Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Postpartum Depression- You're Not Alone

I've suffered from bouts of depression for most of my life. I do have a rather complicated history that I believe has contributed to my periods of sadness, but alas, I have learned to live with it. As a personal choice, since I am neither suicidal nor homicidal, I have decided not to take anti-depressant medication.

I've had emotional ups and downs in my life, but I never thought that I would experience to most depressing period of my life while I was pregnant. My husband and I tried for 18 months to get pregnant. It took a little while longer than what I expected, but when it finally happened we were both ecstatic!  I wanted to be a mother so badly and I was so happy that I had an excuse to eat whatever I want whenever I wanted!

I did not expect to be as sick as I was during the first trimester. It wasn't as bad as some other ladies may have experienced, but I felt like I was walking around with a bad case of the flu and I was so exhausted. I was so happy when the second trimester rolled around because the sickness finally faded. However, that second trimester brought about a deep void that I would experience throughout the rest of  my pregnancy.

I wasn't necessarily sad all of the time. It was like I felt no emotion at all. I should have been happy, trying to bond with the life growing inside of me. I didn't really want to go out because I didn't want to talk to anybody. I just wanted to stay home and the only person I wanted to be around was my husband. I did have moments of elation when I felt my son move (and he moved a lot!), but overall my pregnancy was not a very happy time.

I experienced some minor complications toward the end of my pregnancy that would make the doctor put me on bed rest, which is the last thing I wanted. Going to work kept me occupied, now I had nothing to do but lay down on the sofa and watch TV. I wasn't even inspired to write about anything! Before I got pregnant I kept a pretty active blog, but during my those nine months, I had nothing that I wanted to blog about. I could no longer find inspiration in life. I just trudged through.

Finally, delivery day came, and it came 5 days after my due date. The doctors induced me due to me showing signs of eclampsia. After only 6 hours of hard labor (and not being able to have an epidural), my darling little boy was born and I could not have been happier. Those horrid nine months were over and now I could finally have my child in my arms. I caressed my beautiful boy and stared at him, trying to memorize every little detail of his face knowing I would never live this moment again.

I truly thought that the sadness, that emotional void, was done with. But I was wrong. I would go weeks with little or no sleep, I didn't want to eat but I forced myself to because I was breastfeeding. Also, delivery did not go as I had planned and I was not mentally or emotionally prepared to give birth naturally. (I can laugh about it now, but at the time I seriously considered never having another child because I was so afraid of going through that terrible process again!)

I longed for a moment to myself but I couldn't have one. My son needed so much attention, and while I still loved him dearly and studied every inch of his face, I just wanted some solitude. The only positive thing about this whole mess was the fact that due to breastfeeding and not eating as much as I probably should have, I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight within 10 days.

My doctor tried to prescribe medication, but I decided not to take it because I was concerned that the medication would affect my son since I was breastfeeding.

Baptism Day! It was a day mixed with joy and dread.

The time during my maternity leave was filled with trying to keep my house clean (which is a never ending battle) and adjusting to my new role as a mom. To top everything off, my son was not a good sleeper. It's something we still battle with twenty months later! After six weeks of about two hours of sleep a night, I just said screw it and we started co-sleeping. That arrangement may not have been ideal, but it certainly helped.

I  looked forward to returning to work because I could get a whole hour to myself during my lunch break! That meant that I would have an opportunity to do something like read a book!

Visiting mama at work!

It would take about a year after my son was born for the emotional void to fade.

Today, my son is 20 months old. I still have a hard time believing that he is almost two years old. I've had this sweet little boy in my life for almost two years! Watching him grow and explore the wonders of the world has been such a joy. It is something that only a parent can understand.

The emotional void has faded and I feel that I have returned to a semblance of self again. I still have some spiritual struggles, I have little time for prayer or reading the Bible any more, but I most definitely have made improvements over the past few months. This may seem a little vain, but I was actually inspired to clean out my closet, change how I dress, and I even started to wear a little make-up again.

I actually feel good. Happier. Life has taken a better turn and I'm viewing things in a more positive way. I've always enjoyed spending time with my son, but now that time somehow seems brighter and his smile even more magical! Alone time with my husband is still rare, but we have scheduled date nights that have been even sweeter and more memorable than any others that we've had before.

Date day! So happy!

Depression during and after pregnancy is more common than you may think. If I could give advice to any women who is struggling the same way I did, I would say that you need to do what is best for you and your baby. Tell your doctor, and if you feel medication is the right thing, then do it! Stay in touch with God! To me prayer is invaluable! While I may be struggling with keeping God as the center of my life, praying and turning to Him has assisted me with getting my life back on track.

