September 2007 Issue

FOOD FUN FACT: More Dangerous than Toys
CHRISTI'S COMMENTARY: My Toughest Newsletter Yet
FOOD CORNER: Parsnips with Peanut Butter Sauce
UPCOMING EVENTS: M.O.M.S. - Mom on Mom Support


 

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20 Things More Dangerous Than Toys Made in China

Isn't it interesting how the press gets in an uproar over the lead in Mattel toys made in China, yet they ignore other toxic products made right under their noses in the U.S.?

Here is a list (produced by Mike Adams of NewsTarget.com) of 20 products that are more dangerous to children than the lead paint in Mattel toys

I'm sharing this list with you because it applies to adults, as well as children.

 


 

My Toughest Newsletter Yet


 

For the last 19 months, I've been trying to decide when and how to write this newsletter. This is the most vulnerable I've ever been in my newsletter... and this is by far the toughest, most complex topic I've addressed. I've been fine-tuning it all month, but it's time to take a deep breath and hit "Send."

One of the reasons I decided to share this intimate story with you is because of a recent email that I received from a Nourishing Nuggets reader.  She wrote:

"I am in awe that you can do all of that while being a new Mom. It looks easy in your pictures - you and Evan laughing and bonding, him eating kale without a fuss and you looking radiant... and anyone would be envious of how great you look! I see the incredible accomplishments you are pulling off while being a full-time Mom.  You seem to be taking it in stride."

I started laughing hysterically when I read her email, because this image couldn't be farther from the truth.  Is that what my readers think about me and my life?

If it is, then I owe all of you the truth.  So, here it is.

*******************

May 2005 - I'm pregnant for the first time.

September 2005 - Ben and I get married.

October 2005 - We start planning a natural homebirth with midwives.

January 2006 - We learn the baby is breech (feet down), and our homebirth dreams are dead.

February 15, 2006 - My son is pulled out of me by C-section and my world comes crashing down.

*******************

 

You might be wondering:

What's the big deal about a C-section? 

I can only speak for myself and my birth experience,

but I can tell you:

Although I've never been raped before,

the only way I can describe

the physical and emotional trauma of my C-section

is to compare it to a rape. 

It was the most heartbreaking, violating, painful experience of my life.

You see, my body was not the only thing

sliced into during that surgery.  A large chunk

of my soul disappeared that day, too. 

I became a broken woman that day...

and I've been picking up the pieces ever since. 

If you keep reading, I'll explain what it's been like.

 

*******************

For me, the C-section caused a double whammy case of Postpartum Depression (PPD) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  I suffered from both of these for the first 15 months of my son's life.

I'm sure you've heard of Postpartum Depression before (I knew about it, but of course I paid no attention to it before Evan was born, since I assumed I would never experience depression).  After all, I was healthy, strong, well-connected... and I had no history of prior depression.

PTSD is the same thing that war veterans get from traumatic war experiences.  As it turns out, you can get PTSD from a traumatic birth experience.  It may be helpful to know that any kind of birth (C-section, vaginal, drugs, no drugs) can cause PTSD - the main factor is how the mom feels about the birth.  One mom's glorious birth could be another mom's traumatic birth.  This is rarely acknowledged in our culture, however, because most people assume a baby's birthday is automatically the happiest moment of a mother's life.  This is not necessarily the case - it certainly wasn't for me.

*******************

To be honest, I can't remember much about the first 12 months of my son's life.  When I look back at videos and pictures from that time, I notice that I looked happy.


Maybe I should take up acting...

Because inside...

I wasn't happy. 

Inside, I was raging. 

I was screaming. 

I was sobbing. 

I was aching and hurting. 

I was angry and bitter.

I felt violated, and I was grieving in a big way.

*******************

Here's what a year of PPD and PTSD looked like for me:

- Contrary to popular belief, I was NOT hanging out with Ev in the kitchen, munching on kale and tofu.  I do, however, remember sneaking into the kitchen quite often so I could take a swig of wine.  I didn't even bother pouring it into a glass - I just drank it straight from the bottle. It helped me forget about my life for a little while.

