Is life totally different?

Are you feeling okay? Can I hold him? Does life feel totally different?

The three questions I’ve gotten the most. Answered in detail below. Even in this socially limited state, connection with others is happening a lot. I am so grateful for the outpouring of love that I have felt from my community. While almost all of my energy is going toward this little man, many moments of connection outside the babe bubble have been priceless for my presence in it.

Are you feeling okay?

I am feeling great. Healing has progressed really well and yes, I am planning to get back on my mat very soon!! Maybe later this week 🙂 I know rest has been a major piece to thank for my progress. Indra is sleeping soundly at night and I am still taking it easy throughout the day. Hands down I know it has been my yoga practice more than anything that has guided my smooth journey into motherhood. My mind and emotions have also been steady. Indra is like a 24-7 meditation companion. Just looking at him makes me want to still my mind and not miss a minute of right now. We joined in on some teacher training sessions back at the studio this weekend! Indra experienced his first group OM outside the womb.

Can I hold him?

No… For the first 40 days Indra River is staying right by my and Michael’s side. Grandparents and a few dear friends may be a brief exception, for their sanity 🙂 I love Yogi Bhajan’s quote;

“He was inside where he was warm, cozy, and well contained. He came out and now he needs that touch, that feeling, that oneness within the nine feet of your aura. You are a modern woman. You want to go to a movie theater. When a child is born, you must stick with him for forty days and for two years you and your husband must keep him near the breast and the chest. That is the most darling God born in innocence to two people who believed in love.”

This time is so precious to me. Mama Bear in me is for sure present. While I appreciate the interest that others have in connecting with and building a relationship with Indra; it is not time yet. Babies are sacred developing humans. Soon enough he will be running around investigating the world and there will be plenty of time for bonding and connecting then. For now he is building his own energy field and learning to trust the world around him from his parent’s arms. Smiles and hellos are most welcome when you see us!

Is life totally different now?

Life feels exactly the same. My intentions are still exactly the same:  Stay connected to my highest self, live life to the fullest and do the best job I can on planet Earth. While the focus has now shifted towards being a Mom and I have new daily tasks that support the life of another, I am still dealing with the exact same challenges:  Stay present in the moment, manage my energy in support of my intentions and be my most authentic self. When I train yoga teachers, we work with the idea that being authentic means what you say, what you think, what you feel and what you do are all in alignment. I still have so many opportunities the develop this within my own life. Indra River is turning out to be the most incredible witness for this. I want so very badly to be the best possible example of authenticity for him. Every day I am identifying more ways to make that happen. Seeing it is always the first step — making the change often takes more courage. I am grateful for this little human that is challenging me now more than ever to step up and be the person that I want to be.

Cheers to navigating new paths of growth and life,
Alexandria

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Week 1: Postpartum 101

Indra River has officially been with us for a week. Best week of my life. The healing and integration process has been beautifully intense. This post will likely be enjoyed most by those to whom the postpartum process is near and dear. Also, anyone working through healing of any kind or an interest in early human development.

When I woke up the morning after Indra’s birth (His first name is sticking quite a bit these days.. 🙂 Post on that coming soon!) I had the swift realization that I was officially in full-on rehab mode. This has been my first experience with bodily trauma. Aside from a routine wisdom teeth removal, I have never experienced a surgery, injury or major illness — nothing near the level of post-birth. I had some minor tears (no stitches) and a standard, healthy birth. As my organs return to their normal size and my body sheds excess blood and fluids, I am again left humbled by the birth process.

Healing feels like a dance with rest and rejuvenation. There is definitely a level of pure rest that has been non-negotiable. I felt myself cross the line of too much effort once or twice and for the most part I have been honoring that edge. At the same time there’s still a level of effort necessary to stimulate my body and mind. Meditation, gentle breath-work and a general commitment to staying engaged with Michael and others (while also being present to the babe in my arms) has been key for me. In addition to the following..

The top 4 things supporting my healing process;

  1. Herb baths 2xs/day – first thing in the morning, last thing at night. It is also a really meditative time for me while I focus on feeling comforted and refreshed. Also, for connecting with little man — he loves bath time! I make sure to nurse him at the end so that Michael can take him and give me extra space for self-care rituals. Abhyanga, self oil massage, is a favorite. Just a couple extra minute to braid my hair or put on earrings makes all the difference in the world, too.
  2. Daily tinctures of Nurtured Mother (from Birthsong Botanicals), Chlorophyll and Turmeric. Along with a ton of fluids all day long. All necessary for strong blood, inflammation and hydration. Chanting to myself healing mantas as I consume. I am healing, I am healthy, I am happy.
  3. Breastmilk. It’s magic. Those tears I mentioned, breastmilk almost numbed them. Also, kombu! It’s seaweed — feel free to message me for more info 🙂
  4. Last, Michael’s food. If I could only have one thing from the list, this would be it. Healthy, intentional meals are key. Great news is he’s offering a meal service. If you’re nursing you have to try some of his lactation bars. Amazing.

