Prodromal is Latin for Bullshit

I have totally neglected this blog lately.  In truth, I’ve been working on lots of yummy recipes and posts about the upcoming planting season and snapping away with the camera with every intention of sharing… but I honestly don’t give a crap about much of anything else right now, other than getting this baby out of my body.

Today was supposed to be my due date.

*grumble, grumble*

I am very much still pregnant.  And completely frustrated.  Not so much because I’m still pregnant (well, yes, okay, that’s certainly part of it), but because I’ve actually been in labor for weeks.

That’s right.  In labor.  For weeks.

It’s called prodromal labor.  And it’s a real thing.  I’m here to raise awareness about this terrible affliction that curses pregnant women and sends them either running to the hospital or phoning their midwives and their mothers, falsely thinking that a birth is imminent.

There is no cure for prodromal labor.  Some will tell you that a positive attitude and the belief that “your body is working” are the perfect antidotes to the mental and emotional damage that prodromal labor can cause.  I will tell you that those people can suck it.  Most of them have no idea of what you’re going through and cannot sympathize with the constant tease of a squirmy, sweet newborn dancing in your head like a dangling carrot.

Since I was almost 37 weeks, I’ve been one of the (un)lucky ones to experience night after night of prodromal labor.  The last week, however, has been a particularly eventful mind-fuck.  (I use that term with apologies to my parents, who I know read my blog entries.  There is just really no other way to describe this crap.)

Exactly one week ago, late last Saturday night, I got very sick in the middle of the night.  Now I’m no stranger to nausea and vomiting during my pregnancies, so this wouldn’t have been particularly noteworthy were it not for the fact that my n/v spells usually happen in the morning.  I struggled to sleep for the rest of the night, as I was experiencing regular, timeable contractions that began in the middle of my lower back and radiated around my hips to my lower abdomen.  There were absolute and discernible peaks and valleys and I had to employ some of my old Bradley Method relaxation techniques to really get through a few.  By the morning, when my husband and daughter had woken up, I was exhausted.  I hadn’t slept and was still contracting.

I headed for the shower, where the contractions suddenly kicked into overdrive.  I was hunched over, grasping the wall with my back against the flow of the warm water to help relieve the pain.  I was now moaning through each rush that came, so much so that Mr. T had come into the bathroom to check on me.  I started to cry and told him that I thought this was it.  Today would be the day we’d have our birth.  He began tidying up the house and getting some last-minute birth supplies in place, anticipating that we would be calling the midwives soon.  I told him that I didn’t want to do that just yet; that I’d rather get out of the house for a while and be distracted.  So I got dressed and we headed to my parents’ house – who only live 15 minutes away – for a visit.  Nearly as soon as I got into the car, the contractions stopped.  They didn’t return for the rest of the day.  Dammit.

Several more spells like this happened on and off throughout the week, usually at night.  In the early hours of Wednesday morning, though, I had another big tease that had me thinking This Was It.

I awoke around 3:30 a.m. to some abdominal cramping and went to use the bathroom.  The contractions came steadily – and heavily – shortly thereafter.  I lay in bed timing them for the next hour and a half until I heard my daughter, B, on the baby monitor as she started talking to herself in her room.  It was clear that she was awake for good (usually, fussy = “I can be put back to sleep” but chatty = “Come play with me!  Let’s get this party started!”).  So I went in to lay down with her in her bed and nurse her in the vain hope that it would both put her back to sleep and strengthen my contractions.  Well, it accomplished the latter, but not the former.

We lay there in the glow of her mushroom-shaped nightlight, nursing and snuggling, for nearly an hour while I contracted more heavily than I had at any point thus far.  I was rubbing her back and even found myself gripping the fabric of her pajamas when I reached a particularly difficult peak that I had to work through.  It was actually a really beautiful moment, and it brought me to tears.  I began to quietly cry as we nursed and as my rushes came on stronger and stronger, thinking that each one was bringing my son – her brother – closer and closer to us.  We were doing it together, B and I, because of the bond created between us from nursing.  It was quite powerful.