Don't keep things bottle up. It is imperative that you communicate with your husband. I was very fortunate that my husband took everything in stride and assisted me during the times that I needed him most.

Recovery can take time. Take the days as they come. Things will get better and before you know it, they will become even more magical!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Messy Hair Day

I had a rather difficult time taming my hair this morning. Richard had a very restless night and this co-sleeping mama is on the tired side. The fact that he likes to pull my hair while he sleeps certainly doesn't help...

My biggest problem is the fact that Richard seems to have an innate sense of when I need to get up to get ready for work. He likes to cuddle into me right before the alarm goes off. It makes me not want to leave my bed and puts a damper on my whole day because all I think about is wanting to go home and be with my family. 

In the end, we gotta do what we gotta do to slap ourselves together in the morning and get inspired. 

Eh, at least my make-up looks good. (Thanks Honest Beauty!)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Is The Honest Company Worth It?

I have been an Honest Company customer for about a year now. I really do like their products and I look forward to getting my bundle every month. There are a lot of people out there who really wonder if subscribing to the Honest Company is worth it. Personally, I have to say that sometimes you need to pick and choose. I'll give you a review of all of the products that I have used and tell you which ones I love and which I can live without.

The Honest Company is best known for it's bundles. If you bundle the products into a regular subscription you can save up to 35% on some products. I subscribe to the Essentials Bundle, which means I can get 5 products for $35.95 ($7.19 a piece) and 3 more products for 25% off. Sometimes you have to strategize how you place your bundle because some products are cheaper than others. You want to make sure the more expensive products are part of the regular bundle and the add some cheaper products on for the 25% off.

Image result for honest company essentials bundle

There are a couple of products that I cannot live without and that would be the Shampoo + Body Wash and Conditioner. It is the only shampoo that I will use on my son because it is tear free and I have never had any problems with it if it gets into his eyes. I like them because they are the only shampoo and conditioner combo that is reasonably priced and does not leave  build-up in my hair.

The Organic Body Oil is simply amazing. I mix it with the Honest Face + Body Lotion in my hands and slather it on my body for that nice silky feeling. They are scentless so you don't have to worry about smelling like a flower garden, but you can add a few drops of essential oils to the lotion if you want to have a nice smell.

The Conditioning Detangler has seriously helped me control the flyaways in my hair. Richard loves to pull my hair (it's a comfort thing) and it as caused me to have a number of short hairs around my neck. The leave-in conditioner helps me to tame those and makes my hair smell really nice. I also use it on Richard to help tame his crazy red hair!

The 3 in 1 Facial Towelettes are another must for me. I use them almost every night to clean my face or get the make-up off.

The Healing Balm is one of those miracle concoctions that is a cure-all for just about anything! It is great for bug bites, burns, rashes, cuts, severe diapers rash, and just about anything else you can thing of. I carry this around in my awesome mommy bag and have a tube in every medicine cabinet in the house!

The Diaper Rash Cream is another must. Fortunately, Richard has not had many diapers rashes, but for the few times that he suffered from one this cream has cleared it up within a day!

The Bug Spray is the only natural bug spray that actually works for us! I've tried other natural brands, making my own, and purchasing stuff from vendors at the local farmers market, but the Honest brand is the only one that is effective.

The Soothing Bottom Wash is meant to assist with really messy diaper changes, but I use it as a facial toner. It has witch hazel in it which is really good for toning the pores. This is another product I use at least twice a day.

I also use the Toothpaste and Mouthwash. I've tried making my own toothpaste and mouthwash, but that just didn't work out, so I've had to resort back to purchasing them. I like using them because they taste better than some of the other natural stuff on the market.

I purchased the Organic Breathe Easy Rub to have on hand. I have not personally used it, but my grandfather borrowed it from me and loved it. (He asked if he could keep it!)

The Hand Sanitizer Gel is great stuff! It makes my hands feel nice after I use it. The Organic Lip Balm Trio is also very nice. (I like the Honest Beauty Magic Balm better, but that is more expensive and not quite as convenient to carry around.)

I've used both the Laundry Detergent and the 4 in 1 Laundry Packs and I like them. I used to use cheap detergent but it seems that the cheap stuff makes my clothes fade faster.

The Honest Deodorant and I kinda have a love/hate relationship. My husband has insisted that I switch to a deodorant that does not have aluminum in it and absolutely no natural deodorant that I have used has worked for me. The Honest Deodorant does a somewhat decent job at keeping me smelling fresh, but there are some days where I can smell myself at the end of the day. *Update* I've decided to give up on the Honest Deodorant because it doesn't seem to keep me smelling fresh all day long, I actually stink by the end of the day. So the search for an aluminum free deodorant that works for me continues.

