Author: Mama Coco, one of our amazing Figgi parents
Becoming a mom has been the greatest gift of my life. I am constantly in awe of her – every coo, every laugh – even every poop! There is no other job I will ever have that will be more rewarding to me than being her mom. But like any other “job”, it has its challenges. There are a lot of things you don’t expect, and some things you think you’re prepared for but when faced with them, you may feel like you weren’t prepared at all. People can share their experiences with you and while some of it may resonate with you, so much of what you experience is your own. No two babies are exactly the same, no two moms are exactly the same. Though, we love and appreciate our mom tribe and all the wonderful support we receive from them!
With all of that being said, it’s normal to reach out to our families and friends for guidance and what to expect when we’re expecting. You may have some people giving you certain suggestions that you can make work for you, and you may sometimes be taken aback by another’s approach or suggestions for your baby. The important thing to remember is: this is your baby, and whatever you and your partner decides is best for your baby is ultimately what is best for your baby.
A lot of times we get so wrapped up in what is best for our babies – what that looks like and how we achieve it, that we are often putting our own wellness on the backburner. Truth be told, I think that will be a forever balancing act now that we are parents, but I’m confident it’s one we can master! In fact, it’s so important to try our best to master this because we need to remember self-care is critical to our wellbeing and for our family’s as well. I’m sure you’ve seen that quote floating on instagram somewhere, “Self-care is not selfish.” A hard truth for some, but so very important to remember. We want our children to be given grace and kindness as they learn, grow, and go through life – no matter their age. We should be extending that same grace and kindness to ourselves.
Before we became moms, we were a whole separate individual with wants, needs, hobbies, etc. And while “mama” is truly the best role I’ve been given, it isn’t my whole identity and that’s OKAY. I think so many of us feel that once society deems us a mom, that’s all we are and we have to take on not only the mental load, but the social responsibility of such – and if we miss our old selves or yearn for some “me time”, it feels wrong or frowned upon. Don’t fall into this trap! We’re human, we need to be able to sustain ourselves the same way anyone else does – parent or not. It’s okay if you want time away from your baby, your partner, your family, etc. It’s okay if you need to return to yourself once in a while to recharge and regain your strength to handle the wants and needs of your baby.
On a personal note, for as long as I can really remember, I struggled with anxiety and depression. My pregnancy really heightened these feelings and emotions and postpartum anxiety (PPA) and postpartum depression (PPD) were two beasts I fought every day. After too long of trying to get a handle on it myself, I decided it was important for me to go back to therapy. That helped tremendously though I still deal with PPA and PPD. It may be a part of me, but it isn’t all of me.
Another great support that I leaned on throughout my postpartum journey was a weekly mom support group. It’s a virtual “coffee talk” for an hour with moms every week. We receive an e-mail from the organizer with the Google Meet link and the topic for that week; though oftentimes we address anything and everything a mom wants to share with the group. I have made such great friends through this support system. What started as strangers connecting on a weekly basis, turned into Instagram friends from all over the country, sending invitations for their baby’s first birthday parties to one another. It’s amazing.
I can’t tell you as a parent how to take care of yourself. Taking care of ourselves looks different to everyone. If you can get back to certain hobbies you enjoyed before the busyness of your baby then I really suggest doing your best to set aside time for yourself and do it. I’m someone who needs a creative outlet, so I signed myself up for pottery lessons. Once a week, for two hours a night, I take classes in a local pottery studio while my partner tends to the baby, gets her ready for bed, and by the time I get home, she’s sound asleep peacefully in her crib. It’s nice to have that break once a week.
In one of my previous blogs, I talked about trying to “let go” of that control that only we can best care for the baby. I truly believe that it’s so important to take advantage of any trusted family or trusted friend to help give you a break. Allow you to catch up on sleep or run to Target by yourself. Anything that allows you the time you need to recharge. It will feel weird at first, maybe even feel impossible, but it can be done and when you come back, the smile on your baby’s face when they see you will reassure you that you can temporarily separate from them, and they are safe and well cared for by those you trust and love, and by those who love your little one, too.
So how do you take care of yourself as a new parent? Return to yourself in ways that you find joy. Connect with other moms in your area, or all over the globe! Take up a new hobby like pottery class or something you’ve been interested in but talked yourself out of trying. Catch up on sleep if you can. Have your partner take over the bedtime routine once in a while. Truly invest in yourself in ways that are attainable for you, so you can manage your weekly routine and stick with it. They don’t need to be huge changes that alter your every day. It’s often the little things we do each day that add up to meaning the most.
Water yourselves, mamas. Plant the seeds you want in your garden.
Your babies will benefit, too, and you’ll both grow stronger because of it.