Monday, November 3, 2014

The Birth of Emmalyn Faith-A VBA2C

In order to understand my journey to birth naturally after two prior c-sections, you have to learn where I've been. You can read about the unnecessary cesarean births of my two older children here.
    I awoke about 1am on the morning of October 11th with some mild contractions. I could tell these were the real deal because they started at the front and wrapped all the way to the back of my body, and they also did not subside with movement or position change.  The contractions were pretty tolerable and irregular so I did my best to sleep through them. I knew that if the baby would be coming in a day or so, the best thing I could do is rest. I woke up that morning around 730 and made my kids waffles for breakfast. I had a few instances where I would have to breathe through a contraction, but they still weren't picking up in frequency or intensity. My mom was here, and I tried to hide it from her because I really didn't want the pressure of a whole lot of people knowing that I could be in labor. I actually didn't tell anyone, even a text message to my closest friends until after the baby was born.
  I texted my midwife Sarah to let her know what was going on. She told me to make sure I was eating, drinking, and resting. I took a two hour nap after breakfast. Throughout the rest of the day and afternoon, the contractions had pretty much subsided. I figured I probably still had a few days or so before the baby would make her appearance. I took another nice nap in the afternoon.
   About 430 p.m. I lost my mucus plug. I knew that didn't necessarily mean that full-blown labor was imminent, but I couldn't help but be a little bit excited. I made dinner for my family and went about my normal routine.
. We put the kids to bed around 8, and I settled down to watch Netflix while Jeff worked on his homework. By this time, my contractions were about a minute or so long and about 10 minutes apart. They were much more intense, but I was still coping well and tried to sleep between them. We planned to stay home to labor before heading to the birth center. I was keeping Sarah up to date with frequent texts.
By 11pm, the contractions had grown closer together and more intense. I could no longer sleep between them because laying down was absolute agony. The most comforting thing was leaning over and surrendering all my weight on a large exercise ball. I took long deep breaths in through my nose, and then let each breath out slowly through my mouth.  The contractions grew more intense still, and I decided to take a shower. The hot water felt so comforting as it trickled over my body. Since the contractions seemed much closer together, I woke Jeff up so he could help me time them. FYI he wasn't being a bum and abandoning me in my time of need. I hadn't awakened him because I was coping well by myself, and I also felt the need to be alone.  By now it was about 1am, and my contractions were really intense and 5 minutes or less apart. I decided that I wanted to head to the birth center since it was about a 40 minute drive. I texted Sarah to let her know that we were headed that way so that she and her supervising midwife Emily could meet us there.
     Lynsey wanted to be at the birth so we woke her up to let her know it was time to leave. I was really surprised at how alert she was for waking up in the middle of the night. She was so bubbly and chatty, but I'm sure it was because she was so excited. Jackson did not wish to go to the birth so he stayed home with my mom.
  The car ride was horrible. It was the longest 40 minutes of my life. It was during this drive that I really regretted that we weren't having a home birth. Unfortunately, I did not want to commit to that because I was unsure if the movers would bring our stuff in time for our house to be set up.  At one point during the height of a contraction, I demanded that Jeff run a stop sign. This is Mr. Law Abiding Citizen, and I could see the look of horror on his face when I said that. I blurted out, "It's 2 in the morning! No one is around!"  So he honored my request and broke the law.
  We finally arrived at the birth center, and the birth assistant Sterling took my vitals. Sarah asked me if I wanted to have my cervix checked. I was really conflicted about this. On one hand, I was really curious to see how far along I was, but on the other I was scared that I would be disappointed if I wasn't as far along as I thought I was, especially after dealing with such intense contractions. Emily and Sarah said it was my choice. They could check me and just not tell me how far along I was or I could just commit to not being disappointed if it wasn't what I expected. I decided to go ahead and let them check. I could tell by the look on their faces that it was favorable news so I wanted to know. They told me I was already dilated to 7cm! I couldn't believe I was that far along already. It was exciting to think that I could have the baby fairly soon. I mentioned that I may want to get in the shower, and Sarah told me that I was far enough along to labor in the birthing tub if I wanted.
     The warm water of the tub was so soothing. I can definitely see why it is referred to as the midwife's epidural.  The room was so calm and was dimly lit with candles. I continued breathing through each contraction. Soon, the room was more illuminated as the sun started to peek over the horizon.
Trying to relax through a contraction




Lynsey was such a trooper! She stayed up throughout my entire labor. She would come up and stroke my head to encourage me.


