Darkness Into The Light {A Story Of Postnatal Depression}

Here is my PND story. Well, the early days. If someone had sat me down and told me that the days and weeks following the birth of my baby were going to be harder than giving birth to a 4210g baby at home, drug-free, I’d have told them they were crazy and sent them on their way! We made it though without taking anti-depressants, but it’s been a tough road that nearly split us up. Treya is 18 months old now, and it seems making time for me and setting up my own business has been my saviour! Things are good here now. – Kim

I weighed 49kg before I fell pregnant, and put on a whopping 17 kgs, which was all baby. You couldn’t tell I was pregnant from behind. I had a great pregnancy beside the usual morning sickness and some lower back pain. Concerned one day that I was going to give birth to a giant, Sonja assured me “it won’t weigh over 5 kilos”! We were all astounded by the amount of movement my ever-growing baby made, but given her size, I’d say she was a little cramped in there to say the least!

After her birth, I was exhausted by the labour, and spent the next day in bed, watching my beautiful baby girl. That evening, however, things went pear-shaped. My ribs on my right side were bruised, assumingly from Treya kicking her way out. It was impossible to get comfortable, and I was desperate for sleep having been awake, for the most part, for coming up to 48 hours. It’s like my body went into shock after such physical exertion. My stomach hurt… I could barely walk… my ribs ached… and I just lost it! I couldn’t even pick up my own baby, and when I tried to, I made her cry! I didn’t know if I had hurt her, if we’d put the nappy on wrong, or if I’d accidentally pulled on her umbilical cord tie. I literally started to unravel emotionally, and we had to call on my partner’s mum to come stay the night. Two, in fact.

Even getting to the toilet was an ordeal. I had to be assisted, and still was unable to hold Treya. Attempting to feed her was a nightmare, trying to stack pieces of foam and pillows in a manner that held her off my stomach, whilst my nipples just weren’t coming to the party, sitting flatter and flatter the more engorged my breasts became.

By day 3, I was in so much pain, having to hold my stomach when I walked, and crying with exhaustion, raw emotion and a growing sense of helplessness and uselessness. When I tried to sleep, I would have nightmares, plagued by thoughts of accidentally dropping my baby, and tormented by the fact that if anything happened to her, I might never recover.

Thankfully my herbalist ordered me into a hot bath with 30 drops of lavender in it, which bought me some relief. Then my partner Karl’s sister came to the rescue with a “Mother Roasting” pack consisting of a selection of herbs in which to soak in the bath, followed by some soothing essential oils in warmed jojoba oil for my tummy, which we then wrapped firmly with a hemp scarf. Apparently there was a look of utter relief on my face after my tummy was wrapped up… but that was not before having to surrender to my father-in-law and brother-in-law having to get me out of the bath, dry me and put on a maternity pad for me!!!! Eeek! I could do little for myself and holding my baby was still near impossible.

My story is long, and some of it is vague in my mind, which probably isn’t a bad thing. But I do remember crying a lot, being so devastated by the fact that I still couldn’t look after my own baby. There was nothing medically wrong – I assume the physical pain was just from the physical exertion demanded by birthing a large baby – the emotional pain a combination of adrenal stress and what we now know to be post natal depression.

I am pleased to say that there were eventually small joys appearing ever so slowly in my world. Mastering breastfeeding, with the help of a lactation consultant and nipple shields, after starving Treya for 5 days, was certainly one to be celebrated! My diary entry, made 20 days after the birth, rejoices in the fact that I was able to carry her to the change table and hold her for a while. I was devastated by the fact that I was physically unable to care for my baby, and immensely grateful for the presence of my amazing partner and family who literally had to come and help us daily. Karl turned into Super Dad overnight, having to look after both his girls. My mind talk was negative, we needed visitors to help out, which conflicted with our decision to attempt an unofficial baby-moon, and I felt useless for just about the first time in my life. I was, pre-pregnancy, able to successfully co-ordinate education programs for Red Cross, with ease, and yet I couldn’t even look after my own baby. I found myself unable to do anything with the immense love I felt for this newly arrived being. I could feed her, breathe in the smell that was her and delight in the love that she evoked in me, yet I couldn’t pick her up, carry her, bath her or anything.

Weeks passed, and we continued to adapt and make small steps forward. I used the pram, for example, to wheel her to the change table where I could then lift her up. I also lost my fear of dropping her. However, challenges kept appearing. I had mastitis off and on for 2 –3 weeks; an old work injury in my neck produced a 6 day headache that drove me to tears; I began crying almost daily; my scoliosis (curvature of the spine) caused me pain; and I began grieving for my beautiful Mamma who had died 3 years and 2 days prior to Treya’s arrival, whom I missed so so terribly… and the unravelling continued.

When the local early childhood nurse said to me “if you are still crying in a few days I think you should go on anti-depressants”, I think I almost laughed! Me, needing anti-depressants? Don’t be ridiculous! But I did continue to cry daily, and anxiety attacks were added to the mix as soon as my partner went back to work at the 7 week mark. The darkness that was creeping in around the edges began to cast larger and larger shadows for longer and longer periods. A sense of disconnect developed and  I could no longer force a smile even for my beautiful man. I found myself confessing that “this mothering business is mind numbingly boring” and wondering how I could get back to work! This was NOT what I had imagined feeling. In fact, I thought I’d take to mothering like a duck to water, and even went as far as assuming that I would adopt a rather relaxed “do-it-with-my-eyes-closed” earth-mother vibe about me!

The universe had other plans for us however. One morning I woke up, and ever I was worried about myself. I felt numb, like I was just going through the motions, thinking about all those woman I know who just LOVED breastfeeding and motherhood, realising that I was not one of them. I knew that I loved my baby, but I experienced total emotional disconnection and a deepening numbness, and everything just became too hard. I tormented myself with the question “am I just a bad Mum who can’t be bothered or do I have post natal depression (PND)?”. I’d be holding her, watching her, spellbound by how beautiful she was…but at the same time, feeling absolutely nothing. Empty. Numb. Dark. Hopeless. Useless. And so so SAD.

