Committing To Myself
In my previous post, I wrote about how I was determined to make myself a priority after I had my second baby, because I wasn't even on the list of top five priorities after I had my first. I vowed to change that the second time around, and I've stuck to it. My second time with a newborn was exponentially better than the first, and I believe it was primarily the result of my commitment to myself. I know sometimes mothers, especially new mothers, can get sucked into this vicious cycle of putting off self care because we are tasked, first and foremost, with keeping these little humans alive and well. I got sucked into that. The problem is, if you keep delaying and putting yourself off, sometimes you forget to circle back to yourself, and then what? No one wins. It's like how they say about putting your oxygen mask on first, before you help your child(ren). You HAVE to take care of yourself and make yourself a priority, even if people make you feel like a selfish jerk for doing it.
I did it with my baby's sleeping habits, I did it with my baby's eating habits, I did it with MY eating habits, and I did it with my health and fitness habits. I was resolved to not care what anyone thought about how I did things, because I knew I was a good mom who would do ANYTHING to make her kids feel safe and loved. So all the outside noise wouldn't matter. In the last post, I wrote about teaching my son to sleep independently from birth, and that has been HUGE. (Reminder: this does NOT mean I did not tend to his needs or feed him in the middle of the night, as I know sometimes there is confusion about what independent sleep entails.) I also wrote about how I started my son on soy formula, along with breastmilk, from the beginning, and that has also been huge. I already had a minimal supply the first time around, and my stress about the minimal supply made it even more minimal. This time, it was even less than the previous time. It could have to do with my age (if you recall, I had two "geriatric" pregnancies :)). Whatever the reason, I 100% did not have enough of a supply to satiate my baby. I did not care whether adding formula into my son's diet would win me any "mother of the year" awards; I knew my son was healthy and thriving. I committed to not stressing about any of that and, lo and behold, six-ish months (at the time of this writing) into this journey there hasn't been any stress.
I also committed to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, specifically with diet and exercise. I would say that, at heart, I'm probably a junk food vegan 40% and a whole foods, plant-based (WFPB) vegan 60%. I love me some vegan meats and cheeses, etc! However, in practice, I eat WFPB 80% of the time (maybe even more than that), because I love it and, for me and for my health, I know that is the way to go. That is also something I want to model for my children. I would love for them to grow up with healthy eating habits as their base, even if they turn into junk food vegans. My brother and I were both raised eating lots and lots of fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes, and neither of us strayed too far from that in adulthood (and we are both vegan now). When I had my daughter, I barely remembered to eat, and I would just grab whatever snack I could eat with one hand. I vowed to not repeat that the second time. As for my commitment to exercise: After I had my daughter, I was very slow to return to my exercise routine. I was tired and, frankly, I lacked desire. Even though I ALWAYS feel better, physically and mentally, when I am exercising regularly. During my second pregnancy, I maintained a regular exercise routine, and I returned to the routine as soon as I was cleared after I had my son.
I have been working out at home since probably 2010 or 2011, and, for me, it really is perfect. Twenty or so years ago, I used to work out at a gym every day, and I loved it! But then I lost interest and I started taking classes at a self-defense studio. From that point on, I really just could not muster the desire or energy to go to the gym for yet another weightlifting or cardio session. And a friend of mine introduced me to some home workouts that were available online. I loved them! A couple of years ago, I started doing a different system with a different friend, and I just can't get enough of the variety of programs it offers! And it's all for less than the price of a gym membership and less, even, than the price of a Netflix subscription. There are programs for every mood, which is great for me because I can still work out when I am also kind of being lazy. But, if I want to kick it up a notch and do something more intense or higher impact, there's a program for that, too. If I want short workouts (I'm talking less than half an hour), there are programs for that, and if I'm looking for lengthier workouts, I have some to choose from. The best part about it for me is that I get to work out from HOME. I don't have to go anywhere, I can dress like a slob if I want (because, as Tabitha Brown says, that's my business :) ), and I can work out when my kids are sleeping without worrying about whether my husband is home to watch them while I leave to go work out. Of course, many people prefer to go somewhere to work out if they can--my husband is one of those people--but I am not one of them. I am more likely to ditch a workout if I have to go somewhere to do it. And, this way, I can work out at 4 am or 10 pm or whenever I want. (If you are interested in learning more about the fitness and nutrition programs I'm doing, please feel free to reach out to me! firstname.lastname@example.org
Ultimately, the point of this post is to check in after my second go at the newborn phase and share that I do not regret a single decision I've made since having my son, as far as making myself a priority goes. I cannot imagine feeling how I felt after having my daughter again after having my son, while also having to be present to care for an active toddler! I wouldn't survive. I am certain my whole household is happier for my decisions. If you have found yourself in a similar position, I urge you to remember yourself and to take care of yourself, because you don't HAVE to suffer. You can be a happy person AND a great parent. Those two things are not mutually exclusive. :)