Prenatal Bonding with Parenting Coach Traci Gaffney
Below is an interview on prenatal bonding with Parenting Coach Traci Gaffney. Traci inspires us to know that bonding with our baby can start as soon as we are pregnant, or even before! There is no reason to wait until after birth to begin to know our children! Thank you Traci for your time and your inspiration! As always, there is much more here than simply prenatal bonding! Take all the goodies that inspire you and add them to your box of wisdom!
article based on interview.)
Ashley: So, share with mothers what you want them to know about prenatal bonding.
Traci: Okay. Well, prenatal bonding I would say this is the opportunity that a mother and father have of really setting the foundation and the whole life experience of the baby that they are bringing into the world.
Ashley: Okay, so you are setting the stage in pregnancy.
Traci: Yes they are setting the stage in pregnancy for the life that the baby’s going to have. One of the ways they are doing that is if you think about the baby in the womb, that is really the baby’s world experience, the universe for the child. So, if that’s a peaceful and caring place, if the baby feels safe, loved then that’s the only experience that child has, so when they are born and they come out into a bigger world, in their mind, they don’t have anything else but the thought of, well they don’t even really think about it, it’s just an expectation that it’s just going to be more of the same thing.
Ashley: Okay, so how does their awareness develop, how do they experience it, as they are in-womb?
Traci: It’s a sense, when the baby is in the womb of the mother, the baby feels everything that the mother feels, it’s like they are one. The interesting part of that, there are so many different pieces to this, is that when a mother is stressed, a baby feels the stress. When a mother is feeling happy and grounded and peaceful, then the baby feels the happy grounded and peaceful. And what’s hard for some moms, is we do go through some crisis or we get tired or have different things going on, and those things will affect the baby if it’s a chronic nature, if it’s like that everyday for nine months, then that’s what the baby’s whole experience is, and that what’s you’ve now set in mind for them, you know on accident, for their life! Because that’s what they are used to. When it’s peaceful that’s all they know, that’s all they’ve developed in, it’s in their cells, that’s what they expect, its just life, that’s how it is, the “is-ness” of it! So the conscious transfer or transmission of energy and then an automatic expectation.
Ashley: Umm, that’s really interesting, so they come out experiencing the whole world to be as it was in the womb.
Traci: Yeah, and they’ll have things that come in, you know we all have things come into our life that’s not as much fun as others! But they’ll bounce back easier, they won’t go, “oh yeah, it’s just more of the same!” And when they become adults they’ll go, “oh yeah, I’ve been fighting this my whole life, my life never worked.” It all starts way back then. You’ll find some people who say, “Oh everything always has a way of working out!” It always just does and they tend to have a positive, optimistic view, and a lot of that stuff comes from what happens in the womb and in the early years of childhood… what they are picking up energetically from people around them. And they also come in with their own make-up, but a lot of these external influences will take us in another direction if it’s strong enough.
Ashley: So what can we as mothers do in prenatal bonding to help support the loving environment?
Traci: You want to do everything you possibly can to spend some amount of time each day relaxing and being in that peaceful mode. Whether it’s sitting in a chair or the
"Who I Am" Energy Cards
that I’ve shown you. If a mom were to sit, and this is why I created them in the first place, if a mom were to sit in a chair and spend five minutes reading one card at a time, “I am peaceful, I am beautiful, I am powerful, I am valuable.” Just go through all those cards, do you feel the energy already lift? So the baby feels that, plus the voice, the mother is now saying these words, it just changes her whole experience, it changes the baby’s whole experience and if that’s done every single day… some times we may not feel like it, but if we do it anyway, it’s a way for us to take control of what’s going on in our day and it teaches our baby to do the same thing as they grow up when we keep doing it.
Traci: Also, I would say for dads to spend some time. You know dads sometimes think, “well, there’s nothing I can do.” But one of my favorite things is to let dads know when mom is happy, baby feels that. Maybe you can’t touch baby, sometimes on the tummy you can where the baby will kick while your touching, but the whole thing is if dad comes home from work and walks up to mom, and mom might be tired, but if dad can make an effort to say, “what can I do to make her feel happy?” And sometimes they can’t, sometimes we are just going through our stuff, but if he is focusing on “how do I make mom happy?” When baby hears his voice later, after it’s born, can you imagine that every time dad walks in the door he does something that makes mom happy or makes her feel good, brings a flower or says “I love you,” gives her a hug, “here’s dinner”, whatever makes her happy, if he finds out her “happy buttons” then later after the baby is born, when the voice of dad comes, baby already knows that when I hear dad’s voice, I get a warm-fuzzy, because mom got a warm-fuzzy! And they don’t have that going on in their head, they don’t know that’s what happened, but it’s an automatic connection. So, they’ve just bonded with their baby by making the house that their baby is in a great place.
Ashley: That’s interesting because in prenatal bonding you think more of interacting with the baby, but it can also be just being very aware of the environment you are creating around the baby.
Traci: Exactly. It’s really about the energy and the environment. You’re very right. Would it be alright if I give you a little story about that?
