Well, she’s officially been OUT as long as she was IN. 285 days. (WHAT?!)
This photo was the last one I took while pregnant (between contractions!) about 24 hours before she was finally born. It’s so crazy to think that my baby has been earthside as long as she was inside of me. That first picture feels like both yesterday and an entire lifetime ago.
I wanted to write a quick check-in and update now that we’re 9 months into this journey. Baby girl is moving and grooving these days! She’s so so close to walking on her own, just starting to take 1-2 steps at a time. It seems like almost everyday she’s figured out something new or learned a new skill — this week it’s those steps, and fake laughing! We’ve got a little entertainer on our hands. She’s figured out that a fake laugh gets her attention (and she likes it)!
But enough about the baby, because if there’s anything I’ve learned in this new postpartum phase of life, it’s that everyone only worries and thinks about the baby, and no one really seems to focus on the mom – how she’s feeling, what she needs, etc. So today, I’m talking about myself. (Sorry, not sorry…)
The mental, emotional and physical changes that I’ve experienced in these last 9 –or really 18– months have been life altering and life-shaping, to say the least. I know I’m still the same old me, but I also feel forever changed. My body is softer, my mind is somehow both sharper and foggier, my arms are getting stronger everyday as she grows, and my heart feels like its expanded ten-fold.
My mind & mental health…
One thing I’ve really struggled with in recent months has been a resurgence of anxiety. I’ve struggled with anxiety in the past, but adding a baby, especially one who I’m still breastfeeding, has me constantly worrying about how much milk, food, etc. is getting into her body. I find I worry a lot about things like losing her, which I know is unrealistic, but that doesn’t stop me from worrying. I know my diet plays a role in flaring up or managing my anxiety, and that when I eat less refined carbs & sugars that it helps my gut and therefore my mental health, too. I’ve also had the most insane mom brain/brain fog lately. Forgetting names, leaving things behind, going through the motions on autopilot, etc. While I know “mom brain” is a thing, and likely due to lack of sleep, I know that diet will also probably help some with the brain fog, too.
My body hasn’t “bounced back” to it’s original form, but why would it? It grew and birthed a human. There’s no going “back” from that. I’ve worked with a pelvic floor PT (something I recommend for EVERYONE who has given birth. More on that in a future post…). She’s helped me dust off and reconnect the pathway between my mind and my core/pelvic muscles. She helped me to find and strengthen those muscles which I hadn’t used in months, and made me feel ready to start being physically active again. I’m now getting to about 2-3 yoga classes/week. Yoga and going for walks (and chasing/carrying a 19 lb almost toddler) are really the extent of my physical activity these days.
I’ve also been struggling recently with some skin issues, which I’m attributing to a resurgence of some candida overgrowth due to a shift in my hormones and a being a bit lax with my diet (thanks to the magic of pregnancy & breastfeeding hormones that allowed me to really enjoy whatever I wanted to eat without issue for months). Since the return of my period 3 months ago, my skin has become extremely sensitive, ranging from a bad allergic reaction to lavender (that’s a new one for me!), to some nasty, itchy (yeasty) rashes under both my armpits. I’ve begun getting my diet back in check, I’ve been taking more supplements and antifungals, and visiting my acupuncturist almost weekly again. I know I need to go back to a candida diet protocol to really rid my body of this new round of yeast, but it’s hard for me to feel ready to commit to do a full candida cleanse and diet 100% because I’m still breastfeeding, and not feeling ready to potentially affect my supply just yet. That said, I’m trying to eat healthy and to avoid having too much sugar, alcohol or caffeine in my diet, but I also know I don’t operate well in grey areas. I am a rule follower through and through, so once I feel ready to dive back in fully, I know I’ll be able to kick this candida overgrowth once again.
The importance of “me” time…
One thing that I’ve found to be so HARD about this phase of new motherhood is finding and making time for myself. I know that I can only support my family and be the best version of ME if I am well rested, exercised, eating a healthy diet and felling fulfilled in other areas of my life – career, relationships, future plans, etc. But it is just so damn hard to find that balance sometimes. (Maybe I also did this to myself by adding IIN schoolwork on top of new motherhood and a mostly full-time job?). One way I’ve combated this and tried to find that balance, is by taking one “me” day a week — and I’m not talking like champagne and massages. But one day each week when the baby is in daycare I take time for myself to get shit done – whether that means laundry, blogging, schoolwork, therapy, acupuncture, a yoga class, or just a break to enjoy a matcha in a coffee shop by myself. This “me” day has played a crucial role in keeping my mental health in a positive place. Every week that day looks a bit different depending on what I need for my mental and physical health that week. For now, I’m back at work 80% of the time, keeping one of my five days open (often Wednesday because I find it really helps to break up the week!). I know not everyone has the ability to work for only 80% time and pay, but if you are a mom who is struggling to “have it all” and to find any time for yourself, I can’t recommend this enough. (currently sitting at a coffee shop, blogging and enjoying a matcha all by myself, and it’s glorious.)
I’ve learned a lot…
…about baby food prep, breastfeeding & breastmilk, sleep training, developmental psychology, gut health in small babies, poop (so much poop), how to diaper change a baby who moves like a bucking bronco, and so so much more. One way I’ve tried to share some of the knowledge I’ve gained is through making some amazon lists for other new mamas. Check out products that I think are must-haves for pregnancy & postpartum, new babies, and baby nutrition.
(I get a small commission on sales made in my Amazon shop, at no extra cost to you — thanks for your support!)
My mama bear instincts are intense!
One other shift I’ve noticed in myself in these last 9 months is my ability to speak up both for myself, and for my baby. I find I have been able to speak up especially when something arises that makes me feel unsafe, unsure or overly protective of my child. It’s the most intense mama instinct that I just can’t quite put into words. If I feel threatened in any way, or feel like she is unsafe or potentially going to be exposed to something that makes me uncomfortable, I have been able to speak up in a way that I never was able to before. As someone who has always had a hard time standing up for myself, this is a welcomed change.
There is really no other love like this
It sounds super cheesy, but it’s true. I am so in love with this little girl. She is challenging at times these days with her bubbling energy and insane mobility, but she is also just so darn cute and my heart literally feels like it explodes like 10 times a day when I look at her or feel connected to her. One of my favorite times together these days is breastfeeding early in the morning, when she is still sleepy and cuddly. She snuggles into me so perfectly, like a little puzzle piece, nuzzling her face and body into mine. I just want to live in that space forever. I try to pause and take these moments in, as I know they’ll feel like they’re gone in a heartbeat.
For all those mamas out there…
What are some changes you found in yourself and your life by the 9 month mark? What’s been the most rewarding part of motherhood so far? What have you struggled with? I’d love to hear!
P.S. Have you found a resurgence in candida issues too? Check out my free candida diet checklist for some helpful tips, and you’ll get some emails from me about other healthy tips, simple swaps and more support!