Maternity Leave #2

February 11, 2019

Maternity leave is a strange time.  I’m not a big fan of the early days.  Skinny newborns are scary to handle, the weird noises they make while sleeping are concerning and disturbing, and the sleep deprivation is no joke.  Even though I had a toddler to add to the mix this time, I found this leave more enjoyable.  Though I was still tired (and irritable), I was calmer and more mentally clear.   

Traditional Chinese customs suggest certain practices during the first 40 days after women give birth to help them heal and recover. While I didn’t follow these ideas precisely, I did embrace the philosophies.  For the first 5+ weeks I rarely left the house.  I didn’t drive.  I showered on occasion.  I didn’t really have visitors.  Everything I ate was warm, cooked, and nourishing.  Jason was home, and between help from my family and our nanny I found it an oddly enjoyable time, though still grueling and demanding.   I was inspired by the ideas in The First Forty Days:  The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother, and recommend new moms read it during the 3rd trimester.

The second part of my leave started with panic:  How will I get back to work?  When will I study?  When will I exercise?  How am I really doing with breastfeeding?  How will I ever fit back into my clothes? 

My past experience of returning to ‘real life’ after my first maternity leave is comforting during times of doubt and concern.

The second part also came with longer stretches of sleep at night (hooray!) and a better understanding of our baby so I could read her cues.  I was able to listen to recorded classes from the graduate mentorship program I’m enrolled in while nursing and introducing baby to walks in her stroller. I began doing yoga most nights after both kids were sleeping.

As I started venturing out of the house, I had a private yoga session with Alicia, lymphatic massages from Danielle, a relaxing and rejuvenating facial from Laura, and acupuncture with Njemile.  Each of these women is very skilled and played a role in getting me back to feeling like me.  I am extremely grateful for their time and care.

My baby is no longer skinny, and I’m more rested.  It’s time to return to work.  I get emotional thinking about it.  I’m eager to return.  I’m eager to keep learning.  I’m sad to leave my baby, but grateful to be able to start part-time and know she is in good hands when I am away.  While I’m still getting back into shape, I am starting to feel fit and strong again.  I’m grateful for the time off.  I look forward to connecting with you soon.

In good health,

Molly

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I was hopeful for a second child, even at the more “advanced maternal age” of 39 and a past history of hormonal imbalances.   Besides the familiar and awful nausea, food cravings and aversions of the first trimester and hot swelling of the third trimester, everything went great.  I continue to attribute my success in regulating hormones to Chinese Medicine and feel I have been working on preparing for fertility many years before I ever thought about having a baby.

I was scheduled for my 40-week check up the morning before the baby’s due date. I sensed things were happening when I woke up and the day progressed, and asked Jason to stay home from work to take Harvey to daycare.  My doctor suggested I come in for my scheduled appointment to check me.  While I wanted to labor at home as long as possible, my doctor could let me know if it was time to go to the hospital or to return home.  Second deliveries are notoriously faster than the first, so it made sense to me to go.

Jason hustled to pack the car when he returned home around 9am.  We made it to my 10am appointment on time.  When I told the receptionist that I was in active labor, she turned white before running for the doctor.  I sat in the corner of the waiting room huge, swollen, eyes closed, listening to a hypnosis track on headphones.  What a sight!  I was brought back for examination: 5 centimeters dilated and fully effaced.

Our doula left to meet us at the hospital which is 2.5 miles from the doctor’s office. A wrong turn, a dead end, some speed bumps, a few curse words (from me), and an illegal U-turn later, we got to the hospital at 10:54am.  The doctor on call was the only doctor from the practice that I had never met in person, though my sister previously worked with him which was comforting.  He checked me: 9.5 centimeters.  Jason left to move the car.  The doctor told me to let him know when I felt like pushing.  I responded with, “I feel like pushing.”  That was the only moment I felt scared because Jason wasn’t back yet.  While the doctor got his gown and gloves, I fully dilated to 10 cm, Jason returned, I asked for a squatting bar, the foot of the bed dropped down, a bar was strapped in, I reached up, squatted, and in a few pushes and seconds, Lila came out at 11:18am to some pretty crazy screams. The doula arrived about 10 minutes later 🙂