When I couldn’t take any more of the contractions from nursing her and felt like I had to change positions, we unlatched and got out of bed to go have breakfast.  I easily put away two over-easy eggs and two slices of whole wheat toast like it was the first time I’d eaten in years.  I was ravenous.  I chased breakfast with a tall, cold glass of my homemade pregnancy tea (raspberry leaf, dandelion root, stinging nettles, lemon balm, and oatstraw) and my prenatal vitamins and alfalfa tablets.  (The fact that I was so hungry was another possible sign of early labor.  I was really starting to get excited.)  I headed into the living room and squatted on the birth ball to bounce for a bit.  I was still having contractions at this point, though they were getting noticeably weaker.  I asked B if she wanted to nurse again, hoping it would bring them back, but she was much more interested in playing with her toys.  Eventually, the rushes stopped coming altogether and I was once again completely and totally defeated.  Dammit, again.

Yesterday, I phoned my husband at work early in the morning and begged him (and, admittedly unfairly, yelled at him) to come home.  I had had enough of being up all night timing contractions that went nowhere, only to be exhausted all day long and be responsible for chasing after/entertaining/cooking for/feeding/cleaning up after/changing/dressing/nursing /negotiating with a toddler by myself on so little sleep and even littler patience.  I was broken.  I was out of steam.  I was certain, CERTAIN, that this baby would come early and yet here I was, on the brink of my due date, with nary a mucus plug to show for all of this hard work I’d been doing.

I demanded that Mr. T take the rest of the day off and give me a break.  To which, in his saintliness, he obliged.

Yes, I get that I’m totally lucky.  And that I probably definitely shouldn’t have yelled at him.  But hey, hormones, amirite?

So here I am, a mere half an hour left in the day of my Estimated Due Date and I’m gonna go out on a limb here and wager that it ain’t gonna happen today.  Hell, I’ll betcha it ain’t gonna happen tomorrow, either.  I do, in fact, believe that I will be the first woman ever to suffer from permanent pregnancy.

That being said, I am eternally grateful to my patient and natural-minded midwives who are barely batting an eyelash at all of this “overdue” nonsense.  If I was under the care of an OB/GYN or even a hospital-based CNM I would most certainly be having the “induction conversation” by now.  So as frustrated as I am and as desperate as I am to evict my uterus’s current occupant, I have no desire to do so until he decides it’s time.  I’m on his schedule, not the other way around.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m having some contractions that I’ll have to go time for the next four hours while I work myself up into a frenzy over whether or not this is actually It*.

(*It’s probably not.)

Advertisements

Stocking the Birth Day Pantry

I’m just one day shy of 34 weeks pregnant now, which completely blows my mind.  It also means that I’ve gone into nesting mode.

In addition to laundering adorable, tiny outfits, part of my nesting has included preparing for the birth itself.  As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, we’re planning a homebirth for O’Baby’s arrival, but most of what I’m putting together for my Birth Day Pantry can easily translate to a hospital or birth center birth.

Nourishment

A woman who has an average-length, unmedicated labor will essentially put her body through the physical equivalent of running a marathon.  And since even the most veteran runners can’t complete those 26.2 miles without a pit stop or two for some sustenance, it stands to reason that pregnant women should plan to have some snacks and drinks on hand to maintain her energy levels, despite what the archaic “no eating during labor” hospital rules might suggest.  To my Birth Day Pantry, I’ve added:

Energy-boosting drinks & snacks

  • Luna Protein Bars.  Any protein bar will do; I just happen to love their flavors and the fact that they don’t taste like melted plastic, like so many other energy bars tend to.
  • Recharge Energy Drinks.  Maintaining the body’s stores of electrolytes and potassium during labor is critical, and sometimes hydrating with water alone can be insufficient (read more here).  I love these because they’re made with all-natural fruit juices and no sugar or artificial ingredients, giving you an electrolyte boost without the sugar crash.
  • Coconut Water.  These are excellent to have on hand for labor and especially for when you’re basking in the afterglow of a post-birth high.  The reputed benefit of coconut water is that it is a “’pure’ balance of sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium but is high in electrolyte potassium, unlike coconut milk. (Pure because it is apparently almost identical to blood plasma, and has been used for IV transfusion in cases of emergency and during WWII)” (source: http://bit.ly/hwSS5e).  I chugged two containers of this stuff after B was born and it seemed to instantly melt away the headache that came on suddenly once the birth high wore off.

Natural First Birth Aid Remedies

Next, we have what I consider some basic “first aid” essentials.  I’m not talking about band-aids; these are homeopathic, aromatherapeutic, and natural remedies for some of the speed bumps that’ll pop up on the Birth Highway.