Before I knew it, it was approaching lunchtime. By this time, I still wasn't feeling any downward pressure and my contractions were becoming less intense.  Sarah suggested that I get out of the tub for another exam to assess the situation.  I was "stuck" at about 9 1/2 cm. The baby's head was tilted to the side and my cervix was off to the side which is why I wasn't fully dilated or feeling any downward pressure.  Sarah suggested some exercises and other physical movements I could do to help the baby get into a better position. By this time, I had been laboring at the birth center for well over 8 hours. I guess Sarah could sense my disappointment because she asked me how I was feeling and what I was thinking.  I admitted that I was scared that I wouldn't be able to do this. She reminded me that I WAS doing this, and I was doing a great job at that. 
Understanding my need to recharge, she also mentioned that I could try to rest for a bit before diving into the work of repositioning the baby.  Rest sounded like the most attractive option to me. She put a TENS machine on me so that I could cope with the contractions, and I tried to lie down and get some sleep. I did still have some pretty rough contractions, but somehow I managed to get a good hour or so of rest. 
     When I got up, I told the midwives that I was ready to get to work.  Sarah and Emily suggested some exercises to help me. I did sets of lunges, and I also walked throughout the birth center doing "high knees".  After working on the exercises, my contractions started to pick back up. Sarah told me that laboring on the toilet may help things really move along.
     I sat on the toilet facing backwards. Two pillows were propped up on the tank so I could lean on them during contractions. The contractions became VERY intense, and soon I started to feel lots of pressure and the urge to "bear down".  The sensation was very odd, as I had an epidural while I labored with Lynsey and never felt any sensations. My body was pretty much pushing on it's own with each contraction. Soon I heard a large "woosh" and felt my water break and gush out. Jeff was with me in the bathroom and gave me a wide-eyed "what the heck was that?" look. I told him to let the midwives know that my water had broken. 
     Since things had picked back up, and I felt the urge to push, I got back into the birthing tub. The contractions were really intense. Sarah and/or Sterling would apply counterpressure to help me cope. I managed to stay relaxed and focused on my deep breathing. Sometimes when I breathed in, I would imagine that I was sucking the pain of the contraction out of my body, and as I breathed out, I visualized releasing the pain away from me.  I had always read that after laboring, pushing felt like such a welcomed relief. However, it did not feel that way to me. I actually hated the intense pressure. It felt so involuntary and like my body was going to split in half.  It was nice to take my body's lead , though, and not be directed to push or told what to do.   I threw up the first few times I decided to bear down with a contraction, and all I could think was that I hoped I wouldn't puke throughout the whole process. Luckily, since I was able to eat and drink thoughout labor, I still had plenty of strength to work on bringing baby into the world.

