How are you feeling?
I feel fantastic, mostly. Considering I am six years older in this pregnancy than my last, I’m really enjoying this experience. I have more energy and have been able to keep working out with my Club, which makes me feel incredibly grateful.
You had a traumatic delivery and postpartum recovery with your firstborn, Summer. Can you tell us about the time?
Summer’s labour and delivery were with an OBGYN in the hospital. I was in active labour for the majority of the day and then spent about two-and-a-half hours pushing. The OB informed me that I had been pushing for too long and that they would prepare me for a C-section. Seeing no reason for this, I asked if he could try to help me deliver her vaginally, and he agreed to try with forceps. I was prepared for the C-section anyways (with a spinal), taken to the OR, and she was delivered via forceps, with an episiotomy and third-degree tear. Sadly, all of my fears about delivery had come true, and the postpartum healing period was very difficult for me physically, which took a toll mentally as well. I didn’t get to hold Summer for the first two hours after her birth. I feel that that, combined with the physical trauma, didn’t allow me to enjoy the beginning of motherhood very much. Two years postpartum, I needed to have a perineum repair surgery to fix the muscles internally properly and put them back together. I had to heal, again, bringing up the traumatic experience once more.
I also experienced a traumatic first birth. I remember feeling a huge amount of guilt and anger directed at myself. I think it’s so important mothers understand that it’s in no way their fault. Reflecting on these huge and destructive feelings often resulted in me pushing my loved ones away. How was your support, and did you fully heal from the trauma?
I can totally relate to that. I was upset at myself for a long time, not understanding why I couldn’t just “push her out” myself. When I got pregnant again, I had to start re-living Summer’s birth experience. First by sharing with my midwives, then an OB I was referred to (to see if I could even consider a vaginal delivery), and my doulas. A lot of emotions came up for me that were hard to process. I knew this time I wanted to do everything in my power to make the experience different. Through my journey so far, I have found healing via education and knowledge about natural birth and have made peace with my why-couldn’t-I-just-push-her-out-myself thoughts. I think that knowing better will translate to doing better, and I am now looking forward to this labour experience and seeing how it will unfold.
What advice do you have for mothers experiencing postpartum recovery?
That your body is amazing, no matter which way you birth. It conceived, grew, and birthed a child, and that is a miracle. Resting and recovering, versus trying to “get back to normal life” (like I did the first time), is important and should be prioritized. Asking for help or support around this time isn’t a sign of weakness.
Most post-child-birth repair surgeries are anterior-posterior repairs. Can you tell us how you emotionally felt having to go through repair surgery?
It brought up the trauma of her birth, but I was also looking forward to “feeling normal” again. I think I expected to feel healed afterwards, and while physically I felt better, it didn’t heal the emotional side of the trauma I experienced.
You and your first husband came to terms that you were best as friends than lovers. How did you heal after a divorce, and how did you navigate single motherhood prior to meeting your current partner?
Even though it was the right decision, it was a very difficult and heartbreaking one, with a lot of emotional ups and downs. That being said, I think we both became better parents for our daughter after we separated. We couldn’t rely on each other’s strengths, so we had to grow more of our own. Sharing our time with her 50/50 was more difficult than I expected, but it also gave me the time to rediscover myself and come back home to me prior to meeting my current partner.
How has co-parenting been?
I am very grateful that we have a healthy, child-focused, co-parenting relationship. When it comes to our daughter, we have always communicated and agreed on what is best for her. It helps that we have the same views on nutrition and bedtime (two priorities for me) and have always vowed to share time with her as a family on holidays.
What co-parenting tips can you share for women navigating divorce, and how do you set boundaries with an ex?
Don’t take anything personally—just prioritize your child’s best interest. What is the healthiest, best decision for them should be the common ground and goal, which often means inconveniencing one parent or the other at some point. Communicate with each other and stay in the loop on new words, behaviours, and things to look out for via text when needed. I think boundary-setting looks different for everyone, and comfort levels may evolve with time. Still, as long as both parties are clear on where they are in the relationship and where they are moving to together, there should be no issues as co-parents.
As a mother, it’s essential to take some time out for yourself. How would you recommend mothers, and women in general, do that?
I absolutely agree! As mothers, it’s so easy for us to serve everyone else and ourselves last. I believe in giving yourself time every day to fill your own cup in order to be able to serve others better. If we are drained and empty, what quality of care and attention can we give our children? That may look different for everyone: a relaxing bath; time to journal or meditate; or, my personal favourite, making time to sweat five days a week for 30 mins. It helps clear my mind, destress, elevate my mood, and give me energy.