Natural remedies can be helpful during childbirth.

  • Evening Primrose Oil:  This is a multipurpose addition to your Birth Day Pantry.  Taking an EPO supplement orally – even vaginally, if indicated as okay by your provider – after 37 weeks gestation can help ripen your cervix.  The oil-filled capsules can also be punctured and you can use the oil within as a natural lubricant for intercourse or as a medium for perineum massage (click here for instructions).  Keep them handy during labor as the oil can be used to gently help stretch your perineum and vagina during the pushing stage, as well.
  • Aromatherapy Spray:  Keep this within arm’s reach for a quick pick-me-up or a soothing relaxant during labor.  Alternately, you can use a few drops of pure essential oil on a washcloth or the inside of your wrist (be sure to test this before the big day to make sure you don’t have any allergic reactions).  Learn about the many different types of essential oils and pick a fragrance that suits your taste and the effect you’re seeking.  Lavender, for example, is widely known for having a calming effect and would be ideal for labor.  I, however, am a much bigger fan of patchouli and so chose a spray that I knew I would enjoy.  Bonus: the sweet orange in this blend is known for its cheering, refreshing effect.  An instant pick-me-up!
  • Rescue Remedy Spray:  I’ve been skeptical about this stuff for years, but after using it for the last few weeks I have to say that, whether the effect is placebo or real, it actually does calm me down.  This could be very useful for those moments when your “flight” response is smacking the hell out of your “fight” response (e.g.: “I’ve changed my mind.  I don’t want a baby anymore.  Let’s just go back to bed and pretend this never happened.”)  A few quick sprays on the tongue and you’ve got your focus back.
  • Arnica:  Also known as leopard’s bane, arnica is a widely used anti-inflammatory, helping to soothe swelling and promote tissue repair.  For this reason, it’s ideal for speeding up postpartum healing.  I would strongly recommend purchasing a combo pack of both the gel and the homeopathic pellets to really reap the benefits of this plant’s healing powers.  Our Bradley instructor for B’s birth gave the best tip for using arnica gel postpartum: smear a line of it down the center of a clean maxi pad (like you’re distributing toothpaste on a toothbrush), then use the pad as normal.  The gel instantly cools a mom’s sore bottom and continues to heal the skin as she wears the pad.  For pellet dosage, follow manufacturer’s instructions.

In the Kitchen

Finally, here are a couple of things that will be happening in my kitchen before and during the birth.  (For out-of-home births, simply mix a batch of herbs for your Triple Blessing tea and store in an airtight container ahead of time; then brew a cup once you return home.  Out-of-home birthers can also pre-mix the dry ingredients for the Groaning Cake and store in a mason jar for speedy preparation during early labor.  If your intent is to labor at home during this stage before heading to the hospital, it’s certainly possible you may have time to bake the bread loaves – just don’t forget to turn off the oven on your way out the door in case things pick up more quickly than expected!)

Dried herbs for galactagogue tea infusion

  • Triple Blessing Brew:  This recipe for a tea infusion comes from renowned herbalist Susun Weed.  The ingredients used are each considered galactagogues, or a substance that increases breastmilk supply.  As mentioned above, simply pre-mix the blend of herbs and store until ready for use.  In early labor, you can brew a batch or two per the instructions on Susun’s website, then reheat as needed to drink after baby’s born to encourage your milk to come in.  If you have it, sweeten the tea with a bit of blackstrap molasses for an extra boost of iron.  I can hardly think of anything more wonderful than sipping a warm cup of tea while cradling a sweet, tiny newborn in my arms, can you?
  • Groaning Cake:  I am so, so excited to bake this.  I only hope that I actually have enough focus and enough time to get it done during the big day (though, I doubt I’ll complain if my labor is so quick that this gets overlooked).  I learned about Groaning Cake when reading The Birth House by Ami McKay, a lovely novel and a must-read for any birth junkie.  According to McKay, “the tradition of the groaning cake, or kimbly, at (or following) a birth is an ancient one.  Wives’ tales say that the scent of a groaning cake being baked in the birth house helps to ease the mother’s pain. Some say if a mother breaks the eggs while she’s aching, her labour won’t last as long.” (source and recipe: http://bit.ly/nkk0TT)  I love baking — and eating — and I’m all about easing pain and shortening my labor, so what have I got to lose?  Plus, I’m rather enamored with the idea of carrying on an ancient tradition since we are, in a way, having a bit of an old-fashioned birth.

