Lessons of Labor

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Fourth Trimester Podcast Episode 15: Lessons of Labor

Imagine that you’ve just had your baby, and you can’t sleep because you’re so excited. What do you do? Do you grab a pencil and paper and write down every last detail about the labor and birth experience?

That’s what Julia Aziz did. Three times, in fact: once for each baby.

Writing down your feelings, thoughts relatively quickly after giving birth helps capture a raw version of your experience. The small details are easily forgotten over the course of the weeks, months and years ahead with your baby.

Years later, Julia compiled her writing alongside learnings she gathered from 20+ years working with parents as a social worker and teacher. The result was a book of four-page chapters that each include a birth story, a lesson, and guidance on applying the lesson in daily life. These are her Lessons of Labor.

Listen to Julia tell some of her wonderful stories on Episode 15 of the Fourth Trimester.

Selected links

Connect with Julia Aziz juliaaziz.com | blog

Julia’s book Lessons of Labor: One Woman’s Self-Discovery through Birth and Motherhood

Learn more Self-Care is Critical to Caring for Others | Top 3 Episodes of the Fourth Trimester Podcast – Start here!

Connect with Fourth Trimester Facebook | InstagramAbout & Contact


Episode Transcript

Download transcript (as pdf)

Sarah Trott: [00:00:05] Hi, this is Sarah Trott. Welcome back to the Fourth Trimester Podcast. I’m here today with special guest Julia Aziz. Julia is a teacher, counselor and healer. Today we’re going to talk about a wide range of subjects, including the postpartum period. But mostly we’re going to dive into some really wonderful learnings that she took away from her experience as being a three-time mom. She has a masters of science and social work. She’s a licensed clinical social worker. She is an ordained interfaith minister. She does life coaching. And amazingly, she just wrote this book, Lessons of Labor, and I love the book so much. I’m so excited to have her here and so we can talk about it more. But she went through a process of writing, actually. I mean, I’ll let you explain it, but I mean, it’s just awesome. You wrote immediately after giving birth and then you translated that years later into lessons about life and motherhood in general. And I just I’m in love with the the format, which is very unique. But welcome and we could talk more about that. But can you just give a little introduction about yourself and tell us, like, how did you get where you are?

Julia Aziz: [00:02:00] And sure, well, thank you for having me. In my prior life, before children, I was a therapist and I worked with a wide range of people, but often with parents and children doing either individual or family counseling and then was a school counselor. And then when I had my first child that I couldn’t do such emotionally challenging work and also be so exhausted emotionally from parenthood. So I kind of stepped away from doing therapy at that point. And instead I was mostly part time working, doing some youth groups and and then also home with my child. And so I had three babies there, each about two and one half years apart. And I did after each birth, I wrote the birth story like that first night, like within 24 hours, mainly because it was all just so dramatic and it was all just so intense that it was a way. I’ve always been a journaler, and so it was a way for me to kind of like put it all out there on paper and process it. But I didn’t start and I had the concept for the book, the idea even after that first birth, because it was so it was it was just life changing, just the whole process, just the intensity of the emotional and mental challenges of being in labor really reminded me of a lot of those same challenges being in my life.

Julia Aziz: [00:03:32] So anyway, the concept for the book was there, but I didn’t have I didn’t make the space to be actually writing the book until after my last child was born. When I realized, if I don’t write this book now, I’m going to lose. Like it’s all going to be a distant memory. So I started writing on the book in earnest after my last child was born. And yeah, and and now at this point I have various part time gigs going on. I work at an acupuncture school, I teach psychology and clinical communications there. And I also do some coaching and lead some meditation groups. And then on my own I’m doing some dance workshops and see use for counselors and social workers coaching. So I’m really I’ve found that having having babies has been having children, has in some ways made me really need to prioritize where I want to put my energy and my work life because of the time constraints of everything and also just having a chance to kind of step away from what I was doing before has given me some good reflection on who am I, what do I really want to be doing in the world, and what meaning can I make out of all of it? Mm hmm.

Sarah Trott: [00:04:51] And the book is a fabulous way to summarize so much of all of that.

Julia Aziz: [00:04:55] Yeah, I felt like it really helped me to. To process everything that had happened. Partly, I wrote it because I felt I hoped that it would help some woman somewhere. You know, like I. I had met women along the way, both through counseling and just friends or colleagues, and just felt like some of those experiences, some of the anxiety, some of the just all the growth, all the change that happens to a woman as she becomes a mother. A lot of it seemed to have commonalities for other women. And so I was writing it thinking, especially actually of postpartum women, because it’s especially with your first, it’s it’s such a huge change and identity and and where you spend your time and your energy and who how you feel good about yourself and how you judge yourself, all of it comes up and. So I hoped it would resonate with other women. And it also helped me to kind of process what I had been through over those years of being pregnant and nursing. And just all of that was kind of a decade for me.