Fortunately, asking for help is something I do well, and I have an amazing support network.  I ran my feelings by my friend who had undiagnosed PND 12 years ago. The similarities were undeniable. I made another call to a friend who is currently on anti-depressants for PND. She too normalised the abnormal for me…..well, what I had, up until this point, thought was “abnormal”.  It was such a relief to hear that I was not the only one who would happily give my baby to someone else to hold and who felt numb despite having given birth to a gorgeous little human being. I was not the only one who literally cried upon my baby and was going through the motions instead of feeling the “joys of motherhood” that we are lead to believe are the norm.

Once I knew what we were dealing with, I knew what to do. We could act, and do something to move me from the darkness into the light. But before any real action was taken, I hit rock bottom, enduring several horrendous mornings where I was tormented by anxiety attacks that begun the moment my partner left for work at 5am. Every time I awoke from that point, which was multiple times an hour having imagined hearing my baby crying over and over again, I’d be overwhelmed by a wave of anxiety that would eventually drive me to tears and out of bed. I then could not bear to be alone and, in utter despair, would have to call Karl’s mum to come be with me until the light of day. One of the mornings she just lay with me in bed, holding me whilst I sobbed and missed my own beautiful mamma. Eventually we bundled me and Treya in the car and drove to our herbalist, hoping for an emergency appointment – and it was an emergency! By this stage I was considering what mental health hospitals I could check myself into and fantasising about anti-depressants.

Thankfully my diagnosis was good – “hormonal” apparently. A concoction of herbs were administered, along with instructions to drink a cup of miso soup each day, and 1-2 glasses of  Bonsoy (milk), of all things! In addition to this, I was instructed to expose myself to the sun for an hour a day, rub fennel essential oil into my chest where my pituitary gland is, as well as my breasts and ovaries. To this, after consulting my GP, we added exercise, “time out” and “not practicing anxiety”. The latter being getting out of bed when the anxiety hit, and doing anything (washing cloth nappies!!!) to distract my attention from it, even if it was 5am.

I have to say that whilst we waited for my unconventional medicine to start working, I had moments of desperation. If someone had offered me anti-depressants there and then, I think I’d have taken them. But my herbalist reassured me and begged me to just hold on until day 3 or 4, when the herbs were said to take effect. To her credit, she was correct, and a few rays of sunshine shone in my world on day 3. I continued to improve, and I still remember my first day of really enjoying my baby, when the loving, meaningless banter between mother and baby during otherwise mundane tasks, such as nappy changing, came easily, and for the first time, it was a joy to be Treya’s mamma.

Fourteen weeks on, without as much as a wiff of an anti-depressant, I can honestly say that I am enjoying being a mum. The PND is still there, lingering in the background, but as long as I am vigilant and supported, we manage to keep it at bay. And I say “we” on purpose as my recovery has really been a community effort, brought about by the amazing support of family and close friends, without whom we would not have ventured so swiftly back into the light.

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When I reflect on the challenges we have had since Treya’s arrival, it’s no wonder I ended up with PND, but part of me wonders whether the journey would have been easier had PND and physical, post-birth challenges been talked about more. It seems women are generally so quick to share birthing stories, and yet so reluctant to talk openly about the challenges of the fourth stage. So if someone sits you down before the birth of your child, and suggests that the weeks following the birth could be harder than the birth itself, don’t tell them they are crazy! Make them a cup of tea, pull up a chair and hear them out, not because my challenges will happen to you, but simply because they could. 

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Kim owns the Australian business ‘Pickled Tink: ‘art with heart‘, for belly casting, photography, Blessingway art and henna, and much much more!

Photos by Brett Stanley Photography

“I figured this was just how things were supposed to be.” {A Story Of Postpartum Depression}

“I figured this was just how things were supposed to be.” {A Story Of Postpartum Depression}

I know that postpartum depression isn’t something that people LOVE to talk about. It’s uncomfortable for so many reasons. Some people like to carry on as if it doesn’t exist and harass and insult women struggling with it. For some reason, there is an extra stigma attached to it. Having depression is ‘acceptable’ but having postpartum depression isn’t, apparently. People dismiss the concerns of new mothers, and miss all of the warning signs. Sometimes, new mothers that are in over their heads are unable to ask for help. This is where husbands, friends and family have GOT to step up to the plate and get a mother suffering from PPD the help she so badly needs! I went through this twice…

In April of 2003, I was 22, marginally employed, uneducated, and my husband and I were forced to move in with my parents. Not what you would call the most ideal of circumstances. So, of course, I fell pregnant straight away. I had no clue about pregnancy, childbirth or parenting, so I called up a local ob-gyn recommended by several older women I knew, who all thought he was fab because he did such a great job on their hysterectomies. I never felt comfortable, but, since I was convinced that I didn’t know anything and he WAS a doctor after all, then I should just go with the flow. My pregnancy progressed normally. I was relatively healthy, and the baby was doing well. I had no friends with babies. I had no family members who had given birth vaginally. That’s right… NONE! I was born via c-section and so, the only advice I got was to schedule an elective c-section, do what the doctor says and that I probably wouldn’t be able to breastfeed. On December 8, 2003, I had my last doctor appointment of the pregnancy. With the holidays approaching, my doctor informed me that he was inducing ALL patients 37 weeks and over. I had no idea just what that entailed and figured that, since he was the doctor, it was for the best. After all, I WAS one whole centimenter dilated (now that I know just what that means, I’m beyond insulted and disgusted)! After a NIGHTMARISH induction that I barely survived, I was just relieved to have my beautiful, healthy baby girl.

hospital birth

However, soon, the bottom fell out. Just existing knocked the wind out of me. Due to postpartum hemorrhage, booby traps galore, horrid small town hospital lactation consultants and severe pain (which I would find out 9 years later, was caused by a lip and tongue tie), I was unable to nurse my beautiful little girl. To this day, I’m convinced that for the first 6 months of her life, there were more tears than formula in her bottles – I was that distraught over it. I went back to work when she was 5 weeks old. I got formula from WIC. That should be the end of the story. It’s not.

