With Cassandra McCoy MAT, ATC, LAT & Guest Julia Jones of Newborn Mothers
In this conversation, Cassandra talks with Julia Jones, founder and owner of Newborn Mothers, about care for new moms during COVID. Also, we discuss a bit about the notorious “Mommy Brain/Baby Brain” and how it is a necessary part of motherhood!
I started this article several different times and each time as I got towards the end I ditched it. I suspect the reason is that everything for me right now, sounds so negative. I want to write something uplifting, positive, encouraging, and supportive. But every corner I turn, every direction I take, next thing I know I am down a negative road. If writing the article was going to make me feel doom and gloom then any reader will feel doom and gloom as well.
These are the times we live in right now. Most of us are trying to do positive things in our lives to make us feel better. We are planting gardens, walking our dogs, baking bread, teaching our children crafts, reading books we have been meaning to read for years, cleaning closets, basements, attics and attacking our homes with ideas from Home Depot to Target; anything to give us some feeling of hope and help keep our faith that things will get better. And I truly believe that back last March most of believed that this would be a three month thing. By summer this COVID thing will be gone from our lives and we will be back to normal. I even think those who were saying “it will be months or years” partially wanted to believe that it was only going to be three months.
So four months later here we are in summer and the summer and the heat didn’t kill it. And while our first two months of isolation, working from home, home deliveries and mostly carry out seemed to have slowed the spreading down, we wanted our normal back and with that came more COVID. But what did not come with this more COVID is those feelings of hope and faith that we had if we continued to isolate, decorate sidewalks, take long walks, bake bread, garden, walk our dogs etc. etc. What came instead is anger, finger pointing, rights vs doing the right thing, feelings of irritation, depression, “cover your nose and your mouth”, “you did what and went where?”, “I can see my family, friends, neighbors because we are all 6 feet apart”, “it’s the protestors fault”, “it’s the Democrats, no it’s the Republican’s” and so on.
This is happening in my workplace. While my work was closed and I remained at work due to the nature of my job, everyone else worked from home. I say that lightly but ok, they did. But when they returned what they brought to my nice quiet space and building is COVID shaming. And with COVID shaming came arguments on what to do before re-opening. We have discussed and analyzed every single possible scenario we could possibly come up with. Common sense left us in March and has not returned. What has replaced common sense is shaming. I strongly believe in keeping our work place safe and healthy for our staff. But, realistically, based on what we know, no matter what we do, what parameters we put in place, that bugger COVID just might sneak in the back door. Yet if one patron might ask that one question or make that one request we have to be “prepared.” All this has turned me into that person who has lost all patience, kindness, hope, faith and solutions to rise above this. That I am better than this COVID. But it has bested me.
I walk each day, sometimes twice. I listen to books on my phone and enjoy the early morning sunrise. I started picking up newspapers at the end of folk’s driveway and putting them on their doorstep. Just a little something that might make someone smile. I don’t even know these people and they don’t know me. I am the mystery person who gets their newspaper out of the rain. Last week I was half way through my walk and I yanked out my ear buds and started to pray. While I love to walk, I love to read. And I love my books. It’s hard for me to walk 4-5 miles without listening to anything. But last week, I started to pray. And the next day, I did the same. And now almost every walk I spend at least half my walk in prayer. And while I do yoga I am not much into meditation. Last week I sat in front of my TV and did meditation every day. I cannot fight COVID and I am so tired of fighting with my co-workers, and I am tired of not sleeping and feeling anxious and stressed. I called our EAP and set up an appointment. I just feel for me, I have to find a way to get through this that is bigger than the garden, the bread, the clean basement and the healthy dog. COVID is not going to win. I will find my way.
In today’s society, stress is a commonly occurring factor in our lives. Join by Be HEaRd contributor Sophia Pollalis and Positively Balanced founder Cassandra McCoy as they discuss a few things everyone can do to manage, overcome and heal during times of stress! Be sure to leave us a comment below about what your favorite stress management tip is!
Key focal point: Stress
Stress can be physical, mental, emotional
It’s not always about over-training(stressing), but about under-recovery
Has a lot to do with the autonomic nervous system
Which can be influenced by sleep and breathing
ANS is SNS and PNS, both “fight or flight” and “rest and digest”
Can think about stress and recovery as opposites, which we need to balance out
Every system in your body is influenced by sleep
Life enhancer for any goal
Sleep is the low hanging fruit in terms of recovery, performance, etc. To improve performance, we always try and reach for the high fruit like supplements, specific techniques or trainings, expensive equipment, but sleep is the first, easiest, and CHEAPEST step we can try
Most sleep issues are behavioral, meaning we can change our behavior and get better sleep (and better our lives)
Circadian rhythm – cued from our biological clock that comes from light/dark cycles. Influences with wake/sleep cycles along with exercise and food timing.
