Your Life Doesn’t Have to Be Over: 5 Ways To Reclaim Your Life After Baby

I hate to admit this, but I’m one of those girls who thought she had it all figured out BEFORE she had a baby of her own. I wasn’t so bad that I said my child would never use an iPad in public or would only eat organic food… I know better. But I thought I knew what life would be like—what I would be like once I became a mom. Spoiler alert: I had no idea.

 When we found out I was expecting, my husband and I talked about it and I decided I would quit my job and stay home with our son. I had wanted to be a stay at home mom for a while, and my husband was very supportive, so we figured out a way to make it work. Bryant was such an easy baby; Sleeping through the night at just one month old, really only crying when he was hungry or tired, and settling into his routine fairly quickly.

I on the other hand… did not adjust so well. I had zero routine. I was somewhere between going with the flow and getting run over. My husband would call me during his lunch break and ask what I had been doing, and sometimes my answer would be 100 things before 10:00AM! And other days, all I had done was watched Real Housewives and eaten a bowl of cereal.

I was constantly criticizing myself, feeling like a failure at the end of most days. Did I read Bryant enough books? Did he do tummy time for long enough? When was the last time I showered? What’s for dinner? I felt like the days were going by and Bryant was growing up, but what was I doing with my life? Was motherhood the only thing that defined me now? Did staying at home mean my life was truly over and all about Bryant?

I knew had to get some semblance of control back, but how would I do it? I decided I would set some non-negotiable “daily rules” now that I was staying at home. I do these things consistently, every single day, and I think it has made me feel so much more confident in my choice to stay home, so much happier as a mom and just makes me feel successful day in and day out!

1. Wash your face and brush your teeth.

I do this every morning before I get Bryant out of bed. In 20 years, your baby is not going to tell their therapist about all the times you didn’t go get them out of their crib the moment they woke up. He/she will survive you taking 3 minutes to practice a little personal hygiene.

It just makes me feel alive and awake and ready for the day ahead!

2. Get dressed.

I don’t mean get dressed up, by any means! If I’m being honest, sometimes I just change out of a pair of pajamas and into a pair of leggings! But some days I do put on a bra and a cute top. It just depends on what that day holds! But this is just a simple way I can feel like I accomplished something.

3. Set up a cleaning/laundry schedule.

This has saved me. I am a extremely distracted person, so having things planned out and written down is VERY helpful. At the beginning of this year I wrote out a cleaning schedule and stuck it on the fridge and it has been so helpful! Each day I clean one room in my house during Bryant’s naptime. For clarification, this isn’t a deep clean. I just do the basics: dust and vacuum and pick up clutter. But it helps! And it feels like I really got something done, and there’s usually still time to watch an episode of Law & Order before the baby wakes up!

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4. Meal Plan

I’m not big into meal prepping, but I ALWAYS meal plan. This is something that just makes me feel like I have a little bit of structure to lean on when the days are chaotic. I start at the beginning of each month and write down anything going on that month, and then plan meals week by week. That way I can see our schedule at a glance, and then plan supper around anything we have going on. I try and plan ahead for eating out and picking up fast food, too!

5. Journal

This is not something I did pre-baby, but I wish I had. I take time each day to write down something—anything! It doesn’t have to be a page full of your deepest hopes and dreams, but just what you’re feeling or what you have planned for the day. I usually do it in the morning, but doing it at night could be cool as a way to reflect on the day before you go to bed. I think journaling is just an easy way to feel connected to your life, especially when it feels monotonous.

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Of course, you don’t have to follow all of my “rules” – in fact, you don’t have to follow any of them! But when I felt like my life was spinning somewhat out of control, these are just some of the ways I found helpful to take back control. What about you? What “rules” have you set to make life run a little bit more smoothly day to day?

 


 

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Laura Beth Harpe is a wife and mother, living in small-town Georgia. She loves connecting with other mamas as they stumble through the new season of motherhood. She loves shopping and binging Bravo and Law and Order: SUV. Learn more about her here!

13 Labor And Delivery Tips For A First Time Mom

The thought of giving birth can be terrifying, but it doesn’t have to be. For me, the first time I had a baby the thing that scared me the most was not the pain but the fact that I didn’t know what to expect.

I asked a group of women who recently had babies what kind of advice they would give a first time mom who is ready to pop. Here is what we came up with.

Don’t panic!

Things are not going to be exactly what you’ve planned, so be prepared to roll with the punches. No matter what happens, the least helpful thing you can do is panic.

Have your support person know your wishes

You may be too medicated to be able to make those decisions for yourself.

Things can change at the drop of a hat

You may have a textbook pregnancy your whole 40 weeks, and then while you are in labor and delivery, things can change.

The epidural may not work.

Don’t rely on having a epidural for pain management because sometimes they may not work. Even if they do work, they may only work on half of your body, or they may work for a little while and then completely stop.

Educate yourself on coping methods

Even if you do plan on having an epidural take a birthing class or at least watch a video on YouTube to help learn breathing techniques and other coping methods. Epidurals may not always work, or you may not have time to get one.

Do not feel ashamed if you end up getting an epidural

If you decide throughout your whole pregnancy that you are going to have an unmedicated birth, it’s okay to change your mind!

Have a birth “wish”, instead of a set in stone plan

Birth plans are great. They help put in writing what your wishes are and help keep your care team aware. Just know that sometimes things change, and not everything in your birth plan may be feasible. You may need to be flexible. You’re birth plan may say “no Pitocin”, but if you aren’t progressing naturally, well then Pitocin may be needed if your water has broken. In most situations, you have 24 hours after your water breaks to get that baby out!

