self love

When the Nursery Walls Start Closing In

I’m crashing again. Dropping out of the bottom of a wave that feels like it might smash me to pieces.

It’s 9pm and my beautiful, round-cheeked, incredibly perfect 8-week-old has been resisting her bedtime for almost two hours now. Her nursery feels more like a prison to me with every passing minute. I feel claustrophobic within these four walls, hour after hour. Baby is snorting and snuffling like a tiny pink piglet against my chest, having been sick for a week now. She needs me so much, and yet my mind seems unable to focus on HER. I’m five moves ahead in the next scene—the one on my couch. God I want that couch. With my husband. I want whiskey. I want to numb out the groundhog days and stretched-out nights of newborn life with whiskey and TV, and I want it an hour ago.

Naturally, I hate myself for these thoughts. I can smell my own weakness. My ingratitude. Impatience.

Why am I so focused on what I want her to

do

instead of how fleeting this moment is? I berate myself. From today until forever I will have neither the ability nor right to control her, I think. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?

Even though I know I can’t control my newborn or her sleep or my thoughts about the situation in this moment, I try to anyway. 

I try to coach myself through it.

“What is the end result you are trying so hard to control right now?”

Her sleep schedule.

“Do you actually have control over this?”

Apparently not.

“What can you focus on that you DO have control over?”

I try focusing on my breath for a change. It seems like the obvious choice. It is steady. I focus on my love for this child. It is fierce. Solid. Anchor deep. I ground in this moment long enough to notice how much easier it is now than it was just four short weeks ago when I felt the crushing isolation of newborn life. When breastfeeding still felt like cruel and unnatural painful torture. When instead of four or five hour stretches of sleep, I had to be content with two or three. And still . . .

It’s not enough in that moment. I cannot be still. Gratitude feels forced and shallow. It doesn’t feel real for me right NOW.

And then, shit. I’m falling again. Back under that wave and drowning under the weight of my thoughts—my own toxic thoughts. I would do anything to rid myself of these merciless postpartum thoughts.

I dream of weightlessness. Selfish, self-satisfying freedom. Joy. Where is my joy? I am a joyful person. Shiny and happy. Where am I?

What is happening to me?

Postpartum thoughts are not like ordinary thoughts. Under no circumstances may they be trusted. They are unforgiving and rash. Anxious and irrational.

A woman postpartum is adjusting to imbalanced hormones that can take up to a year to right themselves. Our sanity’s delicate reliance on 8 hours of sleep, moderate exercise, sunlight, self-care and healthy diet is reliably disrupted by a newborn’s needs. I don’t have the solution to this. I can’t figure out a way to realistically balance all these things with the demands of a new baby and a toddler. At least not right now. Not yet.

I find myself trying to relentlessly, anyway.

mom and baby
mom and baby

Suddenly, the breath of the tiny body on my chest slows. Deeper inhales; longer exhales. The weight of her warm, soft body sinks into my chest. I’m suddenly aware of the fact that we’re attached—My heart, her whole body, snuggled in like she was before she joined us earth-side.

I take in the quiet and feel my own blood pressure slow in tandem.

I focus on her breath now. I anchor into it. And then . . .

Oh my God, THIS IS MAGIC. How could I ever NOT want this? Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for sweet silence and this moment. The silencing of her cries silences my own spiraling thoughts, and I’m back. Back to this moment. Back to gratitude and overpowering love.

Yes, YES. This is me. Here I am. I like this me. I'm addicted to this discovering of myself amidst motherhood. To the endless personal challenge of growing bigger than myself and becoming more of who I want to be. Raising tiny humans helps me do this. It plants me firmly in soil that DEMANDS my own personal growth. Demands I be still. Demands I look within. Demands I grow bigger and do better and find the teachable moments. This mothering soil tests me and shows me that yes I can DO this. There is no right or wrong way. There is no perfect or imperfect. There is only THIS. Like a devoted farmer who will not be discouraged by a passing storm, I keep planting the seeds of the kind of woman and mother I have chosen to be. The type of strong and resilient daughters I hope to raise. Sometimes I plant in neat little rows. Sometimes I just throw them out and pray they root.

That same wave that dragged me under is now cresting and I’m riding it, buoyant and gleeful. I CAN HANDLE THIS. I sit in the moment and let it linger. I inhale the intoxicating scent of her milky breath and feel her warm, smooth cheek on mine. God I love her. So much love it hurts. I am so so grateful.

Less than 30 minutes later I’m back on that blessed couch with my partner. I’m more relaxed than I’ve been in weeks. We’re connecting. Laughing. Present.

“This is my favorite moment I’ve had since I can remember,” he tells me.

“Me too,” I whisper. And I mean it. I mean it so so much.

I am so happy. So completely MYSELF on this couch, with the power out post-hurricane and candles burning and everything that felt so utterly upside down and overwhelming just an hour ago is suddenly exactly everything I need and more than I could have asked for. I feel so so lucky and happy and I’m aware that I’m cresting yet another wave. Two in a row?! Hell yes. Here I am. This is me. This is us. We are good. I am good.

And then the lesson hits me like a hurricane. Down one minute and up the next and nothing is wrong or bad. I’m not doing it wrong.

Hard doesn't equal wrong or unworthy or weak. Sometimes hard is just human. Our pain is our greatest teacher, if we spend enough time sitting with it instead of running from it, judging ourselves.

