Failing Motherhood

High Risk Pregnancy, NICU stays, Gestational Surrogacy and Stress Physiology with Parijat Deshpande

August 22, 2023 Danielle Bettmann | Parenting Coach for Strong-Willed Kids Episode 119
High Risk Pregnancy, NICU stays, Gestational Surrogacy and Stress Physiology with Parijat Deshpande
Failing Motherhood
More Info
Failing Motherhood
High Risk Pregnancy, NICU stays, Gestational Surrogacy and Stress Physiology with Parijat Deshpande
Aug 22, 2023 Episode 119
Danielle Bettmann | Parenting Coach for Strong-Willed Kids

Preterm birth accounts for over 1 in 10 births in the United States. Prematurity is one of leading causes of long term health complications & death in children. Half of all maternal mortality loss can be prevented.

My guest today, Parijat Desphande is working to end this high risk pregnancy crisis so families don’t meet their child earlier than they should.

Parijat is a bestselling author, speaker, consultant, and film producer who is dedicated to improving outcomes and ending preterm birth by adding a trauma-informed, neurobiological lens to prenatal care.  She has served and supported thousands of pregnant people through her live events, one-on-one work, and bestselling book, Pregnancy Brain: A Mind-Body Approach to Stress Management During a High-Risk Pregnancy.

In this episode, Parijat documents her roller-coaster journey of becoming a mother without a baby in her arms, her and her son surviving birth at 24 weeks, and navigating viable options to bring a sibling into the world, ultimately through surrogacy.


  • How Parijat saved her son's life by prolonging his premature birth
  • Ways to support yourself or someone else through a long NICU stay
  • What "somatic capacity" is and how to expand yours


  • Why meditation should be LAST on your list
  • The work that needs to be done to stop the high risk pregnancy crisis

Book: BURNOUT: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski PhD

Book: Pregnancy Brain
Instagram: @healthy.highriskpregnancy

I believe in you + I'm cheering you on.
Come say hi!  I'm @parent_wholeheartedly on Insta.
Schedule your FREE Consultation:

Send us Fan Mail over Text.

Support the Show.

Master the KIND + FIRM Approach your Strong-Willed Child Needs WITHOUT Crushing their Spirit OR Walking on Eggshells
*FREE* -

Show Notes Transcript

Preterm birth accounts for over 1 in 10 births in the United States. Prematurity is one of leading causes of long term health complications & death in children. Half of all maternal mortality loss can be prevented.

My guest today, Parijat Desphande is working to end this high risk pregnancy crisis so families don’t meet their child earlier than they should.

Parijat is a bestselling author, speaker, consultant, and film producer who is dedicated to improving outcomes and ending preterm birth by adding a trauma-informed, neurobiological lens to prenatal care.  She has served and supported thousands of pregnant people through her live events, one-on-one work, and bestselling book, Pregnancy Brain: A Mind-Body Approach to Stress Management During a High-Risk Pregnancy.

In this episode, Parijat documents her roller-coaster journey of becoming a mother without a baby in her arms, her and her son surviving birth at 24 weeks, and navigating viable options to bring a sibling into the world, ultimately through surrogacy.


  • How Parijat saved her son's life by prolonging his premature birth
  • Ways to support yourself or someone else through a long NICU stay
  • What "somatic capacity" is and how to expand yours


  • Why meditation should be LAST on your list
  • The work that needs to be done to stop the high risk pregnancy crisis

Book: BURNOUT: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski PhD

Book: Pregnancy Brain
Instagram: @healthy.highriskpregnancy

I believe in you + I'm cheering you on.
Come say hi!  I'm @parent_wholeheartedly on Insta.
Schedule your FREE Consultation:

Send us Fan Mail over Text.

Support the Show.

Master the KIND + FIRM Approach your Strong-Willed Child Needs WITHOUT Crushing their Spirit OR Walking on Eggshells
*FREE* -

Parijat Deshpande  0:00  
My focus specifically is centering stress physiology because we know that it is a significant risk factor for a multitude of very common pregnancy complications, if we know that. And if we know that the solutions can actually be really powerful. Why are they not included in standard prenatal care? And that's what I feel like my mission in life here is to do is to bring that to the forefront.

Danielle Bettmann  0:26  
Ever feel like you suck at this job? Motherhood I mean? Have too much anxiety, not enough patience. Too much yelling, not enough play. There's no manual, no village, no guarantees. The stakes are high. We want so badly to get it right. This is survival mode. We're just trying to make it to bedtime. So if you're full of mom guilt, your temper scares you. You feel like you're screwing everything up. And you're afraid to admit any of those things out loud. This podcast is for you. This is Failing Motherhood. I'm Danielle Bettmann. And each week we'll chat with a mom ready to be real. Showing her insecurities, her fears, your failures and her wins. We do not have it all figured out. That's not the goal. The goal is to remind you, you are the mom your kids need. They need what you have. You are good enough and you're not alone. I hope you pop in your buds somehow sneak away and get ready to hear some hope from the trenches. You belong here, friend, we're so glad you're here

Hey, it's Danielle. If you've ever had a high risk pregnancy, or a micro preemie baby, you know how much anxiety overwhelms your every day. Imagine being told to just chill out, calm down, or meditate, or simply given no advice of anything you can do at all when life is incredibly touch and go. Today's guest figured out a better way to not only process the stress that comes with these situations -spoiler alert, it actually has nothing to do with relaxing- but delay her son's arrival to the world, saving his life. Her story and the journey she shares in the first half of this episode will keep you on the edge of your seat. And then in the second half of the episode, you will be furiously taking notes. We cover infertility, loss, high risk pregnancy, bedrest, prematurity, NICU stays, deep work, gestational surrogacy and how to end the high risk pregnancy crisis. So let me introduce you to her.  Parijat Deshpande is a best selling author, speaker, consultant and film producer is dedicated to improving outcomes and ending preterm birth by adding a trauma-informed neurobiological lens to prenatal care. On a mission to end the high risk pregnancy crisis, she has served and supported 1000s of pregnant people through her live events, one on one work and best selling book, pregnancy brain, a mind body approach to stress management during a high risk pregnancy. So even if Pregnancy is a distant memory for you at this point, I asked her how to apply her wisdom to several other common stressful situations you might find yourself in, and you can apply it from there. So let's dive in.

Welcome to Failing Motherhood. My name is Danielle Bettmann. On today's episode, I'm joined by Parijat Deshpande. And I'm so excited to have her on the show. Welcome. So glad you're here.

Parijat Deshpande  3:44  
Hi, thank you so much for having me.

Danielle Bettmann  3:47  
Of course. And so before we dive in, go ahead and just introduce yourself to my audience. I already shared your bio in the intro, but who are you? Who's in your family?

Parijat Deshpande  3:57  
Absolutely. Hi, everyone. I'm Parijat. And I am a mother of two living children and five in my heart. And I'm here because I feel like I have failed motherhood about a million times and counting. And just the experience of it all has just shaped you know who I am as a person in ways I never could have imagined.

Danielle Bettmann  4:21  
Oh, yeah. Isn't that the truth? Yeah. I mean, you know, understatement of the year. Well, I know that when I came across you you love to discuss the real and the raw side of family building. And that covers pretty much all the gamut of infertility, loss, high risk pregnancy, bedrest, prematurity, NICU stays, you know everything after that, even surrogacy and so I can't wait to dive into like your whole story. But is there a recent moment that you felt like you were failing motherhood? We need to basically pre qualified because you know, we put everybody on a pedestal like they have their whole life Have together. We know that's not always the case.

