Sunday. It was once known as a day for rest, but nowadays it seems that most of us are using this spare time for other things….things like playing catch up or preparing for the week ahead. I find myself doing this often. Tidying up the house, throwing in loads of laundry, making a trip to the grocery store. Of course, some of these chores you cannot put off.. and when you do, well…it's very obvious. Last night we avoided going to the grocery store and around 8pm, realized we'd be eating breakfast sandwiches for dinner. Ha!
There are so many things on our plate right now at the Maxwell household. Our house is an insane mess and there's really not much I can do about it. Our guest bathroom is completely gutted, we're using the nursery for storage, and what doesn't fit in there is in the garage. Really though. There's a toilet in our garage. I've been nesting like crazy and I just want it all to be done!
But as this weekend comes to a close, I begin to think about self-care and renewal. As much as we need to tend to everyday, mundane tasks to keep the big picture rolling, how about we take some time for ourselves today? If it's only for 20-30 minutes, you will feel a sense of renewal. Even a few deep, cleansing breaths can feel great and that only takes a couple minutes! Are you taking those big, long breaths now? As you're doing it, I bet you're thinking, "When was the last time I did that?!". Do something for YOU! Maybe some meditation, a walk around the block, read a magazine or book, get a pedicure, call up a friend…anything your heart fancies. Taking care of yourself not only increases your level of happiness but can prepare you for feeling good the rest of the day.
Today, I will:
..But I'll also carve out some time for yoga, brownies, and Netflix. I'll probably snuggle with my husband, too. I deserve to take care of myself. I hope you understand and will do the same. <3
Grocery shopping. Woof. When our fridge starts looking bare, I cringe at the thought of going to the grocery store. It's always so busy, my shopping list is lengthy, and you can bet I will forget something on that list. I should have the list memorized by now and yet I always manage to space going down a certain aisle.
Now that I'm no longer working 40 hours a week in an office, I do feel as if I have more time to compile a list of what we need, meal plan, and get organized. When I shop, it's only for my husband and me (okay, so there's three of us if you count the human I'm growing)...but it still feels like we need a good amount to get through the week. My husband eats so damn much. I don't feel bad about sharing this with you because he knows it's true, too. Earlier on in our relationship, he looked at me during dinner one night and said, "Babe, you know how much you need to eat to feel full? Well, I'm bigger than you and I need like..three times that amount." Fair enough. I married the man and promised to support him always, even when he cleans out the pantry.
I often think about how our lives will change in these coming months. As much as I daydream about our labor and birth experience, I think about the postpartum period even more. When I talk to expectant folks as a doula and childbirth educator, there is a lot of focus on birth. I get it-- it's the unknown that is captivating, exciting, and maybe even a bit anxiety-inducing. But what about parenting? Labor and birth is a short amount of time compared to the rest of our lives. Raising a child is big stuff and incorporating a new person into your life *forever* seems a bit more overwhelming to me.
When you have a baby, even the simplest tasks get put off because...well, it's just hard to squeeze it all in. It's challenging to take care of ourselves and take care of another human 24/7. As a new mama, even feeding yourself can be a challenge! And when you're running low on sleep, haven't showered in a day (or 2 or 3? Not judging.. this will be me soon. We're in this boat together, sister), and have only eaten a bowl of cereal and a banana in the last 24 hours...you're going to feel pretty shitty. Plain and simple.
So...when this new person is born, promise me this one thing: that you will eat! Even better: promise me that NOW, when you're still pregnant, you will start planning for the postpartum period, not just for labor and birth. As new parents, it's hard to focus on your needs, but ya gotta give yourself some TLC so that you can be there for your babe. The laundry, the baby shower thank you cards...those things can wait. Nourishing your body is more important!
Keep in mind that two of the most amazing things you can stick on your baby shower registry are a meal train and a postpartum doula. Your doula can help with cooking, remind you to eat a little something, and even run errands for you (like that shopping trip you've been dreading!). There are great websites out there that can help you start up a meal train (to name a few: Take Them a Meal, MealBaby, Meal Train). Send the link to your meal train via email to family and friends prenatally. Folks can sign up to bring over a meal as often as you'd like (every other day, three times a week, etc.). You can include food allergies and limitations, your time frame for dinner, and even how you'd prefer the food be delivered ("If the front door is shut, please leave the food in the color on our porch.").
