*This was set to post before baby’s arrival, but Grace Kathleen decided to come 3 days before my scheduled c-section and on her twin cousins (Max & Tyler) 5th birthday!
I am in the final days of my 4th (and last) pregnancy and have been trying to reflect on the past 9 months, as well as to prepare myself for this next phase of my life.
I am also approaching the one-year anniversary of Love Well Live Well. I decided to start this blog not only to try to inspire others to live well and love unconditionally, but to help myself. Having 3 little ones in 4 years, a busy husband, and trying to balance working at home, I had been in a horrible habit of not doing what was best for ME.
Over the past year, I feel like I have made much progress in changing my behaviors and loving myself, but will soon be tested! With my youngest being 4 years old, I have long passed the diapers and “can’t take your eye of them” phases. I will have to adjust to the several years ahead of a little one needing my constant attention, while still making my well-being a priority.
In life, like parenthood, we are constantly going through different transitions and challenging periods. As they say, “change is the only constant.” The key is how we adjust to the change.
Pregnancy happens to be the only time that I don’t feel as guilty taking care of myself, resting or saying no. I’ll admit I’m not great at it, but think these tips are truly important for the well-being of everyone. My goal is to remember these things in this next phase of my life. I hope you can benefit from them as well!
1. Express Gratitude
We have been extremely fortunate to not only have been blessed with 3 (almost 4) healthy children, but have not had any trouble getting pregnant. This is something that I am very grateful for. I have watched friends & family and even read about strangers who struggle with fertility, miscarriages and worse.
I have even had strong feelings of guilt and pain for them, but know that doesn’t help anyone. Instead, I continue to be grateful and hope that no matter how painful their struggles are, they are grateful for the positives in their lives, as well.
Now that my pregnancy is almost over, I wish I would have focused more on gratitude instead of focusing on feeling uncomfortable or tired the past 9 months. Until I was reminded from a friend about her bad pregnancies, I forgot how easy all of my pregnancies truly were. The times that I did focus my attention on positives and didn’t let the negatives creep in, I felt much better physically and mentally.
I also love the law of attraction and principles of The Secret, both of which gratitude is the basis for creating the life you want. Gratitude has also been linked to improved wellness, including increased positivity and optimistic outlook on life, better sleep, more exercise, and more energy, among others. You can’t go wrong with being grateful!
Check out The Little Things for inspiration on being grateful every day!
2. Live in the Moment
There have been many times during this pregnancy, particularly when I wasn’t feeling well, that I just wanted to be done being pregnant. But, my sister, Bridget, and my nephews, Max & Tyler, always quickly popped into my mind and I realized I was being ridiculous.
My sister went into labor at 23 weeks, was on bed rest for 3 weeks and delivered her twins at 26 weeks and 1 day. She would have done ANYTHING to feel the uncomfortable symptoms that go along with pregnancy just to keep those babies in there longer. Max & Tyler, sister Maisie (born full-term) and baby #4 (due in May) are constantly on our gratitude list!
Like pregnancy, often we are so anxious to get to the next phase of our life we rush things along and forget to enjoy the moment.
Make it a goal to live in the moment. Sometimes we aren’t at the exact point we want to be in life, but it is important to embrace where you are at that moment. Follow the steps to get where you want to be, but don’t focus only on the future.
Each day you can make the choice to live for the moment or worry about the future. I have done both and I can say for certain that it is easier to cherish the moments you have, even if they aren’t ideal, because they will play a role in the next phase of your life.
Notice how gratitude and living in the moment go hand in hand!
3. Love Yourself (and Your Body) Unconditionally
My stomach is one of the places that I have always gained weight first. My problem area is my belly – that one place that seems to not go away, no matter what I do.
And after getting pregnant with baby #3 when baby#2 was 9 months old, I have been in serious trouble in the core area. In fact, my belly stuck out perfectly so I looked pregnant – and actually got comments on it for up to a year after baby #3 was born.
Pregnancy has been the only time when I love my belly. It is expected to grow and it looks cute when it starts sticking out. Wearing tight shirts to accentuate your belly is more attractive than bigger clothes. Even though I got some frightened looks and comments from a few men, I loved being able to utilize my belly for a Halloween costume this year
I got ugly varicose veins and swelling this pregnancy, but honestly didn’t care because it is just a part of pregnancy. I got a flash of myself on TV while my boys were re-watching one of my husband’s games the other day and gasped. It was not a pretty sight, but I am 9 months pregnant, so I got over it.
The challenging part is going to be the adjustment over the next few months year when I am no longer pregnant and am trying to lose baby weight, get back into shape and continue to love my body. I am completely frightened about how long I will look pregnant this time.
One thing I know for sure is that I have to love myself and my body unconditionally. I can’t be hard on myself, but I also must put the effort in because I know my body is not going back to normal on its own!
The key to any behavior change is unconditional love of ourselves!
4. Ask for and Accept Help
This is something I admit I have failed miserably. My sister has even told me in the past that it makes others feel uncomfortable when I won’t accept help. I still have room to improve, but I am getting better and appreciate the help!
In fact, just this past weekend, my Dad offered to stay with us while my husband was out of town. I felt really bad because he had just done the hour drive 2 days before and will be back in town several more times the next few weeks. But, I am so glad he came. It is always nice spending time with him, but I also really enjoyed having help!
My mother-in-law and sister have also offered to help out the first few weeks after the baby, which I am truly grateful for. I am a little worried I will resort to old ways (like participating in an out-of-town move 10 days after our 2nd was born or cleaning for visitors the day after I brought our 3rd home, both after C-sections), but I am determined to take advantage of my gracious help and continue these behaviors throughout life.
Asking for help with something medically related is much easier and expected. However, asking for help when you are feeling overwhelmed with life, having a mid-life crisis, fighting an addiction(s), in financial trouble, facing depression, or just not feeling well can seem much harder.
But, it is not only important, but crucial towards your wellbeing. It is often hard even to admit we need help, but that is the first step. Sometimes just talking to a family or friend is enough. Other times you may need an expert – Doctors, psychologists, life coaches, wellness coaches, personal trainers, dieticians, addiction specialists, financial advisors, debt counselors, cleaning services, lawn care, handymen, child care. Whatever your problem there is someone else who has gone through it or is trained to help you. There are even anonymous online support groups for most issues if you aren’t ready to talk to someone in person.
The important thing is that no matter how large or small the task or issue is – don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it!
5. Rest & Relax
I love to get massages, take baths, sit and read a book and veg out on the couch watching TV. The problem is that whenever I am sitting and resting, I feel guilty. I don’t schedule massages, I rarely take the time for a relaxing bath, the only time I read is before bed and I always feel like I should be doing something else when I am watching TV.
Pregnancy is the one time I don’t feel guilty doing these things because I know it is important and not only good for me, but baby too. I am still not very good at it, but at least don’t have the guilt!
Relaxation is important for everyone at all stages of life, especially in a society that tends to be non-stop.
We shouldn’t feel guilty for taking the time or spending the money to get a massage – it has lots of health benefits! And just taking 20 minutes for a nice warm bubble bath before bed can make a world of difference to your state of mind, quality of sleep and wellbeing. I always struggle with making an effort to meditate, but found a bath meditation is great. Even more reason to make baths a priority!
Whatever healthy way you have to relax, make it a priority. And don’t forget about the benefits of sleep, too!
No matter what phase of life or change you are going through, I hope you remember to make yourself and your wellbeing a priority!