Now, if you feel you can, please share your stories below. Help others break their silence by posting your story here.
Now, if you feel you can, please share your stories below. Help others break their silence by posting your story here.
We are continuing the short series on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month this October.
A few days ago, a friend and fellow Cautious Mom asked, ” For those us that haven’t experienced this kind of loss, what can we do or say to support those who have?”
A profoundly important, valid question, I thought it warranted an entry all its own.
Everyone struggles with the idea of what to say.
If you know someone who has been through this and need to know what to do or say, here are a few tips of what to do and say when you don’t know how to help;
First of all, each mother is different and approaches this issue, and her own grief, differently. Saying “I’m sorry” might feel like comfort to some while it feels like stepping on a stack of knives to others. The best advice I can give in this case is, tread carefully and always be genuine. If you don’t know what to say, then say that. Don’t try scrambling around for the right words that you think she may want to hear, just tell her “I wish I knew what to say, I don’t, but I’m here and I love you”. That will be good enough, I promise.
Offer to be there to listen. Make sure they know you genuinely want to know if they are ready to tell the story. Offer to be there while they silently grieve without requirement of speech.
It’s okay to tell her that you are sorry. Sorry for her grief, her pain, her loss, her feelings of helplessness, even sorry that you can’t fix it.
Make coffee. Empty the dish washer, the trash or dust her house. If you see a mess, clean it up. Do the work that takes physical exertion because that may be hard for her for a while and the pain in itself might make her feel worse because it is a reminder of the loss.
Ask if you can run any errands for her, ask her who you can call for her, who can you text for her, offer to communicate news to others on her behalf so she doesn’t have to do it.
Help her heal her body and mind.
Buy her healing soaps, salts or offer to help her with essential oils that will ease and heal her body. Look into spa treatments or maybe a meditation or yoga class that you could take together once she is up to it. Offer to brush her hair or paint her toes. Offer to draw a bath or a shower for her and put something special in there like flowers or something that smells nice to comfort her.
Help with the kids.
If she has other children, asking to take them away so she can rest might have the opposite reaction than you expect. She may feel a desperate need to keep them close in this time and may resent your desire to remove them from the picture, even if it is to help her. So, instead of offering to take them away, help her with them by playing with them, making sure they are given attention, have clean clothes on and are fed. Help by prepping their lunches for a few days or just spending time with them to let them know they matter, too.
If she needs the help, offer to meal prep or start a meal train with friends so she doesn’t have to focus on cooking for a few days.
Tell her she doesn’t have to hold back. If she needs to cry, scream, melt into the floor, she can do it and you will be there to help or even to leave her alone and field everyone else to keep them away so she can do what she needs to do.
Offer to keep her phone for her so she doesn’t have to get all the calls and texts that will come in.
Tell friends and family how to help her. Ask her what she needs them to know, or do and help delegate, but involve her as little as you can so she doesn’t have to deal with it.
Validate her pain. Tell her it’s okay to be as upset as she is. Let her do it for days and days if she needs to.
If her grief is bad, and I mean really bad, you may need to offer to help her talk to her doctor. She could have a hormone imbalance that creates excess fatigue, depression and it may take assistance to get her back to herself and balanced again.
Remind her that it wasn’t her fault. Remind her she’s a good person. Remind her that her past did not create this.
Tell her you’ve looked into support groups, offer to go with her if she wants to go.
Tell her she can cry as much as she needs to, that it doesn’t bore you to hear her talk about her grief. If she needs to call you at 3am because she can’t stop crying, make sure she knows she can call you.
Here are some tips of what not to do;
Don’t tell her “you can have another”. – children are not pets and a baby cannot be replaced like a dead goldfish.
Don’t say, “well at least you had it easy because so and so had this terrible thing happen and that was way worse”. No one wants to be told they should minimize their grief becuase it could be worse. That’s unfair and it will hurt her deeply. It will also prevent her from being able to heal through communication because it has invalidated her pain.
Don’t remove any baby items from her home or surroundings. Sometimes we feel like we should take away the reminders so she won’t have to think about it. Don’t do that. This is a part of the grief experience and removing items such as baby clothes, sonogram photos, nursery decorations, etc., must be done by her, when she is ready. She may even find them a comfort to her, so let her decide what to do with them and when. When she is ready, let her know you are there to help if she needs it.
Don’t shield her from other’s joy. Many think, “oh, Mary lost her baby so we shouldn’t tell her about our pregnancy”. I guarantee you she will be far more hurt by your secrecy than your news. But she also may find your news devastating to her which will make her feel guilty. Guilt on top of grief is awful. She will try to internalize it so you can’t see it. Just know that it’s probably there try your upmost to be respectful of her feelings. Basically, don’t rub it in. Ease her into the news gently, not with a surprise trip to the baby section of Ikea to buy all your own baby needs.
Don’t tell her it’s “God’s Will” or that all things happen for a reason. None of that is comforting.
Don’t tell her “it could be worse”. It’s not your place to quantify her loss and measure it against anything else.
Don’t say, “well, at least you can drink now”. I guarantee you that will not make her feel better.