Everything else on this list can be found at Ozark Natural Foods and/or Terra Tots.

The first few days I was waited on hand and foot just to accomplish the above. Michael was back and forth between the kitchen and bonding with the babe and me. My Mother supported him with cleaning and all other household management. Michael and I have been able to give this little man so much direct love and energy and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Indra’s development has been amazing. He is such an awesome little member of our family already. He is sleeping soundly in 5hr+ stretches in the night, solidly nursing throughout the day and clearly communicating with us when he needs something. All this in addition to being supremely healthy, interactive and a sweet cuddler.

The top 3 things most supporting his development right now;

  1. Skin-to-skin Contact. As much of it as possible. He’s either in our arms, laying in our laps or in a Boba wrap on Dad’s chest. He still has yet to wear anything but a cloth diaper and socks. All of these things are helping him stay calm as he feels loved and cared and connected to the world around him 24/7. He is also able to utilize his muscles more throughout the day and build a stronger sensory interaction with the world than he would in a bouncer or swing.
  2. Continuous Communication. We are talking to him all day long about what we’re doing: What the plan is for the day, what we’re doing in the moment, explaining noises he hears.. When we go to pass him off, there’s a clear “Daddy’s going to take you. Ready? 1,2,3 ..” You can watch his body tense up right between 2 and 3 as he prepares for the transfer. It’s so freaking cool. And totally contributing to his comfort level with the world.
  3. Instant Need Fufilment. When he asks for something, he gets it. As quickly as possible. We’re watching his mouth for signs that he’s ready to nurse. Or adjusting him if he’s obviously uncomfortable. It takes a high commitment to presence with him and it’s so important to us that right now he builds that trust in life right now. That he has a basic feeling of ‘I get what I need from the world around me’. There will be a time in which I am interested in teaching him about processing emotions like fear and frustration. Now’s not the time for that. It’s happy baby, happy momma. And it is a beautiful, blissful time.

I have a lot more to share! Including a recap of my experience with the placenta smoothie (yep, I saved it) and I’d like to write a whole post on my emotional and spiritual process of this week. All coming with time. Please share with the mommas you know and keep feedback and thoughts coming! Photos below of Indra River’s documentation process earlier today! He is now official in our man made world.. Pales in comparison to the essence of existance ❤

xoxo,
Alexandria

He’s here!

On Sunday night we welcomed a beautiful baby boy into this world. As I type this he is nestled at my side sleeping soundly. His cooing sounds are trance-inducing and it is a tough commitment to stare at the screen instead of him. I choose to get this out now because the experience is already starting to fade from my memory in many ways. As I very slowly begin to emerge into our worldly life it feels as if I am stepping out of a river that has fully engulfed me in raw and pure emotion. It has quenched a thirst within me that I did not know existed. I have been fully present with pure love and pure pain at my deepest core for the past five days. I can feel emotions of all kinds rise within me as I start to step out. This experience has been so empowering that I know I can do anything I choose to now. Especially with my new family by my side. With that, I’ll share his official name — finally settled! Indra River Pulfer. He will be known as “Riv” for short. Riv Pulfer. I know I am the first of many who will be (and already are) madly in love with this being  🙂

I was beyond humbled by his birth. In many ways I was so prepared and in others there is just no way I could have been prepared for it. Surrender of a new level was necessary for me. As a yogi, watching sensation in the body is something I do daily. I can see pain and struggle and the reactionary patterns that are tied to it — sometimes I get caught up in the moment and sometimes I am able to stay aware and present with it. Throughout the contractions of birth, insecurities of all kinds swelled within me. While the pain was intense, it was an eventual surrender to the pain and fear that allowed the birth to progress. In the end I found myself making a deal with the universe at my deepest core that I would give in and allow myself to feel supported fully by the universe. Always. In return was given the most priceless gift; the healthiest and most magical baby I have ever met.

A more extended birth story follows for those interested in the process. From anatomical and spiritual perspectives I have a novel to share on this subject. Some day I will write a book. Being the experiential learner that I am, I will likely have a couple more before 🙂 until then, read below and I will share so much more with anyone I interact with intimately. In short, don’t be shy if you are curious or would like to share stories. Birth is a subject that needs to be much more widely expressed and developed within our culture and right now that is something I am incredibly passionate about.

