Nine months. Nine months of feeling sick, fat, hormonal, tired and more happy and excited than ever before. That about sums up pregnancy right there in a nutshell, eh? :)
And thennnnn the moment you've been anticipating for most of your adult life comes: the birth of your child. For me, it was right after an hour-long Sunday night newscast, where I anchored through contractions, came home to eat a sandwich (and watch Real Housewives of Atlanta while screaming into a pillow every 6 minutes, #priorities), and then headed to the hospital.
IT. WAS. SURREAL. The birth happened so fast, my mom had to rush down the hospital hallway yelling for the doctor to hurry up! And just like that, three big pushes later and I got to meet the love of my life. **Real moment: I was so worn out from the labor/birth experience I couldn't even process what she looked like or how I felt about her till hours later when it all sunk in. Like I said, surreal.**
The first moment I truly held my daughter. I don't even remember someone snapping this photo because I was lost in bliss and post-delivery exhaustion.
(Can we note the security blanket I made sure to bring to the hospital even in active labor? Yea...I'm a grown woman with a fuzzy cow-print security blanket. No shame.)
So here's the thing about having a baby: for nine months, it's all about you. How you feel, how you're doing, how you're preparing. Then the baby comes out, and it's all. about. baby.
And that's awesome! I am all for this! But can we also talk about how women go through this massive physical experience giving birth and have to sit on ice pads for days after delivery and hobble to the bathroom hours after giving birth and require delicate healing physically (and emotionally) for weeks, months after having a baby? *Unless you're Kate Middleton and you walk out hours after delivery looking like a magazine ad, but I digress.* You don't sleep, you don't have time or energy to worry about yourself because you have a very hungry little human depending on you to live. It was truly the happiest blur of a three months of my entire life.
But then those three months are up, and BAM...back to work. And that's for the moms who even get paid maternity leave! I'm very fortunate to work for a company that gave me paid maternity leave, but I know that's not the case for so many of us. In addition to still trying to figure out how to keep this little human alive, you've gotta start worrying about how your body looks, how your clothes fit, what your hair and makeup look like. At least for me, anyways, since I work in TV. Lemme just tell you...there were a LOT of Spanx underneath my clothes those first few months back at work. Fake it till ya make it, right.
I remember after having Joss, I started really getting into beauty and makeup, skincare, etc. I have always loved that stuff, but I started spending more money on high-quality products that I researched because I wanted to "feel like my old self again." And buying a new face cream or great highlighter made me feel pretty again, even when I hadn't slept more than 2 hours straight for 2 months or started seeing my hair fall out in clumps.
At 6 months PP (post partum) I could start taking Joss to the gym with me. (That's a whole other blog post in lessons I learned from trying to workout with a baby in gym childcare, btw.) But before that, my husband was SO great at making sure he could watch her at home when I needed to carve out time to take a Zumba class or lift weights at 6 weeks PP. Getting back into a gym routine after 9 months of being a vegetable also helped me start to feel like my old self again.
BUT I felt guilty, sometimes!! Like why is being here at the gym away from my baby making me so happy? Maybe I should just stay at home with her? One time I signed up for a beauty event at Nordstrom's and I remember leaving Joss at home to go learn about makeup and skincare from experts flown in from all over the country for a few hours and feeling torn about even going. But once I got there, I felt liberated. Balanced. Happy. And I couldn't wait to go home afterwards to greet my sweet, silly little girl.
SELF CARE IS NOT SELFISH
That's the lesson I finally learned about one year post partum. When I felt like I was drowning in work and home life responsibilities without a break. I worked so many hours during the week, I felt guilty taking any time for myself on my days off. And I missed Joss so much when I was working that I didn't want to waste a single second when I was home.
But I needed to. I needed to find a little time to oh, say, get my nails done. Or go have cocktails with a girl friend. OR get a facial!!! I did this once, it was life-changing. So. Good. (Also, ahem, if hubs is reading this, Mother's Day is coming up and I'm just sayin'....it makes a great gift certificate).
So mommas who are working, or moms who stay at home (and trust me, THAT is a full-time job times 10!) please, please take time to do something for you every once in a while. Get a pedicure, go buy a book and read it during nap time instead of doing chores. Go see a movie with your husband and beg a friend to babysit. Help other mommas out. Encourage one another. Ask your mom friends how they're doing. How they're *really* doing. Moms (and dads!) need care, too.
May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month. What are you doing to take care of yourself? Remember: children drink from the fountain of your overflow. If you're stressed, they'll feel it. If you're sad, they'll feel sadness too. You're not a bad mom if you need a few hours to yourself. You're a better mom for focusing on your happiness, so your kids can feel happiness too.
Please share in your comments what you do for self care, even if it's something as simple as taking a bubble bath!