Post Partum Body

Hi Friends.

Posts are few and far between around here (what’s new right?).  I was hoping to have a bit more consistency on my year (plus 4 months) off but it turns out that having a newborn in the spring makes life pretty crazy.  If I’m not holding, rocking, or feeding the baby, then I’m probably playing with a toddler in the yard and/or doing yard work and planting the garden, and if I’m still not doing that, then most likely I’m cleaning the house or sleeping.  So – life, it’s a bit hectic right now but I wouldn’t change a thing.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my postpartum body and I figured I’d write out a few thoughts.  This is a hot topic for anyone who’s been pregnant, is currently pregnant or thinking about/trying to get pregnant.  Some people will tell you while you’re pregnant that you should eat clean and stay fit no matter what.  Others will tell you to take it easy and eat what you want, don’t stress.  Then you have the baby and you begin to notice everyone else who has had a baby recently and the age old game of comparison begins.  On top of that you have people giving advice – don’t worry about your body, just enjoy your baby OR you should be working out 6 weeks after having your baby GET YOUR BODY BACK!

It’s an exhausting mind game and one that I wish I could say I didn’t participate in – but I do.  Still, I think there’s some validity to entering into the conversation.  I want to  break it down to solid truths for myself and by writing it out I hope that you can glean some truths for you as well, not only if you are a postpartum momma (regardless of how long it’s been!) but also if you are just a person that struggles with this topic in general.

Here’s the facts for us birth momma’s:

  1. You grew a human.
  2. That human changed you as a person – physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.
  3. You will quite literally never be the same again.

Think about it – you nourished a rapidly growing person for 40 weeks (give or take some weeks), and if you are breastfeeding you are continuing to be the only source of nutrition for that person.

INCREDIBLE. MIRACULOUS. AWE-SOME. MIND-BLOWING.

I’ll never ever ever stop believing that being able to give life to another human is less than this.  I truly think it’s a sacrifice worth giving and if it wasn’t possibly life threatening for me I would hands down want to do it again.

Here’s some more truth:

Growing a human is HARD.  Even if you had the most amazing pregnancy ever, your body had to work unbelievably hard to do that.

When I think back on my pregnancy I know I’ll never forget the crazy amount of hard that it was and because of that I want nothing more than to HONOUR my body.

The truth is that to honour my body I must nourish it, move it and treat it with respect.  I must listen intently to what it is saying.  I must take time each day to understand what it needs that day and also understand that it’s needs are going to change each day.

 To honour my body I must work towards my healthiest self – physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.

Will that take me down a road of weight loss? Truthfully, I hope so but it’s no longer my goal. My goal is health and your goal should be health as well.

Not a size zero? No one cares and neither should you!

Be confident and radiant in who you are right now in this moment.  Take steps towards a healthy you and eventually the number on the scale isn’t going to matter to you anymore.

As you nourished your child (and maybe still do) honour your body by nourishing it as well.  How can you give something to another person that you don’t possess yourself? If you are unhealthy physically, mentally, spiritually or emotionally then how can you expect to nourish healthy human beings? Even if you didn’t grow a human and even if you aren’t breastfeeding, you are still nourishing those around you by what you give.  Are you giving the best of you?  If you aren’t giving the best to yourself then I would argue that it’s not possible to give the best to those around you.

More than anything I need to focus on me so that what I pour out to those around me (especially my children) is healthy and nourishing for them.

Here’s some practical ways I’m putting this into practice:

  1. Eating mostly whole “real” foods and very little processed food
  2. Listening to my body when it tells me that gluten is bad (even when I desperately want a pastry)
  3. Engaging in a hobby (hello garden!)
  4. Making time each day for me (hello early mornings!)
  5. Praying
  6. Allowing myself to feel all the feels and be honest about feeling them
  7. Being realistic about my to-do lists (bye bye spring cleaning wishes)
  8. Talking to people frequently and being intentional in relationships

I had a much different post planned out in my head when I started this, but as is the case so often I let my hands do the talking for my brain and it’s usually exactly what I needed to hear.

