Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Inactivity and Coming Back To Church: My Uncensored Look

"When you feel the heat, look into my eyes
"It's where my demons hide, it's where my demons hide.
"Don't get too close, it's dark inside
"It's where my demons hide, it's where my demons hide."
- Demon, by the Imagine Dragons

I never in my wildest dreams imagined that I would become less-active. I was always really diligent about going to Church and I really loved the sense of community I always felt. But my life didn't go quite how I anticipated and I am now returning to activity after several years of being less-active and having many family and friends who have been less active. Being on the receiving end of reactivation efforts has shown me just how misunderstood being less-active is and how little understood reactivation is by most members of the Church. Thus the reason for this post. As the title implies, I'm not going to hold back a lot here, so you've been warned now that you might be offended by some of the views in this post.

Less Active Myths:

People go less active because of mainly petty offenses.

I think this is a convenient idea for active members. One bad apple doesn't spoil the whole bunch and less-actives need to just develop a tougher skin and more faith. Some people do get caught up in petty things, others develop serious doubts about doctrine. But here's the thing, a lot of people stop feeling safe at church and that's why they stop going. They're trying to avoid further trauma. Why do people stop feeling safe at church? There are a lot of scenarios. Some committed a serious sin and were met with a lot of shaming from members as they tried to put their lives right. Judgemental words and deeds, or serious trauma at the hands of one or more Church members are often the root. (This can be a big problem for men who have been victims of sexual trauma inflicted by other men, especially when the abuser was a Church member. They often don't feel safe in priesthood meetings and simply stop coming to avoid the panic it brings . It's a bigger problem than you think.) Local leaders who overstep their bounds and use their authority in ways that ends up being humiliating is another one. Feeling forced into Church by parents is another thing that pushes many young people out of Church. Some people become overwhelmed with family and financial or other issues and feel unable to shoulder the burdens of church too. 

If my kids are having trouble with Church, I should force them to go and it will be worth it in the end.

I have met so many less-active adults who felt forced into church activity by parents. They associate the Church with having their agency taken away. Forcing people to do what's right is Satan's plan; that is what we fought against in the War in Heaven. If your children are questioning the Church or struggling, follow the example of our Heavenly Parents (who do have all the answers) and continue to love your children, live your life the way you choose and teach (but not ram-down-the-throat) correct principles and then let them choose. This may seem scary, but there's a better chance that they will return and become more dedicated if they are allowed to find their own testimony and choose for themselves.

People don't come back to church because they get distracted by worldly pursuits.

Sometimes this is true. For me, my assigned ward felt so scary that the idea of going to church sometimes gave me panic attacks. I felt so threatened by the shame and embarrassment I had experienced at church that though I wanted very much to return to full activity, I couldn't do it. I felt extremely vulnerable at church. To understand the vulnerability/shame dynamic, I really can't recommend enough watching Brene Brown's TED talks "The Power of Vulnerability" and "Listening to Shame". This vulnerability/shame dynamic is what many less-actives are dealing with when thinking about coming back to church.

Why Did I Go Less-Active? 

There were a lot of things that added up, some big, some little. Mostly I felt like many of the people in the ward, including the leadership, had made a judgement about my family's situation when they really knew nothing about what was really going on. It felt like many of the people in the ward felt that seeing my family and my in-laws at Church for a few hours told them everything they needed to know. I felt that it was my in-laws' ward and the first loyalty of the leadership was to them- right or wrong. So I didn't feel like there was a place for us. For my husband, these issues were compounded by several other issues that go back into his childhood.

Why Did I Come Back?

It was a convergence of factors. I was feeling more ready to and a new bishop had been called who was willing to listen to us and has so far been helpful with aiding us in addressing the problems were facing and doing what he can to help us make the changes that we want to see happen in our life. What we felt from previous leadership was more of an emphasis on how great we had it, which was not helpful. How things going as we move forward remains to be seen. I still have a lot of mistrust of Church leadership.

What Helps?


If you are want someone to come back to church, the first thing you must do is be sincere in your love for them. Let me blunt here: less-actives couldn't possibly care less about the ward records showing perfect attendance. We're not interested in being another notch on the ecclesiastical bed post, and truthfully, that is how most fellowship efforts feel. We want to feel safe at church, and unless that happens, we won't come back. Many members have a terrible problem confusing numbers with Christlike love. Love and fellowship can not be quantified by numbers on an attendance sheet or reports to a mission president. If you're interested in helping someone back to church, you have to love them and be a true friend whether they come or not. And be forewarned, many less-actives are very suspicious and have a pretty high BS-meter. We can tell if you're faking interest in us for the sake of numbers. But seriously, get to know us! We can be pretty awesome people!