Parijat Deshpande  5:03  
That is certainly not the case over here. Let me tell you, Does five minutes ago count?because yes, I mean, it was just this morning, I was trying to get a workout in really quickly because I have a long day of meetings that started early today earlier than usual. So I'm like rushing, rushing, rushing to try to get things done. And my littlest one was like, I just want to exercise with you. And I'm like, I guess. It was like this whole big thing. Like, it's not a big deal. And it also felt like such a big deal at the same time. Yeah. And I just got frustrated with her. And I could see her little face just crumbling because all she wanted was just a moment together. Yay, me. Good job. Self.

Danielle Bettmann  5:46  
Yep. Great way to start today. Exactly. You're not going to carry that into all your meetings? I'm sure. I sure hope not. No, no, release the guilt. You are a good mom, you will be able to take care of what you need to take care of. And then you can turn around take care of her. There we go. Okay, they're all in good time. No, that is just again, one anecdote of the bigger picture of motherhood because that's, it's all these little moments that in and of themselves are not that big of a deal, but they feel like a really big deal.

Parijat Deshpande  6:15  
Yeah, for sure. To feel like you can get the juxtaposition of the mom I want to be and the mom I am currently being and they're not the same mum. And you just you can feel both at the same time. And it's so hard.

Danielle Bettmann  6:29  
Yes. And then in the very back of your mind, you have the idea of the mom, you thought you would be before you became a mom. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. And that one just needs to go. Yeah, it doesn't even exist.

Parijat Deshpande  6:41  
That's right. No, that was all imagination. Yes. I love it.

Danielle Bettmann  6:47  
You are one of us. I can tell already. So take us back, paint the picture. Who were you before you became a mom?

Parijat Deshpande  6:54  
I was somebody who loved to stay busy. I had I just I had I described it as just having a really full life. I had a great career that I was building. I was teaching at my alma mater. I was running a nonprofit. I was doing Child and Family Therapy. I had a full social life. I had been newly married. So like that glow was there. And just everything felt like it was coming together. Like it's supposed to, you know, we got married, we bought the house. We like did not get a dog. But that's but you know, we it was all coming together as it was supposed to happen. Checking off all the boxes and enjoying the process, which was I think, lovely. It was just a very satisfying, content filled, joyful life.

Danielle Bettmann  7:44  
That's lovely. Yeah. So it was all cupcakes and rainbows then...

Parijat Deshpande  7:48  
it was I mean, there's life. There's, you know, I had health issues. And there's, you know, all real life was still happening. But it felt very manageable. It felt like I had the resources. I had the supports. I had people around me who cared who could help and were just really great. We had a great village that we had built. And it was really, really nice.

Danielle Bettmann  8:09  
Lovely. So then, what was the path into motherhood like?

Parijat Deshpande  8:15  
Really bumpy and really scary? So like I mentioned, I had known health issues. So we knew that we would be one of those couples that would have challenges getting pregnant, okay, that we were not one of those couples that tried and tried and tried and like what's happening, we knew that there would be some challenges. And so we jumped into fertility treatment when I was in my 20s. And I still remember my reproductive endocrinologist was like, You're so young, what are you doing here? Like? Well, you read my chart, you'll see what I just read. And what we, I think our first experience into this whole journey and my first experience of motherhood was, you can be a mother and not have a baby in your arms. How is that a thing that was just not something I knew of? I didn't know anything about it. I didn't know anyone who had had a miscarriage at that time. Once I shared what I had gone through, it was not a miscarriage. It was a ruptured ectopic actually, which is when the embryo implants outside of the uterus. For me, it was in my fallopian tube and then it burst. So as a medical emergency on top of a loss.

Danielle Bettmann  9:19  
Super dangerous.

Parijat Deshpande  9:20  
Yeah, really dangerous. And just like wrapping my head around the fact that we started fertility treatment sooner than we had originally planned, because we were told we don't have a lot of time, which is also false. I learned later. But you know, we started earlier than we'd originally planned, needed to do fertility treatments. So that went differently than anything I'd ever heard of. I didn't know anyone at the time personally, who had gone through that other than people I've met on an online community and then to lose a child and then to lose it in a way where I could have also lost my life. That was like the biggest slap in the face. I think of reality check. This is going to be really different than you ever anticipated. Yeah. And it scared us it really terrified us into the fragility about the fragility of life and what's possible and what could happen. And I think that just set us up for so much fear going into, you know, what we went through,

Danielle Bettmann  10:19  
understandably, yeah, of course. So then what did you do next?

Parijat Deshpande  10:24  
Well, we took some time off, I needed some time to physically recover. And then I needed some time to emotionally recover from, you know, recognizing because it was such a clinical experience, and that we never had a moment of pregnant and then letting it sink in. And then things happening, it was like, I was getting blood draws every two days, for several weeks, I looked like my arms just were covered in bruises. And so it never really sunk in that I was even pregnant. So that had to happen. And then the loss had to register. There's a whole thing. So we actually took some time off, we had a really lovely little vacation nearby up in Napa that I remember just so fondly of like, there wasn't a whole lot that I could do, because I was still recovering. But it was just so nice to be in such beautiful scenery, and to spend some time away. And then once I recovered, and we both felt like, Hey, I think we're ready, the next step had to be IVF. And so spending time learning about what that means and what that's going to look like. And what do we need to know now that we don't know because clearly things happen out of left field. So we, we did all of that. And then several months later, we started our first IVF cycle.

Danielle Bettmann  11:40  
Okay. And what was that like?

Parijat Deshpande  11:42  
That was awful. I will not sugarcoat that. IVF is tough on the body, it's so hard on the body. And so it's certainly something that I know, I recommend my clients as well, like think really carefully. Like, it doesn't have to be an option. Sometimes for some people, it's the only option other than other other options where you're not carrying the child, but it's intense. But it went really well. And we got a bunch of embryos, and we transferred one. 

At that time, fresh transfers were still done regularly. So we did a fresh transfer, which means that the embryo wasn't frozen first. And the very first embryo that we transferred, I got pregnant, but I found out in the middle of my first of many pregnancy complications. So once again, we didn't get that moment of, hey, pregnant, like I've never taken a pregnancy test that was positive, that's just never happened. And one of the reasons why they don't do fresh transfers anymore is because of the complication that I developed called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, which also can be dangerous. So in the middle of my treatment, my first of four treatments for that is when we found out that I was pregnant, okay. And then it just kind of snowballed avalanche, I don't know what the word is. But it just kept going and going down to a point where every several weeks I was developing a new pregnancy complication. One after the other, was around six weeks in, I was hospitalized for bleeding, I was just bleeding so much. And around, then my doctor is like, probably chill, maybe don't do a whole lot. And I was like, You need to be very clear with me about what not a whole lot means because we have very different definitions of what that means. And that's when he said, You should probably take some time off of work. And so that whole full life that I had described at the beginning, all of it stopped. I couldn't teach anymore. I couldn't run the nonprofit anymore. I couldn't do therapy anymore. I couldn't see my friends anymore. I was spending all my days at home when everyone else was out and about and meeting up. And yeah, wonderful people in my life, as I mentioned. So they did come and visit but it was just visit and I it was the first time actually that I binge something on TV. So I'd never had an enough time to do that. It wasn't really that interested. Now I was like, Oh, this is what they're talking about, oh, I could do this. But it was terrifying. The whole experience was absolutely terrifying. And at 22 weeks and four days, I landed in the hospital, three centimeters dilated, and they prepared me to lose the baby within 72 hours. And it was at that time, the scariest moment of my life. Little did I know there were more scary moments to come. But at that moment, I just went What can I do? What else can I do? And I really just went deep into my body and I consented to all medical treatment. And I said there's I want to do something else to support my body the best way that I could I was lying upside down and Trendelenburg I was on magnesium. So I was feeling awful. But I knew that every time my body tensed up, the contractions picked up and every time my body was not tense, they stopped and you could see it on the monitors when everything else was held constant. And so I He said, I just want to try that. And of course, they're not going to say don't. They were all like, whatever you need, we'll give you what you need, because they knew what was coming. What they did not realize is how powerful that effort actually was. Because while they gave me 72 hours, I stayed pregnant for 15 days. And that was just long enough to give him a chance at life. And that then kicked off our lengthy NICU journey.