So here’s to letting go of postpartum body expectations and to embracing a healthy new me.  Here’s to letting go of the numbers.  Here’s to honouring my body so that I can honour those around me.

 

Realizations

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It’s been one of those weeks that I have a lot I want to write but I don’t know where to start! So in true overwhelmed Ashley style I just didn’t write.

I decided that writing something, anything, even if those thoughts are disjointed and all over the place is better than not writing at all.  Writing for me is a way for me to connect my thoughts, to find clarity and inspiration and creativity.  It helps me process what I’m feeling but not able to fully form into thoughts yet.  This space has been less about my thoughts and more about ways to live simply, and of course gardening.  I’ve struggled with that a bit and it’s a reason I haven’t blogged super consistently since going back to work.  There’s a lot I want to talk about but I wasn’t sure how it would fit into the “living simply” theme of the blog.  Would people want to read it? Would people bore of it?

Here’s the thing – living simply does not just mean that you live with minimal possessions.  It also means that your mind, body and spirit are honoured through minimizing the overwhelming facts of life.  Just like physical clutter distracts me and affects my overall mood, emotional and spiritual clutter also take away from my well being – most times even more so.

This year has been a year of me wading through the clutter in all parts of my life.  With the huge life change of becoming a working momma I have been so focussed on making it all work.  Often I’ve been so overwhelmed with it all that it’s all I can do to make it to Ezekiel’s bed time.  By the time I’ve got him tucked in I’m ready to tuck myself in.  It’s been exhausting.  Top that with the pressure of being financially responsible for my family – I haven’t been properly caring for myself.  When people ask how I do it my response is: “I don’t know really, but you do what you have to do.” Over the summer I have been working a total of 200 hours per 4 week period – that’s like working an extra week but not getting that extra week to do so.  It was INSANE but it brought me financial peace.  The rest of me was not experiencing that peace, but the financial part of my mind was free.  It was easy to budget life and I never had to think twice about buying this or that.

It was nice.

Yet it was not nice at the same time.

I spent a total of 1 day a week with Ezekiel.

That’s not enough.

Recently my job started enforcing the part in our nursing contract that says anything over 155 hours in a 4 week period must be over time – but they are unwilling to actually pay the overtime.  So that puts me back 45 hours in a 4 week period.  It’s a significant amount of money – it’s also a significant amount of time.

I’ve been so incredibly stressed out about it.

No more financial peace – but this week I’ve come to a few realizations with the help of God knocking me over my head.

#4 realization: We can survive on my full-time wage.  It takes a way a bit of the spontaneous spending.  It will take a bit more precise budgeting and there will have to be some sacrifices – but IT.IS.POSSIBLE.

#3 realization: 45 hours extra with my kid is HUGE and absolutely 100% worth the financial sacrifice.  We are at the age of turning 2 when exploring freedom and independence is important.  I want to be the one mainly shaping the way he learns to respond to this point in life.  I want to teach him gentleness and kindness while allowing him to be able to explore that independence.  I want to teach him that outbursts aren’t necessary or ok, I want to teach him patience and love, I want to teach him that politeness is important.  I want to help him explore, I want to help him learn, I want to see his joys and his triumphs.  I want to celebrate him.  Now I have more time to do that and it actually brings me to tears.  This life is so worth it.

#2 realization: 45 hours extra to take care of me.  This one is even more huge.  This past week I’ve been able to slow down and realize just how unhealthy I’ve become.  Not that I’ve been eating superbly terrible but I’ve been compromising here and there because I’m to tired to do anything else.  My body is in the most amount of pain it’s been in since I was pregnant.  I can’t get a hold of it.  Walking 4 km puts the pain over the edge.  I struggle with how much to push myself to gain endurance and when to rest to let my body adjust.  I don’t know if this pain is a natural progression of my condition (Marfan’s) or more likely – a result of not taking care of myself.  What I do know is that it’s time to take back control and I now have the time.

#1 realization: God is in control and he’s never going to let us fall.  End of story. Full stop.

So here I am taking back the simple part of living that’s not just physical clutter.