Little Lion – A Birth Story

Our dark haired, olive skinned, wide eyed baby.

Our second born.

Our perfect-in-every-way little lion.

Welcome.

The story of your birth – our birth – feels so big, so important, so redemptive that I’m not sure I will be able to do it justice but I want to try. I want to capture our story in words while it is still fresh in my mind.

When I discovered I was pregnant, I knew that this time I was doing things differently.

This time I wasn’t going to let fear lead me to a birth support partner who was out of sync with my needs.

This time I wasn’t going to accept medical intervention unless I knew deep in my soul, I really needed it.

This time I wasn’t going to sign up to birth with someone I didn’t trust.

This time I was going to have the birth I knew was in me.

(Side note, dear reader: if you scroll back and read the story of Tommy’s birth you may wonder what I’m talking about. When I wrote the story of Tommy’s birth, I was at peace with how it played out. I thought I was making decisions based on having been given all of the facts and that I was empowered but as time progressed and I processed the birth, and as I spoke with other birth workers, I realised I had been duped. My pregnancy with Evie forced me to process residual trauma from Tommy’s birth, which I had been pushing away. I won’t go into that here but thought I should explain the discrepancy between what I wrote then compared to how I feel now.)

Not long after I found out I was pregnant we met with a private midwifery team and knew straight away that they were the right people to support the birth I wanted. We booked in and the pregnancy progressed without hiccup (global pandemic aside).

The midwifery team were part of a private practice who have admitting rights at our closest public hospital. This basically meant that when labour started, we would effectively hire a room at the hospital and bring our own midwives. We had initially wanted to have a home birth; however, this practice didn’t conduct home births for women who have previously had a caesarean, so we agreed to birth at the hospital.

Monday: 40 weeks, 1 day pregnant

We had our 40-week appointment with our midwife – over FaceTime, thanks to COVID-19 – and talked about early labour signs and when to head to the hospital.

A few hours later, our midwife called again and said, “I’m going to throw you a curveball but how would you feel about having a home birth?”

I told her I would need to talk to Chris and get back to her.

COVID-19 cases in Melbourne were on a steep upward trajectory and the hospital we planned to birth at had quite a few cases amongst staff members. Our midwife was in a high-risk category, and Chris and I weren’t feeling thrilled about the idea of having to go to hospital to birth. Not only was the risk of contracting COVID-19 a real threat, the ever-changing restrictions being placed on birthing women made us both anxious about what we would face when the big day came.

We started researching the risks regarding a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) home birth but quickly realised we had both already decided we wanted to do it, so set about preparing.

Wednesday: 41 weeks, 3 days pregnant

I went to bed and wondered again if tonight would be the night that labour started. I had felt sure that I would have this baby earlier than I had Tommy, so when 41 weeks 3 days arrived and I was still pregnant I realised that this baby had their own plans and that I was just along for the ride.

I woke around 10pm to some tightenings but ignored them and went back to sleep. Around 30 minutes later their intensity strengthened and I wasn’t able to sleep through them so instead I breathed slowly and rested between each one. This went on all night but when I got up in the morning they stopped. I knew this was common so I didn’t think too much about it and went about my day as normal.

Thursday: 41 weeks, 4 days pregnant

The surges started as soon as I got Tommy to sleep and were more frequent than they had been the previous night but still weren’t consistent. I went to bed early, anticipating either another long night of prodromal labour or maybe even the real thing.

The surges continued on and off all night and at around 3am I realised my waters had started to slowly leak. By morning everything had once again stopped. I tried not to be disappointed, and reminded myself that every surge was doing something. I spent my morning walk listening to positive VBAC stories and guided meditations then had a nap in case the real thing started that night.

Friday: 41 weeks, 5 days pregnant

Given that my waters had started to leak during the previous night, we were fast approaching 42 weeks and I still hadn’t gone into labour, we decided to get some monitoring done.

A quick ultrasound to check fluid levels and blood flow, and a heart rate check later, and we knew baby was still happy as a clam and seemingly in no rush to leave my womb.

On the way home we called our midwife and discussed our options from here. We agreed to go to the hospital the next day to meet with an obstetrician and work out what the best way forward was. I was starting to realise my home birth probably wasn’t going to happen, which was disappointing after having spent the last couple of weeks preparing our space (and myself mentally) for one. After a good cry in the shower, I reminded myself that I could still achieve my VBAC at the hospital and that maybe that’s where our baby needed to be born.

In the afternoon, I went and saw my chiropractor for an adjustment to help ensure my pelvis was in the optimal position for giving birth then went home to rest.

I had another night of surges but once again, everything had settled down again by the morning. I was starting to wonder if I was ever going to go into labour.

Saturday 41 weeks, 6 days pregnant

On the 8th day of the 8th month of every year there is a cosmic alignment called the Lion’s Gateway. It is considered to be a time of increased cosmic energy between earth and the spiritual realms, occurring when the star Sirius rises into the sky, aligning with Earth, and Orien’s Belt directly aligns with the Pyramid of Giza. Sirius represents abundance, harvest and fertility – a perfect time to give birth.

Side note: if you are familiar with Tommy’s birth story, you will know he was born during a super blue blood moon. Epic astrological times seem to trigger labour for me!

After dropping Tommy at a friend’s house, Chris and I headed to the hospital for some more monitoring and to meet with the obstetrician. Chris wasn’t allowed into the hospital with me because of COVID-19 restrictions, so the plan was that he would wait in the car and I would call him when the appointment started so he could hear what the obstetrician said.

I waited for an hour or so before being told the obstetrician on duty had gone home for the day, so my midwife arranged for me to meet with the registrar instead, who was so incredibly kind and compassionate.

After giving a quick summary of the past few days, the registrar recommended I go home to pack a bag and come back immediately to be induced and to start IV antibiotics because it had been more than 30 hours since my waters had started leaking.

My number one aim for this birth – after avoiding another caesarean – was to avoid the use of synthetic hormones. I had read so much about the hormonal cascade that occurs in an intervention-free physiological birth, culminating in that intense immediate love for the baby, and I wanted to experience that. When I had Tommy, I barely registered his arrival because of the cascade of interventions I had during his birth. It took some time for that fog to clear and for me to feel that intense love everyone describes. I didn’t want that to be my experience this time.

Once the registrar finished going through her recommendations, she could tell I wasn’t keen to follow them and asked me if I was comfortable sharing what my reservations were. Through tears I explained why I wanted to avoid an induction and asked what my other options were. Of course, I wanted to keep baby safe but I was also gun shy about agreeing to interventions without thoroughly exploring other options first, after my experience during Tommy’s birth. I was still clinging to the last shred of hope that I could have a home birth so I asked if it was an option to have a stretch and sweep, have my waters broken completely, and to start oral antibiotics to help mitigate any risk of infection from the internal examination given my waters were partially broken. The registrar explained that evidence showed oral antibiotics weren’t effective in this scenario and that they would only do a stretch and sweep, and break my waters if I started IV antibiotics. So, we formulated a plan that I would go home to pack and come back that evening for the stretch and sweep, and have my waters broken, plus start IV antibiotics. If labour didn’t start over night, I agreed to be induced the following morning.

