10 Ways I Battled My New Mom Anxiety

Anxiety is no joke.  The amount of times per week that I have to talk myself back down from a panic cannot be counted on one hand, let alone two.  Everything about motherhood is extra.  Extra stressful.  Extra tiring. Extra overwhelming. Extra scary.  You get it.  Super e-x-t-r-a.  All. The. Time.

I am an extra positive person as well.  The extras extend to the “cup-half-full” side of me, but it takes work. So in preparing for my role as a new mom, I knew it was going to take some full-fledged mental gymnastics to keep my head in the game.  Here are the top 10 ways that I coped with my anxieties as a new mom and kept the extra in check.

Prep for 6-8 weeks of the most exciting exhausting time of your life! I remember when my milk came in I was all of a sudden filled with so much anxiety that was a mix of all things positive and scary at the same time: overwhelming love; hate for the world in its current state; worry that I was doing everything wrong; and the big one…sorrow so deep over the loss of my independence. Yep.  That was a big, fat, guilt-inducing emotion!  I asked for hugs from my husband often during that time, and they actually worked.  Brace yourself for the initial 6-8 weeks, knowing that this is going to be a huge transition hormonally, emotionally, physically, and psychologically.

Don’t even try to do all the things. I mean it.  Just STAHP.  Seriously, that is why people offer to help.  If you are blessed enough to have a support system, utilize them!  I had to remind myself often that as long as the baby is comfortable and cared for with love, she will survive!  And most importantly, you will too.  I would only allow myself to have one to two items on my to-do list each day.  And most of the time, those two things were to shower and drink all the waters.  Allow yourself the time and space to heal and take in every moment.  And don’t let the anxiety of unanswered text messages and missed phone calls get to you.  Everyone can wait.  No text response is worth stressing yourself out about.  I had to fight this urge every time I received communication via text or social media.  Everyone can wait for pictures.  They are just going to keep asking for more anyway.

10 ways defeated new anxiety

Babies were born, and survived, without technology for centuries! There are so many great gadgets for new parents these days.  I cannot tell you how many times I heard, “They never had this when I had my kids!” from those who went before me on the parenthood journey.  There are also WAY too many choices of all things technology out there.  Enough to, you guessed it, cause a panic attack.  I made a point to set aside my constant fear of something happening to my daughter in her sleep, and opted for no monitor.  “Gasp!  What?  No monitor?  But what about all of the things?”  Well you know what? It’s miraculous.  She is plenty loud when she needs us.  So I will sleep soundly (when I do sleep) until she lets me know she needs me, from down the hall.

Maybe don’t read every baby related article on Facebook. Unless it’s this one.  Then you are in the right place.  This is everything right now.  Just kidding.  You know the articles I’m talking about.  The ones that warn you of every potential evil that has ever existed in the entire world.  If you must read them (to set your anxiety about knowing you haven’t read them at ease) then do the following:  make a list of one take away from the article that will help you be a more aware and attentive parent.  Then be done with it.  Don’t worry about needing to warn all other moms of this potential danger you had never heard of.  I guarantee you they are already stressing themselves out over the same article. Move on.

 

SEE MORE: Science Shows How A Trip to Beach Changes Your Brain

 

Allow space for your mother’s intuition. There are so many opinions out there on what to do. Basically all the ways you can either set your baby up for the most emotionally fulfilling success, or on the flip side, all the ways you can traumatically injure them and destroy any hope for a bright future.  But don’t worry…you ultimately get to decide.  #nojudgementzone  Yeah right!  It’s a trap!  BIG FAT JUDGEMENT ZONE!!  Run!  For real though, you are the one who is responsible for your child.  In spite of all the well-intentioned advice, you have to go with your gut at the end of the day.  You will be the one who learns your baby’s cues, and ultimately…you will figure it out one day at a time. Cut yourself some slack.  This was one of the biggest threats to my new mom anxiety levels, and I had to monitor myself carefully.  You of course may need to seek advice, a lot.  But you will learn who your trusted sources are.  Cling to them for dear life.

I reminded myself that the gas pains will subside, eventually. She won’t remember this gas- this too shall pass.  This was the mantra I repeated to myself when she was crying non-stop each evening as she worked through the gas pains.  Remember, their little systems are booting up.  Everything has to work itself out and so you’ll go through some rough phases.  But just as quick as the gas came, it went.  It was an issue for maybe 2 weeks tops.  Although it did feel like forever, and I felt myself spiraling down a few times.  She won’t remember this gas- this too shall pass. Rinse and repeat.

Self-care really did give me a boost. Even running on empty, if I could at least take a nice hot shower I felt like I could take on the world!  (But remember, only two to-do items per day!)  For each person, self-care may look a bit different.  For me it was shower, get dressed, put on a tad bit of makeup, enjoy a cup of delicious coffee and take my supplements.  That was my power combo.  And I’m talking about wearing a capsule wardrobe with a 5-minute makeup routine.  Nothing fancy.  And I wear the same red lipstick and hat every day.  Because who has time to deal with all that post-partum alopecia?  Not this chick.  Find what packs a punch for you in the most efficient way possible, and this will go far in boosting your outlook when facing all these new anxieties.

10 ways overcome new mom anxiety

Do not cave to the vain imaginations! What’s a vain imagination you ask?  It’s all of the things you imagine are potentially going to happen.  And then all of the responses you come up with, because now you are convinced they are going to happen.  And now you are crying and dry heaving, because how are you going to deal with these things that just happened for crying out loud?!  But wait, they haven’t happened yet.  And I actually just made that all up in my mind.  So really, it isn’t even truth because it hasn’t even occurred and may not occur.  See where I’m going with this?

Give yourself and others around you and extra measure of grace. Especially if this is your first time caring for a little one.  Remember that you have to get to know this sweet babe and/or babes.  (Dear Lord, give them an extra measure of grace if it’s babies plural!) When it comes to all the small ways your anxiety wants to take over when you see someone else trying to change the diaper- slowly back away.  Even if it is taking your husband a bajillion hours to change her, and he isn’t even putting the new diaper under the old one in case she starts peeing before he can get the new one on!  ARGHHHH!  But you know what he is doing?  He’s bonding with the baby.  Remember that.  And she’s safe, even if there is an extra mess to clean up.  He’s learning what it means to care for a baby too.  Give your loved ones the space to grow alongside you.  None of you have it all figured out, so just do your best.

