Breast Pumps, Postpartum Depression, and Single Parenting

 

Disclaimer: This is a selfish post, but these are my feelings, nonetheless, and people read blogs for the feels, right? Oh, and for super mom brag posts. This isn’t a super mom brag post, this is just about the feels. This post was also written a few months ago, but pumping has finally gotten much easier for me. 

 

Breast Pumps, Postpartum Depression, & Single Parenting

 

This afternoon I sat at my computer, pumping milk while brushing up on some doula business topics before seeing a client. I was crying. The tears were not because the pump hurt, nor were they due to jitters related to my impending visit with a prospective client. I was crying because I felt sorry for myself.

It all started when I grabbed my pump and milk baggies out of the dusty box I had been storing them in. They had been in there for quite some time, back when Little a was still quite small. It’s the same little hand pump I’ve had ever since Big A was placed in the NICU nearly 4 years ago.

That little pump signifies success, but also a great deal of pain.

My little man, my Big A, spent the first 7 days of his life tucked away inside of the hospital’s NICU. I pumped every two hours to ensure that my little guy could get the very best food I was able to get for him. Those nights were spent in tears, being pinched by poorly fitted breast pumps. I couldn’t sleep, especially when I was sent home from the hospital, but my baby wasn’t.

This little person that had been living inside of me for 9 months was suddenly gone, replaced by some machine that attempted to stimulate the milk that was supposed to be for my little babe. It felt as if my baby had died, as if he had been ripped out of me and all I was left with were scars and that bloody milking machine.

When I would go to the NICU during the day, and I went every day and stayed as long as I possibly could. I would try to nurse him from my breasts. He had a lip tie, I was a new and very inexperienced mom, and the hospital staff were not inclined to help me. Big A and I had a very rocky beginning.

Several of the NICU nurses told me that I would have to switch to formula, because my baby would never latch right. One nurse in particular, who was very adamant that I formula feed, would feed him bottles of formula, instead of the breast milk I had worked so hard to pump every night for him. When I found this out, I requested that she not attend to my son any longer – I was livid.

I eventually was fitted with a better pump, the little hand pump I still have. With it, I was able to pump larger quantities of breast milk during the night so that the nurses wouldn’t be tempted to just feed him formula. When Big A finally got to come home, I packed away the pump and read everything I could get my hands on about breastfeeding. Even though his latch was always horrible and often hurt, he and I breastfed for 13 months without any supplementation.

I have no issues whatsoever with bottle feeding or formula feeding, but after Big A’s birth going horribly wrong, I was absolutely determined to have one thing go right for me, and that one thing was breastfeeding.

With Little a, her lips never touched a bottle. I was quite proud of myself for this. My little pump was used a few times during her breastfeeding, but only so I could pump excess milk to donate to local families in need. The aversion to my pump was still there, but it was made easier knowing that I was pumping for a good cause.

Fast forward to today, while I was pumping and crying. It had been two years since I used that breast pump. I had hoped to only ever use it with all of my babies if there was someone in need of breast milk locally. I had hoped that I would be able to stay at home with each and every one of my babies until they were done nursing, so that they could get their milk directly from the breast.

But today, I was pumping so that my 3 month old son would have milk while he was with the sitter. I had that same feeling I had all those years ago, that feeling deep down in the pit of my stomach, the feeling of my womb aching for the baby that had been whisked away from me and placed inside a NICU incubator. It was the same feeling I had felt within my breasts, the longing to have my new baby be the one getting his milk, and not a machine.

So many emotions were running through me as I pumped. At first, I wanted to blame his father for promises not kept. I felt like I shouldn’t have to be working away from home, when I was told I would never have to while the kids were little. I relived the feelings I felt when Big A was in the NICU, those feelings that I now know were signs of Postpartum Depression, which eventually became worse, but healed some after Little a’s home birth.

Having to constantly fight with hospital staff about my choice to breastfeed, all while healing from an episiotomy and bad birth experience had only made the depression worse. THOSE feelings, those horrible feelings, all came creeping back today.

As I left my babies to go see my client, I chanted to myself, “You can do this; You’ve got this”. I catch myself saying that a lot lately. It works. I conjured up what little bit of a smile I could and drove on to my consult.

I love what I do, I really do. I’ve wanted to be a doula for a very long time. It’s doing it alone that I never anticipated. I’m doing everything I always dreamed of doing, only, I had planned to do it with him, my children’s father, by my side. Now I’m doing it alone.

