"Every next level of your life will demand a different you." — Leonardo DiCaprio
These words never rang more true until I entered motherhood. When I was pregnant, I didn't feel like myself. When I birthed my child I coped by becoming detached and it felt like I was watching someone else during that process. The first time I held my child, she didn't feel like mine. And 7 weeks since I've been ushered into the fog of being a mother, my body still doesn't look or feel like "me".
So when I came across this quote, I felt a shift in myself — a permission that this level of my life will, and does, demand a different me. It's not that the pre-baby me no longer exists, because she's still in there. She's the person that grew me enough to become a mother — I'm building on her and she hasn't vanished. But it often feels like she has.
I think we can gain power, strength and peace by acknowledging that growing a human being, birthing it, getting your lady parts stitched up, and nourishing this new human with food from your breasts, (or in my case, cute glass bottles filled with organic formula) sounds like an intense right of passage — and yet no one talks much about that.
When you walk through these passages— dealing with the death of a loved one, moving, or having a baby — you need time to process it. Your body, mind, emotions, spirit, and biochemical makeup need time to process and adjust. To clean out all those spaces and come to terms with a new season — a season that will demand a different you. To be held by those around you for a time and supported. To hear kind words spoken to you, so that you remember how to be kind to yourself — because that too is a part of healing. That too is a part of crossing through a new passage. I've never started a new job and expected myself to know how to do everything, so why do I expect that being a mom I will? It seems ludicrous, and yet that story is somehow embedded in my being.
I'm finding as I walk the beginning of this road, that sometimes scrapping everything and starting over is the best thing you can do. I got rid of almost all of my pre-baby clothes a few weeks ago — beginning again new. Our little family also moved out of toxic apartment situation into a little house in a quiet neighborhood. Instead of watching people go between bus stops, we watch the squirrels scavenging for acorns. I've adjusted my thinking towards motherhood from feeling an odd entrapment and hopelessness that I will never find spaces to be creative, or travel, or cultivate myself or relationships to approaching it as an adventure. I know things will go wrong and that's OK. I know plans will change, and that's OK. But I'll enjoy the moments that are going well, unplanned, and try to find humor in the chaos.
I gave up on finding my old rhythm, getting my body back, and planning my day with a long list of to-dos. There is nothing to "get back" or "return to". There's only moving forward. There's only starting anew. And even in my fear of this reality, I'm finding a freedom. The quiet, but persistent reminder that nothing is permanent. That I can move, change careers, mend relationships, grow, and learn new things at any time. And if I can do that, I can step into this role of mom — even if it demands a different me.
I think we lose a lot of the power and strength and wisdom in becoming mothers because we don't acknowledge it as a process on so many levels. We don't let ourselves become — but we try to fumble and find our way back. We don't surround others and hold them, we are isolated, and that produces a lot of insecurity, self-loathing, fear and anxiety. We are built to rally around each other and to speak gentle words when someone can't speak them themselves.
Let's begin again anew. Let's rethink this right of passage as another path of moving forward in a very unknown adventure — one with joys, yes, but also with deep change and difficulty. Let's gather around each other, supporting each soul in the gentle way it deserves. Let's honor postpartum, the women that walk through it, and those that gather around to support them.
Ways I'm Beginning Anew
- Brainspotting counseling sessions
- Healing my diastasis recti with specific, gentle workouts instead of jumping into my previous workout routine
- Seeking out counsel from a personal trainer to learn to work with my new body
- Looking into pelvic floor rehab so I heal and rediscover pelvic and core muscles
- Losing 52 pounds by December 10 (my brother's wedding!) — in the past the most weight I've set as a goal to lose was 12 pounds
- Using Bitesquad to order healthy food in to eat when I don't have time or energy to make my own instead of grabbing something unhealthy my body doesn't need
- Meeting with other new moms and sharing in this process
- Breathing deeply and trying to find humor when little lady cries
- Making myself go to meet people when I need to, even when I'm ashamed of my body
- Cleaning out my clothes closet and starting over
- Eating clean(er)
- Pushing myself when I'm ready
- Trying new types of massage therapy (Maya Abdominal)
- Getting chiropractic work to keep me aligned
- Being honest with myself and others at the difficult, emotional, and good parts of this journey
- Throwing my previous schedule out and patiently discovering a new rhythm in our family with the help of my husband
- We moved!