Aside from meal trains and postpartum doulas, you can also prep your meals ahead of time. Freezer and crockpot meals are a smart option for the postpartum period, and Pinterest makes it easy to collect yummy recipes without aimlessly surfing the web. Below I've listed some of the best recipes I've found on this genius website. I say "the best" because they are healthy, relatively easy, and for some of 'em, you can even eat with one hand. :)
Do you have any quick, simple meals/snacks you love and would like to share? Please post in the 'Comments' section below!
Prepping for labor and birth can seem daunting, especially when it comes to assembling your birth plan. There are many questions to ask yourselves, including ones like, "Who will will be present for the birth?" "What interventions do I wish to avoid?" and "Where am I at on the Pain Medication Preference Scale?" Though the research can be time consuming, creating a birth plan can help parents not only learn more about labor and birth but about themselves. Gaining knowledge through evidence-based information can help folks feel more confident in their decisions as new parents. Thinking things through and talking about the tough stuff can also help them better understand who they are as people in their everyday lives. For instance, a woman will not change who she is when she is in labor. It may be a brand new experience for her, but how she copes and how she communicates her needs will run parallel with how she normally deals with stress in everyday life. Tune into your bodies and your minds, mamas! You know more than you think you do!
So, when you are stressed out…how do you deal? Is it with open and honest communication? Do you need feedback to know things are okay? Do you just need a hug? For every woman, it's different. Comfort measures such as massage, hydrotherapy, and music can work as fabulous stress/pain relievers in labor. Music is especially interesting to me, as there are so many different directions you can go with it. Many mamas these days are creating birth playlists, which can provide a pleasant distraction during labor and birth.
The tunes on a playlist may be mellow, upbeat, or nostalgic…maybe all three. No, Enya isn't the only artist that must consume your playlist (unless that's what you're into). I think that's a common misconception among the general public: the birth music's gotta include chimes, chanting, nature sounds, etc. NOPE! Any music that elevates your mood and helps you feel at ease can be helpful during labor. Get the oxytocin pumping and you can't go wrong. Britney, Bruno Mars...maybe a little Prince? Now I'm wondering if I should add Raspberry Beret to my playlist. Keep in mind that the rhythm of the music you're tuning into may also help regulate your breathing patterns and make contractions seem more manageable. Think of Penny Simkin's Rhythm, Ritual, and Relaxation.
Nearing towards my sixth month of pregnancy, I began wondering what my birth playlist will include. I had never thought about it before but soon became very excited to assemble my own. Thanks to Google and Spotify, I've made some progress on what (I think?) I'll enjoy hearing during labor and birth. I'm happily sharing the list below. I have fabulous musical taste so I don't blame you for swiping these lists for your birth, too ;)
What songs will make your birth playlist? Anything in particular you loved listening to while in labor?
When the New Year hits, everybody has their list of resolutions. The older I get and the better I understand myself, the more I realize that specific, lofty goals don't sit well with me. Or maybe it's that I don't create a detailed plan of action to attain that goal and follow through. Here are just a few examples:
Lose X amount of weight
This goal is usually thrown out the window come February. I get so fixated on my diet and become so strict on daily visits to the gym that shortly following, I explode. AKA I throw in the towel and go back to my old habits. And to top it off, my husband, who is a personal trainer and could call the gym his second home, will regularly stick to his salmon-only dinners and hit the gym for cardio and weights twice a day. I think to myself, I want his will power and motivation...oh well, guess I'll watch this Long Island Medium marathon and eat more chocolate. FAIL.
I log onto FaceBook and see all my friends hopping from place to place. The east coast, the west coast, another country. It really does sound lovely. But let's be realistic. In order to have the funds, I gotta work. And if I'm at work, I ain't travelin'.
Work with 2 new clients/month
If I'm solely focusing on the quantity, am I providing quality? Probably not...at least not all of the time. I found that I was stressing so much about scheduling and making ends meet financially that I had a difficult time enjoying my job.
My goal for 2014? To be more mindful.
The dictionary defines "mindful" as attentive, aware, or careful. Being more mindful in all areas of my life is a very feasible goal. Instead of negative self-talk about my figure, my work load, or my boring 'ole Indiana life...I will put things in a more positive light. I'll be more mindful of my strengths, my limits, and of those around me. I'll do what I can, with what I have, exactly where I'm at.
I will be more mindful of:
It's pretty often that 5pm rolls around and I've got a pounding headache and no energy. You know why? Because at that point in time, I realize I've had 2 cups of coffee, 2 cups of water, a yogurt, and maybe a banana. This is not good. Will someone slap me and remind me that I will die if I don't provide myself with nutrients and WATER?! In 2014, I vow to pay attention to my nutrition, and there will always be a cup of water on my desk.
