Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Once upon time, I had a precious daughter that was kind and full of joy. Then one day, under the radar, someone snatch her and replaced her with a 3 year old who erupts into fanatical outbursts of anger, cries inconsolably for every reason under the sun and expresses her independence in varying degrees of irrationality every chance she gets.

Please return my daughter to her family, we miss her gravely.



Is it surprising that mothers from this survey say their satisfaction with life reaches rock bottom when their children turn three years of age? I’d have to say, nope – not surprising at all.

I admit it’s rough at times and I consider myself pretty optimistic and happy with life – I can only imagine how it feels with women who are already pissed at the world before having kids- yikes! No wonder there are masses of people doped up on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.  


So how can I arm myself not to fall victim like so many others before me to this small creature that has taken over my sweet little girl?

Here is what I found that helps me stay sane while holding on for this wild ride known as the ‘terrifying 3’s’. 


1. Strengthen your relationship with your partner.

In the survey that I mentioned earlier, the number one most important factor in regards to the mother’s satisfaction with life was the happiness experienced with the couple’s relationship.

If you haven’t already, then I would suggest making it essential that you and your partner take time for yourself. Make a date night once a week. Even better, make time everyday – it doesn’t have to be long, just 15 minutes that you talk without having to manage kids.


Take this point seriously. It is essential. Don’t wait until you “get time” – the time will never come until you seriously make it a priority. Do it!


2. Be an example

This might be a tough one but remember this – you’re an adult. Act like one. 


When your child is in the throws of unyielding dismay that brings you to the point of considering placing a gun to your head to drone out the cantankerous screaming, remind yourself this is the exact time that you teach a child how a person is expected to react to frustration and disappointment in life.

Right at that moment, you are modeling future behavior for your child. So, unless you want more of the same – you better act the part and calm down!

If you can’t that moment, that’s ok – we all have those moments – go sit in the bathroom by yourself for a few minutes or something. Ask for help if you can from your partner and go get some fresh air.

Do anything except act like a 3 year old.


3. Get inside their head.

If you consider this, your little one has approximately 1,000 trillion synapses which has form in response to environmental stimuli over the last 3 years -this is twice the number found in our adult brain.

The neural commotion going on inside the brain is breathtakingly chaotic. Their advancement in sensory and motor skills is remarkable, however they lack the emotional regulation and self control it takes to act like a normal human being.

Don’t hold it against them.

It’s ironic, in some ways, that we demand our children to master their temper and restrain their emotional outbursts when most adults don’t have aptitude to assert self-control.



I think it’s important to understand that it’s not easy being the brain of a 3 year old. At times, we’ve got to everything in our power to pull from every corner of our being to muster up the amount of compassion which is needed to deal with the situation at hand, and we must.



Light at the end of the tunnel

I look at it this way - maybe nature purposefully made this stage for both the child and the parents. We all know there are always great lessons to be learned in the greatest of obstacles.

What are the greatest lessons you’ve learned so far in parenting?

Really, take a minute to think about it.


I hope my experiences and lessons I have learned so far strength your reserve. Please hold your delicate 3 year old in soft, compassionate hands – even when they act like lunatics – because ultimately, if you don’t, we’ll end up with a bunch of adults acting like 3 years olds for the rest of their life.

Good Luck!

I Am NOT A Hippie...I Wear Heels for Gosh Sakes.

You won’t catch me sipping on patchouli leaf tea, listening to Jefferson Airplane with my hair in dreadlocks planning my next trip to San Francisco...not that there's anything wrong with that.


Even if I’m not partaking in the above mentioned activities, the majority of my friends and family still brand me as a hippie…I guess I could think of a few reasons why

In all actuality, I don’t have a problem with it.

But, a hippie - that’s just not me. I mean, come on, I have overtly compulsive tendencies when it comes to keeping the pillows on my couch even. I have a huge make-up bag. I use a tanning bed on occasion and dye my hair. I don’t own one long skirt (denim or other-wise).

I kill plants - That’s got to count for something, right?

