An Afternoon Oasis in a Sea of Stress

An Afternoon Oasis in a Sea of Stress

What a perfect afternoon.

An afternoon to remind me of the power of one-on-one time. Of observation and connection. Of slowing down.

Straight after GG’s nap – when he’s often super grumpy – I took him out for a date. And yes, I totally bribed him out of his bad mood with ice cream, I’ll admit it. But watching him eat it was a meditation. He loved every lick, every bite of the cone. He was so in the moment he couldn’t even speak to me while he ate.

Every meal should be like a 3-year-old boy eating ice cream.

After the ice cream we ran around an empty mall. Hopped, jumped, fell to the ground at his whim. I showed him how to do somersaults in a baby play area. I fought the urge to play with my phone when his attention wandered from me, and instead kept mine glued to him. Yet another exercise in mindfulness. In staying in the present for once.

On the way home we stopped to fill the car up with petrol. He got out with me and asked questions. A million “why’s” that for once I had the time and the head space to answer. Or try to answer.

Why is petrol dangerous for little kids, anyway?

It was just an hour and a half, but we so needed that time, GG and me. Time together with no agenda, no bathing or dinnertime or bedtime battles. No baby sister or other adults. Just us.

When we got home, some kids from his new kindergarten were meeting in the local playground, so his dad took him to join them. And so it was just me and Little A at home. Again – a rare treat.

Babies seem simpler, but I think that’s just because we don’t pay them enough attention.

Every move this kid makes is an exploration, an experiment, an expression. Every turn of her hand is a preparation for her next move, or bite of food, or request. And I’m her mama, I know her back to front, I can preempt her requests before she’s even made them – but sometimes it’s beautiful not to. Rather, to lay next to her and see the world through her eyes for a few moments.

We ate, played, bathed. For once I wasn’t rushed as I washed her, fending off GG’s “help” in the form of buckets of water on her head. Instead I watched her examine each toy with her mouth, giggled with her, cuddled and marveled at how big she’s gotten, though it seems like she was born just yesterday.

It all sounds awfully flowerly, I know. But that’s really how it felt.
An oasis of joy in a sea of stress, emails, anxiety, drop offs and pick ups.

A reminder of what it’s all about.

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A Year Ago Today

A Year Ago Today

A year ago today I sat on this couch and said goodbye.

The previous couple of days, after we found out, I’d been gung-ho, all action. Rationalizing that it was better to find out now, to spare ourselves the heartbreak of finding out later on in the pregnancy or even at birth. Making arrangements. Speaking to friends and family, reassuring them that everything would be okay. I put on a brave face, smiled for my husband and my son. I oozed bravado.

But somewhere in among all that noise, two wise women in my life shared what they did before terminating their pregnancies, and their words hit home for me. I realized it was time to go within. Time to acknowledge the sadness that was welling up inside of me, even if I couldn’t quite name it yet. Even if I wanted to believe was somehow strong enough to transcend it.

So I sat on this couch, alone.

Alone not because there was no one around me, not because I didn’t have support. Alone because it was time to be alone. Because there was no one who was going to be able to get me through the next day but me. No one else getting wheeled into that operating theater. Alone because I needed to go within.

I sat on this couch with my hands on my tummy and I meditated.

I took deep breaths and grounded myself into the present. I let myself feel what was going on right then. The visceral, emotional experience – not just the words swimming around my head trying in vain to make everything okay. I felt the sadness, the beginnings of grief. The incredulous shock that this was happening to me, to us. I didn’t want to but I did it anyway. And I sat there with those feelings, for a few long, heavy moments.

And when I was ready to say goodbye, the sobs came right up from that place. As I hugged myself I explained why we had to do what we had to do, in my heart. I didn’t know who or what I was explaining to. I’d been trying to convince myself that this was just a pregnancy, a fetus. Not a baby and certainly not my baby. Yet I spoke with the voice of a mother. About how this was the only decision for our family, for GG. How we’d meet again, if that was even something that I believed in, if it was meant to be.

And somehow I felt better, that cathartic calm that comes after a good cry. I didn’t know then that the worst was yet to come, that I’d crash a month later, and then many times during the pregnancy that followed. But for right now – right then – I felt better.

Now I sit here on this couch, a year later. The same couch but in our new home, with our new baby cooing in her cot beside me.

Would a glimpse into the future that night have brought any comfort? The knowledge that this is how everything would look in the not so distant, only a year later?

Could be. All I know is I’m happy to be on the other side of this year.

