Wednesday, August 12, 2015


One of my bunnies died today.

I've never really had a pet before (unless you count sourdough starters or worms). I'm a practical person, the kind who has to have a use for most everything—not the kind of person you would expect to have bunnies (unless for breeding), and honestly, the only reason I really wanted some was for their manure. So last Easter I finally decided to take the plunge, little as I really knew about the gentle creatures. I'm a learner on the go. Plus, my compost needed those droppings!

I did not expect to attach to the bunnies.

But it happened almost immediately. I felt a strong stewardship over these bunny brothers, newly weaned from their mama. I wanted to take care of them just right. I gave them good quality food (including greens from my garden) and let them share my Berkey water. I let them out of their cage to play nearly every day. I talked to them and stroked them. I made them a good-sized run in the backyard so they could enjoy the grass and the outdoors. I made strict rules about the allowed interactions my little boys could have with them. I even took them to Utah on a three-week trip and let them run jubilantly around my mom's chicken coop with her hens.

We all loved them. They felt like part of the family.

This morning as I was doing some routine yard work, I went to refill their water. The bunnies were in their little cardboard house I made for them, but Zephyr wasn't moving, and I knew instantly why. His brother was snuggled up next to him, like always. I was stunned. I cried and cried. For the longest time, I sat there under the avocado tree, not knowing what to do next. I finally decided to pull out the dead tree and bushes in their fenced run, and bury him there with a new tree planted above. So I spent hours digging. Which helped me feel a little better.

The worst is, I don't know why it happened.

My first impulse was the heat, but the last couple days were only in the low to mid 80s, and the bunnies had water and shade. Then I wondered if it was a poisonous plant they'd been nibbling on in the yard. Today I found a huge long list of plants that can be poisonous to bunnies, and one of the plants in their run had just grown some tiny berries he may have tried. Maybe that. And when I pulled up the plants around the dead tree, I disrupted a cozy nest of black widow spiders. So then I thought maybe he got a fatal bite, since he liked to play in that area. But that's least likely of all. Widows are not aggressive. Maybe it's something else still. Maybe I should have waited to get rabbits until I knew more about them. As things are, I must figure out what next, especially for the truly forlorn brother rabbit left behind.


As I cuddled my youngest boy in my arms tonight before bed, I couldn't help but think how fragile and precious life is (and the tears threatened to come again). These little children, whom I love infinitely more than the bunnies, mean more to me tonight because of our loss earlier today. How important it is to be vigilant for the well-being of those we love. But how much more important it is just to love! Reminders like losing Zephyr, though dreadful and heartbreaking, serve to keep things in perspective.

Tonight I am grateful for life.

Zephyr, 3 1/2 weeks old

One week ago

Today I know, for the first time in my life, what it's like to mourn for a cherished animal. I never understood it before. Have you ever lost a pet? Tell me about your experience.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Rachel Reed

Have you ever heard of Rachel Reed? She is so many things, such as midwife, university lecturer, Doctor of Philosophy, and the writer of the beautiful blog Midwife Thinking. She carries with her knowledge for women who want good birth experiences, and for those who have had bad ones, she can help bring healing. She is compassionate. 

I would here like to introduce you to her writings, because she has been such a solid voice for me in my travelings in and out of the world of labor and delivery. She is honest and forthright, and she is kind. She cares very much for mothers. I wish we were neighbors to be honest.

I hope you can glean as much from her as I have. If you already know of her, which of her blog posts have you loved best? It is difficult to say, but I think these two might be my favorite. (Each word there has a different link.)

Have a lovely night!

P.s. If you click on her 'about' tab, you will find her resume. It is beyond impressive!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Utah Natural Meat -- Shop Here if You are Able

Utah Natural Meat
7400 S. 5600 W. West Jordan, UT
       I wanted to make a quick shout out to a local haunt my family adores. Utah Natural Meat is the farm where we purchase our meat. Shayn and and Kristen Bowler are third generation owners and operators of this little family business. And when I say little, well, I mean tiny as businesses go these days. They hire temporary help here and there, but they employ only one regular staff member. This is a true family business, and has been in the family since the 1940's.

