This week, I went to my first moms group. I’m extremely blessed to have a great community of women and moms around me from friends who have had kids before me to moms I just met through the gym, in online Facebook groups, or via Instagram. There’s a great network of women I’ve met online who either have been an awesome support to me through short messages sent back and forth or who have become real-life friends after meeting online – how cool is that? So although I have a community I can connect with, I decided to go to a new group whom I’d never met and see what a real “moms group” was all about. Get ready for a reflective post ahead… Here are a few things I learned, in no particular order at all:
- Being anonymous was great. It was kind of neat to not really know anyone and just walk in to be part of the group! No expectations – and not that my friends put expectations on me, but perhaps I feel as though I’m already playing a certain role that I should fulfill.
- It’s great to be in a place where moms and kids can be as they are. A whole room full of women and their babes, where you can just whip your breast out and feed, or stand up and walk around the room without apologizing, is pretty great.
look who started smiling on purpose this week!
- Identity, like during any other change in life, is a huge issue. I’m starting to see a ton of similarities between our cancer journey and my pregnancy and postpartum experience, and the struggle with identity is something that I think everyone experiences across the board to some extent. With cancer, Mikey and I weren’t able to do so many of the things that we loved, the things that identified us. It was the first time we had to really think about who we were (especially for him going through the experience) rather than what we did. And so far, being pregnant and now living through this postpartum time has been the same. In the group, I heard many women share about what they used to do and who they used to be, and even though I know I’m new to this journey, I’m grateful for our cancer experience because it’s helped prepare me for other big changes in life. I can’t really identify myself as a personal trainer right now, and certainly not as an active person. My priority right now is love and care for my baby, and I know the gym will always be there. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be active right now if I could, but the truth is that my pelvic floor isn’t in the place I need it to be comfortable squatting or jumping, dead lifting or swinging kettlebells. But when the time comes, I’ll be there, and I’ll be ready to go! The bottom line is that when you know who you are, you don’t need to worry if those external things in life change because you are the same person at your core. For me that rests in being a beloved child of God, not in being a woman with muscles, a trainer, an outdoor enthusiast… Those are all parts of me that will always be there and will come back in new and different ways, but I actually said the other day to my mom, “I might not lift weights for a year,” and I was okay with that! And that’s all because of who I am in Christ – or rather, whose I am! It’s not that I don’t struggle with identity, and I know I will struggle more at different moments of this journey, but this helps keep me grounded in the truth of who I am when I can’t do all the things I love.
liftin’ babies, not weights, right now! 😉
- I was reminded at the moms group to let judgements go, and when I was with the group I didn’t feel judgment at all. This one goes back to cancer, too. When Mikey was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, we received a ton of advice, such as, “Stock up on hot dogs – you’re going to crave them!” The truth is, everyone’s experience is unique to them, and having heard so much of this and learned to let it go during cancer, I was able to do that during pregnancy. The same has been true in the postpartum time. One of the girls in the group said, “I wish we could have a venting group where you say what you want and no one offers any advice at all!” And she’s right, because sharing in a space where no one is going to try to fix your problems is so valuable. Because I’ve been around so many moms and seen it done so many ways, I’ve learned that all the advice that is offered is typically done with kindness and good intentions, but it can be overwhelming – should you be on a feeding schedule? When do you start sleep training? What about co-sleeping? What are your thoughts on crying in arms versus crying it out? If you can take the best advice and grab what you need from it and let the rest go, it’s much easier than holding yourself to different standards and putting that pressure on yourself. (For the record, this group was a great place for that!)
- Even in a safe place, you still want to feel like you have it all together. What I mean is, Abigail was crying a good portion of the event (at least it felt like that to me!), and even though I knew this was a great place for her to do so and me to not feel any judgment, that’s easier said than done! 😉 (So…take that point above and try to really put it into practice is what I’m saying.) I felt self-conscious and like I was the only one who couldn’t soothe my baby. I’m also the newest mom in the group by a few months, and I felt slightly awkward – like I was new at this (because I am!)… I had to consciously remind myself that I was okay, Abby was okay, and I didn’t have to worry. This will likely harder to remember when I have a crying baby on an airplane, at a restaurant, with family – when you really want people to love your baby as much as you do. 😉
- It’s hard to ask for help. I didn’t think this was hard for me…I’ve been good at admitting this is new and I don’t know what I’m doing, but when my in-laws offered to clean my house, I felt embarrassed: “Maybe they thought it looked messy or I wasn’t keeping things up enough…” “I’ve never been a good cleaner…” The thoughts rolled through my head and I said, “Thanks for the offer, but I’m okay!” Then I thought about the size of our home – it’s small, ya’ll! – and how I really should be able to clean it all. One bathroom, Abby’s small room, mine & Mikey’s room and the kitchen. That’s it. How could I say yes? That’s kind of embarrassing if I ca’t clean a small set of rooms. But after this group, I decided to call my in-laws up and said I’d take them up on their offer. And you know what? They said great! I didn’t think it was hard for me to ask for help, but that’s only concerning things really beyond my control. My small little home? Come on, I should be able to handle that! Behind the bathtub? Underneath the couch? Cleaning those things currently isn’t a priority, so it wasn’t happening, so I’m saying “thank you” to those who have offered to help, and we got home from a friend’s house last night to a very clean bathroom and floors thanks to my father-in-law – thanks so much, Maurice!
Lots of thoughts around identity, judgment, control, and community! And along the lines of letting go of who I was pre-baby or my movement and body, I wanted to share this great post from Brianna Battles (she references “macros,” which, to clarify, are macronutrients, or proteins, carbs and fats. Instead of tracking these as her metrics, she has new “macros”). I shared this while I was pregnant on the blog in terms of what I wanted to focus on, but it rings even more true now and allows me not to worry about when I’ll be lifting weights again or rush the process… Below are her words:
“This has nothing to with macronutrients but everything to do with postpartum priorities, intentions and health. Being cleared at 6 or 8 weeks is totally arbitrary. The 4th trimester is not intended to be “back to” anything gym, body, performance, lifestyle, etc.
Someone asked me if I am counting macros.
Hell no…that would be the furthest thing from healthy for *ME* right now (and ever).
Obsession is not a healing practice. So, what are my “macros?”
✨Sleeping to recover and restore
✨Eating to nourish and fuel
✨Moving gently to assist healing
✨Breathing to focus and connect
ALL of these priorities assist our *actual* postpartum needs…intense exercise, deprivation and desperation of any kind, backfire.
It feels sooooo good to trust in this phase, instead of rushing it like I did before. Know better, do better, pass it on!”
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Isn’t that great? I can learn from others in terms of not rushing it or learning from their second or third child and can focus on my baby right now! Along these lines, I decided to stop wearing my Garmin watch that tracks my steps, because some days, doing one thing that day and not worrying about going back out for more steps is better for my psyche. Hey – maybe this is the first time I could buy a neat watch for looks and function of time rather than tracking something physically! Aesthetically, I’m soft; I may actually be under my pre-pregnancy weight, but my muscle is all gone, my chest is bigger, and underneath it all, what you cannot see, is less stable than it used to be. But oh well! I’m in a new phase, and my body reflects that phase. My mind, too, as I continue to learn and let go from other moms around me. Whether it’s cancer or motherhood, big changes in life call for big reflection and pause, and that what I’m doing in this space as I continue to process and embrace this new journey!
Have you been to a mom group? What did you think? And mom or not, do you resonate with any of these feelings? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Live well & be well,