Never apologize for burning too brightly or collapsing into yourself every night;
that is how galaxies are made.”
I’m one of you. I too felt that I lost my identity – myself – when I became a mama. Everything in my life was about this new person. This little baby consumed my life and guilt visited me often. I was lost for years.
The addition of two little beings did not make it easy, but just recently I realized how neglectful I was toward myself. I realized that one of the greatest blessings I can give my babies is a happy, confident mama. One that is whole. Because I want them to be whole and not be defined by their roles either.
I want them to be and love themselves first.
Then I did what I do often and searched the internet for others mamas who had lost themselves too. That’s when I came across this beautifully written article by Jenny Fenig that I’d like to share with you:
Becoming a mother changes everything … or does it?
Sure, your priorities shift, your sleep changes (yikes!), your body transforms and your heart expands … but what happens to your identity when you cross over the threshold to motherhood?
When I was pregnant with my first child, someone I very much looked up to told me I would completely lose my identity once I had my baby. “Life as you know it is over. There will be no time for you anymore. Accept it,” she said. I was shocked.
Even though this person was older and had three kids and I was merely pregnant with baby #1, something inside of me said, “No, it doesn’t have to be like that. I love myself and my growing family too much to lose myself.”
As a woman who has always been ambitious and career-driven, I didn’t see why all that I had worked for needed to disappear as soon as I was someone’s mother.
(Loving and taking care of yourself is part of taking care of your kid)
So much of my younger years were spent suffering and searching in unhealthy places because I didn’t have a clear sense of who I was or why I was here. Once I found myself, I realized I really liked myself! Sacred self-care and “me time” became my non-negotiable foundation from which everything else flowed. I was happier than I had ever been, in my work, in my marriage, in my soul. This was a hard-won discovery!
This was my anchor, my roots into the earth.
I wasn’t willing to buy into the notion that my identity that I had invested time, money, energy and faith in claiming would simply cease to exist once my baby was born. Sure, it would evolve, but it would not disappear.
And I made my choice NOT to accept that piece of advice that didn’t sit right with me … Or loads of other well-intended advice from friends, relatives, strangers, doctors, experts, magazines, books and the like. And of course, there have been PLENTY of suggestions and pieces of wisdom that have rung true for me in the 6+ years since I’ve been a mother. I’m grateful for it all!
I’m now the proud mama of 3 beautiful children and I’m learning and growing every second of the day. It’s humbling, hilarious, messy and life affirming.
Motherhood is the most intense personal growth path I’ve ever walked (in addition to marriage and entrepreneurship!). My advice for new moms: listen to your Inner Voice about what feels right for your child, you and your family. You will be receiving contradictory tips and suggestions from here on out. Don’t fret. Go within. Breathe!
Wise beyond measure, you know your child so well. Take time to know yourself deeply, too! This relationship with your sacred self is a profound catalyst for confident and fulfilling parenting even during your toughest days (we all have them!).
Love yourself so much that you’re not willing to lose yourself. Because when you lose yourself, everyone loses. Your family needs you. Most of all, you need you.
So, be kind to yourself. Spend time in nature. Write in a journal. Enjoy a quiet cup of tea in a cup that makes you smile. Move your body. Dance in the shower. Enjoy date night with your partner (even if it’s simply a quiet movie at home after your baby is asleep!). Join a mom’s support group. Bless your mess. Ask for help. Know that you will sleep for long stretches again. I promise!
The days sometimes feel like they stretch on forever, but the years fly by. Enjoy your family!
I’m always looking for soft knits for my newborn sessions, but to be honest, I’m a bit picky. I came across Petunia’s Handmade Creations on Etsy and fell in love with her beautiful selection. See for yourself:
So I did what I always do, I contacted her to get more information about the yarn itself and when I heard back from her I loved her shop even more. She uses mostly hand died yarn from small, family owned farms in Africa. Some of her items are made from fair trade organic cotton. Aren’t these amazing? If you are preparing for your newborn session, I encourage you to visit her Etsy shop.
[Tip: Make sure you order weeks in advance as most of the items are handmade to order.]
This little cutie was just a few days old at the time of his newborn photography session which is why you still see his legs tightly curled. Love it!
This is another common question I get because most moms wait to have their baby before booking a newborn session. But, just like you would book a wedding photographer way ahead of time, it is a good idea to book your newborn photographer while you are still pregnant.
Now, there are many different styles of newborn photography and other photographers might not mind the age of the baby, so you would need to know your style preference and what best fits your family.
Our style at The Crunchy Nest is simple and we try to stay away from the overuse of props because we prefer a more organic look; however, we still pose our newborns. We change the baby’s hand placement, turn their little face, change their position, etc. in order to get a variety of picture for you. Therefore, we prefer our newborn sessions to take place during the baby’s first two weeks of life. 5-7 days is ideal!
When babies are brand new, they position themselves in the way they were in the womb and they sleep all the time! As time passes, babies stretch out and are more alert, which makes it more difficult to keep them asleep and pose them. The older the baby, the more aware they are of their surroundings.
But what date do you pick?