We called my parents on the way home and told them it was time for them to pack their bags and head down to Melbourne. Part of the stage 4 COVID-19 restrictions that Melbourne was under stipulated that no-one could visit another household unless it was for the purpose of providing care. Our midwife had written Mum and Dad a letter outlining the need for them to provide care for Tommy, and for me in the postpartum period, in case they were stopped by police while on their way to Melbourne.  

We then called our neighbours, who were looking after Tommy while we were at the hospital and let them know that it was go time, and that my parents would be over in a couple of hours to pick Tommy up.

Once we got home, we packed our bags and had something to eat. I had planned to have a nap but as soon as I lay down the rest of my waters broke and I realised I wasn’t going to get any sleep. We went across the road and said goodbye to Tommy. It was an emotional moment for all of us: for Chris and I because we were about to introduce a new member to our family; for Tommy because he thought we were telling him it was time for him to come home and he wanted to keep playing with his friend’s trains.

We called our midwife to let her know we were on our way back to the hospital and asked her to meet us there. The midwife who had planned to attend our birth is in a high-risk group for COVID-19, so it wasn’t safe for her to be at the hospital. As a result, the decision was made for a different midwife to attend our birth. Ironically, this was the one midwife from the practice that I hadn’t spent much time with during my pregnancy but it intuitively felt right that she would be the one to be with us while I birthed.

We arrived at the hospital and headed up to the birth suites where we met our midwife – Courtney – and got settled in to the delivery room. Courtney did the stretch and sweep (which was surprisingly painless) and checked dilation. She didn’t tell me how dilated I was but let me know I was already further progressed than I got during Tommy’s labour. Being back in hospital again before I was in active labour was feeling uncomfortably similar to Tommy’s birth so finding out I was already further along was exactly the news I needed to hear to cement my belief that I really could have an intervention-free birth.

Courtney went home to get some rest, with the plan to return once active labour started. In the meantime, we would be looked after by the hospital midwives.

After Courtney left, we ordered some pizza from 400 Gradi and planned to settle in and watch something on Netflix; however, after we finished eating dinner, my surges, which had been quite sporadic up until then, started to come more frequently.

I asked for a sleeping tablet to try to get some rest before things really heated up. Three nights of minimal sleep had left me pretty shattered and I knew the importance of having enough gas in the tank to get through the rigours of labour. The sleeping tablet was only a mild one, and I knew it wouldn’t be strong enough to make me groggy, especially once labour started. I took the tablet at 11pm and hopped into bed to try to get some sleep.

I also asked for an anti-nausea tablet because I was starting to feel a bit sick during the surges and I wanted to avoid the constant vomiting I experienced during Tommy’s birth. I knew that if I didn’t get on top of the nausea early on, the vomiting would escalate. I realised a bit later on that I only felt nauseous during surges if I started panicking and wanting the intensity to stop. When I really embraced the sensations, relaxed my abdomen and mentally coached myself by saying, “Yes! That’s it, more intensity means faster progression,” I didn’t feel nauseous. Doing this really helped me stay connected to my labour rather than trying to escape my body.

From here, things get pretty blurry (sleep deprivation and labour will do that to you!) but for the next few hours I breathed through each surge, using the breath count function on the Freya app. I highly recommend this app for anyone wanting to birth without analgesia. It helped keep me calm and focused through each surge, and stopped me freaking out. I knew each surge only lasted for four or so slow breaths and that the peak intensity would be during the second or third breath, so once that was over, I knew the intensity would start to drop off again.

For most of the night, my surges came every three minutes and lasted 30-45 seconds. At some point I got a couple of hours of sleep after the sleeping pill kicked in but I was awake for most of the night.

At around 4am, the hospital midwife asked me to start continuous monitoring. I wasn’t keen to start monitoring because I wasn’t in active labour yet (I had previously agreed to start monitoring when active labour commenced), so I told the midwife I was going to have a shower first. I wanted to buy myself a bit more time before monitoring started because I knew from Tommy’s birth how annoying it was and how it constantly slipped off, resulting in the midwife fiddling around with it and me limiting my movements. Technically I wasn’t supposed to have a shower because of a new ridiculous COVID-19 restriction banning water births despite there being zero evidence to suggest that was necessary; however, I didn’t really give the midwife a choice. I just beelined for the bathroom before she could stop me.

I stayed in the shower as long as possible and when I hopped out the monitors were strapped on. As predicted, they almost immediately lost the baby’s heart rate and for the next 30 minutes or so the midwife kept coming in and fiddling around with the monitors, trying to fix them. I eventually asked for her to put a scalp clip on the baby instead, which she agreed to. Unfortunately, she had trouble getting it on so we went back to CTG monitoring. While attempting to fit the clip she did a cervix check and said I was 3cm (which is what I suspected I was when Courtney had done the stretch and sweep). I was a bit disappointed to hear I hadn’t progressed but I quickly put it out of so my mind. In Tommy’s birth, I was so stressed about my progression – or lack-there-of – which elevated my cortisol, preventing further dilation. I was determined not to stress this time around.

Thankfully, at 6am Courtney arrived back at the hospital and took over from the hospital midwife. I was surprised to open my eyes after a surge and find her standing there because at no point during my entire labour did I actually think I was in proper labour yet! Looking back, I think this was because the surges never got too intense for me to handle. Before this experience, I always did a bit of an internal eye roll when the occasional mum would say their birth wasn’t painful but now I’ve joined the ranks of one of those mums. Intense, sure (especially the pushing phase) but not painful.

Courtney quickly fitted the scalp clip and did another cervix check. Again, she didn’t tell me how dilated I was so I assumed I must still be 3cm. After the birth, Courtney told me I was 5cm at this point.

At around 8am the surges started lasting 45-60 seconds but I was still only having three surges in 10 minutes and the intensity hadn’t increased. I found out later that this was when I entered active labour.

For the next couple of hours, I continued to breathe through the surges, changing position frequently. Courtney helped me do some side lying releases, set me up with the peanut ball to keep my pelvis open when I wanted to rest in bed, and even did some hand expressing to help move things along.

At 10:20am I was standing and leaning on the bed. Halfway through a contraction I heard myself make a mooing/groaning sound and I started pushing involuntarily. I was really confused about why I had the urge to push because I still thought I was only 3cm dilated. I told Courtney I was pushing – although I’m sure she already knew based on the sounds I was making – and she told me to go with whatever my body was telling me to do.

I felt like I needed to poo so I moved to the toilet and stayed there for a while. I wasn’t actively pushing at this point; rather, I was just breathing through them and focusing on sending my energy down and relaxing abdomen and pelvic floor. After a while I started to feel a stretching sensation and more pressure between surges and suddenly had visions of giving birth on the toilet. I didn’t want a toilet bowl to be the first thing my baby saw upon their entry to the world, so I asked Courtney to help me back to the bed.

