Children’s ages: Violet, 11months
Occupation: Founder, LottoLove
Instagram handle: @lottolove & @lauramarbeck
1) Exploring identity change in motherhood.
What was the transition to motherhood like for you?
It was a little sticky at times. The life I lived before Violet was born did not exist and wouldn’t exist again. Surprisingly that realization was a shocker! It is a beautiful life we have now that Violet is here, but there is some mourning that has to be done to fully transition. The transition was euphoric at times and a little sad.
How did your identity change?
For a little bit during postpartum I felt like I didn’t really have an identity. I was extremely emotional. For the first couple months everything was foreign. I felt like a foreigner in my own life! But after things settled down a bit I started to feel some semblance of myself again mentally and physically. Adding mom to your identity is a big change!
How would you describe yourself pre baby? How do you describe yourself now?
I was always pretty active and social pre baby. We would go out to dinner a couple times a week, do weekend trips outside of the city, hikes and bike rides. It was a goal of mine not to lose a certain lifestyle once a baby came into the world, but instead introduce our baby to our life, obviously with some adjustments here and there. As much as we can during the pandemic we get out and are on the go and enjoy being active and Violet has become adaptable and flexible so that feels consistent with pre and post baby. It is hard to decipher what would have changed since I became a mother and what is a result of the pandemic!
I am way more tired now than I ever used to be. I think I am a little more efficient now, too, maybe to a fault. It is hard to relax because there is always something that needs to be cleaned or prepped. I have a different relationship with time. I think I respect it more and am more protective with my time now.
2) Understanding that you can’t completely prepare.
What do you wish you knew that you learned the hard way?
I feel like I had a good amount of information from friends and family that had gone through it, but nothing can really prepare you for your own experience because they are all different! Breastfeeding was really hard. I thought I was on top of it and knew the hospital had resources and was ready to take advantage of them. Sadly, the hospital breastfeeding support was really bad. My sister in law had told me to line up a lactation consultant regardless and I wish I would have done that. A few days after Violet’s birth we found one and she was my angel. She changed the trajectory of my breastfeeding experience and Violet’s weight gain.
Knowing what you know now, what would you change?
I would have a lactation consultant lined up to come to the hospital right away. Get a good breast pump. Only have friends and family that are additive in the beginning. You don’t want to feel more drained after visitors leave. It should be the opposite.
3) Cherishing the memories.
What is your happiest memory?
When I got to do skin to skin with Violet. My husband took a video shortly after she was born and she is just looking up at me and blinking.
What was most difficult for you?
Postpartum was the most difficult part. Breastfeeding was extremely painful. Months 3 and 4 were a bit challenging, too. Violet’s sleep was changing a little. I also think I had expectations of how quickly I would return to feeling comfortable in my own body. So I was pretty hard on myself.
4) Getting all the gear.
What would you definitely purchase?
Baby shusher, swaddle, pacifier, nursing tank tops, snooze shade for naps on the go and the slumber pod. Haha everything is focused on sleep I guess. But a baby that sleeps well is life changing! For city life, the Doona was sooo convenient.
What was a total waste?
The nursing pillow! I really didn’t get many trinkets or fancy items and I am soo happy about that. I kept products pretty simple.
What do you actually need?
I would suggest getting all the medicinal things you may need because if you actually need them you don’t want to run out in the middle of a crisis: thermometer, tylenol, nose frida to suck out snot, diaper cream, all the nipple creams, silicon nipple protectors (put them in the fridge for a nice cooling effect), cloth nipple pads for leakage. Shusher!
5) 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?
I have to say that I did not struggle with this. I communicated with my parents ahead of time and it was important to create roles and have someone that focuses on you, the mom. My husband helped a ton with the baby and that allowed my parents to take care of me and chad. They did all the cooking and cleaning. My mom was making lactation cookies and cooking extra of everything to freeze for later.
What worked for you?
If we had more freezer space I would have done some meal prep, but highly recommend that. I think just having a conversation ahead of time with whomever will be there postpartum so expectations are set and everyone knows what they need to do makes the transition go so smoothly.
6) 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 do you learn from the feeding journey that you wish you knew going in?
I feel like all I've talked about is breastfeeding! Get a lactation consultant lined up before birth. Even if things are going well, they are a fountain of knowledge. I learned so much! And Andrea, my lactation consultant, is part of my life until Violet weans. I have her in my back pocket for anything breastfeeding related. I cried after our initial appointment with her because I realized how many women go through this journey without the proper support no matter how you choose to feed and it isn’t right.
7) Snuggling in.
What are some favorite books and activities to do with your baby (0-12 months)?
If I were a hippo was a really fun and interactive book for her age. Now Violet loves to swing. I love all the Lovevery open ended toys. Oh a must have are these tomy toy eggs! Every baby and kid that played with them loved them.
What traditions are you creating and celebrating?
Violet was born to the song ‘you are the best thing’ by Ray LaMontagne so every year on her birthday we will play that song. We cook frittata on the weekends and have a family brunch.
8) Creating Routines.
Routines can be a lifesaver in the early days, even if just for your own sanity. What worked for you? Did you try to keep to a schedule?
We really try for a flexible schedule and not a rigid routine. Taking Cara Babies is an amazing resource. I have to say Violet is very flexible and we can take her anywhere and she sleeps anywhere and that is because she knows her routine and what to expect. In addition, we respect that she needs that but some days flow differently and we all adjust. I think focusing on sleep early on and teaching babies how to fall asleep on their own sets the stage for an easier 1st year.
Any final words of wisdom you’d like to share?
Lean into the mom’s who have done this already and use their advice and tactics in whatever way is best for your baby. My sister was my life line. Find a life line if you can! Commiserate with your friends who are moms, you are not alone. Your partner is on your team. A man will never truly know what you are going through and it is ok to get that empathy from other women. Becoming a mom is a hard and beautiful thing. But, you can do hard things! Try to get rid of expectations of what you can get done in a day post baby. Your pre baby productivity most likely won’t exist. It may take you 4 days to write one email or a week to do 1 load of laundry. While the daily tasks you used to get done without thinking may seem a lot more difficult, remember that you are keeping another human alive and that is the greatest accomplishment of them all! You are a wonder woman. You are exactly what your baby needs.