- I had flashbacks to my surgery 5-20 times a day. Nighttime C-section flashbacks caused insomnia. Daytime C-section flashbacks caused sobbing, rage, and zombie-like apathy.

- I experienced feelings of gloom, grief, and anger almost constantly – these feelings, like an annoying cloud over my head, rarely went away for a year.

- I had trouble bonding with my son, because he reminded me of the C-section. I didn’t keep a baby journal or decorate his nursery. I didn't feel like his mom, and I certainly didn't have any confidence in my mothering skills.  It took me three months to muster up the courage to take him to the grocery store. For the first few months, I avoided anything that made him cry (giving him a bath, putting shirts over his head, putting him in the carseat). I know that we smiled and laughed and played peek-a-boo. I know that he's always eaten great food, and that I'm still breastfeeding him 19 months later.  We've gone on adventures together, and he's gotten lots of cuddling and love.  But there was a fog between us for the first year of his life. I simply wasn't "there."

- I didn't want to go out and meet new people - it was too hard to pretend I was doing OK. Besides, I got really jealous, sad, and mad when I heard other moms raving about motherhood, or sharing their positive birth stories. Those positive feelings felt so foreign to me, and I thought... surely, they must be lying.  Because motherhood wasn't fun for me until Evan was more than a year old.

- I had intense fear, grief and anxiety in the weeks leading up to Evan’s first birthday – I didn’t plan a party for him that day because all I think about was the memory of my C-section. I didn't want to celebrate the worst experience of my life.

- I disconnected from many people in my inner circle… except people with whom I could discuss the C-section and my true feelings.  Most people didn't understand why I was unhappy, and they downplayed my feelings.  They told me I should be healthy because - after all - "you have a healthy baby."  They told me I was stewing over something that was over and done with, and that my expectations for Evan's birth were too high. They told me I was wasting precious time with my baby.  Didn't people see that everytime they said something well-intentioned like this, they just made me feel guilty and horrible? Comments like these only added to my depression. So I eventually stopped bringing my anger and sadness up, except to the few people who didn't judge me for how I felt.

- I often wondered if my new marriage could survive this storm, and if I would ever like motherhood.

- I researched the heck out of PPD and PTSD, and I knew there were lots of treatment options.  But I had so little energy that it was hard for me to take the first step.  I had to ask a friend to come over, sit down at my dining room table, listen to me dump out all of my options, and help me put a recovery plan in place. How bizarre is that? I create health plans for my clients all the time, but I didn't have the energy to do it for myself.  That showed me how "off" I really was. The simplest tasks were extremely difficult.

*******************

My Recovery

I had a rough time - emotionally - during the last month of my pregnancy, as well as the first few months of motherhood... but I simply attributed it to the C-section.

It wasn't until Evan was 7 months old that I figured out I had PPD. I had taken the PPD screening test when Evan was only a few weeks old, and scored very high... but I thought I'd get better in a matter of weeks... once I started sleeping more.  When Evan was 7 months old, I revisited the PPD screening test again when I was up late with insomnia. Once again, I saw that I still met almost every single PPD criteria. The next day, I asked my husband if he thought I might have PPD.  He didn't even hesitate for a nano-second.  He simply replied, "Yes, I think you do."

I realized I needed to pull myself out of the depression, and fast.  And to heal myself, I've had to pull every single gosh darn ounce of Guilt-Free Self-Care that I possess and put it into action to save myself.

I had a really, really, really, REALLY hard time getting help at first, particularly from the traditional medical community. I tried to follow the traditonal PPD treatment avenues, but I fell through the cracks, it seems.

My OB-Gyn never called me back to give me a referral.  And because I haven't seen a doctor in 5 years (I don't have a Primary Care Physician), I had to wait more than four months to get in to see a nurse practitioner who could do bloodwork to rule out anemia or thyroid problem.  Four months is a LIFETIME when you're not feeling well, as you know. Once I did get to my appointment, the nurse never even addressed my PPD.  When I tried to bring it up, she told me, "Well, at least you have a healthy baby... that's what's important, right?"

