October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. Our theme of the month is receiving support. If you have suffered the loss of a pregnancy or an infant, or if you ever do, we want to make sure that you feel supported by your community and know how to get help.
One of the hardest parts of losing a baby, outside of the loss itself, is grieving in isolation and without support. When I recall my own loss, the feeling of being alone stands out. I had never heard a close friend or family member talk about pregnancy loss. I had no idea how common pregnancy loss is. I wondered if I had done something wrong.
I questioned every choice I’d made in that short period of time: should I have not consumed that cheap coffee? Should I have not gone on that run? Should I have not yelled at my husband that day? One of these things that I had done might have caused it. I should have been more careful. These were the messages my vulnerable and isolated mind created.
Thank you for diving into our September Theme - What do I need? We talked about checking in with our bodies and our feelings, texting friends for accountability, getting sleep, making time for yoga and meditation, and so much more.
Now, we're taking the next step - Being open to receiving support.
When was the last time someone offered to help out and you said "Oh yes! I'd so appreciate that. Thank you!"?
Likely, your automatic response is "Oh it's ok, I've got this." Even if life feels completely overwhelming.
Because in our culture we're supposed to do it all.
We're well into September and tomorrow marks the Autumn Equinox - the point at which the sun shines directly on the equator and we (in the Northern Hemisphere) mark the start of Fall. It's a time we can feel anticipation - think squirrels hoarding nuts for winter - but also the need for more rest. In traditional Chinese medicine this big shift is explained: energy that previously flowed outward turns inward in preparation for the winter ahead.
I was talking with a dear friend who has a 2 and 4 year old this morning about restorative yoga - she asked, "what's the deal with that? Should I do it?" My question to her was "when was the last time you rested but were not asleep?" And the answer, predictably, was "never."
At the end of last year, we had big dreams for this community. We wanted this to be a place you could go for advice, to feel supported, make connections, and meet up in real life (remember what that was like?).
Because it was already hard enough to be a parent. It was already isolating and lonely. And now this. Our vision for this community (and, lets face it, most of what we wanted to do in 2020) was completely derailed by Covid-19.
But now the need is greater. The isolation deeper. The parenting so much harder. As a friend of mine recently wrote to me, "I've never felt such a convergence of heaviness and turmoil." Me either.
So we're here to figure it out together. Amidst caring for ourselves and our children, trying to maintain relationships, managing risk tolerance, and taking on a completely overwhelming and unreasonable amount of emotional labor.
1. How do I feel right now?
To me, this is the first step in figuring out what I need - checking in with how I'm feeling. We usually notice a feeling when it is REALLY present - like complete exhaustion, pure joy, overwhelming stress, etc. but with practice we can check-in on the more subtle or nuanced feelings - check out this excerpt from Do Less by Kate Northrup on tuning in to ourselves.
Remember, all feelings are valid! This great Brené Brown Podcast with Mark Brackett (author of Permission to Feel) has other great ideas for getting in touch with our feelings.
It can be helpful to write these down. We can only begin from where we are and acknowledging that is the first step. Then, move on to the next question -
Some of us can't imagine doing this one more day. Others have settled into a rhythm that works for their family. I have those same two thoughts sometimes within 5 minutes.
This week we’ll explore how to get sleep and rest (they are different! Read on for more!). This continues to be a challenging area in my life between work, kids, and everything else, but I notice that when I am able to prioritize giving my body and mind a break it makes all the difference. I have more patience for Aiden's 2-year-old-ness, more energy to share Caroline, and more kindness toward myself.
I hope you’ll take the time to read these wise words from Robyn Gordon about prioritizing sleep and rest.
We'd also love to hear how you make time for sleep & rest during pregnancy, early days with a newborn, and well into years of parenting.
I know some of you are on the Siena Wellness email list so you may have seen my thoughts on suffering last week. I'm hoping we can go deeper into this topic together this week! Stay tuned for some questions and discussions... and thank you for being a part of this community.
Let's talk about suffering (please don't stop reading!).
Last Monday, I took my kids to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. I was hoping a nice change of scenery and fresh air would do us all some good - but what I got was an unexpected reminder
There were lotus flowers as far as we could see. It was amazing. And I immediately thought:
"no mud, no lotus."