When I stood up, Courtney took the opportunity to check my cervix and told me I was fully dilated. At this point, all three of us burst into tears at the realisation I was actually going to get my VBAC.

It was about 10:40am when I moved back to the bed. By then the pushing sensations were increasing but I still wasn’t actively pushing. I spent some time kneeling with my arms resting at the top of the bed, which had been elevated to a sitting position. At around 10:50am I switched to a side lying position and Courtney suggested I try helping my body along a bit by actively pushing. I then switched to lying on my back in a reclined position, which I actually found to be the most comfortable position and also the most effective for pushing. I remember finding it strange because everything I had read said that was the least effective position to give birth in. Every labour really is different, I guess!

Once on my back, I really started pushing and soon baby’s head was visible. I could feel baby bobbing in and out with each surge. After a few pushes, baby’s heart rate started not recovering between surges and Courtney told me we needed to get baby out with the next push. When the next surge started I pushed with everything I had but baby’s head still didn’t quite make it out. I knew I was pushing effectively and hard enough so I couldn’t understand why baby wasn’t coming out. This was the only point in the whole labour that I doubted myself. I remember yelling, “Can’t you just pull the baby out?” It makes me laugh now when I think about it but at the time, I was deadly serious.

At this point, Courtney recommended an episiotomy, which I immediately consented to. I knew she had only done five episiotomies in her whole career as a midwife so I trusted that it was necessary. When the next surge hit, she cut a tiny episiotomy and the baby’s head shot out. Courtney told me to reach down and get ready to catch baby. In the next surge baby’s body came out and I suddenly – at 11:31am, 3.5 hours after I entered active labour and 70 minutes after I first felt the urge to push – I had a slippery little body in my hands. It was then that we learned why I was having so much trouble getting the head out – baby had wrapped their cord around their arm, abdomen and neck, so every time they tried to descend the last bit, their cord was acting like a bungy cord and pulling them back.

I held baby in the air while Courtney untangled the cord. I think I must have been in shock that I had actually done it because I was just staring at baby’s face and it didn’t occur to me to check the gender until Courtney gently reminded me to. A girl! A perfect, wide eyed, dark haired girl. Our Evie Grace.

I pulled Evie up onto my chest and rubbed her back for a few minutes to help her clear her lungs then we let her do the breast crawl before latching on for her first feed.

I had completely forgotten I still had to deliver the placenta but thankfully it detached quickly and came out with one small push seven minutes after I had given birth. We didn’t cut the cord until it had stopped pulsing and turned white, which took 14 minutes.

Evie stayed with me, feeding for the next two hours. It was only when I needed to get up to go to the toilet that she was weighed and checked. It was so important to me that we have that first hour or two completely undisturbed.

After I was stitched up, I had a shower, we ate some Nando’s and hospital sandwiches, and I finished off the smoothie I had brought in for labour, then we packed up our things and headed home, six hours after giving birth. We had planned to leave after four hours but I lost 800 mL of blood from the episiotomy site so stayed a couple of extra hours to be monitored. To be able to not only get out of bed so quickly but to leave the hospital was such an amazing feeling and so different to how I felt after Tommy’s birth.

I still can’t quite believe I achieved my VBAC. It was the most incredible, healing, life-affirming and empowering experience of my life, and I 100% know that I would not have achieved it if not for the support Courtney gave me. Midwives who believe in women’s ability to birth really are angels on Earth.

The Birth of Moon Baby

As if you were

on fire

from within,

the moon lives

in the lining

of your skin.

– Neruda

 

Wednesday 31 January

It was 10 days past the day the medical professionals had decided was your due date and the pressure to induce labour was steadily increasing. Our original induction date had been set for seven days past your due date but your dad and I strongly felt that you weren’t ready to be born then so we had begun the process of negotiating another date. This negotiation was somewhat complicated by the fact the hospital’s induction schedule was completely full for the week, with the next available slot putting us at 42 weeks and 1 day. Neither we nor Pete – our obstetrician –  were comfortable waiting that long but your dad and I were equally uncomfortable inducing after only seven days. We agreed to hold off, with the hope an induction slot would open up later in the week.

Throughout the week we had monitoring to check you had enough amniotic fluid and that you weren’t in any distress. At the end of each session we were told what we already knew: you were perfectly healthy and happy in there. These appointments reconfirmed that we were making the right choice to hold of inducing labour.

Although it was stressful negotiating the hospital’s policy of inducing after seven days, I had a feeling all along that you wouldn’t need to be induced and that you were waiting for the super blue blood moon to make your arrival. You needed the powerful energy of the moon to call your soul down to Earth.

All day I had been experiencing light cramping on and off, and I felt called to rest. I decided to get a pedicure done, figuring it would be the last time for a while I would have time for such luxuries. After whipping up a batch of muffins and smudging our home with palo santo to make way for your arrival, I laid down for what turned into a two-hour nap.

At 5:45pm, Pete called to let us know an induction spot had opened up the following afternoon, so we locked that in and decided to go out for one last date as a twosome. I had just changed into a dress and was sitting on the toilet when my waters broke suddenly and rather dramatically. Given that only 15% of labours start with the Hollywood-style breakage of waters, it took me a while to work out what was happening. I had assumed my waters would break some time after labour commenced, or that they would have to be broken for me, so I hadn’t considered that it could happen at home, heralding the start of labour. When the penny finally dropped I called out to your dad, “My waters have broken! This is not a drill!” My heart was racing with excitement as I knew it wouldn’t be much longer until we met you.

We called the hospital and they advised us to come in so I jumped in the shower while your dad packed the car and made us both a salad roll to eat on the drive in. So much for our dinner date!

I strapped on the TENS machine and hopped in the car. Almost immediately, the surges picked up in intensity and frequency, and were soon coming every two to three minutes, lasting 30 to 40 seconds. I focused on my breath and soon got into a rhythm of feeling a surge start, and pressing start on the TENS machine and a timer on my phone.

We arrived at the hospital at about 8pm and got set up in the birthing suite. Your dad put on the playlist I had made earlier in the week, set up the crystals that were charged with loving energy from my mother blessing and energetically cleared the room using the Australian Bush Flower Essences Space Clearing Mist because, #hippyforlyf.

Pete soon arrived and after checking my cervix he told us I was 2cm dilated and that he would come back in the morning to check my progress. After he left, we called Bree – our doula – and asked her to come to the hospital.

I laboured through the night, under the light of the moon. Chris and Bree made the most amazing support team, helping me through each surge. While intense, it was a magical night with just the three of us in a darkened room for most of the time. I felt like I was in between worlds, coaxing your soul down to Earth.

