Motherhood is a beautiful, messy and magical free fall.
It’s 10x harder than I ever expected and more incredible and mind blowing than I ever imagined. For those of us in it, we know the feeling well: Motherhood is your heart forever walking outside of your body. It’s Magic.
As a proud working mom of twin boys (3.5 year-old, dichorionic-diamniotic twins, aka Di-Di twins), my Motherhood journey continues to be the most ridiculous and most rewarding ride of my life. There is no one on this Earth who can ask me to repeat an activity ad nauseam…peek-a-boo, butt-wiping, Baby Shark playing, ball throwing, one (millionth) last kiss-giving…in exchange for a giggle, smile or high five, other than my perfect children. It’s Madness.
But the magic and madness and everything in-between is what Motherhood is all about. It’s why it’s easy to get lost in it and lose yourself in it. Full stop: This cannot happen. This is something I believe us mamas need to constantly work on, because the one thing our babies and our families need most is a Mother who’s bringing her whole self to her ‘hood.
But how do you do that? Simple. You put your oxygen mask on first, you nurture an extensive and ever-evolving fierce Mom Tribe, and you find ways to Live Your Best Life while respecting your current season of momming. See, we can do this! The latter is where I’m going to take our coffee talk today, because I believe that living our best lives while raising good humans is totally doable and achievable by all when we learn from each other.
Let’s jump in, shall we?
1). Always expect the unexpected, and be adaptable.
I remember the day we found out I was pregnant like it was yesterday. The beginning of my story is one that many baby making parents can relate to: after what seemed like forever peeing on hormone and pregnancy sticks, we saw the infamous blue line. Pause…enter relief, excitement and the oh-shit-it-really-worked moment. My husband and I then immediately calculated some questionable how-long-have-we-actually-been-pregnant math, scheduled the earliest possible office appointment — 6 weeks to the day — and then danced cautiously-optimistically into my gynecologists’ office. Sound familiar?
So there I was, sitting patiently in my seat, after a 45-minute long ultrasound which had myself and my husband worried that something was wrong with my uterus, and then finally my doctor pranced in to share the results. When we looked up at her screen, the only words we could actually comprehend were as follows:
“TWIN INTRAUTERINE INCEPTION.”
What-the-what? And that my friends is the exact moment when this type-A, planned out, “prepared for anything” boss lady, was served the first rule of Fight Club, I mean Motherhood: Always expect the unexpected, and get ready to adapt quickly. I am now super thankful that I learned this lesson before the twin circus arrived.
2). Ruthless prioritization.
Guys, pregnancy is No Joke. Especially when you’re trying to hide it from everyone basically all first trimester. Can we all just take a pause to pour some literal or figurative bubbles out for all the pregnant moms growing life as you read this, and for our own mothers who had to deal with pregnancy before all the technology advancements that we have today? Damn. Women are miracle workers. I actually had a relative tell me that his mom didn’t know she was pregnant with him and his twin brother until “the second baby came out”. Could you even imagine?!
When I found out I was pregnant with twins, I was immediately referred to a Maternal-Fetal Medicine clinic (MFM, also referred to as perinatology), that dealt strictly with high-risk pregnancies. They had a plethora of resources and specialty doctors who handled everything under the “high risk pregnancy” category, which included women carrying multiples to geriatric pregnancies to pregnancies placed at risk due to a number of health factors.
It was during the introductory visit with my lovely MFM team where I learned that carrying twins would come with many unique requirements, including the fact that I would need to keep a close eye on managing my diet, exercise, weight gain/loss, and overall health in an effort to keep my twin buns in the oven for as long as humanly possible without bedrest or complications (which was a huge goal of mine) AND I learned that I would be the recipient of double the blood volume and double the hormones as we grew.
Guys, I had never been more exhausted in my entire life up until that point.
