What You Do Today Matters… Adventures of a New Mom

When I was at the end of my pregnancy with Charlotte the most common question I received was, “Are you ready for the baby to be born?!” I guess towards the end of most women’s pregnancies they are miserable and ready to be done and have the baby out. I, however, was different. I would always reply that I wasn’t ready for the baby to be born and was happy to have her where she was, on the inside. I knew that once baby was born, life would become more complicated and I wouldn’t be able to be as free anymore, and I don’t think there is anything that can prepare you for that change.

Now that Charlotte is here I love having her to hold in my arms every day. I find myself going against most book recommendations and letting her sleep in my bed because she sleeps better, and I enjoy her cuddling with me. She prefers being held to lying down so most of my day is spent holding her or having her in the baby sling; it truly is the only way I can accomplish anything.

She is an instant conversation starter wherever we go; people go bananas over babies. There is innocence about them as well as a sense that they are hard to win over. People love holding a baby when it isn’t crying – it makes them feel like they are a good person and doing something right. I don’t think there is a faster way to make someone feel like crap then having them hold a baby, and it starts screaming.

While babies are sweet, innocent, loving, and great snuggle bugs, they can also be a pain in the butt. There are ways Charlotte affects my day to day life that I had no idea she would until she was here. I am not talking about lack of sleep or the fact I can hardly feed myself because I’m feeding her all day. I am talking day to day simplicities I once took for granted. Since I have so many friends who are new moms or are about to become moms I thought I’d address the things that you can no longer do as easily, now that you have a baby in tow. I’m skipping the obvious luxuries and giving you examples of things I miss on a daily basis:

Coffee runs. I once thought nothing about running into 7 eleven for an iced coffee. After having Charlotte there is now a whole production with taking the car seat in and out of the car on any errand we go. I have to think, “is that iced coffee really worth it?” I don’t think it’s socially acceptable to leave a baby in the car while you run in somewhere, although believe me I’ve thought about it. Then I remember how I’ve had concerned citizens surrounding my car when I leave my dog in there and think better of doing so. Places with drive-thrus are your new best friend.

Grocery shopping. Unfortunately not every place has a drive-thru, and you will be forced to leave your vehicle and go inside. If it is raining or snowing I avoid even trying to go to the store because it’s too much of a hassle. I have found it is preferable to park by where the grocery carts are returned so I can grab the car seat and put Charlotte in the cart easily and then wheel her in the store. These grocery store outings have to be carefully timed with a nap so I usually do my shopping on our way home from somewhere when she’s already asleep. However, Chad and I pushed our luck a few weeks ago and attempted to go to Whole Foods. This was after she had already been sleeping while we worked out at the gym for an hour. She woke up and had a meltdown in the store, resulting in screaming and turning bright red, so I took her out of the car seat to hold her while people stared at me with pity. Yes people will stare at you like you are the cause of your baby freaking out. I also have not mastered how to put Charlotte in the car and unload the groceries with the cart without having the cart roll away somewhere in between. I went to the store the other day after Chad came home sans Charlotte, and it was amazing how freeing it felt to run in and out without the whole production.

Going out to eat. I have been fortunate enough to be able to meet my friends out for lunch dates with Charlotte. Chad and I have also been out to dinner several times with her, and it was a breeze. What I did not realize though is that many of my favorite restaurants are not baby friendly. Some have high chairs for you to put the car seat in, others do not. Changing a diaper becomes an issue when you see the bathroom has no changing table, so there you are trying your best to do it on the floor. I highly recommend a travel changing pad for these purposes. Having to travel with a car seat and stroller just presents a new set of logistical problems when it comes to maneuvering. I also have to be prepared now for Charlotte to want to eat when she wants to eat. I truly felt like a mom the other day when I was sitting on the patio furniture at Ikea breast feeding while Chad looked at shelving units.

Shopping for yourself. Prepare to become an online shopper because once the baby is born you will have a hard time shopping for yourself. Being pregnant semi-prepares you for this because, well, you pretty much give up on shopping since you are in maternity wear. Now that Charlotte is here my body still isn’t back to where I want it to be so I haven’t bought any clothing. I started thinking about buying clothing the other day and became too overwhelmed with the thought of bringing Charlotte with me. My thought process went something like this: “Will I bring the stroller in with me or leave it in the car? If I bring the stroller in how can I go in the fitting room? If I leave the stroller in the car then how can I carry the car seat and shop?” The good news is I’m saving a lot of money, which is fabulous because I don’t have money to spend right now. I know I could shop when Chad is at home, but right now I’d rather use that time away to take a yoga class.

Natalie & Charlotte at Bootcamp

What I think I miss the most is being spontaneous. I cannot do the simple meaningless things that take up time in a day. I cannot run out for coffee or cupcakes, clothing, groceries or lunch on a whim. I must carefully consider Charlotte and her needs before I attend to my own throughout the day. Having Charlotte has made me much choosier about how I spend my 24 hours. In teaching my yoga classes I have always encouraged my students to spend their time on their mat wisely because they are spending an hour in their life. Now I find myself living my own yoga advice. As a birthday present to myself I signed up for a bootcamp at my gym that is every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, for an hour starting at 9:30AM. While it is hard to get out of the house on time, this is an hour that I get to spend on my fitness and in the company of others I enjoy, and bonus, Charlotte can come as well.

 

Instead of spending my days running around creating errands for myself to stay busy, I am actually focused and centered on one task for the day. It is yet another trade off of being a new mom – I swapped a bunch of little things that I thought mattered for one big thing that actually does.

So I encourage my moms-to-be out there to enjoy the little things that make up your day- putting on make-up, drinking coffee, having lunch with a friend, or taking yoga with your husband. Enjoy your trip to the post office, the bank, the dry cleaners or to the nail salon. Soon you will find just one of these things overwhelming enough to occupy a whole afternoon. In exchange find something even better that benefits your life, your mental health and your child. Whether this is a breast feeding support group you attend, baby and me yoga, a walk with your dog or gardening, find something you love and then commit to this at least three times a week. I think you will find, as I have, that once you incorporate your baby’s schedule into your own your day will be more structured and more productive. You leave the ultimately meaningless behind and your focus shifts to what really matters most to you. Choose wisely.

Until then, enjoy running around with your baby bump… it gets a whole lot harder but also a lot more fun from there.

 

 

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About the Author: Natalie Magee writes a regular column for Happiness Series about what motherhood and beyond - from prenatal to postpartum. Her intention with her column, "Baby & Beyond - What No One Else Will Tell You" is to give practical advice and tips to the busy mom and mom-to-be. She also shares her experiences good, bad and ugly as a woman, wife, mom, flight attendant and fitness instructor. Natalie is also a regular fitness contributor on Happiness Series. She will continue to create great, effective workouts for anyone - including the busy moms out there - who wants to get fit and stay in shape.

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