Why Yoga is perfect for Moms

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Yoga is the perfect exercise/escape for moms because of its focus on breathing/peace of mind, strength, flexibility, and balance.

1) focus on breathing/peace of mind: As moms we forget to breathe. It’s a constant whirlwind of taking care of others needs before our own that we forget how to relax, stop, and take a deep breath.

Tape and Batteries

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To be four and relive childhood innocence would  prove that tape and batteries is a cure all. One of Jonas’s toys is broken. No problem, mommy changes the batteries. Voila. All better. A piece of paper or an art project tears. Tape to the rescue. Fixed. We are discussing death. Jonas says don’t worry if something happens to you, the doctor will give you new batteries. If only it were that simple. We are outside and a worm rips. “Mommy, I need tape,” he says to repair the severed worm. He picks a green unripe tomato from the garden. I scold him and tell him not to pick them until they are red. It’s OK. Tape and batteries is the cure-all. A child’s innocence. All is well. Heal all.

Jude Robert Cole

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img_0754born 11.29.15 at 1a.m. on his due date! (still can’t believe how punctual) and weighing 8lbs, 6oz. and 21 3/4 in. long. Contractions started around 8a.m. Saturday 11.28.15. Pretty steady all day about 10 minutes apart. It was a beautiful day. Sat outside on the front porch in a t-shirt and flip flops. It was in the 60s and sunny. Contractions gradually progressed to about six minutes apart. Jonas and Luka were home in the morning. Jason surfed for several hours. I made a smoothie with the boys, played, business as usual. Jonas wanted to play with Hayden. Sara came over around noon to get him. Jason came home around the same time. We were talking outside and timing contractions. Jonas played at Hayden’s for a few hours. Jason and Luka were at home. The midwife came around 4:30p.m. after I showered. The doula came around 5ish. Jonas came home too. Contractions were about three minutes apart. I tried to eat dinner around 5:30p.m. Jason made chicken, rice, and broccoli. After I ate a little, we all sat in the living room watching the movies CARS, GARFIELD, and various kids shows. I was rolling on the ball. My doula was helping me breathe and relax. Jason put the kids to bed between 7:30 and 8p.m. We went upstairs just after 8p.m. and started filling the bathtub. Contractions were getting stronger. The warm water felt great. Eventually we ran out of hot water and Jason had to fill a pot and keep pouring it in. At first it was just the doula and I. The widwife was chatting with her assistant in the other room giving me space and Jason was downstairs cleaning dishes. He made a bone-broth soup thinking I could eat it after the birth. He came up and was sitting behind me and the doula to my right side. He was using the shower head attachment on my back to relieve back pain. The midwife later said Jude was holding his hand under his chin and his elbow was pressing into my back and bum-ouch! The doula was using counterpressure on my low back and hips. The midwife would periodically check baby’s heartbeat. He was doing beautifully. I was feeling pressure in my rear which was new to me in labor. I probably started pushing around 11:30p.m. At first it helped to push with the contraction. It felt like I had been tensing up and holding back before. I tried different positions: back, child’s pose, squat. I couldn’t get good traction in the tub so eventually moved to the bed. I squatted by the bed, layed on my side on the bed, one leg on the midwife’s shoulder. I pushed for 1.5 hours. I kept asking if he was ever coming out. The midwife said he was coming slow; once he was past the pubic bone it would be easier. 1a.m. he came out with one push. The cord was wrapped around his neck three times. His hand was under his chin. He was breathing but gargled, limp, and bluish. The midwife sucked two viles of fluid out of his lungs, tried oxygen, and was sweating. He was stable but she wanted to call the ambulance to make sure he was OK. Jason said he called 911 at 1:36a.m. Three or four guys came into the room. One got Jude assessed. The other two put me on a stretcher (I hadn’t delivered the placenta yet). Nicole came over. It was a long, bumpy, uncomfortable ride to PRMC in Salisbury. I was only wearing a damp bikini top and still contracting (covered by a blanket). They hooked me up to an IV I think and were asking me questions. About ten cop cars and ambulances were in the neighborhood. It was quite a scene. In the ambulance Jude was being held by Jason and an EMT on the seat next to me. They were trying to find a pediatric oxygen mask. His belly was pink. He was OK. They tried to have me hold him but it was too painful with the uterine contractions and the placenta. We got to the hospital around 2:26a.m. greeted by a ton of people. It was a slow night for them. They were oohing and ahhing and decided to take us to L & D. Jason was holding Jude when we arrived. A midwife was on call and delivered the placenta and stitched me up (second degree tear-same as with Luka). Jude was in the room; they were weighing him, K shot, etc. They put him on my chest. He wouldn’t nurse; his breathing was still labored. His respiratory rate was still high so they took him to the nursery for four hours for further assessment. I bawled. I didn’t want to be separated of course after 10 months of waiting for him. I felt like physically and emotionally I was chewed up, spit out, and run over. We had a peaceful, planned homebirth and were now in the ER. I had for months envisioned birth in our bed and an ambulance. Was this a vision preparing me? Or had my thoughts manifested this reality? After two hours I was moved to the Mother/Baby ward. The name driving into my heart further pained by the image of a baby above my bed. I had arrived in the hospital in M/B without my baby. Shortly after I was told they wanted to keep him in the nursery for 48 hr antibiotics to make sure he didn’t get or have a lung infection. I lost it again. Four hours was horrific away from my newborn. Now two days? I had a new-found appreciation for all mothers separated from their babies. It is awful. He was on oxygen so I couldn’t nurse. Trying to get his respiratory rate down and his oxygen up. It was so hard seeing him hooked up I lost it again and again every time I went to see him; I just wanted to hold him and feed him. We went to his meeting with his Dr. and nurse and I lost it again. I found out we were both A+ blood type. It was so hot and I started crying. The nurse started fanning me. They got a wheelchair to take me back to my room. The lactation consultant was super sweet and set me up with a pump to pump every three hours for 15 minutes. Monday or Sunday? night around 9p.m. I finally got to feed him. I had to walk to the nursery (which seemed like miles) with a sore bottom at 8, 11, 2, & 5 around the clock. The recliner was comfy but hard and it was super painful to walk back to my room after holding him for a while, but I was dedicated to going home. Feedings would get his bilirubin down and weight up. We were able to leave the hospital Tuesday around 9p.m. after his bilirubin test was at 11. Over 17 is concerning. He was circumcised around 2p.m. They said it looked good when we left. Also, while in the hospital we were questioned by the bureau of investigation and two social workers because we had a homebirth. It looked like we stopped care at 28 weeks and refused kidney ultrasounds. We were getting regular home care and went for a follow up ultrasound October 2-totally not the negligent parents they thought we were. The most reasonable person we talked to was a neonatologist from PA who who is used to homebirths with the Amish and has four kids herself. She reasoned with us to let us leave Tuesday night instead of Wednesday a.m. We were relieved since the boys were begging us to come home. In hindsight, maybe we should’ve stayed. Wednesday Jude was scheduled to see our family physician at 11:30a.m. His circumcision was bleeding with a large clot at the 4a.m. changing. It continued all morning. We left to see her semi-panicked. We never saw blood with the other boys. “Hey Jude” came on the radio on the way there. Unreal. She rewrapped it and said it should be OK until the follow up the next day. Still bleeding at 6:30p.m. We called her. She advised to go the ER at PRMC as a precaution. We got there around 7p.m. A dr. held direct pressure after unwrapping all the guaze. The bleeding stopped. They wanted to monitor overnight so we wouldn’t have to come back if it started again. We waited in the ER until after 10p.m. for a pediatric room. Nurses came in to give him an IV. I lost it again seeing him probed again for blood. He was so good the whole time. Sleeping. We got a room by 11p.m. His bed was huge and ours was tiny. He slept good! 11-5. Skipped the 2a.m. feeding. The nurses kept checking on him. It didn’t faze him.