Thursday 1st February

At 7am, Pete came back to another check and found that despite 12 hours of labour my cervix hadn’t dilated any further. You were also still only partially engaged. Pete suggested that I start a drip of syntocinon (synthetic oxytocin) in the hope that stronger surges would push you further into my pelvis and stimulate dilation. After a lengthy discussion, I decided to wait another few hours to see if I could get things moving by changing to a more upright position during contractions and doing some exercises designed to get your head into an optimal position to engage.

After completing the exercises, my contractions became much stronger, lasting 50 to 60 seconds, but they were coming less frequently now at six minutes apart.

We were 16 hours into the journey when Pete came to check my cervix again. 3cm. I decided to start the syntocinon drip, because I was starting to get weary and the thought of potentially another 24 hours of labour was overwhelming.

As soon as the drip was hooked up, my surges got much stronger and more consistent but after 30 minutes they became irregular again so the dosage was turned up. Again, the surges got stronger and more consistent but then destabilised again. You were starting to get annoyed with syntocinon and your heart rate was going up and down so the drip was switched off (which I didn’t realise until later). My surges remained really intense but another cervix check showed dilation still wasn’t happening.

At this point I finally paid attention to what my intuition had been telling me for weeks – that you weren’t in the best position and that you weren’t going to be birthed without some more help. Once I allowed myself to accept that, I quickly became frustrated with each surge and struggled to maintain my focus throughout them because I knew they were unproductive.

At this point I asked for an epidural. During my pregnancy I had done extensive research on every intervention (which I’m sure doesn’t surprise anyone reading this who knows me) so I was already clear on the pros and cons of an epidural, and had decided that I would only use if I needed to rest rather than for pain relief. I also knew it could be used to anesthetise me should I need a caesarean.

The anaesthesiologist arrived and explained the procedure. At the Royal Women’s hospital, they use a new(ish) technique called a Walking Epidural. It blocks out the pain from the surges but doesn’t numb your legs at all. He quickly administered it and I felt relief almost immediately.

Once the anaesthesiologist left we discussed our options with Pete, the first of which being to hook up the syntocinon drip again and continuing to labour with the hope that things would start progressing faster. The risk was that your heart rate would again start to accelerate and decelerate, and then we would have to remove the drip and be back to square one. I also knew that you still hadn’t engaged, so even if the drip helped me to fully dilate the risk of a high forceps delivery was playing on my mind. I voiced my concerns to Pete and he agreed that a high forceps delivery was risky for both you and me, and could very well end up in an emergency caesarean.

My intuition was telling me loudly and clearly now that you needed the help of a caesarean to be born so I let Pete know that’s what I wanted to do. This felt like the best option for us both. Pete explained how the procedure would work and said that it was hospital policy to separate mum and baby while mum was in recovery – a policy he doesn’t agree with. I knew the importance of those first couple of hours post birth for establishing breast feeding, so I pleaded with him to ask if they could make an exception. He wasn’t confident they would but he returned after a few minutes with a huge smile to tell us that for the first time ever, they had agreed.

I also knew it was against hospital policy for more than one extra person to be present in theatre but I really wanted Bree to be present for your birth, given she had played such an important role in getting us to this point, and Pete agreed that Bree could attend.

Things moved really quickly from there. As I was prepped for theatre, your dad and Bree packed up the birth suite and changed into scrubs.

I was wheeled into theatre where the anaesthesiologist turned up the epidural. For some reason I needed heaps of anaesthetic in order for the area to be numbed, so this process took a while but finally we were ready to go. We were just waiting for Chris and Bree to arrive.

There was a team of about 12 people in theatre and they were amazing; it was clear they had worked with each other for years and had great respect for each other. The room was full of lively energy as they joked with one another. I felt completely at peace with everything and was excited to finally be meeting you.

When Pete made the incision, he saw your little face, eyes wide open, looking up at him. The medical term for the position you were in is left occiput transverse, asynclitic deflexed. In other words, you were lying on your side, with your head tilted towards your shoulder. Your positioning was what had stopped you from being able to drop down into my pelvis.

After a bit of pushing and pulling, at 5:41pm, after 22 hours of labour, you were gently lifted out of me and held up so that we could see you.

My little spark of infinite light, my darling moon baby, seeing you for the first time was unlike anything I have ever experienced. My heart swelled with a love so intense it took my breath away.

In a single instant, in the afterglow of the full moon, you changed our world forever and we could not be more grateful that you chose us to be your mum and dad.

Coconut, Chai and Turmeric Chia Pudding

turmeric-chia-feature

I have finally got around to putting up my recipe that was featured on the I Quit Sugar site a few weeks back.

Over the many years that I have been experimenting with the best way for me to achieve optimal health, I have found that one of the easiest things I can do is ensure that my breakfast is packed with nutrients. It sets me up for the day and means that even if I make less-than-optimal choices later on, I know I’ve already got in a stack of nutritious goodness.

This sweet treat packs a punch of anti-inflammatory turmeric. For best creamy results, use Pureharvest Organic Oat Milk.

 

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons chia seeds.
  • 1 tablespoon shredded coconut.
  • 1 1/2 cup Pureharvest Organic Oat Milk.
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla essence or powder.
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric.
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves.
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom.
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.

Optional

  • 1 tablespoon Pureharvest Organic Rice Malt Syrup.

Directions

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, making sure no clumps of spices remain.
Add oat milk, vanilla essence and rice malt syrup, stirring until combined.
Cover and leave in fridge overnight to set.
Serve as is or top with chopped nuts and more shredded coconut.

Enjoy!

Laura xo

Miscarriage: to know or not to know why

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 2.38.50 pmWhen I was a kid, I was full of questions. My favourite thing to do was to ask, “Why?” When I was about five, I remember being in a shopping centre with my parents and sisters, the eldest of whom was pushing my niece in a pram. We had been riding the escalators all day and I kept seeing these big read buttons at the top of every escalator. I asked what they did but, given we were in a hurry, I was told not to worry about what they did because it was not important.

It was important to me though so at the top of the next escalator, when my sister was halfway down with the pram, I pushed the button.

The escalator immediately stopped, almost throwing its occupants off in the process. Dad then had to help my sister carry the pram down the remainder of the now-frozen escalator. Everyone was pretty mad at me.

I didn’t get it. Why were they angry when all I wanted to know was the answer to a simple question?

Of course, the button was an emergency stop button but I didn’t realise that at the time and I wasn’t satisfied with being told that I didn’t need to know the answer to my question. I needed to know.

I know my questioning nature drove my parents insane at times but, unfortunately for them, it is something that has stuck with me. For the most part, this has served me well but sometimes it causes me to create more pain for myself than is necessary.

In the case of wanting to know why I miscarried earlier this year, I nearly drove myself insane trying to figure out what caused it and how I could have avoided it or, at the very least, how I could ensure it wouldn’t happen again.

The doctors, nurses and midwives all said the same thing: sometimes we just don’t have an answer. I couldn’t accept that I would never know what caused our baby to die so suddenly just days after seeing their heart beating strongly, but it looked like that was exactly what was going to happen.

