Keeping Your Mind From Fearing Birth During Those Final Weeks

I got this mailer from my hospital the other day.  They mention the pampering experience you receive in the Labor and Delivery ward.  That should be illegal.

Watch out!  It’s officially birth month.  Something pretty large is exiting my body soon whether I like it or not.

40wks birth
Insta Photo Cred @mayavorderstrasse

My due date is Jan. 23rd.  So I’m currently 38.5 wks. pregnant.  Some might say baby is due any day.  Which is possible.  But really anytime between Jan. 9th and Feb. 6th should be considered “ordinary” since due dates are an approximation and two weeks “early” or “late” is the normal window in which your body is likely to go in to labor.

In fact, according to Glow’s Nurture Pregnancy App.  95% of babies aren’t born on their due dates.  Just 25% of babies come “early” and 70% of babies come “late.”

So, that said, I am just over here trying to keep my cool and enjoy these final weeks before a tiny dictator becomes the center of my universe.

The last couple of weeks I have shared resources I used to educate myself on birth, why I chose a natural birth, the natural hospital birth story of my first daughter, and today I’m sharing my thoughts on how I’m dealing with the idea of experiencing birth for the second time around – very, very soon.

In reality I am excited and nervous at the same time.  Birth is like a beautiful body and mind *ss kicking that can sneak up on you at any moment.  So psychologically, that’s a blast.

I’ve been trying to stay healthy, positive, and busy to avoid getting stuck in my own head.  Birth will happen in its own time, so in the meantime, here is how I’m keeping my mind from fearing birth during these final weeks…

 

Fearing Birth

 

  • Staying Active:  I don’t feel quite as strong, or as active, as my first pregnancy, but I’m still making a decent effort.  I’m stretching, doing short (15-20 min.) body weight to 10 lb. weight workouts, and walking.  The better shape I keep my body in, the more likely it will be ready to be my teammate in labor.
  • Relaxing:  My bubble bath habits have gotten a bit out of control.  Between finishing our master bath remodel and my baby belly growing much faster this time around, baths happen almost every other night.  I am not a big t.v. watcher, so the tub is likely where you’ll find me after 8 pm.  I also like to get massages.  I didn’t enjoy some of the wimpy prenatal massages I received with the first pregnancy.  So now that I am in the “birth month” window, I feel comfortable getting a firm massage again, with no fear of it setting me in to labor.  At this point, baby is developed.  Plus I feel like this aligns my spine and pelvis, which is helpful for baby’s exit strategy.
  • Checking Things Off My To-Do List:  Some of the things are rational, and I really would like to accomplish them before baby arrives:  washing the infant car seat that have been in the dusty garage for a year, setting up some book marketing efforts for my children’s books that can run in the background, girl time with my friends.  But other silly things just get added on when I start to panic that I will never have free time again – like washing the living room curtains, transplanting my succulents, and filing every piece of paperwork in my house.
  • Adulting – When you start to think about creating new life, you also start thinking about how you need to get your ducks in a row.  With the first baby, our adulting goal was to pay off the remainder of our hefty student loans before our daughter was born.  We managed to pay them off the month she was born, except the joke was on us when her monthly daycare and diaper bills ate up all the money we thought we were going to be savings.  Kids are fun.  This time around, our adulting goal was to write a will.  We managed to finish it, but are waiting to file it until we have a name and birth date for Baby Two.  But, at least we now have it on paper, and know what each of our wishes are, if needed.
  • Filling My Head With Positive Thoughts:  Is child birth going to hurt?  Yup.  Am I going to have to try to push through that to have the birth I want?  Yup.  Is it going to be a walk in the park?  Nope.  And even with my best intentions, plenty of unforeseen things could still come up.  But, having no plan, is like planning to fail.  So, I’m filling my head with positive birth stories through the resources I mentioned here, and leaving the rest to the higher power at be.

I got this mailer from my hospital the other day.  They mention the pampering experience you receive in the Labor and Delivery ward.  That should be illegal.

A Pampering Birth

Unless they now paint my toe nails and tell me I’m pretty during labor, leave chocolates on my pillow during turn down service, and my girly parts feel relaxed and rejuvenated when I go how with my newborn two days later, a pampering experience is a slight overstatement.

I’ll report back in a few weeks and let you know how that pampering experience played out.

***I’M CRACKING MYSELF UP OVER HERE***

 

 

Are You a Finisher or a Perfectionist? You Don’t Get to be Both.

