Monday, October 31, 2011

This week's blog will be up tomorrow

Hey everyone,

This week's Monday blog will be posted tomorrow.

Have a great evening,

Monday, October 24, 2011

Cooling the flames

I woke up one morning around six years ago and had lost the range of motion in my left hip. It was quite a long road getting my hip back again, but I was able to do it. Well, here we go again – only on the right side.

It started a couple of weeks after my c-section. I was doing yoga one morning, and noticed that I had lost quite a lot of range of motion. To make matters worse, I noticed that if I move it a little bit funny, I am in excruciating pain.

The good news is that I already know what to do since I’ve been through this before. I know that it’s osteoarthritis. I know that it’s a result of inflammation. I know that inflammation is stress-induced. And I also know that alternative medical treatments work much better than traditional Western ones in this case.

Last time, I was sent to an orthopedist, then to physical therapy, x-rays, MRIs, and a rheumatologist. I wound up treating it though with a mix of chiropractic care, yoga, proper diet and sleep, ginger tea, and stress reducing meditation. I visualized myself with a fully functioning, flexible, pain-free hip. I also did body work meditation, which basically means that after quieting the mind through deep breathing, you go to the point in the body where the pain is and ask if there’s a message. I have gained many insights into stress that I have suppressed in my body, and I find that once I’m aware of it, I’m able to work out the tension helping my body feel better. By the way, you can also do this through yoga. Just ask for insights on a particular question, and then let your body do the work. Messages will come to you while practicing the various poses and/or at the end when lying in shavasana or corpse pose.

I have already started, but am finding it harder this time to implement my treatment since having twins. Okay, for one, I don’t really get to decide how much sleep I get on any given night. I’m always tired. Two, I also don’t always get to decide when I do yoga and when I don’t or when and if I get to finish a routine. I don’t go to the chiropractor quite as often. I meditate occasionally. And sometimes I eat whatever is handy – including pizza, pasta, and tortilla chips. I have managed to cut out artificial sweeteners and started drinking ginger tea though.

So what do I do? Well, I can’t change the fact that I have twins, and that I need to take care of them. Nor do I want to. But I can find a way to be more forgiving of myself, to look at what I am doing for myself and focus on that. I am managing to do yoga on some days. I am managing to meditate on some days. And I am managing to still eat vegetables every day. I have already visualized both of my hips as flexible, fit, and agile. And I know that the hip will heal. Now it's about time, patience, and forgiveness.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Relief from suffering and pain and my kids’ vomiting

Have you ever seen a baby vomit? I apologize for the goriness, but Ethan has been vomiting frequently. (More on this in a later blog, but we’re working on figuring out the cause.) Aria vomits too, but not nearly as often.

I was quite traumatized the first time I saw each vomit until I mastered the whole process. But I still worry and stress over the what’s, why’s, who’s, etc. What’s causing it? Why is it happening? How can I make it stop? Who do I turn to for help? And so on. A couple of trips to the pediatrician later, and we now know that Aria’s is nothing to worry about, and we’re still working on figuring out Ethan’s.

As for the process, Aria’s vomit just kind of happens. There’s no prelude or warnings. She vomits, and then looks stunned for half a second. I take her to clean her up and change clothes, and sure enough, she’s laughing and kicking around within seconds.

It’s more or less the same thing with Ethan. Only with him, there’s warning. We run to the sink. He gags and vomits. Sometimes he just gags. He looks as though he’s in pain. He vomits. Maybe a second or third time. He cries. We calm him and soothe him. And then we take him to get cleaned up and changed. And he’s smiling and kicking around again after a few minutes. And that’s pretty much it.

The pain is temporary. Lasts a millisecond with Aria and maybe a few minutes with Ethan. They move on. They’re ready to play again. All smiles.

But not with me. I see the vomit coming. I run for dear life to make sure that minimal damage is done to the house. I’ve had to clean the couches, carpets, my clothing, and their chairs way too many times for my liking at this point. And then there’s the stress of leaving one of them downstairs alone – sometimes in the middle of a feeding - while I take the other upstairs to clean and change. I try to rush to make sure that no one is traumatized or in hysterics because they were left alone while moments before they were enjoying a bottle. And then I think for days about what could have caused the vomit. I speak with the pediatrician and my husband, and we go over all of the scenarios over and over again. To be honest, I don’t even bother calling anymore. I check for temperature sometimes. Nope, no signs of illness. My husband wants to build an excel spreadsheet to pinpoint trends and try to diagnose it. And I pray to God every morning, “Let this be a vomit-free day.”

