Wednesday, January 29, 2014

1 year of Motherhood

*I meant to post this on Monday, but I've had a sick little girl on my hands all weekend & week. Better late then never, right?*

Last week we celebrated my daughter's 1st Birthday. I'm still in shock that we have a one year old toddling around our home, but as I look back over the last year and remember all the craziness I realize so much has changed. I definitely am no longer the person I was a year ago and I'm okay with it. In fact I kinda like this "new" me. Here's five major things that are different:

1. My priorities. Duh! Every mother can tell you that, but it's not just now I have a kid and everything I do effects her. No, it's far deeper than that. For example sleep is my number one priority. If I don't get enough rest, everything starts to fall apart. So when my girl keeps me up all night and I'm tired the next morning, I'll work only half day at day job and make sure I nap with her in the afternoon. My bedtime is an hour after my girl goes to sleep. Non-negotiable. Her bedtime is 7 so that means I'm in bed by 8, unless I don't have to work the next day. Which means the latest I'll go to bed is 9. Sleep played a huge roll in overcoming postpartum depression and I never want to go there again. If I'm going to be the mother I need to be for my girl I'm in bed by 8 end of story.

2. Eating healthy. I've always been somewhat of a healthy eater, but ever since my girl started eating big people food, I noticed I actually indulge in junk food more often than I originally thought. She sees me putting something in my mouth, she immediately wants to eat it too. I would never dream of feeding my child junk so am I eating it? Over the last couple of months I've done an overhaul in the kitchen. All the produce is organic, I cook more things from scratch because then I know what's actually in the food I'm giving my girl, and I make sure that I have plenty of healthy snacks on hand. End result is that I feel so much better. I don't feel deprived or crave unhealthy stuff except for the occasional pizza and there ain't nothing wrong with that. *wink*

3. Active. I'm in far better shape now than I was before I got pregnant. I've been going to the gym weekly or biweekly, skiing with hubby once a week, doing 20-30 minutes of yoga 2-3 times a week, and going for a good 45 minute walk 1 or 2 times a week. All because I have a little girl who is active and I need to keep up. My yoga time involves her too, unless I'm taking a class at the gym. We do downward-facing dog together and her giggles make those minutes so much fun. We also like to put on Enigma or Lindsey Stirling on Pandora and dance.

4. Being Present. There's nothing in the world that will get you to live in the moment than a child. My girl has been an awesome teacher to say the least and I can't thank her enough. By being present I've discovered the beauty of awareness and that lovely space in time when I pause to think about what I'm going to do or say next. My stress level has dropped too because I'm taking time to play drums or read a book with my girl instead of thinking about what I'm going to cook for super or what I'm going to do tomorrow at work. This leads me to my final point:

5. Deeper spiritual connection. I'm not just talking about connection to God or higher self, although both are super important, I'm also referring to the world around me and to people I surround myself with. Everyone is on their own spiritual path and they are doing the best they can. Every mother I come in contact with is giving her all and what I may see doesn't necessarily mean she's not doing things right because there really isn't a right or wrong way. There is only what is right for that person or for me in this moment. That's all that matters. What worked yesterday might not work today or what works for me may not work for you and it's perfectly okay. We're all in this together.

I'm so thankful for my darling princess. She has changed my world and made it so much better. I love you, baby girl.
 Tune in next week for Chapter 2 of The Art of Extreme Self-care read-a-long"postpartum style!"

Monday, January 13, 2014

A Mother's Love

Last Friday, hubby and I got a blessed day together and went skiing since the snow gods had been dumping generous amounts of the white stuff on Mt. Hood. After a couple of hours of hitting the slopes, this mama got hungry so we stopped in the lodge for a couple drinks and a mountain of award-worthy nachos. I completely enjoyed our conversation and watching the snow clouds roll over the mountain.