Ashley: Please give me some!
Traci: Okay, this is a story that I share with people because I think it really makes an impact and people just go, “oh my gosh, that just makes sense!” So, if you imagine, close your eyes for a moment and imagine yourself in a closet. The door is closed and it’s really dark. You have blankets, food and water, you have everything that you need to sustain you, but you’re in there alone. And outside of that darkness you hear voices, you hear things going on, and you tap on the wall, but you don’t get any feedback. Nobody opens the door, there is no light, nobody talks to you, nobody taps back. You tap again, you say something, you do something to get attention from the outside world. Imagine doing this for nine months, or even just six months because babies are so teeny, tiny we don’t feel them at first. But really, they are doing stuff to get our attention and to connect with us for nine months. Now, all of a sudden, one day, the door comes open, the light comes in and everyone is all excited to see you! And you’re just like, “where have you been? I’ve been in here the whole time! I’ve been tapping on the wall, I’ve been saying, come and see me! And nobody’s paid attention to me.” And that’s kind of how I see the experience of being in the womb when there is no awareness! You know people say, “well, the baby will be here in (whatever) month.” The baby is here now! As soon as you know the baby is there, talk to it, touch it, include it. I would always talk to people and say, “you know you’re going to sit down and have lunch, well, have a conversation with baby about it, because that’s baby’s lunch too!” I’d say, “okay, what do we want to have today, do we want to have turkey, tuna, salad, what do we want to have?” And actually include baby in that and be friends build that relationship. Be the caregiver of that relationship. You start building that right away, that’s all prenatal bonding. You’re building that relationship.
Ashley: Do you think that when you’re talking to baby as baby’s growing do you think they are trying to respond or answer you question?
Traci: Word-wise: no, but again, it’s the energy. They feel you loving them, and so they feel happy because they are responding to the connection. They don’t know what turkey is, they know what love is.
Ashley: So, as much as you can connect with them and include them in your life when you are pregnant you are really bonding that way.
Traci: Yes, and dads can do it, kids can do it, there are lots of different ways. It’s all about energy.
Ashley: So, give me some examples of what you encourage moms to do with prenatal bonding, you said the eating, talking to them, what else?
Traci: Well, when the baby’s are kicking and pushing their feet out, or pushing their bottoms out, touch that. And I actually played games with my kids.
Ashley: Oh yeah?
Hide and Seek as Prenatal Bonding!
Traci: Yeah, each on of them had their own different games. One of them liked to play hide and seek.
Ashley: How do you play hide and seek?
Traci: When he would poke his little foot out and I would touch it, he would pull it back in and he would hide, I didn’t know where he was, then he would poke it out somewhere else and I would grab it again! And he’d pull it back in… and he would just do that, he’d play this little hide and seek game. It was the funniest thing.
Ashley: So, it was something that he developed it himself?
Traci: Exactly. I just met him where he would put his foot out there and he would pull back. And he’s a character, even to this day he loves to do stuff like that. They have personalities, you just meet them where they are and they are going to be naturally who they are. And you’ll see as you look back, you’ll say, “wow, they were so the same back then as they are now!”
Ashley: Really, that’s amazing. How fun that you can already see their personalities so young!
Traci: Yeah, and you don’t know it then! You know he was my second and my first he would push his little bottom out one end and his head out the other and he’d just have these two blobs sticking out! And I would just sit there and rub both ends, and rub and rub and rub and sometimes I’d stop just to see what he’d do and he’d push them further! Like “I’m not done!” Kind of like how a cat will rub up against you…
Ashley: Yeah, like, I’m not done, come here.
Ashley: So, he must love to be massaged all the time now.
Traci: Oh he does, he loves connection. Well, he’s 19 now, so he’s not as much into mom connection! Unfortunately, but I’m figuring that might come back around at some point. But with him, if I would just sit there and rub and rub and rub forever, eventually he’d get what he needed and he’d pull back in and go to sleep.
Ashley: That’s great! And so amazing. So, when you are trying to conceive, what do you say to mothers then.
Traci: Oh goodness…
Ashley: Not that they are having difficulties, but just that they are in process.
Traci: I would, well, what I tell moms is relax and let the timing be what it is. Because when you are stressed out and worried about it, well things don’t ever really work as well, in any area of our lives really. So, that’s one thing I talk about with moms. And the other one is I will actually have them, some people believe in different things, god or the universe, or different sources that they go to. And I share with them, go to that place and when you’re praying or having a conversation, somebody’s coming to be with you, that’s how I look at it, and look at it from the perspective of inviting them in. I am here when you are ready, you are welcome to be here and come in your own timing, and just kind of talk to them like there is this being out there, this spiritual person who wants to come and wants to be with me. Do I have something of value? And inviting them to come in and be open to that timing. Doing everything you can to be physically well and healthy. Take care of yourself before you get pregnant so when you get pregnant your body is ready to provide nutrition. Ready to provide a great, beautiful (internal) house that is going to take care of them.
Ashley: Right, so really preparing. There are so many levels in preparing the body and as you said, the peaceful environment. And the relationships you want around you.