Letting the contraction do its job








     As I pushed, I was completely in laborland, unaware of who or what was around me. Jeff described it to me and said I was very quiet and very zen.  I tried to reach up and feel the baby's head, but she was still too high.  I really started going to work with my pushing. As I mentioned before, I hated the intensity of it so often I would just pray "Help me, Jesus. Help me, Jesus" over and over in my head to get through it.  I reached in again, and I could feel her head! It was right there!  That was just the motivation I needed to finish the job.  As I pushed, I would feel her start to emerge and then slip back up. I knew this was very normal, and it didn't discourage me.  I tried hard to focus on little pushes, as I knew that was important to do while she was crowning in order to try to prevent any tearing. However, I just couldn't seem to concentrate on that. It was like I had a little devil sitting on my shoulder telling me "Push hard! Just get her out!".  I briefly felt the dreaded "ring of fire", but continued to push with all my might as the rest of her slid out of me.  I thought it was blatantly obvious to everyone that I had been pushing, but the baby's arrival actually surprised everyone in the room. I heard Jeff say, "Oh! We have a baby!".  He told me that I hadn't made a sound so it really was a surprise. Jeff caught the baby, and then Sarah held her as I reached back between my legs and pulled the baby up to my chest.

In the zone as I work hard to bring baby earthside












Lynsey and Jeff waiting patiently for the baby to emerge















Almost done!














She's here!









Emmalyn Faith arrived at 3:40 pm on Sunday, October 12th. 8lbs 2oz and 19in long.

Hello, sweet baby!








"I actually did it!"







It was love at first sight








Big sister cutting the cord













After the cord had stopped pulsing and had been cut,  Emmalyn was handed off to Jeff for some skin-to-skin contact while I got out of the tub to deliver the placenta.

Bonding time with Daddy









But all good things must come to an end...........


Em left a little gift for Daddy!

















After I delivered my placenta, Sarah let me know that I would need some suturing(thanks to my explosive, little devil directed pushing).  I was still having some after pains so I decided that I did not want sutured at that moment. Jeff, Lynsey, and I had some private family time with our new family member and then had some dinner. I was famished!  
     After eating, I needed to be sutured so I suggested that Jeff take Lynsey home so she could get some rest. She had stayed up during my entire 13 hour labor! After the repair business had been taken care of, Emmalyn and I enjoyed a relaxing herbal bath together--which she didn't much care for.
   After being monitored for several hours and getting the "all clear", Jeff, our newest family member, and I headed home.
    The births of each of my children are special, but the circumstances and memories surrounding each birth are very, very different. The birth of Emmalyn was so calm and intimate. I replay the events over and over in my head, and I am still on a "birth high" from the joy of it all. I finally had emotional healing I needed and the confirmation that yes, my body IS capable of birthing a baby naturally. 
     Most importantly,  I gave my oldest daughter a gift of seeing childbirth for what it really is-natural, empowering,  and beautiful.  I hope one day God will bless us with more children so Emmalyn has the opportunity to witness that miracle.









Monday, June 3, 2013

God is Still in Control: Disappointment and Moving On

When we skyped with Jeff this morning, he had to deliver some bad news.  We finally found out why it was taking so long to get our orders to Germany---we no longer have orders to Germany.  Jeff had a PT test at the end of March. Because of his injured leg, his test depended solely on waist measurement. Unfortunately, he did not meet the waist measurement requirement. Because of this he failed his PT test and received a referral EPR.  Now I completely understand that the military has standards, and he did fail to meet those standards. I will not dispute that and neither would he. In his defense, I will say that he was very limited in the amount of physical activity he was allowed to do per his physical therapist, which did put a snag in his ability to workout. Should he have compensated by eating much more carefully? Yes. Should he have asked around and found alternative methods to maintain fitness? Yes. I am just disappointed because he is an exemplary worker who never misses work, always gives his best, and does not have ANY other disciplinary infractions. His sole blemish is failing this PT test. If things were fair across the board, I would just take my lumps and hush up. However, I have seen troops do things that were against the law and get in less trouble than my husband. I have also seen higher ranking people that are grossly overweight--no way in heck they are actually truthfully passing a  PT test. Just saying.
  Anyway, Jeff's referral EPR makes him ineligible to PCS overseas. Yeah. It felt like someone had punched me in the stomach when I heard that. I was so looking forward to living in Germany. I was so excited to leave and start a new adventure. Now that is not a possibility. We are pretty much at the mercy of the USAF now as to where we will go(stateside).  Because of this, we are just going to see if we can stay at Goodfellow. I'm not crazy about the base or San Angelo(the area, not the people), but Texas has awesome homeschool laws and a fantastic homeschool community. I would hate to randomly get assigned to an area without a local homeschool support group or a state that has extremely difficult requirements for home educators. After having a skype family meeting, we decided that it would be best for our family as a whole to try and stay here. They only person that is totally excited is Jack. He hates change and wasn't too thrilled about moving. He is ecstatic that there is a possibility for him to stay in the same house. lol
  I know God has a plan, and this is part of the plan even if I see it as a disappointment now. I know that God has eternal perspective and sees the big picture. Please pray for us as we go through this uncertainty.  I do not know what lies ahead, but I do know that Romans 8:28 reassures me "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose".

