Do-it-all mama of three Michelle Lazarus sits down with THE FULLEST to talk all things motherhood, fitness, and mental health. Michelle co-founded Movement Co., a virtual fitness platform that offers classes that fuse barre, pilates, HIIT, and yoga all in one (she also caters specialty classes to pre & post-natal mamas).
This read is less about the physical and more about how motherhood has taught Michelle to dig deep, push personal limits, and let go. Her resilience and ability to pivot directions when things don’t go as planned speak volumes about her maternal nature. Read on for beautiful birth stories, parenting resources, and nourishing support that every mother could use.
Q: Firstly, can you share with us a little bit about your family? How many members in your tribe? What are their ages and names?
A: We are a family of five. My husband Peter and I have three children: Arrow (8), Jack (5), and Alma (4).
Q: Did you know you always wanted to be a mother?
A: I did, though I never felt fully ready. I knew it was something I wanted deeply, but if I’m honest, self-doubt and other complicated feelings bubbled up before the birth of our first child. Looking back, it was my journey to face some of that stuff head-on.
I second-guessed my abilities and felt even more compelled to prepare and work through it. It was a great lesson in trusting myself and my intuition. Now that I’m a mother, I can say without hesitation that it’s my highest calling, my favorite role.
Now I know I have everything I need within me to be a mother. I love it more than anything in the world; it’s messy, hard, beautiful, gives me all the purpose I need, continues to challenge and heal me, and has given me the most profound sense of gratitude I’ve ever known. My love for my family is unparalleled.
Q: Did you consciously conceive or was it an unexpected blessing?
A: Both! When we decided to try, I was extremely lucky that our first two were conceived soon after. Our third child was unexpected; we didn’t realize she was with us until I approached my second trimester of pregnancy! I was still nursing my newborn around the clock and hadn’t had my moon — so I had no idea. Surprise! It’s pretty funny looking back — my friends and I always laugh about my denial. I thought I was anything but pregnant. Our third child, Alma, is a force of nature, just as she was in the womb. She will always be our most beautiful, magical surprise.
Q: We’d love to learn about your pregnancy. How was your experience carrying? What were some of the exciting moments and some of the challenges?
A: I loved pregnancy. Even though each time was a little different, they were all special. I learned to juggle a business and take care of myself throughout. Nurturing both was a learning curve, but I’m so grateful I had that tandem experience. It helped me stay strong for the first time out of necessity, tuning into myself and giving myself boundaries.
Being in the fitness and wellness space was something you would think I would have already mastered, but becoming a mother has helped put a new importance and meaning around health for me.
I had morning sickness in my 1st trimester, but it was manageable. After that, I felt great until the end. It’s interesting because I felt great emotion and was overwhelmed at times, but I forgot about all that and held on to the good. The feeling of my babies moving inside me, the way it felt to nap together, baby growing in my belly while I was alone and quiet was possibly my favorite thing. Since I moved and taught so much during my days, I felt strong throughout! Two of them went to 42 weeks which was probably harder on my patience than anything. Towards the end, I practiced affirmations, did acupuncture, climbed stairs, and stimulated my nipples while bouncing on a birthing ball — honestly, everything but drinking castor oil to help bring them to me! Yet, both of my girls stayed until the very end. With my son, my water broke ten days early out of the blue, and I really appreciated that!
Q: Did you feel any major shifts during this period of your life — whether they were physical, social or spiritual?
A: I did, and still do, feel myself growing as a woman and mother almost nine years later. I tell Arrow the day she was born was the first day of the rest of my life. When we started our family, I found myself looking inward and really wanting to experience every part of it. Since becoming a mother, spiritually, I have found faith once again. I pray for them. My children show me a love that could only be explained as otherworldly. I’ve learned that every lesson I’ve tried to teach my children is really for me.
Relinquishing control, sitting with pain, not turning away from the hard stuff, making repairs, letting go of perfection — which is a hard one for me — but now, it’s progress that I aim for.
One thing we’re learning is trusting that we are home wherever we are together. The loving state of our family is what makes it home — not the house that surrounds.
I’m sitting with this as we decide to move from the city where we have lived since long before this first chapter of our family started, to somewhere with space and closer to nature. It feels uncomfortable, but I remind myself that this life is our adventure together, and we can be flexible as long as we’re together.
