Motherhood Mondays: Anna’s Story and Being Happy

I love a story that one of my close friends Anna tells about this “epiphany moment” she had in college while walking home one day. (forgive me Anna, I’m sure I won’t re-tell it as good as you do 🙂 ) But I’ve been thinking about it alot lately.

Anna was terribly upset about a test she had just taken at Berkeley – maybe it was even a midterm or a final? – and she thought she’d done really bad on it. Her mind was spiraling thinking “Omg, I did so bad, I’m going to fail and then I won’t get a good job and I won’t etc, etc”

I’ve definitely been there. I was a ridiculous type-A perfectionist most of school and my version of “failing” typically was a B. Chris would roll his eyes at me when I would come home having similar freak outs about tests and grades, because typically by the end of the semester I would end up with mostly A’s and a few B’s. Although the semester we were planning our wedding, I think I got a few C’s (gasp!) Which is so funny to lack back at now, because honestly NONE of it mattered!

Anyway, So Anna was walking home and she saw this cute little house and there was a porch swing, and wind chimes and flowers and a garden. And she had this moment of clarity that no matter what happened, it didn’t matter. She wanted that. The simple little house and just to be happy. And what does she have now? Exactly that. A cute little house with an awesome garden and wonderful family. And in the end that’s what really truly matters.

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It’s a novel concept right?

To paraphrase one of the motherhood books I’ve read recently – our culture puts much more value on achievement rather than care. I still fall into that trap sometimes. I get frustrated that I’m not able to do more in one given day. I crank out blog posts during nap times. I sneak away and leave Clare with Chris to go work on my childbirth educator certification at the library. I’m working on a few other side projects, and Monica invited me to join her in taking this awesome happiness MOOC course through Berkeley that starts tomorrow. (More on that later!) Not to mention the other everyday stuff of keeping my house relatively clean, feeding myself, trying to fit in exercize. Oh yeah, and teaching 10 piano students a week. And of course trying to do that all perfectly.

And yet, I feel like it’s never enough.

I’m not teaching enough, doing enough, being enough, achieving enough. And it’s silly really because agonizing checking off a to do list that no one cares about but me is almost as silly as worrying about a B in a college class. What really matters is just being happy and the time I am able to spend nurturing relationships. And I am so grateful for that time. I value the time that I am able to mother and care and be. I am slowly trying to allow myself to disengage from the achievement self I used to so completely identify with. And sometimes I totally fail at it. I am stuck in my head and worried about all the things I “should” be doing or the achievement-based things I want to accomplish. Goals while being a mom of a young baby have become more like “loose guidelines that I eventually will do…maybe” It needs to be a reframing of what is enough, or at least enough for now. Enough for today. I have to remind myself that in the blink of an eye Clare will be in school and I sincerely doubt I’ll say “I wish I had done that load of laundry” or “launched that project sooner.” I recently saw this quote and I love it. I need to remember it.

 

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Around one month

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6 1/2 months

Too fast.

Reverb14: August – Transition

I’ve been listening to Sarah Bagley’s podcast recently. I love her concept of “giving up perfectionism to live a B+ life” and she mentioned the Reverb project and how they do a blogging prompt every day in December. They also are doing monthly prompts. And I decided to join in. August’s prompt was about transition.

What came to mind for me besides the fact that we are transitioning to Fall – Apple Hill is OPEN – YAY! – is the idea of how our lives have transitioned over the years so far as technology is concerned. I’m reading this book about mindful parenting and this book about honing your creativity and both are making me really rethink a lot of forms of technology and overstimulation. There is so much good in a lot of the technology we have accumulated over the years. I have found so much new mom support and friends through various Facebook groups this last 6 months. I’ve forged connections that never would have been possible without social media. One of my cousins lives in Las Vegas and I haven’t seen her in years, but thanks to social media I feel caught up on her life, whereas without it, we likely wouldn’t have heard from each other. I can also defend the merits of unplugging until I’m blue in the face. I hate that we are all surgically attached to our smartphones and computers. I have countless conversations with Chris, my family and even friends about paying more attention to each other than our devices. But what I worry about even more is the world Clare will grow up in.

