Here we are - my baby is 1!
And in true motherhood fashion, we didn't have a fancy party. We didn't have many presents. Nor did we have professional photos to mark the celebration.
We weren't expecting to move to Colorado before the New Year, and there we were packing, shipping our belongings, and traveling for our interstate move from San Diego to Denver... right before the holidays.
We were welcomed to the state with Dylan catching the flu and starting to feel sick right before his birthday on Christmas Eve. Tyler and I had long since decided to make it easier on ourselves and not worry about doing anything big this year since we were moving.
We were focusing more on surviving - haha - because we weren't exactly thriving.
And yet, Dylan turned 1 anyway.
I made him a chocolate cupcake that didn't have gluten, dairy or sugar (he's going to love having me as a mom!). I sweetened it with banana and made two cupcakes out of it. With not feeling well, it did brighten his spirits!
When I think back to where we started - trying to conceive only to find I had a slight (but serious) cycle issue (low progesterone) that would have made having children hard, to fixing it within 2 months - to getting pregnant only to lose that baby a few weeks before telling our family and friends. To getting pregnant with Dylan a few weeks later and still needing to supplement with progesterone and going through pregnancy and birth, it's all been a lot to process over the last two years.
So it does feel like a big milestone to watch Dylan turn 1. His journey earthside just makes me take a minute to think back on his path to get here.
This past year I've found myself on a new path of womanhood after becoming a mother, getting to know another side of me. And feel like I have so much to share on the mental, physical and emotional journey after having a baby!
At the very top is to give ourselves grace and let go of our expectations. Kids come with their own agenda and it has taken me quite awhile in getting use to (Dylan makes me check my structured, Type A nature!).
There have been many highs (all the baby cuddles, watching Dylan laugh, learn to rollover, crawl, and on the verge of walking) and so many lows (postpartum anxiety attacks, so tired all you want to do is cry, and how to restructure many elements of your life to accommodate the new schedule children bring).
When we often see one year updates, we tend to lean on the physical.
...did she bounce back?
We want all the quick fixes (spoiler - there aren't any. The female body just doesn't work that way). But rarely do we ask how the new mom is feeling, like really feeling.
This post will certainly share the physical changes I've noticed, because I was curious too, but I also want to share the not-so-talked about postpartum topics we need more of - our mental and emotional health.
Becoming Dylan's mom has been the greatest joy. When I think about the low moments this past year, he has never been one of them. He's always been the light through what felt difficult.
Our brains change when we have children. It literally gets rewired when you're pregnant.
You also naturally see your priorities more clearly and set boundaries on your time and energy.
You have so much to give your child, that for me, in those early months and even as we got to the six month mark, I couldn't be all in in the other areas of my life.
From friends to work, my family was at the center as I learned how to create a new foundation while caring for a baby.
This process wasn't easy for me and it was all brand new.
It often felt like the hardest transition.
I'm still stumbling to find my way.
The struggle was balancing work and my home life. On the back of my mind was always work. I could feel the tug between taking time with Dylan to taking time away from him to work.
But every time I felt that guilt, I reminded myself it was good for me and healthy to take space. It was also important for him to know he has a wonderful father and extended family who also love him.
I feel like it also took at least six months to feel more like myself after he was born. Which is something my mom said after having my sister, her first child.
There's so much that changes in your daily life that it took a lot of time, consideration and practice to get a handle on it. You'd often find me up most nights googling baby schedules and filling notebook pages to what Dylan's schedule would look like, mine, Tyler's and how we could fit in work, fitness, alone time - all the things.
Like I said, I'm Type A and feel more grounded with a plan :)
I was very grateful Dylan was at home with us the whole time and we could figure it out together.
Mentally I've changed by having all my thoughts center around making sure Dylan has what he needs first.
Then I've had to practice layering on what I need for myself, work and household, which are also very important.
It feels easier now, at the one year mark. And I wish I gave myself more grace earlier in the year. You just don't know what you don't know.
I feel mentally more resilient knowing I've walked through this past year and my confidence has grown as a new mom.
I'm also extremely proud of reaching out to others when I needed help. Usually it was calling my family and friends and just having conversations with them. I didn't want to feel like I was alone and with COVID and my husband and I relocating to Colorado, we could have easily felt more isolated.
When women have the support of others, it takes us out of our heads and we can lead more from our hearts. I always feel more energetically lifted when I connect with loved ones, and I never needed their support more than this year.
I was so curious on what the postpartum journey would be like!
Like many women, I wanted to lose the baby weight and see what other changes might come up physically. I've heard many other women share their stories and the female body always amazes me.
In my recovery, first and foremost I focused on my health, and not on my weight.
I came back to my center and knew that eating well, exercising, rest, and diving into my hormonal health (which plays into our metabolism and digestion, doing wonders for not retaining fluid or extra weight you don't need), I knew this would help bring my body back to where she wanted to be.