It totally stresses me out... and they’re playing.

Just to state the obvious: Babies’ brains aren’t as developed as ours; their ego minds haven’t developed at this stage. And so what may seem to be a worrisome event to us is just another blip in time for them. And as a mother who worries – a lot about everything – I am trying to come to some kind of emotional peace with this. I don’t know if I can spend the remainder of my life freaking out all the time about their health. Or perhaps more realistically, I can at least find a way to tone it down. Have some relative peace of mind.

I was thinking about the peace I'm seeking the other day, and I had this gut feeling to Google the word “control” on And sure enough, I found a really great article by Martha Beck, “Get a New Leash on Life” from the August 2002 edition of Oprah Magazine, which I strongly recommend reading.

In it, Beck looks at different kinds of pain and how we can find some solace. She writes that psychologists call my kind of suffering “dirty” pain. In the case of the vomiting, the kids have “clean” pain, which is what we feel when something hurtful happens to us. That blip in time.

She explains, “Dirty pain is the result of our thoughts about how wrong this is, how it proves we-and life- are bad.” Such as the anguish of why the vomit happened, how we can change it, the should’s and could’s. I must confess that I have turned the vomiting in my mind into a really, really big deal. It may in fact be a symptom of something greater – like reflux or a food allergy – but my thoughts and worry around it does not help.

Beck’s article continues, “The two kinds of suffering occupy different sections of the brain: One part simply registers events, while another creates a continuous stream of thoughts about those events. The vast majority of our unhappiness comes from this secondary response – not from painful reality but from painful thoughts about reality.”

When we dwell, discuss, stress about, create stories that may have no basis in reality. Beck tells us that this happens when we try to control – through our thoughts – what we really can’t control.

This doesn’t only apply to physical pain, but also to emotional pain like from a job lay off, a bad breakup, the stress before a surgery or after you’ve already recuperated, the angst when trying to make a big decision, or fretting over a fight with a loved one. The event itself only lasts a few seconds. But the feelings about it will last as long as you let it.

Buddhists, Kabbalists, new age followers, and yogis have been saying for years, suffering ends when we learn to detach from thinking mind. The way to do that is to realize that our thoughts aren’t the truth. It’s what we’ve created, a story we’ve told ourselves. And the way to detach from those thoughts is through presence – such as focusing on your breath, listening to your heartbeat, observing your thoughts, or observing what’s right in front of you. Is there anything wrong at this very moment? Probably not.

Beck goes on to say that even experiences we once feared and hated may become opportunities to awaken our capacity for joy. Because once you become comfortable with uncertainty, the world opens.

Is this was a long way to go from my children’s vomiting? I don't think so. It's these every day events that show us our true selves and also show us where there's work to be done in living life to the fullest. It’s just another example of how we, how I, create thoughts that aren’t necessarily true.

I’m getting better at handling the vomit. I’m taking it as it comes and dealing with it, although still praying to God every morning for vomit-free days. We’re doing everything we can to help Ethan move past it and feel better. And hey, this could be an opportunity to get some new couches. One thing I'm learning for sure is that the world really does open up once you let go of control.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Balancing health and newfound motherhood

I had a rough morning today. I woke up at around 5:30 in the morning ready to exercise, get my insulin pack together with all of my vitamins, blood sugar checking paraphernalia, and insulin pump stuff, and eat breakfast before the kids woke up. You probably guessed from the title of this blog entry, things didn’t turn out exactly the way I had planned.

I did manage to get the insulin pack together, but that was only because my husband went to get Aria who had also woken up at 5:30 along with her mother and father. I fed her. She played a bit. I decided to swaddle her up and let her watch me exercise. Yes, that actually interests a newborn child, and I figure I’m teaching them to take care of their health while taking care of mine too. She fell asleep while I was warming up. I was well on my way to getting fit and strong, when fifteen minutes into it, Ethan woke up ready to eat and play. I had stop.

