Dear new mother…it’s OK

Dear new Mother,

You’ve just had a baby. It’s OK to feel happy, to feel scared, to feel sad. It’s OK to be in shock and it’s OK to feel elated. It’s OK to ask for help. In fact, you must. Please ask for help. “Help” will be your best friend, now and for years to come.

It’s OK to want some pieces of your old life back, the freedom, nights out with friends, holidays and sleep. Oh, sleep.

Your body is different now too, no doubt. It’s OK for that to feel strange. You don’t have to love your stretch marks or your soft tummy or all the other parts that feel different. You may embrace your new body, the different shape and size, the unfamiliarity, the new sensations. You may despise it. That’s OK too.

It’s OK to feel empowered by your birth experience but it’s also OK to feel broken. Perhaps it all went according to your plan but perhaps it was the birth you always feared. Talk about it with someone, take the time to heal. Rest and recover. You did it, didn’t you? It’s a cliché, I know, but your body just grew an entire new life and that’s Mother Nature’s most exquisite work. Truly, you are beautiful, OK?

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Baby Jasmine, a few days old

Oh, new Mother,

It’s hard work, right? Harder than you thought, even if it’s your dream come true? Even if you thought you were ready? I know. Motherhood is the hardest job I’ve ever done. It’s OK if it’s not all as wonderful as you imagined it would be. It’s OK if some things are unexpectedly rubbish and it’s OK if some bits aren’t much fun at all. It’s OK not to “enjoy every minute.” That’s almost impossible I’d say. You are right at the start, new Mother. You are on page 1 of chapter 1 of the longest and most magnificent book ever written. It’s OK to go slowly, not to rush. It’s OK to pause, to stay at home, to simply just be with your baby. It’s more than OK, actually. I wish I’d listened more to this advice.

I hope you know too that it’s OK if you breastfeed and it’s OK if you don’t, if you baby wear or if you don’t. It’s OK if you follow a strict routine or if you don’t, to read all the books or none at all. It’s OK if you don’t really know what you want to do. There seem to be a million different ways to be a Mother.

It’s OK if your relationships change. They’re bound to. You’re a new Mother now with a new set of priorities and a different type of day. It takes a lot to meet the needs of such a helpless little person all day long. It’s OK to miss your friends and to feel frustrated at missing out, like no-one can possibly understand what you’re going through. It’s OK to feel alone and misunderstood. You’re not alone. I understand.

You may have less time for your friends right now and that’s OK as well. Your partner may get less of your attention because you give all your kisses to the baby now. Those cheeks make it hard not to! It’s OK to feel pure joy and elation one minute then utter sadness and despair the next. It’s OK to feel jealous of those who get to sleep. It’s OK to take naps instead of doing the dishes. In fact, once again, you must! It’s OK to stay indoors and it’s OK to venture out too. It’s more than OK to stay in your pyjamas all day and it’s more than OK if your house is a mess, although I understand it’s not how you want it to be. Everything can feel like a sacrifice, can’t it?

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Baby Summer, born at home

It’s OK if it takes time to fall in love. You’ve got your whole lives for that. It’ll come and when it does, it’ll grow so much that you will be amazed at the capacity of your own heart. It’s OK to struggle with the transformation, to take time to find your place with motherhood. No one starts something for the first time being perfect at it. There are no lessons in how to Mother, just millions of books and millennia of experience. Speak to others…they can help. Find those Mothers who just get you, even if they do things differently. Find the Mothers who will lift you up, offer support, reserve judgement and listen. We all need someone who can really listen. The sisterhood of Mothers is a beautiful one. Really. What a place to be. Find your tribe, your like-minded mums, your middle of the night allies.

You’re a new mother. You grew and birthed a baby and you are a miracle too. It’s OK to feel anxious, to worry, to protect. It’s OK to relax, to use your intuition and to feel totally at ease in this place. Perhaps you finally feel like you’ve arrived in yourself.

It is OK to want a break. You will need one. Take it. Take breaks so you can replenish yourself and your energy. Your love for your child won’t be questioned. It’s OK, it’s more than OK to make time for yourself. It’s OK to be taken care of. Actually, it’s vital. Let someone else make the tea, make the food, rub your shoulders. You don’t have to be perfect, to achieve as much as you used to. It’s OK for the goalposts to change.

It’s OK to break generational patterns, to carve a new lineage. It’s OK to disagree with old methods and to challenge age old advice just because you turned out alright. We are evolving, we are spiritual and emotional beings. Our children are born into a different world and we are progressing towards greatness, don’t you agree?

It’s all OK, new Mother. I guess that’s all I’m really trying to tell you.

I love you,

Naomi

 

Let’s meet in Down-dog

Down dog, cobra, tree, cat-cow, eagle, fish, lotus….no, I’m not talking about my love of animals and nature, I’m talking about yoga, or more so, the lack there of.  The ‘me’ before having children practised yoga all the time. The hashtag “yoga every damn day” got used on my Instagram photos almost, well, every damn day and I even had the naivety to imagine that I’d spend my first maternity leave practising yoga whilst the baby slept and becoming a pro hand stander in my spare time. (Feel free to pause here to laugh at my foolishness!) The pre-baby me went to yoga retreats and classes, read books, had way too many pairs of yoga pants and even considered applying for yoga teacher training. Yoga was a huge part of my life and identity, both for the physical exercise and the spiritual practice. It was my down time, my work out, my escape, my hobby, my passion. Yoga is even what led me to veganism. After Jasmine was born, I tried to cling onto my yogi identity by practising when I could and getting Jasmine involved on the mat, doing some baby yoga and making time lapse videos of our efforts but it didn’t last for long.

