More Than Mommy Exhaustion: How I recovered my energy and health

by Carrie Saum

Mommy exhaustion.

I know you’ve felt it. Too many nights waking up with your tiny baby, fussy toddler, or insomniac older children. Feeding on demand, pumping around the clock, midnight and 2am boob snacks that stretch to 4am. School projects, sleep regressions, a few minutes of Me Time between 11:31-11:57 pm after all the dishes are done, lunches are made, and housework is sort of caught up.

You pour another cup of coffee at noon, after reheating your first cup approximately six times in the microwave. You try an energy drink mix that your friend is selling. And still. You are so worn out, you can barely string five words together to create a coherent thought.

You resolve to take walks, get outside, or try that pilates DVD you’ve had for ages. You feel good about your choice, but you are wiped out for the rest of the afternoon, trying to recover your shaking muscles and push through the exhaustion until you can climb into bed.

You resolve to eat better, cut out the junk and convenience foods, and maybe that will help you feel more energetic, too. After a few weeks, you see a marginal improvement, but it’s not enough of a pay-off for the sacrifice you are making.

And let’s not even talk about the weight gain.

You wonder if maybe you’re missing something but chalk it up to this season in life where sleep is scarce, demands are abundant, and time for self-care is at a high premium. Of course you’re depleted. Who wouldn’t be?

A few months ago, I brought up my debilitating exhaustion to my doctor. Being a mom herself, she’s familiar with all that goes along with it. She encouraged me to see if there might be an underlying problem in addition to this season of life. She told me about a blood panel called The Boston Heart. The Boston Heart tests multiple vitamins, nutrients, and hormones using a fast blood test. Many insurance plans cover it 100%, even if you have high deductibles. I checked into my insurance coverage, and sure enough, it was covered. No money out of my pocket to get some information about unidentified issues I might have which would paint a bigger picture of my health, instead of just chalking it up to parenthood.

When my results came back, I was shocked. Even though my thyroid was in surprisingly good shape, (which I thought was the culprit), my niacin levels were incredibly low. And you know what happens when your body doesn’t have enough niacin? Your muscles shake when you exert them. Daily tasks wear you out. Do you know what makes it worse? Not getting enough sleep, too much stress, and eating processed foods.

Magnesium, Omega 3, Vitamin D3, and my progesterone were also very low, all of which are easily depleted during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Hello, depression! So, no matter how much sleep, good food, or exercise I was getting, I still felt like crap because I was drawing from a dry well.

I began supplementing with food-grade vitamins immediately, on the recommendation from my doctor. My trusty pre-natal vitamins weren’t enough for my specific needs, and I sealed them up tight and put them in my refrigerator for future use. I strategized to get veggies in every meal, and keep seasonal fruit on hand for when the sugar cravings were too much. I added as many healthy, unadulterated fats as I could. I whipped up a salad dressing using hemp seed oil, which is full of Omega 3, and a little apple cider vinegar. Buttered coffee was always on hand. We stocked our refrigerator with grass-fed meats and veggies to lightly sauté or roast as the main course for all three meals.

OvereasyFriedEggSalad

My go-to meal for quick, easy nutrition: Two sunnyside up fried eggs over greens with hemp seed oil, ACV, and dried herbs. Perfection.

Oh, and I put a total moratorium on strenuous exercise, eating out, and plans with friends before noon and after 5pm on the days I wasn’t working. I also went to bed at 9:30. It meant less Me Time. It meant I often went to bed with dirty dishes in the sink, my floors unswept, and wore the same pair of jeans six times before washing. But it was only for a few weeks and it was vital for my recovery.

I found that watering and weeding my garden while my toddler played close by was enough exertion for me. I also found that I relaxed on a deeper level than I have in years because I gave myself permission to stop trying to do it all. I just did some, accepted what I was capable of in that time frame, and waited until I felt replenished to rejoin the world.

GardenPlay

We happily kept it low key in the community garden.

After the three week moratorium was over, (and believe me, it was hard saying no to things), I started slow. I worked hard to begin refilling my very limited well. Being gentle with my body and my psyche was my number one priority. This is how I came back to the world:

  • A walk in the park.
  • Running up and down the stairs to the basement doing laundry.
  • Vigorous weeding and replanting in my garden.
  • A pilates DVD, increasing by 5 minutes at time.
  • Doing something fun before doing work. On purpose.
  • Saying yes only if it felt 100% doable and okay.