And that’s pretty much how my morning went. One would wake up to eat while the other one napped, and then as soon as one was ready to nap, the other would wake up to eat.

I get frustrated when these types of mornings happen. I want to get stuff done, and I hate being interrupted or feeling obliged to change my course. But it’s not like I’m an evil mother because of this. I’m trying to actually take care of my health. This is a good thing. And I tried really hard all morning long to finish the routine. I put Ethan in the swing and let him watch me, but then he started screaming. He was hungry. He finally went to sleep – after many maneuvers on my part. I figured I could finish the routine, and then Aria woke up. I took her upstairs to put the laundry in the washer. She wanted to play, and so I put her under her mobile, and she kicked around in her crib.

Here’s my surprising bit of news. Despite all of the juggling, I do somehow manage to take care of myself. I do manage to exercise most days of the week and eat healthy meals. I do check my sugars. Sometimes I’m holding a bottle and pricking my finger at the same time, but it gets done.

I think it’s because I’ve made healthy living a priority. But it’s not only that. I am trying really hard not to get hung up on plans. This is really hard for me by the way. I have always been a planner. My children are teaching me to go with the flow. Make adjustments when necessary and figure out how to still get it done. So I didn’t get to exercise in the morning, but I did do another 15 minutes of that routine later in the day. It may not be the ideal way to work out, but hey, I did something.

I know I’m not alone in feeling overwhelmed with things to do. I keep hearing from friends and family about the amount of stuff on their plates. I am not proposing that everyone become to-do list addicts. But one thing I’ve learned as a mom of five month old twins is that there’s always stuff to do. And the only way to balance it all is to prioritize and then go with the flow, moment by moment, day by day.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Stressed out and loving it

What’s stressing me out, you may ask? Well, besides being totally tired from taking care of our newborn twins Ethan and Aria, I am also dealing with my own health issues since having the babies (nothing serious, but still not something you wish for; more on this later), Ethan’s health needs resulting from his very low birth weight (and the team of doctors that we need to see), the economic situation (otherwise known as, “now it’s my turn”), getting stuff done (i.e., the bane of my existence: to-do lists), and still adjusting to this whole thing we call motherhood (and figuring out how to remain sane).

I was telling my husband about it, crying and complaining like crazy. I even made a list of all the things that are stressing me out and sent it to him by e-mail – just to show him how really stressed out I really am.

His response: “Everything will be okay. Things always work out. Look at where we are now. We live a good life.”

That of course is the perfect answer. What else would you tell someone when they’re totally losing it? “Uh, yeah, it’ll only get worse.”

But then he pointed out to me all the things that ARE going well in our lives. And he pointed out to me how we’ve been through tough times in the past, and everything always worked out for the best. And everything always works out at the right pace and at the right time.

I listened to his words, and felt inspired to work out my stress through yoga a few minutes later – remembering how therapeutic it is for me. I believe from my own experiences that we hold stress in our bodies which if unattended to can turn to illness. Yoga is the perfect way to let it go. Stretching, sweating, building strength and balance. Yoga gently moves you to become present.

And that’s when it hit me: I am the creator of my stress. Me and only me. My list of stressors really has no meaning. I attach the meaning to it. I choose how to perceive the stress in my life. I could revolutionize the whole way I perceive stress, and look at the same things that are stressing me out as adventurous and exciting. As opportunities to grow, learn, and live life more fully.

I have these amazing kids who are just so much fun. I have always worked out my health issues in the past, and I will this time too. And career/economic situation – totally an opportunity to re-invent myself and follow my dreams.

As for the health stuff, it really deserves its own blog. But to make it brief: I have some health stuff that came around after the twins were born – mostly inflammation in my joints. I’ve had this before, and I know how to take care of it. I’ve overcome inflammation in the past through yoga, diet, and meditation. I can do it again.

Everyone goes through stress in one way or another. Use it. Take advantage of it. Awareness of your stress is a way to learn more about yourself, what makes you tick, and then turn it around to live more fully. It’s up to me and only me to turn my stress around. Here we go...