Three important lessons learned
So, I suppose it’s time to make some kind of official announcement: the hubby and I are expecting a little one at the end of February 2016!
My midwife and I have been joking about how so many of the topics I have worked on clinically and in research will become intimate knowledge on a whole other level during this process.
I just never expected first trimester horror stories to be one of them!
Yup, it’s been a rough one.
Around week 8, I basically became a hermit, with nausea and morning sickness so severe that I spend most days in bed, sitting next to my toilet, or running between the bedroom and the bathroom.
My home office became my bed, and really, not much work got done.
I did gain a whole lot more compassion for folks who get easily car or sea-sick!
Upon reflecting on what was essentially a 6 week-long Savasana (sans the relaxing benefits!), I realized I could totally find the silver lining.
The lessons I learned during those weeks are, without a doubt, applicable to postpartum.
In a perfectly random order, here are the ways that my first trimester from hell helped prepare me for seeking out support during the postpartum period.
Lesson 1: Get fed without cooking
Trying to prepare anything for myself made me severely nauseous.
At the advice of an Ayurvedic consultant I work with, the best solution was to make sure I was fed without having to take on cooking.
My dear husband has many talents.
Knowing how to cook more than a handful of things is not one of them.
So we got creative.
I had the ladies who own a little restaurant down the street prepare something once a week.
We talked to several of our friends who own restaurants and asked if we could have a standing take-out order with them for certain days of the week.
And when my husband went out of town for work, I called on a friend whose partner is a chef and hired him to cook enough food for me to stock my fridge for the time my husband would be gone.
All of this made life just a little easier x10.
And it was the best motivation to start planning a month of MealTrain support to keep my family well-fed during the first few weeks after this little guy or gal comes.
Lesson 2: Get comfortable feeling + being more vulnerable than usual
The week my husband was working out of town was definitely the most difficult.
I was at my sickest, and the simplest things felt impossible.
Once day, after getting into and out of the car 3 times to go to the grocery store only to have to get back out to run into the house and get sick, I decided there was no sense in torturing myself.
I called a friend (sobbing, of course) and she happily went to the grocery store for me.
She brought me everything I needed, plus some really helpful stuff I hadn’t even thought of (lime popsicles!!!)
That week I asked our friends with restaurants if they would mind bringing the food to me instead of the usual pick up.
No one minded. They were happy to do it.
Really, all I had to do was was communicate what I needed, or how someone could help.
It sounds so simple now that I see it written out.
But in the throes of feeling crappy and needy it felt so hard.
Happy to say, I’ve now perfected the art of gracefully asking for help without shame.
It’s been surprisingly insightful and helped me anticipate what I will want to exert energy doing in those first few weeks postpartum versus what I can ask family, friends, and professionals for help with.
Lesson 3: Get together all your self compassion tools + tricks
Besides the physical challenges, the psycho-emotional side of those first few months were intense.
I mourned my loss of energy, productivity, and perceived loss of independence.
I felt so weak and dependent on others.
It was frustrating and incredibly sad for me.
I remember my eyes welling up with tears every time I had to ask for a favor from my husband or a friend for something that weeks ago I could have accomplished without a second thought.
I didn’t feel like myself.
I missed feeling comfortable and content
I missed being independent
I had to whip out the yogic tools big time and self compassion was at the top of the list.
This new normal — while temporary — was the start of many new normals that will have me feeling like someone other than who I think I am.
But it is me.
Just a side I haven’t become comfortable with.
And quite honestly, a much more needy side of me that I am still making peace with.
Practicing compassion towards myself became the number one way to become more accepting of my current state, and to begin to train those “be kind to yourself” muscles to flex hard throughout the rest of this pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.
If you had a rough first trimester, I would love to hear about the silver lining you found in the comments!