My No BS Guide to Having and Recovering from a C-Section

Since having a C-Section 17 months ago, I have had several friends ask me to guide them through what to expect with theirs. I realize that I wish I had know some of these things before going into my C-Section and so I have decided to share.

This is my absolutely no-bullshit guide to having and recovering from a C-Section. Now, mine was planned so the recovery from an emergent C-Section could be different. In fact the truth is each woman’s recovery will be slightly different. I wish I had someone tell me the truth about what to expect- I think it would have prepared me and made my experience a lot less scary and unknown at the time. Here it goes mamas!

Part One: The C-Section, before and after

  1. Belly bandit- wear it as soon as you feel you can. It’s the one single thing I can now swear by about healing and recovering from a C-section. Wear it as much as you can. I didn’t sleep in mine but otherwise I wore it as much as humanly possible!!! It shrunk my uterus down in 1 month to almost it’s normal state and supported my incision area and also my back. It just really holds everything in that otherwise after a C-Section can hurt as you’re tummy is all wobbly and wonky for a while.  This is the one I used. I started with size small and then eventually had to buy the XS because I shrunk so fast but still needed and wanted the support. I saved both as I plan to use them again if/when we get pregnant a second time.
  2. THIS:  Use these strips on your incision as soon as you’re allowed to. They are the most amazing things EVER! I wore them 24/7 (you can wash them when you shower- that’s the only time I wasn’t wearing them)….my scar looks SO good because of these PLUS they protect your scar from underwear, clothes, etc. which can feel pretty icky against it for a while (up to 2 months maybe more).
  3. Compression big panties: I wore these every single day and night and I wore them under the belly bandit. They also help with the swelling and really do help hold things in…They aren’t sexy but none of this is sexy (plus you can’t have sex anyway so just do all you can to get your body put back together and try not to care about what you or your big ass panties look like)! 
  4. Pooping: DO AN ENEMA BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE HOSPITAL! If they’ll allow you trust me this is the way to go. Have a nurse give you an enema in the hospital you will be so relieved. Take stool softeners so that you don’t get constipated with the pain meds post C-section. I had to do an enema the first poop after surgery, 3 days later…And on that- that first poop….hang on to your heart: it feels like you are ripping yourself open but you ARE NOT…just remember me telling you this- you are OK…you are not ripping yourself open and are totally okay. You have to poop and once you do it’ll only get easier to do it again. I ended up doing a few enemas post surgery until I was able to go on my own. It won’t hurt you and is the easiest way to get it done. Any pushing hurts deep inside as you’ve been sliced open and are healing.
  5. SLEEP! In order to heal fast, you have to sleep. Sleep as much as you can and let the people around you help you. The worst you can do is over-due it. You will set yourself back  not heal yourself. Tell your husband/partner this: he/she needs to be in charge of stepping up and not letting you over-due. After about 1 week the pain reduces a lot and after the 2nd week so much more  but you have to be careful not to over-due it even though you feel better because for about 6 weeks total you’re still healing and things are still fusing back together. It’s easy to push it but you have to really be on yourself not to. This is extremely tough for those of us who take care of everything and everyone but ourselves so try to use this as practice for asking for help from your support team. Remember- they WANT to help you but you may need to be specific about the kind of help you need and when you need it.
  6. Big pads- you will bleed for weeks. I wore a long heavy over-night pad 24/7. Finally switched to a regular pad at week 5 post partum. Don’t think you can just hang out after taking a shower for 15 mins- you can’t- you’ll bleed. Pad it up!
  7. Make sure to eat high protein as it helps you heal fast.
  8. You may come home swollen from the fluids they pump into you but not to fear- it will go away (you’ll pee it out) with in about 1.5-2.5 weeks or so. I think drinking lots of water/coconut water helps flush and drain it out. You need lots of water anyway to support nursing. It can be scary to see yourself looking so puffy after you get home from the hospital but I promise the swelling goes away and you’ll be able to see what you really look like post baby in about 1.5-3 weeks.
  9. NIGHT TIME HELP: This is KEY! If you can get a night time nurse or Doula (we had a Doula and it saved us) do it! If you can do it for 2 weeks at minimum but ideally would be 1 month. I can’t stress enough how much this helps. It allows you to sleep a little with out worry. Someone skilled and trained is up with your baby or up watching your sleeping baby. They will come get you out of bed to nurse when you are needed (usually every 2-3 hours in the beginning). If you do not sleep, you will not heal and also your milk supply will suffer. You have to sleep. So someone you can rest easy with should be with you at night. This isn’t your mom and it’s not your husband. This really is someone much more skilled to actually do just this. If that person is with your baby trust me you WILL sleep and you will be a better new mommy for it. The reason it’s not your mom or partner is because you still need those people’s support during the day while you heal. You can’t lift anything for a while and barely that sweet new baby so try to set this up BEFORE you have your baby (if you know you’re having a C-Section). If this isn’t an option for you financially or perhaps because you don’t live near family then you need to set a very real schedule with your partner for them to support you in being able to sleep (and then stick to it).
  10. Pain: people do NOT talk about how painful it is to recover from a C-section. I will be honest it’s SO painful. So just know this and it’ll help you not worry that something is wrong. Also, the healing itself can feel very weird. The area of the incision ends up this weird combo of numb and painful to touch. It changes and you may feel some weird tinges of pain (healing pains) on and off. Don’t let them scare you- just expect them. The body is amazing…almost 5 months postpartum my scar wasn’t even close to as wide or scary as it was at even month 2 or 3 and my tummy was back to normal. When you’re freaking about stuff- just don’t. Know that you’ll get back to feeling like yourself and instead focus all your energy on loving your baby because that will take your mind off anything uncomfortable that’s going on (and make it all worth it).