These little things added up quickly. But I want to be clear: I stopped when I was tired. Not exhausted. Not beyond my limit. Not when I was shaking and close to dry heaving. Maybe that works for some people, but it doesn’t work in recovery mode.

Last week, I took a very long walk, pushing my two year old in a stroller the whole way up and down hills that would have had me shaking with exertion after 10 minutes a few months ago. I walked at a pace I felt comfortable with. I stopped and pushed my son on a swing and then stopped again a little later to get an iced decaf coffee at one of my favorite neighborhood places. As I pushed my son up the final, excruciatingly steep hill, I huffed and puffed but I did NOT slow down. My brain wanted to quit but my body was up for the challenge. I spent the rest of the afternoon working, cooking, and playing with my son. I’m not joking when I say that has never happened before on the days I worked out.

And later that week when we braved a trip to the beach, I chased my toddler all over the beach, splashed with him in the water, and played soccer on the hard packed sand without getting winded.

MommyandEHugPoint

Playing hard at the beach with my little boy, feeling super energetic, happy, and proudly rockin’ my bikini.

These bodies of ours are amazing. We are resilient. We are tough. But being exhausted all the time is not normal. Even for you, mama. Be gentle with that body. Be kind to your skin and your bones and your blood and your squishy places and your soul. And find what works for you to feel like yourself again.

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If you like this article, check out Peace In The Passing: Why My Early Miscarriage Was A Relief and her series on #TinyTriumphs over on Our Stable Table.


IMG_2895Carrie Saum brings a passion for wellness and over a decade of experience in health care to her clients. A certified Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor (AWC) from the Kerala Ayurveda Academy, she empowers individuals and families to achieve health and balance through time-honored practices and health knowledge. Carrie has extensive first-hand experience in vast array of medical and service fields.
With background in paramedic medicine, Carrie spent ten years serving in the non-profit sector managing organizations, programs, and orchestrating resources to meet health needs of people across the United States and abroad in countries such as Guatemala, Mexico, Kenya, and Zambia. As an AWC, Carrie currently coaches her clients and their families about topics including nutrition, weight loss, and stress management. In addition to her work as a wellness counselor, Carrie is a passionate “foodie” and the voice behind OurStableTable.com. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young son.

 

 

 

 

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Nurturing Life Motherlove Giveaway

Happy Earth Day!

 

For the last 20 years, Motherlove has created herbal care products to help women discover the bond between motherhood and mother earth.  With a specific focus on pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and babies, Motherlove strives to use ingredients that come straight from the earth.  Their support of organic farming, sustainable practices, and their use of all-recycled materials for their office and product packaging, are a testament to their dedication to caring for our earth, for the benefit of mothers everywhere.  And if that weren’t enough, they also manage a 120 acre farm, called the Legacy Organic Farm, in Colorado, where they are growing many of the herbs they use in their products.

Welcome to Our Legacy Farm

To help celebrate Earth Day 2014, Motherlove is sponsoring a giveaway here on TLB, but first, here are some pics of some of the cuteness that’s happening at their farm, where Motherlove staff is hanging out today:

baby pigs nursing

nursing piglet

To read more about their day on the farm, check out today’s entry on the Motherlove blog!

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Motherlove is giving away a Nurturing Life Giftbox, celebrating new motherhood, to 1 lucky winner.

Each Nurturing Life Giftbox has a Retail value $59.95 and includes:

– pregnant belly salve

– nipple cream

– birth & baby oil

– sitz bath spray

– diaper rash & thrush

– environmentally responsible Motherlove tote bag

Currently Leakies can find these and other great pregnancy and nursing products on the Motherlove website and in some local retail stores and boutiques.

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Good luck to everyone!  Please use the widget below to be entered, and check out motherlove.com for more products related to fertility, pregnancy, and nursing .  The giveaway is open from April 22, 2014 through April 29, 2014.  A big thanks to Motherlove for their ongoing support of TLB and all breastfeeding women, please be sure to visit their Facebook page  or follow them on twitter (@motherloveherb on Twitter) and thank them for their support of TLB and this giveaway opportunity.

This giveaway is open to US entries only.

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Motherlove Giveaway- Nurturing Life

Some companies go above and beyond giving to their customers and supporting families.  Motherlove Herbal Company was started by herbalist Kathryn Higgins out of a desire to help moms and families.  Her vision has expanded to include a non-profit private foundation The Nurturing Life Foundation.  Read this interview with the Motherlove founder to learn more about how she is nurturing life, families, and the earth through her company.  Continuing the trend of giving nurturing support, Motherlove Herbal Company is also giving away a Nurturing Life Gift Box to 3 winners.  I’m so grateful for the support of Motherlove for TLB and the friendship and encouragement of Kathryn.    

