I will preface this mommy-focused entry by saying I am so glad to be back into writing, as it has helped articulate my thoughts and make more sense of my world. It has also been helpful in sorting out the new questions mommy-hood has posed. I am no longer responsible for just myself, and that’s scary, tiring, thrilling, and wonderful, all at the same time.
I once thought planning my outfit for the next day was considered being really organized and ahead of the game; how quickly that changed once I had a new little life to care for. Late night martinis with the girls downtown soon became late night feedings in a half-sleeping zombie state. In the back of my mind, I would think, “Ok, if six interrupted hours of sleep is the best it gets, I can deal with that.” Don’t get me wrong—I absolutely love the precious newborn stage with the tiny hands and feet, all the little coos, and cute puckered lips she made while she was stretching her little arms…but I’ll also say I was glad to successfully graduate the first 12 weeks of motherhood. I once read the first three months are considered “the fourth trimester.” I believe this 100 percent. Being accustomed to the warm confined womb, wiggling around at all hours of the night, and enjoying the intrauterine café whenever she pleased, my little babe needed time to adjust to the outside world. Swaddling, “shh-shing,” and rocking all became habitual for me. Several people commented that I officially had the “mom sway,” when I’d be standing while chatting to a friend and lightly moving back and forth, even if I didn’t have my daughter in my arms.
Along with the “mom sway,” I also now consider myself “a bag lady.” On a regular work day, my arms are full of bags—my purse, diaper bag, lunch, and breast pump. Those are all in addition to my approximately 16 pound bundle loaded up in her car seat. It takes two trips to load the car, and I’m only going to daycare and then work!
Speaking of my (roughly) 16 pound bundle, she is growing like a weed! Someone in the grocery store once said to me, “if you water them, they’ll grow.” I’ve tried to “water” her the best I can! But on that note, I did not fully understand the commitment of breast feeding prior to having a child. Being her sole source of nutrition for four months until solids are introduced (but a large part until one year) is hard work, especially when returning to work full time after eight weeks. I sometimes feel inadequate if I don’t produce a certain amount of milk for the next day. Luckily I’ve had the option of utilizing my sister’s milk, as she has a son just over a year old. My sister has commented that I have been “obsessed” with my supply issues, but it’s hard not to feel inadequate when society drills it in your brain that “breast is best.” While it is imperative to focus on baby’s healthy growth and well-being, not much emphasis is placed on how challenging it can be for a mom to not only be mindful of everything (food, beverage, medications) she is taking, but for how long—if counting a nine month pregnancy and 12 months of breastfeeding, that’s 17 months of mindful consumption! It would be a different scenario entirely if I could stay at home with her, solely nurse her, and not have to worry about pumping bottles. I’m finally starting to come around to the notion that if I need to supplement with formula, it is a perfectly acceptable nutritional option for Violet. I cannot tell you how many articles and forums I’ve read online that debate breastfeeding vs. formula, but I can tell you one thing—I will do my best to make informed decisions and provide the best I can for her, whether it’s her nutrition or otherwise. The pumping stress set aside, my favorite aspect of nursing is the bonding. In the last month, she’ll take herself off the breast, look up at me and smile. It’s simply heart warming and indescribable.
With the breastfeeding comes the “immediate” weight loss I assumed I’d have! Then reality sets in. I heard repeatedly how fast the weight would come off since I planned on breastfeeding. Let me say this is not true for everyone. Granted, of the almost 50 lbs I gained, I did lose more than half within the first month. As for the other 20 lingering pounds, science and math show that I’ve been eating all the calories burned while nursing (since I’m not losing at the present time). There are times when I am much more mindful of what I’m eating, but I have to admit, it’s a daily struggle. Actually, there hasn’t been a time in my life when it’s not a daily struggle, so this is nothing new for me. Even though I don’t want to “let myself go,” I’ve decided to take a more laid back approach and accept my body for what it is right now, how far it’s come, and what amazing life it has brought into this world. And if I need to wear looser pants to accommodate this new body temporarily, so be it. I’d much prefer to purchase clothes that fit my body rather than try to change my body to fit a certain size. Ultimately, the goal is for healthy living and not setting rigid numbers and sizes.
Despite the fatigue and challenges of being a full time working nurse and mother, I feel so very grateful and happy with all the blessings God has given me. With each challenge, reaps great rewards (and new nicknames). Just call me the “Swaying-Pumping-Curvy Bag Lady”, and I will very likely respond 🙂