True Resilience Requires Rest

You know you’re working hard when your kitchen whisk breaks—actually snaps in half like mine and become garbage. This pandemic is pushing us all hard…but instead of scrambled eggs we’ve been dealing with a scrambled world, and for a long, long time. Over a year.

It’s an exhausting long haul, and none of us wants to snap like that whisk and become useless. Surviving covid is like being on a tour of duty that just won’t end, though we can hope it’s coming closer. So in light of all this I’ve been thinking about resilience…and what it really means. My sister’s professor said something really wise about resilience that I’ve been mulling over a lot:

“Our one prof spent the last afternoon talking to us about how most of us equate resilience with a stubborn determination to keep slogging but that rejuvenation should be valued just as much. If not more.”

Rejuvenation—becoming young again, refreshed, restored—not just grimly slogging on without stopping for water breaks. This is a more sustainable vision of resilience…one that doesn’t involve pushing oneself to the breaking point. It means not just having strength but also the humility to know that everyone needs breaks and gentle self-care, especially at times when life feels like a marathon.

This all makes so much sense, but can be hard to put into practice when you’ve been in emergency mode for a long time, as our world has. Despite everything we need to relax, play, enjoy little moments and rest.

Babies are good at this. They nap a lot, cause all their growing is exhausting, and they make sure to eat well and often. They ask for help whenever they need it. Sometimes they cry, and other times they coo, but most importantly, they trust that they are loved unconditionally. This is the part we adults most often forget.

I’m giving myself this lecture as much as you. When my dad got really sick with his cancer last fall, and I had the honour to care for him in his last weeks, I resolved to be strong. To be there for him. To do all that I could, despite wanting to crumble and break. When he died, I had to keep being strong. Plan the funeral. Bury my beloved father, who was my biggest cheerleader and one of my best friends.

After that, as his executor, months of paperwork. Serious responsibilities requiring me to be, you guessed it, strong. But now, almost six months after his death last year on November 9th, I wonder if part of me has become petrified—so strong it has turned to rock—and in that sense not fully alive. Avoiding the grief I couldn’t find time for. Fearing the tears that might cause these walls to crumble.

This is not true resilience. I know this. Having been through deep grief before when I lost my baby Josephine 6 years ago in labour, I know that recovery involves going through grief, not trying to put your emotions on pause. So I’m trying to give myself permission to feel sad sometimes, with the longing that is simply love prolonged. I’m trying to give myself permission seek serenity before productivity…which means taking little breaks to refill my cup, rather than always pushing myself to keep going.

This is hard for me. Do you struggle with this, too? Are you harsher on yourself than you’d ever be with those you love? Can you be brave enough to believe that you deserve rest, joy, and serenity just as much as anyone else? Perhaps if we all support each other, and encourage each other to be kind, even to ourselves, the world will be more filled with resilience and hope.

If you’d like more encouragement on this topic, check out Jenn Dean’s Families Matter Most podcast. It is awesome, and filled with simple, doable ideas: Three Things to Get Through Hard Times. Plus she is funny, warm and honest. Listening to her is like chatting with a great friend who builds you up. Cole’s notes version: every day, connect with your peace, your purpose and your people. The three P’s. Even I can remember that.

My new whisk! 😋

Wrestling with the Remote Control

Since the baby came certain things are on pause—

it’s hard to find time to write, to think,

to grieve, to pray

except through my body as I rock and sway,

rock and sway my little one to sleep.

Other things are going fast-forward—

there’s no stopping kids growing,

squabbling, questioning everything

and making messes everywhere I look.

In the anxious moments of early morning,

my mind tries to rewind,

to second-guess and over-analyze

but there’s no going back.

What I’m forgetting

as I grasp for control

and it slips like sand though my fingers

is the one button I need to press:

Play.

Play right now, as things are

in the mess and chaos of my 8 kids

doing silly dances and laughing,

finding a moment of togetherness.

Be right now—

allow myself to have a moment alone

walking under the cherry blossoms—

stopping to listen to the hummingbird

who sings above me

pointing it’s tiny beak heavenward,

little messenger of my Dad.

Embrace right now with its little inspirations to

to snuggle my down-soft baby

and write an imperfect poem,

unpausing my frozen voice which felt

unable to speak

unworthy of being heard

afraid to crack open bitter walls of strength

and cry.

Just press play.

Trumpet of Joy

Deep-throated daffodil,

blast out your message of hope!

Rebel against the weariness of despair,

the back-breaking burden of seriousness,

the meticulous dissection of fearful plans.

