What Self-Care Really Is

February 13th, 2019

A long soak in a nice, hot bath. A glass of wine. Going to the local salon for a mani-pedi. A girls night out. Reading a good book. Chatting with a friend. Scrolling through Instagram. Raiding your chocolate stash and telling your kids, “It’s spicy.”

All of these are thought of as examples of self-care when they are really only an escape. Some of them are wonderfully delicious escapes. For years, I thought these escapes defined self-care. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Granted, we all need an escape now and then. Even if it’s just five minutes alone to pee. Each escape can provide us with the break we need to re-center ourselves and show a kinder, calmer face to our family. However, escape doesn’t even begin to cover what healthy self-care really means. 

Self-care is giving yourself what you need.

It is making sure that your spiritual, physical, emotional, relational, and mental needs are adequately met.

That’s my definition. I didn’t even google it. 

It grew inside of me through experience, reading, and counseling. It came to full blossom during the past year or so, and this is the first time I have condensed it into words. This definition grew out of a burgeoning realization that, while a mani-pedi is scrumptious, I still have to come home to everything I left. None of my load is lifted by having sparkly pink toenails. No matter how much they make me smile when I look down.

Am I saying that we shouldn’t bother with mani-pedis or chocolate? Not at all! What I am saying is that we should see those things as only a drop in the bucket of what we really need. 

Some things to think about:

What we really need is to evaluate our lives, and see where the gaps are that leave us weary, discouraged, or empty. But who has time to evaluate their whole life? Certainly not me. But I can evaluate my week. Sometimes, it has to just boil down to this very day, or even the very next hour. 

I can ask myself, “What do I need, right now?” For me, the answer is usually food. Literal, actual, nourishing food, because I’ve skipped breakfast. Again. Once I have met that need in a minute of self-care, I can re-evaluate and decide what I need next, because my blood sugar isn’t tanking, and I am no longer hangry. 

Don’t wait until you can afford a Fitbit to go for a walk.  If you are anything like me, you will give up if you cannot do everything all at once. So, pick just one area of self-care that you believe will be the easiest to implement today. Yes, today. Do not lie to yourself and tell yourself you can’t fill need X until you line up Y, Z, A2, and Q11 just right before you can start. 

And remember, something is better than nothing. Make this your mantra. Say it over and over. Tape it to your bathroom mirror. So you forgot about the cauliflower crust you intended to use for your own homemade pizza on pizza night last night, but you remembered to make a salad to go with the normal pizza. Something is better than nothing, and you managed some veggies today. Breathe. It’s okay. No throwing babies out with the bathwater. 

Here are 20 things that actually might count as self-care

They each meet a spiritual, physical, emotional, relational, or mental need. Some cover multiple areas of need:

  1. Attending religious services
  2. Taking appropriate medications for whatever reason – medical or mental health
  3. Going to the doctor
  4. Joining a 12-Step group
  5. Going for a short walk, especially in nature, or at least outside
  6. Taking 3 deep, abdominal breaths with eyes closed
  7. Going to a counselor, even once in a while
  8. Trading help with a neighbor or friend – combine your laundry and do it together, for example
  9. Combining your taco shells and fish sticks with your friend’s veggies and ramen, and doing dinner together for an end-of-the-month-we-have-no-food extravaganza
  10. Getting a massage, chiropractic adjustment, or other bodywork
  11. Signing up for a Zumba class
  12. Abstaining from processed sugar
  13. Pleasure reading at the end of the day to unwind instead of Netflix
  14. Having a good cry, alone or with an empathic friend
  15. Drink water
  16. Buy clothes that fit well, no matter your size
  17. Buy that Fitbit and post your steps every day
  18. Educate yourself about shame, and learn shame resilience (thanks, Brené Brown)
  19. Listen to podcasts that educate or uplift you
  20. Let the kids sit in front of a screen and get something done that has been bothering you

I could keep going. But I am pretty sure this is quite long enough.

Self-care. Do it. Start today. Go fill up a glass of water and drink it. Then, pee alone. Because you’re going to have to in about five minutes. Sometimes, it can be nearly imossible. But those “sometimes” are not “all times.” Just do what you can with what you’ve been given today. It may not be enough always, but something is better than nothing.

~Tiff

 

 

 



Sometimes

June 28th, 2018

Parenting is hard.

Sometimes you have to be a wall of love and grace and firm boundaries while the fury and the flood of their raw emotions rages against you until it spends itself and falls into you, needing arms soft and warm and full of acceptance.

