Being someone who is a birth worker and tends to lean more towards working with women and children, I often come across many women expecting or who recently experienced the birth of their child. When I became pregnant with my son, I seemed to get to know more women who were pregnant. You can't help but love these women that you go on this journey with, whether it is for a trimester or practically the entire pregnancy. I would talk with moms about laboring, nurturing their baby, and just getting used to life as a mom. You literally become a different person. You walk away from your child's birth a different person.
Over the last nine months since Ezra's birth, I have watched as many of my friends have suffered from postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, and even the baby blues. One thing I've learned from all of this is there is not nearly enough awareness. During your pregnancy you are bombarded with information about laboring, birthing, which gadgets are the best, to cosleep or not, to vaccinate or not, to babywear or not, and the list goes on and on. All of your attention is put on the baby. Suddenly everything is about your new child and no one checks in to see if you are okay. Do you check in to see if you are okay?
I have a handful of friends, close friends, who have suffered from postpartum depression and anxiety. I happened to be one of the lucky women who haven't had to deal with this. The closest thing I experienced to postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety was the month leading up to my son's surgery. I felt so much despair but mostly anxiety. I wondered what was wrong with me and why I was so scared when kids go through this all the time. Then his surgery happened, he recovered, and life moved on. I suffered in silence until about we week prior to his surgery. I'm hoping that what I went through gave me some understanding- but I know what I went through wasn't the same thing.
There are so many things I want to say to those who suffer from this. I hope this comes out right & I hope you will see where my heart is!
So this my dear friends, and if you are reading this, you beautiful ladies know who you are and this is for you!
An open letter to my dear friend(s) who are suffering from postpartum depression.
How many hours have we spent talking about birth, breastfeeding, baby wearing, first foods, sleepless nights, and how fast our little ones were growing? How many times have we sent each other random questions or funny pictures with the caption "mom-fail"? How many hours did I cry to you because I was concerned about going into labor early?
I know you are suffering and my heart aches for you. I wish I could take all the depression and anxiety away from you. I wish I could stuff it into a box and ship it far far far away. I wish I knew exactly what to say or do that would make you feel better. I wish I could be exactly what you need, but I know that it isn't possible to be everything for someone.
Some of you are first time moms like me and for some of you this is your second or third child. Some of you suffered with PPD after the first birth of your child and for a few of you this is a completely new thing. We all knew that PPD was possible & almost all of us took measures to lessen the chances, such as consuming our placenta, breastfeeding, and bonding with the baby as much as possible.
I remember the day you told me that you were at your breaking point. I remember sitting in silence and feeling so sad for you but then I was so proud of you for admitting it. Depression in general is something that many people won't admit they are going through, let alone postpartum depression. I remember searching for words to say but not being able to find something that adequately expressed that I was there for you. Everyone says "I'm here for you" but how many people really mean it?
I feel like I don't always know what to say-- and when I do say something I usually end up putting my foot in my mouth. You see,I've read up on PPD & PPA. Even though I've read about it, it's not something I can fully grasp unless I have dealt with it myself or lived closely with someone who did. I have spent hours searching "How to be a good friend to someone suffering from PPD" or "How to show support to someone with PPD & PPA". Every book and article says to take a different approach. Sometimes I will try to say something like the books say to say to your loved ones, but it never comes out right.
One thing I have learned from this experience and from you, is that there is such a big misconception about PPD & PPA. The media & Hollywood make it out to be some Taboo thing or it is a hush hush thing that people don't talk about. I wish more people talked about this! I think if it was talked about more, then maybe you wouldn't have to shoulder as much of this burden. I've listened as you've told me that people simply tell you that you "need more of Jesus in your life", or "You need to go back to church", or "Just stop being depressed, get out and enjoy the sunshine-- you will feel better". Those people are uneducated and don't know any better. I'm pretty certain I've even said ridiculous things to you & not realized it. Knowing you has taught me to not be afraid of PPD or PPA. Knowing you has made me look into it further. Knowing you makes me want to understand it so I can be a better friend to you & to others.
As time has gone on since my son's birth, I've felt guilty. I've felt guilty because I am not suffering in the same ways that you are. I get caught in between trying to find the words to speak that will make you feel better & knowing that I can't just say something and "poof" you're better. I feel guilty for not talking to you as often as I had before. I feel guilty when I have exciting news and want to share it with you. I feel guilty that my postpartum experience has been pretty good. The guilt I feel at times has been so immense that I feel like it almost drives a wedge between us.