Something Instead of Whining

Something Instead of Whining

When the inspiration strikes to write at the moment, all I want to do is whine. About how tired I am, all the time. About needing to pee from about 5 minutes into my 1 hour plus commute, every day, twice a day. About how GG always claims he needs to pee 2 minutes after I put him to bed. And how hard getting him dressed and undressed is when I can barely touch my toes and he thinks running away in the middle is hilarious. About stomach viruses at 9 months pregnant…

But I don’t want to write that post. This is not a whiny blog.

Instead, I’m gonna force myself to write about the things I’m grateful for right now. Because really, life is fucking sweet.

We just moved into a beautiful new home. Yes, we have a massive mortgage to pay off, but most people don’t have access to that sort of loan, so I’m truly grateful for it. And for the supportive family that helped us get here.

And that squirmy toddler I mentioned? In between the bahhhh moments he is the light of my life. Hilarious and cuddly and  unbelievably smart. And obsessed with Goldilocks, but that’s a story for another time.

And that kid’s father, he deserves the lion’s share of my gratitude. He cooks and he cleans, mainly while I lie on the couch doing pelvic floor exercises and practicing Hypnobirthing breathing. He takes care of all our paperwork coz dealing with bureaucracy over here is hard for me. It’s a pain in the ass for him too but he does it anyway. He listens when I whine about how he doesn’t communicate properly with me and tries so hard to rectify it that his emoticon text message replies warm my hormone-riddled heart. And somehow he fits in a full-time job and a side job, too. He’s the best father I could ever want for my kids, and I’ve got a feeling he hasn’t even warmed up yet.

Ok enough mush.

I’m grateful for the breeze blowing through the door as I write this, a gentle reminder that the humidity of the Middle Eastern summer has finally broken. I’m grateful for the Internet and all the information, entertainment and connection it brings daily. I’m grateful for my girlfriends, old and new. I’m grateful for fresh fruit and vegetables, and for dark chocolate. I’m grateful to have a voice and the power of expression. To share the shit going through my head and connect with other people as a result.

Thank you.

A Letter to My Body

A Letter to My Body

Dear body,

I guess we haven’t always had the perfect relationship, maybe we never will. But I want you to know – I think you’re pretty awesome. This is a love letter.

Thank you for understanding when you weren’t my top priority and soldiering on regardless. I know I haven’t always treated you as best as I could, and yet you’ve held up pretty damn well. Thank you for being so forgiving.

Thank you for functioning on so little sleep. I know all those late nights I kept you up partying and chatting and breastfeeding can’t have been easy on you. They were important to me and oh so fun but I’m getting it now – we’ve gotta sleep. I’m on it, promise.

Thank you for sensual pleasures. Hugs, chocolate, orgasms and massages would be nothing without you.

You have many admirable functions, but lately my highest honor goes to the reproductive system. That is some seriously amazing work you do there. Thank you for growing our beautiful son, seemingly out of nowhere, and for birthing him so gracefully. Kudos too on bouncing back after our recent hard times. I can’t wait to see what wonders you have in store for us in that department.

Also – nice tits. Seriously. I knew we had a nice rack before but the last two years of breastfeeding have made me understand the true beauty of boobies. Not every woman has the smooth run we’ve had (no pun intended) – I don’t take it for granted.

Thank you for coming to yoga classes with me all these years, twisting and jumping and stretching and balancing. The practice we’ve built through all our extremes – big, smaller, fit, not-so-much, tired, energized and everything in between – is a testament to what we can do when we work together.

Which brings me to breathing. Thank you for inhaling and exhaling, no matter what. Even when I was convinced as a kid that I didn’t breathe. Even when I made it hard for you by smoking for all those years. On top of the oxygen and whatnot, this constant flow is a source of awakening for me. Always there, always available to bring me back to the present moment.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to find the point where I end and you begin. It’s a fuzzy line, I know. Often I forget it exists altogether, and I get myself all confused thinking that I’m you or that you’re me. And so instead of appreciating how I would be nothing without you, I get bummed out about stretch marks and a few extra kilos and some bags under my eyes. I promise to work on that, for all of the reasons above.

You rock. I love you.

Elana xoxo

My Muddled Up Sandwich of Grief

My Muddled Up Sandwich of Grief

Yesterday marked two months since I had the procedure to terminate my third pregnancy. My second miscarried at 6 weeks earlier last year. My first was about as successful as they get – GG turned two last week.

In the days that followed that horrible ultrasound, I was in shock. I cried and I was sad, but overall I felt okay. I talked a lot about gratitude, acceptance and counting my blessings. And that was important – to get me through everything I needed to endure that week. Somehow I eased back into regular life, unsure if maybe I hadn’t cried enough, felt enough, mourned enough.