 

SEE MORE: The Day I Stopped Saying “Hurry Up”

 

Slow down, and be in the moment. This is easier said than done.  Because if you are like me, your anxiety will pull you under as the laundry piles up.  And the dishes aren’t done.  And the house takes on a particularly dusty hue.  I finally got to the point where I started asking people to clean when they asked how they could help.  Because I was too flipping tired to do anything other than care for my little one and occasionally venture out into the world from time to time.  When the anxious thoughts would creep up, I would battle them back by thinking of all the precious time I was soaking up watching this little human being develop and change.  It was all too important, and I had to protect that time at all cost.

Try out different ways to fight the anxiety that threatens to take you down.  Try new things, don’t be afraid to fail, and keep going until you find little ways to relieve the overwhelm.  No one expects you to be perfect, so don’t even put that on yourself.   Most of all, make sure you talk about how you’re feeling with those whom you trust.  It’s always best to speak out about your anxieties, so they don’t become the monsters in your head.  And remember – you are not alone mama!

Disclaimer:  This is a disclaimer about all the disclaimers, because anxiety.  I in no way claim to know what I’m doing.  I do not have a cure for anxiety.  I’m just a girl with ideas.  I found what worked for me and hope it helps you and yours.  Please like me.

Misty Winesberry has been married for going on 9 years to her husband Jajuan Winesberry. They recently welcomed a baby girl making them a cozy family of three.  As a multi-passionate career woman, Misty enjoys advocacy work in her spare time.  While Misty and Jajuan photograph weddings primarily, they also share their story of hope and recovery while living with mental illness.  Their desire is to fight stigma at every turn, making it easier for others who are struggling to find their voice.  You can find them at their website, Facebook or their Instagram account.


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10 Things You Should Know If Your Baby Has Hip Dysplasia

My journey into motherhood was far from easy. After two failed inductions, three hours of pushing, and an eventual Caesarean, it’s safe to say I had been through the ringer. With all the commotion of my daughter’s birth and the morphine that had been added to my cocktail during surgery, I spent the first few hours of her life utterly exhausted and in a haze, so when the hospital pediatrician came in to give her a checkup a few hours later, I didn’t think anything of it. That is, until she ever so slightly turned with a small grimace and a look of I’m sorry to say, “So, she has hip dysplasia, and I’m going to have her fitted for a harness.”

“What?”

“Do you have a family history of hip dysplasia? Was she breech?”

“No. What are you talking about?”

“She has hip dysplasia and needs a harness. But we caught it really early. They’ll be up in a bit, and you’ll be well taken care of.”

What just happened?

Before I had time to Google it on my phone, two medical residents appeared with a white Pavlik Harness and started putting it on my 12-hour-old baby. My only thought: I guess that’s a nighttime brace?

The resident turned toward me. “So, this needs to stay on for 24 hours a day for the next six weeks at a minimum. You’ll meet with your orthopedist next week, and they’ll set up regular appointments.”

“What?”

“We caught it really early. She’ll be out of it in a few months to a year.”

My heart sank. What is happening?

In the hours that followed, we learned that my husband’s mother carried the gene for hip dysplasia — something long-forgotten and never previously mentioned, and that our daughter had bilateral congenital hip dysplasia.

Momma, I’m here to tell you that if this is you, it is going to be okay. I’ve learned so much and now you are going to as well.

​1. You are not alone.

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, “the reported prevalence of hip instability on physical examination at birth ranges from 1.6 to 28.5 per 1,000 infants, but the prevalence of persistent abnormalities after the first few days of life, as reported in a meta-analysis of several studies in American and European populations, is 1.3 per 1,000.” 1.3 per 1,000. Think about how many kids are born each week in a hospital — chances are good that another baby is on the same path.

2. It is correctable and non-life-threatening.

One thing that my husband and I reminded ourselves of every time we felt like we got the short straw in the beginning was that it was correctable and did not affect her heart, lungs, or brain. Our hearts go out to the families who struggle with life-threatening illnesses. That is unfathomable pain we would never wish on our worst enemy. So, yeah, it sucks that our kid has to wear a brace and curious people ask us about it. But you know what she doesn’t have? An indefinite stay in the NICU.

3. It’s okay to cry about it.

Though your baby will be okay, it is still not anything you expected, and it is completely normal to feel sad about it. It’s okay to mourn the fact that your plans have changed. You might need a new car seat. You can’t safely co-sleep. You will need to adjust your baby’s wardrobe. You can’t bathe your baby. You can’t hold your baby without a brace for a while. So you know what? It’s okay to cry about it.

4. But remember, your baby doesn’t know any different, and they will adapt.

Your child only knows what you teach them here on Earth. I repeat, they don’t know any different. So don’t beat yourself up about it.

5. Baby leg warmers are your new best friend.

The moment our family got the news — they went to work. We got leg warmers upon leg warmers and knee socks. These are great for completing an outfit, keeping baby warm, and keeping the brace from being the first thing people notice about your baby. Added bonus? Diaper changes are pants-free!

6. You can still breastfeed.

No joke, the week after my daughter was born, someone tried to tell me that you can’t breastfeed a baby in a Pavlik Harness. Um, yes, you can. Thankfully my hospital gave me unlimited access to lactation consultants during our stay and they had us all set up and ready to go. It took some getting used to and perfecting — as does any breastfeeding relationship — but we are still going strong!

7. Baby will still roll over, crawl and walk.

Let me tell you now because it will serve you well even if you’re a parent without a child in a brace, stop comparing your baby to others. When that person on your Facebook feed posts a video of their 4-week-old rolling over, unfollow them. No one needs that doubt-inducing energy in their life. And guess what — your baby will still do all of these things. See above, babies adapt. Before you know it, that chunky baby of yours will roll and roll and keep on rolling.

