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Yeah…Immaeatthat

Dec 04

12ish months as a mom

I read an Anne Lamott quote recently that said the below…

I feel like that sums up what I hope this series on my journey into motherhood has brought you. When I think about this blog and what’s to come, more and more I see my gift is sharing my journey through something. First it was eating disorder recovery (for 7 years) and now it’s the motherhood journey, among other things, and all the while talking about having an easier relationship with food and your body.

I think this will be the last post in the “X months as Jojo’s mom” series. I’ve really enjoyed having this space to reflect on motherhood, so thank you for reading.

It’s been over a year now since Jo was born and I feel like I’ve found my stride as a mother (for the moment lol. Who knows what next week/month/year has in store!). One of the most massive changes between now and the early days is 1) we are getting sleep, 2) Jo is so much happier and way more predictable than she was in the early months, and 3) we now have a weekly schedule that feels sustainable to us (that includes an ever evolving balance of days spent working, with Jo, and downtime for me and Andrew).

Recently I came across and read a book called, Ongoingness.  I liked the title and while I didn’t enjoy the diary-style content as much as I thought I would, there was a couple sentences about motherhood (which I changed slightly) I thought rung true for me. The writer talked about her experience in motherhood and said, “I was at once softer and harder. The hardness was a capacity for [discomfort/unpredictability/change] that would otherwise have interrupted the soft, almost bodiless calm in which I held the baby.” That’s a great summary for the last year.

Realizations

I’ve realized it serves no one in my family if I’m exhausted, frustrated, and feel constrained. In the early months of motherhood I don’t think there is a way to not feel exhausted, frustrated and constrained, but as Jo has gotten way more flexible I’ve been able to place breaks into my life. A huge change I’ve made has been having Jo go to her grandmas on Thursdays from 7-2ish. That gives me alone time at home when I can do whatever needs to to get done: work, doctors appointment, errands that are difficult with a toddler, etc. I wish I would’ve made this change well before she was 11 months old. It has been so good for me.

Stopping Breastfeeding

This actually was less emotional for me than I thought it would be. There was just one week around when she was 10ish months where I was just like, “we’re done.” I didn’t want to pump anymore. Jo was seeming less and less needy/interested in nursing. And we just stopped cold turkey and switched to formula bottles. I needed to be done and was so relieved when we stopped. There was only one time, about 1 week after stopping nursing, that Jo saw my boobs and I could tell wanted to nurse, but we gave her a bottle and she was happy. Since then she hasn’t tried to nurse once, which surprised me. But I think it just goes to show she was ready to be done.

Sometimes I miss nursing her and think I wish we would’ve nursed longer. But then I remember I was different when we stopped nursing. I was so fried and tired and emotional and really needed a change. I’m so looking forward to nursing future kids and grateful for my experience with Jojo. 

Movement

Around 4 months postpartum I remember going to a reformer pilates class and I felt like my vagina was going to rip apart, so I didn’t go back until recently. For 10 months after having Jo I enjoyed squeezing in some movement whenever I felt like it –half of a Fitness Blender video until Jo woke up and I had to cut if short to care for her, or we’d go on walks in the stroller– this felt good for 10 months, but a couple months ago I started craving not having to cram movement in randomly. So I did something I hadn’t done in years and starting planning out my workouts for the week. Since I need to have someone watching Jo if I want to go workout outside the house, planning workouts makes sense. Two reformer pilates classes/week is the perfect amount for me. My knees feel good with that amount and I look forward to the classes all week. 

I actually typed the above paragraph a month ago, but now I’m not going to pilates anymore for a couple reasons and am back to random movement at home. Humans…always changing :)

Parenting with Your Spouse.

This year has been the hardest for Andrew and I.

I adored our first 5 years of marriage and glad we had some time before the joy that is having children happened and things change. There are things that I didn’t realize would change that have. One being that I used to be a very passive person, but I’m not any more. If there is something I find myself resenting Andrew for…I bring it up (and vice versa). Andrew has also encouraged me to do this so I don’t go around resenting him. Sometimes it leads to an argument and then we make a plan and move forward. That sounds like such an easy process when typed out, but in real life it’s not…it’s painful and can lead to tension for days, weeks, or even months.

