Seeker of truth.
Seeker of light.
All those things you were, before you were a mother, you still are.
Just with greater complexity. Additional intensity.
Because you are also a mother.
And in the very moment you became a mother, the whole world changed.
A change so dramatic it shook your very core for months, perhaps years. Though it was imperceptible to others.
Did it change the way you viewed yourself and all those “before you were a mother” roles? Perhaps you gave them up. Dismissed them as unimportant. Or did you decide they no longer blended into your new filtered world. That the sharp, daring angles of your previous life no longer fit in this surreal new landscape of motherhood.
Because, you became a mother. And you will forever see the world through the lens of motherhood.
At that moment your child entered your life, a filter was thrown across your world view. One that seemed perhaps so uncertain, so strange, so fragile and frightening at the time. But as time passed, you slowly became accustomed to this foreign haze. And now, you barely notice its existence. For that filter is your new normal. And if it were ever torn from your life, the world would suddenly seem unnatural and cold and harsh and a lesser place to be.
Because even though you are still all those things you were, before you were a mother, you are now a mother. And that changes everything.
And that is why we celebrate today.
Because you are a mother – and everything you do, every choice you ever make, will be, in some way, influenced by the fact you are a mother.
But you are also so much more than just a mother. You are still all those things you once were, for as long as you still wish to be. And whatever you else you so desire to become. Because while a filter may change the way you see things, it doesn’t prevent you from seeing them. It doesn’t exclude you from being them.
You can be whatever you want to be. You can be a mother, yet so much more.
Be more. Be you. Just more you.
Happy mothers day to each and every mother.
All my love, Sarah xx
I’ve been doing more decluttering lately. I love it. It’s become my thing. I’ve been ruthless. Clothing, handbags, kids toys, the bathroom cabinet…. all decluttered. Without getting all woo-woo on you, it really does feel like energy flows much better in my uncluttered home. If only I could convince my children of that fact…
So yes, decluttering. I’m a convert. But like anyone, I still have my decluttering Achilles heel.
I love books. Always have, always will. I was the self-proclaimed read-a-thon champion in primary school, and I can still knock over a whimsical chick-lit novel in one day if I really put my mind to it (but only if the kids are staying at Grans.)
So I have quite a few books. Fiction, of course. But now I’m mostly buying non-fiction, work related tomes, and my bookshelf is beginning to buckle under the weight. Sure I buy a few things on kindle these days. But if I can, I always prefer to buy the physical copy. All the better to dog-ear, highlight and cover in post-it notes, I say.
So while I was perusing my overflowing bookshelf recently, trying to decide which books I could possibly bear to have torn from my possession, I came across all those baby books I accumulated while pregnant with my first. You know the ones. You probably got most of them at your baby shower, Kaz, Robyn, Tizzie… all the usual suspects. Actually I bet at least three people tried to give you a copy of Up The Duff, am I right??
Seeing these titles reminded me of something my beautiful child health nurse , Tracey, said to me on one of her visits, when I, as any good bookworm new mother would, asked her what was the absolute, number one, best baby book to read to help me figure out what the heck to do with my baby.
With a sideways glance at the precariously balanced tower of parenting books on my bedside table, she simply said to me.
“Don’t read the baby books, read your baby”.
It was wonderful advice for me at the time, and it has always stuck with me. As a brand new mother, I was desperate for knowledge and advice, I scoured ALL the books, all the time, furtively searching for that one paragraph, that one sentence that would miraculously show me the way, that would cease my five week old daughter’s constant wailing and provide me with the tools and skills I needed to be a good parent. Looking back now I see how futile my incessant searching was. Instead of reading whenever I had a few moments of peace, I should have been resting, better yet, sleeping. Perhaps then I would have had a little more energy to manage the late nights, and a little extra zen to manage my own response to my baby’s crying.
So at that moment, the advice to stop reading books and start reading my baby was exactly what I needed to hear. And over time, I understood that Tracey wasn’t advocating getting rid of the baby books altogether. But at that moment, from her many years of experience supporting new mothers, she could see how much I was trying to intellectualise motherhood, and how I desperately needed to get my nose out of the books and stop looking for a written answer to such a visceral, experiential issue. I’m forever grateful to her for guiding me down a more intuitive path. And it’s one I continue to promote to the women in my programs and clinic today.