8. Your baby is sturdier.

You know those other newborns that are scary to hold. Yours isn’t. That Pavlik Harness gives your baby some back support. Eventually, when your partner is flying the baby around the living room, you will think to yourself, Our child has PERFECT form for the ski jump. Winter Olympics, here she comes.

9. You might end up in a Rhino Cruiser.

No one told me that this whole hip dysplasia thing can lead to a clunky brace called the Rhino Cruiser. I just thought, okay, you wear the harness and then one day you get it off. Not so fast. Everyone’s journey is a little different. Some babies get their Pavlik’s off in six weeks, others need to wear them longer, and some (like ours) get “upgraded” to wearing this plastic contraption during the night. See above: Babies adapt.

10. It will end.

This is not a forever diagnosis. Yes, it sucks right now. But your child won’t need a hip replacement at 50. Your child can still be a soccer/gymnastics/taekwon do/swim star. Your day will come. This too shall pass.

Hugs to you, mama. You can do this.

We Need To Stop With The ‘No Excuses!’ Approach To Fitness And Exercise

Recently, I was at the Harlem Y leaving the women’s locker room with my baby. A woman stopped me and said, “Aw, he’s cute! You look great. Free childcare at the gym — that means no excuses right?!” I walked past her, baffled. I was furious at this well meaning, smiley, complimentary, and I’m sure very kind woman. I repeated to myself what she said: No excuses right?! No excuses!

No! Yes! Yes, excuses! All the excuses! Buckets full of excuses. All the excuses in the world!

This sentiment that since there is free childcare at a gym a mom has no excuses to not workout is utter bullcrap. Besides the fact that I was not there to work out but instead to take my baby to swimming lessons, I still have all the excuses.

Want to hear a few?

I don’t do my laundry. I don’t have time. I wash the baby’s clothes but not mine. Going down 14 floors carrying a 16-pound person on your front plus multiple bottles of liquid and dragging bags full of clothing behind me is a perfect storm for not doing laundry. And then there’s always that magic moment when the baby falls asleep for his nap. I plop him into his crib and breathe a sigh of relief until I remember that the washing machine will be done in five minutes, and I don’t want all other 452 people in the building to hate me for occupying the machine when not in use. At times, I have actually considered where I would land on the bad parent scale if I left the baby alone for five minutes while I transferred clothes to the dryer. Then I have visions of getting stuck in the elevator for hours while my child screams upstairs. So no laundry, it is!

How about working full-time and parenting full-time? What is more than full-time? Double-time? Full-double time? Double-full? Sounds like I’m considering the size of drink I’m going to have when the baby goes to sleep. How about having the babysitter drop the baby off at my work multiple times a month because I have workshops to lead and events to run and I’d rather do those with a baby in my arms than not do them at all. This doesn’t leave much time for those magical workouts that I am supposed to participate in.

How about pumping? Is pumping an excuse? Pumping what seems like all day, every day. What about a baby who can now crawl and so pumping has become a game of plug in, unplug, catch the baby, carry back, plug back in, unplug, grab baby from danger, and repeat for 30 minutes, four times a day. And let’s not even speak about when I’m out and about in the middle of a weekend day and have to find some cold public bathroom and balance on the toilet to use my battery pack and pump away. I have pumped in so many places I suppose I could do it while running on a treadmill — said no mom ever!

Let’s talk showers, and you can tell me if that is excuse enough. Living alone with a child means showers are limited. So, tired as I may be at 10 p.m., if the baby is asleep and my pumping is done, I better jump in that shower and slide into bed before the silence becomes too good to be true and he begins to cry. On the days that I need to shower in the morning, I have now taken to having my child sit on my bath mat surrounded by toys, with my shower door open and water spraying him like he’s playing in a New York City fire hydrant on a hot summer’s day. I rush out dripping wet whenever he does something slightly hazardous, but I get the job done.

Let’s talk baby proofing! How the heck do you do that? Turn your small apartment into a place where a baby can go around and about without getting hurt? Who can do this? I don’t know about everyone else’s baby but my child seems to be able to turn everything into something that can hurt him, even the floor. Can you baby proof a floor? Perhaps I don’t even need a spectacular excuse to not workout. I’ll just start my own gym class called “Catch That Baby” where we let a baby loose and give participants household tasks to complete while also keeping the baby safe in an un-baby-proofed house, aka a regular apartment.

Or how every time I blink, my dog seems to have thrown up or pooped somewhere, or she’s eating the baby’s toys or barking at the door asking someone to come save her from her brother who has gotten very fast with his little fur-grabbing fingers. Her bark is much worse than her bite, but it is probably maddening enough to actually make me want to run out of the house. Perhaps I can use her as an excuse to get me to the gym!

There’s this great activity called cooking dinner. Have you heard of it? It’s where you mix ingredients together, and bake or fry or heat them up, and eat! It’s great. Everyone should try it sometime! I get Blue Apron delivered. It’ll help me learn to cook. It’ll ensure I eat healthy balanced meals. It’ll make enough for me to bring leftovers for lunch! Never did I realize the reality would be that it’ll cause me to waste more food than I ever have before! I actually love the Blue Apron meals as the food is quite delicious. But they don’t come with childcare. Perhaps if I brought my Blue Apron box to the gym they could watch the baby and let me use their kitchen. They really need to expand this free childcare idea!

What about books? Reading? I seem to have abandoned that ship even though it is a constant item on my ‘Things I’d Like to Do More” list. Could I bring my son to the free gym childcare and take a book into the sauna for two hours? Hmm, a plan might be brewing right now.

I’ll read and relax while they watch my child and cook my Blue Apron meal.

How about sometimes I feel like sitting in my bed and eating all the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream while watching The Big Bang Theory during my half hour of free time. How’s that for an excuse to not workout?