He was OK. Later, we had to go to Children’s Medical Center in Baltimore for a surgery addressing a missing testicle. He’s perfect. He is healthy. We are blessed. He is a little ray of sunshine. Angel baby.

What is yoga?

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“What is yoga?” Someone asked me Friday (at the gym). Well…..it’s exercise at the gym. It’s a way to liberate the mind and find peace and calm. It’s what you want to make of it. I went to Catholic school for twelve years, married an Episcopalian, and now go to a Baptist church. My religious journey has followed my husband’s choice for our family’s church. We are Christians. I NEVER knew any other religions growing up. I never thought they were wrong or corrupt. I just didn’t know about them is all. When the Episcopal priest married us, he said “it’s Catholic without the guilt”. Um, OK. That’s cool I guess, but I do miss Mary and the Saints and all of the other elements of Catholicism that I grew up with. I was the May Queen in eighth grade, the girl who most emulated Mary. What an honor! I prayed on rosary beads that were my grandmothers. We prayed every day, went to church more than Sundays. It was a large part of my life. OK, so I marry an Episcopalian. It’s close they say. It’s the first other religion I am now somewhat aware of. So I go to the church for ten years. Baptize all three of our sons there. Then my husband wants to go to the Baptist church. Um, what is that? I have no idea what that means. But I go b/c I want to go to church as a family. Our boys know the other kids there from soccer and the beach and they feel comfortable there. There are many other young families. It seems contemporary with a rock band. Communion once in a while, but lots of singing. I do miss my Catholic songs. I do miss Communion every Sunday. I do miss Mary and the tabernacle and all of the things I’m used to. But I go with my family every week  (if we’re in town) and I listen to the Bible.