Sunday, May 26, 2013

He's Still Working on Me

There was a song I used to sing in Sunday School as a child, and the chorus was:
"He's still working on me to make me what I ought to be.
It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars,
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars.
How loving and patient He must be, He's still working on me."
I look at how far I have traveled in my faith walk, yet there are some places that God is still diligently trying to tap out the dents in me.  The main area I struggle with most is control. I am a control freak. I like order, schedules, routine, and consistency.  To give you an idea, this is how I get us ready for a family vacation: About two weeks before our trip, I make an extremely detailed list of all the things I need to pack. This list is not only sorted by family member, but also by category. Under the "clothing" category, I even list the EXACT outfits that I will be packing for each family member, including my husband.  The category might even have a subcategory such as "pajamas" or "casual clothing".  My grocery lists are similarly organized. I have a separate list on my computer for each store, with the categories organized by store lay-out. When I get to the check out, I place my items on the register belt EXACTLY how I would like them to be bagged. It annoys me to no end if stuff just gets randomly thrown into the bag together. Ok, so you get how crazy I am....
  My husband is supposed to be coming back from Korea in the next couple weeks. We are less than 60 days away from our report no later than date in Germany. This means that even if Jeff comes home when he is supposed to, we still have less than a month to do all the things we need to do before we PCS overseas.  Big UH-OH: Jeff doesn't have his orders yet. He was told that AFPC is still processing the orders.  So that basically means that not only can we not schedule the vast majority of things that we need to schedule in order to move, but also that Jeff does not currently have a final out date from Korea. I have no idea when he is coming home, and apparently nobody else does either. 
   A horrible side-effect of being a control-freak is a lack of patience.  As a person who thinks things should have been done yesterday, it absolutely kills when the time-table is out of my hands. I hate waiting!  It makes me stressed and anxious. However, I recognize these traits as my failure to trust in God and His timing.  I've been praying a much more lately for God to refine some of these impurities in me. When I was having problems trusting in His ability to provide, I prayed earnestly and He answered my prayer by using a fellow Believer to bless our family.  I have also been praying to have the ability to truly trust in His timing. I am sure that it is no coincidence that I have to deal with all this uncertainty about Jeff's homecoming and our move.  God is using these circumstances to refine some of my impurities.
 How does a control-freak learn to trust God? By having the control taken away.  I have absolutely no say in when Jeff gets his orders. I can blame it on the Air Force, but as one of my fellow military spouses likes to remind me, "it is really God who is in control".  I can get frustrated and anxious or I can choose to take in this lesson and embrace relinquishing my place in the driver's seat. As my husband so wisely reminds me, "Everything will work out. It always does."  God never gives up on me.  He will keep banging out my dents, even when I resist and think I can do it myself. I want to close with another verse from the song I mentioned above:
"In the mirror of His Word reflections that I see
Make me wonder why He never gave up on me.
He loves me as I am and helps me when I pray
Remember He's the Potter, I'm the clay."

