Body Positive: Postpartum Edition

Love yourself first, you deserve it

I never anticipated how much pregnancy and postpartum life would mess with me physically and mentally. The struggle toward my own postpartum body acceptance has been very real. Now add to that uncontrollable hormonal changes, and some days I have been a walking crazy person.

A few weeks after giving birth, I needed to leave the house. So I packed up baby and we went to the mall. While I the mall I walked into Victoria’s Secret, I usually love going shopping at Victoria’s Secret. As I walked in the sales guy asked if I needed help, and then said,”I see you just had a baby, the girls in dressing room can measure your bra size and help you out.” It was a harmless statement and he was just being helpful. Yet, that harmless statement brought me close to the point of a panic attack.

Of course I knew I just had a baby, but the reality hit that my body is now different. I didn’t even know my own body anymore, I was a whole new bra size. Of course my bra size was different, my boobs were now ginormous and filled with milk. I didn’t think about. Everything that I had known about my body had changed. As I walked though Victoria’s Secret I did not feel sexy.

5 weeks with baby Nico

The female body is amazing. Growing a human for nine months, and being able to supply it daily with nutrients from your own body is quite a process. My husband always reminds me of how wonderful and amazing I am. I appreciate that. However, while growing that human for nine months, and even when that human is living outside of the body, there is so many changes that women experience. Nothing really prepared me for that. In my mind I would have a baby and then go back to normal. You know the weight would drop, I would go right back into crossfit, I would run with no problem and I would be able to go full beast mode within 6 weeks. Yeah no, that did not happen. Sure my doctor cleared me to return to all my physical activity at my 6 week appointment, yet I was and still am no where near ready to go all full on beast mode. That reality was a reality that I was not ready for. I had take like 100 steps back, and retrain my body.

For me, the struggle is real when comes to accepting my postpartum self. Everything I once knew about my body is different. And it will always be different because I gave birth to a human. It was the first time my body did that, and my body will forever be changed by that experience. Different is not a bad thing, it’s a good different, but with different comes the task of redefining my body, and my own sense of sexy.

Prior to pregnancy I would workout twice a day most days, my weight and muscle mass were at a place that I really loved. I had worked hard for years to get it there. During pregnancy I gained about 46 pounds, but that was fine for me because baby and I were both healthy.

While I was pregnant, lots of moms would ask if I was planning on breast feeding. I would say yes. They would then say good that’s how you lose all the baby weight and you will “snap back”. Well as it turns out, I did not magically lose all this baby weight while breast feeding, and there is no quick “snap back”. I wish our culture would stop using the term snap back. It puts unnecessary pressure on postpartum women. Your body moved everything around and gave birth to another person, it doesn’t just snap back. Your body is not a rubber band.

Since giving birth I have lost about 20 pounds, so I still have close to 30 pounds to lose to get back to my pre-preganancy weight. I used to get frustrated with myself because my body was not “snapping back” quick enough. I breast feed, they told me if I breast feed the weight would fall right off. Yeah, that didn’t happen. But you know what, I’m fine with that. I realize my body is doing what it needs to do to keep myself and Nico happy and healthy.

10th day as a mom

My next goal for 2020 is to trust the process. That’s what all my coaches and my chiropractor say, so I guess I will listen. I will trust that I will have a healthy postpartum body. I can get back to my pre-pregnancy self again and be even stronger, faster, and leaner. But I don’t have to rush. I used to compare myself to Beyonce and Serena Williams (yeah that was dumb), who were crazy bad ass postpartum. Also, Allison Felix was breaking records 10 months after giving birth. That’s amazing. But then I read somewhere that Serena said that she would never go right to training like she did right after having a baby. I’m also not getting paid millions of dollars to get my body into a certain shape for work, so I guess I can take it easy. I can allow myself to enjoy my postpartum self and feel sexy. I will love who I am because my body did the ultimate, most amazing job of creating a human. My body is different, I am different, and I can love this version of different.

I am running my first half marathon of the year in May, I had signed up last year but deferred. I do want to be in shape to run and need to start training. My current crossfit workouts are helping me build endurance and muscle and soon I will start running. For some reason I am having anxiety about running again. I need to just do it. With the right amount of training and nutrition I can do this race with no problem.

Staying positive about myself, my body, and all of life’s changes are part of the process. I can’t rush the process, I just have to live it. One day at a time, one step at a time, and I will give myself permission to fully love me.