Sarah Trott: [00:06:06] Yeah. Yeah. And it is such a process and a life changing experience, just going through becoming a parent for the first time. And then probably again, I have one child so I can speak to the former. Mm hmm. So we had another guest, Pricilla Tanner, on our show, and she touched on some interesting points, kind of along the lines of, well, you know, people go through these cycles of becoming new again and sort of relating that to sort of, you know, when a child is developing and they’re learning something new, sometimes they sort of stop and regress a little bit. And that’s the time when they’re learning something new or processing something new and then come out the other side stronger and more capable. And we were talking about how that process kind of never really ends. And, you know, it’s commonly acknowledged in childhood, but not so much in adulthood. But it’s interesting to see it happen, especially like if you were to think about, well, what is what does it mean to become a parent or or a second time parent or third time? It’s like sort of going through these things again and relearning or becoming more capable each time.

Julia Aziz: [00:07:11] Yeah, I think that’s a really interesting way to look at it because we look at the development of a child and but there’s also a development of the mother or the parent.

Sarah Trott: [00:07:21] You have a lot of amazing stories in your book. And first of all, congratulations on having the foresight to sit down and write about your experiences, because reading through it, it was very raw. A lot of it reminded me of some moments that I had thoughts or feelings that I had kind of more immediately after having birth. And I know that as time ticks along, those memories become more and more distant and so well done for capturing that and having the wherewithal to actually sit down with a pencil and and get it all down.

Julia Aziz: [00:07:50] Well, I couldn’t sleep. I mean, I’m just somebody in general who insomnia has kind of plagued me my whole life. So I’ll tend to to not sleep if something exciting and if even if I’m just, like, excited about something, thinking about something, I won’t sleep. So going through childbirth was exciting enough that I, after every baby, I didn’t sleep at all, even if the baby was sleeping in that first night. So it was a way for me to like, get all that running thought through my head out. But yeah, if I hadn’t written it all, then I wouldn’t have been able to remember that level of detail.

Sarah Trott: [00:08:26] There’s some amazing little passages in the book. I really like the one talking about the passage of time. By the way, the format of your book reminds me a little bit of and I’m I mean, this is in no way a religious podcast, but but reminded me of sort of growing up doing like daily, like little Bible studies. There’s almost like a passage and then a little lesson in bold. And then underneath that sort of an interpretation or like a practical application of what that could mean because it’s very short. Like each, each chapter is only like three or four pages. But yeah, but talk to me about the passage of time. The part that struck me was this idea that we’re all we’re always waiting until the next thing. Like, when is my baby going to eat solids? When it’s my baby going to take their first step, and then when is the next thing and when is the next thing? And so long as we’re looking into the future, we’re not. We’re not in the present, right?

Julia Aziz: [00:09:14] Definitely. Yeah. I have said and hear hear that so often, you know, it’s like, well, once once she goes to preschool, then I’ll be able to, I don’t know, make the time to take yoga classes or something like that. You know what I mean? Like, once once this happens, then everything will be okay. Or just feeling like we’re we’re waiting for the there’s always something kind of left undone, as if we’re someday going to arrive at this place where all is well and permanently so. And I think that the what I’ve found in life in general, but certainly parenthood has cracked that open, is really the only place for feeling truly at peace. And everything’s really okay is right right now in this exact moment and then in this next moment. I mean, there’s just there’s always going to be things undone or things that aren’t yet learned or. You know, life is messy. But if usually in any particular moment, if we become fully present to that, just like in the body here I am, it’s actually okay.

Sarah Trott: [00:10:30] As you highlighted, there’s saying that the days are long, but the years are short. So where does that baby time go? I mean, my baby is almost one. And so it’s just I can totally relate to that. It was like my longest, shortest year. I think there’s even another podcast called that. Yeah, but it’s it’s amazing how quickly the time goes and you turn it on and you realize, Wow. But like, every day felt so long and.