Traci: Exactly. I would say a lot of the preparation, because people dive in and think lets get pregnant and then we’ve got 9-10 months and then we’ll have a baby. But if you think about as soon as you’re pregnant you have a baby! So, you want your body to be prepared, you want emotionally to be prepared. And sometimes it happens and you’re not planning on it, so you just get through that, “okay, this is where we are! This is what we are doing!” And then you get on-board as quickly as you can to make sure that this house that you’ve created for the baby is going to be a healthy place.
Intuition as Prenatal Bonding!
Ashley: It’s so interesting to me, I was talking with this couple the other day, and I said, “so are you talking to your baby?” And they were like, “not really.” And I was surprised really, that there were, that that was the case. That there is not an interaction of communication already developed. I just kind of assumed that’s what all mama’s did!
Traci: You know what, I was the same. The whole reason I even started A Loving Way is because I did that naturally with my kids. With my first one, people were saying, you need to teach this because you do what your baby while you’re pregnant, and even after when I had him, people would say, you do things different with your baby than I’ve seen others do. And I thought, no this is natural, every mom does this! And then I started doing a little bit of research and I realized it was a gift I’d been given, and an area that I was able to come in and share with people. I have found what’s happened is in a lot of ways, we’ve turned the switch to our intuition to the off position. So mothers have that connection, that maternal instinct and intuition, but they’ve just turned it off. So, when we turn that switch back on, which is their connection with themselves, then they can have a connection with the baby. But when they don’t have any of that turned on, they don’t know it’s missing!
Ashley: That must not be a fun place to be, but if you don’t know it’s missing, then its.. well, it still might not be fun. So,…
Traci: Yeah, I would think there is a part in us that still knows like, well there are a lot of women that don’t like being pregnant, and for me it was one of the most beautiful times. I loved being pregnant. And so when I see someone not enjoying their pregnancy, I think I would love to sit down and figure out how you could enjoy it because if moms not enjoying it, then baby isn’t probably either!
Ashley: So, say you have a mom who’s not enjoying it, what areas would you probe into about how she could enjoy it?
Traci: I would find out about what her biggest challenges are. What is it about being pregnant that’s making it uncomfortable? Is it the foods you can’t eat because they make you feel sick, or are you having morning sickness or are you tired. Some moms are having to work and take care of other kids and their body is creating a baby. So, finding out what is not working for them to see how do we shift those things and get some support in there so that they aren’t doing it all by themselves. And the other piece is nutrition, is they aren’t doing something to feed their body then the baby is going to get what it needs to the detriment of the mom’s body. It’s going to take nutrition so mom really needs to make sure if she’s not feeling well, if she’s not having a good pregnancy to look at her nutrition and that will give her more energy and it will make a healthier baby, because the baby can only get as much as the mother has. That’s the whole enchilada right there in the mom. So, I would just look at what the biggest challenges are, what’s not working, how can we shift those a little bit, and then look at the things they really do enjoy and really enhance that.
Ashley: That’s great! I was just talking about a Naturopath all about the healthy pregnancy and baby and it was just fascinating about the brain and all the baby’s brain and how we can help it. And her idea was a lot about how the learning disabilities was later caused by what was going on, or started by what was going on with the nutrition and security of the womb.
Traci: Yes, exactly because everything is developing. Being fed emotionally and physically into this little baby while the brain cells are coming together and the spine and the fingers are coming out.
Ashley: So, with prenatal bonding, you are including your baby, your touching and talking to it, energetically nourishing it. And that transfers right into motherhood.
Ashley: So, tell me about that.
Prenatal Bonding Eases Transition
Traci: Well, if you have created a relationship with the baby and if dad has done that, and the siblings have done that through prenatal bonding, then instead of a stranger coming home to be with you, and being born, then you have just this person that’s been inside who you haven’t seen, but you’ve had a relationship with, and now that person’s in the house. So, baby is familiar with everyone in the house, and everybody is familiar with baby. So, yeah, the flip of that would be that you have a stranger in the house and now we need to know baby.
Ashley: So, you’ve really gotten to spend time knowing them before. And how do you encourage siblings with prenatal bonding in getting to know baby?
Traci: Oh, that’s a fun one! What I suggest, one of the things, have the little ones, you know depending on the age it could be different things, but you can have the little ones draw pictures, especially as moms belly is getting bigger and they see that growing. They can touch the baby, talk to the baby, sing to the baby, read to the baby. All those things that an adult would do, they can do. You want them to really embrace. It will be different when the baby comes because the baby will take more of mom’s time, then now. But they can also draw pictures, or maybe when they draw pictures; they can draw a picture of our family when baby is here. Or draw of baby the way you see baby. Or draw a picture of a tree, draw anything you want on this piece of picture and we’ll give it to baby. And what I say is go ahead and have them draw that and have them present it to baby. The baby’s in the belly, but they can say, “baby, I drew this picture for you and I can’t wait till you see it!” Or whatever they want to say, because again we are talking about energy. The baby is going to receive the words in the feeling of love, the feeling of giving. And then that picture gets put in the nursery or on the refrigerator or wherever it is that child is going to keep seeing, gosh I made that for the baby! And then you want to make that a really special keepsake, frame it or something to put in the baby’s room, because that is an energetic connection of love.