Don’t hesitate to let her know if you had a similar experience, but be careful not to compare pain or make her feel that your pain is greater than hers. It may help her to hear your story, but it won’t help her if you say things like “at least with you” or, “it was worse for me because”. Just share the story, let her know you understand, that you are sisters in a shared kind of grief and that will help her.
Please don’t equate her child’s death to the passing of your pet. Yes, your pet’s passing was tragic. It’s not the same thing. No offense to your pet or your relationship with your animals, but it’s not the same.
Don’t tell her it’s time to get on with her life. She will grieve as much as she needs to in her own time.
If she miscarried, don’t tell her “at least you didn’t get to term” or anything else that may minimize her experience just because the baby had not yet been born.
Don’t tell her that her baby is an angel unless she has already said this herself.
Don’t tell her that the baby is in a better place. There is no better place for a baby than with its mother. She will resent this and it will break her heart for feeling inadequate and alone.
Last, remember there is no magic word or phrase that will heal her. Your presence and your support will help, but only she can do the healing, when she is ready.
I hope you found this helpful, if anyone else has other suggestions I did not touch on today, please log in and post them in the comments.
October is an awesome month. It’s one I have spent my life looking forward to each year since I was a child. It’s full of fall weddings, jack-o-lanterns, all things in my favorite shades of orange, golden, red and pumpkin spice fills the world with autumnal magic. There are pumpkins on the hillsides, a delicious haze that hangs in the air making all things a mysterious, slightly unfocused shade of gold.
There is another tradition this month is known for, however – a lesser known event, a day of awareness that inspires a month of education.
Tomorrow, the 15th of this month, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day and we honor this by calling the entire month “Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month”.
It’s also the anniversary of the month I lost two babies to miscarriage, one year after the other. Most moms call their little growing babies a cute pet name like “bean”, “nugget”, “spud” or “sprout”. I didn’t have cute names for my growing baby after that first loss. Even with my first child, until he was born and Liam had a name, he was simply known as, “the one who stayed longest”. I was too afraid to claim him, worried if I did… he would leave me, too.
Now, I’ve written about this before. I’ve shared my story in another entry a few years ago, but there are pieces that were missing from that story and, frankly, I wasn’t ready to tell all of it. That and I’m a better writer now, so I can articulate these darker parts more clearly. Speaking now as a mother of two healthy children, the world- my world, is still deeply colored by the losses I have experienced.
I often wonder if I’m the only one who thinks this way… it certainly seems so in this age of apathetic parenting.
While other parents complain about the hardships of raising children, the irritations, the frustrations, the “I can never get anything done” moments and the “she made this giant mess again” issues – I’m over here rejoicing in my gift of these two, amazing beings who stayed.
Sure, things get hard. Sure, my children are frustrating when they don’t feel like eating their food or putting their shoes on after the 30th time I ask. When my son breaks things or my daughter knocks something over because she did exactly the very thing I told her not to do two minutes before, of COURSE it gets me upset. But I have never taken a single breath they take for granted and every moment, every experience, every first, eighth and hundredth moment is cherished. Yes, even the very loud ones. Because you never know how much time you’ll get. If a baby can be taken at two months, she can be taken at 4 years. If he only thrives for five weeks in the womb, he can just as easily be hit by a car or taken by SIDS, or stolen or choke at 5 years. Someone I know just lost her healthy, athletic, 18 year old son to an aneurysm. So, every moment is like the last in my mind. Every minute is honored, savored and sacred as though I may never get another because none of us ever know for sure.
I never want to look back on these few years and wish I’d done more, loved more, been there more. I want to know I’d been there as much as I could, loved as much as I was capable and did everything I could to make sure they knew that 100% of every second of every day and night, I tried my best to do things right.
Becuase I know what it means to feel like you have a wasteland womb- a toxic, dead space with ovaries full of sand and good for nothing but a monthly week of misery and migraines. I know what it feels to fail at creation. I know how precious these beings are because it took my body so many times to get it right, I’d almost given up.
Have you ever looked at your child and just stopped to marvel at the wonder of their being alive? Have you ever held them close in the dark of night, secretly praying they never leave you, begging God to give you more days, so many more… because you cannot bear the thought of them not being in your world? Have you ever held their hand and felt so grateful you could do nothing but cry? I have. Almost daily.
I’ve also sobbed like a hot mess when the thought crosses my mind that I sometimes still don’t feel like I deserve them, and I worry that they’ll be taken from me too soon. I sometimes think to myself – I hope that my story doesn’t end before I’m ready to say goodbye or before they are ready, too. I hope my babies grow into fine adults who never question whether or not I loved them and I hope they always know that I valued them enough to put them first.
Having babies after you lose a child creates this magical experience where every moment most mothers find terrible, is transformed into a gift. Even the hardest times, I find myself making it clear to my children how important they are, how valued they are, how deeply, powerfully loved they are.
Even when I’m annoyed, I hold them. Even when I feel like I need ‘me time’, I nurse them. Even when I am so exhausted I just need a quiet bed to myself, I’ll welcome them to my pillow and hold them tight. When they cry for no reason when I am trying to get things done or asking me to play with them instead of work on my computer, I force myself to stop and listen. Stop and participate. Stop and be there with them, in that moment.
