Thursday, April 6, 2017

My Experience with Placenta Encapsulation

Yep, you read that right. After giving birth to Ethan I saved my placenta, had it dehydrated and encapsulated (by a certified doula) and have been taking placenta pills (AKA my happy pills) since welcoming our third child into this world. 

In order to understand why I made this decision, let me give you a little bit of backstory...

When I was pregnant for Ethan, I wondered and worried about many things, but one of my main concerns about life with three children was my metal health (hello, tiny circus). You see, about six months after I gave birth to Arabella in 2013, I experienced postpartum depression. My PPD was not in the form of sadness like the depression I was familiar with, but it was in the form of rage. Anything and everything would set me off, and I would take this out on my husband. At one point things got so bad that Keith and I ended up in marriage counseling, and through this counseling (which I highly's really nice talking to an unbiased professional) we discovered the PPD. I knew that I didn't want to go on medication to alleviate this problem (there's nothing wrong with taking medication AT ALL, I just personally did not want to) so I began researching essential oils. Between the new oils, a change in diet and the addition of exercise, and working on my relationship with God, my relationship with my husband improved and I began to heal from postpartum depression. 

PPD is an incredibly confusing and, if I'm being honest, an embarrassing thing to experience because nobody really talks about it. People only fill you in on the joys of motherhood and not the hardship that can come with it. SO, all of that to say, I was a little worried that I would get PPD again after giving birth to Ethan, so I began researching how to minimize this risk.

And it was there that I found placenta encapsulation and the plethora of benefits ingestion the placenta could provide. 

I hired Sam at Sacred Bee Doula (I highly recommend her!) for $250 and all I had to do was bring a small cooler to the hospital when I went into labor. I informed my nurses that I wanted to keep my placenta, they handled the packaging into the cooler, and then Sam picked it up the day I had Ethan. She dehydrated and encapsulated it for me, and then delivered it to my house two days later. Each placenta creates a different number of capsules, and mine made 150. 

Now for the good part! 

Below is a list of all the wonderful things I experienced through placenta encapsulation:

1. Postpartum cramping immediately subsided. Okay mommas, you know what I'm talking about. You go through labor and have a sweet angel, and yet every time said angel nurses your insides feel like they will explode. Again. This pain is caused by suckling, where the uterus is contracting down to it's normal pre-pregnancy size. While this is normal, it hurts like hell. Apparently the more kids you have the more the cramping hurts, and I can absolutely attest to this. I was miserable those first days at home...until I started taking my placenta pills. Immediately, the cramping subsided. 

2. So. Much. Energy. This sounds crazy to even type, but I somewhat avoided the whole "mom zombie" stage of having a newborn. The placenta pills gave me so much energy that I didn't have to drink any caffeine to function like a normal human being. I now drink green tea beverages on days where I'm dragging, but otherwise I've stayed away from soda and coffee. 

3. An abundance of breastmilk. During the first three months I was pumping 1-2 times a day, and I was able to get anywhere from 4-6 oz out of each breast. (Seriously, I felt like I was a liquid-gold-pumping-maching) I only take the pills now as needed, and my supply is much lower, but I still get 1-3 oz.

4. Postpartum bleeding decreased. This may be TMI, but once I started taking the placenta pills, I didn't need to wear that flattering mommy diaper that they send you home from the hospital in. 

5. Balanced Hormones. This!!!!! This was what I hoped and prayed for, and I credit my God and these pills for the quality of life I've experienced this time around. While I am still riding the postpartum rollercoaster, my highs are high, but my lows are not low. I feel very balanced and of sound mind, and this is such an incredible blessing!

3 weeks postpartum and feeling great
I know it sounds gross and people can be freaked out when you talk about your placenta, but the five wonderful things I experienced far outweigh the weird looks and comments I've received. The only negative side effect I experienced was headaches, and this was because my dosage level was too high, so I took less the next day and the headaches were gone. If you decided to encapsulate your placenta, I will say DRINK UP! Lots and lots of water is required to ensure you do not become dehydrated. 