Julia Aziz: [00:10:56] The longest days ever, Well, you’re not sleeping, so you’re awake for so much more of time. So that makes it feel longer too. But, but yeah, I mean, I also I’ve never liked when that can become a pressure, you know, like, you should enjoy every moment. I think a lot of people like to say that to new moms, You know, they’ll say, it goes so fast, you should enjoy every moment. And it can be something that women use against themselves. Like, I’m not enjoying this moment. You mean like, I know. It’s like we know that it’s so precious and yet it’s it’s it can feel so exhausting or monotonous, you know, with little babies or and then there’s so much emotion and hormones. There’s all kinds of things going on. So I think it’s important not to get too far ahead of yourself, you know, because it’s all going to happen. You know, everything. It’s all it feels like it’s not it feels like things will never change, but babies especially or pregnancy or whatever, you know, it’s like you just see it really does. It doesn’t like minute to minute. It doesn’t when you’re just like, you just really want to take a nap and the baby won’t fall asleep, you know, it feels like it’ll never happen. But, you know, that’s why I feel like New motherhood especially just brings you so much into like, you can really only know what’s happening right now and you have no idea what’s going to happen next.

Sarah Trott: [00:12:14] And being caught in the perpetual state of waiting that can anyone can fall into that trap that doesn’t have to be parenthood related at all. It could be that whatever is next. But but yeah, I take your point about just feeling the pressure of of feeling like, oh, I’m obligated or I mean, that’s just something in general that I think a lot of women and parents put themselves through, beating themselves up for not doing X, Y, or Z. Right? Like if I could only follow these instructions and would work. And and I think you even talked about that a little bit, like, oh, if it was related to sleep. Yeah. If I recall. And it was we were talking about how oh, if I could only just follow my friend’s instructions and if I could do it right, then it would work, right?

Julia Aziz: [00:12:58] Right. Yeah. That by my third baby, I had realized that none of it mattered. There was no point in worrying about anyone’s advice or reading any books. I mean, that’s kind of a theme that goes throughout the book and throughout my larger learning Journey into Parenthood is just that. All of that. There’s there’s so many well-meaning advice books or advice givers, you know, who have like really good things to offer based on their own experiences or based on research or their work. You know, there’s there’s commonalities amongst babies and mothers. And this is useful information, but depending on who’s receiving it, you know, and if you’re someone like me who takes things in a little bit too seriously, it can just be used as something to compare yourself against, you know, like, oh, well, you know, my friend said, oh, she had to do is like lie the baby in the crib and pat him and then he fell asleep and what am I doing wrong? You know, and it’s just like you’re comparing apples and oranges, like those are two different babies and your two different mothers and you have different households. And I mean, it’s just it doesn’t help to compare ourselves against these standards. And no one told that baby that was born like you’re supposed to follow the rules in this book of what they say is supposed to happen, you know, And so I feel like for me, what what eventually happened was realizing it was, you know, it was good for me to be informed and know what other people were doing. But I really had to trust that I did know my baby better than anyone else.

Julia Aziz: [00:14:35] And not only did I know my baby, but I knew myself, you know, because if if you can’t do the thing, like, if that’s not going to work for you, then it’s not going to work. Like, just that’s it. You don’t have to there doesn’t have to be any justification for it, you know, like, like something like sleep training, you know, if you you know, like if someone cries it out and that works well for their baby. But for you, you just can’t do it. Like it’s just too painful for you, then that’s just not the right strategy, you know, or or vice versa. It’s like I’ve also seen pressure on women, like they should be co-sleeping, and that’s how it’s going to work best right after the baby’s born. And then but they are too afraid they’re going to roll over on the baby. Okay, well, then co-sleeping is not in your options, you know, and it’s just being able to kind of respect yourself and. Just do what works. That’s my main feeling is like, do what works for you and your baby, you know? And it’s okay if it doesn’t fit exactly what other people are saying to do and whatever is going on, whatever challenge, it’s it’s eventually going to change anyway. Like whether I did all those crazy things to try to get my baby to sleep, like eventually, Like he’s ten now. Now he sleeps, you know? It just feels like a long time because it’s so exhausting.

Sarah Trott: [00:15:50] Yeah. Can you tell that story?

Julia Aziz: [00:15:53] Oh, yeah. Well, my first baby, I think maybe partly how I even ended up writing this book. My first baby was the most challenging, and as a toddler, he was as well. But he was very wakeful. He would be up all the time in the middle of the night. And we finally got him to sleep through the night. But he started waking up at four in the morning and that was like the beginning of the day. He was super active, so he would just just take off like crawling over the house, pulling things out of cabinets. Just he was one of those babies that’s just like everywhere. And so it was exhausting for me to wake up at four and have to actually be on and, you know, supervising him. So I really wanted him to sleep later and I was reading books and I have a friend who’s a sleep specialist doctor and was trying all kinds of things, and I was making myself miserable with it. And about it took about a month or so and he started sleeping till five or 530, which was at least somewhat more reasonable.