 

And it’s not just a technology thing, it’s the fact that kids (and parents too for that matter) no longer just “hang out.” Kids are SO crammed with extra curricular activities that they barely have time to breathe sometimes. When I was a kid we would spend so much time just outside. Just being. Riding bikes, playing on the “dirt jumps” across the street from our house. We would wander around Glenshire, sometimes running into deer, or walk the mile it was to the general store for a 25 cent piece of candy. Many times we would just lay out on the deck or the docks looking at stars for HOURS, talking, laughing, just being. We would stay up all night playing trivial pursuit, not texting or updating social media. Most people I grew up with didn’t have cell phones until they were at least 16. And I feel like we were able to form and maintain some of the bonds that we did because of that lack of technology. (Perhaps part of that was growing up in a tiny town, also.) But I really hope that we can find a way for Clare to enjoy that kind of childhood amidst the bombarding overstimulation that our current society has transitioned into.

Motherhood Mondays: Pregnancy & Childbirth Books

I read a LOT of books while I was pregnant.  Some good, some GREAT, some bad, some meh.  Here’s my rundown of pregnancy and childbirth books and how I felt about each one, in the order that I read them.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting – This seems to be the book people always say “oh you need to read it” when you are a first time mom. But honestly I was very meh about it. I didn’t finish it, and I think a lot of the information is antiquated and also has a bit of scare tactics of all the things that can “go wrong” giving women the idea that childbirth and pregnancy is risky and scary.

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The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy – I read this one and what to expect at the same time and I felt like it was a funnier version of the latter. Some parts made me laugh and think it was nice to know all women went through all the weird stuff that does happen to you during pregnancy. But some was just annoying. I honestly would skip both of those and just look around at articles on babycenter and at handouts from your doctor to get an idea of all the regular stuff of pregnancy.

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Belly Laughs – This was a quick read and had it’s funny parts, but again I say Meh. Not anything different than what you’d get from other moms or online sources.

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 Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth – If you only read one book about birth, I would say that reading the second half of Ina May’s guide is the one to go with. This is what truly changed my views on childbirth and helped me realize that it was something completely normal that our bodies are meant to do and that birth doesn’t have to look like the complete medical model that society feeds us. It also helped me realize what outside sources may affect labor’s ability to proceed, i.e. privacy, a respectful care provider, interventions, etc. I am so thankful that my friend Lori let me borrow it and that our childbirth educator also recommended it. (The first half is birth stories from Ina May, which are also great to read, but the second half gets into the nitty gritty)

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Natural Hospital Birth – This one I read after I realized what I might be up against in the hospital trying to get a natural birth. Since so many commonplace non-evidence based practices are the norm in hospitals, this book gives a great outlook of what you will likely encounter and also how to best put together a birth plan, and why having a birth plan is important. That being said, I like what my doula said in that the best place to have your baby is a place where everything in your birth plan comes standard. Where essentially you don’t even need a birth plan. I am so thankful to have delivered at Sutter Davis where pretty much 98% of my birth plan was their standard procedure. We just wanted the newborn tests and procedures explained to us as they were happening. 🙂 I can’t speak highly enough about Sutter Davis.

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Birthing from Within – As my friend Lori put it, this is one of the more “hippie” birth books, and while yes there is a lot of drawing exercises and stuff that I didn’t do, it had a lot of helpful information and wasn’t a huge repeat of Ina May’s guide. I did particularly like their section geared towards fathers and the different little “cut out” reminder cards. I had Chris read those and  made copies  for the hospital.

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Your Best Birth – This one is written by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein who produced “The Business of Being Born.” I’d say watch the documentary and skip the book. Also maybe because I’d already read Ina May, Natural Hospital Birth and Birthing from Within when I got to this one, so there was a lot of repeat information. But I do think this one does lay out your birth options really clearly. And really professes that you do have a choice.

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Spiritual Midwifery – My friend Sarah loaned me this one, and I read part of it, though not all of it. This is Ina May’s first book. The stories in Ina May’s Guide are similar to that of spiritual midwifery and give you comfort in birth’s natural processes.

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Baby Catcher – I love love LOVED this book! I read it after Clare was born, but Peggy Vincent is not only an awesome midwife but a great writer too. The book is separated into stories of different births that span her midwife career. It’s wonderful and really makes me feel confident in my choice to pursue the childbirth field as a career option.

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Other birth books that I would like to read are Birth Matters, by Ina May and Pushed: The Painful Truth about Modern Maternity Care by Jennifer Block. Both are near the top of my To Read List.

Hopefully if you are an expecting mom, or know one, this list can provide a jumping off point for your own reading and research. I do wish I’d read many of them earlier in pregnancy instead of closer to the end. I also wish I’d taken birth classes earlier on. As a childbirth educator once I’m certified I will definitely encourage women to explore these options earlier on.

Other mamas, did you read a different book than the ones listed here that you would recommend? I’d love to add it to my lists of resources for once I’m ICEA certified.