And then a month later, there it was. A big-ass emotional crash. I cried more – a lot more. I was plagued by thoughts like “maybe there’s something really wrong with me” and “three years ago I was normal and now I’m broken” and plenty of “fuck fuck fuck, I can’t believe that happened!”

I was obsessed with giving it a name, explaining what was going on. I’d been fine and now I was losing my shit – what the hell? I kept googling the Stages of Grief and getting myself all muddled up, trying to figure out where I fell in the process. This cartoon I found in such a googling frenzy seemed to sum up the accepted process:

The-5-stages-of-grief1-e1373497045473

But it didn’t feel like that to me. I wasn’t going through stages – I was just grieving. Layers of sadness on top of denial spread with shock, and some acceptance sprinkled on top. It’s not a five-part course with an “over it” certificate at the end. It’s a grief sandwich.

I accepted both pregnancy losses pretty early on, straight away even – to some degree. And yet denial lingers. A part of me looks forward to getting pregnant again as getting “back on track” – rather than starting a totally separate pregnancy. I still wear maternity clothes sometimes. Okay, most of the time. I say they’re just more comfortable (and they are), but I wonder. It’s like I’m just holding my breath, hoping to put three pregnancies together to make one healthy baby.

That crash last month – that was depression. I mean, I would use the word sadness rather but either way, I was feeling the loss in my heart – and it made the whole world around me look horrible. It was a heavy, dark feeling in my stomach that bubbled to the surface and stuck around for a good couple of days. And with those feelings came a serving of anger, too – though it probably didn’t get directed at the right source. Sorry dear husband.

What I’ve realized in the weeks since is that the labels don’t matter. I’ve made an effort to create some space for these feelings to come up and play themselves out – time that I’m not at work or with GG. Lots of yoga and good food and even some time alone when I can snatch it. A quick getaway with my husband and this stunning view worked wonders:
 

Looking out over the Ramon Crater

It’s a weird kind of grief, this pregnancy loss. So disappointing and sad, and yet tinged with hope – for the next one. The truth is – I think my acceptance will only be complete once I have a healthy baby in my arms. Hopefully sooner rather than later. In the meantime, this is where I’m at – still in the thick of it but better and better every day.

Who I Am, Today

Who I Am, Today

It seems that every time I’m in a transition period, I get the urge to write. I notice more and more words swirling around in my head, forming themselves into sentences and paragraphs and blog posts. Begging me to let them out. Elaborate metaphors and repetitive musings on the perfect headline.

I am a writer, after all.

This blog, in its first incarnation as The Juggling Act was born as I took part in a 10-day Vipassana meditation course, while I was in between jobs and about to settle down with my now-husband. I was bubbling with inspiration to share what I learned on that course with the world. More recently I changed the name to Mama in the Moment, in the midst of two pregnancy losses, a reinvigorated mindfulness practice, and endless hours fun and learning with our two-year-old son GG.

Why am I telling you all this?

As part of my most recent push to get this blog off the ground, I signed up for a Blogging University course, Blogging 101. This is my first assignment: to write and publish a “who I am and why I’m here” post.

So, who am I? 

I can tell you who I am today – it’s not exactly who I was yesterday and I’m making no promises about tomorrow. Well, tomorrow I’ll probably just be one day older, but who knows what happens next week or next month.

I am a mother. A mother trying to be as mindful and intentional about raising my beautiful son as possible. I believe that respect and communication are the most crucial parts of this budding relationship. I question what we’re doing and how we’re doing it all the time, whether my poor husband likes it or not. I love being a mother.

I am a writer, of sorts. At the moment I am the Editor in Chief of a happy nonprofit site called Goodnet.org – check it out; I like to think there’s something fun and inspiring for everyone at any given time. I also blog, here.

I am a wife, a daughter, a sister and a granddaughter.

I am a friend. I like to think I’m a pretty good friend, but the past couple of years have made me question that at times. I used to be incredibly social – out all the time and in touch with dozens of friends at a given time. It was a juggling act that I loved dearly, but not surprisingly I haven’t been able to keep it up since having a kid. I cherish the moments when my girlfriends and I do catch up and I laugh like I haven’t laughed since I stopped smoking pot. Those laughs nourish my soul.

I believe that meditation and yoga – and probably many other contemplative practices – hold the key to true happiness. The thought of more and more people using these tools to sort their minds out – me and mine included – makes me happy and hopeful.

I was born Jewish, but recently I’ve been thinking about coming out as a Buddhist. Shh… don’t tell the rabbi. I’m guessing there will be a post or two on that when I’m ready.