Julia Aziz: [00:16:53] And eventually that shifted to six. But the the chapter where I’m writing about it is basically my just kind of coming into an acceptance of like just because those strategies didn’t work or didn’t work right away, it doesn’t mean anything’s wrong. It’s just like this was this baby’s experience, you know, this is what this was a process that it took him and me and what I was doing to respond. But it wasn’t like I was wrong or I was doing something wrong. And that’s why it was happening. This just like being able to see it as this just is where you’re at, where you’re both at at this time, and whether you do crazy interventions or nothing. Eventually it’ll, it’ll shift. And having I think that I wasn’t able to see that at the time. But in the future, being able to see that sometimes it’s about just being patient and being compassionate towards yourself in those times, like just doing what you have to do to go through those days. So tired. Yeah.

Sarah Trott: [00:17:54] Yeah. And to feel emotional, to feel exhausted and then to have this pressure of the advice. I mean, it can cause a feeling of failure, I think, among some people.

Julia Aziz: [00:18:05] Definitely. Yeah. And I think there’s so much of that comparison to, you know, like, I remember I would talk to I had some friends who had babies around the same time, and it was like their babies always would go back to sleep till seven or something, you know? And I was like, What is it about me? Like, it must be something I’m doing, you know? And it’s, you know, after I had other be I my second baby, he was a sleeper and I was like, oh, this is a completely different situation. Like if some some babies and some people, you know, just sleep more easily. And I just took it all personally as if it was me instead of that, you know, this was how he was wired. Mm hmm.

Sarah Trott: [00:18:46] Mm hmm. What are some of your favorite stories from your book?

Julia Aziz: [00:18:52] I mean, I would say, like, the birth of my daughter, who’s my youngest, was such a such an empowering experience because I was actually just talking about it recently. I, I had the great opportunity to see a good friend this week in Labor, and I missed the actual birth, But I got to hold her baby when she was just 6 hours old. And it was really it brought me back to that place again. And and just remembering that birth and how I just didn’t resist it, that labor in the way that I did with the first. And for part of the second one, I had that it was really an experience of seeing how different pain can feel based on my my attitude towards it, you know, And I just I actually experienced less pain in that birth than with the other ones because I wasn’t that’s I wasn’t focused on it. And and I think that was so true, too, of the postpartum period with her. And part of it might have been that I knew I did not want to have any more babies. So it was like I had this feeling of like, okay, like, this is the last time I’m going to go through this, so it’s okay. You know, like I knew I knew it would pass. I’d already been through it twice before, but but it was also a sense of, you know, no matter how difficult something is, that it will pass. And that’s a really good thing for me to remember in all kinds of situations.

Sarah Trott: [00:20:25] What do you mean by less pain because you weren’t focused on it?

Julia Aziz: [00:20:30] Well, she came I had a very slow early labor with her that lasted from five in the morning till ten at night. But then it was like a half an hour and she was born. So I had a I had a very fast active labor with her, which I think normally is super painful when it goes that fast. But I for one thing, my midwife wasn’t hadn’t arrived yet. And so I was on my own. And I think that my focus was I wanted the midwife to get there before I gave birth to the baby. Like that was important to me that she was there. And so I wasn’t thinking about how painful this is. I was just focused on like talking to the baby inside me and saying like, just hold on until she gets here. And I was just like breathing and trying to get myself ready. So so it was very different than when in the other situations when I was already somewhere sort of like safe and everything was where it needed to be. And then it was just like, Oh, this hurts so much, you know? And getting into I wasn’t I had a more important concern at the time, which was this.

Julia Aziz: [00:21:43] I felt like for the safety of the baby, I really wanted, My husband was like, All right, we’ve done it before. Let me, I can catch the baby. And I was like, No, I want the midwife here. So there was that. But even before that, I wasn’t. I don’t know. I was. I was sort of spelling during contractions. I was spelling out words like trust and open. And I mainly was I think, you know, this would have never happened the first time around. But because it was the third time and I felt and I still hope that it was my last time giving birth, I had a I just was really curious about like how how might it what if I didn’t have the expectation of it being so much suffering, you know, like, what if instead I thought, maybe I don’t have to suffer through this? And so I kind of approached the labour like that and I approached that postpartum period like that as well. Just what if I. What if this is something I could actually enjoy? I mean, that sounds kind of crazy, but I actually felt less pain.

Sarah Trott: [00:22:47] Mm hmm. I mean, sometimes people say that their first birth is more painful and difficult. Mm hmm. And so do you think that was part of it as well?