Postpartum Anxiety: It Does Exist

According to Postpartum Support International about “6% of pregnant women and 10% of postpartum women develop anxiety.” However, I think those numbers are substantially under reported.

During and after pregnancy people would frequently talk about Postpartum Depression (PPD). I also read up on it just so I would be aware of what to look out for in myself. My doctor and the nurses at the hospital all gave me t pamphlets on PPD so I would know what to look out for and who to call. After I gave birth people called to check in on me to make sure I was doing okay. I appreciate all of that. I didn’t have postpartum depression. With the help of my hubby and other family members, I was doing pretty good.

However I did have anxiety. A lot of anxiety. Since sometimes I like to go into my self diagnosis mode, I would diagnose myself with postpartum anxiety, mild, without panic attacks. Wait, that’s not even a thing. The DSM-5, the handbook of psychiatric disorders that is used by Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Social Workers, and Counselors, in the United States, does not recognize Postpartum anxiety as mental health diagnosis. Why is that?

Postpartum depression is recognized widely by the mental health world, and has a diagnosis code. There are even special treatment groups that focus solely on PPD. Yet, postpartum anxiety falls under the umbrella of just another anxiety disorder, it just gets thrown in the with likes of Adjustment disorder with anxiety, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or Obessive Compulsive Disorder. However, according to the published article Postpartum anxiety: More common than you think, by Dr’s Jordan and Minikel (2019), research studies suggest that perinatal anxiety is more prevalent than depression. Also, studies have suggested that more women experience symptoms and have significant levels of anxiety during the post natal period, however they do not fully meet the criteria to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Therefore, the true numbers of anxiety in women during the postnatal period go under reported. Even though more women may experience postpartum anxiety, these women are not necessarily getting any type of treatment.

After giving birth to Nico, I experienced many symptoms related to anxiety. Typically, my amount of worry increased. I know had a little human to take care of, a human that was in no way able to take care of himself. I still worry. SIDS is a real fear. I find myself waking up at night to check on him, to make sure he is still breathing. I remember one night he actually slept for a few hours at a time, more than his regular 2 or 3 hours, I of course woke up to check on him. Yup, he was sound asleep.

I worry when he gets sick. I worry when he goes to day care if he will be okay. I worry if he is eating enough. And since I am a therapist, I worry if he is adjusting well so he doesn’t have a childhood anxiety disorder. I guess I have regular mommy worries. Everyone asked me if I was okay on his first day of day care, I had some worry, but I actually felt fine overall. I kinda just knew he would be fine. That was me managing my anxiety. I am able to put my irrational thinking patterns into focused rational thoughts.

I used to stay up all night because I knew he would wake up to eat. I already had trouble sleeping way before the thought of baby. Now I was being woken up from my sleep every 2-3 hours, it made it so much harder to sleep. So I did’t sleep. One night I think I stayed up until 6 am, and then I was finally able to go to sleep. The anxiety is real. If I was ever going to sleep again, I had to learn to be fine with baby sleeping in peace. I had to stop fearing those middle of the night wake ups and allow myself to just breathe and relax in the moment.

The symptoms of my anxiety would never be enough for a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder, I know that. My anxiety was triggered by being a new mom, and the constant worry of having to take care of another human when I was previously only taking care of myself. Being a mom comes with more responsibility. That responsibility causes me to have a running list of tasks in my brain that cause anxiety. The anxiety is real, but lucky for me it is also manageable.

I know I am not the only mom who has experienced symptoms of postpartum anxiety. So if you are a new mom, or a seasoned mom, and just can’t shake those anxious thoughts, take a step back and just breathe, stop and think about the rational thoughts. Close the door for irrational thinking patterns, think about realistic scenarios, and always remember to take time for self care. As a mom you are the world to your child, take care of yourself and remember that self care is not selfish.

One day I will sleep again…hopefully

And finally it’s Friday! The first full week of the year complete. It also felt like the longest week ever. Nico completed his first full week of day care, and I have probably consumed the most coffee that I have ever drank since finals week in college. Over the past 5 days my body has become tolerant to coffee, I no longer think it is effective. I will return to drinking my triple shot of espresso at least once a day. I really need a Nespresso machine. But hey, at least now I am remembering to drink my coffee right?

My sleepy baby. I think he missed me all day, or he just hates me

Tonight my husband, Nico, and I sat on the couch looking at each other. We were all exhausted. Nico is lucky he can sleep wherever he wants, whenever he wants, he just doesn’t take advantage of those endless sleep opportunities. He will regret that one day, just like I am regretting my missed opportunities to sleep when I was a baby today.