Because I chose them. They didn’t just happen. I made them on purpose because I wanted them to be here. I honor that by continuing to choose them every day of their lives.
Pregnancy loss taught me the value of life in all it’s various pieces in a way I had never expected. It made me love every single minute of every hour of every day I get to be with them. I left behind an awesome job in the corporate world to be with them because I couldn’t imagine having to choose between a job and the needs of a being I chose to create.
See, I’m not a mother who could ever flippantly call my child a derogatory name or even speak to them in a condescending way. I’ve watched as friends call their children idiots, a$$holes or worse. I can’t even fathom wanting to say these things to or about my children and I am nearly certain it is because the beauty of the lives lost before them taught me just how precious the ones who chose to stay really are.
I am a better mother because I was terrible at pregnancy before my two children stayed. I am a better human because they are my children.
So, yeah, that’s it. I felt it was time to say some of these things “out loud”.
The more we can say out loud the better, really – so many women experience pregnancy and infant loss silently and it’s just not fair. The more we can talk about it and share our experiences, the more we can talk about it, share and be open about our own experiences, the better.
If you have suffered an infant or pregnancy loss, please consider sharing your story. Not only am I certain it will help others who are silently trying to cope with their own grief, it might be amazing catharsis for you, too.
Hey everyone! I’m excited to begin a series of updates to this site. These efforts begin what will be a total reimagining of our vision for the experience we create here and I promise, it’s gonna be good! So, please excuse the chaos as I work out menus, colors and designs, formats and layouts… you may come by one day to find it completely different than the day before and I apologize for any confusion or frustration that may cause! I appreciate your patience as this creative process unveils itself!
First off… there are several trigger warnings here. Many subjects covered by horror films are disturbing to mamas in ways we can’t possibly understand. Tread carefully.
There are some things only a parent can understand. On this October Eve, I thought I’d start off the season’s greetings with a fun little list only horror fans who are also parents could understand. These are all movies that have shaped my parenting by providing me excellent motivation to take better care of my children. In descending order leading to most terrible, here are 13 horror films that make being a parent with anxiety absolutely no fun when you also love horror films.
13. The Shining
I have always loved this movie. It’s seriously disturbing in all the right ways with ghosts, hallucinations and insanity, mind games and isolation, bizarre unsettling imagery and both good magic and demons. I used to LOVE watching it and laughing through the silly, over the top weird parts trying to be creepy and giggling at creepy thrills in the spooky parts. Now? Not really so much. If my kid starts making up games with invisible people using funny voices and strange hand movements, there won’t be enough sage in the Western Hemisphere for the amount of cleansing I will be doing. Oh wait, he already does that… Also; bodies of dead children are no longer okay. Ghosts I can deal with, creepy and bizarre randomness I can handle even a ghost in a shower and the elevator with pig’s blood isn’t that bad, but the dead and bloody bodies of those girls just twist my heart in ways only someone chanting “Kali Mah” can appreciate.
12. The Exorcist
So, at what point should I be concerned if my child decides to start talking to me in her made up language that may or may not be a dead and forgotten tongue used by demons in ancient Mesopotamia? For reals, though – the issue here isn’t the possessed girl or the demonic things, it’s the beginning. When there is something wrong with her daughter and they can’t figure it out. The test, the sobbing, the fear she feels as she’s put into a terrifying contraption. It’s not the demon that scares me in this movie, it’s the reality that some things are beyond our control as parents and no matter how much science is used to figure out what it is, we may be powerless to protect them. Disease, mental disorders, so many things we can’t protect our children from – we can try, but it’s still never a guarantee that our efforts will pay off. That is what terrifies me, hurts my heart and makes me not want to watch this movie again. Also, the throwing fits, unwakable night-terrors and the peeing on the floor for no reason while staring off into space has totally happened already, so I’m guessing that’s not really an issue. …right?
11. The Sweet Hereafter
Okay, so this one is not a “horror film” of typical standards, but it was horrifying and that’s close enough. I saw it long before I had children or was even remotely close to being married, so it didn’t hit me in a place of knowing like it does now. Depicting an entire town who has lost its children (yes, all of them) in a freak bus accident, this movie will send chills down any parent’s spine. It’s actually been nearly 15 years since I’ve seen that movie and I still think about it at random and if I allow myself to linger on it too long, excessive paranoia and crying is inevitable. Usually at 3:00am, by myself, in the dark, while terrified that my babies will die, wondering what I will do if they did. This is a major reason I don’t like the mountains, driving TO the mountains, being near the mountains or driving on winter roads. The images of the bus in this movie start scanning through my head at every single turn like a flip book you can’t shut off. Speaking of busses…
10. ANY horror movie with busses
Trick r’Treat, Jeepers Creepers, Riaru Onigokko and as mentioned before; The Sweet Hereafter. If the movie has a school bus, someone is going to die inside it. It’s just the way things are. They either get in a wreck and everyone is killed, they fall off cliffs, into bodies of water, drowning all inside or invaded by aliens, zombies or monsters. These movies made me glad I live in a city that doesn’t use busses very often. Also; Homeschool. Now, I’m not saying the choice to homeschool my children is based at all upon the fact that these movies involve child deaths while inside school busses… that would be CRAZY, right? No, but I will say an excellent perk is knowing my kids won’t be dealing with any of that bus drama. Also, I am doing my absolute best to make sure my kids aren’t the bullies that get murdered by the vengeful spirits dressed like adorable Halloween scarecrow children because they were mean to people. Every parent who sees these kinds of movies should be HIGHLY motivated to ensure they are not raising a bully.
