Friday, September 5, 2014

Why I Found Postpartum to be Empowering


It doesn't role off the tongue. It kind of sticks there until you spit it out. Or at least that's how it felt until I learned more.

Postpartum is the time after having a baby. It's usually a prolonged time of infertility, your body's natural way of spacing children. However, the length of this "time of infertility" is entirely unknown. How fun is that?! (That was sarcasm.) The length of infertility depends on a few factors:

1) Baby feeding - If you formula feed, your cycles will probably return very quickly, but if you exclusively breastfeed (no bottles, pumping, pacifiers, or schedule) it could be over a year before you see a cycle. And there are many more options that fall in-between. Also, adding solid food to the mix speeds up the return of fertility.

 2) Baby sleep patterns - When a baby wakes up frequently at night, it sends a signal to the mom's body that it's not a good time to have another baby because this one still requires a lot of attention. However, when babies start sleeping through the night a woman's body begins to normalize and cycles may return even if they are frequently nursing during the day.

My postpartum blessing, almost 14 months old now!

 3) Genetics - Both of the above factors may be trumped though by genetics. Some women's bodies prepare for babies faster than others.

For example, I did a high version of mixed breastfeeding. What that means is we tried to get Cordie to take a bottle three times (and she HATED it EVERY time) and no pacifiers (again, not from lack of sincere coaxing on our part). She was also on a bit of a schedule since I work from home and needed it. Combine that with Cordie waking one or more times (usually more) at night consistently, and I didn't see my first cycle until she was 10.5 months old, the week after she started sleeping through the night.

I was really excited about our use of NFP when I started reading about how birth control chemicals can be passed from mother to baby through breast milk. I was not a fan of that idea at all! But I still felt like I was kind of alone in the whole process of figuring out what the heck my body was doing postpartum. It was a lot to process--new baby, changed body. So we decided to contact an instructor to help us out. I highly encourage this! And not just postpartum, but anytime you are confused about what your body is doing when it comes to charting. Find someone to ask questions of and to confide in. (I can be that person if any of you reading need that :)

Having a husband who constantly builds you up helps postpartum, too!

We actually made the postpartum time an opportunity to learn the Creighton Method. The instructor was wonderful and met with us as often as we needed. I learned so much, and while I still choose to practice the sympto-thermal method, I feel like I have even more knowledge about my body because of my Creighton instruction. My instructor helped me establish my BIP, or basic infertility pattern, so we didn't have to abstain for months or weeks on end. Too often I hear of couples who abstain for such long periods of time because of unknowns, but that doesn't have to be the case at all. Knowledge is power. Find someone who is willing to work with you so NFP doesn't become a burden.

Cousins just two months apart.

After a few weeks of charting I immediately noticed a pattern. I could actually see my body attempting to regulate, then deciding it wasn't time, trying again, and once again deciding it still wasn't a good time for another baby because the current one still needed me quite a bit. I actually found postpartum to be empowering, which is odd because I think a lot of women can hit rock bottom self-esteem-wise postpartum. But for me, seeing how my body was working to give me time to heal and properly care for my daughter was beautiful and incredible. How amazingly did God design us?!

Finally, I learned to trust myself and God a bit more. I think our society has gotten it into our heads that we can't rely on our own observations and interpretations to accurately deduce our fertility without the help of chemicals or physical barriers. We've let fertility become this mystery when in fact it's very specific and a true science. It's my body. I've lived in it for a while now, so I think I can listen to it well enough to learn what it's doing. Postpartum isn't the easiest time for any woman, practicing NFP or not, but it doesn't have to be scary, surprising, or highly sacrificial. Learn about your body, work with an instructor if you need to, and finally trust yourself and be honest.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Spreading Our Story

We were honored when asked to be interviewed for a story on NFP for our diocesan magazine. It was perfect timing for NFP Awareness week, which was July 20-26. I'm always happy to have our story shared because I feel like lots of Catholics fall into the same boat of misinformation and a bit of fear when it comes to NFP. If you have a moment (or several) take a look. It starts on page 14 of the magazine below.

Friday, July 25, 2014

What about PCOS?

I’ve gotten this question many times now, so I thought I’d write up a response.

What about PCOS?

First, let me say, I’m so sorry you suffer with PCOS. I’ve never experienced it, but from what I’ve heard it’s a tough cross to bear in many ways. Not only are your cycles crazy, but many times it comes with weight gain, pain, mood swings, unusual hair growth, acne, insulin resistance, and it is one of the leading causes of sub or infertility.

For those who don’t know, PCOS is polycystic ovary syndrome. It is a reproductive dysfunction in which a woman ovulates infrequently or not at all. It is a hormonal disorder. And most doctors will prescribe birth control to “cure” it, and they probably truly believe it’s your only option.