This week was defiantly an adjustment for the whole family. We will get it together soon. The hubs and I just have to get used to waking up a little bit earlier, getting a little person ready, and grabbing ALL of his stuff before we leave the house. Why do little people have so much stuff?

Life is different. Our morning routine is different, dinner time is different, vacation planning will be different, and heck, our sex life is even different. There is a whole new person who has changed our lives from here on out. Even though it is a happy, enjoyable, priceless change, it is still a change.

This is us before we became eternally sleepy

As new parents, we learn to appreciate the small pleasures in life. I have learned to appreciate moments of quiet, breathing, and meditation. Everyday Nico appears to be a little bit older, he is always doing something different, he is learning so much. Sometimes I just want to hit the pause button on time, and replay those moments again and again. Time is racing. I am appreciating each moment.

In Maryland it’s cold. I’ll be honest, I really don’t like living in Maryland that much and I figure one day we will eventually move to a new state. Maybe one that is warm. I think back on my January days in Hawaii, those moments when I spent Christmas and New Year’s day on the beach. I wish I could be there today. Those were moments of calm, of peace.

I miss the beach

Since once again my whole life is different, I have to remember to always find time to take in and enjoy those moments of peace. I have to find places that will bring me that sense of calm. Daily meditation is what will continue to make me a great wife and an amazing mamma. The coffee will keep me hyped, and possibly push me through the day, but keeping my mind at peace is the what is will keep my family together. In the midst of change, I will continue to find my own peace.

Self Motivation: What's Your WHY?

Today was pretty good day. Thank God tomorrow is Friday and my first full week as a working mom is almost complete.

Lesson learned this week: Yes I can survive with less than 3 hours of sleep per night. When.Does.It.Stop. I am badly craving sleep. Help Me.

Random thought: Why is the Apple store always so crowded, yet I have never actually witnessed anyone buying anything directly from the Apple store. The shelves consistently look like they have never been touched.

Surprisingly this first full week of 2020 has been pretty good. 1 week down, 51 more to go. I still feel motivated, and I am proud that I am actually writing everyday.

My goals this year are to finally launch my podcast, grow my therapy and coaching businesses, and publish one, or two, or three books. I have even started working on a children’s book series. I have big goals, and a lot to accomplish. 12 whole months to complete all my goals.

I am motivated by my desire to inspire people. It’s why I started blogging my journey 11 years ago. Everybody has a story, we learn from hearing each other’s stories, to inspire others I figured I would tell my story.

My big question for 2020 is “What’s Your Why?” I ask myself that question daily. I ask my clients that question. I ask my husband that question. What’s Your Why?

Your “Why” is the driving force in your ability to make decisions. It’s what motivates you. It is what encourages changes in behavior.

At the start of a new year a lot of us make vision boards and resolutions. We tell ourselves that certain things are going to be different. But why? Why now?, and what is the motivation to keep that change going.

Within the first six weeks of the new year, most people will give up on their resolutions, and those vision boards will become just a piece of cardboard with magazine clippings. The “Why” was not strong enough. The motivation was not strong enough and the follow though was not existent.

Thoughts without action is just a dream. Actions turn your dreams into your reality.

So think about it, what’s your goal? Now WHY do you want to accomplish that goal?

My “Why” is that I am determined to motivate others to increase positive behaviors and live life on their terms. I know what’s it like to feel stuck, I have a passion and determination to move people toward getting unstuck. Let’s get unstuck in 2020. Life is too short to be stuck in one place without movement. You hate your job, make steps to find a job you love. You are not satisfied with your relationship, then determine what you want in a relationship and go find it. Life happens with action, start acting.

Now, find your own WHY. Your Why has to be personalized just for you. You can’t change for other people, life has to be lived for you. Once you find your Why, stay motivated, stay determined, and live life on your own terms. Hold yourself accountable and remain consistent. With accountability, consistency, and truth about your WHY, you will be far ahead of accomplishing your goals. Keep it up and 2020 will be your best year yet!

You Have Permission to Just Be You

I have a long list of goals that I will attempt to accomplish. I will let you in on another one, To be kind to myself.

Today I experienced working mom guilt because Nico is at day care while his parents work. The hubby told me that he cried for an hour after he dropped him off. I wondered, is he happy? Is he going to hate me for sending him to day care? In reality I know he will be fine, he won’t hate me and he loves social interactions. I just could not shake that feeling of guilt.