Poor plants.
Here’s the thing, my “pre-kid” self didn’t even know people had babies at home. Well, maybe Amish people, I guess – but not “regular” people, right?

You see, “pre-kid” Amanda is still there, she never went away – but I’ve come to realize this amazing gift of parenthood has the uncanny ability to catapult a person into serious personal development, it did for me anyways. But, for me, this growth is partially witnessed in the (“hippie”) choices I make for the health of myself and my family – some of those choices just happen to be having a baby at home or making toiletries from scratch.

Interestingly enough – the term hippie is derived from the West African word ‘hipi’ which means “to open one’s eyes”...

When I was in my early twenties I never knew cloth diapers existed or that people put babies in slings - then I had my daughter.


Then I started co sleeping and wearing a Moby Wrap at the market...and making all of my own baby food - I found myself secretly breastfeeding my daughter past the age of one. I was stashing up on cloth diapers….and then, oh god, I found myself planning for another baby and I was going to have a drug-free, natural birth – AT HOME!

However, I still change diapers wearing 6 inch heels in overly-priced BCBG dresses – all-be-it they are cloth diapers.


The way I look at it, I am just adding to the person I already was.

Aren’t we all?  

What’s exciting is the growing number of mothers embracing practices that were once labeled at crunchy, granola or hippie – and not one of them consider themselves to be the any of those things. They still kill plants for gosh sakes.

How fabulous is it that there is a growing amount of soon-to-be mothers seeking out midwives/doulas, planning for a safer drug free birth – or that more women have access to local boutiques that offer breastfeeding support and even classes in cloth diapering!  


There must be some good reason we are experiencing an increase in “non-hippie” parents implementing such hippie-like practices. As for the reasons, that’s another post – but for now, I celebrate all mothers and fathers for covert (and OVERT!) hippie practices while still wearing business suits and paying way too much for their morning coffee!


“The ultimate goal of being ourselves in an authentic way
 is actually about loving ourselves in a generous way.”

I Want To Pee Alone!

If you don’t have kids, then I’m afraid you might not understand when I tell you to enjoy the 30 seconds of luxury you have when you are using the bathroom by yourself.

When you sit there - alone.

Enjoying the time when it’s just you and your thoughts.

Quiet.

Why does every toddler have the keen ability to know EVERY TIME you use the bathroom, even when you employ ninja-like maneuvers to avoid them on your way toward the toilet?

How about holding your pee until the point that if you take a deep breath you’ll pee your pants just to avoid the lame attempts at keeping the toilet paper roll in one piece while your child keeps grabing it?

Then it dawned on me while I was in our small half-bath while my 3 yr brushed her teeth with her stool between my feet and her younger sister playing a toy drum on my knees while my husband talked to me about what to have for dinner the next day, all while I peed -  ahhh, this must be unconditional love.

I end this post to testify with confidence – the main reason why I hold a full time job is because I like to pee alone on occasion.

Freedom

Acceptance is our key to freedom.

Acceptance of the way things are at any given moment is how we feel joy.

But, you ask, how do we learn to accept terrible things in our life?

Gratitude for the magnificent love in our life that over shadows the awful.


8 Big Spiritual Questions Kids Ask - With Answers

Young children ask a lot of questions and some of them can be tricky to answer. 

Why are we here?    Who created God?

Spirituality seems to come naturally to kids and it’s important to expand their curiosity if you desire your child to have a strong spiritual foundation which can be important in living a happy and purposeful life.


Even if your religion is a clear-cut subject for you (such as Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, etc.), we should think about the spiritual values we want to pass onto our children and be able to explain it in a way they understand.

We don’t have to wait until our children are old enough to ask these questions – we have the opportunity to be an example of our faith and spiritual principles everyday. If you believe God or a Divine influence wants you to be kind to others, then put the effort into being thoughtful and compassionate to everyone.

What better opportunity do we have to teach our children how to treat others?

Below are some spiritual questions kids tend to ask and what my personal response would be. I’m sure our answers will not be identical; however that’s not the point.