Julia Aziz: [00:23:00] Yeah. I mean, I think there’s also a level of, you know, that my body had been through it before, so there’s probably less resistance, But I do. I mean, I felt that even in the first labor, there was a difference when I was feeling scared or fighting the pain. Like I would get into this resistance with it, like I wanted to get on top of it and control it and kind of be prepared for each contraction and be able to like muscle my way through it. And and then in the few times when I was able to truly just breathe in and mostly, I think, rest in between the contractions, I felt less pain. I feel like that was a big thing that I learned with the second one was that in between contractions, it’s actually calm, like nothing’s going on for that moment. And and that’s one of the chapters is about that as well, because that’s I feel like also a metaphor for what happens in our lives in general. But in our lives as parents, it’s like it’s easy to tell a story of, I don’t know how difficult something is or like, my baby won’t. Eat or whatever is going on. But in between there’s always flux in these things. So there’s always moments where everything’s okay, even in a difficult time. So really trying to like, appreciate to receive those moments where everything’s okay, especially in a difficult time. I don’t know if that makes sense.

Sarah Trott: [00:24:29] Yeah. What’s what’s an example of that?

Julia Aziz: [00:24:31] Well, it just made me think about grieving. I was doing some hospice work last year and just thinking about how this comes up in grieving. It’s like you can lose someone you love and be just in turmoil over it. And so much loss and waves of anger and sadness and all kinds of different emotions. And then there can be periods where you’re actually not thinking about it and you’re just like going about making your breakfast as you normally do. Or maybe you laugh at a joke someone says, and it can surprise you. You know, It’s like, Oh, wait, what’s going on? I’m grieving right now, you know, And it’s but there actually are moments where there’s rest, just like with contractions, like, like labor contractions. I’ve talked to some friends about this. Like, can be if you’re going through a difficult passage in life, making some kind of difficult change in life, whether it’s a change in relationship or job or, you know, moving or anything like that, you know, there’s like a contraction of like, oh, this is so difficult. Everything is like all up there at once, you know? But then there’s also some period where there’s just even if it’s brief, just everything’s okay for a moment. You know, and to actually receive that instead of like preparing ourselves for that next one, you know, just getting all armored up again for everything else that needs to happen, like this time of year too, can be such a busy time of year. And I find like it can feel like it’s one thing after another and scheduling this and that and, you know, but then then I might get surprised by like my family left a few minutes early today. It’s like, Oh, I have 10 minutes. Can I just enjoy 10 minutes? Can I sit outside? You know what I mean? Like, instead of getting all planned and, like, ready for the next thing?

Sarah Trott: [00:26:19] Yeah, I really like that. Getting ready for the next thing is definitely something that is, like, hard. It’s like, hard not to do. It’s really hard not to do that. Like what’s, what’s a way to enjoy those 10 minutes or like, instead of feeling guilty, like, Oh, I’m meant to be grieving right now. I should be I shouldn’t be enjoying this or like, I want to be a martyr. I want to I’m going to not allow myself to enjoy it. What’s a way to open up and allow oneself to do that?

Julia Aziz: [00:26:46] Yeah, I think that that’s so important to have that kind of compassion for ourselves. Think of this sometimes if you’re feeling really needy, like I need more time or I need some love or whatever it is, and it’s it’s like nothing’s enough. Like, you might be like, I need more time for myself, for instance. Right. Which is something that moms often feel like they don’t have enough of that, but then maybe they’re offered some. Right. Like by a partner or, I don’t know, a grandmother or something like that. And it still feels like not enough. Like when they get back, they still feel exhausted and stressed and things like that, you know, And and so I’ve been thinking about like, how do you actually receive that time? Like really let it in, like let it refresh and renew you and let it be enough. And I think part of that is just giving giving ourselves permission. You know, it’s like, no, this time is for that. You know, like this is there’s nothing else I need to do. Like, life will go on. There’s the to do list is never ending. It will never end like we’re alive. So there’s always going to be more things for us to do. So it’s, I think, just so important to to when we have this space, like make it make it worthy, you know, like instead of saying, okay, I’ve got 10 minutes until I have to go pick this person up or whatever, It’s like, Oh, I have 10 minutes. You know, it’s a beautiful day and really and really like breathing. I think it’s one of the simplest it’s like everyone says it and it’s an easy thing to be like, Oh, yeah, just do some deep breathing. But then it’s hard to actually do it in your life, you know? But it’s it’s the simplest way to get more grounded and be fully in the moment is to just take some deep breaths. That’s like just ground down. Just like, here I am, I’m in the body. It’s all.

Sarah Trott: [00:28:44] Okay. Should we put that on the to do list?

Julia Aziz: [00:28:49] Not if it’s going to cause anxiety.

