“To wean or not to wean?” That is the emotional question.

When I was pregnant I knew I wanted to breastfeed. Despite a few challenges early on such as figuring out how to hold the baby in the right position and some latch issues on one side, it has been a relatively smooth journey. That is, until recently.

My goal was to exclusively breastfeed for six months, but in the back of my mind I thought I’d make it to a year. So when Emily turned six months and I wasn’t ready to stop, I kept on going. At that point I thought, “Why not go for the full year? I’ve got this!” Recently though as Emily was nearing her 8 month birthday I felt a shift inside of me. Breastfeeding exclusively for four more months felt very overwhelming.

I felt a noticeable shift when I attended a good friend’s baby shower. I had been excited all week to have a Sunday out on my own as I had been craving a little bit of freedom. Then, halfway through the shower I felt that uncomfortable engorged feeling that other breastfeeding moms are most definitely familiar with. I realized that even though I could plan a day out for myself, my body couldn’t give me that same freedom. I felt myself get angry that I had to isolate myself and go in a bathroom stall or go out to my car to pump. I hate pumping!

Being my baby’s single source of nourishment, besides the solid foods she is now eating, began to feel like a lot of pressure. I felt like I wanted to introduce some formula to free myself up just a little bit. This brought with it immense guilt, sadness and confusion. So I denied those feelings for a while.

Then I couldn’t ignore it anymore. I spoke with a friend and realized that the reason I was so emotional about introducing formula was deeper than I thought. It was the first of many steps where Emily would begin to pull away from me. First I grew her in my womb and we were one. Then she was lifted into this world and I nourished her through breastfeeding. Now it was time for us to take even more space from each other. Was I ready for that?

While my gut told me formula was the right step for us, my mom guilt told me it was wrong. All the “breast is best” messages weighed over me and I felt I should suck it up and continue, or else I would be a bad mom. Despite this, when I sat quietly and listened to myself I knew it was what I wanted to do.

I cried when I gave Emily her first bottle of formula. Meanwhile she oohed an aahed, smiled and laughed. She loved holding the bottle on her own. She was totally up for the shift, it me who was having the difficulty.

We’ve now reached a nice balance where we do a few bottles of formula a day, and the rest of the feedings I nurse. I find that because I listened to myself and took these steps, now when I am nursing her I am more present. I also treasure the moments when she is having a bottle. Often she holds the bottle while chatting to herself. We look at each other and smile while she drinks her bottle across the living room or in her stroller while we are out and about. I’m still there, just a bit further away. I guess that is what motherhood is, right?

This change- which was so hard and felt so monumental to me at the beginning- feels so good now. I’m feeling some freedom, she’s feeling some freedom, and we’re happy. I really can’t ask for anything more.

I’m learning that I can’t let fear, guilt or external pressure stop me from doing what’s best for my daughter. And sometimes, doing what is best for me, is what is best for her. As Wayne Dyer said so beautifully, “Your children will see what you’re all about by what you live rather than what you say.” If Emily sees me respecting myself, she will ultimately respect herself too. That is my greatest wish for her.

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Plans Have Changed 

I had big plans today. I booked a babysitter for three hours and was going to meet a good friend for lunch in the west village. We were going to have delicious fish tacos and guacamole. I was going to wear “normal” clothes- jeans and a nice-ish shirt. I was going to put on some make up and maybe do my hair. I was going to be “put together” today.

I’m not.

Instead I am frazzled and tired. I’m wearing my most comfortable maternity sweats and an old sweatshirt, my hair in a messy bun. There’s no make up on my face. I look how I feel- exhausted. 

My sweet Emily has a cold and was up every half hour until 1am last night. She’s been coughing and I want to bring her to the doctor to have it checked out. This is the first time she’s gotten sick. I canceled my sitter and lunch to take care of my girl. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but here. 

Before becoming a mom I had a vision of the kind of mom I would be. I wouldn’t cancel on people and become “flakey.” I would look and feel “put-together”. I would take time for myself often. 

