When I had my first son, Cuen, in 2012, I had a 30+ hour labor, 4+ hours of pushing, an emergency c-section and then my little baby went through his first six weeks of life rarely sleeping and always crying. I. WAS. EXHAUSTED. I also had gained 60 pounds without even trying and felt isolated and uncomfortable in my stretched out body.
We eventually figured out that my breast milk production was low and began supplementing with formula. All of a sudden our little babe began to sleep and giggle and so did I. As I caught up on more sleep I began losing those 60 pounds. By his first birthday I was happy, healthy, emotionally stable and . . . pregnant again.
Again?!?! I was just beginning to feel like I was standing on solid ground after my first birth experience and pregnancy and now I had to do it all again.
This time, however, I was prepared: I was going to exercise more and eat healthier to avoid the excessive weight gain. I was going to plan a c-section to avoid the trauma and exhaustion of not being able to push out my baby (I was not a good VBAC candidate), and I was going to start pumping immediately to avoid half-starving my little babe.
I had all of these plans for self-care planned out-- and believe me, I followed through. I exercised more. Ate even healthier. I planned that c-section. I started pumping on Day 3 after birth.
And guess what?
I gained the 60 pounds anyway.
I was still a bit traumatized by the c-section experience (surgery is a BIG DEAL) and by how the hospital treated me (I couldn't hold or see my baby until I got the feeling back in my LEGS. WTF? I had just been cut in half. I wasn't going to walk away. And I certainly wasn't going to be holding him with my legs. He was two hours old before I got see or hold him. Hmmph.)
I still had low breast milk production and stopped breastfeeding at 3 weeks.
Nothing turned out the way I wanted it to, despite my best self-care efforts.
But you know what? My self-care efforts were STILL a success.
I was better equipped to heal from the c-section because my body was in great shape and good health, despite a 60 pound weight gain. I slept better and recovered faster because I didn't push myself to "try" to have a natural birth despite the trauma of my first attempt. I gave breastfeeding my best shot but I gave myself permission to stop once it became obvious that my production was actually decreasing. I also gave myself permission to never feel guilty about it -- And I haven't wasted a single moment feeling guilty about it either.
My number one self and spiritual care tip is: Know Thyself.
These words are written on an ancient stone where the Greek Oracle of Delphi gave her oracular messages. These words are the driving force behind today's modern scene of personal development and self-actualization.
But I don't mean to sound trite. When you know yourself, you know when to surrender. You know when to stop. You know what move to make next or you know not to move. More importantly, when you know yourself, you know you can't give a f*ck about what other people think they know. When you don't give a f*ck about what other people think, you don't experience any shame or guilt about your decisions either. When you don't take on shame and guilt you are enacting self-care. And around and around this vivacious cycle goes.
"Know Thyself" is also the driving force behind everything I do here at The Copper Scarab, especially when it comes to dreamwork. It's why I created a dream journal and magical journaling process. It's why I have a course on dreams. It's why I offer mentoring on dreamwork. NOTHING can give us more insight into ourselves and our own psyche the way dreams can. Nothing.
In love and sacred darkness,