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    Who Takes Care of Mom?

    The day my daughter was born, I let myself go. I know that sounds dramatic, but it's true. The second my doctor put my 8 pound baby on my chest, I unconsciously told myself I now come second. I won't eat until my daughter's food is ready. I won't shower until she's been bathed first. I won't work unless she's napping (I'm only able to write this because she finally went down for her second nap, praise Jesus). 

    Everything I do is for her. Everything I do NOT do is for her. I'm basically a slave to a one year old. And I'm totally cool with it, because I love her more than anything on the planet...here comes the big BUT...Who takes care of me? Who will put ME first?

    If you're a mom, I'm sure you've asked yourself that question before. Want to know the answer? YOU! You have to put yourself first. Have you ever asked your children, "Is it okay if mommy goes to the movies without you?" Of course you haven't, because you probably won't like the answer. We can't expect alone time to come to us, we have to MAKE the time. If you don't, you'll start to lose yourself. I know I did. I started to forget the old me. Who even was I? I started to believe my name was Mama, not Kristin. Man, I missed that girl. She was a cool chick.

    Remember when your baby was first born, and you forgot what the inside of a shower looked like? I'm kidding, kind of. Those first few weeks are brutal. Your hair is a mop. You have week old stains on your sweatpants. God only knows when the last time you shaved your legs was. If you got to sleep for more than 45 minutes it felt like winning the lottery. Now that your baby is sleeping through the night, and you pretty much have a routine down, why not spend some time focusing on yourself?

    Oh right, mom guilt. Mom guilt can suck it. Me and her are not friends. Don't let her get to you! She is not real! She doesn't have your best interest at heart. That's your responsibility. Want to have a "me" day? Let me tell you how.

    As the poetic Shia LaBeouf would say, "JUST DO IT!"

    Okay but for real, here's what you do:

    1. Get someone to watch your children.

    This is the hardest part, especially if you don't have family around. But a "me" day is about YOU, so if possible, get your spouse or partner to stay with the kids. They don't need to tag along.

    2. Relax.

    If you don't, you won't enjoy yourself. The baby is fine. Your kids are fine. This is your time to focus on YOU.

    3. Figure out what to do.

    Get a massage, get your nails done, get a tattoo, whatever floats your boat. The last "me day" I had, I got a pedicure and two new piercings. (Mom-life crisis, anyone?)

    If you don't want to spend money, you can do your own nails at home, do a face mask, take a bubble bath, read that book that's been sitting on your shelf, or even take a glorious nap. 

    Whatever you do, treat yourself with kindness and grace, because you deserve it!

    Comment on this blog post and tell me what plans you have for your next "me day!"

    -Kristin, owner + creator of Free the Mother

    xoxo

    First Month of Motherhood: My Experience

    Today is a special day. As I sit holding my newborn in my arms I reflect on this motherhood journey and the ups and downs of my first month postpartum. I am a first time momma and I can’t believe it’s been one month today that I brought a beautiful baby girl into this world.

    Each morning I stare at her soft perfect skin and think to myself that she’s a blank canvas full of potential and endless possibilities- so pure and so new. The world is her oyster. I daydream about all the beauty we will show her and all the adventures we will go on as she grows yet on the other hand I want to stop time and keep her in my arms protecting her from any pain and discomfort. The feelings of happiness, fear and joy were so intense that I cried daily. I was overwhelmed by my emotions the first two weeks after giving birth.

    The postpartum journey is bittersweet as I am so in awe of this little human my husband and I have created yet my body and hormones were wreaking havoc on me as well . This can make it hard to the sweet fleeting moments with your newborn and the emotional roller coaster that mothers talk about is real. My body ached, I was sleep deprived, I was bleeding and had a new found appreciation for mesh undies. I was adjusting to my new body that’s now showcasing a squishy belly. I was introduced to horrid hemorrhoids and learning to breast feed and get a good latch was not an easy task in the beginning. It also didn’t help that I was sensitive to anything anyone told me. The first two weeks postpartum I also felt an odd emptiness, a sadness that I could no longer protect my baby in my belly and feel her daily kicks and the anticipation of her birth which seems silly but it’s how I felt at that moment in time. 

    The Postpartum period and the baby blues brings the unexpected. I read so many books and blogs before giving birth but nothing prepares you for those first few weeks except love, support and encouraging words  from family and friends. I realized my baby and I had to learn about each other. I needed to learn her crying cues and I had adjust to my new role as a momma while my body healed and hormones leveled out. I was fortunate enough to have my mom stay with me the first two weeks and having that support was essential. I recommend that all new mothers put together a support system for the first couple weeks as you heal and find your new way of life as a momma.