It won't happen overnight. It doesn't happen in 20 minutes like a seminary video. It may take years. But if it takes years, isn't that worth it? Take the counsel of Proverbs 17:17: "A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." 

Don't be surprised

The need for this is vastly underestimated. You must be able to say "You can't surprise me", and it has to be true. Most who are less active are dealing with boatloads of baggage. Molestation, incest, rape, teen pregnancy, abortion, same-sex attraction, addiction, family dysfunction, questions about doctrine/supposed doctrine are all issues that contribute to becoming less active and for many people, and those issues have to be resolved if they are going to feel safe in coming back to church. They can't be swept under the rug. If someone tells a church leader or member they are struggling with one (or more) of these types of issues, the single worst thing that can be done is to sweep it under the rug or shame the person by telling them how bad a sin is and to simply stop.

This is something I wish every bishop understood: If people come to you and tell you they are having a problem, that is a really, really good thing. How good? So good that you should keep confetti in your desk for such occasions. Whenever someone tells you of their own free will that they are experiencing a serious problem or confesses a serious sin, you should shout "Hallelujah!" because these are the people who are experiencing a mighty change of heart. These are the people who want to make something great of their lives. The folks whose entire life and identity is wrapped up in being a by-the-letter Latter Day Saint who never talk about their problems? These are the ones you should be afraid of. In my experience, these people are often the ones who have serious dysfunction/transgression in their life and are trying to hide it like Bernie Madoff by being so "perfect" that they remain above suspicion.

Christ descended below all things. He took on all the ugliness of the world. He never hid from anything. If we want to be Christlike, we have to be willing to face the demons and help those who are struggling to fight them. (BTW, if you find someone who wants help with doctrinal issues, I can't recommend enough checking out the LDS Apologetics site

A note on treats...

Everyone loves treats, especially me! This can be a great way to show someone that you are thinking of them. But I do recommend asking about a person's diet before sending treats their way. One time a lady from our ward gave us green beans from her garden and that totally rocked!!!! We love getting fresh fruits and vegetables. Besides that, many people have food allergies and sensitivities or special dietary needs for health problems such as diabetes or heart disease. If you really want to rock someone's world, find out what they like and if they have any dietary restrictions.

What Doesn't Help?

Asking us why we are not coming to church

Sometimes it's necessary for a bishop or other leader to enquire about why a member isn't coming, but seriously folks, don't ask this is casual conversation. (See the above on "Don't be surprised".)

Telling us how great the ward is

In my personal experience, I hear this on a lot. Maybe it's just my ward. (This past fast Sunday there seemed to be a lot of testimonies dedicated to to how great a ward we have, along with the usual list of health problems and shout outs to family. Props to the two teens involved with special needs seminary who gave simple, short testimonies about the love of God and how they had seen it with the kids they were helping.) When I keep hearing this over and over again, I feel like people are trying to sell me on the ward. On the other hand, me having been inactive may make them feel insecure as if I've been judging the ward by not coming, so I realize it goes both ways. Just focus on being a good friend. Sometimes, a few really great people make more difference than a whole ward.

Overstepping your bounds

If you are in a leadership position such as a bishop, please be careful not to jump to conclusions or overstep the boundaries of your calling. One particularly humiliating incident for us happened when a bishop decided he needed to help my mother-in-law with a decision concerning us that was hers to make and no one else's. It was so painful that it was the nail in the coffin for us being involved with the ward. A very dearly loved family member of mine went inactive in junior high after the bishop of her ward accused her of using drugs (she wasn't). The bishop was absolutely certain about it though because his mother had claimed that she had seen the girl exit the bathroom with her friends and the girl's pupils were dilated. (Note, neither of these people were trained substance abuse professionals.) Though her parents believed her, no one else did because she was already struggling with church. The bishop demanded that she be sent away and she was. This did exactly nothing to help her with church activity and everything to drive her further away. (Though I'm sure it made the bishop's mother feel very important.)

