Wednesday, March 26, 2014

How Essential Oils Saved My Sanity As A Parent

So...serious question. At what point do you consider yourself "crunchy?" Or at least, "semi-granola?" I started to think I crossed over to the crunchy side of life shortly after I had kids. I mean, we always recycled, I used those reusable grocery store bags, and for quite some time, Will and I were a one-car family. Then I had kids, and I thought, "you know what, I can take this to the next level." I veered into crunchy mom territory. I had a natural birth. I exclusively breastfed both of my babies. We cloth diaper. I'm a huge fan of babywearing (even though my multiple wraps and carriers drive my own mom up the wall). However. Will and I are still big fans of modern medicine. We vaccinate our kids (and ourselves). Tony and Alessandra visit the pediatrician for their well-child checkups, and we do not hesitate to call the pedi or go straight to the ER if we think something is seriously wrong and out of our control. Not to mention, both Will and I have family members in the medical field, and we are very grateful for modern medicine. I know for a fact I wouldn't be here without it, after what happened to me after Tony was born. All that being said, I will freely admit there are some things that just can't be solved with a prescription or a visit to the pedi. Take Alessandra's sleep issues, for instance.

I've written many, many times about how my baby girl is a terrible sleeper. Will and I have tried pretty much everything to get her to go to sleep for the past almost 12 months, with zero luck. She got *slightly* better by the time she was 7 months old, but it still wasn't anything to write home about. Our girl just did not want to sleep, and we've had some very tough days and nights since she was born. The worst part? She was crabby, exhausted and miserable during the day. We truly did not know what to do. About two weeks ago, Alessandra was starting to show signs of either a head cold or allergies. I wasn't sure which, as both would make sense. In any case, I was on the verge of tears. When Tony was sick as a baby, he slept even more than usual, and just wanted to comfy with me on the couch all day. Not Alessandra. Sickness made her sleep even worse than usual, and she was flat-out hysterical during the day (fussing, crying, rubbing her eyes, sneezing, etc). We've been through far too many bouts of sickness with our kids this past year, and I knew we had to go to Plan B.

When I was back in Wisconsin this past January, I had a massage from a girl whose mother was a teacher in my school district. Super sweet, very skilled at her craft (my back felt amazing afterward!), and very into natural living. She mentioned essential oils in passing, and I didn't give it much thought. However, with allergies and/or head cold number 4 hitting our house again, I decided to do a little investigating. I messaged my friend (after all the help she's given me, I truly believe I can call her my friend at this point), and I started checking out a couple of boards on Pinterest that were dedicated to essential oils. One brand I kept seeing over and over again was Young Living. I quickly received a message back from Joy, and she was SO pumped about the possibility of me using essential oils. She confirmed that Young Living was the best (for a variety of reasons, but that's a topic for another blog post), and she gave me some great information. I decided to go ahead and take the plunge, and I ordered Premium Starter Kit. I didn't know if those oils would help our baby sleep, but I figured, what's the worst that could happen? Our house would smell freaking amazing? I could deal with that.

The day before my oils arrived, I went to a natural food store here in Columbus and purchased a few carrier oils (sweet almond, grapeseed and avocado. I knew you should never directly apply essential oils to a baby's skin). When my package arrived the next day, I'll admit I felt pretty overwhelmed when I opened the box. Reading all of the information, smelling all of the oils, setting up the diffuser, and trying to figure out where in the world I should start was a lot to take in. I figured my best option would be to try and tackle Alessandra's sleep issues, since that was our main concern at that point.

For the past four or five nights, I've kept to my "oily" routine with Little Miss. I put the diffuser in her room, and I add Peace and Calming and lavender to it. After her bath, I add 1 drop of lavender oil to 4 tsp of sweet almond oil, and rub it on the bottoms of her feet (and a little extra on her tummy). You guys...I seriously can't begin to describe the difference. The first few nights were better than usual, but not perfect. Last night, for the first time in her little baby life, she slept without waking. From 7pm to 5:45am. I almost keeled over from shock. Alessandra was smiling and chattering in her crib when I got her this morning, and she's been in fine baby spirits ever since. I'm so relieved (not to mention well-rested) I could cry. I kind of feel like Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad-don't hate-when Walter informs him they're going to substitute methylamine in place of the difficult-to-get-their-hands-on psedoephedrine. "Yeah, Mr. White!! SCIENCE!" Only I'm all, "yeah, ESSENTIAL OILS!!! IN YOUR FACE, SLEEP TRAINING!" I figured since we had such great luck with baby girl's sleeping habits, why stop there?

I've had seasonal allergies for as long as I can remember. They were particularly brutal when we lived in Germany; the pollen there was absolutely unreal. What infuriated me more than anything else was that every single year, I was basically told, "yeah, allergies suck...ummm, you can try an OTC medicine if you want, but generally you have to just tough it out.." Well, first of all, I don't know about you, but medicines like Allergra or Clairtin don't work for me. Never have, never will. And when you're sneezing every 10 seconds, your eyes are itching like crazy, your throat hurts so badly you dread drinking anything that isn't laced with local honey, and your head is pounding, being told to just "tough it out" for the entirety of the season doesn't exactly sound like a barrel of laughs. Neither does yet another round of antibiotics. I can't even begin to tell you how many z-packs I picked up from the pharmacy these past two years. One of the oils that came with my starter kit was Thieves, and I've heard a LOT of people talking up this particular blend. I started out by putting 5 drops in the diffuser, along with 5 drops of Frankincense. Later that night, I mixed a few drops of Thieves with a carrier oil, and rubbed it on the bottom of my feet. I swear, I woke up the next morning without a runny nose, itchy eyes or a headache. Heaven.

The diffuser, or "Mr. Egg," as Tony calls it. So calm. So peaceful.

Just to be clear-as thrilled as I am with the oils, and as much as I love using them as part of my daily routine (again, a topic for another blog post), I do feel the need to once again stress that modern medicine has its' place. I prefer to use our oils for non-urgent needs, such as calming a fussy baby, and treating the common cold/cough/allergies without popping a bunch of pills. However, if you were diagnosed with cancer, I am in no way, shape or form suggesting you ditch chemotherapy for essential oils. If you have a child with severe behavioral or cognitive issues, I think essential oils can be a wonderful addition to your child's routine, but I would absolutely recommend working with a doctor, therapist, what have you. I feel as though too often we are pressured to force ourselves into a label ("well, I'm a low risk pregnant woman and I'm hoping for a natural birth, so if I really want to become part of the 'crunchy mom society', clearly I have to forgo any kind of medical treatment whatsoever for the rest of my life!" "My husband and I consider ourselves devout Catholics, but can we really consider ourselves 'holy' and 'devout' enough if we don't plan on homeschooling our kids?"). I truly believe that traditional and natural medicine can balance each other out at times, and I'm so thrilled with the positive changes to our routine from the essential oils. Now, to keep myself (and our budget!) in check, since I want to own everypossibleYoungLivingoilevercreated. ;)

If you're interested in hearing more about Young Living oils or you would like to give them a try, feel free to shoot me an email and I can point you in the right direction!

4 comments:

  1. This is fantastic. I'm slowly coming over to the essential oil side. I use a shea butter stick with lavender eo in it on Veron's feet, and rub it on his forehead and cheeks before bed time, and I'm convinced he sleeps better when we stick to our "night night" routine.

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    1. Love!!! I haven't tried the sticks yet, but those may be one of my next purchases. :)

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  2. This may just make me look into some essential oils!!! Not even for Annabelle but for me!

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    1. Go for it, Shaunacey!! Let me know if you have any questions. :)

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