That was until last week when I went to my GP to get an iron test done. Those who know me well will be familiar with my struggles to keep my iron at a healthy level. Anyway, he was going through my history and saw that I never received the results of a test I requested when I was pregnant to find out if I had a mutation or defect of the Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase gene. The MTHFR gene for those who prefer to not overcomplicate things. Or the Mother F*cker gene, for those in the natural medicine field who know the havoc that mutations to this gene can cause.

What does the MTHFR gene do, exactly?

The body can’t do too much with folate in its original form, so it needs to convert (or methylate) it into a substance that it can actually use, and that substance is called L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate. The MTHFR gene is responsible for this conversion.

The MTHFR gene can be defective in a couple of different ways, with one mutation being known to increase the risk of blood clots, especially during pregnancy.

For people with this type of mutation (the heterozygous version, for those who are interested), miscarriages are common. It is thought that a blood clot forms in the placental blood vessel, causing the baby to be cut off from nutrients and subsequently causing you to miscarry.

This is the mutation that I have.

I think this is why our baby died.

Of course, I know all too well that there are no guarantees in this life, and there is every chance that something else caused the miscarriage. But there is something strangely comforting in thinking that I might have found an answer, even though I’ll never know if it is the answer. It gives me the opportunity I’ve been searching for to see what I can do to try to stop this from happening again. It gives me a direction to start with rather than flailing around in the dark, hoping I’m taking the right supplements and getting the best treatment. As anyone who is dealing with fertility issues – or any health issue for that matter – will tell you, having some information is better than having none.

The science is pretty new around all of this, which means there aren’t many prenatal supplements that include L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate, or even its precursor – folinic acid. My doctor isn’t even sure about what the best approach is!

After trawling my university’s scientific research database to read about the few studies that have been conducted in this area, it looks like the best thing I can do is take a supplement that includes L-5-methylfolate. I’ve found one that looks pretty good, so I’m going to give it a shot when we do decide it’s the right time to start trying again.

So instead of doing nothing and just hoping for the best, I’m trawling my uni’s scientific research database to find answers and I’m determined to get to the bottom of this.

I’ll never stop asking why.

Laura xx

Note: As always, I’m writing about my own experience. I’m not a doctor and while this post might give you the information you need to start your own investigations with a health practitioner, it should not be construed as medical advice.

Adding a sprinkle of ritual to your life

Smudging is one of my favourite rituals.

Smudging is one of my favourite rituals.

I’m a big fan of ritual.

It is the easiest way I have found to intentionally create more space and direction in my life. It has helped me get clear on what it is I want to focus on in life and has helped me to feel more at peace with the craziness of our world.

The great thing about ritual is that it is non-denominational and can be as serious or as fun as you want it to be. It can be as simple or as complex as you like. Your ritual, your rules. For me, keeping it simple works. Whenever I have tried to follow some complex set of steps and rules, I either lose interest or get so overwhelmed about getting it wrong (totally ridiculous given there is no right or wrong way to conduct a ritual) that I ditch the whole thing in favour of a glass of wine and a Netflix marathon. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as partial to binge-watching 18 episodes of Friday Night Lights as the next person but other than making me wish I grew up in Dillon, Texas, the show doesn’t really add anything to my life.

If you would like to incorporate some ritual into your life, here are my top tips:

+ Start where you are. As I mentioned above, you don’t have to spend hours setting up and completing a complex ritual. You can start by just taking some time first thing in the morning to set your intention for what you want to achieve and how you want to feel as you go about your day. If you’re more of a night owl, write a list of everything you achieved that day towards your goals, and put in a couple of things you are going to do the next day that will get you one step closer to your target. Reminding yourself of how far you have come is a great way of maintaining the motivation to continue.

+ Keep it in your budgetThere is no need to go out and spend $200 on crystals, sage sticks, palo santo and singing bowls unless, of course, you want to. Some of my most powerful rituals simply involve getting some paper and writing a list of 10 things that are no longer serving me in my life then putting the paper in a bowl and setting in on fire (be safe with flames, kids), with the intention of releasing everything that was on the list. If burning things isn’t an option, you can tear the paper up or bury it instead. This is a great one to do when it’s a full moon.

+ Include Mother Moon. I like to pop the full moon and new moon dates in my calendar to make sure I know when they are happening. The new moon is the perfect time to get clear on what you want to create in your life. Head outside and sit under her golden light as you conduct your ritual. You could grab some cute little post-it notes and write an intention on each one, then stick them up somewhere you will see them all the time. If you prefer to keep your intentions and desires a bit more private, jot them down in a book instead. The full moon’s energy is about letting go, releasing past hurts and limiting beliefs, and making space for better things to come into your life. The burn-your-past ritual I mentioned above is my favourite thing to do on a full moon. Note: Howling at the moon is optional but totally recommended.

+ Get grounded. The easiest way to ground your energy is to – yep, you guessed it – sit on the ground. If you plant your bum on some grass, or dirt, or sand, you’ll feel more connected to the universe and yourself almost immediately. If you don’t have easy access to the earth, you can try having a bath with some Epsom salts. Throw in a few rose petals or lavender stems for extra feel-like-a-goddess points.

+ Use cards. Oracle cards (or tarot cards, if that’s more your jam) come in all shapes and sizes, and add another element to your ritual. I like to pull a card to see where I need to put my focus for that day. If I have lots of time, I’ll do a more in-depth reading. I like to ask, “What will help me most to remember right now?” If you aren’t sure where to start, The Little Sage cards are lovely. I don’t use cards so much from a spiritual connecting-with-guides perspective. Rather, I more just use them to check in with myself and work with what resonates most from the message to see what I need to focus on that day or week.

+ Meditate. Stressing about everything you need to do tomorrow is not conducive to a rockin’ ritual. To help clear my mind, I like to meditate for 10 minutes before I start my ritual. I usually keep it simple and just focus on drawing my breath into my heart space, creating an ever-growing pool of light until I’m completely engulfed in it and it’s radiating from me.

+ Smudge your house. After I give the house a good clean, I like to open all of the windows and smudge to clear out old, icky energy. I either use dried white sage sticks or palo santo wood, depending on my mood. If you haven’t smudged before, palo santo might be a good option because it has a lovely woody smell. Sage, on the other hand, is quite intense and can take a bit to get used to. If you jump on Google, you’ll find tonnes of examples of how to smudge. My smudging ritual looks something like this: start in the room that is furthest from the front door and as I let the smoke move around the room, I say, “I clear this space of all energy that is not for our highest and greatest good.” I repeat this process until I reach the front door. If I have enough time, I’ll then walk back through the house with a white candle and say, “I fill this space with white light and love.”

What about you? Do you use ritual to help bring your life into focus? If so, I’d love to hear about what you do.

Laura xo

Life and death and resurrection

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A quick note before we get to today’s piece:

This is the hardest, but most important, thing I’ve ever written.

It has been sitting in my drafts section for some time, with no reason not to be posted except that I couldn’t find the courage to do so.

