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I have a secret confession: I haven’t visited the chiropractor in over a year. Chiropractic has been a part of my life since I was about seven years old. But here’s what happened when I quit:
It started last fall when I delivered my second baby via cesarean section after a 30-hour labor. Chiropractic was an integral part of my pregnancy and birth process. I even hired my chiropractor to attend to me during labor. I love her. She is amazing and acted as a second doula to me. Her moral support was something I will feel indebted to her forever.
But chiropractic care, while it may have offered me some relief from the aches and pains from pregnancy, didn’t keep me from having a c-section.
But a few weeks later, my husband and I got into a fight because he found out how much chiropractic care was costing us. I tried to explain how worth it chiropractic was. How much we NEEDED it. He couldn’t hear it. All he could see was dollar signs and the mountain of our debt growing and growing and growing.
You see, he wasn’t convinced that chiropractic was all it promised to be. So he cut me off. He said, “Until we are truly taking care of ourselves by exercising, eating well, cutting our sugar intake, and reducing our stress levels – things that we KNOW FOR SURE will improve our health – I don’t want us spending any more money on chiropractic.”
I’ll be honest. I was mad.
But, he had a point. I would drive 45 minutes to the chiropractor, taking up my entire morning – then hit McDonalds on the way back because I was starving. Not cool, really.
So I acquiesced.
At the same time, I continued to process through what happened during the birth of both of my boys and started looking into the “other side” of birth “research.” (See: Why didn’t my baby’s head fit?) I started spending more time lurking on pro-science, pro-medicine, pro-vaccine websites and Facebook pages. It all started snowballing for me. I learned that there isn’t a lot of scientific backing for chiropractic, babies die because of bad birth advice, and that MAYBE EVERYTHING I THOUGHT I KNEW ABOUT HEALTH WAS ACTUALLY A SHAM.
I didn’t know what to do. It was terrifying.
You see, for my entire adult life, I have worn my physical limitations as sort of this badge that defines me. “Look at me. I’m a mom with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia and food allergies. I had a traumatic birth. I have it so hard! You just don’t understand what it’s like to be me!”
I wrote an entire 31 Days blog post series about how to prepare for an empowering VBAC and all of the sudden I was scared that I was giving out advice that might “empower” women at the expense of the life and health of their children.
I kept it mostly to myself. When I did share stuff, I was attacked. I was blocked. I was unfriended. By people I really loved and cared about.
I started asking myself really really hard questions:
Was Ezra’s birth really traumatic?
Did I put Little Brother’s life in danger because I was so intent on “getting my VBAC”?
Have I worn the badge of physical limitation so long that I am selling myself short?
If my body’s healing powers are so amazing, then why do I need to go to the chiropractor three times a week to facilitate that healing?
It was like facing legalistic fundamentalism all over again – this time with a new belief system that I had also clung to my entire life. (The parallels between these two belief systems are actually incredibly similar, but that’s another post for another day.)
And so, at my husband’s urging, last October, I quit chiropractic.
I also quit all supplements, essential oils, eating organic, apple cider vinegar, kombucha, cloth diapering, and pretty much everything else “crunchy” I had spent my husband’s hard-earned money on over the years. I bought products like 409, Secret deodorant, and shampoo and soap WITH parabens (horror of horrors). I even got my annual flu shot.
I stopped living in fear of doctors, medication, and chemicals. I stopped thinking I knew better than super-smart people who have dedicated their lives to studying the human body and disease. I stopped listening to self-important mommy bloggers who were telling me what to eat, what supplements to take, and what oils to use. I stopped worrying about the 1001-ways-you-are-giving-your-kids-cancer-today posts that would show up on my Facebook feed.
In November, at our wit’s end as parents, we put our son on ADHD medication. In February, I went on Zoloft. In April, I started feeding my 8-month-old baby formula. And as of 4:00 today, I’m going on an IBS medication and going off all elimination diets after five years of no improvement in my digestive symptoms.
I hear you naysayers shaking your head. You’ve traded a natural lifestyle for a hand full of pills and formula?!?!?!
No, not really.
