Sunday, August 20, 2017

Sharing Your Body With Strangers

Let's talk about fertility. The CDC's website is showing that 12.1% of women in the U.S. are infertile, and 12% of women have used fertility services. That's more than 1 in 10 women and doesn't include the male half of the population. More than likely, you know someone who has had to use fertility services or adoption in order to have the family of which they've always dreamed. So with this many people needing to take advantage of "non-traditional" means of family making, why are some of the options considered taboo? Specifically, I'm talking about donated eggs and surrogacy.

At the end of this week, my baby is going to be 2 months old. That means I have spent a lot of time feeding her and helping her sleep, i.e. I binge watch a LOT of shows (yay sitting around unable to use my hands XD). Thanks to that, I noticed that there are some varying opinions on egg donation and surrogacy in pop culture. 90210 paints egg donation in a negative light. Pretty Little Liars has its character shamefully hiding the fact that she donated her eggs and then used those eggs as part of a devastating plot twist. Glee did have a positive spin on surrogacy so that was a nice change of pace. But still, what is so bad about giving of yourself to help others achieve a family in the manner they desire/require?

I don't understand it. Men donating sperm isn't taboo. The only thing I can think of for why someone could have an issue with egg/uterus donation is because of the more invasive and involved nature of those procedures as opposed to the donation of sperm, but even if that is the problem, if someone is fully willing to undergo such procedures, it should be celebrated!

I was unable to donate my eggs due to genetic health issues, but I have every intention of becoming a surrogate when we're done having babies of our own. So tell me, what is your take on sharing your body with strangers? Would you do it? Would you be okay with your friend/family/significant other doing it? Why or why not?

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Maiden to Mother and Society's Erasure of that Journey

Quick disclaimer. This post is geared towards ciswomen who have gone through pregnancy and childbirth, but the importance of progressing through the natural phases of life and fully accepting each stage of your path is integral for all people in order to have a healthy psyche.

One of my favorite deities is the Triple Goddess. As a woman, I have recognized my personal connection with the moon and its importance in my life which is a big reason for why the Triple Goddess resonates so strongly with me. All of life is cyclical while simultaneously being linear for us as individuals. But let me back up and unpack exactly what I'm trying to say as well as explain how I see Society forcing the natural flow into hiding.

In Neopaganism, the Triple Goddess is symbolized as the moon waxing, full, and waning. This relates to the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone (in my opinion, poorly named and offputting, but still a very important role I hope to one day fulfill). The Maiden represents new beginnings, youthful wonderment, enthusiasm. The Mother represents sexuality, achievement, the fullness of life. The Crone represents wisdom, peaceful acceptance, endings. Each of us embodies our own Triple Goddess journey whether literally or figuratively.
We all know the circle of life. We're born, gain some education, have life experiences, work, grow old, try to pass on our wisdom, hope we made a difference, and die. But as we are each living, we have a beginning and an end. Our individual lives have a linear path. Society, however, clings to just one part of life: possibilities. Endless possibilities are embodied by youth. Society has created a whole market around erasing our aging, our linear path.

Society has attached such shame and stigma to women who "look" like they have had children. Stretch marks, loose skin, extra weight, less time spent on appearance.  Those are the markings of a "failed woman." We're supposed to lose our ignorance while maintaining our innocence. But really, who wants to look like they don't know what they're doing? Who wants to be mistaken for a Fool when really you're a High Priestess? I know I don't. I have carried life within my body. I have felt that life grow and have new experiences while inside me. I am the vessel through which she was able to enter into our plane of existence. I have grown and am proud of my trek. Why should I be ashamed to wear the proof of that plainly on my skin?
Just as the moon has this course it has to take, so do we. We can't skip the waxing crescent to jump straight to the full moon just as we cannot skip or erase the changes we go through to get from Maiden to Crone. Each phase of life needs to be accepted as it is and its lessons learned if we want to have the wisdom of the Crone. That's why no one should feel stressed about their transition from Maiden to Mother. Don't let Society erase the ravages of time; they just want to sell more product. ;)

What's holding you back from being fully present where you're at? Is there anything about your story that makes you feel less than? What is your favorite part of your journey so far?

