Category Archives: Girl Power

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Here we are at nearly 39 weeks. The nursery is ready. The house is ready. We’ve read books, we’ve mentally prepared, we have bags partially packed, ingredients on hand to make homemade cookies for our labor team once it’s go-time, and I’ve got all my postpartum care supplies ready and waiting. Waiting. That is what we have left to do.

Since starting to practice yoga, I’ve been fairly in tune with my body and aware of any changes. This makes the waiting even more frustrating as I can feel all these subtle changes, but at the same time there is no precise sign that says “hey, this is happening today or tomorrow, or not until next week.” I’m noticing more of a pronounced waddle – which is my hips expanding and opening in preparation for birth, an observation which is corroborated by my fabulous chiropractor who has noticed increased movement in my pelvic region. I can feel Baby G has dropped. His feet, which used to jut out to the left when looking down at my stomach as he stretched out, now they stretch out farther up into my rib cage indicating he has more vertical room and his head has descended. I have to pee every. 30. minutes. At least!

What triggers labor is still a mystery, but apparently it is the precise combination of hormones from both mom and baby. I have to trust that when Baby G is ready, and even though I might feel ready maybe my body just isn’t quite there yet, that this incredible process will begin. So for now, I just need to keep busy and find a few new projects to keep myself distracted.

Luckily, I have my writing as an outlet. So, for the next few days I’ll talk about my experience with pregnancy, what we’ve found helpful, the birth we have in mind, the resources we’ve engaged, and anything else I can think to offer. That being said, pregnancy and birth is an incredibly personal experience. I’m sharing mine in the hopes others might find the information helpful, but not in any way from the view point that this is the “right” way. It is *a* way, and what has worked for me personally given my background, experiences, and values.

The most important thing to remember, and which I remind myself of constantly, is that I have to listen to my body and my intuition. Take what serves you, leave the rest. This is when it comes to advice from friends and family, from that expert in the book, and even when it comes to your care providers. Certain things are absolutely necessary, others can stand some questioning and may even be avoided if that is what you feel is right for you and your pregnancy.

If I were to impart only one nugget of advice, I recommend finding an experience that makes you feel involved, empowered and informed.

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The Things I Do For Love

Long-time readers of this blog, or knowers of me, are well aware that I have a severe needle phobia. Actually, to call it a needle phobia is an understatement. I have a crippling fear of any kind of medical work which involves me, my blood, pointy objects extracting my blood or touching my skin, and doctors in general. So, deciding to get pregnant was the ultimate in forced therapy. After a few months of actual cognitive therapy, some intensive internal work, and good medication, at 28 weeks pregnant I was able to accomplish my first ever blood draw. And I mean ever. Nearly 30 years of life and I’d escaped with no more than a finger prick or two and no shots since middle school.

After jumping that hurdle, I thought when my nurse midwife told me I should get a Tdap vaccine to help protect Baby G from pertussis (whooping cough), that it would be no sweat. Then, she told me they didn’t offer them at the birth center due to requirements around storing vaccines, so I could just pop into a CVS or Target – really any pharmacy, and just get one. That’s when I started to get nervous. It is one thing to face your fear in a nicely decorated room with a nurse midwife you’ve been bonding with over the past few months, some relaxing music, effective medication, and your husband squeezing your hand. It is another to walk up to a Publix pharmacist and ask them to perform a procedure on you in the middle of a grocery store which is literally the thing you fear most in the entire world. Like, seriously. I can’t undersell this. I’m so okay with child birth, and totally terrified of a tiny needle. Why? Because one is totally my body going into action and doing something it was programmed to do. The other is trusting someone else to inflict pain on my body for ultimately good reasons. It’s a mental thing. Totally mental.

So, yesterday was the day. Although he probably didn’t need it, I asked Brian to go with me and get one too. I then asked him to go first, totally chickened out myself, violently ugly cried, and told him this wasn’t happening. Poor Publix pharmacist. Probably the worst day of work he ever had. He was super nice and patient though. Mad props to Publix. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to do it, honestly, except for the nurses I’d been working with at my birth center. So we left the pharmacy area. I was so mad at myself, but just couldn’t face my fear. We go to check out (because we also came to buy groceries, duh), and I’m just mentally berating myself. The check out lady starts looking at Brian like he is a horrible person because my face is all red from my ugly cry. I can’t stand to hear her kindly asking if I’m okay, so I stalk off to the bathroom to give myself a pep talk.