My studies have been in women's health and how to hack hormones. I have loved learning how to use this piece of our body chemistry to give us more of the results we want. And I always wondered how it would apply after having children.
To preface, I didn't gain too much weight while I was pregnant. Which I often felt nervous about. I had a very nauseous pregnancy and had zero appetite for nine months, which made eating more challenging.
Working with my midwife, she always soothed my fears that Dylan was growing perfectly and I was gaining steadily, which was good. I did the best I could to eat at regular intervals.
When you're pregnant, you do gain more belly fat to help support the extra weight of the baby, fluid and placenta. So this is usually the area most women focus on after giving birth.
My truth: I didn't bounce back in the first 12 weeks.
I feel like this is a timeline many of us believe is when it's "suppose" to happen, and this wasn't my case. Maybe it's the media or just what we all hope, I don't know.
I noticed the biggest change physically by 6-8 months postpartum.
That's when I could fit better into my prepregnancy clothes.
Nursing certainly helped, but my appetite was also higher and I was consuming more calories to keep up.
I softened my workouts because I noticed I was pushing myself too much and slipping back into adrenal fatigue. My body needed more gentleness and I'm really glad I listened when she asked for more rest. Old Laura wasn't so open to listening and it didn't make her body better.
It felt humbling and mentally I battled to comparing what I could do physically before pregnancy and after. Before pregnancy I could handle much tougher, and longer workouts, and in this time period, I needed to give myself permission to take it slower.
Even though I had thoughts of wanting to be further along, I remember telling myself to just relax, stay active but don't over push, and save my energy for Dylan. He needed me more.
After the eight month mark, this is where I was very surprised.
My weight loss kept going (at no attempt on my part) and my body settled in to being smaller in some areas before I was pregnant. My boobs are a bit smaller. My butt is smaller. My legs are thinner. My abdominals are flat, but not 100% what they were before Dylan (I still have some abdominal separation and am working with a physical therapist on closing the gap).
I had heard some women notice a change in weight distribution after having kids and I definitely noticed this. So much so that my prepregnancy jeans do not fit well. They fit in the waist, but are too baggy in other areas, and just don't look good (I know, poor me - I have to buy new jeans).
In this process, I also don't know if the weight loss came from working out less. I often see weight loss with my clients when we scale back on their workouts (has everything to do with your hormones and what your body perceives as too much stress). I really don't know, but this if unlike anything I've experienced before.
I know this may not be everyone's journey, and I don't want you to compare your situation to mine. I want to be as truthful as possible to the changes I noticed. And I hope it shows you that you can relax into your new life with children, worry less about your body, and she will find her new balance at whatever that is for you.
Emotionally, I am so in love with Dylan it's ridiculous!
From his smile to the way he looks at me when I'm feeding him or reading a story before bed, he is our everything. He is so happy, so giggly and has easily made our family feel more complete.
He overwhelms me with a joy I have never experienced before. I truly love him so much it hurts.
I also feel his pain.
When he cries and is hurting (teething mostly), I feel it just as deeply. I feel so connected with him and think back to when we were first at the hospital together, navigating those first few hours. All we did was look at one another in awe.
But I also felt scared because I had never cared for an infant before. I questioned if I'd know what I was doing, and this feeling has followed me all year.
What did help emotionally is coming back to my center - my maternal instincts have been with me all along and all I need to do is tune into them.
This grounding guidance was everything for us this year - even as Tyler would watch in amazement that I'd just know how to soothe him. Or I'd make guesses to what was wrong and end up being right! Like when he didn't latch for breastfeeding for the first 8 weeks (I still have PTSD from that pumping schedule and almost gave it up!).
While we were in the hospital it looked like his mouth couldn't open wide enough to latch. I had this inner knowing that he'd be able to do it when he was a little older. I still tried, went to see lactation consultants, and it was something I googled one night after a pediatrician visit that was mentioned in passing. Our doctor made a note that his jaw was turned slightly inward.
That google search confirmed my maternal instincts - babies born with a recessed chin (it's turned slightly inward at birth) can have a harder time latching for breastfeeding until the jaw grows out. Flash forward 8 long weeks and he started nursing no problem - reminding me even more to trust my instincts.
I'm glad I didn't rush the process.
When you become a mom, you personally have so much to work through - mentally, physically and emotionally.
I've had to find a new normal this year and for someone who has a hard time with change or gets too caught up in "this is how I want it to be", Dylan is my new teacher.
He has shown me a new meaning to unconditional love.
He has shown me to relax more and trust.
He makes me feel more present.
He makes me care less about things that don't matter.
One year in, with countless lessons learned, I've loved my new role as Dylan's mom (it has such a nice ring to it) and I am grateful for all the ups and downs because it's made me grow more into the woman I was meant to be - for him :)