Shout out to Erica who suggested an awesome alternate title for this post: Thawing Freedom. I love it!!
Six weeks into motherhood and I'm feeling a slight shift. Those first several weeks were all about Dashiell and his needs, just as they should be. But as we're getting the hang of caring for an infant, my mind has started to slowly make room for thinking of my needs too (beyond just eating, showering, and sleeping).
When Dashiell was about a month old I found myself starting to daydream about the things that I haven't had time to do and that make me me: cooking and baking, finding new recipes to try, taking up projects around the house, and exercising. It actually feels good to miss these things because I know I'll appreciate them so much more and I have renewed enthusiam for them.
I am loving being a mama and being able to spend hours and hours with my baby boy right now. But I know that to be the best mama I can be I need to make sure I meet my needs too. The "key" to getting more balance of my needs and Dashiell's right now is finding the time to pump so that I can leave Dash with Chris for a few hours at a time. My stored breastmilk feels like liquid freedom in a way! Right now I'm working on pumping twice a day so that I can build up my freezer supply for me time and for going back to work in six weeks.
On most days I find I'm holding Dashiell practically all day. I nurse between 2.5 to 5 hours a day (we track Dashiell's every action with the Baby Connect app) and he usually takes his naps in my lap when he falls asleep after nursing. I've tried transfering him to a rocker or crib but many times he wakes up just a few minutes later so I've been opting to just hold him to ensure he gets a good nap. For the first time this week I was able to put Dashiell down for a nap in his crib. I made a sandwich and (started) reading a New York Times Magazine article! (Chris had to be away from the house for a meeting or else I'm sure he would have made me a sandwich :) ). It doesn't always work to put him to sleep in his crib but I'm going to keep trying and hope it can become a regular occurance. I'm also trying to remember to wear him in our Baby Hawk mei tei carrier when he's clearly tired but can't fall asleep, it works every time. Wearing him doesn't give me total freedom but I have been able to cook a recipe while wearing him and I'm wearing him now (and swaying back and forth) as I type this!
Slowly, slowly I'm starting to see this new balance of me as a mama. Just last week I was able to return to my beloved Friday "happy hour" spin class and this week was able to go to a Tuesday night class too. Oh, it was good. Crazy hard, but good. Exercising gives my mind a chance to decompress and renews my energy. When I got home I felt I could give Dashiell even more of myself.
Even though I'm excited for the glimmer of balance coming back to my life I'm also appreciating that the days in which Dashiell needs to be held all day are numbered; too soon he'd rather sit on his own or practice crawling than be in my arms. I'll miss these days when they're gone and so even as I start to look ahead to what my life might be like a few weeks from now I'm remembering to be present and appreciate today just the way it is.