So, now you know what I’ll be eating, drinking, doing, and smearing on my Kotex pads when I give birth to my son in (eek!) 3-6+ weeks.  Hopefully you’ll be able to borrow an item or two from my “Pantry” for your own pregnancy, birth, or postpartum experience.  In fact, if you’re reading this because you, too, are gestating a little gymnast in your belly as we speak, I’d like to wish you and yours a very happy, healthy Birth Day.

Suzanne

Recipe for a Lazy Sunday: CrockPot MexiCasserole

Okay, here goes nothing:  My first recipe post.  Now mind you, I consider myself a more-than-decent cook, but what I’m not good at is measuring, following directions, or giving instruction.  I toss in spices here and there without much regard for what’s a pinch versus a palm-full.  So, in order to share my ultra-easy, no-fuss Crock Pot MexiCasserole recipe with you, I had to discipline myself and measure everything out precisely.  I think it turned out great, but I’ll let you be the judge.  A few notes:

When cooking rice and/or beans in the Crock Pot, slow and low is the preferred method.  So start this dish early in the morning and give it time to come together.  Also, I’ve noted that the chipotle powder is optional because this is what gives the dish its heat; if you’re making this for the whole family, including spice-sensitive kids, you may want to either omit it or cut it in half to 1/8 of a teaspoon.  Lucky for us, our 16-month-old has pretty adventurous taste buds and actually likes some heat to her food.  Finally, this dish – as are all recipes that I’ll share on this blog – is vegetarian because, well, that’s what we are.   If you’re so inclined to omnivorize this meal, go right ahead, but please choose your meat responsibly and consciously.

As I mentioned , this meal is super easy.  It’s also really delicious and filling, perfect for a lazy winter Sunday.  If you ask me, I’d say it’s substantial enough to stand alone, though I could also see it pairing well with a green salad with diced avocado or some lightly toasted olive bread.

I'd bet you've got most of these in your pantry/fridge already!

(Makes 4-6 servings, depending on how much you fill up your bowl.)

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • ½ cup dried black beans
  • 2 cups frozen (or fresh, if in season) peppers/onion mix
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (any variety, but those mixed with chiles, jalapeños, cilantro & lime, or other Mexi-style flavorings work best)
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon chipotle powder (optional)
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar, Monterey jack, or Mexican-style blend cheese

Toss all ingredients into your Crock Pot or slow-cooker except for the cheese.  Stir, cover, and set to a low/8-hour setting.

While your dinner roasts away in the kitchen, filling your home with a yummy cumin-y, onion-y fragrance, feel free to trot your toddler on down to the playground and get everyone a healthy dose of crisp winter air.

32 weeks preggo

My gorgeous daughter

Once you’re back at the homestead and ready to grub, stir in cheese just before serving.

Cheese is optional, but so, so good.

Scoop into bowls and top with a dollop of sour cream and freshly diced cilantro, if desired.  Enjoy!

A great, big bowl of Yum.

Pin It

My 2011 Sucked. Or Did It?

There are about 8 hours left in the year 2011 and frankly, I’m not sad to see them – or it – go.

This was a big year for our little family.  In fact, I’d be willing to go on record as naming it the single biggest year (in terms of change) I’ve ever had.  That’s not necessarily a good thing.  Here’s my wrap-up:

