Alyosha turns three months old next week & I can hardly believe the way time is flying.
Thank you all for celebrating this season in my life with your kind comments, emails, words, support, love, & prayers – they all mean the world to me! I also love getting your questions about my experience so far.
So, I thought today would be a great day to check-in with you to share a little update on how I’m feeling (physically, emotionally, & spiritually) + also share the self-care practices I have found helpful so far!
I also just did an interview with my mentor & friend Jamie Mendell all about pregnancy self-care that you can listen to here! It was so fun to record & I hope you enjoy it.
Overall, I’ve truly never felt more full of joy or more present in my life. Oshy bear is such a light in our lives & just being near him makes my heart smile. Loving him is a gift & I truly didn’t know I could feel this way about another person. While most moments are pretty euphoric, some are emotionally challenging. I have anxiety that something bad will happen to him or he will get hurt & sometimes my heart hurts knowing that he is changing so quickly. It’s so fun to watch him grow & yet a part of me struggles with sadness knowing the time & these early days are passing.
I am feeling the full spectrum of my emotions in deep ways I have never felt before, which also makes me feel incredibly vulnerable. Here are a few of the ways I have been supporting myself emotionally, which have really helped:
#1 – Let myself feel it
Remember how I told you guys that I was pretty unemotional during my pregnancy? Well, that ship has sailed, HA! I cry a lot of tears — 95% from overwhelming joy & 5% from just plain overwhelm. I’m conscious to not to push any of my feelings down, even if they can feel a little (or a lot) cheesy, silly, or over-the-top. Like when Osh falls asleep on my chest & looks so perfect that I can’t help but cry because my body feels like it is overflowing with love.
I try my best not to belittle or apologize for my feelings. Instead, I let myself feel my emotions & practice expressing myself (like through tears or sharing with a loved one – like my mom, sister, Tim, or a BFF).
#2 – Stay in the moment
I’m trying to stay as present as possible because that’s when I feel the most peace. I realize I can’t slow down time, but I can at least be here, right now, in this moment. I unplug a lot more than I used to because it helps me give 100% of my attention to the task or person in front of me. Not only has it helped me feel really connected with Osh, but it has improved my other connections, too (including clients, friends, & family)! I watch a lot less TV than I used to, but I obviously found time for Gilmore Girls because… PRIORITIES.
#3 – Ask for help & encouragement
I also ask for help a lot more than I ever did before. WOW has it been freeing to realize I don’t have to do it all on my own. The support, encouragement, & love from my friends & family has been so important to me being able to stay (mostly) in the moment. Some of the ways I have asked for help include: food, watching Osh, running an errand, hugs, prayer, a chance to talk/share, & parenting insight.
#4 – Be flexible
When you have a baby, you have all of your old obligations plus you are also responsible for taking care of a whole new life. My plate was already full before Osh so it meant pulling back in some areas, re-working how I do certain things, & allowing myself to be open as our new normal changes. For me, this has looked like making less plans & allowing for more down time to see what happens. It’s also meant communicating my new needs, boundaries, & expectations when necessary.
Embracing this shift has allowed me to be much more “go with the glow” & much less intense about my schedule, which has kept my stress way down & allowed me to enjoy the journey so far.
I remind myself often “RELAX.”
After feeling so sick during my pregnancy, postpartum life is like a dream. The moment Osh came into the world, I felt like myself again. It was a wild & wonderful feeling.
I’m all healed up & am able to move my body daily (most days this looks like a long walk, about 2-3ish times a week I take a barre class, & I have gone on a few short runs). I’m not feeling intense exercise at all right now & am definitely not forcing it. New mama stuff, like breastfeeding & interrupted sleep, takes a lot of my energy, so I am taking it easy with exercise & focusing on things that add energy to my days rather than depleting it.
As for food, my body craves so much fat right now — it is mind-blowing. No joke, I devour multiple jars of nut butter, a jar of coconut oil, loads of avocados, salmon, egg yolks, & coconut cream every single week. They feel SO nourishing to me & really grounding. I also can’t get enough of oats, super crunchy toast, hummus, & apples. I do not have any kind of eating plan that I am following other than (1) eating when I am hungry (or as close to that as possible, as sometimes I am trapped under a baby who needs to eat first), (2) eating what sounds satisfying in the moments (probably all the fats), & (3) trying not to spill a bunch of food on Osh’s head as I try to eat over his body.
I’m so grateful for intuitive eating & my healed relationship with food – now more than ever – because I can trust my body to ask for what she needs. I feel very lucky that Osh & I are both healthy right now & are able to get the nutrients we need for this season of breastfeeding & baby growing.
