'9 Months to Put It On, 9 Months to Get It Off': Postpartum Update
9 Months Postpartum:
Despite what the magazine covers tell you, there's no real quick fix for "bouncing back after baby."
The advice I'd heard often was, "It takes nine months to put it on, and it will take nine months to get it off." In my experience, I have found this to be relatively true, although circumstances -- from breastfeeding to diet, exercise and resources -- are different for every mom.
Everly will be nine months old on May 16. As the date approaches, I'm feeling more and more like my "old self" physically. At this significant moment in my postpartum journey, I thought I'd share a personal update on the current state of my body and my mind.
Losing the Weight:
I gained 50 pounds during pregnancy. I've shed more than 40 of those pounds thus far, but I do expect to retain some of the remaining weight until the completion of our breastfeeding journey. I'm totally fine with that.
About half of those pounds were shed in the days and weeks immediately following Everly's birth, and another significant portion came off very recently.
I'm back in most of my pre-pregnancy clothes -- as long as they're a little forgiving. Let's just say I have no plans to put on a bikini this summer. (Thank God one piece bathing suits and high-waisted denim are on trend right now.)
For the last few months, I had been feeling like my weight and my body were becoming stagnant. So, I decided to make some simple changes: choosing healthier, lower calorie meal options more often when possible (I do still treat myself to dessert) and prioritizing long walks with Everly in the stroller or carrier a few times a week (I hate the gym, so I had to find something that she and I could do together and wouldn't be a shock to my body).
As the number on the scale drops, I have been feeling like my milk is flowing a bit less. My goal is still to breastfeed up until her first birthday -- but with numerous out of town trips approaching this summer and pressure to maintain her freezer stash, I'm feeling anxious about it. And on that note...
Stress + Hormones:
To be totally honest - my anxiety has been through the roof lately.
While I've always suffered from some degree of anxiety throughout my adult life, this feels pretty directly tied to the stress of a demanding (read: not baby-friendly) career, while still putting pressure on myself to be the kind of hands-on mother that I want to be. Sprinkle on a little sleep deprivation and BAM.
I've learned how to cope with stress through the years, but rarely have such seemingly minor inconveniences sent me into a tailspin like this. There are days that my body trembles for hours, my mind races in circles, my heart skips and my skin feels hot -- all because of a thoughtless comment or misunderstanding from a co-worker. Things, TBH, I give zero f**ks about in real life. I'm gonna go ahead and blame that on the hormones.
I've begun researching the post-weaning blues. While I haven't weaned yet, I sometimes wonder if my milk supply is dipping and causing a shift in my hormones. I was fortunate enough to skate through my postpartum journey so far without a trace of those "baby blues," but just because I made it out of the fourth trimester doesn't quite mean I'm home free yet.
Everly is still not sleeping through the night. And, listen, I know what all the sleep training methods say. We've tried 'em.
Our little angel has a pretty severe case of FOMO and no interest in following consistency. Instead of following the trajectory of any method, she will sleep 12 hours one night and wake up three times the next, without any rhyme or reason.
Dare I say that she's making some progress (slowly), so I've decided to meet her halfway in love, trusting that she'll get there in her own time -- as she already has with transitioning to her own room, putting herself to sleep without nursing, etc.
(Experienced parents: I know you're laughing at me. I'm kidding myself, right?)
The Good Stuff:
I really do feel more like my old self, and I'm very much at peace with the fact that my life is and always will be different now.
In fact, I prefer it.
In the short time that I've been a mother, it has been the most rewarding, fulfilling and joyful experience I've ever had.
Everly's personality is shining through so beautifully. She's funny, loving, smart, strong and a little mischievous. (The other day, she scratched the inside of my nose so hard that it gushed blood while I was nursing her. And then she could not stop LAUGHING about it.)
She makes goofy faces and she squeals when she's excited. She hates getting her diaper changed and her teeth brushed. She loves to read and sing together. She cries when I leave and is ecstatic when I get home. She says "Mama," but only when she's really mad at me. Now that she's crawling, she chases our dogs around the whole house with an enormous smile plastered across her face. The dogs hate it.
She is the brightest light in my life and I love her more than I knew was possible.
In a way, I feel like much of my anxiety and stress comes from the fact that nothing in this world matters to me as much as she does. What a blessing and a burden it is to do right by our babies.
The next three months will be an interesting next step in this season. I'll be leaving her overnight for the first time (which I'm dreading), we'll travel together as a family -- visiting family and old friends (and new babies!), and Ev's first birthday will be here before we know it.
It feels like the blink of an eye. It feels like a lifetime.
Mom Needs Merlot
P.S. My hair is growing back, but it's still a mess. Ugh.