I am sorry you’ve had to endure so much sarcasm and annoyance from the depths of my own mind, but it’s time we stop judging each other. I have love for all you moms who work out and whose tummies don’t still look like dough a year after having the baby. I love all you moms who have sat around for 10 months eating carbs and playing with your baby or whatever else you’re doing. I love moms who went back to work and those who stayed home or any matter of in-between. I admire you moms who say no screen time until the child is in college, and I pat you on the back moms who sometimes have to turn on Peppa Pig for a half hour to wash dishes or pump (me!) or just because you have a headache. We are so quick to judge, so quick.

So, to the No Excuses woman: Yes, yes excuses. I do actually work out sometimes, but I have boatloads of excuses not to — despite the free childcare at the gym. Most of those excuses have to do with keeping my brilliant 9-month-old safe, stimulated, and alive, and I’d choose that over a flat tummy any day.

I’ve Put A Moratorium On Playdates — It’s Time For Mom To Carve Out Some Time For Herself Instead

Goldfish and apple juice boxes lined the kitchen countertop along with hummus, pretzels, and mimosas. In the living room, throngs of toddlers tantrumed over whose turn it was on the creaky mechanical pony as infants cried in makeshift cribs. After spending most days isolated and alone with my baby, I felt as if I had entered a surreal world. Though the scene was chaos, as a new mama, I welcomed the drama.

The minute I embarked on the magical but mysterious road of motherhood, I knew I was going to need a support system. I wanted a loving and encouraging network, but didn’t have the faintest idea of where to find it.

Then, one afternoon, I brought my then-3-month-old daughter, Abby to story time at the library. We sat in a semicircle with the other parents and their children and listened to the librarian’s soothing voice as she read from board books. Then an infant crawled into my lap. As the baby’s mother scooped her little one up, she spoke to me:

“I’m having a few moms over to my house. Would you like to join our playdate?” she asked, a sweet smile on her face.

“Sure, we would love to.”

We walked into our new friend’s house and were met with a whole lot of disarray as diaper bags and purses crowded the entryway. There were probably 10 other moms there with their babies ranging from newborns to toddlers.

We sipped our mimosas, watched our kids crawl around the toy-packed room, and chatted about pregnancy, told our birth stories, relayed our in-law dramas, and mused on the machinations of sex after babies.

I had finally found my mommy tribe.

Each week, more moms joined our group until it included about 25 moms and their babies. The playdates became a lifeline to a community I never imagined being a part of but now couldn’t live without. Between coffee dates, shopping dates, library story time dates, house and park dates, we played, ate, and commiserated together every day of the week.

As the months passed and Abby got closer to celebrating her 1st birthday, I was celebrating becoming more confident as a mother. There was just one problem: I was growing exhausted trying to keep up with our mom/baby social calendar. When the weekends arrived, my husband would want to go out with me and Abby, and all I wanted to do was sleep, hang out at home in my pajamas, and work on my writing.

“I’ve been to that park five times this week. I don’t want to go again,” I complained to my husband when Abby and I received yet another playdate invitation from the group.

That’s the moment I knew that as much as I loved being around my mommy tribe, I was ready to rediscover what I wanted to do — and that meant something that wasn’t connected to my identity as a wife or mother. I was itching to start writing again and see where it would take me. As a stay-at-home mom, I had a major advantage over other working parents: the flexibility of my schedule.

I started saying “no” to playdates and “yes” to carving out time for myself. My weeks took on a different dimension when we weren’t constantly rushing around. Lots of times, we’d stay at home, and Abby would play around me while I multitasked on my laptop, outlining essays and drafting poetry.

I loved expressing my creativity and stopped wishing for a crowd to lose myself in. I also became more present for my husband, and my writing fulfilled my need to be productive instead of just being “Mommy.”

These days, while I may not be able to sip on a mimosa in the middle of the afternoon with my posse, and I may skip more than just a couple of playdates a month, there is a gift in my decision that Abby may not see until she’s older: Her mommy had the chance to balance play and work and follow her dreams — and she did it.

And if I did it, then maybe she can do it, too, one day.

That’s what’s most important.

I Was The SAHM With A Nanny. I Don’t Think I Could Have Survived Without Her.

When the fifth home pregnancy test came up positive, I knew for sure I was going to have a third baby. At 41, this wasn’t supposed to happen. Even my OB didn’t believe me when I called her with the news. According to my hormone levels, the possibility of becoming pregnant the old-fashioned way was less than 5%. She was shocked that I’d beat the odds even though we hadn’t really been trying.

Well, we weren’t not trying. For years, my husband wanted a third child and I was on the fence, tilting more to the side of “nope” than “why not?” For him it was a no-brainer. He is one of three boys, and to him, more is more. But having another child terrified me.

Memories of the mother I’d been for so many years while my two girls were little made me cringe. I didn’t want to go back to the daily battles I waged against the sad, anxious me of the past. The constant demands of my children made me irritable. Worrying about whether or not I was making the right decisions exhausted me.

I tried to keep my negative feelings inside or at least away from my adorable girls, but I didn’t always succeed. I lost my temper too much, cried a lot, and I truly believed I was failing at motherhood. When my girls hugged and kissed me, I thought I didn’t deserve it. When my husband smiled and told me I was a wonderful mom, I didn’t believe him.

Looking back, I realize that I suffered from postpartum depression with the birth of my first child and a relapse with my second. I was too embarrassed to tell anyone about the overwhelm I felt. I couldn’t bear to think that my sadness might mean I didn’t love my daughter or was a terrible person who couldn’t find the joy in motherhood. I’d been raised to believe that if I tried hard enough, I could overcome anything. Instead of asking for help, I convinced myself that I could handle my feelings of fear and inadequacy on my own.

When my first daughter was born, I continued my somewhat flexible consulting job, refusing to hire a nanny. I relied on babysitters when I had client meetings or had to work onsite. I worked when the baby napped and in the middle of the night after nursing. I was worn out and testy, but I didn’t want anyone else mothering my child. I’d wanted to be a mom, so I was damn well going to be one — all the time.