At a time when worldwide religious conflict dominates our headlines, it is also important to impart respect for all faiths/beliefs in ourselves and our children.  The way you answer will obviously depend on how you feel about your own spirituality or spirituality in general. 

This post is an attempt to create a spark in your life today to start asking yourself meaningful questions.  There is a benefit to asking ourselves these questions throughout our life. Not only will we be better equipped to answer them when prompted by our children, but we will have a better understanding of our own beliefs about our purpose.  

“We are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey.”
—Stephen Cover, American author


How are babies made?

Before you are born, you are a soul in Heaven. You and God picked out me and papa to be your parents and then you grew in mama's belly for awhile. When you were all done growing, we finally got to meet you and you share your Light with everyone you meet which makes people happy.


Will I die? Where do I go?

Yes my dear, we all die. It doesn't hurt, in fact, it is a beautiful day when it happens. One day mama and papa will go back to Heaven but will we live in your heart until you come to live with us again.


Do people go to Hell?


You never have to fear going to Hell, my Love. Even when people do bad things, they are shown forgiveness and compassion – that is why we are here, to learn to love unconditionally.


Unconditionally means that no matter what someone does, you love and care for them. 


What does God look like? Why can’t I see him?

We are very lucky. We can see God when our eyes are open and even when they closed. Everything you see, the trees, the birds, and even you, are what God looks like.

When you close your eyes, smile and be very still – you can feel God in your heart. In fact, you can feel all the people you love in your heart, that is why it is important to love everyone.

What is a soul?

A soul is what and who we really are. When you are little and grow up like mama and papa your soul stays the same age and never changes. Your body is a costume the soul wears for a little bit so it can come to earth and love others. When the costume needs replaced, your soul will go back to Heaven and you will get to watch all of the kindness you gave to other people.  


Why does my friend believe things differently? Is she wrong?

There are so many ways to love and be nice to others. Your friends are not wrong at all, in fact, it can be fun to learn all of the ways people celebrate caring for others, even strangers or people that aren’t nice to us all the time.


Will all my friends go to heaven?

Yes, every single one of them…and even the people you are not friends with! 


Why do people do bad things?

People sometimes do bad things, but that does not make them bad people. When you think you see someone doing something bad, it’s usually because they are scared and need someone to love them. That is why it is so important to smile and love everyone – you have the strength inside you to make the world a better home until you go back to Heaven.





Although I was raised Catholic, I no longer label or limit myself as Christian. I celebrate all religions and beliefs that center around Divine love and unity. A quote concerning this specifically comes to mind from Wayne Dyer, “I don't think that Jesus was teaching Christianity, Jesus was teaching kindness, love, concern, and peace. What I tell people is don't be Christian, be Christ-like. Don't be Buddhist, be Buddha-like.” This is how I choose to live my life.

Treating Symptoms Is Making Us Sick

On a daily basis, people experience some type of bodily symptom (stemming from dehydration to stress to fatigue, etc. - what have you). It’s not uncommon to hear of people (and children) taking some type of pill or drug to alleviate such unwelcomed feelings.

But what if we viewed symptoms in a different way?


Quick Etymology Lesson: (oh, come on, you know you love etymology) The origin of the word symptom comes from a Greek word symptoma which means “to befall together, or that which falls together with something else”.


What do I mean by understanding symptoms in a different way? Well, the majority of us may believe that symptoms are something wrong with our body… but what if we’ve been duped? What if symptoms are what is RIGHT with the body?

What a novel idea.


Could that fever be good for you?

Could inflammation, discharge, and nausea be our witness to, god forbid, healing?   

What if you knew that symptoms embody the efforts of our body’s intelligence – the healing process which defends, cleanses and heals itself from within.

So in fact, covering up or masking symptoms inhibits the process of healing.

Imagine how this effects children particularly.

Ugh.

When children (or anyone) have a cold their bodies naturally cause them to cough and expel mucus from the throat. Giving  cough suppressant medication covers up the symptoms of a runny-nose and cough which inhibits the body’s natural mechanism of draining the virus to the stomach acid (runny nose), while keeping it out of the lungs (coughing).  