“You can do this,” I say. “You will not let your baby be 1 of the 20 who die each year because you can’t handle a stupid prick which will take less than 5 seconds of your life. You are going to get back out there, walk up to the counter, and let Ryan (the pharmacist) give you this damn shot.”

And I did. Because already, I love this damn kid more than anything in the world. And although the chance might be a tiny one, whatever I can do to protect him where I can, I’m going to do it. And, just like my dad and mom used to do for me when I got those shots back in the day, I treated myself to ice cream after.

View More: http://amyeroberts.pass.us/guildmaternity

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FlyWheel GlowRide – Like a rave, but with bikes instead of drugs

Earlier this week I wrote about my experience at BodyRock with Trophy Wife Fitness as part of the Yelp Quirks Out event series. I’ve been enjoying fun, ‘quirky’ workouts from fine fitness facilities all over Charlotte, and my experience at FlyWheel for their GlowRide event was every bit as fun as my evening with the TWF ladies – but this time we had glowsticks, and bikes. The last spin class I took was at the YMCA over five years ago. I was looking forward to giving FlyWheel a try because I have always enjoyed spin. This time I decided to do a little research before the class so I knew what I was getting into. After an evening with Jiya and the TWF ladies, I didn’t know whether to expect a nice, safe spin class or an impromptu booty shaking session. I wanted to be prepared.

Our instructor for the evening was Jenna, and she was adorable with a capital A and the energy turned ALL the way up.  From the moment I clipped into my bike with my fluorescent yellow necklaces and bracelets emitting a healthy glow, she started getting us pumped to spin. The lights went out, the music volume was jacked up, and looking into the mirror on the opposite wall all I could see was discombobulated glow jewelry in tones of purple, pink, yellow and blue. After a brief tutorial on how to adjust torque and RPMs, as well as how to  keep an eye on our Power output for the class so we could compare ourselves to our peers on the leader board (hey, nothing like a healthy bit of competition!), we were off. We jammed out to classics such as Pour Some Sugar on Me and some hip hop that I can’t recall the name of but thoroughly enjoyed. Jenna encouraged us to pace with the beat, and it was easy to do with the bass pumping loud in our ears.

Did I mention Jenna’s energy? She was right there with us the whole time, but with the added challenge of talking through the entire workout. The most amazing part is she hardly even sounded winded. I loved that we incorporated some upper body exercises into the class. They had a three and five pound bar weight you could easily grab from in the ‘saddle’ as they called it, and we did a brief but challenging series of bicep curls, tricep dips, and shoulder presses all while keeping our legs moving.

I thoroughly enjoyed the class, and the facilities were nice with towels and shoes offered to members. They have an easy check-in system and bike assignment so you aren’t lost searching for a bike. You can even track your stats using their online portal. Best part – they offered all participants a chance to come back again for another spin class or to try out FlyBarre. I’ll be booking my next class soon!

GlowRide

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Trophy Wife Fitness – It’s not what you think

Over the past two weeks I’ve been participating in a great event series from our local Yelp community called Yelp Quirks Out. My first event was a BodyRock class with Trophy Wife Fitness. To be honest, when I saw a two week period filled with fun, free workouts – I didn’t really pay too much attention to what I was signing up for. I saw key words like “trophy wife,” “aerial silks” and “sunset yoga,” and I signed up as fast as I could before the events filled up. Beyond reading the tagline, I didn’t do much research into what I was getting myself into. To put it simply, Jiya’s class was not at all what I imagined (but in a good way.)

The term “trophy wife” conjures – for me at least – an image of a slender, probably blonde, woman in a Lululemon ensemble with a huge rock on her finger, I expected leg lifts, maybe some squats, and most definitely an obligatory set of crunches. I wasn’t too pumped for Bethany Frankel to lead me through calisthenics, but hey – free workout? I’ll take it.

Jiya and her front line of ladies blew my image of Trophy Wife Fitness out of the water, and now when I think TW I see a beautiful, vibrant, and booty shakin’ goddess. That’s exactly what we did – or in my case, attempted to do. We shook our booties for 45 minutes to loud, powerful female vocals and had way too much fun doing it. The energy and enthusiasm in the room was infectious. It was impossible not to smile, laugh at my lack of both hips and rhythm, and just keep shaking it as hard as I could.

And as far as the intensity of the workout? I was sore for three days. Specifically in my *ahem* booty area. Those under the butt muscles (you know the ones), butt cheek muscles, and inner thigh muscles all had that nice, tortuous ache that simultaneously makes you super proud and super not into moving for awhile.