Part Two: Your tummy, your healing

  1.  Tummy Time: One of the hardest things post C-Section is getting the tummy muscles to fuse back into place and start working the way they used to. This is just a game of patience but there are things you can do to help. The Belly Bandit as mentioned above is a must. On top of this I suggest trying to do all things you do being mindful of your core. After you have a baby and while you’re in recovery there’s not much time for working out (plus you aren’t allowed to do much but take walks for a while). So use the walks and even lifting the baby or doing the dishes or laundry as your work outs. Tighten and use your core muscles (which may feel very weird for a while) as your power zone. Do all movements from this power zone (not your butt or your legs). Soon you will just use your core as a habit and you won’t have to think about it all the time. Most important take walks and as you feel better and better take longer, faster walks using your core as the movement force and power zone. The weight will start to fall off. Oh and wear your belly wrap on your walk and as much as you can! Eventually you can start to get back into your normal work outs. I recommend pilates with a trained instructor for good post C-Section healing. Make sure to always tell the instructor you just had a C-Section!
  2. What you eat: In my experience the MOST important component to healing and getting your body to slim down after a baby is what you eat. In the beginning you have to make food choices to support your nursing (if you choose to do this). That means you must eat. This is one of the hardest things to do with a newborn and a C-Section recovery. It might sound nuts but it’s true. First of all, stuff happens like you could have a baby who can’t latch (like we did) and then you end up pumping 8-12x a day. Between the pain of getting in and out of bed or walking around post C-Section and then need to pump then feed the baby I swear I barely had a moment to do one more thing. This is where HELP comes in. My mom was in town to help support us after the baby came and ended up staying longer once we had some postpartum feeding issues and difficulty. She would actually feed me while I was pumping AND also trying to breast feed. If she wasn’t there spoon feeding ME I swear I wouldn’t have been able to eat much in those first couple weeks. If you’re partner is around then they can be this person (my husband wasn’t able to take time off right after the baby was born and had a crazy schedule in fellowship and being on call at the time).
  3. More on what to eat:
    1. High protein (note: eggs are the best fast food while nursing and healing), probiotic yogurt is also really good for you but use full fat if nursing.
    2. Lots of easy greens (kale, spinach, asparagus)
    3. Good fats: Avocado, coconut Milk, coconut oil, olive oil
    4. Fiber: You may be having post C-Section “issues” as I call them and will need extra fiber to help support you. Try lentils, hummus, dates, figs, prunes, apples, pears mixed into your diet to assist your needs.
    5. Good healthy carbs: Try quinoa, brown rice, chickpea flour based pasta, sweet potato or yams but try not to overdo it on the carbs.
    6. Nursing support: Try to eat your carbs in the morning in the form of oatmeal or gluten-free oatmeal. This will help your milk supply but also give you fiber and carbs for the day (add dates, figs, pears, apples here for more fiber support).
    7. Water water water! Drink water all day. If you’re not a water person then add cucumber, lemon, berries, orange slices, etc. to water in a container in the fridge and let it marinate. It’ll be tastier and also add some good things to your diet at the same time.
    8. What you eat after nursing and in order to get your body back to a good space:
      1. Greens! Greens and veggies oh my! Okay so the skinny is this: eat as many greens and veggies as you want! That’s right- you get a free pass on this one. You can fill up on greens and veggies at each meal!
      2. Small amounts of protein you don’t need as much as you think! If you make a fist the amount a protein you actually need per meal is in fact probably 1/2 of that size. So, if you’re doing a lean meat or fish try to portion it out with that in mind. If you’re having a vegetarian meal then the protein may be in the form of lentils or beans of some sort (I do this more than anything else protein wise). I say 1/2 a cup of beans is the portion size per meal depending on the size of the bean…then it may end up being 1 cup.
      3. Eat whole unprocessed foods. Instead of the low or non-fat item (which is filled with carbs and sugar and “filler” opt for something real and whole (and then eat slightly less of it). For example…choose whole organic yogurt, choose a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of sea salt on your salad instead of “fat-free dressing.” Your body will process these things so much better and you will actually be thinner for making these choices.
      4. Cook your own food. If you make your own food then you can control what’s in it. Going out or ordering in here and there is fine but if you can, try to control what REALLY goes into your mouth. I find it helps to make dishes once or twice a week that you can keep in your fridge and grab as needed such as: hummus and organic veggies to dip into it or grab and snack on, Israeli salad (or salads in general), salmon or lean meats to have and grab.
      5. Do not starve yourself. The worst thing you can do when trying to shed baby weight (or any weight) is to starve yourself. You MUST eat. Just eat less and make healthy choices.
      6. Splurging is okay. It’s important to be kind and moderate when on the long road to loosing your baby weight. The reality is you’re going to have days where you want to splurge or you’re out and you want to eat something you have been craving for ages. Eat it. Enjoy it then let it go. Start the next day back on track and don’t sweat it. The reality is that even one splurge meal or even one day a week will not derail your weight loss if you are making healthy choices (most of the time).