Now, you’re in an incredible new partnership and expecting your second. How has your second pregnancy differed from your first?
This pregnancy has been such a gift. I feel very connected to this baby, probably because I am more connected to myself and more aware of my body. My fiance is very involved and interested in the pregnancy, and it’s also really cool to share the experience with my daughter, who asks questions and shares her love and excitement to meet her baby sister.
What is/has been your favourite part of being pregnant?
The sleep has been pretty great, and I know that’s coming to an end soon! Haha. I think feeling this little soul grow and move inside me is pretty incredible.
As women, our bodies are ever-changing. Did you struggle with accepting the body changes that came with pregnancy?
Watching my body change with my first pregnancy and postpartum experience, I did struggle a little bit. It was the first time I had ever witnessed my body change in such a significant way. My yoga and fitness journey began five months postpartum and have been such a positive lifestyle change for me that far surpasses just the physical. I am grateful for my body in all its forms because I believe we are so much more than our bodies. Our bodies are the vehicle we have in this life; I made a conscious choice to start treating mine with better care, and it has responded by allowing me to feel better than I ever have in my life. In regards to my aesthetic body, I was in the best shape of my life when I got pregnant and, to be completely honest, I was looking forward to the changes pregnancy would bring because they would mean life is growing inside of me, and I would get to be the vessel for that. Our bodies’ journeys are never linear; these physical changes are a part of “progress,” and I am grateful for it all. I also find pregnancy strangely motivating, so I am looking forward to witnessing it change again through postpartum and beyond.
On that note, not only are our bellies growing but so are our boobs. Bravado Designs makes bras for pregnancy that provide wire-free support at a time when your body is experiencing so much change. They are constructed to stretch several sizes in the band and cup for your belly growth and breast fluctuations. How do you like the bra’s feel?
They are so comfy (and I’m normally a braless type of girl)! They are super soft and have supported my growing boobs, which have been sore on and off throughout this pregnancy.
How would you describe the bras; feminine, comfortable, or both?
Totally both—the clean lines and simplistic design are really feminine combined with comfortable fabric and a supportive band.
How would you describe motherhood?
It’s like having your heart live on the outside of your chest; it’s simultaneously the best and hardest experience ever. Suddenly, you love someone more than you love yourself or anything else in this world. That is powerful.
What’s your morning routine?
First thing, every morning, I have one litre of water with fresh lemon juice and Himalayan salt. I have green tea to follow and then make breakfast for Summer and me. We have a quick snuggle on the couch, and then I teach a class and get my sweat on to set up my day.
Can you tell us a bit about your workout programs and your plant-based recipe eBook?
Yes—I run an online weekly fitness program called the Namastay Sweaty Club, designed to sustainably incorporate movement into your lifestyle, from home, with minimal equipment. All of the classes are 30 minutes long (because we all have 30 mins!) and offer yoga class options as well. I got fit from home postpartum and saw such a positive impact on my mental health and overall wellbeing that I wanted to help others fall in love with moving their bodies and making time for themselves too.
Last June, I put out a 100% plant-based recipe eBook called Namastay Nourished. I really enjoy cooking and always describe my style of eating as “balance, but better”—meaning enjoyable foods but with higher quality, nutritious ingredients. When I met my partner Andrew, he really enjoyed my meals and couldn’t believe they were vegan. He started to encourage me to write them down and share them! Without his support, I never would have put this out, so I’m grateful that he pushed me out of my comfort zone. I’m so proud of it and hope to share my baby and toddler recipes in the future!
What tips do you have for mothers when it comes to working out?
What is your “why”? Because if it’s for the “after” photo, here’s a secret: there’s NO after photo, there is NO destination. The journey IS the reward. Retraining the brain on “why” we feel we need to work out is key. Also, shifting focus to building muscle versus losing weight will improve your body composition, which is linked to overall health and longevity.
Lastly, who’s your Mother Muse?
My mother is an absolute muse because she modelled keeping her own identity while being a badass career woman and raising my brother and me alongside her partner and husband, my dad. She didn’t have many opportunities growing up but forged her way despite it all and worked hard to become who she is, building a life for herself. It’s inspiring, and I am lucky that I get to witness her strength and ability to “have it all,” especially in the generation before ours.