Labor offers lessons for motherhood, Austin author Julia Aziz says


With her new book, “Lessons of Labor: One Woman’s Self-Discovery Through Birth and Motherhood,” Julia Aziz says she wanted to “reach out to women that were struggling with anxiety and perfectionism in motherhood.”

Mothers, she says, have so much external input from friends, family, the media and Internet that they often begin to question if they are doing the right things. In reality, “No one knows what they are doing,” she says.

You have to find what works for you in this moment, at this time.

The Austin mother of three and licensed social worker is the director of student and career services at the Academy of Oriental Medicine at Austin, has been a hospice chaplain and has worked with teens and families in private counseling.

She wanted the book to connect women who are all going through similar-yet-unique experiences in motherhood. “We are all in this together, but we are all different,” she says.

In the book, Aziz takes you through her three labor experiences of having Kaleb, 9, Jeremiah, 6, and Marisa, 4. Even though she had all three naturally, each birth experience was very different.

With her first child, she was trying to get ahead of the pain and control it. She had a doula and a hospital birth. Her second child arrived at home with a midwife. That birth was filled with cussing, but she found ways to get through the contractions by spelling her son’s name over and over again. With her third child, she was in early labor a long time. She kept doing things around the house and taking care of her sons. Then, after the kids were asleep and she and her husband had watched a movie, she realized she was in active labor and had a baby about an hour later. The midwife got there just in time to catch the newborn.

Through each birth story, she delivers lessons she learned and how it now relates to raising children. Each chapter has a different lesson, including “Asking for Help,” “Facing Fear,” “Responding to What is Real,” “Change Happens,” “Best Laid Plans,” “Less Can Be More,” “One Foot in Front of the Other,” “Real Acceptance Brings Real Change,” “Flexibility” and “That Old Friend Worry.”

She also shares lessons of loss when she talks about a miscarriage early in her marriage.

This isn’t a book only for women who have done natural childbirth, she says. “It’s OK to do it however you want to do it,” she says. “There are as many ways to give birth as there are women.”

Women who have Cesarean sections, induced labors or choose epidurals still have many experiences that leave them feeling out of control and anxious about what is happening.

One of the early lessons Aziz learns is about letting go of the need to control what is not in your control. Your body naturally knows how to give birth; you just have to let it, she says. With children, control quickly goes out the window because no one is getting any sleep and children get sick. They also change so rapidly that just when you think you’ve figured them out, they’ve moved on to another stage. What worked before no longer works.

“It has to do with trust and letting go of needing to control things and being able to embrace a certain level of chaos and uncertainty,” she says. “It’s about admitting what you don’t know and going forward anyways.”

And, like her three very different births, she has had to be a different parent for each child because each child needs something different.

Remembering her children’s births also reminded her that, while parenting is very child-centered, it’s also about the health and mental well-being of the parent.

“Parenting is a lot more about us than we admit,” she says.

She remembers the first year after her second son was born being particularly rough. She was worn out with a very active toddler and a new baby.

“I remember dreading every day and not wanting to do it,” she says. “I was feeling overly stressed by all the things going on.”

Postpartum depression, even long after the baby is born, is not something many moms will talk about. They see other moms doing it seemingly well and think there must be something wrong with themselves.

When Aziz’s daughter came around, her boys were older and starting to go to school and preschool. She took a part-time job that gave her a refuge that was not about the children for a couple of hours a day. She had figured out what worked for her.

Now, Aziz sees herself in a good phase of parenting, with two children in elementary school and one in preschool. But she knows — like the birthing experience — there’s always the next stage that will bring the unexpected. That’s when you do the best you can do, take a deep breath and go with it.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Lifestyle

George Strait, Ed Sheeran among guests at Louis Messina’s 70th bash
George Strait, Ed Sheeran among guests at Louis Messina’s 70th bash

Christine Messina knows a thing or two about staging events. So when her husband, music Austin titan  Louis Messina, turned the big seven-oh, she knew just what to do. She threw a tuneful party at Arlyn Studios and made sure that every detail, down to a fantasy candy counter, sang. Beau Bedford, Louis Messina and Shakey...
Best Austin coffee shops near Congress Avenue
Best Austin coffee shops near Congress Avenue

Not surprisingly, Congress Avenue, sometimes called the Main Street of Texas, counts more coffee shops than any other 12-block stretch of the city. Before we dive into the local outfits, though, we should note that Starbucks operates at least six reliable coffee outlets within easy walking distance of Congress Avenue. So the...
Best Texas books to read right now
Best Texas books to read right now

Texas birds, Texas musicians, Texas media stars, Texas festivals and a guide to the Texas Capitol stack up on our state shelves this week. “Book of Texas Birds.” Gary Clark with photographs by Kathy Adams Clark. Texas A&M Press. For some of us, there are never too many Texas bird books. This one might not fit...
The best places to grab a drink poolside in Austin
The best places to grab a drink poolside in Austin

We’re in the dog days of summer now, folks. The heat seems stifling and neverending, and it’s no longer exciting to have the prospect of a long several months of warm, sunny days laid out in front of us. Last month, we told you about five hotel pools that offer free hours or day passes for locals, so we decided to round up a list of pools...
8 recipes to get you through the summer
8 recipes to get you through the summer

It’s not like we don’t know we live in Texas, and it’s hot here in the summer. We still enjoy grousing as we hit a string of 100+ days, and we’re always looking for ways to keep cool indoors. One option: Never turn on your oven. Some of you might fire up the smoker or grill instead — with backyard sprinkler or pool breaks...
More Stories