Pelvis is included in respiration, not just the ribcage
Creates pumping motion throughout the entire abdominal cavity and thoracic cage. Creates cerebrospinal flow, organ movement
Meditation/breathing/yoga can help increase PNS response and decrease SNS response
For our anatomy nerds out there, stimulates the vagus nerve by activating the diaphragm.
Unprecedented times. That’s a phrase we’ve heard a lot lately, as countries around the world try to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic that’s spread to every corner of the planet. It’s not the first time a highly contagious coronavirus has spread from country to country. I am of course referring to the SARS outbreak in 2003.
At the time, I was pregnant with our second child, and had a toddler occupying my attention during the day. Maybe SARS wasn’t reported as widely in your neck of the woods, or maybe you’re too young to recall what was being reported. Here in Canada, we received daily updates in local and national news broadcasts. That’s because, as a country, we experienced one of the highest death rates (17%), as well as one of the highest rates of infection, behind China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.
And while we knew about the outbreak within Canadian borders, we didn’t really register it as an issue. That is, until we arrived at the hospital on delivery day. My water had broken at home—on my due date no less—and my husband and I bid his mother and our firstborn adieu as we headed to our local hospital’s maternity ward.
Upon arrival at the main entrance to the hospital, we saw firsthand the quarantine measures. Large stop signs and other notices, stations with hand sanitizer, gowned and masked staff sitting behind a table. They were screening and, often turning away, potential visitors. That’s right, they were limiting the flow of people in and out of the hospital.
After responding to their screening questions, we were allowed to proceed to the elevators and continue up to the maternity ward. The first thing I noticed when we exited the elevators was how quiet it was compared to my first kick at the can. Our first child was born on the same floor, two years earlier. At the time, I was desperate to return home because of how loud and noisy the ward was. You see, my roommate’s extended family had set up camp on her side of the curtain. Closing the door to drown out the inordinate number of visitors to other new moms and their offspring just made the cramped room seem even smaller—and louder.
This time, though, as a direct result of SARS, new moms were only allowed one visitor, both during the blessed event and for their one-to-two day stay postpartum. I can’t speak to how other families handled the restriction, but it worked well for us. What did it matter whether you met a new human at day one of existence or day seven? At least, that’s what I thought. We didn’t have a midwife for either pregnancy, so we were not forced to choose between father and midwife as the solo addition in the birthing suite. I have seen stories the past few weeks about expectant mothers compelled to change their birth plans because of similar restrictions with the COVID-19 pandemic. I get their concern and frustration when things aren’t proceeding as planned.
I don’t want to minimize anyone’s feelings, but please bear with me as I try to offer a little perspective: Having plans upended by something out of your control is a great way to prepare you for your new role as a mother. Because anyone who’s had children will tell you that being flexible in the face of unplanned upheaval is the name of the game in parenthood. As my decade-older neighbor—who’s about to become a grandmother for the first time—so accurately reminded me just yesterday, it wasn’t that long ago that fathers-to-be weren’t welcome to the party (only the after-party). On that note, who would you rather have in the room with you? If it was up to me, I’d much prefer to include the person who’s going to actively assist me during labour and delivery, whoever that may be.
I work in administration at a public library. My library is in a town of about 18,000 people and we have 25 employees. Since mid-March our library has been closed due to COVID-19. My responsibilities in the library include finance, human resources and building maintenance and contracts. When we first began to discuss the COVID-19 virus we talked about what we were going to do in regards to our staff. Of course at the time, we had no idea that almost two months later we would still be closed. We are now beginning to plan re-opening in a phased approached. During this closure we have paid our employees. The expectation was employees were to work at least half the hours they are normally scheduled to work in a week. This work includes planning and implementing online programs, story times, crafts, collection development, attending training and webinars. I have been in our building working every day Monday-Friday since we closed. Some much needed building projects were addressed. I tackled some long planned records disposal and organizing files. I have updated essential paper work and created some long needed databases. All this including supervising a window replacement project in one of our buildings, paying bills, paying employees and assisting in updating policies we will have to implement when we open.