Like I said at the beginning, this is a selfish post. I know there are women who wish they could breastfeed, who wish they could have children, who wish they could work a job that they love. I try to write posts that are not all a pity party for me, but about the happy endings in my life and the joys that life has brought me. But in this situation, I’m still working on building the happy ending and to find the joy. Those things aren’t here yet, but I can see them. I’ve been working my ass off to get them and I finally see them closing in. But sometimes, in order to experience joy and a happy ending, you have to have a good cry over those who are not there with you when you finally taste that sweet achievement.

 

Spring is Upon Us

Spring is upon us,
Persephone emerges from below
Spring is upon us,
Demeter rejoices for her daughter is home
Spring is upon us,
Hades will mourn over his lost love
Spring is upon us,
Wildflowers emerge from their sleep
Spring is upon us,
Hedge Witches will forage and soon they will fly
Spring is upon us,
Hades awaits Mabon

spring upon us

Big Changes, Small Changes, Changes!

3 little monkeys.jpg

 

Things have been busy here in my neck of the woods. Lots of changes have been happening, some for bad, most for the better. Overall, I’m extremely excited at the direction my life has been going and I hope all these good vibes continue coming my way!

So what have the A Team and I been up to?

Bitty A is 4 months old now, but he’s already about the size of a 1 year old. He’s a chunk! He’s exclusively breastfed, cloth diapered, worn in wraps, and overall wonderful and healthy. Right now he’s been actively trying to crawl. It bugs him to no end that he can’t do everything his big brother and sister can do!

Big A is 4 years old. I’ve been slowly integrating preschool into his daily life and it has been going well! We don’t have any course books, and I don’t foresee us using any in the near future, but he’s doing well with what schoolwork I do present him with. I had planned on putting him in soccer this year, because he loves it so much, but the funds just weren’t there. I’m hoping next year, with a little better planning, I’ll be able to find a program for him.

Little a is 2 ½ years old. She’s semi-fluent in ASL and uses it often, but she loves to verbally communicate (quite loudly) what she’s saying, too. She likes to do preschool work with Big A and actually seems to have a little more patience than he does, so she’s been able to learn right alongside her big brother… one of the many things I love about homeschooling! She also enjoys helping me with my herb crafting. She’s one of the first ones to try a new (and toddler safe) tea blend I’ve made. She seems to have a natural love for plants.

Our local Pagan community has been blooming the last year. The kids and I have been working on becoming active within it. It’s amazing how much is has flourished since I first moved back to Arkansas! There have been talks of a Spiral Scouts troup forming locally. Once they do, I will definitely be talking to the tots about it and seeing if they want to join.

As for the bad changes, my health has taken a pretty hard hit. I had noticed a lot of my old chronic issues, ones that I had kept fairly well under control, began to resurface after I miscarried Baby Arthur. Then, during Bitty A’s pregnancy, I began having even more problems. Thankfully, none of these issues interfered with my ability to safely give birth to him at home, but they did begin to run down my body. Near the end of my pregnancy, the kids and I moved in with my mom just for a little extra help. It was greatly needed, because the last month of Bitty A’s pregnancy, and about two months after, I wasn’t able to work due to how sick I was.

However, with all of these health issues, both old and new, have come good things. It has caused me to delve deeper into herbalism, far deeper than I had before. The drive to feel better and to be able to be healthy enough to take care of my kids pushed me to the point that I needed to be in order to expand my knowledge of herbs. Thanks to a rigorous herbal regime, not shying away from Western Medicine when it was needed, seeing a chiropractor regularly, and working through some stress and grief that had been building up, I have finally gotten to a point in my health in which I’m able to get back on my feet.

Despite all of the ups and downs, my business and continuing my education have both been better than ever! I am nearly done with my doula certifications. I’m training through New Beginnings and Stillbirthday. Stillbirthday has been extremely challenging and has caused me to really reflect on the grief that I experienced when I went through Arthur’s miscarriage. But I need to work through that grief, so I have been very grateful for my training through Stillbirthday.

As far as my business, I have launched my doula business and it has gone very well! I work as a full spectrum doula, meaning I cover all aspects of birth and postpartum, including pregnancy loss and abortion. It is a very humbling job and oh so rewarding. With my doula business, I have also combined my apothecary. My herbal focus has almost always been on women and children, so combining it with my doula business just made a lot of sense. In the future, I might change this up, but for now, I love making oxymels for tots, pregnancy tea blends, and postpartum herb baths.

Combining my herbal and doula business has really helped me locally, in that I’ve been able to bring more awareness about herbal medicines within my local community. Very soon I will begin teaching family herbalism classes at a local store. I live in an area that is overrun with MLM essential oil reps, so it’s been nice to be able to use my presence as a doula to help share information about proper herb and essential oil safety.