Also feel free to skip to the bottom instead and enjoy the awesome pictures captured by our dearest friend, Jess ❤

Saturday, July 4th

At some point throughout the day I started to experience steady, rhythmic contractions about 8min apart. They felt amazing. While I was 12 days past the 40 week “due date” I had aligned on between my nurse midwife and midwife, I was also 22 days past the standard calculation from my last menstrual cycle. My mind had been going crazy, though my spirit knew everything was exactly as it should be. Needless to say I was thrilled the time had come. I then focused on staying decently active with house chores and ended the evening with Ina May’s recommendation of a bubble bath + glass of wine + sleep. The last two were half way completed..

Sunday AM, July 5th

Around 10am we established that I was in active labor. I was dilated between 4 and 5cm when Maria, Misty and my Mom arrived. Michael had been by my side phenomenally for quite a few hours at this point and my contractions were intensifying. There was now space to take the next steps with this group present. We sat together in our bedroom at first and I settled into my intentions. My main focus was that I find as much softness in my body between contractions and that I stay present enough to explain to the baby what was happening throughout labor. I felt like I had all the support in the world. Maria has been more than a midwife for us the past 9 months; she has been a spiritual guide, caring friend and trusted advisor. Her assistant Misty has always made us feel like we have two midwives. If Maria was out of the room, I never felt like I wasn’t fully covered. They each bring incredible and unique things to the table and having them there together was incredible.

My Mother radiated kindness, love and service to me that day. I needed her and she showed up for me big time. Michael and I’s relationship grew more than I had any idea it would. He continues to amaze me every day, especially as a father, and this home birth experience has elevated our entire family to a new level of bonding that I didn’t realize it would. It is breathtakingly beautiful.

Sunday PM, Jult 5th

Riv entered at 7:56pm after 10 hours of active labor. I hit multiple waves of depletion and exhaustion throughout the day. Mid-afternoon my cervix opened to 9cm and I found myself pressed against a wall of resistance and fear that was tough to break. I spent hours with little progress as I resisted the ultimate vulnerability that was being asked of me. Letting him out seemed terrifying. In the end I found a new place of strength and vitality inside me. I pushed through and as with most things in my life, the rewards have far surpassed the effort of the work.

Riv is an incredible babe fed on massive amounts of love. He is sleeping like a rock, breastfeeding like a boss expressing himself fully while trusting his environment in big ways. I feel stronger and more connected to the world around me than I ever have before. I know this experience will always be with me. i cannot express my gratitude enough for the love and support of our family and friends. I promise to share an awesome little boy with you all in return.

Heart exploding love,
AJP

Photographs by Jess Gallegos of Artefact Image Co

Dear Baby

Today is July 2nd, 2015. You’re growing inside my belly and I’m sitting at our dining room table, looking out across our backyard watching a summer storm roll in. Tonight is a full moon and I would love to see you under it.

It has been 10 days since your second due date. The first one was June 12th — if we go off of that, you’ve been developing for 43 weeks now. But that’s a poor attempt at trying to understand the vast magical creation of who you are; which I know we cannot grasp. This has been such an incredible test of patience, as your Daddy and I are both so excited to meet you. We can’t wait to hold you, to kiss you, to look into your eyes and cuddle you. However, once we have that I know we will then just be waiting to learn more about you. We won’t be able to wait to learn your preferences, your passions, your talents. Which we know you will have many of.

There’s no doubt at my core that you are going to be a brilliant, beautiful and powerful person on this planet. The chatter of my mind has all sorts of things to worry about — is it taking to long for you to be born? Will you be healthy? Will I be able to handle the birth? Will you love us? Will you hate us someday?

Though it is quite loud at times, I know the chatter is useless worry. I have gotten pretty good at distinguishing the fear based voices in my head over the past few years. A practice I hope to share with you often.

We have a wonderful midwife, Maria. Her team is really phenomenal, too. You will love them. They have been so supportive of our family, as have many others. Everyone at the studio is so excited to meet you. Along with many other friends who have been so supportive and praying for your safe entry into this world. Your grandparents are thrilled. You grandmother, Robin, grandfather, Mark, and grandfather, Avo, are all chomping at the bit to meet you! Their lives will be filled with joy because of you. And I’m sure you’ve met your grandmother, Kim. I know she will always be watching over you.