Today the department heads had a long overdue meeting to begin discussing our phased in approach to re-opening the library. This week of each month is my busiest week. I have to coordinate the paying of bills, library reports, paying employees, reconciling bank statements, putting together our board packet and on top of this our fiscal year ended last Thursday. I started suggesting in mid-April to begin these phased in approach conversations, but my suggestions fell on deaf ears. Now here we are, possibly a week away from either accepting checked out materials or doing drive up service, and I am sitting in this 5 hour meeting trying not to be angry, frustrated, or talk myself into walking out of the meeting.
These are difficult times as we all know and are experiencing. What I am experiencing is nothing compared to those who have lost income and attempting to file unemployment, get loans for their small businesses, or front line health care workers trying to save patients. I am fortunate that I am getting paid, I am healthy and I am still working. But for many reasons I am in search of patience. I have learned that in crises we all respond differently. We all perceive this pandemic in a different manner. We have people who are angry, protesting, and want their lives back. We have businesses who are trying to stay afloat and find innovative ways to sell their goods and services. We have families who are struggling to keep children safe and happy and well educated. We also have couples who are finding their love again. We have dogs who have been walked more in the past two months than in the past year. And it’s so good to see children outside and playing again. The sidewalk chalk art makes me smile.
Yet, during this meeting today I found I was barely holding myself together. I could not understand my feelings of anger and frustration. I sat in this meeting trying to find patience. What was making me feel so anxious, uncomfortable and frustrated? I had my phone and started to search for meditation and phrases that could bring me back. I contributed about how we should all feel fortunate and blessed. But all the while my anxiety level continued to rise. A co-worker saw this and sent me encouraging statements, some pictures of her beautiful children and offered to get me coffee. I decided during this meeting I needed to do something to turn me around. My goal for the month of April was to do yoga daily. I achieved this goal about 2/3 of the month. In conversations I have had with others we talk about people we see at the stores and some who are so helpful, friendly and encouraging and others are so angry and rude. The positive experiences uplift me but the negative bring me down immensely.
During the meeting today I decided I have to dedicate May to finding patience and serenity. I cannot continue to view the world as I have in the past two months. I want to believe we are better and stronger than this virus. I can try to be part of the solution and I can help myself. I will let you know in June how I do.
No one ever expected this. I would never have thought I would have to see my dear friends lose their jobs and file for unemployment before the age of 25. I never thought my senior athletes’ would see the field for the last time after a regular season game in mid March. No one could have prepared for this. Now we are living our lives like we have never had before, having more down time than we need or want, (hopefully) isolating in ourselves that we are bored to tears.
Thankfully, I still have a job and am working 4 days out of the week. BUT my lifestyle, like most of you, is turned upside down. It is hard to change and adjust to a routine you are used to. But instead of complaining about it and fighting it; i am accepting it for what it is and adapting. Instead of taking my cut hours at work as a bad thing, I am going to look at it as a blessing in disguise. I am going to be optimistic and try to seize this moment as an opportunity. In my opinion, I think it is best to try to keep your day as productive as possible to try to avoid any negativity and bad thoughts that come to mind when I am just sitting around. Here are some tips and tricks I have been using to survive each day.
Now that gyms are closed in Florida, we have to resort to staying active at home. Personally, this is extremely hard for me because it is so hard to stay motivated. Working out alone gets pretty boring but staying on top of my workout routine is extremely important to me. I think getting active a little bit every day will help increase and uplift your mood. Get outside and walk/run/bike around the block or find a quick youtube workout video.
To fill in the spare time I have, I decided to pick up a new hobby: gardening. I have always wanted to start my own vegetable garden and have my own supply to cook with, but with my busy and crazy work schedule, I always found an excuse to put it off. I am using this time to my advantage to start something new and fun! It gives me new excitement each day to watch my plant babies grow and gives me a sense of accomplishment.
Now, I am not saying each day will be great and full of opportunity. We will have down days, but it is how we deal and react to them that will determine the outcome. From my previous article, I mentioned Camp Kulabunga, they have been great with providing us with resources through their Instagram (@campkulabunga) to get us through these tough times. (Read my previous article here: https://positivelybalancedllc.com/2020/01/06/vulnerability/ .)I really took into one of their workshops where they mentioned setting affirmations each day. That even though we are going through a rough time, we are still alive and present. We need to connect and have peace with our inner self, change your narrative to celebrate each day.
Following these 3 simple tips have helped me stay (somewhat) sane throughout this quarantine. This situation we are in is far from ideal but, I am trying to get the most out of what is put in front of us, is keeping me positive throughout these weird times.
