I often I think about my life in 2 phases: before I had children and after. Maybe most people do this – I mean it is a pretty giant life change. But it’s not just my life that is distinctly different, it’s me as a person. Before I had kids I was crafty. I liked to bake. I was focused on fashion and inspired by the latest trends. I read books for fun. I took real vacations. I got my hair cut regularly – and it was just a normal part of life.
I started to notice the changes in myself when I got pregnant. Literally, my body was changing. But my interests were starting to shift, too. And this felt completely normal – I was SO excited to be pregnant (and pregnant with twins!) and it’s all I could think about. My Pinterest boards changed from living room ideas and healthy recipes to nursery decor and baby fashion. I had been a subscriber to one of those monthly boxes where they send you beauty samples in a super cute box and I noticed that my boxes were starting to pile up. Pre-pregnant me would track the shipment and rip the box open as soon as it arrived, but pregnant me was focusing less on makeup and more on not throwing up as I got ready in the morning; so the boxes just sat untouched.
My style went from fashion to function. Don’t get me wrong, I still found cute maternity clothes! But if the belly band on a pair of pants was uncomfortable I wouldn’t give them a second glance. Pre-pregnant me would sacrifice a little pain for the sake of an outfit, but pregnant me just wanted to feel comfortable (ok, as comfortable as you can be with 2 babies growing inside of you anyway). And don’t get me started on heels! I think I wore sneakers almost exclusively toward the end of my pregnancy – luckily they were becoming trendy again with the whole athleisure movement, and I took that trend and ran with it.
The thought of cooking a meal while pregnant made me nauseous, and most of my hobbies went out the window as it became harder to maneuver my giant pregnant belly. P.S. I was tired all the time, so naps became my leisure activity of choice. But all in all I had a great twin pregnancy and was excited to get to my scheduled 38 week c-section and enter motherhood.
Except it didn’t happen that way. At 34 weeks 5 days my blood pressure spiked, I was diagnosed with preeclampsia, and 6 hours later the babies were delivered. I spent 7 days in the hospital and the girls were in the NICU for 11 days. And it was a blur. Of course I didn’t feel like myself – hello hormones, hello sleep deprivation! And having babies in the NICU is stressful, even when they are doing well like my girls were.
We settled in to life at home and my entire life revolved around pumping. That was my new hobby. Breastfeeding didn’t work for us, so I exclusively pumped for my twins for a year. I pumped all. the. time. I pumped in the living room, I pumped in the bedroom, I pumped in the dining room, I pumped in the car, I pumped in airport bathrooms, I pumped at work, I pumped EVERYWHERE. My body didn’t feel like my own anymore. I had this big jiggly postpartum belly and giant boobs that I was very aware of especially if someone wanted to hug me (and I used to be a hugger!). I remember filling out some random form and it asked about my hobbies, and after laughing at the thought of having time for a hobby the only thing I could think to write down was pumping – so I did! I was also sleep deprived…
When the girls were 14-months old, I became a stay-at-home mom. I was having a really hard time spending so much time away from them and missing milestones – and I didn’t feel like myself because of it. I was convinced that this SAHM thing would be the solution to all of my problems. And it was definitely the right decision for me, but it wasn’t the instant fix I was expecting it to be. I thought I would have more time to do stuff around the house and that I would be more interested in decorating and painting again. But twin toddlers are definitely harder than twin babies in my opinion. And I have two mamas girls that want to be touching me every second if possible. While my postpartum work style left a lot to be desired, at least I got up and pulled myself (mostly) together every morning. Now I didn’t have to do that! I could stay in my yoga pants all day. My blowdryer got pushed wayyyy to the back of the vanity, and tinted chapstick became my go to beauty product. I think I actually felt even less like myself in the beginning of my transition into staying at home because I was striving to be this “perfect mom” and I was putting myself last. I lost some of my passion for anything outside of momming. I was succeeding at the mom stuff while failing at the personal stuff.
My girls are 2 now and they are getting more and more independent. I checked a few books out at the library for myself recently. I’ve been paying a little more attention to my hair and I’m trying to decide how I want to get it cut (for the first time in about a year). I picked up some new makeup and I find that I’m at least getting mascara on my face most days. I started a new gallery wall in the living room and I’m having fun searching for just the right decor pieces. I bought some paint samples and decided on colors for 3 more rooms that I’m planning to paint myself. I ordered an embroidery kit from Etsy (mostly to keep my hands busy so I don’t snack in the evenings) and I think I found a new hobby! I’ve picked up some more freelance work and I’m enjoying it. The scale is finally starting to move in the right direction and I’m working on dropping the rest of the baby weight. I’m feeling positive and motivated… And all of a sudden I realized that this is not a coincidence — I’m starting to feel like my old self again.
And then it hit me: It’s like I have been in a coma for 2+ years. OK that’s dramatic – and I don’t mean it in a bad way! It’s not like I’ve been living under a rock or anything. But for the last 2+ years it’s like my brain was so overwhelmed with taking care of two tiny, needy, little people that it couldn’t fathom doing anything else for myself. And I truly didn’t want to be doing anything else. I wasn’t resentful and I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. But now that the fog is lifting, I realize that I did miss the old me. She was pretty fun! Part of me feels bad that it took this long for me to find myself again, but I try to tell that part of me to be kinder (ok, I usually just tell that part of me to shut up…). I thought the old me was gone forever, that now I was “just a mom” – so I mostly feel grateful that I get to be both. I’m excited for the future. I’ve always been excited to see my girls grow and develop and thrive, but now I’m excited for me to do that too.
So to all the mamas reading this in the thick of the fog, I get it. Don’t rush yourself and don’t feel bad about it. You will come through this. Maybe it will only take you a few weeks or months, maybe it will take you a few years, but I promise that when it does happen it will be wonderful!