INSPIRING WOMEN SERIES | IBBY SASSO

This inspiring mom is one that is very near and dear to my heart.  We have known each other as long as I can remember, and our parents even longer.  She is like another sister to me.  We have vacationed together, gone to school together and experienced so much of life together.  You can't not laugh when you're around her.  

Throughout the many ups and downs of life, Ibby has always come out smiling.  And when she began her journey into motherhood and things did not go "as planned" her attitude was no different.  Ibby shares more about her beautiful son Hank as she answers a few questions for us on the blog, but all I can say is that her resilience, strength and positivity are shining brighter than ever before.  She comes to mind for me on a daily basis, her experience and the way she has taken on motherhood inspire me each day.  I know that her words will inspire you as well. 

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AO: What is one thing you have had access to before, during or after pregnancy that has positively influenced your experience? (product/professional service or treatment/class/book etc...)

IS: My most reliable resource as a mother is talking to other moms, new or seasoned, who have experienced similar journeys. Motherhood is a unique passage for every woman but with the same rewards. I definitely had a rare entry so finding other mothers out there that can share similar stories of the joys and challenges has given me great comfort that I’m not alone in this sacred journey.

AO: What are you surprised by (that no one ever talks about) that happens
to your mind or body during or after pregnancy?

IS: As we all well know, motherhood is a 24hr job from the get-go and I’m amazed by how quickly my body recovered from the major abdominal surgery that is an emergency C-section! I was walking with minimal pain just a couple days post- delivery and while I wasn’t expecting to deliver via c-section I actually appreciate the sight of my scar as a daily reminder of how amazing we are as humans.  

AO: With your experience, what knowledge would you share with a new mother?

IS:  My experience is definitely special and looking back I’m overwhelmed with emotion just thinking of how life-altering becoming a mother was for me in particular. We had an extremely wild entry into parenthood in that our son Hank was born with a rare genetic disorder called SCID characterized by having no T- cell function or rather a working immune system. Considered a pediatric emergency, we were swept into a world we didn’t know existed which included living in isolation at UCSF for the first 4 months of Hank’s life to protect him from catching even the slightest cold or infection. The treatment is a bone marrow transplant and in modern medicine miracles my husband happened to be a good donor match. Fast forward to Hank today as a happy, healthy 2 year old who gets to make a trip to UCSF each month for his “magic medicine” which is IVIG. This is our new normal and we’re adapting to it with every new day. My advice to any new mother, no matter the outcome, is that you are stronger than you know and
God does not give you anything you can’t handle. We feel so blessed to have come out the other side with a new life perspective, to never take these precious lives for granted and to cherish every single moment with Hank.

AO: How has your body amazed you on this journey of pregnancy and/or motherhood?

IS: I’m definitely not in my best shape but as a mother I have garnered a whole new confidence and appreciation when I look in the mirror....albeit much saggier boobs and terrible posture. And I actually weigh what my driver’s license says I do! 

AO: Fill in the blank: My current self care must do/have: _______________

IS: Oprah’s “Super Soul Sunday” podcast in my ears when I’m cleaning up the kitchen after a long day. Or NYT’s Dear Sugars!

AO: Fill in the blank: Motherhood means: __________________

IS: The most sacred, life- changing experience one can ever imagine! 

INSPIRING WOMEN SERIES | ERIN ERENBERG

Inspiring is only one of the many qualities that this super mama possesses.  I am thrilled to feature such a bright light of love and support on the motherhood scene, Erin Erenberg, for our Inspiring Mother Series.  Mother of three, former attorney and founder of Totum Women, Erin is supporting women with knowledge, community and delicious lactation cookies.

On Wednesday, May 16 please join Erin, myself, clinical psychologist Dr. Michelle Glantz and postpartum doula Stephanie Matthias for a Whole Woman Wellness event for the post partum mother.

Join us for an honest and open discussion on how to stay healthy and whole while welcoming a new life into yours all while meeting expecting and new mamas, munching on food from Thyme Cafe + Market, smoothies from Yumi and more! You'll walk away with a gift bag to assist your ongoing support towards motherhood.  To purchase tickets, click here - we hope to meet you there! 

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AO: What's one thing you wish you had access to before you started a family, be it in doctors, healers, community, pain management etc.

EE: Maybe it's cheating to say a "hub of information," but really that's what I needed.  I felt adrift when searching for information about everything first-time-mom that wasn't based in childcare.  There are so many books on caring for your baby, and between my mom and my pediatrician, I didn't have a lot of blank space where infant health and safety were concerned.  The void that left me with a lot of anxiety was around issues more personal to me as a woman.  Things like: how can I prepare myself for the changes to my relationship with my partner and my friends, how can I find "mom friends" who will understand what I'm going through, how will I tackle the big question of whether/how to go back to work outside the home, and even how on Earth can I find answers to the strange things happening to my body in the first weeks after giving birth. 