9. Cabin Fever
Or, any virus/contamination movie ever made, for that matter… How many after midnight trips to the ER took place in that first six months of each of my children’s lives becuase of strange marks, bumps, hives, scratches or crying for no reason took place JUST so I could make sure they weren’t dying of some horrifying flesh-eating disease? Well, I’ll tell you; TOO MANY. Oh, and yes – I totally check them thoroughly any time they have played in any outside water source like a lake, river, ocean or even pools. Becuase you never know and now I’m crazy. Thanks, Eli. You’re the best. Really. Speaking of horrors in the deep, dark woods…
8. Blair Witch Project
and other assorted forest horrors…
“Awww, don’t you want to take your children camping?” NO, I do not want to take them camping. “But it would be fun! They get to experience nature, campfires, smores and waking up in the forest – it’s great!” SERIOUSLY, JUST NO. Stop asking. Evil witches, monsters, demons, undead, ghosts, creepy South American natives (again, thanks Eli, that was super special), there are just too many reasons to never take your children to a forest for any reason, ever. So, am I going to jump at the chance to take my children camping? Nope, nope and double nope. It’s not going to happen. Not unless tents now come equipped with electric fences and bug zappers that repel dangerous insects, come with padlocks on the sippers to make sure they can’t sneak out in the night lured by the soft voice of a lady in white, an alarm system that goes off if anyone steps within 100 feet of the tent, steel reenforcement and my own personal Buffy the Vampire Slayer for all my other-worldly needs, WE’RE NOT GOING. On the subject of vacations…
There’s not that much to say about this one. My fear of something happening to my children in the ocean where I am NOT even remotely in control becuase I’m not a super strong swimmer has deeply colored the fact that I love the ocean. In fact, saying I love the ocean is an understatement. I would move to the beach in a heartbeat if I could. I’d go every day if I could. When I DID live closer to the ocean, I’d go there nearly every single day just to look at it, but once I had children, that love was sprinkled with a dash of giant shark could eat my babies with a side of, getting their feet caught in seaweed and sucked under to their deaths. So, I love the ocean, but I do NOT love the idea of something happening to them because I ignored the voice in my head that does nothing but sing the Jaws theme any time they are more than ankle deep in the water. Oh, and while we’re on the “water” topic…
6. Dark Water
Is it a terrible thing to admit this movie is one of the reasons I needed to NOT live in an apartment after I got pregnant? I was already a little anxious in elevators, but this movie just kicked it up a notch and now that I have kids, anytime we are in one, they must hold my hand BEFORE we get in and DO NOT LET GO until we are outside and the doors are closed. This movie is also the reason I will not buy either of my children a yellow raincoat and why I’m super happy that there are no schools in this district that have indoor hallways. Which leads us to the next one…
5. The Ring
One of my all time favorites and most personally impactful horror films of all time, The Ring and the original Ringu franchise is truly one of the best. As a parent, this movie is even more terrible than it was BEFORE I had children, and that is truly saying something. When I reprimand my child for hurting her brother and I ask, “can’t you please just be good and nice to him?” and her response is, “I’m sorry but I can’t today” in a perfectly calm voice, all I could think of was this line: “But I do and I’m sorry. It won’t stop”. Honestly, now that I’m a parent, it’s the desperation and the loneliness that hurts me most. My heart hurts for Samara/Sadako. She was abused, misunderstood, used and neglected. Her evil was borne out of fear, hate and torture. It reminds me of every abuse case I’ve ever heard when a child with special needs is involved. A parent didn’t understand them, hid them away, told them they were useless and stupid. The hopeless, helpless, fight of a mother who DOES love her child is heart wrenching and less scary in the supernatural sense once you have babies. When watching The Ring, when the climb up to the loft where Samara lived it just makes me cry for her. It’s so hard to watch, now. No matter what, though – I don’t even like having this movie in the house. Someone might watch it, then it’ll be all creepy wells, bloody noses and hairballs, burning trees and we all know how that ends, so just no. While we’re talking about vengeful, dead children, let’s consider…
4. Pet Cemetery
One of the first movies on anyone’s list when they consider anxiety with children in horror films, this one really takes the cake as an excellent piece of horror fiction. Many parents become affected by this movie in profound ways. In fact, a good friend of mine actually named his son Gage, after the child in this movie. But for me, it’s a little different… My anxiety associated with this movie does not stem from the idea of an undead, demon child coming after me to cut my ankles, but a massive fear of moving vehicles. Then, watching the traumatic suffering as the mother, having to endure the pain of her child’s death then the torture of seeing him again in a horrifying, undead/demonic state. For the first three months after my son was born, I couldn’t drive anywhere. I couldn’t even carry him outside or to the car becuase I had horrific images of what would happen and every scenario ended with him being crushed by a car in the road. Now that they’re four and five years old, playing in the street is absolutely, 100%, don’t even think about it off limits and I need a beer or a strong SSRI not to freak completely out when the neighbors want to play ball or ride bikes in the road. While we are talking about Steven King, we can’t talk about kids and horror without talking about…
Yes, the stupid, evil clown movie. I know it wasn’t even THAT GOOD, but dude – I can’t. Not anymore. I’m not even afraid of clowns and this movie freaks me out. Actually, that might not even be true… it isn’t the movie itself, it’s the idea of kidnappings and how/where they happen. There’s a reason I park 10 feet away from a storm drain and white-knuckle my kid’s arms as we walk over them (which only happens if it’s completely inappropriate for me to walk a few feet around them to avoid them altogether). There’s a reason I have told both of my children not to play near them, put their hands in them, look too long down the holes… and the reason is that creepy anglerfish demon monster spider with a clown lure. Also, they’re gross and dirty and smell bad and you shouldn’t get too close becuase you can slip and fall inside them never to be seen again. It could happen. No, really. Look it up.