I am my own worst critic. I hesitate to be create and live my passion because I fear that the end product is never good enough. The purpose of my 366 day blog challenge is to prove to myself that I can create content to build my business, and that the content is good enough.

I am giving myself permission to be kind to myself


We are our own worst enemy, we judge ourselves harshly, we beat ourselves up over mistakes, and far too often we may feel that we are not good enough. We ask ourselves, “Am I good enough to date this person?”, “Am I good enough to switch jobs?”, or “Am I good enough to raise a family?” The hardest phrase to say is “Yes I Am Good Enough”. ” I have always been and will always be enough!”

We don’t give ourselves permission to live life in a way that life should be lived. We often feel guilt when we have a sense of confidence, and even start to fear that people will question your own sense of self. We don’t live, we look and wait. We are unfair to ourselves.

At some point the consistent pattern of negative thoughts that consume our daily emotional state needs to stop. As humans we need to allow ourselves to feel strong, powerful, and successful, and we need to feel that way without guilt. We should not find ourselves apologizing for our accomplishments, we should be giving ourselves permission to celebrate each joyous moment of life. Most importantly we need to celebrate ourselves. So let’s start by giving ourselves permission to say “I Am Good Enough”, but not only say it, but mean it.

Give yourself permission to:

Live Without Fear

I love the phrase “life begins outside of your comfort zone”. Everyday we often wake up and find ourselves going through the motions of life but not actually living life. Take a chance on life, try a new activity, eat new foods, travel to destinations that you only see in magazines but never thought you would actually go to. Fear is an overpowering force that stops many of us from taking a risk, and possibly being happy. When the thought; “I want to, but what if…” comes to your mind. Stop, redirect, and say “I will”. Tell fear NO, and take the leap to live.

To Love

Love is a funny thing, because love will come into our lives, and sometimes love will leave our lives. Love is scary and unpredictable at times. It’s strange because; Do we choose to love, or does love chose us? That lack of knowing, may make us want to run in the opposite direction when we are faced by love. But if we never allow ourselves to keep giving love a chance, then we will not allow ourselves to experience all the great pleasures of joy that come with being loved and with loving another person. Life is not meant to be lived alone. Love does not just have to come from romantic relationships it can also come from friends and family. But we have to open ourselves up, let down our guard, and just allow life to be filled with love.

To Fail

Failure is how you know that you are dong something. Success is rarely accomplished without failure. Failure means that you are trying. We need to fail. We need to learn. We need to challenge ourselves. We need to overcome the fear of failure and not be defined by our failures. We are able to shape our lives with both our wins and losses. Failure is not always a negative; it is a stepping stone for success. Give yourself permission to try and fail, you will be one step closer to knowing how sweet if feels when you win.

To Be Confident

Confidence. One word that is easier said than done. To look in the mirror and say “hey I look really good today” is one of the most challenging tasks that I often give to my clients. We are afraid to be confident. Often times if we feel good about ourselves, or feel that we have just done a kick ass job, we are the last ones to give ourselves credit. We shut ourselves down before others have a chance to. It’s easier to hear a negative comment when we have already told it to ourselves first. Here’s a secret, self deprecation is not cute. So be confident. Be impressed with just being you. Say to yourself “I Am Amazing” and believe it. With confidence you will be taken seriously by friends, family, and co workers, and you will feel proud of yourself because you know that you are truly a badass and you mean it.

To Be Honest With Yourself

Honesty with yourself. The most important trait of knowing who you are. We hate to admit it, but yes there are times when we lie to ourselves. The trouble with lying to ourselves is that we can’t get away from it. There may be times when you say yes to something and you really want to say no, we trick ourselves into thinking that a relationship or friendship is good for us, but yet it is causing an immense amount of pain inside. We may feel that we need to work longer hours, and put in more time at work because we want to be recognized as a good employee, yet we hate our job. We tell ourselves a narrative that fits a certain time, place, or situation, yet deep down inside, we don’t really believe that narrative at all. With honesty in yourself, will come a sense of relief. The stress is gone, and it will give you room to do what you really want to do, and actually be in that place that fulfills your purpose in life. Be honest. Be You.

With my various new roles in life I am giving myself permission to take care of myself first, and to make sure I am consistently do my own mental check-ins. Self care is an absolute need. As they say during the safety briefing on the airplane, put your own mask on first, then put on the mask of your child. As a wife and mom I will have to make sure I am okay, so my family can be okay. I will give myself permission not to have working mom guilt, but to enjoy every moment with my family, and give lots of love and hugs everyday.