How am I REALLY doing?
I have wanted to write this post for a while and delayed it until now because twenty sounded like a good round number for a title and it gave me time to check in with myself before writing this post. Twenty weeks of Scout’s life outside of my belly has gone by and it has been a wonderfully challenging journey for sure! She is a sweet, feisty little girl who has rocked our world in more ways than one. I love being her mommy, even through moments of burning frustration and difficulty, because I really cannot imagine going back to a time before meeting her. This post touches on all things mommy and highlights some fo the joys and challenges I have experienced thus far.
I am still breastfeeding.
We have made it to twenty weeks without formula and I am really impressed that my body continues to sustain her life. When an observer, one may think that breast-feeding is as simple as latching your baby to feed but there are many factors that contribute to a continued BF journey. At around fourteen weeks of age Scout began to show signs of teething (see my starts of teething post to read up on our experience) and it changed our rhythm. She feeds more while her body is manufacturing her teeth and she also craves latching at times to soothe her discomfort; she feeds every hour on some days where, on others, she is able to nap and give my overworked breast a break for two hours or more (which is rarely the case these days). We started her on solids at seventeen weeks of age and it has helped a little now that she is showing more of an interest in food. Coupled with the teething are her growth spurts and leaps; in this time I find that she is very clingy and that she wants to feed next to me in bed at night, depriving me of good sleep. I do my best to avoid co-sleeping because it makes me really tired and cranky. Yet it is the only option at times, particularly when it is a colder night and she needs a little boobs for comfort and warmth. My journey is about to change again as I prepare to return to work; childcare will mean that she will have a bottle at least twice a day. I am a little anxious about this as it means she will get used to not feeding with me and I will need to alter my milk expressing routine to keep up my supply. I just pray that she continues to prefer the breast over a bottle (without starving herself while I am away) as we navigate into this new season of feeding.
Unexpectedly, I have started craving chocolate! If you know me personally, you would know that I prefer a savoury treat over something sweet and that chocolate and cake were at the bottom of my list of things to eat. That was the case even during my pregnancy, too. These days, however, I could finish a slab of chocolate in one sitting and I now add cupcakes/ tea cakes (from Woolworths) to our weekly shopping list, as well. From what I have read, the sugar craving comes from the fact that breastfeeding causes one’s blood-sugar levels to drop and that has a knock on effect, causing the terrible sugar cravings. Drinking water helps little but I have settled for the carob coated rice cakes (from clicks) as a pantry must-have when I need a little fix.
Even with demands on my body and the discipline needed with food (as she breaks out with baby acne when I choose comfort eating over nutrition) I would like to continue breastfeeding until she is a year old. Let’s see how it all goes as we prepare to shift into a work-mom balance.
I have lost all of my pregnancy weight and have worked really hard to regain muscle tone throughout my entire body. It has been one of the toughest fitness journeys I have embarked on. At the start of exercising I felt like a beginner but as I regained my strength, it still took a really long time for my cellulite to start leaving my thighs and for my belly to begin to flatten (and I till have a way to go for both of these). I remember touching my stomach and feeling that my core had absolutely no muscle tone whatsoever and I wondered of it would ever return. I have seen a variety of postpartum journeys online and, while some mothers are able to ‘bounce back’ in the belly region, there are also many fit women who have shown their stretched out, flabby bellies even after months of working out. I was not sure where I would land on that spectrum but I knew that I wanted to do my best to feel good after having birthed my baby. At the start of April I decided to join the RushTush Autumn Glow Up challenge to really commit to the process. In seven weeks I have seen a marked difference. The Mama Glow Cleanse diet has been really good to me but it has been my own workouts and daily commitment to waking up at 6am to exercise that has made the real difference. The ‘not easy’ part about it all is staying away from the temptation of lazy, bad food and the need to sleep a little later when Scout has had a poor sleeping night (that does not happen as often but one bad night can have a knock on effect for early rising in the days to come). What I have realised is that it is possible to gain strength after pregnancy and that it is totally possible to love your postpartum body, stretch marks, belly flab and all. Its about your own comfort levels and how much time you are willing to dedicate to feeling good about yourself – which is about far more than looks. I must add here that if it weren’t for my husband being willing to do the morning shift with Scout, that it would have been very challenging to keep up an exercise routine but, knowing myself, I would have made a plan anyway!
It has been a rollercoaster. Some days I am so happy and so grateful for all that we have as a family and there are days when I am boiled to the brim with irritation and frustration. Exhaustion and constantly being busy with something can do a lot of damage to your sense of self, which is sometimes lost in motherhood. I have had mothers turn their noses up at me for saying that I need a break from my child; I would like to remind my readers that Wes and I are new parents in a pandemic who have had no help since the start of lockdown in March – so a grandma visit or date night minus the baby has not even been an option for us. Yes, it is everyone’s reality (if you are still abiding by the lockdown rules) but it is tough having no physical help when we are both exhausted and running on the reserves of our energy. I pick unnecessary fights with Wesley and he desperately needs a break from me, too. Which is completely fair. Yet, we soldier on and try to be considerate of and kind to one another. I must say that we get it right on most days.
I miss seeing my friends and sharing my baby with my loved ones. Sending videos and photographs cannot replace the hugs and face to face chats that have become a distant memory. I also feel really sad that my mother, who is blind, cannot hold my baby to feel her grow; she has to settle for coos and screams over the telephone and it breaks my heart that it is all we can offer her at this stage. My mom gets so excited when my brother tells her that Scout is smiling when we video call them and she speaks daily as though she’d held her yesterday. We never feel pressured to take Scout to see her and my mom phones me daily to chat, laugh, listen and offer her support. My mom is a special woman, indeed.
I miss being able to structure my day and have it go according to plan. Yes, I enjoy routine and predicability which is virtually impossible when you are planning your time around a loosely scheduled baby who only naps for 30-45 minutes at a time. I feel the pressure of household chores and the burdens of being a wife and a mother because I want to offer both my husband and my baby the best version of myself. I have had to accept it when my best is below (my) standards and I have had to become okay with asking Wesley for help. There is no trophy for running myself into the ground while trying to prove that I have it all together so I have surrendered to doing what I can when I have the time. I have not lost my fire and my ambition but have learnt to allow my motherhood to be enough on the days when it’s all I can get to. I keep reminding myself that there will be many seasons for me and that there is no race or finish line for where I see myself in the future. More importantly, the work I have done in the past has brought me to this very moment in time and I have to remind myself to stand still and take in the fact that, amidst all the chaos, I am here, happy, loved and blessed!
I thank God, daily for His grace and mercy for me.
Until my next post,