Danielle Bettmann  15:24  
And what did that look like? What were you doing then, during those 14 days?

Parijat Deshpande  15:29  
Well, at that time, it was kind of spaghetti at the wall because I was just in survival trying to help this little baby survived. So it's not certainly the way I teach it to my clients now. But at that time, what I was really looking at was okay, if my body tensed up, and that produced contractions that did not exist two seconds prior, then what do I need to do to keep my body not tense. Now usually, we think that means I've to relax my body. But let me tell you, as anyone knows, if you're on magnesium, if you're lying in Trendelenburg, there's nothing relaxing about that, especially in the hospital. And you're in that very viable stage. And like all this hangs in the balance. So what I was doing was actually activating a lot of my sensory system, I now know the language to put to this, but what I was doing was accessing my sensory system and and really helping my body with the micro movements that were necessary to release the stress that was keeping my body tense. So it's not at all about relaxation, but more about completing stress cycles, which I know we're going to talk about in a little bit. But at the time, I did not I was just like, I think this feels good. Let's do it. And just hoping for the best. But now we know that there's actual science behind that. Yeah. 

Danielle Bettmann  16:43  
So is that then kind of like the point like the turning point for your career, and like what the future looks like for you?

Parijat Deshpande  16:51  
Totally, it was two days before my son was born. And I still remember that moment. Like, it's, I mean, it's just etched into my brain. As you can imagine, anyone who stayed in the hospital like it's busy, there's always people around, there's always sounds and noises and things. And it was this really unusually quiet afternoon. And I think my parents weren't there, my husband had gone to work. Like the nurses weren't there, it was just like, really quiet, and the sun was coming in through the window. And I remember feeling the warmth of it for the first time in a long time. And I put my hand on my little belly that was tiny still at that point, and I vowed out loud to my son. And to me, if we both survive this, I'm changing my career. And I'm gonna go teach people how to do this. Because not one person was telling me it was possible to beat the odds of the 72 hours, that they were quoting me and all the statistics, they were telling me, nobody was explained to me how and now that I had lived experience of it. I'm like, Why is this not part of standard prenatal care? So that's when the seed was planted. We got through the NICU stay. And then my son and I were on lockdown for two and a half years because he could not get sick for his own health. And so is about three years later that that seed started to sprout. And I went okay, I think it's time to do something about this.

Danielle Bettmann  18:06  
Wow. Yeah. And you just summed it up, like we survived the NICU say? Like, that's no big deal.

Parijat Deshpande  18:11  
That's a whole other avalanche of it's own.

Danielle Bettmann  18:16  
How long was he there?

Parijat Deshpande  18:17  
He was there for 109 days, which is actually very short for a 24 weeker. Yeah, typically, they tend to stay a lot longer than that.

Danielle Bettmann  18:25  
Yeah. So was his health, like touch and go for a while? Or was it kind of an upward?

Parijat Deshpande  18:32  
No, it he was the sickest baby in the NICU for for a couple of months. And so he was one of those babies, we learned, as we got familiar with the NICU that he was the baby that had only one nurse, and that nurse had no other patients but him for almost two months, because he was that sick. And there, they would not even talk about him even possibly coming home for the first like 10 weeks of his life that wasn't even like don't even ask, because we don't know. And so we had, we had no idea. And I think that was really hard, personally, of course, to go through that as a parent, and then to translate that to people outside the NICU, who are not familiar with that world. And they're always asking, When's he coming home? When's he coming home, and we're like, we don't know, if he's coming home. It's not a when yet. It's an IF still. And that was really hard. And so that village that we had built, really started to thin out, because it's hard to keep up with that kind of intensity for that long. And so we kind of distilled that village down or distilled itself, maybe to a core group of a few people who were able to just really stick it out with us and ride that whole thing out with us. And they were the supports we needed to get through that because it was a really, really awful time.

Danielle Bettmann  19:50  
Yeah. Oh, we can only only imagine just by the snippet of the description, you know, everything that you put into that. Is there any type of me main takeaway that when given the chance you share to help people just understand what is the best way to kind of support a family in a similar situation?

Parijat Deshpande  20:11  
I typically suggest ask more questions and trust that they're giving you the full answer that they know to give. And that if those answers are uncomfortable for you, don't lean on them to make it comfortable. Do your own research, do your own reading, talk to other people who may have been through it. I now that we've been through, we have other friends who have had babies in the NICU, and their parents will call me and be like, they said XYZ thing about the baby? What does that mean? I didn't want to ask them. I said, Sure. I can answer that, because I'm well out of that moment. But they're right in the thick of it. So that you know, that's really helpful to take the burden off of the parents.

Danielle Bettmann  20:52  
Oh, that makes a ton of sense. Yeah. And maybe not something that you think of storing in the back your mind until you find yourself in that situation. So do you have any other piece of advice for a family that is in the NICU currently, of what they need to hear?

Parijat Deshpande  21:08  
Absolutely. I think the this is not easy to hear. But I know it's something that I needed a lot of reminders of is, we have to change our perception of time. Whereas before, you know, project deadlines are weeks or months in advance, we plan you know, vacations and trips months in advance, we do you know, responsibilities for work, like every Saturdays we're gonna do this... time shrinks significantly. And so change your internal clock to be a few moments at a time, especially in those early days. You just have to get through the next moment, the next moment, the next mount, you just have to train yourself to look closer at the very next step, until you're at a point where it makes sense to look a little bit farther out and maybe a day out. And then slowly two days out, then eventually, oh, okay, we can look a few more days out. And even Discharge Day is really not planned out more than a week in advance. Usually it's less than that. So you'll get really good at changing the perception of time. And I think if there's anything you do, get that down quickly, so that you're not overwhelmed by how much longer you may have. Because you don't know how much longer that is actually.

Danielle Bettmann  22:24  
Yeah, yeah, that's, that's super wise. I'm sure easier said than done.

Parijat Deshpande  22:29  
It's very difficult. Oh, goodness, it's so difficult. But the longer you're there, unfortunately, the better you get at it. And then it's a skill that you take into the post NICU world that has also been very helpful to practice. Just focusing on where we are in the moment and managing expectations for everybody.

Danielle Bettmann  22:49  
Yeah, yeah. Lots of opportunities to keep practicing that skill, I'm sure. Yes. So take us through then your thoughts about considering more kids at that point?

Parijat Deshpande  23:02  
Well, my husband and I always wanted three children. And so we knew we weren't done. We had nine embryos in the freezer, we thought Great, plenty of chances. But first, let's figure out what the heck happened because it was so many things that went wrong. It wasn't just one or two complications, which is also awful and challenging in and of itself. But this was something that really just felt like, what, what just happened, it was just very confusing. And so we spent a lot of time actually going back to my medical team to get a rundown of okay, from your perspective, what was that? And then getting a lot of second, third, fourth opinions from physicians and different specialties around the country to see if we could fill in some gaps about what possibly could have gone wrong. 