AO: What are you surprised that no one ever talks about that happens to your mind or body before pregnancy or after pregnancy.

EE: Let's talk about constipation. It can plague a woman during pregnancy and make that full feeling so much worse.  But in my case, it made me absolutely miserable just after delivery.  I'd had the birth of my dreams, bringing our first into the world without drugs, husband by my side, doctor there to make sure we were safe.  But pushing was really difficult for me and left me with a massive (size of a baseball) bruise just beside my perineum.  I "needed" an episiotomy to ease our son's head into the light of day.  My doctor and every nurse I encountered urged me to take painkillers to stave off any pain related to the repair of my episiotomy.  Little did I know that narcotics would create major constipation for me that no amount of Colase could abate.  

A week into my recovery at home, post hospital, I couldn't move from a supine position without assistance.  I started to feel depressed because I was so confused and couldn't properly care for our baby without a lot of pain.  How could I endure the discomfort of childbirth but feel so much pain while healing?  I found nothing on the topic online, or in any book.  Finally, I asked my mom to look at my vagina.  She saw the bruise.  My husband, a veterinarian, suggested that my constipation was creating pressure on the bruise, and that was the source of my agony.  It was a really sexy moment for us.  To quote him, "if you were a cat, I'd run out and get you an enema."  That he did.  Me-ow.  I did the enema myself and emerged from the bathroom 35 seconds later with a smile on my face, ready to walk miles.  The anaconda I left behind in that bathroom is the stuff of legends. 

Lesson learned, I skipped narcotics after both subsequent births and avoided initial postpartum constipation entirely.  And by sharing my story, a number of friends have avoided this and/or known the quick treatment to abate the agony that constipation can create for a healing pelvis. 

AO: If you knew then what you know now, would you change anything?

EE: Yes, I would have engaged the team of helpers that I finally found when pregnant with number three from the very beginning of my transition into motherhood.  A skilled and loving physical therapist like Allison made all the difference for me in pregnancy number three.  In addition to treating a vulvar varicosity in my third pregnancy (look it up; it's no fun), she introduced me to an acupuncturist, Katya Mosely, who helped me with physical issues from baby-spinning to (see above) constipation and everything in between.  Most importantly, perhaps, Allison and some other health care providers outside of my OB-GYN practice made me feel like the weird things I was encountering were not uncommon but were also things I didn't have to live with forever.  That had a huge positive emotional and psychological impact on me.  

AO: What has been the biggest surprise post pregnancy?

EE: The good: how my love for my children absolutely split my heart wide open each time.  The bad: how a marriage can quickly turn into an employment relationship if unchecked.  The ugly: postpartum constipation and vulvar varicosities.   

AO: How has your body amazed you on this journey?

EE: We women are ALL superheroes for creating, nourishing, birthing and protecting new life.  It's astounding to me how our bodies can open and close to create children.  My stomach went out to the next zip code with each baby, and then naturally and gently returned back home.  My breasts, small and mighty, have provided complete and customized nutrition for three new people.  That's just awesome stuff.   

AO: Fill in the blank: My current self care must do/have: _______________

EE: A daily shower alone.  I don't skip it. 

INSPIRING WOMEN SERIES | MEREDITH BAIRD

I’m so happy to be featuring one of my favorite  ladies and the founder of one of my all time go to products – Meredith Baird. I met Meredith through a mutual friend a few years ago and was introduced to her product, Nucifera.  Nucifera has been my multi use balm for everyday use at home and is fantastic for abdominal massage pre, during and post pregnancy. It’s no wonder it is is one of our best selling products here at Plumb Line studio.  Meredith’s knowledge and passion in the health and wellness industry, has brought her to many connected avenues and besides creating a beauty product, has made a very significant impact in the culinary world. She is certified a raw food chef and instructor and is the co author of Raw Chocolate, Everyday Raw Detox and Plant Food. In 2015, Meredith launched her first solo book, Coconut Kitchen, which has become a staple in my household. While Meredith is working on creating an exceptional product sharing the insights and benefits of coconut internally and externally,  for Nucifera, food and education, she is also a mother to an adorable and very special one year old girl, Livia. An inspiring mother she is!

Meredith, thank you for taking the time to answer these questions!

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AO: What’s one thing you wish you had access to before you started a family, be it in doctors, healers, community, pain management etc. 