On A Mother Note…10 Lessons from 2015

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2015 has by far been one of the most challenging and rewarding, growth-filling, love-filled, change-filled years of my life. As I look back at all the things I have learned the lessons I have learned as a mother are the most important and meaningful ones. They’re also the lessons that are the domino effect to the over all happiness that exists in our home. Happy mom= happy child. Happy wife=happy life. I seriously believe these things because I have experienced them to be true.

So here are my top 10 lessons on mom life of 2015:

  1. Laugh at Yourself: IMG_7592This is me totally defeated by my toddler who did not nap that day, had been going strong from 6:45am on, was hard core teething and fussy and was recovering from being sick to boot. I think at this point I was thinking “I have to jump up again and run into the other room…what is she doing in there? Why won’t my body move?” This was just seconds of thought and then I of course did run into the other room only to catch her running back into this room. At this point I wondered if it was 10pm but then realized it was only 4:30 and I better go get her dinner ready (which will probably all end up on the floor I feel like I just cleaned up from lunch). At this moment I realized I just needed to LAUGH. Laugh at the day, laugh at what felt a little “crazy” and laugh at myself for trying so hard all day and nothing was going right. Laugh at the fact that everything was actually out of my control that day mostly because of a little thing called “teething.” Laugh and except defeat!
  2. Trust Your Gut: People always talk about a mother’s intuition and until I became a mother I always considered it made sense but now I know it’s 100% real. I can FEEL when my daughter wakes up before she even lets out a whimper. I can FEEL when she is hungry and understand that cry as totally different to another type of cry. I can FEEL when she’s over tired and needs to just go to sleep (despite her best efforts not to). I can feel all these things but what I have learned is in the really tough moments like when she’s sick or not sleeping or crying like crazy and won’t eat and we’re both over-tired zombie parents: this is the moment I have to trust my gut. In the beginning of my motherhood journey I was so nervous to do the right thing all the time that I often second guessed my gut feeling. Sometimes I even listened to other people over what my gut feeling was telling me to do. In the end almost always, my gut was right. So now, in those crazy tough moments, I try really hard to let go, breathe, listen to my gut and just try that solution. My husband at this point even says “what’s your gut tell you?” and then urges me to choose that. Part of trusting your gut is like all things with parenthood- you may be wrong but you also may be right. You just have to try it out.
  3. Redefine Your Expectations of Yourself: I have struggled with having extremely high expectations for myself all my life but when I became a mother they went on overload, super-charge, ridiculous speed. As a stay at home mother and wife of a surgeon who for the first year of our daughter’s life was finishing his training, my days consisted of trying to pretty much do it all and take the best care of my two people as possible. Now, there is nothing wrong with that but if you add unreal expectations to it then it’s a hot mess. Not so much on the outside, I don’t think anyone would have said “oh wow that Sarah, she’s a mess.” Nope it’s all on the inside. It’s the place inside all of us where we take ourselves, hang ourselves up, put our boxing gloves on and start beating the shit out of ourselves. It’s that place in our mind that goes over and over all the things we did and checks off mental to-do-lists all day long only to realize it didn’t all get done and what does that mean? Yep- failure. Okay so after realizing that I was never feeling good about all the things I DID accomplish everyday I had to work at trying to redefine my expectations. For example: Today I expect to feed my daughter, change her, dress her, play with her, teach her, help her take a nap (repeat feeding, changing, teaching, playing). I also expect to get through the day’s laundry, dishes, light house cleaning and make dinner for me and my husband. I do NOT expect that I will be able to wash my hair today and I do NOT expect to get longer than a 90 second shower while watching our daughter. I do NOT expect to get through all my emails or calls. I do NOT expect to have time to pick up the dry cleaning or go to store to buy flowers (I would really love to have some flowers for the weekend). I do NOT expect to be able to stay awake through a movie I attempt to watch with my husband tonight. If any of the things I don’t expect to get done happen- I will be THRILLED but if they don’t well- I didn’t expect them to anyway. I now feel pretty good about what I can get done in a day and also okay when I just can’t. Important note: teething or an illness can potentially throw off the entire list of things I can try to get done and that has to be okay too. Throw the punching bag away you are doing GREAT mamas!
  4. Except The Mom Body That is Now Your Body: So whether you had vaginal birth or a C-section (like me) there’s all sorts of “left over” weird body stuff that goes on far after you have your baby. I still can’t really feel the area across my C-Section scar. It’s kind of creepy. Sometimes I have the strangest little twinges of pain or a feeling of my lower stomach muscles not being fused together (it’s hard to explain). I’ll be doing something totally normal like picking up my baby and there’s the weird feeling out of no where. It’s weird but it’s also my body reminding me that I gave birth to this amazing little person and I just kind of smile about it.  