Some of the things I love about about this little family and farm:
  • They are so obviously hard working. They go out of their way to make sure their customers are happy. And at times when I've been pregnant, they have always gone out of their way to make my visit as easy as possible.
  • They are honest. I was chatting one day with their worker as she checked out the packages I was buying. The conversations went something like me saying, "I really love this store. The family has always seemed so great!" To which their worker said something like, "Oh, I love working for the Bowlers. They are beyond scrupulous. It is just so nice working for people who are so concerned with being honest about the way they operate." Conversations like this say a lot to me about a business owner. I'm sold.
  • They sell a variety of meats, and have very reasonable prices. You will find beef, pork, lamb, goat, chicken, and turkey. They sell the muscle meats, which are awesome, but they also sell organ meats (liver, kidneys, and heart), fat from pigs and beef for rendering into lard and tallow, and bones.

  • They sell eggs pastured eggs! Walking up the the store you will often see a variety of chickens meandering around.

  • Speaking of that, all of their animals are pastured. As you drive up to the store you will see fields with pigs running around, mother cows with their calves, a tiny little donkey named Pepper, two draft horses, King and Duke. (We recently went to a family day at the farm and got a wagon ride with these beautiful horses. Amazing animals.) They often times will have turkeys wandering around too. And our favorite, the farm dog, Maggie. She is just the sweetest fuzzy girl.

Shayn with Duke and King
  • Another great thing about family operations like this is they are a family. They have children the same age as mine, and so all of these animals are accustomed to children and their antics. I love going there and seeing toy tractors all over the place, and knowing that I can let my kids wander while I grab what I need. Maggie thrives on the attention the kids pour on her.

  • They specialize in a heritage breed of cattle called corriente. If you click on the link to their website, you can read there all the great things about the corriente breed. I can testify, it is excellent quality beef, and again, the price cannot be beat.
  • Along with their animal ventures, they also grow vegetables to sell in the summer and fall months, and they have local bee keepers, and artisan soap and cheese makers who sell their wares in the farm store as well.
  • Oh, and they grow all their own feeds for their animals. Yes. I know, can real people be this fabulous? Non-GM alfalfa, and during the winter they have a green fodder system so the animals get greens year round. Bless them.*
      So there you have it. I am an advocate for buying locally, and wanted to get the word out there about this fantastic family and their little store. We can't raise all of our own meats yet. In the mean time (whatever that means) we feel good about our purchases here, knowing the animals raised here have good lives in sunny fields free to roam, with good real foods to eat. 

Thank you, Kristen and Shayn!

*Utah Natural Meat is not organic certified, however, they do use non-GM, corn/soy free feeds for all of their animals. You can read about their choice to remain uncertified here.

Note: It appears I forgot to mention Utah Natural Meat's store hours. They are open Thursdays 2:00pm-5:30pm, and Saturdays 9:00am-12:00pm.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Talk to Me: PPD and D-MER

I mentioned in a previous post that I had experienced post part depression after my third son was born. I wanted to write a post about how I realized I was suffering from postpartum depression (PPD) and dysphoric milk ejection reflex (D-MER), and what I was able to do to climb out of the brackish pit.

I was sitting on my couch not long after baby 3 was born, he was snuggled in for a nurse. All of a sudden this wave of despair washed over me. Not just the "Oh, I'm sad right now." kind, but the "Why bother even trying to go on? Life is worse then it has ever been." And also thoughts like, "I seriously hate my husband. I cannot even understand why I married him." This would last for about 10 seconds, and then it would pass. After about two weeks of this, I noticed these deep troughs of feeling correlated with nursings, more specifically when my milk let down. I dreaded it. Not long after that I realized I had read about this phenomenon while randomly browsing for birth stories on the internet. I was suffering from moderate dysphoric milk ejection reflex, or D-MER. (They hyphenate it because the acronym "DMER" had already been taken...)

