Welcome to the Peaceful Power Podcast I’m your host Andrea Claassen and today I’m sharing my 1st year of motherhood struggles.
This might be one of the most difficult, & vulnerable podcasts I’ve ever done. I want to talk about this as I wish more women would speak out about postpartum problems. I know I have waited a year before sharing my story as I it took me about that long to feel like me again. I also didn’t want judgement from other moms. Especially as I personally felt like I was failing as a mom the second my son was born.
Let me start from the beginning and share my journey in hopes I can inspire one new mom to ask for help, or to take a break.
My beginning starts in Sedona, Arizona. My husband and I were on our honeymoon we left the day after our wedding. I went to a yoga class as I typically do on vacation and felt like I was going to pass out it was a restorative class where we just laid on the floor (mind you I was the youngest person in the class by a good 25 years) & when we stood up I had to go sit by the door and sip on water. I did rejoin the class and afterwards the instructor and a few classmates made sure I was okay I said yes I don’t know what happened. He said I probably opened up a chakra in my head I though or I’m pregnant. Turns out I was right.
I didn’t have a tough time through my pregnancy. The last about 2 months were the hardest just physically I couldn’t do things I was used to doing so that was the hardest adjustment towards the end. We also were waiting to find out the sex of our baby until they were born. Though we did have two slip ups before his arrival the 1st was he had excess urine in his kidneys which I googled & found out it was super common in boys. Next at about 36 weeks the nurse came over to me and said oh his little heartbeat sound perfect. Then said oh not that he’s a boy, I don’t know the gender. So I had a hunch it was probably a boy.
One of the areas I specialize in as a trainer is pre/postnatal so I’ve worked with pregnant clients for 10 years now. Training I train on the safe side & don’t get to crazy. I also went to prenatal yoga from about 20 weeks on. One of the things I noticed I didn’t feel super connected to my baby at yoga class when we would be in legs up the wall or svanasa I just felt like me only larger. One of the things I also believe is that you pick your parents. I figured whatever little soul picked myself & my husband for a reason.
Now fast forward to when my son arrived. My water slightly broke when I woke up that morning. I called the hospital I was to deliver at and it was full so they turned me towards another hospital in a neighboring suburb. I was actually quite calm about the sudden change of plans more so then my husband was. We went to the hospital and they test to make sure it was your water that broke & sure enough it was. Thankfully the nurse I had was amazing. I told her I wanted a natural birth & she used to work at a birthing center. I had the natural path set & got to use laughing gas to help with the pain. The laughing gas is milder than what you get at the dentist. So basically it took a slight edge off. Now fast forward 22 hours & my son arrives.
As soon as my son arrived and they put him on my chest I was of course exhausted as many new moms are but I didn’t feel that instant bond with him that many talk about. My husband and I were waiting to find out the sex of the baby until he arrived and I remember the doctors saying to him tell her what sex the baby is. I frankly didn’t even care at that moment I was happy everything was good with my son & I. I also remember saying Andrea smile once he told me because everyone is looking at you. After our initial bonding time the nurses do have you try to go to the bathroom. I couldn’t at first so they said we will try a few more times otherwise you will have a catheter. As soon as she said that I knew I didn’t want that so somehow my body knew what to do and I didn’t need one. Then my husband had to go let the dogs out & had the nurses take our son to the nursery so I could sleep or try to. Then my parents came, my best friend, my husbands parents came and brother in-laws family. I never changed out of my gown I was in way to much pain and still a deer in headlights like what am I suppose to do now. After people had arrived I remember looking in the mirror and seeing I had popped a ton of blood vessels in my face. Like holy moly. I asked my husband why he didn’t tell me but he said he didn’t think that was appropriate to say after I just gave birth. Thankfully the crazy popped blood vessel look did start to go down that day and by the next day they were almost gone. We only stayed in the hospital 1 night & were at home.
I still remember being in a ton of pain but I have a higher pain tolerance and assumed pain would be normal after giving birth. I floated through my days thinking sleep deprived, breastfeeding, and still trying to figure this motherhood thing out. My first outing happened at 10 days post birth. I was going stir crazy and decided I would go to Kohls and purchase a few baby clothes items that were boy specific. I parked somewhat close to the store but remember thinking this was a bad idea the walk into Kohls seemed so long I was winded, my pelvic floor hurt, and again felt such in a haze. I grabbed a cart when I was there mostly to lean on it as I pushed it around the store. I came home & decided that was not a good idea.
Fast forward to 6 weeks post birth. I got invited to Lori Harder’s mastermind event with 3 other gals at her house. I got the invite while I was still pregnant and talked with my mom and other women do you think it’s a good idea to leave my son and they all said yes. Which this was actually a great break that I needed as I am someone who likes to travel and needs alone time. Again as a new mom you don’t get much. I made sure I pumped enough milk so he was set for the entire trip it was just 4 days. As a group we all went to a Soul Cycle class I opted out for a yoga class instead as riding a bike 6 weeks postpartum didn’t sound fun. At the yoga class which was in Santa Monica I was the biggest person in class and felt really awkward in my body. By the end of class I just started to cry in pigeon pose. I felt so out of place with the class & my life. Plus it wasn’t my style of yoga it was a lifting & yoga combo class where he would yell at us to go lower, and do more. Which doesn’t jive with my more hippy yoga preference.