This is also important with temple workers. I live within a couple of blocks of one of the busiest temples in the world (work for the dead-wise) and my husband and I went frequently after we were first married. We had so many humiliating experiences where we were criticized and belittled by temple workers that we stopped coming. A lot of people will hate reading this, but going to the temple often felt like stepping into a country club where we were in the way of an elite group's social gathering. It seemed the workers would have preferred to keep doing work for the dead and socializing with each other rather than having us there. I plan to get my recommend back some day soon, but there are certain temples I will never attend again because the experiences were too painful.

After living in close proximity to a temple and getting to know many temple workers, I really get the feeling that many temple workers are not there because they want to help others have an uplifting temple experience. Some are lonely and want a social experience, they want to feel needed, they want to feel important/authoritative, they need something to fill their time with, they like the social prestige the position gives or they are hoping that a lot of temple attendance will fix problems they are having in their life. I can say from personal experience that a few people become temple workers or very frequent attendees because they have serious sins they are trying to cover up. Not what anyone wants to hear, but this has been my experience. 

Honking at us as you drive by

I think this might be more localized to where I'm living, but it drives us crazy (no pun intended.) We get a lot of people honking at us as we are out for our family walk. It doesn't make us feel loved or accepted, it's actually quite startling and annoying. If you're out driving and you want to say hi to someone less active, stop and pull over and have a real conversation. Once the Relief Society President did this and it was actually quite nice. 

Asking about my father-in-law's health

Wow. I can't believe how many times we got this question before we went less active. People would see us in the foyer and the first thing they would ask is "How's your dad doing?" Rarely were we asked how we were doing. Now, this is probably because he never leaves the house except for doctor's appointments and most people in the ward have met him only a few times if at all and I'm told my mother-in-law doesn't talk about what's going on very much, so it's probably quite the mystery. But there is a much more polite alternative: Go over and visit him yourself. He rarely gets visitors apart from the home teachers. It's my understanding that the ward members are supposed to be the first ones to visit the sick and afflicted. Thankfully, since I have started going to church again, I have gotten few queries about my father-in-law's health. Another thing that happened after we had our first baby was that older women in the ward would come over and talk baby talk to our son and completely ignore us. It made us feel like we really didn't matter and our baby was just there for the older women's entertainment. It would have been nice to actually have people ask us how we were doing and be interested in getting to know us.

So there it is. My experience with inactivity and returning to church. I know everyone else has something different. But this is a subject we don't really talk about much as church members. Hopefully, we can start opening a dialogue.

Friday, February 14, 2014

About Time

For Valentine's Day, we rented a movie called About Time. It's about a man who can travel back in time. But there's a catch: if he changes anything before the birth of his child, he gets a different child in the future. I had to ask myself a question: If I could go back and change CJ's body so that his spine was normal, would I do it?

I have to say, the answer is no.

Judge me how you will, but I wouldn't change it. Spina bifida has been a part of CJ and a part of our family's experience and we wouldn't be the people we are if we hadn't experienced it. Everything about it, the NICU and operations, the walker, the birth trauma, the exhilaration of KJ's birth, the question of how we are going to deal with an older child who doesn't walk yet when his little brother does; those have all defined us. They are challenges but they are also treasures. It has been a beautiful life.

I love the person CJ has helped me become. I love the world of possibilities that he has shown me. I know he has challenges in this life, but we all do. Let the world go by. I am happy with my boy and his back.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Carrot Juice Christians

The other night we were at Wal Mart and the guy ahead of us in the checkout line had a bottle carrot juice and an organic smoothie drink he was buying. He was also purchasing cigarettes. Yes, for himself. We heard him mention which brand he prefers to smoke. The idea of someone purchasing health drinks and smoking cigarettes seems very ironic, but I think I understand what this gentleman was thinking. He had a cigarette problem and knew it was harmful. He's probably had difficulty quitting. He's probably hoping that by being vigilant about his health in other aspects he can slow down or counter the carcinogenic effects of smoking.

I've gotten to know some pretty crazy, deep dark secrets about some people over the past several years. Real dark stuff. But here's the thing, many of the people who have this deep, dark crap going on  in their life are some of the most "Molly Mormon" or "Peter Priesthood".

These are the folks who wouldn't miss church if they were on their deathbed. They decorate their houses with temple pictures or wall-hangings about eternal families. Some of them are temple workers, others returned missionaries. They're often the ones who rant loudly about the evils of pornography, gay marriage, and sexual abuse amongst polygamists, while turning a blind eye to the same issues within themselves or their own families or shaming those who come forward to seek help and repentance. I get the impression that many of them think that if they just do enough good things, the bad stuff will go away without actually addressing the problems.

