haha… he is so concerned and thoughtful all the time, just like his mama
Damn. This is hard.
I knew it was going to be hard, but also for a second, I thought “I got this.” Ha. Haha. Just like that time he slept 5 hours overnight and we thought, wow, this isn’t so bad. LOL. He made up for that by NOT sleeping more than an hour or so at a time the next 3 nights. That’ll show us.
But still, I have the dreaded “expectations.” I have to work. Leo has to work. I should know better, but I expected to get a lot more done today than I have. I expected Hawk to sleep more this morning – he didn’t – and I expected to get more work done. Without the expectations, this morning would have been great. He’s just being a baby, doing what babies do: sleep and eat, sometimes one more than the other.
I also expected to be able to wear some of my before-maternity clothes pretty quickly after giving birth. Maybe if I was 26 instead of 46 I might have been able to. But my body has changed so much, I am not comfortable in anything I already own. It honestly feels like my hips/legs/thighs got bigger/widened the last week of pregnancy and even after. I just barely lost the weight that Hawk and the placenta took up, no more than that. It doesn’t even feel like anything came off; it feels like I am gaining weight now.
Unfortunately new mother’s aren’t allowed to “complain” about their bodies after childbirth. After all, look at the beautiful human I made and get to be mother to now. Of course I wouldn’t go back now if I could, but I feel the need to mourn a little. I understand there’s a tradeoff when you have a baby – you trade your body, your life, for the gift of creating a new one. That doesn’t make the loss of the body I worked very hard for, and felt very comfortable in, much easier to deal with. My body now is not altogether unfamiliar to me (I’ve been much bigger than this) but it is one of a type in which I hoped to never live again.
Add to that the clothes I want to wear and can’t. Nevermind that because I’m not leaving the house much anyway.
I am not unhappy. Sure, I’m complaining a little, but I’m just being honest about my feelings now. I know I need to move beyond my expectations, but that is always a process for me.
This new mom thing is hard, and even harder still to have such conflicting emotions all of the time. I am so content and happy and could live in the moment forever when Hawk is asleep in my arms, when he looks at me, and when he’s happy and fidgety. And then the next second I am frustrated and stressed that he is screaming or not sleeping.
It’s all a bit of a rollercoaster lately. Thanks for bearing with me.
And hopefully I’ll have outfits again soon. For now, I’m wearing this Entireworld organic cotton shirt (gifted) and Entireworld sweatpants (also gifted) and/or this same shirt and some Eileen Fisher wide leg lounge pants and/or my robe and/or my pajamas.
Keep your head up Grechen, you’re doing great! Your body changes over 9 months to make a baby so give your body a break and 9 months to return to “normal” (I’m at 5 months and am still struggling but am just focusing on the things I can do like eating better). Also newborns are crazy hard and it gets much better after 3 months. I think before 3 months it’s almost like survival mode but after 3 months, expectations can get met…sometimes.
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Ah!! He’s so teeny and adorable! Love his expressions. 🙂
The whole childbearing process is just crazy. My body did very different things with each of my girls. With my first, I dropped a ton of weight right after childbirth, and kept it off during her first year…and then gained most of it back after I stopped breastfeeding. I was told breastfeeding requires more energy/calories, so typically women gain weight after weaning. So that’s what happened with my first. But with my second, all my weight hung around until AFTER I stopped nursing her, and then it fell off.
Both times, I had bought clothes within the first year after giving birth, and both times those clothes stopped fitting. So I was really frustrated because I had this ever-changing body, and didn’t know what it was going to do, and had spent all this money on what I *thought* would happen, and it felt like a big waste. Compound that with ALL THE FEELINGS you have during the postpartum period. You described a lot of those pretty well….our emotions go on a roller coaster, especially during the newborn period.