Two initiatives have taken place over the last two weeks that have helped me to feel like it was finally the right time share my story. Last week was Mental Health Week and I was reminded that everyone is dealing with something hard in their life, and keeping my struggle a secret helps no one, especially not me. Then, yesterday was Pregnancy and Infancy Loss Remembrance Day, and as I read article after article about women struggling through a mountain of grief in private, I realised that the more people who share their experiences about infant and pregnancy loss, the less this topic will be seen as taboo. It is my hope that by sharing my story it will help another woman who has gone through this loss feel less alone. You are not alone. The level of grief you feel is valid, even if society tells you that it’s out of proportion with what they expect from the death of a life they never even knew existed.

 

“Resurrection means that the worst things are never the last things.” – Frederick Buechner 

When I first counted the dates, and counted them again, I didn’t admit to myself what a difference one week could make. But I drove to the shops anyway, to pick up the test anyway, because what were the chances anyway.

Then, as I stared at those two little lines I held my breath for all of eternity, blinking and hoping and not admitting that the impossible could be possible. Pregnant, the lines announced, whispered, shouted.

With shaking hands and hearts in mouths, we hugged and hugged and kept checking that those lines were still there as we basked in the bliss of our new names: Mama and Papa To Be. A mum and a dad. A baby would make three.

I said I don’t know how to do this and he said we’ll figure it out together, this perfect new reality of ours.

And so head-first we fell into what we thought was a given. They provided us with urine tests, blood tests, leaflets, a due date. And I did not admit to the fear that had crept into the corners of my heart that while our due date would come and go, just like all of time does, it would not look the way we wanted it to.

As we gazed in awe at your tiny flickering black and white heart beat, our hearts started beating in time with yours. That’s your baby, she said. Everything looks perfect, she said.

Except it wasn’t perfect. Not even close. Or maybe it was and this is just a different, more painful kind of perfect than the version we had imagined.

When my world turned red and it just wouldn’t stop, I squeezed shut my eyes, started building a wall around my heart, and whispered no no no to a god that wasn’t listening.

For a whole day and night and day I didn’t admit what I knew to be true. I couldn’t admit that I was losing you.

I tore apart my body in search of the strength I knew I had to find to utter those terrible, awful words that never should have to be said. I didn’t admit that I was too scared to call the midwife, too scared to hear what she would say but I knew not admitting would not be enough to stop this train that was determined to derail itself.

This happens all the time, she said. Lots of women experience this and they go on to have healthy babies, she promised.

But promises are just words and, oh baby, words can’t save a life. Can’t save a mother or a father. Can’t save a future imagined either.

And so we drove or walked or swam through an ocean of grief to the hospital, and all the while I hoped I could find the courage I needed to lose sight of the shore and swim into this new world that I didn’t want to belong to.

The pain spread from heart to my soul to my body to you. It blurred the white walls and white bed and white everything, and I couldn’t admit that even as I begged for the morphine that entered my blood I wanted to scream at them to stop because if I didn’t feel pain how would I know you were ever even real.

I shut my eyes or maybe they shut themselves to block out the feeling of cool gel on my skin and listened instead to the screaming silence that filled all of the spaces that were once filled by you.

I think I should get the doctor, she said. What we are seeing is consistent with a miscarriage, he said. We can’t see a foetus, they said.

My baby is gone my baby is gone my baby is gone.

You have options, she said.

Options?

How could I have options when the only option I wanted is no longer an option? Surgery, a pill, just wait it out. These are your options when you have no options.

I opened my eyes to another white ceiling, to murky voices and a second of normality before the memories crashed their way back into my heart, jamming themselves into every corner of this body I used to trust.

Into this world I trusted.

This new reality is not the one we wanted but maybe, just maybe, one day we will be able to see that it’s exactly the one we needed.

Some lives are very long, and some are very, very short but they all leave their mark. And you, our beautifully imperfectly perfect baby, have left your mark all over our hearts.

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Adams Keller

 

If you know someone who you think needs to hear this message, I would be so honoured if you shared this with them.

Laura xo

Sacred rebellion

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Have you ever walked into a room and just known that your life was never going to be the same again, in the absolute best way possible? I was lucky enough to have this experience recently when I completed the first degree in reiki training. Actually, the word training isn’t big enough to describe what I experienced. Transformation is much more accurate.

Having only experienced reiki once many years ago, at a time when I had only the most peripheral awareness of energy work, I didn’t really know what to expect out of the reiki one course. After finding out about Sara’s courses actually took almost a year for me to sign up and commit to taking this next step in my journey through this human existence. I spent months letting my fears of the unknown get the better of me, making up any and all excuses to avoid stepping forward in the direction my soul was crying out to go in. Why do we do that? Let fear stop us? I always find that as soon as I take that next tentative step, everything begins to unfold beautifully. I must remind myself of that next time I’m faced with a decision my mind views as being scary.

Walking into that room two Saturdays ago I took a breath and exhaled my fears. I knew if I was going to get the big, juicy stuff out of this experience I was going to have to surrender to everything that was about to happen. All of it. Not just the parts I felt safe with. Not just the bits that already sat squarely in my comfort zone. No, I needed to grab hold of the stuff that circled outside of the fence of familiarity I have spent my life building. I needed to let go of control and oh boy is that not any easy ask of me.

Let me tell you, dear one, that dropping the reigns on control is so very worth it.

So many big, beautiful shifts have happened that I’m still trying to process and integrate fully into my soul print; a process that will take some time. I’m actually not sure that on a cognitive level I’ll ever really process everything that transpired over those two days, and you know what? That’s OK.

One thing that in particular that Sara talked about did stick and that was the idea of being a sacred rebel.

Sacred rebel.

These two words hit me with such force that when she said them I felt myself inhale sharply, almost as if my soul was whispering, “Yes, these words are for us.”

What does sacred rebellion look like to me? It looks like remembering at a cellular level that we are connected to and part of everything and everyone. There really is no separation in anything except for our minds. It means realising we are stronger when we lead with our hearts than with our minds. It looks like filling our lives with wonder, gratitude and kindness, and are doing no harm but absolutely not taking any shit. It means shaking up the status quo and not taking, “That’s just the way it is,” as an answer anymore. It’s about being playful with our growth and not taking life so seriously, but seriously questioning the engrained beliefs that are stopping us from moving forward. And it means no more hiding under what we think is normal but, rather, shining the unique light of soul out brightly to the world. Yes, definitely that.

We’re waking up and becoming more conscious of what needs to happen in order to heal the world. And you know what? Healing the world simply means healing ourselves from the past hurts, the misunderstandings, the mistreatment and misalignment of our actions with our true purpose. It all starts with us.

It’s time to heal. Will you join me in the ranks of sacred rebellion? From my soul to yours, I sure hope so.

Laura x

How to pimp your hot drink

Golden Latte

Serotonin Eatery’s happy turmeric latte.