  • I fed my child another woman’s breastmilk this year.  After finally coming to terms with my low supply and B’s subsequent poor weight gain, I reached out to Human Milk 4 Human Babies (formerly Eats on Feets) to ask for donations from moms who, unlike me, were blessed with an abundant supply of the good stuff.  I’m grateful for the donor milk – and for the newfound friendship in the woman who shared it – but I could never quite shake the feeling of failure.  This was my tipping point for the peak of my PPD/A.
  • I suffered from acute postpartum depression and anxiety (PPD/A) this year.  Technically, I suffered from it in 2010, too, but 2011 was the year I faced it head-on and got myself into a therapist’s office  to do something about it.  Confronting this truth was painful and ugly and difficult.  And I didn’t make it through the full 52 weeks without smashing a few things and crying myself to sleep on occasion.
  • I quit my job this year.  To be more accurate, I quit the entire professional workforce this year.  After evaluating our life and what we considered to be really important (such as a happy marriage, time with our daughter, my mental and emotional health), my husband and I made a bold decision to let me stay at home to raise our child.  It took many long conversations, debates, late nights, and tears, but Mr. T and I eventually agreed that the best thing for me was to jump ship.  We knew that this decision held unpleasant consequences, but the benefits outweighed the risks as far as we were concerned.  Which leads me to the next highlight of 2011:
  • My husband and I walked away from our underwater mortgage this year.  When we bought our house five years ago, we thought that the market was as low as it could go, and were assured as much by our realtor at the time.  As the months and years ticked by, though, we watched our home’s value drop dramatically, our property taxes increase exponentially, and our hopes of ever selling our “starter home” to move on to bigger and better things crushed under the weight of the botched American dream.  We tried to do the right thing and short sell the property but were hijacked at the last minute by the insurance company who held our Private Mortgage Insurance, AIG.  They demanded $22,000 from us in order to allow the sale to go to closing.  Obviously, for two people who could no longer afford the mortgage in the first place, this was out of the question.  So we’re now in the midst of a fine foreclosure mess.  In the grand scheme of things, it’s a blip on our radar.  I mean, so what?  So we got foreclosed on.  Big deal.  So have tons of other people.  But it’s hard not to feel ashamed sometimes, to wonder if we did the right thing.
  • I peed on a stick in a Kmart bathroom back in June and found out, then and there, that we were pregnant again.  (At the time, our daughter was only 9 months old.)  I cannot begin to describe the whirlwind of emotions that followed that moment but, in brief sum, it looked something like this: terror, shock, elation, worry, excitement, acceptance, fortitude, joy.  And that was all within the first 24 hours of the positive test.

This pregnancy came as a bit of a shock.

  • The joy didn’t last for long.  Before I even had a chance to dig out my old maternity clothes, the rug was pulled out from under us when I started bleeding.  All day.  Every day.  For almost a month.  (Sorry, this next part is going to get a bit TMI-ish.)  I passed huge clots and, each time I did, I was certain they were tiny little embryos or placentas.  I called my midwife nearly every other day, crying and worrying and asking what we could do.  Eventually, I saw a perinatologist who tested my progesterone levels, confirming that they were low and that this was the cause of the heavy bleeding.  Because I was still nursing B at the time, my progesterone levels hadn’t regulated yet and were being suppressed by the nursing.  The doctor put me on progesterone supplements and advised me to stop nursing my daughter.  I was not given great odds that, even with these efforts, the pregnancy would continue.  So I took only half of her advice and continued to nurse B.  I was distraught enough as it was over the idea of miscarrying; I couldn’t then handle the emotions that were sure to come with a weaning process that, quite frankly, neither of us wanted.  So I took a gamble.  Eventually, the bleeding did stop once I’d made it into the safety of the second trimester and the placenta was developed enough to produce progesterone on its own for me.  And I’m still pregnant.  31 weeks today, to be exact.  But damn, that first trimester was a physical/emotional/mental doozy.

So that’s that.  My year, in a nutshell.  Pretty shitty, right?  A breastfeeding failure, a PPD mess of a mother, a job-quitter, a foreclosure statistic, then knocked up again – years before we were ready – only to come this close to suffering a traumatic miscarriage.  Oy.

Except, let’s spin this a bit:

  • Breastfeeding failure?  How about breastfeeding SUCCESS.   I mean hey, I didn’t quit, right?  In fact, I still haven’t.  31 weeks pregnant and am actually nursing Big Sister-to-Be as we speak (er, type).
  • Postpartum depression SURVIVOR.  As in, I’m better.  Happier.  More aware of what to look out for this next time so that I can get treated right away if it shows up again.  That’s a huge advantage to have.
  • Job-quitter, yes.  Also, though, a life-restructurer.   Not long after I quit my job, I dove headfirst into doula training with Birth Arts International.  I’ve already had two birth clients and am eager to take on more once I’ve given myself some maternity leave for O’Baby.
  • Yes, I am a foreclosure statistic.  Again, though, this was part of a restructuring of our entire lives.  The roof over our heads – and whether it was owned or rented – was just one small piece of a much larger puzzle.  I’ve come to terms with this one.  We were proactive about it and made the decision that was best for our family; not the one that was best for the mortgage company.
  • So I almost had a miscarriage.  But I didn’t, did I?  I may not be having the easiest pregnancy in the world (Braxton-Hicks since 20 weeks, daily morning sickness well beyond the first trimester, out-of-control heartburn, insomnia, I could go on and on), but I am, in fact, still pregnant.  And having that too-close-for-comfort brush with the unthinkable made us realize just how badly we really wanted the baby that we didn’t think we wanted.

