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Archive for March, 2011

On Wellness Care

I’ve always been a hippy-wanna-be type of girl. Not the “free love” pot-smoking kind of hippy, but more of the simple life kind of hippy. I am interested in living a life free of invasiveness (if that’s even a word).

When I got pregnant with Natalie in 2006, I was suddenly faced with so many questions that I hadn’t thought about before. Should I stop drinking caffiene? Should I eat shellfish? Which vitamins should I take? How much water is adequate for hydration? Is an ultrasound necessary? How many times are you going to take my blood??? And, then, in 2007, my beautiful baby girl was born, but the questions didn’t stop. They got more intense. Breast or bottle? Cloth or disposable? Vaccinate? Antibiotics for ear infections? PE tubes for constant ear infections? Treatment for constipation???

As I was faced with these decisions, some of them were easy. Some of them were not. Natalie had chronic ear infections from the time she was about 6 months old. Her cheeks were flaming red, she had a runny nose and stuffed up head, fevers, and all the rest. We treated some ear infections with antibiotics, even though the doctor told me that they’re not even sure ear infections are bacterial in nature. When they didn’t stop, we had her hearing tested and she did not pass a screening. As a speech-language pathologist, I knew how that affected language development, which leads to delays in all areas in some cases further down the line. So, we thought about tubes. The doctor recommended seeking chiropractic care, so we gave it a shot. I was horrified when the chiropractor held her upside-down and then cracked her little neck. Not so much as an explanation for the procedure and then sent me on my way with some massage techniques I could try at home. This was not for me. Two months later, we placed the first set of tubes in Natalie’s ears. One year later, we placed the second set.

Fast forward to June 2009, when little James entered our lives. Some questions were the same, some questions were different. He had a hectic start to life with an early newborn fever and unexplained rapid breathing. Hindsight is 20/20… I know now that all he needed was his Mama, to be held close and monitored by me not the nurses. To sleep in my hospital bed, never getting more than a *sniff* away. But, instead, he was poked and prodded. He had blood tests, was hooked up to O2 monitors and breathing rate machines, he had an IV because the rapid breathing made the medical professionals worry that he would aspirate while nursing. Again, I knew what aspiration was and didn’t want to risk drowning my baby in breastmilk. So, he was not allowed to nurse for about 24 hours when he was barely that old himself. It was nerve-racking, and too much really. Just too much.

Fast foward again, to January 2010. That is when James and Natalie went back to daycare full time. And James had a cold that lasted for a month, accompanied by at least two ear infections. Here we go again, I thought. But this time, tainted by my experience of how medical intervention sometimes leads to further intervention to correct the imbalance caused by the intervention, etc, etc, I adamantly reported (to whoever would listen) that I was not, in fact, putting tubes in James’s ears. In the meantime, I had joined the MOMs Club in the area and met a lot of nice moms, including Lisa, who’s husband had just taken over a chiropractic clinic in the area. Chad and Lisa had two kids, similar in age to mine, and Lisa talked all the time about Chad adjusting their little girls.

I decided to give this chiropractic care another shot, mainly because I knew that Chad wouldn’t do anything to James that he hasn’t done to Bree. And, boy, what a different experience. Chad took the time to explain why adjusting an infant could help with ear infections, as well as other immune function. I brought James in as often as Chad recommended at first. Then, as we began to trust each other further, Chad helped me make some decisions on the care of my kids. He listened to what was wrong and offered nutritional advice, as well as the adjustments. Chad never rushed through an appointment and always took the time to answer my questions thouroughly. Most importantly, he trusted my mothering instincts to provide care to my kids. This is a courtesy rarely offered by the medical community as a whole.

Along the way, I discussed Natalie’s constant battle with constipation. Chad thought he could help. He recommended pro-biotics for both kids (and adults) and began adjusting Natalie. The results were, well, obvious. She went from a potty-trained girl who used to hide behind her bedroom door, squat and poop her pants, to a girl who used the toilet for all functions, easily and quickly. It turns out that her hips were “rocked off” making one leg about an inch shorter than the other and probably pinching the nerves that helped her feel the urge to have a bowel movement. With even hips and mobility in her joints, she was easily able to feel the urge to go before her BM got so large that it was difficult to pass. Now that is an explanation that I could understand!