Your Daddy loves you so much already. He has been singing and talking to you and plays little games with you just as often as you will entertain him from the womb. He loves pressing his ear up against my belly and hearing your heartbeat. I don’t think there ever has or ever will be a child more loved than you.

I am doing the best I can to be a good Momma already. And I know you’re doing your very best, too. That’s all we can do in this world. My prayer for you is that you are confident in yourself above all else on this planet. That you trust your instincts, value your own internal and external guidance above all else, and soak up all the joy and beauty that this world has to offer. May you be healthy and strong, vibrant and loving, generous and abundant in all that you do. Whatever you life path is, I will be here for you. Nudging you at times to remember who you are and where you came from and most importantly, loving you beyond measure.

Please be patient with me and I will be so with you. Let’s work to sort through our emotions and teach each other how to navigate this world together, communicating our needs as much as possible and helping elevate the planet with each breath. Thank you for choosing me to be your Mother and Michael to be your Father. It is the greatest honor I have had yet in this lifetime.

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Religion of Relationship

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I have an awesome list of things I want to blog about right now. The list keeps getting longer by the day and the topic I am choosing to write about now is not even on it. I am grateful to be filled to the brim with inspiration and trusting that the time to write will come as it needs to. Last night I stumbled into a conversation around the following thoughts and while it is something that has been on my mind a lot lately, it is just now getting formulated into a conscious model. Curious to see if I can put it into words now..

The term religion translates in my mind as a system of personal growth. Despite many connotations and associations that can arise with this word, at the core of it, religion is a very beautiful thing to me. More than anything it represents people just trying to do the best they can in life. I have yet to meet a religious person that is not striving to do the best they can with what they have. I currently rely on many systems of spirituality (primarily Yoga, Ayurveda and Buddhism) to structure my intentions and balance my daily perception of reality against. But I cannot say that I have claimed one of these as my religion. To me that is another level of commitment. I am definitely close to it in many ways but at the end of the day, I haven’t fully given myself over to any of these practices. This time last year I had a conversation with my first teacher, Baron, about my thirst for diverse knowledge and balancing that with the structure of staying with the study of a single practice. And for the past year (likely longer) I have been in inquiry around that. I know the benefits of digging deep and staying within one system of thought from experience. It is a very powerful thing. My favorite visual of this is the idea of a someone digging a well — eventually, if you keep digging, you will find water in any place. The trouble is when we start digging in one place and decide to start over somewhere else. Maybe we suspect the spot we began is too tough to dig in or just not the right place for us to be. A lifetime could be spent digging wells and never reaching water if you don’t stick around in the same place long enough.

At times I have questioned whether it is my ego that keeps me from a full surrender of thought and identification with a religion. Recently though, a new idea is forming within me, that my relationships are my religion. When I look at my life, the people that I come into contact with regularly, some daily and some much less, are my religion. They teach me about myself, my life and my path. My community provides a framework for personal growth that I have fully given myself over to. If my religion is my relationships, then my scriptures are the look on my husband’s face during our conversations, the connection that I feel with this child I am creating, the sensations in my body when I experience conflict and the feedback I get from the people around me. These are all things that guide me to being my best self.

Without a doubt I am beyond committed to the people and relationships in my life. This hasn’t always been the case for me. In the past I put up invisible walls that would prevent me from being in full commitment and partnership with the world around me. If I didn’t like what I was experiencing in past relationships, I was out of there. While time and energy may be resources that spread thin at times in my relationships, the commitment is still there. And it is there on my end whether I see and speak to someone or not. So I have fully given myself over to a structure of practice — the religion of my relationships. It feels powerful to acknowledge that within myself. Endless thanks to those around me who make life so beautiful and worth living to the fullest.

xo,
Alexandria

“Are you ready?!”

Today during a home visit our midwife Maria asked, “What’s the one thing that you each still need to do in order to be prepared for this birth?” Michael said exactly what I needed him to:  He’s focused on wrapping up our business details so we can both be fully present with the baby over the summer. So grateful for that. For me, there was an immediate scan of the details looking for the answer. More baby stuff? No, we’ve done a great job of keeping the things we need to a basic minimum and we’re set on those. Organization? No, not the house, it’s as perfect as it’s ever going to be. Is there a book I still need to read? None of that landed. I paused another moment and then the answer was really clear:  Take time to connect with those I love and share this awesome journey.

I have had an incredible nine months self inquiry and transformation. Something I naturally gravitate to as an introspective yogi, pregnancy has heightened the experience. From working through past memories to major breakthroughs around the energy passing through me right now, I have loved every minute of this work. Pregnancy is the coolest thing I have experienced to date. There is a deep satisfaction in utilizing my body to make another human — it is almost like a sigh of relief for me — “this is what I was meant to do”.

