Children's age: 20 months
Occupation: Founder and CEO of Supernatural
Instagram handle: @carmelelise
1) Exploring identity change in motherhood.
What was the transition to motherhood like for you?
Welcoming little humans into your life shakes things up in all kinds of great and horribly difficult ways. For me, the awe and magic of a little one entering my world was incredible. But figuring out how to operate the rest of my life around that new force was insane. It took over a year to feel like I was back in the drivers seat, and I’m not even talking about being a GOOD driver.
2) How did your identity change?
Having a baby turned me into a puddle of mush. My heart was exploding, and I also hadn’t ever experienced so much fear. So I would say it really opened up my emotional range. Some of that has smoothed out as the postpartum phase eased up, but in my case, the addition of “mother love” into my emotional repertoire sort of changed everything.
Did your career change?
As an entrepreneur, setting my own schedule was a perk. With a small child and all the unpredictability that brings, setting my own schedule was a necessity. My career didn’t change technically speaking, but my always-availableness was hugely impacted. And I was open to that; I didn’t want to prioritize work over baby, especially after not taking mat leave. Now, my working and non-working hours are pretty rigid. And I don’t f*ck around.
2) Understanding that you can’t completely prepare.
What do you wish you knew that you learned the hard way?
My startup was new and off to the races, and traditional maternity leave wasn’t in the cards for me. I had a lot of childcare support, but I still wanted to do everything, and always did in my non-working hours. So I didn’t delegate much to my partner in the first year, and if both parents are working, ultimately that is the only way to parent.
3) What about mama?
We’ve found that with all of the focus around the baby moms tend to put themselves last. This can be as true for finding a minute to take a shower or bathroom break as it is for being able to eat or prepare meals. If your breastfeeding this becomes even more critical as your nutrition becomes your babies. Did you struggle to eat well in the first few months post birth?
In some particularly rough phases of the adjustment to motherhood, I was so anxious that my appetite just vanished. I remember at least one week where I mainly lived off cheddar bunnies. No regrets. I’ve never been someone that went for ease over effort - I love cooking meals - but some days the five minutes that I had to write an email was the same five minutes I had to make a sandwich. So I chose email. You really need to make sure those healthy grab-and-go things are around, or every day plays out like that.
4) Feeding Baby (0-6 months)
Nothing seems to have created more judgement than the way we choose to feed our children. Breastfeeding is filled with benefits, but not always possible for a myriad of reasons, and that’s OK too.
I had some smart women tell me that the only thing that matters is your baby gets fed, so I went into it with an open mind. I was lucky in that I had plenty of breastmilk, and wanted to take advantage of that, but only night feeds really worked with my schedule. So she was immediately trained on a bottle, and I pumped throughout the day to keep our supply up. Any kind of breastfeeding is incredibly demanding, time-wise - and this is all happening during a time when you have no time (and are probably struggling with a few hundred other things, too). So I think this attitude of do whatever you can, and don’t sweat whatever you can’t, was really freeing for me.