Sometimes you need to hide alone in the bathroom, door locked, fan on, just to breathe for five seconds and clear your head and decide what to do about the issue du jour.

Sometimes you need to play. Just play. Laugh, dance in the kitchen, show off your killer 90’s moves to their deep delight or chagrin, depending on the day.

Sometimes you have to give and give and give and give and give until you are drained to the dregs. And then give a little more, always at a cost to yourself. Self-care is a far-off dream in these seasons. Showers are about as much as you can manage.

Sometimes you take the easy way out, for the protection of your own sanity, and you feel guilty for it, even though you know that what’s easiest for you is usually what’s best for your family. It makes room for you do the Hard Things when they come.

Sometimes you have no idea what you are doing, and you hope your child can afford the therapy they are sure to need because of your parenting.

Sometimes you see other parents and wish your life was that easy, or you are glad that isn’t your kid. Either way, you are probably wrong, and you know it. So you mentally fist bump them, and deal with the kid in front of you, who is probably making that other parent grateful he’s not their kid.

Parenting is hard you guys.

Every. Day.

Just keep swimming. You’re going to make it. And it’s worth it.



Five Years

December 10th, 2017

Dear Dad,

I miss you still. Some days without you are harder than others. Most are lovely now, slipping away quietly in the everyday nothings, like pearls from a string. Each with its own soft shine. But there are some that still just hurt.

Lydia’s first choir concert last year made my heart ache until bursting. Remembering looking out from the risers myself, and seeing your beaming face next to Mom’s was everything to me. I always sang for you, Dad. The moment she spotted us in the audience, and that sweet grin broke across her face, I knew how you felt sitting in the audience all those years.

Audrey’s first volleyball game was another moment. Seeing the smallest kid on the court get a serve over the net brought to mind all of your coaching at my sisters’ games, and how proud you were of them no matter how the game went.

You know Durin surpassed me in height this year, right? Well, he did. And he is growing into a young man I know you would be proud of. He tries so very hard to do what’s right, and he is pretty unforgiving of himself when he makes the smallest mistakes. And I now know how hard it was for you to get us girls to really see ourselves as valuable, precious, and pleasing to God even in our struggles.

And then there’s Dain. My little boy who just wants to be with the ones he loves. He doesn’t care what the activity is. He just wants to be with me. LIke you. I see you in his love languages, Dad, and it makes me miss you. He is tender and sweet, and I think that someday he just might take after you in his ten

der lovingkindness. Right now, he’s a bit of a pill as a little boy, but I guess you probably were too. I wish I could send him down to the river with his dog and some army men. He really belongs in the country.

How did you do it, Dad? How did you set the bar so high for us, then show us that doing our best was enough, even if we didn’t quite reach the standard all the time? I wish you were here to guide me in raising my sons. I don’t know how boys become men, and I am doing my best. I wish so much that I could call you.

It’s been five years today, and I didn’t expect it to hurt this badly. But it does. It really, really hurts.

I love you, Daddy. And I miss being your Sunshine. But I am so grateful I got to know you as an adult. That we got to be friends before you left. Too many people don’t even have that. What a gift I was given in you, Dad. I don’t want to take it for granted or waste what you have given me. And I still desire, with every fiber of my being, to live up to the standards you set for me.

I find your words coming out of my mouth to my children all the time. Especially when I dust off a good old-fashioned lecture. (No. 42b, paragraph 7 is particularly effective. 😉 ) If I can be half the parent you were to me, my kids will be okay. And I wish you were here to help me.

I know you won’t see these words, Dad, but I can’t help but say them. Maybe God will pass on the message.

I love you still, Daddy.

Always Your Sunshine,



With Woman

October 19th, 2017

It is anticipation, flutters and quickening.
Life and growth and unparalleled beauty.
It is squeals and coos, wriggles and dimples.
Hanging scales with tiny feet peeking through.

It is knowledge and wisdom, training and practice.
Books and research, instinct and reason.
It is squatting and reaching, twisting and folding,
meeting a mother and her baby right here.

It is a never-off cell phone, interruptions at dinner.
Put off vacations, and birthdays on hold.
It is seizing the moment, because you’re not at a birth,
keeping scrubs in the car and bags packed and ready.

It is saying the hard things, in compassion and grace.
Holding hands and “I’m sorry,” grieving and loss.
It is sitting and waiting, listening and presence.
Letting grief take its course in her heart slowly breaking.

It is business and money, budgets and forms.
Paperwork piles, contracts, and records.
It is hiding the headaches and ignoring the numbers,
Trusting provision will come someday soon.

