Dear new mom trying to get her pre-baby-body back and figure out all the things:
If I could have had someone tell me a few things after I had Holden, our first child, it would have made things a lot easier for me.
Just to let you know, after you have your kid you will not have your flat stomach back and you will most definitely look six months pregnant for a while. People will ask you when you are due, even as you carry your newborn in a sling on your chest. It's ridiculous, but don't be offended.
(I mean, it's OK to be a little offended.)
Also nine months of your pregnancy diet being everything CHEESE will not go away the second that baby comes out. (I am talking everything cheese — like the orange, baseball-game-concession-stand-cheese. Nacho cheese, mac and cheese — the more orange and fake the better.)
You will be out of shape, and you will cry every time you dare to put on pre-pregnancy jeans — if you can even remember where you put them.
You will feel overwhelmed and defeated most days.
Most days, you will be happy to get a shower before you have to rush to breastfeed for the 100,930th time. You will clean up projectile spit-up multiple times, and when you finally rock the never-sleeping baby to sleep, the doorbell will ring because the mailman or UPS guy or Amazon Fresh delivery will never, ever see the cute little stork sign that says "baby is sleeping."
I remember having two little ones under the age of three. Those were some of my hardest days to date. I felt alone and overwhelmed. I did not feel productive and I was irritated most days. I was basically in survival move. I remember the desperation of wanting to be back to my old self.
I literally stared at my awesome, pre-preggers jeans in my closet, wishing them to jump over my post-baby thighs each day. Provoking them, "Come on, you can do it."
I would say to myself, "Maybe if I just wiggle on the ground for a bit. I must have just washed and dried these on high nine months ago and they shrunk."
But it didn't happen.
I would think, "Today is the day," but then today was not the day for many months...even years. So I teetered in between un-buttoning regular pants and having them sit half-way on my buttocks with a long shirt covering them, or wearing maternity pants with an elastic waistband.
And the summer is worse — OH, THE SUMMER.
That is a post all in itself.
But lo and behold, one day like a Christmas miracle, the jeans jumped over my thighs. One day I packed away my maternity clothes and one day I felt kind of normal. But it took a lot longer than I had expected because I had no idea what I was doing. And that is just the physical part that plays into the big bag of emotions we now have going on — THANK YOU, crazy hormones.
As I look back, here are some things I would tell my post-pregnancy frazzled self.
1. EMBRACE THE SUCK
Some days will just suck.
I tell my kids not to say this word, but do has Mommy says, not as Mommy does.
You will have all intention of getting in your workout, which really just means walking up the stairs a couple of times before you have lost your breath. You will be discouraged because your post-baby body will look, feel and act differently for a while.
Embrace the suck, don't let it defeat you before you even start!
2. IT'S GOING TO BE OK
It will be ok. You will get through this – it is just a season. And once you are over it, you may have another baby, but you will know what to expect.
It is just a season.
This phrase gets me through most of them. Seasons come and go. Remember this is not forever. Your kids will be old enough to buckle their own seatbelt, put their own clothes on and take their own baths – and you will do a hallelujah dance.
3. EXPECT INTERRUPTIONS
Yes, by the grace of God your baby and toddler might be on the same nap schedule for the day – and you are in heaven because you have 30 minutes to get some exercise in, or read a book or do something for you – but right when you are about to turn the workout DVD on, or get your weights set up, you hear the supposed-to-be-sleeping baby wailing in the monitor!
Don't give up — adapt and overcome. Do some squats with the baby in your arms, make funny faces while you are doing push-ups, to make them laugh. It might not look like what you had planned, but it is something.
4. FIND HELP (this should probably be #1)
Whether it is someone who can watch the kids for 30 minutes a day, so you can stay sane, a workout group who is going through the same thing, a friend who will sit in the hard with you or a therapist to help with depression – find HELP.
Don't sit in isolation – because I guarantee there is a mom right down the street feeling helpless and lonely just like you.
Get your strollers and walk together, be TOGETHER, make the hard call to a friend for the number of a counselor, do what you need to get WHOLE.
5. DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT COMPARE
"Comparison is the thief of joy."
Do not compare yourself to any mom. We are all shaped and formed different – you will all bounce back differently. Just when you think you are doing well, you will walk by your friend who gave birth yesterday and she may be rocking a bikini.
Tell her she looks great and walk on by.
Do not stare and do not COMPARE. Yes, there will be some body types that will be able to strut down a runway two weeks after birth. They are the exception. Be happy for them and don't give it another thought.
And don't talk about them.
6. YOU ARE THE BEST MOM FOR YOUR KIDS, PERIOD
Trust your gut. Don’t ask for a million other opinions because everyone will make you second guess yourself. You know your child’s needs and what best works for him. Don’t compare your parenting skills to someone else’s – they have different kids.
They do organic baby food — awesome. You don’t — awesome.
They homeschool — great. You send your kids to public school — great.
You know your kids and the older they get, the more you need to remember this.
7. START SMALL
Don't have in your head you will eat 1600 clean calories, work out 7 days a week and will have your post-baby body back in two weeks.
I remember feeling so frustrated because my expectations were absurd. I thought I would hop back on a bike the next week, sprint up hills again — like a 9lb baby didn't just come out of the exact place I would be sitting on a bike.
Celebrate small wins everyday.
You took a shower — WIN
You ate a healthy snack — WIN
The kids didn't die today — WIN
Above all, remember who you are and how awesome you are. You just birthed a baby for goodness sake. Your hips are out of place, you just ripped open your abdominals, (google C-Section if you want to be totally grossed out,) your hormones are whack.
You have lots going on.
Give yourself grace upon grace. With some work and patience your body will come back, maybe not the same, but who cares? It is just a body.
Being healthy mentally and physically is most important. Be patient, give yourself a break, kiss your babies and try to look at those stretch marks and extra skin as something to be proud of.
Your body might not ever look exactly the same, but I promise with hard work, patience and small choices daily, you will be surprised just how great you can feel.
P.S. These will be some of the hardest days of your life. It is super overwhelming. Go shut yourself in the bathroom and get out that cry! The hard sobbing snotty one — then take a deep breath, look in the mirror and say "I am the best mom I can be."
Dig deep, be patient, do the hard and watch you surprise yourself.