This gets sorta sciency…
When I first decided to get back into blogging my intention was simple: stoke some creative fires and recommit to a writing practice.
I never intended on writing a blog about a specific subject. In retrospect, perhaps I should have had the discipline to be more focused with intention to draw in a larger and more dedicated audience.
Instead, my heart was elsewhere. I wanted to cast a wider net to tackle topics that came to me at any given moment, topics I felt passionate about exploring and sharing, topics that spanned the vast range of my personal interests – art, travel, books, opera, microbiology, quantum physics and more!
I’m not a business-minded writer. I’m not strategic about growing an audience or even getting paid via advertising – all which I am open to implementing in this, here, lil bloglet. All in due time, I suppose. But I wish I had more energy to run my blog like a business. I wish I had more stamina to write!
I mean, I initially set out to write a few times a week. It seemed like a good plan without over-committing myself to another responsibility alongside running my business, serving on a non-profit board, and being a new wife.
Then the baby arrived.
Days turned into a few weeks. Weeks turned into a few months. I have barely written a word. My wide net of interesting things to write about quickly shrunk to one thing – being a new mom.
Lately I’ve been in deep with things I had never really thought about before giving birth, or, in some cases I never even knew existed.
The list includes: the fourth trimester, placenta encapsulation, c-section recovery, diastasis, hip injury during labor, pelvic floor restoration, Mayan abdominal massage, postpartum depression, postpartum hair loss, postpartum pain, postpartum anemia, sleep deprivation, thrush, vasospasms, breast engorgement, breastfeeding pain, baby’s four month sleep regression, sleep training, teething, cradle cap, baby eczema, baby’s growth phases, and so on. Yes. There really is more. A lot more. No. I’m not joking.
So it seems I’m writing a “mommy blog”. There’s nothing wrong with that. I read many of them! But it’s not like I’m doing independent research, offering product ratings or creating any new material that hasn’t already been perfectly explored and shared online. The mommy blogosphere does not need my additional three cents worth.
Then again I find community and normalcy in reading about different perspectives and experiences – because they (pediatricians, experts, moms, etc.) always say every pregnancy is different, every birth is different, every baby is different, every mother is different. There are no two exact experiences with having a baby. There is room for more consideration and contemplation.
So here I am in it. Really in the trenches of it. I am in awe and overwhelmed at the same time, all of the time! I am experiencing the phenomenon called “mommy brain”. I have a difficult time in conversations – especially when it comes to staying focused and remembering things. I used to be an eloquent speaker and I took pride in my communication skills, especially regarding my work as a winemaker.
I recently conducted a private consumer tasting with my wines and I felt like a bumbling fool. It was embarrassing. I told my husband that was it. No more pubic speaking for me until I get my brain back. Then the fear sunk in. What if I never get my brain back?!?!
I read a lot of blogs about new mothers creating a balanced life – especially those who are working moms. After reading these blogs I’m typically reduced to tears. Here’s why…
Something strange happened to me after I had the baby. I lost all motivation to work. I realize this is not atypical for a new mom.
I struggled with my relationship with my wine business. The business became this chasm or void – or, maybe a black hole. I intuitively dodged the event horizon so as not to get sucked in. Because once you’re sucked into a black hole – it’s over. The old theory was that once an object passes through the event horizon, then gravity pulls and stretches the object like a strand of spaghetti until it disintegrates. Physicists have since revised that theory when they discovered you’ll burn to a crisp just by going through the event horizon. So never mind gravity’s pull inside of a black hole. You’re toast just from approaching it.
I no longer had the energy, desire or passion to run my business. It was like I was a dying star: my core was running out of hydrogen fuel, contracting under the weight of gravity. My former business owner self had nearly collapsed. I had no idea how to save my little star.
It feels horrible to admit this out loud and publicly. But it’s also a huge relief.
Part of my departure from writing stemmed from the same lack of interest and motivation I had toward my business. I’m sure part of it was because I was overwhelmed and maybe even a bit depressed.
It feels worse to admit that out loud and publicly.
I thought I was supposed to feel magical and peacefully content as a new mom – like a spritely mother goddess. At moments, it does feel that way. But many moments are quite different.
It’s difficult to navigate the new space of motherhood. It’s difficult when you now orbit a tiny human being. It’s difficult to recognize yourself or to understand your former self in light of this new space. It’s difficult to be multi-dimensional – occupying two or more very important and encompassing spaces at the same time.
Time is relative. And yet it slips away dangerously fast, so fast, in fact, that your ever changing baby makes you sometimes feel like you’re in a different galaxy overseeing a little alien creature that undergoes a swift and constant metamorphosis. Your life begins to feel like science fiction.
I mean, pregnancy makes you feel like an alien host! Birth makes you feel like an alien mother. Postpartum life makes you feel like aliens have sucked out your brain.
So how do you grasp your new place in space, in time, in reality?
With a little light, love and laughter. Right??
Right after my baby was born I watched and enjoyed a couple of pregnant comedians doing stand-up specials. Ali Wong and Amy Schumer had me in stitches over pregnancy and new mom subject material – from mom brain and breastfeeding to baby taking over your life. If you don’t laugh about it you’ll cry.