2. ALL THE CRAZY PEOPLE FILMS including;
Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Last House On the Left, Hostel, The Hills Have Eyes, Valentine, SAW, The Purge, The Devil’s Rejects, etc….
I grouped these all in one category because they all involve older kids, actual crazy people (some based on true stories) and way too much unprotected, teenage sex. Okay, here’s the deal with these movies, guys… This level of crazy is real. It’s out there and it actually DOES want to kill, slash, burn, torture and possibly eat my children. That’s not a movie. That is real life. Those people, people like the monsters in these movies…. are actually in the world today, right now, trying to find ways to steal children and do horrifying things to them without getting caught. If any parent ever needed motivation to get in shape, learn martial arts, be strong enough to run with your kids on your back and carry weapons in your car – these movies should just about do it. Also, make sure your kids can protect themselves. Create a plan for how to hide in your home if it is ever invaded. Teach them self-defense and stranger danger. Teach them as they get older that trusting people they don’t know could get them killed. It isn’t just “a good idea” to be careful, it could save their lives. You never know who the next John Wayne Gacy or Pedro Lopez (look it up) will be and your kids need to know how to protect themselves in case you are not there to do it for them. They need to know this isn’t make-believe. This is real and absolutely COULD happen. Oh, also – talk to your kids about sex. Make sure they know that if they have cheap, unprotected sex before they are married, they’ll be murdered by Michael Meyers. At least, that’s the story I’ll be using…
And finally, number one goes to…
1. Final Destination
Seriously, the worst and best; Final Destination wins every paranoia award ever considered. Are there awards for generating the most anxiety in a film? If so, this movie would win. Why? Every, single, freaking thing in your house, in the air, in any theme park, boat, garden or store, anything in or on the ground, in a tree, the tree itself, anything on the road, under the road, or next to the road and a thousand other places you haven’t thought of yet… can kill your child, or YOU, leaving your child vulnerable to Death itself with no one to protect them. You begin looking at your house like a torture chamber, the food you eat as poison, you begin cutting their foods up in such tiny pieces it would be impossible for them to choke on it and when you are stuck behind a truck with logs on the back, you do everything in your power to get the heck away from it as fast as possible. (Yes, that has happened) I once freaked out because a bottle of water fell between my feet while I was driving. No joke, I literally had a panic attack and had to pull over. This movie and its sequels make you start seeing the world in a very different way. One where you realize just how many different ways each and every item, animal, person and plant on Earth can murder your baby. Oh, and it did absolutely NOTHING for my already existing fear of plane crashes… all while hearing John Denver playing in my head on repeat as I slowly start rocking myself into oblivion.
So, there it is. This is my first list, not necessarily my last. These are the order I put them in, but you may put them in a different order… Perhaps you were more affected by The Shining than I was, or maybe you thought Final Destination or the real people horrors were less impactful than I did. What order would you put these in? What movies changed for you once you had children? Any of them ones that you loved and can no longer watch anymore? I’d love to see your lists and carry this throughout October!
I am going to do a “part two” a little bit later on in the month. Titles like, Rosemary’s Baby, The Grudge, Silent Night Deadly Night and many more are coming! Let me know if you’d like me to cover something I haven’t mentioned!
(Oh, and in case you are wondering… I still love horror movies, I now just have to take them in smaller doses with my relaxation oil blends close at hand!)
Last year, I started a new project. Quite by accident, I assure you. I was suffering with pneumonia and a friend suggested I try to use some essential oils to support my immune and respiratory system. I was no stranger to the medicinal benefits of plants. I’d studied how to brew medicinal teas back in the day while fantasizing about a life filled of herbs and brews and helping people like the town healer/wise woman, so I figured oils were just a natural progression using the same, basic skills. I had been looking into it for nearly a year at that point, and, being super crazy sick, I was willing to try anything to help me get well. Out of necessity, I was ready to take the leap with the company I felt was most closely aligned to my personal beliefs and needs. I purchased a membership and a kit with ten oils. I also purchased a diffusor.
