I’ve been wanting to write a post like this for some time now. I’m in a really good place and there’s a weird piece of me that wants the whole world to know. Like I want to shout it out loud. When you become a parent for the first time, you experience so many new firsts and your world turns upside down. Life changes drastically and there’s no way to really prepare for it all. Your emotions are all over the place – you literally feel every single emotion there is to have. While I always knew and told myself, “things will get easier,” and “it takes time to find your new normal,” when you get there, there’s a sense of peace and joy that is hard to put into words. Coming from the toughest year of our lives (learning how to take care of a child, running a business with a baby, moving into a new house, and watching our business take a dip), I can say, everything has fallen into place this year and I’m happier than I ever thought I could be.
Going into parenthood, Mike and I had a plan. We moved to Oregon to run our business together and start a family. We always knew we wanted to raise our family at home together. With that being said, we had no clue what that would look like. What did it mean to run a business and raise a baby at home? I knew there were going to be sacrifices and I knew it would take some time to figure it all out. We are 14 months in and I can say, we are in a very good place and I’m super content and happy. I wouldn’t say, things are easy, but they’re way less difficult than it’s ever been and I can look back on our days and feel pure joy.
Today, I want to share a little insight on how we got here and how I’m doing mentally, physically, and emotionally 14 months postpartum. By writing about my journey, I hope to encourage any new moms out there who are 1, 2, 3, 8 months in and struggling to find your rhythm, wishing you had your old life back, or wondering when you’ll ever sleep again. I promise, it gets better and you become a stronger and better version of yourself. Grab a cup of coffee or glass of wine (depending on what time of day it is) and cozy up because it’s quite the novel ;)
We have been on a schedule with Harper since week 1. It’s been the same schedule adapted as she’s gotten older. I know I’ve mentioned this countless times on her monthly updates, but it was the best decision we ever made. She knows what to expect as do we. She gets her rest and we get time to get things done or have personal time. One of the things they don’t talk about a lot with schedules, you get to know your child’s wants and needs really well. Harper is such a happy baby because all her needs are met. We don’t guess if she’s pooped (or when her next one will be), if she’s hungry, if she’s tired, etc.? Based on what she’s just done, we know what to expect next. We know her signs and we act on them. This allows our days to run very smoothly. When she was an infant it did feel like our days were restricted because of her schedule, but it’s all paid off. I knew she would get older and things would change and they have. We do all the things we normally would do. Yes, we have to be home for her naps or bedtime, but it’s not bad at all. Let’s be honest, I don’t mind getting bed early. If the baby is happy, the parents are happy.
I also reworked my schedule at the beginning of the year and it’s been a game changer. My biggest issue was not separating work and family time and it kind of all meshed together. I was stressed out, not being productive, and getting frustrated. I’m currently working at Starbucks on Mondays and Tuesdays – this is when I get the majority of my computer work done (blog posts, emails, shopping, etc.). Separating “work days” away from the house has had a huge impact on my productivity, workload, and overall mental health. I can’t believe how much more work I get done in 2 days than I would have normally worked on in 5-7 days. If you work at home and are able to have help, I highly recommend working away from the home a couple of days. Best decision I ever made. I used to stress out over work so much and be on the computer for what felt like all day everyday. This has completely changed and it’s been so refreshing and amazing. I’m no longer on the computer working at home while Harper is awake (unless we get slammed with work). When we thought out the process of having a baby and working from home, Mike and I both knew I would have to sacrifice my time with Harper to work. But, I had no idea how much time I would have with her. With this new schedule, I honestly feel like a full-time mom and it’s been the greatest gift. Did I mention I’m producing more output now than I ever did before, even before baby?
Monday – I work at Starbucks from 9am – 12pm
Tuesday – Gym in the morning and then straight to Starbucks. I’ll work until around 12pm.
Wednesday – We’ll do something fun with Harper, but also sneak in a photoshoot or work project.
Thursday – Gym in the morning and then the afternoons are open. We’ll most likely designate Thursday for any projects and shoots we need to get done in the house. This is all based on lighting, though.
Friday – Free family day. We’ll run errands, get out and do something, or make it a work day for Mike and I if my aunt is over to help.
