Thursday, September 27, 2012

Essential Oils

Since I posted on facebook about how Rabbit/Malamute family has started to use essential oils, I have received a few requests for a blogpost on how we are using them.I have always been rather skeptical of essential oils. How do you sniff something and have it really do anything. I started to open my mind when I found out that these are actually strong distillations of powerful herbs. Certain oils like frankincense have even been used by individuals to kill cancerous tumors when applied topically.

We went to a doTerra Medicine Cabinet Makeover class and all got Zyto scans. (Yes, even Duckling. Daddy held his hand and he managed to sit still. The results were extremely interesting.)

Malamute came out as needing fennel and Terrashield as his top two, but also thyme (hormone balancer), lavendar (calming), Elevation (for depression), and tea tree oil. Fennel is a hormone balancer and we started to notice that he seemed to have a number changes in his mood and outlook after starting to use it. He just started getting in touch with the "take charge" side that he had as a kid and that got beaten out of him over the course of his life. Terrashield I've often massaged into his feet at night and it has helped him sleep better. Terrashield was a bit of a head-scratcher. I joked that Malamute must be especially delicious bugs. (Which isn't true because since switching to a mostly raw and mostly vegan diet we often don't use any bug protection at all and rarely get bit.) We asked the doTerra lady about it and she said that Terrashield definitely keeps bugs away, but that this particular blend is also good emotionally for people who feel unprotected or vulnerable. Without getting into the details there or here, I will say that that was definitely a fit for him. We haven't gotten the others yet, but will probably get them in the future. The doTerra lady said that the tea tree oil was probably to help his body continue cleaning out the massive amount of junk it had accumulated from two and a half decades of terrible eating. Tea tree oil kills things like candida and parasites and bacteria and when Malamute first smelled it, he thought he was going to die too. I think I read somewhere that in Australia surgeons use it to disinfect the skin before operating.

I only came up with two oils: their calming blend (that should be obvious to anyone who reads this blog or knows me) and thyme oil, for hormone balancing. Two of the oils in the calming blend are lavender and sandalwood. Duckling ranked #1 for sandalwood, so I have been using some of his combined with lavender for my anxiety and have noticed great results. I call sandalwood my valium. It has helped me deal with the anxiety from Malamute's former job a lot better. Duckling has been particularly stressed out this week and at night I have started putting sandalwood and lavender on him and it has worked wonders in helping him calm down and sleep better.

As I said, Duckling ranked #1 for sandalwood. #2 was vetiver and #3 was clove. Curiously enough, his scan came up with doTerra's Immortelle blend for skin. His last ranked was helichrysm. We asked about the Immortelle and the doTerra lady said that Immortelle is aimed at older women with skin damage, but that anyone with skin damage could use it and find it helpful. This started to make sense because when Duckling arrived at the hospital the night he was born, the doctors proceeded to do a battery of x-rays and CT scans on him. They also did a head ultrasound on him at two weeks old to determine if he should have a shunt put in. And then (despite the fact that he had normal urinary function), we had to take him in for VCUG tests where they would x-ray him without any protection. (The nurses and Malamute and I were required to wear lead aprons  but nothing was given to our sweet little baby who received the full force of the x-rays. When we asked if he could have some radiation protection, we were told that the x-rays were weaker than those of a dentist's office and it wasn't a big deal. So then why was everyone else wearing lead?!) In short, in just two years, Duckling had amassed a massive amount of radiation exposure and his skin was starting to feel the effects.

Vetiver is a sort of "grounding" oil for people who are kind of ADD types, which definitely describes Duckling. Duckling is always on the go, always looking for something new. I have noticed that he tends to be calmer when I use vetiver on him. The doTerra lady also said she thinks vetiver outright stinks. She recommended putting it on first and then putting some sandalwood over it and this happens to be a very pleasant smelling combination. I used to think the vetiver smelled bad, but I'm kind of warming up to it lately.

Clove is anti-carcinogenic- especially for skin cancer. At this point, Malamute pointed out to doTerra lady that Duckling had three strange, brown spots on his head (where they did the head ultrasound) that had appeared over the last year. And indeed they are the type of "moles" that are supposed to be a warning for skin cancer. DoTerra Lady said that it is definitely not normal to see something like that in a child his age and to start now while he's young in fighting the effects of the radiation. She recommended applying the clove oil directly to the brown spots. I have been doing this for several weeks now and one of the spots has disappeared. The biggest one is still there, but we are fighting it. I'm also using it on a couple of big, brown spots I have and have noticed them starting to shrink. We only got the three for him, but I would like to get some helichrysm as it sounds like an awesome remedy for cuts.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Best Story of All

Last night we had the opportunity to take Duckling to see the circus. (Before he was born, we used to dream about all the fun things we would do with our baby. And then he arrived and we realized that all he wanted to do was eat and sleep. We've decided two years old is when they start getting fun. We call it "the terrific two's".) As I watched all of the remarkable acts, I couldn't help but wonder what my little boy will do when he grows up. Will he ride horses or motorcycles? Or fly airplanes or helicopters? What will his hobbies and interests be? I was overwhelmed with a certain amount of anticipation. But then, of course, I realized that I didn't want to fast forward through his life and miss all the good parts. Raising Duckling is like reading a really good book: I'm not looking back at the beginning, I'm not peaking at the end, I'm simply enjoying every page.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Darkness and Illumination: My Thoughts on Natural Birth

Disclaimer: I know many of you have had medicated births and c-sections and been perfectly satisfied with your experience. I'm not saying that's impossible. This post is merely my thoughts on giving birth without a lot of intervention. And so, just as I have kept an open mind about your experience, I ask you to keep an open mind about mine.