So I've done my best to be a good friend. I tell you I am always here for you if you need me. I tell you I'm just a text message, phone call, email, and Facebook message away. I try to give you as much space as you need. Sometimes I feel like my messages and phone calls stress you out more or upset you in some way. Sometimes I feel like I say all the wrong things- so I try not to really say anything. Instead, I wait. I wait for this to get better for you & pray everyday gets easier.
Throughout my own life, I have had the dark and twisties from time to time. I've dealt with depression in silence. I recently had one of those times before my son's surgery. At first I just needed space. I needed time and space to figure it all out in my own way. I had to figure out my emotions and what I was feeling. I just needed space but I wanted to know that people were there when I was ready to talk. I would cry in the shower or on the way home from the grocery store. I did a lot of praying and hoping that I would snap out of it. When I was ready to talk, some people were there. Some people flat out stopped talking to me. Some people told me to get over myself-- people did this everyday it was no big deal. Some people told me stop being sad. That was the hardest thing, people didn't want to be there for me. So if you noticed I've been more quiet, it's because I'm giving you space. I don't want to say the wrong thing. I don't want to make you feel worse-- not ever.
I have no intention of leaving your life-- none whatsoever. I don't want to lose you, I love you! If I seem distant, please know that I'm not distant at all! I'm just over here trying to figure out what to say or do. I pray for you whenever you come to mind. I am doing my best to hold the space for you and please be patient with me, as I've never done this before.
I want you to know that I love you. I want you to know that I'm so proud of you for acknowledging that you need/needed help. I'm proud of you for getting help. I'm proud of you for surrounding yourself with people who really understand what you are going through, maybe they are a better comfort to you than I can be. I'm proud of you for being the best mom you can be & I honestly think you are an amazing mom! I'm proud of you for telling me what you are going through. I feel close to each of you in a different way. Becoming a mother has given me a whole new understanding for these humans we call mothers... I will do whatever I can to help you, like wet nursing for you, teaching you about cloth diapers, donating pumped milk to you, & babysitting for you so that you and your husband could just sleep.
You might be going through a storm right now, but know that we all have our storms and the storm will soon come to an end & the sun will shine once more.
Last but not least, my dear friend, while you are going through this storm in your life, please don't forget about me. Please don't forget that I love you and that I want you in my life. Please understand my thought process in giving you space. Please know that I TRULY am here for you, just say the word. Tell me what you need from me and I will be there in a hop, skip, and a jump! I'm here for you, if you need space, then let me know. If you need a babysitter just so you can get away with your husband, let me know! I'm here for you & I really mean it! Just teach me how to be there! I will continue to pray you through, hold the space, and be your friend that never walked away.
To learn more about postpartum depression check out some of the links below!
A little over two months ago, my husband and I decided to share with friends and family that our son, Ezra, was scheduled for surgery. This was a very emotional time for my husband and I, especially for me. Being someone who is in the natural health "world", I do everything in my power to avoid surgery at all costs, especially for my son.
**I'm going to start this post off with a short disclaimer, as to protect myself and others.**
~~I am not, nor will I ever be a medical doctor. What you will be reading in this post are remedies and supplements that worked for me and my son. We did so under the care of Medical Doctors, Naturopathic Doctors (both Traditional and non-traditional), a Midwife, a Nurse, a Nutritionist, and a few Naturopathic Practitioners. If you choose to follow anything in this post, please note that you are doing so out of your own FREE will. As always, please consult your medical or naturopathic doctor before starting any new regimen for yourself or your children. This is not intended to give medical advice.~~
I'm going to start off first by explaining the events leading up to my son's surgery, then I will follow it with what we did to prep his body for surgery, and what we have done post op to rebuild his body!
Ezra was born five weeks early on Valentine's Day. He came into this world naturally, without medical intervention. He was caught by Dr. Lee of Monarch Women's Wellness at Maryview Medical Center in Portsmouth, Virginia. He didn't scream when he was first born, but gave a sort of muffled whine as he snuggled up to my chest. He was born perfectly healthy!