We got some answers. And effectively, what we took away from that is because of how much went wrong, and in what order and in what way, and what they guessed was going on, the chance of having another premature baby was pretty high. They thought that with additional interventions and medications and more monitoring now that they know how this went that maybe they could push it out to like 32 weeks, which is wildly different than 24. But it's still very, very early. And at that point, you know, my husband and I sat down we went okay, we already have one micro premie. We know what a 32 week are looks like because we saw them come and go while we were there. We saw what happens. We saw what type of support they need in the NICU and what they're prepared to the parents are prepared to deal with afterwards. Oftentimes, we're like, Is that worth in? And that would require me to slow down everything with a toddler at home, and that's a toddler with medical complications on top of that. So with all these factors together, we thought okay, I think it's probably time to To explore the option of gestational surrogacy to see if, if that's something that we can pursue, especially since we had embryos already frozen for us.

Danielle Bettmann  25:10  
Right. So where do you start with that?

Parijat Deshpande  25:13  
So we started with reaching out to friends who had done it before. And we got the insider scoop. How did you start? Where does what do you even do? Where do you go? So we decided to go the agency route. And we decided to do that just because it seemed a little bit more protective of us. And then the gestational surrogate, it just felt like it was a little bit cleaner relationship. And I don't know, if we had known somebody personally, who was willing to do it, maybe we would have considered it. But we at that time, everyone we knew was in the same boat of building their own family. And so we would have had to wait longer than we wanted to. And there was just something about being with an agency that has done this hundreds of times, that felt a little bit better to us. So that's the route that we decided to take. And it was a wild experience, tell you that it was very interesting to have to choose somebody to carry your child is there's a lot of mental gymnastics, that has to happen and a lot of healing that has to happen to get to a place where you can be comfortable enough to do that. And to let go of a lot of the control that you initially want to have that you can't have.

Danielle Bettmann  26:27  
Yeah, say say more about the healing part, because I get what you mean with like, control, releasing control. But yeah, what does that what does that look like?

Parijat Deshpande  26:35  
Well, I mean, there was a lot of it for me, and it took me a long time really to get there. I don't think I was like, quote unquote, done right before we started this, but recognizing that my value as a mother is not tied to safely bringing children into this world physically, you know, I've only been pregnant twice, the longest pregnancy was 24 weeks. Like, that felt like a gigantic failure. Like I couldn't do it. I couldn't just couldn't do it. And now I'm letting some other person do what I can't do. And as somebody who had been very successful in my career, and you know, it was if I didn't get what I wanted, work harder, work smarter, learn a little bit more, try more, and then you get it. And this was not like that at all. There was nothing achievement based about it. And yet, the shame around it was very achievement based. So really starting to learn to let go of that sense of self worth being tied to how I become a parent was huge for me.

Danielle Bettmann  27:45  
Yeah. And is there anything through that process you wish you would have realized sooner?

Parijat Deshpande  27:49  
Honestly, I think it is doing that deeper work earlier. And because it does bleed into how you are a parent, and it bleeds into your ability to connect and bond with your child and your experiences as a parent. Like, it's not worth holding on to that and beating yourself up for it. I understand why we do it. But you can free yourself a lot sooner.

Danielle Bettmann  28:20  
I mean, again, it's not just like an isolated compartment, right of your humanity that you can, you know, just slide on the shelf and deal with later.

Parijat Deshpande  28:29  
Exactly, exactly. It will show up everywhere.

Danielle Bettmann  28:32  
Yeah. Okay, so, so go back to the journey. What, what did that timeframe look like? And you know, how did the surrogacy go?

Parijat Deshpande  28:40  
So we were matched with one gestational surrogate, and she miscarried once. And then she decided not to continue with us. So we had to wait longer. And so the whole process, I think it took like two and a half years total. And then when we got matched with our gestational surrogate who I love, I mean, I just like she's.. their whole family would be a family we would have been friends with had we met in any other circumstances to so it was such a smooth, wonderful relationship. But it took some time to meet her find her meet her, connect with her go through all the legalities and background checks and all the things we have to do. And then she also miscarried. Twice. No or was it three times. And then our very, very last embryo. Very last one. I had to actually like backup and I had to do another egg retrieval which we had planned not to do because most of the embryos that we had the nine two were miscarried, and the rest either tested as abnormal or they didn't survive the thaw. So we lost all nine. 

Danielle Bettmann  29:57  
Oh No. 

Parijat Deshpande  29:59  
And so I had to do another egg retrieval, which was really hard on my body, again, it's something I actually haven't recovered from physically, still. And we got two embryos out of that egg retrieval that were genetically quote unquote, normal. Transferred one, she miscarried that one too. And then we have the very last one. And by that point, my husband and I were like, I guess this is it, we are meant to be parents to only one child in our arms. And we were really preparing ourselves for that. And so the final retrieval when we went in, we weren't really there for it. I mean, we were there. But we were planning a vacation the weekend that she was supposed to find out a little getaway to not be at home for for it. We were planning how to, you know, okay, now we know it's only going to be the three of us. So what kind of house are we going to buy, because we needed to move into a bigger house and in different area for work and stuff. So we were making plans, we had, we had lost hope. And we were preparing ourselves for this one to also not work. And for her to either for to not implant at all or for her to miscarry again. And then I got the call, I got the call on the day that we were supposed to leave on our vacation, the clinic coordinator, they had just been through so much with us. And so she called me first thing in the morning, I was the first call that she made after all the blood work started coming through to her. And I remember stepping inside the house because I didn't want anyone to hear how awful the news was going to be. I needed a moment to process it on my own first. And she said congratulations. And the hCG level was so strong and high and I went Are you sure you're looking at my file? And then she's like, Oh, my gosh, hold on. Now you made me nervous. Let me check. But it was it was the right file is the right bloodwork. It was the right Everything. And that was the start of our journey to bringing our little girl home.

Danielle Bettmann  32:07  
Oh my gosh, what an emotional ringer.

Parijat Deshpande  32:10  
Oh, tell me about it.

Danielle Bettmann  32:13  
Wow. I mean, the the highs and the lows that you had to have endured together with that surrogate. I can only imagine just how much you were trying to brace yourself. Yeah. I mean, that's just a protective mechanism at that point that makes complete sense to have lost hope. So then, like how, how anxious were you through that first trimester?

Parijat Deshpande  32:35  
I was not because I knew that the first trimester is not the only trimester where something can go wrong. 

Danielle Bettmann  32:41  

Parijat Deshpande  32:41  
So I'm like, it's gonna be what it is. I really wasn't. We went to see her for the heartbeat check. So we were there for that appointment. And that's when she announced she knew that it was a girl we had tested. When we tested both embryos. We knew the sex of both embryos. And so she knew it was a girl. And so she announced she wanted to announce it to us that day. And so she did at the appointment, and it was like tears everywhere. And at that point, I just I knew her so well. And we had such a great relationship that I went my little girls in the best hands possible. My, my little boy had to be in the NICU and he was in the best hands possible. My little girl needs to be with her for some time. And she'll come home to me when the time is right. And that's where I found peace, just recognizing that the village that we had built, changed over the years into a village that really needed to help us bring our children home. And she was now an instrumental part of that. Yeah. And so we had a few visits there. Got to see her a couple of times. Every time she had an appointment, she would send me an audio recording of the heartbeat. So I had that all the time. she'd send me pictures of the ultrasound, so I carry those with me everywhere. And we just kept celebrating when we hit 24 weeks, we went all right, step one made it. We're farther than we were before. And then yeah, every milestone after that, until the day she was born. And it wasn't full term then 39 and six. Oh, yeah, we looked at her we went you are huge.

