by Elise Bowerman
Time has flown since this sweet momma, Kelly Kolody, from Farmington Hills MI, shared her stories of attending prenatal yoga with me at Livonia Yoga Center two years ago.
In the midst of juggling two little ones during a pandemic, Kelly eloquently reflects on the mental and emotional struggles of pregnancy and cultivating greater self-confidence and compassion as a mother and woman.
How many children do you have?
I have had four pregnancies. My first pregnancy (nearly 10 years ago) resulted in a miscarriage at 16 weeks, where I labored for eight hours and delivered our first son.
This experience put me off wanting to get pregnant for three years, but then I got pregnant and miscarried again at 10 weeks.
Thankfully, my last two pregnancies resulted in two healthy babies, with a daughter who is now five and a son who is now two.
How did prenatal yoga with Sweet Momma support your pregnancy(ies)?
Elise’s prenatal yoga class was one of my favorite parts of pregnancy. It provided an opportunity to connect more deeply with myself, my body, my baby and other women in a similar circumstance.
Being in Elise’s prenatal yoga class was like getting a welcome folder to pregnancy and birthing, that I wanted to read every word of. I not only learned about what to expect, what helps, where to go, who to see, but I also learned about what was possible. I had never heard of such things as homebirths, waterbirths, birthing centers, midwives, doulas, and placenta encapsulation.
The physical practice was beneficial and the community and support through circle time each week was priceless to me. I still have friendships with women I met through her classes.
I was 38 years old when I gave birth to my daughter and 41 with my son, putting me in the geriatric category. My age(s), coupled with my first two pregnancy losses, had me overwhelmed, discouraged, and afraid.
Elise and her class/community welcomed and accepted me, fear and all.
There were other women who had had similar experiences with losses or who were a similar age that I could relate to, as well as other women who shared different experiences I could learn from.
The bond of physically being together with other women, then supporting, encouraging, celebrating, and thinking about each other, was so comforting, pure, and special. This connection provided me strength, confidence, and a sense of belonging during a sacred time.
Did you practice yoga before attending prenatal yoga?
I practiced yoga regularly for about 10 years prior to participating in prenatal yoga. I was active, specifically during pregnancies, walking about two miles daily, even up to and on the day I delivered, thankfully.
Describe how the practice helped you in your birthing
I really wanted to experience a natural vaginal birth and VBAC and can honestly say, I tried everything I could. However, it was not in the cards, despite my best efforts.
I remember various steps when trying to get labor started where I had to make decisions, one notably, should they manually break my water, as I was going on 42 weeks.
I recall from Elise’s class, her reminding us that we had time to pause and think before making decisions (outside of a glaring emergency), regardless of feeling an overemphasized sense of urgency. I remember, taking some time, going for a walk, calling my doula, a close friend, and my mom, processing it, coming back with more questions for the
provider and ultimately making my decision (for them to go ahead and do it.)
The first year postpartum is statistically the most challenging
on many levels for birthers. Did your experiences of prenatal yoga offer preparation for, or a sense of ease in this phase of life for you?
Prior to pregnancy I struggled with anxiety, and depression became more obvious during and after pregnancy. Elise and circle time (from prenatal yoga) allowed for her self-disclosure and openness, as well as for the others on hard to admit topics. This environment awarded a chance for me to admit to my own stuff semi-publicly taking the power and shame out of it.
Furthermore, it granted an opportunity for getting support, challenging some of my limited beliefs, and obtaining information on getting tools in
place to be a healthier mama.
Tid-bits from Elise’s classes that spoke to my heart:
- You do not have to do anything that does not feel right. You have a mama’s intuition for a reason. Listen to it and trust it.
- You do not have to go with the mainstream, and you can pause, question, research, gather and ponder before making any decisions for yourself and your children.
- Be considerate of what you discuss in front of your children, as you are planting seeds and ideas in their minds, and as their guides they are continually learning from you taking the lessons and behaviors out into the world.
- You are becoming a part of the club, “motherhood”. She said, going forward, when you see another pregnant woman or mom in the parking lot at Target, you can look at one another with an understanding and compassion and even say, “you’re doing a great job”. I have done this numerous times, which has been met with a shake of their head, a sigh, and a smile.
- There may be people in your life that you really feel you need/miss/want or have expectations that they should be here/or acting in a certain way during this time and they are not. This does not necessarily mean that they do not want to, they may just not have enough to give at the time, and it has nothing to do their feelings about you.
- Be considerate of what you discuss in front of your children, as you are planting seeds and ideas in their minds, and as their guides, they are continually learning from you, taking the lessons and behaviors out into the world.
Elise truly cares, about what is in front of her AND the big picture and unarguably wants to make a difference. Not only does she speak these things, but her actions support them which is not something I see every day. She has made such a difference in my life, with her gifts of integrity, being a healer, contributor to peace, open, fun-loving, and generous.
Those who have the fortunate experience of crossing paths with her or
taking one of her classes will feel it immediately, I promise.
Hindsight and personal experience help us open to new ideas. What is one piece of advice you would like to gift another momma?
In addition to the many new responsibilities that come with motherhood, you will have an invitation to do some BIG internal work and have the most (ongoing) transformative experience ever, if you are open to it.
I mostly experience fulfillment with mothering/parenting when I allow things to unfold naturally, which does not come easily to me. I plan (and make a backup plan), think (and overthink), control and expect a lot. This usually leads to being let down or disappointed in some fashion. When I can pause, SLOW down, be fully present with my kids, listen, observe, connect, go along instead of forcing things, special moments happen. Memorable moments occur. The time does pass at lightening speed and without pausing and taking it in, everything is a blur.
Additionally, while I am in the thick of the routine, (or lack thereof), identifying the sacred in the ordinary, has been a game changer. This act can shift an unimportant or underwhelming task into one of contentment and beauty.
Thank you, Kelly, for sharing words of wisdom. Click here to read and hear from more parents.