Not Losing Yourself To Motherhood

Image from Unsplash

I’ve been married nearly ten years and part of the reason I didn’t have a baby straight away is that I was scared to lose myself to Motherhood.

I didn’t want to become a ‘modern mum’ who had ‘lost the plot’.

I’ve written this post on the back of reading Why Mum Must Come First (Sometimes) – a very interesting and honest post by Gemma Capocci.

I found myself reading about a person that – if I’d have had a baby at aged twenty-three – I know I would’ve become.

I’m not saying anyone has to be an older parent to be a better parent. That’s not my point at all.

But I just did.  I needed a few years under my belt to let off steam. To go on holidays and grow in my career.

I feel stronger and more secure in myself than I did ten years ago.

All that combined gave me the strength to recognise my faults and weaknesses as a person and gauge how I’d react to Motherhood.

I knew breastfeeding wasn’t for me. And I felt strong enough to vocalise this.

Thankfully, the battle I envisaged with a matron health visitor turned out quite the opposite. The most unmatronly HV simply said that as long as the child was fed, she would be happy.

How I chose to do it was up to me.

How liberating!

I feel like there’s a shift coming up in Motherhood. Thanks to the internet and blogging world, information and experience is readily available.

Yet so are opinions.

I don’t give advice. I just say what has worked for me.

You can listen to advice and scaremongering until the cows come home. But one thing I will say is that old cliché of trusting your instincts. Be strong in your mind, your thoughts and intuition.

What I’ve learnt about myself over all these years is that I knew if I didn’t keep busy and look after me too, I would get depressed. There’s been days where I’ve felt down and pissed off that this had become my life.

Frustrating seems to be the word that’s summed my maternity leave up.

And I’m glad it’s nearly over.

There. I said it.

But I don’t care. Because I’ve fought for nine months to make sure that I’ve made time for me.

The Perfect Parent brigade can throw stones at me all they want.

Even they’ll break eventually.

No one can keep up that perfect act.

So I’ve gone to the gym. I went on my first night out six weeks postnatal. I’ve sat and wrote blog posts. I’ve had my hair and nails done.

And do you know what?

I’ve got a very healthy happy nine month old whose got a very happy, healthy mamma bear.

She’s going for her first hour at nursery tomorrow and I couldn’t be more excited.

One whole hour to myself. One whole hour for her to explore and play.

Balance.

I can’t wait.

To restore that balance.

And don’t feel guilty that you’re sending them to nursery. That post above discusses the need to feel we have to stay at home to give them the best in life.

It had the opposite effect for that person. They experienced anxiety and depression. Which didn’t benefit mother or baby.

Childcare is costly but it’s only temporary. And they develop unbelievable amounts mentally and socially.

And so will you. As you have a break. A chance to go to work and get your identity. Feel like you have a purpose in life other than being a parent.

I knew before I had a baby that I wasn’t going to be forced into anything I didn’t want to do. My main priority was that she took her milk, we all got some sleep and that we both got fresh air once a day.

And gasp – I wasn’t always thinking what was in her best interest. Some days I was like ‘What can I do today to stop me losing the plot in this mundane cycle of Motherhood?’

I’ve written about it before and I’ll bleat on about it again: Looking after yourself benefits both of you.

We’re not going to be joined at the hip forever and one day she’ll have a mind and voice of her own. She will want to do what she wants and thinks is best.

Then what’s left of me if I’ve neglected myself?

So please please please look after yourselves!

Get involved in buggy bootcamps/swimming/pregnancy and postnatal yoga. Treat yourself! Buy that damn top for you instead of another baby outfit. Don’t forget yourself!

Join a gym and get your mam/dad/gran to push the buggy round the local shops while you do a class. I did bodypump at exercse4less while my Mam pushed E round the Range.

It was good all round. I got to a class, my Mam got to see Ella and she did a bit of shopping too.

Of course you want what’s best for your baby.

But you also want what’s best for yourself.

Love Missuswolf xxx

 

My LushTums with Laura Journey: Yoga – Bump, Baby and Beyond

Wednesday 2nd November 2016

Pregnancy Yoga

A cold Saturday morning in January 2016; that’s when my LushTums yoga journey started.

Missuswolf blankets set up in circle in room for pregnancy yoga

A sneak peek at Postnatal Yoga for mamas and babas

Seven months pregnant and ploughing through a busy work schedule (my own doing – I felt like I had the energy to cope) this was my chance at ‘time out’.

To bond with the bump.

You see, for someone who likes to be organised and plan things,

I was pretty nonchalant about the whole baby thing.

