Practice Updates, Thoughts, and What to Eat

It has been an interesting time to be a business owner and a practitioner of Chinese Medicine. Deciding to stop seeing patients in person was a very difficult decision. My business is considered an “essential business,” however the definition of an “essential health visit” is a bit more gray and is interpreted differently by different people.  It has been difficult to not be fully available for my patients when I know so many are suffering, but at the same time it does not feel right to meet in person yet. I anxiously await accurate, ample testing and further guidance on when and how to reopen for acupuncture treatments. Thank you to all who have reached out with support. 

In the meantime, I’ve had time to reflect upon my practice. The virtual herb consultations have been going really well, and I see an opportunity to encourage this aspect of my practice further.  As many of you know, I study Chinese herbs quite passionately, currently with my teacher Sharon Weizenbaum. Sharon is on a committee of practitioners treating Covid-19 cases applying Classical Chinese theory to diagnose and treat with herbal formulas. These patients tend to have mild to moderate (not in the hospital) symptoms with very great results so far. It’s interesting to consider if any of these patients would have progressed to more severe illness without the herbal medicine intervention. The treatment strategies are being collected and recorded.

In addition to herbs for acute and chronic health conditions, the topic of nutrition has been discussed frequently on the video consultations. I have been curious about the choices people are making at home. While a frozen meal or chips and salsa may make for a convenient dinner after a grueling day of parenting and teleworking, I wonder about the long-term effects of the foods we are choosing to eat now.

Back when I was in acupuncture school, I met with a nutritionist out of sheer confusion over what to eat. She asked me, “What makes you feel like the best version of you every time you eat it?” My answer came quickly and was obvious: My mother’s/(grandmother’s) brisket. This revelation made sense to me. My ancestors were likely eating brisket for many generations, and I grew up eating it at holidays with my family. It makes me feel satiated and satisfied, not full or uncomfortable. Eating leftovers after holidays makes me very happy too. Perhaps brisket does not carry the fame of kale or turmeric or bone broth. But for me, it feels healing. Even though my grandmother is no longer with us, my mother continues the tradition. She once froze a brisket and had it overnighted to me when I lived in California. I was not home for delivery and spent an entire afternoon tracking it down! When I heated up the brisket on my stove, my apartment began to smell like my grandmother’s home which also made me feel loved.

Close your eyes and ask: What dish makes me feel better when I am sick? What holiday recipe makes me feel fully satisfied, but not uncomfortable?  What makes me feel like a great version of me when I eat it? The answers to these questions are my prescription for you. For one patient this was a whole roasted chicken with roasted potatoes. For another patient, it was chicken noodle soup. I would love to hear what comes to your mind!

While we might not be ill or celebrating a holiday, it is a tender time. I hope you enjoy some nourishing, supportive meals.

In good health,

~Molly

As my teacher reminded us when she addressed this topic during last week’s class, our “immune system” is the turning of the whole wheel. When we get good sleep, take in and absorb nutrition, digest and eliminate properly, exercise, have joy and meaning to our lives–when all the systems of the body work well together, our “immune system” is strong. Yin and Yang are in right relationship, and an external pathogen will be easily processed.

When Yin and Yang are out of right relationship, the body is unable to efficiently process the external pathogen. The signs, symptoms, and patterns of the presenting illness will be different for each person, even if they catch the same strain. Herbal formula treatments can be adjusted to the symptoms as they present on the individual patient.

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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

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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