Saturday – Open
Sunday – Open
* this doesn’t include working on Stories or Instagram. I still do that at home and sometimes with Harper around.
The dreaded word, balance! I never in a million years thought I would get here, but for lack of a better word, I do feel really balanced. I didn’t even have this much balance before we had Harper. I was a complete workaholic. Separating my “work days” away from the home has really helped this. I do definitely jump on the computer or work on Instagram while I’m home around the family, but I do my best to do it while Harper is napping or asleep for the night. Aside from the 2 days working, I’m with Harper and Mike the rest of the week and it’s been the absolute best. I only ever dreamed of having this much time together and everyday I feel beyond grateful. Our schedule also allows for Mike to get in his personal time as well. He goes to the gym 3 times/week and even had a tennis match once a week up until a couple of weeks ago. Now that the weather has warmed up, we’ve been getting outside for our neighborhood playdates. Harper is socializing with the kids and we’re meeting our neighbors. We’re lucky to live a very kid-friendly neighborhood.
On top of having so much time with the family, I’m also back in the gym. It was tough for me to leave work behind and get into a good workout routine before Harper, so the fact that it’s happening with Harper, is so awesome. I’m working out Tuesdays, before I go to Starbucks, and Thursdays. I love going, which wasn’t always the case pre-baby, and I love that I’m getting me time, alone time. This has been my time to reset and recharge and I’m a better person, wife, and mom for it.
We started having my aunt help watch Harper 1-2 times a week late last year. We weren’t very consistent with it, but ever since starting this new schedule in the new year, she’s been with us more regularly. Nicole will watch Harper from 10am-2pm on Mondays or Fridays and if were lucky, both days. Mike and I will either get out and shoot photos, work on projects, or take time for ourselves as a couple (lunch date, go the gym together, etc.). On the occasion my aunt can watch Harper 2 days in a week, I’m sometimes hesitant to accept the help because I think we don’t need her. But, I have to remind myself that any alone time is necessary. We don’t have any other help – no nannies, babysitters, grandparents, or daycare – so if someone wants to hang out with Harper for 4 hours, I have to take it. It’s good for my mental and emotional well being. Both Mike and I are super grateful for this time and feel really lucky to have Nicole in our lives.
Work is thriving and I can’t even tell you how happy this makes me. We didn’t work as much last year and we saw a huge dip in our performance. When you run a small business and the success of it depends on your output, not working can take a huge toll on you financially, mentally, and emotionally. We learned A LOT from last year and we were able to persevere. I’m so proud of Mike and I and how far we’ve come. We had some huge breakthroughs in early 2019 and I’m super pumped to see how this year goes.
Working in social media means you’re constantly sharing a lot of your life with the world and work never really turns off. It’s crazy to think I’m working smarter and not harder – it has made the biggest difference!
Aside from our new schedule, sleep has also played a huge role in our happiness. Harper has always been an excellent sleeper. She started sleeping through the night at age 3 months or even before. Up until 7 or 8 months she would wake up in the middle of the night and we would help her with her pacifier and she would fall back asleep. We sleep trained her at around 8 months, which took 2 nights, and she’s been sleeping through the night ever since. She occasionally wakes up crying, but we leave her be and she falls back to sleep. She was sleeping from 6pm – 6am and with the recent time change is now sleeping from 7pm -7am. She’s also napping consistently during the day – we have her on 2 hours in the morning and 1 hour in the afternoon. I really attribute all of this to being on a schedule very early on. We all know what to expect, she’s never fought a nap or bedtime, and we’re all rested and happy.
I’ve gone through a ton of emotions since having Harper. I never dealt with postpartum depression or sadness, but I still have gone through A LOT of emotions. Over the years and after many conversations with Mike, who has suffered from depression in the past, I’ve learned I’m very strong mentally and emotionally. When I do go down the road of self-sabotaging, I can always snap myself out of it and move on and forward. Also, on my journey of self-growth and self-awareness over the years, I know time heals all. So, any time I would go down that road of, “was this the right decision,” “will I ever get my life back,” etc., I knew it was all going to be okay and that I would persevere.