Other things that go on are more on the outside like for example the change in your boobs. Everyone is different but almost all the moms I know have something to say about their post breast feeding/pumping boobs. They’re just a little different. Mine are smaller (which I’m okay with) and other friends of mine feel like theirs are saggier. Well duh! Think about what those boobs went through? Jeez sometimes when I was pumping and crying through the pain of it I actually felt so sad for my boobs- what will become of them after this torture?! Oh and will I put them through it again one day? (Yeah probably it’s worth it. Sorry boobs). Then there’s just the over all slightly different body that you have now that you’re a mom. Some people say their hips are wider or their chest is thicker or their tummy skin is saggy. Some people are heavier or thinner than before. Either way it’s hard when your pre-pregnancy clothes fit weird (or not at all) and when you look in the mirror kind of confused like “who are you?” Well we all have it to some degree post baby and I think it’s important for your daily happiness to just except that this “mom bod” is pretty and it’s special and it’s a warrior princess and to just CHOOSE to like it. Also if you like it, the other people in your world will too. Also try to not listen to the outside comments because a lot of people don’t think before they speak. For me, I’m about 8 lbs thinner than when I got pregnant. I’m just thinner. Everything is smaller (boobs included) and also slightly different. My hips are a little different than before and some other things too. It’s okay it’s just what it is but then someone will say something and I can only hear a negative comment and I kind of just want to say “who gave you permission to comment on my post-baby body? Perhaps I should comment on your post-November body?” But instead…I just let it go and try to like my new mom body. This body did an amazing thing for goodness sake! It made a human!
  5. Ask For What You Need: Okay this one is huge it’s also one of the hardest things for me (and many other women I know). The partner in your home does not know how to read your mind. I know it sucks but it’s the truth. So, mama’s out there guess what? When you’re sleep deprived for like 14 months and tapped out emotionally because you’ve been thinking of someone else’s needs 24/7 above all else and trying with all your might to meet said needs, trying to keep an infant/baby/toddler alive all day and still manage a household well… your partner does NOT know that you want them to say “honey, I want to take you out on a date. You need a night off! Let’s get a baby sitter and go have a romantic and fun night together!” Nope. They don’t know. So, even though it may be annoying to HAVE to tell your partner this is what you need/want (because why don’t they just realize it on their own?! Ugh so frustrating!) TELL THEM! Tell them what you need! Tell them what you want. Trust me they want to make you happy but sometimes there’s so much going on that even they don’t know you need something. This is not just about going on a date once in a while. It’s also about the daily grind. If you need you partner to help out more around the house you need to TELL THEM! Note: sometimes it helps to be very specific with what you want them to do. Not just “help more” but specifically what: “I would really appreciate it if you could empty the dishwasher if you see it’s done and if you could put the laundry in the dryer if you hear it buzz.” You will be happier and so will you partner if you ask for what you need and in turn, get it. Everyone feels good in this scenario. Don’t be scared to ask for help…it doesn’t mean you can’t do it all it just means you are human.
  6. Accept The In Betweens: There are so many phases we go through as mothers. There’s the first four months of life when you’re basically in a bubble in your house just trying to get your feeding/sleeping schedule on point. Just fighting daily to survive through zero sleep and a healing body, breast feeding issues, feeding, sleeping issues, etc. You’re in a cave for about four months. After that you emerge into the world and then try to learn how to manage normal life “on the outside” with a little person who can’t even hold their own body upright yet and often poops through their diaper and clothing while you are out. Then there’s the awesome zone of being able to go out to lunch while your baby sleeps next to you in the stroller (because you are a master of knowing when to time lunch with nap and deserve a metal). There’s the fun “hey look she’s walking” stage when you can show off your babe’s new skills while still managing to keep them in strollers, high chairs or on your lap. And then there’s the in between…when you are working so hard at a new sleep schedule that it runs your life because in order to train your child’s body you have to be regimented and committed and it WILL trump anything else socially you may want to do. The in between time where your baby isn’t old enough to go to pre-school yet and you have them all day to entertain/teach/take care of. (This of course applies to SAHM’s like me more so). The in between stages are weird because as as SAHM you need socialization too and it’s hard when you’re working on that nap/sleep schedule and end up home doing meals and playtime more than out because it just often works out this way. I have found it to be hard so I have reached out to try to connect with other SAHM’s. I am still working on finding my “people” but I feel good about trying. It’s easy for people to say “go to this play group or music class it’s awesome” and then I realize said class is 25 minutes away and I KNOW my daughter will fall asleep in the car and then the nap schedule I have been working so hard to implement is now thrown out the window. So no, I don’t sign up for that class. It’s just this weird in between time and it’s okay. I urge moms in this space to embrace that it’s not going to be like this very long, and try to savor this time with our babies as we’ll never have it again. There’s beauty in between.