I cannot go to the gym today because:
A) I didn't get enough sleep
B) I didn't pack a gym bag the night before
C) the house is a mess!
The answer is D) All of the above...because I am an excuse maker! THERE, I SAID IT! I feel like this could only get worse, especially if we throw kids in the mix one day. So, in 2014 I promise to take better care of myself. I'll let those dishes pile up and leave the laundry wrinkly if that means 30 minutes of cardio. Or better yet, I'll make...I mean ask... my husband do it ;)
As a birth and postpartum doula and childbirth educator, I know that evidence-based information is key. I understand that every family is unique and what works for some folks won't work for others. My goal for 2014 is to become more aware of the information that's out there (both good and bad), become better at active listening and brainstorming, and be a better advocate for families. Okay, so that's more than just being mindful, but you gotta start somewhere!
My internet usage
It's so silly...but it's so true! It's a love/hate thing when it comes to me and social media. I love FaceBook...I could scroll through my news feed for hours, browsing through various articles, memes, photos, you name it. That being said, it is a TOTAL time suck. I could be doing so many other things! This past October, I decided to deactivate my account and didn't log back on for 2 months. I do believe that my time away from FaceBook helped me separate my *actual* world from cyber world. Letting go wasn't as hard as I thought it be, and in fact, I kind of enjoyed it. Not exactly an "off the grid" status, but it allowed me time to focus on what really mattered. It will be okay if I never saw photos of your fabulous wedding or adorable baby or that time the temp went into the negatives (wink, wink).
So, I may still post photos of my dinner (sorry), create a status gushing over the best day ever, or share a number of parenting articles, but I will do it with discretion in 2014. I promise!
The love I receive
Damn, it feels good to feel cared for, doesn't it? I realize that I take that feeling for granted every single day. In 2014, I promise to appreciate kind words and thoughtful gestures. I will express my gratitude, give hugs, and tell my mom I love her more often. I will also make more phone calls and write more letters, rather than emailing, texting, or sending a FaceBook message.
The energy I put out there
I may not live by the "YOLO" motto, but you only get one life. I hope that in 2014, I will gain more knowledge, meet some new people, pick up a new hobby, and experience new things. And I'll do what I can, with what I have, exactly where I'm at....'cause it's a good place to be.
2013 had its ups and downs, but overall, it was a fantastic year. Here's what made it so great:
Josh proposed on Christmas Day 2012, and the days that followed were filled with love and support, not only from my hubby, but from our close friends and family members. We want to thank everyone for your kindness and enthusiasm throughout all of the festivities. Married life does not feel any different, but I believe we have a stronger sense of community since our special day.
The Maxwell clan grew in 2013 as we added a new kitten, September, to our family!
Thanks to Colin McClain and Katie Vernon's amazing artistic abilities, I got a rad tattoo.
Josh and I traveled to North Carolina and Florida for a couple mini-vacations. A little fun in the sun, hiking and rafting, and catching up with old friends made for fabulous getaways!
I supported many new and growing families as a birth and postpartum doula. It was a pleasure getting to know each and every one of you! Thank you for welcoming me into your lives.
I had the opportunity to meet amazing families through my involvement at Bloomington Area Birth Services as a childbirth educator and volunteer birth doula.
I provided childcare to a few of my favorite families in the Bloomington area. I also helped lead the summer program at Harmony Education Center--full of outdoor activities, arts & crafts, field trips, and phenomenal little humans.
And last, but not least, I accepted a job offer as a leasing consultant at Abodes, Inc. I've been at it for a little over a month, and I really enjoy the work! This job is really the opposite from other gigs I've worked-- as I am now in an office full-time, Monday-Friday. The consistent hours are definitely different from what I'm used to, but it feels good. Unfortunately, because of my new position, I can no longer take on birth doula clients. I do believe the skills I practiced as a doula have carried over into my new profession. Being an active listener and helping people feel comfortable in their homes is a huge part of my job as a leasing consultant.
With that being said, I want folks to know that I will still be offering postpartum doula services in the evenings and over the weekends. I also hope to continue teaching childbirth education when I have free time, too. Although I am sad that I will not be attending births in 2014, I know that this community is full to the brim with compassionate birth workers who can help Bloomington families advocate for healthy, happy birth experiences. I will miss the prenatal meetings, the exciting, "I think I'm in labor!" phone calls, and seeing the look on parents' faces when their babies are born. I do hope I can return to the birth world someday in the future when the time is right-- I can't imagine staying away for too long!
Happy New Year!