Ashley: And it’s such a beautiful thing you said, just having them come and talk to the baby and as they are doing that the two energies are getting to know each other! Versus with a normal hectic day, you are taking care of your children and it’s you interacting specifically with the baby, but it seems like such a beautiful dance of the other two energies getting to know each other.
Traci: Oh yeah! And if you can imagine, kids that are still so young, and so connected to their source, much more connected than we are. And they are much more connected to energy itself. You know it’s like they have a much deeper connection to energy itself than we do because we have so many years between when we were little and now. Which is why connection is so important for us renew that. So, with my 2nd child Robert, my daughter was in my belly and I remember Robert was like 2 1/2 or 3 and he came up to me and we were talking about something and then he walked away and then he stopped, turned around, came back, kissed my belly and then went to play. It was like he had to, it wasn’t about me at all, he had to see her.
Ashley: That’s so beautiful that just gave me chills!
Traci: It is, and they are still, of course they have their little moments, but they are still totally connected. It’s amazing they’ve always been. And he’s always kissed her hands, since she was born; he’s always kissed her hands!
Ashley: Oh, how sweet! That’s beautiful.
Traci: And they are 10 and 7 now, so he doesn’t kiss her hands anymore, but…
Ashley: One day he will again!
Ashley: So, I’ve seen on your website when you say prenatal bonding you say how to incorporate your unborn baby back into your life. Which I think is a great way to look at prenatal bonding: just including them already.
Ashley: And that’s what you’d say is your main priority with prenatal bonding: including them already, creating a loving atmosphere and just already including them.
Traci: Yes, I would say those to things, and I’d say three things. One is the peaceful home, creating the relationship and then making sure you take care of yourself.
Ashley: By peaceful home, you mean internally, externally or both?
Traci: Peaceful home would be the feelings of mom, how does she get to that place of peace, because whatever she’s feeling is what the baby’s feeling.
Ashley: And then the second was including baby, and then the third was…
Prenatal Bonding Includes Self-Care!
Traci: Taking care of mother. You know, the sleep, nutrition, stress, finding out what creates… it kind of feeds back into the first one, finding peace, but it is kind of separate because it is also the physical aspect. Getting the tangible pieces for mom taken care of which will help mom take care of the peace for the baby.
Ashley: That’s great. What else? I want to pick your brain for your work, your website is amazing, I love it. And so tell me about how you see the energy cards working into mom’s lives.
Traci: Well, one part that I see is what we’ve already talked about when you’re pregnant, reading the cards every single morning, and anytime, any age, anybody can do that! And it will just start your day, like a little 5 minute meditation, it will just completely shift your day or enhance your day. If you wake up and you’re not having a good day, it will shift that. Another way is, you’re talking about moms having kids or pregnant?
Ashley: Yeah, trying to conceive, prenatal bonding, or later as a parent, or preparing for birth, any of that.
Traci: Okay, so yeah, that’s one of the things I’d say, going through the cards and if you’re too busy or it doesn’t appeal to go through all of the cards, then I recommend choosing one card a day. Shuffling them, fanning them out and picking a card. If you already have kids, everybody gets to pick a card in the morning, if your kids are old enough to go to school, and your kid picks “I am beautiful” then when they go off to school, their little mini-assignment for the day is “how does beautiful show up for you? How do you feel beautiful in the day, what do you notice about beautiful people or things?” And beautiful is what they are going to look for. And if another child picks “I am powerful”, then they go searching for how does powerful show up? And as they get older, is that power over? Power with, in conjunction, cooperative power? You can start talking about all that as they get older. But the little ones, what does power look like, feel like? My son Robert, he’s 10, he picks that card more than any other card, and it’s just amazing. He’s actually started picking “I am Spiritual” now, but he used to pick “I am powerful”. But one day after he’d picked it so many times, he looks at me and goes, “mom, I am powerful!” And I said, “how do you know that?” And he said, “because I create things!” And it was just so matter of fact, and that’s what these cards are all about. Kids will not forget who they are, they won’t disconnect to their core self when they have this reminder every day, when they can stay connected. He was already iffy about the “I am powerful”, not even consciously, and I didn’t even know that. Until that day he just went, “I am powerful”!
Ashley: That’s what I was going to ask you, do you see it as your spirit reminding you of something that you’ve forgotten, or do you see it as a positive aspect of yourself or how do you see it working in?
Traci: Basically there are a lot of different ways to look at it, for children, it’s usually just a reminder of just: remember this is who you are! A remembering of who you are, but as adults we have disconnected to those pieces already, so sometimes it won’t be comfortable to get the “I am confident” card. Because someone will be reminded that they don’t have that. It’s in there, we just need to dust off the shelf, remove the cobwebs, bring it up.
Ashley: So, in both cases it’s a reminder, but in the adults it might be more deeply hidden.