Also, the Episcopal church has yoga programs…at the church. I never thought much of it except free yoga, that’s cool. I’ve taught it there a few times as a substitute teacher. I’ve taken my middle son to the children’s yoga program. Another friend told me about a yoga therapy at the hindu temple one evening a few years ago. I went. I do believe in yoga as a healing modality. I took my first yoga class in college. During relaxation the teacher was talking about visualizing colors. I had no idea at the time he was talking about energy centers in the body (scientifically related to nerve ganglia in the spine); I just knew that I felt realllly good! Better than the other workout classes I’ve tried (and I have tried many)! So I began to take yoga classes at my college at the time, The Pennsylvania State University. I moved to Maryland after college and would practice with yoga videos at home. I started finding it as a solace. I pursued a yoga teacher training in 2003. It took me through college, careers, graduate school, marriage, pregnancies, birth, motherhood, and twenty years after that first yoga class I am teaching to all levels at a gym and on the beach. I’ve taught at studios, parks, the wellness community and at schools also. I never thought much of it conflicting with my belief systems. Yes, I know that yoga originated in India which is mostly Hindu. However, I don’t worship Hindu gods, although I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. I do know the stories of the gods b/c I believe in education. I don’t think yoga is a religion. I think the yoga I studied “YogaFit” TM is for the gyms. It’s an exercise based yoga, not a Hindu religion. I love language (I teach English Literature also) and I think Namaste is a greeting just like Ciao, Aloha, Hello, Bonjour, etc. I think the translation “the light in me honors the light in you” is whatever light you believe in. For example, you can believe in “light” in a non associative way, or you can associate it with your belief system, such as Jesus is the light of the world. You can chant om, which is the sound of the universe. If you believe universal consciousness is God, or stardust, that’s YOUR belief. The entire universe resonates with a B flat. Chanting is also scientifically proven to calm the vagus nerve, so it’s beneficial to the nervous system. Like yoga is soothing to the nervous system b/c it exercises the spine which has nerves that regulate every system in the body: circulatory, nervous, digestive, endocrine, lymphatic, etc. It’s science.

Mindfulness is a form of awareness that helps relieve anxiety, as well as other conditions. Living in a state of awareness and present moment relieves anxiety and depression, b/c you’re not living in the past or future, but you’re living in the present, which is the only place where life really exists. Like the expression be here now. In my observations of western culture, we are so harried and rushed and not enjoying the moment. I think our entire society would benefit from mindfulness and meditation, consciously being in the present moment. This has been again scientifically proven to reduce things like anxiety and depression. I am very thankful for my faith to get me through hard times, but not every child has that luxury. Kids need to learn to cope with all the things in our society, like bullying and social media. Saying there is only one way in a myriad of beliefs is narrow minded. YOU can believe what you want to believe, but some kids are really alone. We need to support them as a society.

Yoga means “yoke” or union. Uniting mind, body, spirit. Unity. Peace. Namaste

21 reasons why I love summer

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Summer solstice means my favorite season is here!!! Why? Well.

1) Vata. Dosha that likes hot, humid weather b/c I’m always cold!
2) Yoga on the beach. We have such a short season to practice.
3) Ice Cream!
4) Pool time
5) Surfing in warmer water. Although, the water here only gets in the 70s at most!
6) No school/flexible schedule. Free time!!! Less rushing. Amen.
7) Less socks! This adds significantly less laundry to a family of five.
8) No shoes! I love being barefoot, but it’s also easier to leave the house with three kids:)

9) Shorts and tanks. Again less laundry. Easy peasy to leave house without coats, hats, gloves, etc.

10) flip flops! Again easy out the door

11) Simplicity! Less laundry, less clothes, free time…

12) Garden! Hello fresh produce!

13) flowers

14) camping

15) wedding anniversary! 7/7/07

16) my birthday! 8/28

17) son’s birthday! 8/29 (he almost stole my birthday)

18) bonfires

19) smores

20) it’s dark late

21) being outside!!!