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Why Natural Parenting?

Attachment parenting. Helicopter parenting. Permissive parenting. Authoritative parenting. The list goes on and on, and parenting really is more of a sliding scale as opposed to an all or nothing when it comes to the myriad different approaches people can use. But what exactly is Natural Parenting (NP)? Natural parenting is multi-faceted. It's about parenting consciously, and it looks different for everyone who chooses to parent this way. For us, it means attachment parenting with a gentle parenting mindset for discipline. It means chemical awareness and avoidance. Lastly it means being open and flexible when it comes to how our child(ren) learn best.

What is Attachment Parenting?

Attachment Parenting (AP) is a school of parenting that is based on 8 principles. For us, the principles of attachment parenting just make sense and put into words how we want to run our family. One of my biggest pet peeves is people treating children not like people but as extensions of themselves. Children and newborns are people now. They're unpracticed people who just need the chance to learn about the world around them and grow their brains. Plus, physical touch is the love language for both of us so it's unlikely that our child(ren) will be any different. We both love to cuddle, and we're grown people so why should we then deny our child(ren) something that means so much to each of us?

What is Gentle Parenting?

Gentle Parenting (GP) is very often confused with AP. A key difference between the two is that GP does not have guiding principles that its followers adhere to. GP is more choosing to maintain a relationship with your child based on respect. Discipline with GP looks a lot like having a conversation with logical consequences. You need to make sure the consequences as you explain them are things that you can follow through on while still giving your child choices. You very clearly explain why a rule exists and how their actions have the potential for harm. If the warning isn't heeded, then comes a consequence such as no more playing with the balls today if we can't stop throwing them inside, but we can try again tomorrow.

Chemical Awareness and Avoidance

The choice to cloth diaper for us is a health choice. As a woman, not knowing what is in my feminine products is horrifying, and diaper companies are not any more transparent. Chemicals don't belong in my hooha so why should my baby live wrapped up in them? Plus, it saves you so much money in the long run (we're talking easily $1000).
Since my veganism started out because of bad genetics, there's a good chance this baby is going to have the same issues. Eating an organic, whole foods, plant-based diet is an excellent way to cut out a lot of toxins. (Natural cleaning products helps cut out quite a bit, too. Vinegar for the win!) And it's definitely easier to start out vegan and then switch to omni than it is to go the other way around. Which our offspring will absolutely have the option to choose after learning about why I'm vegan and why Daddy is not.
Essential oils, chiropractors, and home remedies will be a huge part of our lives. If there was a pediatric naturopath nearby, that would be our main doctor for Elie, but there isn't. Antibiotics really aren't needed for everything, that's how we get antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. A little dirt didn't hurt anybody.

Education

Everyone learns differently, and with the rise of Common Core, public education in Oklahoma looks pretty sad. I'm looking into having a home Montessori setup to help our child(ren) have the best start, but after that, there are three real options we have for education: public school, home schooling, and unschooling. If I do end up staying home with the child(ren) long enough that they are school age, we may revisit home schooling or unschooling, but until then public school is what we're going with. However, not everyone learns best in that type of environment, and there's a good chance we will be supplementing the school's curriculum at home to further encourage our child(ren)'s own personal interests and strengths while being able to work on the weaknesses.

I know I hit a lot of different areas in a pretty broad/nonspecific manner. I may come back later and write more on the different aspects more specifically if that's something that would interest anyone. But like I've always said, what works best for us may not be feasible for you and your situation. This isn't me trying to be a better parent than others but simply me trying to do the best I can with the hand we've been dealt. What kind of parent are you? What are your thoughts on corporal punishment for your child(ren)? Anybody not doing traditional public schooling?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Why Vegan? Part 2

I'm glad you're back! If you haven't part 1, you can check it out here. Ready for part 2? Today's is definitely more serious than last week so hang on to your keyboards, and let's jump right in!