Danielle Bettmann  34:23  
I'm sure in relativity, that is insane. Yes. Yes.

Parijat Deshpande  34:27  
So we had to tell the the physicians of the pediatricians that came by at the hospital like okay, yes, we have a child but he was 24 weeks. So talk to us. Like they didn't even need to hear the rest of it. They're like okay, we'll talk to you like first time parents because you don't know what to do with the full term infant.

Danielle Bettmann  34:42  
Entirely different scenario. 

Parijat Deshpande  34:44  
SO different. So so so different. It's not just a bigger baby. They actually act different and they behave different and they need different things. Yeah, so we're like, okay, brand new starting again. Here we go.

Danielle Bettmann  34:56  
Yeah. Yeah. Did it feel like being first time parents again? 

Parijat Deshpande  34:59  
It did. It did. I mean, there was a lot that we remembered, like how to feed, for example, that came back, like a muscle memory of how to hold the baby in a way that we learned in the NICU that was efficient for feeding. And then how to efficiently burp, instead of what we used to know, just patting them on the back over your shoulder. Those kinds of things came back pretty quickly. But more more than not, it was Wait, what do we do? What does this mean? Why is she doing this?

Danielle Bettmann  35:28  
I'm sure yeah. So it was the was the first like fourth trimester, you know, infant year, what was that? Like? In comparison? Were you able to sleep more hopefully?

Parijat Deshpande  35:41  
No, we slept less with her. Oh, because one thing that we have such a wonderful pediatrician she herself was a preemie parent and then a full term parent after so she was like that first appointment. She's like, Hold on, let me she's not sleeping is she's more like, nope, she's always awake. What's happening? Because NICU babies come home trained to sleep and wake up every three hours. And newborn infants at full term. Don't do that. I think she's broken. She's constantly waking up in weird shifts. And they're just like, yeah, yeah, that's what they do. She'll train later. He came home trained. She's not there yet. 

Danielle Bettmann  36:21  
That makes sense.

Parijat Deshpande  36:22  
Right? And we were like, Okay, thank you for letting us know, it's not her or us. So it is yes. So we slept a lot less with her than we did with him. But in other ways, it was such a breeze, it was like to not have to do all the normal newborn things while also going to 15 appointments at the same time, you know, back and forth. And then the physical therapy that we had to do even as a newborn with him, like we didn't do anything with her. She would just roll over just one day just roll over. You just did that by yourself. What is going on? Yeah, so those kinds of things in in practical sense. They were a lot easier with her. That makes sense. And and in other ways, more challenging because she was more of a wildcard.

Danielle Bettmann  37:12  
Yes, yes. Not only is she her own person, personality, of a different gender, but yeah, like a completely different way. Yes. Of arriving. And you know, health concerns and all that stuff. So yeah, you're on your toes.

Parijat Deshpande  37:25  
Yeah, exactly. I love it.

Danielle Bettmann  37:28  
So are they completely different personalities now?

Parijat Deshpande  37:31  
In some ways they are. She's definitely my wild child. And he's a lot more docile, a lot quieter, a lot softer. But generally speaking, there's a lot more overlap with them than there is there are differences. I mean, my husband and I joke like, clearly, we can only make one type of person. And that's why we have just these two. Their senses of humor are very similar, the way that they think is very similar. They both were very early readers and very early talkers, and both love food and are just very deep thinkers and deep feelers. So a lot of commonalities, actually a lot of similarities with them.

Danielle Bettmann  38:30  
So big emotions from little people are running the show at your house. Is that right? Do they fall apart when something doesn't go their way? Just once, why can't they accept the fact that the answer is no. Am I right? The struggle is real. You're not alone, and you're in the right place. When your days are filled with relentless push back, it is so hard to feel like a good parent, especially when you're in laws aren't shy and sharing how they think your kids just need a good spanking. Every time you lose it, when they lose it, you feel like a failure. The worst part is, without addressing the root of your child's behavior, you're doomed to play a fruitless game of Whack a Mole reacting rather than preventing the next conflict. And next time, nothing's gonna go differently. The good news is, when you have a handful of effective discipline tools in your pocket, you're able to step into full confidence as their parent, parenting actually becomes a whole lot easier. I promise. You're not failing them. You just need more tools. So if you have a tiny human who's full of love, and yet so so difficult, if you can only be so nice for so long. If you've tried everything and still feel defeated on the daily, I free class, authentic and unapologetic is for you In this free training, I share five huge misconceptions in parenting strong-willed kids that inadvertently invite defiance for mistaken goals, they're using their behavior to meet and what to do about it. How to let judgment roll off your back and truly feel like the parent your kids need, and why what you're currently doing just isn't working and isn't going to anytime soon. So go to parenting To access this exclusive free training immediately. That's parenting The link will be in the show notes.

So how did your really really rocky road to motherhood benefit you in parenting? Did you feel like you were like some of that deep work that you mentioned before, you know, prepared you are paid off in some way? Or is it just you know, new day different softball?

Parijat Deshpande  41:17  
I'd say a little of both. Yeah, I think on the one hand, this is gonna sound very Hallmark-y, but I really don't know how else to say it. But in experiencing and having so many lived experiences of the fragility of life, I think it gave me a lot of perspective on what really is an emergency and what are things that we can manage. And I think that gave me a lot of room to make mistakes, because I knew that most of them were recoverable from and I think I really credit that experience to that for sure. I think it also this was a value that we had even before we had children, but it really solidified because of what we went through is more than anything, we want our children to be confident in who they are whoever they are, and to be happy. And that matters more than anything else. And so it's allowed us to make some really difficult decisions about our family and our lifestyle, and schooling and all of these things. Because that has always come first, you know, this idea that neither one of them would be here without everything that we had been through. And so if that's the case, then why not optimize for helping them live their best possible life, whatever that may be, even if it doesn't make sense to other people, or it's not something we would have thought to choose. But we never thought we'd be micro preemie parents and having to go through gestational surrogacy either. So here we are.

Danielle Bettmann  42:43  
Right, right. From what you're comfortable with sharing what is an example of a decision you had to make in the last year that you kind of prioritize that thinking?

Parijat Deshpande  42:52  
Well, I think it was our move, that's probably the biggest one is we move for the foreseeable future, because of a variety of factors that we kind of sat down and we went, what is most important to us, and health and happiness really come up on top. And there were a lot of factors back home that just weren't getting in the way of especially health. And we just knew we had to give it a try. And because you know, the pandemic is going on still. And there's a lot of people that are still able to work from home, there was really nothing rooting us there. Because both of us work virtually, and we homeschool the kids and we thought okay, let's give it a try. And let's see how that happens. how it goes, I don't think we would have left had we not been through it we'd been through. And then of course, things like the pandemic and all of that, helping facilitate the uprooting to give us a chance to to give it a try.

Danielle Bettmann  43:44  
Mm hmm. And what is that? What is that giving you now like that sense of authenticity and knowing that, like we're doing what's best for our family? How was that empowered you to keep doing that moving forward?

Parijat Deshpande  43:56  
Well, I think it's the feedback loop that we're living in to see how much everybody's thriving care in some ways. You know, my son's health improved in ways that we couldn't have even predicted.

