“Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success” Napoleon Hill
Four weeks ago today at 6.18am on Sunday 3rd May baby Ethan Matthews was born into the world, weighing 8lbs, 14oz. Serendipitously he chose to enter the world on the day of Ironman Australia which I had been competing in just a year ago. An ironbaby was born!
What an amazing whirlwind it’s been with my husband Owain and I embracing every new moment as parents. Today a flash of writing inspiration returned (coupled with a baby nap) which I thought I would capitalise on to reflect on the experience so far.
Thinking back to the birth four weeks ago I drew on the endurance and mental toughness developed during my ironman journey (people have asked me which was tougher and my answer is definitely labour…. haven’t felt anything quite like those contractions!).
The quote at the top of this blog was picked for me by my tri coach Nic Ward before Ironman and she sent it to me again prior to birth. Patience, persistence and perspiration all highly relevant! Today, I revisited my blog post Ironman – The F’s and P’s learnt becoming an ironwoman and can take many parallels from my transition into motherhood so far:
- Focus – I think focus definitely played a huge part in a smooth, controlled (for the majority!) natural birth. I drew on my focussed attention practice of mindfulness in labour, using breath as an anchor. My most intense contractions towards the end were lasting for six, slow steady breathes. By focusing my attention here I managed to breathe into the pain and accept it rather than trying to go around it. By the time of the fourth breath I knew the cycle was nearly over. This is a technique I will be trying when I return to more intense exercise!
- Feel – As any new parents will know lots of people offer advice and there is so much reading material out there. What we’ve found is that natural instinct kicks in and you adapt to your baby’s needs. Watching and listening intently for Ethan’s cues has enabled us to work out what he’s needing. We are taking the trial and error approach to parenting and learning on the job which is going well so far with a relaxed little dude.
- Form – Interrupted sleep has been the biggest challenge for us to adapt to having been religious with our eight hours of quality sleep a night. After a bad night I believe you have a choice on your form and how you choose to show up in your interactions. You can either play the victim and take a negative attitude or decide to be positive knowing this stage won’t last forever. Of course there is time for being sensible and succumbing to naps and rest when the body needs it too.
- Family – Starting our own family has just been wonderful and seeing the bond and love between Owain and Ethan truly incredible. Our immediate family has also further united through online exchanges before they travel here over the next few months from the UK. I also believe in the saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ and we have been humbled by our network of friends here who have all supported us. Ethan is very lucky to have so many aunties and uncles and he’s enjoying all the cuddles – discovered he’s a definite boob man!
- Patience and persistence – My ironman training mantra was ‘slow down to speed up’ and this is definitely transferable into parenthood especially with night time feeds. Our lovely midwife said something that has stuck strongly with me….not hurrying and persisting for an extra five minutes at the end of a feed can give you an extra hour of sleep before the next one. The same too for taking the time to wind properly. This isn’t always easy when you’re feeling like a zombie but I’m trying!
- Purpose and passion – I haven’t felt a greater sense of purpose in my life than when Ethan came into the world. This purpose of something bigger than myself kept me focussed during birth and makes each new moment in his development one of wonder. Discovering a new passion for just being with Ethan rather than have to always be doing something has been magical. People say babies are the biggest time wasters and I have to agree. I can just stare at Ethan in a time warp!
To finish I will share perhaps the greatest take away of them all from the last four weeks – Laughter. As my great friend the Fonginator says “if you’re not having fun you’re not doing it right” and I couldn’t agree more in relation to being a mum. Laughing through those sleep deprived moments definitely helps keep you sane. There have been lots of comedic moments. A few Ethan classics have included him managing to pee in his own mouth during a change (a story for his 21st!), his spirit fingers when sleeping and entertaining sleep noise repertoire including the puppy and the machine gun.
Now to the next moment, the milk monster is stirring, time for a feed!………