Tag Archives: self care

How I Rediscovered my Identity After Baby

rediscover my identity after baby

The first few weeks of postpartum life are honestly a blur. I can remember being soaked in breastmilk, spit up, blood, or sweat. I was exhausted, in pain, and emotional. Overall, I was happy. Life was just different. I started to realize that I was never truly alone anymore. The newly placed guilt in my heart crippled me from doing the things that I once loved. My daughter was here and she was my new responsibility. This was how I felt after Baby E was born.

Fast forward 20 short months later to the birth of my second baby. Right as I was starting to feel somewhat comfortable in my role as a mother, I was forced into a completely new territory (but somewhat familiar) as a mother of two. I was back in the trenches of being emotional, overly hormonal, and exhausted. Only this time, I had an additional person who completely counted on me.

To say that I was physically and emotionally exhausted is an understatement. But here I am, y’all! 9 months later and feeling like I am steadily getting my groove back (Insert Salsa Dancer emoji here). Baby J still isn’t sleeping a full 12 hours uninterrupted. Baby E is sassier than ever. They’re both requiring a lot more attention than before. I’m still exhausted every day. Overall, I’m starting to feel a little bit more like “me”. With that being said, I want to share my “journey” in efforts to help any new mamas see that there is light at the end of the tunnel (I guess- I’m no motherhood expert, haha).

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“Self Care isn’t Selfish”

self care isn't selfish

As I rock my seventeen pound angel to sleep, I feel the weight of her little body bearing down in my arms but especially on my lumbar spine.
I cringe as I awkwardly hover over the siding of her crib to place her down.
Her head graces the mattress, followed by her body.
She didn’t flinch and I didn’t fumble.

I proudly exit her room and prepare for my own slumber, thinking, Aw yeah, this is my relaxation time.
Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Bloglovin, Pinterest.
That is, un-apologetically, my current relaxation time.
While all of my loves sleep, I explore various modes of social media…
Finally, after a little too much before-bed screen time, I get ready for sleep.

I close my eyes. I start drifting closer and closer to dreamland and boom, my human alarm clock awakens me with the cries of her people.
After about 2 hours of silence, Baby E is awake.

I walk all the way to her bedroom and repeat our monotonous night time routine.
Cry. Rock. Console. Put down. Repeat.
I walk back to my bed; tired, sore, but still so in love with that little girl that all is forgiven.

I would say that most mothers are givers. We give up so much during the prenatal period that it’s easy to continue that selflessness throughout our little one’s life.
We give up so many different foods, drinks, and activities throughout pregnancy to ensure that our little one is thriving. We give up our bodies (from head to toe) to ensure that we put the growth of that baby first. We spend so much time thinking of our little one that we basically give up a part of our brain, too.  It’s a never ending, selfless love. Even though we give so much, we must remember to give a little love to ourselves too.

About two weeks ago I hit a breaking point, mentally and physically. The physical exhaustion was the worst part. I was sleep deprived and my body felt weak. My back was done. My husband and I discussed my exhaustion and he simply said, “Take a nap.”
(I wish you could see my face as I think about him saying this to me.)
A nap is great, but, in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t going to do a damn thing.
I made this clear to him and boom, being the hero that he is, he booked a nice spa day for me to relax and not think about the house, the baby, or life in general. (#blessed). Did I want a massage? ALWAYS. Did I think that I needed a massage? No… I had too much to do and I didn’t deserve it. After all, I thought, this is just being a mom, right?

Well, during my FIVE HOUR (yes, five hours!!) spa, I got a ridiculously long massage and a pedicure. I drank a perfect amount of champagne, wore a really nice robe, soaked in a hot tub, and ate desserts on the patio overlooking the pool and waterfall. (Okay, Erica, enough bragging). I even put my phone in a locker and completely unplugged from the world (after I snapchatted the pool side view, of course.) You know what else I did at this spa? I wondered about what my family was doing. I thought about how my absence would throw off the daily routine. I wondered if I left enough milk or food for the baby. I annoyed myself with my wondering… I told myself, “Erica, girl, you’re here to unwind! Do it!”  My husband does an amazing job- I honestly don’t know why I wonder or worry so much. “The house, the baby, everyone… they’re fine.” I repeated this exact thought to myself at that moment. I don’t know if it was divine intervention or my 3rd glass of champagne but my mind instantly shut off and relaxed.

Now that I’m done rambling, I want to get focused of the main point of this post.

Self care is not selfish.

I used to think that I was being selfish if I put myself first. I don’t mean the basic needs either; I mean the fun things. I felt like I wasn’t allowed to do pointless things at this season of life, especially whenever there was so much stuff that needed to be done. When I thought about getting a few drinks and being away from home, I instantly felt that wonderful inkling of mom guilt. When I thought about spending money on superficial accessories, I thought about how I could use that money for Baby E. When I thought  about me not holding her or rocking her to sleep when she cries, I felt like a bad mother, and I was disappointed in myself. (Oh hey, mom guilt. Glad you stopped by again!)

After my massage I realized that it is so important for us (as caregivers) to take care ourselves to give the best care to our children. In order for Baby E to be the happiest, healthiest baby, I need to be the happiest, healthiest mama. If that means grabbing a drink with friends, then I’m changing out of my spit-up-stained clothes, putting on some lipstick and grabbing a drink! (Though only 1 drink for me because I’m nursing and ain’t nobody got time for the pump and dump). If being happy and healthy means getting out for a random jog completely by myself (no pup either!), then I’m doing it! During that massage I found an inner peace with myself and my future decisions. We all need to know that it’s good for our mental health to take solo moments to find peace among our daily chaos. The spa day was one of my defining moments of motherhood. It’s a day that I realized that it’s okay to let the baby cry for a minute so I can rest my body. I realized that it’s not okay to let her cries control my every movement (or let her think that she can get her way with her tears). I realized that I am really fond of mimosas and that I went long enough without one. It was a mentally and physically rejuvenating day!

Overall, ladies (and maybe even gentlemen), take care of yourselves! The only way to be the best is to feel the best. It’s completely evident to you and your baby that you are absolutely infatuated with them. Just take time to remind yourself that you need to be infatuated with you as well. Don’t let society make you feel guilty or as if you aren’t doing enough. Girl, do your nails, soak in a tub, grab a drink. Don’t feel guilty about taking a little bit of time to yourself to do whatever you want (You still have responsibilities though…don’t get too crazy).
After everything these babies (and life) put us through, we more than deserve it!

(Note: Later that week, I let Jon put her to bed. He let her cry for about 30 minutes and guess what? She put herself to sleep! That night, without my rocking, she put herself to sleep AND slept for 13 hours. We haven’t really rocked her to sleep since that night. I guess Daddy knows best?)