A little over a year ago I became a mother to a strong, smart, kind and free spirited gal. She lights up our whole family with her infectious spirit and she is quite literally a dream I held onto for so long and finally realized. I am grateful for her and my little family each day and wouldn’t trade one second of it!
With this great gift has also come an incredible amount of responsibility and more sacrifice than I could have ever imagined. This parenting shit is real and hard and beautiful and also 24/7 - 7 days a week. I have a new found respect for my own parents (am I right?).
There are so many gifts that come with parenting. I am better with my daughter in my life. She tests me every single day and has this brilliant way of keeping my priorities in check. She pushes me to be better by watching and emulating me, demanding me to be present in the moment with her and being a constant reminder of life’s simple joys. It is the hardest and best thing I have ever done, period.
And when I think back about our first year: love, happiness, selflessness and sacrifice are what come to mind.
From the very beginning motherhood was all about giving up control and surrendering to the journey. When I got pregnant I had just finished my yoga teacher training which consisted of 6 months of transformation on and off my mat. I was in the best physical and mental shape I had ever been in and I was feeling incredible.
And then almost immediately it became evident that I couldn’t be in the heat of the yoga studio. I had a lot of shortness of breath early on in my first trimester. The one thing that I loved, kept my eating disorder at bay and kept me sane from life’s everyday stresses was gone. I tried to keep my body moving, find other ways to manage stress and only do things that I felt were supporting the magic that was happening within me, but it was hard. I missed and was never able to replicate the inner strength, cleansing, clarity and zen feeling that comes after a physically challenging power yoga class.
Healthy doctor reports for baby and mama became were how I found gratitude and motivation throughout my nine months. They kept me going as I slowly started to lose my physical identity, as well as, losing some of my most prized pleasures like sleep.
If you have read my “About” section you know I struggle with disordered eating. One of my main triggers is stress and for any non-moms you will be amazed at all the new things you become aware of that will worry a mind during pregnancy (counting kicks much?) not to mention trying to succeed at your career with mommy brain, sleep deprivation and physical discomfort. I am fondly recalling a conference call where I joined frazzled and apologized for being 15 minutes late (the call had slipped my mind) and I was greeted with laughter from my thankfully understanding team who informed me that I was actually an hour and 15 minutes late. What I am getting at is that I struggled during my pregnancy with coping with stress by over eating and as a result gained some unnecessary pounds. I was hard on myself, my confidence was pretty low and I was lacking the self-love that I should have been swimming in.
Weight gain is normal and healthy during pregnancy, however when you spend a lifetime tying your self-worth to a number on a scale, trust me you’ll find yourself in quite the little pickle. I was very happy and had little complaints during my pregnancy, but I definitely had my moments and you would be amazed what people will say to you when you’re pregnant. Little loving sucker punches, where they think they are being friendly or kind, but it couldn’t be farther from the truth. Like when the cashier at Costco asked me if I was having twins… definitely a high moment of the 9 months!
I was grateful then and I am still now, that my body went through the beautiful, messy and hard process of growing a child (aka gaining 40 lbs), delivering her and providing her with sustenance there after. It’s pretty freaking incredible what your body can do.
Through this all I learned that I’m capable of walking through extremely difficult situations (and pain), that leaning into others for support (even strangers, like your delivery nurse) is not weakness, that breath is queen, patience is a skill you can acquire and that love erases the hard not so shiny moments of life.
But I still struggled, like so many moms, with the superficial, outward appearance after giving birth. I wanted to bounce back immediately (I’m talking Bethany Frankel immediately) and show everyone that I was one of those supermoms who could do and have it all. I set unrealistic expectations for myself that added pressure where there need not be any because trust me having a new born and navigating those waters is enough.
I know I’m not alone and this issue has been talked about ad nauseam, but it’s important to talk about it and say it as many times as necessary, because the pressure and expectations for a new mom never seen to change.
The truth is it takes many months to grow a healthy baby and the only thing we need to focus on postpartum is navigating our ways back to a new normal where we can begin to find ourselves again. Taking the time to discover who you are and what you need after becoming a mother is in my opinion the single most important thing you can do for yourself and your family. And focusing on how you feel rather than trying to race back to who were is the greatest gift you can give yourself, because it's a fruitless effort, that person no longer exists. You just went through something life changing, own it, embrace it. I have so many friends that have just had beautiful babies and I just want to scream this from the roof tops to them because hindsight is 20/20 and I wish this was my mindset a year ago!
And to all my non-mamas out there, I hear you, life is messy, complicated and full. There are so many reasons why we choose to critique and judge ourselves (societal standards included), letting the inner critic drown out that sound loving voice inside that says we are enough exactly as we are. We choose to medicate with our habit of choice to get through. We feel guilty about taking time to take care of ourselves.
But it takes an addict to know an addict (and we are all addicts) and I can tell you that whatever you are doing to just get through each day is actually just your crapy comfort zone that is actually holding you back from all the things that you dream of for your life.
So step outside of what feels safe and listen to what you really need. Start by finding gratitude in yourself exactly as you. Take the time for yourself without guilt, no matter where you are in your life, to figure out what makes you feel whole so that you can be lit up to do and share big and beautiful things with the world. Because you deserve to feel that accomplishment, to feel complete and whole and to love the body you’re in.
And remember, we are all PERFECTLY IMPERFECT, fighting our own battles and JUST DOING OUR BEST. So stay light, show yourself love and don't give up. You are worth a million tries a million times over.