You’re listening to parenting in the first three years, the place where we explore the strategies and soul of parenting from pregnancy through the first three years of life. I’m your host, Ann McKitrick. Thank you so much for joining me.

Hello, and welcome to the podcast. I’m so glad that you have joined me here today. I am so happy to have our guest, Dev Honey, and Dev is a licensed midwife. She’s the mother of four kids. She is an author, and she is going to talk with us today just about how laughing and making, you know, staying lighthearted and using humor can really help alleviate stress, help you feel better, help you manage parenting, but also really help you manage postpartum and those first months after you have your baby.

So thank you so much for being with me, Deb. Welcome. Thank you for having me. Hello. So why don’t you tell us first how old all your kids are? Oh goodness. My kids are a very wide range. I have 3, 9, 15, and 22. Wow. They keep me on my toes. I bet they do. Sometimes when people tell me the names, I mean the ages of their children, especially if they have large family, the first thing in my mind, my first thought is, man, I bet that’s a big grocery bill every week.

You’ll probably eat a lot of food at your house. Yes. And three of them are boys and I, and they’re garbage disposals. It’s amazing. Well, garbage disposals are nice because they’ll eat just about anything, huh? Yes. They, they, I do not have picky eaters. I will say that. I am very grateful. I do not have really picky eaters.

That makes life a little simpler. So one of the things that I really appreciate about you is you just have a really lightheartedness about you with your manner and with your words and certainly with your book, but how do you use humor in the everydayness of life at home with your four kids? Really, I think that the, the humor in my house is very based on my kids and what they find funny.

And, you know, it’s all the different ages and if I can laugh with them, that brings us that little bit closer. For example, my teenager, he’s 15 and I feel him constantly getting that further and further away from me. You know, we have less in common. He wants less to do with his mom. Mom’s just not cool anymore.

All of that. So. With him, he’s gotten more into like the pranky type humor. So I make sure that at least once a day, I’m going to pull some like fun little prank on him. And he pulls fun little pranks on me. We can also use it as an exercise of setting boundaries. Like, Hey, these pranks are not okay. This was really mean.

That one went over the edge. Exactly. That one scared your mother. Please don’t. And then, you know, of course my nine year old is, he’s ADHD and he has a little bit more of a, kind of a spastic sense of humor where he just like wants to go really far out there with some of the big jokes and everything. And you know, he’s a, he reminds me of like throwing spaghetti at a wall, kind of a kid.

And you just. The hope that something sticks and see what, what goes there and it’s, it’s a lot of fun to find those different areas of humor. And then of course my three year old and my 22 year old and she can now have some adult humor and we can make more inappropriate and sarcastic jokes with each other.

And I love that she can get it. It’s, it’s a lot of fun to find what makes them laugh. And it helps me not be an angry mom because it’s easy. It’s so easy to flip to anger. You know, you have so much on your plate and you have a lot going on. And then like you get interrupted one more time and you just want to lose it.

You finding those moments of, did we laugh today? Did we smile today? Did I squeeze them and tell them I love them today? Did we have a moment of, of connected joy rather than, you know, mom constantly, did you do your chores? Did you get this done? Did you take care of this? Have you done this yet? Okay, redo this because it wasn’t done right.

And so on and so forth, you know, finding those. There’s little bits of joy and really what you touch on in your describing your own kids is, is that humor is very developmental, you know, and it’s based on where a kid is cognitively in their, in their cognitive development. In fact, I’ve got a whole podcast episode on that about, you know, just what happens in the first three years, you know, cause babies start laughing in response to you at gosh, at about three to four months, you know, that’s when they really begin to laugh out loud, but what makes them laugh then.

And what makes them laugh at 12 months and then at 18 months and then at, you know, 36 months, it’s totally different. And, and it’s because that little brain is just growing and learning. And it’s just fascinating to me how, how all those things connect. I went to a conference this past week at with Jack Canfield, and he uses humor all throughout his presentation, and he would just have, you know, all these funny cartoons, you know, embedded into the presentations.

But 1 of the things that he says is that when you laugh. Your endorphins are released, which you would know about because you are, you know, a physical fitness and nutrition person, but also that when that happens, your brain opens up and that you’re able to remember better what it is that you’re hearing at the time.

