I focused on my self-care the moment my husband and I started discussing the possibility of ever having a baby. I scheduled an appointment with my naturopath a year in advance (I am a planner) to make sure my hormones were in check, vitamins and minerals were optimal and that I was the healthiest version of me possible. The entire pregnancy I continued to focus on self-care. I took lots of naps, walks, practiced pre-natal yoga, took supplements suggested by my doctor and had monthly facials along with a few massages. I did whatever I could to stay healthy and have a healthy baby. I was very healthy my entire pregnancy (not even a cold) and delivered a very healthy baby girl.
I gave birth to my little girl, Sonoma, and my focus completely changed. This is the time frame I call the “fourth trimester.” I went from always focusing on my health and wellness to hyper-focusing on everything about Sonoma. I was concerned with how much (or little) she ate, slept, and pooped. I felt exhausted, yet unable to sleep as much as I needed. Hungry, but didn’t want to cook or grocery shop. Walking more than a few blocks was not recommended yet and yoga, well, I would get back to it about six months down the road. My hormones were all over the place, but thankfully the increased oxytocin levels gave me the energy to keep going. I was simply in survival mode those first few weeks. All you Mamas out there know what I am talking about.
I took a little over three months off from work after my daughter was born. I am very thankful for the every minute I got to spend with her and all the precious Mommy daughter time. I cannot remember a time ever feeling happier, yet sad too. Post-partum depression is real and can be scary. I did not have severe post-partum depression, but I did have sad moments and feelings of isolation. My husband was working long hours and all my family and close friends were thousands of miles away. Thankfully, we had lots of visitors, but I longed for home many days. I missed my sense of community and interaction with people who would talk back at me instead of just cooing or crying. I can remember actually being jealous of my husband that he got to go to work and be “normal” for a few hours. Then I would have days where I cried when I thought about returning to work and leaving my daughter at a daycare all day. It is funny how all over the place my feelings and emotions were during this time. I knew I needed some time for me and yet I felt guilty for wanting that time alone.
After a few weeks, I finally realized that in order for me to be the best mom I can be, that I needed to start focusing on me again too. I took a couple of hours and went shopping by myself the first Saturday my husband had off work. I bought some clothes that made me feel better about my new post baby body. A body I did not recognize or feel like mine (especially the big boobs), but the clothes made me feel more like myself. I started working out again slowly. I started with short walks and gradually increased the distance as I felt better and had more strength. Then I did an at-home workout program that consisted of 30-45 minute videos that I could do with the baby in the room or while she slept. Sometimes I think I may have rushed into working out again as I was longing for a body that felt more like me. However, working out feels like me and it made me feel better so I think it was the right decision for me at that time.
The day I finally felt like I could handle a hot yoga class again came about four months later. I will never forget how I felt that day. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I was in child’s pose. I felt guilty for taking time again for myself. I felt selfish and like a horrible Mom for leaving my daughter at daycare an extra hour so I could practice yoga. Then I took a moment to gather myself and thoughts. I realized I am not a horrible mother for taking time for me so I can be present with her later. I am teaching her that it is always important to take care of you first. No one else will do it for you. I am showing her how to respect her body and enjoy life. Everything I do is for her, but that includes keeping a healthy mind, body and soul.
These days I get up an hour earlier (and go to bed an hour earlier) so I can do my workouts over my lunch break. It allows me to workout and yet not feel like I am missing out on any family time. Also, I usually attend a yoga class or two on the weekends when my husband can be with Sonoma. This releases any guilt because they are spending quality time together. Then when I am done my husband usually takes time for himself to go surfing or for a run and Sonoma and I have our quality time. It works for us and I believe it’s all about finding what works for you.
Love you. Take care of you. You are worth it.