I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I tried to get help for my little girl because she was miserable. Everyone just told me that she was a colicky baby and it would get better. It didn’t. It wasn’t colic. She had severe reflux. That, combined with the lip tie, meant that she was quite an unhappy baby. This was made worse by being surrounded with people who ‘did x, y, and, z and turned out just fine’ so encouraged me to give her rice in her bottle, and leave her to cry it out so she would learn who was in charge. I doubted myself and I couldn’t bond with my baby. Life was one constant panic attack after another. I was completely miserable. I honestly wanted to throw my baby out of the window. I wanted to pack all of her things, put them in the bottom of the stroller, and give her to the first nice looking mom that came along, and just jump off a bridge. It’s not that I was suicidal. I didn’t want to die, but I knew that I couldn’t keep going as I was. I decided to reach out for help.

I called my ob and explained what I was going through. He asked me what I expected. He told me that I was a first time mom, and I just needed to rest, get some help, and deal with the fact that things weren’t all about me anymore… basically, I was bratty and having a hard time adjusting to ‘adult’ life. He offered some antidepressants, but those only made me MORE anxious. I went on like this until my daughter was around 18 months old… merely surviving, coping and clawing my way through the days. Every day was a fight. I was literally fighting for my life. My (then) family physician thought I needed to try anti-anxiety meds. I said ok. They didn’t work… they made me feel MORE anxious. She doubled the dose. Things got worse. She referred me to a psychiatrist. He added an antidepressant on top of the anti-anxiety meds. That night I was curled up in the corner, in a townhouse, alone, with my 18 month old daughter, trying to cope with the voices I was hearing. I stayed awake for 4 days straight, chain smoking and convincing myself that, even thought I might be crazy, the voices weren’t ‘real’ and weren’t going to hurt me. I called my husband offshore and told him what had happened.

He was home two days later and I was sitting in a GOOD doctors office. I didn’t want to go. I figured this was just how things were supposed to be. I’d been through the ringer and was done. My husband made me go. Made me get up, get dressed, and go out into the world, where I learned just exactly how screwed up the past 2 or so years of my life had been. I had to process through an unplanned pregnancy, a horrible and devastating birth experience, the hurt of not being able to breastfeed, and the horrible depression I was living with. That I could love my baby and yet not be able to bond because of her association to all of these things. That I wasn’t a bad mother because I wanted to lay down and wish it all away… because I deserved better than what I got. Because ALL moms deserve better! With LOTS of therapy and lots of hard work, I finally DID start to get better. It was a lot of work. It was hard to get through all the birth trauma and the feelings of violation and loss, but I did it. I started to feel again, which was incredible. However, I was resolute in the fact that I didn’t want to have any more children. I was not willing to suffer again and to have a child old enough to actually ‘get’ how screwed up her mom was. I wasn’t careful enough.

In March 2008, I was 27 and, once again, dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. I decided this time would be different. Boy, oh boy, did I have NO idea just how different it would be. I tried to see a midwife… but she turned out to be horrible. She knew the doctor that delivered my first and defended his actions by saying ‘well, he’s old, what do you expect’. Um, I expect GOOD care and a compassionate bedside manner! I got my records and left. I found an ob-gyn through co-workers and was pleased with her and her practice. However, it was a very difficult pregnancy. I had my first bout of bedrest at 8 weeks. This continued off and on until I was put on modified bedrest at 6 months. I had horrible anxiety throughout the pregnancy but couldn’t sort out why. Until the day I took my daughter on the hospital tour. I lost it! I realized that, at some point very soon, I would have to deliver this baby and I was terrified. What if it was another torturous experience? What if he had reflux? What if? I couldn’t cope and I excused myself until they got to the cutesy part of the tour where they showed all the little kids how to put diapers on dolls and reminded them to clear up their legos.

On October 27, 2008, I went to my last doctor’s appointment of the pregnancy. I was just at 37 weeks (I found out later by looking at the charts and ultrasounds, that it was actually 35 weeks, which explains the health problems my son had immediately following birth). I was 6 centimeters dilated and strep positive. I was told to go straight to the hospital and would be induced in the morning. I was terrified of induction… I wanted to do this on my own terms. Thankfully, I went into labor on my own that afternoon. The birth experience was much better the second time.

hospital birth postpartum depression

However, within days of being home, I started to feel scared and on edge. I was terrified and called my ob. I needed to sort this out, NOW. Something was wrong, and my baby wouldn’t nurse. I had problems nursing him in the hospital, but everyone said it was fine… his latch was ‘great’ and so I just needed to toughen up. When he was 3 1/2, I found out that he had a lip tie and a posterior tongue tie. I was struggling with pain and my supply and wasn’t sleeping because he was having such a rough go. I was pumping and eventually stopped getting any milk at all. When I managed to pump anything out, it was blood. The nurse called me… the doctor was prescribing meds, but I would have to stop nursing. I took the meds for two days. I changed my mind. I was GOING to nurse this baby. However, it was too late. I later figured out why – I had PCOS and autoimmune thyroid disease, both untreated so had completely devastated my milk supply. Then things got ugly.

My son was admitted to the hospital at 6 weeks with a UTI. Watching him go through a battery of tests, all while coping with my feelings of fear and inadequacy was brutal. This time, the postpartum depression took a VERY ugly turn. This time it brought along a friend, in the form of OCD. It got to the point where I couldn’t prepare bottles for my son, because, due to my overly aggressive and obsessive handwashing, my hands were always bleeding. I scrubbed the master bedroom from top to bottom and locked my son and I inside. It was the only room that was ‘uncontaminated’. The only ‘safe’ space. I didn’t take him out of the room, and no one else was allowed in. I was angry and devastated and scared. I also found out after the fact, that it was noted on my chart to KEEP breastfeeding… that the meds my doctor prescribed for me were, in fact, compatible with nursing. I stopped sleeping, I stopped eating and I didn’t want anyone or anything around me. Everyone told me to suck it up. I was ok, the kids were ok. I just needed to pull myself up by the bootstraps and get on with life. That I was just ungrateful and needed to learn to deal with having two children. If only it were that easy. I was terrified of everything. I COULDN’T leave my house… I could barely leave my room. I arranged to have someone take my daughter to school in the mornings and pick her up in the afternoons.

