When I found out I was pregnant with Everleigh I had never even thought about organic vegetables, coconut oil, or natural labor. It wasn’t until I started doing a little research on pregnancy and labor that I really got into the whole natural labor thing. There were exactly three things that I knew. I wanted a natural labor, I wanted to breastfeed and I wanted to raise her to be a good kid.
At my 20 week ultrasound something happened that no parent wants to experience. Everything wasn’t right with my little girl’s growing body. They suspected that she had a multicystic dysplastic kidney. At the time, I had no idea what that meant, but with a little Google searching, I was hysterical. All the information I found was very scary. At my next ultrasound (a 3D one), I found out that her other kidney appeared to be perfectly fine and that she could live with just one. It was a huge relief, but the fact that she only had one still seemed a bit scary. I continued with 3D ultrasounds every 2 weeks for the rest of my pregnancy.
A month after she was born we took her to get an ultrasound at Children’s Healthcare. The urologist told us that her good kidney seemed just fine and that the other kidney would most likely shrink up and disappear. Good news.
I spent the first few months of her life desperately trying to get breastfeeding down, but I was living with my mom at the time and from the day Everleigh was born there was major construction going on in the house. It was really hard to get used to being a new mom and get comfortable with breastfeeding when there were so many random men coming and going. I had issues with thrush and supply and eventually I gave in to supplementing with formula.
When Ev was 6 months old we finally got to move into the basement of my moms house. I was so excited to finally have some privacy. I bought a brand new fancy pump, a bunch of supplements and some domperidone. I was determined to get back to exclusively breastfeeding. Little did I know how hard it would be.
I would say I had a hard time with motherhood from month 6-10. I was desperate for some independence and my own place, Everleigh was waking up 5-6 times a night and all I wanted to do was get back to breastfeeding her full time. I was still struggling with my supply and couldn’t always find the time to pump and still get the house clean,keep Everleigh happy, and have dinner on the table at a decent time. At this point, I wasn’t even worried about eating healthy.
For four months I desperately tried to breastfeed Everleigh. There were lots of calls to my mom for advice, lots of crying on my husband’s shoulder, and lots of asking God, “Why me?”. It was a trying time for me. My husband got laid off for two weeks in October and we had to take a road trip to Virginia to make some money. The stress of traveling, being in a car all day for work, and staying in the crappiest hotel ever…finally ended my breastfeeding relationship with Everleigh. She refused to latch anymore no matter how hard I tried. I was devastated.
The last half of October brought good things for my family. My husband went back to work, we got our own apartment, and my daughter started sleeping through the night. My sanity was finally back and I was thinking less and less about not being able to breastfeed. I was in a really good place emotionally. My husband and I decided that we didn’t really want an only child (a hasty decision we had made in the throws of an all-nighter with heavy bags under our eyes and a crying baby in our arms). We wanted at least one more. We have decided to space it so that they are at least 2 years apart. I knew I was in a much healthier mindset because I had decided having children was a true blessing and not a burden. It was truly a moment of revelation.
Once I was in a better place, I started to get back into the things I love, blogging being one of them. As I started browsing the community of moms I came across a whole lifestyle that I had already been a part of without knowing it. Crunchy moms. I was intrigued and did all the research I could. I had already done some of the things crunchy moms do like baby wear, (attempt) breastfeeding, a (failed) attempt at cloth diapering and mostly healthy eating, but I really wanted to get more into it. I felt like I had failed at too many things that I really wanted to do and I really believe that those failures came from not being in the best position mentally, emotionally, and physically. I was always stressed about not being where I wanted in life.
So I slowly started changing our lifestyle. Eating better, buying natural products, making my own cleaners, and all around living a healthier lifestyle. Since January I have lost about 15 lbs, learned how to eat healthy on a small budget, gotten my daughter on real whole foods, organic milk, and little to no sugar and I’ve cleaned out our medicine cabinet and traded it for essential oils.
You might be wondering what my motivation was for all of this. Well, besides just being genuinely interested in this lifestyle, I really want to do what’s best for my children. My daughter has one kidney. One chance to keep it healthy. I am determined to raise her to know how to do that and to bring her up with the best body possible. After all the research I’ve done I’ve learned a few things:
-The medicines I was giving her for teething (Tylenol and Ibuprofen) can be harmful to kidneys. This might not alarm most people because it’s rare for it to happen, but I can’t take chances. I’ve traded out all medicines for essential oils and they are working great for us.
-Processed drinks (yes, even formula) can harm her kidney in the long run. She drinks organic milk, water and some organic juice.
-There are certain dietary requirements for optimal kidney function and I have been slowly adding those things into her diet. Sometimes it’s hard to get her to eat veggies so we make lots of smoothies with fruit and vegetables.
-Raw honey aids in patients with kidney failure. Everleigh has a serving of raw honey daily. I put it on sandwiches, yogurt, oatmeal and in smoothies.
-Fluoride is terrible for kidneys! I have made sure to get toothpaste free of it and we give Everleigh purified water.
-Vaccines have been shown to cause adverse reactions to kidneys. We stopped Everleigh’s vaccines after her 9 month checkup.
-Diabetes can cause kidney failure. I feed Everleigh a diet low in sugar and high in good fats and oils. We also try to stay active during the day and limit her TV time. I hope that the combination of those will prevent her from developing Type 2 Diabetes.
So, as you can see, my main motivation for living a more natural lifestyle is my daughter. I’m glad that she has motivated me to become a better mom, because one kidney or two, every child deserves to grow up eating real food and using natural products safe for their growing bodies. I have learned from the mistakes that I made in the first year of parenting and I intend to make the experience a much better one with my next baby. I realize now that it goes beyond just having a natural birth. It starts with eating right during pregnancy and natural birthing, but it doesn’t end there. When I have another baby I am determined to breastfeed for at least 14 months, start them out on whole foods and continue to teach all of my children how to make the best choices for them and their future families.
I continue to pray for Everleigh’s health every single day and know that God is watching over her. I truly believe the Lord had everything to do with my journey and that nothing was truly a mistake. Everything happens for a reason. He gave me those experiences to learn from and become a better mother along the way.
So, mamas…it’s not too late to be the mother you want to be. We all have our bad days, and that will never change,but we can choose joy! We can choose to see our children as a blessing in good and bad times. We can choose to be supermoms!