As a mother of a now 15-month old, I can count on one hand the times I’ve set aside time for myself and my wellbeing. With all the talk on self-care, it’s often the smallest things that make a world of difference. Raising a child is no easy task and depending on your own situation and the thought of self-care may be somewhat fleeting. Sometimes, my self-care looks like spending 15 minutes to actually enjoy a favorite meal instead of inhaling it in seconds, and other times it’s having hubby watch the baby for all of 5 minutes so I can finish some last minute cleaning or cooking. Feeling sexy and attractive is often a last thought when you have a little one who is dependent on you. For me, having an almost exclusively breastfed and co-sleeping toddler, taking time out to get sexified as a form of self-care doesn’t really translate as well as I hope. Being and feeling sexy is more about confidence and you’re your state of mind than what you have or don’t have on. When I look good, I feel good and for many days out of the week, my hair ain’t done, nails haven’t been done and mama’s sexy style is someone underneath the never-ending laundry pile. There are many days when I feel like I’m a million bucks and this feeling seeps through how I look and behave throughout the day.
As a wife of a college coach, I absolutely love game days. I love to watch basketball and the entire atmosphere of experiencing a live game puts me in a heavenly mood. I use game days as my excuse to put on some fresh threads and makeup, rock my trusted twist out and socialize with a few friends. Game days have always been part of my self-care routine and a part of bringing my sexy back. A big part of self-care for me is looking and feeling good.
There is nothing better than being able to cheer on the home team while looking cute. Most of my self-care routines revolve around game day. Whether it’s dining out after the game, celebrating a win with a much-deserved cheat meal, or socializing with friends and family, game days allow me to break free from the day to day routine of motherhood and being a wife. When it comes to living a coach’s wife’s life and being a first-time mom, self-care can take on many forms. Game days are my way of stepping out confidently and reenergizing myself so I’m at my best for baby and hubby.
And just like that Baby Jah Jah is 4 months old. As often said, time moves quickly. In the first few months of motherhood it seems it doesn’t move quick enough.
Life as a new mom is amazing! It’s also crazy, frustrating, and rewarding at the same damn time. I frequently catch myself trying to prolong the amazing moments while fast-forwarding the frustrating ones. One thought that has helped me cherish and appreciate each moment for what it is, whether good or bad, is knowing that “this too shall pass”. As a result of each fleeting moment, I thought it best to document my journey thus far.
Here are a few lessons I have learned these past few months since becoming a mother.
- Motherhood is Hard AF!
Yes, they told me. Every single mother that I came in contact with while I was pregnant told me how hard being a new mother would be and the ways in which i’d find myself wondering what I’d gotten myself into. And yes I knew it wouldn’t be easier for me but something in the back of my mind was like…it can’t be THAT bad! Can it? For those women who are expecting or see themselves having children in the future. Let me be the millionth person to tell you, IT IS THAT FRICKEN HARD!!! It’s Hard AF. Nothing can fully prepare you for the sleep deprivation that will smack the shit out of you or the multiple sudden cases of OMG I DONT KNOW WHAT THE HELL I”M DOING! Not to mention the isolated feeling you get because it feels like it’s just you and baby all day every damn day. Nothing. Absolutely nothing can prepare you for all the emotions, new and old, that will catch you off guard and have you questioning your sanity. One new mother warning/advice that made a huge difference for me was from my sister-in-law who said “accept all the help that is offered you because you will never know fatigue, like the fatigue that will hit you when you are 3 weeks in with baby”. I chuckled a little when she said that but I also had no clue what she meant. All I know was that I was looking out for this life changing fatigue before baby was even born. When baby finally got home each day I would gage how tired I was and try to see if this was the “fatigue” my sister-in-law was talking about. And for several days, I was like, man I’m tired but it’s not that bad. I think I can handle team no sleep for a good while. Then week 3 1/2 reared its buck-teeth aliens from mars attacks head and I was finished. Like DONE. To the point where I’d catch a 5 min snooze on the toilet just to say I rested my eyes and actually really rest my eyes. I remember my sisters offering to watch baby and I practically hail-mary passed him to them with no shame and ran to my bed. I became one with the bed almost instantaneously. It was when I woke up after having a full nights rest and STILL feeling like I hadn’t slept in weeks that I knew what real fatigue was. Fatigue is just the tip of the iceberg. Your emotions will uppercut you to the moon and back. The pressure of wanting to be a great mom from the moment you popped that baby out will have you wanting to pull out your hair. Then out of nowhere your hair falls out without you even touching it. My take home message…You think you know, but have no idea.