When he was about 24 hours old, the pediatrician at the hospital came and told us that they were unable to find his right testicle, but it should come down on it's own. My husband didn't seem worried but me, being into natural health was immediately concerned. When we met my son's actual pediatrician, he didn't seem to worried either. As the first month of his life went by, I became increasingly uneasy, this is when I put a phone call into one of the Naturopathic Doctors that I'm studying under. She referred me to another ND who specializes in Homeopathy, we were recommended lycopodium. We began using that along with a lymphatic massage.
Nothing... Nothing for 4 months. At his four month appointment his doctor gave us a referral over to a pediatric urologist. I felt doomed. I was not okay with my son having surgery. I had consulted my doctor friends, as I have many, and all of them told me the same thing, most boy's testicles descend on their own by six months of age and told me not to worry.
Flash forward to when Ezra was 7 months old and we met the pediatric urologist. After evaluating him, she told us he had a decent sized inaugural hernia, which was making it so the testicle couldn't come down and without surgical intervention, it would not.
I was devastated. My husband and I didn't speak a word to each other on the drive home. Tears streamed down my face-- I felt defeated. How in the world was this happening? I had done everything in my power to be sure my son was born healthy--- with a fighting chance in this world. By the time Ezra was seven months old, I had had 5 sobbing phone calls to my Father, 2 to my step father, 7 complete sobbing meltdowns to my mother, countless hours spent before The Lord, and countless hours researching natural methods for testicular descent.
When we arrived home, my aunt (my mother and aunt were visiting) asked me how the appointment went. I sat on my front porch with her and explained to her, with an angry taste in my mouth, what the doctor had said. She listened and then asked me some questions. My aunt knows and understands the way I think. She had been working in the medical field for probably around 25 years, possibly more. She had worked in the operating room for quite a long time and had seen this procedure done countless times. We talked for around an hour and that was when I accepted that my son needed surgery.
Thomas and I went out to dinner that night alone, leaving Ezra with my mother and aunt. We sat outside at a local pizzeria as we tired to stomach our food. The wind was still that night, almost as if it was trying not to stir up the emotions that were boiling inside my husband and I. We sat there and discussed not allowing the surgery to happen, the pros and the cons. We discussed allowing the surgery to happen, the pros and the cons. I remember being particularly angry about routine antibiotics and all the work I have done since I was pregnant and since Ezra's birth to ensure he had a strong gut. My husband talked about the risks of general anesthesia and his concerns over our son's developing brain. We cried, we snapped at each other, we were harsh on each other, and in the end we agreed, the surgery needed to happen before Ezra was walking.
Flash forward a few weeks when we sat down with the surgeon again. I asked her if she could get rid of the "routine" antibiotic because I know that 70% of the immune system resides in the gut.... She agreed with caution. My husband brought up the fact that our son is intact and we were not okay with retraction at all whatsoever. She agreed once again, but not without giving us a long talk about circumcision & it's "benefits" and then she also claimed that if she had to put a catheter in my son, that it would increase the risk of infection. My husband and I both shook our heads, informing her that she was not to retract our son, under any circumstances. You can read more here why we decided to leave our son intact and why retraction should not be done by anyone other than the boy himself. We left the appointment relieved but agreed that we were going to be sure to get a legal document stating what we did and did not consent to-- to advocate for our child.
I spent the week prior to Ezra's surgery in despair. I prayed that God would heal my child. I prayed that I wouldn't have to allow the surgery. I did a lot of crying. I went through a lot of emotions, from anger to doubt. I had a tough time believing in Natural Medicine... after all if it didn't work for my son why would it work for others right? WRONG. I spent a lot of time blaming myself. What did I miss? What did I eat that was wrong? What if I would have kept him in longer? I questioned so much about my pregnancy and everything I've done since his birth. I questioned the days I forgot to take my vitamins and supplements. I questioned the days I allowed myself to get really stressed during my pregnancy. I literally blamed myself despite everyone telling me there was nothing I did wrong... but it was hard for me to accept... After all, I'm his mother, I grew him from scratch.
The day of Ezra's surgery came. We handed him off in the hallway and watched as he reached for us.. and it killed us knowing that we had to walk away & he would see us walking away from him. We waited in the waiting room for two and a half hours before the surgeon came out. His surgery had gone well, his testicle was viable & he had had a pretty large hernia-- larger than expected. The surgeon had followed our wishes & told us they would call us when we could go see him.
