Lay down, and just lay down

Do you remember in one of my previous posts, when I talked about feeling hesitant in my first pregnancy about who I would become and how people would view me once I had a baby? There is a new kind of competitiveness that we have as females to outdo each other in our jobs, families, children, etc. While there may be some good side effects from this, it is mostly ego driven and essentially provides nothing in the long run, especially for our wholeness.

When I would dream or plan about my life when I was younger, and dreamt of having babies, I rarely thought of the time period immediately following birth. It was until my midwife explained and highly encouraged that I take the first two weeks following birth to rest and essentially stay in bed. It seemed like a great idea and went against the grit of what I had unknowingly planned on doing, which was getting “back” to my life. In her adaptation from the ancient Chinese practice of sitting the month, she recommended 15 days of absolute rest: no chores, no moving, no exercising, lots of baby bonding time, and lots of sleep. The reasons being that the postpartum body is still in recovery (even longer than those 15 days, and even longer still than the 6 weeks the doctor tells you to refrain from sex and exercise), the organs have massively shifted around, and while you may be mentally ready to “get back to it”, your body needs more time to heal. After undergoing one of the most challenging physical experiences of a drug free birth, and experience all of the intensity that it brought physically and the intensity of being so overwhelmed with love, the best thing for me to do was rest. It allowed for immediate bonding with Lincoln, allowed my body to heal and rest, and for my insides to recover. I think sometimes we have a disconnection from what’s happening inside our bodies because we can’t see it actually happening. 

If the thought of resting gives you some kind of anxiety, remember that there isn’t anything more important than taking care of  your body after it’s done some thing so incredible, especially not getting back in shape or proving that you can get back out there fastest and first. Those actions will most likely leave you with some unfortunate side effects emotionally, mentally, and physically (can you say no pelvic floor recovery). And there is nothing more important than bonding with your baby in those first few weeks, so you can learn everything about them: every sound and every movement.

Here’s how to be successful in this process if you’ve never done it before:
1. Ask for help. Yes this principle shows up again. Practice it often if you’re going to be successful as a parent/human being. Ask for help with food prep, house cleaning, and even for company as you need or want it. Schedule people in your life who are going to come see you anyway to bring you food. Clear communication about what you want and what you need will always make things easier.
2. Be clear that you aren’t entertaining people. If people are coming to visit, they should be contributing to your family in some way. This is not an opportunity for people to drop by and hang out for long periods of time. Feel free to tell people to go home if they have overstayed their welcome.
3.  Enjoy the time you have to rest with your precious new baby! Sleep as much as possible (your body recovers best when it is sleeping/resting) and remember that anything else other than sleeping, bonding with your baby, and eating are not necessary at this point.
4. Continue to give up the idea that you should be doing something and that you are lazy/not doing enough because you are resting. Remember that your body just worked really hard for 9 months and still is to provide nutrition for your baby.
5. Be willing to face criticism from people who don’t understand what you’re doing. Remember you’ll want to be able to have full control of your pelvic floor when you’re 60 and that’s part of the reason you’re doing this-to take care of you, not to take care of other people’s expectations of you.
6. Plan to eat well. This doesn’t mean eating everything you weren’t able to eat during pregnancy (although I’m looking forward to a donut or 12 in my postpartum recovery), it does mean eating nourishing foods that provide vitamins and things to heal your systems.

I know that this list could possibly be longer, and I will update it once I have an idea of how to do this with an older child and all of the above things still apply. And include your older child in your rest and recovery. Make sure they get some sweet snuggle time with you as well during this period. Part of asking for help will be to make sure that they have somebody to tend and entertain them in those first few weeks ( a spouse or grandparent is a great idea for this), so they don’t feel completely left out of the new family dynamic.

What do you think about this? Would you give this a chance in your recovery or would you recommend it to a friend in their recovery?

Retirement and Rebirth again

Pregnancy is an adaptation of life on all levels: eating, sleeping, body, general movement, exercise, sex, daily interactions with self and others. And if you are willing to adapt to all of this, it can actually be ok (unless you feel like garbage all the time, in which case pregnancy just plain sucks).

In both my first pregnancy and this one, as the pregnancy progresses, I feel more and more like I’m moving towards retirement. There is an end to the current life/being/relationships that I have and there will be something new on the other side. Unlike other seasons and situations in my life, I can’t quite see what IS on the other side, and that’s where faith comes in. Trusting that all is and will be well.