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Don’t be embarrassed by anything

OBGYN’s, midwives and L+D nurses deal with bodily functions on a daily basis. One of the biggest worries many women have when thinking about giving birth is worrying about pooping on the bed. Chances are you are going to be so focused on getting that baby out that if you do poop while pushing, you are not even going to care. Nurses see it happen ALL OF THE TIME. They will quickly switch out the liner and you may not even know it happened!

Consider hiring a photographer or have a friend of family member take pictures.

You are about to meet the love(s) of your life and like your wedding day, pictures are a great keepsake!

You do not need to pack much in your hospital bag

Keep your hospital bag to a minimum, You are going to have lots to carry out, especially if you have visitors and they bring gifts for the baby

You may swell up

Sometimes the IV/ medications mixed with labor will make you retain water and start to swell up. If you have rings that fit you, or any tight bracelets, make sure to take them off before leaving for the hospital. They may be hard to take off if you start to swell, and swelling will most likely not be something you are thinking about while in labor.

Take off your bra when you get to the hospital

It may make things easier if you decide to get an epidural. Even if you don’t want an epidural if you become uncomfortable and want it off, the nurses will have to unhook your IV so the strap doesn’t get caught in it. Also if you wear a sports bra or a bra without a clasp it makes it even more challenging to get off. Believe me, when you’re ready for that epidural, you do not want to have to wait any longer than you need to, especially if its just to take your bra off!

The goal is to have a healthy baby, healthy mom

The rest is just a bonus!

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What pieces of labor and deliver advice would you give to someone who is about to have a baby?

 


 

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Paige Martinek is a SAHM to her stepsons, son and daughter. She enjoys road trips, long drives along the lake, writing, reading and talking about anything pregnancy related. She is an infertility awareness activist and plans on going back to school to become a L+D nurse. You can read more about her here!

A Note From Your Tired Mama

I was exhausted, and it was only 9am. I eagerly awaited 9:30, so I could put you and your brother down for your morning naps. I checked my email on my phone, as I tried to slowly rock you in my other arm, but your wide eyed, baby blues kept staring up at me. “The Wiggles” was on tv, and I sang along to “Rock A Bye Your Bear” for the billionth time in my head, as your brother did the dance moves like he was born knowing them.

Oh good, “the bear is now asleep”. Time to turn off the tv, and get the two of you in bed. I didn’t care if it was 15 minutes earlier than usual, this mama needed a nap too. I put your brother right in his crib, but you of course were fussy and wouldn’t sleep on your own. It doesn’t help that you are a total mamas girl and need to be by me all. of. the. time. It’s okay though, I’d snuggle you in my bed and then put you next to me in the bassinet once you were soundly asleep.

Have I mentioned how tired I am? I was up most of the night before while you slept, trying not to worry about every day life. You know, the messy kitchen with a sink full of last nights dishes. The living room that needed to be vacuumed, and the bills piling up on the kitchen table that your dad and I need to budget together. Money has become tight since we went down to just one income so I could be a stay at home mom.

I put on the Baby Mozart station on Spotify (my go to), and hoped that you would fall asleep quickly. I checked the baby monitor and saw your brother jumping in his crib. I told him to lay down over the intercom and prayed he would soon stop.

It was 9:30, but felt like noon. It had been a long morning filled with tears ( not just yours and your brothers, I cried too). It is hard raising a 6 month old and a 18 month old at the same time. When one of you cries, the other one joins in in perfect harmony. And your brother is at the age where everything is his, so sorry about that rattle you thought you’d get to play with today.

This Motherhood thing is so much harder than I thought that it would be. Other moms on Instagram make it look so easy. They’re always out having fun. Their toddlers are perfectly behaved at the park, and they are carrying their infants in their expensive babywear, while rocking cute shorts in their perfect postpartum bodies. I know it’s their highlights, and I often wonder what their lives look like behind a perfect camera angle and bright filter, because honestly ours is often a hot mess. It’s still hard not to compare though.

Oh good, your brother finally laid down, and your eyes were getting heavy. I thought to myself that I should just go do the dishes. I had just remembered there were 4 loads of laundry that needed to be done too. I mentally made note of the other 10 things I needed to finish as I waited to make sure you were fully asleep before trying to pick you up and put you in your bassinet.

You were out. But I couldn’t pick you up. Not because I was afraid of you waking up as I made the transfer, but because as bad as I wanted to go to sleep myself, I suddenly just wanted to watch you sleep.

You looked so peaceful, snuggled up to me, with your face pointed toward mine. I laid there and forgot about how tired I was because I just wanted to soak in that moment. A year earlier I had moments like this with your brother, and now they were few and far between. You wanted nothing more than your mama, and I could tell you felt complete comfort wrapped in my arm.

It is cliché, but I was reminded that the days sometimes drag on, but the years fly by. As I sat there watching you sleep, I wondered what your life was going to be like; who you were going to be, what you were going to do. You’ve already grown so much in these 6 short months.

And then I thought about my mom 30 years ago, exhausted just  hoping that I would just take a nap so she could get some rest. I thought about how she probably held me in her arms and watched me sleep, wondering who I would grow up to be. I pictured her holding my little hands not knowing it would be the last time she would hold me like a baby because poof, life went by and before she knew it I was a toddler… a teenager… an adult… a mother.

So I will soak up these moments because I know they are not always going to be like this. Before we know it, you may be here too… a tired mother watching her baby sleep.


 

 

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Paige Martinek is a SAHM to her stepsons, son and daughter. She enjoys road trips, long drives along the lake, writing, reading and talking about anything pregnancy related. She is an infertility awareness activist and plans on going back to school to become a L+D nurse. You can read more about her here!