Before we headed back out, I had to stop and fix my boots in the main lodge area. I noticed a mother sitting with her very young girl at the end of the long bench I'd plopped my butt on. My first thought was, "Aw, isn't that sweet. Mother and daughter hanging out at the mountain. I hope this will be me and my girl in a few years."

As I adjusted the straps and buckles on my boots, I heard a grunt. I glanced over to them again and looked away quickly because I didn't want the mom to think I was staring. This time I noticed the girl had a disability of some sort, most likely Down's Syndrome.

My heart melted. Normally when I see disabled children with their families, I feel love, but the pity kind. You know, the type where you admire the courage and bravery of the parents, sadness for what they have to endure, and hopefulness that they have all the support they need.

This time, however, when my heart melted I saw myself and my girl sitting there at the end of the bench helping her take bites of a sandwich and sips from her juice box. Tears welled into my eyes, but not of sadness. No, they were tears of love. I stole more glances under the pretense of fixing my boots.

The way the mother smiled down at her daughter and the way she cradled the girl on her lap, I knew that the mother viewed her child as a perfect whole person and for the first time in my life, I did too. What ever disability she had disappeared. That's what a mother's love does. It's unconditional and unmeasurable. It looks past the flaws.

I understood her. That little girl in that moment, was the most beautiful child I'd laid my eyes upon. All I wanted to do was walk over there, scoop her up in my arms, and shower her with kisses. My heart overflowed with love.

Of course, I restrained myself. But I wish I'd walked over there and at least told her that she had the most gorgeous girl. Two years ago, if I'd seen them there my reaction may have been totally different. That's when I realize how much becoming a mom had changed me and I really understood the vastness of a mother's love.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Art of Extreme Self-care Chapter 1

Happy New Year and welcome to The Art of Extreme Self-care postpartum style. For those of you who are new to my blog, last December I announced I would be doing a read-a-long of The Art of Extreme Self-care by Cheryl Richardson and sharing with you how I applied the principles of the book in a postpartum setting.  We will focusing on one chapter a month. So let's get started!

Chapter 1

Discovering the areas in your life where you are deprived and why.

What I got out if it:
This was a pretty easy chapter and exercise for me, because hell, as a mom we know pretty well what we are deprived of and the reason why. Sleep, quiet alone time, nurturing social activities, self-care, and the list goes on. But I found the exercise at the end of the chapter helpful in identifying why I was being deprived. Please note, when I did this activity, I was battling postpartum depression, recovering from surgery, and still healing from the trauma of childbirth.

This is what my list looked like:
I feel deprived of: Sleep, alone time, physical activity, time for self-care, time to read a book, time to decompress, peace, tranquility, calmness.
I need more of right now: SLEEP, better nutrition, alone time, exercise.
I need less of: Pain, anxiety, tears, chaos, feeling down about everything, less screaming baby.
Who is causing me to feel resentful and why: My child because this isn't what I envisioned motherhood to be. Myself for not being strong enough to handle motherhood.
I'm starving for: the freedom to go for a swim or take a yoga class, the time to sit and get lost in a good book, the time to write, the brain power to sit down and finish writing my novel.

I'm sure many of you moms can relate to my list. Sleep was and continues to be a big issue for me. In the last couple months my daughter has finally been able to sleep throughout the night, but after nearly a year of being woken up repeatedly, I'm still struggling with relaxing enough to sleep through the night myself. Relaxing is the key.

Over the last year I learned a valuable lesson in terms of how exercise really effects sleep and the ability to relax. When I started going to the gym and taking my daughter to the kid's club onsite, I discovered that I had time to exercise or take a yoga class, in that hour I got a break from my needy child, and because I exercised my body felt good. When you feel good you can relax easier, which leads to better sleep and a sense of calmness. Sleep in turn allows the body to heal, the mind to sort itself out, and the end result is well-being.

So what areas in your life do you feel deprived? Feel free comment below. Thanks for stopping by and we'll continue with Chapter 2 next month.