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Empty Chair

  Today is Mother's Day. The one day a year when moms get their moment in the sun. The day when we get thanked for all the things we do for our husband and children.  The day when we look at one of our greatest gifts from God, our family, and thank Him for the blessing that it is to be a mother. I tried really hard to concentrate on all those things today, but I mostly kept thinking about the empty seat.
     We went to church with all the little families lining the pews, spending the day together to worship God and honor Mom.  The kids and I sat in our normal place, but there was a spot next to me that wasn't filled. An empty seat.
     We came home from church to have lunch. The kids wanted their usual almond butter on sprouted bread. After I made sure they had everything they needed, I sat down with my salad. We laughed and chit-chatted while we ate, but across from me there was someone missing. An empty seat.
   Later in the afternoon, the kids had their violin recital. The recital happens once a year, every spring. This was Lyn's third year performing, but Jackson made his recital debut. He is so super shy so I wasn't surprised when one of his requests was for me to stand next to him on stage. He was so brave as he walked on stage in front of the audience and played his piece--the first 8 notes of a song. He took his little bow, and I escorted him off the stage and back into our seats. Next to me there was Lyn's violin case in an unused chair. An empty seat, at least void of person anyway.
   Over this past year, the Empty Seat has been the most obvious symbol of my husband's absence. He's missed so much--birthdays, holidays, soccer games.  I always feel a little bit of sorrow, missing him when I know how much he wishes he could be there.
  We talk very openly in our family about our feelings. I never discourage the kids when they need to talk when they are having a "I miss daddy day". I always empathize with them, letting them know that it is ok to miss him because it means that we have such a great daddy we miss so much. I never mention the empty seat though, but I guess it is pretty symbolic to them too.
   After dinner, I felt we all deserved a special treat so we went out for frozen yogurt. Hey, I had to still cook 3 meals myself today so I figured a little dessert was warranted:-)   The kids decided that they wanted to eat at one of the outside tables. So we go and sit down at a table with four chairs. We are enjoying our yogurt, and I notice that Lynsey is exceptionally quiet with a rather sullen expression. So then I ask her:
"What's wrong?"
"Oh, nothing."
         
          "Do you not like that flavor?"

"Yes, I like it"
         
          "I can tell something is bothering you. You can tell me."

*sigh* "I'm just thinking about the empty chair at our table."

           I squeeze her hand. "Me too, honey. Me too."

Monday, April 1, 2013

Korea Trip

 My day began with waking up at 3am in order to make it in time for my early morning flight to DFW.  After a few hours at DFW, I excitedly boarded my plane for a non-stop flight to Seoul-Incheon airport. My excitement didn't last long. Have you ever been on a 15 hour flight? Let's just say the time on the aircraft was not the highlight of the trip. Korean Air is super nice. The food is decent. I had my own personal tv screen(I watched 6 movies in all round-trip). You get a nice little care package complete with slippers and a toothbrush. But it is 15 hours. On a plane. Enough said. Oh, and I only slept for about 1 hour, and if you recall, I had awaken at 3am central time. Awesome.  So after an eternity plus infinity, the plane landed in Seoul at 4:30pm local time.
   I decided to stop in the first bathroom I saw in order to "freshen up". Not much I could do with my greasy hair and blood-red eyes, so I settled for brushing my teeth and washing my face. Luckily, my husband wasn't too particular considering he hadn't seen me for months.  Next, I got to do all the fun stuff like immigration and customs(this went pretty quickly), and then I waited for my checked bag for like 10 years.  Finally, I got to see my hubby. He greeted me with a rose and thought I was beautiful even though I looked like I had been hit by a semi. 
Since I was exhausted to the point of collapse, we decided to just head to our hotel so we could start the next day refreshed. We stayed at the Dragon Hill Lodge which is located on an army base inside the city.
Thanks to the radical time change, I awoke to start Monday at 3:30am(and the next two days as well, grrr).  Guided tours were included in our hotel package. We decided to tour Gyeongbokgung Palace, where we watched a formal guard change ceremony.
The tour ended by mid-day and dropped us off in Itaewon, a popular shopping and tourist area within a short walking distance from the base. We ate some beef bulgogi(Korean marinated beef), kimchi(fermented cabbage), and other yummy items for lunch. Delish!

