Becoming “You” After “They” Become Your Everything

*This article is not just intended for the new mom, there are many of us with 3 year olds out there that still can’t find time to wash their hair (me included) – and I’m here to tell you, that’s normal. And more importantly, perfectly fine.

The Business of Becoming “You” After Baby Becomes Your Everything

Hey, remember me?

Have you asked yourself lately “is it time”? Time to get back on that preverbal horse (whatever it may be)? It’s inevitable, baby/toddler is getting bigger.  She may be holding her head up on her own, heading to daycare or school a couple times a week, or finally figuring out that food goes in a mouth and not all over the walls… and there’s a slight possibility you’re starting to feel like “you got this” at least 20% of the time. Or, maybe your partner has started casting you awkward come hither looks when you get out of the shower or are rearranging your “girls” after a nursing session…  And, you’re NOT finding that creepy! Hooray you’ve made it to the other side! Suddenly, you’re feeling ready to move forward with YOU. But if you’re like me, you’re asking yourself “who am I now?”…and, in fact, you probably can’t remember the last time you heard or said your own first name.  Restlessness may start rearing its head, or the worst feeling the universe…  Guilt.

How could you possibly even consider wanting an evening out in heels WITHOUT your little one? Mama, you can, and you should.  You’re normal.  Let’s start there.

That urge to get out and get your “woman” on is your soul’s stern reminder that you are a multi-faceted human being, and for months (or maybe years) you have been firmly routed in one direction:

  1.  While you were pregnant, you were a vessel – your primary physical function was to help your unborn child become strong enough to take on life on the outside.
  2. Your first few months after your baby’s birth is your chance to learn what it means and takes to be a mother.
  3. As they start becoming mobile, your just trying your hardest to keep them away from stairs and sharp objects.
  4. As they enter toddlerhood, you accept that your mood heavily rely’s on their mood.

It’s overwhelming! And most women take a while to come up for air at the surface.  There is absolutely no shame in that.  I was one of them, and I have learned that I needed that extra couple of years to gain the confidence I needed to nourish all the parts that make up the “me” that I am today.

What does that mean?  Let’s breakdown some steps you’ll likely take in becoming “you” again.  I’ll offer up a little insight that might help your transition easier and less anxiety ridden.

But I went to college…

Reconcile that the “you” you’re going to become is not the same “you” you were before baby.  Does this suck? Often times, yes. If you think you are going to slip back into your favorite little black dress and five inch heels and feel like the same sassy minx you once did, think again.  This has zero to do with your body.  Maybe you’ve lost all of your baby weight PLUS some, but wearing that dress is still not going to feel like it did before.  Maybe you’re still working on working off the pounds, but you feel sexier than you did before baby locked down your uterus for 10 months.  Pregnancy and post-pregnancy are the deadly duo of hormone havoc.  I equate the whole experience to drawing a picture on an Etch-A-Sketch.  You had a life designed out of years of twists and turns on the little drawing knobs when you decided to get pregnant (or DIDN’T decided….), and all of a sudden, someone came along and shook the heck out of your drawing.  The little tiny specks of whatever is inside those things fell… but they didn’t fall back into place.  Everything is different now.  The way your body works…the way your mind perceives the world…the basis upon which you judge things.  It’s ALL different.  The way you wear that little black dress is going to be totally new and probably a little scary.

via GIPHY

Time to restart your drawing, but this time, with your new wisdom, experience and perspective guiding you.

Recognize that you will never fall back into your old life and accept your urges for “self exploration” as exactly that.  You are meeting the person you are becoming and getting to know her.  I saw this as a major opportunity after awhile. I wasn’t going back to a traditional work setting, so I finally got to explore a side of myself that lead to a new business and a couple helpful creative outlets.

So, when’s baby #2?

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That hormone thing again…  aka. “my body and feelings are completely betraying me and  holy crap, there’s a chance I could get pregnant again?!”

