My journey back to mama ocean postpartum
For those of you who don’t know where my surfing journey began, here’s a little backstory….
I came to surfing much later in life. I didn’t catch my first wave until I was 26 and when I mean catch, I really mean, rent the largest foamie ever created, take 30 seconds to stand up, by the time I stood up the wave was over, I was going straight, and almost killed 3 kids 😂😂. But ever since that moment, I was completely hooked. Anyone who surfs knows the feeling, and I am sure will never forget their first wave.
I came to surfing so late mainly due to a huge fear of the ocean. I was a great swimmer, loved the water, but always feared the ocean. This mainly stemmed from me seeing Jaws at the age of 5 and forever thinking a shark was going to kill me (even in the pool) It sounds ridiculous, but it’s true!
When I met my husband Marshall and he saw how much I loved the beach, but feared the ocean, he knew it was something I needed to overcome. He pushed me into my first wave, and it’s crazy how that fear instantly transformed since that day. I’ve grown such a deep connection to the ocean that I truly can’t imagine my life without it. I get the most excited when I see wildlife and have even had encounters with a few (friendly) sharks.
Coming to the ocean later in life has been the most humbling journey, but also the most rewarding. I definitely didn’t pick it up quickly, and it pretty much took me years of eating shit and going straight to finally figure out how to actually go down the face of a wave. I am forever a kook, but so grateful for the journey and all the ocean has given me. It’s truly where my journey as an artist and entrepreneur started. When I started surfing, it inspired me to start painting, which is where Peace of Wood began ❤️. I owe everything to mama ocean.
Fast forward to July 2022. I just found out I was pregnant and was so excited to share the ocean with my little bean. I couldn’t wait to share the beauty of the ocean with her. Many people, especially those who don’t surf, tell you not to surf while pregnant (even my doctor 😂) I just knew deep down it was something I wanted to share with her and I fully trusted myself. I also have so much love for the surfing mamas before me who gave me the advice, support and confidence to know I could do it! There’s a fierce strength and trust that comes out in pregnancy, that motherly instinct ignites and you just know you’ll do anything and everything for your baby, and you also have such a deeper connection and trust with your body that’s so beautiful.
Surfing at 5 months ❤️ photo: Susan Allen
Surfing during pregnancy was amazing. I trusted myself and my body the entire way. Caught so many fun waves, felt baby girl kick along the way, and felt so blessed to share that with her and know the ocean is always within her. I only surfed the smallest waves and just kept it fun - those of you who know me are laughing because you know those are the only waves I surf no matter what 😂
I surfed up until 7 months pregnant. I knew my body would tell me when it was done, and it definitely did. I could no longer pop up, and I definitely couldn’t get my 5/4 over my belly. Surfing pregnant in the dead of winter was no small feat!! Poor Marshall trying to put on my boots because I couldn’t bend over or see my feet anymore😂
My final surf at 7 months pregnant
It was a time I will cherish forever and I’m so grateful I trusted myself and my body to share that with my girl❤️
Fast forward to April 2023, I was 6 weeks postpartum and just got cleared to get back in the ocean. I was so wrapped up in my postpartum bubble, that I remember being so excited to reconnect with mama ocean, but also not being in a rush. Motherhood really shifts so much perspective, I couldn’t imagine leaving Yemaya for an hour (I still struggle with that 9 months later) but I also remember internally knowing how important it was for me to continue to find time to do the things that fill me up, even in the smallest doses. It will make me a better mother and I want to lead by example to show Yemaya how important it is to make time and honor the things that bring you joy.
My first session was a quick 45 minutes. It was the first time I left Yemaya and it was definitely overwhelming feeling all the emotions - and let’s be honest 6 weeks postpartum your emotions are all over the place no matter what 😂. But I’ll never forget the feeling paddling back out and catching a wave. I was still healing, I had full diastasis recti (abdominal separation), my core didn’t exist and I clearly hadn’t paddled or worked out since I birthed my baby. I was definitely nervous I would completely forget what I was doing, but honestly the joy overcame all of that and I was just stoked catch a wave or two and get back home to Yemaya❤️.