Shortly after that, I found out I was pregnant with Baby #3. The familiar ache in my lower back began sooner than it had in the previous two pregnancies. I started getting adjusted this past summer and it has made a huge difference in the way my body feels. When I would lounge in bed before, watching TV, it caused my lower back to lock up, making me have to pull myself out of bed and limp out to use the bathroom. When my body is adjusted the right way, I never need to limp to the bathroom. I just thought pregnancy was supposed to feel that way!

So, we started seeing Dr. Chad with specific symptomology, but there have been some unforseen (by me) benefits to regular chiropractic care along the way. Firstly, Chad believes that a well-adjusted spine helps all of your nerves fire better, taking better care of your body’s functions and needs and, thereby improving the immune function along the way. And let me tell you, by the time my maternity leave started in February, we I had only used one sick day when Natalie and I were sick with diarrhea for about half a day. That has never happened before. And, let me just add, that its not like there hasn’t been sickness around me. You name it, I’ve been exposed. Strep, stomach flu, colds, coughs, pink eye, staph infections, laryngitis… and the list goes on. In fact, in my school, there are five teachers in my immediate vacinity and most of them caught a nasty cold that left them essentially voiceless for days. I used the same hallway, bathroom, breakroom, fridge, microwave, etc and never got sick.

And, to drive my point home even further, Riley got the stomack flu, leaving him throwing up all night, about a month ago. Natalie, James and I lived in the same house and never got it. That has never happened before in the history of this household. Past principle = one person with the flu = everyone with the flu. The kids and I pumped probiotics, drank lots of water, got fresh air and got our rest while Riley was sick.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’m immune to illness how that I’ve had my spine adjusted, but I do believe in the power of letting your body’s systems take care of themselves. Letting a fever fight a virus off, getting rest, eating healthy, drinking water, taking vitamins and probiotics. We started with specific symptomology, saw positive results, and in the meantime, we have improved the quality of our lives.

And, don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-medicine. I just think we jump right to treatments instead of letting the body attempt to heal itself. I still bring my kids to the doctor, but I use my brain and talk and research treatments on my own, instead of blindly following advice of a doctor. I discuss options with the doctor instead of just taking their first recommendations and, if necessary, I get a second opinion, something I would have never done before. I also shy away from things that are done “routinely.” I don’t believe in doing “routine” things, simply because they are routine. I like this new me and the choices that I’ve made for my kids. So, if you have things that ail you, think about visiting a chiropractor. If you find a good one, you’ll gain so much more than relief from back pain.

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Changing the clocks was first proposed in the late 1800’s. It has mostly been argued to save on electricity and boost retail sales and outdoor recreation. Health impacts include creating more after-work daylight for outdoor exersise. DST has even had political implications through the years with retailers and tourism lobbying in favor while agriculture and railroads lobbied against.

For me it is simple. It all boils down to sleep, or, at the very least, the perception of sleep. In college I loved, loved, loved the fall – setting the clocks back. This meant an extra hour of sleep with the added bonus of an extra hour of bar time. The move to DST in the Spring, of course, meaning an hour less to sleep, drink and be merry. Torture for a college student.

But, of course, things change when you get older… and have children with their own internal clocks. Fall is now a time where the chorus of “Mama! Dada! Out!” comes an hour earlier than the day before – like sometimes 4:00 am instead of 5:00, which it would have been. While 5:00 am is a difficult pill to swallow, 4:00 am kind of makes me queasy.

Tonight we are on the brink of “springing ahead.” What I hope this means for me is that Riley and I won’t be paged from down the hall until at least 7:00 am, even though it will really be 6:00. That perceived hour of extra sleep is comforting!

Of course tomorrow also means I have to endure Riley’s incessant discussion about what time it “really” is. All. Day. Long.