  7. Don’t Compare: One thing that I still can’t believe happens at the level it does is mothers comparing with other mothers. It even happens on the grandma level: “well my grandson is doing xyz already.” “Really? My granddaughter isn’t even close to doing xyz” (insert phone call to daughter “Honey so and so’s grandson is doing xyz do you think it’s normal that your daughter isn’t doing xyz yet? Should we ask the pediatrician?” Note: No mom you have never done this but I know it happens. I do not compare my daughter to your kid. I have chosen to compare my daughter’s development to science and data. I compare her growth to what we know from a medical perspective is “normal.” If your son is walking at 10 months old that’s cool! But it doesn’t mean that my daughter isn’t okay because she’s not walking yet and is 11 months old. Nope. When mom’s try to have that casual “let’s compare notes” conversation I try my best to filter out the judging and the over-all weirdness that is this process. You can’t really get away from it but trust me moms, you’ll be a lot happier (and less worried about stupid things) if you opt out of the comparing. Think about it this way: would you want your baby to compare your mothering to his/her friend’s mothers? Can you even imagine? So not cool right?
  8. SAHM The Work Out: IMG_7694One of the things I get asked a lot is what I do for my work out. I usually laugh because I haven’t set foot in a gym since early in my pregnancy and have only occasionally taken a pilates (my favorite) class post baby. But I’m in pretty good shape and it’s because I have found an awesome new work out…it’s called MOM LIFE! I choose to do as much on foot with my baby as possible. I take her in the stroller to the grocery store and use her stroller as a cart and then walk with her plus groceries home. The stroller weighs enough but with groceries it’s a lot to push (esp up and down big hills) and if you push from your core it’s a great tummy/butt work out. If you walk fast it’s even better! Then there’s weight lifting. My daughter weighs about 22 lbs and I am always picking her up, dancing with her, cooking while holding her and it adds up (the gun show is looking pretty good over here). Then there’s the constant cleaning. I am always running around quickly cleaning up after our daughter and us. I am doing laundry and vacuuming (which can be a nice little work out in itself), I’m up I’m down I’m holding my baby while doing these things. I am in CONSTANT motion! I truly believe I just work out a little bit all day long! That said the biggest thing is the daily walks sometimes it’s one but I try for 2 walks with the baby a day. If I wear her in the baby carrier and go run errands on foot that really get’s my heart rate up and can be a nice adventure too! My almost 17 month old is in constant motion and I am in constant motion running after her. She’s the best trainer ever and she doesn’t charge a thing!
  9. Ignore Judgment: I have written about the judgment I have received about being a stay at home mom a few times. The reason is it’s a constant in my life. I think the reality right now is moms can’t win. If you’re a working mom you’re made to feel bad if you can’t “do it all” and if you’re a stay at home mom you’re made to feel bad because you’re not doing enough (because you should be working). I’m pretty over this. I find myself in social situations all the time where I get a look or an eye roll of judgment about being “just” a stay at home mom. Or someone makes a stupid comment like “what do you do all day?” Or “well that’s easy! Nice.” Or my favorite “Did you used to work?” Um, really? Yeah since I was about 14 years old I worked. Thanks for asking. The best one is when someone doesn’t even say a word but just chooses to gloss right over me because I am now considered to have nothing to offer the conversation. I used to be angery or hurt by these moments because they usually happen in social settings when I am just so excited to be OUT (BECAUSE I AM A STAY AT HOME MOM). They really used to put a damper on my over all enjoyment of those times. Now I just remind myself of who I am and WHY I chose to be a SAHM. I remind myself what I have to offer the conversation (which is a lot) and ignore the ignorant judgmental people trying to rain on my parade! Ignoring judgment is probably the hardest thing to do as a mother because we’re always judging ourselves and worrying if we’re good enough moms all the time anyway but, it must be done. If you’re a working mom or a stay at home mom or any combo of the two try to refrain from judging others who’re doing it differently than you are and try to ignore the judgment when it comes your way. We really need to change the conversation to supporting all moms because we’re all doing hard things the best we can.
  10. More Than Mom: The most recent lesson I have learned and am still very much in the process of learning is that I need to try to feel like more than just a mom. Don’t get me wrong the title of mother, the role of mother is the most important honor, gift, title, job of my entire life. It’s all I ever really wanted to be in life and I take it more seriously than anything else, ever. That said because I am a SAHM and my days and nights consist of mothering or organizing and planning out my mothering. It’s not often I feel like just my husband’s date or just my friend’s friend or my mom’s daughter. I have recently realized I have to plan and make time to do things that make me connect to the former non-mother version of myself. Not because she was better in fact quite the opposite but because it’s important to be reminded of the sum of all your parts. I need to have date nights with my husband. I need to have girls brunches and lunches on occasion. I need to go take a pilates reformer class now and then. I need a mom-daughter day with MY mom just the two of us. I need to spend some time alone once in a while. All of the above are things that occur with out my daughter so in order to experience them I have to plan child care in the form (usually) of my husband or a baby-sitter. More and more I have started to do these things and I think over-all it makes me a happier mom and a more centered and well rounded mom to boot. I want my daughter to get the best version of me possible every day and in order for that to happen, I have to be away from her once in a while. It’s hard not to feel guilty for wanting to be away from her (or needing to be) but I am trying to manage that. 2016 is going to be the year I figure it all out! Ha! Yeah right! Cheers to all you moms out there doing the best you can! Wishing you all a happy New Year filled with LOVE, JOY and LAUGHTER!