Sarah Trott: [00:28:54] So what is what would be a good, like ten minute practice? So I like this idea of breathing, but like, walk us through like what would you recommend for someone?

Julia Aziz: [00:29:02] I would say that would depend on what brings you joy. I would I think for everyone that’s a little different. And so for somebody like journaling could bring them joy and for someone else that would feel like a chore, like something they should do and some kind of self improvement effort, you know. So for me, for instance, dancing is something that is one of my purest joys. Like, I just feel. Most myself when I’m dancing. And so I’ve recently made a commitment like at least once a week, go out somewhere publicly and be dancing. And and now I’ve started teaching some therapeutic dance workshops and integrating it into my work. But for 10 minutes, if that’s something that brings you joy, it’s like pick a song every day and dance for 5 minutes to to a song that you love. Or if it’s sitting outside and having a cup of tea and sitting on the back porch, you know, I think it’s like, whatever, whatever really lets you feel, feel peaceful. Feel like it’s just about you, you know, it’s like all yours, this private moment where you can feel like yourself and you can relax, you know, just like making the the space for that. You know, a meditation practice can be really helpful. But it doesn’t have to be something formal like that. It can be just taking a walk around the block, but just doing that purposely, saying like, I’m doing this for myself, that makes a difference.

Sarah Trott: [00:30:38] Another thing you touched on was the importance of being aware and compassion for yourself, but aware of the intensity of the emotions during the post partum period. Yeah. Do you think that would also kind of help someone like feel like they’re okay to to enjoy that time?

Julia Aziz: [00:30:56] Yeah. Yeah. I think it’s really important to know that there’s a lot of emotions in the postpartum period so that so that you don’t blame yourself for not feeling happy all the time, you know, because for one thing, there’s a lot of hormones going on, you know, after giving birth. So there’s all kinds of fluctuations and then there’s such a huge change. I mean, especially with your first baby, you went from, you know, feeling like going out and getting a breakfast taco to having to, like, plan that out for 2 hours, depending on your baby when they’re ready to. I don’t know. You know, it takes a while to get used to how to just, like, grab the baby and go, you know. And I think that usually after a few months, women figure that out. But with the first one, it can be very challenging to figure out how to leave the house. Like, what do you need to take with you so that you feel like you have It can be really difficult. And so, yeah, I think that there’s immense love that can be in that postpartum period. There can be anger, whether that’s at yourself or your spouse or your mom or your in-laws, whoever.

Julia Aziz: [00:32:04] Right. There can be fear. Great amount of fear. I remember with my first baby, the first time I left the house, like left him I was having I needed to go get checked by the doctor and left the baby. I think with my mom and I, it was so difficult for me to leave the house, like to feel that far away from the baby felt really scary to me. I felt like his whole survival was dependent on being close to me. And even though rationally I knew that even if I was killed in a car accident that the baby could survive, someone would feed him and he would be okay. I felt at some primal level like that I was necessary in this way. I had never been before, and that was really overwhelming to feel that way. And I think just having that be, no one really had talked to me about that or it made me feel a little crazy, you know? And I think that there’s all we talk about postpartum depression and there’s a whole range, you know, there’s postpartum anxiety. There’s there’s a whole range of things that can happen. And it’s it’s part of it’s part of that adjustment.

Sarah Trott: [00:33:23] And as you say, like with your the birth of your third child that you really focused on maybe joy. Right. Like postpartum joy is for sure an option.

Julia Aziz: [00:33:36] Right? Right. I mean, it can also be like because with her, I wasn’t having that kind of anxiety. I was in real gratitude because I knew this was my last time, you know, And so I was really able to enjoy her in this different way of like actually enjoying being forced to slow down, you know, like having to kind of like, lie down a lot and having her be on my chest. And just that that specialness of the I mean, now I love being around newborns like they’re my favorite baby. Once they get a little older. I don’t I don’t pay them as much attention. But like, when they’re so little like that, they’re creatures. They’re like barely human in a certain way. And there’s something really magical about getting to be near them. There’s a peacefulness and and just it’s so, so animal. It was really able to enjoy that with her and enjoy like her brother’s interactions with her and and just the that all of the lack of sleep and needing to feed the baby like realizing like that will end and I won’t be so tethered in that way. And so was like, oh, this is a time in my life where this is all I need to be like, This is the most important thing is to do this. And so I’m going to just enjoy it, knowing that I will get all busy and running around again some other day, plenty of time.

Sarah Trott: [00:35:01] I think the final story I would love to hear again from you, just having read through it was just this You had a chapter about self care and about asking for help.

