Reinvention

Something that's been on my mind lately is the new identity that a woman takes on after becoming a mother. Not necessarily the role of being a mother, but as a whole person. Forming a new identity seemed to come easily after my oldest was born. I went back to work, learned as much as I could about breastfeeding, and started working towards becoming an IBCLC. This time around, I'm struggling.

Now that I am a SAHM, I'm not quite sure who I am or what my interests are. I'm still passionate about breastfeeding and continuing to take classes for the IBCLC exam, but I'm not sure if that same fire is still there (or maybe it is not burning as hot for now). I still love clothes and shoes and makeup and jewelry, but barely wear any of my fun clothes/shoes/makeup/jewelry these days. I'm wearing a t-shirt with a giant avocado stain on it at this very moment.

Forging this new identity as mom to two little boys, who stays at home in a new city is tough. I didn't think I would fall into my old routine, but I certainly didn't anticipate feeling this lost. That's why posts on this blog have been so sporadic. How do I fix it? I have no idea. I'll keep doing the things I loved and try new things until I find what works.

Self Care is Not Selfish

Taking care of one's self once after becoming a mother can be seen as a selfish act. Once we become mothers, it seems that we are expected to put our children, our families, our careers ahead of our own needs. It's important to remember that we are mothers, not martyrs. Taking a break and some time for yourself is not shameful, prideful, or selfish. A little self care can go a long way.

Self care. It's something I'm not very good at doing. I seemed to better at it with just one child - it seemed to be easier to leave the house. Now that I'm staying home with two boys, I have very little time or energy for myself. One thing my therapist has said repeatedly in our sessions (I'm paraphrasing) is that we as mothers tend to pour from our cup for everyone else. By the time we get to us, our cup is empty. When our cup is empty, that's when  we lose our cool with loved ones and can start to feel down [side note: these are two of the issues I'm working on].

Gisele Bundchen recently said that mothers need to put themselves first, using the expression, "ensure your own oxygen mask is fitted before helping others.While I do not have her means (or incredible physique or penchant for yoga on the beach), I can appreciate her candor. She goes on to say, "'You can feel a bit guilty - you feel guilty if you do and if you don't. But if I put my oxygen mask on first, if I'm feeling fulfilled and present and good about myself, then I'm going to be a much more patient, loving, understanding mother and wife. You have to fill your glass so that everyone can drink from it."

Image from My Airline Flight
I actually started this blog after the birth of my oldest as a way to keep a sense of self. Once I realized how important breastfeeding was to me, my voice changed. Maintaining a sense of self seemed to come relatively easily for me then: there was only one child to worry about, going to work made it a little easier to leave the house for myself, and I always had a good amount of milk stored in case he got hungry. My challenge these days is finding time for myself, in an unfamiliar town as a stay at home mom of two. While my husband is supportive of me making sure my cup is full, the problems lie with me. I'm lucky to have 10 ounces of milk stored and a few hours to go out.

I have been making an effort to take some time out for myself every few days. It's nothing extravagant: a glass of wine and a mindless TV show, give myself a manicure, a bath after the kids are in bed, or staying up late to online shop blog after everyone's in bed. Sometimes I'll run to the grocery store by myself if we run out of something in the middle of the week. As long as I'm filling my cup back, it's a good thing. I typically feel a little bit better getting out of the house alone, driving with the windows down and blasting music as loud as I want. I was recently able to go out for brunch with a friend for a few hours. It was worth pumping milk!


Other low cost ways to take care of yourself:
- prayer or meditation
- feeding your body food that makes it happy
- exercise by going for a walk or run
- journal your thoughts

How do you fill your cup?

Friday Favorites - Obsessed

I've been doing some emotional window shopping lately. Okay, there have been a few purchases. Here's what I've been into lately.


Obsessed

Obsessed by lactivistinloubs
Click on the image for sources in the set


Double pearl earrings are a fun way to incorporate the pearl trend that seems to be big for fall/winter. The spiked version add an edge to an otherwise preppy or refined pearl. These are knock offs inspired by the "Mise En Dior" earrings by Christian Dior. Bonus: they aren't dangly which means it's harder for little hands to pull at them!

Look at those druzy pieces. Gorgeous, sparkly, and raw. What's not to love? The crystal stones can be found on just about any piece of jewelry out there. They come in a range of prices, depending on your budget. 

Gray nail polish is a nice change from black. I've found great success with Sally Hansen InstaDri in Greased Lightening, available at many places. It really does dry quickly, which makes it great for a little self care during nap time!

Distressed boyfriend jeans are a great change from skinnies. There are varying fits out there, from almost legging tight to a loose, baggy fit. Many are available in a higher rise, which helps control my muffin top. Be careful of the fit, lest you end up in the dreaded mom jeans. The distressed wash keeps it casual. These would look great with a t-shirt and flats for errands or a blouse and heels for date night. I can't wait to try out a pair!

Happy shopping!

I'm Not Okay and That's Okay

A late night text conversation with a friend about adjusting to life with two children led to talk about how we feel about ourselves as wives, mothers, and women. She remarked that scrolling through our Facebook feed made her feel as if her life was the only one that was complicated. She is absolutely correct - my feed is filled with happy babies, delicious homemade food, and smiling partners. Of course I do the same thing. In the interest of full disclosure, here's the truth: I'm not okay.

My mind and mood has not been so great since Rohan's birth. While his birth was fantastic (really intense and very quick), the immediate postpartum period was not ideal. Due to the new job, my husband was only home for 1 week after birth and travelled for 2 weeks. Thankfully my mom and sister flew in to help. Of course I was thankful for their help and presence, but they weren't my husband. The adjustment was hard on everyone.

Just as we settled into a routine, our family packed up and moved to Austin for my husband's new job. We're currently in temporary housing, in a furnished apartment with very few of our things. Most days we stay home, because the thought of going out with an active preschooler and an infant overwhelm me. So here I am, at the end of my rope. Yelling and angry for most of the day, anxious and sullen for other parts.

I can only tell my husband so many times how I feel. He has been urging me to get help, I've been dragging my heels. Enough internalizing. Something has to change. I'm finally ready to make it happen.


Three Months

It's hard to believe my chubby dumpling is three months old. While my breastfeeding journey with Rohan has been easier than my journey with Ethan, we have still faced our fair share of challenges and issues. 

After passing a VERY large clot at three days postpartum, I was told I was still retaining a piece of my placenta and was put on medication to help me pass other small clots that were being retained. Unfortunately, a side effect of the medication was lowered milk supply. Just as predicted, my supply dropped. Thanks to two close friends, I was able to supplement R with their milk while I worked to maintain mine. Once my course of medication was over, I worked hard to increase my supply by using galactagogues and pumping. It took lots of breakdowns and a few weeks before I regained my supply. 

During this time, my nipples were scabbed over and I was experiencing vasospasms from Rohan's poor latch. Turns out he had a class 3 lip tie and a significant tongue tie as well. We made an appointment with a very reputable dentist get a ties revised. Unfortunately the wait to get the corrections was four weeks. I persevered through thanks to nipple balm, cold packs, and ibuprofen. Despite the lip and tongue ties, Rohan continued to gain weight and I was able to maintain my supply by pumping if I felt full after nursing. Once we got the ties revised, things improved greatly for me. 

All through the pregnancy, I looked forward to breastfeeding my baby. I hoped that my past experience and knowledge that I've gained while studying to be an IBCLC would help this time around. Experience and book knowledge, in addition to unwavering support from friends and family have really helped me to overcome the issues we faced this time around. 
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