The other day I realized I’m guilty of celebrating the “badass” moments and don’t post enough on social media about the in-between, tired, and run-down days. For every walk I take and swim I do, I’m also a tired mama, sometimes laying my head down on the carpet just to nap at random moments of the day.
Pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period are just as much about the astounding-ness of birth and the beautiful feat of growing a human body and birthing it, however it comes into the world.
But this process is also about rest, recovery, and nourishment.
So much of pregnancy, for me, is about getting acquainted with a new body, and learning what this new body does, and slowing down or adjusting accordingly. I don’t jump, run, or bench press the same way while I’m pregnant (unless you count all those squats with the added body weight, of course).
I’m in the middle of reading Kimberly Ann Johnson’s book, The Fourth Trimester: A Postpartum Guide to Healing Your Body, Balancing Your Emotions, and Restoring Your Vitality. She talks about the slow-down impulses we have in the third trimester, about how this very rarely aligns with what we see in the media or expect in our culture, and how critical the weeks after birth are to our long-term recovery and healing.
“We live in a culture that glorifies overdoing, and pregnancy is no exception,” she writes.
Instead, “we need to develop a long-term view of our health, taking care of our life force and changing bodies so we can use them how we want into old age.”
This, of course, is not easy in a world that showers us with images of badass moms doing epic feats and compares how quickly we return to work and our bodies. We sprint so fast towards the birthing process that we forget that one of the most vital tools of all we have in our arsenal is this:
Not everyone has this available to them. Many—most—women need to work, and have so much on their plates that they can barely find time to rest. This is a dream I hold for the way work and life changes, not a reality that’s available to people.
Women are fucking exhausted.
And it destroys a part of the feminine that is so vital. Part of our feminine energy is the energy of slowing down, resting, absorbing, and balancing our energies.
So this letter is as much a note to myself as to all of you: taking time to nap, to rest, to say no, and to cross things off your to-do list without doing them (or destroying the to-do list altogether!) is about as badass as you can get in a world that glorifies overwork and overdoing.
The next time you take a nap, remember: I celebrate your badassery, and your self-care.
You don’t have to do more to be valuable.
This is a wonderful post, thank you. Currently 32 weeks and really struggling to slow down at work and at home. Work is probably the busiest its ever been in the entire year and a half I’ve been in my current position. I’m somehow taking on more projects while also trying to plan training sessions/create reference resources for my teammates while I’m out on leave. I’m having a hard time saying no to new asks because I feel this need to “prove myself” and reaffirm my value as an employee. I’m also the only woman on an all male team so it enhances that feeling of alienation at work and the need to “keep up”. At home, I’m pushing to get all the practical life stuff taken care of (pets to vet, oil changes, etc.) before the baby comes so I can relax when he is finally here. But I can see I’m pushing myself too hard and not taking time to rest and acknowledge that my body, my mind, and my spirit are doing a ton of work already in creating my small human. Thank you for this sane perspective, I really needed to hear it!
It’s so much. This culture is so GO-oriented, and I’m a huge fan of work (I love making things and creating things). And yet it’s too much. There’s a season for resting, and you don’t need to go above and beyond to prove yourself. Rest when you can, let yourself take baths and go to bed at 8:30pm or earlier if you want to, and remember that the work you are doing to grow a human being is an incredible feat.