When my second daughter arrived two and a half years later, I knew I couldn’t maintain my work schedule, but instead of finding childcare, I quit and stayed home full-time. I thought if I could just focus on mothering, I would be a happier, better mom.

But depression doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t just disappear, even though I pretended it did. I developed tools to help me manage. I took as many time-outs as I gave, breathing deeply three times just as I’d taught the girls to do when they felt out of control. I stopped trying to do all the things and hired a housekeeper to come once a week. I tried not to get strung out over making playdates all the time or signing the girls up for multiple activities. I let my husband do some of the parenting instead of always insisting I be in charge. I worked hard to notice the beautiful and brilliant — my oldest daughter learning to read, my younger one joyously riding her trike. I managed to tamp down my sorrow and irritability most of the time, but that didn’t mean those feelings were gone.

Just as my younger daughter was starting kindergarten and the swirl of confusing feelings I had around mothering young children seemed like it was about to clear out, I found myself unexpectedly pregnant. The thought of going back to those long days and sleepless nights scared me silly. I did not want to mother another child in a way that left me depleted, ashamed, and convinced I was not good enough, or worse, actively screwing up my kid with my negative emotions. If I was going to have a third child, I needed hands-on help. I needed a full-time nanny.

Realizing I needed help for who knew how long was a revelation and not a comfortable one. Owning up to the depression motherhood triggered in me and admitting I couldn’t handle it on my own again drenched me in shame. I was embarrassed to have help knowing that I would again stay at home full-time with this new baby.

Being fortunate enough to afford full-time help felt indulgent and privileged. At the same time, asking for help was an immense relief. This time, with this baby, I would have backup when I felt the tremors of sadness shake my insides. I would be able to hand my little one to another loving adult while I took care of myself, regained my center, and came back to motherhood ready to both give and receive.

I hired our nanny a few weeks before our third daughter arrived. I am not exaggerating when I say having her in the house nearly everyday for four years made me a better mom. Knowing she was there to share her big heart with me and all three of my girls helped chase away some of my anxiety and sadness. Therapy certainly helped too.

Now my little one is in kindergarten, her sisters in middle school and high school, and I’m back to working part-time. It’s hard to know what we need as mothers, let alone ask for it, and if you need help, please tell someone. I know that my choice is certainly not for everyone, but the central message is the same for us all:  We don’t have to mother alone.

This Is How You Survive A Velcro Baby

Five years ago, I brought home my brand-new baby boy and wondered what motherhood would look like. My husband and I knew nothing about babies, and truth be told, we were scared shitless. We had never changed a diaper, given a baby a bottle, or held a newborn. We couldn’t even keep a succulent alive, and they hardly require any attention.

Much to our surprise, being a parent wasn’t that hard. Our son breastfed and bottle-fed like a champ (and never spit up), slept through the night at 6 weeks, hardly ever cried, didn’t care if he was held or put in a swing, and basically took care of himself (I kid, I kid). But really, being a parent wasn’t that difficult. What was all the fuss about?

This time around, with our second child, parenthood looks drastically different. We have what I like to call a “velcro baby.” If you aren’t familiar with a “velcro baby,” it’s a baby that you can never fucking remove from yourself or else they will scream bloody murder all day long. Everything is very dramatic with a velcro baby because the only time they are happy is when they are nuzzled in your arms.

I know, it sounds magical, and 90% of the time it is, but sometimes mama needs to use the restroom or shave a leg. A velcro baby wants to be on you all the time. They want to be on you when they eat. They want to be on you when they sleep. They want to play on you. They want to poop on you (in a diaper, most of the time). Basically, they want to set up shop and never leave until they are 18. If you are blessed with this beautiful gift, I have some tips on survival.

1. Wear them all day, every day.

If you do not have a Baby Bjorn, a Moby, or any other device that you can use to wear your baby, get in the car and head to Target now. That thing is a lifesaver, and it’s the only way that you will ever get anything done around the house. You can strap them on you while you are cooking dinner, folding laundry, or putting on makeup (I know that’s laughable because no one has time for makeup with a newborn). You are also building arm muscles and strengthening your core at the same time. Who needs to go to the gym when you can just use your baby as a weight? Score.

2. Get a little help.

It is not realistic that you put your entire life on hold so that you can hold your baby 24/7. Some of us have other things to do, like a job or other children to tend to. Find some help, fast. It doesn’t matter if it’s your mother-in-law, a babysitter, or a random person at the grocery store who offers to watch your baby, the answer is always “YES.”

We have no family nearby, so I made the difficult decision to send my baby to Mother’s Day Out two days a week, and it’s been the best choice for my family and for my sanity. I know this isn’t an option for everyone, but for me, it gives me time to have a part-time job and a chance to breathe. Breathing is so important. It also allows my baby to have some early socialization and takes away the pain I feel when I see her crying 24/7. I’ve been told that she doesn’t cry when I’m not around. Apparently, she’s already an actress at 3 months old.

Which bring me to my next point…..

3. Let your baby cry it out sometimes.

I know it can be beyond painful to watch your little one cry, but you have to get over that. Babies cry, and if you have a velcro baby, they cry a hell of a lot. I suggest you learn to tune out the crying, or invest in some earplugs or a sound machine. Your baby will survive, I promise. In fact, I think studies have shown that it’s actually good for them (okay, maybe I’m making this up to make myself feel better but whatever). Also, keep in mind that our parents let us cry all the time, and we survived. I’m pretty sure they would leave us crying in our crib while they walked next door to have coffee with the neighbor for a half hour. Gah, why wasn’t I a parent then? I would’ve won mom of the year through the ’70s.

4. Have a specific plan in place for getting them off of you and into the crib.

This is important because you need your sleep, and they cannot sleep on top of you until they go to college. Transferring our baby to the crib each night seriously takes acrobatic abilities. I make sure to change her diaper, turn off all the lights, and dress her in her sleep clothes before her last feeding. Once I’m done feeding her, I text my husband to come into the nursery to assist me in peeling her off of me and transitioning her to the crib. After we make the transfer, we both army crawl out of the room in hopes that she doesn’t notice. Okay, it’s not that dramatic, but it takes some mad ninja skills. Just make sure you have a plan.