Mr.Ezra had a tough time waking up, which we later found out that his vocal cords had spasmed when they were removing the tube, so they had to put him back under. It took him 3 times longer than what we were originally told it would take for him to wake up. During the "waiting time" I became very antsy and irritable. When we finally got to see him, it was heart breaking.
I don't think anything can prepare you for seeing your child-- your baby, in pain it is the worst feeling in the world. My entire body ached for him. I held him carefully and offered him my breast to nurse. He would nurse for a few seconds and then cry in pain. After about a half hour, the nurse finally gave him more medicine-- which had a lot to do with my husband and I pestering her. My inlaws came back to see him and my mother came back to see him. We spent around 6 hours until we felt comfortable taking him home-- who am I kidding? I was never comfortable but knew we had to go home.
The hardest part at the hospital was Ezra not really communicating with us. He was in a lot of pain and the only thing he could do was cry. His cry was silent, as his vocal cords and throat felt scratchy and sore. It took about 4 hours for him to begin to acknowledge my husband and I.
Carrying my son out of the hospital and getting him in the car seat was terrifying. We didn't want anything to be too tight on him, but also knew he needed to be safe in the event of a car accident. I sat in the back with him and did my best to comfort him. When we got home, my mother in law had our bedroom ready for me to lay down with Ezra.
About an hour after him being home he was inconsolable. He cried no matter what I did, his eyes gave me a terrified look, I did a lot of crying and felt angry. I regretted the surgery. I regretted allowing him to go through it. Why couldn't we have waited until we could explain to him what was going on or when he could talk to us? My husband came in and picked him up. Up until this point, Ezra freaked out when he was in any position other than on his back. My husband began to hold him upright and patted his back. At first he cried... A LOT... and then he began to cough and burp and spit up and fart. We then realized he was getting out the gas that they put in his belly to do the lapriscope. We prayed. My mom alerted our family back home who prayed. Our friends prayed. I tried to pray, but all God got out of me were tears. My husband and I took turns for a few hours holding him and walking him around until he was ready to sleep.
The next morning we woke up to a different baby... a happy baby... a baby that took off crawling!
It has been almost 2 weeks since the surgery and he is doing wonderful! He is currently attempting to walk!
Prepping for Surgery
So what did we do to prepare Ezra (and ourselves) for the surgery? I know a lot of people don't think to prepare a body for surgery but this was our line of thought...
Our son is 8 months old. His brain is still developing. His immune system is still developing. His emotions are still developing. He has no ability to speak other than crying and cooing. What can we do to make sure that his development isn't significantly delayed?
I spent countless hours buried in my medical, herb, essential oil, nutrition, and other natural books. I spent countless hours consulting with doctors, naturopaths (both traditional and current), midwives, doulas, pediatricians, other nutritionists, and close family and friends. I did a lot of praying as well.
We starting preparing Ezra about a month in advance:
-Vitamin C Powder (amount was given according to muscle response testing) daily. Vitamin C was given to boost his immune system. After a week he refused to take it, so we resorted to letting him suck on lemons and diffusing citrus essential oils.
-Elderberry Concentrate- this is immune boosting.
-Probiotics twice daily, this was also to boost his immune system.
-We kept his bowels MOVING!
-He was given coconut oil, grass fed butter, and bone broth to his little heart's content. This was to protect the brain and feed the brain.
-Foods we fed him were sacred foods, such as avocado, lamb liver, bone broth, salmon roe, etc.
-We gave him each cell salt every night.
He also got daily massages from me to be sure his lymph was moving properly. I prayed over him daily.
He had Craniosacral Therapy every week from the time he was 2 months old as well. Chiropractic every 1-2 weeks since birth.
To prepare ourselves????
-My husband and I had our parents come down for the surgery. His parents arrived a few days prior and my mother arrived the day before.
-I freaked out to a couple fellow mommy friends. One of which did an awesome job helping me calm down and held the space for me to freak out! (Thanks Kristin!) Other friends reminded me that it would be okay (Abby & Tara!). Classmates held the space for me and prayed.
-We did a lot of praying.
-The day of the surgery, I took the flower remedy "Rock Rose" this is one that they give to people who are suffering from terror-- I was honestly terrified.
-The day before the surgery we had family photos done with my inlaws.
Post Op Nourishment & Building
I'm all about nourishment.
I also went into this knowing that my son would come out alright, but there would be some things that we might need to work on.