Animals

The longer I've been vegan, the more research I've done, the more my eyes have been opened to the atrocities of the food industry. I'm not going to go into detail about how mistreated the animals are (look up what "cage-free" really means). There are plenty of documentaries and farms and slaughterhouses out there to check out if you really want to know.
Especially now that I am pregnant, I empathize with all the momma animals out there. I can't imagine anyone taking my baby from me. I would eat meat way faster than I would ever eat dairy simply because death is not the worst thing that can happen to someone. Slavery used to be considered totally fine because society said so. How is exploiting animals unnecessarily any different?

Civilization

Some fun facts for you, if we would just eat the food that we're feeding to the animals instead of filtering our nutrients through another's body, we would be able to feed everyone on the planet. Does anyone remember the trophic levels from 7th-grade biology? Only 10% of the energy in an organism makes it into the consumer (the rest is lost as thermal energy). If we eat the plants, we're getting that 10%, but if we eat the animals that ate the plants, we're only getting 1%.
Animal agriculture consumes so much of our water, and it produces an insane amount of greenhouse gases. I have done practically no research into commercial fishing, but considering the state of our oceans, I can't imagine the overfishing is any more sustainable than beef and dairy production. I for one would like for my child(ren) to live in a world that isn't dying as quickly as ours is currently. We are literally sacrificing countless animal lives and our ecosystem to satisfy bad habits and taste. Yes, vegan alternatives are not exactly the same, but there are some fabulously delicious alternatives if taste is the only reason you have to keep eating the way you always have.

Want to know more? I'll leave you with some awesome things to check out if you're still curious.
And that's what I have for you! I hope at the very least I got you thinking. What surprised you the most if anything? Is there anything I missed?

Monday, July 24, 2017

Why Vegan? Part 1

This is a conversation that I have had countless times in my everyday life, but I really haven't had it so much over the Internet (though I'm sure that could easily change the longer I'm a presence here). I started trying to write this as a single post, but it was getting really long. So in order to really do this topic justice, I'm going to break it up. For part 1, I'm going to talk about my initial reasoning for choosing veganism (health, perks). For part 2, we'll cover the reasons for why I'll never go back (animals, civilization).

First off, there are lots of different ways to be vegan: dietary, ethical, raw, raw-til-4, junk food, and I'm sure there are more. I identify as an ethical vegan, and I try my best to switch more and more of our products to vegan options as we go on. But I started out as a dietary vegan who fell in love with the side benefits and decided to learn even more about the choice I was making.

Health

Let me preface this by saying I just got a bad hand genetically. I was always active growing up, and I didn't eat poorly. We ate mostly home-cooked meals because my mother made health a priority. Not that it mattered because I still had borderline high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and was having mini strokes - when I was 16. I started on this journey thanks to a paper I wrote in college that showed countless health benefits to veganism. I made the transition over the course of months starting out pescatarian and then switching to vegetarian. While I was vegetarian, my cholesterol dropped 40 points in 7 months.
Yep, these are my actual results. Haven't seen my maiden name in years XD
I was still pretty active through college going to the gym 3 or 4 times a week, doing yoga, swimming, and playing volleyball with friends. Nothing would fix my blood pressure, though, until I went vegan. I was mostly plant-based and avoided processed foods aside from plant milk. Thanks to that change, I finally solved the blood pressure issue. I really don't get sick anymore, and even my pollen allergy isn't bothering me as much. Some of the other benefits that I should be getting but won't really know for sure is significantly reduced risk for cancer and diabetes, both of which run in my family. So long as I continue to not develop any chronic diseases or terminal illnesses, I'll go ahead and add that to my win pile.