5. Get out of the house together to do an activity.

This is for the baby’s socialization and your sanity. Join the little gym or a music class where you hold your baby, in public, while doing an activity. This will get you out of the house and around other adults, and it will give your baby a chance to interact with other babies.

I’ve also become the queen of attending social gatherings lately (which is so out of character for me), like birthdays and meeting friends out for dinner, because someone always wants to hold the baby. It’s a win-win, really. Your friends get their baby fix, and you get to drink your margarita in peace. A 20-minute break is all a mamma needs sometimes.

It’s hard to hold onto your sanity when it feels like you have another human being living on top of you, but remember: It’s just a season in your life. With my firstborn I spent a lot of my time cleaning, working, and doing anything and everything but holding my baby, and I regret that. It took me being forced to hold my newborn to make me step away from the constantly running to-do list in my head, and I’m forever grateful. I’ve been given the gift of soaking up my new bundle while being forced to slow down a little. Who needs clean dishes and folded laundry anyway?

These Are The Things You’ll Need To Accept If You’re Having Twins

I meet mothers of twins left and right these days. I swear, they’re everywhere. Even if you’ve never before seen a set of twins in your town, the moment you discover that you’re expecting them, they will suddenly seem to be all over the place. Many of the moms I meet have older twins (meaning, they’re able to dress themselves, put their own dishes in the sink, and find it fun to retrieve the mail for you each afternoon), and they comment that raising twins gets more fun every year.

Only about 1% of all the women I’ve met say something stupid like, “Oh, it only gets harder as they get older.” I’ve never understood those women. Even if that were their perspective, what benefit does it provide either of us to communicate it? So if you run into that lovely lady, just smile and keep walking, or start bawling and wail, “I’m not going to make it!” and wait for someone nearby to come to your rescue.

One wise mom I met perfectly summed up the “how” of it when she said, “People without twins make such a big deal out of how you do it. You just do it! You have a sense of humor about it as often as possible. And you take it a day (sometimes an hour) at a time.”

Some people will comment that God never gives you more than you can handle, and you will respond, “Yes, but unfortunately, I think he’s confused me with someone else.” Then the baby you’ve been praying would sleep for at least six minutes will sleep for an hour, and you will get on your knees and be thankful and probably fall asleep there for an hour yourself!

A finely tuned sense of humor is critical. If you don’t have one, get one — fast. After all, few situations in life are true catastrophes, even though they may initially feel like they are. When you smile at or laugh at a situation, it passes almost instantly. When you cry or yell, it sticks around much longer. Yes, occasionally you’ll start laughing and then stop midway through and stoically profess, “Okay, but seriously, we have got to figure this out,” or not laugh at all, and instead yell,“We need to fix this right now!” But if you try the former approach as often as possible, it will help tremendously. As writer Kurt Vonnegut once said, “Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.”

David, father of twin sons Jonathon and Jake, remembers, “At one point, our boys were having a particularly bad night. My wife and I were in the middle of changing the fourth diaper in one hour, plus two sets of sheets — and it was 3 a.m. My wife said, “At least it cannot get any worse!” We got back in bed, and our 2-year-old daughter promptly walked into our room proclaiming she did not feel well. Within 10 seconds, she vomited all over the four loads of freshly washed and folded laundry. All we could do was laugh. The alternative was simply too depressing!”

Start this moment to realign your expectations. I recently heard that it takes approximately 196 hours per week to raise triplets. What’s the problem with that? There are only 168 hours in a week! If you divide the 196 hours by 3, and thereby presume that the tasks associated with each baby require approximately 65 hours, it could be reasonably estimated that raising twins takes approximately 130 hours per week. I’m certain that the third baby does not, in and of himself, take up the whole of those additional 66 hours. Therefore, I’ve concluded that raising twins takes somewhere between 130 and 196 hours per week. That’s a lot of hours. Clearly, a few lifestyle modifications are in order.

If you are a person who needs your house to be spotless day-in and day-out, invent a 12-step program that breaks your need for a completely clean dwelling all the time (unless you have a full-time housekeeper). I remember an evening when David arrived home from work. I was sweating, unshowered, hungry, and unable to find Jack’s pajamas that I had just set out. Poor guy mentioned something about a major sale on speakers he’d waited years to buy. My retort was simple and straightforward. Through clenched teeth, I said, “Money does not grow on trees and neither do housekeepers. Look at this place! Now give me some help!” I think I actually scared him because he didn’t waste any time. He went straight for the vacuum cleaner. Whether it was my appearance or my demeanor that frightened him into action, I’m not entirely sure.

Accept that you will not dine on a gourmet meal every night unless you can afford a personal chef. In fact, there are still many nights when I find a bowl of cereal absolutely delicious, and as I mention later, I continue to rely on the power of a good multivitamin.

Accept that your holiday cards may not go out until March — or learn to love the idea of simply Facebooking your holiday wishes to everyone! (Facebooking is an official verb at this point, isn’t it?) As David frequently commented, “There aren’t enough hours in the day or adults in this house!” If you allow it, you will have 7-mile-long to-do lists — and that’s okay, provided you train yourself to prioritize three or four to-dos in a week instead of in a day, as might have been your practice in the past. Accept that, in most cases, having uncompleted to-dos at the end of the day is not the end of the world.

Most parents of twins marvel at how flexible they become. As innately organized and efficient human beings, they never would have imagined they’d choose to spend an evening watching a movie before they cleaned the dirty dishes. Or that, pulling out of their driveway to go meet Santa Claus, they’d switch gears — literally — because one of the babies’ diapers exploded all over her brand-new Christmas outfit (the white one). For most parents, this shift in mentality is as much of a blessing as the arrival of their children. They have a newfound awareness of the truly important things in life versus the merely peripheral details.

If you weren’t organized before, I guarantee you will be soon. If you were organized before, you’re going to “kick it up a notch,” as renowned chef Emeril Lagasse would say.