Again, I called my husband and, again, found myself sitting in a doctor’s office. This had to stop. And, with a LOT more therapy and MORE hard work, the fog started to lift. I started to actually feel like myself and come into my own. I could finally enjoy my children, and get on with my life. It was hard though… people SAW what was going on and dismissed it, ignored it, or outright questioned my ability to be a good mother. People who, after the fact, would come up to me and comment that they were so glad that I got help because I had obviously been in a very bad place.

Why did these people never mention that or never ONCE offer to come help or check on me?! Because of the stigma attached. They feel like if they help, then they are ‘enabling’ the behavior. A mother with PPD is NOT a brat with a problem that can be enabled. She is suffering and she needs HELP. Compassion. A hot meal. You shouldn’t withhold those things because you’re worried that it will prevent her from seeking help! Go over there every day! Check on her, as often as possible! It’s devastating to go through postpartum depression and to stumble about through the misery, all while feeling like a crap mother because you have no bond with your baby. Then to find out that people SAW you suffering and chose not to help is even worse. This isn’t something that ANY mother should have to cope with.

It’s important for a mother to be prepared, but PPD feels like the ultimate curve ball. So, it really is up to friends and family to take notice and find help. Call a doula. Call the mothers midwife or ob. Call local lactation consultants to see if there is a new mom support group AND a postpartum depression support group. Drive her to it. Go to her house, put on the coffee, take her a hot meal, and tell her it will get better. Because, it will get better. It does get better. There is light at the end of the tunnel and you don’t always have to feel this way. And to all the women who feel ashamed and unwilling to take medication for it. DON’T BE. IT’S OK! If medication works for you and helps you, then TAKE IT!! I wish I hadn’t been so stubborn about taking medication. It’s not the end of the world to take a medication if it can help to give you your life back. You wouldn’t think twice about taking insulin if you were diabetic, would you?! If anti-depressants, anti-anxiety or mood stabilizers are NEEDED, then please, take them.

I should note, that the story ultimately served a wonderful purpose. I educated myself. I learned a LOT about pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. In July 2011, I found myself pregnant again. I refused to settle on ANYTHING this time. I finally found a wonderful midwife at around 20 weeks and had a beautiful, healing, empowering unmedicated hospital waterbirth at 40 weeks and 5 days. I had done the ‘impossible’. I was told I would never carry a baby to term and that I couldn’t have a baby with no drugs. I let my beautiful little girl pick her birthday and, on April 4, 2012 was able to accept and heal from all of the other birth experiences, because she had redeemed them and proven that I was capable… of anything! I came home, worried because breastfeeding was, again, not working out. This time, though, I refused to stop searching for an answer. I found a GOOD lactation counsellor and found out that she had a lip tie and posterior tongue tie. I pumped and worked with her until, at 3 months of age, we ditched the bottles and the supplements and she was exclusively breast fed! Today, she is a happy, healthy, breastfed 11 month old. I had no PPD after her. Only a bit of pulling my hair out while coping with going from 2 children to 3! 🙂 Education and preparation can go a LONG way. So, please mamas, get educated, get prepared and, above all, give yourself a break!

{Thank you Jaime for sharing your story of Post-partum Depression and Anxiety}

My Postpartum Body {A Poem}

My Postpartum Body {A Poem}

Once upon a time,
My skin was smooth.post partum belly
Unscarred.
It stretched trimly
Over firm muscles
And created soft dips down between bones.
My hips were tight and narrow.
My breasts were small and neat.

But with the energy of new life,
Every cell in my body was changed
And forgot the old ways of being.

Things became displaced…
My skin stretched over growing life.
It tore under the power and energy of my baby.
My hips moved apart to enable birth,
Creating a passage to travel.
My breasts grew, and the skin tore there too.

I birthed twice.

My body was scarred from two knivespost partum belly and babyThat created new passages for my baby to travel.
Once across my abdomen.
Once across my perineum.

I birthed twice.
And now I am a mother.
And I am softer. And I have more give,
In my mind and in my body.

My skin is loose,
As it reaches over my body.
Marks from stretching create
Deep crevices and silvery trails.
Like a road map showing the journey
My baby and I trekked to get to where we are today.

My breasts continue the work of my body.
Protecting.
Full of life. Full of love.
Flowing with energy.
Creating a bond impossible to replicate.

I have two scars.
Two marks from when I birthed; my birthmarks.
They were touched by new life.
Within them is a memory:
Those scars tell of the final times my babies were within me.
They tell the story of birth,
and the moments my babies existed in two worlds.

My hips are wider.
They have held the weight of my children.
They have held my whole world.

I created life.
If I was a scientist, I’d get a nobel prize.
But I am a woman, which is infinitely better.
My prize knowing that I made my girls
From two single cells.
I grew them.
My body grew them.
And for that, my body deserves grace.
Respect. Admiration.
Love.
It created life.
It created pure perfection.
And because of that
My body is perfect.
And my body deserves to be loved.

My body deserves to be loved.

My body deserves my love.

candj

My Story of PPD {Post Partum Depression}

My Story of PPD {Post Partum Depression}

I am writing this from a very dark place in my life right now. I am hoping that by getting my story out there for people to hear, they might recognize post postpartum depression in themselves and get the help they need. ALL the help they need. -Amanda

I have two beautiful children. My oldest, Evelyn, was born 2 years ago last October. I had depression as a teenager and told my obstetrician about it from the get go. She recommended that I be put on Zoloft, an anti-depressant, the day after giving birth to my daughter as a precaution. We did just that, I left the hospital with script in hand and took Zoloft for the next year straight. I tried to go off it once in that time frame, and realized I became moody, anxious and angry when I wasn’t on it.

After my daughter turned a year old, my husband and I discussed adding another little member to our family. He is quite a bit older than I and wanted to have his two children before he hit 40. I was quite agreeable as my first pregnancy was very easy and my daughter was wonderful. Sure, she had the normal newborn not sleeping well thing but she was happy, healthy and a very easy baby.

During my pregnancy with my son, my doctor and I discussed again getting on Zoloft right after he was born. My pregnancy was fairly easy but having an almost 2 year old running around at the time did make things a little more difficult than I’d imagined. I started to feel anxious and worried as my due date approached but put faith in the Zoloft working for me this time as it had before.