Traci: Yes. The Who I Am cards, the bottom line is reminding us of who we are. Qualities that we are born with, but that we’ve gotten further and further away from, because if our parents, for example when I was a kid, we loved to play and laugh and do all kinds of stuff outside on the weekends, but my dad didn’t like noise, so he’d always say, “quiet, quiet” as we were outside playing. Over a period of time, I stopped laughing and having fun, I didn’t play as much because it wasn’t fun, because I’d get yelled at. So, when Robert was 4, that’s a lot about Robert, that’s funny. But when he was 4 we were working out in the garden, out of the blue, he said, “mom, big people are not that smart!” And I looked at him and I said, “why would you say that?” And he said, “because they forget to play!” And what he was saying was, “mom, you don’t play enough! You’re not fun!” And I got it, in that moment, I realized I was all about getting things accomplished, getting things done. But what happened was I lost that piece growing up subtly so I didn’t notice. And as adults, we want to reconnect with our master and our play, and all of those pieces, our joy and our happiness. Because without being connected to that, I cannot support my children in being that. My dad didn’t get supported in laughing, so it was taken from him, compartmentalized and pushed aside. So then he couldn’t support me in laughing, so I started modeling that for my kids. So then they think grown-ups are boring, and it just keep going and going. So, the cards are designed, the kids come in knowing who they are, adults go out looking for who am I? There is this gap in between. So, the cards are designed to assist adults in remembering so they can get closer to who they are again. And at the same time they are supporting kids and never forgetting. So, the gap eventually disappears.
Ashley: So, the goal is not to change the children, but that you really move back to the spirit of play and wholeness that your children are born with.
Traci: Wholeness, yes. It’s all about being whole. There is nothing missing, we just have to go within and pick it up again.
Ashley: So, what do you think as a parent of 3, what were the most important things that helped you on your journey?
Traci: One would be meditation.
Ashley: And what kind of meditation do you do?
Traci: I do a whole array of meditation. It depends on what is going on in my life. Sometimes it’s just having that quiet time to sit. And be able to… you know when people pray, they say their prayer and then move onto their busy day. Meditation is about you say your prayer, then you sit quietly because that’s when you actually hear the answers. So, when you are going through things, or even when you’re not and you just want to be connected, I say do some kind of meditation every single day. That’s why for the cards it’s nice if you can go through all the cards and then even sit for 3 minutes in complete silence and see what the universe brings you, what god brings you. What comes through that experience. And there are other times when we have so much stuff coming up and we don’t want to jump on people, but we just get really full with stress and stuff that’s going on, there is a great one that’s called “gibberish”, you spend equal amounts of time of gibberish and silence. So, I’ll set one timer for 5 minutes and the other timer for 10, I’ll go in my living room and speak for 5 minutes, but it can’t be any language that you understand, just gibberish, just give your mind an opportunity to dump. Because you are thinking of all these things, you say nothing that makes sense, but you move your body energetically without being attached to any words, then if you do that for five minutes, then you sit quietly for 5 minutes and observe being.
Ashley: I have never heard of that, but I find it so fascinating because it really is, well, it’s not like you’re saying your story for 5 minutes, and becoming more attached, more upset, you’re just letting the voice speak and the emotions unwind and then you’re able to find a much deeper quiet faster because of that!
Traci: Yes. Get the clarity; the great thing to do is to do that same meditation at the same time of day, every day for 21 days. Because you will notice how you show up. Some days you will be more angry in your meditation and gibberish, sometimes happy, funny; all these different things, you start getting to see who you are.
Ashley: And you allow the emotion to flow without directing it in any way.
Traci: Oh yeah. Absolutely, so you want to make sure you are in a place where you feel safe enough to be loud, to be quiet, to cry to yell, to whisper, to just make noises, whatever it is you want to do.
Ashley: That’s great, and so what else, meditation, and…
Traci: Let me see the question was what would be really important as a parent?
Ashley: What really helped you as a mother?
Traci: Oh, okay. That and then, nutrition, I think I mentioned to you that I do Juice Plus, and that has been a phenomenal piece for me because it’s an easy way for me to get nutrition and bridge the gap. And so whatever a person is doing you have to get real food into the body. If we eat a lot of processed foods, our bodies don’t know what to do with that, so fruits and vegetables are key, however a person gets that, that’s what you want to get, live food, because then your body is fueled. I am much more patient and I have more of an ability and a capacity to deal with the things that come up when physically I feel better.
Ashley: Right, right. And I think there’s such a, and we don’t realize it, but the emotional roller coaster that the processed and the, not even junk foods, but the sugar foods put us on. If we haven’t had a clean diet we don’t realize that it’s actually the food and not ourselves! Because they are so powerful.
