The Postpartum Style Struggle #2

Hey there Mamas!

Okay, so now you’re holding your sweet little bundle of joy, the birth is over, you’re sitting there in your hospital bed, probably still in your gown and now sporting hospital panties and a pad the size of a crib mattress. You’ve never felt more glamorous! Am I right? 😉 Well, now may not be the time for glamour, but it can be the time for comfort and confidence! 

Let’s get practical (and cute!) 

If you’re anything like me, those hospital panties don’t even come close to staying up on their own. Like not even close. So definitely let’s do the pants thing. Stay away from dresses for now, you’ll want everything down there to feel secure and in place. Pants can help. My recommendation for your first “mama outfit” would be leggings and a tunic. Get some soft, stretchy leggings preferably black, (just in case your pad betrays you) and wiggle your jiggle into those. They pull everything together and just hold it there. Now, you look like a toddler in a diaper under your clothes, so make sure the tunic you choose, covers your behind all the way. That way, there’s no lumpy bumps hanging out in the back. 

Oversized tunics are pretty forgiving and hide a lot, so if you’re feeling super self-conscious about your postpartum pancake belly, join the club and throw on something that’s fitted in the bust and flows over the stomach. You can even find tunics that have been engineered to come apart around the boobs for easy access if you’re breastfeeding! Nifty! 

Here’s the nitty-gritty about why this look works:

When you look at the model above, where do your eyes go first? Her boobs? Probably. Let’s face it mamas, if we’re going to try to flaunt our assets (one of which is covered in an adult diaper at the moment), we may as well go for boobs. That’s why we want the tunic to be a bit fitted at the bust. Dressing yourself strategically is all about drawing the eye away from where you don’t want it to go. Don’t want people staring at your belly? Get a tunic fitted in the bust, throw on some cute chunky earrings and if you’re heading out for grocery run, or just out to Target to try to stay sane, some cute flashy flats will also help keep the attention in a long line from head to toe. A tunic with a large print will also minimize your belly. The general rule is: large print= area appears smaller, small print= area appears larger. 

Bottom line here, mama friends, don’t stress about it! This outfit is all about no stress and comfort, which is where you want to be right now. Now go snuggle that sweet squishy little newborn and smell his head for the rest of us. My kids’ heads just smell like dirt and maple syrup now. 

Hugs Mama Friends,

Ashley 

Stylist/Owner 

Metro Image Consulting L.L.C.

www.metroimageconsulting.com

Want me to come help you “Shop Your Closet” and learn to style yourself? Contact me on my website or text: STYLE to 480-296-4851. Be sure to mention MOMnation for a special discount! 

Special thanks to Sarayah Blackburn with Blackburn Photography

It WILL get Better! Living with Colic

It’s 7:30pm and both babies are down for the night. Or at least, for now. With a 19-month-old transitioning into a twin sized bed (yep, we screwed this one up real good) and a 3 month old who faithfully eats every 3 hours (maaaaaybe 4 hours at night), my night is young. But right now it’s supposed to be that blissfully peaceful time, watching both babies on their respective monitors. Each fast asleep in their starfish positions, pacifiers on the verge of falling out.

Only I am not relishing in the peace.

I am vibrating. My nerves are raw, I can hardly collect my thoughts, yet I wanted to write this immediately while I was fresh in the aftermath. I keep checking the monitor because I swear I hear screaming, but no – there’s my peacefully sleeping starfish. A little angel.

My youngest has colic and this weekend was a bad “colic” weekend.

She was born in January, and around mid-February is when the colic started. At first I thought she was just going through the typical baby “evening witching hours,” but the intensity, frequency, and duration seemed more than that to me. Some quick internet searches confirmed that she’s the textbook definition of a colicky baby. February and March are complete blurs to me. I really don’t remember many details of these two months at all. Thank goodness, she is now 3 and a half months old and she’s starting to turn the corner. She actually had a relaxed couple of weeks, until this past weekend… so it took me back a bit.

We were at a friend’s birthday party on Saturday. I knew my baby had a fussier morning than usual, but I figured the car ride to the party would calm her down. I thought I’d nest her away in a quiet corner in her carrier, and she’d sleep while people ooo’d and aaaahhhh’d over her cherubic sleeping face. As soon as we walked inside, her eyes sprang open. And it didn’t take long for her to start crying. As the cries got louder my heart sank.

Then she was screaming.

I tucked us away upstairs, away from the noise and most of the people, and took over the host’s nursery as I tried to feed, soothe, walk, rock, everything. I left my toddler playing in the playroom, with a good friend watching her, and eventually my husband followed the noise of the screaming baby and diligently took over toddler watching duties. My husband, and friends, came to the door multiple times to ask if I needed anything… but when you’re in the throes of trying to calm a baby in the middle of a colic episode, there’s really not much that can be done and certainly not by anyone other than Mama.

And so with my baby on my shoulder and screaming in my ear, I moved quickly past the pitying eyes of the party guests and took her out for a drive. Usually the motion of the stroller, or the car, puts her to sleep. It worked, but only briefly. Having missed most of the party, we packed up and left.