A few weeks ago I made a list of my needs and taped them to the fridge. And then I took them down because it was a really rude list lol and I decided this would be better for an in-person conversation. We definitely don’t have everything figured out. We are in a place now where on days we both work Andrew and I each carry equal parenting responsibility. For each of us to be able to function in our job…that is how it needs to be.  

Before I had kids, a mom friend who has a very similar life to me, but is a few years older with more kids, mentioned she was given the advice to fight for her husband to help as much as possible in the early months of parenting. SET THE STANDARD! I took this very seriously and still do. I did not sign up for solo parenting and get annoyed when I hear about husbands not helping and wives not standing up for themselves. Andrew helps a ton now. We had a lot of growing pains early on, because newborn life IS SO HARD. I know people say that there isn’t much the husband can do early on if the mom is nursing and I get frustrated with that. On some levels I agree, but as a mom you are drowning in those early months and there is plenty the husband can carry (and Andrew does now carry), like cooking dinners during the blur of the sleep deprived first few months, being proactive to make sure mom gets time alone before she breaks, or building her up in ways a husband knows how (for me that was encouraging me that I’m caring well for the baby and reminding me of how strong and capable I am). I think the old, “oh but men don’t have boobs so they can’t help” phrase that people throw around will always bother me. Shut up and make yourself useful.

{[post edited] Within this post I originally included how I disagree with the following quote from Linda Gordon, a radical feminist, who said, “The nuclear family must be destroyed, and people must find better ways of living together…whatever its ultimate meaning, the break—up of families now is an objectively revolutionary process.  Families have supported oppression by separating people into small, isolated units, unable to join together to fight for common interests.”  I didn’t mean to infer I disagree with all principles of early feminism by disagreeing with this quote…because I don’t. More accurately, I don’t identify as a radical feminist who strives for the death of the family. The original content was distracting and enraging for some, likely because it was a response in reaction to my core values around families being attacked. I don’t agree with feminist views that have a low opinion of traditional motherhood and argue that women weren’t designed to nurture, care, and love their families. Of course U.S. women aren’t expected to only do those 3 things and can accomplish anything they want (of course there are circumstances where women aren’t in safe, healthy environments and don’t have access to accomplishing or even thinking about what they want). I have experienced some feminist thinking leading to dissatisfaction in family life FOR ME as it has led to expectations that Andrew should be doing more and I should get to do less. I do not believe traditional gender roles have to be followed and they aren’t in my family. We work as a team. However, I’ve noticed that some feminist articles/quotes/resources don’t help me serve my family according to my values.}

I rely on Andrew more than I want to rely on any other family members, whereas Andrew is happy to ask others for help. I can see flaws in both of our mentalities around this, but what I do know is that we have come so far. I know there will be more arguments to be had, but we both adore our little family and most days we’re doing a pretty great job. I pray that adding future kids to our family won’t be so hard on our marriage, but I just don’t see how the first year of a child’s life can’t be pretty rough.

(Below was our first ER visit. Jojo had croup and it was terrifying, especially because Andrew has asthma and we thought that was causing her breathing issue.)

Losing Yourself in Motherhood

I feel like losing yourself in motherhood is talked about like a bad thing. But I have very little interest in holding on to my past self. I’m being transformed into a new version of me. I’m 100% going to lose parts of who I was. I think a better way to word this for me would be that mom’s deserve to stay connected to things that make them feel like they are thriving and being fulfilled, whatever that uniquely means to each mom. I grew up with a very selfless mother who did and would still do anything for me and my sisters. There are so many things my mom modeled that I will do for my children.

One thing I have noticed (after a friend brought this up) is that it’s easier to serve your children over your husband. That’s something I want to be more mindful of and intentional about as we continue to grow our family. Everyone deserves to be loved and cared for well. Including moms/wives and dads/husbands.

Mom Guilt

Of course I have mom guilt, but I think it’s normal to. I have mom guilt when another mom says xyz about breastfeeding, childcare, time away with their husband or when I feel I might not be doing was is best for Jo. But I think it’s normal to experience it because I want to do what is best for Jo. Obviously! So it really doesn’t bother me much now that I know it’s just coming from a place of wanting to do what’s best for my child.

