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


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 »

Food for Thought: Seaweed

February 12, 2013

We live in a society that often pairs the ideas of healthful eating and weight loss with long lists of foods to avoid.  I think it is equally important to focus on what we SHOULD eat.  Choosing to think about what we can eat is a more positive thought process than missing and feeling deprived of all of the things that we can’t (or shouldn’t) have.

I see the faces of my patients when I recommend that they omit a possibly offending agent.  “No cream in my coffee?”  “No popcorn at the movies?”  “No cereal for breakfast?  But I’ve always had cereal for breakfast!”

When I first set out to regulate my blood sugar levels (and therefore my hormones, emotions, and digestion), some of my most ingrained, nostalgic, and emotionally charged foods were to be off-limits.  Read the rest of this entry »

It All Adds Up

September 22, 2010

What would happen if you took the stairs all of the time?

In your apartment building?

In the building you work in?

In the building your friend/boyfriend/sister lives in?

To the 5th floor of your acupuncturist’s building?

Up the escalator from every metro ride you take?  (Bethesda’s is scary long!)

One of the main reasons that people cite for not exercising is lack of time.  But if you added up all the stairs you COULD take in a week, you’d be surprised at how many steps you could get in.  These short bursts of exercise help elevate the heart rate, strengthen the muscles in your legs, and burn calories.

In terms of Chinese Medicine, taking the stairs would regulate qi, move blood, and calm the shen.

If you make the effort to locate the stairs and stop making excuses for taking the elevator/standing on the escalator, good things will happen!

It all adds up.

In good health,

Molly

Miso is a fermented paste made from soy beans and other grains.  It is a staple of the Japanese diet and different varieties exist throughout Asia.  One of the unique aspects of miso is that it contains healthy microorganisms (yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut also contain these probiotic qualities).  Healthy bacteria are required to keep bad bacteria from growing wildly, and studies suggest that taking probiotics may prevent infection and combat allergies and some chronic illnesses.    The healthy microorganisms found in these foods and some supplements are similar to the healthy bacteria naturally found in the gut.

It makes sense.

Why do women commonly get yeast infections after taking a course of antibiotics?  Because the antibiotics kill bacteria – both the good and the bad, and the bad proliferate greatly without healthy bacteria to keep them in check.  This scenario is a common example of illness that occurs when the good and bad bacteria are out of balance, but improper diet, chronic illness, and strong medicinals can all alter the balance of bacteria in the gut, resulting in a range of gastrointestinal symptoms (gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation…).

Yogurt is the food that most people reach for first when wanting healthy microorganisms:  It is convenient and readily available.  However, according to Chinese medical theory, yogurt is very cold and damp in nature.   Read the rest of this entry »