Welcome to the Post 9 Tiny Interview series: Short interviews with moms who we think are really awesome and awesomely keep it real. We want you to know that you are not alone with your struggles, fears, challenges, and victories. So, #letsmomtogether!
Post 9: Sarah, how did you adjust to your new normal, and what did you find particularly challenging?
Sarah Dugan: Time, grace, time, and more grace; therapy, other moms, destroying ridiculous expectations, building gentle and reasonable expectations, asking for help, getting help, repeat. Physical recovery with my first baby was particularly challenging, especially not having been exposed to many postpartum moms who actually discussed what happened to their bodies. I thought something was wrong but had no point of reference and assumed I was making a bigger deal out of the pain than necessary. After all, it’s natural to give birth, women have been doing it for centuries, etc. etc. Same with breastfeeding my first. What an absolutely demoralizing experience. Again, I assumed that I was the problem and didn’t know where to turn. Thankfully with my second birth I was more knowledgeable and used every resource I could find. What I was not ready for the second time around was postpartum anxiety and OCD that hit me like a sledgehammer around 2-3 months postpartum. It was suffocating, the intrusive thoughts blinding reality, my body on high alert at all times. It affected everything.
P9: How do you practice and prioritize self-care?
SD: This one is tough for me. I wasn’t great with traditional “self-care” before having children, and I think the term can be misleading, like you need to get a massage or pedicure for it to count. So I think the first step is figuring out what self-care looks like for you. For me, self-care is anything that calms or restores me. Sometimes it’s tackling a project I haven’t been able to get to (like painting the shed this weekend) without figuring out how to accomplish it with an one-year-old and a 3.5-year-old in tow. Sometimes it’s meeting friends (kid-free) to catch up. Other times it’s simply a cup of tea and a television show after everyone is in bed (and maybe the dishwasher doesn’t get loaded until morning).
P9: What is your favorite and most ridiculous laugh-out-loud new mom moment?
SD: This is when I wish I wrote more stuff down! I definitely remember hilarious pee/poop moments with our first in the early weeks. I think we thought that with a girl we didn’t have to worry about getting peed on. Not the case! And never did I think that poop could end up on our wall!! My husband was changing the baby on her changing table when I heard him burst out laughing and call for me to come quickly. There on the side wall perpendicular to the changing table was a brown splotch. How is that even possible?!?! Something you have to see to believe, and we definitely saw it.
P9: What were your biggest fears going into motherhood? What are your biggest successes as a mother now?
SD: In general, my biggest fear is repeating unhealthy cycles from my family of origin. I want my daughters to know that there is nothing they could do to make me not love them. For my second daughter’s birth, my biggest fear was physical recovery with a newborn and a 2.5 year old since my first delivery/recovery was so long and difficult for me. As far as successes, I’m really proud of how my older daughter can confidently articulate her feelings to me (sometimes— she’s still 3 ; ).
P9: What piece of advice would you give to a new mom?
SD: You are enough. You are the perfect mother for your child. Give yourself time to get to know your baby; it doesn’t happen overnight. Be kind to yourself. Find your mom crew. Ask for help; we all need it and it does not mean you are doing anything wrong. Trust your mama gut; you know your baby best. Fed is best. Go to pelvic floor therapy!