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.

 

No Pictures-Sabbath #3 Discoveries

There were so many picture perfect moments yesterday: our cozy breakfast in our little nook by the window, the picnic we had in the park, Brandon and Lincoln playing soccer at the park, Linc’s and my yoga session last night.

And my phone was tucked safely away, turned off, and there were no pictures taken because it’s not about capturing memories for the whole world to see, it’s about creating memories and relationships for the people who are there.

Don’t get me wrong, I love instagram and social media and connecting with people, and in the past, it’s taken me away from actually connecting with the people right in front of me.

I know that my children will remember me for different things and one thing that I don’t want them to remember me for is always having my face in my phone.

This will be work for my and future generations as technology doesn’t seem to be going away or getting less interesting. Whether you have kids or not, or your kids are grown up, it takes a different level of skill to be fully present with other people.

Try it the next time you’re at a coffee or lunch with a friend. Keep your phone in your bag, or pocket, and get present to the number of times you reach for it to look at it. Even if you’re just checking time, do you really need to check the time often when you’re with a friend? When your friend gets up to order or use the bathroom, is your first instinct to pull out your phone to check your messages or instagram? I know mine is. Don’t forget the world will keep spinning without you looking at your phone.

One of my dear friends sometimes asks when he seems particularly sassy, “Why should I want to get present?” It’s a valid question and he knows the answer (because he’s also really smart), and it’s because your life is only happening right in front of you. Your life will not happen through instagram or snapchat or email. Where ever you are, there is your life. When we check out of life, time doesn’t stand still, it keeps going and you and I just miss it.

Teaching on Accident

As parents we are constantly teaching our children something. Sometimes it’s on purpose and deliberate, like teaching letters and numbers, and how to read. The rest of the time we teach through our actions, non-actions, the way we prioritize, and spend our time.

I think sometimes it’s easier to disown the fact that we are constantly teaching, than take responsibility for it.

For example, one thing that we could teach our children is self responsibility. We teach them how to pick up their toys, take baths, and brush their teeth. We teach those things deliberately. The way that we could accidentally negate our own teachings is through not taking responsibility for ourselves in our leadership as parents. If you child hears you in conversation blaming other people for things not going well, how will you reinforce the self responsibility lesson really?

How are we reinforcing or negating the teaching that children are unique and that the world is available to them to create and do anything they set their minds to doing, if the school system we put them into can only educate them in one way? Does that not negate everything that we say, and only prove what it is that we are in action about?

Actions and non-actions will always speak much greater volumes than most of the things that we say. Especially when those actions or non-actions are continued over time. When our actions and words don’t add up, we become less credible to them, and negate ourselves as leaders and teachers in their lives.