Being a mother has been the best and hardest experience in my life. A love so deep accompanied by thoughts of needing to find balance and seeking greater patience.
It has brought unbelievable highs and soaring lows. The constant desire to be the best mom I can be, staying calm, being a teacher and also recognizing my children are my teachers in so many ways. With all of the beauty that comes with being a mom, why does it seem so hard, why do I feel so alone, why do I constantly feel like I’m running on empty.
Waking day after day, full days of homeschooling, running a business, cooking meals, doing the laundry, cleaning, being a mom, a partner and maybe having 10 minutes with James (my partner) before I fall asleep in the middle of a conversation is exhausting.
Today I am so thankful for the opportunity to be a mom and to know that I am not the only mom that feels overwhelmed. I am not the only mom who has recognized “I thought I could be superwoman…really: I am woman and it is okay”.
Yes, I have innate super qualities, super love, super motivation, super sexiness, and super powers like intuition, birthing and breastfeeding…and I am still human.
The following life experience allowed me to understand the depths of my superwoman façade:
Feb. 28th I started to have abnormal symptoms, numb mouth, tingling in fingers, toes, face,… leading to an unexplainable neuronopathy that changed my life within days. My full active life turned to the inability to walk, talk, swallow, pick up or hold my children, turn over in bed, urinary and fecal incontinence and sleeping more hours than a newborn. In desperation, my mom flew in from California to be by my side and literally took care of the kids and me.
Ten days later I underwent one of the hardest decisions I, as mom, had to make, surrender…you can’t do it all…right now you can’t do any of it, and right now you need to trust your children are in good hands.
Kaden my 4 year old, went on an adventure of camping, traveling, and living with his grandparents, aunt and cousin in Maryland…
(I am so excited to reunite with him on May 21!)
In the meantime my mom flew with Naiya my 18 month old, and me to Los Angeles where I spent the next 17 days in UCLA Hospital.
Another emotional rollercoaster. Breastfeeding came to an abrupt stop, co sleeping out the door, invasive medical testing, invasive medical treatments and the most disempowering event of my life. Feeling unheard, scared, angry, and like a guinea pig in an institution I did not trust, subjecting my body to nuclear medicine and the list goes on.
I kept telling myself, “I am only here in the hopes of finding a diagnosis in order to treat it and heal naturally.” Medical intuitives, shamans, energy healers, massage therapists, acupuncturists…I was working with them all…and no physical answers.
I was released after 3 days of Prednisone IV and 5 days of plasmapheresis; unable to care for myself and a prognosis of: you may get better in weeks, months, years or never.
Amidst all of this I found my deep power, my true values came through, clarity shined bright, relationships with my immediate family deepened with a strong unbreakable love…This is a Spiritual Journey.
I never received a formal diagnosis, and every test in the world came back negative.
Hours by myself in the hospital, unable to talk and completely uninterested in TV, really gave me a lot of time to meditate, contemplate, and allowed the answers I needed to come forth.
Forgiveness. Love. Trust. Surrender. Rebirth. Move From Your Heart. Follow Your Passion.
I recognized I was trying to escape from the social pandemic of life but fighting against the system alone ran me into the ground…well almost.
It is obvious the United States system does not support pregnant women and families. The United States system supports work, making money, and consumer consumption.
This unhealthy, wasteful system is breeding unhappy, unhealthy, stressed parents working overtime to make enough money to pay the bills. The stressed out unhealthy population is birthing stressed out unhealthy children.
Although I consciously chose to live life differently in hopes of escaping this social pandemic of life, it backfired on me in a way.
- I chose to start my own business before I got married and had kids so I could do something I loved and make my own schedule.
- I chose to birth my babies at a birth center and at home because I believe in the woman’s natural ability to birth, nurture and feed her baby.
- I decided not to vaccinate after long hours of research and deciding I do not trust what is inside the vaccines nor do I trust the pharmaceutical companies.
- I use a pediatrician who refuses to vaccinate and he works with a homeopathic and other alternative doctors for medical treatments.
- I chose to home school my children because I do not believe public education focuses on the whole child and private holistic or alternative institutions are extremely expensive.
- I chose to spend extra money on organic fruits, vegetables, and high quality meat products after years of research regarding genetically modified foods, pesticides, inhumanely raised and slaughtered animal, and the diseases these foods cause.
