Reflections on Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Tuesday, October 7, 2014 0

I’ve had Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In on my bedside table these past few days.  I am a bit surprised by how much criticism she received when it hit the shelves back in March of 2013.  I don’t find it as obtrusive as some have made it out to be.  For me she was writing to a very particular group of women.

 

It’s not for women who are totally content and happy with a low-key job.  Low-key does not mean second class.  Everybody has their niche.

 

It’s not for women who are totally content to have left or plan on leaving their job to stay at home with their kids (work at home as Sheryl fittingly puts it).  That decision is a beautiful one if you feel it’s the right one for you and your family.

 

Who this book is for is women who love their career, perhaps even hope to reach for the stars with it, and also want to have kids.

 

It’s for women who want a career and motherhood and are not sure how to make those things jive simultaneously- or who wonder if that’s even a possibility.

 

It’s for women who feel they will have to step down when they have kids, not because they really want to but because they feel they have no other choice.

 

It’s a great read if you feel you are one of those women.

 

By no means are her words the definitive for everyone, but she provides a voice for the other half of the conversation.  And a voice that I think is really important for a woman-and society- to hear.  We have heard either directly or indirectly from much of our culture that you cannot be a “good mother” and reach great heights in your career at the same time.  That something has to give.  You simply have to choose.

 

And Sheryl is saying no.   No you don’t, and here is why.

 

Reflections on Sheryl Sandberg's book Lean In | Smart Sexy Birth Blog www.allysonakers.com

 

There are so many good things to chew on in this book but I will fast forward to what I recently read that struck my fancy.

 

Sheryl included a piece of research that showed on the average a full time working mama actually spends more time with her kids than a stay at home mama did with her kids back in 1975.

 

Now isn’t that funny?  We go on and on about the good ol’ days……..you know, when we had more time.  More time to spend with our families and friends.  More time to “to do things”.

 

The research explains this shift with the observation that most modern families today do, well, family things on the weekends where as “back in the day” couples did things separately, sans kiddos.

 

So we spend more time with our kids but get divorced on a flip.

 

Ha! No, no, just kidding.  That messy topic is way more complicated.  But it does make you wonder, why are we so darn obsessed with time? Especially spending time with our kids?  Because apparently we do spend time with the kids!  So why does it always feel like it’s not enough?  What part of our culture is feeding this idea to us?  Where in the world does it come from?

 

Something to chew on this week.  Can’t wait to hear your views!

 

love and light your way,

Allyson

Every woman is a god

Saturday, October 4, 2014 0

Every woman is a god when she becomes a mother | Smart Sexy Birth Blog | #birthquotes

Great quote right?  I came across this on the Storq instagram account.  I do believe they have the single greatest compilation of birth and motherhood quotes EVER.  The photos tagged with them are just as fun.  Lots of public personas and celebs from all sorts of decades sportin’ their bumps and kiddos. Check it out here.  And has anyone out there used Storq products?  I’m digging the concept, check it out for yourself here. xoxo Allyson

Motherhood Funk

Thursday, August 7, 2014 1

Me and the boys took a long drive West this past weekend and I spent a lot of time reflecting on my experience of motherhood thus far.

The monotony of motherhood hit me pretty hard, flat out, immediately after my first birth.  I felt the funk deep in my bones from the get go.  Stuck in that beige place of “what the hell happened to me?” mode.  Social media did not serve me well in those heavy days.  People were out saving the world, carving creations of every marvel out of their lives, or so it seemed, while I got up, changed diapers, made food, cleaned the mess, put babe down for nap- rinsed and repeated. ALL. DAY. LONG. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  To this child that I had wanted yet not planned for.

And actually I shouldn’t mislead you, the cleaning part happened mostly in my head.

The reality was that I was too damn tired.  Yes, on a physical note that can only be understood until you experience it but, more poignantly, I was tired in the depths of my heart.  I was sucked dry.  Sucked by what?  Thats a good question.  But the reality was: me sitting on the sofa looking at this babe, to then what evolved into two babes, wondering what in the hell I was doing with my life?  Was this it?  This was all that there was and ever going to be?  Was I just a fool?

