If you have ever thought you were tired – this word gets a whole new meaning…
It has been a long time since I wrote my last blog post. My daughter recently turned one, and I really cannot believe how quickly the past year has flown by. So first of all:
Thank you everyone for your continuing support, popping by my blog despite my being so quiet, and keeping in touch. I really appreciate it.
I will try to post more again, but be patient with me. My maternity leave ended in January, and between being a mother, a vocal coach with a full studio, a singer and a writer, something’s got to give on occasion.
I promised you all a post about singing after giving birth a while back, so here comes…
Talia’s birth was relatively uncomplicated. My waters broke at 1 am on a Friday, but I didn’t get any regular contractions within 24 hours, so I got scheduled for an induction on Saturday to reduce the risk of infection. No major help was required though. I was supposed to go on the drip in the afternoon, but I got regular contractions from 3 pm onwards, so – scrap that…
Everything progressed really quickly from then onwards, and at 7.26pm, Talia was born (two weeks early as well, so she really couldn’t wait).
The next weeks went by in a blur. The physical recovery from giving birth is one thing – coping with tiredness and caring for a little human being another.
So how did it affect my singing, since this is what visitors of this blog will be interested in?
Well, there was no singing for a while (unless you count the incessant humming of lullabies and nursery rhymes as such ;)).
I existed on 3 to 4 hours of sleep for months, so the energy levels required to do any serious singing practice were exactly zilch. This was actually the part I found hardest to deal with: the leaden tiredness really nothing can prepare you for.
The physical recovery, on the other hand, wasn’t that bad in my case. This is obviously personal to me though; I know of women with horrendous birth stories, emergency cesareans etc, and things will obviously look very different in these cases.
I took my first walk after four days, was back to my pre-pregnancy weight within 6 weeks and had recovered from the physical after-effects of giving birth within roughly the same amount of time, if not sooner. It took a bit longer for my core to stabilise again. As some of you might remember, I suffered from diastasis rectii during pregnancy, and I would say it took at least 12 weeks of work on my transversus abdominis to get rid of it (which it did, so some words of encouragement for those who are worried). Not that I needed my core for singing during that time because – you guessed, it, I didn’t sing 😉
One thing I still suffer from to this very day is lower back pain. I never had the best back anyway, but pregnancy and birth definitely haven’t made things any better. “Putting my back” into singing definitely works again, but it feels more effortful than it used to. I am trying to make more time for a core stabilisation program, but I find it really hard to fit in at times.
EDIT: It turned out the lower back pain was actually symphysis pubis dysfunction that required more work.
If you thought that things got better as soon as Talia got a bit older, I have to disappoint you. The (albeit enjoyable) challenges don’t stop, they just change. So whilst I am not as excruciatingly tired anymore, I still don’t devote as much time to my own singing as I would like. She now cruises, gets her hands into and on absolutely everything, so you really can’t leave her out of your sight for a second. Nap times are the only times when I get at least some things done, like writing this post, but that obviously doesn’t include singing due to the noise (you heard that right, I referred to my singing as noise).
It is by my own choice though. My husband and I decided very early on that we don’t want her to spend the whole week in nurseries or with the grandparents, so my teaching hours are slightly reduced and at different times of the day than they used to be. The transition from nine months of maternity leave to going back to coaching in January was a massive change for all of us, but we are getting there.
If I was to put it in a nutshell, I would say: low energy levels, initially reduced core strength, hardly any (me) time. And this obviously affects my singing. What little time I have left, I need to spend on my coaching business so my clients get the best service possible. This should obviously include working on my own voice, but it has to take the back seat on occasion. I know that my technique is stable enough to get away with a multitude of sins, but that’s obviously not a good longterm strategy. I know it won’t be forever, and I would rather reduce the amount of work I spend on my singing for now than missing out on the all important time with my child.
All of these things are hugely personal, and I obviously don’t expect every singing mother (or father) to see things the same way. So make sure that whatever you do feels right.
For now, I am quite happy to sing “Twinkle twinkle, little star” and “Over the rainbow” to my daughter, and her smiles when I do so mean the world to me…
© Petra Borzynski 2016