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Baby Jasmine practising on her mat!

Baby Jasmine soon become toddler Jasmine and things then got even crazier. Throw in returning to work, new found passions, business ventures and eventually falling pregnant again and yoga got pushed even further down the to-do-list, taking a long old rest in child’s pose, waiting for me to catch up again.

Now with two children, when things have been getting a little overwhelming, OK, a lot overwhelming (blog coming soon) I’ve felt a big pull towards yoga, yet not been able to get there. You know, that classic feeling of knowing what’s good for you but instead of hopping on the mat, I’ve been hopping onto the sofa to watch TV. I think perhaps now though, I really need it. I know I need to move my body more. I know I need to build strength again, to use my muscles, to flow, to release, to sweat, to cry. I can do all that on my yoga mat. I can have fun, be creative and relax. I can calm down, get energised and learn something new. Yoga can be the outlet for absolutely everything I am yearning to have yet feel that I’m missing.

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A spot of acro-yoga on the beach

At the risk of sounding like a total cliché, I think I am seeking a way back to parts of my old identity, when being a Mum wasn’t my everything and when raising two young girls didn’t take up 99.9% of my daily energy. All the other hats we wear as Mums get a smaller piece of the pie now too…wife, friend, professional, let alone having time for our passion projects. Why is it as Mums we seem to have a never-ending wish list for time? Time for yoga, time for making photo albums (sorry girls, I still haven’t started yours), time for an uninterrupted shower, time to read a book, time to tidy that cupboard of crap over there, time to complete a million and one jobs I could list to you if I simply had the time to write the list! Of course, it’s all a case of prioritising and certainly we can all make time for the things we really want to achieve, even if it takes slightly more effort to do so. I think I am seeking a way back to parts of my old identity, when being a Mum wasn’t my everything and when raising two young girls didn’t take up 99.9% of my daily energy. All the other hats we wear as Mums get a smaller piece of the pie now too…wife, friend, professional, let alone having time for our passion projects. Why is it as Mums we seem to have a never-ending wish list for time? Time for yoga, time for making photo albums (sorry girls, I still haven’t started yours), time for an uninterrupted shower, time to read a book, time to tidy that cupboard of crap over there, time to complete a million and one jobs I could list to you if I simply had the time to write the list! Of course, it’s all a case of prioritising and certainly we can all make time for the things we really want to achieve, even if it takes slightly more effort to do so.

When I stepped on my mat earlier today it was like riding a bike. The postures and the flow came straight back to me, like I had never left after all. It didn’t matter that my body was stiff or in pain or that it was only ten minutes. I instantly felt that wave of relief and that space for deep healing breaths. I immediately felt a sense of belonging and longing and I immediately knew I need this back in my life.

So, here’s to project “get back on the mat”, I am very, very excited!

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Let’s get back on the mat!

Postpartum Hair Loss

I was in the shower the other day, enjoying my five minutes of relative peace and quiet, when all of a sudden it started. After almost a year of my hair growing ever thicker thanks to the miracle combination of pregnancy hormones, it has once again started to fall out. When I’m pregnant, my hair habits change so much and I’m always intrigued as to why nature has evolved in this way. My hair rarely needs washed and barely a single hair ever falls out resulting in a rather untamed lions mane! I’m not quite sure why thicker, cleaner hair is an advantage for pregnancy but I’m sure somebody somewhere knows the answer.

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9 months pregnant with Summer

The postpartum period or the fourth trimester as it’s also lovingly known, is like a place between two worlds. You have a new baby and are no longer pregnant but your body is still in a state of recovery, no matter how fast paced life is all around you (if you have a toddler that is!)  All of a sudden, 3 months after giving birth and at almost an identical time to when it happened after having Jasmine, my body is sending me a sign that the precious fourth trimester is now coming to an end. Perhaps pregnancy makes you more attuned to what is happening in your body but I certainly notice these subtle and not so subtle changes all the time. Now I need to wash my hair more often and it’s falling out at a rate fast enough to make me think I’ll be going bald by the end of the month. What is this strange phenomenon?

To me, this sudden and fairly drastic change is another reminder that there’s a whole system working it’s magic inside my body that knows exactly what to do and when. Hormones! Hormones doing their thing just like they did throughout pregnancy, birth, postpartum and now. This change is significant for different reasons though. My body is changing again and it’s like I’m now leaving this pregnancy behind, saying farewell to the sacred journey I had and preparing for another move forward. Now I don’t feel so, “just given birth” and feel more, “full on mum of 2!” My muscle separation is healing and except for lack of sleep and breastfeeding, my body feels much more normal, like it’s wiggling back into it’s comfort zone, not quite the same one as before but a comfortable one none-the-less.

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Enjoying my mop of thick hair whilst it lasts!

Summer is changing too, all at once. She’s no longer content with days at home, cuddles, long sleepy feeds and staring at our faces. She suddenly needs toys, outings and experiences and she loves everything we’re showing her. Perhaps it’s her way of saying she’s ready for the world now too, no longer a newborn but a fully fledged baby!

The transformation into Motherhood is really never ending and there is a constant ebb and flow both physically and emotionally that when you stop to notice it, is really quite the wild ride. Now things are settling, it seems. Our family structure feels as if it’s always been this way. Jasmine has fully accepted Summer into the fold and their relationship is blossoming every day.

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Jasmine and Summer

So today I’m feeling grateful for my human experience. Thankful that I get to witness the miracles of the human body, my body, and what it can achieve. I continue to feel humbled by the way our bodies know exactly what to do and even when I might not understand the reasons or enjoy all the sensations, I know it is all to be embraced.