It is building a village, stone by stone every day.
Community, relationship, and opening doors.
It is connecting her with new like-minded others,
Helping her realize she is in no way alone.

It is hands and heart in equal measure.
Richness and fullness and life as reward.
It is working in joy, frustration, and love.
Being with woman is far more than a job.

What does midwifery care mean to you? 



Faith, Family, Midwifery, and Such

October 17th, 2017

I long for real community. A place where women and their families can come together to connect, support, and just do life together.

As I stood over my cutting board, processing 40 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breasts by myself, I thought how much more enjoyable the task would have been if I had had someone alongside me. I’m tired of being independent in everything. I want to lean on someone. I have no problem at all being alone, doing things on my own, because I can. Quite simply, I’m pretty good at just getting things done, and it rarely crosses my mind to ask anyone to come along.

I don’t want to anymore.

I want a friendly face beside me, just doing things together. Laundry. Bulk cooking. Spring cleaning. First my place, then hers. Like they did 150 years ago in rural areas, not because they liked each other so much, but because it enabled better survival and created a safety net of people who would rush to your aid when your barn was on fire.

I have so many ideas in my mind of how to make this happen. First of all is to invite others into my space and set the example. (So if anyone wants to split that 40 pound box of chicken next time, hit me up!)

Another idea is to use the NextDoor app to reach out to my literal neighbors, and host small gatherings. I’m actually thinking of making a ton of apple cider on Halloween/Reformation Day, and ladling out hot cups of it from my front porch and meeting my neighbors. Or starting a neighborhood Bible study, unconnected with any local church.

I have already done a freezer meal session with my best friend, and it was amazing! We managed to put together 11 meals for our families, and loved the time together! She used several of hers to bless other families in need by taking them dinner. So the ripple effect of our efforts touched far more than just our families. I love that.

I have also determined to ask for more help. After spending about five hours (at least) looking for a good deal on a winter coat for my eldest, I realized I could have just posted on Facebook to see if anyone had a hand-me-down. With how many clothes I pass on to smaller people, it makes sense to try and look for people who would be willing to pass down to my kids.

One of my favorite things to do is to call up a friend, find out what their plans for dinner are, and combine forces. Another of my best friends–I’m an extrovert, I have more than one best friend–and I used to do this all the time. We would combine her pasta with my veggies and a few random sides, and create dinner together for our families. Especially when it was near the end of the month, and we were both short on groceries and cash. The weird meals we made were not Pinterest-worthy, but they were appetite-worthy, and brought us together as families. Totally worth it.

Acitivies, events, and playdates are all great, but I want more. Because when you go home from the playdate, you still have 87 piles of laundry to do. You still have to cobble together dinner at the end of a long day of errands. You still have to be a decent human being to your spouse. And that can only happen in community.

So, that’s my heart. This is what I want to do here on this blog. Write about faith, family, and community. Midwifery, birth, and all that jazz are intimately connected to those topics. And I find that I cannot write about one without writing about the other.

Welcome to my renewed blog, where you get all of me! Not just the birthy me. I hope you find a comfortable place to pull up a chair and read!

How do you find yourself creating or participating in community?

Grace & Peace,



Throwback Thursday: Dilation Isn’t Everything

September 14th, 2017

A look back at one of our most popular blog posts of the past few years. Originally published May 18th, 2015. And still every bit as relevant!

BESTA mother waits patiently on the small triage bed while the nurse concentrates on what her fingers are telling her about the progress of this labor. After a minute, she pulls her fingers out, and chirps brightly, “You are 5 centimeters dilated!” She flips her gloves into the trash can and turns to the computer to chart.

It’s a universal experience going into a hospital in labor. The progress of labor is reduced to a number between one and ten, and nothing else. An hour later, after being admitted to her room, the mother is told she is “still only a 5.” Once again, she isn’t a mother, she is a number. She is left alone to contemplate that, and to deal with it as she may.

Most of us tell our birth stories in terms of this number. “I was stuck at 5 forever!”

What if I told you that this number means very little when it stands alone? What if I told you that your cervix does a whole lot more than just dilate? What if I told you that there are more ways to measure progress in labor than that ubiquitous range of centimeters?

Well, it’s true.

My preceptor and mentor, Desirre Andrews says:

“There is a mystery surrounding cervical dilation and changes prior to and during labor. I like to think of it as the jobs of the cervix. The cervix does so much more than simply opening.”

So, the next time you have a baby, and you are facing a vaginal exam, make sure you ask about what else your cervix is doing!