** Please know: A mom can love her baby tremendously, and be glad her baby is healthy... yet she can still despise her birth experience... and still feel depressed.  A healthy baby doesn't cancel out birth trauma and depression. Besides, a mom is not merely an extension of her baby. 

And you should also know that my C-section was "picture perfect" according to the medical doctors.  I can only imagine how C-section complications affect a new mom's postpartum period.**

The traditional psychologist I saw didn't help much either.  She basically ignored my PPD and and never even asked about my birth experience. I went to her a few times because she took my insurance, but in the end, I decided that I'd rather invest money in people who can really help me... even if they don't take my insurance.

I applied to have a "Visiting Mom" to come to my home and check in on me once a week, but they said that I didn't qualify, for some reason.

Medication wasn't an appealing option for me, personally, so...

*******************

In the end, I found myself turning, as usual, to the alternative health world for support.  This is what really helped.  Here are some of the paths that were most helpful:

- I did lots of counseling with holistic health counselors, baby trauma specialists, birth trauma specialists, my spiritual mentor, and a clinical nutritionist.

- I attended a new moms postpartum support group sponsored by Jewish Children & Family Services (even though I'm not Jewish, they still welcomed me with open arms).

I joined ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) and became a part of their email support group, where I could talk openly and honestly about my C-section without being judged.

I had massages, some shiatsu sessions, and bartered with a personal trainer who came to my house and created workouts that I could do with Evan (this was a godsend).

I journaled, read books, talked with family and friends, devoured websites and blogs, hired a babysitter, cooked and consumed my placenta (which I wish I'd done sooner after Evan was born), posted my birth stories on my blog, and found a few new mom friends with whom I could speak openly and honestly about what I was experiencing.

I thought I would recover within a few weeks... but it hasn't been a fast recovery.  It ebbs and flows... just when I think it's gone, it resurfaces and I get frustrated. Evan is 19 months old, and I can honestly say that my PTSD is gone, but some PPD remnants still linger. They're reminders of my past, and motivators for my future. My mission is to ensure that no other mom EVER has to endure what I've endured since my son was born.

 

*******************

When I look back on the way I feel now... compared to last year... it's like I've come back from the dead. I only had the energy to take care of my son and myself... and beyond that, I have let other things slip... and let relationships slide. It was what I had to do to survive.

Obviously, I spent a ton of time, money, and energy on my recovery. It hasn't been easy.  I had to really want to get better.  I know that my husband, friends, and family wanted me to feel better... but in the end, no one else cared as much about my recovery as I did.  No one else could do the work for me. 

Why have I been working so hard to pull myself out of my depression?  While I love my husband and my son, I didn't do it for them.  And I didn't do it for my business.  

I worked so hard to pull myself out of my depression because I believe that I deserve it.  Me.  Myself. 

I deserve it. 

I deserve to feel good. 

I deserve to stop crying, to stop hating myself, to feel like a marvelous, powerful,

passionate, strong woman again.


Some may call me selfish for saying that. In fact, much of the PPD literature says that mothers with PPD should be treated so that their babies don't suffer from developmental problems... and so their famiies won't suffer from being around a depressed mom.

Well, I certainly believe our health affects those around us.  However, I also believe our #1 reason for healing ourselves should be because... WE deserve it. 

WE. DESERVE. TO. HEAL.

*******************

Those who were on my New Mom teleclasses lately know that my personal mantra is, "Who's taking care of the mommies?" 

Once a baby pops out, the focus gets shifted to the baby, and many new moms are ignored.  I believe we need to take care of the mommies... not because mommies take care of everyone else, but because mommies deserve to be taken care of for their OWN sake. 

The same can be said of you.  Whether you're a mommy, a daddy, a son, a daughter, a woman, a man, a teacher, an accountant.  Whatever you are, whoever you are...

You deserve to be healthy. 

To feel strong. 

To be happy. 

To love your life. 

To love yourself.

To practice guilt-free self-care.

I really hope that this newsletter will inspire you to do just that.  Sometimes it takes multiple false starts before you find a health practitioner that you like.  Sometimes you have to ask people - over and over again - for help so that you can heal.  Sometimes you have to simply muster up all of your courage and self-love and take that first step. Because no one else can do it for you. Believe me, I know how challenging it is.