Oh noche que guiaste!
Oh noche que amable mas
que el alborada!
Oh noche que juntase
Amado con amada
amada en el Amado
Oh you guiding night!
Oh night more kindly
than the dawn!
Oh you night that united
Lover with beloved,
the beloved in the Lover
This post came out of an interesting intersection of experiences. The first was that my husband and I were going through an extremely difficult time figuring out how to be successful with his work and a friend of mine who was born in America and raised in Japan wanted a midwife birth for her baby but was moving to Alabama where midwives are illegal. She says that in Japan, the attitude is that no one has ever died simply from the pain and discomfort of labor contractions, so why should we medicate for it? With my husband's work, I came to a point where thinking positively just wasn't giving me the comfort I needed. My anxiety was getting out of control.

One day I went to the library in search of a book that could help me through what I was experiencing and that's when I came across Dark Night of the Soul: A Psychiatrist Explores the Connection Between Darkness and Spiritual Growth by Gerald G. May, M.D. In his book, Dr. May uses the writings of a sixteenth century Spanish monk and nun to explore adversity and how we react to it. A couple of thoughts from this book include:

  • That our modern health care system places to much emphasis on just making pain go away when sometimes pain and discomfort might be pathways to greater spiritual growth.
  • That while God is apart from us, He also lives within us as well and that prayer reaches through the outer layers of our senses and mind to the deepest part of us to the God within.
  • There is a great deal of mystery in adversity. Sometimes, something we think is a good thing turns out not to be, other things that we think of as disasters are often good things. Often, spiritual growth is accomplished by learning to embrace the dark night, rather than merely wishing things could be light all the time.
  • We can only find out the plan God has for our lives by letting go of the expectations, desires, etc. that we cling to and opening ourselves up to whatever path that God has for us. It's OK to want things like marriage, children, success, whatever, but we have to be able to let go of those things at the same time so that God can use us where He sees fit.
I felt like there were some parallels to giving birth naturally. If I were to pick one word to describe my experience of natural birth, I think I would choose "illuminating", though "mysterious" would be close behind. Funny, huh? Those words seem better suited to saving the Holy Grail from Nazis. Most women have used words like "strong" or "empowering" to describe their natural birth. And there is nothing wrong with that. My birthing experience certainly was strong and empowering, but that's not what stood out to me. I always knew I could give birth without drugs or surgery (even when I was in the middle of it saying I couldn't, I knew I was lying to myself; mostly I think I was just trying to express that it was difficult), so that was kind of a given to me. 

The thing that stood out the most was how the mystery of giving life became uncovered to me. Having children always seemed like something that would happen to other people and not to me. It was elusive,  mysterious, dark, hidden. And so the most illuminating thing I experienced was finding out that what I knew in the deepest part of me- that motherhood was to be a part of my life- was true after all. 

There was a spiritual element. I believe that God designed our bodies to work in a certain way and to me, allowing the process to proceed on its own and reserving heavy interventions for all-out emergencies was kind of like taking a leap of faith (I'm racking up a lot of Indiana Jones references in this post; I didn't plan it that way). But as anyone who has done a lot of research on birth will tell you, being too quick to intervene with drugs can actually cause the process of birth to be drawn out longer than necessary and make it more uncomfortable. (Did you know lying on your back during birth makes it much more difficult for the baby to get through and it makes contractions more painful?) 

I've heard plenty of accounts from women of difficult high-intervention births- hours of agony on pitocin, fetal distress, disrespectful doctors and nurses, uterine infections following c-sections, hours of pulling with forceps, and then the really scary stuff- hospitals and doctors that don't pick up on the symptoms of pre-eclampsia, bags of medicine meant for an epidural accidentally filled with a lethal dose of another medication, birth injuries resulting in severe brain damage, bungled c-sections. (There's a reason the US has the highest maternal and fetal death rate of any developed country in the world.) When people talk about how hard it must be to give birth without pain medication, I don't know what they're talking about because to me it sounds like giving birth with pain medication can sometimes be even more difficult than letting "nature take its course". And so paradoxically, I feel like giving control over to my body and baby actually gave me the ultimate control of labor. I think many of the most illuminating truths come in the form of paradoxes.

But then for all the illumination I experienced, I actually feel that in some ways the process of childbearing actually became more mysterious. Every time I look at my little boy, I marvel at how something with that much personality could start out as just two cells. The physical explanation just seems so mundane and insufficient. It seems impossible that someone so individual could have ever been a part of my body. He seems too separate and unique have just been an extension of me. But maybe he never was an extension of me. Maybe I was just the short term rental for something much bigger than a few cells. But  that again, is something shrouded in mystery. Ultimately, there was a freedom about that darkness and I'm glad that I got to experience it.