Even diarrhea is known to be a defensive effort of the body to remove pathogens more quickly from the colon. (Yippie for poop!)


In my opinion, I think we need to make the effort to recognize symptoms as helpful indicators that something needs to be adjusted in our life or in the very least given some attention to. From nutrition, sleeping patterns, stress, environment, exercise – there are so many tools we have to help us help our bodies, instead of stifling the healing process.  

Drugs = “Stuff a sock in it”


So before popping a pill, think to yourself, “Am I healing or Am I obstructing the effort of healing?”

Because when it comes to our wellbeing, we all have the responsibility to become experts.



Want to read more? Noah Bonn’s blog “Blogging for Consciousness” has a post series titled Dysfunction – check out part one here: Dysfunction Part 1: Don’t Treat the Symptoms, Treat the Cold.

Natural Childbirth: Pain With Great Purpose

After about ten months (or more!) of growing, planning, dreaming, and preparing for such an awesome gift, the birth of a baby will most likely be one of the most rewarding and challenging moments in a woman’s life.  No matter how or where the baby is born.

something this size is meant to come out naturally?!


With my first child, I did the expected, predictable thing. I went to a hospital and got an epidural. There’s no reason to go through the pain of childbirth if you don’t have to, right?

While we may not know for sure all the purposes of pain in labor, we would be reckless to think there are none.

With my second, I had a non-medicated, midwife assisted homebirth. I found out first hand what I had missed with my first. The pain experienced during labor does have a purpose, many in fact.

(No matter where, what, when, why or how –childbirth is a remarkable event and every woman should be supported in her decision. There are those out there wanting to belittle, condemn, scrutinize, and humiliate but these actions get us no where in the safety of mothers and babies. Instead, I ask you to read the list with an open mind and consider there is another option available to birth that doesn’t automatically necessitate drugs.)



The Pain Prepares You

When a women starts to feel contractions, the dull ache is a signal that it’s not just another day. When I felt I was in labor, it gave me time to gather up the things I needed and to make sure the support I needed was there. I also made sure to not to overexert myself that morning, to lazy around, take many showers and relax.

now that's just lazy
More importantly preparing myself mentally, physically and emotionally helped prepare me in a different way compared to my first medicated birth. There was a level of selflessness there that I didn’t have with my first daughter. I am in no means stating that all women who take medication are selfish – I am only speaking of my personal experience.

I knew no matter how painful labor was going to get, I was opting out of drugs because I wanted my baby to have the safest, most gentle birth possible. I wasn’t choosing pain because I am a masochist, I was choosing it because I wanted what I thought was best and most safe for my daughter.

For me, this altruism made room for me to grow into a better mother and wife.

This was what love meant after all: sacrifice and selflessness.
It did not mean hearts and flowers and a happy ending,
but the knowledge that another's well-being
 is more important than one's own.


The Pain Protects You

While I was in labor, the pain from contractions made me move, a lot. I was on my feet for most of the day. I walked outside, inside, upstairs, downstairs. I took a shower and then walked some more. When I did lay down to rest, my left side was more painful to lay on, so I laid on my right. All of my actions that day eased the pain a bit and helped me get from one contraction to the other.

This movement protected my body as well as my daughter’s. Since my movement was not restricted at all the entire process, I was able to help facilitate the baby’s decent. Using gravity in the process, movement also eases the pressure on the baby and on the birth canal.


It was extremely helpful to remember during my natural birth that my baby is not a passive but rather a very active participant in the process. I thought of pain as sort of a language between us.


The Pain Provides Natural Relief

Coping with pain during labor allows the body to increase oxytocin release, which in turn causes more effective, stronger contractions. This ultimately leads to the release of endorphins, a natural narcotic. Endorphins are endogenous opioid peptides that function as neurotransmitters (say that 5 times fast). They are normally released during exercise, excitement, love, orgasm and you guess it – pain.  

