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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hi There

Good morning. :)

I haven't been blogging because I haven't been sleeping. Well. For the past six weeks, on most nights out of the week, I get into bed at 10 or so, I almost drift off, and then my brain clicks on. I finally fall asleep at about 2. Every night. Beau's alarm goes off at 5:50, so I get up. The same thing happens if I try to take a nap. This problem has plagued me on and off since Roman has been born. But in the past six weeks, it has become more the norm.

As you can imagine, and probably know from nights of sleeplessness yourself, this is a problem.

My brain gets going around 10:30 and despairs of never being able to sleep, never being able to take care of my family, never getting back to normal. Still trying to take my thoughts captive, I would attempt to grab these thoughts and give them to God, but my self-control got weaker and weaker as the sleepless nights dragged into weeks.

Enter Dr. Hansen. You can read about her fabulousness over at Brandy's blog. She is everything she is rumored to be. We have gone to her for a few years now. She has helped us through stubborn allergies, through viruses and bacterial infections, and through other bodily imbalances.

I scheduled an appointment for Roman, who is allergic to milk and to everything I was using in my laundry regimen. I ended up pouring out my woes to gentle and compassionate Doc Linda. She listened and began busily testing me for possible imbalances in my post-baby body.

In a nutshell, she found my estrogen/progesterone levels to be way out of balance, common for new and nursing mommies. She put me on two supplements to help my body produce progesterone, but when I came back days later, bleary-eyed and weepy, she put me on actual progesterone. She has me on a kitchen-tray-full of supplements and I am beginning to feel a little better. My sleep is still not normal, but as older, wiser women have told me, normal is subjective. Maybe my body only needs four hours of sleep a night (Yeah, right!, I think in my cloudy mind...but they might be right!)

So I have had many late-night hours with the Lord, reading and meditating. I have tried Benadryl, Sleepy Time Tea, yoga, lots of exercise, exposure to sun, counting sheep, prayer, beer. The problem persisted, but I am becoming more peaceful with the possibility that my body will not always work the way I want. I am trying to see what God is teaching me through what I think is a trial. Even after weeks of terrible sleep, my family has not fallen apart and I am functioning just fine, so my late-night fears are quite unfounded.

I am entering into Week Two of my supplement regimen and I am thankful for God's provision of Dr. Hansen and my husband. Babies do quite a number on one's body, but I am confident that this body will return to some semblance of normal at a point in the future.

Do you have any advice on how to relax one's brain and get to sleep?


Brandy Afterthoughts said...


I am SO SORRY. I always thought the transition to three was hard anyhow, without throwing health issues into the mix. You sound like you are hanging in there so well, in spite of it.

In addition to what Doc said, you could try adding in extra amino acids. You can't take them isolated when nursing or pregnant, but a lot of folks find even blends work well, regardless. And blends don't have to be monitored closely like isolates do. But I'm thinking like using Bragg's Aminos in place of soy sauce, or adding pea protein to smoothies or soups or whatever it works for you in--Dr. Mercola makes a good, non-GMO pea protein powder, and my sister has one she likes and used with M as well (I could get the name if you want it).

You sound like you could be low in serotonin (okay, amino acids are my new thing, I admit it; I've actually emailed Doc about it to make sure she doesn't think I'm a crazy person!) so if you try eating turkey sandwiches with lots of cheese, or put walnuts and cheese in your salads. If you try it with food, don't eat other types of protein directly with the turkey/dairy products/walnuts because aminos balance each other and you can end up not getting the "extra" tryptophan you need (the body converts tryptophan to serotonin in the large intestine).

I had a pretty major homonal imbalance myself recently, and it DID take a couple weeks for me to feel like the supplements were kicking in.

And do let me know if you need anything, or want to get away and come over. This is our last week of swimming lessons, so our schedule is wiiiiidddddeee open for a while...

Farm Girl said...

Okay Jennifer, I only know what helps with me and it sounds like you are under good care but this is what happens to me when my brain won't turn off, I know my yeast count is off the charts too, so I take Mega-Adolphus. It needs to be the kind with living bacteria. A good book that helps is called The Yeast Connection by Dr. Crook. At the day class, Roxanna can help with so much and I always believed she saved my life
after I was in the place you are now.
What I do to help me sleep, is I start at the beginning of the Alphabet and I say, A is for All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. B is for Be ye kind to one another. C is cast all of your care on Him for He cares for you. Whatever scripture the Lord brings to my mind as I go through the Alphabet. Silly I know but I have only made it to Z once and I started back over but cause I could only come up with the genealogy of Jacob.Zebulon.
It will go away we all meet our Waterloos at different places, mine was going from two to three, and then six but there is always time for adjustment. Elisabeth Elliot said once and I was listening to her and hanging on her every word like it a a life preserver, that you need to pray about your schedule. We may be doing lots of great things for God, but sometimes we are doing more than He is asking us to do and we need to sit back and quietly rest. We might even have to tell people NO. Pray and ask God what is the most important thing you need to be doing and he will show you.
I will be praying for you, I know how hard this is to be in the place of constant exhaustion.
Blessing today,

Brenda said...

I am so sorry! I know people who swear by seratonin! I also find that staying up too late plays havoc on my mind. I normally get up between 4:30 and 5 am and by 8:30pm I am usually exhausted both mentally and physically. So, I cuddle up with Melanie read her a story and then grab my book and fall asleep usually by 9 or 9:30. BUT! If I miss my window of opportunity it is like my body recieves and extra shot of endorphins or something after 9pm...and I can't wind down. I become a crazy clean house warrior or a chatty Cathy! Then when I am all alone and the house is quite my brain won't stop! When it won't shut off I usually start praying and thinking of my worries and how I can give them over to God and exactly what attribute of His takes this worry away. Most of the time - it takes 15 min or so and I am out.