So all this to say – you’re not alone. It’s okay to have all the feelings. It’s okay to have expectations, and also to have those expectations dashed. Each day will come and go, and you’ll get through it. What works one day might not work another, so it’s just a constant shifting of techniques and attitudes. If there’s one thing to keep in mind, it’s just “be adaptable.” It’s not failure if something that used to work doesn’t; it’s just that your baby, and the entire family, is going through a LOT of different stages and growth spurts in a really short period of time, and you just have to adapt to keep up with everything.
i really appreciate this post. there is a lot of mourning in motherhood–loss of past life, freedoms, body shape, energy, etc. but these things all ebb and flow over time. i have a 2 year old now, and i feel like my freedom factor has definitely gone up (compared to year 1), though my energy has gone down! i ended up weighing less post-partum after a few months than i did before–partly breastfeeding, but also eating differently–but i have less muscle tone now. i love my kid, and would not change my life to edit her out of it, but it’s different now and that must be acknowledged. there are levels to this mourning. it comes and it goes; sometimes it lingers on, and sometimes it’s just a snap because duty calls or something or other must be done. but, i’m not for sugarcoating and faking the funk. tell it plain. thank you!
Cathy Tilton says
Aww such a sweet pic!! Please keep sharing your feelings. Motherhood is freaking HARD, and comes with so many highs and lows. And all of the feelings are valid, and none of them are bad or wrong. As a childless friend to many moms, I have seen firsthand the importance of sharing the hard times and not feeling shamed. You are doing great, and you are allowed to be annoyed with your body and your wardrobe and still love your little one to bits. Love you lots, my friend!!!!
Kat Lee Dune says
Thank you for continuing to post and to be real and honest. I’ve been enjoying following your closet through up, down, in, out, and now childbirth. You’re a marvellous human being.
I agree with this! I think it was between 2 and 3 months after having my first son that I felt more relaxed and accepting of our “new normal.” And it definitely takes 9 months or longer to grow a baby, so give yourself longer than that to adjust. Our bodies do change after pregnancy and birth. Your arms will get even stronger from carrying him as he grows, and this time next year, he’ll be walking.
Hawk is adorable and has such a wise face.
Hawk is soooo completely adorable! What a baby! I love the personality reflected in his little face. And as always, Grechen thank you for the openness and honesty you so generously share with all of us. You’re looking radiant, though I completely identify with your feelings of loss with regard to your hard-won pre-pregnancy body. It took me more over a year to get back to normal after both my boys were born. But honey, you will get it all back with time. Just take it slowly and be patient with yourself – you’ve grown a perfect little boy. Our hip bones actually soften and widen in the last weeks before birth to accommodate the baby’s head – isn’t that neat trick? It’s also why jeans won’t close and shirts bunch up for quite a while afterward. With time, though, they pull together again.
As the late great Laurie Colwin described it in her beautiful novel “A Big Storm Knocked it Over”,
“Motherhood is a storm, a seizure; It is like weather. Nights of high wind followed by calm mornings of dense fog or brilliant sunshine that gives way to tropical rain, or blinding snow… you find yourself swept away, cast ashore, washed overboard. It’s hard to keep anything straight. The days seem to congeal like rubber cement, although moments stand out in clearest, starkest brilliance. You might string these together on the charm bracelet of your memory if you could keep your eyes open long enough to remember anything….”
Thank you for this post Grechen, and your continued honesty in this new phase of your life. As a woman in a same-sex marriage who longs to be a mother, these posts and comments are invaluable to me. The realities of motherhood and all of the physical and mental changes that come along with it need to be discussed more, wherever people are comfortable doing so. It’s honesty like yours that keeps me honest and out of the very tempting dream cloud that is ideas of motherhood as all loving cuddles and lullabies and soft kisses. I’m so thankful that you and others are comfortable sharing your experiences; I feel you’re already helping me to be a better mother when the time comes, in allowing myself to just be me- societal pressures and norms be damned.
Thanks for being so open and honest Grechen! Posts like this are so important for showing real life and not just how motherhood is portrayed on Instagram and other social media apps! All of your feelings are valid, don’t feel afraid to express them! Hawk is so, so adorable. 🙂
I still can’t get over all of that dark hair! (My kids were cue balls!) And looking at Hawk, I realize how TINY newborns are.
The weight will come off with breastfeeding, and it will help shrink your uterus back to size faster. But there’s SO much to adapt to right after a baby is born. Make that your motto: Adapt! Feel free to vent to us anytime. 😉
A million yesses to this!
