Children’s ages: 1 year
City: New York
Instagram handle: @nutritionbytamsin
1) Exploring identity change in motherhood.
What was the transition to motherhood like for you?
I had always felt a little apprehensive about becoming a new mom. Growing up, I never visualized myself having a child, but at the same time, I was also open minded about starting a family of my own. It was only when I met my husband in my late twenties that the decision to have a baby was on the table. He had made it clear right from the start that he wanted kids. As our relationship developed I realized what an amazing father he would be. At the same time, I started to feel more much maternal and became excited by the prospect of raising a child in a loving and stable home.
My transition into motherhood has been a whirlwind! Looking back on my first year, I feel that my fears about becoming a new mom were unfounded. While the learning curve is steep, and I’ve had to make some big life adjustments, overall, I’ve found the experience to be incredibly positive. Watching my daughter explore the world for the first time has highlighted the beauty of small, mundane details and given me a fresh perspective.
How did your identity change?
Before kids I had a variety of different identities; wife, runner, dietitian, friend, yogi, traveler. While I still identify with all those things, I feel like they have been slightly diluted. Being a mom is an all-consuming endeavor and it creates a new set of identities. I now also see myself as a nurturer, teacher, comforter and round the clock care giver! My daughter is always keeping me on my toes - there is never a dull moment! As she has got older, I’ve been able to re -connect with some of my 'pre baby' interests and have more time for myself.
Did your career change?
During my twenties I worked in the finance industry doing communications and public relations. After several unhappy years in the corporate world, I decided to follow my real passion – nutrition. Six years after finishing college, I went back to school to complete a master’s degree and become a Registered Dietitian. In hindsight, I am glad that I completed all my education before having a baby. Juggling school work and childcare would have been a nightmare! My new career is much more compatible with being a mom. I can work part time, flexible hours and manage my own schedule. Being pregnant and having a baby has also made me more interested in women’s health. I now specialize in counseling pregnant women – having gone through the experience myself, I feel much more knowledgeable and I'm better able to empathize with my patient's struggles.
2) Cherishing the memories.
What is your happiest memory?
There are so many, it is hard to choose. One moment that does stick with me was when my daughter was around 4 months old. I gave birth in the middle of summer so we kept her mostly indoors for the first few months. One day I decided to take her for a stroll along the Hudson river in Manhattan. It was a breezy evening, and as we walked along, the light flickered through the leaves on a row of trees. They caught my daughter’s attention and she stared up in amazement - it was the first time she had seen leaves! The look of utter amazement on her face is something that will stay with me forever.
3) Getting all the gear.
What would you definitely purchase?
A night nurse (at least for the first few weeks if you can afford it!)
What was a total waste?
A wet wipe warmer.
What do you actually need?
A quality stroller, good bottles, lots of cheap onesies and a sound machine
4) 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?
Despite being trained as a dietitian, I found it really difficult to eat well in the first few months. This generally came down to a lack of time and also feeling tired from disrupted sleep. While I knew that this was a critical period for keeping myself nourished, the last thing I felt like doing was slaving away in the kitchen! Smoothies, pre-packed snacks, and fruit were my go-to energy boosters. I also found that my appetite was all over the place – I was craving sugar at 2am and then salty food throughout the day!
What would have been helpful?
Before giving birth, I spent some time cooking and freezing meals. This really helped in the first week or so. After that, I developed a few healthy recipes that everyone in my family could prepare. I would keep those on rotation for a few weeks and then try something new. I also carried a water bottle with me everywhere. Staying hydrated while you are breastfeeding is incredibly important, especially if you give birth in the summertime. Other tips include: signing up to a meal delivery service, finding some healthy dishes that can be delivered and freezing as much as possible!
5) 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. What did you learn from the feeding journey that you wish you knew going in?
I had no idea how time consuming breast feeding is! In the early days, I felt frustrated and got inpatient about how long each feed would take. Over time, however, things did speed up and I’ve actually learned to love it. Aside from the array of health benefits for baby, I’ve also found breast feeding to be a far more convenient option than formula.
Any final words of wisdom you'd like to share?
Try to cherish those first few months. You are likely to feel exhausted, confused, emotional, overjoyed and sad, sometimes all at the same time, but just remember, the time will fly by and I promise it will get easier!