When the pneumonia finally subsided and I was ready to get back to my daily activities, I began sharing my story with friends and family. I was learning to use these tools for all sorts of issues. I learned how to blend, apply and administer them which gave me a spectacular feeling of being that wise woman potions master I’d always wanted to be! I also began to share them with people who needed them and as I did that, people around me began to take notice. Eventually I decided I could “officially” offer what I knew to people, but only if they asked…
Now, I am what they call a Wellness Advocate (even though I do prefer Potions Master) for this company and I use my tools to help my own family, as well as others to find care options that work for their own families.
I did not come into this business by choice, but it suited me to a T. Meaning, I didn’t say, “I’m signing up with the intention of building a business!” I said, “let me try some for me and the family… and no, I’m not really interested in doing the business side.” The thing is, when something works, people take notice. I’ve never had to host a class or convince someone to try them. All I had to do was, when people asked, tell them a little bit about how I use them:
When I use the ones for anxiety, focus and attention, my son with Autism and ADHD is able to sit and attend for much longer. When I use the ones for histamine response, my daughter’s seasonal allergies and reactions to things that give her hives are never nearly as challenging. When my husband (who works on the road) uses the blend to support immune system, he doesn’t get as sick as often and when we use another specific blend, even if we do get sick, the time in which we STAY sick is greatly reduced. In essence, I can be the master of my own fate and no longer have to give it entirely (but will still go when necessary) over to someone in a lab coat after paying $40 for a co-pay to see them for 10 minutes. It’s not magic, it’s science – but it sure feels like advanced potions up in here!
Okay, okay, so I can’t bottle fame, brew glory or put a stopper in death, but I CAN make my own anti-bacterial soap, cleaning products, scented candles, immunity support, emergency first aid kit supplies, cold and flu aids, singer’s relief spray, hair products, tension relief, things that help calm my migraines, ease anxiety, even my insomnia, my son’s bad dreams and growing pains and so much more I haven’t even gotten to yet! I can utilize all the knowledge I already had in herbalism and medicinal teas and apply it all directly to this study and application of essential oils – all without having to grow, pick, dry, distill and make my own!! Now, it’s not that I don’t love the DIY concept of herbs, serums and teas, believe me I do- I still have an herb garden and I still make teas. But man oh man, with small children and absolutely no extra time… oils provide me the freedom and the security of a safe, reliable product to safeguard and support myself and my family while on a time limit AND a budget. And that, my dear friends… truly IS magical!
So, now that you know, I know you have questions. Let’s cover a few.
How can I be sure they are safe? I’ll tell you, it was not easy finding a company I trusted. I spent over a year researching and comparing before I chose the one I felt was the right fit for my needs. I considered sourcing, distillation process, sustainability, altruism, cost per drop, reliability of product and scientific transparency. The oils I purchase come from a company who provides 100% transparency in their product and their manufacturing process, as well as the science that goes into ensuring the quality and accuracy of claims. Most oils offered, unless the plant itself is dangerous for consumption, can be taken internally. Meaning, if it’s something you should be able to eat in nature, you can consume the oil. This was the major difference I found between oils in the store and oils from this company. Oils from a store, even from plants that SHOULD be eatable like lavender, eucalyptus, peppermint or cinnamon… they would say on the label that the oil was “100% pure”, only, you couldn’t take it internally. There would be a giant warning in all caps, “not for internal use”. Now, listen guys… if you buy something that says it’s 100% pure cinnamon and you CANNOT eat it… reason should tell you, IT IS NOT CINNAMON. It’s something else and they are lying to you. So, the oil I buy IS okay to consume and most of it gets used in cooking, baking, bath time, before school, after school, to prevent sickness, to reduce symptoms of sickness, to ease discomfort and to just be a security blanket when you need one.
But what about the people who call it all “snake oil”? I know so many people who are wary of using oils becuase they are not FDA approved or folks just think it’s a bunch of crazy, hippy, new-agey talk. Many of my “because science” friends (those who use the rules of science, fact and verifiable studies to make their decisions) don’t trust essential oil use for medicinal purposes. They prefer their treatments to come in pill form, handed out by pharmacists rather than a bottle from a friend. I completely understand that and I even agree… if you don’t get the right kind of oil, if you don’t use the right amount, if you don’t know what you are doing you can make mistakes. It can be useless, and yes, even detrimental to your wellbeing when done incorrectly or used irresponsibly. But that’s why there are scientists in charge at this company making sure everything they sell is not only as pure as they promise it to be, but offer back up and verifiable, documented research that can be reviewed at anytime by anyone. Oh, and as far as the FDA goes… seriously, friends – the FDA has approved many, many things that are cancer causing, dangerous and inappropriate. They’re not gods and they are not the end-all, be-all of what is good or bad to consume. They make mistakes just like every other industry and just like every other industry, it’s all about profit. It’s a well known fact that the FDA does not want the competition of essential oils in the ring with pharmaceuticals. This is not conspiracy, there’s been papers written on it and you can find them if you search for them. My point is, don’t allow the lack of government support of oils to it scare you away from this amazing resource. Their lack of support is not becuase oils don’t work, it is becuase they can’t make a profit on them. Just do your research.
