Deborah is the type of mama who provides nurturing, loving energy to everyone around her — whether you are her child by birth or not is irrelevant! One time, I had the privilege of attending her annual family Thanksgiving day celebration. When I walked in, there was easily a dozen children there. I knew that less than half were her children, but guess what? Every single one of them called her “Mama Lasarow.” When you need a mother’s wise words or a hug that only a mother knows how to give, Deborah is your gal. I am honored to have her share her postpartum perspective in this month’s Mama Story.
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I have had the blessed opportunity to experience 4 different and ever-evolving post-partum phases.
As I’ve become wiser and better informed with each child, my understanding of self-care post-partum has unfolded.
It’s taken me a while to realize that ‘self-care’ goes a long way toward caring for your whole family.
If Mom’s rested, refreshed and happy, the affects are far felt towards encouraging a happier family life.
Baby 1 – Allow time for the new norm
After my 17-hour labor and at-home birth with my first baby, I was up and about.
Cooking, cleaning, entertaining, baby on the boob right away, only to notice a crash of energy very soon after.
There was no real rest time and I was determined that everything had to be in its place, and that the house had to resemble its’ normal state
I was forgetting about the ‘new norm’!
Wherever I went, my daughter went too.
Hiking up mountains.
Walking up and down stairs with her in the baby-carrier on my back.
Watching me at the gym, cooking or cleaning: she was always at my hip or on my breast and we developed a very strong bond as a result.
It’s so tempting and thoroughly easy to become lost in the recent and very sweet euphoria of brand-new ‘birth-love’
And suddenly, amidst all that overwhelming and ecstatic love-feelings, fatigue creeps in.
Signs that my post-partum body (and soul) had to be brought back to balance, sang loudly.
Even to the most experienced of Moms, these signs can be calling to you.
If left unattended, they may become louder in order to call your attention.
They can show up in the form of a blocked milk-duct, a little fever, extreme fatigue, a sense of being unable to cope and lots of big emotions.
This is a good moment in life to self-care, self-care, self-care.
So much to do and plan, yet so much ‘me’ time needed as well.
For me, this was about long, warm, candlelit, lavender baths, or warm mugs of tea and feet tucked under for a quick read and snooze.
Babies 2 + 3 = The juggling act
When my second daughter was born at home, 4 years’ later, I was so concerned with how my eldest would handle it, that I was standing, baking cupcakes with her the next day with the baby in the bassinet next to us.
Off we went to all my 4 year old’s activities, with her new sister in tow. It was as if life immediately picked up without a heartbeat of a pause.
22 months’ later, my 3rd daughter came into the world very quickly, almost before the midwife arrived at my home.
Then the real juggling act began.
Although I knew so much about nutrition and health, following my own advice (freely given to others), was next to impossible!
In-between volunteering at their schools, driving a lot (as we lived in the hills at that time), cooking for the family and taking care of the household needs (much of the time solo, with a husband whose business took him away a lot), as well as focusing all my energy on having what I considered a ‘happy home’, there wasn’t much time remaining for a ‘me’ program!
That definition of a ‘happy home’, has changed as the family has grown and shifted.
The secret piece of advice in any size family, is carving out slices of time for yourself, daily, even if it’s 5 or 10 minutes only.
Babies 4 + 5 = TWINS!!! Learning to let go
Just 2 years later I found out I was pregnant again and it was going to be twins!
This created a whole new level of activity at home, with everyone’s anticipation of the unknown future.
This was the pregnancy where I learned to ‘ let go’!
I spent 3 months on bed-rest, 10 weeks of which was in hospital, completely horizontal, concentrating on holding my babies in for as long as I possibly could in order to let them fully develop and have the best chance of survival.
I rested, ate well, had wonderful care.
I hung-out with close and generous friends who came to spend time with me.
I snuggled with my older kids when they came to visit, simplifying our special time together by spending most of it, hugging and reading together, putting makeup on each other, coloring and drawing, and bonding.
Looking back at those absolutely precious times, I think about how driven I was.
How much I wanted it all to be ‘together.’
To be tidy and organized
To be able to paint a pretty picture of family-life all inside the lines.
The truth is, family-life is messy.
It’s incredibly exasperating.
At the end of the day, it’s about growth for your Soul and very rewarding.
It pushes you outside your limits, where you come to realize you’re so much of a ‘bigger’ person than you were before.
Even so, none of these awesome moments and ecstatic feelings, mean that us Moms, new and experienced alike, should lose sight of ourselves.
Our favorite foods
Our new healthy eating regime
Our ability to say ‘no.’
Time to listen to our inner voice reminding us that we’re doing a fine job in brand new terrain.
Learning to reach out to our support systems can be tough at first.
But using our neighborhood babysitting-exchange or our mother’s-helper who lives down the road, or opting for a back rub, a foot rub, or a quick snooze in the sun in lieu of “getting it all done” is so vital.
Further down the road, when you’re ready, schedule time out alone, or with a friend, or your partner.
Take time just for you to do something that makes you feel replenished, rich, vital, alive and re-energized. Talking about this with your partner before the baby arrives can really help you to prepare and feel truly supported.
The most important knowledge about all these restful opportunities is that they will be directly transmitted to your new baby as well as enjoyed by your other loved ones.
This transference of your self-care is the new pattern that you’ll be teaching to your own children as you all traverse the ‘new norm’ together.
Bon Voyage !
Deborah Leigh-Lasarow is Mother to 5 healthy, wonderful children. She was born in the UK, raised in South Africa and then lived for many years in California, USA, before moving to Mexico. For the past 3 years she has resided in Quintana Roo, Mexico, teaching Yoga, learning Spanish and combining Reiki, Massage and other Healing Modalities to assist her clients and students alike.