My next difficult experience at the retreat was when we did a photo shoot. I felt embarrassed of my body & still in a funky mood. This was my first time meeting these women and I was still 40 pounds heavier than my normal weight, I had just had a baby, and felt frumpy. All of the women were so amazing and did everything to make me feel comfortable and beautiful it was my own internal battle I silently had. I thought “will I ever get my body I don’t want to say back but toned again”, “will my boobs shrink back to a normal size”. I already have a large chest and post baby they were huge. That is where most of my self-consciouness came from was the size of my chest. I did the shoot and do have amazing photos that I still use from it. During the shoot Lori had asked me if I missed my son and I said well to be honest no I needed the break. Of course I miss him but did need this business retreat to start to feel like me again. Later during the retreat we were in her office and she said I feel like I don’t know you yet. I was perplexed at why she said that. I thought well I feel like I’m me. Granted I was still sleep deprived on the trip getting up in the middle of the night to pump plus a 2 hour time zone shift left me a little topsy turvy. But then 2 months laterI finally felt the reason she said that. I was in a huge dark fog for the first 3 months & didn’t even know it. I didn’t really laugh, I felt so frazzled, didn’t know what was going on with my life or business. I told my husband on the way to his fathers birthday party I feel like me again. Ironically enough my father in law said the same thing to me at his party that day. The scary part for me was I didn’t know I wasn’t “me” the months prior until my hormones balanced. Looking back the first 3 months were such a blur.
Around 2 months postpartum I had been having issues having bowel movements post birth it got to the point where I would cry and dread going to the bathroom because it hurt so bad. I ended up having to go to my doctor about 3 times of the course of 2 months to try and figure out what was wrong. She couldn’t see anything but figured it might be a glute tear that went undetected during birth. I would have to stop lower body lifting, running (which I wasn’t doing as I don’t think you should run until at least 6 months post birth). I followed those directions which meant light workouts & walking was all I could do until 5 months postpartum. At this point I’ve not had an intense workout in over a year. I’ve grown up working out that is deeply engrained in who I am. I didn’t realize how deeply I need my workouts until this time period. I think a lot of the reasons my hormones & funky mood were due to not being able to do my “normal” workouts. I relied on my workouts to balance my mood and keep me feeling happy. Without them my hormones and emotions were everywhere. I remember just wanting to sit on the couch & watch Diagnosis Murder & Murder she Wrote all day long with my son. No motivation for anything. When I finally got the green light from my body to workout intensely again I took it & ran with it.
I am just wrapping up a 9 month program that I followed with weights, cardio plus yoga on my off days that helped me regain me again. Along with the workouts I started practicing Ayurveda habits. Which are early lighter dinners, early to bed early to rise, meditation, 20 minutes of movement to start your day. Since becoming a mom I realized time is not going to be the same as it was before. The first probably 8 months I was trying to live the same way I did before my son was here. That’s not reality. We don’t have daycare as my husband is home with our son in the morning while I train & I am home with him from noon-bedtime. Trying to get my admin time in with my son running around I realized was awful I couldn’t get work done & pay attention to him both jobs I was failing at. I have since decided I need to go to bed around 9pm so I can wake up at 5:30am to get at least an hour or two to myself to do my morning routine. I schedule my workouts into my day around clients in the morning. I only have 3 gym workouts a week so I can make that happen. It has been a huge learning experience and juggling act this first year. I finally am feeling back to me again. I won’t say I have the mom thing down yet as he is changing everyday and I think there are always new things that come up when your a mom so your always learning on that front.
Would I do it all again? That is a great question that I’m not sure I can answer right now. Was it postpartum depression? I feel it might have been some form. I did google it the first few weeks postpartum and felt I had some of the symptoms but not all. The baby blues was definitely something I did feel. I only discussed this with my best friend as I felt there would be to much judgement from others if I asked. I thought it best be for me to pretend everything was great. I would see posts from other moms who had little ones and feel guilty I deep down wasn’t feeling the super happy excited part that they did or that they said they did when they would post a picture of their little one. Overall I just want moms to feel that it is okay to talk about the hard things to each other without judgement. Things are getting better but when you feel so alone when your in it or even asking a new mom how are you doing? Being honest with your own experience post birth when talking to the new moms so they don’t feel isolated and alone. I also am grateful for one of my friends who would come over to walk with me and my son & dog. She might have seen that I needed someone to talk to and would always ask to join us on walks. She didn’t say anything directly but her presence really made a difference.
My challenge to you this week:
Who can you be there for more in your life?
Go out there & spread your Peaceful Power
To learn more about the upcoming program that helped me get back in shape and feel like myself again this is how I did it.