MOTHERHOOD IS MORE THAN A LIFESTYLE.
Women: for the ones that desire to, we are born to instinctively create new lives, thanks to our bodies that know exactly how to do so. One morning you wake up next to a tiny little human being that you created for 9 months with joy, fear, prudence, excitement and hope. Isn’t it just beautiful? It’s a lot of work too…From postpartum to getting mom friends, motherhood is definitely more than a lifestyle.
We live in a world where there’s very little authenticity left and we’ve become machines. Everything has less value, people are losing focus and empathy for others because of their time becoming so “precious.” It seems as if for others, women are just “popping” babies from left and right. Seemingly making motherhood look “easy.”
Is it though? I’m not ashamed to say that it’s not, and that’s okay. Mothers are expected to be ecstatic muses of motherhood, but being the perfect mom is a myth and a lot of pressure for one person to take on.
We may have all the books in the world that our parents didn’t have but that still doesn’t take away the fact that being a new mother is something that takes over with countless changes and doubts. No books will completely ease the apprenticeship of motherhood. We learn as we go, we fail, we find rewards and we deeply love like never before.
Postpartum is probably the most challenging period of my life this far. Postpartum combines all emotional, hormonal and physical aspects of yourself that have changed. A lot of women are ashamed to talk about it and that’s sad. I see Instagram posts of mothers apologizing for pouring their hearts out because of the challenges they are facing as they are naturally overwhelmed.
There are so many different postpartum experiences: depression, anxiety, weight gain…these are real issues that mothers go through. Here’s an amazing article to learn more about postpartum depression and anxiety and how to get help.
As far as weight gain, some women bounce right back, while others don’t. Women that bounce back right away, are screaming it at the top of their lungs (as they should) but the ones that aren’t are quietly feeling ashamed and lonely in the process because of our beauty standards. This results in making women like me all of a sudden look “abnormal” when actually more women take up to a year and a half to get their bodies back and that’s actually normal! What is the key here? HORMONES.
This actually goes back to man-cave days where some women’s bodies retain the fat to ensure to be able to feed their babies! Like me! Hey girl, hey! If you think about it, it’s quite amazing! But oh, so frustrating. If someone guarantees you that breastfeeding will make you lose weight; it’s not true and depends on how your body reacts to it. I did all the tests, thyroid, hormonal…and my progesterone is still really high. What it means is that my body thinks that I’m still feeding my baby even though I was done breastfeeding about three months ago. What it also means is that it can take from 6 months to a year and a half for me to shed the weight.
Why am I telling you this? Because this is what happens
for most women! This is reality! I’m so sick and tired of people looking at me like I’m doing something wrong.
“Well, what are you eating?”
“Do you exercise?”
“You must not be healthy for this to be happening.”
I’ve heard it all and it’s hard enough to look at yourself in the mirror with 30 extra pounds to the point where you’re unsure of who you are. It’s hard enough to deal with all the possible changes in your daily life. Of course, it’s for the biggest reward, but that doesn’t mean that as mothers we can’t go through things.
My point is, no I’m not doing anything wrong and at this moment I’ve tried a lot of things with no results. The real thing that I should be focusing on? Patience. And a lot of people don’t even know what that is.
I still remember before I had a kid, I’d hear people say, “I mean she had a kid a year ago and she’s still pretty big! I’m sure she just let herself go!” Not only did I never like these kinds of statements, but less than ever now.
Respect different healings, different bodies, different women. There are no “proper” pregnancies, postpartum or parenting experiences. They’r
e all just different. If we could shed some light on all of them collectively, not only would we educate ourselves but also we’d see how fascinating our bodies are! Stretch marks, sluggy tummy and cellulite don’t have to be ugly – they’re normal! It doesn’t mean that I’m ready to snap a picture of my body tomorrow but at least I’m letting myself and other women going through this know that you’re beautiful! Not every day do I see myself as beautiful but trying, and that’s already half the battle.
The sleep deprivation a mother encounters the first year of having a baby is brutal. Sleep deprivation is hands down the hardest part of being a new mom for me. Waking up constantly a certain number of times is stressful on your body and mind. Plus, considering that if you breastfeed you have to control your stress levels and breastfeeding is tiring on its own. I obsessed about getting sleep. That’s all I could think about. When you rock your baby for 45 minutes and sleep three hours max the night before, believe me, you wouldn’t even waste a minute to get a chance to sleep and if I didn’t, I could easily just have a breakdown from the intensity of exhaustion. There are moments that I look b
ack at and just internally laugh because I had possibly turned into a raging, hormonal monster from not sleeping…haha
The body needs at least 8 hours of sleep. I hadn’t had a full night of sleep since the last three months of my pregnancy. Somehow the body gets used to it but now that Oliver is a little older, I’m really trying to take care of myself when I can, go to bed early when my body tells me to and I’m attentive to my needs, admitting that it’s okay if I’ll be napping instead of taking care of a pile of dirty dishes. Taking quick naps, even for 15 minutes, just laying down and closing your eyes or meditating can do wonders.
Everyone says “sleep when your baby sleeps” and honestly, especially for the first few months, it’s key! But I had moments when Oliver would fall asleep in the stroller at the grocery store and even though I considered getting cozy in the diaper aisle, it wasn’t appropriate. My needs are definitely only half met now that I have Oliver, but I also realized that a lot of things I thought I “needed” before being a mom are now a joke.
