I Used To Be Me (part 5)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Before I actually met Beth Lipton, I had heard plenty about her.  She’s a member of the same Brooklyn moms’ group where I met Normalinda. When I joined the group, Beth had already returned to work. Whenever I was introduced to one of the moms and asked the usuals (How old is your baby? What’s his name? How’s nursing/baby’s acid reflux going?), there was often another question tacked on near the end … Have you met Beth, Dylan’s mom? And once I did, I understood why others were so excited about her. Beth is sweet, funny and easygoing. All splendid qualities, especially in a room full of sleep-deprived mamas.

Photo by Nicole Blades

Life before baby …
It was busy. Life was about my career, my husband and friends. It was about all of my other ambitions. I’m athletic; I like to run races. I also wrote  a book last year. I guess I didn’t think of myself as self-focused, but I was. I had full and happy life.

I always wanted to have a baby, be a mom …
I was raised by a single mother and I know how difficult that was. I have so much respect for my mother for having raised two of us, but I knew that wasn’t for me. So there was a level of “cart before the horse.” I knew I wanted to be a mom, but I was not going to be a single mom. I wanted to be in a happy relationship first.

Then when I got married [3.5 years ago], having a baby wasn’t at the front of my mind. Well, I was 35 when I got married, so the idea was floating somewhere in my head that we didn’t have forever to wait around before starting family. But there still wasn’t  a real hurry. I wasn’t going to worry about. I felt like, it’ll happen when it happens.

Then came Dylan …
I had been on the Pill forever, and we were concerned about how difficult it might be to get pregnant. So I went on the Internet—which is something you should just never do. I read all these things: women saying they couldn’t get pregnant because of the Pill or that they went into early menopause because of it. I walked away terrified. Of course, I got pregnant the first month. It all went smoothly.

But those first six weeks after Dylan was born …
I was a complete wreck. There are so many hormones coursing through you. I thought I was tough and then I gave birth … and it kicked my ass. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Everything from the actual birth (I did natural) to coming home to healing, and your milk coming in (and that’s deeply weird),  then having to take care of this little creature that needs your attention 24/7—plus you’re not sleeping. It just kicked my ass! But it was all worth it.

It’s such a cliché, but it’s true …
There’s nothing you could do to prepare for all that. I read books and talked to a few friends, but I still didn’t feel like I had any idea about what I was doing. I think it’s one of those things that you shouldn’t feel like you know what you’re doing, though, because you really don’t.

Most challenging part about motherhood …
Adjusting to no longer being able to come and go as I please. Always having to plan. That’s still one of the hardest things, even a year later.

I feel like I’m only now coming out of a sort of hibernation. But it was self-imposed, in a way. I took time, this last year, to enjoy Dylan as a baby because you can’t get it back, and it goes by so quickly. There’s so much going on and you’re so busy all the time. I wanted to sit back and enjoy the roses. It’s not that I’ve neglected my friendships, but I’ve let almost everything take a backseat to her.

Now I’m trying to get back to some things in a more consistent way. I try to not miss my book club and make sure go out with a friend once a week. But the one thing that I have to do for myself  is exercise—even if it’s 20 minutes. I’m a total mental case without it. It’s a priority for me.

Best piece of motherhood advice I received …
The thing that sticks out the most was an off-hand remark. It was something someone said at our moms’ group. Dylan must have been five weeks old; it was my first meeting. Someone asked this baby-wearing expert who came to talk to us a question—I don’t even remember what the question was—but she said, “Keep in mind that all parenting advice is ideology.” For all the science out there, for all the stuff that we read, most of it is based on one person’s or a few people’s opinions. So when you’re driving yourself crazy trying to follow someone’s advice, remember it’s just one person’s opinion … if it doesn’t work for you and your baby, move on. That really saved my sanity!

If we could jump into a DeLorean and race back in time …
I would tell myself, “You will sleep again.” (Laughs) I would also tell myself, “You will feel normal again. You will feel like yourself. Hang in there!”

Beth Lipton is obsessed with all things food. In addition to being the food editor at “All You” magazine, she also has a tasty baking blog called Cookie Pie.

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