If comedians tried to tackle this subject material on stage with fully pregnant bodies ten years ago they would have been shut down. Today it works. Women are getting more and more opportunities to speak up. We’re normalizing the very things that had been open for judgment or shut down for representing the messiness of womanhood – things like menstruation, childbirth, breastfeeding, c-sections, advanced age pregnancy, birth control or postpartum depression.
But you can’t always laugh, or love, or find light in the difficult stuff. When you are deep in it you do your best to survive – mostly on limited sleep.
Addressing the new mom role is important. While it is a different experience for every woman it is still full of new feelings, emotions, judgements, ideas and realities. And a gentle understanding needs to prevail when speaking about postpartum hormones, baby weight and body image, “baby brain”, depression and so on. Especially when talking to a new mom. Mommy shaming needs to stop and support needs to prevail.
I also want to share my experience regarding family and friends who have tried to offer up unsolicited advice – and keep in mind not every woman minds unsolicited advice. Throw in hormones, sleep deprivation and the struggle to find your own way on your own terms – well, you might experience this differently than prior to baby.
I am not the kind of new mom that does well with others posturing their “expertise” and advice without my asking for it. Personally, I think it’s important to give a new mom her space to figure out her new role and her child. Boundaries should always be respected! This can be especially challenging with parents and in-laws who are excited to be grandparents but might forget that they already had their turn to parent – it’s now the new mom’s turn.
For me, the general rule for my tribe is to wait to be asked for help or advice and to not take things personally. Friends and family shouldn’t be offended if they’re not asked for help or advice. Not to be disrespectful, but it’s not about them. New momma is growing and developing her own way. Besides, I had already established my personal circle of advisors to help me out – I have an incredible doula who continues to help me beyond my child’s birth, I have an amazing lactation consultant, and my son and I have an amazing team of doctors! I am in a mom’s group that has given me invaluable support and advice – mothers who are in it with me or have just gone through it. Their perspective is fresh, current and applicable! This is just one other area of space that needs to be carefully and thoughtfully established for the postpartum mom.
If we did a better job as a society in talking about the postpartum woman, from healthcare to the workplace, then things would be a lot easier. The postpartum period is mostly ignored – to the point that follow up doctors appointments are in plenty for your newborn but not for you. I had just one appointment after six weeks of major surgery to deliver my son. And my pain was mostly ignored. It’s no wonder so many new moms feel invisible, broken and, yes, depressed.
Don’t even get me started on maternity leave in this country.
So what do you do with all of this newness? How do you navigate all of this unchartered territory in your life that now requires you to explore and inhabit it? I tried reading new mom guide books, articles on parenting, and spiritual books on what it means to be a mother and how to find passion again in your work/career after having a baby.
Then I stopped trying to figure it all out. I put my energy and focus on my baby. And I tried to implement some self care via my recovery – thankfully gifted to me in a postpartum healing and wellness package my mother bought for me. For that, I was lucky.
The wellness treatments included warming acupuncture (with cupping and my favorite – moxibustion – and a heat lamp), postpartum massage, Mayan abdominal massage that really helps with c-section scar tissue, and new mother chiropractic care which addresses the recovery from a pregnant body and all those hours of neck strain from looking downward when nursing. Restoring your body and being mindful about your postpartum experience is a major step in healing physically and mentally. This should be available to all women. Sadly, this practice is non-existent in most places.
As for what I could do for myself? I gave myself a break.
I decided it’s okay to be lost in space when it comes to my business. It’s alright to not write blog posts while I’m figuring out feeding and napping schedules and everything else. It’s just fine to coast along like a satellite floating in one direction – forward.
I still have to run this business. The wine does not make or sell itself. I still have to be somewhat present. I’m open to allowing myself to fall in love with my work all over again – after I spend this special time falling in love with my baby.
In being present with my changing world I’m exploring what it feels like to let go of the notion that my business used to be the most important thing outside of my marriage. Journaling has helped me in that exploration.
While my business isn’t at the center of my universe, it’s kind of like a really important galaxy with its own solar system. It still deserves my attention and care. Learning to ask for more help has been key for me.
There are so many great resources for new moms. Joining a local new moms group was very important for me. It gave me a real sense of community and space to rant so that I’m not always dumping things on my husband. He’s great and is always there for me to dump away. It’s just nice to have another place to go, too.
My health insurance offers excellent counseling for new moms. I started to take advantage of that. Talking to a professional about your feelings helps clear your head of negative thoughts and anxiety, and confronts potential postpartum depression.
Motherhood is a journey. And it is okay to question who you are as you evolve as a human. Finding tools that help you navigate your new world is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your family.
There are services and groups for all socio-economic backgrounds. You just have to do some research for what resonates with you and then reach out to the universe for the help you need.
Mommy blogs aim to help other moms in the thick of it. While I’m not committing to a single subject blog of ongoing mothering topics, I hope this blog entry is helpful. At minimum, I hope my perspective and experience helps to expand community and foster some normalcy for other new moms.