I have used and liked the Multi-Surface Cleaner, Bathroom Cleaner, and the Floor Cleaner. I liked using them, but I have found a natural alternative that works just as well and is cheaper. Gotta cut corners somewhere. Same for the Toilet Cleaner, Dish Soap, Hand Soap, Bubble Bathand the Rinse Aid

The Honest Company has had a recent controversy over their Sunscreen. Apparently they've changed their formula and many people found it to be not as effective. Personally, I have used both the old and new formulas and have not had any issues with it either on myself or Richard (and we are both VERY FAIR GINGERS).

I did not like the Organic Shave Oil. I think my skin is just too sensitive to shave with just an oil and I need something thicker. It gave me a rather nasty razor burn so I have never used it again.

I did have the Vitamin Bundle where I would get my pre-natal vitamins. I liked using the Whole Food Pre-Natal vitamins even though you had to take 3 pills a day plus the DHA pill. The vitamins didn't leave a nasty taste in my mouth and they didn't make me sick like many over the counter ones did. However, I have canceled my bundle for now because I needed to tighten my budget a little bit. If I get pregnant (which I am hoping will be soon) I will renew my bundle and get them again.

I have not tried the Honest Diapers because I find them to be a little pricey. Since Richard has not had any reactions to the standard disposable brands I have stuck with just buying Huggies from Amazon Mom (where I save 20% on a monthly subscription). However, if money were not an issue, or if Richard had a super sensitive bottom, I would definitely try the Honest Diapers.

Same with the Honest Baby Formula. They actually came out with their formula right after we weaned Richard from the formula and switched to regular milk. We used Earths Best Organic Formula for him to supplement after my breast milk production began to drop after I returned to work.

As you can see I do get a lot of products from the Honest Company, but I also have discontinued use of some of the products for slightly cheaper ones that I found to be just as effective. There are a number of products that I've not even tried, like the feminine pads/tampons. We are your average middle class family and need to pick and choose the areas where we need to tighten the financial belt.

If you are afraid to take the plunge, you can always order a trial for $5.95, which is to cover the cost of shipping. Just remember that you will have 7 days to cancel the subscription if you do not like the products or they will automatically ship you a full bundle and charge you for it.

I will probably write more posts about each individual product, but I just wanted to give a basic overview for those who are considering becoming an Honest member instead of making you surf through many different posts. You can check back later for more in-depth reviews on individual products.

Overall, I love the Honest Company and most of their products. The bundles typically arrive on my doorstep about 2 days after I order them and I have had good experiences with their customer service department. I highly recommend that you try them out and see what products would be good for you and your family!

This is a 100% honest review (no pun intended). I do not receive anything from the Honest Company for this endorsement.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Loving the Lamb Stew!

I love stews and soups, which is a big reason why I love autumn. I love being able to make big batches of soups that just make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Add that to curling up with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate and I can have a perfect day…as long as my toddler takes a nice long nap.

I made lamb stew for the first time this past weekend. I’m going to share the very simple recipe that I used to whip it up. I’m not much for measurements so don’t expect them. I just kinda throw it all together and it always turns out great.

I used:
1 package (1lb) of cubed lamb meat from Wegmans (though I wish I had two packages instead of one)
1 jar of pearl onions
1 box of beef stock
A few chopped baby carrots
1 can of peas
1 can of tomato paste
Some garlic
A bunch of cubed potatoes
Make sure you have some corn starch, flour, salt, pepper, fresh rosemary, and bacon on hand.

I started by throwing the broth, carrots, potatoes, garlic and peas in the pot to start to cook. I then cut the lamb cubes into smaller pieces and coated them in the flour/salt/pepper mixture in a Ziploc bag. I cooked a couple of pieces of bacon to get some good bacon grease then browned the lamb in the grease before throwing them into the soup pot as well.

After it cooks a little you can thicken it up using a little bit of corn starch.

Now, I am not a gourmet chef or anything, but the stew can out great and the hubby and I loved it. I just wish I could have added more meat to it, but one pack of cubed lamb was all I had on hand. Next time I make it I will definitely use two. 

You can eat it as is or serve it on top of mashed potatoes or rice. I will be making this again sometime very soon! 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Live Today Well

I’m reading an awesome book called Live Today Well: St.Francis de Sale’s Simple Approach to Holiness by Fr. Thomas Dailey.

Before starting this book I did not know much about Saint Francis de Sales other than the fact that he was a bishop and considered to be a Doctor of the Church. I must say that this book is an excellent way to be introduced to this gifted saint.