I was unexpectedly admitted to the hospital in preterm labor when I was 32 weeks pregnant, and I came home for only 24 hours before I went into unstoppable labor and delivered Jack and Henry at 35 weeks and 2 days. The boys were in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for 16 days before we were able to bring them home. What the boys’ little vacation in the NICU gave us was the extremely welcomed opportunity to get things as ready as time permitted. But to be perfectly honest, the best way to organize is simply to live it and see what works for you. It won’t be more than 15 hours before you’ll have some high-priority challenges that need solutions. Fast. And you’ll come up with them just as quickly as does every other mother of multiples.

Remember, you would not have been blessed with multiples if someone didn’t have complete and utter confidence that you were up to the challenge.


To learn more about the day-to-day challenges that come during the first year of twins, read Elizabeth Lyons’s  Holy Sh*t…I’m Having Twins!: The Definitive Guide to Remaining Calm When You’re Twice as Freaked Out.

I Really Thought I’d Be An ‘Attachment Parent,’ But I Found It Too Suffocating

Of all the things on my baby shower registry, the Baby Bjorn was what I wanted the most — more than the jogging stroller, more than the very expensive bedding, and more than the sleek white crib. I had visions of wearing it constantly with my snugly child nestled inside. I would cook, clean, shop, and exercise with my child pressed close to me.

I could not wait to be a mother. I would never leave him with a sitter. I would never put him down. We would be like Kang and little Roo every second of every day, at least that was my plan.

I gave birth at 2:32 in the morning, and after a long night of holding him and staring at him, I finally dozed off at 7:45, only to wake up at 8 and find him gone. I was almost frantic. My husband told me they just took him for some newborn screenings and he would be right back.

“Can you go get him, please?” I found myself saying after only five minutes. I had my hand on the button to page the nurse, I was about to press it. I couldn’t stand to be away from him. All I wanted was to get home, prance around, and do all the things with my baby attached to me a like a barnacle. This was the stuff my dreams had been made of for the last nine months. I was ready.

It only took me about six hours with him at home to realize something: I could not do the “attachment parenting” thing I had endlessly envisioned. I could not wear my child on my body all the time, and the guilt I felt was almost paralyzing. If I couldn’t do it when he weighed 8 pounds, I would never be able to do it; he was only going to get bigger and take up more of my personal space.

I loved him so damn much. But I learned very quickly, I needed space from all forms of human touch more than I had imagined.

I could not handle letting him nurse for hours and hours. I felt like I was going to freak out. My stomach would start to turn, my back would tense, and I would desperately need to move freely without another body attached to me. I had no idea what was happening to me. I just knew I had to listen to what my body was telling me.

I would feed him on one side, then the other, and that was it. My mom commented once that I was “all business” when it came to nursing, and she was right — I was. It wasn’t the way I thought I was going to feel about it, and I was frustrated with myself.

When he would fall asleep, I had to put him down and go about my business. Yes, I felt guilty. Yes, I was torn. Yes, I kind of hated myself and wondered if I was unfit to be his mother. I would see some mothers nurse for hours and carry their babies around all day, and I would feel jealous and angry at myself because I wasn’t doing that for my child, that I literally couldn’t do it without losing my mind.

I loved holding him and would pepper him with a thousand kisses until he would squirm. I sometimes napped with him, and we spent many afternoons snuggling on the sofa as he would play with a soft book, snuggled in the nook of my arm. When he got older, we would sit for hours and read. I loved it, but after a time, I needed space. I couldn’t do it all the time.

And when he bit down on my nipple, and turned his head twice in a row while I tried to nurse him when he was 8 months old, I knew we were done. And I was relieved.

I would sometimes carry him in the Baby Bjorn or the backpack while we shopped. Sometimes he would tug at my hair or claw at my neck, and I was so excited when he was big enough to be strapped into a cart. I could look at him, kiss his cheeks, and feed him snacks, and he would smile back at me. I knew he was happy, confident, and thriving. He was developing just fine with me putting him down in his crib for naps, feeding him in a way that also worked for me, and letting him roll around on the floor and play instead of carrying him around all the time like I thought I would.

I clung to those moments. I had to, that is how my guilt faded away.

We all need to be true to ourselves in order to be the best mom we can. It doesn’t matter if the way we thought we were going to mother changes as we go. When we are doing what is best for us mentally and physically, that is the definition of being a good mom, and our children reap the benefits.

This One Is For The Mom Who Is Heading Back To Work

I see you, Mama, pacing from room to room, recalling what still needs to be packed for tomorrow. You pause by the sleeping baby’s crib, in awe of his eyelashes and his measured breathing, unsuspecting that tomorrow someone else will be reading him his favorite bunny story and putting him down for nap time.

You try to cook as much as possible to prepare for your upcoming 11-hour, perhaps 12-hour, absences. You bought a crockpot and bookmarked recipes online; you stocked up on groceries as if Armageddon is fast approaching, and now your freezer door won’t close.

You toss the carrots and the broccoli in the steamer basket you’ve been using recently to make baby purées. Starting tomorrow, you might not always have time to purée things. He’ll have to content himself with those store-bought pouches occasionally, even if it means contributing to the global landfill and defying studies about the importance of chewing.

You set out the pumping supplies and the black and cream yellow mechanism on the counter, wondering if the baby will take the bottle since you haven’t “trained” him lately, as everyone recommended.

You pick up one of his framed newborn photographs but can’t decide which of the two is better, so you pack both, staring at the empty space on your nightstand.

And you resent the way everyone was right — how those first few months seem to have vanished. All you have are hundreds of photos on your phone, a testament to the fact that you gave life and nurtured it every hour of the day and night, the legacy of your child’s infancy. To make it seem more real, you type up the things you did on your maternity leave — from your requisite daily walks and story time and playdates, to music in the park and trips to the museum (as if babies care about free jazz and Tyrannosaurus rex). Could you have done more? Should you have done more? The smell of burned carrots and broccoli permeates the room.

You dash into the kitchen and chuck the burned vegetables.