    The saying it takes a village brings own a whole new meaning to me now. My dear mother gave me good advice during her stay when I was feeling overwhelmed and said, "honey your job right now is to love and nurture your baby and yourself, nothing else." Once I processed those words of wisdom a weight lifted off my shoulders and I realized that was all that mattered and the cleaning, cooking, unfinished projects and emails could wait. 

    Today one month postpartum I feel strong and accomplished as a new momma, not every day is perfect I still struggle but love and nurturing my baby is a true gift and each day I learn new things about my baby girl and myself. Cheers to all the new mothers out there. Stay strong and confident in your instincts and may you find strength in yourself and all those around you during this postpartum transition and the sweet journey of motherhood.

     

    -Christine Rapley, @c.rara22

    Fourth Trimester

    Honestly, motherhood is hard as hell. It’s ram your head through a wall hard. It’s cry your eyes out at two in the morning hard. It’s wanting to scream at the top of your lungs 23 hours of the day (the other one hour you’ll be asleep…maybe) hard. It is not what I expected AT ALL

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    Most moms only tell you the good and magical things about being a mom. They don’t tell you about how postpartum bleeding lasts weeks after birth and your bathroom will look like a scene from Carrie, how it’s going to feel like your butt hole is going to rip into a million pieces the first time you poop (no really, that was scary shit. no pun intended). Or how you’ll have to squirt a bottle of water on yourself after you pee instead of wiping. Oh and hemorrhoids. Yup.
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    They don’t tell you that your body doesn’t just go back to what it was after you give birth (if you left the hospital in the jeans you wore pre pregnancy, I loathe you. jkjk…or am I?). They don’t tell you that peeing your pants every time you laugh, sneeze or move is normal now. They don’t tell you that you sometimes won’t even want to get out of bed because you’re scared of what the day might have in store for you. They don’t tell you that you won’t know what to do with your baby when you get home, how to calm them down, how to read what they want. They don’t tell you that you’ll probably have zero sex drive or any desire to even kiss your partner for weeks, you might even feel like you HATE them. They don’t tell you how much you’ll be googling “when does a newborn sleep through the night” and “why won’t my newborn stop crying”, no joke I must have googled this about 27 times and read the same articles over and over. Talking about poop color is now the norm and you might as well go save a poop color chart into your phone now.

    No mother wants to admit that when they first meet their baby, they don’t feel all mushy and warm inside like you’re supposed to. I had pictured us meeting to be magical but after pushing a watermelon sized human being out of your vagina it’s hard to be all sunshine and rainbows at first. It’s overwhelming for sure. And yeah, sometimes I even resented her a little for using me as a human pacifier! I remember one night just sitting up in bed crying hysterical while I was nursing her asking myself “WHY am I doing this???”, “WHY did I want this???” but of course those feelings start to fade and you realize it’s all worth it. You’ll question yourself, you’ll doubt yourself, you’ll even ask yourself if your baby is broken because they cry so much. But it’s beautiful in all its craziness.
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    Postpartum anxiety aka baby blues is SO real. Taking care of a tiny helpless human is actually pretty damn scary. You’ll worry about everything and anything. You’re afraid to fall asleep, you’re afraid to put them down to go to the bathroom or take a shower, you’ll constantly check if their chest is moving up and down while they’re sleeping. You’ll most likely feel like you have a lump in your throat 24/7. THIS IS NORMAL. Not only did your body go through a massive life change, so did your mind! Hormones are flying around like crazy, you’ll be crying one second and happy the next. It’s basically like having your period, but a thousand times worse. If you’re having trouble coping and your anxiety leads to depression, get help from your doctor, partner and loved ones. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – this does NOT make you a bad mom.

    You will constantly ask yourself, “why does she cry when I put her down?”, “why does she only sleep on my chest?”. For the first three months of your baby’s life, it can help to think of her like a fetus outside of the womb. I wish I had known this while I was pregnant so I could really understand WHY Rori was always crying and upset, it’s so hard to forget that every single thing for them is new. YOU are their entire world. They’ve been in your belly for the past nine months, the safe sounds of your heartbeat and the tightness and warmth of the womb is all they ever knew.UntitledNow just imagine yourself going back to womb from world…I wouldn’t be happy either! This is why I’m constantly promoting baby wearing and swaddling. It mimics the womb so baby is the most comfortable they can be and you can regain some sanity! White noise is a lifesaver even now and Rori is four months old. I’m not going to say it gets easier after the fourth trimester, but it definitely gets better. You’ll find yourself again, you’ll love your partner again, your body will go back to normal. This chapter seems endless and all babies are difficult, but one day your crazy ass will want another one! That’s motherhood. giphy (1).gif

    It takes a village.