Daffodil, shout!

None of the world’s noise is loud enough

to silence the sound of your wordless proclamation:

“Have hope, hope, hope!”

The grimy winter is grinding to a halt

and from the earth’s breast,

goodness is springing forth once again.

A world of grey is shattered

by one shard of green and yellow life.

Daffodils at 2 am

Even 2 am is a good time to stop and smell the flowers, and enjoy a still life moment of beauty when you’re up with the new baby, and away from the hectic rush of the day.

Having said all this, let’s hope my old pal insomnia will take a hike, so I can snuggle down with the little one, and catch a few more winks before my teenager gets up early for her first ballet competition later this morning.

To all the busy mamas of the world, who are also on the 24/7 shift, I salute you! 🎉🦸‍♀️🎉

Welcome to the World, Tiny Foot

Your tiny foot—

softer than a silky dog’s ear—

easily fits into the palm of my hand

as you nurse yourself into a cozy milk coma

and snuggle by my side.

Only a week ago,

that same foot

was pushing up against my ribs,

knocking on the door of my heart

as if to say,

“Mama, I’m ready to meet the world!”

And oh, Tiny Foot, how ready I was to meet you!

Double birthday: new baby book and new baby born!

COVID Bucket List:

Have a baby ✅

Write a book ✅

Welcome both to the world on the same day ✅

More than one thing has been gestating during the past year of isolation at my place…and I’m excited to tell you that on the same day my son was born last week, my new book also made its way into the world, thanks to my friend and co-author Bonnie Way. Our Beginners Guide to Growing Baby: Tips to Help You Through All Four Trimesters is now available as an e-book on Amazon, with the paperback version to follow shortly.

Good job, Mom! You’ve been busy!

Here’s our blurb about it:

To give you a better idea of all the things we wanted to share with you, here are the table of contents. We keep thinking of more and more chapters, because there are so many experiences we would like you to learn from faster than we did, but we had to stop somewhere, so here’s what we chose:

As you can see, something that makes our book a little more personal, besides the fact that all our advice is based on our personal experiences, rather than on theories, is that we share all our birth stories with you. Not some overdramatized movie versions of birth, but our honest, actual stories. Keeping’ it real.

Another tidbit I’m rather pleased about is a little surprise tucked in between each section, that is, one of my poems for each trimester, birth and beyond…because the beautiful, feminine mystery of giving birth is something beyond mere prose.

I hope Beginner’s Guide to Growing Baby will be a helpful resource for both new and returning mamas and help empower them to make healthy informed decisions about what’s best for them and their babies. Bonnie and I are not medical experts, but after 14 births between us, we are certainly very experienced!

Other important credentials include the fact that as I lay cuddling my four day old infant, I am wearing an International Women’s day outfit worthy of a superhero…or at least some kind of fertility goddess/Star Wars fan gone wrong—Baby Yoda pj pants and a green cabbage bikini—see Fourth Trimester chapters on breastfeeding engorgement to learn why the heck I’m doing that!

Party on, Mom!

If you’d like to be informed when the physical version of our pregnancy and baby book is available to order online, leave me a comment and let me know so I can keep you posted. I’ll also be ordering a box of copies, so if you know me personally and prefer to pick one up from me, let me know to add you to our pre-order list and save on shipping.

Bless all the bellies and babies out there! Time to give my little one a midnight milkshake. 😋

Baby has arrived! 🥰🤗

Hi everyone.

After a big wait, I’m happy to announce that my little baby boy was born last night, just before midnight. After a very slow pre-labour, things picked up with the help of some oxytocin (which wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be) and we filled the birthing tub at the hospital. About 40 minutes after climbing into that warm embrace of water, and holding off as long as I could to let my body prepare to release him without tearing, I gave a few big pushes, and there he was. A tiny little snuggly darling all covered in white vernix and snuggling on my chest.

After a few wet kisses to the top of his head, he got passed to his Daddy, to hold swaddled while I got dried off and into bed. After some anti-bleed medicine and some pain meds for after cramps, I was ready to hold my baby and eat my midnight meal, amazingly dropped off by our sweet friends Peter and Sophia at the hospital at 10:30 pm that night!

Here we are!

It doesn’t take baby boy long to wake up and smell the milk…and within minutes, he’s nursing like a little pro. See how he’s rooting already? 🤣

Here he is with his Daddy.

And a little close up. And now, I’m back to napping, nursing, snuggling and sleeping. Xoxo