Nine Months as a Stay At Home Mom

First and foremost…happy 9 month birthday Aviva Zelda! Since the day you came into my life I have never been happier, more full of love or more proud. You are amazing and everyday I thank my lucky stars that you are my daughter and that I am so blessed to be your mommy. Also Happy Mother’s Day to all the hard working, deeply loving and exceptional moms out there! I wish you all a happy day filled with lots of snuggles, love and appreciation from the family you take such good care of!

11188292_10153027580939086_7751599704895587127_nSo today it’s been 9 months! 9 months that I’ve had the pleasure of caring for precious baby girl. I’ve been reflecting a lot lately about what I do all day, how I do it and what it really takes to do this stay at home mommy thing. As per usual, I will share  my own experience in this blog in the hopes that perhaps it will be helpful to some of you and/or make you feel like you’re not alone. It’s also my goal to put on display a little bit of the raw deal of what goes on to keep this baby taken care of and my family life/home happy and well cared for everyday.

Before I start I just want to say something I feel is REALLY important and that is this:

I believe every mother should do whatever is best for them: work full time, work part time, stay at home with the kids or any version of any of that. The reason being (and I stand by this)…happy mom=happy child. They sense our energy and they are tied to us whether we are with them all day or not so we best be the best version of ourselves FOR THEM- whatever that means. I believe it means something different for each mother.

For me- this means choosing to be a stay at home mother. I have always known I wanted to (if I could) raise my children myself while they’re little. Lucky for me I married a man who also wanted what I want and so we decided together to make certain sacrifices and certain choices to make this happen.

The three main ingredients to my stay at home mom success are:

1. Unconditional love

2. Patience

3. Organization

I wake up every morning and immediately start to organize in my head what I need to do first to set up the day so it’ll be successful for Aviva and me. A lot of this I often handle before I go to sleep and that helps: make a batch of formula so it’s ready to grab as needed, have baby food made and labeled in the fridge for the next 3 days (if it’s running low- make more food so there’s never a shortage. Baby food prep takes some time and it’s not the kind of thing you can just do quickly as needed- too much pealing, chopping, steaming and pureeing going on). I usually make her food first thing in the morning while she’s asleep or after she’s in bed at night. This may sound weird but I often make us dinner in the morning. Yep! If she’s still asleep, I do not waste one moment. I am running around this house like a bat outa hell trying to get as much done as humanly possible prior to her waking up (usually between 7-8:30am depending on how our night went). So I start making us dinner and I get that dinner ready so all we have to do at night is re-heat it. I start the laundry, empty the dishwasher, put the dirty dishes in the now empty dishwasher, check email, try to make a phone call I’ve been trying to make for 3 days, grab some coffee, make her a bottle and then…”waaaaaaaaa!” She’s up and it’s time to rock!

After she’s up it’s pretty much: feeding her, reading to her, playing with her, diaper changes, helping her with her developmental skills, feeding her, putting her down for a nap or going for a walk so she’ll nap or a drive so she’ll nap, feeding her, reading to her, diaper changes, playing with her, going for a walk, playing, bathing her, feeding her, putting her to bed. In the midst of this we go to appointments, go grocery shopping, clean the house, do laundry, make food, meet people, etc. Every day is a very full day. After she’s asleep she may stay asleep (love it when that happens) or she may wake up at night and then I’m back on for feeding her, rocking her, putting her back to sleep, etc.

Caring for Aviva is my ultimate joy. Even on days where she’s insanely fussy, needs to be held constantly, is having separation anxiety if I walk away from her for a minute and screamingly cries if she can’t see me, has had her shots and is feeling lousy, is teething badly and totally unhappy. It’s all good. I LOVE IT. I LOVE IT ALL. I LOVE HER- ALL OF THESE DAYS. That said- the aforementioned days-those are tough ones. Those are the days I’m unable to shower until after my husband gets home or after she’s gone to bed. Those are the days it’s almost 1pm and I haven’t eaten, had coffee, peed or done anything that resembles taking care of myself. That’s okay because I chose this and I would choose it again. She needs me and I want to be there for her.

This is my job. I take it VERY seriously. I’m in charge of shaping this little person into the person she will become. I am in charge of helping her learn how to eat, speak, roll, crawl, walk, to dance. I am in charge of trying to make her smile and laugh, to teach her to have calmness and also confidence. I’m in charge of her feeling safe and LOVED.

I find it so funny when sometimes people say things like “so what do you do all day?” or we were at a friend’s home and the husband commented on my being a stay at home mom and said…

“So when you get bored of hanging out drinking chardonnay all day, do you think you’ll go back to work?”

Really? Haha! I almost fell off my chair. Don’t get me wrong- a day of sipping wine (I prefer pinot noir thanks) and hanging out sounds freaking ah-mazing to me but that’s about as far from what I do all day as the eye can see.