Motherhood Funk | Smart Sexy Birth Blog www.allysonakers.com

So then, naturally, being a human in the postmodern era I began to say “it’s me that is the problem, I’m broken, I’m fucked up.”

“I’m not trying hard enough.”

So off I go clambering to get my hands on any book, blog, state of purchased mind to make me all better. Fix me.

And it didn’t.

And there I am again sitting on the couch, drenched in the funk.

No matter how much I willed myself to find grace in the little things of life, I just couldn’t.  There was this unease, this restlessness, that just would not go away and it haunted me for nearly my whole first three years experience of motherhood.

Postpartum depression? I’m sure.  I thought about taking medicine a lot.  Should I have?  Perhaps.

But now my oldest son is nearly four and for the first time in my entire life I smell, perhaps ever so taste, an ease of this whole motherhood thing. Ease perhaps is not the most fitting term.  Because it still is not easy.  It still is not natural.  But there is a Peace.  A Peace in being a woman who is a mother to these particular children.  A Peace in being a woman who is a wife to this particular man.  A Peace in being a woman who is living this particular life, on this particular journey, in this particular moment in time.

So as I’m driving towards the Great Plains, I wonder, what is it that makes it so different now?  What awareness have I been gifted, or at all?  It must be something good for I find the greatest Truths are the ones that are the hardest to form words around.  They cannot be intellectualized but quietly yet profoundly sensed deep down in the crevices of our souls.

Perhaps I now know:

That motherhood did not cover me up but actually stripped me of my ignorance to my true state of being.  The weight of suffering was not a causation of becoming a mother, but had actually, much to my dismay, always been there.  Stepping into the role of Mother had only catapulted it to the surface, gasping for air.  Once I swallowed that hard medicine and found gratitude for it, something shifted.

Perhaps I now know:

That the worst way to get through something, is to force or fight it.  It is right that we must take responsibility for our lives but the other half of that story is that we must also let go.  Did you know that the worst thing you can do when hit by a wave is to frantically swim?  You can get so turned around in the pounding that you may end up taking yourself deeper.  The first thing to do is to let it hit you.  Roll with it, not against it.  Then you look for the light and swim towards it….often you’ll find the water will take you to the surface without you even having to try. But you have to trust it first. If you cannot find the Trust in your journey you will exhaust yourself.

Perhaps I now know:

That the whole reason we call motherhood a journey is because it is.  A journey.  Filled with long roads of various terrains and seasons.  If you do not have winter, how do you know what spring is?  If you do not have darkness how can you recognize the light?  We are addicted to happiness in this era of our time.  Happiness is not the point.  Happiness hangs out in the same category as anger and pride.  You want to get to a place beyond all that.  How do you do that?  Invite the very thing in that you so despise.  Feel like rubbish? Befriend it.  Feel an emptiness with no name?  Nurse her with love.  Be your own best friend.

What would you add?

All my love,

xoxo

Allyson

Is That After-Baby Tummy Bulge Actually A Diastasis Recti?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 0

There is a silent epidemic hitting postpartum women all over the U.S.  It’s called Diastasis Recti, a condition where the front surface muscles of your belly seperate.  I called upon renowned expert Melissa McElroy, PT, DPT, a trained Physcial Therapist from Bellarmine University who specializes in Women’s Health and Male/Female Pelvic Dysfunction to fill us in on how to prevent a Diastasis Recti, how to tell if you have it, and what to do if you suspect it.

 

 

The scoop on Diastasis Recti on the Smart Sexy Birth Blog

So what exactly is Diastasis Recti and what causes it?

Diastasis Recti (DR) is a separation of the rectus abdominis muscle (think 6-pack muscle) midline down your abdomen, causing stretching and compromise to the connective tissue surrounding it. In general, this stretch and separation is caused by continuous or chronic repetitive pressure or force on the structures/ increased tension on the abdominal wall. This occurs in pregnancy, with increased incidence into the 3rd trimester when prolonged forces against the abdomen are greater.

image via

 

 

What problems can occur if left untreated?