The last two weeks of March and the first few weeks of April I would be making some changes and would also develop what I wanted to share with others. So I moved forward, plans were formulated, with announcements to the contributors beginning to roll out. My dad was coming down and I was really excited to see him the first time since Christmas time. There was more but hey, you know what they say about plans right?
At the start of the COVID-19 panic, I was thinking I would be fine. I was actually looking forward to shifting to a slower pace. I have been busy lately. Working a lot and trying to build back up our savings after school. I had been getting sick recently due to some underlying medical problems, but was feeling a bit better. I was even thinking about the potential quarantine as a possible blessing for many to slow down, just as I wanted to.
I began to plan ways to help women at home with my fellow contributors over at Positively Balanced. I had worked with a few of them to set up conversations. I began to formulate the membership I had been sitting on and was ready to launch, coming in April. I was preparing and consolidating content. My goal was to help other women navigate this new challenge we were all about to face.
Work was steady for awhile, everyone was feeling good. Then it started to change to less and less patients around the 18th. Everyone was feeling fine, yours truly included. I had been tired from stress and other health concerns but it was going well. I even did my best workout in MONTHS on the 19th. Boy, did that change fast.
March 20: I started to get extremely tired and fuzzy. I thought it was because I was up every half hour with my son. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. But I started getting spacey for sure here and there.
March 22: morning time, I feel good, tired from waking up and taking care of a sick baby. Evening time, sneezing starts then sore throat after I go to bed at 8pm. No fever.
Match 23: morning time, check my temperature no fever, still some sneezing and sore throat. Head to work. Feel progressively more tired throughout the day, practice distancing myself from those around me, disinfecting lots, bleach, etc. No hands on manual therapy, no direct facing patients or coworkers. 4:30pm, I start getting chills. Head and temp is now 100.1. I call my boss, tell him I’m hoping it’s a 24 hr bug, tell him what’s going on, he tells me to stay home tomorrow just in case. I tell him I’ll get a flu/strep test, just to be cautious.
March 24: Nyquil helped me sleep on and off 8pm to 8:30am. I sweated through 2 pairs of clothes. 100.2 temp. In the morning I’m sneezing more now with a headache, lots of sinus pressure, sore throat making me sound an octave lower. I notice decreased appetite. In the afternoon, I’m reading a temp of 98.8. I get a curbside flu and strep test from a local Utica park clinic. They are negative. She says go home and stay there, they can’t give me a COVID test as my symptoms aren’t bad enough. I tell my boss. Ok, I’m home until the end of the week with the rest of my PTO. Then we’ll see what’s progressed or if it was just a random sickness that’s gone for good by Tuesday night. That evening, another dose of Nyquil that puts me out by 8pm. I wake up at 940pm, let out a few congestion filled coughs and find I’m soaked with sweat again. I change clothes, go back to sleep.
Match 25: 4am, wake up and change soaked clothes. 630am wake up with upset/ ear infection ill son. Temp is 98.6. I try to talk, and well, now I sound like a 30 year smoker. Sneezing is a bit less, headache is less, coughing every now and then just feeling the drainage. Noon: temp 99.1.
Did laundry and dishes. Evening: I can’t talk much. I’m coughing more. Somewhere in the afternoon my smoker voice turns into Darth Vader with faulty wiring. Temp 100.2. If I force myself to speak it feels like nails in my throat and it is at a very low deep volume. Go to bed with Nyquil falling asleep around 8pm, wake up at 11pm to change clothes.
March 26th: up on and off all night. Nyquil didn’t work. Sneezing, increase in coughing. No voice. What so ever. Temp 98.6. No more wardrobe change, just lots of drainage. Up at 6am, can’t sleep, so I start to record my experience as it is pretty clear I won’t be returning to work anytime soon. I can’t get a test because I’m not severe enough to stop breathing but I also don’t wanna go to work, even if I suddenly felt better (not going to happen, I know), because I don’t want to even chance putting others at risk.
So I’m .2 under the 100.4 necessary for testing. I naturally run lower so even a 100.2 is feverish to me. However, that doesn’t qualify.
March 27th. So, still no voice this morning. Coughing was intense and so is the sneezing. My body aches have diminished as has the intensity of headache. My husband woke up with a cough, sneezing and losing his voice. Fantastic. By noon he’s super fatigued, I’m sneezing and coughing.
March 28th: Coughing, sneezing, sore throat. On repeat. I am super tired. And then around 4pm, the migraine hit. Probably was up until about 1:30am trying to fight the migraine and fall asleep.
