By Dr. Angela Potter
Meet Ranya! She was raised in Lebanon and has lived all over the world. She now lives in Portland with her husband and two kids.
Where do you call home?
It is hard for me to think of one place as “home.” I grew up in Lebanon and lived in my parent’s house until I was 23 and moved to Portland, OR in 2003. From there, my husband and I moved around on a regular basis, following dreams, and looking for adventure.
If I were to think most tenderly about a place that has most recently changed my person and left a lasting impression on my being it would be a little town forgotten by time in Ifrane, Morocco where we spent six months living in the mountains surrounded by quiet.
How many kids do you have?
I tell my children when they ask for another sibling that they had two more, and I would like to think of myself as having four children.
In reality, I had four pregnancies, two of which survived, and the rest will meet us in heaven. The two that I have now are definitely a handful, and I feel eternally blessed to having them in my life.
What was one of the hardest changes for you physically during your postpartum journey?
The lack of sleep, the loss of my physical space, the physical attachment of my kids. I never realized how important sleep was to my being, until I had my first in 2010. Since then I have not had a full night of uninterrupted sleep.
Even when my husband and I leave for overnight getaways I find myself waking up regularly, as if touched by an invisible hand to “check on the kids.” This, coupled with bed sharing, and the regular physical attention that my children need from me throughout the day, turns me into a “mean witch” some days when I have had enough.
What was one of the hardest changes for you mentally/emotionally during your postpartum journey?
Emotionally at times I feel drained, and mentally there are days when I walk around in a daze. This gets better with time, but at the onset I felt like I was swimming upstream for months. Trying to stay “on top” of my pre-motherhood duties and responsibilities was a losing battle; something had to give. With time, I learned to balance and make time for things that must get done, and leave aside things that can wait. Prioritizing took a whole new meaning with kids.
What has been your greatest joy in motherhood?
Morning snuggles, bed time routines and my kids’ excitement over my coming home. Even when I leave for a short walk, or to pick up their dad, run an errand, or go to a yoga class, I love how they run to the door to greet me when I walk in, rejoicing in the reunion, singing how much they missed me.
That, right there, makes me feel like I am the most important person in the world, that my efforts are paying off, and that I must be doing something right.
How was your postpartum experience different with each baby?
Breastfeeding initially was hard with both of my babies, but it was even harder with the second. Born at 36 weeks he was tiny and hungry, and my milk had not come in yet. I was adamant about nursing and yet had to put my convictions aside and agree to use a bottle. It was then that I realized that “fed is best,” and that motherhood is a journey of making choices and letting go of preformed notions and beliefs.
Emotionally caring for baby number two while having a toddler in tow kept me thinking about notions of “fairness” and “equality.” I wanted to continue providing my eldest with as much love and attention as before, knowing very well that I could not. There, again, I had to let go of preformed beliefs about what constituted a “good” mom.
What is one resource that felt invaluable to you during the postpartum time?
I found meditation to be my friend, albeit the discovery came a little late. Through my yoga instructor at the time I came upon Karen Maezen Miller and her book Mama Zen. I went to a workshop she had held at the time and have been following her blog and her teachings since. Her latest book, Paradise in Plain Sight, was a gift, and her blog posts are a wonderful reminder about the joys of being present.
What is one piece of advice you would like to give to pregnant moms in preparation for their postpartum journey?
Even close to eight years later I still feel like I am in recovery mode. For me the best piece of advice would be: Call your mother, get help, and brace yourself: it is a marathon, and not a sprint.
Lebanese in origin, Ranya moved to Portland in 2003 where she and Jeff wed. Since then the Mike family has lived in VA, MD, OR, Morocco and Lebanon. Ranya is a stay-at-home mom of two who loves to host formal tea parties alongside her daughter, Jannah-Rae. She is passionate about yoga and meditation, and enjoys long walks. She hates driving, and believes in hot baths, home-cooked meals, and the wonders of essential oils.