Due in March, I flippantly put off doing anything remotely baby related until after Christmas. I think I was clinging on to whatever I had left of my old life.

Making the most of it.

I’d never considered going to any ante-natal classes (gasp) and pregnancy yoga hadn’t crossed my mind.

I went to they gym right up until I was twenty weeks pregnant. It’s here that I experienced round ligament pain in my lower abdomen and back as well as mild SPD.

So the gym stopped and that was the start of all the belts and bands.

Then I learnt a fellow friend was pregnant.

This fellow friend suggested that we go to pregnancy yoga together and she’d found one that had just started up. Unfortunately she wasn’t far enough on to join the group yet and I would only be able to get to a few before they broke up for Christmas.

A New Years Resolution was made there and then for us to both join Lush Tums with Laura Pregnancy Yoga in the January.

We rocked up that Saturday to a local gym in Blyth where we were met by the lovely Laura. This session was actually free as it was a taster session.

The room was set out with yoga mats, a block, a pillow and blanket each which were laid out in a semi-circle. Laura had her own set up in front of this, alongside a heater (the room was cold and it was mid-winter) relaxing music and a burning incense stick.

As soon as you walked in, there was on overall sense of calm – and camaraderie.

I didn’t really talk much about my pregnancy at work as I was always out of the office on a project. Plus it was a male dominated office. There was only so much (and so far!) I could talk about.

So this hour and a half on a Saturday morning was like the mother-ship; somewhere to retreat and immerse myself entirely in being pregnant. With no distractions.

The first part of the session started with Laura introducing herself, the housekeeping and what we should expect from the class.

To begin with, she went round in turn and asked:

  • How far along you were
  • What kind of week you’d had
  • Any specific aches or pains
  • Anything else you’d like to share

I honestly felt like I was at pregnancy therapy.

I’m not one to normally open up in group environments but I couldn’t help myself here.

Especially as the weeks went by and I had to come to terms with a breach baby and an inevitable section.

This was then followed by yoga stretches. These were catered towards specific areas of the body that people were having problems with. It was great for loosening up, my neck especially. It creaked really bad when we did the head rolling but my god it felt good.

It also helped ease my lower back pain.

The session involved meditation. We put one hand on our heart and the other on our bumps.

I enjoyed this as I probably went through most of my pregnancy in denial. Not in a bad way. I’ve always liked to be busy and on my feet and the bigger I got, the more I had to come to terms with my lack of movement.

I couldn’t race around anymore. I would get frustrated that I couldn’t do things . The meditation helped me connect with my bump and try to shift my focus.

The session then ended with a fifteen minute relaxation period. We all lay on our left hand sides, our heads on the pillows and I’d use the block to support my bump, with the blanket covering us.

Laura then played Steven Halpern Comfort Zone as she turned down the lights and guided us through meditation into relaxation.

This was delightful. And I nearly always fell asleep.

It was the perfect way to start the weekend.

As the weeks went by, you’d watch as the girls whose bumps you’d come to know, gradually disappeared.

The first one to go for me was Rachael.

Life has a funny way of making your paths cross and a whole new part of your life exploding.

I remember Rachael running late for one particular session as she had been taking a Tots and Tums class beforehand (see Tots and Tums).

My ears pricked up.

Life after birth.

I needed to find something to be part of to keep me sane.

Laura encouraged us to keep in touch by creating a Facebook page for the Lush Tums Bumps and Birth side and one for the Bumps, Births and Babies side.

I watched as Rachael left to have Evie. I heard about her groups and what she did through Laura.

So when I had Ella, there was an overwhelming sense of belonging when Laura invited me to the Bumps, Births and Babies. She announced Ella’s birth to everyone and welcomed us both to the group.

It’s here that I found my mammy tribe. It was slow in forming as we were all at different stages of pregnancy, but over the summer, there was a few births and out of that was born Cake Club.

We’d become Warriors.

And the lovely thing about it is that the mammies in the tribe, we weren’t all at pregnancy yoga at the same time. I’d left when some of the other girls joined. They’ve since had their babies and we’ve all met up at the Tots and Tums classes.

A nice little support network.

We swapped stories on how we had used pregnancy yoga in labour.

Missuswolf woman in mothering lotus

Nadia using pregnancy yoga during labour

 

Nadia’s waters had broken. She invited me over for a 1-2-1 and we had such a beautiful session. We did yoga as well as mothering lotus meditation mudrah.

My Birth Story

Again, I think I was in denial that I was in the very early stages of labour. I remember experiencing strong period-pain type cramps on the Wednesday night.