Aww….Laurie Colwin! That’s such a great passage, Holly.
Oh how I love your honesty! Keep feeling all the feelings. You are amazing.
My first daughter seemed “easy” at first (for a newborn), but then week 3 hit and it felt like nonstop screaming until week 8. Nothing was wrong with her, doctor said everything was fine, she was gaining weight and had plenty of happy moments….but in the evenings it was SCREAM MODE. And then it just stopped as suddenly as it started. I read some things about “purple crying”, this phase that new babies go through where they just cry for seemingly no reason, but when you think about it….this tiny little human is experiencing ALL THE THINGS and growing her little body and brain at an enormous rate, so sometimes she just needs to scream it out!
But yes, with both my kids, it felt like the 3 month mark was when it got a lot easier. There were still challenges of course, but those first 3 months are a crazy sleep deprived blur!
I think everything you are feeling is normal, and maybe it’s because I’m an older mom as well, but the infancy/newborn stage was so damn hard for me. Everything changes and you really have no control. I did not feel like I even knew my daughter until she was about 2 most old, and I felt so bad about it. Like I absolutely would have taken a bullet for her, but only because she was a tiny baby, not because she was “mine”. It was the strangest feeling. People would ask me questions like “Isn’t it the best?” and ” Don’t you love her more than you can describe?” and I would feel terrible because I felt like I had this stranger just taking over my life. Suddenly it clicked at like 2-3 months old, and I did feel like I had known her forever. I had a second baby 13 months later, and it was very different. My son just fit right in, and maybe it’s because I’d already resigned my life to babies. Good luck. Everything is going to be fine. You’ll find some clothes, and things will slowly settle in. Also at least you don’t want to murder Leo. For some reason I HATED my husband after my daughter was born. Like how did I even end up with this guy…luckily that passed too, lol.
First six weeks with my first baby were almost hallucinatory they were so weird. The sleep disruptions, the nursing, I don’t think I had the wherewithal to even THINK about my body – not because I was evolved and Zen just because the whole experience felt like the universe had just cracked open.
a) it gets better
b) you are the best judge of what’s right, there is no one way, what works for one person’s baby may or may not work for another mom/baby dyad
c) only ask for advice from people you like, trust, and think share your values around parenting
Oh hey I just remembered I wrote something to two friends with newborns quite a while back. Only in case it’s useful. You are Hawk’s perfect mother. https://hankandlucy.blogspot.com/search?q=lisa
With the gift of hindsight, my kids are 17 and 19 now, I can say that this too shall pass. You know that of course, but those newborn days are hard – emotionally, mentally and physically. It will take weeks/months to get your body back. I was 28 when I had my first and it took a while. Plus as you’ve noticed, none of your original clothes are comfortable for a while, things changed. But you’ll get where you want to eventually. Also I don’t know if it’s the huge life change, lack of sleep, or hormones, but those early days seemed like they went by in an instant and lasted an eternity at the same time. You and Hawk are both learning so much everyday you’ll be an expert in no time. Plus if I’ve learned anything in parenting, it’s that as soon as you’ve figured out one phase of life with a kid it changes. So the good news is whenever it’s hard, don’t worry it will change again soon. Take good care.
Oh my gosh, Grechen, I had to giggle at the photo. Hawk looks just so… earnest! Like he really has something important to say but he just can’t find the words… yet. So sweet. I had my kids 19 and 17 years ago, when I was 28 and 30. I remember feeling exactly like you are now, but you put those feelings into words much better than I could at the time. Looking back, especially now that my kids are almost grown up and starting to leave home, I would give anything to go back for some extra love. Sure, they love me, but there’s nothing like baby snuggles. You are doing great!! The days are long but the years are short, so they say.
Ah, the old expectations rub! You have it exactly right — if we loosen our expectations, we are probably happier. There’s just no predicting things with a little baby, at least not for those first months. I think being kind to yourself, and patient with your yourself, as you seem to be doing, is the only way through it. What gets done will get done, and what slips will slip, and in the end you’ll probably remember his newborn-time way more than whatever work did or didn’t get finished, which is what I always remind myself, ha.
