In the Spotlight: Heather Ayala

Happy Spring everyone! Our April is off to a great start with some new and exciting classes on the horizon, including some nutrition workshops led by Registered Dietitian and all-around awesome human, Heather Ayala.

Heather's adorable, cozy office here at Doulas of OC is where she counsels clients on balanced nutrition and helps them set and meet any particular health goals they may have. Her compassionate nature and wealth of knowledge keep you focused as you make gradual, gentle changes that will impact your health for a lifetime! 

We had a chance to sit down with Heather to learn more about her passion for nutrition, wellness, and what makes her unique! 

Finding the balance with two children

Welcoming a new baby with another baby only 2 years old isn't easy and is definitely more challenging that I could have imagined.  

With that said, it's also so amazing to see both my girls in my bed and my toddler loving her baby sister and her natural maternal instincts shining through. The way that she wakes up in the morning and shoots straight up, crawling over to get Willow and snuggle her saying, "baby sister awake?" warms my heart like I never could have expected. 

My toddler was definitely like any other newborn and loved to be loved on. But the difference between her and Ivorēwillow is that Piperlily was pretty much ok with anyone loving on her while Willow won't really let me put her down, even when she's sleeping. This poses a whole new challenge not just in the aspect of going to the bathroom, washing my hair, picking up toddler toys, or cooking dinner but all the other things I feel like I'm supposed to be tending to... Answering emails and finally returning calls, catching up on work, tackling my to do list, but more importantly love on my toddler and husband. Recently I've started feeling overwhelmed with all the pressure I'm putting on myself and worst of all that pressure and stress is causing me to be less present with the most important thing that matters right now: this brand new life I've created and my family.

I've been trying to remind myself to let it go. Let the laundry pile up, let toys stay a mess, let everything else be on hold for just a bit longer because I won't get this time back. When I no longer have itty bitty babes I won't remember not answering that phone call or email but I will remember not being present and losing this time.

I keep battling with myself that on one side: “she’s five months old, she should be more independent by now” and then on the other side: “says who?! Enjoy this time of her wanting you to be so close, it won’t always be like this”. It amazes me that even with all my personal views on parenting, I still have this dark corner in me that society and media has embedded it’s long, grotesque fingernails into that tries to tell me what “normal” is for babies, but is in all actuality the furthest thing from normal. I find myself routinely stopping and reminding myself, “babies aren’t meant to sleep the whole night. Babies aren’t meant to be independent. Babies are meant to be in their mom’s arms.” I recently heard a quote that I just loved and feels it applies so well to birth and parenting, “We have made something so natural and normal to now be considered abnormal”.

Finding this new balance of being a “work at home mom” and having a baby at home with me at all times is one of the most challenging ventures I’ve had but it isn’t one drop short of extraordinary. Being able to be with my daughter through all her firsts, being able to snuggle her whenever I want, and being able to have a strong breastfeeding relationship is a true blessing and I’m so fortunate have this opportunity.

Be gentle to yourself mama. Whether this is your first, or your 5th baby, enjoy this time. Not only is it crucial for bonding to just sit and be present with baby, it’s crucial for your emotional and physical healing. Birth is a strenuous journey and is so important to allow the time to process and imprint with baby in order to move to the next chapter of your life. 

Don't let society put a timeline on when your precious Babymoon is over, take your time and soak it in… those little fingernails, that little button nose, that skin that is as soft as a cloud, those little smiles that you are certain aren’t gas… take it all in. Everything can wait and you won’t regret it, I promise.