So, you’ve gone through pregnancy and you, finally, have begun your post-partum life. Who are you? Well, obviously you’re a mom. But, who are you besides that?
For the first two weeks or so, you are going to go through adjusting to your new life with a newborn. My experience was so rough the first two weeks. I was exhausted, sore, and hormonal. I cried once, if not twice, a day. I was so blessed to have my mom come up and help me and a husband who listened to my endless blubbering. I was a terrified, emotional mess! But, after a few weeks, I began to find my routine.
My employer does not have a “maternity leave” available so I took a leave using short-term disability which gave me six weeks. During those six weeks, I allowed myself to adjust day-by-day. I slowly began to return to cleaning my house, doing laundry, cooking and going for walks outside with baby and dog in tow. I will confess that I spent a lot of those six weeks online shopping and catching up on reality television (HGTV and KUWTK are now my favorite.) After six weeks, I was ready to return-to-work. I love having my own career outside of my family and I love having something that keeps me busy. Returning to work was a huge step in finding my identity post-partum as a professional. Every mom is different so if you find it is better for you to be a stay-at-home mom, that doesn’t mean that you are doing anything less than those who return to work. That is part of your identity.
Another aspect of finding my identity post-partum was physical wellness. Prior to my pregnancy , fitness was a huge part of my life. I was working out 5x a week accompanied by following a macro-counting diet. When I got pregnant, my diet and exercise went out the window due to how sick I was. I actually lost about 10 pounds in my first trimester. As my nausea and fatigue subsided into the second trimester, I still never really got back into the swing of working out. I attributed that to a small fear of hurting myself or the baby and not wanting to face the fact that I had lost a lot of strength that I had built up for so long prior to my pregnancy. I did make sure to make walking a daily thing. I think that really helped me stay in enough shape to help with my delivery and recovery. I craved when I could get back into working out and getting my body back. But, guess what- I am still struggling with making working out a priority. I eat pretty well and focus on a balanced diet. I try to cook most week nights and that helps me stay on track but working out is a struggle. I joined a CrossFit box (CF term for gym) to try and keep myself accountable. A month in and I have only been to 6 classes. But, I am happy with where I am right now. I have finally found “balance” and am confident with my body and the fact that I do what I can to get some fitness into my schedule. Also, prenatals are everything! It really helps me to know I am getting enough vitamins to maintain my health and that of Patrick’s (I still exclusively breast feed.) If your simple health isn’t enough to incentivize you to take your prenatals, then do it for the amazing hair, skin and nails!
Next, is one of the harder pieces of finding your identity post-partum. I am referring to the social piece. I am the “first” friend for a lot of big life events. I was the first of my friends to get married. And, I am the first, for most of my friends, to have a baby. I have fantastic friends! We really make an effort to try and stay connected and visit with each other although most of us live in different cities/states. With a baby, your flexibility changes. It was almost 3 months before I got to see most of my friends and introduce them to Patrick. I felt isolated and disconnected and had fears of drifting away from them because of how different my life suddenly was compared to theirs. I couldn’t just go for a weekend trip on a whim or meet for happy hours on weeknights every week. The way I helped balance that was trying to stay in touch via social media and texting. I have suddenly become terrible at texting people back but I really make an effort to make sure to text my friends regularly. As Patrick gets older, I know it will get a little easier to go do activities like museum trips and brunches. Something, I also made an effort to do is making friends and plans with other moms. Nobody will understand the fact that you’re always late or need to cancel on a moment’s notice like another mom.
Finding your identity will take time and you will go at your own pace. Don’t compare yourself to other moms and their lives. Yours will be different. To help you figure out what you want from your identity outside of being a mom, find what makes you happy, your me-time. If wellness and self-care are what makes you happy, make sure to join a gym, yoga studio, or meditation group. Go to the spa or make weekly mani-pedi appointments. If you have always wanted to start a blog and need to express your creative side, now is the time to start. (Oh wait, that’s me!) My best friend who has a 9 month old likes to bake macaroons and omg they are delicious! Set aside time each week to do what makes you happy. It’s so important to take care of your well-being and happiness in order for you to be a good mom for your children!