Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Ellien's Essays: The Pumping Pioneer

Ellien's Essays: The Pumping Pioneer
I read this essay and thought, wow, here's a mom who's dedicated to giving her baby breastmilk even though she's leaving the baby with another person. This makes those stay at home moms who don't breastfeed seem, well, not so dedicated, to say the least. I mean, if it's too much trouble for them to feed their babies their own breastmilk when working doesn't take them away from their babies, imagine how they'd handle working and breastfeeding. Mothering as a working mom is now considered the norm, but breastfeeding and working -- that's radical! How does anyone do it? Especially if they can't work from home?
I tried working part time from home myself when ds was a baby, but it didn't work for me -- I was suffering from ppd, had nobody to watch ds while I worked, and also had a high needs infant who would not let me put him down. I ended up quitting my job after only a couple of weeks of trying.
I sometimes envy the moms who work outside the home full time, but I also know I couldn't do it, for mulitple reasons: I'm not that organized (when does cooking, shopping, cleaning etc. get done?), energetic (when do you sleep?), or in a position to have someone I trust besides me watch my baby or child. Maybe that will change some day, but for now, I'm staying home. We will remain at the bottom of the middle class, probably never own our own home, but at least I won't be trying to juggle a job and parenting. I admire those who can manage it!
There are so many different ways to be a mom, and so many different ways to provide for your baby's needs. It's truly inspiring to hear about someone making it work to go against the grain, both in breastfeeding (which is so unpopular in our culture) and in doing it while working outside the home. Right on!

Alternative medicine: you're on your own!

I have been looking into alternative approaches for ds's SID and anxiety, as well as my own health concerns (PCOS, migraines, depression) and those of my husband (iritis). Autoimmune conditions like ours (and like those that killed my mom -- dermatomyositis -- and drove my dad to drink himself to death -- fibromyalgia) are so poorly treated by mainstream, western medicine, you really have to seek other opinions. There are so many alternative approaches, it's mindboggling, and since they are often either in conflict with one another (like homeopathy vs. herbs), it's difficult to determine which one to choose. There are no governing bodies to oversee all this, except those who are completely against all alternatives (such as the AMA and the FDA). There needs to be a body made up of regular people, who have the time to read all this stuff and determine what is really true and what isn't. But who has that kind of time who's not on someone's payroll (such as the pharmaceutical industry or agribusiness) who might skew the results?
Nutitional approaches
There are many different dietary or nutritional approaches, including raw vegan, raw meat, seasonal eating, slow foods, traditional (as in Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions), the Maker' Diet, orthomolecular, juicing, blood type diet, alkaline diet, many anti-yeast diets, etc. Each seems to say that it's the way to go, and that the others have it all wrong. Some require expensive testing for things like malabsorbtion and alkalinity vs acidity, others simply tell you to follow their plan and you will feel great. Some combine supplements with dietary outlines.
All require a major commitment to follow. All of them are radical departures from the standard American diet (SAD), either because they limit processed foods, or because they limit the types of foods that can be eaten. I think most nutritionists and dietitions would say they are all too extreme, in that they are too different from the USDA Food Pyramid. So you can't really go to a nutritionist if you want to decide which nutritional approach to take among all the radical nutritional prescriptions out there.
How does one decide? I know I can't afford expensive tests, and our insurance doesn't cover them, so I probably won't be doing orthomolecular, even though it seems like a much more customized approach. Had I a million bucks to play with, maybe I'd try it or something like it. Until then, I am just going to wing it, trying out foods and deciding for myself which works best. I do wonder about supplementation though. I know I need more minerals, since I have terrible tooth decay, but mineral supplementation is very tricky, since they all balance each other out and an excess of one can cause a deficit of another. Here's where I wish I could afford testing, to determine which minerals I'm lacking.

Herbs vs. homeopathy

Here's where I get a bit confused: homeopathy uses some plant extracts in some of its remedies, but it's not herbalism and you can't use regular herbs at the same time, despite the fact that no homeopathic remedy I've taken yet has relieved all my symptoms (migraines in particular). And I use many herbs in cooking that have medicinal qualities, like garlic, ginger, and turmeric. And I drink ginger tea. I may be contradicting my homeopathy doing this, I don't know. Also, I've recently learned that some homeopaths have you dilute your remedies in water twice -- should I see someone who does this? Regardless, I feel pretty lost in all this, and am coming to realize that the only one who can guide me is myself -- which is pretty scary!

Supplements: expensive, not well documented

There are so many kinds of nutritional supplements, each with their legion of supporters, it's difficult to know which to take. Pascalite clay? Liquid minerals (because supposedly mineral tablets don't get dissolved or absorbed very well)? Single minerals? Vitamins are controversial too - many say that the synthetic vitamins contained in most vitamin pills are not as good as those found in foods, and that they may even do harm. Enzymes? There are so many, and some are very expensive, but supposedly they really help if you have digestive problems. I could go on, but I'm running out of time. I will continue this later, I hope.