Traci: Absolutely, and when we do that for ourselves as a parent, we model that for our kids. I talk to my kids about a lot, about a lot of things. Some things I give them choices on and some people say, you shouldn’t give them a choice on that, but I’m thinking I’d rather they have a choice while they are under my direction and guidance where we can have a conversation, than to dictate everything they do, and then later on they go out and experiment. So, with my kids I had my daughter when we started doing Juice Plus to get more nutrition, she started asking for broccoli in her lunch. It’s like she started craving that kind of food. My son, we go to family camp every summer and I remember him coming up to me and saying, “mom they have chocolate chip cookies over there, but you know what? I can only eat one because my body just really doesn’t want anymore.”
Ashley: That’s amazing.
Traci: So, it’s about teaching them to listen to their body and like you said, if we are so used to eating junk, we don’t know the difference. So, just start doing something that is more healthy, that’s easy so you’ll do it. And then let your body tell you what it needs and play with it. And then a couple of other things would be what fills your tank. As a mom we have so many things we’re doing all the time, for me it’s a nice hot bath. Almost every single night for an hour I will sit in a nice hot bath by myself.
Ashley: That’s awesome!
Traci: Yeah, and I tell you, my kids… my daughter has said to me before, “Mom, do you need your hot bath?” Because I’ll be just a little bit less patient, and I’ll be like, “yes, I sure do!” So, find out what fills your tank, what shifts you into a more loving place if you are really taxed. And do that! And it may change, or it may not change. But when you find what that is, talk to your family and let them know “this helps me show up for you with love and patience and kindness… so if you can support me getting this for myself, then I can support you in what you need.” And it’s about having a conversation and now the kids know it’s okay for them to need certain things. They are learning that Robert needs more space than Alexis does. She’s more of a people person, but that doesn’t mean that everybody is. So, we start looking at those pieces. And as a mother it’s easier for us because our kids are starting to take more self-responsibility.
Ashley: That’s just beautiful that you’re conversations are like that.
Traci: Oh, yeah. I just totally believe in communicating! Pink elephants are no fun! If there are things that are hanging out there, it’s like, you know what, we need to talk about this! There have been times where I think; do I want to bring this up? It looks like things are going really well, so I could ignore it, but I just think I’m gonna go ahead. We usually sit on the floor and we’ll just, a lot of it is too, “hey Robert did you understand that this is going on for Alexis, Alexis did you understand this was going on for Robert?” They don’t know what’s going on in someone else’s world because kids are all about themselves. And then one day we tell them, it’s not all about you! And they are like WHAT? That’s news to me! We expect them to just know that. One day they cross this threshold, this imaginary hoop, and so I love to sit down with kids and find out where they are in that whole spectrum and then let them know that there’s a point where you graduate into: other people matter! And it doesn’t mean that you don’t, but you blend both. And they get to an age of understanding that.
Ashley: Yes that is interesting isn’t it, that there is this imaginary hoop where all of a sudden they are expected to realize that your needs are important and what’s going on in the world is important.
Traci: Exactly and you think about a 2 /3 year old who suddenly has a new baby in the house, their job and their role in life is now very different than if there were three kids in the house and they were the youngest! And if we can sit down and have conversations with them, it has to be age-appropriate so they get it, but if we have conversations with them and let them know how dynamics affect different things… because what we don’t want is for life to happen to them. Because then they go through life thinking “I’m a victim.” Without even realizing it. If we can empower them and ask them, “does this part not work? What would work better for you?” And then if we can give that to them, great! If we can’t what else can we do? It’s about learning to problem solve!
Ashley: That’s great. So, are there any books or resources that you’ve really found particularly helpful in the prenatal bonding, or just like that, the communication.
Traci: You know my absolute favorite book, and I just love this book, is “The Secret Life of the Unborn Child”. That’s the book I read with my oldest son and that’s the book that inspired me to write him letters while I was pregnant with him and to really connect to him. So, I love referring people to that book, it’s by Thomas Verny and what’s really cool is that I met him and he actually did a testimonial for my Who I Am cards.
Ashley: That’s awesome!
Traci: I know, I was like ‘YEAH!”
Ashley: You’re my hero and you’re doing my testimonial!
Traci: He looks at me and goes, “these are good!” And I’m like, yeah! Thank you, can you write a testimonial. And he said, “Sure!” So, I put that on my website.
Ashley: Tell me, so you read “The Secret Life of the Unborn Child” when you were pregnant to your son?
Traci: Yes with my oldest.
Ashley: So did you read to all your kids when they were in your belly?
Prenatal Bonding Habits Lasts A Lifetime!
Traci: Oh, I didn’t read that to Anthony, I actually read that for myself to understand, I was just drawn to that book. That’s the book that led me to recognize in prenatal bonding that babies are already here when they are in the womb. And in that process of reading that book, I just went, “oh my gosh, how fun this is! I don’t have to wait!” And I started writing him letters and talking to him and touching him and the relationship was immediately created and that just started there and grew!
Ashley: That’s awesome and sounds like a great book! So, what did you do with the letters, if I might ask?