D-MER is not the same as PPD, although mothers can have both. Also, it is not psychological in nature. I'll repeat that: D-MER is not psychological in nature. It is an anomaly based on the chemistry of milk let down. The best science of our day says that when prolactin goes up (it does more than just make you make milk, but for our purposes think of it is the lactation hormone) dopamine levels plummet for just a few seconds. In mothers who are experiencing D-MER, for some reason they feel that dopamine plummet as a wave of depressive feelings ranging from mild sadness, to more severe suicidal thoughts. Often the anomaly just sort of fizzles out as the mother and baby continue on their nursing journey. For some mothers they need to cease nursing their baby, because the wild hormone fluctuations are too damaging. (Yet another reason to stave off judgment for the mothers who do not nurse their babies.)

My remedies: 

  1. I personally felt greatly relieved from merely remembering what I had read. It's always nice to know you're not going crazy. This epiphany didn't make the sinking despair go away, though, it simply buoyed me up for the times I would experience it. 
  2. I am not a doctor, but I will tell you that I was able to find some information during that time that linked poor dopamine responses to magnesium deficiencies. I am a big proponent of getting the things we need from our foods, but I am not above taking a well chosen supplement. They can be life saving at times. I started supplementing with magnesium and it helped. Magnesium is a tricky mineral to supplement, because it can cause loose stools, and yet it needs to be in the intestines long enough to be absorbed... Good news is, even though supplementing is tricky, it did help some. It did not completely fix the problem, but I did find marked improvement. And luckily for me, the problem resolved with time. My main man and I have nursed longer than any of my other babes. I'm so grateful to be able to do it.

That isn't where things ended, though. Shortly after realizing all that craziness, I found myself standing in my kitchen one day just staring out my back window worried. I was worried about just about anything that my mind could grab hold of, but usually wild imaginings of what people thought of things I had said, or the way I had done this or that. I was anxious, restless, and just sad. It hit me that day as I was staring out the window, I hadn't always felt like that. I hadn't always felt so perpetually sad, and tired all the time. I am an active woman, and I while I wanted to be active still, I just felt tired. I spent some time searching in my mind that day, wondering when I all of a sudden felt so sure anything that was bad that could possibly happen would... and it hit me like a lightning bolt, this was postpartum depression. I hadn't felt this way a few long weeks ago while I was pregnant; it had been a good pregnancy, though it was a surprise.

My remedies: 

  1. I remembered that day that I had read an article written by a homeopath on different remedies for anxiety and depression. (I know, am I not the biggest nerd the world has ever seen? I just read all these seemingly random articles, but they come in so handy. Maybe it's God...) I found the article, and tried the homeopathic remedy Ignatia Amara (I used 30C). I felt miraculous improvement with this remedy, within minutes of taking it. Our house is never without it now. I have since moved on to my constitutional remedy, Sepia.
  2. During this same time, I also remembered the billion times I had been told PPD is strongly correlated to low vitamin B-12 levels, so I went in search of a good supplement for that. I took methylcobalamin (B-12), but didn't see any results. I was so disappointed. But I began to wonder about other B vitamins as well. To make a long story short, there are many different B vitamins all lumped together in what is referred to as a complex. The whole B vitamin complex is interconnected, and work closely together. I found that by supplementing one of the B vitamins, a person can unwittingly drive down level of other members of the B complex, and most, if not all of them have psychological effects because of their physiologic effects on our beautiful bodies and brains. After doing a lot of research I was able to find the most amazing food based B complex supplement. Ever.

I want to stress that these did not completely get rid of all of my symptoms 100% the first time taking them. The homeopathic remedy was awesome for minute to minute help, those times when I could just feel the anxiety creeping in. It is my miracle for that time frame. The B complex helped me feel at least 80% better after a small amount of time. I can't really say how long it was, I just realized one day, I wasn't fretful anymore. The last 20% has come with time as I have continued with the B complex.

I know there are a lot of people who are totally skeptical of homeopathic remedies. I can't say that I blame them, but I am here to tell you all they do work. I'll write my next post about the actual science (it is there oh ye doubters). Edit: Here is that post now!

So let's talk about this ladies. Have you experienced PPD, or D-MER? What was your experience like? What did you find that helped you? Or have you not? Are you still suffering? Please talk to us here. We would love to listen. Sometimes a listening, and empathetic ear can do wonders.

If you are wondering, but not sure that you have depression, here is a wonderful post with a list of possible symptoms.