Sure, I had heard of colic before but like anything else with parenting you just have no freaking clue what it’s about until you’ve gone through it. I thank my lucky stars daily that both of my daughters are healthy overall. But dealing with colic has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Listening to a baby not just cry, but SCREAM, for hours, is simply… maddening. There were times I thought I was losing my damn mind! My husband and I would take turns pacing the floor with her. We bought a sound machine and tried every trick we could think of to keep her from waking her sleeping big sister.  We’ve had to let her “cry it out” more times than I care to admit. At those points, we were both just exhausted on every level – physically, mentally, emotionally. I am a very solutions-oriented person. I problem solve for a living. I am resourceful and smart, and know how to fix things – so when I couldn’t/can’t calm my extremely distressed baby, I feel defeated and depleted. We’ve used gas drops and gripe water. I’ve tried cutting dairy from my diet. I ran myself ragged with trying this and that and Google searches. I can’t tell you how many times I called her doctor, asking if “this is normal?” My last phone call to him, at my wits end, I literally said “You HAVE to have some secret trick that I haven’t found on Google for this.” He told me I was already doing everything right, and to keep the gripe water on hand. I wanted to scream right into the phone at that response.

The thing about colic is, in order to get through these episodes you have to dig deep. I mean, REALLY deep. At her worst, I was at my worst. The things I thought, and sometimes even said out loud… were just purely ugly and awful when I gave in to frustration. And when the sleep and calm would suddenly wash over her, aside from relief I was left with ringing ears and an incredible amount of guilt for not being able to keep it together. I was scared to find and confront these really dark corners within myself. In these moments, I understood why they make you watch those “don’t shake your baby” videos at the hospital before you go home.

People who’ve gone through this say that “it will get better.” And while I’m starting to see that, we’re not in the clear yet. I’m impatient. Like any mother, I want my baby to be happy all the time.

I’m writing this for any parent out there who’s in the thick of it. Stay strong. Call your doctor, as many times as you need to. Talk to your partner about anything you were feeling, no matter how bad you think it is. Talking it out really does help you prepare for the next episode. Remember that it’s OK to put your baby down in a safe place and walk away for a few minutes or to let someone else hold/rock/walk your baby so that you can take a few minutes to breathe. Because in these moments (well, more like hours), your baby needs your strength and your patience and you’ve got to try to reserve some of that for yourself as well.

It is true, that it will get better. I am hopeful and anxious to have a glass of victory wine when I know we’re truly on the other side of it!

MOMlife by Courtney Spiak

Ready or Not!! Life after Maternity Leave

Almost as soon as my baby was born back in January, I knew the clock had started ticking on my (unpaid) maternity leave. Of course, it’s so distant in the moments of newborn bliss. I have 12 weeks to spend with my baby! I have 12 weeks to figure out how this family of four, with two babies under two years old, will function. I have 12 weeks to finally get around to these projects I’ve been meaning to tackle (Are you laughing at this last statement?? Because I am!!)!!

 

And then…

 

I was supposed to return to work last Monday. Even though I work from home and have invaluable flexibility that most working moms don’t, I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t ready. My baby had become colicky over the last couple of months and I couldn’t get to the bottom of it to find relief for her (and for us). Between my colicky baby and my toddler adjusting to her new room and bed (boy did we screw that one up!!), I wasn’t getting more than 3-4 hours of sleep at a time. I was officially running on fumes, barely able to function. I thought, there’s no way I could handle my job right now when I can hardly formulate a full sentence. It was difficult to do, but I called my boss, maaaaybe stretched the truth a teensy tiny bit and extended my leave another week. I could hear the annoyance in the voices of the co-workers I spoke to, who were covering for me and looking to dump things back on my plate. Sorry… not sorry.

 

And then…

 

When I realized this rare opportunity to take time for myself, which I will most likely not have again for a long time, things began to turn around. I could think a little clearer without the pressure. At my wits end with the colic, we shifted focus and realized that acid reflux could be the cause behind the crying. So the baby started Zantac, and although she’s still colicky it’s not nearly as bad! She has been sleeping more. I have been sleeping more. I treated myself to a manicure and pedicure, I’ve gone shopping by myself, simple acts to make me feel like a human woman again instead of a hot mess “Mombie.” I started to feel a little more ready to claim my professional life back.

 

And so here we are, my first day back to work. As much as I yearned for a break during my baby’s colic episodes, I cried my eyes out when my husband left this morning to bring them to daycare. Today will be the longest day in my new baby’s life, the longest time away from me. And while I know it’s for the best, eventually, it doesn’t make it any easier in the moment.

 

I prepared myself as much as possible last night – shower, outfits for me and the girls laid out, alarm set and morning prep mentally scheduled, coffee pot set for 6:45am – and it made all the difference. My baby even gave me the gift of sleeping through the night before my first day back to work!

 

“Mommy Feelings,” as I call them, can be conflicting and scary and all-consuming. My tears had to be put away quickly this morning because I had to be “on” for my first conference call at 7am. And that is a good thing, because it’s easy to slide down the rabbit hole of guilt. I’ve been slowly moving through my day, making a conscious effort to read each email and determine an action. I’ve been able to take a break to throw in a load of laundry. I pump at my desk so I can still get things done. And even though my mind is mostly on my babies and wondering if I’m ever doing the right thing, I am slowly settling into this new phase of my life. Because ultimately, we’re never “ready” for what needs to be done. We can only prepare so much. But the beautifully anguished act of letting go, and diving in, is what transforms us and builds our person. And that, I am ready for!

MOMlife by Courtney Spiak