    **I don’t want to scare anyone into having a baby, because it is a beautiful journey. I wrote this blog to educate new moms or soon to be moms on things that no one tells you about postpartum/fourth trimester!

     

    -Shannen Fusco, @raising.rori

    Check out Shannen's blog, www.lifeofafusco.com 

    One Week Postpartum Thoughts

    First week postpartum and I must admit it’s been a whirlwind of a journey. This being my 3rd c-section I remembered some discomforts and “things” that may happen in the days and weeks to follow. I knew my physical limitations would be many and my dependence on others would be necessary, but what I didn’t realize or remember fully were the emotions or pains that would follow. 


    I had a partial sense of recognition or remembrance to the “things” that were forthcoming but our minds have a way of blocking the bad so that the good can stay. First and foremost- empty shell.


    The feeling is real despite all the aches and pains associated with the third trimester. I carried this precious baby for 9 months and though I’m cradling him in my arms as I type this I miss the internal feelings. The morning jabs, hiccups, quick moves, and indescribable positions during the day somehow brought me so much comfort.
    As I begin this new breastfeeding journey I must admit I forgot the nerve pinching, foot tapping, jaw clinching pain during the first few latches but instantly remembered the comfort of having my baby’s skin on mine, being able to provide nutrition and comfort to him, and the quiet moments together just gazing at one another.


    C-section pain.... can we skip that one.. on a real note- my brain and body chose to remember this in bits and pieces. If you’ve ever had a c-section you know that laughing, sneezing, and coughing are all curse words! You never realize the use of your abdominal muscles in those actions until you have none left! I know it takes time but I’m married to a big jokester and laughing ultimately results in crying so all jokes are on hold in our house.


    Unexplainable Crying- my brain partially blocked that one too. Can I be honest here? I’ve cried at least 6 times today for no apparent reason.. dancing and crying, rocking my baby and crying, sitting in bed and crying... I’m sure you get the gist.


    Body image- my belly went from housing a watermelon to now a squishy half deflated bouncy ball. My incision looks like a battle wound, the brown line is still there, and my belly button can now go back to collecting lent. I’m definitely adjusting to this new body but guess what?! It took 9 months to grow my precious baby and it endured a major surgery- it’s going to take time for it to go back to pre baby and I’m ok with that. 
    This all may seem like a ramble and for the most part it is but guess what- all of this is normal! There is an endless list of “things” we as moms experience postpartum that are often left off social media, undermined, brushed off, or honestly just not talked about and it’s sad that society is that way. Postpartum is a journey that’s not always pretty. Our bodies, minds, and entire lives are changing and though that journey is different for each of us it’s so important that we embrace each “thing” one step at a time, encourage one another, and know that a lot of what you are feeling is completely normal and to not be afraid to ask for help!

     

    -Kelsey Spelce, @kelsey.spelce

    Embracing My Postpartum Body

    A close mommy friend of mine saw me wearing this bikini and said to me “Wow! I didn’t realize how much stretch marks you have.” The old me would’ve taken that comment, allowed it to affect my self-esteem, making me feel ashamed of my body even more without saying a word. But for the first time, I replied, “I kind of like it now. Plus, it tells a stranger immediately that I’m a mother and I think that’s pretty cool.” I was surprise by my answer and with each word that came out of my mouth I felt my insecurities get smaller and smaller. She then said, “I thought mine was bad and was always self-conscious, but seeing you showing yours makes me feel like I can too.” It made me smile and I said, “Why not? You’re a beautiful woman even with scars.”

    The conversation made me think - how many of us are always self-doubting, self-hating, and self-shaming our own bodies? How many times have you wanted to wear that sexy dress or a bikini but never did because you felt too insecure and afraid people might judge? I know I am super guilty of this, feeling unworthy. Even worse, telling myself I wasn’t allowed to wear something BECAUSE I was a mom now. I’ve let myself be consumed by these negative thoughts and have it define who I am, and that NEEDS TO STOP.

    Embracing my postpartum body has been a long time coming. I am proud of what my body went through to bring life into this world. These tiger stripes are a reminder of that and so much more. Practicing self-love daily has been a huge game changer for me. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have days when I wake up and all I see is that belly covered in stretch marks, feeling insecure all over again and playing into the self-hating mind game. So this is me, slowly tearing down those walls I’ve built up to cover all my scars, open and publicly, taking the steps forward to self love & care.

     -Aimi L., @earthsignmama