I know our situation isn’t for everyone and I know it’s not the norm, but I also had/have Mike by my side throughout the whole process. And by by my side, I mean literally in the house helping out with everything and being a soundboard to talk to and feel all the emotions with. We are very lucky to parent together, but I also think it’s had a huge impact on our parenting journey. We are constantly helping each other out and no one ever feels like they’re doing it alone. This 1000% has affected our happiness.
On top of the balance I talked about earlier, I’ve also grown a lot in the past year. Going through your first year of parenthood, surviving, and even thriving gives you confidence. You really do feel like you can take on the world. Mike has been an incredible partner through it all and our communication is better than ever. We work as a team and it’s had the biggest impact. I love seeing him as a dad – their daddy/daughter relationship is the BEST.
My body has been back to pre-pregnancy weight since around 8 months. But, I only started working out in the new year. Yes, I was back to my old weight, but I was so flabby and weak. I’ve worked out my entire life (I played soccer when I was young), so not feeling strong and capable was defeating. I’m back in the gym twice a week and hoping to add one more day once the weather warms up. Since I only workout 2 days/week, my workouts focus on my entire body. I jog and do interval sprints on the treadmill for 20 minutes and then do weight training and touch on each body part (arms, shoulders, chest, back, legs, butt, abs). I think I’m at the gym a total of an hour, which is perfect for my schedule. I think my body looks better than it did pre-pregnancy, to be honest. My eating habits have changed a bit, which may be the reason for this. I eat 3 meals and some snacks depending on the day. I just don’t have as much time to mindlessly snack anymore.
After having a c-section and going through the healing process, I can truly say, I’m so grateful for my body. That 4th trimester was one of the hardest things I’ve ever been through, physically and emotionally. I can’t stress it enough, but time does heal all. It’s so hard to see the positive and think about the future in those tiring moments, but you do get better and you do get stronger.
What I still Need to Work on
While I’m in such a good place and feeling more balanced than ever, life isn’t perfect and there’s still things I need to work on. I wish Mike and I had more alone time, more time dedicated to just us. It’s so tough because Harper is in this stage where she’s so fun and growing so fast and I don’t want to miss a thing. But, on the other hand, I know Mike and I need to carve out time for each other. Any time it’s just us two we have the best time, and I say, we should do this more often. The struggle is real. I’m also really bad at taking care of myself. But, if I’m being honest, this has nothing to do with being a mom. I was bad at doing this before we had Harper. I reschedule my hair appointments 10 times before I actually go in. I’ve gotten my nails done twice since I’ve had Harper (and they look terrible), and I think I’ve had 1 girls night in 14 months. Yikes! I’m definitely still working on all of this.
1. Do you feel ready for baby #2? When and Why?
Right after having Harper I questioned whether we/I would have another kid. Mike and I have always talked about having 2 kids (Mike was an only child and he doesn’t want that for Harper). But, Harper’s birth experience was quite traumatizing to say the least, so I didn’t know if I could go through all of that again. But, as they always say, time heals all. In terms of timing, we’re going to wait a little bit. I finally feel like we’re in a great groove, so I want to enjoy this time. Maybe in the next year or two…
In terms of knowing when – for us it has a lot to do with how we’re feeling and what our day to day looks like. We feel really good in handling and juggling everything on our plate right now, so I could easily see us incorporating a second. So yeah, I feel like we’re ready in that sense. But, we definitely want to wait a bit.
2. Feeding sleep schedule
Be sure to read my monthly updates here.
3. Does sleep ever get better?
This is different for everyone. If you’re struggling with sleep, I highly recommend getting your baby on a schedule (this is the one we used/use). While, I think Harper is naturally a good sleeper, I attribute her good sleep to our schedule we incorporated when she was just a week old. She takes great naps and sleeps through the night.
Also, Harper didn’t nap as consistently when she was younger than she does now. So, in that sense, it got easier.
4. How did you lose the baby weight? How long until your body fully healed after giving birth? How long did it take to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight?
I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight around 8 months. This is not the answer you want to hear, but I didn’t do anything special. Keep in mind, I eat plant-based, real foods, and indulge occasionally. Eating this way, I also only gained 25 pounds during pregnancy.