Q: What supportive practices and tools did you use to nourish yourself and your growing baby during pregnancy?
A: Sleep, Movement, Nourishing Foods, and more sleep!
Q: Birth is incredibly individual. Each mother’s journey will be unique. However, sharing our stories can provide universal insights for other mothers to be. What is one thing you loved about your experience and one thing you’d do differently?
A: I planned to birth our first child at home. It wasn’t until I released my own expectations around it (with a hospital induction at 42 weeks) that I was able to finally bring her to home.
Excepting that my plan was not her plan took me a while. I accepted cytotec, a Foley bulb, Pitocin, and labored for 42 long hours without pain support before finally asking for an epidural.
Once I let go and was open to a birth that would be whatever would be, she came.
I had backup plans for everything else but the “what happens if your labor doesn’t begin?” I hadn’t thought that through, and in hindsight, I would have allowed myself to be flexible and taken care of through the change of plan. It was tough, it almost broke my spirit, and then she came, and all was good in the world! I realized what was important was not how but that I got her to me safely.
I think there can be a lot of unnecessary pressure women put on themselves to birth or feed a certain way, and my heart goes out to any woman feeling that way.
My subsequent births were smooth, empowering, and joyous. The emotional and mental state you go into birth is important, and breath work and hypnobirthing was very helpful for me.
Q: Over the first 40 days of your little one being earthside, how did you feel? Did you have a supportive network around you or did you remain fairly private?
A: They all were so different, but with my first, I was protective like a mama with her cub; I wanted to stay in my bubble and nurse, connect, and love on her and my husband!
I had a hard recovery postpartum after my first birth. With our next two, I had much easier births and such great postpartum support setup. I was able to encapsulate my placentas which helped me so much emotionally and physically. We were definitely leaning more on support at that time too because we had two babies back-to-back and couldn’t do it alone! It really does take a village. It was such a beautiful, memorable time when my babies were babies. I loved that period so much.
Q: Since becoming a mother how has your self care changed?
A: Becoming a mother has redefined the meaning of health and wellness for me. Early bedtime is critical because I’m a better person when I do get sleep; it’s the cornerstone of health. Exercise is next for me, making sure I get my daily movement. We started offering short supplemental classes on our digital platform Movement Co. so that mothers and busy women could fit them in. Often my daily movement is a combination of things, and as long as I’m flexible, I know I can always check off a 20-minute class at the end of the day if it’s gotten away from me. The other important things are eating healthy, good nutrition, and dedicating time to relationships — including the relationship with myself. You can’t have self-care without self-love!
Q: What are some of the resources — be they books, nutrition, practitioners or rituals that you’d recommend to other expecting moms or mothers in the parenting years.
A: The Ina May books were extremely beneficial. Erica Chidi wrote Nurture which I also thought was great. She helped me with postpartum care and helped change course with my first birth when I got to the 42-week mark, and I will never forget that. I leaned into the Weston Price Foundation for nutritional education. My babies ate egg yolk and avocado as their first foods! The book The Nourishing Traditions is a classic too. Now I’m reading about parenting even into the pre-teen years. My eldest is about to be 9; everything happens quickly!
Q: What rituals or routines do you implement to foster a deeper connection with your little ones? If you are a mom of multiples, do you set time aside to be with each of them individually?
A: We do a lot as a family, but I always make sure to take time each week to spend with each child individually. Whether it’s a walk to the little library on the corner, an afternoon somewhere, or just time doing whatever they choose, we always try to fit it in.
I also do check-ins every night! We call it “the juice” and I ask them to “give me the juice!” They tell me the highs and lows of their days. I hear about friendships, wins, fails, and everything in between. When they tell me something hard happened, I always thank them, and get in that hole with them and sit a bit — instead of trying to fix it. That’s been a hard thing to do as a parent, but I’ve learned they don’t want an answer (no matter what age). They want to be heard and held. Watching your child struggle is hard, but it doesn’t ever end, and those are the things we should be talking about with them — with no judgment or our own baggage.
Lastly, because there are three of them, we prioritize a weekly time for just two of them together. For parents of more than two, I think this is so important. My children always connect in a different way; they get along better and bond in special ways that can’t happen in a triangle. Kids need space to create their own relationships with one another too.