My advice: “Read the books, but read your baby too.”
I know how much we all value books. We know there are many people out there who are much smarter than we are, who have done the research, and who understand the microscopic workings of a baby’s brain and anatomy so much better than you or I ever will. Luckily for us, these intelligent people put what they know to be true in book form pretty frequently. So yes, there is always value in seeking support from the books.
But just remember that a book doesn’t know you. It doesn’t know your baby. It doesn’t understand your connection or your family dynamics. Every mother is different, and every baby is different. There is no one-size fits all approach to parenting and babycare. What works for one mother may not necessarily work for another. And what works for a mother with her first child, may not be the answer for her second or subsequent child.
So what do we do? Use the books (or indeed the blogs, including this one) wisely. Consider them as a research tool, or a guidepost, but not as an absolute. See them as a suggestion, rather than an order. Most importantly read each book through your own lens. Read each book with critique in mind.
Most importantly, learn how to trust your own intuition a bit more. I’ve lost count of the number of mothers who have said to me “I wish I’d trusted my instincts more” with regard to their early parenting days. Mother’s intuition isn’t world famous for no reason, after all. You’ve got it. You just need to start trusting yourself enough to use it.
Until next time,
Women ask me the BEST questions!
Since I moved into this field of pregnancy and postnatal wellbeing, the funniest thing has been happening – I now get asked all manner of questions I never thought I’d be asked when I started my OT career.
In one-to-one appointments, group Pilates classes, Facebook forums and even at fancy-pants awards dinners, women start asking me the most awesome questions whenever I tell them what it is that I do.
Here’s a few of the questions I’ve had in just the past week – and my answers.
Q: “I just realised that since I started Pilates, I haven’t needed to wear a Tena-lady anymore when I go running – could that be due to the Pilates?”
A: Yes!! Pilates is awesome! (ps, this lady was talking about Pilates with another instructor – who is clearly awesome – so I’m not blowing my own trumpet here!)
Q: “If I had a pelvic organ prolapse, would I know about it?”
A: Not necessarily, there are different stages of prolapse, and in the early stages the prolapse is still contained within your body – it’s not until the late stages that “things pop out” of your body – so if something doesn’t seem quite right with your lady parts – get it checked out by your gynaecologist or women’s health physio.
Q: I had a C-section, do I still need to worry about pelvic floor rehab?
A: Yes, definitely. It’s not just birth that puts strain on the pelvic floor. Nine months of your little baby bouncing up and down on that collection of muscles will definitely stretch and strain the pelvic floor. Rehab is always recommended after pregnancy – no matter what type of delivery, it may just be a different level of rehab.
Q: What’s the minimum amount of time to wait between pregnancies, from a physical recovery perspective?
This is a tricky one, and we really need to look at it from a functional perspective, rather than on a timeline. It would definitely be advised to wait until any diastasis recti (abdominal separation) is healed and core strength is restored, ditto for pelvic floor difficulties. So you need to be physically “put back together” in order to give your body the best chance of staying strong during your next pregnancy and recovering again post-pregnancy. But women also need to consider how well their hormonal levels have rebalanced, and how well their nutritional stores have recovered. If women are still nutritionally and hormonally depleted when they conceive again, then this will put an added strain on their body during that subsequent pregnancy. This would differ for every woman. I dare say many women don’t get back to being fully functional and balanced before getting pregnant again, even if a year or two has passed since they gave birth, and this can lead to increased risk of further and more pronounced dysfunction through the second pregnancy.
So there you have it – just a few of the conversations I have with women every day! I truly have an awesome job.
Now over to you. Do you have a burning question? Feel free to shoot me an email and I’ll do my best to respond anonymously on my Facebook page in a Q&A post.
Alternatively, you could always join my Body Mind Baby program, which begins in Adelaide on Thursday, March 17. Find out more about it here, or call me on 0432 420 846 if you want to chat about it in person.
Until next time,
Be well and live your best life.
Cheers, Sarah xx
We often think of postnatal depression as something affecting only new mothers with young babies. But recent research has shown that PND can persist for much longer than previously thought.
Check out my latest guest blog post over on the Mum Central page here.
If you are concerned that you, or someone you know, may have depression, please seek support from your GP or another health professional.
For immediate crisis support, please call LIFELINE on 13 11 14.