One of the primary functions of the rectus abdominis muscle and its associated connective tissue is support and compression of the abdominal organs as well as counter-balancing the muscles of the back. If left untreated, a DR can lead to chronic low back pain, pelvic organ prolapse (bladder falling, uterus falling), incontinence and hernias, as well as pelvic instability and increased incidence of pain with subsequent pregnancies.

 

How often do you see it in your practice and why do you think it has become so common?

Almost everyone who comes into our clinic (male or female) is tested for a DR because it is extremely common. I don’t think that there is necessarily an increased incidence of DR compared to 5/10/20 years ago, but I do think that it’s finally being given the attention that it desperately deserves.

 

So you are saying it has always been an issue for women, but that we have lagged in addressing it postpartum?

Yes.  This is one reason why I’m seeing women who’s children are older/grown who come in due to prolapse issues; because their DR was never properly addressed.

 

Why is there such a massive gap in screening for it postpartum?

I feel that post-partum care as a whole is lacking in the US. As a society (medical and otherwise) we shift our focus to baby as soon as he/she arrives, often forgetting that the mother’s body went through a wonderful but traumatic event to bring baby into the world.

 

How do you know if you have it?

There is a simple test that can be easily performed at home. It can be done on your own, but it’s highly recommended that you have a friend or significant other perform the testing instead.

The patient lies on her back with knees bent and feet resting on the ground. The tester (friend/family member) places his/her fingertips into the belly button with their hand perpendicular to the abdomen. Then the patient is asked to raise her head off the ground while reaching with her hands towards her toes.   A measurement is given based on how many fingers fit between the ridges that the abdomen makes when the patient raises her head. The test should be repeated above and below the belly button as well.

A positive DR is a measurement more than one fingertip’s width. Research is varying when determining how many finger widths should be considered “significant”. My thought is, if you’re worried enough to be testing yourself then you may just want to get things checked out by a professional.

 

If a woman suspects it, what should her next step be?

First and foremost, DO NOT TRY TO DO CRUNCHES. This will NOT, I repeat, will NOT help. It will most likely make it worse. If you suspect that you have a DR then find a physical therapist that treats it and go in for an evaluation.

 

What are some of the things that a woman should do, or more importantly, should NOT do, day to day?

Like I said before, your typical ab exercises (crunches, sit-ups, leg raises) could make your DR worse, so please don’t do them! (Obviously, if you are under the care of a licensed medical provider who is familiar and experienced treating DR and they have you performing a plank or leg lifts then maybe you’ve advanced to where its appropriate. For most of us, however, just stay away). Other day-to-day activities that you should be paying attention to are getting in and out of bed, getting in and out of a car, throwing laundry in the dryer, lifting the kids, lifting anything with weight to it. No forceful bending, raising up (like out of a recliner) or rotation. The general rule of thumb is, if your belly bulges when performing the activity then it needs to be stopped or modified so that there is no belly bulge with activity.

 

Is there anything a woman can do to prevent DR while she is pregnant?

Gernerally, the better core control/core strength you have prior to pregnancy and the more you work your core muscles (with appropriate exercise) during pregnancy the better off you will be. Does this mean that if you have a 6-pack before pregnancy that you won’t develop a DR? NO. Does this mean that you won’t get a DR if you work out daily during your pregnancy? Sorry, No. But you will be more apt to better rehab and recovery.

 

Is there an online resource a woman can use to locate therapists who specialize in treating Diastasis Recti in her area?

The American Physical Therapy Association’s Website: www.apta.org has a “Find a PT” page that you could search for a PT who specializes in Women’s Health. That would be my first recommendation. However, there are a lot of PTs who aren’t listed in that database, so my next recommendation would be to talk with your OB/Gyn or local general PT to see if there is anyone that he/she recommends.

 

Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us Melissa!  If you are in the Louisville, KY area and would like to make an appointment with Melissa you can find her at Dunn Physical Therapy.

For more information and some visuals on how to test and what it looks like check out: www.Fit2B.com.

 

So ladies lets spread the awareness!  Post this to your FB page through the link below and make sure all your girlfriends read it!

 

I want to know from you! Had you heard of DR before and did your ob or midwife check you for it postpartum?

 

Hugs and kisses to you all!

xoxo

Allyson