As a first time mother I didn’t know what to expect.

I stupidly carried on painting the hallway as I was in a ridiculous stage of nesting.

The cramps would come and go and did ease off so I just put them down to Braxton Hicks.

They woke me at four in the morning. So I went downstairs, had some peanut butter on toast and put on Grey’s Anatomy. I then got on all fours and did the figures of eight and breathing techniques. I figured if I could eat then I wasn’t that bad.

So off I went to work. In complete denial.

As the same happened that night. Up at four, eating toast, Grey’s Anatomy doing yoga stretches in between.

I timed the pain and there was about four minutes in between.

I’d even phoned the hospital who told me not to come in.

I went back to bed.

And woke at six to get ready for work.

Still experiencing the pain,I then had a bleed. Something that had never happened in the entire pregnancy.

I knew then that shit was about to get real.

Back on the phone to the hospital while standing circling my hips and doing the ‘grounded’ movements, they advised me to come in for a check-up.

Even they were quite laid back by it all. When I asked if I should bring my bags in they said only if I wanted too.

So I took them. Just in case.

With the hubby. Who was in his uniform ready to go to work after the ‘check up.’ Hell even I was intent on going to work afterwards to.

But the ride to the hospital had me concentrating solely on my breathing. Although i do remember us driving up the Laverock Hall Road in Blyth. The sun was out – the first time it really felt like Spring.

And I remember thinking

‘today would be a good day to have a baby.’

Once in the hospital room, I was on my feet the whole time, circling my hips, transferring my weight from one foot to another, practising keeping grounded. All the while concentrating on my breathing.

It was confirmed I was three cm dilated and baba was still breach so off for a section I went.

I just went into a zone.

And I believe that pregnancy yoga helped me get into that zone, that calm frame of mind.

Postnatal Yoga With Babies

Over the summer, Laura trained to do the postnatal side of the yoga.

Missuswolf Postnatal Yoga blankets on floor in circle in room

This was a little different in the fact that the bumps that were once in the way were now little humans who craved attention.

Laura held sessions at people’s houses and her own.

The class was exactly the same set-up with the same equipment.

But now instead of how many weeks pregnant, it’s how many weeks/months old is the baby. Yet it’s still a chance to talk about how you’re feeling as well.

This is where it came to light that some of the girls had been struggling with various forms of depression over the summer but no-one really knew.

It re-enforced the importance of talking to each other and supporting each other.

Postnatal yoga once again brought us all together and opened us up. People ask for help if they need it. They talk about things more openly.

And there was the relaxation part too. Ten minutes instead of fifteen as there were little distractions. But Laura took the babies off us and soothed them to allow us to get that time. Which is needed now more than ever.

Missuswolf woman holding two babies at postnatal yoga while sat on the floor

We even did one session in Ridley Park! That really helped us feel grounded; being out in the August sunshine, on the grass under the trees.

Missuswolf Mother and children lying in park doing yoga

Family affair! Rachael’s family loved it.

The relaxation part of that was probably the best I’ve experienced. There’s something about being outdoors in the sun relaxing on the grass.

The sounds, the smells, all very comforting.

Missuswolf woman lying doing yoga in the park holding baby

Laura took Ella while I did my relaxation – aaaah

 

I look back on that day with fondness.

Missuswolf woman doing yoga feeding baby in the park

Multi-tasking Mama

It was a good day.

Postnatal Yoga – For The Mams

And finally – postnatal yoga just for mamas.

I went to one at the Albion Centre in Blyth, which is where all the new classes are now being held.

It was a Friday night and we joked that it’s rare to be out the house past 7.30 on a Friday night anymore. I know. How my life has changed! Unheard of until July last year when that blue cross appeared!

This was weird. Good weird. No bump, no baby. Just full dedication to ourselves.

Again, there’s the chat at the start. This is now how far postpartum you are, as well as how you and baby are doing.

Then we get to experience full yoga.

And the fifteen minute relaxation period was back hurrah!

There was a strange feeling about the class. Three of us had done the pregnancy yoga together. I don’t think we realised but when we went to this postnatal class, we sat in the same places that we used to at pregnancy yoga. Creatures of habit.

The strange feeling though.

I can’t really describe it.

Like we had been on some incredible mission together. We’d been through each other’s ups and downs from pregnancy, birth and postnatal. And here we were.

We’d made it. We’d survived.

And we are stronger than ever.

We are Warriors.

Missuswolf Postnatal Yoga teacher in warrior pose in Ridley park

Love Missuswolf xxx