This whole concept of being a “working mom” vs. a “stay at home mom” is kind of ridiculous to me. Essentially either way you’re a working mom. I work hard all day (and often all night) to care for Aviva. Is what I do not work? I’m a cook, housekeeper, full time baby-sitter, house manager, speech coach, therapist, physical trainer, to name a few. Let me tell you, I have had several awesome jobs and even ran my own successful business. I have done a lot of things but nothing I have ever done has challenged me on as many levels as this job. My job doesn’t have a start/stop time. It’s 24-7. I am on call for my daughter. My husband who is an eye plastic surgeon often says that my job is harder than his. I always laugh at this. He reminds me that my job requires even more focus, patience and especially love than he has to bring to work everyday. I think it’s something to think about: why do we not talk about the stay at home mom life as being a job? Sometimes I feel like society is a bit judgmental about those of us who CHOOSE this.

The way I see it is I’m the most qualified for this job. I have a bottomless pit of love for my child, I have patience as deep as the sea and I’m hella organized. Also, as a bonus- I LOVE to cook and take joy and pride in feeding my family healthy food that I prepare for us. I mean, I’d hire me to be Aviva’s 24/7 person! Heck yes.

So on that note. Here are some highlights from the hardest most emotionally challenging job I’ve ever had that is also the most rewarding, meaningful and joyful experience of my entire life…

This is me at 10pm sooooo excited to have finally showered, only to put pj’s back on. As it turned out this night was a rough one so any sleep I got was necessary. See how pumped I am to be showered?! Tada!

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Teaching Aviva how to snuggle… FullSizeRenderand when she only wants to sleep on me for nap-time (where I then loose 1-2.5 hours of being able to get anything done and I don’t care because it’s worth it)

IMG_3237 Playing with her and helping her learn (with so many laughs)…

IMG_3255 Reading with her. We read at least 2x a day- she’s a huge fan of books although lately she also tries to eat them. Teething!!

IMG_3168 Feeding her is such a joy. I LOVE to cook for my family. I take pride in it and also it feeds my soul. Here she is with a spinach/greenbean/pea/lentil puree that’s one of her recent favorites. Yum!

IMG_3184 Oh and just having fun with her! She’s my dream come true! She’s my heart…

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Here’s too all the mamas who are working hard inside or outside of the home or BOTH! Happy Mother’s Day!

With Love- Happy Mom of one 9 month old Aviva Zelda !!!!!

I Have A Daughter

I have a daughter.

She’s f-cking amazing. She’s not even six months old but she’s f-cking amazing.

I am terrified that she will not have rights to health care that will make her feel like a safe woman. I am terrified that she is coming up in our country with a major group of people trying to rob those basic, human, legal rights from her. I am worried that because of this men who are bullies will feel empowered by our government. I am worried that because of this people will stop caring about our girls. I am worried about the power of the Republican Party for this reason. (I am sorry Republican friends I still love and accept you but your party as a whole is very extreme on this issue now and so I will not stop worrying unless you start changing).

I am worried but more so…

Society currently scares me. I have a girl.

Society is obsessed with being thin. Being “hot” having big boobs, having perfect skin, having a perfect ass…a flat stomach, being super-fit, being “perfect”? WHAT IS PERFECT? Last I checked that was pretty subjective. It doesn’t matter though because my daughter is growing up around superficial obsession. It scares me. And it should scare you too. (In my opinion)…

WE NEED TO BE THE CHANGE: Everything you say and do- she hears and takes to heart. So change it! Start the change in her house…one by one we can make things better, girl by girl…

-Do not talk negatively about your body around your daughter. STOP IT!

-Do not diet or talk about dieting in front of your daughter (just show her moderation, healthy eating and exercising habits).

-Practice positive reinforcement about her body “look how strong you are” “look how good you are at doing that” etc. Also you and your partner should talk about each other in that way in front of her.

-Tell your daughter she is beautiful. DO NOT OVER CORRECT ON THIS ISSUE- SHE NEEDS TO BE TOLD SHE’S BEAUTIFUL, SPECIAL, SMART, CREATIVE, THOUGHTFUL, INSIGHTFUL, COURAGEOUS, FUNNY, COMPASSIONATE…from you. It’s never too early to start this. I do it now. It’s been part of the song I made up to put her to sleep. It calms her and she totally listens. “I love you Aviva, yes I do, I love you Aviva..yes, it’s true…I love your nose, I love your toes…I love your eyes, I love your smile. I love your laugh, I love your heart, I love your thoughts, I love your soul. I love your insides, I love your outsides, I love your everything…yes I do… ”

So while we work on all of the above we need to try to also combat the issues with in us that make us feel shitty and keep us from being an awesome mom-woman-example to our daughters.