Later that day, we took a cab to the Gangnam district to see the Coex Mall. Yep, I said "Gangnam", like the song. The Gangnam district is actually the wealthy area of Seoul, where many people focus on keeping up with the latest and greatest styles. The song "Gangnam Style" is actually a satire commenting on the materialistic lifestyle that the people of that district pursue. Anyway, the Coex Mall is a huge underground shopping mall, complete with a full aquarium. The Coex Aquarium is actually the best aquarium I have ever visited.

Cabs were getting pricey so we decided to use the Seoul Metro, the city's subway system, to get back. Overall this wasn't a bad idea as the Metro system is extremely easy to navigate. However, we neglected to take into consideration that it was evening rush hour in a city of approximately 10 million people. Yeah. At many stops, more people were getting on but no one was getting out. I am extremely claustrophobic and felt super panicky as people crowded in and I was crushed into my husband, who was crushed against the subway wall. It was a horrible feeling. I wish I could have taken a photo to show the sheer insanity of it all, but I could not even move my arms in order to get my camera--that is how tight and suffocating it was in there.  We rode the Metro several times after this, but avoided rush hour. It was still crowded, but not traumatically so.

Tuesday we took a tour of several key locations in the DMZ, or Demilitarized Zone. Unfortunately, this did not include the Joint Services area. However, we did get to check out some other interesting places. On our bus ride to the DMZ, you can actually see North Korea's propaganda village. We visited one of the tunnels dug by the North in an attempt to invade the South. I'm glad I am in shape because there is a vicious slope to climb back up to the top after you reach the bottom. We were not allowed to bring cameras in the tunnel.  Many sites have strict rules and/or forbid photography, but there were a few places we were allowed to snap photos. Here is a view of North Korea as seen from the Dora Observatory.

We also visited the Dorasan Station, a railway station which once connected the North and the South.

Wednesday we went on a guided tour of a Korean Folk Village. My favorite thing about the folk village was the performers.
video
After our tour, we went to Namdaemun Market. This traditional market has everything from clothing to live eel. I'm told that up to 1 million people can congest this market at once on busy days.

Thursday morning we went to the Korean War Memorial, which was only a short walk away from base. I did not know much about the Korean War, and I'm glad I was able to learn more about this time in history.

After the War Memorial, we took the Metro to Insadong. This artsy district is full of artisan shops, traditional tea houses, and art studios. I think Insadong was one of my favorite places. I bought some hand painted pottery, and we stopped at a tea house for some tea and a snack.

Thursday night we had to take a bus about an hour south to Jeff's base because he had a PT test Friday morning. After Jeff's test, we stuck around for a bit so I could meet some members of his flight. Upon traveling back to Seoul on Friday afternoon, we both were pretty wiped out. We decided to just order a pizza and watch movies in our hotel room. It was bittersweet to be snuggled up to my hubby knowing that I would be leaving in the morning. However, I was really looking forward to seeing Lynsey and Jackson again. This was the longest I had ever been away from them.
 Saturday morning, I boarded another plane to make the long journey back to the States. It gave me such a warm feeling when the man at U.S. immigration at DFW checked my passport and said to me, "Welcome home".  It took forever to get my bags and get through customs and security. It was much more rigorous to enter back into the U.S. than it was to enter South Korea. My flight from DFW to San Angelo was in a completely different terminal. I caught the Skylink and ran like heck, but I missed my flight by 2 minutes. I don't know if it was the exhaustion of flying or the fact that I missed my kids and wanted to see them so much, but I cried. I was booked on the next flight out, and I was soon reunited with my babies. In about 80-something days, they will be reunited with their Daddy. Our family will once again be complete, and we will all board a plane together to start a new chapter of our life in Germany.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

