First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage. My classmates drilled this important sequence into my brain in kindergarten after I developed a crush on a boy who drew a dinosaur for me. Love. Marriage. Baby. It's thrust at us from the day we first begin conceptualizing families, often reinforced by our parents.
But what comes after baby?
I had my third child three months ago and I'm looking tired. I see it in my droopy eyelids. A shell of myself passes by me as I dodge the mirror upon stepping out of the shower. With no guidelines, no idea what comes now, I feel exhaustion coursing through my veins.
I'm also looking pretty dang chubby, as I haven't made even the slightest attempt to rid myself of this baby fat. It may be because I think there's a chance he could be my last child. These moments are precious in my heart. Why NOT eat ice cream on tailgates and bask in the fluffiness while I still have an excuse?
Honestly…if I could, I would park myself right here in front of food truck row. This is my happy place.
It doesn't help that this kid nurses nonstop. He pulls the calories and energy and life force out of me and I overcompensate, grabbing at food and coffee and tasks that remind me that there's something to me other than being a milk machine. I'm sluggish and worn out and HANGRY. That's what nobody warns you about after baby. You expect a certain lack of sleep and frustration. But you can't fathom the concept of being literally drained until that becomes your existence.
I realized I've completely failed at taking my supplements this time around, which is probably contributing in a major way. After Sidekick was born two years ago with all his food intolerances, I had to drastically change my diet. I focused intently on what I was consuming and developed a routine that worked to support my body. Vitamin B6, Green Tea Leaf Extract, Fenugreek. I had a complicated regimen that I stuck to religiously. But I fell out of that as he got older. This time around, I failed to get all the “stuff” in order. I just wasn't organized or prepared enough for this baby.
Then, a company called FitTea reached out and asked if I'd feature their #PostNatalFatburner supplement that's specially designed to support the needs of moms. I'm pretty picky about what I take when nursing, but I looked at the package and – lo and behold – it had all of those same things that I had taken in my last post-baby phase. It even includes a few more energy-supporting and milk-making essentials such as Biotin, Conjugated Linoleic Acid, White Kidney Bean Extract and L-Carnitine. And the best part for this hectic-brained mama is that it's in one simple package. No more struggling with multiple orders and spacing out numerous dosages throughout the day (a routine that definitely worked last time, but kind of took over my entire life). This is way more feasible while I'm juggling three young kids.
With more support for the essential building blocks of my body, I'm starting to pull out of my post-baby funk. More walks, more activity. More focus on me.
Oh and I'm learning to play the guitar. Because somehow that seemed like a good idea in all my plethora of extra time. Mentally, I think I'm at a place where I just need something that is solely mine. Something that ISN'T food that makes me feel a little bit self-indulgent. Something that reminds me that there's more to me than “mommy.”
I know with time and determination, I'll get back to feeling like like the old me again soon.
Have you faced similar challenges after baby? Know that you are not alone, and it DOES get better!