Still struggling With…

There are still times I feel I’m doing something wrong. For instance, a mother will talk about how her baby talks to themselves in their crib and has this lovely sounding transition from sleep to awake. With Jo, the majority of the time the moment she wakes up she is screaming to get out of her crib immediately. Since sleep training (and re-sleep training a time or two after trips) she goes down great for naps (well now we’re transitioning from 2 to 1 naps so this is a bit of a hot mess at the moment), but she doesn’t want to stay in her crib longer than necessary once she’s awake.

The First Year

There are days in motherhood now that feel rewarding. For the first 9 months those days were few. But now, so much of motherhood feels magical and Andrew and I get to have these moments with Jo that bring greater joy than we’ve ever known. Never have we loved something so much. There are still moments where things don’t go well, like when I had to bring Jo to a doctors appointment with me and she flung a puréed food pouch all over my doctor’s white coat and I was horrified. And there are plenty of more stories of Jo being inconvenient at the most inconvenient times as she learns to be a human who doesn’t fling her food, but overall life is just better than if was in those early parenting months that were mostly about survival. Days feel so much more joyful now, even if overwhelm still finds me often, especially in that long time between lunch and when Andrew gets home. But now, more than ever, we are loving our little family.

Any thoughts? Did you notice motherhood getting easier around a year of age? Did it take the same amount of time with 2nd/3rd/etc. kids, or did the load lighten earlier? I heard recently that with one kid you think you can do it all, so you try to. But then with 2 or 3 kids you realize you can’t do it all and with that comes a level of peace.  Not sure how I feel about that lol, but found it interesting. 

54 comments on “12ish months as a mom”

  1. Not sure i agree with that quote regarding feminism. feminism is the aspiration for equal rights for everyone, regardless of their sex. Shouldnt any caring, empathetic, and social justice driven person be a feminist?

    • Totally agree!!

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment, B. I didn’t mean to infer I disagree with all principles of feminism…because I don’t. It sounds like I should’ve said I don’t identify as a radical feminist who strives for the death of the family. I’ve now taken the comment out of the post since it was distracting and enraging for some, likely because it wasn’t well thought out and instead was a reaction to my core values around families being attacked.

      • Kylie,
        I think you’re doing such a great job at being a mother. Your documentation is so real and raw and just wonderful. I want to apologize for not writing more on my agreement with B above. I get easily perplexed when a woman says she doesn’t consider herself a feminist, since the way I see it is if we don’t stand up for ourselves, who will? My definition of a feminist is any person who thinks that women deserve respect and equality. Women need to band together and not pick each other apart. Again, I want to apologize for my mediocre comment above. I don’t want it to seem like I was attacking you. I support you 100%, even though I don’t know you, and want really enjoy reading your blog and Instagram posts. Keep going.

  2. I’ve been a blog reader for many, many years and have really enjoyed your content. It strikes me as overwhelmingly sad that you “don’t identify as feminist” when what you are describing as your wishes and goals for your family as well as the role of the husband is rooted in feminism. I live in Canada and it is sad to see how politics, and particularly politically motivated news outlets skew people’s thinking in the US. It also makes me question a lot of the IE principles you share – are they not rooted in social class? I work in public health and social determinants of health make a major impact. My advice: check your privilege. 

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment, Elodie. I didn’t mean to infer I disagree with all principles of feminism…because I don’t. It sounds like I should’ve said I don’t identify as a radical feminist who strives for the death of the family. I’ve now taken the comment out of the post since it was distracting and enraging for some, likely because it wasn’t well thought out and instead was a reaction to my core values around families being attacked.

      • Kylie, I didn’t read your original comment but please do not feel like you have to censor your views because of those who disagree. I also am a woman who does not identify as a feminist and I love reading about your experience finding joy in motherhood. ❤

  3. I love your insight and honesty. I have 4 and 2 year old boys.  My first year as a mother was the best year of my life. My first year as a mother of two was one of the most exhausting and challenging. But I wouldn’t change a thing. Watching my boys play and laugh together makes my entire journey to motherhood (anorexia, infertility, miscarriage…) all worth it. 