Eight Steps to help you finish your goals.

Here’s a recipe for a stressful workplace:  pair a Perfectionist and a Finisher up daily, and then just sit back and watch the tension build.  This was my life for three years.

The Finisher is prone to try and simplify tasks to complete the essence of the project, while the Perfectionist is all about adding levels of complexity to make things the very best they can be.  I’m sure that the Perfectionist thinks their way is best, and the Finisher obviously thinks their way is best.  Jon Acuff’s book, Finish, will tell you that you can’t be both.  I was listening to this book on Audible as I was finishing my second children’s book, My Mom is the Worst.

author, finish, my mom is the worst book
Post Workout and 34 wks. pregnant.  Clearly I’m not going for Instagram perfection here.

Turns out I am a Finisher (which I could have already told you).  I am not perfect, but my strength is that I am going to pick out the most critical parts of a project (those that will have the biggest impact), focus on that, and let the other pieces go, if needed.

In the last year I started (brainstormed, wrote, edited, hired illustrators, provided creative briefs, designed layouts) and finished (published and continue to promote) two children’s books.  If I were a perfectionist there is no way I could have done that.  The ideas would likely still be in my notebook, on draft 342.

Or if I were a highly motivated perfectionist, I may have made it though the initial draft, but be too scared to publish the work until I had a few more sets of eyes on it.

Here’s the funny thing.  Let’s say that the book (or any project) technically makes it to perfect status in the creator’s mind.  Guess what?  Once it’s out there for the world to see, everyone is not going to agree that it is the cutest, most perfect, little baby they ever saw. **Except mine.  I make pretty cute babies (and books).**

So if perfect is what you are going for, that feeling is going to be very short lived.  Once other people start getting their hands on it, the (positive and negative) feedback will begin.

Don’t let perfectionism hold you back.  Produce, adapt, and continue to create.

Speaking of feedback, since I already lean toward a Finisher mindset, every strategy in Jon’s book was not something mind-blowing and new.  However, there were many points that I did connect with.

Finish, My mom is the worst, beautiful monster books v2

Here are my Top Eight Ways to Help You Get to Finished: 

  1.  Studies prove: the less you aim for perfection, the more productive you are.
  2. Perfection or finished, those are your two choices.  Not perfection or failure.
  3. Say no to shame. Decide what you will bomb in advance.  Then become confident in your decision.
  4. Winners quit stupid stuff all the time.  Don’t continue something stupid out of a need for being perfect.
  5. What are your secret rules that hold you back?  Define them so that you can work on them.
    • For transparency and growth purposes, here are two of mine:  1. A fear of spending money on my business goals.  I have seen friends and family members spend a lot of money on their businesses and still fail.  How do I know if I am throwing money at something, or spending money wisely, to advance my business goals?  Especially when it comes at a cost to my family.  2.  How do I know which opportunities to turn down so that I spend my time most efficiently; holding out for the opportunities that will have the biggest impact?
  6.  Borrow someone else’s diploma.  Meaning borrow knowledge from others.  You don’t have to know it all.
  7. You need to track data points to understand your progress.  Benchmarks are important to understand if you are moving in the right direction to eventually reach your goals.
  8. We don’t ever age out of needing someone to believe in us.

Number eight is a favorite, and why I published my first book.  I had written the book but didn’t intend to do anything significant with it (full story here).  With just a bit of encouragement from my husband, I decided to take the next step in learning how to publish it.  The actual action plan, and work involved, were on me.  But because someone else believed in me, I believed in myself enough to start and finish.

I believe in you and your goals one hundred percent.  Don’t let perfectionism kill you.  Focus on the details that will get you to your goal, and let the rest go.  You are going to crush it in 2018…or 2020…or 2030…whenever you are reading this.  Wise advice never expires.

 

I’m Begging, Stop Stressing Over Your Toddler’s Christmas

Christmas with young kids really does provide an opportunity for a low-key, joy-filled time of year.  But as parents we make it complicated.

My daughter will be (almost) two this Christmas.  This is a magical time.

*The Elf on the Shelf does not exist yet, HOORAY!*

I’m still debating if I can bypass that all together.

*She does not care about the cost, or size, of presents.  Though, there are bonus points if the present comes with bubble wrap to pop.*

*And she is content to read the Christmas Story of Baby Jesus night after night.*

Christmas with young kids really does provide an opportunity for a low-key, joy-filled time of year.  But as parents we make it complicated.  We have this guilt if the holidays are too simple.  Like if it’s easy, we are some how letting our kids down.  We HAVE to be all stressed out like all the other parents, or we must be doing it wrong.

