It was around 3am when I woke up feeling a little chilly. My father was fast asleep on the deck chair next to me. I got up and looked around; trying to find my dog. There he was passed out on the little outdoor loveseat up on the deck. He had somehow managed to squeeze his 150-pound body on to this little sofa with just his legs hanging off the side and he was snoring away. He finally looked peaceful and I felt relieved. I laid back to down on my deck chair and tried to fall back asleep but I couldn’t help wondering what was going on inside the house.
At about 4am I made my way in and upstairs to my childhood bedroom. There was my husband, sitting up in bed, feeding our 2 month-old daughter. She had slept 7.5 hours straight that night and was now awake, enjoying her bottle while smiling and giggling at the light fixture on the ceiling (she has a thing for lights and shiny objects these days).
“How’s the dog doing?” my husband asked. I described to him the scene out in the backyard; my father asleep on a deck chair and our giant dog, Moose, squeezed onto the outdoor sofa. We couldn’t help but laugh! I never expected to be back to sleeping at my parents’ house and I certainly never expected to be sleeping outside in their backyard with my dog and my father while my husband slept in my old bedroom with our newborn baby girl. That weekend will no doubt be remembered as one of the most stressful, messy, exhausting weekends of my life. But it was filled with so much love and humor that I can only feel grateful for the experience.
It all started a week prior when my dog suddenly vomited in the house. We didn’t think much of it at the time but over the next few days he proceeded to vomit, loose his appetite, seem lethargic and then started a serious case diarrhea… I know, it’s disgusting, but it’s part of the story so bear with me. During that week my parents had run over to our house multiple times to watch out baby girl while we rushed our dog to the vet. We had lost our previous dog very suddenly and I’m still a little traumatized by how it all went down so I get very anxious when Moose doesn’t seem to be feeling well. We did x-rays and tried him on different medications but nothing was really working. The conclusion was that he had eaten something out in our backyard that made him sick and he just needed time to pass it through his system. The problem was he had no control over his bowels and at 150 pounds this big dog was making a BIG mess of our house.
I started to panic on Saturday morning when I realized our baby, Jude, hadn’t even had her vaccines yet and the house was reaching a level of contamination that seemed unsafe. We needed to wait for Monday to have our house professionally cleaned and even then there was no guarantee that the dog would be feeling better. We eventually decided that we needed to get her out of the house so next thing I knew I was packing up our bags and heading to my parents’ house for the weekend. Lucky for me, my parents have a beautiful pool and backyard space for us to relax in and my mother in law, aunt and cousin were all there helping me take care of the baby. Meanwhile my poor husband was stuck at home, sitting outside in the 35-degree humidity with our sick dog. He didn’t want to bring him inside and have to clean up after him all day but it wasn’t exactly the most pleasant day to be sitting outdoors for hours either.
At around dinnertime he called me. He did not sound good. He was hot and exhausted. The dog was still sick and he didn’t see how he was going to get any sleep that night. We were in the midst of rebuilding the fence in our backyard so we couldn’t leave the dog out there alone. Luckily, my parents could sense our distress and they invited Ryan and Moose over to their backyard so he could at roam free for a few hours. It was really a huge, kind favor on the part of my parents. Moose is an extra large, messy guy on the best of days and my parents have a really beautiful backyard that the whole family loves to gather in – it wasn’t going to be too pleasant to have a big, drooling dog with some sort of gastro issue hanging around and making everything filthy.
To make a long story short, it was eventually time for bed and we decided our best course of action was to let the dog sleep in their backyard while my husband, my daughter and I went to bed in my old room. But our poor big baby was not comfortable out there on his own. He was sitting by the door barking and crying. Eventually, I decided I’d go out there and lay down with him. As I emerged from my old bedroom suited up with a big hoody and pj pants, prepared to sleep outside for at least a few hours, there was my father. I grew up in a house where our dogs were considered to be just as much members of the family as everyone else and this scenario was no different. My father had two grandchildren to worry about – one was asleep inside with my husband, the other was outside, crying and feeling ill. There was no question that we had to go support him. Moose was so thankful to see us. He eventually settled down and next thing I knew we were all passed out asleep in the backyard.