I’m looking forward to mixing up my regular yoga routine with some more TWF in the future.

Yelp Quirks Out BodyRock TWF

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Porn isn’t something you expect to come up in church

Recently Brian and I have started attending church together. I specify *together* because Brian had been going without me. A Catholic and an agnostic Buddhist, we make an interesting pair. I’m not sold on the whole ‘Jesus is my savior’ bit yet, but I can’t help but notice a few common trends among those in my life who I want to be more like. My aunt and her husband have an amazing, long-lasting marriage where they are really in it together (I wrote an earlier post about how beautiful their love is, in fact). I want that. They are also deeply involved in their church. The friends of ours I find myself drawn to the most and who have such positivity and radiating awesomeness tend to be church-goers. I want to be more like them. The kids I tend to like the most actually enjoy going regularly to church. I want my kids to turn out like that.

So I figure, even if I am on the fence, it can’t hurt to try. Now, that being said, I’m difficult. I don’t like doing things the way ‘most people’ do them. I don’t like to accept things because ‘that’s the way it is,’ and I have a bit of a short attention span. Catholic mass just wasn’t for me. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is a beautiful ritual for those raised and ingrained in it, but it bores me to tears. No – to go to church regularly I needed a little more excitement and stimulation. We are still in the courting phase, but I’m pretty sure I’ve found my church. You want to know why? Because last Sunday we talked about porn.

This is a conversation I would never have expected to find at Sunday service. Maybe in small group, or in individual study, but laying it all out there on a Sunday morning with 50-75 of your best acquaintances was never something I would have expected. I loved it. I loved that the pastor wasn’t afraid to put out a tough topic – to force a conversation about something we all avoid confronting. Especially as someone looking to join myself body and soul with another human being, these are the scary questions that need to be asked. The other awesome thing is, that I actually learned a lot. For example, did you know that viewing pornography has the same impact on the reward center of your brain as shooting heroin? It causes a release of feel-good hormones that cause you to become addicted. And, also like heroin, the more you watch, the more you need to satisfy the craving. The scary part is that not only do you become addicted, but your brain actually bonds to the images, the pixels, on the screen. It’s the whole Pavlov’s dogs scenario, but instead of a bell and some steak… well I’ll keep this PG-13, but you get the idea. What this does is actually prevent you from having a deep, intimate and satisfying relationship with your partner as they can never provide the same gratification as the images on the screen.

Over lunch today with my step dad, (who I refer to as daddy #2 because I lucked out and have the privilege to have a bonus dad in my life), we were talking a bit about my recent church experience and he brought up the valid and thought-provoking point that almost everything you see on TV and in the movies these days is porn. Heck, you walk down the street and you are inundated with images of scantily clad women, provocative scenarios, and even ordinary women walking down the street dressed in ways so as to tempt the eye that dares to wander. Some may say a woman can dress as she pleases and a man just shouldn’t pay attention, but let’s be real here – men will stare. Geez, I will stare at a woman displaying all that God gave her. You just can’t help it. I won’t post the incriminating evidence, but as a wayward teen I too suffered from the backward thinking that any attention was good attention, and I cringe to think of the tight, short, and suggestive articles of clothing I purchased. My parents never really called me on it, but when I utter a “Oh my God what was I wearing,” when flipping through old photos, my mom can’t help but remind me that particular photo isn’t the half of the bad fashion crimes I committed.

Finding the love of a good man who accepts me completely, I find nowadays I blush if my hem line is too high or even a smidge of cleavage peaks through. Maybe I’ve gone too far in the other direction, but I’d happily describe myself as a prude these days. Yes, I may turn less heads and provoke fewer jaw drops – but I don’t need that any more to feel good about myself and my body. I no longer need external validation that I’m beautiful. Brian reminds me every day just by loving me. My hope is that more young women will learn this lesson, and that we can stem the tide of a culture which has taught women that modesty is anti-feminist.

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If you’re the type who gives up on things mid-way through – don’t do that today.