And so just as a speaker, it makes me think I’m going to have to put a funny in about every. Five, 10 minutes just to keep people tracking with you. So yes. And the same for kids, right? We know just in, just in how they learn that if we can get them happy, we can teach them better, you know, I homeschool all of my children and if they are enjoying it, they’re going to remember it better.

And there. You know, we all know that if we’re in a good mood, we’re enjoying it and soaking it in a lot more. My three year old is in a funny spot where he will fake laugh and it’s almost like he’s trying to figure out what he thinks is funny. I, I really love it because it’s, it’s fun to see his different laughs and get, okay, what was genuine here and what he finds genuinely funny, which will be really, really silly things at this point.

Probably be a slapstick, huh? Yes, exactly. Exactly. That is an interesting thing to watch that social development, too, and like, Oh, is this funny? Okay, I’ll fake laugh about it. And then wait, no one else laughed. Oh, but she laughed because I laugh, you know, all of the kind of back and forth of that social movement there is really cool to see, too.

Right? Yeah, it really is. That was one of our go to techniques in the car when we had three kids close together and when they were all crying in their car seats, we would just fake laugh until the real, real laughing would take over. But it was just, it would kind of stop the crying because the kids would be like, you know, they would, it was not the expected approach, uh, response to their screaming.

Isn’t it interesting? I read a book years ago that talked about. Just the act of smiling creates that response back into your brain that says, Oh, I am happy. And so even doing like fake smiling kind of a thing brings those happy feels up to the surface. And I’m like, so interesting, you know, that’s in those bad, stressful, hard moments.

When I am, you know, venting to a friend or venting to my partner and just like, I have to laugh about it. And then we say that even like, oh, you got to just laugh about it because it’s just, you know, it’s too ridiculous to not be funny. And that is really part of that trick is when you just got to laugh at yourself and at your kids and at the whole situation.

It’s like, how did I end up here?

Yeah, I know. I love hearing, you know, parents stories about their kids. I mean, sometimes it’s just like, you just wouldn’t even believe that that could possibly be true. But it is. And, you know, it’s just funny. So let’s talk a little bit about your book. The title of it is Here for the D, a maternity guide, bringing humor and empowerment to the delivery decisions and other D.

So I did read your book and I just love it. I’m going to give it to my daughter who is pregnant. And I just think you have such really, first of all, a real lighthearted way of talking about all of these things and just kind of bringing a sense of. I think the lighthearted way of writing really brings a sense of calm to, you know, some of that stuff that can be a little bit worrisome, you know, I really  like your book and I’m, I’m so glad that, that I was able to get ahold of it.

We’ll definitely put a link in the show notes for people to, to get it themselves. But when you were writing it, you talked about how you really love to talk about postpartum because. Nobody else does. They only talk about, you know, pregnancy, labor, labor delivery, but then postpartum, you just go home and nobody’s really prepared you for it.

So talk about that a little bit. Yes, and I’m, I’m really happy to see that, that it is coming out more, you know, we are. The mental health of postpartum women is becoming more present in on social media and everything, and I’m so, so glad to see that. It’s a difficult time. You know, you’re not just transitioning into, okay, I have to learn how to this new person, but you’re transitioning into not pregnant anymore.

And That alone can feel very big and heavy like you got used to this body and and having this baby inside you and then now they are suddenly on the outside, especially after, you know, all those months of being able to get used to getting pregnant and then all of a sudden you’re not. It’s a huge transition and.

We don’t give it enough attention and then we give it attention for maybe two weeks, but she’s acting normal again. It’s fine. She’s up and about. It’s not a big deal. And then we kind of start to drift off and ignore it when really postpartum is the first year after your baby is born. I mean, our bodies still know that our hair still knows that our, you know, our teeth and our skin and our everything else still knows that you’re postpartum.

And everyone else is kind of like, ah, she’s fine. When is she going back to work again? You know, it’s unfortunate that we’re not given that space to sort of manage postpartum how we want to manage postpartum. I do have moms who are like, no, I want to get back to work. That’s where I’m the most sane. I need to get back to work.

I just, that’s where I need to be myself again. And I’m like, great. Go back to work whenever you are feeling that you want to enjoy. And I have other moms who are like, I think I’m going to quit. I think I’m done. You know, it’s just, it’s giving themselves that space to say, Oh yeah, this looks different than I thought it would.