Hey lovely people! It’s been a while since I’ve posted because in the last couple of months life has picked me up by my feet and shaken me to my core. I’m still working out how to navigate my way through this new reality. These last few months have brought with them some of the most incredible experiences but also some of the hardest and, if I’m honest, I’m still recovering. I will share more about that all in time but for now, on a lighter topic, I want to talk a bit about what’s been happening in the world of hot beverages.

If your local cafe is still dedicated wholly and solely to perfecting the art of the long black then you might not be aware of the revolution that’s happening to the humble old latte. No longer is it confined to the classic shot of coffee with frothed milk. Cafe owners with a bent towards the health conscious have expanded their menus in recent times to include a couple of hot drinks that are full of health-giving properties.

So, what are the main two pimped drinks that are popping up all over town?

Turmeric Latte (otherwise known as Golden Milk)

As far as I’m concerned, the turmeric latte is the pinnacle of hot drinks. The list of things turmeric helps with is so long that if I had to recommend only one addition to your herbs and spices rack, this would be it. Amongst many other things, the active component – curcumin – benefits immune function, digestion and liver health. It’s a versatile, vibrant little number that will transform the flavour and health qualities of any dish. In our house, it goes in soups, scrambled eggs, on roast veggies, in smoothies and, as soon as my milk frother arrives, in homemade turmeric lattes.

The ingredients in a turmeric latte vary from place to place but the main ingredients are coconut milk*, turmeric, cinnamon and black pepper. It sometimes comes with almond milk instead and you can add cayenne pepper and ginger if you’re after an intense kick.

Matcha Latte

The green hue in matcha lattes comes from ground whole-leaf young green tea leaves, mostly of the Japanese variety. Like its golden friend, this green drink is packed to brim with health-giving properties. It’s loaded up with antioxidants, chlorophyll and amino acids, specifically L-theanine, which relaxes the body and mind.

In a matcha latte, you’ll generally find coconut milk (hello, friend of fat soluble vitamins!), matcha tea powder, hot water and a sweetener of your choice.

So, if you’re after that ritual of having a warm drink without the downsides that can come with a standard cup of Joe, why not try pimping your drink next time you’re out for breakfast!

* Coconut milk is great to use because its high fat content helps your body absorb the fat soluble vitamins in your drink. If you consume these nutrients without fat, your body won’t have as easy a time storing them.

Laura xo

Truth, beauty and plate of sardines

Sometimes I get overwhelmed with the uncertainty and contradictory nature of this world we live in where we simultaneously have access to so much information, yet so little truth.

When we can quickly ask Google to tell us about any topic and within seconds we have thousands of links, each calling out to us to choose them, how can we know (I mean really know) that the information we’ve found is correct? That it’s more correct than what we would have found if we plugged in a slightly different question? If someone else asked the same question on a different day when the general consensus on a topic had changed?

Sifting through the endless barrage of journal articles for my naturopathy studies, opinion pieces for cultural and societal issues, and books for new perspectives and ideas, is at times down right confusing and anxiety-inducing.

You know how we sometimes find ourselves defending our position on something with scathing conviction, riding tall on our mental high horse, confident that our opinion or view of the world is the correct one? Those times when we look at someone else and wonder how they could see the world through such an incorrect lense?

Why don’t they see how obvious it is that I’m right?! 

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we’ve got all the facts on a topic and that we can sit back and relax, safe in the knowledge that we have landed on the correct point, isn’t it?

The older I get and the more I learn, the less I know. Instead of getting clearer on where I stand on topics, I find myself becoming increasingly more of a fence sitter, a hedging-her-bets kind of girl. I pause before offering up what I think I know about something. The certainty I once had is gone. And that’s a very good thing, for when I’m certain about something, I’m not learning or growing. I’m stagnant. And that’s not alright by me.

The fallacy of knowing the facts has been a repetitive theme in my life lately. It keeps showing up in conversations I’ve had, while I’m writing essays or reading a book. Contradictions are rampant and the further I dig for answers, the more I realise that multiple truths can and do exist at the same time.

I can study how each individual nutrient works in the body while understanding the flaws in learning about holistic health in such a reductionist way.

I can appreciate the miracles of modern medicine, while reeling at the atrocity of the thousands of prescription drug deaths that occur every year.

And, I can acknowledge that while there is a lot of compelling science for a plant-based diet, I’m listening to, and meeting, my body’s current demands for a small amount of meat.

Yep, I’m eating meat. Well, to be more specific: fish. For now.

Only once per week and of the sustainable variety, but oh wow the guilt! I feel like I’ve been keeping a dirty secret and I also feel like a total fraud. A fraud because I can spout off the benefits of being vegetarian without a second thought, but also because I’m eating fish and I’m still not convinced that I should be. Yes, everything I’m learning at uni points towards the importance of eating fish. What about the ethical issues though? Sure, I’m eating sustainably caught sardines but I’m still participating in an industry that says it’s OK to kill another being for my own benefit. Is it though? How can I sit with pride in my decision to eat fish when I know I only have this privilege because I’m human? Because I live during a time when I can outsource my hunting to someone else?

Someone went and killed that fish on my behalf, because I sure as heck couldn’t stomach the thought of killing it myself. If I can’t reconcile the idea that what sits on my buttery toast was once a living creature, and if I need someone else to do the killing so that I can pretend death wasn’t involved, what right do I have to eat the result?

If I’m being really honest with myself, I don’t think I do have that right and yet, I wholeheartedly believe we should strive to get our nutrients from our food wherever possible.

Therein lies the discomfort.

I’ve recently finished reading Dr Campbell’s latest book, Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition and it reminded me of how pivotal Campbell’s first book, The China Study, was in my decision to switch to a vegetarian diet. Campbell gave me the final push I needed to dive head-first into vegetarianism. He provided the science and the rationale behind how animal protein switches cancerous tumor growth on, and why a whole food, plant-based diet is the healthiest way to eat. His argument was compelling and, although I’m now studying the biochemical reactions that need things like B12 and omega-3 fatty acids (nutrients that can only be obtained in useful amounts from animal sources), I can’t ignore that the science is clear about meat’s contributing role in health conditions like cancer. Equally though, I can’t ignore the importance of getting adequate levels of B12 and omega-3 fatty acids. Those little nutrients are bloody important!

Where on Earth does this leave me?

For all of you playing along with the ‘What’s Laura eating now?’ game at home, here’s how I’m currently eating:

  • Once per week, I’m having a tin of Fish 4 Eva sardines to make sure I’m meeting my body’s requirement for omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Other than that, the rest of my diet is still vegetarian. I still strive to eat organic, locally grown and produced food where possible.
  • I still believe in the importance of supporting local businesses, who care about the quality of the food they’re producing.
  • I will continue to eat some cheese, no milk, and occasionally some full-fat unsweetened yogurt.
  • I’m also supplementing with a good quality soil based probiotic, organic iron and magnesium (because our soils are so depleted that even eating organically doesn’t guarantee I’ll get enough of this macromineral).
  • To avoid confusion, I’m still going to call myself a vegetarian (as much as I despise dietary labels). The only difference is that a few times a month, I’ll be tucking in to a tin of sardines.