My Real Food Journey

Although I now understand the importance of a whole foods diet, it was not always that way.  I truly sympathize and understand how difficult and overwhelming it can be to make such a drastic change.  It is even sometimes difficult to even WANT to make that change.  I grew up in a home where processed foods were the norm. They were cheap, quick to prepare, and tasty.  Part of me did not want to give up foods that seemed so convenient and comforting. I would even make such quips as, "I'd rather be fat and happy then skinny and miserable."  I was only looking at food on a superficial level then, not even thinking about the detrimental effect it was having on my health.   I also thought, "hey, I may be chubby, but I have had two kids! It isn't like I have diabetes or need medication or anything. I'm fat, but I'm healthy."
    I was in denial. I was NOT healthy. My BMI was in the obese category. OBESE!  I had such severe fatigue that I could not make it through a single day without taking one or more naps, despite going to bed before 8pm at times.  My husband pretty much would have to work a full day, and then come home and take care of the house. Homeschooling the kids was the only task I could complete....barely.  I had severe irritability and mood swings.  My blood pressure had started to creep to a level that was concerning.  Along with infertility, my hormone imbalance caused by my poor health made me deal with excess facial hair, scalp hair loss, severe acne,  and painful and irregular menstrual cycle. I was addicted, so addicted to these poisonous foods that I did not want to give them up, even though they were inhibiting my health and my ability to be a good wife and mother.  I had enough.  I did not want to be on medications at 30 years old. I did not want to miss out on the prime of my life because I would rather have donuts or Kraft mac and cheese. I didn't want to diet. I didn't care if I was a size 14 or a size 4. I was at the point where all I cared about was getting my quality of life back, and that meant a desperate and deliberate change was in order.  I joked that "I started to make myself eat the foods that I made my kids eat", but that is really pretty much what happened. Instead of having junk around for myself and real foods for my kids meals and snacks, I just stopped buying the processed stuff. Period. It was not even brought into my house.  It was not easy. I dealt with headaches and other symptoms as my body suffered withdrawl from sugar and the other chemicals, but slowly a miraculous thing happened.....   My body eventually started craving the real food--the fresh produce and proteins that it needed so badly to repair all the damage that I had subjected it through all the years.
  Almost a year has passed since I began my whole foods journey. Throughout the whole process my mission was to obtain better health, never on getting down to a certain dress size. The food we eat is so important to the way our body functions. It is not about being skinny or chubby.  Thin people who consume nothing but processed foods are still doing great damage to their health, despite how small their jean size may be. Amazingly, I have found that when you focus on fueling your body with unprocessed food, you also shed those unwanted pounds(I've lost 80lbs, in case you are wondering). My energy level has increased exponentially.  Not only do I have the stamina to keep up with my children, but I also enjoy exercising--even running!  I feel so much younger and like myself.  I am still dealing with some hormone imbalance issues, but those continue to improve slowly but surely. Most importantly, I can be the wife and mother that God called me to be and also set a good example for my children, and that is the greatest gift of all.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Let Thy Food Be Thy Medicine