Julia Aziz: [00:35:10] Yeah, I remember being in labor and I didn’t want to sort of disturb the doula before it was necessary. I felt like I should be far enough along and labor before asking for that help because I didn’t want her to come over and then it would end up being so long. Or I was. Not wanting to put anyone out, you know, which I feel like is pretty common, especially amongst women, that we can often be willing to help a lot of people, but it’s harder to receive it. No, no, I can do that myself or I don’t want to trouble anyone or make it inconvenient. And but I really it’s like once I asked for her to come over, my labor really got going because that’s what I needed for to feel safe, you know, like, I just felt so much better when she was there. It just made me relax in a way that I kept kind of waiting beforehand. And that’s a lot of what I’ve noticed is, I mean, the idea that we should be able to do this all on our own is crazy. You know, like, that’s not how we how humans came into the world. Like, there’s always been a tribe, you know, people we need each other. And that’s that’s not only normal, it’s natural and good.

Julia Aziz: [00:36:26] And and people want to be a part of that. You know, we all want to be supported and to support each other. And so one of my dear friends, when I right before I gave birth the second time, said to me something along the lines of if someone offers, you just say yes, just accept it. Don’t say like, No, I don’t need that. Or you know what I mean? You don’t don’t just say, Oh, thank you so much for offering, but we’ll be okay. Just just say yes. And it was very good advice, especially for having a second baby, because there’s a lot that has to be done with, especially if you have a toddler or kind of an active kid that needs something very different than your brand newborn baby. And you. So, I mean, I think one thing is, is food. For instance, you know, for all of my friends that have had babies in the past decade or so, like we always will set up a food chain where people bring food every other day or so for, you know, I remember mine was maybe two or three months. We were given meals for two or three months, you know, and that was amazing. And it not only fed us at a time when it was really hard to kind of get it together to do the shopping and the cooking.

Julia Aziz: [00:37:36] But it also made me feel not so alone, you know, it’s just like these people. I mean, some of the people who brought food or people I didn’t even know very well, they would be like a mom at the preschool or an acquaintance from work. But these people would say, I want to help. How can I help you? And instead of just saying, Oh, don’t worry about it, we’re fine, I learned to say, Well, this friend is setting up a food chain. If I can give her your email if you want. And then they would do it and they would bring food and they wanted to do that. And it felt so good. You know, like even some of these people I don’t ever even see anymore, but I still remember them doing that. And it just it gave me a sense of like that my child was coming into a world where I was part of a we were part of a community, you know, and that that people really do want to do that, especially if they themselves were isolated or or were well cared for. They want to pay that forward.

Sarah Trott: [00:38:34] Yeah. Why is that? It’s so true. I’ve experienced something similar with both receiving and giving meals for in a postpartum period. You know, it feels really good to show up at a door with a hot home cooked meal and say, Here you go, enjoy. I’m not even going to come in. And I know I know what it’s like. And just to see the gratitude on someone’s face and it feels fantastic to both give and receive in those scenarios. And it’s such a like a primal gesture. It’s almost like a throwback to village life. Mm hmm.

Julia Aziz: [00:39:08] Yeah. And we we are. We’re, like, desperately in need of that in this culture. You know, we really need to to feel that. And I think it’s there. It’s just we can be so tentative about about asking for it or offering it. And it just reminds me, I was talking to my neighbor who just had her second baby, who’s I think seven weeks old now, and her husband’s going to be out of town for ten days and she doesn’t have any family here. And I was like, well, let me let’s get a food train for you so you can get dinners for those ten days. And because she has a toddler as well and she’s like, well, I don’t know. I mean, it’s I’ve you know, I had the baby seven weeks ago and was like, you know, part of it is that it’s hard it would be hard for her to go and ask her friends, hey, can you bring me dinner? You know, that’s really difficult. But I’m like, well, I don’t mind asking for that for you, so just let me do the asking and just give me their addresses, you know, and I’ll say, Hey, she’s going to be on her own. If anyone wants to bring a meal by like, here’s a calendar, there’s no pressure. Nobody feels like obligated. But you’re giving people a chance to to help out, you know, And then the people that do it really want to. And then you can receive it, you know, And it’s actually a beautiful thing. It doesn’t have to be there’s nothing you know what I was saying? Like there’s something weak about you or like, you can’t. Handle it on your own. Why? Why would you want to, you know? You know, it’s like we don’t have to. We’re not trying to be superheroes here. You know what I mean? Like, it’s. It’s better to feel connected and supported. And you’re going to do that for other people, too.

Sarah Trott: [00:40:50] Yeah. There’s such a deep pressure to be self sufficient.