It was a debilitating kind of tired, and at the time I was working a full-time high-intensity, customer facing job as the Director of Product Marketing for avionics and performance upgrades. This role required me to fly around the world and pitch solutions to airline customers at the C-Suite level and below. I realized quickly that I had to figure out how to prioritize what was essential in my life and daily routine, so that I could keep my shit together and energy up, long enough to make it to what became my obligatory 3 PM power nap. Enter: ruthless prioritization of 5 am workouts, dialed in nutrition and water intake for both energy and brain function, and a mega readjustment to my social calendar. It worked. And to this day, I still make zero compromises when it comes to daily fitness and my food-as-fuel needs — because let’s face it, as working moms, we need all the help we can get to stay on top of our games.
3). Create systems. Everywhere.
The 4th trimester is a trip. No one really talks about the realities of what you go through or what you actually need, presumably because every new mom is going through their own version of the 100 Days of Darkness (more on that here). Plus, all of the research and reading we do as first time moms focuses only on pregnancy and birth, which is great but it’s such a fractionally small part of the whole shebang of what we need to know about the motherhood experience. Let’s be honest, we all could have benefited more from a breastfeeding bootcamp over birthing classes.
During the early days I learned quickly that I had to create some serious systems for sanity and success, ASAP. We were sleep deprived (the understatement of the century), navigating newness and challenge every other minute, and we truly didn’t want to kill each other or die (believe me, both seemed like legitimate options at the time). Also, I set a goal of exclusively breastfeeding my twin boys for a year, and wanted to be mentally and physically strong enough to do this whole mom thing throughout. I had big goals (still do!), and I knew I would have to create systems around me so that even our mini aspirations (like daily showering and brushing our teeth), could actually be achieved.
Insert: creation of all the systems, and getting buy-in and alignment from my support squad (aka my husband and godsend-of-a-mom who elected to live with us and help). We were a team, one as unified and collectively skilled as the Chicago Bulls from 1996 — their winning season; I was MJ, Dave was Pippen, and my mom was obviously Rodman (a little wild and unpredictable but always delivered). We all had to be on the same page, and we were. It involved an epic whiteboard-turned-live-input-excel-table for tracking sleep, bms, milk ounces, and notes. I had a system for breastfeeding, which meant 8x/day pumping after each feed, and topping off with breastmilk in-bottle. I had a system for water intake (I consumed 256 ounces of water a day) and a balanced macronutrient diet (which ranged from 3,000-4,000 daily calories) that included a nutrient packed breakfast lactation smoothie that I batch prepped the beginning of each week (recipe here) — all of which ensured I produced enough milk. I had a system for sleep shifts, and ensuring we nailed our am workouts and much needed personal care bathroom time. And I had a system for baby naps (to this day my toddlers will still literally sleep anywhere when it’s time).
After all was said and done, and we finally made it to day 101, or something, I knew we had figured out a key life skill.
Don’t ever underestimate the power of creating systems for success, everywhere in your life.
4). Find your Champagne Moments.
When I became a mother, I had very little idea what I was actually getting myself into or what kind of mom I would be (will I ever?). But what I do know is that it’s essential to always lean on and learn from each other as we navigate our own unique journeys, and to always look for the moments worth celebrating, the Champagne Moments.
You’ll hear it a million times over, on “how quickly it all passes”…that age, that phase, that moment…and I believe the best way to feel a little less sad/mad/annoyed about that fact, is to celebrate the in-betweens. Life is lived in the in-betweens, in the routine things that happen that don’t seem special until they’re gone (like baby babble) and in the stuff we complain about but then later miss (like changing diapers or bath times before-and-after Shamu arrived). These high/low-lights are our true badges of honor.
SO! I implore you to join me on this Mama Mission: let’s pledge to work our hardest to try to slow down long enough and often enough to celebrate the in-betweens of our Motherhood Journey, and find reasons to pop that bottle of Champagne every damn day.
For more Modern Day Working Mom tips and tricks, and ways to live your best life while actualizing your full potential, follow Danielle @BubblesandBabes and check out her blog (www.bubblesandbabesinc.com).