Too busy

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Busy is the new norm. Women, men, mothers, fathers all juggle work, family, and personal time. I know that we do. Running to teach, drop kids off at school, pick kids up at school, drive them to soccer, try to squeeze in a fitness class, etc. We wake up rushing from one thing to the next. A recent mother of another preschool said, “the pace of our lives is crazy. Moms try to take care of the house, kids, and work.” It’s true. We try to do it all and achieve the impossible super mom status. Our society endorses immediacy, a fast paced, and working culture. A lot of moms I know who stay home say they feel people look down upon them if they don’t work outside the home, especially moms in metropolitan areas. It’s increasingly common to have a full time job, send the kids to daycare, or hire a nanny or au pair. It’s just the new normal. Of course moms also stay home and even homeschool, but it seems like most people try to juggle work, family, and play. Is this good or bad? It depends on the family of course. And as my mother-in-law always says do what’s best for YOUR family. Each is unique. Do you need more money? or more time? I know we enjoy going to the beach everyday in the summer and the first few weeks of school are ROUGH! It’s hard to be on a schedule. It’s demanding, stressful, and full of emotions. As my mom asked how things were recently going, I responded, “good, everyone’s crying.” It’s a big adjustment for us all. School is stressful! Time wise, but also kids are pressured to perform well, act well, and be on a timeline all day with little recess or food! (That’s another blog). Today was a particularly begrudging day. The six year old DID NOT want to go to school because today they wouldn’t have recess from a punishment from the previous day. I pretty much drug him there. It was really rough for all of us. I asked his teacher what happened and that my son was very upset. She said the gym teacher said they weren’t listening and that was all she knew. Needless to say the days where your child does NOT want to go to school, puts up a GOOD fight, and you leave feeling like someone punched you in the heart, you begin to question things. Should I homeschool? Should I give tough love? Should I succumb to societal norms and pressures? Should I quit my job? Should I do less? Should I do more? How do we find balance between structure and play?

Cherish time

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Three different people approached me today to ask when the “due date” (guess date) was. I said maybe 5-6 weeks? I am 33 weeks. The last baby came at 38. The response was either, “ugh!”, or “you are not going that long”, or a stare of disbelief. As much as I miss feeling like myself, it is an amazing time to cherish with the burgeoning life inside. Each kick is a miracle. Instead of thinking how much time is left, I will try to cherish each moment as it is. Not thinking about how I used to feel, or what it will be like to have him outside of me, but to live in the moment. Embrace each movement, discomfort, and take it all in stride that this is so, so temporary. Although 5-6 weeks may seem like a lot, in the blink of a lifetime it is so miniscule. So if you ask me “how much longer?”, my response will be in due time, or I don’t know, but I’m enjoying today, are you?IMG_9090IMG_8656

Healing

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Sunday I had a miscarriage. I was about 12 weeks. I thought that I was almost out of the woods at the end of the first trimester. But you never know. I cried for two days-through two boxes of tissues. “You have suffered a great loss,” said the GYN who performed the D&C. “You will recover physically, but it will take longer emotionally,” she added. One day shy of a week, my emotions have ranged from sadness, loss, grief, blame (which everyone says not to do, which is humanly impossible), to ultimately wondering why? what happened?. I arrived home from the ER Monday at 2a.m. I couldn’t fall asleep until 3:30a.m.  I kept and keep replaying the horrid events over and over again in my mind every time I try to rest. It’s like watching a horror film on repeat and the DVR is broken. You just want to shut it off, but you can’t. Monday morning my friend brought a coffee. I relished in the venti peppermint mocha latte. It tasted so good after depriving myself of coffee for several months. Several months of nausea and quitting bad habits that felt lost. For what? For this moment of emptiness? I tried to look at the positives-I can drink coffee, wine, & eat lunchmeat again. All of which I did that day. Perhaps too much, too soon. So be it. Monday night a friend brought flowers and a card. We laughed and commiserated. Had a glass of wine and chocolate chip cookies. Trying to find solace in indulgence. She had a miscarriage as well. Seemingly everyone has, or at least 90% of my friends. This made me feel a little more normal-it is SO common. The most repeated statistic I’ve seen is 1 in 4-25% of first trimester pregnancies will end in a miscarriage. I almost felt like I had it coming after two healthy, uneventful pregnancies prior to this one. I tried to move past the questioning, blame, and deepening sadness. I tried to meditate Monday. A themed “happiness” meditation, which was the furthest emotion I was feeling. The centering thought was “happiness is my true nature”. The mantra was ananda hum: I am bliss. I tried this meditation for 20 minutes and ended up crying. I took three days off from meditating. What I did was sleep and eat. I felt like I was merely existing, waiting for a storm to pass; cooped up inside. Tuesday it did rain. Wednesday was a beautiful day with waves. It was painful to not be able to surf. The thing that I was doing when I started cramping and bleeding the Saturday before. Another thing to question and blame. But I surfed through my other two pregnancies with no problems. I sat home Wednesday wallowing in self-pity. Three people suggested I just go sit on the beach. I felt like it would be painful to watch the perfect waves and not be able to surf. Thursday morning I went to the beach in case someone showed up for my yoga class. It was so cathartic to return to the beach. To feel the sand, sun, and salty sea. It was the happiest I felt all week! So I went back Friday evening, and this morning. It makes me so happy just to return to the beach. The last two days I meditated without crying. Today I even got back on the yoga mat. It felt good to move, to breath, to heal. Today’s theme was “I am peace”. To move to spiritual peace where one is content even under difficult situations like this. I am trying to get to the place that the Bible describes as “peace that passes all understanding”. I am so not there, but I am finding moments to smile.IMG_3244