Of course, this is like smoking cigarettes while drinking carrot juice. Carrot juice has tons of benefits, but if you keep smoking, the effects will eventually catch up with you. You can't experience the full benefits of carrot juice unless you eliminate smoking. And we can't experience the full benefits of the Gospel unless we humbly and sincerely repent of our sins.

This is applicable to missionary work too. After all, if someone was smoking a cigarette while telling you about the importance and healthful nature of carrot juice, would you believe them?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Modesty, Pornography and the Body

There has been a lot of talk about protecting our children from pornography lately. I really want to chip in my two cents on a subject that relates to this and I think is becoming a stumbling block to effectively teaching our children the difference between sex and pornography. I am going to talk about modesty. The following is a collection of ideas on modesty, pornography and the body.

Modesty is not a dress code. I am quoting from here: Modesty is an attitude of propriety and decency in dress, grooming, language, and behavior. If we are modest, we do not draw undue attention to ourselves. Instead, we seek to “glorify God in [our] body, and in [our] spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:20; see also 1 Corinthians 6:19). Modesty is an attitude and a way of life. It is living your life in such a way that you bring honor and glory to your Heavenly Parents and make them pleased with you. Modesty is not about cap sleeves, high neck lines on prom dresses or having short hair and a clean shaven face. These are all things that can be part of a life lived with modesty, but they are not modesty itself. 

Dress standards are a revolving door. We Mormons are often fond of talking about how the Lord has one standard of modesty. But dress and grooming are very much dependent on what is acceptable in a particular time and place. Many interpret that to be more or less BYU's dress and grooming standards. However, how you are dressed now would have been completely inappropriate to the pioneers. In Leviticus 19:27,  the Lord commanded that the priests not trim the corners of their beards. This wasn't because this style in and of itself was bad, but because it was worn by the idolatrous priests. Church leaders began moving away from wearing beards in the mid-twentieth century not because beards were sinful, but because they were closely associated with polygamists. And for that matter, Moroni's ultra comfy attire as described in JSH1:31 of a simple robe that leaves the chest open to view is not in compliance with most Mormons' view on modesty. That being said, God does not allow his representatives to appear in less than modest attire, so the problem must be us. (It makes you wonder if we were less hung up on hemlines if we might see more angels...) Men and women need to dress in such a way that they show respect for their bodies and do not present themselves as sex objects. But they also need to act that way too.

And speaking of BYU, the dress code there is very much lacking. When you are denied service at an institution of higher learning because you haven't shaved but can wear your pajamas to class, I think we need to re-evaluate our ideas of modesty. If BYU is concerned about the image they portray maybe they should keep in mind that Hugh Hefner is clean shaven and wears pajamas everywhere while the Savior wore a beard.

Styles and clothes change, but an attitude of reverence and glorifying God will always be appropriate and becoming. 

Our bodies are temples. And everything that entails. We do not hide our temples. We don't try to keep the temple a secret. We actually want everyone to be able to experience the ordinances of the temple, but we want them to be prepared and worthy because these ordinances are so sacred. The power in the temple ordinances doesn't come from others not knowing about them, it comes from us keeping them sacred. Once my husband's mother and sister were worrying over some new material about the temple ceremony that had hit the internet. I love how he responded. He said, "You can find out about the entire temple ceremony anywhere just like you can find out about sex anywhere. But the point isn't that other people don't know. The point is that I keep my covenants and don't reveal the things that I know are sacred."

And along this line, we need to ask ourselves if we are really treating our bodies as temples when we eat copious amounts of junk food, don't exercise and spend our time in banal trivial pursuits. Is a woman who wears a high neckline and a knee length skirt and abuses her body with unhealthy food and a steady diet of trashy television programs really modest?