For now, this feels right. Mostly.

I’m yet to find that perfect balance of achieving a diet that is 100% ethical, local, organic and meets all of my nutritional requirements. I’m not convinced that such a diet actually exists.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s OK not to have all the answers. And, you know what? It feels good that I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m OK with shifting my perspective and knowing that I don’t have to always eat a vegetarian diet, just because that’s what people know me as.

Laura xo

Is the vaccination debate distracting us from a bigger issue?

Do we need to chop down some trees to see the forest more clearly?

Do we need to chop down some trees to see the forest more clearly?

A quick note before we get to today’s post: This post is not designed to be a forum to debate whether or not we  should vaccinate. I have no desire to weigh in on the slinging match about the merits and risks of vaccination because this topic has, at its heart, parents who are doing the very best they know how to protect their kids – on both sides. I’m not a parent and haven’t studied the research about vaccination, so I’m not in a position to comment on who is right. I do know that hurling abuse at others for their views is not something I will tolerate or accept, both on this blog and in my life. I will delete any comments that are rude, aggressive or disrespectful. Thanks for listening! Now onto the today’s post:

Much has been published about the vaccination debate recently. (Oh, you hadn’t noticed?) It’s being discussed in great detail, and rightly so. It’s an incredibly important topic.

I have been keeping my eye on the seemingly never ending deluge of articles about the issues surrounding vaccination rates and I have started to become increasingly uncomfortable with the amount of times I have seen the words ‘make vaccinations mandatory’. As I said at the start of this post, I’m not interested in discussing the merits of vaccinations right now. What I want to talk about is what I see as being a much bigger issue – an issue that is hiding in plain sight behind those three little words: make vaccinations mandatory. It’s an issue of our rights. Our right to decide what medical care we do and don’t want. Our right to choose which medicines we are happy to take into our system and which ones we want to avoid. Our right to weigh up the risks and make decisions about our own body and health.

These rights are so very important.

When we focus on the specifics of what is being proposed (changes to our legislation to make vaccinations mandatory) it’s easy for us to get caught up looking at the benefits of such a decision and forget that this change has more far-reaching consequences than just enforcing a vaccination schedule. Let me put it a different way: what happens when the push is to mandate that you and your family take a drug you aren’t comfortable with? What happens when you think the risks of taking that drug outweigh its benefits? By allowing mandatory vaccinations, we are opening the door to a new precedent in enforced medication. Whether or not we agree with someone else’s decisions regarding vaccination, it isn’t our right to force someone else to take a drug. Nor is it our government’s right, but it will be if this legislation is passed.

I am very aware that this may seem melodramatic and I’m certainly not saying that big pharma and the government are out to get us. Not at all. I’m saying we need to be mindful of the broader implications of legislation changes like these. I’m saying we need to really consider what it means to take away someone’s right to decide what medicine they want to take. Because the government won’t just be deciding for someone else. They’ll be deciding for you too.

All drugs come with side effects and risks. We know this. The aim, of course, is that the benefit of the drug outweighs the side effects and risks. Vaccines are no different. Much of the vaccination conversation centres on the risks associated with the drugs found in these vaccines. Like every other drug, there are risks associated with vaccinations – no one is pretending that there aren’t. The general consensus though is that the benefits to both the individual receiving the vaccination and to those who can’t be vaccinated for whatever reason, far outweigh those risks.

Let’s look at a different, equally common drug: the oral contraceptive pill. Like vaccines, the benefits and risks of this drug are well known. In case you’ve been living under a rock, the pill helps prevent unplanned pregnancies but it can cause issues like increased risk of blood clots and some cancers. It can also affect your long-term chances of conceiving because (at risk of stating the obvious) the drug’s purpose is to suppress your fertility. Taking a fertility-suppressing drug for years is likely going to mean your fertility is suppressed, at least for a while, after you stop taking that drug. Doctors know this and I hope the women they prescribe the drug to know this. Unfortunately for a lot of women, the pill has suppressed their fertility for so long that their body no longer knows how to be fertile and those women must embark on a long journey to heal before being able to fall pregnant.  Most women I know who have been on the pill started taking it in their teens and didn’t stop until their late 20s, so they’re looking at 10-15 years of taking a drug that screws up one of the body’s most important processes.

We’ve been conditioned to believe that the pill is a harmless drug but that simply isn’t the case. Every drug comes with side effects and, just like vaccines, the pill is no different. 

A lesser talked about side effect of the oral contraceptive pill is the impact it has on other people. ‘What is she on about?’ I hear you all asking. Well, what I’m talking about is how someone else’s decision to take the pill affects everyone else’s health, along with our planet’s health.

The synthetic hormones (namely ethinyl estradiol)  found in the pill are flushed from the body during urination. These hormones make their way into our waterways, where they set to work creating intersex fish. Yes, you read that correctly. We are demasculinising male animals, destroying their ability to reproduce, through our decision to take the pill. Ethinyl estradiol isn’t the only thing to blame for this but it is a big contributor to the problem. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, we don’t really know if we can actually remove ethinyl estradiol from our waterways. Ecotoxicologists think we might be able to but it’s going to cost a bomb.  You can read more about this here. 

Setting the (huge) impact to our wildlife aside, let’s look at how this affects other people’s health. Because this is my blog and I get to call the shots, and because I can only really comment on my own experience, I’m going to talk about myself for a minute.

I want to be as healthy as I can be.

I want my body to be in the best possible shape for when my partner and I decide we want to fall pregnant.

I want my body to be free of synthetic hormones.

I stopped taking the pill years ago when I started to realise the damage it was causing me. I don’t want synthetic hormones in my body yet they are in my body because they are in the water I drink. They are in the water I drink because a large percentage of women in Australia take the pill. And it is categorically their right to take the pill.

It is their right to take the pill, even though it negatively affects my health.

It is their right to take the pill, even though it could affect my chance of becoming a mother.

It is their right to decide which drugs they are comfortable taking and which drugs they are not comfortable taking. Not mine. Not yours. Certainly not the government’s.

Where am I going with this? My point is that although someone else’s decisions about their medical care can and do impact our own personal health status, introducing legislation that forces people to take a drug they are not comfortable with is not something we should be advocating for. Taking away our fundamental right to make our own choices about medical care isn’t something I can stand for. By handing over our power to the government to decide what and how much of a drug we should take, we are handing over our power for them to make decisions about more than just vaccinations. We are handing over our power for them to make decisions about what risks we are subjected to, based on which medication they force us to take. I’m not OK with this and I hope you aren’t either.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Remember, I’m not talking about whether or not people should vaccinate. This is about our right to weigh up the risks and benefits of any medication and make the best choice for ourselves and our kids. If you want to debate vaccinations, there are countless other forums you can do that on 😉

Laura xo