I am a woman, and proud of it. More and more so over the past couple of years, with my initiation into the weird and wonderful world of motherhood. The female body is amazing. I wish I felt that way about my own body 100% of the time – I’m working on it.

Elana Goldberg
This is me, right now: 9:25pm, on the couch, probably mere minutes away from sleep. Nice to meet you!

Well, that was a rant.

Next question:

What topics do you think you’ll write about?

Meditation, mindfulness, parenting, pregnancy, health, yoga, family, relationships and women’s business. Not in that particular order.

Who would you love to connect with via your blog?

I’d love to connect with mindful people around the world – mothers or otherwise. People who want to see the best in themselves and the people around them. Honest, thoughtful, beautiful people.

If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what do you hope to accomplish?

This is an important question – and again I can only answer for right now.

At the moment, I’m writing to polish my voice – in terms of my writing and also something deeper. I feel that I have a message to share, and I’m working on building the strength and confidence to shout it from the proverbial rooftops and feel okay with whatever happens after that. Some days it seems like the most natural thing in the world to do, other days it fills me with fear. If I blog successfully through the next year, I’d hope there would be more of the first kind of days.

From a more analytical perspective, I’d also like to grow my reader-base. I recently opened a Facebook page for this blog and I’m loving seeing the community develop there, too. So if what you’re reading here speaks to you – I’d love for you to either follow the blog or join me over on Facebook.

And that’s the end of the assignment! How did I do?

The Internet is My Best Friend 

The Internet is My Best Friend 

I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for the Internet. There, I said it.

And no, I’m not talking about my work – that’s obvious. I’m talking about where I am as a person – a woman, a mother, a wife, a mindful being of sorts.

In the modern-day discourse on mindfulness, technology gets a bad rap – but it’s not that simple. With skillful use, I find the Internet can be an invaluable tool for growth, research, connection and healing. It’s gotta be used in moderation – like anything else – but seriously, the Internet is my best friend.

The Internet started making its way into this special place in my heart around the time I found out I was pregnant with GG. It was then, among fits of obsessive googling, that I began to connect with my tribe. On forums and blogs and Facebook groups I found women saying things that made sense to me. As I researched natural birth and delayed cord clamping and hypnobirthing and breastfeeding, I started to find my place in this jungle of information. I found trusted sources and voices. I came across points of view that challenged me to my core, opinions that aligned with my own and everything in between. I prepared for what was to come.

And then when GG was born, and I became couch-bound for hours at a time while breastfeeding – the Internet was always there for me. Whether it was texting with two close friends who also had babes in arms, sending photos to my family and friends back in Australia or continuing with the new mother version of the previously mentioned obsessive googling – again, this technology was a lifesaver.

The relationship developed in the months that followed – I shared video clips of first foods and first steps and first words, researched imagined diseases then calmed myself, and found resources for sleep training and night weaning. The Internet was a library that was always open and accessible.

But it was when things got rough that the Internet was really there for me. When I was diagnosed with pelvic organ prolapse, when I miscarried and most recently when I had to terminate a pregnancy for medical reasons – those were the times when the true healing power of this medium were became apparent to me. When Facebook groups and blogs took on the role of therapist and support group rather than just a friend with all the info.

One by one, often as I shared my experiences, friends and friends of friends introduced me to the most amazing support groups on Facebook – most notably one for pelvic organ prolapse and another for trying to conceive and pregnancy after loss. Whether I’m asking questions and hearing back from other members or passively following threads, these groups make me realize that I’m not alone – on a daily basis. I feel instantly supported just knowing that there are women going through similar things to me – all over the world. At all different stages in their lives and journeys.

And in the blog world too, brave women sharing their beautifully written stories have sent out a virtual embrace. Whether its reading about their losses – some similar to mine, some different, all painful and real and raw – or stages that are yet to come for me, there’s a bond of womankind that flows through these digital pages. I’m so thankful for it, and proud to be a part of it.

This online community also reminds me of the importance of my ties with real-life women offline. From reading stranger’s stories I’ve come to understand my friends better – a miscarriage is not a miscarriage; there are many different ways that these stories can play out. I’ve also learned how telling my story can encourage others to tell theirs – and the beautiful connections and conversations that flow from there.

So I guess really it’s these women who leave traces of themselves out there on the Internet for others to find – they’re my real best friends. The words of women who have grown from grief and adversity give me the strength to look forward to the path ahead – to keep a positive outlook and find happiness in the here and now.

The Internet is just a brilliant vehicle.