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Can Your Nervous System Handle Uncomfortable? A Personal Story


Story time! This is a personal story from the summer of 2022, specifically spanning the months of June to September. My fourth child, a sweet baby named Kenna, had been born in December of 2021. Our postpartum period was restful and all I had ever wanted. No school term to jump back into, no maternity leave that ended at 6 weeks. I had started Sprout in August at about 4-5 months pregnant, and business was slow enough that I felt comfortable taking an extended maternity leave. We rocked, we baked bread, we played. I remember checking in with the woman who encapsulated my placenta at about 6-8 weeks postpartum and told her how clear my mind felt.


I went back to work and business quickly picked up in the spring. I was figuring out how to juggle running a business, being mom to four kids, and keep up with my home. In about June, the wheels started to fall off. My baby started to become higher maintenance, and needed to be held all the time, whether she was awake or napping. When put on the floor, she would screech, which we jokingly called her pterodactyl screech because of its piercing quality. I started to feel like I just couldn't do anything extra. I was barely getting the minimum done, which was keeping up on my admin tasks and appointments and Sprout, and doing the cooking, cleaning, laundry etc for my family. I had other obligations too that I felt I couldn't say no to, so the person I began saying no to was myself. No time for rest, no time for working out, often not eating a true lunchtime meal. I started to feel very run down as the summer went on. The only thing I felt capable of was sitting and holding my baby, who was very happy with me doing this.


I remember telling my husband that if I were to lay on the floor I didn't think I could get back up. I felt tired down to my bones. I started to struggle getting out of bed in the morning. This lead to a cycle of feeling extremely guilty that I wasn't getting up before my kids or even with my kids. Very often I was dragging myself out of bed a good hour after they had already gotten up. After living this way for about 6 weeks I finally realized that something wasn't right. I went in to see my doctor and got my labs drawn to check on my iron levels and thyroid. Everything came back fine, but I added in some supplements of my own at home, like beef liver and magnesium. I started eating more protein. My baby also started crawling and this movement helped her be happy on the floor. I now had more time in my day to work on other things. I began working out again. I didn't feel 100% yet like myself, still feeling depleted. By the time my baby was one, I woke up one day and decided I was tired of feeling like the bare minimum was all that I could handle. I wanted to be able to push myself. My comfort zone had become a habit. While I do enjoy sitting and reading my book, drinking my coffee, and eating a homemade treat, I didn't want that to become my default, which it very much did during the summer.


I started running again (and if you're thinking to yourself, waitaminute, it was December and you were running? In the winter?? That I was!) and I found a piece of myself again. Not because I love running but because I found the part of Morgan that enjoys pushing herself mentally and physically. I found the part that shows me I am capable of more and that I can do hard things. This part was always there, but it got lost under the layers of exhaustion and it felt so good to find it again.


As I reflected on how the summer had gone I recognized that my stress levels had pushed my nervous system into protective mode. Yes I was still getting adjusted but my mental stress load was bigger than I could handle but in the thick of it it was hard to recognize. Thankfully most things in life are a season and once I came out of that season I was able to see and learn from it.


As I have gone through this postpartum season after my fifth I have been much more aware of my mental load and capacity. I have the capacity this time to do uncomfortable things, like take cold showers and run in the winter time. Of course, the wheels may fall off again at some point, but hopefully having gone through the experience before I will be able to recognize it and move through it more quickly.


If you are in a season of only being able to handle the minimum, that is okay. If you are in a season of being to push yourself out of your comfort zone, that is okay too! Check in with your body and mind, and have an awareness of what your nervous system is communicating with you.

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