I’ve never retired from anything before. I’m not really old enough, nor have I done many things long enough to retire from them. As I move onward to July 2nd, I feel more and more like I’m moving into retirement. My life and relationships as I know them will shift and change, because who I am now, will no longer be. When a women gives birth to a child, there are actually 2 births that happen. The one where the child is born, and the one where the woman is reborn into something brand new. My perspective of the world was completely altered after I had Lincoln. Things that I thought that were important, no longer held as much or any significance, because I suddenly had a new perspective that I’ve never been able to get, even through years of training and transformational work. How many chances do we really get in life to be reborn?

This is a process I look forward to and have some apprehension over as well, largely due to the fact that I cannot see as far as I usually think I can, and there is no way to predict exactly how it will go.

Trusting this process and trusting the divine plan and Maker, gives me ease as I steadily march towards a new beginning and leave the old self behind.

How are you feeling?

This is the question I get asked most often it seems during pregnancy. This question stumps me, and I usually just respond with fine, good, happy, etc. Its similar to the question one gets asked when not pregnant: how are you doing? It’s such a loaded question, and seems to have become a type of greeting, rather than an interest in the one in question’s life. Do people really want to know the answer? Are they referring to my mental, emotional, physical, or spiritual state? How much time does this person have to hear what I have to say and do they want to know?

So here are the things that I feel now, and at any given point (this is not an extensive list) and just to give you an idea:

  1. Hungry. Seriously, it doesn’t happen to all pregnant women, and this baby may end up being a linebacker.
  2. Nauseated. This has mostly passed for me, and occasionally it pops back up.
  3. Tired. Also, different that being pregnant the first time, when I could come home and rest/nap leisurely if I needed to. Not so much anymore.
  4. Happy and excited. I get to have another baby!
  5. Nervous. This baby has to come out at some point. I’m beginning to remember what that was like…
  6. Mindful of the future. What will it be like to have 2? Will I be able to love the second one as much as the first?
  7. Sad. We are getting ready to close a chapter in our lives and begin a new one. The ending of something so sweet and wonderful makes me sad.
  8. Nervous. Am I going to mess something up? Am I eating enough protein?
  9. Content. Everything is happening exactly as it should. This feeling replaces all other feelings when I can feel my little guy moving around and turning somersaults, or doing a round of Journey Into Power.

Thank you to everyone who demonstrates such tremendous levels of love and support for me on a daily basis. Even simply asking me how I am, demonstrates that you care, even if I’m not sure how to answer.

What are other questions we could ask each other to demonstrate our care, love and concern for each others well being?

Taking Care of the Basics: Part 3

This post is about connection and the connection to different things and people that can create a beautiful balance for the newness of becoming a parent. There are several things to look for as you make the transition into parenthood: connection with self, connection with others, and connection to your very own interests.

It seems easy to lose connection to self when becoming a parent, throwing out self care practices, ignoring body signals all for the noble cause of parenting. Remember that if you are going to do this job well, you can’t neglect taking care of your body. Unless its a regular pre-parenting practice to go days without showering, don’t do that. Make sure you eat food, (especially if you’re nursing) and get sleep. Ask for help when you need it so you can do all these things to take care of yourself. Nobody is handing out medals for you doing it all on your own.

Being able to connect with another adult human is really important as a parent. Kids are wonderful and amazing, and sometimes, you need to speak to somebody who understands all the words you use, or who will respond without drooling. Reach out and ask for company, a phone call, or a coffee date when you need it. Connection also refers to the connection between you and your partner. Even if you aren’t ready for the most intimate of connections right away or all the time, talk to each other, hold hands, and get and give lots of hugs. Sometimes the physical strain of being a parent (especially if you’re breastfeeding) can be overwhelming, and you need to be restored through another kind of connection.

Continue to connect to the things that you find interesting. Yes, there may be a period of time before you can resume some of those activities, (i.e. physical exercise). Staying connected to these things will give you different insights as a parent, as well as teaching your child from a young age to that self care and self interests as a parent are important, thus teaching them a healthy level of boundary in the relationship. Don’t completely give up things you find interesting simply because you’ve had a baby. You may have a shift in the things that interest you, and that’s ok too. Make sure you are filling your own cup so that you can continue to give and feel fulfilled.

Where have you lost some connection that you could simply reconnect with? Where could you reach out to ask for help to build even more connection?

Let your children do the teaching-Sabbath Learnings

Sunday was another beautiful day spent wrapped in the cocoon of family time and rest.

I am amazed every week at the brilliance of this plan in our lives right now and the ability to be able to carry it through. It’s become a necessity in my life and the compounded impact that it will have on our family in the future is immense.

Spending time watching my son play and grow has been so restorative to me and I have been overwhelmed with the love that he has stored in his little body.