Do you need education or a degree first? Well, here’s the thing. Anyone can be an advocate. Anyone can share a personal story and convince a friend to buy a product based on something awesome that happened to them. But, as an advocate, if you want to know that what you are doing for yourself and others is actually, realistically working and is duplicatable for everyone, not just for you, you have to study. You have a moral obligation to know what you are talking about, so hit the books and get ready to fill your brain with an understanding of plants you never thought you even wanted before!
As an advocate, you must be willing to learn the details on the oils, safe formulas for various issues, combinations and portions that make sense and are safe before you can share them with others. You must ask questions and gain insight into someone’s history, make sure that an oil used to help one thing isn’t going to hurt them in some other way. As a consumer, you should always find someone who has been willing to do the work to learn the hows and whys before they tell you to try x for y reason.
Side note about the sciencey folks; Essential oil use in today’s world is not going against science. Essential oil use is USING SCIENCE to ensure purity, potency and value, as well as consistent, reliable results in every bottle and combination. It is becuase of science, not in spite of it… that we have this incredible tool. Science is the reason we can trust essential oil for so many needs at home.
Do people who do oils reject standard medicine or antibiotics? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Think of it this way; if you had an ear infection, would you just randomly take someone’s bottle of antibiotic and never go in and get it checked out? Probably not. Nor would you use oils for self-care at home and then never follow up to make sure the virus/infection/malady was gone! The world of holistic health and home-care is often mistaken for witch-doctoring and superstition, one that bashes Western Medicine and that simply is not the case. Truly, they can and DO work hand in hand! Regularly used by doctors, nurses and other medical practitioners, essential oils, when truly pure, can support healing and help maintain good health. Western Medicine and the tools of modern science are the reason oils are so successful now, and they are not fighting against it, they simply walk alongside it as another option.
So, now, I admit – it’s not all as glamorous as I’d hoped, no shimmering cauldrons and sparkling vials of brews that change our hair color or give us super strength, (not yet, at least- I always hold out hope). But the tools I have through these oils in my kitchen (now called the potions room), are powerful items that allow me to be in control of my family’s health and well being throughout each and every single day. There truly is an oil for everything and the more I learn, the more I feel compelled to share with others. I share samples with people all over the nation and beyond. Not because I am trying to build a business, but because they work. Becuase I want to help people. Becuase I know these can be awesome support and yeah, maybe a tiny bit of that is also because it helps me feel like the healing lady of Avalon I always wanted to be when I was young.
What are some things you have wanted to know about essential oils? Do you use any now to support your family’s well being? Can I help you find anything? I’d love to know how I can better support the mamas in this community!
Okay, so…. I’m gonna be honest. I’m not a mom like you. When people talk about parenting and they say, “moms like us” and they wish they had more moms like them to talk to, they’re not talking about me. Not because I’m trying to stay on the outside, it’s just… I know that while we may have some things in common, common isn’t same. Now, I’m no stranger to this world of being an outsider, it’s pretty much where I’ve been living since birth. It all started when I was a child… *que dreamy flashback music*
No, I’m not actually going to tell you my life story. But, I will quickly sum up to tell you I related more to Sally Stitches than Barbie, my dream house was on 1313 Mockingbird Lane, not in 90210, and yeah, the “two Coreys” were super dreamy and all, but I actually spent an entire summer crying over the death of a vampire with a faux-halk from Santa Carla. Yep… weird. Toldja.
The thing is, now that I’m a parent, I’m STILL weird. I realized it pretty early, when my friends couldn’t understand that I didn’t want to take my child with me to parties where there would be alcohol and loud music. I realized it when they couldn’t wrap their minds around the idea that I didn’t want to pay a babysitter to be able to go out and drink with them. I realized it when their eyes glazed over as I told them we were co-sleeping and that my baby wouldn’t take a bottle, so I didn’t make him. When I chose to stay home instead of returning to work, I was set apart once again… when I filtered what they watched or what WE watched around them, once again, I was one step farther away. I’m a conservative parent for the purpose of bringing up children with innocence, compassion and inner strength.
Before children, I was just a weird person, a liberal-minded woman who was part of a few different subculture groups. Now, I’m a conservative parent with liberal-minded ideals and absolutely no one has a clue what to do with me.
After laboring over the reality of my lack of “mom tribe” for some time, I’ve finally come to an important realization about being the weirdo of the group. When it comes to family, I spent a whole lot of years pretending to be something I wasn’t to make others more comfortable even though it made me miserable. I kept that up for years and I fight the tendency to swallow my words, hide my true self and allow people around me to believe it really had all just been a “phase”.
But guess what? It wasn’t. (Yeesh, that’s actually hard to type!)