  4. Kylie, I don’t identify as feminist either. It is OK to feel how you feel and perfectly respectful and understandable.

  5. Yea I like your blog, but IMO I think with the reflections you’ve had about feminism, you may want to become more educated on the subject and how so much of your life, goals, family dynamic, body image talk, and privileges as a woman in the US is essentially thanks to Feminism (and the women who fought so hard for us to have these options.) Regardless of any off-putting quotes you’ve heard, it is simply rooted in equality of the sexes; what separates you from other women who are forbidden to go to school/drive/have a job in other countries is the existence Feminism. Without it you wouldn’t have gotten a masters degree or opened a small business. 

    If you’re feeling burned-out like there’s too much pressure to make money or have a high powered career or whatever, we can all (men and women) thank modern day Capitalism for that stress. 

    Just found that to be a little odd lol BUT OTHERWISE excellent recap and beautifully spoken as always. Jo is so darn cute. 

    • Also I was curious about that quote, and I think it may have been a bit from Linda Gordon (a scholar/professor/ someone who more closely identifies with radical feminism.) The thing that I LIKE about her quote even though I also want a traditional family is that there are people who might genuinely identify with her and find freedom in that idea (people who were perhaps suffering in a traditional nuclear setting), and that’s cool.

      Even if you detest that quote, I still find this to be a ‘positive’ of feminism: that even if you don’t agree with something for your own life, different schools of thoughts can exist at once and there doesn’t necessarily have to be one right way to live. Going back to the idea of privilege: we should feel lucky to have those different ideas and not live in an oppressive environment where we can’t think freely.

      That’s all! 

      :)

      • Thanks for taking the time to comment, Laura! I didn’t mean to infer I disagree with all principles of feminism…because I don’t. It sounds like I should’ve said I don’t identify as a radical feminist who strives for the death of the family. I’ve now taken the comment out of the post since it was distracting and enraging for some, likely because it wasn’t well thought out and instead was a reaction to my core values around families being attacked.

  6. I have a daughter the same age as Jo, and your posts about motherhood have really encouraged me the past year. Specifically, the sleep training, as I’ve dealt with that while my other mom friends have not. I really appreciate your honesty about motherhood. Thank you. 

  7. I love how honest & real you are – motherhood is so different for everyone, especially the first year. I developed generalized epilepsy @ 4 months pregnant, and had to go on drugs for that. So from the very beginning I was worried about how that might effect my daughter. She’s nine now, and smart as a whip but still, at the time I had no idea what might happen.  But the hardest part for me about that 1st year was that because other drug I was on, I constantly felt like I was removed from everything- like I wAs behind a piece of glass. I couldn’t breastfeed, and I couldn’t have any sleep disruption because it might trigger a seizure. My husband went above and beyond, getting use with Helena every single night, and doing so many things that I couldn’t do for safety sake (bathing, etc). Obviously things improved for me, and I was eventually able to take on more of the traditional mom rolls, but I continue to suffer mom guilt. So anyways, no matter the situation, know that mom guilt never goes away, and no matter how stressed you get for whatever reason it is perfectly normal – every single parent goes through the exact same experiences. You’re doing awesome, savor every second with your jo jo – even if they happen to be horrible and so hard sometimes! 

  8.  Thank you for sharing your experiences. I have really enjoyed these posts. I most identified with the part about losing yourself in motherhood. We are five months in over here, and only now can I see that some of the reasons why I struggled so much in those first couple of months was because I was resisting the change. I was so afraid that motherhood would take over ALL of me that I really fought against making any room for it (or any more than was absolutely necessary). It makes me a bit sad to read that now but I’m grateful to be in a better place where I can accept and even enjoy (!) that things are different because of the tiny human we are raising. 

    On the feminism bit – it means men and women should be treated equally and should the same choices. That means we have the choice for what roles to take in our families, even including choosing a traditional family structure. Those traditional roles are not always my jam (I go back and forth on this in my own marriage) but works for others. 

    Thank you again for sharing!

    • Hey Ana, I resisted the change so much too. I think I was so scared for much of the beginning of motherhood because I thought that level of overwhelm was going to last for forever. The adjustment was rough, so I resonate with that and agree I enjoy so many days now. With future kids I hope I can hold on to this knowledge that the sleep deprived days will end.