July 2012. Six months ago. My little boy was born, an easy, fast delivery. However, he was the complete opposite of my daughter, he was as far from an easy going baby as you could possibly get. Now, it wasn’t all his fault. In his first week he was projectile vomiting after every feeding. We saw the pediatrician, she put him on Zantac for acid reflux and sent us for a sonogram to look for something called Pyloric Stenosis. Apparently, he didn’t have that but he continued to vomit.

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Our pediatrician said just to wait it out, his digestive system would develop and he would stop. In the meantime, little man was not sleeping for more than 2 hours at a time. I was breastfeeding so my husband could do very little to help in the middle of the night. Two weeks went by without improvement. Back to the doctor, same story… he’s colicky, they said. He’ll grow out of it, they said. 2 ½ months went by. He still wasn’t sleeping. The final straw was when his pediatrician told me that my baby was just ‘high maintenance’. We found a new doctor.

By then, though, the 3 months of constant, never ending crying and lack of sleep had caught up with me. I was a zombie. My husband tried to help the best way he knew how but he worked 55 hours a week and I was growing meaner by the day. I was angry at everything. I was angry at my baby. I was angry at my daughter for acting like a normal 2 year old. I was angry at my husband for not supporting me enough. But most of all I was angry at myself for not being able to cope.

I kept telling myself that I was fine. I was just angry and anxious because I wasn’t sleeping. I was on the Zoloft, clearly my PPD was being handled. I truly had no idea, at the time, how wrong I was. The breakthrough in my mind came in pieces; two different incidents that made me realize that my PPD was not truly controlled. The first was when I took the kids, stormed out of the house, told my husband I was leaving him, and drove my car up the street and parked for 2 hours. I was so angry at him that day. I felt alone and unsupported. I wasn’t sleeping and I didn’t perceive him as being at all helpful to me.

I knew then that something was wrong. I called the doctor and he upped my Zoloft dosage from 50mg to 100mg. I went about my life, not feeling any better really, but telling myself I was fine. My baby boy’s health issues finally started coming to light. The new pediatrician we hired figured out he had a milk allergy and he was put on a no milk, no soy formula. My boy improved immediately, thank goodness. I, however, was still anxious, angry and prone to temper tantrums at the drop of a hat. Here I was, knowing that I had PPD but not realizing how bad I was, and how much the medication was not helping. I had no one to talk to. I wanted to appear to be super mom on the outside so I didn’t let any of my friends in on how I was feeling. Instead I took it all out on my husband… no wonder he decided to seek attention outside of our marriage.

That was the final straw. I found out about my husbands infidelity. An emotional affair with two women because he “just needed someone to be nice to him”. That’s how bad I was. He has moved out of our house now, and I am finally getting the medical help I need. I have started to see a therapist and have appointments lined up with a psychiatrist to get my depression meds figured out. I have hope for the future that perhaps my husband and I can rectify things and I can repair the damage I caused by not recognizing my PPD.

Just because you are on medication doesn’t mean that your depression is under control. Make sure you have friends and family watching you to make sure that the medicine is working. Establish a relationship with a primary care doctor or a psychiatrist so they can monitor your progress. That was my biggest downfall, relying solely on my obstetrician, who I only saw once post postpartum. Be aware that PPD is very normal and it’s not your fault, but you need help to control it.

Breaking Down Boxes – A Follow-up PPD Post!

Breaking Down Boxes – A Follow-up PPD Post!

I cannot tell all of you who commented on my guest post on Post-Partum Depression (PPD) how much all of your comments meant to me. Somehow January always seems to re-share my guest post on days where I am having an extra tough time and just reading your thanks and knowing that I am not alone in this garbage is very helpful, even during my darkest times.

I am happy to report to all of you that beginning in January I have gradually been getting “better” and little by little I feel like someone is turning up a dimmer switch and making my world bright again. I am by no means out of the woods and still have days where I could just explode, but the part of me that has to muster the energy I need to control those emotions is stronger now and I can totally dig it!

The interesting thing about this time around with PPD is how I started to get better. I was prescribed a hormonal oral birth control pills (OBCP) to help control a issue that I have with endometriosis (looong story for another time, whew!) and, well, let’s just say it was not doing its job so I fired it. Within two days of stopping my medication, I felt like someone was lifting the lid to a box I had been locked away in. A heavy, wooden box with a crummy-looking window on the outside, because that’s exactly what my PPD felt like; being locked in a box, shut away from everyone, with the ability to watch all of my horrible reactions and outbursts, but without the power to do anything about them.

obcp

I doubt that my OBCP’s were the direct cause of my PPD, but it is obvious now that they were exacerbating the issue. With brighter and clearer eyes, I am finally able to assess my situations with a logical head, when, before, any little thing could potentially cause an upheaval.

It came to mind that it would be good to write an accompanying post about helpful ways to maintain your balance while your body and mind are still healing from PPD. No one gets better overnight and this was something I ended up learning the hard way. I had gone nearly three months without incidence and then – BAM! – An exceptionally AWFUL day hit me like an aluminum bat to the face!

I bawled. No, like, I sobbed! I was so distraught over the idea that I wasn’t better yet, that I could still lose it so quickly. I called my husband at work, rambling like a blubbering mess and just plummeting very quickly over my down mood and unacceptable reactions. He pointed out to me that after almost two years of being extremely unbalanced and dealing with such intense emotions, having one rough day out of almost three months was awesome! Although I did not share his enthusiasm at the time, he was absolutely correct.

Parenting is NOT easy, but hell, life isn’t easy either! Things go wrong in your day to day all the time and kids are just downright unpredictable. I can’t control what other people do around me, but I can try to control how I choose to react in the moment. And when I sat down and really thought about it, there were other ways to take control over various parts in my life that also might add to my stress. I started to go through all the aspects of my life and clear out the negative or stressful elements that were not necessary. I mean, yeah, my children can sometimes be stressful, but I am keeping them! Haha!