It’s temporary, it gets better and definitely easier w
ith support and understanding from your partner, friends, parents, anyone really. Only the past month has Oliver been sleeping through the night (it’s a hit or miss) but he’s now 10 months…So it gives you an idea of how long I’ve been craving to just sleep without waking up once.
P.S: Don’t ask a mom, “Why do you look so tired?” You might seriously regret it.
There will come a point as a mother where you’ll decide to “be on your own.” What I mean by that is that you’ll appreciate everyone’s input (Lord knows how many people will let you know what you need to do) and while you do appreciate it, you’ll independently decide what’s best for your baby. That moment will be the best day you’ll have as a mom and that’s when you’ll stop reading my blog! Haha.
When Oliver was born, I was showered with Do’s and Don’ts. I realized with time and trying different things that some of it didn’t apply to me or Oliver. All babies are different! Some cultures are different! Some moms are different! I allowed myself to believe that it wouldn’t make me a good or bad mother if I simply did what I wanted to do for Oliver and what seemed to work for him.
Here’s an example: Some babies enjoy being swaddled, for some, it’s a must. I literally killed myself swaddling Oliver because everyone was telling me how important it was. “Don’t let his arms out!” Yet he was screaming every time and people would tell me it’s normal and yet I still wouldn’t be able to sleep because my baby seemed to hate being swaddled! Some babies have no problem sleeping in a bassinet, while others won’t. Period.
So one night, I said, “screw it.” I’m not doing this. I was losing my mind. I thought it was a life or death scenario with all the SIDS talk and the pro/non-co-sleepers that I decided to expand, I started to look into other cultures, from Denmark to Japan and reading more about how people raise their babies. Especially coming from France, I asked my French girlfriends and evidently I discovered that it’s very different depending on where you are in the world. I finally unswaddled Oliver, I took him out of the bassinet, placed him next to me in my bed…and that was my first actual night of sleep for more than 15 minutes at a time! BINGO! I thought to myself, I learned a little bit more about my baby and the fact that it’s okay to not be “conventional.”
YOUR DEVOTION TO YOUR CHILD
I remember when I used to have nothing to do and still complain about how tired I was or how bored I felt. I wish I could be as tired as I actually thought I was before having a kid. Anyway, being a mom also means much less time for self-care. While it is very important, it is also quite challenging as a first-time mom to learn how to proceed to make time for yourself or simply take a shower. I would wonder if it was normal that I literally could not find the time to wash my hair for days and luckily one of my best girlfriends was pregnant at the same time as I was, and I remember one day vividly when we just talked on the phone, pouring our hearts out and laughing hysterically at how insane our lives had gotten and how we hadn’t showered in three days. That moment, that very moment, I had felt the most normal in a very long time. God bless her for that phone conversation! Sometimes you just need another mom telling you, “Hey, you’re doing great! I got poop in my hair too!”
It’s easy for others to look at you and think, “Gee, you’re a mess. Get a massage or something.” While that’s very thoughtful *sigh*, getting away for a few hours is not always the easiest thing to do depending on the scenario. If you have grandparents or are comfortable right away with a babysitter…that’s awesome! We don’t all have that and in that case, it takes time.
BALANCING YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH A NEW BABY CAN BE HARD
No one really talks about how hard it becomes to be a partner and a mom, Or how it is to become a dad! Father’s Day is coming up and did you know that a lot of men can also experience postpartum depression? A friend of mine posted that it has risen to 65% of the first 5 years of their kid’s life. It’s hard for both parents to adjust.
I think that communication really helped Kyle and me, but there’s still an adjustment period where you have to individually exercise your new parenting role and also find a rhythm parenting together. I think that there was definitely a period of loneliness, misunderstanding and mistakes but also the most beautiful moments as partners being new parents completely obsessed with our child.
While breastfeeding, it was very hard for Kyle to find a way to be “needed.” It’s important to understand that dads can also do things their way, and it’s a great way! Maybe dads are a little messier and moms are perfectionists, but when you think about it, it’s what we love about them. I also think that it’s important for a baby to experience different ways of taking a bath or getting a diaper change. Some moms do it quietly, while some dads blast rock ‘n’ roll….why not!
NO NEW FRIENDS?
You’ll quickly see that your new schedule definitely doesn’t fit with your “old life.” You’ll quickly see some friends stick around, while others just text a couple of sweet words and a “you look exhausted!” once in a while. I think that’s just how life works. It’s been hard for me to adapt on my own but also figure out how to include my friends and explain that it’s not a “whenever I want to hang” scenario anymore. Loyal friends get it and will adapt as well. It’s a learning process on both sides.
It’s also been a challenge for me to include myself in “mom groups,” not only is it not that easy to find, but you also have to make time for it and in the beginning, it’s hard with a new baby! Just getting out of the house is intimidating in its own ways! I’m also travelling a lot which doesn’t call for consistency and you sometimes lose track of good habits or people just move on.
As everything takes time and I’m learning the ropes, everything gets better and will make sense. This is definitely an opportunity to meet new people and make new friendships. It’s just a matter of getting back to those skills and knowing where to go! So while your kid makes new friends, so do you! I heard that the Peanut app is actually amazing and I’ll be trying it out. It’s a way to meet new moms near you! I guess moms can also swipe left or right! Haha! Oh boy!