      About the feminism bit – I should’ve said I don’t identify as a “radical” feminist who strives for the death of the family. My comment wasn’t well thought out and instead was a reaction to my core values around families being attacked. If feminism encourages a choice for what roles to take in our families, comments from radical feminist about what I want has to die are confusing and off-putting. Clearly one quote from a radical feminism doesn’t sum up feminism. It would’ve been better for me to pose the quote as a conversation starter rather than have readers think that was my well thought out opinion, which it wasn’t. Thanks for commenting!

  9. Hi Kylie,

    I started reading your blog to cope with my own ED. I’ve truly enjoyed the direction it’s taken and reading about your life as a mother. I don’t have any children of my own, but you write in such a way that makes it very easy to understand what you’re going through. I look forward to reading each of your blog posts and the perspective they’ve given me.

  10. So much if this resonated with how I felt with my first daughter. I just had my second child a few weeks ago (my older is 2.5 yrs). During this pregnancy I was so dreading the first year if this ones life . . . Haha because I knew how exhausted and drained I would be. I am so amazed and relieved with how much I am loving this stage with my second, though. Like I really and genuinely love it – not just in a “survive and keep my head above water” kind of way. Based on conversations with other moms I think this is common, maybe because I know how quickly it will pass or because I’m already used to being a bit exhausted so it doesn’t bother me? Who knows. But I’m so so so grateful for it. I’m glad that motherhood and life can evolve.

    I had the most beautiful moment with this baby. I physically recovered from my eating disorder almost 4 yrs ago and have been emotionally recovering slowly since. A few hours after giving birth this time I took a shower. There was a mirror parallel to the shower and I looked at my body as I rinsed – all stretched and swollen and imperfect as it was and I felt the biggest surge of pride. I felt so grateful to be a woman, to have carried life and to now be able to sustain life. I don’t really know how to put it into words but it felt so good to feel deep love and pride for my body. Not superficial “I’m so glad I look hot” kind but a real kind. I feel like in that moment something changed within me, something that I have been trying to change for a long time. I am so content with what I am. Not sure why I wanted to share that here, but motherhood really is beautiful.

    • That feeling of being content with what you are is incredible, Claira. It IS so wonderful that motherhood and life can evolve. Your comment is a good reminder of why recovery is worth it. I’m glad you shared.

  11. Kylie, I’ve really appreciated and benefited by your posts and sharing. I’m in a different life cycle as my kids are 13 and 10 but it’s been so beautiful to watch your journey. Lately you haven’t been writing as frequently and I’ve missed your wisdom, updates and gentle reminders. In my experience, marriage (going on 18years😊) and motherhood is hard and rewarding at every stage. I’m so grateful my husband and I can fight it out and work together to ensure our needs are getting met. I think dealing in the struggle, discussions and feelings are what make our marriage strong and deeply bonded. Avoiding things or pretending to be “happy” doesn’t work for me but dealing with the truth does. Jojo is so blessed to have you as her momma. Truly. It’s been amazing to read your blog. Thank you for sharing. 

  12. Totally appreciate your honesty about the good things as well as the struggles. I’ve enjoyed reading about your first year as a mama; you seem like you’re doing a great jobb :)
    Also, and I think I write this on any post you make about Jo at all, but GODDAMN she’s so cute! That llama sweater!!!

  13. It has been so much fun to read these posts, I’ve been reading your blog since you were pregnant with Jo and I have identified so much with the things you’ve said. When my daughter turned 3 last month it was literally like a switch was flipped and parenting got SO MUCH EASIER (and we have a 3 month old, so the fact that it got easier was incredible). When we went from 1 to 2, I’d say it was a little more of a juggling act in the beginning, but we settled into a good rhythm a lot quicker than we did when we went from 0 to 1. Blessings to your sweet family, you and Andrew seem like great parents!

  14. I think the first year is so hard each time. My third baby will be two in March and, while he’s a difficult, willful toddler now, things have gotten so much easier. I just feel so much better in my own skin, and it took longer this time around but it’s such a great feeling when it finally comes. 