You’re right to say new mom’s aren’t “allowed” to complain about our bodies, which kind of blows in my opinion. Feelings are feelings, and the loss of autonomy, both bodily and otherwise, is a significant change. I am just starting to feel “normal” (e.g. stronger, not so tired, blah blah) and my baby is 13 months. But I DO feel better, and that’s what matters. Hawk is the most intriguing little baby, such a deeply intelligent face — and you look radiant. <3
Grechen Reiter says
yes, i’ve heard that. it’s the fourth trimester, right? survival mode it is 😉
You’re doing great, Grechen. And he is so, so cute. That hair!
Babies truly are the “boss” – I think there’s even a very cute book called “The Boss Baby” (and another “Go the F__k to Sleep”).
Hang in there – and get some help if you can.
When I had my first baby (I was 31/32) and right after delivery my whole body went soft. Any muscle that i had was seemingly replaced by fat (?) because I was just larger/rounder/softer everywhere than before the delivery. Like shoulders, calves, places that I completely didn’t expect and didn’t think were possible. I also didn’t know that if you’re nursing, your body will like just hold on to the fat until you stop producing milk. I did manage to go down in stages as my milk went through changes. But I just weaned my second (at 3.5 years old) at 37 this past spring/early summer and now that my milk completely stopped my body is much different. I’m starting to lose the “stubborn” pockets of reserves that I had, which I realize now were sustaining the trickle of milk I was still producing. Your body really is incredible right now and will be for a while! And it’s totally ok if you don’t see or feel it all right now. It’s only something you can fully appreciate when you’re past it and you look back in gratitude and meditation.
Grechen Reiter says
thank you 🙂
that’s very interesting that our bodies hold onto the fat while breastfeeding. isn’t that the opposite of what they say LOL? that the weight will just “MELT” off if you breastfeed?? i mean, i knew that wasn’t true…
and yes, I am feeling the “fat” in places I haven’t normally, and the lack of muscle definition….
Lisa S says
I took what basically amounted to a “Here’s how not to kill your baby while bathing it, you idiot” class for four weeks before I gave birth, and the teacher was this rich-hippie boomer lady who exuded serenity — and the most valuable thing she taught me was that “It’s going to be like nothing you expected. It’s okay if it’s nothing like what you expected. Just surrender to what it is.”
She’d waft around the classroom in a swirling cloud of expensive and beautiful silk caftans and long strings of grape-sized topaz beads, and she’d intone, “Surrenderrrrrrrr, surrenderrrrrrr, surrenderrrrrr.”
And she was RIGHT.
I am fairly Type A — well, Type A-minus, which is what 30-odd years of living in the SF Bay Area will do to you — and knowing that everything was out of my control and I just needed to surrenderrrrrrr, surrenderrrrrr was EXACTLY what I needed to be kind to myself during the fourth trimester.
You’ll survive this. Surrender to what it is. Release your expectations and surrender. You’re doing better than you think you are.
Every body is different; I know after mine was born I was dismayed and horrified and in shock by what my body was doing!
I think it’s because towards the end of pregnancy my skin felt so tight all over my body and I felt enormous, but pumped full of pressure. I think I assumed that that “tight” feeling would continue as it was my new normal. And omg, it did not.
After birth – it was as if everything…deflated. I had what felt like this soggy, half-deflated inner tube encircling where my waist used to be. Legs, arms, everything felt like soft bags of sand. I was stunned.
Then I breastfed, and had a child that only was soothed by being held and walking, or being held and swaying. I was eating like a horse, hungry all of the time, and didn’t “do” anything to lose weight – I ate a lot of protein, a lot of good fats, a ton of food and very little sugar. And it all dropped away over the course of the next several months without every restricting my meals or snacks (I was eating sometimes from dawn til 10pm).
I nursed for around 2.5 years and I did not gain or lose weight when I did stop – my appetite decreased as I slowed down the nursing sessions.