Traci: I always thought I’d give my kids their letters at age 16. And so I kept all the letters I’ve written, I did it for all 3 of my kids. And with Anthony, when he turned 16, I told him, honey, I have a bunch of letters for you that I’ve written since before you were even born, and I thought I was giving them to you today on your sixteenth birthday, however, I see that I was poorly mistaken! If I gave them to you now, you would see no value and they would be in the trash. So, I will be holding on to them probably until you get married and your wife is interested in them! Because I don’t even know if a boy is going to care! But somebody is going to care at some point; he may have a daughter or granddaughter, or whatever!
Ashley: Or maybe his son will be a writer and will just find it incredible!
Traci: And Anthony may at some point, at this point it doesn’t look promising, but at some point in his life he may actually get a kick out of it! What I’ve also done with them is if we’re going through, sometimes you go through events in life that are going to affect your children and it’s not something you can really explain to them in a way that’s going to make sense, it’s an adult conversation, we tell them things for their age, but there is so much more that will need to be said, so a good thing to do is to write to them, everything that you’d want to write to them that you can’t tell them so that you have it documented. So later on when they say, well you blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, because kids have a different perspective. We think, gosh is that how you remember it? Well, you go in and grab that letter and see what you thought went on. That’s one of the benefits of you writing and later your children reading them, or reading them together would be very healing because they get to see what’s going on in their life and it’s been documented! It’s the actual history, and I try to just put in the facts, this is what is going on, this is how I think you are feeling, this is the conversation we had, this is why I’ve done this or that. You know we make decisions for our kids and sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t, so to be able to go back and clean some of that stuff up that they don’t know is consciously an issue for them, they don’t know that it’s there, but then all of a sudden, pieces fall in and things shift and they can let go of something they didn’t even know was bothering them.
Ashley: That’s beautiful, so you’ve done that throughout their lives?
Traci: Yes, and it’s the same things as taking photographs, the first there are many more photographs than with the other two, so I do try to keep up with them as much as possible and still I haven’t written a letter in quite a while for the two little ones, and Anthony it’s been even longer because I wanted the younger age. So, I do periodically still write letters and connect with them. Because another thing, if you think about energy, I know they are going to receive my heart and my love today in the process of writing that letter. They will receive the words and the details later.
Ashley: And also the love too through the letter.
Traci: Yes the love again. They will see mom took the time to write this to me so I could have the pieces of understanding. Parents, we do the best we can with what we have and with each child, you realize, “okay, I did a little bit better this time, a little bit better this time…” And we think we can’t go back and fix things, we can’t change things, what happened, but we can bridge some of those gaps.
Ashley: For sure. So, starting when you read “The Secret Life of the Unborn Child” and you started your prenatal bonding, what would you say since then, taking it all the way up to the teenage years, what do you think are the biggest benefits to how you’ve raised your children?
Traci: Ooh, the biggest benefits would be the connection that I have with my kids. There is a since the very beginning. I mean, my kids can talk to me about anything, I feel like I can talk to them about anything, and I feel like I am giving them tools that will serve them in their life and there is a lot of satisfaction that comes from that.
Ashley: Yeah, for sure, so do you see it as you’re a team, that you’re the leader, how do you see your role as navigating the waters of parenthood?
Traci: It changes, it depends on the situation. Sometimes, I am the leader and I have to exorcise that and say, “you know what guys, I’m going to have to pull rank here and we’re going in this direction and I know you don’t like it, but I have to tell you because I’ve been on the earth longer than you have, this is what we are doing!” And I will explain everything to them, but sometimes they’d rather go in a different direction. So, sometimes we have to have that going on. There are other times where I will relinquish teacher spot and become the student! And just pick their brains and get their input. And they are beautiful teachers because they come from, like I said earlier, they are so much more connected to Source that they bring in things where I am like, “wow, that is really profound!” And when we open ourselves up, I don’t see us as being like the boss of children, we are the guides for our child in the physical world. How do they live in the year 2008? That’s my job, how do I keep you safe so you make it to 2009? And what I see for them is I have spiritual gifts to share with them, they also have spiritual gifts to share with me. And so, I am a guardian, a mentor, a teacher, a student and I have had the most amazing moments with them when we shift through those different roles.
Ashley: It sounds like it.
Traci: It has been really an amazing journey and experience.
Ashley: And look how much you open it up, you are open to playing those roles, versus just playing “I am the parent, you are the child. You’re going to obey me and this is what we are going to do!”
Traci: Oh yeah! Because that starts the disconnection, when a child, like the teenagers, this is what has recently come to me and I haven’t talked with anybody about this in depth, so I may be out to lunch, but when teenagers: they’ve spent all these years watching adults and recognizing that in a lot of cases, we do not have a clue what we are doing. Some do know more than others, but teenagers are really looking and going, “hmmm, that’s interesting, they don’t know what they are doing!” There is a lot of fear and they feel that energy. As little kids they had no choice, they had to go with the flow. Hopefully they have a parent that will talk to them and communicate with them and they can work as a team, if they don’t they start disconnecting with the parts of themselves that know better because it’s so painful not to be heard and not to be seen, the gifts that they have. Well, as a teenager, now they’re at this threshold that they have to crossover again, life is all about getting to these thresholds and moving over, and they know have to go, “I’ve been this child that’s connected and knows and I still have some of my connection, and now I’ve got to go into adult world and…” I think sometimes I think they think they have to become like adults and they resist that! I don’t want to be like you guys because you don’t know what you’re doing! But they haven’t had anyone mentor for them how to stay connected to what they knew when they were little. So they begin this holding pattern, they’re not ready to become an adult because they want all the pieces that they left behind as a child… they don’t want to be a kid anymore because it won’t serve me because I can’t do what I need to be doing, and so I look at that and go. Ahha! All we have to do is remind our teenagers of those core pieces that they’ve started dropping off, but they still have some sense of them. Remind them of who they are and there is nothing that can stop them! And then that generation is going to be at a whole different level than the one previous!