     
   Herbal medicine is becoming more mainstream each day as people search for alternatives to traditional allopathic medicine. However, along with this new found curiosity comes much misunderstanding.  Many people still have the allopathic mindset and view illness as something that just "happens to you" and use herbal remedies as nothing more than natural alternatives to replace prescription or OTC drugs.   Unfortunately when people only focus so narrowly, the whole point of holistic, natural medicine is missed.  The importance of natural health is not only focusing on the "remedy", but striving to improve the overall health of your body so that all of your body systems may work in harmony with each other to be your first line of defense.  To do this, one must remove themselves from the current "diagnose and treat" train of thought prevalent in modern medicine and instead focus on prevention. In order to get at the root of an ailment or disease, one must be willing to change his lifestyle in regards to what he eats.
   The most important factor in maintaining a healthy body or healing a disease is nutrition.    A quote found in my Understanding Holistic Health textbook states:
"We are all familiar with the old adage 'an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.' This one has certainly earned its credibility. Obviously, the best way to become healthy is to remain healthy! Yet, ironically, we understand this concept when it comes to our cars or homes.  If we failed to fill the car up with gas, we would be silly to wonder why it stopped running on the road. Yet, when it comes to the human body, we continually fill it with poor quality foods and expose them to environmental and dietary toxins, and we wonder why they do not operate at peak performance. Worse yet, this healthy degradation begins to form patterns among those with similarly poor health habits, and the trend becomes accepted as normal, therefore unavoidable."
  The reason holistic medicine focuses on diet is because diet is often the CAUSE of the issue. Taking an herbal remedy to alleviate a symptom while simultaneously consuming toxins in processed foods is nothing more than putting a band-aid on a bullet wound.  For example, say someone looks into natural remedies for their child's constipation without taking his dietary habits into consideration.  Just a quick Google search for "natural remedies for constipation" would offer a plethora of recommendations to bring relief. However, when treating any issue naturally, the diet must always be considered.   Most processed foods contain artificially hydrogenated oils, and one of the main afflictions attributed to consumption of hydrogenated oils is constipation.   If that child continues to consume the same diet of processed foods, the underlying problem that is the source of the constipation will not go away, even if you add a multitude of herbal teas and/or supplements into the diet.  Likewise, a person suffering from migraines may turn to natural remedies after a doctor can find no cause for the affliction. She/he may ask around and hear that the herb feverfew is known as an effective remedy for migraine suffers. Let's also say that this individual consumes the SAD(Standard American Diet) and consumes massive "sugar-free" foods such as yogurt and diet soda believing them to be healthy.  In the case of the above mentioned migraine sufferer, his/her sugar-free foods laden with artificial sweeteners are more than likely contributing to the occurrence of migraines.  Many studies have linked aspartame consumption to migraines, seizures, and other neurological issues. The main thing to remember is that artificial sweeteners are chemicals, and despite their clever marketing should never be considered natural or real foods.  The chemicals and toxins in processed foods alter our body's ability to perform the way God designed it to function.  We can take all the herbs and supplements available but if we do not also consider the food we put into our bodies,  we are only alleviating  the symptoms without eliminating the cause.
  Even if someone chooses traditional care over natural medicine, nutrition is still essential to health.  Unfortunately, most doctors receive very little nutritional education in their training.  A physician may prescribe a pill to help with the symptoms, but unless the patient is willing to change their lifestyle the body will not function at its best ability.   Most prescription drugs have several side effects, which lead to more drugs being prescribed to "help" with the side effects.   Obviously, prescription medicine isn't a magic cure-all or else it would cure the disease and the patient could stop taking it.  Even herbal remedies are not recommended for long term use. However, most people who begin taking a prescription are on them for a lengthy amount of time if not indefinitely.  Pills for hypertension may help lower blood pressure, but is it really doing the body any favors if one continues to consume a similar diet that likely contributed to the condition in the first place?   Traditional medicine is too ready to write a prescription for every ailment, many of which are diet related.  It may seemingly offer a speedy "cure", but in reality the disease itself is not eliminated.
     We live in an instant society that wants a quick fix.  Changing over to real foods seems too hard or too expensive. However if you look at the alternative most people choose, are pharmaceuticals really the quick and easy fix they seem to be?  The cost of the doctor visits and prescriptions aren't cheap either.   Yes, changing a diet from processed foods to real food does take a commitment.  It is a journey that involves learning and altering  habits that have long been ingrained in us.  Either way, we make commitment: a commitment to spend money taking pills or a commitment to change they way we live and improve our overall quality of life.  Instead of focusing on what we have to "give up" when we choose to eliminate processed foods from our diet, we should look at the big picture to see what we will gain instead.  There are no negative side-effects from eating healthy food so what do we have to lose?