how I became the crunchy, alternative-health-loving woman I am today – part 1

(This post is, at least partially, for David, since he was wondering at how much I’ve changed since moving to California eight years ago.  Here you go, little brother.)

Sometimes I reflect on how far I’ve come from the girl I used to be to the crunchy, alternative-health-loving woman with slightly negative attitudes towards certain aspects of modern medicine.  I certainly didn’t grow up that way.  My parents were your basic “eat healthy, get enough sleep, and listen to the doctor’s advice” kind of people, as were the majority of people then and now.  As far as medical things went, I got all my vaccines at the correct times, went to the doctor when I was sick, took antibiotics over and over again for recurrent ear infections as a child, finally getting tubes put in my ears, and when acne overtook my face in my teenage years, I took tetracycline to control my complexion.  I was a typical kid who grew up in the 80’s and early 90’s.

The initial catalyst for me to start questioning modern medicine came when I got married in 2000.  I went on the Pill about a month before my wedding, but I discovered immediately after my marriage that the Pill had, how shall I say, unexpectedly unpleasant side effects.  Very, very unpleasant side effects.  So unpleasant that two days after my wedding I was in a gynecologist’s office getting checked out.  The doctor had no answers, no solutions for my problems except to give me more medications to try to alleviate the symptoms (medicine that did NOT work!), and sent me off on my honeymoon saying, “Good luck!”

“Do you think the Pill might be causing these problems?” I asked.

“Oh, no,” he replied.  “The Pill is very safe, and it doesn’t cause these kinds of problems.”

However, it wasn’t until I did my own research a few months later and, thanks to the internet, found a woman with a story like mine (which validated what my instinct had been all along!) that I finally went off the Pill.  Lo and behold, by three months later, my issues were gone.  That was my first experience with doctors saying something “couldn’t be” and it later turning out to be true.  And after that miserable experience, I swore that I’d never put hormones of any kind in my body again.

When, to my husband and my great surprise and delight, I became pregnant with my first child, I was very nervous about the impending birth.  During my childhood, my mother had often told me about how painful my birth had been, how it had dragged on for over 24 hours, and how much it had hurt.  She always assured me with a smile that “the end result was worth it,” but I never forgot her stories and their emphasis on pain.  I began to get quite apprehensive about going through childbirth.  I considered my options for pain medication; however, I also was/am afraid of needles, specifically needles in my spine.  As if that weren’t enough, I had also had strange reactions to anesthesia in the past, such as nearly passing out in my optometrist’s chair just from having my eyes numbed, not to mention vomiting in my podiatrist’s office after having my toe numbed!  So, my only option seemed to be natural childbirth, which I didn’t even know WAS an option before I became pregnant.

I initially learned about natural childbirth by chance: When in my newly-pregnant state, my husband and I went to Barnes & Noble where I chose a random pregnancy book to take home with me.  Not knowing anything at all about pregnancy (but already having a copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting) I chose Dr. Sears The Pregnancy Book.  What an eye-opening and enlightening read THAT was!  I learned about natural childbirth from that book, and I was inspired to read many other books on natural childbirth.  Each one convinced me more and more that natural childbirth with a doula’s assistance was ideal for both mother and baby — and was exactly what I wanted for my child’s birth.

Thanks to my high level of preparedness, an amazing, supportive doula, and the gracious providence of God, I was extremely blessed during my child’s birth, and I got exactly the birth experience that I had wanted.  My natural childbirth with Lyd was such an amazing, unbelievable success that I rambled on about how wonderful it was for weeks to anyone who’d listen with even half an ear.  I was completely happy, my hormones were in a beautiful place thanks to exclusive breasteffeding, and I was in love with the world and with my baby.  In the days after giving birth to Lyd, I knew that natural childbirth had become something I felt passionately about, and I wanted to become a doula in order to help other women have the amazing experience that I had had.

(Read part 2 of my story here.)