Do As I Say, Not as I Did w/ Adriana Ayales

Adriana Ayales is an herbalist, medicine maker, educator and founder of Anima Mundi. Anima Mundi was founded with the intention to bridge ancient healing traditions and plant remedies as a form as grass roots healthcare for today's world. In the following excerpt, Adriana shares with us her experience with her own postpartum journey. This is an exclusive foreword from Sydney's postpartum companion guide, Cocoon

"It pains me to tell you the truth: on the day my first child was born, I was still writing emails, practically up until the very moment my labor began in earnest. Contractions weren’t yet in full swing, so to give myself permission to fully disconnect I felt I had to leave everything “in order” for my growing herbal medicine business and the teams (thousands of miles away) who would pick up the slack in my absence. Somehow, I still didn’t manage to do it. It was like I was failing on all fronts before I even let myself be present for the most important event of my life.

I was living in chronic survival mode all throughout my first pregnancy and childbirth. Looking back at my younger self, I didn’t know how to just stop and let go. Who teaches us how to do this when it feels like we’re grasping for the familiar, too scared to simply allow the unknown to unfold in its own divine timing? I didn’t have my perfect go bag ready if I had to run to the hospital. We didn’t have the baby room perfectly done. There was still so much missing, so much left to do!

Earlier that year, we had decided to embark on a homegoing, so that my child could be born in Costa Rica (my motherland), and to have family close by to help us raise the baby. At the time, I barely had any money saved, so I worked twice as hard to ensure my New York-based startup company could withstand the distance between me and everyone else keeping it afloat. In retrospect, I wish I had told myself to completely surrender and fully trust the process. My first baby was a profound initiation into becoming the woman I never thought I would be.

Six months into my own postpartum period, especially after my first baby, I felt the depths of the postpartum blues trickle in. I grieved the loss of my former identity. I couldn’t even remember who I was before my baby was born. I fell into a period of being completely unmotivated and drained. Deeply exhausted but under intense pressure to quickly return to work, I forced myself to be productive through sleepless nights on an erratic, hormonally charged empty energy tank.

To the naked eye, many would say my body “bounced back” quickly. I was working out daily, eating healthy, and adhering to the traditionally recommended wellness practices. Yet I couldn’t fill the hole, emotionally, that grew larger each day inside of me. Slowly, I dug myself out with rejuvenating and mineralizing herbs, dense broths, walking meditations, ceremonies, being by myself, bathing in the river, and meeting a whole new community of like-minded people.

Many new mothers will relate to the sacredness of doing small things for your- self postpartum: my new awareness of these tiny joys—30 minutes of alone time under a tree, forest bathing with my baby, finger painting by the river, gar- dening, making myself a cup of mushroom coffee, journaling—brought me back to homeostasis. These little gifts to myself were critical for my own adaptation and recovery.

Shifting from the hyper vigilance of entrepreneurship and the imposter syndrome that weighs on you when you’re just starting out to the awe and bliss state of birthing human life is beyond challenging. This intensive opposition is one of the many highs and lows mothers bear witness to on a cellular level during the postpartum period. I want to emphasize here that postpartum isn’t just the 40 days after a baby is born, or even the six months thereafter. Postpartum can last up to two years, or even longer for some mothers. Recent studies have demonstrated that it takes, on average, two full years before mothers start to officially feel like themselves again.

This is further proof that the biological impact on our bodies is massive. Hormonally speaking, we likely cannot make the physiological shifts society insists we should as fast as our mind wants us to. What if we allowed the hormonal process to happen without rushing, suppressing, or blocking it? That one small shift could empower us to tune into the deep wisdom of the mother within us, enabling that mother to come into being as naturally as her child arrives.

When I had my second baby a year and a half later, my muscle and psychic memory of the initiation of having Baby One was such a blessing. I labored in the jungle, barefoot and purposefully alone. I had learned the power of hypno-birthing, which took me to a whole other level of awareness. I remember being on all fours, about an hour before the baby came out, feeling all the mothers birthing throughout history and in that very moment. Unconscious information unlocked; my bones and my muscles began breathing in a way they had never done before. Something in me was awakened in a deeply transformative way. I will never again be the same, I thought. Electric energy poured down my spine as whispers of powerful information from the Earth Mother were gifted to me in the moments just before I brought my baby girl through. My dear partner caught her as she quickly entered this dimension.

In that moment, I realized we are all made of this powerful intelligence that unlocks once we allow that pure energy to move through us. The mere act of allowing and being makes space for this deeply mysterious and powerful force to push us to the other side of transformative moments like birthing babies.

After moving through the rupture between your old and new lives, the death of all your previous selves, the crashes and the rebounds of new motherhood, you will realize that you can and must (eventually) embrace your new life wholeheartedly. The rollercoaster ride of reconciling my new responsibilities and blessings granted me strength, endurance, and wisdom. I would never have understood the meaning of being a mother without moving through it all in my own time. Coming out on the other side of it as a fearless warrior is miraculous and magical.

If you’re reading this and are expecting, or have recently given birth, please don’t try to “bounce-back” too quickly. Even if you feel like you should, or society rushes you into believing that – you follow you. As an herbalist, you might expect me to say there’s a perfect postpartum recipe. But, there is definitely no one way to come into motherhood that will be right for everyone, and it’s almost never smooth sailing. We all need to hear that more often.

It’s important we talk to new mothers about the truth of postpartum, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to share part of my own story with you. But, it’s also essential we remember how extraordinary it is that our bodies are capable of all this. What I hope will fill your cup, as it did mine, is the electrifying realization that Holy shit, I made a human! Pause to remind yourself: I’m here, immersed in the most incredible experience I could ever have. I’d like to leave you with one final thought, whether you’re looking forward to the inevitable light that comes next, or maybe you’re already living it right now:

Once your baby grows and develops their own personality, you will see your truest self reflected back to you. Your own and your partner’s ancestral pat- terning comes together into this miracle of life pulsing right before you. This is the most powerful healing experience I wish for you, and it’s our birthright as mothers to share this with our baby for the rest of our lives together. There is no timeline on postpartum healing. The joy will eventually be a never ending loop, eclipsing any suffering we may have experienced in those early, sleepless days. Stay gentle with yourself, new mama. You did it! You are doing it. You will do it.

Breathe, and just be here now."



Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.