How easy it is to think these things before having a baby. And how easy it is to realize I could never have known what kind of mom I’d be until I became one. And how easy it is to know with all my being that my daughter will always come first. Always.

Self-care is a buzz word lately and I agree it’s so important. But when you’re a parent it’s not always going to happen even if you make your best effort to carve out the time. My baby comes first before my ability to be “put-together”.

She’s napping now and I’m laying in bed. It would be great to also sleep a bit, but despite my exhaustion my brain won’t shut off. Instead I write here and think about how lucky I am to have such a beautiful daughter. 

I’ll have plenty of lunches out when she’s grown. This time now is fleeting and I know I’ll look back at these precious days when my baby was small and times were simpler. I’ll say, “I’m so glad I stayed home with her that day.”

Taking the leap.. and falling

A few months back I wrote a post about a transformative experience I had attending a ballet class again for the first time in many years. I talked about how good it felt to be back at the barre and to be jumping and dancing again. I shared how freeing it felt to be there just to BE there. All of that is still true. There is more to it now though. The truth? I have not been back since I wrote that post.

I can give you a million excuses why I haven’t been back, but if I’m honest I haven’t been back because it feels like TOO MUCH. Becoming a new mom has been so fulfilling and amazing. It has also been super overwhelming and exhausting. When I do have some free time to myself I don’t necessarily want to dance. Sometimes I just want to nap. Or write. Or watch mindless TV. Sometimes I’ll do some yoga at home. Occasionally I’ll attend a yoga class. A lot of times I’ll just chill out on the couch with Romeo. All of these usually feel like better options than mustering up the energy to go to a ballet class again.

Sometimes I feel crappy for not being motivated to “do more” in my (limited) free time. Then I try to remind myself that I am doing my best and that’s all I can do. Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.

For what it’s worth, when I’m feeling inspired I do dance in my living room!  I dance to a good song while holding Emily. Or I do some ballet moves with her watching and clapping. She is the best audience I’ve ever had.

Maybe that is good enough for now?

 

 

 

 

Vinyasa Yoga Sequence with Baby (VIDEO)

I was supposed to teach a yoga class this coming Saturday, but unfortunately it got postponed. I’m thankful for the opportunity still because it got me moving and sequencing and planning classes again. Emily joined me yesterday as I practiced.

I tried something new with this video and featured a few moments in real time with real sound when I thought Emily was particularly adorable! I hope you enjoy.

Finding “It”

Dear Emily,

I want you to know that I searched a long time for my purpose. Many times in my life I felt I was close to finding “it”-  to finding the thing I was meant to do, the thing that would bring me great success.

I created and performed in a dance company, went to film school, wrote a screen play, made movies, and taught dance to kids of all ages. I found my voice in teaching and spread yoga to hundreds of children and families in New York City and abroad. I loved my work.

All the while though, something was missing. So often I would feel like “it” was around the corner. I was really close and would soon arrive.

Then I became your mom.

It turns out all those things I did before, all that prep work, has led to me to you. Raising you is the truest and purest purpose I have ever felt. There is a confidence deep inside of me that has been sleeping all these years and it suddenly it woke up.

This place, this “It” is better than I ever could have imagined. And it’s all because of you.

I’ll love you forever,Em

Mom

Motherhood: THEN & NOW

Has anyone else noticed that there are a lot of judgments flying around towards moms these days? There is so much information, and therefore so much pressure to follow certain rules.

Internal mom guilt is real enough so having all this external pressure to follow certain standards can feel overwhelming for a new mom. Noticing this trend got me thinking- What was it like for our mothers? And, how about their mothers? Did they feel this pressure too?

Continue reading “Motherhood: THEN & NOW”

The Myth of “Sleep when they sleep.”

The piece of advice I heard most often after Emily was born was, “Sleep when she sleeps.” While this is an excellent idea in theory, for me it has been virtually impossible. Emily is now 6 months old, and here are the number of times I have successfully napped while she napped. Drum roll please…

ONE!

Continue reading “The Myth of “Sleep when they sleep.””