Danielle Bettmann  44:08  

It was wild, how quickly his body changed in a good way, and how much he's benefiting from being in this climate. And then the he's the most obvious to see it in. But when we really step back and look at it, all of us are really benefiting, being here, the slower pace of life and nature everywhere, like we were talking about earlier, and being able to be outside so much more often. And so just seeing that every single day just reinforces for us, hey, even though this wasn't a decision we would have made otherwise, pre all of this and even though this isn't a decision we know most people in our life would make. It's totally working for us and what are we going to do? Are we going to keep doing what's working for us? Are we going to try to conform and it just keeps validating? There's nothing to conform to we're very nonconfrontational family We don't fit in anywhere really, in a lot of ways, so why not just really own that? And keep going with that?

Yeah. I mean, why not? I mean, that in of itself is like so empowering. Because, yeah, what's what's the worst that could happen? Yeah. Why? Why is it so bad to not, you know, follow the traditional route. And we really our own worst enemies, when it comes to stopping ourselves from doing what deep down, we know, is probably the best thing for not only ourselves, but our kids. And so it's so so inspirational to hear another family just blazing that trail, so that we can, we can follow their own footsteps, wherever that may lead. 

So I have to circle back now to your career shift, because you had alluded to kind of like a three year delay before that seed could really be flourished. And what was some of those first steps that you took into this new what you're doing now?

Parijat Deshpande  45:50  
Well, I started with just one on one sessions off and on as needed, kind of took the therapy model that I was familiar with and kind of went, let's turn that model into a more somatic teaching model where I, I'll just teach you some somatic tools. And from there, I recognize actually, what I really want to do is to help people prevent getting into that place to begin with. And I said, okay, if I'm going to do that, I really want to make sure this is where my science brain kind of kicked back up and went, I want to really make sure that I'm not just making stuff up. I knew I wasn't, but I was like I need I need somebody else, to confirm and validate for me that this is a thing. So when I saw how well my clients were doing, and they were coming back regularly, so they weren't just doing one off sessions, they were actually like, I'd like to work with you for the rest of my pregnancy. And every single one of them were beating medical odds, they were all staying pregnant longer than their team was telling them to. And I went, Okay, that happened to me, that's happening to you. There's something here. 

So I dove into the research to see what can somebody tell me why like, how do we explain this? How can I use some data to boost up what I'm doing here? Turns out, they're 70 years of data that shows the impact of stress physiology on pregnancy outcomes. And that's when I realized, okay, I want to work with people proactively preventatively. So I ended up working now with people who are preparing for their subsequent pregnancy after loss or preterm birth. So they've already been through it one time, they know they don't want it again. Sometimes I'll get somebody who's never been pregnant before. And they'll hear part of my story, or they'll read my book or something like I don't want that to happen to me, I'll work with you for my first pregnancy, but usually it's second or beyond. And then that's when I wrote my book, Pregnancy Brain because I realized how many people are benefiting from this work. And I'm only one person, I only work with so many people at a time. I wanted that data, that information to be readily and easily accessible to as many people as possible. And from there, everything just kind of grown. You know, I'll work with a few a handful of people through my Path to Baby program from conception to homecoming throughout every year, and then the book is going to podcast grew from there. And now we're expanding into TV and film production to help get these stories out into mainstream media. So it's wild.

Danielle Bettmann  48:14  
So exciting. Yeah,

Parijat Deshpande  48:16  
you know, everything's taken us. Yeah, it's amazing. Yeah. And

Danielle Bettmann  48:19  
so needed, because yeah, the the louder, the more widespread the better for this type of message. And for our listeners, let's back up and do a little vocabulary tutorial. What is stress physiology?

Parijat Deshpande  48:35  
Stress physiology is the stress, we use that word wrong, everywhere. Stress is not an emotional experience. There's an emotional component to it. But it's not an emotional experience. Stress is a threat response, that our nervous system kicks off at the assessment of any stress that assessment happens outside of thinking, so we don't do it. And I highlight that because we tend to take on the responsibility of stress as individuals, and why I hit home stress physiology is to really show that we don't actually choose it because it's not happening through our thinking brain. It's happening through our survival brain, it's happening through that lower part of our brain that operate instinctively. And so anytime a threat is identified, our entire body down to the cellular level changes to keep us alive, and that is the only goal of the body. And so when we talk about stress physiology, it's how that shift changes and affects the outcomes of fertility and pregnancy. That's the focus of the work that I do

Danielle Bettmann  49:43  
Okay. And then another term that I saw you use was somatic. So what is what does it mean somatic and somatic capacity?

Parijat Deshpande  49:51  
So somatic generally speaking just means 'of the body'. So instead of focusing on thoughts, we are focusing on the body. We're focused on. Underneath the umbrella of somatic, we've got sensory but sensory motor, we've got movements postures, kind of all these different variations of somatic. Somatic is a very general term. And so it's of the body. And so we focus on how is the body shifting to create, quote unquote, the symptoms that you're feeling. And how do those quote unquote symptoms change your body and really doing work at that body base level. And somatic capacity is the ability, the the capacity that we have, or don't have to be able to tolerate sensations, or movements, or postures, or any kind of body based experiences. 

So for example, a lot of times, if I work with a client who's had say, gestational hypertension, or elevated blood pressure in a previous pregnancy, she has a lower capacity for exercise tolerance, because she has what's called somatic memories of body based memories of her heart racing. So if she's now running outside, your heart is supposed to be faster. But her body memory is when that happened, I almost died, my baby almost died, I delivered really early, something terrible happened. And so then she'll slow down and she won't do the exercise, the impact of which is then she's beating herself up going, I'm not working out, I can't do this, I'm so lazy, or whatever those thoughts are. And then usually, the recommendation is will try harder, do more, try in a different way. If you're not running, then go walking, or go on the treadmill try Peloton. And actually, none of those things are going to solve that but we have to do is rebuild the somatic capacity to tolerate the elevated heart rate in situations where it's supposed to be elevated, so that it doesn't trigger the threat response, where that stress physiology then affects the entire body.

Danielle Bettmann  51:54  
Okay. And then the last one that we had alluded to earlier in the episode was completing the stress cycle. Yeah. What does that mean?

Parijat Deshpande  52:01  
So stress physiology is where if we think of us a baseline, everything's, quote, unquote, fine. Let's take really idealistic example, everything's totally fine. Then we assess a threat, right, our body assesses a threat outside of our conscious awareness. So that threat cycle kicks off. And the goal of the body is to keep us alive. And that's it, nothing else, nothing, nothing, nothing else. Everything else is secondary, tertiary to that. When we think about stress, kind of in our regular language, we think, okay, when I'm stressed out, I have to relax. But actually, what we need to do is to complete that cycle to come back down to baseline.

The best example that I can give to highlight what that means is, if you think about driving a car, you're sitting in the car, everything's going fine, everybody's driving the way they're supposed to, you're doing okay. And then from the corner of your eye, you see somebody encroaching into your lane, right? That threat cycle kicks off immediately. So fast, faster than we can blink, right. And suddenly, we're clenching the steering wheel, and we're turning a little bit, and we're like, our eyes have no focus directly in front of us, every single part of our body is changed. Once that car, maybe we think, right, the car moves away. What happens at that point, there's a very predictable pattern in which our body recovers from that, we start to notice what's happening in our environment a little bit more. So our visual field grows, we can start to hear the kids in the back of the car, which we had stopped hearing before, because it was not an input that we needed to survive that moment, right, we can hear the songs playing on the radio, we can feel the AC blasting on our face, we can feel our hands are sweaty, we can start to feel that our heart is racing, we start to learn how to cool ourselves down. And then eventually, as we're coming out of that, and it doesn't really take anything to do it, we just it happens naturally, which is why it's physiological, then we start to be able to communicate with the people in the car. Can you believe that happen? Did you see that guy or whatever it is. And there's a very predictable pattern in which we come down from the threat cycle from a threat assessment and that threat response, back down to baseline. None of that has to do with relaxation, relaxation comes all the way at the end. And so when we complete threat cycles, what we're doing is allowing the body to do what it needs to do predictably to come back down to baseline.