My next few sessions felt a little different. The waves were a little bigger (not much😂), they had a little more energy, and I really struggled. I could barely paddle into a wave, fumbled every pop up, and just remember eating shit a lot. The joy of reconnecting with the ocean disappeared and I became overcome with this intense feeling of embarrassment and just feeling completely self-conscious. I would hate seeing people I knew in the line-up because in my head I swore they were watching me surf and calling me a complete kook (so not true, nobody cares and everyone was so nice - but man the stories we tell ourselves). Multiple sessions ended in tears with me feeling so embarrassed and I hated feeling that way - Why couldn’t I just honor the fact that my body was healing and just be grateful to be out there? Remember why I even started in the first place, and what is it all for if I’m leaving in tears??? The ocean has always been my place of reprieve, of solace, of inspiration, of rejuvenation - and in this chapter especially, it should be all those things for me. And most important - 2 months prior I endured 30 hours of natural labor, birthed a 9lb baby, and was still healing in so many ways. I should be roaring like the lioness I AM (that all women are) and I should be so damn proud of this body!! I should be honoring that strength not putting myself down. Why do I care what I look like so much???
It’s a question we all ask ourselves at one point or another, and in surfing it’s such a funny thing. We truly think everyone is watching us, when really everyone is worried about themselves and how they are surfing 😂😂
I really hated that I felt so inadequate in the water, when in every other facet, I felt amazing - I was honoring this new body and not caring about all the extra floppy skin and weight, I gained so much strength from my birth experience, was incredibly grateful to have a healthy and happy baby, felt empowered as a mother, felt so deeply connected to Yemaya and our journey, and just felt overwhelmed with love. It felt really ridiculous to put so much pressure on myself out in the ocean, doing something that is just a hobby that has brought me so much joy.
This chapter slowly faded as I spent more time back in the water and tiny summer waves rolled through in full effect - knee high rollers everyday - my time to shine 😂
I began to regain my sealegs and truly enjoy my time in the water. The summer was filled with early morning surf sessions with Marshall and Yemaya. We would swap on and off and Yemaya would spend every morning by the water - I was reminded how blessed we were to be raising our daughter by the ocean - something we dreamed about for years.
Family surf sessions
As the summer came to an end, and hurricane season rolled in, I had a few tough sessions - trying to hone in a smaller board for larger surf, still healing my core, eating shit a lot, still not sleeping and nursing Yemaya round the clock, coming off of a summer of non-stop working at the shop and starting our first year of kids camps. To say I was exhausted was an understatement, but I never took that into consideration. I started right back into this mindset that I somehow was still “relearning” how to surf and I had really lost my confidence out in the water. A few more frustrating sessions, a few more tears, and then I finally decided enough was enough.
I was getting so in my head about being at a certain place in surfing, surfing a certain way - on a certain wave or a certain board - pushing myself out of my comfort zone constantly - that I really lost sight of what it’s all about. Surfing is different for everyone, but for me it’s always been a place of pure joy, a place of connection to something greater than me, a place I feel most connected to Mother Earth, a place I feel the most inspired, and a place I overcame so much to be in! Why can’t it just be that again? Maybe in this season I don’t need to be so hard on myself, maybe I don’t need to push so hard. The ocean will always teach us lessons - no matter the surf, and will always embrace us - no matter how we show up. She’s swallowed up and shared so much with me over the years. She’s a mama too, she gets it. In this season of no sleep, regaining strength, limited time, transition, and all the emotions, maybe just showing up and having fun is enough. Maybe she’s just waiting to offer her embrace and the space I need to leave a little lighter. The past few sessions I’ve had have been solo, and I’ve felt the shift back into complete and utter joy, to let go of any negative self talk, to smile more, to embrace this beautiful chapter, be grateful for the journey, and all that the ocean continues to teach me - time and time again -
I hope this reminds you to stop being so hard on yourself ❤️ to remember to smile more - laugh more - and no matter what chapter of life you are in - to make time to play - to honor those things that truly fill you up ❤️
All the love and light