Oh, also Caffine after noon is also a problem for me. If my caffine intake increases, which is usually what happens when I get stressed or tired then it messes with my sleep cycle too - so i find if I cut it out by noon it helps.

I will be praying for you.

Jennifer said...

Ladies, I knew I could count on you. Thank you so much. I was starting to feel a little, well...crazy :) I am going to start reading about amino acids, serotonin, and Mega-Adolphus. It has done more harm than good to type "insomnia" into Google! Thank you all for your time and compassion in writing me.

Brandy Afterthoughts said...

My Dear Friend,

You are most definitely not crazy. :) If you want to read, you could start here with The Mood Cure Questionairre. The thing is, you must be very, very careful about taking aminos while nursing.

However, comma...

I just recently read somewhere (wish I could remember where!) that there are even amino blends supplement that folks have found effective (more effective than food alone). Something to check out at Cone's, perhaps. ;)

I was thinking about you while I was pretending to be a taxi today, and I thought of one more thing I used to do during my late nights: pray. Not just in general, but I took the time to pray for my husband and each child, for their future, for what God had for them. It helped focus my mind, it kept me from getting angry that I was not asleep (that was my biggest problem--resentment of all the sleeping people around me), and I actually felt like I was loving them by doing it...

NetRaptor said...

I'll be praying for you, Jennifer. Not being able to sleep makes you feel so crazy, doesn't it?

When I can't sleep, I usually get up and write stories. Headphones and long, long playlists. Eventually I get so tired that I have to crawl off to bed and sleep. But that doesn't work for everybody.

Anyway, I'll pray for you. I hope your sleep comes back once you get your body balanced. And acidopholus and megadopholus are your total friends.

Kara Haushalter said...

Sleep deprivation... a big factor in us deciding not to have any more kids. I cannot survive on less that 6 hours of sleep.

I so know how you feel. I struggled with this all my life, it has always taken me forever to fall asleep. But it was horrible these last few years with depression and anxiety. There were nights that I was up ALL night!!! YIKES!

It was in part due to meds I needed to help me overcome post-partum. Anxiety was a huge culprit (still can be). I used to cry just because I was sure that I would not sleep and then ended up being anxious about that!!! It is so hard and I did use sleep aids to help. Tylenol Sleep is a good one, but may not be good when breast feeding. There is a natural one called Sleep MD that works well and doesn't leave you groggy. Talk to your doc about that. A couple good nights of sleep can do wonders for anxious thoughts. I was encouraged just to obtain a normal sleep pattern again, but with kids that is always tough.

I love that you tried prayer and beer! Hilarious! Keep praying about it. I found that ultimately I had to put it in God's hands and depend on Him as the Healer and Great Physician to make thinks work right. I try to read the bible or something pointing towards God before I go to bed. Someone once told me that a warm shower before bed was bad but I love it, nothing relaxes me more than that! Warm milk and honey helps too!

I am so sorry that you have been going through this. I am praying that it is short lived and that you will have energy and be rejuvenated regardless of how many hours sleep you get. Love you girl!

Read Psalm 77

Jennifer said...

Thanks again, girls! Brandy, I would love to know more about serotonin. Would St. John's Wort or 5-HTP be something you would recommend? Dr. Hansen said she may put me on St. John's Wort. Beau has encouraged me to stop nursing, as I am on a huge array of supplements. So yesterday was my last day of breastfeeding. I wanted to make it to 6 months, but I ended up three weeks shy of the goal. I think I am okay with that! Kara, I am also going to try the hot shower or bath. Like Brenda said, if I stay awake too long, I get an adrenaline shot, so maybe with the transition to bottle, I can move Roman's last feeding up to nine pm instead of 10. Most of all, I appreciate everyone's prayers. Love you all.

Brandy Afterthoughts said...

I do not claim to be an expert on this at all, but I do know that the gal who wrote The Mood Cure suggests the 5-HTP because it bypasses the first conversion of tryptophan. These are supposed to be short term--so you take them for a month or two and never longer than a year.

Something you might want to read (if you have time--and I know you might not) is Gut and Psychology Syndrome. Since tryptophan is converted to serotonin in the large intestine, this is often indicative of an underlying digestive issue. So even though supplements can pull you out, we've taken the approach with our children to try and address the digestive issues which have caused the problem in the first place (though we are still pondering supplementation for one child).

With that said, since all of this came on post-partum, and Doc found that hormonal imbalance, it could be that you have no digestive causes, and so supplementing for a month or two would bring you back into balance and you'd be good to go!

Even though all of this is a science, my suspicion is that it is also an art!

Brandy Afterthoughts said...

ps. You made it longer in nursing with your third child than I did! My goal was always six months since I have the same milk supply issues you do. I think I actually averaged more than that between all the children, but Number Three only made it 4 months. We went on vacation during a nursing strike...it was horrible...

Anyhow, I'm glad that part is going to work out for you, too. You did good! :)

Jill said...

So sorry Jennie! Don't know if you're looking for advice still, and I didn't read the other comments to see what the other folks said, but I LOVE my sound machine. I set it to the ocean sound, and it somehow magically turns my brain off. Best of luck, and sweet dreams.


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