Danielle Bettmann  54:24  
Okay, so what does that look like, in the midst of a high risk pregnancy when the perceived threat or stress is something that you're continually just worrying about?

Parijat Deshpande  54:37  
Totally, totally. And this is why the more experience I had with working with clients, why why I require people to work with me before pregnancies, we start before so we can practice this before that threat comes in. Because you're right, there's no escaping that there's you're pregnant for the duration of right. And so it's important to practice that when that's not the case for it to be really effective beyond just Just kind of little bits at a time, that makes sense. And what that really looks like is kind of going back to the idea of somatic capacity. For example, we have to learn how to tolerate the sensations of being pregnant today, because that's gonna feel different tomorrow. And it's gonna feel different than next day. And certainly week by week, it feels different. So a lot of that has to do with learning how to build the capacity, the ability to feel the sensations of pregnancy today, without turning on those alarms, and really being able to experience that while supporting the body to complete that cycle. And so a lot of that is not turning away from those feelings, right? It's not it's, you know, we tend to try to distract ourselves from those sensations, like, I just can't, I can't deal. I can't do this right now. I'm just gonna focus on work, I'm just gonna deal with this tomorrow or whatever. And really, actually going deeper into the body to go, this sensation that's scaring me right now. Where exactly is it? Because it's not the whole body? There's a very specific spot right now. Can I find it? Can I sit with that sensation? How would I describe it? How to describe it to an alien? Right? What does it really feel like? Does it move as I'm noticing it? How is it changing that level of curiosity, then actually helps to turn off that threat response a little bit. And you practice holding that sensation longer and longer and longer. Usually, at the beginning, it's like five seconds, 10 seconds, we can't do it very long. And that's okay. But we build it, we build it, we build it, the longer we have the capacity for it, the faster that stress cycle can start to complete.

Danielle Bettmann  56:36  
Okay. And that brings me back to how you described, you know, staying pregnant with your son, for those 14 days, what that could have looked like in that situation of really just kind of turning inward and narrating the situation to yourself, or really just kind of holding space for those sensations and not bracing yourself for them not trying to stop them or diminish them and not trying to distract yourself from them. That makes sense. Yeah. Because it allows it to then kind of go back to normal ish. Yeah, baseline.

Parijat Deshpande  57:11  
Exactly. So like a great example of that is when I was in Trendelenburg. What I was doing is and without even realizing, and I think a lot of people whose water breaks early or they're in preterm labor do this without realizing it. We hold our hips and our thighs really tight. Oh, sure, almost unintentionally thinking that that's going to keep the baby and it doesn't, but we do it anyway. Right? Yeah. And what happens is that in that moment, if I tried to relax my legs, my body would go into that threat response immediately. Because what it's trying to do is protect me and protect the baby by holding on tight. So my job was not to relax my legs, it was what do I need to do to show my body that it is actually okay to be tight right now. And then to slowly let go not by choice, but because the rest of my body is showing kind of an experiencing the resolution of that of that stress response. And so even though my legs were tight, what I was doing was focusing on a lot of the sensations, you know, can I be present in the moment with all five of my senses? Can I see things around me? Can I smell things? Can I hear things? Can I taste things? Can I touch different textures? Can I feel that because this is where it ties into the sensory system of some of the somatic umbrella is we lose our senses, a lot of access to a lot of our senses. When we're in that threat response. I can bring those senses back. I'm showing my body, oh, maybe we're ready to resolve this threat cycle for now. And we do that over and over. And over and over. It's not a one time thing. And I think that's hard for a lot of people to hear, like, just tell me what to do. And I'll do it once. Yeah. It's a lifestyle. 

Danielle Bettmann  58:55  
Let me check the box. 

Parijat Deshpande  58:56  
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. It's a lifestyle. And so it's a way that we have to commit to being in our bodies, but we do it over and over and over. And there is a cumulative effect to that it's not the same effect every time it builds on itself, which is, which is what helps with improving pregnancy outcomes.

Danielle Bettmann  59:11  
Yeah, yeah. Okay, that that totally makes sense. I'm gonna, I'm gonna ask you to take it one more direction, so we can really visualize it. So parenting a toddler with really, really big emotional reactions, very volatile, unpredictable behavior, that all of a sudden, you're dealing with a zero to 60 Spike, and their behavior is mortifying, and you know that that stress response is very much kicking in, in maybe a different way, but very much the same way. And so I talked to some of my clients about like that hangover feeling when it just feels like alright, you dropped them off at school, after that whole ordeal. And then you just are reeling, and it's like, the emotional toll it just took on you is so real. How can you translate that similar understanding of being in tune with your body to a moment like that.

Parijat Deshpande  1:00:01  
Yes. So step one, are you actually starting at baseline? Most parents are not really Yeah. And so you're already on your way to the threat response, if not already there. By the time the toddler is doing the toddler thing that we all know so well. So step one is learning how to complete your own stress cycles outside of those moments. Now, nobody does that perfectly. I teach this stuff, and I don't do it perfectly. So it happens, we're starting higher than baseline. So the length of time it's not actually time, but the distance between where we are and the activation of the threat response is very short, then you're in it, you're so in it with them as they're doing their thing, right. 

Now, ideally, speaking, what we want to do is take a step back, so we are not experiencing that activation of the threat response at the same time as them, we can complete our stress cycle so that we can then co regulate with them, because we cannot co regulate if we're both activated, right, that's not a thing, we will just keep each other in that cycle. That's ideal. Real life is very different than ideal. You've got lunchboxes and getting in the car and drop offs. And that's very real, right? So it is sometimes necessary, that you're going to be operating in a threat response, just to get that kid into their daycare room or their preschool room, that's going to happen, right? And then on the way back, you want to make sure that you're not distracting, you're not dissociating, you're not disembodied yourself, what you're doing instead, is you're in if you have this amount of capacity, right? Because otherwise, that can be tricky. But assuming you have this amount of capacity to do this, you go in and you go, where am I feeling this activation, because it's going to feel like it's everywhere, it's gonna feel like your eyelashes are activated, because it's so much. But it's not. There's a very specific way, specific place where you're feeling it. And that specific place is going to tell you, where you just in fight or flight. Freeze is a whole other conversation we could have mostly we'll keep it a fight or flight for now. And the reason that's important is because the completion of that cycle depends on which of those states you were in, because your body will need different things that make sense. And then you do that you get back down to your baseline. Yep, it works every time. It really, really does. And it's really powerful. I really love this stuff.

Danielle Bettmann  1:02:30  
Yeah, yeah, no, it's so applicable. Because that physiological response is a part of our everyday lives, whether we like it or not.

Parijat Deshpande  1:02:39  
Yes. And I think that's why I love stress physiology so much is because it allows me to be able to tell clients, the goal is not to not be anxious during your high risk pregnancy, right? You're going to be scared, because look at what you've been through. So I'm never going to tell you Don't be scared. Because that's not realistic goal instead is to understand what is the fear? Where is that threat coming from? How is it being interpreted by our body? And what is your body asking for, to help metabolize that. And that's the goal, because that's where we can really stack the deck, not only for a better emotional experience, but really also a better physical experience to improve your odds for this pregnancy. That's where That's where that magic happens.