I’m so sorry that the medical world feels it is ok to fix one area of your health while potentially destroying other parts. This is unfair.

I’m also sorry that our society is a quick-fix one. I’m sorry that we’ve taught ourselves that the easy way is the right way. This is setting us up for immediate happiness, but potentially future pain and long-term unhappiness.

I say these things because the pill is the easy fix by the medical world that seemingly works. You take a “magic pill” that seems to make everything better. But why are we ok with curing our acne, our weight gain, our mood swings at the expense of possibly getting blood clots, increased risks of certain cancers, and still not fixing the true problem?

Here’s a scenario; one I’ve actually seen happen. A woman dealing with PCOS is prescribed the pill at age 16. She doesn’t think about her disorder again until she’s ready to start a family later in life. She stops taking the pill and suddenly her PCOS resurfaces. She isn’t ovulating and she’s given the new cross of sub or infertility. Instead of managing her PCOS at 16, she now has to learn how when she desperately wants a baby.

Instead, why doesn’t the medical community work with women to manage their PCOS in ways that aren’t detrimental to other aspects of their health and future? There are other ways to manage PCOS. No, they might not be cures, but there are ways to help the malfunctioning parts of the body function closer to how they should. The pill may seem like it regulates your hormones and causes your body to have a “period”, but it does not. Instead it makes your body think it is pregnant and then causes it to have “withdrawal” bleeding. This just further masks the malfunction. Why has their been a shift from treating the underlying causes of women’s fertility to just “skipping over” the causes?

For many the pill is the easiest way to get back to life. I guess it is, but the easy way is not always the right way. Instead I would encourage women with PCOS to steal themselves in strength and determination. Find a doctor who is willing to work with you on managing PCOS instead of covering it up. Work with a nutritionist to loose weight (a huge factor in managing PCOS!!!).  Too much weight (or too little) can have a huge effect on cycle regularity. PCOS is a hormonal disorder and the food we eat can have a great impact on those hormones. Find which ones you are missing or eating too much of. Read Fertility,Cycles, and Nutrition or TheFertility Diet; both are books with great information about how to manage areas of a woman’s cycle naturally. Not only do they cover diet, but also have great information on supplements that can further help. 

But what about women who try those things and have no relief? Yes, there are further options. Search out a NaPro Technology doctor or at least a doctor that is willing to do hormonal profiling. Through NaPro Technology, doctors are able to find the underlying causes and determine treatment. Sometimes the treatments are minor, but for more severe cases it could include surgery.

Normal, Healthy Chart

I was asked, “If you have a daughter [that] grows up to have a condition like [PCOS], will you have her use 'NFP, vitamins, diet, and exercise'? Will you have her track her ovulation instead of taking the Pill and actually fixing her legitimate health problem, even if she is not sexually active?”

Yes! Yes, my daughter will learn NFP, and if problems arise with her cycle we will manage them with vitamins, diet, exercise, and more if the situation calls for it. She deserves total health care. She deserves more than a band-aid. I will not have her pick and choose what aspects of her health are important.

The pill is easy, but it’s not healthy. I just pray that more medical practitioners realize this and more women get the help they deserve as a result.


Monday, July 21, 2014

A Letter to Cordie

Dear Cordelia RenĂ©e, 
I didn't think anything could be better after I met your daddy, but we both can't fathom why we are so blessed to be your parents. You've only been here for a year, but the way you have brightened the lives of all those around you is just incredible.
If there is one word that describes this last year, it is thankful. I've never felt this sense of thankfulness for so long before. Each day I wake up I'm so thankful I get to go pull you out of your crib, that I get to see you grow and learn, that I get to experience your every day sass and sweetness. I can't tell you how often I've rocked you and just prayed thank you. 
And I've tried to be thankful in the hard moments when you wouldn't sleep or couldn't be soothed. There is so much sadness in the world, and it reminds me daily to hold you tight even if you don't want to be. 
At the beginning of your first year I didn't want to go "all out" for a first birthday you'd never remember, but as each month sped by faster than the one prior, I realized the years would be the same. I only get to have you this little for such a short amount of time. I think that was God's design so we would never loose our awe of tiny feet, tiny hands, and baby sounds. 
I love that you look just like your daddy but with blue eyes, 
that you growl and smash things, but walk on your tip toes, 
that you are always noisy and busy, but will sit and look at a book,
that you are so clever and smart, but goofy and innocent as well, 
that you have "stranger danger", but will smile at just about anyone, 
how you crawl as fast as you can to get away, but are always happy to be caught,
and I love the people you've changed your daddy and me into.