Side Benefits

Even being vegetarian I noticed a huge increase in energy, and I felt lighter and less foggy. Through pregnancy, I haven't really had much pregnancy brain except for one week where I was forgetting everything (baby brain on the other hand has been hitting hard). Another huge perk was the cost. I'm not sure where the misconception came from that veganism is more expensive than the Standard American Diet (SAD) because let's be honest, it costs LESS to buy beans and rice than it does to buy meat. And since I've been sick less, I'm spending less on OTC medicines and doctor's visits. I don't have to worry about ever getting put on medicines for my cholesterol or blood pressure.
Note that this is cost per CALORIE, not per pound.
One of my all-time favorite perks, though, is that I can pretty much eat all day because it's almost required. You have to stop looking at how much food is on your plate and think in terms of calories. I can't order salads at restaurants because they are a FRACTION of the size you actually need for a full blown meal unless you're loading up on avocado and olive oil and other fats. If you're eating a variety of whole foods instead of processed foods, it's very hard to overeat. And one bad day of eating a ton of vegan junk doesn't do as much harm since you're not binging on those high cholesterol foods.
You HAVE to eat more to get the same number of calories!
That's enough for today. We'll pick this up in part 2! So tell me, what's holding you back? If you are vegan, what started you on the journey?

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Why Home Birth?

Photo creds again to Sarah Wiseman Photography. Love her!!
As many of you are aware if you follow this blog, I am quite the flower child so it probably wasn't overly surprising to you all that I would want to try birthing my baby at home. But what led me to that decision? I'm not going to lie to you, I have pretty well done a 180 in my life when it comes to health. My parents were both in the medical field; my dad still is. My husband's father is, too. So both of us grew up fully believing in the wonders of all that modern medicine has to offer, but now I am on a much more holistic path.

Keep in mind, no matter how many stories you hear and how much research you do, all families are different. What works for me and us could be completely unfeasible for you in your situation. 

Before I got married, I couldn't imagine not giving birth in a hospital on my back with an epidural and all the monitors. As I grew more into myself and started questioning everything, birth was just one more thing I wanted to be able to do my way (The Business of Being Born anyone?). One of the biggest triggers for my depression is feeling out of control so it is extremely important to me to have a say in what is going to happen when I am in such a vulnerable state. Being at home is the easiest way to accomplish that.

Hospitals have the best of intentions. All their policies are in place to ensure that any emergency situation can be handled efficiently, but to me, that feels more like being put through a checklist. We are all so different, and each pregnancy and birth will be different even with the same parents. It is so important to me to be able to labor in my own way at my own pace instead of being rushed and interrupted and checked frequently. Additionally, if birth really was as mortal as we are led to believe, would we really have managed to almost overpopulate the planet? I think not! Birth is a natural biological process, not a medical emergency. Don't get me wrong, if this was not a low-risk pregnancy, I would have birthed in a hospital. But the odds were in our favor!

Here is a quick list of the things that I LOVED about birthing at home:
  • Not having to worry about my dogs and cats
  • Introducing the baby to the dogs was seemless
  • Having the freedom to walk and move around as I please
  • Being able to pee when I please
  • No needles and other hindering contraptions connected to me
  • Having the option to eat and drink as much as I feel comfortable (even though it was none)
  • Not having to wait for the hospital to bring food on their schedule and worry about if it was vegan
  • Not having to pack a bag for the hospital
  • Not having to birth on my back
  • Not being asked multiple times about getting an epidural or other pain relief
  • Not having to fight to keep my placenta
  • Being in my own home with my own bed and shower
  • Not feeling rushed or questioned or like I have to argue about the post-birth measures I would like to take
  • Being able to labor and birth in water
  • Being able to fully trust in my body to be able to go through this natural process and truly be in the moment through the entire experience
Have any of you birthed not in a traditional hospital setting? What scares you the most about birthing at home? Do you have any questions for me?

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Why Are Empaths Weird?