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On Day Two -Review

Day two- it is 1:41 pm. I have one sick 10-year old, one sassy 3-year old, a teething 1-year old and a (perfect) little baby. I also have fatigue, a messy house and a monster headache that has left me sensitive to light and smell. But. I have not yelled once. And trust me, there have been opportunities. Like when I set a steaming pot pie in front of two starving kids. One pushed it away while the other said, “Ew. Disgusting. I don’t like this.” before she had even tried it. It escalated from there with crying, screaming, pleading and whining about every little thing, not to mention the four poopy boy diapers and a baby who didn’t quite nap as long as usual today. Partly my headache has made me too numb to care about the whining and the mess, but partly I think I’m getting stronger in my conquest to knock off the yelling. Hopefully my kids follow suit soon and stop yelling at me!

I’ve collected a few readers in this journey, too! Good luck to Cathy, Jessie, Jenny V, Cara, Jenny D, Laura H, Christine and Laura B! How’s it going for you?

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On Day One, in Review

This is a follow-up to yesterday’s post: On Decreasing The Scream Factor.

I yelled twice before 9 am. But in my defense I have to say that the first time I yelled at Taylor after I had told him to put a permission slip in his folder no less than three times after he had forgotten it the morning before despite several reminders. And the second time was when I was talking on the phone to Taylor’s teacher to a chorus of my lovely daughter calling me a poopy-head repeatedly because I made her let go of her brother’s tractor that she was only holding on to to irritate him, causing him to scream at the top of his lungs while I was on the phone… with an educational professional!!! Breathe. Breathe. Breeeeeathe.

So, these were trying times for sure and before I could even think, I was yelling. So I tried natalie’s tactic. I said, to myself, let’s try again. Then I talked in the calm, explanatory way that I meant to the first time. In speech therapy, we call that a cancellation.

I did yell one more time when I was on the phone (again) with my friend Cara. I had tried several times to encourage Natalie to help James find something he was looking for while I was stuck in the chair nursing Liberty. Not only was she NOT helping, she was stealing other toys he was interested in and hiding them up high so he couldn’t reach them and making sassy comments to him. So, I yelled. Then I apologized to Cara who had to listen to it. And guess what! The yelling did not change the bad behavior. Imagine that.

Jessie from Behind The Willows told me a long time ago about reading a book on Scream free parenting. She didn’t recommend reading it (mostly because of avoidance issues with “self-help” books) but I do remember one nugget of advice that came from that book: something like screaming or yelling at your kids sends them a mixed message because they perceive you as being out of control. So you are trying to control THEIR behavior while you, yourself, are not in control of yours. Interesting point, and something I have since thought about. This challenge for me is more about staying in control of myself to maintain the air of assertive pack-leader in my house. (Read Jessie’s review of the book here: http://behindthewillows.wordpress.com/?s=Scream+free+parenting&submit=Search)

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Lent is a season to practice prayer and sacrifice in preparation for the coming of Easter. People, Catholic people in particular, often make a sacrifice during Lent, as well as abstaining from meat on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays for the 40 days of Lent. This year I have decided to make a sacrifice that will hopefully improve the lives of my children, my husband and myself for a period longer than 40 days. Maybe even forever.

I have decided to give-up yelling for Lent. It’s something that I resort to with my children when it seems like nothing else is working and I’m tired and lazy and just want to be done with whatever task they are giving me a hard time about. Usually there is that feeling that comes over me. A feel of frustration, a slight raise in pulse and blood pressure that comes with feeling stressed and overwhelmed, not knowing how else to respond, I just get louder. What am I trying to accomplish with that? Like they didn’t HEAR me the first 16 times? I don’t think that was the problem with the non-compliant behavior. Or am I trying to intimidate them? Make myself bigger and louder (because you do tend to stand up taller or get right in someone’s face when there is yelling to do). How primal. Maybe I’m trying to do all of the above, or maybe I’m just one mom with four kids trying to make it through the day.

At any rate, the yelling layers on feelings of insecurity, guilt, self-doubt and even self-loathing. I don’t want to yell. But mostly what I tell my kids when I’m starting to feel out of control is: “I don’t want to HAVE to yell at you.” Like they are supposed to sense the moment when I flip the switch from talking mom to manic, screaming mom. But the truth is, I DON’T have to yell.

And so I won’t. Or at least I’ll give it my best shot for the next 40 days with peer-support and divine guidance I can make this trip! Cara S. and Jenny D. have already vowed to join me. Will you take the challenge, too?

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