Hang in there – you are in the hardest of times right now. Every single day will probably be different, and they are disorganized little beings that are suddenly in this loud and chaotic world. They were wrapped up tight in a little weightless and whooshing womb – so soothing! Skin to skin, and wearing and walking can often be helpful. But everything is changing so rapidly in the first 3 months that just when it seems like you might be able to predict what’s next they’re changing again. Day to day. Moment to moment. If you can – release expectations. I know that can be so very hard. On days where I was at my wits end, I would just take my son into the shower with me and let gentle water run down his back while I held him.
The hours between 4-7pm are often the “witching hour” – and it’s not uncommon for young infants to just be falling apart. It’s totally normal, and totally debilitating. Hold them against your chest and just walk and walk or rock in the rocking chair. Sometimes I would just whisper: “I know….I know…” Know that this may just be this stage for you right now. There is often a need for release at the end of the day, just hold them and let them release it.
It WILL get better. Let everything but the barest of essentials go right now – hang in there.
Grechen Reiter says
omg, that’s exactly how i feel – deflated and soggy LOL – the opposite of that tight feeling towards the end of pregnancy.
probably i need to cut back on the sugar i started to eat so much of during my last trimester and at least i would FEEL better. it’s also hard to eat well with only one hand haha. and i’m running out of the baked oatmeal, etc. i prepared and froze.
ah well, i am hanging in there. just reading all these comments, and knowing that other women have gone through the same things helps so much. I absolutely have found myself whispering to hawk while I pace around “i’m sorry” over and over again. I know he’s as confused and frustrated as i am with all of this!! we’re both just doing the best we can.
thank you so much for taking the time to write 🙂
Thank you, sweet Mamavalveeta! You are always so kind and supportive and thoughtful. An Angel.
Grechen Reiter says
haha! that reminds me of the show i just finished watching on netflix, the let down. the teacher wasn’t a rich-hippie though… i’d love to find a class/group like that, but i’m afraid everyone would be so much younger than me and i wouldn’t be able to connect with anyone.
surrendering is SO HARD!!! but i am the same, and like to have some measure of control. i practiced letting go of that expectation of control during pregnancy, so it’s a bit easier for me to surrender than it was before, but still challenging. hopefully i’ll get the hang of it soon.
thank you !!
Grechen Reiter says
thanks chris!! leo’s being a great help right now, i couldn’t ask for a better partner. we’ll have lots of family coming in the next couple of weeks so i’ll definitely “use” them for more help LOL
Grechen Reiter says
thanks julia 🙂
tuesday was a real wake-up call for me. these last two days i’ve really made an effort to NOT have so many expectations and it’s been a little easier to get through the days. it helps when i’m not being extra hard on myself. of course LOL
Grechen Reiter says
yes, i love that. each day feels like forever, but also i can’t believe he’s been here three weeks already….
Grechen Reiter says
yes, thank you! i’m trying to remind myself of that. “this too shall pass” is an excellent motto for these days…
When they get there, use them so you can SLEEP! I swear that my last daughter at age 38 was so much easier than her two sisters because at ages 10 and 12, they were dying to “babysit” their little sister and I got to sleep! They’d play with her when I cooked, cleaned toilets, etc. What a game-changer to feel rested!
Oh mama, I hear you. Know that when you may be feeling helpless, and can’t “stop” the crying that you are doing everything they need by just holding them and being present for them to release all of this.
To support your own needs – and by supporting you, you’re supporting Hawk – do what you can to get the food you need. You’re not sleeping, you’re making milk, your hormones are all over the place – do what you can to help your body re-regulate. And I know how hard this is! I only mentioned the sugar as it was a game changer for me – when I learned that my sugar cravings are an indication that I need more protein and more good fats *STAT* – I really started to feel better. When I crave sugar I now my body is sending out a distress flare and I know I haven’t had enough protein and fat and I need to get some right away.
Macadamia nuts, avocados, almonds, eggs, roasted chicken, hemp seeds…once I really upped my protein and fat intake my energy leveled out and I wasn’t crashing like I would before.