WRONG.  Stop it, just stop it.  It’s not true.

Let me expose my “low-bar” holiday excitement, in hopes that it will let other parents see that it’s ok to keep it simple.

—-

This here is the FREE Santa.

FreeSanta

Last year we took her to the mall for photos with Santa.  I was shocked to find out that they wouldn’t let you snap a few pics with your own camera.  The cheapest option was a $30 digital file of the photos they took.  Honestly, if it weren’t for my husband, we would have left with zero photos.  Thirty dollars?!  That’s a whole lot of Christmas cookies for Santa!

So this year I did a little research.  There was a free Santa at the local garden store.  You could take all your own pictures.  There was also a photographer there selling pictures, but it was optional.

Yes, they were still thirty dollars.  Apparently that is the going rate for Santa pics in Orange County.  But we were happy with the pictures we took on our own camera, and our daughter was delighted when Santa gave her a Christmas bell.  She has been playing with that free “magic reindeer bell” for days!

——

You know what I’m most excited to give my child this year?  Two white, ceramic bunnies.  I found them in the Target Dollar Spot.

targetdollarspotbunnies

They are essentially glorified yard ornaments, and I can’t wait to see my daughter’s face when she opens them and starts petting them, and talking to them, like they are her new BFF’s.  You see, every time we walk the neighborhood, she stops to talk to all of our neighbor’s yard trinkets…bunnies, snails, ducks, cats, gnomes.  *Spoiler*  That is how you know you don’t live in the young, hip ‘hood, when ALL your neighbors have yard ornaments.  But my daughter loves them!

InkedPop Pop—-

The other thing she is sure to go wild for is the popcorn in her stocking.  Pop Pop is her jam!

Sure, there are other things under the tree this year.  Honestly mostly from family.  We are grateful to have generous people in her life.  But on our end, we really did limit things to just a few gifts.  Three fun things, two needs things, and a book.

If you haven’t added a few books under the tree yet, check these out.

Young kids truly love simple pleasures.  I assume this period only lasts for so long, so I’m not going to feel any guilt about embracing it while I can.  Don’t burden yourself with other parents false expectations that the holidays must be stressful.  It’s ok to set that bar low.  Your child won’t notice what they didn’t get.  What they will enjoy is that you are more happy when you are spending time with them.

Inkedbunnies
Those are the bunnies.  Take a moment to admire my fancy wrap job.   Ok, now I just feel like you are laughing at me.

If you still need a good laugh to help alleviate the stress, try writing “From: Mom and Dad” on a gift without feeling old.  That one about blew my mind when I was wrapping presents.

OMG, we are THE Mom and Dad.  Um, When did that happen?  Did anyone approve this?

10 Best Books for Toddlers (That They Don’t Already Have)

We’ve tested them all, night after night, just to make sure they really are fun reads for both the parent and their little tykes to enjoy together. No gift receipt needed!

Toddler Book ShelfReading books to a toddler can create a magical time of routine and connection, but most children have the classics.  They really only need one copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, though it’s a great read.

For a new title that they don’t already have on their bookshelf, try adding one of the following books to their collection.  We’ve tested them all, night after night, just to make sure they really are fun reads for both the parent and their little tykes to enjoy together.  No gift receipt needed!

All are available online, so you can finish that to-do task right now.

Here are The Top Ten Toddler Books (They Don’t Already Have), plus a bonus #11, just because we can!