And on that note, I will soon be selling my handcrafted herbal goods locally! I have a few local shops that have reached out to me and have asked me if they can carry some of my goods. Of course, I jumped all over that! I’m hoping to have my products in local stores sometime in April. One small step to help me get to the point that I can finally open my own brick and mortar apothecary… my dream!

All in all, the A Team and I have had a lot of ups and downs, but the ups are finally beginning to go way, way up. I pray to the goddess that they continue this steady climb up, because the gods know that the kids and I could finally use some good things in our lives.

 

How have you been? Do you have any big changes happening in your life?

Primordial Willow’s 2016 Reading List

 

Primordial Willow's 2016 Reading List

 

Howdy y’all!

One of my goals for 2016 is to up my reading game. I’ve always been an avid reader, but this year I really want to focus on reading books that are pertinent to the paths I am following (herbalist, doula, bad ass mom, etc.)  and help me grow in those paths.

Inspired by the Facebook page A Year of Books, I plan on reading a book every 2 weeks. Unlike A Year of Books, I’ll be re-reading some books that I’ve already read – I’ll also be reading older books instead of new releases.

So if you’re interested, join me in this fun adventure! If you do decide to follow along, be sure to post in the comments on this page, or leave a message on my Facebook page, letting me know what book you’re on and what you like/dislike about it.

Here’s my 26 books (1 book every 2 weeks) for 2016:

  1. Homebirth in the Hospital, by Stacey Kerr, MD.
  2. Herbal Healing for Women, by Rosemary Gladstar
  3. The Birth Partner, by Penny Simkin, P.T.
  4. Eve’s Herbs: A History of Contraception and Abortion in the West, by John M. Riddle
  5. Taking Charge of Your Fertility, by Toni Weschler
  6. Cunt: A Declaration of Independence, by Inga Muscio, Ph.D.
  7. Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding, by Ina May Gaskin
  8. Vaccinations: A Thoughtful Parent’s Guide, by Aviva Romm, M.D.
  9. The Male Herbal: Health Care for Men and Boys, by James Green
  10. The Official Lamaze Guide, by Judith Lothian, RN, Ph.D.
  11. Women’s Anatomy of Arousal, by Sheri Winston, CNM, RN, BSN
  12. Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method, by Marie F. Mongan
  13. Los Remedios: Traditional Herbal Remedies of the Southwest, by Michael Moore
  14. Birth Over Thirty-Five, by Sheila Kitzinger
  15. Herbal Antivirals, by Stephen Harrod Buhner
  16. Childbirth Without Fear, by Grantly Dick-Read
  17. The White Goddess, by Robert Graves
  18. The Premature Baby Book, by William Sears, M.D., Robert Sears M.D., and James Sears, M.D.
  19. Aradia, by Charles Godfrey Leland
  20. The Attachment Parenting Book, by William Sears, M.D. and Martha Sears.
  21. Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra
  22. The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers, by Jack Newman, M.D.
  23. Medical Herbalism, by David Hoffmann
  24. Beyond the Blues, by Shoshana S. Bennett.
  25. Herbal Antibiotics, by Stephen Harrod Buhner
  26. When Survivors Give Birth, by Penny Simkin

P.S. Don’t forget, you can get used books from Amazon for as low as $0.01! Also, don’t forget to check your local library for some of these books. Happy Reading!

 

Life Isn’t Always “Pinterest Perfect”

 

Life Isn't Always Pinterest Perfect

Today has been, for me, one of those days that bloggers never write about.

Us blogger types try to only write about the good days that are filled with innovative ways to make cupcakes and Pinterest-worthy crafts that make us feel like mom of the year. We also love to snap pictures of our wonderful little cherubs as they so adorably munch on our latest quinoa sweet potato muffins, while guffawing over their adorable attempts at crafting sock monkeys.

Yeah, today has not been one of those days.

Today has consisted of my two year old attempting to feed her newborn brother a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (she was stopped before succeeding). It has been filled with me constantly reminding my 3 year old that the Yule tree is a cheap-o from Dollar Tree and cannot handle him climbing on it, despite his claim that he’s Curious George. It has consisted of screaming toddlers who were done with being cooped up indoors. And it has caused me to be so stressed out that my 3 year old literally said, “You actin’ like The Grinch, Mommy,”.

Yeah, it has been a pretty crummy day.

But even though us bloggers never write about these kinds of days, just know that we do have them. Not every day goes “Pinterest perfect”. In fact, there are more insane days, with the occasional glimpse of those gorgeous Pinterest cherubs, but mostly craziness.