Well, because we know that due dates are not set in stone – I wish they were (being a mom of three), when you book your newborn session while expecting, We will pencil in a date approximately one week after your due date. Once your baby arrives, you give us a call and let us know. We will then move our schedule around to accommodate the best time to hold your session.
Booking your session before-hand guarantees your spot once your baby has arrived and your session will take priority over new inquiries around the same time.
So what are you waiting for? If you are currently expecting, book your session today.
[Big Disclaimer: I am in no way, shape, or form telling you that this is what you should do for your baby. This was a decision I made for my baby after many hours of research. Please make sure you do your own research before determining what is right for you and your baby]
I wrote in this post about my breastfeeding struggles and because of it I had to find an alternative way to feed my baby. Not only did I have to find the safest bottles, but also the safest formula.
When it came to bottles, I knew that we would be warming up formula, so plastic bottles weren’t an option. We decided on the Avent Natural glass bottle, and as he grew older and wanted to hold his own bottle, we bought the Pura Kiki Stainless Steel Bottle. These are the bottles that we still use today and he loves them!
The next struggle came when it was time to choose a formula. I started to supplement Gavin’s feeding since early on. He was only a few days old and already drinking Enfamil. I knew before I gave birth to him that I did not want to give my child commercial grade formula. My plan was to breastfeed and when I didn’t succeed, I was left at the last minute to do tons of research to find something that I felt good about feeding my child.
Now, to be honest, I fed both my daughter and my oldest son formula without thinking anything of it. As I got older and I learned more, I wanted a better option.
Gavin was not like my other children. He dreaded sleep, yet he wasn’t (that I know of) a colicky baby but he was crying as if he was in pain often. I did then what most mothers would do and hit google to find out why. I thought that he fit the description of possibly being lactose intolerant. Although he did not have diarrhea, he did seem to have gas, was very irritable, and was developing little red spots all over his face. So we switched to Baby’s Only Lactose Relief organic formula and he was doing well on it for about two weeks and then got constipated, really constipated, and the rashes that he had got dry and scab-like. At the pediatrician’s recommendation we switched formula brands again to see if this would solve the problem with no luck. I was at my wit’s end because I knew I had to switch formula again and this time the only other formula that the doctors were recommending was soy based and I refuse to give my baby boy soy.
So I went on a quest to find a solution when I came across this post and it changed my baby. The more research I did about homemade goat milk formula the more I started to think that this was the best option for us. I purchased Mt. Capra Goat Milk powder along with all the other ingredients. See recipe here. And I started making daily batches.
Was I scared? Yes! I was. I was scared that I wasn’t following my pediatrician’s advice; I was scared because this was not the norm. But guess what? Gavin thrived on it. His constipation went away, his faced cleared up, and he was a much happier baby. I still don’t know what in the cow milk was causing him problems back them as his formula recipe included lactose, and now at 16 months he drinks full fat organic cow milk, but I now know that I made the right choice for him then. It was a hassle making formula daily, which meant warming up the formula under hot water before every feeding, but I would do it all over in a heartbeat.
What do I recommend? Do your research, educate yourself, seek professional advice, and then make the right decision for you.
I would love to hear about your unconventional ways to childcare. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I got a call from my mom while at work today. She was telling me how the baby, who is now fifteen months, was refusing to eat lunch. She explained how she tried everything and it wasn’t until she handed over the spoon and allowed him to feed himself that mealtime resumed and he devoured his lunch.
Smiling I ended the conversation with my mom and an overwhelming feeling of sadness came over me. This feeling is not new to me. I have experienced it many times before. It comes during moments when I realize that my babies are growing up and I’m running out of time to be the mommy that I dreamt of being for them.
You see, Gavin is my third child and this time around I wanted to get it right. I’m older now and my ideas about parenting and my body have changed so much since I had my first baby. There were many things I wanted to do differently, and one of those things was breastfeeding.
During the last weeks of my pregnancy I read books, blogs, forums, anything I could find about breastfeeding and how to succeed. I thought I was prepared. I felt empowered being surrounded (both in my personal life and in online communities) by mommies, mine included, who did succeed. I was excited and ready to meet my new bundle of joy and dreamt of our nursing time together.
Now looking back I understand the many medical reasons as to why my body did not perform as it normally would: I did not go into labor on my own (it was a scheduled c-section), it was my third c-section, I lost a lot of blood, the baby was not able to nurse right away, etc.. Yet all of this didn’t stop me from trying. For weeks I pumped around the clock, took supplements, visited a lactation consultant, rented a hospital grade pump, and drove myself to exhaustion. And although I know that I gave it my all, even as the chips were stacked against me, every time I see nursing mothers I feel like a failure. I had one chance to get this right – a chance that I will never have again – and I somehow screwed it up.
I realize that as time passes the guilt becomes more manageable. I hope that someday it is gone all together. For now, I try to remind myself that I did nurse and although I did not produce enough to sustain him, we did connect in ways I never could have imagined. I remind myself that my determination was not in vain, that I am human, and that there will be many more opportunities in his life – and the life of my other children – to get it right.
How was your breastfeeding journey?