A while back I shared a bit about my journey through learning and starting to use the sympto thermo fertility awareness method. I decided to be done with birth control about 8 months ago, after 13 years of really going on auto pilot with all things reproductive health ...because who has time to think about that stuff anyway? Especially when you can pop a pill everyday or better yet have a quick and easy medical procedure performed and you don't have to think about it for years.
For me, this has been one of the most empowering lifestyle decisions I've ever made. Doctors are experts in populations but I am becoming the expert of my own body and have the data to back it up. Whether you may be interested in using this method to try and get pregnant or to avoid pregnancy or it's just interesting to you, you should know that it is 99.6% effective and today I can say with confidence and general amazement that this method actually works!
This is a bit personal but the husband has approved my sharing and we think it could be helpful to folks in a similar spot as us. Currently we are actively avoiding pregnancy using the sympto FAM but we do want children in the future. So I wanted to share 6 disciplines I'm practicing now to help prepare my mind, body and heart for the day we do decide to start trying:
1.) Start Prenatal Vitamins Early
I've been switching back and fourth between the Smartypants and 365 Everyday Value. Starting prenatal vitamins early can help reduce neural tube defects by 50-70% according to the CDC. These conditions can start to develop within the first month of pregnancy so getting more folic acid and iron early on will give the baby a better chance of developing a healthy brain and spinal cord.
2.) Regular Exercise
I honestly don't know any better motivation to get healthy than growing a human inside of you. I try to get in 2-3 strength training days/week and 2-3 cardio sessions/week (and yes, walking to ice cream totally counts!)
3.) Consistent Eating Schedule
My days never look the same and it's not uncommon for me to skip a meal or eat late. Meal prepping has been really helpful so that I have something easy to grab and go on those busy days. I like to make hard boil eggs for a quick breakfast, pack bars for a snack, prepare a variety of different salads for lunches and then we generally cook at home for dinner. Oh and we love munching on Tony's sea salt caramel chocolate after dinner.
4.) Mental Toughness
When I'm in a workout class I tell myself giving birth will be a lot harder than this. If I think I can bear that kind of pain than surely I can do one more push up. A client also shared with me some wisdom on the body's response to physical pain in labor and described it as "imagine dunking your arms in ice buckets but calmly breathing through the discomfort. If you can experience contractions while not clenching the muscles in your body and holding your breath, that will help." When I go see my favorite waxing lady Deborah at Waxing The City in Ballard, I practice this very method of not reacting to the discomfort. I'm happy to report she says I've been waaaay less of a wuss lately but I will be excited to see if and how this concept translates for me!
5.) Praying for our Future Children
It feels like such an incredible privilege to be able to pray over our future children. I pray for a healthy delivery and baby. I pray over who they will become as adults. I ask God to give them a unique light in this world and use them for as much good as possible in their lifetime.
6.) Reducing Alcohol Consumption
Man I do like to party but I'm learning I can still party with my kombucha mocktails and rosé errrday in moderation.
And even though I can be doing all these things now to prepare for a healthy pregnancy, I also recognize that I am not in control of the outcome. It's just the reality we live in. I believe that God is working all things out for His glory and our greater good. Maybe we will have infertility issues, maybe our future baby will have a major health issue - regardless I think there is wisdom in preparing our hearts, our bodies and our minds the best we know how and trusting that the Lord will meet our needs along the way.
I love this stuff and if any moms have anything they want to share I'd LOVE to hear!
Cheers and for now we'll just be practicing over here! *que "mine" by Bazzi*
Well folks, it's going to get real here for a minute. There's no food pictures, recipes or exercise routines in this post. It's a little different from the usual WBL posts but absolutely still health and wellness related - enjoy!
My husband and I just got married in June (whoo hoo!) and this past wedding season thousands of couples have also said their "I do's" and started this life long journey with their partner. Leading up to my wedding day I've learned how totally sacred, sweet and beautiful marriage is. It is two people CHOOSING each other for the rest of their lives. It's heartbreaking that our culture views marriage as easily disposable and that divorce is not only acceptable but a likely reality for many couples. The day I said "I do" I freely chose to commit to Nathan (AKA The Baron of Ballard - he requested that I say that...) through any circumstance.
In our life together we will experience the deepest joy, intimacy, and love possible and we will also experience hurt, sadness, loneliness, misunderstanding, anger, frustration and emptiness in our marriage at times. I think and am learning, reading and discovering after previous relationships that marriage calls us to suffer well. We are not supposed to crumble in adversity despite the world telling us adversity and unhappiness means our marriages are failing. We are broken humans living in an imperfect world and in desperate need of salvation outside of ourselves. My heart and all of our hearts are prone to wander. As New York columnist David Brooks points out in his book The Road to Character, "people tend to shoot for happiness but feel the most formed through suffering." I can relate.
The good news is that marriage is not supposed to make us happy - so I can let go of that expectation! I realize that of course happiness is a byproduct of marrying someone you love but marriage is supposed to make us holy. Marriage sharpens us. Brings oneness. The purpose of marriage is not to experience the "happily ever after" - regardless of what we see on social media, on TV and in movies. Every couple has a side that's not shown publicly and comparison will truly rob us of joy in our marriages.
Investing in your partner by having the courage to confess your heart felt struggles (that one has taken me a few relationships and lots of practice to learn), asking for forgiveness, choosing to forgive, seeing the best in your partner (rather than assuming the worst), sacrificing yourself and your needs for your partner, being kind and lovingly pursuing their heart will point them to truth and ultimately result in an intimacy that will strengthen your bond and grow you deeper into relationship with God and one another. I learned later on in my 20's that my partner will never, ever fulfill me... The most unloving thing I could do is walk into my marriage with Nathan and put that expectation on him. When I've changed something in myself I've seen my relationship start to change.
One of the best pieces of marriage advice I got from a couple was about sin in marriage. When your partner wrongs you look past the hurt it caused YOU and pursue their heart. What led them to this place? How can I point them back to truth? My prayer for married couples is that God would give us the strength, maturity and love towards our spouses to earnestly walk alongside them by bringing light to a potentially dark situation - even when it's the hardest thing to do.
One thing that's been really fruitful in our marriage is Sunday night weekly recaps where we have a series of questions we ask about each others past week. We've adapted this from #beating50percent:
1.) what's something that brought you joy this week?
2.) what's something that was hard?
3.) how can I be praying for you this upcoming week?
4.) what's one specific thing I can do for you this week?
5.) is there anything that's gone unsaid, convictions, confessions or unresolved hurt that we need to address?
6.) what's a dream, thought or vision that's been on the forefront of your mind this week?