So, now that my children are old enough to pick up on things and learn from my actions and words, I’m catching myself and internally cringing every time I’m purposefully not being honest about who I am. Do I want them to learn that? Do I want them to feel ashamed of their interests when they are around people who don’t like those things? Do I want them to learn that I cannot risk disapproval becuase I’m lonely and need friends, so I pretend to be something I’m not when I’m around certain people, or that I leave out huge parts of who I am becuase I worry that I will lose people if I don’t?
No. I cannot teach them these things. I understand that the needs of my own, tiny family are more important than the opinions of those who do not live under the roof I pay for. What they need is a mom who won’t be afraid to be honest about who she is, what she believes and wants out of life. They deserve a mom who is okay with standing up to people and doing the right thing, even if that makes people uncomfortable.
What I’ve realized is I don’t have anyone in my life who is just like me, who actually agrees with every facet of my parenting style or is completely open to all the research I’ve done to back up the choices I’ve made, but here’s the thing, guys…
That’s okay. My children deserve a mom who doesn’t need a tribe to survive if lying is the only way to get a seat in their circle. What’s more; I deserve to feel good about who I am as a parent and not rely on the opinions of others to validate me. What’s even MORE important here, was the realization that those women who are different are still my friends! I can still respect them even if they’ve chosen options I wouldn’t have for myself. I can still enjoy their company and I can love spending time with them. I can have real, lasting relationships with them as friends – even if we don’t both put our kids in school or to bed before nine or whatever else.
Everyone is a weirdo in some way and we all worry that no one will accept us if we are honest, but I just wonder… maybe if I were honest, I’d find there WERE actually others more like me than I expect. Who knows, right?
I know we all do this, though. Every single one of us, even the ones we look at and think are the super popular, trendy moms with loads of friends and stroller buddies… even they worry about someone finding out just how weird they are. I bet as you were reading this, you were considering all the ways in which you are kind of a weirdo parent, too. Maybe you were considering the differences between how you and your best friends manage your households and maybe you realized, possibly for the first time, just how different you really are and… Wow, isn’t it amazing you can still be friends?
We judge a great deal in the mom world – we see parents who do things differently. We assess their skills and choices by evaluating a 10 second interaction in a grocery store or on the road and we think about all the ways we would have done things differently.
The mommy wars are born out of these differences and how we react to them. We make the choice to condemn without context. We make the choice to assume we know better before we even ask them if there is some way we can help to better understand. We offer suggestions and advice before it’s offered and we blanket-solve problems that are unique per child, per year, per household, per culture… We assume if someone gives us advice, that must mean they think we are stupid and we misunderstand the rejection of our advice by taking it personally when a mother says, “thanks anyway”. We allow the rejection of unsolicited advice to affect our egos and we retaliate with further judgment. It continues the cycle, only making things worse when it doesn’t have to be this way.
The reality is, we are all weirdo parents. Honestly, I promise that we are, it’s just that no one wants to talk about it because everyone is afraid of being judged or cast out by friends who don’t understand. I guarantee you there is something your friends won’t share about themselves because they fear your reaction.
Working moms, bottle feeding moms, breastfeeding moms, baby-wearing moms, co-sleeping moms, un-schooling moms, private school moms…We are all outcasts in one way or another and none of us are safe from the scrutinizing eyes of every other person out there.
Can you do it? Can you be honest and accept the honesty of another mom without feeling the fire of judgement build up behind your eyes? Can you do it and calm your desire to fix or teach or correct them and just give them support, or a hug or a latte if that’s what they need right then? Can you watch their baby in THEIR parenting style, not in your own because you respect their differences? See, it’s the judgement that makes us feel like a tribe of one – not that we don’t have people nearby. We HAVE to be willing to not only honor the weirdos in ourselves, but honor the weirdos in others.
Being the best at being who we are as women, as parents, as humans, being open to always learning, growing and changing as we move through each year of motherhood is something that should be easy… but cannot be until we make it safe for mothers to be honest without fear of judgement.
So, let’s share confidence by being confident. Keep doing what you know is right for your family and don’t be afraid to share what that looks like to others. If they don’t agree, so what? You already knew you were an outcast anyway, right? So, no loss… just keep moving on and doing what is right. Becuase it’s not about what the other adults in your life see in you, it’s about what your children see. What they need from you as a mother is always going to be more important than what some other, random mom might think of you. (I learned this the hard way, when my baby was watched by a friend who didn’t respect my parenting style and he was treated in a way I did not approve of… I was too afraid to speak up and disagree, to speak up for my baby and to honor what HE needed most. I still regret that.)
So, please mamas – Revel in your weirdness. Honor the weirdness in others. Find strength in your unique version of motherhood and never forget the one question that should always be asked above all others; “What does the smallest voice, the one who cannot answer for themselves, need most in this moment?”.
All my love and support to you on this wild and defining journey called motherhood.
An un-schooling, extended breastfeeding, attachment/natural parenting, essential oil using, anti-sleep training, co-sleeping, goth/hippy, ultra-geek, glitter loving mama tribe of one who loves you and your babies. I promise to support the choices that are best for your family, even if I don’t understand and yes, even if I don’t agree.