So with all this work, people keep asking me, “Are you ready?!” The answer to that is a definite YES. I am as ready as I will ever be. The only thing that I feel truly confident about with this upcoming birth is that the process is designed to break you — to push ME to a point where I will think there’s no way that I can do this — and then somehow I do. As a self-proclaimed development junkie, that part excites me in many ways. Though I fully expect there to be moments, hours or days where I wish that I could turn around and get out of the work. Whatever happens, I know I am not fully prepared for it, because the person typing these words today is not the person who will come through on the other end. So I am as ready as I will ever be and the true test will come as soon as this babe is, too 🙂

Coping with Emotions: Finding the How and Why to Move Forward

Yesterday I received a heart wrenching email. Yet another friend and fellow yoga teacher shared her news about the miscarriage of a baby she was greatly wishing for. Whether it is just that we are sharing more information nowadays between social media and technology in general, or that a majority of my friends are now entering this stage of their life where experiences like this are present, I am hearing more about little babes that come and go in the womb more often then ever lately. As well as friends and family who struggle with conceiving to begin with. Often my mind wants to ask why and to be swept away in the search for reason and answers. Yet that would be a missed opportunity to truly cope with what is in front of me and support those who need it most. Here are two key steps to coping; may they help you or someone you love in a time of need:

  1. Commit to making this a life-moving-forward experience. I have no argument for experiences like the loss of a child in a present moment. While there are always perceptions that we can shift in our current situation, and in hindsight we always see a bigger picture of our lives that we can understand more fully, we’ll never completely know in this moment  why our path includes the crazy ups and downs that it does. It’s part of the journey of life that makes us fully alive. What we can do is commit to transforming each experience we are presented with into life-moving-forward energy. No matter how traumatic, unfair or unreasonable what you’re going through is, it can allow your current relationships to grow stronger and new bonds to form. It can give you the experience needed to help others processing similar things. It can also expand your ability to fully love and be loved. Whatever life-moving-forward energy is available to you, commit to finding it. Once this commitment is truly made within you, something begins to shift. This doesn’t mean that your wound heals immediately; it means that your consciousness can begin to be directed down a path toward healing.
  2. Consciously acknowledge and feel the full range of your emotions. With any traumatic experience, the range of emotions that come can seem endless. It’s valuable to recognize that they are not in fact endless, and they can be consciously examined– all of them – again and again. Take out a piece of paper and record every emotion you can identify:  anger, fear, grief, guilt, disappointment, rage, terror. Let the list go on and on. And don’t leave out the good ones, too, they’re there:  gratitude for the support you are getting, relief that you may know something is over, maybe even happiness that you’re alive.

Early on in my first pregnancy, my husband (fiance at the time) and I went to get an ultrasound, as both our midwife and nurse-midwife couldn’t find a heartbeat for our little one. I remember the experience vividly – the people in the waiting room, the music playing and the anticipation of knowing one way or the other. When the moment of truth finally came and the nurse said, “We have viability – that’s a strong heartbeat and healthy looking baby,” my immediate emotions were overwhelming relief, gratitude and hope. As we drove home, I scanned my emotions further and identified feelings of disappointment, too! I would be lying if I didn’t say I was also just as terrified to know that a baby was, in fact, still on the way. So I shared those with Michael and he was massively relieved – he was feeling guilty for having similar feelings. We laughed and it made the entire experience more whole. Life is a giant roller coaster of thought and emotion. Deciphering moment-to-moment what you truly are experiencing is the key to find grounding along the ride.

Once you have truly committed to finding the life-moving-forward energy and can continuously identify and acknowledge your individual emotions within, the process of coping with what is in front of you begins. While what you’re dealing with may gradually cease to be at the forefront of your thoughts each day, coping never truly ends. Your experiences will always influence who you are in this life. How you relate to others, how well you know yourself, and the decisions you choose day to day are always influenced by what we’re processing throughout life. True coping, to me, is when all aspects of who you are fully embrace, and you utilize your experiences to move your life forward — along with the lives of those around you. As your heart experiences rawness and the full spectrum of life’s sensations, may it shine brighter to the world and guide you along a path to peace.

Alexandria is an Energy + Life Coach, Doula, and Yoga practitioner. She owns two Yoga Deza studios in Fayetteville and Bentonville, Arkansas, where she trains and develops passionate community leaders. She is currently expecting her first baby due June 2015.

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