The body is not pornographic. The body is not the source of sexual temptation any more so than the temple is a source of temptation. The body is God's most wondrous creation. It is inherent to the Gospel plan. People do not commit sexual sin because they see an unclothed body. They commit sexual sin because of where their mind is at. We have got to stop telling our young women that they need to dress "modestly" so that they keep boys from sinning. We have to stop telling our young men that if they see certain parts of the female body that they will not be able to control themselves. This denies agency. Every man must choose how he will treat women, regardless of how they are acting or what they are wearing. Please remember that Joseph of the Old Testament when faced with seduction by Potiphar's wife fled. It didn't matter what she was (or wasn't) wearing or how she acted, Joseph had made the decision to live with virtue and that was what guided his actions. When we are engaged holy sexual intimacy, we are as close as we can get to godhood and employing the sacred powers of procreation. This is something to be celebrated, not something to be ashamed of.

Dress standards have become a convenient cop-out for Mormons. Instead of addressing the weightier matters of true sexual purity, marriage, and a godly life we simply talk about hemlines and cap sleeves and think we have taken care of teaching our youth about modesty. We use it as an all too convenient yardstick to measure a person's worthiness. So let me share with you the story of a young man I knew whom I will call Cameron.

Cameron seemed to be everything that a young LDS man should be. He was the son of a bishop, grandson of a patriarch, a returned missionary, a BYU graduate, and a temple worker. He volunteered at the soup kitchen. Cameron took great pains to make sure that he was well-dressed according to BYU's standards and maintained his missionary haircut after he got back. He said that his mission president had told him that you could measure a man's righteousness by how well he followed mission dress standards and Cameron wanted everyone to measure him as a righteous person. But beneath surface Cameron was facing a battle that he dared not admit. Cameron had been molested by his father as a child and been introduced to pornography when he found his dad's stash of hard core porn and sex toys under the bed. Cameron began to act out the abuse he had experienced with other children in the neighborhood, but because Cameron came from such a good family and the other children were all so ashamed of what had happened, no one came forward. As he got older Cameron got further into pornography. He committed just about every sexual sin you can imagine with members of both sexes and even attempted to rape a male friend of his. When he was in committed relationships with girlfriends, he would still have sexual relationships with other girls as well. When the ecclesiastical endorsement interviews came around every year at the Y, Cameron would simply answer that he was morally clean. If anyone he had abused confronted him about it, he would defend himself by listing out his church work and his clean cut style and say that the abuse was just joking around. Cameron got married in the temple to a girl he he met at BYU.

So moms, do you want your daughter to marry a Cameron? Does it really matter how he wears his hair or what his Church resume is like if he abuses and mistreats women (and men)? If we teach our children to respect others and live lives of loving service to glorify God and not to cover their sins, those are the most important things. If we teach our children to follow the Savior and live lives of true modesty so that they humbly give glory to God, the dress standards will fall into place. If we continue to teach our children that modesty is hemlines and haircuts and covering skin, then what we will have is a generation who are concerned with a dress code- and little else.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

You Live Here: My Journey Through Birth Trauma

After finishing the entire series of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Malamute and I tried watching Deep Space Nine. Sorry to all of you DS9 fans who might be reading this blog, but we only made it through the first three episodes and then moved on to Voyager. But that means we saw the episode where Benjamin Sisko meets the interdimensional beings who keep bringing him to the moment that his wife died and say, "But you live here". I've come to realize just how accurate a representation that is for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I didn't think I had experienced birth trauma until I started reading a book called The Gift of Giving Life that had an entire essay on it. I had a natural birth in a birthing suite with Duckling. I labored in a hot tub for part of the time and everything. Birth trauma happens to women who have unexpected c-sections, premature babies or horrible inductions. Not me.

After my positive pregnancy test with Snugglebutton though, a strange thing started to happen. I kept picturing myself in that moment when Duckling came out with his back open. I felt panicked. My chest tightened and lost my breath. I stayed up nights worrying about this baby having to face the NICU again, even though chances of that were about 1 in 100. I lost my appetite and had difficulty eating. I love being a mother, I love pregnancy, even labor is a challenge I looked forward to, but try as I might to be rational, I couldn't escape the fact that whenever I pictured another child emerging from my body, the only thing I could picture was that open back and the intense fear of some how losing my baby. I was living in that moment.

I continued to deny to myself that I had a problem. But as my due date loomed, I couldn't deny any longer that I was panicked about that moment of birth. I'd be hiking and people would ask me about my due date and say, "You're getting close! I'll bet you can't wait to be done!" and all I could think of was how badly I wanted this baby to stay inside of me forever so we could all be safe.

I think the turning point came when my husband told me that I needed to picture things turning out positively no matter what. Over the next week I did just that and though I still felt fear as I went into labor, I was no longer panicked.

