Tara Stiles is an internationally renowned yogi, the founder of Strala Yoga, and a best-selling author. In her new class Prenatal Yoga: The Complete Guide, she provides safe and effective yoga routines that will bring you energy, ban morning sickness, and so much more.
Thank you for all the positivity and excitement and sweet words for our baby girl on the way. We're thrilled and pumped up, when I'm awake, that is. Growing humans sure takes the mojo right out of you. But hey, that's OK.
So, I wanted to share a bit of my lessons learned up until now, and I'm happy to share my mistakes and trip-ups, so maybe you can save yourself some stress and time no matter what you're going through in your life.
We had been trying to make a baby, first pretty casually and then a bit more "trying" for a while. Three years ago I "decided" it was time. I went off the pill, had Mike meet me in Paris for the weekend while I was on the way home from a Moscow event, and decided we would get pregnant. Ready to move into the family phase of our lives. Easy right? Ha!
Turned out, my bright idea shockingly worked. It was our first time "trying," and I proclaimed immediately I was pregnant. I acted as if I knew for sure, and a few weeks later, took a test and it turned out I was right! And then something horrible happened. Mike and I were shooting some videos together on an all-day production, and I started to feel crazy tired. I sat on the couch during breaks and fell asleep sitting up. I knew something wasn't right, and during one section of filming a full-length class, I rolled up for the closing breaths and felt the bleeding. I went to the bathroom and there was full-on blood, not spotting but blood. We had filming left to do, and I hadn't told anyone I was pregnant besides Mike, of course. So we finished the few hours of filming, gracefully ducked out of the celebratory dinner, and went home.
The Googling began. I dove deep into message boards, blogs, and anything I could find on bleeding in the first trimester. Nothing looked that promising. Whatever I found that gave me a little hope, I knew was grasping. My questions weren't going to be solved by Google this time. I made an appointment with my doctor, and she confirmed the miscarriage. I had a huge migraine a few days after but kept up my life as usual. I held a friend's brand-new baby one day while I was still bleeding a ton. It was hard. I felt alone and didn't share. I didn't want the spotlight on me with this bad news when there was so much else to do, from celebrating friends' babies, to leading classes and trainings and preparing for upcoming travel. I just wanted my body to feel better so we could get on with it, try again, and make it happen.
So, we kind of stopped trying and then fought, and then fought a lot, and then stopped talking about it, and then never really dealt with it. Our relationship got so bad, we separated, and I thought it was over. We argued only about external circumstances and didn't get to any root.
After almost a year, we mended slowly, then suddenly got back our original spark. We started having fun together, like when we had first met and had more free time. We started having even more fun because we had all this history now and everything we've built together with the Strala community. Fun became present in everything and the priority for our relationship. We didn't have to work on it because it was easy again. Of course, like any couple, annoyances are there from time to time, but now they are funny and fleeting because the freedom and joy is back and strong.
So, we started trying again. Casually at first, and then a little more targeted. I got an app that tells you when to go for it. My life was busy and hectic, but I felt fine. I felt energized, and I would admit there was stress, but nothing I couldn't "handle." And then after months of going about my usual round-the-clock nonstop schedule, getting at best six hours a sleep per night, it dawned on me that we both needed to make some space—not just for a pregnancy but for our new life, with an actual person in it. The change shouldn't happen after I'm pregnant or the moment the baby arrives. The change needed to happen now.
So I did something radical. I created space. Not in the way I was used to, which was creating space so I could accomplish more. This time I was creating space so I could exist in that space and just be.
Create space to be.
And just be.
It scared the crap out of me to dive into this new concept, but it felt so necessary to achieve what I really wanted. Even more holistically, it felt necessary to achieve the level of peace I craved, beyond any goal of a family. This new way of creating space to be would become the secret that took me to fantastic places, beyond anywhere I had been so far.
So, I slashed my schedule. I mean I really slashed it. I started ditching my phone at the office every night. I started doing less. I indulged in regular shiatsu treatments from our good friend Sam Berlind. He worked years of stuff out of my shoulders, hips, and back. I started cooking more, not just for videos or social media pictures but for nourishment and enjoyment. I started paying attention to how I felt. I started reducing activities in my life that didn't bring me joy. I changed my local business completely and created room for our bigger picture. I disappointed people and left some totally pissed off. I had to change and it was up to me, only me, to pull the trigger.
So many people asked me over the years about when we were going to have kids. I know I'm not alone in feeling icky and somewhat attacked by these most personal questions, from people who don't know you so well, along with the offer of baby advice flowing more freely than coffee in the local neighborhood shops. These questions were at first annoying, then hurtful, then I finally took my power back. When someone who I don't know very well would ask me about my fertility, I would ask something equally invasive that was none of my business. How's the relationship with your mother? Finances back in order? It usually worked. But it wasn't just dodging questions that got my power back. I didn't need to hide anymore. I was on my own right track.
After the slashing, the reclaiming my power, I was left with this space. Nothing was really happening, but I had space, and it started to feel good. Remember when you were a kid and you (hopefully) had this vast sense of space, time, and creativity from day to day? I was starting to get that back. This new space became my most important goal. Space to be. I could close my eyes and see everything flowing from here.
So we started trying again with the app. Then I was getting annoyed at the app, and my relationship to checking it and reading all its tips way too often, so I deleted it. We had just watched a Matt Damon movie, The Martian, and I love the line about how he figured out how to grow potatoes on Mars. He said, "I science'd the shit out of it!" The modern world has lots of options to help things along with making a baby, and our first stop was the drugstore. We picked up an ovulation test that tells you "for real" without the guesswork of an app when is go time. Measuring around that time became satisfying and felt proactive. You get a straight-up smiley face that says, yes your body is working. You have a surge in all the happy hormones now. And if you want to try to make a baby this month, go time is NOW!
After a few smiley-face months, I was a few days late but not interested in taking a test and getting bummed out, so we waited. Every month I would think I had some "symptoms," which is pretty funny since most of the symptoms of pregnancy are also symptoms of PMS, each happening in that same time window. So I stopped trying to convince myself that I was peeing a lot, had sore boobs and shortness of breath, and just got on with my life as usual. We were getting ready to leave for Europe, Asia, and Australia for a month of Strala trainings and other events, and I figured I should take a test in case we need to set up a doctor visit for when we're back. It would be eight or nine weeks by that point, and my current OB didn't do all the baby stuff. So I took a test, and instantly it turned pregnant. I still think that means I was "really pregnant" and not just a little! We jumped up and down and scrambled to find a doctor that was taking new patients. Not an easy thing to find in NYC, by the way. After dozens of calls, we finally had an appointment for when we were back, and I could finish packing and head to the airport. Eeek! Planning went out the window on that one.
So this strong little girl survived a crazy trip to Europe, Asia, and Australia, filled with 20 flights, several trainings, workshops, events, retreats, signings, and a lot of morning/all-day-long sickness.
So that's my story and lessons learned. And this is just the beginning.
You can create space to achieve more, which is nice and fantastic but not sustainable.
Or you can create space to be.
I hope you choose the second, so you can revel in your own creativity and see where that takes you. Probably to unleash some pretty amazing stuff.