For those of you who don't know, I am what's known as an empath. It's similar to a highly-sensitive person (HSP) or empathic person in that we perceive the world a little differently, but being an empath is it's own category. Discovering this label was one of the best days of my life because I finally understood why I was feeling the way I was and knew what to do about it.

The biggest defining characteristic in my opinion for empaths is that emotion isn't just something that is felt, it is transferable energy. Most people can read body language to determine the emotion of another, but they will reserve sympathy and empathy for friends and family. Empaths are open to the emotions of all people until they learn how to filter and protect their own emotions from being consumed by the emotions of others. Before I knew I was an empath, I was extremely emotional simply because I wasn't aware that I was living other people's bad days.

A little back story for you, growing up I was very introverted and selectively social. Because of this, I didn't have much opportunity to be impacted by the emotions of others. Then I got married and moved in with a man who is very detached from his emotions so there really isn't much coming from him. But then we got a roommate who was by nature a very angry person. I don't know if he really knows that he is this way, but it was impacting me in a huge way. I had no patience anymore with our puppy or my husband. Or the roommate for that matter. I was very bloated and couldn't get rid of my belly chub (fun fact, empaths tend to carry extra weight around the middle as a form of protection or a buffer because we have weaker solar plexus chakras). My marriage was taking a huge hit because I couldn't figure out why I was so upset all the time. I would attach any reason I could find to try to explain what was going on inside of me when in reality, it was coming from outside the whole time. That's right, not all emotions felt by empaths come from within themselves, and discovering how to decipher between one's own emotions and the emotions of others is key to maintaining sanity.

So you know the emotions you're feeling aren't your own. Now what? Crystals. Crystals saved my marriage. I got a set of crystals from an amazing friend and started meditating with them daily to try to rebalance and strengthen my chakras. My husband would add his energy to my solar plexus and heart chakras as well because I needed the extra help - I have said this so many times, but I don't know how I got so lucky with this man. I spent more time in nature and focused on grounding myself and defining where it is that I ended and others began in my mindscape. Now that I am more aware and practiced, I am now able to shut myself off from the emotions of others, but it took a while and some trauma to get to this point.

Some more fun traits shared by empaths are we tend to be old souls who just know things. People we barely know feel comfortable telling their stories and sharing their pain with us. We can also take on physical symptoms from others in addition to emotions. Addictive personalities is a huge one, and we are truth seekers. We try to live as authentically as we can to stay true to our own happiness since there is so much misery we walk through everyday. Alone time is a must as it is exhausting to be around people. ESPECIALLY fake people. We can usually tell when people are lying if we stop seeing the best in people long enough to recognize the incongruence in them. And as much as we take on emotions, we can also put emotion out into the world to try to make others feel better. We'll give up our own happiness and take your sorrow so maybe we can save someone. When it comes to fight, flight, or freeze, we freeze because we believe so strongly in the innate goodness of people no matter how many times we have been proven wrong.

Being an empath has become trendy so there are tons of resources out there now. Any other empaths out there willing to share their experiences? Do you think you might be an empath? Are there any people that you just love being around because their optimism is that contagious, and they make you feel good?

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Watch Us Grow: Elisandra's Chapter

Some of these are for length, and some of these are for weight so keep that in mind when we go from a melon to a leek!
Small Pea

Raspberry

Green Olive

Prune

Lime

Plum

Peach

Lemon
Navel Orange

Avocado
Onion

Sweet Potato

Heirloom Tomato

Small Cantaloupe

Banana

Spaghetti Squash

Large Mango
Corn
Rutabaga


Hothouse Cucumber
Cauliflower

Chinese Cabbage
Butternut Squash


Cabbage
Asparagus
Large Jicama

Cantaloupe
Pineapple
Crenshaw Melon
Honeydew Melon
Swiss Chard
Leek
Mini Watermelon
40 weeks! 7 pounds, 20 inches