Checking In: MS Symptoms

This post was originally published in February 2018. I’ve updated it to include a follow up since the original publication.


What good is discussing diet and lifestyle changes if I don’t reveal the ongoing results?

Doing an honest self-assessment of any sort is hard, particularly when trying to find ways to manage an unmanageable disease. There’s a huge desire to make everything a “success” or engage in placebo effect-like thinking, but that isn’t always the case.

Overall, I feel like I am managing my MS better. Still, on a day-to-day basis, my mileage may vary because of various external factors.

Current Health Self-Check

Currently, I am not doing so well. Not necessarily because of the MS, but I have a weird seasonal head cold. Drippy nose, sore throat, and exhaustion. I can only assume that if a person without MS gets a virus like this, they may feel wiped out but can go about their daily lives with minimal interference.

With MS and any illness, I get so wiped out that getting out of bed is a hardship. Ash had to stay home until Jai went down for his morning nap on Tuesday because I was so worn out. I needed the extra couple of hours of sleep. This afforded me before I was able to start the day and take care of a toddler. Jai and I stayed in our PJs and read lots of books and minimized movement so I wouldn’t overdo it.

This is a crucial example of why getting sick with MS is “dangerous.” It won’t necessarily cause any physical harm. Still, infections are a significant cause of flare-ups, so there is a risk of needing to get steroids to treat the inflammation. I don’t get avoidant if I know someone is sick. Still, I do recognize that even a simple cold can knock me off my feet for a couple of days that might just inconvenience someone else.

I usually wouldn’t write about getting sick factoring into how I am currently feeling because I tend not to get sick all that often. Still, since having Jai, it has become a more common occurrence. 

Beyond the cold, I am feeling okay overall. There’s been some emotional disappointment in not being able to maintain my diet as strictly as I wanted. I am doing what is best for my overall health, and that is more important. My brain fog and memory issues haven’t lessened, but that may be because I am not doing enough mental exercises to help stimulate neuron repair.

Fatigue is still an issue, but not so much on the days that I am more active. I find high-cardio days mean that I have more energy throughout the day. On the days I only do yoga, there might be a more significant dip in energy by the afternoon.

Being completely honest: I haven’t noticed many changes since my last check-in after my diet reset. I feel more active, happier, less sluggish, but no apparent changes to my MS symptoms.

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Celebrating Motherhood: Month’s End

We’re at the end of Motherhood month and I am grateful for all the wonderful mothers who participated in my posts about getting pregnant, pregnancy, newborns, and toddlers. Reading their responses made me realized I know a lot of wonderful, strong, and amazing mothers. A lot of role models for me to look up to and ask questions from as I raise Jai.

I was also surprised at the emotional impact, for myself, in writing about my struggle to get pregnantJai’s birth story and my decision to extend Jai’s breastfeeding. I realized I have some unresolved concerns about the healthcare I received postpartum and I want to make other mothers-to-be aware of possible concerns or risks. Western care still has a long way to go in how it treats mothers.

Most importantly, this month reaffirmed for me the diversity in parenting styles. Everyone parents their little one differently and as long as the little one is safe, it doesn’t matter how different from my style of parenting it may be. I believe in being non-judgmental to other mothers’ approach because there may be something in their style that I hadn’t considered adding to my own.

I think it’s important to embrace other parents and listen to what lessons they might share rather than criticize what they do differently. I want to maintain this attitude and roll it over to all aspects of my life (and hopefully pass acceptance on to Jai).

I hope you all enjoyed reading these posts as much as I did writing them and that they were helpful or brought comfort in a time of need.

Happy June, everyone!


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Featured image credit: Arlene Farms Art 

 


Extended Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is a controversial topic. I will admit that I participated in the controversy before getting pregnant.

A couple of years ago, I saw a mother allow her two-year-old lift up her shirt and feed on the playground. I was appalled, not by the public feeding – I was all for normalizing breastfeeding, but at the age of the child and the perceived lack of discipline on the mother’s part. I swore I would never allow my child to breastfeed past a certain age, especially in public.

And then I started doing some research on the matter.

I will admit this before going further: I completely changed my mind on the matter and became more open to the idea of breastfeeding a child past the recommended 6-12 months and didn’t care when the feeding happened. If a child is hungry or in need of comfort and I wasn’t bothering anyone, then I will take care of my child.