We love you so much.

As far as the party goes, take a look at the details for your Cute as a Button themed party.

So thankful to celebrate with family and friends!
Special thanks to Aunt Kelsey of Kelsey Klaus Photography for the photos!

Hello from Uncle Kris.

Before and after. Prego buddies. 

 Happy One Year!
We love you so much!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Year in Review: 2013 Edition

A little late, but our two year anniversary of owning a home was Dec. 17. Last year I did a "year in review" of our projects, and I wanted to do the same thing this year. So here we go on our trip down memory lane ...

We lived with blinds held up with bandaids for a year and walls that looked like someone had decided painting with dirt was a better idea than actual paint. Now our master bedroom looks like a calm retreat.

It might not look like a huge difference, but our living room went from dingy and dated to bright and inviting (in my opinion :). And boy was it a huge project painting all those walls (twice) and replacing 350 feet in trim and 7 doors complete with fixtures.

The before and after for our hallway still makes me happy. Soon though we'll be replacing that light!

The nursery was of course one of my favorite projects. It was so much fun preparing for our little girl. I sat in that room many days during the end of my pregnancy imagining her there. I can't believe she sleeps in there now!

And last, but certainly not least, the guest bathroom was one of our biggest renos yet in our home. I still go in just to look at it before I go to bed. I can't wait to redo our master bath, but that's going to take some saving up.

I'm pretty proud of the work we put into our home and am excited about the projects we've been discussing for the coming year! We don't have a lot of rooms left to update, but there are plenty of floors, closets, and more that need some love. So thankful that we've been blessed to have accomplished all this. Special thanks to my amazingly handy and selfless hubby and my generous dad for making these projects a possibility.  This home had been a work of love for our family, and we hope we can bless others with it in our continued ministry.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Goodbye 1985. Hello 2014.

I've completely fallen off the blogging map these last few months. I guess that's what having a baby and working will do to you. And on top of that, we decided to renovate our guest bathroom. (Yeah!!) 

Having a little one definitely slowed down our progress. No nail guns after 8pm and wallpaper removal in 20 minute chunks. But we finished, minus a few odds and ends. 

The bathrooms in our home might have been the most dated rooms in our home. 1985 specifically. Sailboat wallpaper, shell shaped sinks, and carpet (in a bathroom, gross). It all had to come out. All. Of. It.

Before. The paper lantern was left behind from the tenant occupying the home before we moved in.

See how dark it is? There was no light over the toilet or the shower.

Not terrible, but nothing extraordinary either. 

Nice touch of "nautical" with the fraying rope.

Like almost all of our renos, we decided to start this gut randomly one morning. We've had the tile collecting dust in our garage for over a year now. It was extra from a project my dad did (he's a master craftsman in the tile business) and we couldn't wait to install it. But first we had to rip everything out.

All gone. 

Prepping for new tile.

It was messy, dusty business. Our whole home was covered in a layer of dust. Not my favorite.

When we removed everything, we went shopping for our replacement items. Toilet, fixtures, and vanity. But wait. Our old vanity was 65 inches. They don't make vanities 65 inches. 60 and 72, but not 65. So we found the silver lining and decided to build out the stub wall and build in shelves. It was quite a bit of extra work, but well worth the effort. 

We also purchased new lights. Lights are always one of my favorite parts of our projects. And this project was special for two reasons. First, we moved the light switch from outside the room (a favorite past time of my dad's was to turn off the light on my mom while she was using the restroom. So mean.), inside the room.  And next we added light over the dark shower and toilet. Poor hubby spent a lot of time in the attic to get that to work. 

Our final major addition was a double vanity. That was a must on my list since someday I see children fighting over a single sink.

My dad doing amazing work! We also added two cubbies in the shower.

This looks like a horror film. We took all the wallpaper down and it was impossible to plaster the wall enough to get it smooth (not despite a lot of trying on my part). So we found an orange peel spray on plaster. It worked like a charm, but I'd suggest doing it before you install the tile and vanity. We had to cover and tape EVERYTHING! So after about two months, we are finally finished!

What. A. Difference. 
Goodbye 1985.  Hello 2014 :)

I'm so happy the vanity was an odd size because I adore this built in. It's beautiful and will be so functional in the future.

Makes me want to take a hot bath and relax. We went with a shower curtain instead of a shower door so it will make bath time easier in the future. Plus, I LOVE shower curtains. I don't know why, I just do. I think it's an easy way to change the feel of the whole bathroom without spending a lot of money.

Love the cubbies, tile, and our new fixtures. 

This is a beautiful sight to see down the hallway.