All you can do at the end of the day is pick yourself up, wipe the boogers off of your shoulder that was left behind by a toddler, put the kids to bed, and pour yourself a glass of wine. You kept yourself and some little human beings alive.

Cheers.

Our Yule Traditions with Toddlers

Our Pagan Yule Traditions with Toddlers

 

 

How to celebrate Yule always seems to be a huge topic of debate for many within the Pagan community. I’m in several Pagan groups on Facebook and all I’ve been seeing posted in them lately is how you should (and shouldn’t) celebrate Yule. Some people get into a tizzy if you celebrate Christmas, some people think Pagan’s shouldn’t do the ‘Santa thing’, and some just don’t celebrate at all (party poopers).

Personally, I like Yule. I also like Christmas. I think they’re both fun and a great way to spend quality time with family. Whether you celebrate either or not doesn’t bother me in the slightest. However, I do feel that you can celebrate BOTH Yule and Christmas without tossing aside your beliefs, without squashing other people’s beliefs, and all while having a great time.

Below I have listed what my family and I have planned to do this year for both Yule and Christmas. Some of these things we have done since Big A was born and others are new traditions we have added in.

I always try to incorporate some sort of community service projects for the family during the holiday season. I feel that teaching my kids about helping others and serving their community is one of the best gifts I can give them for the holidays (I do give them presents, too). As the kids get older, I plan on changing these up a bit, but for now, while they’re toddlers, this is what we do.

If nothing else, I hope this list can help some of you get ideas for fun things to do with your toddlers during the holidays. I hope you all have a Blessed Yule and a Happy Christmas!

December 20th – Eve of Yule

  • Leave gift of homemade banana bread outside for the elves and fairies (Servicing: The Fairies and Elves, duh. Perhaps some bugs, too.)
  • Put handmade gifts under one of several of our Yule/Christmas trees. (I can get rather obsessed with Yule decorating. Just look at my Yule Pinterest board and you’ll see what I mean.)
  • Decorate the Yule Log and light candles before going to bed to welcome in the rebirth of the sun. (We place dried leaves, cranberries, and such around the log. We also leave behind some pomegranate juice in honor of Hades and Persephone.)

December 21st – Yule

  • Wake up early to watch the sun’s rebirth
  • Cook an orange-themed (the fruit) meal for breakfast. (Oranges are a fun way to represent the sun.)
  • Open our handmade gifts.
  • Go for a walk and pick up any trash found along the way. (Servicing: Mother Earth)
  • Have a Yule dinner (Usually something Cuban, like what’s found on my Cuban Thanksgiving post.).
  • Watch the sun set.
  • Read Pagan tales about the sun.

December 22nd

  • Make pine cone bird feeders and hang them up in the back yard. (Servicing: The neighborhood birds)
  • Read stories about The Horned God.

December 23rd

  • Donate used clothes and toys. (Servicing: Fellow humans)
  • Read stories about The Goddess in relation to winter.

December 24th – Eve of Christmas

  • Decorate a tree for Christmas
  • Make cider and cookies.
  • Deliver cookies to our neighbors (Servicing: Community).
  • Read stories about Santa Claus (While some Pagans dislike talking about the big guy, I don’t mind him. In fact, I think he’s rather cool. I mean, the dude loves cookies, digs the color red, is totally not ashamed of his curves, he’s one of the founders of the ‘beards are hot’ movement, AND he gives out gifts. Hello? What’s not to like?).

December 25th – Christmas

  • Spend Christmas with relatives.
  • Give out homemade gifts to relatives.

Traditions We Don’t Do

  • Elf on the Shelf… *shudders* That little guy freaks me out, that’s all I’m going to say.
  • Nativity Scene… I have no qualms with the nativity scene, it just isn’t for me. As the kids get older, if they decide they want to do one, then we’ll do one.
  • Advent Calendar… I think it’s a cool idea, it just takes far more time and planning than I have to give at the moment. Maybe it’s something I’ll incorporate in as the children get older.
  • Listening to Christmas Music the Day After Thanksgiving Until New Years… No, just no.

Traditions I Plan on Incorporating Later

  • Advent or ‘Solstice’ Calendar… I think these are really cool, but I just don’t think my kiddos would be that interested in it right now. I’ll probably wait until Big A is around Kindergarten aged to think about adding it into our holiday.
  • Food Bank Service… Once the kids are older, I would love to have all of us volunteer at a local food bank. Right now, my kids are 3 years, 2 years, and 6 weeks old, so I just can’t manage it at the moment.

 

What are some of your family’s Yule/Christmas traditions? What are some traditions you don’t do/would like to do?

 

Our Yule Traditions with Toddlers