A Lesson in Self-Care
Here we are, just over 23 weeks into this pregnancy journey, and let me tell you, it’s been quite the ride. No matter how much you read and how much you talk to women who have gone through this already, nothing can really prepare you for your own experience.
I started to feel that in a very real way when I turned a corner a couple of weeks ago and found myself perpetually uncomfortable in my own skin — both literally and figuratively.
Nothing quite fit right except for leggings and anything with a considerable amount of stretch in them, including items in my closet that I had figured would carry me at least a few months further into pregnancy. My lower back and feet would start to ache without any warning, and don’t even get me started on the exhaustion. I’d have days where I just couldn’t shake the fogginess, where pushing through wasn’t an option and I had to succumb, leaving me frustrated. And my skin and hair started to feel lackluster and temperamental, which is one thing when you’re hiding out at home with a messy top-knot and no real exposure to the outside world, but can start to get to you when you do need to venture out and want to feel put together.
I just wasn’t feeling like myself, and I wasn’t quite prepared for how much of a toll that would take on me.
It’s so interesting, because your body is undergoing this miraculous transformation, and from the very beginning I’ve been in absolute awe of it all. The fact that I am growing a tiny human and preparing for this life-changing event and my body just naturally knows what to do blows my mind on a daily basis. And yet for someone who might just be a little type A and has trouble slowing down at times, it can also be completely disorienting to feel like I don’t have control anymore. And of course my automatic reaction of frustration at myself is about the last thing I need.
Finding myself here, I made a very conscious decision that something needed to change, and though I think the term self-care has become a little overused, the concept rings true and that’s essentially where I started.
Here are a few ways I’ve changed my mindset and routine to accommodate my new reality:
Listening to what I need I need, when I need it
There are some days where I just can’t focus on certain tasks with the same level of productivity that I’m used to, and instead of attempting to push through and usually wasting time and procrastinating instead, I’m learning to give myself a little more grace in these moments. Sure, sometimes there are things that have to be prioritized, but more often than not, I’m able to be flexible with what I choose to work on and when. If I need to step away from the computer, there might be errand-running or prop shopping that needs to be done or photos that need to be taken, or a few household tasks I can check off in the meantime. Flexibility is key.
Downtime is Essential
I’ve always been pretty bad at this, so this has been a bit of a learning curve, teaching myself to enjoy downtime in a way that I never have before, luxuriating in not having anything to do (and not feeling guilty about it). Recently for me, this might look like reading, baking or experimenting in the kitchen (beyond the necessity of a meal), playing in my garden, or dreaming up details and working on projects for our new house (like the bedroom, my current focus). I’m still learning here, and could probably use a hobby or two (suggestions welcome!), but this is progress.
Jason and I have also implemented weekly date nights, fully realizing that these last few months when it’s just the two of us are something to be savoured. They look different each week, and could be as simple as walking to get ice cream or treating ourselves to the most amazing local donuts on our way to run errands together, but they’ve become something I look forward to each week, a chance to connect with eachother and step away from everyday life and explore our new city. We recently visited the Royal Botanical Gardens at my request, and walking the grounds was such a lovely little escape and the perfect way to enjoy a Sunday afternoon, amongst the flowering trees.
Your body might be changing, but it still needs to move
Finding out I was pregnant in the dead of winter, I kind of used it as an excuse to fall out of my fitness routine. Then we moved, and I didn’t have access to the studios I frequented in Toronto, and starting something new, especially in this unfamiliar position, felt like a huge task. I realized that needed to change when I hit that low point and contacted a local barre studio to ask about attending classes while being pregnant. A little one-on-one help learning how to adjust the movements and a few classes later, and I’ve turned a corner, both with my energy levels and also with how I feel overall. So between that and being very conscious about getting out daily to walk as much as I can, I feel like I’ve found my new normal.
There’s nothing quite as indulgent as a bedtime routine — embrace it
I’ve never really thought much about creating a routine around bedtime before now, and let me tell you, I am officially a convert now. Whereas I used to stay up to finish off one last thing or squeeze in a final episode, squeezing every last drop out of the day, I often throw Jason a glance around 8:30 pm these days and he knows that I’m calling it in and heading upstairs.
I think the trick here is to craft a routine that is personal to you, with each element serving you in some small way so you’ll look forward to it and it becomes a highlight of your day, a time that feels special and indulgent.
On most nights now, that starts with closing down my email early, when we’re sitting down to dinner, and cutting myself off from technology for the rest of the night. I’m still training myself to not pick up my phone and mindlessly scroll Instagram before bed, but I’m almost there. After dinner I brew myself a cup of lemon ginger tea, and head upstairs. We have a bath in our new place which is the first time I’ve had one in years, and I have been fully taking advantage. So if it’s a bath night, I add my lavender bath salts and foaming bath, light a couple of candles and sink into the tub to watch an episode. There’s nothing I look forward to quite as much, and that time feels so special, the ultimate act of self-love. It also doesn't hurt that our baby girl has started kicking a fair amount in the evenings once I'm off my feet and laying down, so it feels like a time to really connect with her and let myself sink into mama-to-be mode.
this might be the perfect time to try a capsule wardrobe
It feels silly to admit, but struggling to dress myself in a way that feels put together and somewhat stylish has been hard to come to terms with. My belly isn't big but my body has changed enough that I don't always know what will work or feel completely uncomfortable in what I've put together. I'm still learning what the best silhouettes are, how I can put together an outfit that I feel pretty in and that will last me an entire day. So I've decided to fully embrace the idea of a capsule wardrobe this summer and focus on curating select pieces that I love and feel best in. This isn't a new concept to me, but I've never fully committed, so here we go. Right now, that's looking like a lot of simple, breezy dresses (like this Zara number) and stretchy skirts paired with my favourite tees, but I'll report back soon!