It takes a village.
That phrase always bothered me...I am this baby’s mama, I can do it myself, it's my job to make her happy! Those first months I was resistant to help, and often times took simple advice from well-meaning family members and friends as criticism.
January 2017, it was the coldest, darkest days of winter which meant there wasn't much to do with a six month old baby, but I was itching for more out of motherhood and just to get out of the house and have meaningful adult interaction. During late night feedings, I saw post after post about these fitness classes for moms, and I would just say it wasn’t for me and scroll on. But one day I saw a post about these fitness classes for moms that were at 6 months postpartum. It was for an 8 week workout session, I had nothing to lose, so I signed up blindly...before I grabbed my calendar to try to figure out how to make 2 workout classes a week not interfere with my schedule as a NICU nurse or my husbands crazy work and school schedule.
This “mom's group” is fit4mom, and in a moment when I had nothing to lose, I joined something completely different from my “norm” and totally outside of my comfort zone. I joined a Body Back transformation session that was 2 workouts a week, nutrition coaching, and guided meditation at the end of each class. It was the turning point for getting me out of the house during these cold Midwestern winter months. A week later I tried a Stroller Strides class with my six month old daughter in tow and fell in love. I didn't have to worry about schedules for those classes because I got to bring my baby with me to workout!
At every class, I saw all different types of moms, and not a single one of them was judgmental or critical of where I was as a mom, as someone trying to get a piece of her sanity back, and as someone working hard to try to feel comfortable in my skin again. Conversations were about lack of sleep, or teething, the first time “aunt flow” visits after a baby. It was fun. It was a village. It was something I needed. Motherhood can feel so isolating at times, and this group of authentic women was the sunshine I needed to brighten my mommy spirits, inspire me, and push me out of my comfort zone. This is my village and so many of the beautiful moms that are a part of that village have become life long friends.
I also fortunate to have another village, I didn’t think it was possible to be a part of multiple villages but it is, and for some of us is a necessity! My other village is built of mothers of all ages and backgrounds. These are my co-workers. The doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and staff of the NICU at the hospital where I work part-time in Chicago. We are surrounded by babies, the tiniest and mightiest babies around. What amazes me about this mom (and dad) tribe is our compassion and support in and out of work.
It is a hard transition to come back to work, to leave our babies behind, and focus on caring for our patients. It’s also incredibly overwhelming in such a fragile environment to schedule time to pump for your baby at home. It is the work friend who leaves you a note or sends a quick text, the coworker that asks if you want to grab lunch together that helps make the transition bearable. This group raises each other up through the good times and bad. Not all of my coworkers have small children, some have grandchildren, some have children that have graduated from college and some are expecting their first. It’s wonderful to have support as a mother and a healthcare professional. It's so important to have people that understand the work/life balance that allows me to be there for the babies that need me at work when my babies are at home.
Mama, it takes a village. Let the grandparents play and laugh with your kids so you can organize a closet or have lunch with your husband. Schedule a play date for them so you can run to Target alone. Ask for help. None of this makes you less of a mom or incapable of caring for your babies. Motherhood is messy and beautiful and overwhelming at times, and no one should feel alone. If you need to text your friend that POTTY TRAINING SUCKS, she will send you the best text back because she's been elbow deep in poop too.