And I’m, and I’m okay with that. Yeah, it is a real shock to the system. You know, you, you want the baby. And you have expectations, but then, you know, they’re the reality may not meet what you thought it was going to be. And and so there’s that whole adjustment period. That is just it just takes a long time.

You know, it just takes time. Absolutely. Absolutely. And those pieces that that really are funny. But we don’t talk about, you know, leaking from your boobs at the grocery store and, and figure, you know, the postpartum diapers and all these things that we’re just like, what am I doing here? This is the least sexy I’ve ever felt in my life.

And no one talks about it. No one mentioned it. No one warned her, you know. On the reverse of that, we get so many of the horror stories, right? And that is also a shame where finding spaces to share those stories in safe spaces that you’re not also traumatizing someone else and making them fearful of the postpartum period, right?

Where we’re finding all of that. The way we talk about things and who we talk about them with also matters. Right. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I, I appreciate so much in your book how you speak to dad and partners, and these are some ways that you can, you can help this postpartum mama. And I think that’s really insightful.

So like specifically in the first year after giving birth, what are some ways that laughter can benefit aside from just that it’s fun. Yeah, laughter produces oxytocin, oxytocin helps your uterus contract and shrinks everything back down to normal. This reduces bleeding time, helps your abs be, have the space to come back together sooner.

There really is a hormonal pattern here that can help kick in that healing and like, Oh, okay. When you’re, when your body feels a little bit better. You’re not, you know, wearing the diapers anymore and things like that. Your body’s making enough breast milk. You have all this oxytocin going. Oxytocin is a bonding hormone, so you’re bonding with your baby even more and that makes those middle of the night feedings even better where you can just sort of ooh and ah over your baby.

Oxytocin is a feel good, happy, sexy hormone, so even though you may not be ready for the sexy part, it’s still nice to like your partner in that period. Yeah, it helps you connect. Love a good oxytocin boost. I even tell women if they’ve gone past their due date. Do something funny, watch a funny video, go to a [00:14:00] comedy show, get some laughter going.

Oxytocin is wonderful and those feel good happy hormones is exactly what we want on board because your body doesn’t want to have a baby and your body doesn’t want to make milk if it’s stressed out. Cortisol is counterintuitive to that. So when you’re, when your cortisol is moving, your body’s like, whoa, whoa, it’s not safe out here to have a baby.

Let’s just keep, let’s just not, and we want good, happy hormones. So your body can go into labor when it’s ready, good, happy hormones. So your uterus can contract and shrink down and everything can heal. So we, we love a good, a good laughter and some good stories and even, you know, like I said, getting those comedy shows going and whatever can give you a good giggle.

Right. So I guess that’s good advice for someone who is sitting there twiddling their thumbs, waiting for labor to begin. Yes. Maybe past their due date, just do some things that will make you laugh and, and, uh, release that hormone. That’s fun. Yes. Yes, exactly. As I was just kind of doing a little bit of, uh, digging in preparation for our conversation, I learned that laughter does a lot of other things too, that are helpful for all people, but for brand new mamas, especially, and that’s increasing your immune response.

You know, protecting you from germs increases your cardiovascular health, and of course, your social connections. It helps you to connect with others when you laugh together. Yes. Improves digestion, too. I just learned that one not too long ago. When you are relaxed and happy, and you have those laughter feels going, your digestion is better.

Nutrient absorption is better. Then you can create more breast milk and heal yourself. You know, we lost a lot of nutrients during pregnancy. Everything went to the baby. So getting all of it back. Yeah. Yeah. Very helpful. Yeah. That digestion bit is really helpful for. Postpartum mamas, cause that’s kind of slow, a slow return.

Absolutely. Yeah. Everything, all those organs have to go back into place. Right. Yeah. So another chapter in your book, I took note of it was entitled, you are what you think. So talk a little bit about that, about how, how your thoughts affect what’s going on with you. Yes. We all know the saying, it’s all about perspective and.

It really is all about perspective. I’m sure that so many people have heard this before. When we get into the mindset of, I am too weak to handle this. I am too weak to handle being this postpartum mom. I’m too weak to handle being a mom. I can’t do all of this. This is too, you know, all of that. We start those cycles mentally and whether it comes from our childhood or social media or someone planted that seed somewhere that just says.