Last night I took my first Kundalini yoga class at Okra yoga studio in Plaza Midwood. It was a night of firsts, as it was also my first time ever at Okra. Luckily I’ve been disciplined in my practice this week so an hour of god-awful uptown traffic to drive all of 8 miles to the new studio didn’t ruin my zen. I’d hoped for a nice 15-20 minutes to get acquainted with the studio, but instead I had to quickly snag a (luckily) open spot across the street and dash in. I was instantly struck by the homey vibe. The studio felt well lived in, like a place you wanted to spend an afternoon sipping tea and chatting yoga with your best friends – or new friends. The yoga room itself spoke to nature and the earth. Curtain rods resembled branches, soft yellow light filled the space, and some sort of essential oil or incense gave the room a soothing scent. I think it may have been lavender. I love that stuff.

This was all quite different from my yoga experience to date. For some context, aside from a few occasions of home practice or catching a class while on vacation, the majority of my practice has been at Arrichion in Southend where the style is hot and the vibe is athletic versus spiritual. I’m addicted to the heat and I love being constantly challenged to become strong – not skinny. Having recently completed the instructional piece of my RYT200 certification, I’ve challenged myself to try new studios and new yoga styles to help define what I want to personally teach and bring to my students.

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Mermaid Pose – one of my challenge poses during RYT200 training.

Kundalini was definitely a departure from everything I’ve practiced before, but I enjoyed it immensely. The focus of the class as described by our instructor, Carly, was to move energy in a precise, specific way through the body – or along our chakras (energy centers.) It is a perfected ‘technology,’ she said. We were warned that as a style of yoga which emerged in the ’70s we may find some of it ‘silly’ but to just do it any way. It would be worth it. It was.

The class consisted of focused breathwork, endurance-challenging holds, deep stretching, and meditative chant. Throughout the emphasis was on opening the heart and at the end we focused our energy at heart center and released it along with well-wishes to the world. We closed with a song, and I may have found my voice mingling with my fellow practitioners to be the most cathartic release of the class. Carly was charming and fun, but she also challenged us exclaiming ‘if you’re the type who gives up on things mid-way through – don’t do that today!’ Those words struck a chord and after class I continued to meditate on what they meant to me. I’ve found I have often set things aside when they became dull, too hard or too easy, unpopular or frustrating. Her words – while not directed at me necessarily – really hit home. I know there most likely won’t be an overnight miracle, but I suspect that next time I’m going to release my yoga pose just as the burn sets in, or I’m thinking about quitting a job, hobby, eating regimen or other personal challenge, I’ll hear Carly’s words in the back of my mind and maybe, just maybe I’ll reconsider and I’ll choose to push through instead of giving up.

Thank you Carly for giving me that gift, and for introducing me to a beautiful new practice. Namaste.

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The day I managed Crow

I took up yoga a little less than two years ago. I’d dabbled here or there, but seriously started my practice after discovering you could do yoga at 104 degrees. Some people might consider subjecting yourself to stifling heat as a tortuous affair, but for me? For me it’s bliss. I love the heat. Maybe the sensation of being warm and floating in liquid (read drenched in sweat) is reminiscent of the womb. Maybe I’ve got issues. Maybe.

Some people practice for spiritual reasons. Some for fitness. Some because it’s trendy. I do it for all of the above and because I’m a control freak. I can control my practice even if I can’t control anything else in my life.  But mainly, I practice because yoga is a time to block out all the other noise and focus on building strength. Mental and physical strength.

Hot yoga isn’t easy. Sometimes it gets so hot I can barely breathe. Contorting my body backwards and forwards, I get nauseous. Some days I can’t make it all the way through and need to take a timeout in child’s pose for a few minutes – some days for the rest of class. The more I practice, the harder it gets and the harder I push myself. Some days I feel like I’m never going to be capable of splits and headstands and balancing only on an elbow — but then, there are days when I do this:

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On these days, I feel I’m only beginning to learn what I’m capable of. I’ve been trying to master Crow for over a year. I thought it was a lost cause. I attended a special Crow University class – a whole hour dedicated to practicing Crow – and I couldn’t get into it for more than a fraction of a second. Maybe three weeks ago I finally managed to hold it for a second or two. Now, I can hold maybe 5-10 seconds. That’s exponential improvement right there.

I’m far from mastering, so far I’ve only managed. I won’t be satisfied until I can hold it the full minute, and I’m not even doing it entirely right yet, but that’s not the point. This was a lesson in not giving up. This was about discovering I can be strong. This was a lesson in the power of commitment and that the things we are most proud of don’t come easy, but instead take time and practice. These are lessons I can apply in every aspect of my life, and I see them illustrated in my practice. Not online, not in a book, not because my mom or best friend or sister said it was possible – but because I lived it. I did it.

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