Some thoughts on this from a new mom who’s postpartum and still wants to party life up, but has had a LOT goin’ on…

HERE’S THE POSTPARTUM SUCKS PARTY…

  1. THESE ARE NOT MY BOOBS!!!! (Yeah dude…these are your boobs. check yourself before you reck yourself…these…your post nursing boobs…are YOUR NEW BOOBS! (Hello 32D good-bye 34G) and then it’ll hit you how MUCH MORE AWESOME THESE NEW BOOBS ARE! You don’t have to put them in 3 bras…and a work out bra. Nope! They’re cool on their own. Remember that from, before you were pregnant? I know it seems like forever but yeah…So much easier and way more fun!
  2. MOM NEEDS LOVE TOO! Okay so you’ve had your baby and you’ve been living for, breathing for, dealing for this person 100% since they arrived. It’s the best thing ever ever ever but it also zaps you of “you” so let your partner step up and give you some love…go get a Mani Pedi, blow out, massage, go out with a friend…let the person who doesn’t take care of this baby full time step up for a couple hours and give you some “you time.” P.S. This is not gender specific…if you’re a stay at home dad this pertains to you…. if you’re in a same sex relationship-this pertains to you! This means the full time person needs/gets to have a break. The whole fam will be better for it, trust. 😉
  3. USE YOUR TIME WISELY… so the baby is taking a nap? Here’s what that looks like (and this grants you freedom post bed-time to: have dinner/take a shower or bath/ take a breathe/ have a cocktail/ really shave and put lotion on/lay down/sleeeeeeep, HAVE SEX!!!!)

-Do laundry (or start it at least- you can always finish it after they go to sleep)

-Make or organize dinner

-Do dishes, bottles, etc. organize feedings for when they wake up

-If you’re on formula- pre-make it and make bottles for next 20 hours or so

-Clean house/clean yourself!

You get me- get as much done while they nap as you can so that when they go to bed at night you can try to have a life. Even if that means curled up under a blanket in your PJ’s watching TV. Just do what you can do to set up some chill out time each day. This will make you feel human.

  1. TELL ME WHAT YOU NEED! You and your partner need to communicate. There are so many more new things to be on top of now.  You need to check each other about what needs to be done and when. You have to be each other’s checks and balance system.
  2. LET IT OUT: Find a way that’s healthy to let your emotions, frustration out. If you need to dance intensely (what?) around the living room and then stay up way too late writing, to alleviate stress- do it. (Not that I know from that I’m just saying…as an example)… Play drums? Ride a bike? Surf? Meditate? Whatever it is- do it. Let it out or it’ll come off on your kid, or partner and no one wants that in the world. We need to practice maximizing love export/import.
  3. EMBRACE YOUR POSTPARTUM BODY: If you are a stay at home mom like me chances are you are CONSTANTLY moving: you’re bouncing him/her, burping him/her, dancing, moving and grooving, holding, rocking, multi-tasking all the time…you do not stop. Okay so you probably lost weight this way- but if you didn’t it’s also because you’re still nursing (mine ended 8 weeks post) or for the sheer fact that every single body is different. This includes the body you started out with and the body you now have several months after giving birth. This is mine. I took this in the bathroom mirror at 3am. This is me 5m postpartum. It’s not my best photo. I didn’t try to make it look good (I even have a line from my sweats on my stomach, my hair is up still wet because I didn’t have time to tend to it today, I’ve had a whole day of eating and what not….this is just REAL). This body has had nothing but hard times with nursing, had to stop after 8 weeks, had a c-section, had retained placenta and a D&C to remove it at 7 weeks postpartum. I look at my “new and temporary” body and think:

 

-My breasts don’t fill out my bra the way they used to, but they still look good naked and I’m feeling lucky about them because they fed my baby and gave her my immunity. (Give yourself props for things- it’s okay to say- hey- I LIKE THIS- MY BODY DID GOOD)! Society teaches us to hate ourselves but that’s not okay- this is an activity of love….go take a postpartum selfie and try to like some things you see!!!

-I look at my c-section scar (not featured as it’s too low) and I just feel so grateful to have been able to give birth to my daughter. I’m in awe of her daily and to me, she’s a dream come true and a miracle all in one. I look at my scar and just feel love for her and proud of my body.

So let your postpartum body make you feel good! You gave birth to a human, you did that with your body- YOU ROCK! I am in awe of what my body went through and amazed by how it’s thriving even though I don’t have much time for it these days and with all honesty, have NOT made getting toned back up a priority. My daughter is. All day. That’s just me. Luckily I kind of work out all day while I take care of her because I just do it that way. 😉 I’m getting back to pilates and that’s a gift my husband is giving me in that he’ll be the child care for an hour on the weekend while I go love on my body a bit. This is ALL about me feeling good and not at all about looking a certain way. I feel better when I got to pilates classes- end of story. The focus here is on how I FEEL.

-Get it on. You need to let your postpartum body be sexual no matter what it looks like. You are now a MILF- OWN IT! Feel so sexy because of what that body did! If it feels or looks weird don’t sweat it! It’s so hot to your partner because if you feel empowered about it- they will in turn connect with that and focus on how sexy it is that you’re their baby’s mom. Oh my gosh seriously- it’s the sexiest thing! Don’t knock it till you try it!!! 😉

I have a daughter…..I will do everything in my power to keep her safe, teach her right from wrong and support her to be whomever she feels she is. So that’s #7. Treat your child the way you wish life treated you. This includes trying to protect her rights as a woman- that is part of keeping our daughters safe and treating them how we would want to be treated (with respect and as equal humans to men). This is the best party you can create: An everyday celebration of your child…Show then how you celebrate yourself and they’ll learn to do the same and not hate themselves.

This is all a huge gift…mommy. Enjoy it. Party on!

XO- The f-cking proudest mom ever baby….