My given name means victory, but I've never felt truly victorious until that moment when I saw my second child for the first time and saw that his back was fine. And not only was his back fine, he was perfectly pink and breathing beautifully. I had done it. I had faced that moment and it had come out just as I had hoped.

I remember reading a Readers' Digest article about a woman who had gotten disfiguring burns on her face as a child from a house fire. She ended up dating a firefighter who then arranged for her to face her fear by doing a firefighter training exercise. I've heard of veterans who go to shooting ranges to take away the emotional charge associated with gun fire and other loud noises. Since facing that moment of seeing my second baby for the first time, the panic associated with that moment I had been stuck in has left me. In its place I have felt a calm acceptance of that moment I realized I had a special needs child. But just because my first birth turned out that way, didn't mean that my second would. If I had never gotten back in the game, I never would have known for sure and that fear would have ruled me.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Upside of Blaming Myself

People sometimes ask what caused Duckling's spina bifida. The truth is that all research shows that it tends to be a combination of genes and nutritional deficiencies. And then I freely admit that I wasn't eating nutritiously when Duckling was conceived. I did start taking a multivitamin, but depending on the conception date, it may not have been in time to prevent it. Usually, people tell me not to blame myself. I've been thinking about this lately and I've actually decided that I prefer to own this.

It's funny, but out of all the trauma and problems associated with the spina bifda, the fact that I probably had a hand in it has been one of the easier ones to deal with. I guess that's because I always felt that having a disability wasn't the end of the world for him and he could still have a happy and fulfilling life with it. The other reason is simply that it is there and there is nothing I can do to take it back now. If I keep beating myself up over the fact that his neural tube never sealed up fully, I'll never be able to help him thrive in the present.

You see, if I decide to think of spina bifida as a thing just happens, that I had no control over, then I become powerless. If I have no control over it, then I can avoid blaming myself, but the rules of the game are that I can do nothing to prevent it from happening again. If I own that spina bifida and embrace my role in it, then I am free to deal with the present and prevent it from happening again. When Snugglebutton was conceived, I was eating about 1,000-4,000 mcg of folate a day from legumes, greens, nuts and fruits. It seems to have worked since he came out just fine. (Yes, Baby #2 is going to go by Snugglebutton on this blog for now. It's sappy, but those of you who have met him know he is like a tiny little bundle of cuddles, so it fits.)

But if I had never made the decision to own my part in Duckling's spina bifida, I never would have been free to find the answers I needed to prevent it from happening again and act on them. And so, I willingly and happily blame accept that I had a role in my son's birth defect.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

If You're Pregnant, You'll Want This Post-Partum!!!!

I remember the first time I read about after pains. I was reading Susun Weed's Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year. I came to the part about remedies for after pains, and I thought to myself, "You mean I'm going to keep having contractions after the baby is born this time?!" I told myself that it couldn't be that bad. Oh the naiveté... 

As some of you out there know, I gave birth to my second baby about a week ago, and I can now tell you that after pains are extremely painful. For the first day or so, the after pains kicked my butt. I kept thinking, "How do you c-sections mom do this? After pains and surgery recovery?! Ow, ow ow!" I didn't have any of the herbs around that Susun Weed recommends. So I hopped online before taking one of my naps though and found out that you can use helichrysm and lavender essential oils to help the uterus contract postpartum. I had both of them on hand and mixed 1 drop helichrysm and 3 drops lavender and rubbed it on my lower back and did the same for my abdomen. Lo and behold, the after pains started to decrease! 

By about day four postpartum, the after pains were gone. The other thing I found that you can do with helichrysm oil is use it to heal stitches and tears to the perineum and reduce postpartum bleeding. This time, I had some minor tearing. Nothing that needed suturing, but I was feeling a bit uncomfortable. Oh. My. Goodness. You would not believe how amazing helichrysm is for tears. It's like instant relief! Put a few drops on a pad. Where was this stuff when I was sitting on stitches in the NICU with my first?! It's nice and cooling. By day six, I was mostly healed up and no longer sensitive. 

If you're pregnant or know someone who is, I really can't recommend helichrysm oil enough for the recovery period. It has made a huge difference in my postpartum recovery the second time around. You can get it through DoTerra or Young Living Essential Oils, but I recommend getting it from Butterfly Express. You get the same quality without the high mark-up. The one you'll want is Helichrysm Angustifolia