I am that woman in the nursery and I am this person with the whiskey and the candles and the romance. I am too much and just enough and maybe THIS is actually normal? Maybe I’m not the only one?

Maybe I can just accept myself as the perfectly worthy and imperfect woman I already am and keep riding these waves with as much grace, courage, gratitude and love as possible to become more and more of whom I’m meant to be. For my daughters. For the man on the couch. For me.

It’s a few nights later and I’m back in the nursery. I’ve been in the glider for another two hours with the baby. Midway through, husband rushes in to relieve me for a spell but I shake my head and smile a NON-passive aggressive smile.

“I’m good. I’ve got this,” I say.

I am presence, patience and gratitude. No wave riding tonight. We are still. As I feed and rock and snuggle our creation, the love overpowers the overwhelm for a change and I smile recognizing some seeds have taken root.

I am better today than I was yesterday and still holding on for the ride.

For more truth-telling, follow along on

Instagram

or connect with me and the rest of the tribe in the 

Mommy Soul Tribe.

This article also appeared on

The Huffington Post.

Why You Should Join a Mom Group

When you’re a new mom, it’s easy to feel a lot of things. You’ll feel alone, you’ll feel scared, you’ll feel like nobody understands how you’re feeling. But that’s not true, mama. Moms do. Other moms have been where you’ve been and they have felt what you’ve felt. This is one reason why your friendships with non-moms will sometimes change. (You can still keep them--they’ll just be different.)

But your new friendships with new moms will be sacred. Special. And that’s why there’s something about a mom group that just makes sense. We all need to vent together about our asshole children. We need to drink together when we just can’t do anything else. We need to cry together when we feel like we’ve lost our way.

That’s why I created the Mommy Soul Tribe. For moms to do all of these things...together. Here are a few reasons why groups like this are ridiculously beneficial to moms at any stage of their mommy-hood.

Why You Should Join a Mom Group
Why You Should Join a Mom Group

1. Support

No one will support you like a fellow mom who just wants you to know that you’re doing it right. One reason that we moms can get so crazy and stressed is because we feel like no one understands us. We’re surrounded by children and husbands who just don’t get being a mom.

That’s what your mom group is for. Grab a glass of wine, get on Facebook, post about your troubles, and let us love on you.

2. Friendship

One thing that I love most about my little mommy Facebook group is the fact that you can get on and chat with your friends without having to put on outside-the-home appropriate clothes to meet up with anyone. We’re all right here, inside that awesome rectangle that is your phone. You can create genuine friendships with so many moms in the group. There are moms in the same walk of life as you and moms that you can teach and moms that you can learn from.

3. Advice

Is your baby suddenly not sleeping as well as she used to? Does your toddler have a problem with picking his nose and you have no idea how to get him to stop? A mom group allows you to get advice from a diverse groups of moms: from those who are going through the same thing you are right now to those who already have and have some seriously great tips to get you through it.

4. Self-Care Help

You need some time for yourself. Fellow moms understand that and won’t give you a hard time for focusing on self-care. They’ll just tell you how jealous they are and give you even more awesome tips for what to do on your next me-day.

5. Venting

If you’re having a rough day with your toddler or your significant other, a mom group is really the place to hash it out and let out your emotions. We’re all women and we all understand that we’re humans with feelings. We’ll always support you when you need to talk about yours.

We would love you have you join our Mommy Soul Tribe, soul sister. Click here and introduce yourself to us!

The Importance of Scheduling Time for Yourself

Let’s get real here for a minute. Every single person on the planet needs some time to themselves. Simply put, we just can’t be around the same people all of the time. If we’re being honest, too much time around our husbands, family, and even best friends, and we start to seriously get sick of them. So why do we try to pretend that the same thing doesn’t happen around our kids? Because we’re afraid of being seen as a “bad mom” if we’re honest and say that we just plain can’t stand our kids right now? Because that’s just not fair.

All moms need time away from their husbands, away from their kids, away from everybody or else you’re going to burn out and slowly begin to hate everyone. (That may be a slight exaggeration, but I don’t want you to wait long enough to find out.) Start making time for yourself today using these tips.

1. Schedule a “Daddy and Me” night.

Or whatever fun name you want to call it--we all really know that it means “Mommy needs some wine and damn alone time night.” Get your husband and kids out of the house together or get yourself out of the house and get pampered with a trip to the salon, spa, or bar.

2. Take advantage of when the kids are sleeping.

Instead of cleaning or cooking when the kids are asleep, take some time for yourself and watch some Netflix, read a book, take a nap yourself, or take a bubble bath. Housework can wait. (Trust me, it’s not going anywhere.) But time for yourself absolutely CANNOT wait.

3. Take a class.

Commit to a weekly yoga class at the gym, a knitting class at the local craft store, or even a cocktail-mixing class. (No judgments here--I’ll probably invite you over so you can teach me a few things.)

4. Get a group of moms together.

Do you know of other moms who need some time away from their families? I have just the thing. Get all of your mommy friends together, find a date that works for everyone, and join me for Mom’s Night Off. We’ll drink wine, talk about the awesome (aaand the not so awesome) stuff about our kids, and get some group coaching on.

Trust me. You need, need, NEED to get away sometimes. Get rid of your mommy guilt and admit that you’re a human too and all humans need some time for themselves.

The Importance of Scheduling Time for Yourself
The Importance of Scheduling Time for Yourself
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