- I chose to exercise daily and practice mind-clearing activities.
And guess what…
I ended up like so many other Moms…stressed to the max, worried about finances, unable to get the things done I needed to, the feeling of not having enough or only if I can reach this point and everything will be okay, anxious, depressed, irritated, in an unhappy relationship with myself and with my partner, frustrated, overwhelmed, thinking I can’t possibly take a break from any of it and now so sick I couldn’t care for myself, my children, and the business.
This was a rude awakening that has brought so many blessings.
I was discharged with the hospital with physical therapy, occupational therapy, and a home care nurse. By this time, I had already realized the purpose of this experience and like so many people say…I miraculously healed 80% within 2 weeks and on Friday May 10, I went for my neurological follow-up feeling 95%. The neurologist joked with me saying, “I went to the waiting room looking for someone in a wheel chair after reading the previous doctor’s notes.”
With the combination of the amazing support of my family, the prayer and thought groups from around the world, the natural and western medicine, and the power of my thoughts, I am able to sit here, feeling physically and emotionally amazing and type this. It has officially been 29 days since my discharge.
Within this journey I have come to realize and recognize one major thing. Pregnant women, pregnant couples, new moms, new families, and families in general do not have the needed support to live happy healthy lives.
It seems to me the United States really has its priorities out of order. When I examine the systems the United States has in place regarding pregnant women and new moms this is what I find:
The maternity system
Prenatal care (also known as antenatal care) refers to the regular medical and nursing care recommended for women during pregnancy. Prenatal care is a type of preventative care with the goal of providing regular check-ups that allow doctors or midwives to treat and prevent potential health problems throughout the course of the pregnancy while promoting healthy lifestyles that benefit both mother and child. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prenatal_care
Usually, prenatal care focuses on the physical body of both mom and baby, performing routine tests, measurements, and listening to the baby’s heartbeat. Unfortunately, there is not enough time spent discussing the mother’s mental emotional aspect of pregnancy and how she is coping with pregnancy, work and life.
Women in general are already stressed out before pregnancy. Being pregnant alone is a stress as there are physical, mental and emotional changes. Now add the most common fears of pregnant woman:
- Will it hurt the baby?
- Sibling rivalry
- Cross your fingers
- Fear of childbirth
- Can we afford this baby?
- The unknown
- How will our lives change?
- How will our relationships change?
- Will I be a good parent?
And we now have a toxic environment to grow a baby.
“Stress is a silent disease,” says Dr. Hobel, director of maternal-fetal medicine at Cedars Sinai and a professor of obstetrics/gynecology and pediatrics at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). “Pregnant women need to be educated in recognizing when they have stress, the consequences and some of the simple things they can do to make a difference.”
There’s even compelling evidence from epidemiological studies and animal research that babies who experience stress inutero are more likely to develop chronic health problems as adults, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
It may not be surprising:
According to The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), between 14-23% of women will struggle with some symptoms of depression in pregnancy which can lead to preterm birth and pre-term babies are susceptible to a range of complications later, including chronic lung disease, developmental delays, learning disorders and infant mortality.
Unfortunately many women do not know the detriment stress causes on themselves and their growing babies
It is common for pregnant woman to feel bad or ashamed of conflicting feelings of happiness and fear. They may not discuss their anxieties, fears, physical discomforts, and conflicting feelings…leaving them bottled up and many pregnant women do not feel like they have an outlet to distress.
The United States ranked 27 out of 30 developed nations according to a 2008 National Center for Health Statistics report he three nations with worse infant mortality rates are Chile, Turkey and Mexico. Source: 1.usa.gov/JdBdmd
The United States spends $98 billion annually on hospitalization for pregnancy and childbirth, but the US maternal mortality rate has doubled in the past 25 years. The U.S. ranks 50th in the world for maternal mortality, meaning 49 countries were better at keeping new mothers alive. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/24/maternal-mortality-rate-infographic_n_1827427.html
With only 1-2% of women birthing at home, the hospital seems to be the location of choice for the majority of pregnant women. Unfortunately, the hospital usually does not provide an opportunity for women to experience one of the most important and empowering events in her life…an unmedicated natural birth.
