Children’s age: 21 months
City: New York
Occupation: Writer/Blogger and Stay at Home Mom
Instagram handle: @upperwestjess
1) Exploring identity change in motherhood.
What was the transition to motherhood like for you?
The transition to motherhood has been rewarding yet difficult.. At first, the high of being so in love with my newborn overshadowed everything else. I just couldn’t believe I was finally a mother, something I had very much been looking forward to. The transition became tougher as time went on, especially when most of my new mom friends returned to work. I love being a stay at home mom, but realized I also needed to be doing something non-mom related in order to feel like myself.
How did your identity change?
My identity has now become one that I am most proud of at any point in my life. Motherhood doesn’t define me, but it has pushed me to be a better version of myself. I’m looking forward to seeing how I can continue to evolve and grow as my family evolves and grows.
Did your career change?
Yes, and for the better! I’m now pursuing my passion of writing and have started a blog! I spend most of my time watching my son EJ and taking care of our home, but I also make time to work on my blog. Motherhood is my main inspiration, so it’s currently the perfect balance for me.
How would you describe yourself pre baby? How do you describe yourself now?
Pre-baby It felt like I had all the time in the world to take chances to pursue my dreams. Now that I have a baby, life seems to go by so fast! I try to focus more on the present. I’m also now more motivated to make the most of each day in the best way I can.
2) Understanding that you can’t completely prepare.
What do you wish you knew that you learned the hard way?
I wish I’d known how to use my breast pump before it was almost an emergency, ha! And I would have used pumping bras from day one. I can’t believe I ever pumped without one!
Knowing what you know now, what would you change?
I’m not sure I would change anything :) I used to have a lot of moments where I’d put myself down for not doing something “better” for my baby in the past (for example, thinking I should have done more baby wearing). But all I see now is how he is happy and thriving. I’m confident that it has all worked out the way it was supposed to.
3) Getting all the gear.
What would you definitely purchase?
Some of our most favorite baby items are/were: the Doona carseat stroller, the Lovery play gym and play kits, and Snoo rental.
What was a total waste?
The Mamaroo didn’t really do anything for EJ. I also really didn’t like the Boppy for breastfeeding. I would suggest trying out a few different brands of breastfeeding pillows or even using pillows from around the house before settling on one type.
What do you actually need?
Any and everything by FridaMom and FridaBaby! So many fourth trimester goodies for mom and baby in helpful packages.
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?
Luckily, I didn’t struggle to eat well postpartum. I was so happy that my old taste buds came back!
What worked for you?
I did a lot of freezer friendly batch cooking towards the end of my pregnancy, so we were well stocked with easy meals for the first week or so. We also relied heavily on prepared foods from the grocery store and ordering in.
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 do you learn from the feeding journey that you wish you knew going in?
Oh wow, so, so much. But mostly I wish I knew about oral ties, and what type of breastfeeding pain is ok and what is not. My son had tongue and lip ties. The ties made breastfeeding super painful for me, and difficult and exhausting for him. We eventually had them corrected, but I never got to establish a good milk supply. At first I felt guilty for supplementing with formula, but I wish I had introduced it sooner. It would have saved us a lot of stress and pressure.
6) Routines & Activities
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 have always kept to an age appropriate schedule and routine. It just makes life so much easier! But we’re always flexible, and don’t stress too much if we have to change it up a little bit. Kids are far more resilient than I realized. If a nap or a meal has to be on the go, or bedtime needs to be pushed back, so be it. Once established, babies can bounce back to their normal routine super quick.
7) What are some favorite books and activities to do with your baby and toddler.
I loved classes like Mommy and Me Yoga or Baby Wearing Barre. Personally, I probably stressed too much about taking him to baby focused classes those first few months (like music or tummy time). He didn't need all that - he really just enjoyed being outside, bonding with me, and experiencing a new place. Toddler EJ loves nature, so we’re often in the park playing and learning about things like ducks, dirt, squirrels, and trees. I also love having books accessible to him in a couple of different places. He can easily choose to “read” on his own or bring us the book he wants us read to him. It’s the cutest thing ever!
8) Sleep glorious sleep.
Sleep deprivation is real! Because it’s not challenging enough to learn to look after a tiny human. How did you make it through with getting your baby to sleep as well as yourself?
Once we were past the newborn stage, there was lots of trial and error in figuring out the best way to get EJ to maximize his time asleep. Dream feeding and learning about wake windows was a huge help for us. We also rented a Snoo from 6 weeks to 4 months, which was a lifesaver. Sleep is so important for parents AND baby. Once EJ was able to sleep a 6-8 hour stretch, he was a noticeably happier baby, and we were happier parents!
Any final words of wisdom you’d like to share?
At the risk of sounding incredibly cliche - take time to soak it all in! Seriously, treasure each and every moment you have with your baby; especially the quiet moments of nursing and snuggling and new baby smells. It all goes by so fast!