The pills are small and look like herbs
The whole purpose of writing this post is to share my wonderful experience with placenta encapsulation with the hope that other moms (new or seasoned) will be able to kick PPD's butt and be a functioning human being during those wonderful, yet very exhausting, first few months. Overall I am very thankful in my decision to encapsulate my placenta, and am a bit disappointed that I only have 26 pills left (that I am saving for hard days).

E and Me -- 4.5 months postpartum and just immensely thankful
**First picture taken by Bump Meet Baby Studio.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Pilot Wings

At the end of January I embarked on one of my most ambitious journeys yet -- I flew from Charleston, SC to Lafayette, LA by myself with three children under the age of five. Needless to say it was exhausting, but 100% feasible. I looked like a small traveling circus and received many looks of encouragement and pity in the airport, and the one question I kept getting was, "Where are you going?!"

To which I would reply, "It's my grandmother's 90th surprise birthday party and I HAVE TO BE THERE."  

Thanks to beaucoup frequent flyer miles that Keith earned working in the tax industry, we all flew for free. (Talk about a major blessing, one of many the Lord has given us over the past few months.) So off we went, and while the task seemed daunting, I was excited. 

You see, I love the airport.

I love the way it smells.

I love the hustle and bustle of travelers and often wonder where everyone is flying off to. What are their stories? How are they feeling?

I love seeing the planes take off and land.

I. love. it. all. 

As someone who one day hopes to be an aviator, I was anxious to see a female pilot. She didn't have to be flying my plane...I just wanted to see one in the flesh. This may sound weird, but women only make up approximately 5% of commercial pilots, so my desire was a long shot. 

I am sad to report that I did not see any women pilots in the Charleston, Lafayette, Atlanta, or New Orleans airports. Which wasn't that big of deal, but something happened that made me feel incredibly confused, and if I'm being honest a little angry. 

On our flight from New Orleans to Atlanta, I asked a flight attendant for some pilot wings for my kids. The older two love flying and really wanted some so that "they could fly their own planes when we got home." As she pinned the wings on Gavin, she said, "Here are your pilot wings!" and then she turned the Arabella and said, "And here are your flight attendant wings!" 


This here pushes my buttons. Now, the flight attendant was incredibly sweet and I'm sure completely unaware of what she had said, but I immediately noticed. So, because Arabella is a girl she should limit herself to being a flight attendant, but Gavin is a boy and this means that he should be a pilot? 

What the actual WHAT? 

Maybe it's because I want to be a pilot myself and am well aware of the statistics of women flying in this "man's world", or maybe it's because I don't like my children being placed in a box. Whatever it was, it had me bothered, and I exited the plane with more determination than ever. 

Determined to continuing pursuing my goal of being a licensed pilot. 

Determined to support my kids in whatever they want to do. 

Determined to be aware of my words and not to place judgment on others.

It was a harmless comment, but one that I will always remember. Not in anger, but with fondness...because while stereotypes exist, it is an empowering and beautiful thing when you can utterly shatter them.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Our New Normal

A few days have passed since our family of 5 moved to the new house, and we are slowly getting the hang of our new normal. As someone who loves organization and order, having our home in disorder is driving me a bit insane. I have to consciously remind myself that it will take some time to unpack, and everything will eventually find its place. Boxes litter each and every room of the home, closets are half full, and toys are everywhere...and we are exhausted. 

Exhausted, but thankful. 

Keith and I have been riding a ferocious wave and the season we are coming out of has been hard, but God was good and is good and has provided for us. One day we will share all that He has done for us...all of the blessings that came out of each horrible situation. I know that's incredibly vague, but  the grace we have seen and the mountains that have been moved deserve more that just a shout-out on this post. 

This fresh start that we have been given has us only 20 minutes from our old house, but those 20 minutes put us in a new suburb of Charleston. We now reside in Summerville, the home of azalea flowers and sweet tea. So far, we are enjoying living on this side of town and look forward to meeting our neighbors and creating wonderful memories. Gavin and I will pick back up with homeschool preschool (while Arabella joins us here and there) in the next few days, and that will hopefully give us a better handle on our daily routine.