Saint Francis de Sales lived in the late 16th to early 17th century. He was a prolific writer and he wrote thousands of letters. Now, I would consider myself to be a mildly intelligent person (I do have a Master’s degree after all), but I do sometimes have difficulty reading the works of lofty saints who lived centuries ago. Naturally the style of writing is very different than today and I find that I have to concentrate harder when I am reading their books.

Which is why I enjoy books like Live Well Today. It’s a compilation of the highlights of the teachings of Saint Francis de Sales and I am able to read it during my free time without having to read the same paragraph over and over to make sure I comprehend the point.  

I’m trying to take it one chapter at a time, so that I can gradually integrate de Sales’ teachings into my life. Well, I failed on my first day.

Saint Francis de Sales teaches that we should offer praise to God during our morning routines, you know, to start the day off right. I thought to myself “That is a great idea! I’ll start a morning prayer routine right as I wake up in the morning.”

Fast forward to this morning and I totally forgot about my resolution. My son is not the best sleeper and he was very restless, I had to drag my butt out of bed the morning so that I could schlep my way into work, and unfortunately giving praise to God seemed to slip my mind. Epic fail.

This has kind of been a problem in my prayer life, or lack thereof. I set goals to do something like pray the Liturgy of the House, the Rosary, or Chaplet of Divine Mercy every day and I always forget! It’s gotten even worse since the birth of my first child. I need to find a way to keep God at the center of my life and not neglect my prayer life.

I was hoping this book would help remedy that, but I am off to a bad start. I need to keep trying. I guess, in the end, that is all we can do…try. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Being a Parent is Like...

Being a parent is like staying up all night to go clubbing with your friends, eating and drinking too much, waking up the next morning hung over and bloated but thinking to yourself "That was totally worth it" as you slug down two Tylenol with your morning coffee.

There is nothing like being a parent. You find that the pains of labor, the sleepless nights, the messy house, the nagging parents/in-laws, and the temper tantrums are totally worth watching a new life grow and experience the world for the first time. It is truly magical.

As I watch Richard grow and deal with all of the things toddlers go through, like teething and temper tantrums, I find myself praying more and looking towards the saints for guidance. I especially find the lives of Blessed Zelie and Louis Martin (both of whom will be canonized together on October 18, 2015) very inspiring. They loved each other very much, both ran successful businesses, and raised 5 godly women, one of whom has also be canonized a saint (Therese of Lisieux) and another who is on the road to canonization (Leonie Martin). Now THAT is just plain awesome.

All I can do as I drink my morning coffee is hope my kid will actually allow me to get some housework done that day. I'm taking it one day at a time, but I think that I am adjusting well to my role as a wife AND as a parent. Instead of having one man vying for my love and attention, I now have two!

The thing I find most challenging is making sure my husband receives the affection that he needs. The fact that I work full time during the day and he works most evenings can make finding 'alone time' difficult. That is just the nature of the beast. Yet, in the end, we savor the little time that we do have together.

If you're pregnant for the first time and wondering how you will make things work, just know that you will eventually settle into a new routine and you'll find yourself thinking "Wow, did I really used to sleep in until 10:00 on Saturday mornings then take an afternoon nap a few hours later? Did we really go to the movies every weekend? It seems so foreign now..."

Yes, life and habits change when a baby comes. But, in the end, you'll say to yourself "It was totally worth it" as you slug down two Tylenol with your morning coffee.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Hidden Face of Saint Therese

I hate The Story of a Soul by Saint Therese of Lisieux. I find it to be one of the most annoying books filled with flowery language of the most mundane things, like praising God and the saints over finding a little pebble. For the longest time I viewed Saint Therese as an overly romantic child and I did not understand the obsession over this child-like saint who, like Peter Pan, didn’t want to grow up.

Then, after a 7 year stint of being fallen away from the church, I started to rediscover my faith and realized that I needed to look at and appreciate some of the smaller things in life. I started to look at ‘the little way’ that Saint Therese followed.

I read an awesome book called The Hidden Face of Therese by Ida Friederike Gorres. I cannot express how much this made me appreciate the little saint and her philosophy. Therese was not so child-like in her thoughts and deeds. She was so much more spiritually developed then her autobiography puts forth. It is truly no wonder why she is so revered today.

I would highly recommend reading more into the life of Therese and her family! In fact, I am very inspired by the life of her mother and father, Zelie and Louis Martin, who are being canonized this year. I pray to Zelie Martin often because I look up to her as a woman and a mother.

I desire to raise my children in a godly household just like the Martins did, and they are a great example to follow.

If you want to learn more about Saint Therese, I would highly recommend The Hidden Face of Therese. It is long, but you learn so much more about her and her family that you will gain a new appreciation for the little saint!