So I’m still in it! Today is the 29th. I’m sure a few more days to go. Migraine, sneezing, coughing, sore throat. Yes, it has sucked. I am pretty exhausted.
But let me tell you the amazing things.
The women I planned on helping, giving to and supporting, ended up supporting, giving and helping me and my family. Instead of providing my planned support to other women, I have received support. Instead of giving, I am allowing myself to receive.
My friend brought me cough drops and popsicles to my front door. Several friends have texted me daily to check in. Another friend from anther country sent me a live video of the ocean. I video chat with my dad at least twice per day.
My husband went to the store twice to get me electrolyte and groceries.
I have been able to spend more time with my family then I have since before grad school.
I got to watch my baby eat his first popsicle (he loved it).
I got to help him put together his first block puzzle.
I got to talk (or text after I lost my voice) to my husband for more than just a few seconds at night.
I got to think about how I was to help other women moving forward.
I have the chance to sit in silence (in between sneezes and coughs) for a few minutes each day while my son napped and just be.
I was able to evaluate what I wanted to do moving forward, who I wanted to be and how I wanted to live my life.
I was able to realize just how unhappy I have been with what I’ve been spending hours on in my life.
I was able to take the time needed to realize the effect stress has been making on all the dimensions of my own life.
By no means have I figured it all out. I’m not sure if anyone ever does. But hey, I have another week of quarantine right?
Why does it take a quarantine to take us back to what matters? Why does it take a pandemic to realize who we are or could be?
Society? Culture? Religion?
I don’t have the answer but I’d love to start a conversation with you. Just like this article: raw, honest and pure conversation.
With US government officials and scientists recommending our population to self-isolate to slow the spread of COVID-19, many people may be feeling the effects of social distancing very negatively. While the US has a large sector of remote workers, social distancing may be a very foreign activity. If you find yourself struggling with the isolation and solitude, below are some suggestions and advice to help you get through these chaotic times.
Whether you’re worrying over getting Coronavirus, the crashing stock market, or getting some cabin fever, some meditation can help calm the nerves, and even lower blood pressure. 1 Meditating doesn’t have to be complicated. Try doing some slow breaths. Breathe in 4 seconds and hold, then breathe out for 4 seconds and hold. Repeat this several times as needed. While doing focus on breathing, try to imagine a blank sheet of paper, or a calm stream flowing by. Use imagery that calms and soothes.
If you’re fortunate enough to have some exercise equipment in your home, put them to good use. Exercise doesn’t have to be a complicated routine. Get on that exercise bike, stream your favorite yoga video, or even stroll outside for a few minutes (no visiting neighbors). Physical activity not only helps distract you, but the release of endorphins will help ease stress, pain, and just give you a mental boost. 2
Visit Mother Nature
Research has revealed that being out in nature can be beneficial. Studies have shown that communing with the outdoors not only reduces stress but fear and anger as well. It has even been found to increase those feel-good hormones within our brain. 3 With social distancing, that stroll out in nature can help you feel connected and grounded. It can also help ease that cabin fever by changing your scenery, if for only a little while. Plus, the sunshine and fresh air can also uplift and invigorate your physical wellbeing.
Revisit Some Hobbies
While some of your favorite pastimes may be out of the question with the new social distancing norm (baseball, soccer, football, concerts, etc.), there are still plenty of hobbies or activities to keep you from getting too bored and lonely. Perhaps one of the more old-fashioned ones is reading a book. True, you may have nothing handy to read, but e-books are easily accessible. If you don’t have a Kindle or Nook, your local library may have an electronic book check out that you can read on your phone, tablet, or mobile device. If reading isn’t your thing, try some arts and crafts. There are plenty of sites online to help you make some cool art with stuff lying around your house.
Nerds and geeks alike know how much technology can help quell the boredom and anxiety. Related to hobbies, gaming on your PC, Mac, or mobile device is a great way to spend countless hours relaxing and actually having some fun. With the popularity of MMO’s (Massively Multiplayer Online games), you can also “hang out” with friends and family while gaming.
If gaming isn’t your thing, apps like FaceTime, Hangouts, and even Discord can help you maintain your connections with the outside world with video, audio, or text chats. There are plenty of easy to use programs that only require an internet connection.
Hopefully, some of these suggestions will make your time in self-isolation less dreary. But knowing that we each have a part to play by social distancing, let’s all embrace the vital role we have in lessening the impact on our nation.