A letter to my body…

Dear Body,

Today I have decided to tell you that I love you. It’s taken me a great many years to figure this out and express it. Sorry. Better late than never, I guess? It’s not about what size jeans I fit in to, or what I look like in a mini dress. It’s about loving you for everything you have done for me, and most of all, it’s about respecting you and your needs.

Thank you for carrying me from adventure to adventure when I was a little girl. So many falls, scrapes, knocks and trips, but you stayed strong. You allowed me to crawl, walk and run. To climb trees, to skip, to play chasey with my friends, to dance and squeal with delight at being able to stay up past dark and play spotlight in the trees. Because of you, I got to play and play until I was breathless and exhausted every day, then crawl into bed and recharge to do it all again the next day.

The teen years – urgh! Horrid puberty, the onset of periods, growing of breasts, explosion of pimples and regular broken hearts. But you stayed strong, despite my stupid idea to take up smoking because it would help me to control my weight and make me look cool – it didn’t of course, but I was too ignorant to understand the damage I was doing to my Bronchitis-plagued and Asthmatic lungs. Consumption of too much diet cola drinks instead of water – my poor, poor kidneys.

My twenties – God bless my kidneys and liver because lord knows they did more than their fair share of work during my twenties. Too much partying, not enough sleep, working too hard and not eating the right foods, drinking enough water or thinking long term about my health, because I was invincible. Although I did give up cigarettes when I was twenty-two ; one of the best things I have ever done. Suddenly, at the age of twenty nine, I realised my body had to last me a life time. A LIFE TIME. Time to wise up. Time to change.

My thirties – despite years of abuse and neglect, and only a few of kindness, you managed to create, grow, deliver and nurture four big, healthy babies in seven years. Four fat little bubbas, each with a huge head (Karma?) and a strong appetite. During this time I was pregnant for a total of three years, I breast fed for a total of four years and lost approximately two years of sleep with their around the clock feeding. But still, not only was my body strong enough to survive extreme sleep deprivation, exhaustion, pregnancy and births, it was strong enough for me to continue all of my other activities, like working, relaxing, being a wife, friend and co-worker as well as a strong return to fitness.

My forties – they’ve only just begun. But it’s now that I realise what an incredible gift I have in my beautiful healthy body. It has stretchmarks from pregnancy, but I like to think of those as tiger stripes. It has separated abdominal muscles from four large bubbas, meaning that tight tops or bikinis are out, but I prefer to think of it as a ‘renovation’ to the home my babies grew in. My thighs have cellulite, but I prefer to think of it as hail damage from weathering all the storms of my past. My hair is greying (prematurely) and my skin is developing lines, but that’s ok because a lot of worry and hard times have gone into those greys, and millions of smiles and laughs have creased my once smooth skin. I don’t look like a supermodel, but then again, I never did, so why beat myself up about it now?

I do Yoga to heal my body from my teens and twenties, from my breeding thirties and to calm the constant chatter in my mind from being a super busy mum, wife, friend and employee. My body needs to last me for, maybe, another forty years, so if it’s falling apart now, what hope does that give me for the state it will be in when I’m fifty, sixty or seventy? No, I love my body. I listen to my body. I am going to do everything in order to ensure my body is in the best possible health for the rest of my life, because, hopefully, that’s going to be a long time. It’s the least I can do for it – considering how much it’s done for me.
Lots of love and gratitude,
Sarah xxx

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, LOVE YOUR BODY.

A beginner’s guide to labour and birth…

My first experience at giving birth was filled with self induced terror. I was petrified of the unknown. Would I be able to bear the pain? How much would it hurt? Would Jason think less of me if I opted for pain relief? If I allowed him to see the birth – like a front row seat at the ‘action’ end of the bed – would he ever lose the image of a human being emerging from my girly bits? Or in ten years time would he still see a smashed up vagina in place of my face? So many questions, no answers. So here’s what I ‘ve learnt during two natural births and two caesareans…

Firstly, let’s get the elephant out of the room – giving birth is a beautiful experience. Ignore other’s horror stories. Your vagina will not:

• Explode,
• Be ripped in two,
• Require a reconstruction or transplant, or
• Remain so stretched that your uterus will fall out as you walk down the street.

Everything will go back to how it was prior to giving birth. Your vagina is like a concertina – an organ that old Italian men play with a monkey sitting on top. Not that your vagina will have a monkey sitting on top, or an old Italian man playing with it, (but hey, whatever floats your boat is cool with me) – but it will s-t-r-e-t-c-h. That is what it’s designed to do, so like a piece of elastic, it will contract again afterwards.

You may have some scars if you require stitching, but unlike bullet wounds, stabbings or spectacular falls as a child, it is best not to display them to onlookers at backyard BBQ’s or enter into ‘my scar is bigger and better than yours’ competitions at local bars. That would be icky.

Be prepared that, at the birth, your partner may be confused, dazed, totally useless and possibly unconscious on the floor if he ventures down the other end of the birthing bed in order to see his baby crowning. Parking the car is likely to be his finest moment of the evening. But don’t worry, there’s a perfectly normal explanation for this:

He’s a man.

We all know that men are repulsed by the word ‘period’ and all the relevant associations. My husband refers to it as being ‘broken’ or ‘unserviceable’ . This is due to his former occupation as a military pilot. If a helicopter was not able to be used it was ‘unserviceable’ and the saying has now transferred to me. Charming, I know.

Men seem to require sedation and lose all mental agility around:

• the word ‘period’,
• when women discuss periods, or,
• when a feminine hygiene product advertisement comes on television, particularly that one that starts off with, “We all know that vaginas leak at times…”

So expecting him to cope in a constructive manner with the birth of his baby is perhaps overly optimistic. Put him in front of a Rambo, Texas Chainsaw Massacre or The Expendables movie and the blood fest is welcome. Have that same blood fall out of a woman’s vagina and he falls to pieces.

In all honesty, most men don’t know what to do with themselves during labour and birth. This is because they are ‘fixers’ and ‘problem solvers’ but in this situation, they are powerless to do anything other than offer emotional support , which is ironic because it’s usually not their forte.
So, what do you do? Make friends with your midwife – she’ll look after you. Trust in your own body that it knows what to do and don’t over think it. You haven’t had to consciously build a baby in the preceding nine months, your body has just done it on auto pilot. So let it happen again during the birth – this is what your body is designed to do.

Enjoy the most incredible experience of your life and watch in awe as your big, strong man turns into a teary, emotional mess as he holds his child in his arms for the first time, because that’s the moment you get to watch him fall in love with the precious gift you’ve given him. After that, settle back and bask in all the worship he has to give you, particularly those that come in the form of a diamond big enough to build a three storey house on.