I am now used to functioning on limited amounts of sleep and because of co-sleeping, I’ve now found myself taking unnecessary naps with baby just to keep him asleep during nap time. All in all, the fatigue isn’t that much of an issue now but the extra energy is being used to keep up with Baby as he is staying awake for longer periods of time and requiring more of my attention.
2. It’s Not Just You and Baby.
This for me has been one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned during these past 4 months. Mostly because it made me realize that I am fortunate enough to have a third person who is also immediately affected by and involved with the addition of a new baby. It’s so easy to get caught up thinking it’s just you and baby. I had to be reminded that I have a loving husband who is also going through his own adjustments as a new father. For the first few weeks after our families left, it did seem like it was me and baby ALL THE DAMN TIME. Hubby was putting 15+ hours at the office and out of town a lot. I had to remind myself that Hubby is an active member of this new family too and to give him as much attention and time with baby as possible. Once again my sister in law advised me to allow hubby to bond with the baby solo and not be “Ms. Super Save A Baby” and rush to baby’s rescue at any sound he would make. It was like I would watch him like a guard dog every time he would interact with the baby. My husband must have thought that I was a creepy mom. I didn’t know I was doing this obviously, but once I got called out on it, I realized it the moment it happened again. It’s funny, I had to be reminded to share the baby with my husband. I’ll never forget that lesson and I make it a point to find me something to do whenever hubby is hanging out with baby no matter how limited or extended that time may be.
This is also true for family members and friends who have genuine love for you and have been eager to meet baby from the moment you announced your pregnancy to birth. Give them the opportunity to support you and show this love in any capacity with baby. Since I live in a different country, It was especially important for me to share baby with my family. It’s hard on them to want to be active in the life of the baby but not be able to because of distance. That’s why every moment they spend with baby should be their own and should be maximized by any means. This leads me to my final and most important lesson so far.
3. It takes a Village
I 100% believe that motherhood is a collective effort. Being away from my family and close friends made me realize just how true the cliche statement is. I grew up watching many women transition into motherhood with an incredible amount of support and I expected this same support for when I made my debut as a new mom. I had never imagined motherhood any other way. I would not have made it through the first 6 -12 weeks without the help of my family and friends. Especially the first 6 weeks. We were blessed to have various members of our immediate family fly in to help us out with the new baby and I will forever be grateful that they did. I’m sure I would have survived without their help but I cannot imagine going on this journey otherwise. With a C-Section delivery, recovery is important for the health of Mom and baby. There were mobility limitations that restricted how I’d care for baby and do household tasks. Even though I still tried to do everything out of sheer pride and inexperience, having someone around to help with baby during the recovery period allowed me to not over exert myself and made me be at my best for baby. It also made me recover fast. Veteran moms and people who have been around new mothers just know what needs to be done without being asked. These following examples are how I benefited from having my tribe around:
- Getting foot rubs and massages from my mom and mother in law
- Assistance with getting in and out of bed in the early days after surgery
- Looking after baby while you get your whole life together in the bathroom or any random place in the house
- Giving you a needed break to take a 4-hr nap!
- Running errands or whatever you cannot or do not want to do, they will do. HAPPILY!
There were times I’d wake up starving and to come to the kitchen with my favorite breakfasts prepared. Jesus is on the throne! I’d even have an endless supply of freshly fried plantain to feast on throughout the day. I literally gave birth and went straight to plantain heaven!! I seriously believe it was these moments that heed to keep the baby blues at bayIt’s the little gestures of kindness and care from the people who know you the most that make a world of difference. Trust me, whoever you consider to be a part of your village, enlist their advice and help. Their presence and assistance are invaluable.
As hard as being a new mother is, it definitely gets easier. I do say this somewhat lightly. I’ve found that as I begin to get the hang of a certain skill/habit, something new pops up that will need some adjusting to. Meh. Such is life. Honestly, these past four months have been an adventure. I’d would never guess in a million years how my life would change as a mother. I’m sure the lessons will not end. I hope they don’t. I am grateful for every diaper explosion, projectile spit up, sleepless night. and joyous experiences I’ve been blessed with so far. Being able to watch baby develop and grow makes it all worthwhile. As I raise my cup filled with another lactation smoothie, cheers to another lesson filled 4 months!
I would love to hear some of your experiences and lessons as new Moms and Dads. What have been some of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned as a new parent?