I shared this incredibly intimate story with you because we are in this health journey together - you and me. I want you to know that I am not a superhero just because I'm a holistic health counselor. Just because I support people in their own health struggles doesn't mean that I don't have health struggles of my own. 

However, I firmly believe this whole postpartum journey - as tough and painful as it's been - has made me better able to do my work in the world.

 

*******************

Postpartum Depression - A Serious Problem

More than 400,000 new moms get PPD each year (that's more than the number of people who are diagnosed with Alzheimer's, Parkinsons, or Multiple Sclerosis).

If you know anyone who's a new mom, it's important for you to familiarize yourself with the signs of PPD.  There is a stigma around depression (especially for new moms), so most new moms won't show obvious signs of depression... but if you listen to her words and watch her facial expressions, you'll often see it.  

Here are some ways to gauge a new mom's emotional health (keep in mind not only the words they say, but the emotion behind the words):

Ask a new mom about her birth experience - was it what she hoped for?

Ask a new mom what she's eaten that day... and what she's done to take care of herself?

Ask her how motherhood compares to what she expected?

Ask her when she last had 2 hours to herself without her baby around?

PPD can surface anytime in the first year, so please continue to support moms, even after the initial newborn phase.  If you know any moms who need support, but aren't sure where to turn, please send them to my website.  I'm compiling a list of PPD resources for my Recommended Reading page.  If they need/want immediate support - and someone to talk to - please encourage them to call me at 978-474-0144 or email me.  I will do my best to help them find support.

*******************

I don't know where this new piece of PPD and motherhood will fit into my Boston Health Coach business in the future. And I don't have any of my usual tips or words of wisdom at the end of this Commentary.

I do, however, want to thank you for allowing me to share my story with you.  Please take any pieces that resonated with you, and if you think this would help another new mom, please pass it along. 

If this piece offended you in any way, I'm sorry.  It wasn't meant to offend. It was simply an honest portrayal of one woman's experience, and if it pains you to read that birth can have this kind of negative effect on a new mom, please know that it happens more often than TV shows and the media lead us to believe. Birth and motherhood aren't always pretty... and I believe it's important to give all mothers the space to talk about what it was truly like for them... without feeling judged or crazy. Thank you for allowing me this opportunity. 

It was hard to write about PPD and birth in such a short article.  If you'd like to read more of my writings about birth and motherhood, you're welcome to do so.

To view my articles, please scroll down to "Christi's Commentaries on Birth" section on this page on my website.

*******************************

 

If you got this far, thanks for reading...

If you would like to email me with your thoughts about this commentary, please give in to the temptation... I'd love to hear from you.

 

*******************************

P.S. If you liked this issue of "Nourishing Nuggets" please forward it along to friends, family, and colleagues.  It's a great way to show people you care about their health.

 

 

HOLISTIC MOMS NETWORK OPEN HOUSE

FOR WHO: Moms, dads, parents-to-be, grandparents, or any practitioners interested in holistic parenting

WHEN: Tuesday, October 2 from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.

WHERE: Advanced Health & Wellness - on Route 114 in North Andover

COST: FREE!

EXTRAS: Free chair massage and organic food for all!

Please join us at our Open House.  For more info, contact me or check out our HMN website.

 

***********

 

"M.O.M.S. - Mom On Mom Support"

Designed by Moms, for Moms and led by Moms -

who are support specialists

FOR WHO: New moms

WHAT: 8-week phone program with other moms

WHEN: next group starts January 2008 - we're now accepting early registrations

WHERE: Call in from your phone!

COST: $395

FOR MORE INFO: See this page for program details

This is an 8-week phone program for new moms, covering nutrition, losing baby weight, boosting your energy, caring for yourself, post-baby sex, the unspoken emotions of motherhood, and much more. It will be led by Christi and two other holistic health counselors.

** This program would make an amazing gift for a new mom in your life.  Trust us, she needs and deserves lots of support!

