The night before my son was born (via scheduled csection) I barely slept….
I was exhausted and hugely pregnant so laying down and getting up was an Olympic event in itself. Not to mention that I was carrying a ton of extra fluid and a very active 10lb baby.
I was scared because my son was coming 3 weeks early with potential complications due to late onset gestational diabetes and polyhydramnios.
I was anxious about having major surgery since this was my first csection.
I was terrified of what the days after the birth would bring. How would we handle two kids and love them equally? Would I slip back into postpartum depression? Could I handle two children with medical challenges?
By 4am, I had given up hope of sleeping, rolled myself out of bed and into the chair in our bedroom. My mind kept going over and over the above points. It was like a constant, stressful rerun in my head. There was no way of controlling the outcomes of each of these but I was doing my damndest to try – predicting how I’d handle each catastrophic scenario – playing them all out in my head in order to prepare and control. I just wanted all of these solved and out of my mind.
I tried affirmations, reading, meditating, music….nothing was working. It wasn’t until I saw my untouched journal in the corner of our room that I had an idea. I’d recently signed up for an ecourse by Brene Brown based on her book The Gifts of Imperfection. The course centered around different lessens and you had to illustrate your thoughts in a journal using art supplies. I hadn’t gotten a chance to do any of the assignments yet but a specific one popped in my head at that moment – writing myself a permission slip.
The assignment is focused on giving yourself permission to feel/act a certain way in a given scenario – remove the insecurities around second guessing yourself – and be true to yourself. During the class, the permission slip is meant to help you remove the self judgement and allow you to fill the journal pages with an artistic interpretations of your thoughts. The journal became a “no judgement zone.”
So – in the early morning hours – before I met my son – I decided to create a permission slip. I wrote down the words and phrases that I felt would allow me to get through the hours, days and months following his birth.
The picture above is the actual permission slip from my journal. Some of my favorites from the page are:
- Be happy
- Go easy on myself
- Ask for help
- Make mistakes
- Be grateful
- Be imperfect
My son is over a year old and I still reference this priceless piece of paper. This list has become my saving grace on the good and bad days. I even have a picture of it in my phone so it’s always at the ready.
I also have every intention of creating more permission slips when needed. It’s such a simple action but it empowers me to stay true to myself in a situation.
Is there some event, scenario, or area of your life where a permission slip would come in handy for you? Try it out!