Self-care when you’re caring for two.
The day I found out I was pregnant I was overcome with joy. And only 8 days later I was overcome with a consistent sickness which dominated my pregnancy from start to end. Don’t worry: This isn’t a dramatic sob story about how I spent my days with my hair in a bun over the toilet - Although admittedly, it sure was a drama (make sure to Google “Hyperemesis Gravidarum” or extreme pregnancy nausea if you’re interested: 2% of all conceiving women, including the Duchess of Cambridge, would benefit from more awareness). This is the story about how self-care slipped into my life, and how it rooted there to stay. A less than exemplary pregnancy I remember someone describing Hyperemesis Gravidarum - Or HG in short - like riding a rollercoaster 24/7 while having a severe case of food poisoning. I can tell you it’s even worse than that, as there’s also the mental aspect to take into account. Ideally I wanted to spend my pregnancy eating organic, taking all appropriate vitamins, doing pregnancy yoga, attending lamaze classes with the Mister, fussing over decorating the nursery, and shopping around with my big round belly for teeny tiny baby socks. In short: Be the best bodily vessel I could be for our unborn child. As the continuous nausea even makes it hard to keep a sufficient amount of fluids down to keep yourself and your baby alive, this was all out of the question. Since there was little else for me to do than lay in bed and be sick, I felt I was severely lacking at everything I felt a considerate pregnant woman should do. In fact, even though my baby wasn’t even born yet, I was feeling like a bad mother. Luckily I had a wide net of emotional support. My fantastic partner, loving family and a few knowledgeable doctors all managed to convince me early in my pregnancy that the best I could do, was focus on myself. Because by focusing on my own health, our child would benefit. This was a strange phenomenon to me, especially with a baby on the way over whom I wanted to fuss endlessly and prematurely. But for the sake of both me and my unborn daughter, I started focusing on caring primarily for myself.
It helped. It helped tremendously. By knowing it was OK to take it easy, that I didn’t have to hustle, that it was good to focus on myself, in short - that I was allowed to take the time to take care of myself, I became a calmer person. Naturally I had my bad days, but generally I overcame my sickness rather well (with of course a good bit of aftermath to take into account). And I am convinced I have this very basic concept of self-care to thank for. Self-care when you’re caring for two I’ve been a mother for a year now, and although my life’s focus has shifted to my daughter (as I feel it should) I came to realize one thing: Caring for yourself is crucial when you want to care for others. As a stay-at-home mom I spend most of my time with my child. But as an introvert, I need time alone to recharge. And my pregnancy complications have taught me firsthand how much my mind benefits from daily self-care.
I deliberately cater my day to make sure I can find some time for myself. The Mister even helps me by planning some daily one on one time with our daughter, during which I can be alone. And when this can’t be achieved due to a busy schedule, I make sure to grab some time for myself when she’s asleep. Rather than picking up one of the million chores that are always waiting to be done, I try to read a book. Take a bubble bath. Watch my guilty pleasure show with a glass of wine. Go for a drive with my favorite music on. Treat my skin with a nice face mask. Take a nap. And all with zero guilt. Because I learned that the calm self-care brings me makes me a happier, better mom - and person as a whole. It took me a while to fully comprehend what works best for me. A few months after my pregnancy I even created a 30 day self-care challenge (http://wantforwellness.com/30-day-self-care-challenge/) which I could easily combine with my role as a new mother, requiring minimal resources. I shared it on my blog for anyone who is interested in getting acquainted with the concept of self-care in a fun, low-profile way.
Nathalie is a thirty-something freelance creative, new mom and nature lover from the Netherlands. She’s been in love with her best friend for decades, and has her wonderful daughter to show for it. She thinks bad reality tv-shows are anthropological bliss, and she lets no cat go un-pet. And finally, she runs a physical and mental wellness blog called Want for Wellness, on which she shares tips, articles and challenges for a happy and fulfilling life.