1. Effacement
Hold up your pointer finger. Touch the second knuckle. From there to the tip of your finger is about the length of your cervix. In order for the cervix to dilate completely, your cervix has to shorten, or “efface,” completely. This is measured in percentages. If your cervix only reaches from the tip of the finger to the first knuckle, you are about 50% effaced. This process must happen before dilation can even occur. In many women, it occurs at the same time or it overlaps dilation. In first time moms, we often see effacement first, then dilation quickly follows. What if our mother was told that, while she was “still 5,” she went from 50% effaced to 90% effaced? That’s progress, people!

2. Ripening
Touch the tip of your nose. (You didn’t know this would be so interactive, did you?) That’s about the texture of a closed, uneffaced cervix. That’s no good for dilation, and it has to soften, or “ripen” in order to do its other jobs. This primarily happens before labor, but can also happen throughout labor. The texture of your cervix must work its way to the softness of your relaxed lips, and then softer still to match the texture of the inside of your cheek. We call cervixes at this stage “soft like butter.” Yet another measure of progress. If our mother were still at 5, but her cervix was much softer and more difficult to feel, that’s progress!

3. Position
To protect your baby, your cervix points towards your tailbone (posterior) during pregnancy, and sometimes even early labor. In order to open and allow the baby to move through it, your cervix must shift its position until it is pointing directly into your vagina (anterior). If our mother were told that though she were “still 5,” but that her cervix was easier to reach, this job has been done, and she has made progress!

4. Dilation
Last, but not least we have dilation. Your cervix must open up from a tightly closed position, all the way up to “10 centimeters.” Really, it’s not 10, though. At this point, nothing can be felt except baby’s head. It’s often now simply called “complete dilation.” The thing to realize about dilation is that it cannot happen unless the cervix is doing all of its other jobs already. They often happen seemingly in tandem, but sometimes a mother will be “stuck at 5” while her cervix is effacing, softening, and moving forward. Once those jobs happen, dilation is a downhill race to the finish (though it may not seem like it).

So, the next time you consent to a vaginal exam in labor, make sure you get more than a number. Ask about effacement, softness, and the position of your cervix. Your cervix is amazing and has a lot more to do than just open. Make sure it gets all the credit it deserves!

Were you informed of the various ways the cervix works before and during labor? How might this change the way you approach your future pregnancy care?

-Tiffany



Something Wonderful This Way Comes

September 13th, 2017

 

pfb classes 2017Can you feel it? Autumn is in the air, finally! (Insert groans and moans from Desirre here. 😉 ) With it comes change, a letting go to make way for the rest and restoration of winter, and then the unfolding blossoming of spring!

You may have recently visited the site, and noticed that our Fall series of childbirth and breastfeeding classes have been canceled. That is because things are changing here at Preparing for Birth as well! We are entering a new season, letting go of the same old way of doing things, allowing our teachers a season of some rest, and gearing up for a brand new way of doing things!

Mothers and their partners are changing in the way they approach things, and so should we if we hope to continue to serve the Colorading Springs area with effective, relevant, and interactive classes.

I would love to hear from you, our community, what you want most from a childbirth and breastfeeding class. If you have taken classes, or plan to, what is most important to you?

Is it the information and content itself? Do you want to watch videos, or would you prefer more discussion and group work? How do you feel about interactive and relevant games? Hands-on technique instruction in breathing, relaxation, and basic comfort techniques? What topics are most important to you?

Let us know in the comments!

Grace & Peace,

Tiff



So You’re In Early Labor. Now What?

April 24th, 2017

 

One night, you are awakened from slumber at the beck and call of your compressed bladder. No, wait. That’s not it. There’s a crampy tightness that feels familiar. Where have you felt that before?

Menstrual cramps! It feels crampy. Weird. You decide to get up and move to the bathroom. After a few minutes, you get back and bed and feel more cramps. Hm. Weird.

Could this be it? It could be! This is it! You’re finally in early labor!

You know this because the contractions are coming, no matter what you do. You’ve had a big glass of water. You’ve gotten up to pee. You’ve had a snack. You’re content to let the rest of your house rest while you anticipate the birth day to come.

So you’re in early labor. Now what?

You think back to what your midwife told you, and you remember that she gave you several things to do during this slow building time.