We are currently renting a home here, and this both excites and terrifies me. It's exciting that we aren't chained to one location and can easily move to a new area or home (although I prefer not as moving absolutely sucks), but I am also terrified because of the same reason -- we do not technically have roots right now. We are excited to get involved at our new church, but have no commitment to this area besides the short lease we signed. But if I've learned anything at all, it has been this -- this is where faith comes in. 

Instead of trying to figure everything out right now, I am giving it all to the One who actually does hold my world in His hands. I fully believe that the crazy things that happened during our dark season all led us to where we are now. It can be hard to let go of the reins and truly trust God's plan, but He knows the desires of our hearts. He knows what we yearn for and what we aspire to be, and I can only hope and trust that he will use us for His kingdom. So we will pray, trust, and immerse ourselves in the city we currently reside, and will reevaluate our location in 6 months time (when our lease is up). 

One incredibly important thing that I am so thankful to truly feel is that no matter where my family resides location wise, as long as we are together, I am home. And that is a beautiful thing.

Monday, February 13, 2017

My Plate Runneth Over

Have you ever been so busy that the wheels in your head never stop turning? Your plate is so full that you feel like at any moment you're going to drop the ball and totally lose your mind? 

Yep, that is my life lately, but for SUCH good reason!

After spending two lovely weeks visiting family and friends in Louisiana, I returned back to Charleston with only 3 weeks to pack up our 5 bedroom home and move 20 minutes down the road to a wonderful new house! We listed the house that has been Keith's home since 2008 and my home since 2010 (minus a year and a half for the time we lived in Atlanta and Charlotte) for sale at the end of December, and by the end of January it had sold. Up until last week we didn't know where we would be living, but thanks to an awesome friend/realtor of ours, we will be renting a lovely 4 bedroom home until we figure out where we'd like to plant some roots next.

Packing is obviously overwhelming, but packing while being a work-from-home mom to 3 kids under age 5 is challenging to say the least. I am finishing up my last editing project for a wedding that I was so honored to capture, and I'm doing my best to juggle an infant, threenager, and preschooler. (Right now the threenager is giving me a run for my money, but we won't let her know that, kay?)

And while that sweet husband of mine is being helpful, he has just started a new job (praise you, God!) and has been quite busy. So all that to say...while I want to allocate time each day to sit and write, because let me tell you there is so much I have to say, I just can't. Not right now. But I'm jotting down notes on my phone, and one day (soon, I hope) when we are settled into our new home, I will share my thoughts with all of you. Everything from the books I'm deeply enjoying to my trip to Louisiana, to traveling solo on a plane with 3 kiddos, placenta encapsulation, and flight school, those posts are coming. 

I hope that you have enjoyed this short update and that your Monday rocks!

Now it's back to packing! :) 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

A Fresh Start

Today I woke up with the wheels in my head turning at an alarming rate. It is January 1, 2017 and there is so much hope and expectation for a better year. In reality, today is just another day in the book of my life, and all of my problems and worries from 2016 won't just magically vanish because of this new calendar year. 

But...maybe they can. 

I don't have control of some of the things that have caused grief and pain, but I do have control over how I respond. Control of my words, thoughts, actions, responses, and prayers. On my own I am unable to respond in a way that would make anyone proud, but because of Jesus (and the work He's done on my heart in 2016), I truly believe that I can go forward being a better me. 

The keyword here is better

It doesn't mean that I'll be perfect, prim, and proper, but it does mean that I'll be mindful of my behavior and try my best to be as Christ-like as possible. 

It doesn't mean there won't be consequences, but it does mean that I'll be more forgiving of myself and others. 

It doesn't mean that 2017 will be flawless, but it does mean that I will see the flaws as an opportunity to respond gracefully.

And while I haven't made an actual resolution list, there are a few things that I sincerely hope to accomplish in this new year. However, instead of hoping and wishing it'll happen, I am claiming that these things will happen. Words are incredibly powerful (Proverbs 18:21) and I am choosing to speak life over my year, and these goals. 