5. Steps to weaning?
For us, this has been really smooth. We never fed on-demand or used nursing for comfort. I think this helped our process. Once we started solids, Harper gradually became less interested in nursing. I cut one feeding (out of 4 feedings) out in the middle of the day and she never had an issue. As more time went on and Harper got older (around 1 year), I cut out the 2nd feeding of the day. We’re currently only feeding in the morning and night, which honestly, I could cut both out. She’s not nursing for very long, it’s more of a routine thing.The only reason we’re even nursing this long is because she’s always been a small baby. I feel like any extra good calories helps.
6. Do you cook now that you have a baby? Go-to quick easy meals?
I’ve always cooked. I’m just not the best, lol. Harper isn’t eating a ton of variety, so there’s very little prep. I could do way more to help this, but I’m trying to manage my time the best. I would try to make new things, only to have her hate everything. It’s tough when you cut out time in your day to make food and than it not be worth it. I’m hoping she’ll grow out of this stage and eat what eat.
Check out this post for her meals.
7. Babysitter for date night?
I touched on this above, we currently don’t go on date nights. I’m still nursing at night and want to put Harper to bed. And to be honest, we’re too exhausted to go on a date night after that. We’ll do day dates when my aunt watches her on occasion.
8. How do you deal with the stress of a picky eater?
I try my best to let it go. On days where I’m tired and overworked, I’ll get frustrated. But, I know in the back of my head, she’ll eat when she’s hungry. We give her all the things she likes, so I know she will eat. While she’s not the healthiest eater (right now), I know this time will pass and she’ll be okay.
9. When did you get your period back?
I think around 6 months. It was weird because I had heard you don’t get it back until you stopped breastfeeding.
10. Balance between work and baby?
I think I covered this above. My biggest tip – separate work and baby by working out of the house.
11. Did you have to sleep train after Harper turned 1?
No. We sleep trained Harper around 8 months (took 2 days).
12. What’s more challenging, newborn or now? Physically and mentally
1000% 0-6 months was the hardest physically and mentally. For those struggling in the early months, know it gets so much easier and better.
13. Do you feel as mentally sharp as before baby?
Not at all. Although I feel a lot better now than I did in my first year of parenting. I wasn’t even able to tell you what happened the day before, that’s how foggy my brain was. The days were an absolute blur for so long. They are so much better now, but not the same as pre-baby.
14. How has our body changed since having Harper?
The only noticeable change, I have extra skin on my belly. Oh, I also have my C-Section scar.
15. Did you deal with depression during or after pregnancy?
I didn’t suffer depression, but I definitely had my moments when Harper was a newborn. The adjustment period is tough. You’re healing, learning to take care of a baby, not sleeping – overwhelmed would be a huge understatement.
16. Something you wish you did/didn’t do stress/miss out on during the infant stage?
I think this had a lot to do with the weather and me recovery from my C-Section, but I wish we did more with Harper’s awake time. It was the middle of winter and cold and c-section recovery do not mix. And maybe more cuddles when she was teeny tiny.
17. What do you wish someone told you about a 1 year old?
Not one thing! I’ve gone into parenthood with no expectations and it’s been the best. We’re taking every experience as our own.
18. Any tips, tricks, or suggestions on how to make life easier with a newborn?
Get on a schedule! That way baby knows what to expect and you get some alone time to rest and recharge. The schedule also pays off in the long run.
19. What car seat is Harper using?
Check out this post.
20. How many extra calories do you need when breastfeeding and exercising?
I have no clue, lol. I only started working out when Harper was 1 and at this point she’s not drinking a ton of milk. I’m not counting calories, I just eat when I’m hungry. I would ask your doctor if you are working out and nursing full time.
21. When did you find your new normal and/or when did it start to feel less hard?
Around 8 months is when I noticed a shift. Harper started napping regularly, as in 1.5-2hrs in the morning and afternoon. This allowed us get work done and get that much needed break. This was huge. Also, once she started crawling she became more independent. Once she started walking, it was a game changer. She’s so independent and it doesn’t feel like she constantly needs us or needs to be watched (like a hawk).
22. Do you plan on putting Harper in daycare?
Not at this point. When we decided to start a family, we knew we wanted to raise our kids from home together.
23. Any baby essentials that you thought you needed but didn’t?
Swaddles! OMG, I bought so many cute swaddling blankets and we only used a couple and then moved on to actual swaddles because Harper would get out of all the blankets.