About the Author - Ishani Vellodi Reddy, Health Coach
Originally from New York, Ishani now lives in Chennai with her husband, one-year-old son and two dogs. Though she previously worked in Finance, she is now a Health Coach who loves helping people achieve their personal nutrition and fitness goals. Besides working out with her son (he is her most reliable gym buddy!), Ishani also enjoys travel, eating and family time.
Six days a week in the gym, strength training on alternate days, 12,000 steps a day, no processed food; if you think that’s some kind of weight loss recipe, think again! That was my pregnancy fitness plan… and it worked. I managed to be the pregnant woman I always wanted to be: energetic, free of back pains, and generally unaffected by the fact that I was pregnant, except for having to trade a glass of champagne for a seltzer. I worked really really hard and it paid off.
The day I got admitted to the hospital, I did one last set of deadlifts and bid farewell to the gym. At the behest of my doctor, we had opted for a “voluntary” c-section, though it was more accurate to say that we didn’t want to fight the 80% odds that we were given that I would wind up having a c-section anyways. I knew what this meant: instead of a 10-day break from the gym, and being back in shape in two weeks, I would have to take four weeks off from the gym and be back in shape in eight. It was a tradeoff, but I was okay with it. We were blessed with our perfect baby boy, and I was happy to let everything else take a back seat for a while.
The second I met my son, I was overcome with a sense of euphoria unlike anything else I had experienced before. As the days went on, however, that euphoria quickly turned to exhaustion. The visitors kept coming, I stayed awake night after night for just a few scarce hours of alone time with my son, and it all took its toll when I left the hospital in so much pain that the procedure could have happened just that morning.
When we got home, visitors continued to pop in at inopportune times, family wanted to “play” with the newborn, and just a couple weeks later, with my stitches still completely raw, I had to sit with my husband and our newborn for multiple functions to celebrate his arrival. Amidst everyone else’s jubilation, my exhaustion went from bad to worse, and my incision continued to throb like a fresh wound even as the weeks wore on.
At five weeks, when I was cleared to start doing a little walking, but couldn’t, thanks to the searing pain I felt every time I walked more than 20 steps, I finally spoke up to my doctor, who flatly responded, “Maybe your pain tolerance is just a little low. Let’s wait a few more weeks.” At eight weeks postpartum, when I still struggled to walk normally, my hopes of doing burpees by week four now seemed like some absurd fantasy. Again, I was met with the same response- the problem was still apparently my threshold for pain.
At this stage, the physical pain, excruciating as it was, wasn’t the worst of it; it was the disillusionment and disappointment of what postpartum life really was. I had devoted years and years to making my body strong enough that it could handle anything, and then nine months of my life to making sure that my body could grow and nurture the healthiest baby possible while being minimally affected. I just couldn’t understand why, after all that, I couldn’t even walk up a flight of stairs without wincing with every step. I even weighed more three months postpartum than the day I left the hospital, and my previously toned muscle had given way to piles of mush. I had swapped stretchy pants and maternity clothes for my real wardrobe, and there were days that even the maternity clothes seemed a little snug. This was neither a life, nor a person I recognized.
It took another couple of weeks of self-pity before I finally saw a different doctor who sympathized with the injustice that I felt. With a combination of treatments, I could walk a little taller, and sit down and stand up a little easier. Within weeks, the constant rawness was reduced to little more than a twinge. A couple of weeks later (and 14 weeks postpartum), I was finally able to make it back to the gym.
As much as I would love to say I got back into my routine, and instantly lost the weight, that’s not how it went. Starting to work out again was just the beginning of a whole new journey. My body didn’t know how to move like it used to, I tore a hamstring from overtraining with bad form, and I constantly felt like I had no idea what I was doing, and was making absolutely no progress.
But day after day, week after week, I kept at it. Some days the most I could do was a walk, other days I felt really strong and could start doing some of my high intensity movements again, and then there were days that I felt like my body just wouldn’t do anything I wanted and I would burst into tears mid-workout. The only thing that was always the same was that I had learned the hard way that things were just different now. There was no point in planning for or setting deadlines, or comparing things to the way they were before- I just had to go with the process. I tried all kinds of different things to just regain a sense of how I moved again- boxing, yoga, pilates, sprinting, swimming walking… I did it all, and was just grateful to be able to move!