With my first child, the epidural wore off about half way through labor. The pain was excruciating. I was laying down, tied up to monitors, plastic IV’s, and a catheter. I had to lay there and deal with the pain until I was able to talk the nurse into calling for the anesthesiologist – for more drugs. If I combined the pain of getting the epidural, the pain of it wearing off, and the pain of a slower recovery, my first birth (that was medicated) was more painful then my second natural birth.

ok, that's just needlessly painful

I understand that it may be difficult to understand, but in my case – at home, naturally, the pain was gradual and manageable. I relaxed and breathed deeply while I swayed back and forth. Not only was this beneficial to me, but the deep breathing allows the baby to get lots of oxygen.  


The Pain Helps You Respond

When I used drugs with my first birth it disrupted what I should have been doing to have an efficient labor. I know this only because I experienced what labor was like without medication. There is no way in hell I would have laid on my back for 6 hours straight if I was having a natural birth. Laying down is not effective at getting a baby out, whether using drugs or not.

Who the hell thought this would work for getting a baby out?

 For me, when I was unable to feel contractions or feel the pressure of my baby, I was unable to respond to it. I laid there and waited for a doctor to tell me to push. My body wasn’t stimulated to produce optimal oxytocin and endorphin levels. I found that out when the epidural wore off. I went from zero to 1 million. I didn’t know how to react, how to respond – so I asked more drugs instead.

Once I removed the pain during the journey, I removed the signals my body needed to keep labor progressing and to protecting itself and my baby.

When I had a natural birth, it was like I knew exactly what to do. I distinctly remember leaning over the couch and going through a pretty intense contraction. Immediately following that, I stood up and changed positions – I knew that I had to respond in a different way.

Coping with the pain in labor helped me have an easier birth, I had an alert baby, and I felt healthier.


Pain is not just an unfortunate side effect of labor but instead it is an important piece of the normal process of labor and birth. I think it would be most valuable for women and babies if more people would talk about the benefits of pain during labor instead of attempting to escape it automatically.

Epidurals do carry medical risks as well as the interventions needed when deciding on pharmaceutical pain management. Personally, I find the bias encouragement women receive in pharmaceutical pain relief for their own good with little reference to the possible side effects for the baby very distressing. Luckily, many women when discovering that these drugs do cross the placenta are motivated to try other forms of pain relief, since harming their baby (even if it is remote) is  undesirable.

I found labor very bearable, especially when I knew it meant better health for my daughter. I have no doubt that other women would feel the same way if they knew the benefits of pain in labor, to both themselves and their babies.



Rejoice not in the fact that you are suffering,
but in the confidence that the pain can be transformed.

The value lies not in the pain itself,
but in what you can make of it.


2012 National Rally for Change

Each one of us has the power to make a difference in the care for mothers and babies across our nation.


Have you heard of The National Rally for Change? Finally, this was the opportunity! 

Yesterday - across the nation - women, men and children gathered in support of evidence based maternity care. The goal is to reduce the unnecessary induction & unnecessary cesarean rate in the US by bringing awareness to birthing families.


This peaceful event was held all over the country during Empowered Birth Awareness Week - September 3-7th.

This was not a protest – this was a public outreach event located where the vast majority of women give birth-local hospitals.


This was not about natural birth versus medicated birth – this was about women being aware of all the options and making fully informed choices about the safety of their (and their baby’s) care.  

History of the National Rally for Change

The first event from ImprovingBirth dot org was held in December 2011. This was a local rally that brought about great change for a local hospital and mothers attending.


Following the rally, the hospital initiated an in-hospital based Doula program and changed triage guidelines to allow labor support people to join moms when first arriving at the hospital. They also restructured their website moving information about cesarean surgery from top to bottom of the page and started featuring natural birth stories.

Can’t wait till next year!
 


Pictures from Vuefinder Photography (check out these and other AMAZING photos here: http://vuefinderphotography.com/


Speak the truth,
do not yield to anger
give.
If thou art asked for little; by these three steps thou wilt go near the gods.
 -Confucius