The daycare will be fine — you keep telling yourself. You were thorough in your research. The sight of other babies lined up by the wall in high chairs, caregivers huddling over them with plastic spoons; the smell of warm milk, antibacterial spray and winter coats lingering in the hallway, all of it so abstract and distant back then. What will they do if he refuses to eat? If he looks for you, sobbing with increasing crescendo?

You wonder if it was the right decision to go back to work. But things cost money. You wanted a better home, away from the downstairs neighbor who blasts his television at all hours and leaves his barking dog home alone all day long. You wanted to see family more often across the country.

You wanted to wear dresses and heels, sometimes, just sometimes, and an occasional break. You wanted your work experience and passion to matter, shuddering at the fact that only 0.0025% of mothers find a job after an extended absence. More like 73%, but it seems equally daunting.

Some of your friends sell leggings and makeup on the internet part-time, but you always sucked at sales. You just wish there was an alternative to the average 47 hour-long American workweek and a two-hour commute.

As the carrots from the new batch roll down on the floor, you come undone. You rush to your sleeping baby in his fuzzy footed pajamas and hold him close, afraid of squeezing too tightly.

But tomorrow, you’ll just take it a day at a time. You’ll have mornings and nights and weekends.

Tomorrow, I’ll see you on that train, Mama. I promise to love the photo of your kid on your phone if you show me. I promise not to pry if you get teary-eyed at your desk but to hand you a tissue and offer to bring you lunch (since you probably won’t take lunch breaks). We’re all cheering you on, Mama, from the 4:30 p.m. conference room meetings, from the bleachers at the school games, from our preschoolers’ midday recitals. No matter where you are, you are doing your best, Mama. Remember, we’re all in this together.

I Am A Working Mom Trying To Juggle It All Because I Love My Family AND My Career

I love my career. I worked full-time while getting a master’s degree, completed countless internships, and landed the job I wanted, right out of grad school. It wasn’t easy though. I was the first to arrive and the last to leave.

“Who wants to work New Year’s Day?”

“I will!” I always volunteered.

I didn’t (and still don’t) make a ton of money, but seven years in, I have always loved my job. I am so proud of the organization I work for, and I know we are doing important things in our community.

Then my son came along.

I cried when I found out I was pregnant. And I will admit to you, they were not tears of joy. These were fat, hot, tears that screamed, “Your life is perfect, and now it’s over!” I feel so much guilt over the way I reacted. One of my best friends and her husband had been trying to conceive for years. They wanted to have a baby so badly; they deserved to have a baby. Me? Not so much.

Instinctively, I called a girlfriend and continued to sob, uncontrollably. A common reaction to this kind of news, right? I managed to pull myself together before my husband, Sean, got home from basketball practice, and then I waited two days to tell him. Telling him made it real, and apparently, I hadn’t been mentally there yet. Sure, we hadn’t been preventing, but we hadn’t been trying for long and I had always heard it takes months, maybe even years. Of course, my wonderful husband cried actual tears (the happy kind) which only worsened my carefully concealed remorsefulness.

A textbook pregnancy ensued. I would scribble the words “conference call” on a sticky note, slap it on my door, and crawl under my desk to get through the morning. I would play my Pandora a tad too loud to cover up the sounds of my dry heaves, and when I started gaining weight, I wore boxy oversized sweaters and claimed overindulgence.

There inevitably came a day, though, that I had to tell my boss. He had been my boss for six years then. He was my mentor and well known in our field. He had given me my opportunities and accolades. He had given me my whole career. And now, blushing and babbling, I announced that Sean and I were expecting.

The first thing he said was, “But you will be coming back after you have the baby, right?” The next thing he said was, “Congratulations!” Some twisted little part of me was thrilled that his primary concern was whether I was coming back, with the congratulatory salutation being an afterthought. I felt needed and that felt good because I had been worried he would write me off as a baby machine with a new life focus.

The realization that maybe I could pull off both of these full-time gigs set in. The rest of my pregnancy flew by, and soon we had a happy, healthy baby boy.

I took eight weeks and two days off to be with my son after he was born. And (cue the guilt) at the end of that, I was ready, even happy, to get back to work. The walls of my home were closing in on me, and my living space was a mashup of farm animal toys and pumping accessories. I was tired of waiting to hear the garage door go up so I could have an adult human interaction and a hot shower.

Of course, I cried when I dropped my son off at daycare for the first time. I’m not heartless, but selfishly, I was ready to spend my days doing more of what I wanted and less of what it took to keep him cooing and calm.

He’s 10 months old now, and it’s still an ongoing internal struggle because of all the things I love and want out of this life:

I want a happy and healthy child. Yep.

I want a successful and fulfilling career. Sure do!

I want a contented husband who thinks I have it all together. Of course.

I want a clean table, laundry done, grocery shopping conducted not on a lunch break. Check, check, and check.

I want enough money to pay our bills, and I also want to save, feel financially secure, and be the mom who says, “Sure, honey, you want those new high tops, let’s go buy them!” I want all of that, but without my income, it wouldn’t be feasible for us.

I want to be the mother who purées her own organic and locally sourced baby food, who sits on the board at the children’s hospital, and perhaps, most surprisingly, I want to be one of the mom’s wearing Lululemon leggings, pushing a Stokke stroller, out getting her exercise. I drive by those ladies every morning as I leave my neighborhood, and I think to myself: “I wonder what fabulous (and incredibly educational) thing they will do today?”

But I will keep working.

I will work because I know I am providing my son with a good example of dedication and perseverance in a career I have always dreamed of.

I will work because I am passionate about my job, I am making a difference in my community, and honestly, I love what I do.

I will work because I am proud of myself for it. I think I’m interesting, engaging, and cool. I like me.

I will work because it keeps me witty, sharp, and intelligent so that I can be the woman my husband fell in love with.

I will work because I need to financially, but the main reason I will work is for the exact same reason other women choose to stay home, and that’s because its what’s right for our family.

I can’t say that I am the best mom, but I can say that I will continue to try my hardest at giving this mom stuff my all, because that is what’s working for us.