  15. I have a 7 week old and oh man is it rough. This post was encouraging to me. I loved this: “I’m being transformed into a new version of me.” and think that’s going up in my house somewhere. I love it when you write and have gone back to your posts on pregnancy/motherhood many times. Thanks for being real in this space.

    • Hang in there, India! There were a lot of good moments in those early days but never an entire calm, peaceful day where everything went smoothly. Watching for the good moments and not expecting a full good day was helpful for me!

  16. Kylie, you are my favorite! You are so adorable and so relatable. Thank you so much for posting. I might make my future husband read these posts when we have a baby because it is just so honest and realistic and it seems like we could learn a lot from you and Andrew. Thanks again! Sending lots of love!

  17. This was great. I felt a lot of this with my first baby but honestly I identify even more with my second, more difficult, baby. Add in having some toddler tantrums and I’m fairly miserable a lot of the time. Thank you for reminding me that this first year will pass and things will get better (and worse, see above re: tantrums heh). And your reflections on marriage are spot on. I got pregnant before we got married and i wish we could’ve had the time as a married couple to work out those relationship kinks before needing to also navigate parenting. It is all so hard and also so beautiful. Thanks for talking about it, good and bad. 

    • I hear you about wishing you’d had space to workout relationship kinks before needing to navigate parenting, but for me and Andrew we were still so independent once we got married (which I didn’t realize then, but do now). So even though we were married for 5 years before kids I feel like much of our growth as a couple has happened since Jo was born and we’ve had to learn to work together. Either way it’s hard. Thanks for sharing, Allison!

  18. Kylie, I just want to thank you for sharing your journey in parenthood. I myself have an 18 month old and can relate to many of your struggles, worries, guilt, and excitement. Reading your posts helped remind me even though each child is different there are a lot of similar things parents go through. For the longest time I felt some of the motherhood feelings I was having was ‘wrong’ or ‘uncommon’. However reading your posts helped give me a sense that I am not alone in the struggles I encounter in motherhood. You share the good, bad and in between which I can’t thank you enough for. I wish you JoJo and Andrew the best and again, thank you for sharing.

  19. “A few weeks ago I made a list of my needs and taped them to the fridge. And then I took them down because it was a really rude list lol” LOLLLL This was my favorite line. I love that you both made/posted the list and then took it down after reflecting on what’s best for you two.

    My husband and I hope to start trying next year, but your posts through motherhood have been such a joy to read! Thanks for sharing so openly.

  20. I don’t have children yet, but it is something my husband and I hope for in the next couple years. I just want to say that all of your posts, the eating disorder recovery ones, life ones, parenting ones, they are all so completely honest and it’s refreshing. I feel like such a dysfunctional mess most days and you make that dysfunction feel like it’s just being human. It’s a relief and a weight off my shoulders to read your posts. Thank you.   

  21. Every baby experience was different so don’t let that dissuade you from adding to your crew! My first two were generally pretty easy, though I resented my husband’s freedom during that time. My third was actually the hardest, but things seemed easier and the resentment wasn’t there. I guess I also realized that although he wasn’t verbalizing it, my husband was dealing with other pressures and stresses. There’s just a lot going on that first year the first time. Everything just gets better in every way. 

  22. Please don’t feel the need to explain yourself! You’re a beautiful, loving mother who just wants the best for her family: and being 32 wks pregnant with my first, I appreciate your brutal honesty and sense of humor. I too definitely do not identity as a feminist — just because of where it’s gone. Early feminist ideals, such as the woman’s right to vote, I definitely vouch for. But there is prejudice everywhere—spending one’s life getting riled up about “inequalities” doesn’t align with my values. Additionally, a woman’s role in the family is a beautiful, immensely respectable thing. I love your balance of being a great wife, sister, daughter, mom while also leading a professionally fulfilling life. All the best to you ❤️

  23. Kylie, I don’t have children, nor do I plan on having any, but I really enjoy reading these posts. I hope someday little Jo will read these and understand what a strong, compassionate, self-aware, and kick-ass mother she has :) You have evolved into such a grace-filled (not sure that’s a real word, but you get the idea) woman and it has been a pleasure following you over the years.

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