Julia Aziz: [00:40:53] There really is. There really is. And I think that that is a real disservice to to new moms, especially, you know, because it’s it’s just not it’s just not possible, not in a healthy way. You know, it’s really we need we need more than just our partners or just, you know, our immediate family in terms of health and support. Everyone offers something different. So it’s it’s and it’s so good for our kids, too. I think, you know, to as they get older, to be able to trust other people and to to see like my kids love it when they they’ll see me like cooking an extra meal and they’ll say like, Oh, are you bringing that to the this friend who has a baby? You know, Like they they know that that’s part of what we do. You bring people food when they have babies, you know, And I think that’s good for them to see, too.

Sarah Trott: [00:41:47] Absolutely. They get to see the generosity and they get to feel the experience of being part of that contribution as part of the family.

Julia Aziz: [00:41:55] Yeah. And I always tell them, you know, I, I was so I mean, so many people brought us food, you know, like I was so well fed for so long. And that was amazing. And I could have said, like, you know, there was a part of me that felt like, oh, should people really still be bringing me dinner when the baby is two months old? You know, but. But if they were willing to do it and I was still having trouble, you know, there’s an adjustment to how do you like the roles change? It’s like I do all the grocery shopping and I do all the cooking. But then if I’m lying in bed, you know, recovering from something from the birth, and then then my husband’s doing that, plus all the other stuff he’s doing. Know, it’s just it takes a while to figure out how those things are going to happen. And so I think the more help, the better.

Sarah Trott: [00:42:44] Yeah. And like a meal we’ll sign up is the kind of thing that could be orchestrated, like around the time of the baby shower. Even like everyone’s together, you could just have a little sign up sheet and and it’s hard to be the asker. You could always nominate a friend to say, Oh, can you be in charge of this?

Julia Aziz: [00:43:03] Yeah. And I mean, I think if you are a friend of someone, it’s great to offer that. And it really doesn’t. It’s so easy now these days, like there’s so many I can’t even keep track of them. I don’t care. Calendar’s one of them I’ve used, but as long as you have people’s email addresses, you just set the calendar up and send it out and then it takes care of itself. So yeah, I think if you can have a friend ask people for you, then it’s easy. You know, I was saying to somebody who had a newborn and they were like, Well, I don’t know if I want to have to socialize with people every time they bring food. And I was like, Oh, well, you just tell them they can leave it and you’ll visit another time. And she’s like, Well, I don’t know how to do that. I’m like, Well, I’ll just say it for you on the like as, as the friend. You can say things in a nice way, but like, oh, mama’s still recovering and this really looking forward to seeing friends soon. But right now let’s just get them fed and then she’ll let you know when she’s ready to be out in the world, you know, And it’s just it doesn’t there’s nothing negative about that. It’s just that’s more. Another way that you’re supporting her is by not overwhelming her. If that’s not what she wants, if she wants to just be resting and quiet for a while.

Sarah Trott: [00:44:12] Mm hmm. Yeah. No one wants the pressure of entertaining on top of all these adjustments.

Julia Aziz: [00:44:17] No, I think. And it’s so varies. It’s been really interesting watching my friend, the one who just gave birth this week. She’s super extroverted, and her house is just filled with people. Like there’s a constant influx of new people and their kids coming, you know, like everyone’s holding the baby and passing her around. And I mean, that was like the first day, you know? And whereas I like, I didn’t want to see anyone with the first one, like, at all. Like I didn’t want to interact for a very long time. It took me weeks to to like, purposely leave the house for anything other than like a pediatrician visit. And I don’t know that that was necessarily good or bad, you know, But I think it’s just important to respect what you’re needing, you know, and to to honor that another woman and not put pressure on it going one way or another. I mean, you can also call and talk. You know, sometimes people are more open to having a phone conversation or texting or something like that if they’re not ready to have visitors yet.

Sarah Trott: [00:45:14] Yeah, great. Thank you. Thanks for sharing your stories with us.

Julia Aziz: [00:45:18] Yeah, thanks for having me on the show.

Sarah Trott: [00:45:20] Yeah. So if anyone’s interested in finding out more information about you, Julia, they can go to your website, which is Julia Aziz Azizi dot com. And you can also look at the fourth trimester podcast website, you can Google fourth trimester podcast and find our site and we’ll be linking some more information about Julia there. So thank you so much, Julia.

Julia Aziz: [00:45:40] Thank you, Sarah.


The content provided in this article(s) is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Neither Sarah Trott nor Buckeye Media LLC (DBA Fourth Trimester) are liable for claims arising from the use of or reliance on information contained in this article.