With c-section rates over 30% nationwide and much higher in large cities, drugs use as high as 99% in most hospitals, and the insurance companies dictating what procedures they will and won’t cover leaves little to no opportunity for women to birth naturally, and even more difficult to naturally birth multiples (twins, triplets), breech (butt or feet down instead of head), and vaginally after a c-section.
Many parents do not realize a natural unmedicated vaginal birth is the safest and healthiest way to birth for both mom and baby.
Many parents are not aware the imprint birth has on baby’s life forever:
Traumatic birth experiences (including interventions as epidurals, pitocin, breaking of the water, vacuum, c-section, fetal distress, maternal distress, being pulled out, inducing, being “stuck”…) affect a person for life physically and psychologically. Now chiropractic treatment can be used to help with physical problems and psychological treatment can help to correct the psychological damage of a traumatic birth such as EMDR [Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing], EFT [Emotional Freedom Technique], and AIT [Advanced Integrative Therapy].
America is the only modern, industrialized country that does not offer paid maternity leave to new mothers. And in the U.S., 51 percent of new mothers lack paid leave from their employers. Now, a new study finds that many of those women who do have maternity leave from employers aren’t using it in full in fear of losing their job, being disliked, unable to move up in the company… http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2013/05/10/study-women-dont-take-full-maternity-leave/
Unpaid maternity leave rushes new moms back to work, abruptly ending baby bonding, nursing, and the needed relaxation and recovery of birth and becoming mom.
In at least 178 countries around the world, paid leave is guaranteed for working moms, while more than 50 countries provide wage benefits for fathers, according to the ILO. The United States, along with Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, Liberia and Lesotho are some of the only countries in the world that provide no type of financial support for mothers, according to a study done by McGill University’s Institute for Health and Social Policy.
What the U.S. does guarantee is that new parents receive 12 weeks of non-paid leave, but only for parents who work in companies that employ 50 workers or more and who have worked there at least 12 months and accrued 1,250 hours or more in that time. These rules translate to about 1/2 of women. The other half are guaranteed nothing.
Here is a 10-minute news snippet of new moms in the United States Feeling Pressured to return to work before their maternity leave is up.
So the big question is what can be done?
One of the crazy things I contemplated was selling the house and cars in Florida, packing up and moving to Bali where there is an amazing Green School and the cost of living is much more affordable than where I am now. This really made sense to me. Families from all over the world are moving there just for the school. I would just join the community, put the kids in a school I believed in, have uninterrupted time for the business and plenty of relaxed family time and family meals.
But then something amazing happened. I received a phone call last Tuesday morning. I usually don’t answer my phone while I am lying in bed at 7 in the morning to an unknown number, but something compelled me to answer.
A woman was desperately trying to share her story through the tears. She felt so alone and read the story about my pregnancy with Naiya and our journey. She said when she read my story she felt she could connect to me, someone who went through a similar situation. She said she could not wait until the July Pregnancy Retreat in Hawaii, she needed somewhere now.
In the meantime this is the third or fourth woman who has contacted me in the past week basically saying the same thing.
For some innate reason I told her I would ask my parents if we could host her at their home in Malibu, and we would do a private 5 day retreat. When I got off the phone I knew for sure this was a long shot, asking my parents if a crying pregnant stranger could come stay at the house for 5 days without even knowing her name.
To my surprise they said yes and she got on a plane the next day and spent 5 days with my parents, Naiya, and me.
All of us having this experience together really made my dream of opening an eco-village for pregnant women, new moms and families to come and stay for days, weeks, months or years a reality.
Although I can’t change the unfair, failing Maternity systems in the United States, I can help provide a needed outlet for pregnant women and their families.
This idea has been sitting deep within me for the past 21 months and it is time to start living life passionately, with integrity, with love, and fun!
I wrote a blog when I was getting ready to leave Hawaii after the birth of Naiya expressing my desire to be able to create a retreat center where pregnant women and families could go to feel supported, to separate from the daily stressors of life, to reconnect to themselves, to connect with baby, and to experience a magical feeling of peace.
So now I am sharing with you my dream is coming true.
It has been a rollercoaster journey but everything happens for a reason.
I will be scouting properties, more than likely in Hawaii but other places are an option too!
Soon there will be an eco-village to support, hold, and nurture mothers to be and their families.
I’m looking forward to this new venture!
With lots of love and gratitude on this mother’s day,