People who would inspire an unpleasant environment and who I felt were simply bringing a negative presence into my life were kept at a distance or dropped all together. Not to say that you should only keep people in your life if they benefit it, but you shouldn’t put up with them if they detract from it either.

eat-colorful-foods-for-better-health

Foods that would make me unbalanced, such as processed foods or items high in sugar content were no longer purchased, and we have been making a huge effort at keeping just whole, healthy foods in the house. (And really good quality dark chocolate for the times when I want chocolate and only chocolate will do… you know the times I’m talking about!) I also try to drink as much water as possible every day. I bought myself a 20oz. water bottle and do my best to fill it up at least five times a day. Hydration has a great effect on my attitude when I keep up with it and there’s the added bonus that my kids want to drink more water too! I try to get regular chiropractic adjustments and I am a lot more careful about which medications (if any) I will take now.

I started trying to add exercise in where I could in small increments at first (like dances parties while we clean up toys during the day or parking farther away at the grocery store) and then building up to bigger exercises (longer, more complete workouts; such as walking my neighborhood or doing yoga).

The number one thing to help alleviate stress: hugs. Give them to everyone, even people who might not like being touched, and make them count. Not just an obligatory embrace, a real one; squeeze them tight and hold them until they can feel your positive energy and you can feel theirs. Most importantly, hugs your kids. Kids give the best hugs in the world and a really great hug accompanied by a semi-toothed grin can sometimes be that can of spinach you need to get through the rest of the day.

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I haven’t shaken this beast yet, but I’m doing whatever I can that is within my control to keep my ass out of that box. Every day I feel just a little bit better and having my old self back has helped my relationships with my husband and children to grow and adapt to be that much stronger, because we have all survived my PPD together. I’m grateful to my family for being there for me and giving me a constant reminder about why I’m working so hard on myself.

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If you find that you’re reading this and you’re still trapped in that f***ing box, please know that there is no specified length of time that one might be stuck enduring this horrible illness. Just because you are not there yet does not mean you won’t get there sometime soon. Likely when you least expect it. If you’re reading this story and you are just realizing that you have PPD or are not sure, PLEASE talk to someone TODAY. Please don’t wait. The longer you wait, the longer you will be stuck in the box and not getting back to YOU.

I don’t necessarily mean a therapist or counselor, because maybe that isn’t within your means. Counselors and Therapists are trained to understand the emotions you might explain to them, so they can be quite helpful if that is something within your reach*, but a parent, friend, sibling, or spouse can work great too, don’t discount them! I simply mean to talk to a person that you can feel comfortable enough to open up to, and likely cry in front of (if you’re anything like me). Not everyone gets better with diet and exercise alone and should you find yourself needing the added help of an anti-depressant please understand that it is OKAY!! The most important thing is doing what you need to do to get well!

I say we end this post with a mantra, whether you’re dealing with PPD or not, this is always an excellent reminder: “I am a good mom, a kind person, and I deserve to be happy!”

Say this mantra at least once a day and see if it doesn’t help you to believe it!

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*If you are still unsure if you’ve got PPD or maybe you even realize you DO have it but don’t have anyone you feel comfortable speaking with about it (in which case I am very sorry and just want to hug you!) here are some resources specifically for Post-Partum that I hope can help! Remember, you are NOT alone, mama!
( http://www.1800ppdmoms.org/ and http://postpartum.net/ )

 

Hello Aunt Flo {And Toxins?}

Hello Aunt Flo {And Toxins?}

aunt flo

Lets talk about PERIODS. Cycles. The Curse. Aunt Flo. Your Monthly Visitor. You know…that thing. The thing you were most likely taught to hide at all costs and were so afraid to be shamed about, be it from a stain on your pants to an “odor”, to hell…just being a woman.

Now readers – this is going to get personal. You are about to know a lot more about me. In turn, I would like you to keep gagging to a minimum. Okay? Alright. Here we go.

I come from a long line of bad periods. My mother, bless her, had a hysterectomy before she was 40 due in large part to her horrible, heavy monthly blood. I was told I was doomed to the same fate. From day 1 of my first cycle, which came ON my 11th birthday, it was heavy and annoying and painful. For years I had irregular, long, horrible cycles. Clotting. Cramping. Staying home from school and work. Nightmares basically.

I was told birth control was the answer. So I was on it for several years. Yes, the periods were shorter, but they were just as heavy. Just as painful. I still missed school and work for the first couple days so that I could lay on my heating pad and moan. Lets not even mention the many side effects of the artificial hormones on my body (that would be a whole post in itself).

I had my son and hoped that would kick my body into gear and force it to be “normal”. Not so much. I escaped cycles for 18 months total (pregnancy and then breastfeeding exclusively), but when they came back they were just as bad. What is a woman to do?

Then one of my friends online mentioned menstrual cups. What on earth was that? A cup in your underwear? She said it solved her cramps and heavy bleeding and get this – it saved her MONEY. Let me tell you – I am pretty cheap. Money saving gadgets draw me like a moth to flame. So I started my research.

Come to find out, they are not cups in your underwear. Lets liken them to flexible shot glasses in your vagina. Which sounds weird – but stick with me here ladies. Lets first look at the reasons WHY we should look at alternatives to conventional feminine products (disposable pads and tampons).

Dioxins, Toxins, and TSS

Since 1980 there have been concerns about tampons and TSS (toxic shock syndrome). That year, many women died from TSS. My aunt got horribly sick during that scare with TSS but thankfully recovered. Now we hear about Dioxin (a carcinogen) and other toxins in disposable tampons and pads. So what is all this about?

Dioxin, in simple terms, is the byproduct of wood pulp (rayon) or cotton bleaching methods when we are talking about tampons or pads. Supposedly, the new bleaching methods are dioxin free…and yet there are still detectable levels of dioxin in the products. This is due in part to the fact that dioxin is entrenched deeply in our environment due to pollution. Therefore, it is a part of the cotton or wood before the bleaching is even an issue.

The FDA states that very low levels of dioxin in tampons and pads are acceptable, though the FDA and the EPA both admit that dioxin is a powerful carcinogen. They state that the load is only 0.2% of the “acceptable monthly load” of dioxin each month. They do not include the fact that dioxin is long lived in the human body and builds up over time. They also forget to mention this is only one source of dioxin – our environmental load is large through our air, food, and water (in other words, we are adding MORE to our body through a product we don’t have to use, unlike air or water).

