The Birth of Excellent Prenatal Vitamins

Dear Readers,

Please excuse any redundancy; I’m not sure you all got this post via feed.  So many women land on WellPostpartum Weblog because they are searching for info on prenatal vitamins I HAD to make sure this landed in everyone’s inbox…

Here in Atlanta, Georgia we are surrounded by wonderful pine forests and I love all the trees. I don’t love what one tree did to us recently. One towering pine fell across a power line across the street and we lost power for 11 hours. We will have no phone, cable or Internet for four more days! Our family is fine- we survived a shower of sparks and loud BOOMS- the worst thing was seeing our tormented cats, cowering under the bed.

So, if you did not get this post on Wednesday, please pardon me. It is a must read!

The Calling, How I Found my Purpose to Love

by Stephanie Raffelock

Just an uneasy feeling. The sense of an old dog nipping at my heels wherever I went. Except that there was no dog. I was 50-something. Menopausal. It could be all hormonal. Maybe I should increase my progesterone. Maybe I should see a shrink. But I did nothing. I just lived with the uneasy feeling. And then one day the mother started appearing.

At first she would come into our office and make an appointment with my husband. She was 28. She was 35. She was 42. She was tall. Short. Overweight. Too skinny. She had one story: she was tired. She couldn’t sleep. She didn’t feel quite right after the birth of her first, second, third child. She had been to doctors. They had told her nothing was wrong. She needed Prozac. She would get over feeling this way. There was a haunting melody that followed-“Motherhood should be the happiest time in your life. You must be doing this wrong.” The song was out of sync. The harmonies were dissident.

I saw her one day on The Oprah Show, this mother. She was Marie Osmond. She was telling the world about how tired and depressed she was after so many kids. She cried on television. Other mothers cried with her. No one judged her. The song stopped. The dissident chords receded.
The uneasy feeling got stronger in me. And now it was attached to motherhood. I asked my husband why some women were so tired after childbirth. Why do they get depressed? Why can’t they sleep? Had he heard this before?

“Everyday, he said. All the time. Baby’s body is made up of nutrients donated by the mother. The placenta literally sucks the nutrients out of the mother’s bloodstream and puts them into her developing baby’s body. Women get nutritionally depleted. Nutritional depletion is the beginning of disease process.”

“Aren’t prenatal vitamins supposed to prevent that?” I questioned.

“Prenatal vitamins are conservative by nature and from the ones I’ve seen,” he said, “they are just enough for the baby, but not quite enough for the baby and the mom. So women get depleted.

“It’s so simple. Why aren’t we telling people? Every Mother should know this. Every doctor and nurse should know this. We have to do something. You have to write a book. We have to help mothers.”

Help mothers. The uneasy feeling stopped. The dog that nipped turned into air. Help mothers. It became a kind of mantra. I wasn’t just hormonal after all. But it was with the flurry of menopausal energy that within a year, Dean was writing a book about post partum nutrition, and I was starting a company. Dean was researching a formula that could help mothers regain their energy and vitality after child birth. A clinical trial followed. Expensive.
It took everything. Every bit of savings. Retirement fund. Equity in the house. We put it all into developing the formula, the company, the concept. We were feeding an energy that was beyond us. The uneasy feeling stopped completely. It somehow morphed into a calling. Now mothers became my mission.

Late one night I sat alone in meditation and I asked myself what wanted to emerge? What did I have to become in order to have Sound Formulas, our company, become successful? The answer surprised me. “Forgive your own mother, and more will be revealed,” said my heart. Forgive my mother? To make my company a success? That made no sense. There had always been grit with my mother and me. We were never quite on the same page in the book.
Nonetheless, I began the journey of forgiving my mother. We talked. I became curious. I let go the assumption that I knew her. I asked my brother and sister about her. What was she like when they were little? What was it like when I was born?

A family history that I never knew came forward. My mother had been hospitalized several times in the first two years after I was born. She was in a “rest home” the family said. The thinly veiled “rest home” reference was a little dress up for the fact that she was in a psychiatric wing of the local hospital. Was it possible that my mother had suffered from postpartum depression after I was born? After I was born, my brother told me, my mother became erratic. Within three and a half years, she left my father, my brother and my sister and took me to live in Denver. Was she running from demons she could not control? Weariness? Mood swings?

Learning this history made me understand who that mother was that kept appearing to me in so many ways. She was my own mother and for the first time I began to understand how and why she made some of the choices that she did.

My mother taught me forgiveness. When in prayer we ask God to teach us forgiveness, it doesn’t just descend upon us and now we have forgiving hearts. When we ask for help in forgiving, we are presented opportunities and I had a BIG opportunity staring me right in the face. The truth I learned is this: we all have reasons for doing what we do. Sometimes other people cannot see our reasons and so we are misunderstood. I don’t know that my mother ever believed that she suffered from PPD. That was something that was not discussed in polite company in the 1950’s. But knowing that she suffered in silence awakened in me this desire to help mothers everywhere.

I never became a mother myself. Yet I am blessed with mother energy. All women are. We either learn to help our children or we learn to help each other. Our leadership lies at the center of families and the center of communities. Mother energy is nurturing and compassionate; it teaches sharing and goodwill; it is the helper energy of the world that creates joy and peace in the lives of others. Mother love, mother energy is stronger than anything else that I know. It even transcends death.

My mother died this past fall. And when the crying and gnashing of teeth was over; when the memorial and good-byes had been said; when the loneliness for the woman I knew settled in all around me as a blanket of “missing you,” a geranium bloomed in my kitchen window. It put out blossoms the size and likes of which I had never seen. It was my mother’s final good bye to me. Don’t ask me how I knew this or ask me to prove it to you… but I know that flowering plant in the dead of winter was a parting gift from her that brought me peace.

Mommies are my mission and my ministry. My company makes products to help mommies. My philanthropic work is about mommies. And every day, everywhere I go I am blessed to see mothers and children and glimpse the preciousness of life and its cycles. My company has become a huge success. It’s not about the dollars; in fact a business person would tell you that I have a long way to go in that regard. No, my company is a success because I learned the power of forgiveness, and I answered the calling of my “mother heart” and embraced what I came here to do: love, honor and help mothers.

Stephanie Raffelock- President, Sound Formulas
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