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November 2019: Sharilyn Fields

We are thrilled to honor Sharilyn Fields as our Mom of the Month! We first met Sharilyn during her pregnancy at Fit4Baby prenatal classes and then we were lucky to continue classes with her through the early days and months of motherhood at Stroller Strides and Barre. More recently, her fitness journey has evolved as she's become stronger and more confident through FIT4MOM Transformation classes. Having Sharilyn in our community is an incredible blessing. She has a positive attitude, inner strength (and outer strength) and a generous spirit. It's her courage, persistence and compassion that makes you want to keep going strong when she's in the room and it's her sense of humor that helps you forget how long an hour can be, because Sharilyn is always great company. We simply adore her answers to our questions and the mom-to-mom advice she offers in the final paragraphs is priceless. If you haven't met Sharilyn yet, we're sure you will love getting to know her in this month's interview!

Where are you originally from?

Los Angeles, and born at Good Samaritan Hospital where they let fathers in the delivery room (this was still rare in 1970).

Tell us about your little workout buddy.

That would be Lily Rose Fields. She's 2 1/2 this month, a character, very smart and makes me laugh every single day.

How did you meet your husband?

I met Adam on the OK Cupid dating website. He wrote me a week after I joined in January 2014 with the single sentence, "You had me at The Godfather", in response to my movie favorites. We met a few days later and we were engaged by December, then married in July 2015. I was knocked up by August 2016.

Tell us a little about your career.

I'm a family nurse practitioner (NP). For those who don't know, an NP is a nurse with a master's degree, which provides specialty-specific training that allows us to do just about anything a doctor does. Currently I'm practicing adult primary care medicine in a homeless healthcare clinic, which I love. Last month I resigned after 9 years from my second job as a medical forensic examiner at UCLA where I did sexual assault examinations & evidence collection for women, men, children and suspects, and testified in sexual assault court cases. Before that I worked on a cardiac step-down unit at UCLA, and before that I was a river raft guide in Northern California.

How did you find out about FIT4MOM and what classes do you attend?

I was around 5 months pregnant and discovered FIT4MOM in 2016 after after an on-line search for 'pregnancy workouts'. After a couple of once-per-week Fit4Baby workouts I added Stroller Strides because I wanted and needed more exercise. I did both until Lily was born in May 2017, took a break, then resumed Stroller Strides about 4 months postpartum. The weight wasn't coming off so I added BodyBack for two 8-week sessions and lost all of my baby weight, then switched to Boost. I'm now a fixture as follows:

-Four days/week at Body Transformation Boost on Tuesday/Thursday 5:30AM, & Sundays at 8AM in Sherman Oaks; and 5:30AM on Fridays in Glendale.

-Occasionally Strides 360 class on Saturdays when my schedule allows....Plus Book Club when my schedule allows.

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM?

I like the variation in workouts and the consistent camaraderie with other women who happen to be moms.

How do you plan to celebrate Thanksgiving this year?

We're starting off with the Turkey Trot 5K in DTLA which benefits the Midnight Mission (it's both stroller-friendly and fun if you're interested). Then I'm having 26 people over for Thanksgiving...How did that happen?!!!

What is your proudest moment as a mom?

Mine occurred prior to the birth of my daughter. While trying to conceive and after two back-back miscarriages a variety of experts informed us that based on my age and history of chemotherapy I had a zero to less than 1% chance of conceiving naturally and that egg donation or surrogacy was our best option. In my heart and gut I knew my body was still capable of natural conception... Lily was conceived in July of 2016 and I gave birth at age 47. I'm proud that I trusted myself and kept trying in the face of discouragement and statistics. Had I not, my incredible daughter would not be here. In your face 'experts'!

Have you ever thought, gosh I can’t do this, and why?

Not so much I can't as I don't want to, which was mostly early on, in the middle of the night during the first 4-5 months after the birth when I was exhausted all of the time, extremely hormonal, going through post-partum hormone shifts in addition to surgically induced menopause (another story for another time).

How has becoming a mother changed you?

I now identify on a heart level with the post-Vesuvius eruption skeletons of Pompei mothers preserved in ash and wrapped around their children as opposed to running away like George Castanza in the episode of Seinfeld where he dashes out when he smells fire at the kid's birthday party.

What advice would you give a new mom?

It's totally okay to tune out, be irritated by, or feel hostile in response to unsolicited or unhelpful advice. That said, feel free to ignore any of the following:

1. Do accept help when offered. Don't accept help from people who irritate or stress you out. If they are family and you feel obligated to see them, set time limits, let them hold the baby while you sleep, or send them for groceries or to Canada.

2. Say you're a couple weeks or months into motherhood and you mention that you're tired. While it's a nice thought and an excellent idea, you may discover that when someone responds with, "You really should just nap when your baby naps," you find yourself thinking, "You really should just go to hell." This is a totally reasonable internal response.

3. It's normal to feel irritated with your precious bundle of -for the most part - joy and to need a break from them, so don't beat yourself up for not liking them 1 (or more)% of the time. Just think, if you had house guests that stayed 24/7, woke you up constantly, and contributed to the household by urinating on you they'd probably get on your nerves.

4. In line with the last thing: after being up night after night, and attending daily to your child's every need while your own hair is dirty, you've been barfed and occasionally shat upon, and for this you're rewarded by louder crying and a shot of puke. It's possible you may find yourself feeling...well a bit snippy on occasion. You may even have an instance (or two) in your career as a new mom where you lose it emotionally. You may even yell. Forgive yourself, apologize, and remember: babies don't hold grudges.

5. It's well within your rights to expect (that's right - expect) your life/parenting partner to behave like one, even if you get some push-back for it. This isn't the Paleolithic era (or the 1950s) and your partner isn't out hunting or protecting your family from saber tooth cats. He or she can hold, feed, or change your child at the end of the day so you can pee in private, shower or take a short walk.

6. The first few months following a birth isn't the time to obsess about screen time. Watch whatever the hell you want if you're stuck at home and adjusting. Babies can be exceedingly boring, horrible conversationalists and yours won't remember any of this anyway. If you're still paranoid, turn them away from the screen.

7. Try to get out of the house at least once a day even if it's just a walk around the block. New motherhood can be isolating. A little outside air and sun on your face, and just being in the orbit of other human beings (even if you're in no place to speak to them) can heal a dark mood, or at least take the edge off.

8. Babies are little, but they take up a lot of metaphorical space. If you and your partner feel a little, or a lot 'off' in terms of your relationship it's normal. Having a kid is great but it will create change between the two of you - after all a second love of your life is permanently in town - and this may be...well, uncomfortable. Plus I'm of the firm belief that it's possible for both parents to go through a sort of post-birth depression, so be sensitive to your partner too. The off-kilter feeling doesn't just magically get better so it's imperative to put words to it. Keep talking to each other and acknowledge the distance until you're closer again, and you've adjusted to your new identities as parents. Also ask for hugs when you need them.

9. There are many ways to do motherhood so if you don't like the advice (including mine) or method (e.g. I detest 'cry it out') don't do it, or take what you do like and design your own method. It's actually kind of hard to f#$k this up, and your kid will eventually complain about you no matter what you do.