At one point on Sunday evening as I was getting his bath ready, he wrapped his arms around my leg and hugged me and I realized in that moment that there is an unconditional amount of love that he has for me. Toddlers are finicky, yes, and the way they love is pure. It isn’t clouded by reasons, or circumstances. How often do I love other people based only on circumstances? How often do I love people only when I get my way, or I’m happy, or the world is spinning at the right speed? How often is my love clouded with disappointment or only handed out sparingly, and how much do I reason about the love that I allow myself to give away?

This little being that has been entrusted to my care has so much to teach and show me about the things I think I already know. And if I’m humble enough, I’ll be able to learn the lessons that he has to teach me.

How to Speak to a Pregnant Woman

Pregnancy is so interesting in and of itself. The other thing that is interesting is that people seem to feel that they are free to have unlimited commentary about you and your body. I wouldn’t ever think it appropriate to comment on another humans weight gain, say after a stressful few months, and yet people feel at liberty to do this with the people who are responsible for repopulating the planet. Here is a short tutorial on how not to speak to pregnant women and how to speak to pregnant women.

When speaking to a pregnant woman, refrain from saying things like:
1. Are you sure you aren’t having twins?
2. Wow. You sure are big. (RUDE.)
3. You have HOW much longer left?! (as if to suggest that since I am already so big, how could I possibly get bigger)
4. Anything that you wouldn’t say to somebody who isn’t pregnant. Remember that pregnant women are people too and have WAY more feelings than most people and all at the same time. It makes for an exciting 10 months.

What you could say instead:
1. You look amazing. (she probably won’t believe you and you should tell her often. Look at the difference it made with some apples here.)
2. Here I brought you this snack (only say this if you actually have a snack. My experience is that when I’m hungry, I turn primal and would eat you if you didn’t actually have a snack)
3. What are you most excited about becoming a parent for the first (second, third, forth) time?
4. How is ______ in your life going? Amazingly enough pregnancy is usually only one of a million things happening in a woman’s life during those 10 months (yes it’s actually 10 months). Sometimes it can feel like everyone forgets that and I’ve become a baby only making machine.
5. Is there anything I can do to make your life easier?( Who wouldn’t want to hear this? Also, like #2 only say it if you are going to actually follow through.)
6. Hand them a pile of cash. Just kidding. Sort of.

 

 

Taking Care of the Basics: Part 2

I have discovered the importance of food during this pregnancy. When I was pregnant with Lincoln, I felt so sick, I barely wanted to eat, and had to force myself a lot of times to eat food.

This pregnancy is completely different and I’ve been hungry almost the entire time. While there is the old thought that you can just eat as much as you want or whatever you want while pregnant, it’s not actually a good idea to follow this. For one, while we are becoming more aware of how bad sugar is for our bodies, this is even more so in pregnancy, as the pregnant body digests sugars differently. This includes fruit. Too much fruit can cause an increase in amniotic fluids. Additionally since your body doesn’t necessarily differentiate  between different kinds of sugar (sugar is sugar is sugar), including fruit, too much can also grow a really big baby.

Anyway. This blog post isn’t about what you should eat while you’re pregnant. I will also be the first to confess that I haven’t been a good example of the above statement, and it’s usually due to lack of preparation when it comes to food. A lot of times, the easiest thing to grab and eat when I’m hungry (an experience that goes from 0 to 60 immediately)is some kind of carb. Protein and veggies are almost less handy, and the exact thing that sounds good is also almost less available. I would almost always rather eat a cupcake than a piece of chicken.

When I plan out our meals and I’m honest with myself about what I will actually eat for breakfast/lunches/snacks, and buy those things at the store, instead of buying what I think I should buy, I am way more successful when it comes to eating to feel good and keep my energy up. Eating is sometimes a stressful thing in my life, because I don’t plan for it and I wait till the last minute to get something together to eat. By that time, I’ve depleted my energy and caused unnecessary stress to my body. Given that I have plenty of money, time, and resources, eating shouldn’t be as stressful as I’ve let it become.

Creating and planning for meals is something that I’ve shifted my attention to again. This is one of those vital areas where as a parent, we should be spending time, and when allowed, money to nourish our bodies. It is after all an important task to do to continue with all the things we need and want to do. I have also found that when growing a baby and a toddler, I am more productive in my role as a mom (and wife, daughter, employee, citizen, human) when I’ve eaten, and eaten good nourishing food. I used to have the belief (up until like 3 months ago) that eating out was really luxurious, and so we did it often. The real luxury is to have a plan, and to eat good whole foods that we can cook ourselves. Not only does this give us what we need to nourish ourselves, it also gives us more connection in our family to prepare our food together and cuts down on the stressful conversations we would have nightly about what to have for dinner.

I’m not going to tell you what kind of diet to follow. I think different bodies require different things and at different stages in life. And food is supposed to make you feel good. If the food you eat doesn’t make you feel good, or leaves you feeling drained, or sick, consider something else. Take the time to prep your food. What could you cut out of your schedule in order to do that?