My 2017 Goals 

1. More Godly contentment. This is something that would be life changing. As much as I want to only seek the Lord's approval, I do seek the approval of man. And by doing this, I am often disappointed (people will disappoint you), and crippled by this need. Thanks to the book Uninvited, I've gotten a little better at possessing this quality, but have a ways to go. This year, I will have more Godly contentment.

2. Growing in my faith. 2016 brought many trials and challenges, and while they were stressful (and sometimes painful) they made me grow. Keith and I started doing a Bible study together that has changed my entire perspective about a figure in the Bible that I used to strongly dislike. Now, I find myself hungry to know more about this man and his heart for God. This study has also brought Keith and I closer to one another, and improved our communication. Our study is almost complete, but it doesn't stop there. This year, I want to complete at least 3 more Bible studies with my husband.

3. Make a new war room. Over the summer I watched a powerful movie called War Room, and learned how most battles in life are being fought the wrong way. We need to go to war in prayer, not with people, so that we can fight to real enemy. I made my own war room in a closet the next day, but due to that room becoming occupied and my 2-second attention span, I stopped using it. In 2017, I will make a new prayer wall or journal and be intentional in my prayer time.

4. Stop cussing. This one is embarrassing, but it's the truth. I love Jesus but I cuss a little...As much as try, especially when I am angry or watching sports, horrible things fly out of my mouth. I try not to let this happen around my children, but that's not always the case. (Go ahead, judge away you judge-y people, you!) This year, I will control my tongue and live out James 3:9-11.

5. Improve my heart health. I have felt convicted lately when it comes to my health. While I did just have a baby and know it will take time to get back into shape, I was not healthy before this pregnancy. I've always wanted to be healthier from a vanity standpoint, but now I am convicted to be healthier so that I can lower my risk of heart disease. According the the American Heart Association,
Heart disease and stroke cause 1 in 3 deaths among women each year – more than all cancers combined. Fortunately, we can change that because 80 percent of cardiac and stroke events may be prevented with education and action.
I don't know about you, but that is frightening! There is good news can help prevent heart disease by managing blood pressure and cholesterol, reducing blood sugar, getting active, eating better, and losing weight. This year, I will become the healthiest version of myself!

6. Love my husband better. I don't mean to brag, but my husband is the best person that I know, and the one that reminds me the most of Jesus. He is not without faults, but I admire the way he deals with adversity, his wisdom, and his self-control. Since meeting him, he has made me want to be a better person, and in turn I want to love him better. Not that I don't love him well now, but I know I can improve. This year, I will love my husband better through my prayers, words, and actions.

7. Be intentional with my children. As a work-from-home mom, it is a huge juggling act when it comes to giving my kids quality time and being distracted by my work. I'm pretty good at time management in general, but this has been a struggle. I am grateful that the Lord has blessed me with three amazing kids, and have found immense joy in teaching the older two preschool. In 2017, I will be intentional with my children so that their childhood is one they look back on and smile.

8. Write more. Writing makes me happy and helps declutter my thoughts, but I do not make enough time for it. Whether it is on this blog or in my journal, I will write more.

9. Read more. I love reading but don't do it nearly enough. I start a book and rarely finish, but this year I will start and finish 1 book per month.

10. Book a wedding in Italy. This one might throw you for a loop, but I work part-time as a wedding videographer. This is a business that my grandmother started in 1984, and something that I've been involved in since I was 12 years old. Since her passing in 2013, I've continued her legacy by naming my company in her honor. I never pictured myself doing this as my profession, but I enjoy it very much. The destination wedding industry is huge, and while I am booking up quickly for 2017 SC, NC, and GA weddings, I would be ecstatic to book a wedding in my adoptive homeland. (Don't worry, I haven't just tossed this thought out, fingers crossed, hoping it'll happen. I'm actually doing something to make it happen...stay tuned for my details later). In 2017, I will book a wedding in Italy.

I am going to print this post out and place it in my line of sight each day, so that on December 31, 2017 I can look back and see all I've done, instead of all that I forgot to do.

Do you have any goals/resolutions for 2017? I'd love to hear them!
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