Very very slowly at first, and then all at once, the changes came. But something else happened along the way too: for the first time in my life I truly took the time to get to know my body, how it operated, and to understand what it needs and what it doesn’t. When we give our bodies what they need, they have a funny way of always coming through for us. The more this happened, the less I cared about the visible results, but the more the results were visible!
So for all the moms out there who are determined to “get back to” their pre-baby body, my suggestion to you is to forget about your pre-baby body entirely. If postpartum life is anything but normal, why should you expect your body to be? Stop comparing, start from scratch, and get to know, love, and work on your “new normal” body. Do what feels good, get active in ways that make you happy, get exercise with your kids (my son usually comes to the gym with me), and, above all, be really proud of what you have accomplished because none of it is easy. If you forget about your pre-baby body and consistently focus on wearing your new body and life with pride, you will find your happiest, most confident self yet!
Ishani Vellodi Reddy
This post originally appeared on silverrattle.in, written by Kavita Kapoor
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If you’ve had the little one bawl incessantly every time you’ve had to walk away from day care or shut the door at bedtime, you exactly know how separation anxiety can turn you inside out and the struggle is very, very real.
There is really no defined time about when and how separation anxiety occurs – it can begin as early as 4 months when their concept of ‘object permanence’ kicks in and can continue well into first day at school.
Here are a few tips to help ease the transition –
Tell them that you are leaving, even if it’s for a short while
It always seems like a more peaceful idea to just sneak out while they are not watching – you might be lucky couple of times but incase you do get caught – all hell can break loose. The child will constantly associate every single action of yours – from putting on your shoes or picking up your handbag, they will worry that you will disappear.Let your child know when you’ll be back and what will happen then.It is a much better idea to tell them that you are leaving, and build up both confidence and trust in your child, than to have that trust destroyed if they find you missing.
Settle your child
Spend some time making your child feel comfortable before you leave.Let them get comfortable with the surroundings and people before you leave.Preparing your child for new people and places is key to keeping separation distress to a minimum.Left in any stranger like environment can lead to higher level of anxiety and worry.Consider using a favourite toy to help ease the transition.
Start small and build up
Start with extremely short separations. Allow adequate time to chat about why you will be away ( having a bath, going out to get something ) and give your child something to do ( puzzles, colouring, toys) and make it clear that you will be back by the end of the task. Try just stepping out for couple of minutes even without any particular chore to do. The first couple of times there will be a lot of tears and a lot of mom-guilt, but this too shall pass! When you return – remember to appreciate your child for a job well done, show them lots of affection (hugs and kisses). Do this at least once a day of the week and then slowly begin to increase the amount of time you are out.
Develop a trusty routine
Create a plan about what all your child needs to do while you are away. For example : Get a magnetic board and draw out an activity sheet on it. With some magnetic stickers get your little one to play a little game from activity to activity until mom is home. ( Do one page of colouring – eat your fruits – have a bath – mamma will be home).Read stories about saying goodbye and hello – Use books and role play to illustrate that goodbye is not forever and reunions are comforting and lovely.
Don’t give up!
Like every other phase of childhood – children will test your patience. The cries will get louder and the tears unbearable – but don’t give up. Stick to small absences and keep your cool no matter what. There will be days when the guilt will kill you but you need to start at some point. If you said you are stepping out for 5 minutes- stand outside with a timer for 5 minutes, no matter how strong the wailing and bawling is.This will help your child feel more confident too.Come up with a ‘brave’ phrase – Help your child cope with transition and separation with a special phrase. ‘Mamma will come back soon’ or ‘I can be brave’, for instance. Be strong and it’ll help your child in the long run.
You can’t imagine how many teachers have told us that the second a parent leaves a crying child’s classroom, that child is absolutely 100% fine! (Not every kid of course, but plenty of them).
Your child may always be tentative, nervous, or sensitive — which aren’t bad things — but the phase of crying at school drop-offs, everytime mom gets to work or steps out will end one day. And then, like me, you may actually look back and miss those tender moments.
Are you struggling with separation anxiety? What do you find works for you?