I went through the Hypnobabies self-study program for a second time.  As I re-listened to the hypnotic suggestions and recreated my “special safe place” for birthing time, I had joyful memories of giving birth to Harvey and the preparation work I did to get there.  I feel that because I was prepared to give birth both times, it was an efficient process that doesn’t evoke a memory of pain or fear.  I was able to relax into the sensations felt as strong pressure from a hypnotic state.  Preparing for those moments and giving birth to our children has been one of my proudest accomplishments.   

I share my story with compassion, as I know not every mother is so fortunate with her fertility and birth stories.  I think about it a lot and am humbled knowing that I struggle with other things (like milk supply).

I’m grateful for what my body has given to my family and me.

With love, Molly


Yes, it’s vegan—but it’s delicious and filling! And easy.

I’m over food labels. Sometimes I eat a meal that is “Paleo.” Sometimes my meals are “low fat,” and sometimes they are “vegan” or “vegetarian.” The most consistent characteristics about my food lately is that it’s real, seasonally appropriate (no watermelon in January!), and digested well. Read the rest of this entry »

Hello patients, friends, and followers,

I have wanted to write to you for some time! I have so much I want to share and will try to do so as concisely as I can 🙂

Despite being diagnosed with PCOS at age 26, I was able to conceive in the fourth month of trying.   For 10 years, I refused Western interventions (namely hormonal birth control), relying on acupuncture, herbal medicine, and dietary therapy to address my underlying hormonal imbalance. Adding hormones to a hormone imbalance did not resonate with me during my early years of acupuncture school, and was certainly not an option when trying to get pregnant.

And, despite the “advanced maternal age” of 36 when conceiving and 37 when delivering, I had a very healthy and uneventful pregnancy (except for some world-class nausea in the beginning and some gnarly foot swelling at the end).

With the help of Jason, my doula, an amazing doctor, and the Hypnobabies program, I had a natural, un-medicated birth. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s a snow day! It’s a snow weekend! So far we have about 3 inches of snow; with 20+ more expected. I love it! We are hoping the power stays on, but while we have it, we hammered out some cooking. Simmering on the stove right now is a HUGE pot of vegetable soup. I’ve been making it a lot lately. It’s easy, it uses whatever you have on hand, and it’s good! It also is a good dish to eat in the winter, as eating warm soups in cold weather allows us to live in accordance with the seasons.

Always start with mirapoix (onion, celery, and carrot – these 3 ingredients should always be on hand, in my opinion).

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Read the rest of this entry »

I don’t completely avoid any food/food group, but pasta and wheat products in general aren’t things I tend to eat in large quantities. I was curious to see how Italians ate pasta, and my recent visit provided a lot of insight.

In the US some diets condemn pasta like they would trans fats or soda. The mantras of “the gluten will destroy you,” and “too many carbs will make you fat and give you diabetes” have permeated many of our belief systems.

Observe Italians, and it’s clear that pasta does not make (at least some) people obese.  I saw many slender people order, and finish a plate of pasta. . . with wine, cheese, and bread! “When in Rome”… Read the rest of this entry »

“Dry Needling” is a term used by physical therapists, chiropractors, and some medical doctors.  It is a procedure in which solid needles are inserted into trigger and motor points of muscle bellies with the intention of resetting the muscle, improving function, and decreasing pain. Since these needles are not hollow and filled with an injectable substance, they are called “dry needles.” That sounds a lot like acupuncture, right? In fact, these practitioners are using the same needles as licensed acupuncturists. Because they are billing the procedure as “dry needling,” they are able to get paid from insurance even though they are not licensed acupuncturists (L.Ac.).

I have several problems with non-licensed acupuncturists inserting needles into patients. Read the rest of this entry »