I’m not enough to do this. Maybe it’s another child. Maybe it’s a first child. Maybe it’s a child and work. Maybe it’s a child and a clean house. Maybe, you know, all of the different responsibilities that we take on that mental brick building, right? We put one brick on top of the next brick and the next brick.

And then you’re staring at this brick wall, like. What do I do with this? And it can be incredibly frustrating and stressful rather than recognizing that we do have the ability to change how we view things and how we see it, even as hard as that can seem, because, you know, when that record player starts going, it’s going and, you know, runaway train with some of those thoughts.

I’m a big fan of journaling. I’m a big fan of post it notes. I love a good post it note. And those post it note reminders, like, you know, your little affirmations and your, your, um, just statements reminding that this is wonderful. Like what, what our bodies can do is wonderful. And, and these. Tiny humans that we create are incredible and every little thing that they do is like that little hint and that little like fascination into what they’re going to be.

And they’re just, it really, really is wonderful. And the dishes don’t need to get done right now. The vacuuming doesn’t need to get done right now. It will get done when it gets done. That giving ourselves that space and mentally. Loving ourselves is so, so, so important. And I do think it’s important to read books over and over again, like mine and others.

And there’s so many great books coming out about, you know, positive affirmations and gratitude. And it’s amazing what those things can do, even shifting the mindset of. In that moment, you were very stressed out, you had an event happen, you were very stressed. And then, the next day, you were venting to a friend about it, and you were laughing about it.

That, that is a shift of that event, you know, oh, I was so stressed, I was so angry, and then, but really, it was, it was [00:19:00] so funny, and I can’t believe that’s my life right now, right? Like, so, repeating it to another person can be so helpful. Like, just saying it out loud, and like, oh, wait. You probably could have handled that differently or I probably, you know, like, Oh gosh, that’s actually really funny and I don’t know what I was thinking and all of those different things because we are, you know, making our mistakes on a daily basis and framing it as being along this really wonderful human journey and getting to participate in these really cool things.

You know, no one else gets to be my kid’s mom. Right. That is a really, really cool and amazing thing. Yeah. Whether it’s on a religious level or a spiritual level or, you know, whatever you believe in. It’s just a really, really cool thing. It is. It’s an amazing thing that another human comes out of you.

Right. It’s, it’s so mind blowing sometimes and, and really, really cool that, that we get to participate in it this way. Yeah, it is really cool. And I love just the whole process of. Watching a child unfold in front of your eyes year after year after year, you know, even my kids now, I love still watching who are they’re becoming as, as adult and it starts the moment they’re born.

So, yeah, those are some really great things to keep in mind. You know, when. One exercise that I try to practice, and I’m, I’m doing this, um, as a result of some work that I’m doing personally. And that is to, at the end of the day, to look at myself in the mirror and just review out loud to myself, the good things that happened today, and then to end it with, I love you.

And it’s just kind of like. This, it’s an assignment actually that I’m doing and I’m still in the, this is way weird and awkward stage of it, but I understand that with time you come to the place where this is an important part of this whole mind shift of looking at things from a loving and caring way of looking, of speaking to yourself, making, changing your thoughts.

So that’s really good, especially, especially in those, in those first months. As we wrap this up, do you have one last word of encouragement for parents, anything that you’d like to part with? I would love it if each one of your listeners would take a moment and list five things that they love about themselves, that they are just grateful for about themselves, even if it’s their resilience and their ability to get through it, right?

But five things that you love about yourself. I think that’s really important that we kind of step back and like, Oh yeah, I’m really awesome.

Well, thank you so much for being here. I will have a link for her book here for the maternity guide, bringing humor and empowerment to the delivery decisions and the other D. So you have to read the book in order to learn what the other D is. Thank you so much. And this was wonderful. Thanks for being here.

If you loved today’s episode, take a minute and subscribe to our podcast. And one last thing, I’d love to pray for you and your baby if you’d like for me to. You can email me at ask at nurturednoggins. com. Your request can be as simple as just one word, or it can include an explanation. Either way, you can trust that I will pray for you. It’s a quiet, simple way that I can connect with you and your family and support you in your parenting journey.