I completely understand the eating with one hand issue! Here’s something that worked for me: I’d put him on the counter in a soft bouncy seat so he could see me. I’d have just minutes before he lost it again, so I’d make myself wraps so that I could pick him back up again and we could walk and I could eat.
Wraps would be sprouted grain tortillas (extra protein and fiber; throw them on a burner for 30 seconds so they’re pliable) – then stuffed with sliced turkey, goat cheese, handfuls of arugula and maybe I had time to put a spoon into an avocado and throw it in, too. I can now make them in under two minutes – it saves my sanity.
Other things such as a roast chicken from the grocery store would get picked apart and thrown into a container to make quick wraps for the next few days. You can even throw in chopped hard boiled eggs in (think cobb salad-ish). Make a dozen eggs and throw them in the fridge for later.
You can get pre-cooked proteins at grocery stores and Trader Joe’s – ready to go and pre-sliced or in semi-bite sized pieces, pre-washed bags of arugula or spinach are so handy to stuff in.
I think I lived nearly entirely on wraps for months – I had to be able to walk and eat at the same time.
Sleep whenever you can, drink a lot of water, and try to get protein and fat into every snack and meal – it can really help!
This is a phase to get through – it’s unfathomable how the day never ends at this point, it just is a 24 hour clock that is constantly rolling, there’s no reset. It’s terrifying and exhausting. And it’s normal for now, and it WILL change. It’s so very hard, I know.
And do know that every baby is different – take what advice resonates with you and let go of the rest. You got this.
I had my first child before any friends of mine did and I was also far from family support. It was not at all what I expected either. My daughter had colic and my husband couldn’t take any time off work and worked long hours. I was home alone with a baby that screamed every waking hour and slept very little. It was very hard. But I trudged through and things greatly improved around 3 months. Oh and I came back from the hospital weighing MORE than I did when I left home in labor!! But with breastfeeding on demand 1 -2 yrs, staying active, and not eating junk, the weight came off gradually over 6 months. Same story for all 3 of my kids..minus the colic.
“.” I have to work. Leo has to work. ”
No work either of you do will ever be as important as raising your son.
hey! i completely understand the mom-body dilemma. i’m guessing if/when you read this, it will be during a late night feed/change/baby sleeps in your arms while you’re wide awake session. i’m almost 27, i have an almost 5 yr old and a 18 mo old. I am just now starting to love my body again like i did before kids (you know that graceful period when you hate your body/ only to look back and think “damn i was hot!”) and i still have the inevitable mom-pooch. and this won’t help you, because you have an amazing little human with you, but your life sucks. getting used to being at the beck and call of this little thing, takes a bit. you’ll get there. you are strong. 🙂
Grechen Reiter says
i was totally reading your comment at 3 AM while feeding him LOL
This rang so true to my experience, even the second time around when I should have been a bit more realistic. The first six months or so are just…shock. Your body, your circadian rhythms, your sense of self. It’s like a bomb has been dropped into the middle of it all. A beautiful, beloved bomb, but still – massive change everywhere. It’s all survival mode. Expectations make it harder, it’s true. But it’s not always easy to keep them in check. My survival tips are not to worry about the weight, inasmuch as you can. Do the small self-care things that makes your tell your feel better: for me, good quality chocolate, guilty pleasure TV and movies in any and all nap times, very very good tea in a good pot. Baby crying is designed to scramble your nervous system and send you into protection mode – it will get better and easier.
Also – you will get your ‘body’ or your version of your body that synchs with your sense of self back. I think I’ve posted this before, but I felt so blah about my body during second pregnancy and long after birth. I was carrying 10kg more than my pre-preg norm, even months after, and not dropping much at all. About a year in, something just clicked. I started doing the 5:2 diet, and I dropped it all in a couple of months. I now have an 18-month old and am lighter than I was before I had my first. Your body is in recovery mode now, and you need to nurture like anything. But, these things are so much more resillient and in flux than we realise. With your nutrition and fitness habits, you WILL regain your sense of self. It just might take a bit longer. Which is fine, really. You look beautiful.
Your honesty is loveable. Deep inside, everyone appreciates real people because they know that’s the life they face themselves.
All the troubles you are going through won’t last.