Danielle Bettmann  1:03:24  
Well, that's a huge shift entirely. And understanding, like, what what we need, because I think I saw on one of your things that like meditation is the last step. Yep. Rather than the first step. So explain again, like why that would be because usually, we just go right to the just think differently.

Parijat Deshpande  1:03:41  
We do we do. I mean, we live in a society that is very thought based, that's very cognitive based, you know, my initial training was in clinical psychology. And that entire industry is based off of thought based theories first, and somatic work is actually really relatively new. And the reason why meditation comes way, way, way later, actually is because when we're in that threat cycle, right when the cars about to hit us, if you read Pregnancy Brain or listen to anything, I say, usually use an example of a bear attack. Also, like when that bears chasing you, the parts of our brain that involve thinking, planning, visualizing all of that blood flow is actually moved away from those parts of our brain. Right? Again, the physiology piece of it, we're not just saying, Oh, I can't think it's actual blood flow has moved away from those parts of the brain. We can't then override that by forcing it to happen and then expect optimal results. We can override it because we're humans. And it leads to either short term results, or more exhaustion and fatigue because it takes a lot of energy to override the survival impulses of our body. And so when we go to our heads first, it one operates as a way to keep us disembodied. So we don't actually have the somatic experience of what's happening right now. And to We get stuck in a loop of trying to fix something that doesn't actually need to be fixed. And meditation is one step farther from that, which says, don't even have the thoughts or let the thoughts come and ignore them. Yeah, turn it all off. And it's, it is actually nearly physiologically impossible to do that in the middle of a threat cycle. I will say. So, as I say to my clients, how about we stop doing the things that feel hard, and find the lowest hanging fruit that's going to help you get the fastest result? easiest, most easily? So that you can experience it, your body's not against you that there are ways to get relief. And it doesn't have to be meditation. How about let's try something even simpler.

Danielle Bettmann  1:05:39  
Yeah, like a little bit of movement, or a little bit of laughter, a little bit of breath work, or a little bit of something that, yeah, just feels like it's what you what you need, at that point, you know, shaking it out, or, or talking to somebody. I mean, that's step one, week one of my group coaching program is to stabilize your sanity, and be able to have the capacity to learn any of the things that are to come in the next 10 weeks. We have to start here. Yeah. And we have to, we have to create a foundation to build from and so that's a big part of it. And that was a breakthrough I had a year or two ago, when I read Burnout, the complete the stress cycle the book by Emily Nagoski, because it was like, Oh, yes, again, this is a piece that's missing, that all of the other like, you know, scripts and do this and don't do this type of techniques, why they don't land and you can't do them in the moment, because you're trying to do something that your body is not meant to do in that moment.

Parijat Deshpande  1:06:34  
That's exactly it. What you're trying to do doesn't match what your body physiologically needs. It's like trying to garden when your stomach is grumbling. Because you're hungry, it doesn't match. It doesn't mean gardening is wrong. It just means it's not what your body needs. Right now. It needs food, not soil.

Danielle Bettmann  1:06:51  
And it's not Yeah, it's not that meditation, meditation doesn't have its benefits and its time in place. It's just used at the wrong time. That's exactly it. So I love that. And I know we have to wrap up, but there's just so much good. So just to sum everything up in your mind, you are out to stop the high risk pregnancy crisis. Just share with us what that crisis is currently. And what you feel like is the solution.

Parijat Deshpande  1:07:20  
The crisis right now is that people are getting pregnant and not being told everything that they can do to help improve their pregnancy outcomes. And that doesn't include just individual efforts. Because this is not just an individual thing. This is a public health thing. This is a systemic issue. There's systemic racism in the medical industry that's so rampant. There is systemic racism in our culture, that is resulting in a lot of people coming into pregnancy with an activated threat response, which we've talked about stress physiology means it is affecting the endocrine system, the immune system and all other systems to impact the health of the reproductive health and the health of future pregnancies. We have a absolutely abhorrent maternal health crisis and maternal mortality crisis, especially in the black community, and the indigenous community. And so much of that is trying, they're trying to solve it by increasing access to technology. Yes, that is important. I think having these abilities to do virtual appointment is fantastic for the healthcare deserts that we have in this country, for example, where if you have at least internet, then maybe you can connect with a provider at least get care that way. I think it's important. I think access to better quality care with culturally competent providers, yes, is important. But what we are missing, in addition to improved access to improved quality of care, I think are two things. One is we have providers that are working inside of a system that is built to not hear and listen to women, especially women of color. So we need better training to deprogram providers to be able to provide trauma informed care, and that does not mean more empathic care, that means actually understanding stress physiology, and how you as a provider may be contributing to that. And the second is patients being able to understand what stress physiology actually is, and how they can actually help stack the deck in their favor for improved pregnancy outcomes as well. There's a lot that's wrong in the maternal health care system in this country. But my focus specifically is centering stress physiology, because we know that it is a significant risk factor for a multitude of very common pregnancy complications, if we know that. And if we know that the solutions can actually be really powerful. Why are they not included in standard prenatal care? And that's what I feel like my mission in life here is to do is to bring that to the forefront.

Danielle Bettmann  1:10:00  
Yeah, yeah, because nobody wants to bring their baby home too soon or meet their baby too soon. No. So needed. So good. Okay, well, so then how can we connect with all of your resources and work?

Parijat Deshpande  1:10:11  
Best way to do that is through my website because all the links for everything are right there. It's, it's my full For now, that's changing soon. And from there, you can find me on Instagram at healthy high risk pregnancy. I'm on LinkedIn. There's a Facebook link there, but I'm not really there. That's more for Zuckerberg, I guess. The link to Pregnancy Brain's there, the link to my podcast is there. And then if you wanted to take it further to work together, links for that are there too

Danielle Bettmann  1:10:41  
Awesome. I will put all of that in the show notes so that it's clickable and ready to access. So the last question I asked every guest that I have on is how are you the mom your kids need?

Parijat Deshpande  1:10:52  
Who I think because of everything I've been through professionally, personally, I think I'm able to offer them the ability to really learn who they are. And to put words to their emotions and their feelings. It's really funny to hear them, these little people talking about their physical, their somatic experiences and the words they use for their emotions and things. I think all of everything I've been through, just help them really get to know who they are, and be really confident in who they are. And I think that's just gonna help them bring to the world the magic that they were born with.

Danielle Bettmann  1:11:35  
I love that. I love that so much. They are lucky to have you. And thank you so much again for all your wisdom and your time and just being able to break that all down for us and keep up the hard work. So needed.

Parijat Deshpande  1:11:49  
Thank you so much for having me. I love chatting with you.

Danielle Bettmann  1:11:52  
Of course. Thank you so much for tuning into this episode of Failing Motherhood. Your kids are so lucky to have you. If you loved this episode, take a screenshot right now and share it in your Instagram stories and tag me. If you're loving the podcast, be sure that you've subscribed and leave a review so we can help more moms know they are not alone if they feel like they're failing motherhood on a daily basis. And if you're ready to transform your relationship with your strong-willed child and invest in the support you need to make it happen. Schedule your free consultation using the link in the show notes. I can't wait to meet you. Thanks for coming on this journey with me. I believe in you, and I'm cheering you on.

Transcribed by