I suppose putting things into perspective like that makes 2011 look not so bad.  I’m actually pretty grateful for these experiences.  Good ones and bad ones alike; for the former gave us happy memories and the latter, lessons learned.  They’ve each laid the groundwork for a happier, healthier 2012 and beyond.

May your New Year be chock-full of all kinds of experiences.

-Suzanne

Does Staying at Home Give Moms a Case of the Sads?

A study from the December issue of the Journal of Family Psychology was released this week revealing that mothers who work outside of the home are “happier and healthier” than stay-at-home mothers. The study’s authors, Cheryl Buehler and Marion O’Brien from University of North Carolina at Greensboro, suggest that working mothers reported to be in better health and were less likely to report symptoms of depression than their stay-at-home counterparts, potentially because the latter group is more “socially isolated.”

Is she happier than you?

The timing of this report couldn’t have been more perfect for this newbie blogger. For the intents and purposes of Homestead Instead, a discussion about the health and well-being of working versus stay-at-home mothers couldn’t be more relevant… or juicy, for that matter. I’ve been mapping out my argument in my head for this all week.

I relentlessly pored over study after study about the benefits of being a stay-at-home mother and the positive effects it has on children. I bookmarked countless pages and copied and pasted excerpts that would support my “Nuh-uh! Stay-at-home moms are better and you can suck it” rebuttal that I would publish.

And then I deleted all of it.

You see, I have absolutely no desire to dip even a single toe into the Mommy Wars waters. I’ve been on both sides of this tall, divisive fence and can report rather objectively that the grass on each side is the exact same shade of greenish-brown. Neither landscape is perfect. Neither is better, neither is worse. Both are hard as hell and are deserving of the respect, sympathy, and camaraderie of those on the other side.

So here’s the crux of my juicy, relevant blog post on the subject: Let’s do better, get better, and be better. Let’s prove them wrong. I mean, if the alleged experts purport that being an unemployed stay-at-home mom is going to make you depressed and unhealthy, let’s do something about that.  If their suggestion that SAHMs are “socially isolated,” is correct, let’s all open our front doors wide and get ourselves and our kidlets out of the house. If this isn’t something you’re already doing, here are some tips to get started:

  • If you’re a breastfeeding mom, find a La Leche League meeting nearby and drop in to swap stories with some likeminded lactating ladies.
  • Search for a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group to join.
  • If fitness is your thing (or if you’re trying to make it become your thing) see if there’s a Stroller Strides meetup near you.
  • Other great places to meet other moms and their respective playdate companions include your local library, public park, city/county rec center, and even local coffee shops and bookstores as they often have singalong or storytime events during the week.

Still stuck in the house? Make the day something that’s fun for you and the kiddo(s) instead of something to be tolerated. There was a notable mood-lifting that happened for both me and my daughter when our days went from playing with the same boring toys over and over, to testing the waters with experiential and sensory play.  Oh, and Pinterest is an excellent place to search for more un-boring ideas for educational play for toddlers.

Personally, this study does not apply to me. Being a stay-at-home mom has been much better for my overall emotional and mental health. While I was financially more comfortable being a full-time working mother and had fewer life stresses in that regard, I was also riddled with anxiety – and a touch of depression – over being away from my daughter all day. I have found more happiness and health outside of the workplace than I did in it, so I suppose I’m an exception to what Buehler and O’Brien are suggesting is the norm. That being said, I can see how easy it is to become stuck in a rut, overwhelmed, feeling a loss of personal identity, or feeling less equal than your partner because you don’t generate income for the family. If any of these fit the bill for you, I would encourage you to talk to your partner, a trusted friend or family member, or seek support from a local parenting group like those I mentioned above.

