This weekend, self care looked a whole lot like caterpillar cake. Like any good grammar school girl, I’ve always put a lot of pressure on myself to be ‘perfect’, which tends to mean bringing freshly baked goods whenever I visit someone’s house, or invite someone to mine. This weekend, though, I gave myself permission to buy a cake instead – a birthday caterpillar cake for the birthday girl in question. Cake is cake, after all, and after two nights of broken sleep and a hectic week at work, I just couldn’t bring myself to drag myself into the kitchen. And you know what? The world didn’t burn to the ground. My friends didn’t love me any less. And we still ate cake.
Being pregnant has been a game changer in so many ways, but it’s really made me take a step back and prioritise self care. In the original sense of the word – not bubble baths and scented candles and manicures, but remembering to eat, getting some basic exercise and all that jazz. You know, the stuff that actually keeps you alive and able to function. As someone who has previously enjoyed good health, both physical and mental, it’s been a bit of a learning curve and I suspect it will only become more so as this baby makes himself more at home.
Work with your body, not against it
I’ve always been able to ‘push’ myself on the occasions that I’ve needed to; whether that’s late nights or early mornings for work or play, I’ve been able to ignore what my body’s telling me if I’ve needed to. Obviously that’s not a sustainable strategy for life, so it’s not been something I’ve done much – but I could if I wanted to. Now? I just can’t without suffering the consequences quite severely. Me and my body have had to become a bit of a team, working together rather than against each other. Things are a lot easier if I give my body what it wants and needs, even if that means missing out on a night or two.
You really, really can’t do everything
I didn’t expect growing a baby to take up so much time and effort. I kind of thought it was going to take place in the background, and I would mostly get to carry on as normal. Oh, how I laugh at poor, naive past Amy. Despite not requiring any *active* participation, your body’s going through a whole mess of stuff and I’ve definitely found myself a lot slower over the past few months, even as I’ve felt better from all the morning sickness and whatnot. I am slower at walking, at turning over in bed, and there’s so much ‘baby stuff’ to be thinking about that I’m always a little bit distracted. Gone are the days of blogging until the early hours (jk, my bedtime is always 10pm at the latest), cooking everything from scratch and packing my diary full of plans. It’s the caterpillar cake all over again. Sometimes you have to pick and choose what you can do, because you can’t do everything.
Make fewer plans
There are some things you just can’t avoid in life; work and chores are on the top of that list for me. I need to turn up to work every day and continue to do a good job, and I need to keep my house vaguely clean & tidy, and make sure we have some food in the cupboards every week. On top of that, other obligations are pretty much optional. Gone are the days of heading out after work every night for some such or the other event or gathering, I’ve worked out through trial and error that two is my maximum. That includes my volunteering commitments and my yoga class. And if I exceed that number for some reason (usually work meetings running late), then I need to have a free weekend or I will eventually cease to function. It’s a good reminder to give yourself some space in the calendar for rest and recuperation – and is probably applicable to pre-pregnancy Amy, too… she just tended to ignore it.
Exercise is not optional
I have never been a big fan of exercise, in any form. I’ve tried to get into running a few times, and taken a few exercise classes here and there as an adult, but the attitude towards exercise that I developed as an awkward teen during freezing hockey lessons has pretty much stuck. It’s always been on my list of ‘one day’, but that day really needs to be right now. I felt super sick for the first few months of my pregnancy, and I feel like I’ve been super busy and hectic ever since, but it’s something I really need to make time for to stop my body from rebelling against me entirely. A weekly yoga class, at the very least, goes a long way to relieving the various aches and pains I’m currently experiencing, and I need to incorporate more stretching and whatnot into my everyday life to try and make life a little bit better for the next four months. Turns out that they’re not entirely bullshitting when they say that exercise is good for you, after all…
The Rule of ‘Most’
Are you eating healthily, getting some exercise, sleeping the right amount… most of the time? It can be easy to beat yourself up if you let something slip for a day or two, but if you take a wider view of things, you’re probably doing okay. A takeaway every now and again, or an occasional late night is not the end of the world as long as you follow the rule and try to do better most of the time. Over the course of a week, or a month, or a whole pregnancy? As long as you’re looking after yourself for the most part, those slip ups will fade away in the big picture.