The EPA has done a recent study stating that dioxin is much more toxic than they previously realized. You can read the full 344 page report here (you know, light reading). They do point out, right at the start of the study, that the way they test can not take into account the ways we are exposed. They are simply injecting it and recording. They even specifically state that we don’t know how it changes when it targets a specific organ.

The targeting of of a specific organ is of special significance here since the pads and tampons are in contact with a very vulnerable part of our body – our labia, vagina, cervix, and through that – the uterus.

The list of non-cancer “endpoints” (risks) in animal trials include infertility in males and females, thyroid issues, birth defects and loss, diabetes, dental issues in both the receiving adult and in offspring, over-active thyroid, and several others. The human trials (which were done when there was a large exposure in a population in 1976) were all on children, newborns (who were exposed in utero) through the age of 10. Low sperm count/motility and over-active thyroid were both obvious results in those groups.

There is also a casual link to the increased use of disposable products over the last 50 or so years and a sharp increase in endometriosis, but further study is needed. Endometriosis is a common reason for infertility and hysterectomy. This link from the EPA talks about the casual link (pages 7-9).

There was also a survey done by a manufacture of medical-grade tampons (dioxin free) that suggests a link between one main brand of tampons and several female “issues” from genital warts to abnormal pap smears. The link is here as I don’t want to call out the brand. But this particular brand is designed to enlarge lengthwise in most types of their product and this creates more rubbing on the sensitive cervix, which can cause abrasions, which they speculate can cause more open paths for HPV and other viruses to enter.

Another (unproven) additive which may or may not be in these products is asbestos. Now, the FDA states that this is not in our tampons or pads. After all, they tell them it’s not allowed in there. However, the FDA does not have agents in each factory and rarely inspect them, and the manufacturer does not have to state any of the ingredients on the box. Hence why you rarely know if you are using an all cotton product or one which also includes rayon (which has a larger toxic load). *If* asbestos is in tampons and pads, it would create more bleeding and cramping. More bleeding equals more sales of the product. I leave it up to you, dear reader, to form your own conclusions on this particular additive.

And lastly – TSS. This is something you most likely know about. TSS symptoms are varied and the risks include death. The CDC states that rates are well down from the scare in the 1980’s – but admit that the rates are most likely under reported. Over a thousand cases are reported each year, half from tampon use, and about 5% die. The reason TSS and tampons are so linked is that the absorbent environment creates a breeding ground for the bacteria responsible for TSS. Tampons containing rayon are more likely to create this toxin overload and breed more bacteria.

Please take note that while much of this research has to do with tampons, your pads are created using the same cotton and rayon, and therefore carry much of the same risks (especially in regards to dioxin).

So now you know the truth about what is in your pads and tampons…so what do you do?

Your Alternatives

Now for the fun part! Your alternatives to those conventional products.

The main product I am going to talk about is menstrual cups since they hold the most mystery. You know, the flexible shot glass I mentioned back at the beginning.

Menstrual cups are pretty common place all over the world except in America. One brand, The Keeper Cup is approved by the FDA here, and one other brand, the DivaCup is now available in some Wal-Marts. A few brands (including DivaCup) are available in places like Whole Foods. But still, to the majority of the United States, these little cups are unknown.

There are many, many brands. Some are more popular than others, some are only available in a few countries. To name a few: DivaCup, Keeper, Keeper Moon Cup, Moon Cup UK (different from the Keeper Moon Cup), Ladycup, Lunette….I could go on and on. Really, there is a whole smorgasbord of cups out there. Which means you have to choose one that is best for you.

cups

Each vagina is a bit different. That is the fun part about the human body – we are not all alike. Therefore, cups come in different shapes and sizes and with different features. The cup that fits me like a glove may not work for you. A cup for a teenager is going to be smaller than a cup for a mother who has had a vaginal birth (this is why cups come in two sizes – before and after birth). I will post LOTS of links to help you figure this out at the end of the article. Don’t worry. The opinions vary but you can piece together which will be right for you with a little thought.

  1. Have you had a baby? Think about this one…did another person emerge from your vagina lately? Ever? Keep in mind that for some women a Cesarian birth also changes the size of the vagina. Don’t ask me why…no idea. After childbirth = the larger size cup. No children = the smaller cup of your chosen brand. You may also need the larger size if you are over the age of 30/35 even if you have never had a child.
  2. How long is your vagina? (I told you we would get to know each other well). Squat down on your ankles and figure this out. When you reach in with a couple fingers, do you hit cervix easily (it feels like the end of your nose if you are not fertile right now, or more like a squishy bump if you are)? Congratulations, you have a “shorter” vagina. If you reach back and feel nothing…and more nothing…you most likely have a longer vaginal canal or a very posterior cervix. Please check this a few times over the course of your cycle since your cervix does move around depending on if you are in your fertile phase or not. Short vagina = shorter cup (not cup and stem, just cup).
  3. How sensitive do you feel your vagina is? Also think about the connection between your bowels and your vaginal canal. If you push on the canal from the inside back towards your bum, does it get rather uncomfortable? (Please, do not do this too hard – just gentle nudges). If it bothers you a good bit, you may want to consider a cup with a softer rim.
  4. Do you have a very heavy flow? Now this is tricky. I would have told you before the cup that my flow was very heavy. I would not give that answer now. But just think on it. If you use pads, or if you did, how often would you change them? If you use tampons, are you needing to change them all the time due to leaks? You may want to avoid the few cups who have smaller capacity unless you want to empty it more.

There are a few common questions that I always get when I talk about cups. If yours is not here, please feel free to comment below and I will try to answer them for you or find information.