 

Aliveness lives in Choice-Sabbath Learnings

There is always a little bit of apprehension and nervousness on my part on Saturday evening as I get ready to turn off my devices and launch into the unknown of not being constantly entertained or able to check out from the reality of my life.

There is also the thought that crosses my mind more than once, what if we get bored or run out of things to play, or decide we really hate what we’re doing and miss out on something really cool because we didn’t watch TV or play on our phones.

We had no plans for yesterday except church and napping. It was a rainy day in Houston and so we knew we wouldn’t be able to go to the park and play. Is it possible to have no plans and still enjoy the day?

Then I remembered this new lifestyle was all a CHOICE. Not something that somebody was forcing on me, or something that was happening out of default or poor planning. This was the way I was designing my time. And through that I felt instant relief. Our day was lovely and perfect.

When I look back on my life and see all the moments where I’ve been uncomfortable, or antsy with my time, I realize it’s because I wasn’t in choice around what I was creating or doing. Being in choice and reminding myself (and you reminding yourself) that choice is there, and that if something isn’t working to choose to change it. Then aliveness will reappear.

Where do you need to make a new choice, or remind yourself that you have choice?

*featured pic of two amazing women I know Laura and Jessica 🙂

The Most Important Work

“Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.”–C.S. Lewis

There seems to be a disconnect from this ideal and the way it seems like the world deals with children. It seems like we are still stuck in an age of “children should be seen and not heard.”

What if they became our most important work? Even the ones that don’t belong to us.

I sometimes find myself irritated or frustrated with the consistent energy that Lincoln has, especially being more tired now than usual. What I find works when I notice my frustration, is I turn all of my attention to him, I put down whatever it is I’m doing, and snuggle and kiss on him. He’s still little and doesn’t have the language or understanding to tell me to pay attention to him. Whatever other work I’m doing can wait-he is the most important thing I have to put my attention on. It’s only my adult brain that says other things need to be done immediately.

It’s easy to forget to children, while in the same design as us, aren’t always equipped to keep up with our continuous schedules and our plans for our day. They need to be loved, not for a to-do list to get completed. They are curious and once they can talk, they will have lots and lots of questions. Answer them. If you don’t know the answer, tell them that, and then discover the answer together.

The opportunity that we have as adults to teach, love, and grow children is absolutely tremendous and if we don’t, no one will.

Taking Care of the Basics: Part 1

Becoming a mama can feel like a whirlwind: new emotions, new responsibilities, new relationships (with your body, spouse, family, the world), and a new schedule.

One thing I experienced before and after Lincoln’s birth, was this weird feeling like I had to do it all or have it all together as a mom right away. This was an absolutely ridiculous expectation although it was a completely valid feeling. No new parent has it all together. I would even say that few seasoned parents have it all together. The phases of your child’s development are always shifting and growing and with that comes new challenges.

This blog is about something that it’s taken me 3 years to realize. Being a parent is probably going to suck unless you’re taking care of some of the basics: sleep, food,  connection, and movement. In this 4-part post series we’ll cover each one.

When I was pregnant with Lincoln, people warned me to get rest while I could because I was never going to sleep again. The smugness with which they said this was just as infuriating as was the advice. I don’t always get good sleep, even now that he’s 3, and I have found pockets of time in which to sleep. Sleep when you can-even if it’s during the day. Leave your laundry, dishes, and other projects so that you can sleep. There are very few things more important than getting sleep. Without sleep, you’ll increase your risk of getting sick, slowing your recovery (if we’re talking right after birth) and losing your mind. Having an upset parent won’t help the upset baby. Your baby doesn’t care if house is clean-he needs your care. Ask a friend or family member to come over and hold your baby so you can nap. From what I’ve found, people who love you are almost always willing to come hold your new baby. If there isn’t anybody near by, hire somebody. It will be worth it.

I’ve noticed in this pregnancy that I feel tired earlier at night, and while my circumstances are completely different now, (I have a 3 year old to keep up with), I know that it’s vital for me to be getting as much rest as possible. This is different than the first time, when I wanted to pretend that nothing was different, and I was the same person, capable of doing the same things, and often times pushed myself past limits and made myself sick. (I think I probably had 6 colds during my first pregnancy).

Shifting this in my life has resulted in me not being able to do everything I want to do all the time, like exercise, spend time with all the people I would like to be able to, and turn other social engagements down. And for now that’s ok. Being able to feel good day to day is worth the time spent in rest.

Is this one of the basics you need to work on? Even if you aren’t a parent or pregnant, giving yourself  the time and the space to rest is vital in restoring all the systems of your body.