The one good thing about being confined and immobile during an MRI scan is that there is nothing to do but think!
This year has gotten off to an interesting start. A change in our family dynamic, right of the bat, with a side of medical drama, to keep things interesting. We’ve undergone a bit of unexpected restructuring, and I’ll be taking a temporary leave-of-absence from teaching in order to assume the role of primary caretaker of one Roux Huckleberry Baker, duties previously belonging to his most handsome and capable father, who has become far too busy otherwise to adequately care for the baby whose needs have grown exponentially over the past few months.
The bottom line is, it is B’s design work that supports our family. My income is supplementary at best, which is to say, it would cost more to hire a nanny or to put him in daycare than it does for me to stay home. Furthermore, I should be the one escorting him to doctors visits and to have his blood drawn, and vise versa. So I’m doing just that, taking time off to care for my baby. And to care for myself, but that is an entirely different matter.
I can’t tell you how agonizing a decision this was for me to make.
Of course, I have been plenty busy navigating the bureaucratic + scheduling fiasco that is the health system of which the baby and I are both patients, and have been, since the day his life began. We will have had at least six separate visits to our different doctors this month alone, not to mention a surgery, and hopefully a clean bill of health, times two. In the meantime, my anxiety is peaking and the baby is teething, which is to say, my nerves are shot to shit.
Thankfully, the tumor in my leg is benign, a lipoma of unknown origin, which I will be having removed tomorrow. I’m told it is an ambulatory procedure, more like having wisdom teeth extracted than a veritable operation. Still, I don’t like the idea of being put to sleep, it gives me the heebiejeebies. That it is a relative non-issue is a huge relief, because I was a little bit freaked out for a hot minute there, and having been through the devastatingly aggressive surgery that produced my darling little Huckleberry, I have been able to muster up a new brand of confidence toward the whole surgical situation.
The baby, well, his bloodwork has improved to some degree, but he is still extremely mineral deficient. He’ll have another hemoglobin test in a month to determine whether he’ll need another full panel, but the doctors are all hopeful that because he’s shown improvement already, that we’re headed in the right direction. This means that we – he and I, because I’m still nursing him, we’re still a team – we must be on a rigorous diet of easily absorbable iron sources, and watch his vital signs carefully.
Which brings me to our diet, which has changed dramatically over the last month and a half. In a way I could never have foreseen, but then again, one can never underestimate then lengths to which a mother will go when it comes to the health and wellbeing of her children.
The long and short of it is that iron is a supremely difficult mineral for a body, any body to absorb. In synthetic form, it can be harmful. In fact, iron overdose is one of the leading causes of death in children under six. My own body has always reacted negatively to synthetic iron, and I had a feeling Roux would be the same.
It took only one dose for it to be clear to us that supplementation was not an option, that we were going to need to fortify his diet. Thanks to the support and guidance of a lovely tribe of ladies, who all enthusiastically ascribe to and practice the art of “ancestral cuisine” which draws heavily upon the teachings of Weston A. Price, I’ve come to the realization that if I want to practice the age-old adage that is “let thy food be thy medicine”, I have to fully embrace what that actually means.
So. In short, chicken broth.
Chicken broth, the real stuff, is sometimes called Jewish penicillin for a reason. There are a lot of easily absorbable nutrients in chicken broth. And eggs. Nutrients that my baby needs, and needs badly.
To an ethical vegan, this can be a real dilemma. I sat with this question for close to a month before arriving at this conclusion: I would rather feed my child something that is divinely created and ethically harvested (sustainably raised chicken) versus something cooked up in a lab (prescription iron supplements). There is something infinitely more wholesome in boiling a chicken to make soup – something nearly everyone’s grandmother has done, mine included – than there is in taking drops that ultimately make my baby sick to his stomach.
His love for chicken broth, and eggs, is all that I need to know that feeding him – and myself, remember, we’re a team – these things is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing right now.
That all of this went down during resolution season was not at all lost on me.
What it comes down to, is doing what’s best. To strive to stand up for whatever it is that is in the best interest of my family.
Steiner, my forever teacher, offers this particular verse, which I’ve adopted as my motto for the year, as one part in particular has been my personal refrain for this season of my life.
To wonder at beauty,
Stand guard over truth,
Look up to the noble,
Resolve on the good.
This leadeth us truly,
To might in our doing,
To peace in our feeling,
To light in our thinking,
And teaches us trust
In the working of God,
In all that there is,
In the width of the world,
And the depth of the soul.
Today is my half-birthday. (And also, it’s my beloved’s birthday. We’re birthday twins. Just another reason we know we’re MFEO.) What this means is that it’s been six months since I last wrote a list of goals, one which I’ve kept a close eye on, but one which is filled with many things yet to be checked off.
Except our house! We all put in a lot of effort, and together we got this place so entirely organized, it’s almost like real grown-ups live here. We’ve also managed to keep it in such condition, for the most part. Again, real grown-ups.
My point is this, the things that I’m striving for in my life are basically the same, but the angle from which I’m approaching these things has definitely shifted.
Six months ago, I was still struggling with feeling well each day. Now, even as I stare surgery in the face, I feel better than I have in a long time. Having the courage to listen to what my gut was telling me from a very primal level – care for my baby, care for myself, feed my family from a place of traditional nourishment – has helped me to reconnect, to feel aligned with my purpose, to emerge from a dark place stronger and more self-compassionate. These are things I needed greatly in order to truly be able to tackle some of the goals I set for myself. Now with a better sense of the person I have grown into, I’m able to have a clearer vision of how it is I am to go about achieving them, or at the very least, putting them into motion.
I have a lot of hope for the year that lies ahead. If the year that has passed taught me anything at all, it is that often the best of times are born out of the greatest challenges.