I knew I was pregnant the moment it happened. The pregnancy test was just a formality for me. Even still — when I saw those two pink lines, I could not believe it. I was going to be a mother. It is true that we had wanted a baby, that we had planned for this baby, but the fact that there was actually a baby growing inside my body was a concept that I could not wrap my brain around. Nothing and no one could have prepared me for the experience that is pregnancy.
In 2013, I flew to Chicago, Illinois to spend Thanksgiving with my mother over a long weekend. It would be my first time visiting and I was absolutely overcome with excitement. Chicago had been on my bucket list for quite some time primarily due to The Oprah Show. I had also just started dating Dan Kim who happened to be a big Chicago Bears fan.
For us California girls, it was a strikingly cold weekend despite the lack of snow (to my dismay). Despite the uncomfortable temperature, we tried to hit the major tourist destinations: The Chicago Bean, the Willis Tower and the Skydeck, and Millennium Park.
Here I am, in my entirety.
65 inches and 120 pounds of stardust taking the form of a fragile package made up of hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, calcium and phosphorus. I occupy a tiny space, on a tiny blue rock, in an enormously wide and vast universe. A couple of hundred years from now, everyone I have ever known will be gone, and with them, the knowledge of me ever existing.
I am simply a drop of water in the cosmos. The universe blinks and my entire life will have been lived. All of my memories. My thoughts. My worries. My fears. My jokes. My adventures. My relationships. My children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren. Poof.
I am no more significant than a cow or a leaf or a pebble skipping across the surface of a lake. Like my buddy Eckhardt Tolle once said, I am just the Universe expressing itself as a human for a little while. And that is just fine with me.
Here is a little secret of mine:
I love to write, just like my mother. It allows me to express the emotions that would otherwise be buried within me, layer after layer.
But why create a blog?
Sometimes I think I am certifiably insane for sharing the embarrassing, self-deprecating, and vulnerable thoughts and experiences that I do on this platform. I might as well publish my 4th grade diary at this rate. I surprise myself — post after post — about how much I am willing to share. Because if you truly know me, you know that I am not share-er. That old lass Rose Dawson was right when she said a woman’s heart is an ocean of secrets. 9-year-old me took that shit pretty seriously! 💁🏽♀️
But all that has changed — I have a son now.
I am a work in progress and I hope to always be. Being content with my character would only mean I have become complacent. I genuinely enjoy self-improvement, even the hard parts!
In honor of a new year here are 3 things I would like to improve about myself:
1. Being Kind to Myself
I am really hard on myself — especially recently after becoming a mom and all the newfound *mom guilt*. Even the smallest and most insignificant mistake can set me off on a self-loathing tangent for hours. It is almost as if I expect myself to perfect at everything, everywhere, all the time. But this does not serve me in any way. I would never speak to Dan Kim, my son, or anyone I loved like that — so why is it okay to say these things to myself?
Telling myself I am stupid or untalented or ugly or worthless does not make me a better partner, mother, or friend.
I have decided to start small with a self-affirmation in the mirror each morning.
2. Exercise 4-5 Times A Week
When it comes to being active, I am either all or nothing. I have either not exercised for months at a time or am practicing martial arts and yoga or running religiously. Since giving birth and breastfeeding, I have not regained my normal energy levels. Never mind that raising a baby is exhausting! But no more excuses — exercise has always been a stress reliever for me and getting my mojo back has been long overdue. I may be the lightest I have ever been in terms of weight but I am the weakest I have ever been physically (except for my mom biceps — those are no joke!).
3. Be More Selfish
Don’t get me wrong — there are several aspects of my life that I need to be less selfish in but my time is not one of them. Because of the previously mentioned mom guilt and my endless responsibilities piling up on me, I have not taken enough time for myself to feel like me again. That includes alone time, girl time, and date night time, and just rest and relaxation overall.
Life is about balance. I am slowly accepting that being the best mom does not necessarily mean being a mom who is there every second of every day. That being the best partner does not mean having all the chores done, the meals cooked, or all of my relationship’s needs met before my own. I am working on giving to myself because the old adage is true: you can not pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.
If you are expecting — you are probably experiencing mild anxiety about all the things you have to buy in order to prepare for your baby’s arrival. The honest truth is that you really need very little for those first few months. The “fourth trimester” is challenging. You and your partner will be at your absolute physical, mental, and emotional worst all while being blissfully in love with your new tiny peanut.
Here are the 10 items I couldn’t live without during that time:
IMHO, breastfeeding is more challenging than pregnancy and labor combined. I know a lot of mamas share this same experience. Every culture and nation has its own breastfeeding culture. African countries, at present, seem to hold the torch for highest rates of breastfeeding while western nations, like France, seem to be less “pro-breast”. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends babies be breastfed for up to two years. During the first 2 months of breastfeeding, the thought of even doing it for six months was daunting, if not terrifying.
After the first 4-5 days of colostrum, my son was fed formula for two weeks. I had developed Cellulitis from delivery complications as well as Mastitis and was placed on narcotics and antibiotics. Both of these medications, although cleared as “safe” by my PCP, were not acceptable as being transferred through my breastmilk to my son. I had made the difficult decision to risk losing my milk supply so that he could remain medication free. There were a lot of tears and mom guilt involved.
To prevent losing my milk supply, I manually expressed milk every 3-4 hours for two weeks.
After I stopped taking medications, I began to breastfeed my son once in the morning. During the next 1-2 weeks, I slowly added feeding sessions as my milk supply increased. I understand that many women in the same situation would not have been able to maintain and build back their milk supply. I feel very fortunate. That’s not to say that I didn’t experience many challenges along the way: cracked, bleeding, and sore nipples, nipple bleps, anxiety about my son’s weight gain, etc.
My son still feeds every 1.5-2 hours for up to 50 minutes at a time. It’s completely exhausting and some days I shudder at the thought of breastfeeding for the months, or weeks, ahead. My solution for this anxiety? One simple mantra: one feeding session at a time.
Despite all the challenges, I deeply enjoying breastfeeding my son. It is a bonding experience unlike any other. It amazes me that I can nourish my baby and provide him with antibodies, vitamins, and minerals that help him thrive. I sympathize with women who are not able to breastfeed their babies. I also understand why women choose not to. It’s hard and it’s not for everyone. I personally am just grateful that I get to nourish my baby in the way that I choose.
TLDR; Breastfeeding isn’t easy. I wasn’t able to breastfeed for the first weeks. Luckily, I was able to rebuild my milk supply slowly. I am blessed.