Baby D is now one year old, which means that I have been a mom for the last twelve months (well now really it is more like thirteen months. I am a bit late writing this post). What can I say about motherhood? What can I say about been a working mom? I am going to try my best to share some of my thoughts and experiences. Beware: This will get personal.
Motherhood is beautiful. I love looking into the eyes of my son every day. I love hugging him. There is something amazing about watching him experience new things. Little things that we (adults) take for granted are huge victories in his everyday life (learning how to chew, trying new food, crawling, playing with water, interacting with the dog). Of course, there is work that comes with it and it can be very challenging at times; specially if you do not live close to family. The first few months were about figuring out a good routine that would work for him (a routine for eating, sleeping, and play during the day and at night). It has taken us about a year to figure that routine out (through trial and error). However, now that we have figured it out life is good.
As a woman, I feel like it has also taken a year to feel like myself again mentally and physically. Getting back into a workout routine and yoga helped me. Of course, it also helps to understand my limits and knowing when I need to take a “chill pill” and go for a walk. It is tempting as a new mom to “want to do it everything.” The reality is that you cannot do everything and you should ask for help.
One of the most challenging parts of motherhood during the first year, for me, was pumping. I wanted to breastfeed Baby D at least for the first six months because he was born premature (at 32 weeks). Since I had to go back to work 6 weeks after giving birth, I pumped when I was at work (in between meetings, before class, and after class). Although pumping sounds “easy,” it was very emotionally draining for me. It is hard to explain how it made me feel but what I can say is that I am glad the pumping days are over.
Many have described me as a natural mother or very “Zen” when I am with baby D. I laugh and think it is funny because until I became a mom I had very little experience with babies. Something else that I find interesting (and I had heard other mothers mentioned this before) is that I no longer have time “to sweat the little things.” Literally, I just do not have time for it because I try to make the best use of the time I have available (when I am at work and in my personal life).
To any female in academia who is a new mom and is preparing to start a new semester soon, I wish you luck. Just like all babies are different, all motherhood experiences are different. If you need help, ask for it. For new moms in academia, there are support groups via social media that are public (twitter hashtag: #AcademicMamas) and others that are private/super private (Facebook groups for junior academic mamas and academic mamas). I have found this private and secret groups tremendously helpful and super supportive. It is a large network of academic mamas that share their struggles and frustrations, as well as their triumphs and successes. We ask each other questions and try to answer using our own experiences.
Well there it is, my posts on motherhood. I am sure I will remember many things as soon as I hit “publish.” However, for now this is what I can share with you. Happy New Year!