TLB: How did the Nurturing Life Foundation come about?

Kathryn: The Nurturing Life Foundation is a non-profit, private foundation funded by Motherlove Herbal Company. When I founded Motherlove over 20 years ago, I knew that I wanted the company to give back. As part of our 15-year anniversary celebration, we were able to found the Nurturing Life Foundation as a way to do that.

TLB: I’m a huge fan of the Nurturing Life Foundation, can you give me a brief overview?

Kathryn: The name of the Nurturing Life Foundation comes from Motherlove’s tagline, Nurturing Life. That sums up what Motherlove is all about. We believe in the healing strength of Mother Earth and the wisdom of our bodies, as well as our responsibility to nurture Mother Earth. Our products are based on herbs and formulated for the pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding period in a woman’s life – precisely when she is nurturing life. Breastfeeding is truly the nurturing of life.

It’s the nurturing of the mother, her nurturing of the baby and our need to nurture Mother Earth that guide Motherlove in our day-to-day operations.

TLB: What does the Nurturing Life Foundation do?

Kathryn: The mission of The Nurturing Life Foundation is to promote breastfeeding and support mothers in need, as well as to create opportunities for children. We do that by donating 10% of every Motherlove product purchase to the Nurturing Life Foundation, who then uses that money to support organizations that work with breastfeeding moms and/or children in need.

One organization doing amazing work is BELLAS, which stands for Breastfeeding, Encouragement, Learning, Liaison, and Support. This program is a resource for low income, minority and teen moms who often lack the resources to obtain lactation assistance.

We also work with the Breastfeeding Resource Center, a community resource center that provides moms with expert clinical and educational breastfeeding resources. They work with local hospitals, educate moms at local events about the importance of breastfeeding and help moms with every stage of breastfeeding with free support classes and IBCLC support where payment is income-based.

Other organizations we are privileged to work with include Realities for Children and Mountain Park Environmental Center, both of which work with local kids.

TLB: What is one of your favorite stories connected to the Nurturing Life Foundation?

Kathryn: There are so many. Close to my heart are the stories about children who are overcoming life circumstances that should never happen to any child. Learning about these kids and being able to help is a remarkable experience.

Through our work with Realities for Children and their Triumph Awards, The Nurturing Life Foundation has been able to award full college scholarships to youth who would otherwise receive no support to get an education. These are young people who have overcome childhood abuse, but also triumphed over their situation academically, socially and personally.

A sister program to the Triumph Awards, the Keeping Dreams Alive program works with local agencies to identify children between the ages of 6-15 who are living in situations that might kill their dreams for a different future for themselves. The Nurturing Life Foundation participates in giving these children something tangible for their dream today.

One of the programs we support that is especially important to me is the Birds and Bees, Flowers and Trees, a camping experience for girls ages 12-15, created by the Mountain Park Environmental Center. Using a blend of sex education and nature education, this program empowers girls to be comfortable and knowledgeable about their bodies and the world around them in order to make healthy choices, care for the environment, and have thoughtful relationships.

TLB: How can others support the Nurturing Life Foundation?

Kathryn: Every time someone buys a Motherlove product, they are supporting the Nurturing Life Foundation. And by reading the descriptions of the non-profits that we support on the Nurturing Life Foundation’s website and the links to the profiles and letters we receive, you might very well be inspired to support these organizations with your own donations.

 ______________________________

Motherlove is giving away a Nurturing Life Giftbox, celebrating new motherhood, to 3 lucky winners:

Each Nurturing Life Giftbox is has a Retail value $59.95 and includes:

pregnant belly salve

nipple cream

birth & baby oil

sitz bath spray

diaper rash & thrush

– environmentally responsible Motherlove tote bag

Currently Leakies can find these and other great pregnancy and nursing products on the Motherlove website and in some local retail stores and boutiques.

______________________________

Good luck to everyone!  Please use the widget below to be entered, and check out motherlove.com for more products related to fertility, pregnancy, and nursing .  The giveaway is open from September 25, 2012 through October 1, 2012.  A big thanks to Kathryn and Motherlove for their ongoing support of TLB and all breastfeeding women, please be sure to visit their Facebook page  or follow them on twitter (@motherloveherb on Twitter) and thank them for their support of TLB and this giveaway opportunity.

This giveaway is open to US entries only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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