Ashley: That’s incredible. As you were saying that, I was thinking, “this sounds like politics!” It sounds like most of us how we talk about the government. That disconnection because of the feeling that they don’t know what they’re doing! It would be wonderful if we could all re-connect and lead ourselves into a better way.
Traci: Oh, I know. When you get a lot of different people in the pie like you do in the situation of a whole community or country, it’s hard because everyone has a different voice, a different perspective. So, you really come all the way back to connecting to yourself and not worrying about the people on the outside. Doing what you feel intuitively, flipping that switch on for your intuition, and being self-responsible. Doing your part, and if everyone is connecting to their core, then we all are connected. We can’t have a conversation in all these states at the same time, but energetically we can be connected and on the same page. And create what we want to create; it’s about getting back to the core, because at the core we are all at the same place.
Ashley: Yeah, that open web of energy.
Ashley: As to close I wanted to bring up with the prenatal bonding and your pregnancy classes that you have, because the first time we met I was like, I want you around when I’m pregnant because that’s just genius! So, tell me about your classes and how you gear them towards prenatal bonding and nourishing mother and all that other good stuff.
Traci: Okay, one thing that I love to do, because I know moms are busy, is I do something called
and that is something that is done on the phone, it’s 6 weeks, 30 minutes each week kind of class, and what it does is it allows the moms to come in from wherever they are at one particular time on the phone and I go through and do things that help them connect. Each week is a different process that we do to help them connect to their baby in that moment. It could be a guided imagery; it could be going through different things what the body is going to be going through at birth, or any of those kinds of things. We’ll do something like that and talk about what’s going on, the key being if we can do that once a week, commit to 30 minutes once a week to get to that place, what I’m hoping is during the 6 other days, mom will find 5 minutes to do that or the Who I Am cards, or something that she’ll start going, Wow, this feels really good! So, tomorrow, she’s going to want it, her baby’s going to want it, her body’s going to want it and she’ll do something every day, and then we’ll meet again next week and little by little, I love simple and I love practical! And so if we can come up with something simple and practical, easy for moms to do, doesn’t take a lot of time or effort, show up in your pajamas, or however you want to and we can actually do the connection on the phone, then you keep doing this in between the calls.
Ashley: Right, so do you like women to do this early in their pregnancy, or what do you think?
Traci: I say it’s never too early, so as soon as, or even if you’re thinking of getting pregnant you could come on Peaceful Bellies because just having the sense and the awareness of what’s going to be happening in your body and knowing what you can do to connect with your baby as soon as you know you’re pregnant you’re going to go into that, “okay, this is what I am going to feel, this is how I create a peaceful house for my baby”. So, I would say if you are thinking about getting pregnant, you are welcome to come on, if you are brand new pregnant, if you are due next week, that’s fine too. It’s never too late to do it because anything that you are going to do to connect to your baby and to relax your body in preparation for childbirth is going to be helpful.
Ashley: Absolutely. So, is that something you have ongoing?
Traci: I do it periodically, I am actually overdue to do another, but I’ve had so many things going on I haven’t put one on the calendar. Usually I wait until someone says, “I’m pregnant and I want to do Peaceful Bellies” and I’ve had a couple of those inquiries so it’s time for me to do one again. I’ve also recorded past ones, and so another option is for me to put it on the website so people don’t have to wait on the classes, but it’s about time. It’s really, really cool.
Ashley: So, if people are interested, they can contact you through AlovingWay.com, and I think I saw your 800 number.
Traci: Yes, 800-647-1171.
Ashley: And do they pay through the phone or online?
Traci: They can do it right on the website.
Ashley: And it’s ridiculously cheap!
Traci: Yeah, I’ve had people tell me that, but I wanted to make it like a no-brainer!
Ashley: I understand that, some things you just think, “everybody should have it, it just needs to be there!”
Traci: Right, I just really wanted to make it so everybody could do it.
Ashley: I understand. Well, we’ll close down the interview, but could you briefly tell me your title/introduction so the readers know…
Traci: Okay, I’m (Traci Gaffney) a mother of three, a Parenting Coach, Speaker and Author. And I have an extensive background in energy work and I’m blending the Parenting and energy work together. And the creator of Who I Am Cards!
Ashley: Okay, I so appreciate your time talking about prenatal bonding, and all your good ideas! And your energy, it’s just beautiful!
Traci: Thank you.