The next morning we all congregated outside with the dog, our baby and some much needed coffee. Our daughter slept perfectly and was feeling great, oblivious to any of the filth and stress and awkward sleeping situations that my husband and I had been through. And Moose was starting to mend. He finally looked relaxed and his stomach issues had calmed down too. The rest of the weekend was spent with even more family; my aunt and cousins and my mother in-law all came by and we hung out by the pool and took turns looking after Jude. It was amazing to have so much help but also exhausting and stressful. Have you ever heard the expression “too many cooks in the kitchen”? Well this was “too many moms in the backyard”! 😂 It was a bit overwhelming but it made for some good laughs.
In yoga we sometimes use the term “sangha”. Sangha is an ancient Sanskrit word that is commonly used to refer to a “community” or “family”. You may have also heard people using the term “tribe” recently with trendy hashtags like #findyourtribe popping up these days. This concept is nothing new but it is one of the aspects of yoga that makes it special and unique from any other form of exercise or meditation practice. It’s something that a lot of yogis are drawn to; the idea that we are not just practicing a physical routine all-alone, we are actually coming together as a community and supporting one another before, during and after practice. This idea of community is very important to me; it’s what has helped me survive mental illness and it’s a huge part of why I wanted to own a studio. I always try my best to bring people together at Viveka: we share a cup of tea after class and get to know each other and I do my best to learn as many people’s names as possible and to chat with them a bit when they walk in the door. I love that we can offer prenatal and mom & baby classes so that women who are going through these massive life changes can support one another. And I try my best to reach out to the community beyond the walls of our studio by offering yoga in schools and getting involved in local charities like the Christmas baskets that we put together every year. I know this feeling of a “yoga family” is a special one for a lot of our members and I am so proud and grateful that I can offer a space for this to happen. But I’ve also been feeling guilty lately because I’ve been quite absent from the studio the past few months…
To be completely honest, I had a very challenging pregnancy from a mental health standpoint and I had an extremely difficult labor and delivery. The process of bringing my beautiful baby girl into this world was simply too much for me to handle on my own. I confided in my closest family members but I simply haven’t been ready to share the experience with everyone else. Jude is now 3.5 months and I’m still trying to process everything I’ve been through this past year and most of the time I feel like I just want my privacy.
For a while I kept trying to figure out what “lessons” I’ve learned throughout this challenging process. I’ve always believed that hard times in life help us to grow and I’ve been feeling the need to extrapolate some kind of life lesson from this experience that would allow me to feel more settled about how everything went down. I think I still have some guilt for not being stronger during my pregnancy and for not enjoying the process. I think a lot of women feel pressure to walk around all glowing and beaming with gratitude and excitement during their pregnancies but unfortunately that just isn’t the case for many of us. I felt like my hormones and emotions were violently thrown together in a jar and shaken up on a daily basis so that I could never fully get control or even recognize myself. I dreamt of being that super fit pregnant woman who taught yoga classes till the very end and had a easy delivery because, of course, all that practice with yoga and meditation allows you to relax and give birth with grace and ease. 🙄 But that just simply isn’t the norm and I wish we wouldn’t put so much pressure on ourselves to present this idealistic picture of a pregnant woman. So what did I learn from this whole process?
I think that weekend spent at my parents’ house really answered this question for me. It’s not so much a life lesson as it is a feeling of gratitude for how fortunate I am to have such a loving and supportive family. There is nothing more important than belonging to a group of people (and pets!) that has each other’s backs no matter how messy life gets. I’ve really never felt closer to these people than I do now. They’re not just supportive of me – they are there to take care of my daughter, my husband and even our big, slobbery dog. So that’s where I’ve been these past few months; hiding out in the safety of my sangha and taking in all the love and support I can get while I figure out how to balance this new version of my life.
And I am so thankful to you – my extended “sangha”, my Viveka family. Thank you for being patient with me while I’ve been m.i.a. these past few months. Thank you for checking in on me but also giving me the privacy I need to process this experience. I really hope that each one of you has your own little “sangha” that is there for you when life gets tough; I see now that there is really nothing more valuable in the world. And if you don’t have close family members or friends to turn to, I hope you know that you are always welcome to join our Viveka family and find a little bit of peace and support inside our studio. I’m just starting to get back to working and I’ll be guiding classes again in September. I look forward to spending more time with my extended yoga family and sharing more of my experiences with you. See you soon. xo