  • Does it hurt? Let me be honest. The first clumsy attempts are a bit uncomfortable. Not horribly painful, and I did not injure myself. Once you get the hang of it, it is no more uncomfortable than a tampon going in.
  • Do you get leaks? Honestly I never had a leak. Not even the first time wearing it during my period. However, I practicing inserting it before my bleeding began (use a tiny bit of lube as the vagina is more dry most of the time than it is during menstruation). I also researched as much as I could to get the cup I thought would fit me best. If you are worried about leaks the first few times you use it, wear a cloth pad as well.
  • How do you put it in there? This boggles the mind when you first see one. It is round…like a cup. So how do you put it in? You fold it and once it is inside you let go and it opens up. A firmer cup is better at the “popping open” then softer cups. My cup (the Keeper Moon Cup) is considered to be a cup with a firmer rim. The DivaCup is considered by many to be a softer rimmed cup. (Just as an example)
  • Isn’t it gross? Not really. Once you know how to take it out, you don’t even have to look. You just take it out, tip it into the toilet and walk to the sink and rinse. No matter what, we see blood during our cycle at some point. And let me tell you, the blood in a cup looks way better than the brown weird blood that was always on my tampons.
  • How often do you empty the cup? Most people empty twice a day and that is with a regular to heavy flow. I empty morning (when I wake up) and night time before bed. I have never needed to empty it while out and about. However, if you did do that, you can simply wipe it out with a tiny bit of toilet paper or use the handicap stall which usually has a sink. Or you can carry some of the wipes that are made to clean cups!
  • Is it sanitary? Yes. If you follow directions and you know, clean it, then of course it is! Most (except the original Keeper Cup which is latex) are made of medical grade silicone and very easy to keep clean. You simply rinse it out with warm water. At the end of your cycle you can give it a quick dip in boiling water to really be sure – but be aware with some cups that can discolor them a little. Harmless, but worth knowing. The original (brown) latex Keeper cup is even approved by the FDA for safety. Also – there has never been a case of TSS from cup use.

Now, there are other things to think about too. The fun stuff. Some cups come in COLORS! Yes, I know – exciting! Your vagina and cervix can be treated to a pretty color during this process. For some people the reason for a color is practical – you don’t see the blood as much as you would in a totally clear cup. It also hides the slight discoloration that can happen over time (which is harmless). The Lunette is a popular brand that comes in several colors.

Some cups come with goodies. The new DivaCup package comes with a swag pin for your purse…or shirt…or to never see the light of day. Your choice. Some come with very pretty storage bags or with wet wipes or specially made washes for your cup. As a side note – never store your cup in an air tight container. Please store it in the fabric bag it comes with. If you cut off the air, the product can degrade.

Some simple “trouble shooting” tips include cutting the stem (shortening it or cutting it off totally), turning your cup inside out (helps with some brands – cut off the stem first), learning to bare down for easy removal, adding a small “twist” after insertion to seal your cup, and learning new folding techniques if you have a hard time inserting the cup.

Cups normally last about 10 years. So for your $20-$40 investment, you get 10 years of not paying for disposable products.

So…enough about cups right? I will include lots of links at the end – I promise!

Alright Lady…what are my OTHER Alternatives?

Cloth Pads are a great option. I think they are pretty easy to understand. Most are designed with the same shape and style of disposable pads, but you wash them. For those who cloth diaper, this is not a foreign idea. A popular company is Gladrags, but there are many brands – just do a search on Etsy and you will be amazed.

These are really fun. You get the basics of absorbancy levels and lengths/widths. But you also get to look at all types of fabrics, pretty colors, organic or conventional fabrics, things that sound exotic like sherpa or minky. The options are endless. And if you are crafty you can make them yourself. These are reusable for several years with proper care and they save money and the environment.

The range of prices with these is pretty large but affordable – especially considering you use them many, many times. You will need 4-6 heavy pads (for overnight and heavy days), 10 or so regular pads, and 6 or so light pads/liners. Or – just keep track of how many disposable pads you are using right now.

Expect to do laundry with these every other day (much like cloth diapers). You can wash them with your cloth diapers by the way, but I would suggest keeping the wet bags seperate so you do not stain your diapers before you wash. Many women just hang a wet bag in their bathroom for “disposing” of cloth pads until wash day. Some women prefer to get enough for their whole cycle and wash one load at the end.

You can pre-rinse the pads to help keep away staining (keep in mind some fabrics stain more than others), or simply buy a color or pattern dark enough to cover stains if you think it will bother you.

Organic Disposable Pads and Tampons are available. Seventh Generation, Organyc and Natracare are three popular brands. These are all cotton and organic. They give you a bit more piece of mind about toxins and fragrances and all that. However, you still have the cost, the pollution aspect, and the chance of TSS (with the tampons).

Another option is Sea Sponges – I will not pretend to be an expert on these. But basically, it is a natural sea sponge that is trimmed to fit inside the vagina (think, smoosh and push up there). You then rinse them and reuse them. You can use them for about 3-6 cycles. They contain no toxins and should be sustainably harvested. This is actually an ancient method of both menstrual bleeding control and contraception. Make sure you get yours for a reputable source of sponges for menstrual use and not Bath and Body Works.

My Testimony

You know all about my horrible pre-cup periods. But how are they now? Since my switch to the Keeper Moon Cup my periods went from 6 or more heavy days to about 4 regular/light days. They no longer cause me to double over in pain or run to my heating pad. I have maybe a small back ache the first day. That’s it. Truly, it has been life changing for me. I no longer spend a crazy amount of money on disposable products every year. I spent $20 and I am done buying for about 10 years. I don’t have to keep up with tampons in my purse or send out my husband in the middle of the night.

I cannot stress enough how much I want women to try something different. Apart from the fact that tampon and pad manufacturers have taught us that our periods are weird, smelly, to be hidden, or shameful (or the opposite spectrum of fit athletes running around with no bloating and sexy ladies in lab coats), I really do feel that this can improve our health.

The FDA and EPA seem to think that there is an acceptable level of toxins we should snuggle up by our cervix every month. But really – do we want to risk that? Knowing that we already have a toxic load just from the air we breath and the food we eat, do we want to add to that? I hope that this has given you some insight into a different way of embracing your cycle and protecting your health. Again, comment below with questions!

Now….all those links I promised! Please note that the brands/shops linked are not endorsed by BWF, but are simply helpful tools. Feel free to buy from where you wish.

Brand Comparison Photos (this also has many helpful links to the right of the page)

Helpful WikiHow Article

Cup Comparisons (also with lots of links to more posts on the right)

Videos on YouTube (comparisons)

Videos on YouTube (folding your cup)

 

The photo of the cups if from this lovely website which has more comparison information as well.

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