My (old) Personal Hangups

I hold many Western notions closely in judgment for a lot of things, especially concepts that make me seem prudish. I blame growing up in New England. Before getting pregnant, breastfeeding was right up there.

When I saw women breastfeeding toddlers or read articles about women who extreme breastfed, I thought something Oedipal was going on, particular mothers of boys. It seemed inappropriate to be breastfeeding a child, a son no less, past a certain age where there was the potential for them to remember and cause psychological issues.

I thought that mothers were setting their children up for a lifetime of emotional stunting because breastfeeding past the age of one was massively inappropriate. I kept my thoughts to myself whenever I encountered a stranger breastfeeding, but I may have made faces and commented out of earshot to Ash or a companion.

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black cat cuddling baby

Breastfeeding Struggles

For today’s post, I featured a photo I took when Jai was 3 months and my favorite cat used Jai as a bed. This doesn’t make for an easy nursing session and while it’s fun to show off silly pictures of cats making nursing difficult, struggling with breastfeeding is no laughing matter.

I struggled at first and then it got better. And then I struggled again and that got better.

This was my personal experience, so what worked for Jai and myself may not work for everyone, nor will you have to deal with the same issues I did. Please take what is contained in this post as suggestions/anecdotal evidence and not as universal fact. Please speak with a professional if you have any major concerns regarding breastfeeding.

Something to Remember

Prior to giving birth, I attended a breastfeeding class, took a bunch of notes because it is hard to shut the academic off most of the time, and requested a lactation consultant (LC) once I was in the recovery room. One thing that was never mentioned in the class or in the hospital, and this may be a failing on my birthing hospital’s part, was that there are two people in the process of breastfeeding.

It was only Jai and me.

I had the intellectual or logical knowledge of what to do and he had the instinctual knowledge. Unfortunately, I brushed aside instinct in favor of logic so I asserted what I thought was best on Jai. This is to say that when the LC came into the room, she shoved my breast into Jai’s mouth and snipped at me to listen for a swallow while holding his head to the breast. I tried to copy her aggressive manner of shoving the nipple into Jai’s mouth and keeping his head close so he wouldn’t move and prayed I would hear that swallow to indicate a latch.

Needless to say,  this manner of feeding was ineffective and did not work.

Both he and I got frustrated. I was frustrated because I wasn’t feeding my child and he was frustrated because he was hungry. I began to stress about my milk not coming in, that he’d be underweight and they wouldn’t release us from the hospital, the nurses were already getting judgemental over each box of newborn formula they brought in, and my hormones were working in overdrive.

I don’t remember crying, but I do remember feeling like a failure as a mother.

But the moment I shut out the intellectual learning and trusted my son to know what to do, he latched and within days my milk eventually came in strong. We were on our way to breastfeeding.

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First-Time Breastfeeding

Immediately after Jai was born, I attempted to breastfeed him. Rather, he wanted to breastfeed after they put him on my chest. Even though I was caught up in the emotions of the moment, I couldn’t help but be amazed at his tenacity and instinct.

We worked through it together and he suckled a bit while the hospital staff bustled around us doing what needed to be done in those moments.

Nursing, while it may be a natural act, didn’t come naturally for me. I remember struggling to ensure a latch, that he was getting enough milk, and concern for nipple confusion should we need to supplement.

This week I am focusing on breastfeeding, the struggle to breastfeed, and why I decided to extend breastfeeding beyond the first year despite personal health risks.

Before going further, it is important that I make the following disclosure:

Better Fed No Matter What

While I will primarily be focusing on breastfeeding this week, I do plan to discuss formula feeding, both as a sole means of feeding a child and as a supplement.

My personal philosophy on the matter: a fed baby is the best kind of feeding for the baby. Whether you solely breastfeed, supplement with formula, or solely feed formula, as long as your little one is nourished and fed that is all that matters. I pass no judgment on a mother’s decision regarding how she feeds her baby. I recognize that some mothers aren’t able to breastfeed due to reasons beyond her control.

These posts are meant to be informational, though they are more anecdotal in nature based on my personal experience. I will be discussing the concerns I had early on about feeding and what information I found on the matter and why I arrived at the decisions I did. That being said, while I was able to make the choice to breastfeed and it worked out, I know that not every woman arrives at the same decision I did (or can).

These posts will try to reflect that as much as possible and provide a balanced view on feeding when possible.

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