  1. The Watermelon Seed: A short and funny read about an Alligator that is obsessed with watermelon. His obsession takes him to a point of trouble…but it’s hard to stay away from the things we love most!
  2. My Mom is the Worst: A story (from a toddler’s perspective) about how parents often try to ruin their kids fun. Parents make them wear clothes, clean up messes, learn and try new things! They really are the worst sometimes. FrontCoverJKCEditedFontThere’s also a hidden story, within the story, for parents to enjoy along the way.
  3. Don’t Push the Button: Larry is a Monster with just one rule for your toddler,]: don’t push the button. Alas, someone does, and silly antics ensue. Children love playing along with the instructions in the book: press the button, shake the book, tickle the belly. Sometimes it’s funny when things don’t go as expected.
  4. I Love You, Stinky Face: A mother’s job is to make their child feel loved, even when others might shy away. The mama is this story is top notch. She finds ways to love on her little one even if they were a one-eyed monster or a stinky skunk. A mother’s love really has no limits.
  5. Moo, Baa, La La La: A quick bedtime read that children can easily start to memorize and read along.   All of the animals enjoy making their classic sounds, except the three silly pigs!  JK Coy
  6. Love You to Pieces, Beautiful Monster:   Who is more emotional, the mama or the monster? This baby monster is amazing at driving her mama bonkers. But at the end of the day, snuggles heal all. A fun and honest read for an exhausted parent that can’t help but love their little monster to pieces.
  7. Hello – Highlights Magazine : These mini books are full of short songs, rhymes, and stories for little hands. Enjoy a year subscription of coated, mini magazines from Highlights (bendable and easy to wipe down). They’ve been teaching and entertaining children for years, and they have it down! Bonus, the Hello magazines are light-weight and compact which makes them easy to throw in the car or a diaper bag.
  8. Dragons Love Tacos: Did you know that Dragons can’t stand spicy salsa?! This may be the longest book on the list, but it’s also one of the most hilarious for kids and adults to enjoy together. Even from a young age, children can enjoy the humor and creative illustrations. It’s one that will be in their collection long after their toddler years.
  9. Everything is Mama: Most toddlers hit the “Mama” stage at some point. While it can drive a parent absolutely mad that their child can now only accept a banana from their Mama and no one else, it helps (a little) to find humor in it. This is Jimmy Fallon’s second book, and is the follow-up to: Your Baby’s First Word Will be DADA. Now, if only parents had that kind of power!kids read
  10. Potty: Poo-Poo, tinkle, and toot – whatever you call bathroom business in your house, toddlers can’t help but giggle. A simple read about the art of going potty, perfect for those that will begin potty training soon. It’s never too early to get them excited about UNDIES!
  11. BONUS BOOK: Bathtime for Little Rabbit: This cuddly bunny needs a bath, but he’s not very excited to play along. The author makes this an interactive bathtime for readers by having them scrub, blow-dry, and lotion bunny. This tale will prep the little ones to play along with their own bathtime routine.

Failing and Laughing, Learning to be a New Parent

It was like my little human had turned in to a boss I couldn’t please, always yelling, “FASTER!” or “Not good enough Mama.”

 

bmpicFrom the moment I came home from the hospital, I felt like something was missing.

I was given a perfect little human, but no extra set of hands. And my perfect little human wanted to be held ALL THE TIME.

It didn’t take long before the resentment crept in. All I wanted was to take a shower, clean-up, cook something, rest.  But now I wasn’t even capable of brushing my teeth without getting screamed at.  It was like my little human had turned in to a boss I couldn’t please, always yelling, “FASTER!”  or “Not good enough Mama.”

Just a few weeks prior I was a highly functioning adult in the corporate world, making things happen. Now remedial tasks were crippling.

This drove my sleep deprived self in to a crazy self-loathing state. I like to say I wasn’t fully depressed because I didn’t take drugs to heal it, but that was a lie I used to try to feel better about myself.  I felt bad for not getting anything done.  And I felt incapable of managing things I used to do with ease.

Very slowly I did adjust to my new world and I started to enjoy Motherhood more. I still didn’t love myself, and all my new glaring inabilities, but the never-ending love I felt for my baby was there.

And one day, when my perfect human was about three months old, I got the blessing of her falling asleep in the car at the gas station. I finally had two hands free.  I was instantly inspired.  My brain felt so clear and focused for the first time in forever.

I began to jot down the parental tale that had been swarming around in my head since my human arrived.

“Every day you make me crazy. I love you to pieces Beautiful Monster.”

The rest of the story just flowed from there.

She even slept long enough for me to sketch out a picture of a little monster.

That night I shared the story with my husband. He lovingly said I should publish it.  It could have been an encouraging yet fleeting comment, but I decided he was right.

How many other new parents were feeling like we were? How many people were sharing social media posts of their perfect little humans and secretly feeling inadequate and confused behind the scenes?  How many new parents were feeling bad because they thought they must be strange for feeling completely frustrated by their perfect little human?

JK Coy

Love You to Pieces, Beautiful Monster is an inclusive tale for new parents (or soon to be parents).  No one should feel alone as they adjust to parenthood.  The book is full of truth, humor, and adorable illustrations to entertain those little monsters.  Get it for yourself, gift it to a friend.

We are all in this together. Figuring it out, minute by minute.  Failing, and trying again.

See all the books by author J.K. Coy here.