But what I did do is stop spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars a month on chiropractic, supplements, oils, and a gargantuan natural grocery bill and now pay about $11 per month for Zoloft and $2 a month for Concerta and Ritalin.
It started as an experiment to reduce our expenses, but my health has actually improved, not declined.
I see myself making my bed almost every day, keeping up with the laundry and housework, decluttering, waking up before my kids, and exercising almost daily. I’m climbing mountains and lifting weights.
Eight months of Zoloft has done more for my health than years of chiropractic ever did. Because once I stopped living in a state of “OH NO! MY LIFE IS SOOOOO HARD!!! MY BODY IS BROKEN!!! C-SECTIONS ARE TRAUMATIC!!! DOCTORS ARE OUT TO GET ME!!! AND EVERYTHING IS TOXIC!!!” – I was able to stop stressing and enjoy living.
For years, I have checked out of the grocery store nearly in tears because I was choosing to buy the healthiest food, cleaning products, and cosmetics for my family – at the expense of our budget. I would stand there looking at that little screen that would pop up and say, “Amount OK?” and my inner voice would scream NO! IT’S NOT OKAY!! But I would click OK anyway because I thought I was doing what was best for my family.
Yes – Russ, Ezra, and I now take prescription drugs every day. BECAUSE THEY WORK AND MAKE OUR LIVES SO MUCH BETTER.
If you don’t believe me, believe this:
The family that takes a 5.5 mile strenuous hike together…eats ice cream with sprinkles together!!! The boys were troopers!!! (So was Mommy!) #family #familyhike #boymom #fitness A photo posted by Aprille (@beautyinhistime) on
#littlebrother just drank his first bottle ever of 100% @gerber formula! You know what I’m thankful for? Growing. The ability that God has given us as moms to make good choices for our babies…even if they fall far different from those around us, or even those of our former self! With Ezra, we nursed for 29 months and attended every @lalecheleagueusa meeting we could. No bottles, no paci. But that was then and this is now. I’m not totally the same Mommy I was then. I’ve learned my personal limits. I’ve learned how to set boundaries. I’ve learned how to be more balanced and prioritize self care. I’ve learned that yes, “A person’s a person, no matter how small,” but that I’m a person too. How long will we nurse? Honestly, I don’t know. We will be taking it one feeding at a time, evaluating what we BOTH need in that moment. It’s bittersweet, but I’m so thrilled!! #weaning #fedisbest #saneisbest @lansinohusa #lansinohlove A photo posted by Aprille (@beautyinhistime) on
Broke in my new “M-for-Mommy” @merrelloutside hiking boots on a 6 mile trek around Stone Mountain. #exhausted #hiking #mothersday A photo posted by Aprille (@beautyinhistime) on
During the duration of intensive in home services, our team utilized art therapy (specifically drawing) to encourage Ezra to express his feelings. It got added to his coping skills chart. He’s had a rough week or so and several times has been melting down or right on the verge. The last three times I’ve basically just thrown construction paper and markers his way and he has instantly calmed down – each time drawing the situation that made him upset, his face as he is feeling, or something along those lines. Today, he drew a volcano (another recurring theme from therapy). In the picture on the left, the volcano represents his angry and explosive feelings. As he drew, he turned the picture over and drew the volcano cooling down, at which point the lava trickles to the bottom and the rest of the volcano turns to coal. He explained that this was what was happening in his body- and has been calm ever since! I thought it was super cool! Yay for progress! #arttherapy #adhd #specialneeds
Asked Ezra to clean his room. Did some laundry and goofed off on the computer. Checked on him a little while later and found this: ?#wow #amazeballs #whoareyouandwhathaveyoudonewithmyson A photo posted by Aprille (@beautyinhistime) on
I’ve stopped wearing my pain and physical limitations as a badge of honor. I’ve stopped being traumatized by a surgery that gave me two beautiful precious boys. I’ve chilled the heck out and seen everyone in my family do the same.
In short: I’ve stopped living my life as a martyr.
I’m not saying everyone should do what I have done. But I felt like I needed to be honest and “come out of the (natural health) closet” for you guys because I’m a different and better person now having made these choices.