The UNC Greensboro study isn’t the first to suggest that stay-at-home moms are more depressed than their working counterparts. In fact, it’s been reported that as many as 57% of stay-at-home moms report some symptoms of depression.  I’m a die-hard advocate for maternal health from all angles, including mental and emotional, so please take stock  of where you stand on the happiness spectrum and act accordingly. Motherhood ≠ Martyrdom, so don’t fool yourself into thinking that you should “suck it up” for the kids’ sake, especially since your health is almost as important to their well-being as it is to your own.

Finally, I would be doing a great disservice to my own efforts in reviewing and analyzing this study if I didn’t highlight a few key points that seemed to have gotten lost in the incendiary, Mommy War-declaration headlines that the media reduced its findings to (like this one and this one and this one):

  • The study did not account for the reason(s) behind the unemployed mothers’ status [e.g.: whether it was a conscious choice, a forced choice (perhaps due to unavailable/unaffordable daycare or familial/cultural pressure), or simply due to the unavailability of a job given the status of the economy (including whether or not the mother was terminated or laid off from a previous employer)]. Any of the aforementioned factors could certainly skew the reporting of depressive symptoms, but were not taken into consideration.
  • The mothers who participated in the study each only had one child; none were parents of multiple children.
  • “Working mother” was defined only by quantity of hours worked; it did not take into account professional status, shift work, or job flexibility, any of which could potentially alter the findings if the working mother groups had been isolated to these respective identifiers.
  • The relationship between the mothers’ well-being and their employment status virtually disappeared once the child entered grade school.
  • Couple functioning, or level of intimacy between the mothers and their significant others, was not affected by employment status.

Be well, all,

Suzanne

Welcome to my Homestead

home·stead: n. 

1. A house, especially a farmhouse, with adjoining buildings and land.
2. Law Property designated by a householder as the householder’s home and protected by law from forced sale to meet debts.
3. Land claimed by a settler or squatter, especially under the Homestead Act.
4. The place where one’s home is.

FINALLY.  I’ve started a blog.

I’ve been told by more than a few people that my Facebook statuses are too verbose; that my neverending posts on birth and breastfeeding and natural parenting and politics and food (okay, well nobody really complains about the food) are excessive; that I really need an outlet for my out-loud musings on motherhood.

So, here it is.  In all its shiny, WordPress-y glory.  My blog, Homestead Instead.

Don’t expect big things from me.  (I certainly don’t.)  I’m going to aim for an entry a week to start.  That’s a manageable goal.  If this thing takes off into the stratosphere of Mommy Blogs like Annie’s from PhD in Parenting or Jill’s from Baby Rabies then I’ll step it up a bit.  For now, though, let’s keep the razzle dazzle to a minimum.

What you’ll be hearing about in this blog, for the most part, will be my adventures in raising the world’s most intelligent, charming, fussy, endearing, impatient, delightful toddler.  My daughter — who shall henceforth be known as “B” — is my universe, a space also shared by my awesome and hardworking husband, Mr. T.  Our universe is ever-expanding, though… as is my waistline.

You see, Baby Number Two is due sometime around the end of February/early March 2012.  I’m psyched beyond reason for this event despite the fact that it means I’ll be saddled with two babies under two to care for from the hours of 7:00 a.m. until 5:-something p.m., five days a week.  You’ll be hearing all about my heartburn and backaches in the coming weeks as I near the finish line for my first homebirth.  (And yep, I’ll talk about that, too.)

You’ll also read about some of our upcoming projects as we adjust to the simpler life and try to live as fiscally independent as possible.  Since I quit the professional workforce to stay at home with my daughter, penny-pinching’s become the name of the game.  Our lives have been turned upside-down (there’ll certainly be a post or two about how we got here, as well) but I have to say we’re quite happy with how things have turned out.  That being said, there’s a lot of comedy around the corner as we attempt to turn our backyard into a self-sustaining vegetable garden (coming Spring/Summer 2012!), and as I attempt to learn how to sew, knit, and craft my way through motherhood.  I’ll be thrift-shopping, upcycling, and Crock-Potting my days away with the kiddos and you, my friend, will have a front-row seat for all the action.  (Please, do try to contain your excitement.)

Now that you’ve been treated to a sneak peek of what’s to come, I’ll wrap this up for now.  I’m excited to put some thoughts on paper (er, screen) about our simple, ordinary life and to document just what happens when a girl ditches the desk job and opts for homestead instead.  Thank you in advance for joining me on this journey.

-Suzanne