Monthly Archives: October 2012

My Midwife Gives the Best Hugs

The thing about a cesarean birth is that there are so many factors involved in recovering and healing: several layers have been cut through, healing comes in stages, the body evolves, scar tissue and adhesions can form without my knowledge, rebuilding strength takes time. I could go on. But on a recent visit to my midwife she enlightened me to a few things and also eased the pressure and stress I have been feeling about my own image and recovery. And then she hugged me. Her words, her empathy, and her willingness to give a strong, comforting embrace soothed me, body and soul.

Here are some of the things I didn’t know:

– Six months is really the starting point of when I can expect to feel, and re-build, normal level of physical functioning and returning to pre-pregnancy levels of aerobic conditioning and strength. So the pressure I’ve been feeling to be back to my pre-surgery body was me rushing myself. It really begins now.

– She sees postnatal women throughout the day, every day. As she let me know, I’m the norm in terms of recovery, weight loss or gain, and general  condition overall. So the stress I’ve been feeling to drop my baby weight rapidly has been unnecessary. I told my midwife about a coworker who came back six weeks after having her baby and truly looked like she had not had one. Luckily for me, my midwife has met her once at a mutual friend’s event so my midwife was able to repeat to me again, “You are the norm, she is literally one in 100 women. Be kind to yourself and patient.”

– Roughly seven or so layers were cut through to bring my beautiful baby girl into the world. My midwife explained that it takes a while, sometimes a long while, for all the different layers to heal and it all heals at different rates. And while I may notice nothing changing, my body is in fact changing and healing.

– Scar tissue doesn’t like back bends. This is the lesson that brought me to my midwife’s office in the first place this week. Scar tissue, adhesions, nerves: all are growing, changing, shifting and healing every day. Normal tissue moves with my movements, scar tissue sits like a cement rock and if you pull too hard, it will painfully break apart a little bit. So again, be kind to yourself and patient, she said.

And lastly, she reminded me that despite pressures I feel from coworker’s recovery, gossip magazines, perceived body image expectations of yoga and fitness teachers and my own desire of the shape I want to be, I make beautiful babies. And she’s right. I must accept the gift and be patient and kind to myself.

So like I said, my midwife gives the best hugs. Her words hugged and soothed my soul. Her actual hug gave me kindness, acceptance and courage.

~jibean

As a New Mom at Yoga

{I feel a need to caveat first by saying that I am a registered yoga teacher. I am currently teaching classes and I enjoy this role, completely and without judgement of any of my students. Unfortunately, I am not as kind to myself which is part of my journey…}

As a mom at yoga class, I feel many things. I feel the joy of having alone, quiet time on my yoga mat. I feel the roundedness of my shoulders from hours and hours of carrying, nursing and caring for my baby and toddler. I feel the lack of strength in my core, in my stretched abdominals. My mama gut is an empty cavern where baby was and muscles have yet to return. It’s only been X months, I tell myself. I feel the tightness in my hamstrings, hips and chest because I spend much of my life sitting or moving forward. Hips are the emotional powerhouse and there are a lot of emotions in being a mom.

I am not a new mom in the sense of new to yoga (I’ve been practicing 10+ years). I am not a new mom in the sense of first time baby (I have two adorable children awaiting my return after yoga class). But, I feel very much like a new mom in yoga. My body is new to doing this practice after months of growing another being and a few post-natal months of snuggles, healing, nursing, sleeping, repeat. My body is a battlefield of what was, what is and what it can be.

In the yoga class I went to a few nights ago, the teacher guided us into Wheel pose. The pose, in essense, turns your body into the shape of a bridge with your arms, spine and legs making the architecture. For me, it is the “mother” of all backbends. It requires intense arm strength, open chest and shoulders, strong core, an ability to release tightness in the hips and direct the power of the legs. As a new mom, this felt unavailable, almost unattainable. Round 1, I attempted half-heartedly knowing that I wouldn’t go there. Round 2, I decided to try again, blocking all negative chatter and focusing on my teacher’s words. I still didn’t make it up. But I got closer, which was my intention. That was victory.

I am learning to love my struggles and victories equally, which is part of why I feel drawn to yoga. Yoga accepts you as you are, today, as is, no worries. Yoga works towards quieting the chatter of the mind, often the ego egging us on. On that particular evening, I didn’t achieve full Wheel pose, but I set it up and made progress in my intention of the pose. Progress is progress. My intention is there and now I work towards it. As the saying goes, “Know Yoga, Know Peace. No Yoga, No Peace.”

~jibean

Creating Balance, Finding a Center Point

In my journey as a mom and as a woman, finding a balance is a constant juggle, struggle and shifting. Right when I find the fit of things, the meshing of a perfect day, the next day comes and the recipe doesn’t work anymore. Recently a friend wrote about her struggle in her relationship with the man in her life who is also the father of her child; they aren’t happy and she is having a hard time. She wrote about her need to focus on the baby and not making him happy. My first instinct was “Hell yes, she should focus on her pregnancy and her baby!” But, then, after a moment I realized that attitude is wrong, maybe, for me.

If you lose sight of yourself, it’s natural to feel a sense of caged restlessness. To feel like you’re pacing in your trapped location/relationship/life…. It’s a slow feeling of suffocation. I felt like I was disappearing into motherhood at first, squirreled away without friends, work, meetings, errands, and exercise. Carving out a space for me, just me, in my role of being a mom allowed me to unfurl my cramped wings. It started out slowly, an hour here and there, a walk around the block alone, a dinner out with friends.

Yoga with my little boy along for the flow…

Then it developed into a realization that I need to continue to fulfill me, my dreams and goals. But, as a mom with a small baby, it again started out small. When my son was four months old, I decided if I had to be away from my child, it would be for something I loved to do. After ten years of practicing yoga, it was time to become a yoga teacher. And after years of playing sports, coaching teams and working out, it was time to become a group fitness instructor. It was hard to be away, but by leaving my role as a mom to pursue these other parts of me, I became a better mom. Yoga taught me patience, how to breath through a difficult situation and the inner strength I didn’t know I had. Yoga reminded me flexibility will get you through and that you are perfect, as you are, right now, in this moment. Group Fitness let me exercise my demons and sweat out my stress.

If you lose sight of your relationship, you’re quitting on someone you love and something you love to have. Taking the relationship for granted is a slippery slope. I believe in unconditional love with a healthy dose of personal responsibility for constantly communicating and setting boundaries. If I fail to honor my husband, my partner, my spouse, my relationship with the father of my children, then I have broken my promise to make this journey together and to be there for him. My marriage takes constant effort to stay good, and in turn, my marriage helps make life good for my kids and to support me as a person.

If you lose sight of your kids, you’ll miss out on the precious days, hours, minutes, years of their childhood. I’ve been told, we only have this opportunity once to see our babies become toddlers, toddlers become children. These are the years of snuggles, kissing booboos, time outs, tantrums. I’ve learned that by advocating time away as my own person and by including time for my marriage relationship, then I’m more capable of being completely present for my children.

This is clearly the long way of me saying that I don’t think it’s the right answer to pick one priority. I can’t be all mom, all wife or all individual person. I must be all three, in varying order, in varying degrees, on varying days. Some days need more of one. Some days, I just can’t give anymore. But it’s about shifting the priorities around, finding the balance, that I’ve started to feel like I have the beginnings of my center point. And here’s a quote that I have loved since the moment I read it:

“It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself.” ~Joyce Maynard

~jibean

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