MB: I could come up with something to say, but that would be kind of forced. I felt very lucky in having access to pretty much everything I needed in the beginning- starting with a supportive and loving husband and family. What I did have that others maybe don’t,  is a network of people who could recommend all of the above. Any question I had – I had a friend or a contact who had just recently been through a similar phase in pregnancy. I think it is so important for women to connect with each other and reach out to each other during this time. I can’t imagine having had to go through this experience in isolation. It would have made it very hard- and I know so many women do. 

 

AO: What are you surprised that no one ever talks about that happens to your mind or body before pregnancy or after pregnancy.

MB: “Pregnancy Brain” for me was a very real thing. It wasn’t so much a forgetfulness as it was a lack of energy for creativity. My mind just didn’t work the same at all. It still doesn’t. 

 

AO:  If you knew then what you know now, would you change anything?

MB: I wouldn’t- other than now knowing my daughter I think I’d have been jumping for joy the whole time! 

I consider myself to be pretty intuitive, and pregnancy really brought that out for me. I trusted in her the whole time. “We’ve got this” I would say. I think it is so important to trust your body and your baby to bring strength to you both. 

 

AO:  What has been the biggest surprise post pregnancy? 

MB: Being a mom just isn’t easy. Not that I ever thought it would be-  my daughter is good, I’m very fortunate in the support that I have, but even with all of that I’m more tired than I’ve ever been in my life and definitely sometimes miss having some of that alone unstructured time.

But the biggest surprise is that even if you work from home… you can’t really work from home unless you have some help. On days that I’m solo I’m good if I get one email written. It is so hit or miss with ‘productivity’. Mothering truly is all consuming.

 

AO:  How has your body amazed you on this journey?

MB: In every way. Pregnancy is obviously so different for everyone, but I always feared that it would just take over my body. Excess weight, bloating, stretch marks all it sort of felt inevitable. My experience was very much that my body liked being pregnant and it was all pretty much contained. Other than having no time to properly exercise postpartum and having lost some general toning – I physically feel back to normal. Plus a few grey hairs.

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INSPIRING WOMEN SERIES | ELLE ROWLEY

 

In this feature of Inspiring Mothers, I had the opportunity to interview Elle Rowley from Solly Baby Wrap.

Elle created Solly Baby Wrap because she saw that today’s baby carriers often left a mother’s body weary and wanted something that would benefit both her baby and herself when it came to daily activities. Solly Baby Wrap was then created to bring just that. It’s chic and comfortable wrap adds to this new dimension of baby wearing and is a product that I have used and highly recommend to my patients.

I was honored to sit down with Elle and Jenni Kayne earlier this afternoon for a luncheon to discuss the many benefits of baby wearing and mommy mechanics, a topic both of which I am passionate about and discuss with my patients. I hope that you’ll enjoy this edition of Inspiring Mother’s with Elle Rowley!

Thank you Elle!

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AO: What’s one thing you wish you had access to before you started a family, be it in doctors, healers, community, pain management etc. 

ER: I wish I’d had a midwife or other resource to guide me through the whole process and through the postpartum experience. There are so few resources other than Google and other moms to walk you through how to care for an infant and yourself for the first year. 

 

AO: What are you surprised that no one ever talks about that happens to your mind or body before pregnancy or after pregnancy.

ER: Breastfeeding and postpartum depression were so rarely talked about when I had my first, but the difficulties surrounding it seems to be much more a part of the conversation now. I actually feel like we are moving in a really positive direction in the communities I’m a part of in terms opening up the conversation surrounding pregnancy and postpartum. There’s still a lot more that needs to be explored psychologically and emotionally, but I think we are on the right path, thanks in large part to social media providing a place to share real stories. 

 

AO: If you knew then what you know now, would you change anything?

ER: Absolutely! I would’ve reached out more for support and guidance. I wouldn’t have felt like I needed to prove so much (in terms of how fast I “bounced back” or how I was caring for my child). I also would’ve asked more questions and, at the same time, I would’ve slowed down and tuned in to my own instincts a little more as well. 

 

AO:  What has been the biggest surprise post pregnancy? 

ER: How resilient and incredible my body is. It is so far from what the world views as perfect, but it has given me four of the greatest blessings of my life. I have so much gratitude for my body. I didn’t feel like that after my other babies, it was too easy to be critical, but this time I have nothing but gratitude. 

 

AO:  How has your body amazed you on this journey?

ER: Just the fact that it has kept up with my life as a mom of four and a business is amazing! I have been really sleep-deprived this past year, and at 11 months postpartum, I feel like I’m just coming out of the “fog”, but I was still able to do so much this past year. What a gift!

 

 
 
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photographed by: morgan pansing