 

 

***********

 

If you are looking for inspiration around healthy living, please check out the archived copy of all past teleclasses that I keep on my website.

 

***********

See my Upcoming Events page for upcoming corporate lectures.

 

 

MAKE SMARTER FOOD BUYING DECISIONS

 

Do you ever feel intimidated by the health food store?

 

Are you looking for some new cooking inspiration?

Are you trying to convince your kids or spouse that healthy eating is the way to go?

If any of these questions rang true for you, I want to introduce you to a DVD that has helped hundreds of my readers.

My "Healthy Shopper" DVD is a fun, information-packed DVD that follows me through Whole Foods as I give a condensed version of my traditional health food store tour.

Curious? Want to learn more?

Here's the main DVD page, where you can find out all the details.

Here's a testimonial from a busy mom who bought the DVD:

"I was REALLY IMPRESSED with your DVD. It was not only full of great information and tips, but it was beautifully produced too. I was surprised by how professional it was!

Not only did I like it, but my 5 year-old-son and my 2 year-old- daughter loved it too! You're a celebrity at our house now. My kids want to meet you and "play at your house" (the highest compliment) but more importantly -- they want me to bring home some beets & daikon radish to try! (I bet you didn't even realize you were making a kid-friendly video!)."

- Sarah Zeldman, Solutions For Busy Moms

To learn more about the DVD or purchase your copy... click here.

 

 

 

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RECIPE: Parsnips with Peanut Butter Sauce

This recipe is from Cynthia Lair's book titled "Feeding the Whole Family."

It's a great dish for peanut lovers.  If you or a family member is allergic to peanuts, you can make this with almond butter or tahini.

Parsnips look like white carrots, and burdock root looks like a tree branch.  You won't usually find burdock at regular grocery stores, but you'll find it at health food stores and famers' markets.

If you can't find parsnips or burdock root, you can make this recipe with rutabaga, carrots, or turnips.

 

Ingredients:

4-5 parsnips
1 burdock root (scrubbed, but not peeled)
3/4 T. red wine vinegar
2 T. organic peanut butter
1 T. tamari soy sauce, shoyu, or Braggs
1 T. balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon maple syrup

 

Instructions:

1. Put a pot of water on the stove to boil. Add ¼ t. of the red wine vinegar to the water.
2. While water heats, peel parsnips and cut into bite-size chunks. Scrub the burdock root and cut into chunks.
3. Put parsnips and burdock in the pot - boil for 10-15 minutes.
4. Combine the rest of the ingredients together (including the remaining ½ T. of red wine vinegar) to form a sauce (you can mash the peanut butter, or microwave it to melt it).
5. Mix the cooked vegetables and sauce together – ENJOY!

 

 

Check out other

Delicious Fall Recipes!

 

 

ABOUT CHRISTI

 

Christi Collins, H.H.C., AADP, is a Certified Holistic Health Counselor accredited by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners.

**Are you wondering what a Holistic Health Counselor is?  This description may help!

Christi studied Eastern/Western nutrition and modern health counseling at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City and earned a B.A. in Honors in Communication Arts from Villanova Universty.

Christi's goal is to help people fall in love with "The Big Three": Healthy Eating, Juicy Living, and Guilt-Free Self-Care.

She works with very busy women who are struggling to eat healthy and take insanely good care of themselves... without feeling stressed or guilty about it.

Christi is a three-time marathoner and triathlete, an avid pianist, and a newly converted Red Sox and Patriots fan.

She is the author of the forthcoming book "You Don't Have to be Superwoman to be Healthy: 50 Ways to Reclaim Your Health."

To read more fun facts and stories about Christi, click here.

Christi can be reached by email or phone (978.494.0144).

To visit her website, click here.

Here are the latest pictures of Christi's baby, Evan!

 

 

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** First, I wish to tell you that I'm writing this newsletter based on my own personal experiences.  In no way does this generalize what every woman feels about her birth experience or motherhood. I am simply being honest about how it was for me. There is so much more to this story that I can share in a small newsletter, but I did my best to provide an honest picture... in order to help those who might need to feel less alone in their own similar journeys. **