Just hours after I had my baby, I was asked about baby no. 2. At that moment, I hadn’t gotten my baby to latch properly, and slept no more than 3 hours at a time, but my sweet doctor decided to ask about the next Netflix movie in my queue… whaaaaaaat?! I asked if this was a necessary conversation 24 hours after giving birth… and his reply was “Trust me, there is no better time to talk about contraception than RIGHT after giving birth”. It’s a lot like those prison episodes of Scared Straight. He wanted me to know that getting pregnant again was now a possibility, and that a conversation, no matter how untimely, still needed to be had. As crazy as it sounded, I decided to have very honest moment with myself (and my husband). Here are some of the questions we discussed:

  • Is it a good time to have another baby?
  • How long did it take me to get pregnant before?
  • What does the doctor suggest?
  • And the what are my goals when it comes to siblings for my little one?
  • Is there anything I’d like to do before baby no. 2?

Explore all of your possible contraception options with your doctor, and if something makes you uncomfortable, or you notice that you don’t like the way you’re feeling, address it as soon as possible.  And hey, if you’re ready to rally and get pregnant again, go go go! The important thing for you and your family is to find your balance. And yes, that’s a challenge so map out what you can handle right now and if you don’t want to get pregnant right away take precautions.

Heeeeeeeeeeey, girl! It’s me, your libido!

Go ahead and GET IT ON!  Yeah, we’re going there… because there’s no better time than the present, right? Well… maybe. Just because you get the green-light from your doctor doesn’t necessarily mean your in the mood.  I can’t speak for men, but as women, we weave so many of our deepest, most sensitive issues into our sexuality and it’s just as much mental as is it physical. Having a baby is especially impactful in this realm because it is biologically linked to sex from start to finish.  Sex was probably a part of the conception process whether it yielded an embryo or just jumpstarted the active “trying” period.  I don’t have to explain to you how babies are born. Keeping it simple, having a baby has SO MUCH to do with sex, yet sex tends to suffer as a result of a baby’s arrival. It’s a cruel joke.

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My point: Finding out who you are as a woman after baby means making contact with your sexuality again.  Whether you decide to go out dancing with your girlfriends or hit it with your partner, don’t forget that that part of you still exists and she is very important to your overall health as well.

I just want to go to the bathroom, ALONE!

Start scheduling some alone time.  This can be a really tough one for a lot of new moms.  The important thing to note is that giving yourself some time FOR yourself does not mean you love your child any less.  In fact, it means that you love your little one enough to want to be at your best for little him or her.  If you’re having a hard time rationalizing some away from the wee one, start small.  Have a neighbor drop over during nap time so you can take a walk by yourself.  Soon, 15 minutes will give way to an hour pedicure while your partner takes charge.  You may even find, eventually, that you can run errands for a few hours one day a week while Grandma babysits!

Time for you equals better quality of time for you and baby.  A little time to listen to your favorite music loudly in the car or visit a boutique that isn’t laid out well for strollers will do a world of good for your psyche and helping you take steps toward rebuilding your woman side.  Also – working isn’t YOU time.  Don’t get those things confused.

Channel your inner shopper!

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Finally, buy something for yourself.  Anything.  A pair of flip-flops.  A new skin cream.  A toothbrush.  Just buy yourself something that has NOTHING to do with the baby.  It took me MONTHS to feel like I could treat myself to even a new lip gloss because I felt like buying something that wasn’t about the baby somehow took my attention away from her.  And you know what – it does!  But, only for the briefest of moments, and in the best possible way.  Gifting something small to yourself is a fantastic way to trigger a part of your brain that wants to be more than Mommy.  If you haven’t purchased a new fragrance in a while, that’s a great choice!  Smell is the sense most tied to memory, so pick something you’ve never worn.  You are intending to make NEW memories, after all.

Giving yourself something small will help you turn the corner in reuniting your “lady” side with your newly earned “mommy” side.  It will also surprise you by showing you that some of your tastes may be the same, but many of them have changed since baby entered the picture.  Again, this is a great way to start getting to know the new you.

The important thing to remember in all of this is that becoming “you” again isn’t about subtracting from the “you” you are to baby.  It’s about realizing that you now have the capacity to be so much more than you ever were before.  Like your favorite piece of luggage, you are made to expand when necessary, to hold everything life has given you.

Now, call up Grandma and go blast some “Beyonce” in your car while you go buy yourself a fancy coffee because SOME things never change.

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