OH… & did I mention my #1 craving??? COFFEEEEE!!! So happy to be able to drink this magical beverage again after being so repulsed by it during pregnancy! THANK YOU LORD FOR COFFEE.
Speaking of coffee… I am a little tired (DUH) but I think the body must release some kind of hormone that makes the lack of sleep OK! I used to be such a sleep person & it was probably the thing I was most terrified about with having a baby (“how will I function without 9 or 10 hours of sleep?!?!!”), but it has really been so much better than I ever expected.
I know that there can be A LOT of pressure on new mamas to lose weight & get our “bodies back,” so here are the practices/mindset shifts that have helped to be gentle & loving with myself, rather than critical during this special time:
#1 – Identify needs & support those needs through loving choices
Rather than focusing on “getting my body back,” I am choosing to put my focus & energy on my greatest needs right now. For me, those needs are (1) energy & (2) connection. I need physical energy to heal, take care of my baby, & show up for my life (clients, husband, family, friends, etc). I also need connection with my body, my baby, & loved ones to feel my best. I let these needs guide my choices around food & exercise.
I’m enjoying foods that add to my energy (like eggs & coconut oil) & add connection (like meeting a friend for a chat over donuts & coffee). I’m moving my body in ways that add to my energy (like a walk outside with my family) & add connection (a barre class at Studio B where I get to be surrounded by friends).
This simple mindset shift from “weight loss” to “my needs” keeps my mind & choices in a loving place. It’s a daily choice & a daily practice!
#2 – Listening to my body (not the critics)
AH, people love to tell you what you should eat, how you should move, & how you should see yourself — especially when you become a mom. It’s so crazy. In the past, I would have listened to all the criticism, all the rules, all the “advice.” But, over the past 5 years, I have learned that my body knows what is best. I choose every day to check in with myself & ask what I need & I choose to trust what I hear. So far, so good!
#3 – Body appreciation
I am choosing to appreciate my body for what she has experienced rather than trying to punish, manipulate, or deny her based on those experiences. Sure, I could stand in front of the mirror picking myself apart. But I recognize that how I talk to myself & how I see myself are choices. So, instead, I say “thank you” to my body multiple times a day, dress her in comfortable clothing, & tell her she is beautiful. I think about how perfect Osh is to me & it reminds me how perfect I am to my mama (what a wonderful thought, right?).
#4 – A loving mantra
Practicing a loving mantra has really helped me to feel comfortable & confident in my skin — from the first day at the hospital. The one I am practicing right now is: I am home in my body.
#5 – Connecting with body truth
We live in a society that basically tells us our “body after baby” is going to be the most awful thing we’ve ever experienced & that we should make it our #1 goal to fix it (aka get back our “pre-baby body”) as fast as we possibly can. What manipulative JUUNK!! I will never get my pre-baby body back because I had a baby & don’t have a time machine. My body is different now & that doesn’t mean it needs fixing or that it is worse. I have found that practicing openness to the TRUTH that our bodies will change, are changing, & are meant to change is very helpful here. WE ARE ALLOWED TO CHANGE, PHEW!
#6 – Sleep prayer
Our doula told me something so helpful at the hospital. She said that Osh would not likely be sleeping through the night for a long time, so rather than praying for him to “just sleep,” that I should pray for joy in the many nighttime feedings. This mindset shift has been HUGE for me & so incredibly helpful. I have been able to appreciate those middle-of-the-night moments together, which I really believe has helped me deal with the lack of sleep a little more positively!
The experience of having Osh has helped me to feel really connected to God & his plan for my life. It has also helped me to feel even more connected to myself.
Here are the daily practices that have helped me to feel spiritually grounded during the past few months:
#1 – Prayer
I pray constantly & I ask for prayers of guidance + encouragement in specific areas from friends & family. I pray for Osh — for his heart, for the work he was created to do in this world, & for our relationship as a family. I pray daily for my friends who have had to say “goodbye” to their sweet little ones too early or who never got to meet them in the first place. & I pray for those little ones, too. I thank God for the blessings in my life each day.
#2 – Do things that feel good to my soul
I look into Osh’s eyes & smell him a lot. Tim & I take him to our favorite places. I get lots of fresh air. I laugh with friends & family. I share what makes me happy.
#3 – Deep breaths
I take a lot of deep breaths. Usually when I am (1) smelling Osh, or (2) telling myself to “RELAAAXXXX.”