The day after his surgery, I woke up to a message from a friend of mine who is a midwife and many emails from colleagues, mentors, and friends with information about hitting the ground running with rebuilding his body!
-homeopathic phosporous help release the anesthesia
-homeopathic staphasagaria for any surgical healing (incision, cuts etc).
-homeopathic sulpher to release anesthesia as well.
-homeopathic aconite for Thomas, Ezra, and myself for trauma and stress.
-homeopathic silica for healing
-homeopathic symphytum (homoepathic comfrey!)
-Valor essential oil blend was rubbed up and down his spine for spinal alignment.
-Sacred Frankincense, known for it's healing powers.
-Herbal Baths for healing. (3, 10 minute soaks daily for 6 weeks was on the discharge instructions as well).
About 5 days post op, Ezra and I had to make the journey to Michigan, as I had already paid for my flight to go to class. I didn't end up making the full class, but instead spent time with family. I did however, get to go to school for a few hours on Friday-- which was amazing.. Lots of learning!!
About 2 weeks post op we noticed Ezra having nightmares. He was given chicory, mimulus, rock rose, and aspen flower remedies to help him control his fear. Aconite 30C to help release trauma & fear. CST will be done to release the tucked tailbone (tailbones commonly tuck when there is fear).
When I met with the Naturopathic Doctor that runs the school I attend, I had a tough time looking at her. I felt like in some way I failed my son. She reminded me that we are spiritual beings having a human experience (powerful huh?). She responded to me with exactly what I needed, a caring and COMPLETELY understanding heart, a warm hug, and assured me that I didn't miss anything-- sometimes things happen! She told me I did an amazing job nourishing my son- which made me feel amazing. She said "Jessica, he is so healthy, I mean look at him! He is happy and healthy-- he is beautifully and wonderfully made. He will do well with you as his mother."
It was a challenge taking a newly post op baby on a plane to Michigan. He didn't seem to be in any pain and we stopped his prescribed pain medication 2.5 days post op (by the okay of his doctor) and gave him gluten free, dye free tylenol for a couple days only. (I normally do not use tylenol at all for him, but he had just had surgery and needed something). Turmeric was also given to him for inflammation-- which was okayed by his pediatrician. Everything that was given to him pre and post op was approved by his pediatrician!
I noticed right away that Ezra's latch was different and he was refusing a bottle (a new thing for him). When I took him to my Naturopath in Michigan, she quickly saw that his soft & hard palate were jammed together-- a common problem from the breathing tube. We massaged the palates and did a bit of energy work and he took the bottle immediately following the treatment.
Ezra began to suffer from separation anxiety from me for the first time. He was always clingy but this was different. He would scream and holler when people held him (and he wasn't in pain)-- even his grandparents which he knows and loves. He would scream in his car seat until he vomited. For this he was given homeopathic pulsatilla-- this is often given for teething and separation anxiety-- he was in fact, teething (cut his top tooth 2 days post op). The flower remedy, Chicory was also given for me and for him.. as we both were suffering from some separation anxiety.
Lots of rest, lots of cuddling, lots of laughs, and lots of love.
2 weeks post op his growth spurt picked back up, which I am told is a VERY good sign that the anesthesia is leaving his body quickly! He is also trying to stand for the first time & attempting walking. I've also noticed that since the operation he is having more frequent bowel movements, literally has a bowel movement within 10-20 minutes after each meal. Before the operation he was only having one bowel movement a day if that.
All in all, there was a lot to learn from this... such a great lesson. I learned how to balance allopathic and naturopathic medicine. I did exhaust all options prior to the surgery. Surgery was a last resort & we managed. My son is healthy and back to his usual self- just a little bit more cuddly.
It is always scary to have to trust someone else with the life of your child. I still don't like that we had to allow the surgery, but now that it is done and over with, I am thankful for the experience. I'm thankful for the friends and family supporting us. I'm thankful that my son's pain was gone when he woke up the morning after surgery, when he was expected to be in a lot of pain for a while. I'm thankful for the surgeon who was accommodating and for the most part easy going. I'm thankful for the doctors who I've gotten to know my whole life who I consulted. I'm thankful for the support system.
I'm thankful for learning to trust God. I literally had no other choice!
Who am I?
My name is Jessica Kellaway! I am the earth loving, natural parenting, Jesus loving weirdo your mama might have warned you about!