  1. Let Your Midwife Know. As soon as you know you’re definitely in labor, she’ll want to know. She or her assistant might swing by to check on you and baby, or just triage you over the phone, depending on what’s happening and your needs.
  2. Rest. This is not the time to try and “get things moving” by taking a long walk, doing nipple stim, or anything else that is supposed to speed things along. This is the time to conserve energy. If you can talk through your contractions, you can sleep through them.
  3. Eat & Drink. Whatever time your labor starts, eat normally. One good meal is often enough to sustain you through the work to come. No food is off-limits, though it’s wise to keep in mind that you may throw up, so avoiding choking hazards or harsh foods might be a good idea. Comfort foods are wholesome, nourishing, and encourage happy hormones. Also, keep drinking. Water, juices, herbal teas that you enjoy, smoothies, and broth are all great candidates. Whatever sounds good.
  4. Do Life. There is no reason to put off that quick trip to the store to get milk and bread, or going to the movies. There is no reason to go out if you didn’t plan to, but just going about your day, doing your best to ignore what’s happening. At this point, it’s really no big deal, and it helps your progress if you can be content, happy, and moving.
  5. Distract Yourself. Sometimes, especially when it’s your first baby, it’s so hard to keep your mind off your contractions. But the rule of thumb is that you must ignore them until they demand all of your attention, whether you like it or not. Conserving energy in early labor is paramount! Don’t use breathing or coping techniques from your classes yet either. They contribute to the sense of time, and can make you far more tired than you need to be. Instead, watch funny movies, go to the park, go out on a date with your partner, bake a birthday cake, start a slow cooker meal for after the birth, or call a friend to chat.

I like to tell people to “be in denial” about their labor until their labor gets all up in their face! Just take care of yourself, pretend like everything is normal, that nothing is going on, and let your body keep the secret just a little while longer. You will be shouting to the world in your own way soon enough, so save your breath. Smile. 

“To move into active labor, a woman must give up ideas of how she thought labor might be; in other words, she must surrender.” ~Elizabeth Davis in Heart & Hands

Open up to the path your labor has chosen, and surrender time.

Grace & Peace,
Tiff



Nourish Your Pregnancy

February 16th, 2017

nutrition talk

We are so excited to welcome Dawn Franz, a Nutritional Health Coach, to chat with you about good prenatal nutrition!

Bring your partner, and enjoy a snack while you learn tips and tricks to build a healthy baby, prepare for labor and birth, and ensure a healthy recovery.

You can RSVP by emailing info@prepforbirth.com, or call 719-323-8414. The easiest way, though, is to visit our Facebook Event Page.

Hope to see you there!



Introducing…

February 2nd, 2017

My first CAPPA student to finish her certification as a CAPPA Certified Childbirth Educator!

Meet Mariya Melby, CCCE.

I asked her to share her journey, and she graciously agreed to answer a few questions. I can’t wait to see what she is going to do, and where she is going to take her certification!

Tell me about yourself and your birth work:
“I began my career in education. I completed the Boettcher Teacher’s Program through the University of Denver, earning my MA in Curriculum and Instruction and working in underserved schools for 5 years. I knew this career path was not the right fit for me and began exploring other options. I completed a 200-hour yoga teacher training through the Samadhi Center for Yoga in Denver. I added on trainings in prenatal and postpartum yoga and began teaching while I was pregnant with my first child. I had a very unexpected birth experience that led me down the path of becoming a Certified Labor Doula through CAPPA. I began attending births and absolutely loved to support women and their partners through the process of becoming new parents. I found myself particularly drawn towards the work we would do together in our prenatal meetings, and realized that becoming a childbirth educator could meld my loves for education and birth. I attended Tiff Miller’s Childbirth Educator Training through CAPPA in Colorado Springs and recently finished the reminder of my requirements to earn the title of Certified Childbirth Educator (CCCE) through CAPPA.”

What is one piece of advice you would share with others who are certifying?
“Look through the requirements for certification and make your own timeline for finishing up each one. Even if you end up needing to readjust your plan, having one in the first place that you come back to will help to keep you motivated and on track. I suggest working right away on finding a mentor teaching for student teaching.”

What was the most challenging part of the process for you?
“For me, the most challenging part of certification was student teaching. It was a challenge to find a certified childbirth educator in my area who was regularly teaching classes and willing to have me work with her to complete my student teaching. Even though I am an experienced classroom teacher, I was nervous about stepping into someone else’s classroom. I really enjoyed my student teaching experience and once I finished that piece, felt really motivated to finish up the rest of the requirements.”

What is one thing that surprised you in your learning process?
“I am always, always learning more about birth. I receive questions that I don’t know the answers to and need to research or I will attend a birth where I see something new. And the learning has no end in sight—even the most experienced birth workers are still learning about birth as they go.”

I can’t wait to hear from more of you as you reach your certification goals with CAPPA!

Grace & Peace,