Redefining the word babymoon
A few months ago I was scrolling Facebook and I came across this photo that caught my eye. A lovely lady sprawled out on her bed with a huge platter of food nearby. Her newborn nursing happily.
The photo was all about how a real babymoon is a time AFTER the baby arrives where the mother and baby lay around bonding and healing. Not the vacation with your significant other before the baby arrives. That what a Mother really needs after the baby is born is rest and time for healing. Something unheard of in the US.
As I read, I began to cry. Partly because of baby hormones but also in part to a memory that suddenly came crashing back to me. A memory I hadn’t really thought of until now because at the time, it almost seemed normal. But as I read on, I realized it was not normal.
Working all the time was a badge of honor
Back in 2014, after years of IVF, I became pregnant with our daughter Avalon. I didn’t know when we started trying to get pregnant in 2009 that it would take us 5 years to get pregnant. I had started cake decorating as a way to make a little extra money while working from home once we got pregnant. When we didn’t get pregnant, I focused all my extra time on my business. Writing books, competing, traveling, teaching, building my client base. My business was my baby.
When I finally did get pregnant, so many people told me I would have to slow down once the baby arrived. I remember scoffing at the idea. I would NOT slow down! I wouldn’t let a baby stop me from working! I was proud that I was a hard worker.
Avalon’s due date was August 1st. I cleared that whole week of cake orders but for some reason, didn’t clear the following week. It obviously had not stuck in my head that babies don’t care about due dates. I also had two interns working with me so I just figured things would work out.
Of course, Avalon did not come on her due date. On August 6th, I was packing my bag to head to the hospital to be induced when my water broke at 10pm. I’m pretty sure the nurse thought I was lying when I said: “No, I’m not here to be induced, my water broke.”
Avalon arrived around 11:30 am on August 7th. I cried the moment they put her on me. She was warm and slippery and so heavy! She was finally “real”.
We spent two lovely days with her in the hospital. Learning to feed her, change her and bond. Then I got a phone call from my intern. A cake emergency and she needed me right away!
We left the hospital as soon as the doctors would allow it. I called my dear friend and Godmother to Avalon and asked her if she could sit with her in her Nursery when we got home so I could handle the cake emergency.
I was standing in my kitchen with a hospital bracelet on. Still wearing the special hospital underwear and pad under my loose-fitting dress shirt. Feeling weak and tired. And I was frosting a cake. A freaking cake.
While my newborn baby girl was having her first moments in our home, I was frosting a cake.
You might be wondering where Dan was in all of this, he had to deliver another cake. He was also missing out on those first moments with his baby girl.
Was this situation the worst thing that could have ever happened to me? No. Obviously, we’re all fine. Avalon is not permanently scarred and honestly, I had kind of forgotten all about that day until I started reading that article.
Switching my mindset
I started thinking about my life as an entrepreneur. About my mindset towards my work and the society I live in. A society that cares an awful lot about image and money and the “hustle.” You can post all day long about working long hours and working yourself to the bone but if you talk about having a mental breakdown because you’re over-worked… well that’s just not cool.
So I decided then and there that no matter what, I would not work for 2 months after the baby came. I would have a real babymoon. With my husband and my daughter and my new Son. We would lay in bed and nap when we’re tired. I’ll let dan help with the baby and with me and I won’t feel guilty. I won’t feel guilty about not posting on Instagram. I won’t feel guilty if people think I should be working. I won’t. I’ll give myself permission to rest and recover.
After all, the one perk that SHOULD come from being an entrepreneur is being able to set your own schedule. We like to brag about that perk but we hardly ever follow through with it. Often working more hours than you would at a typical 9-5 job.
Banish the feelings of guilt
Now you might be wondering how this even remotely applies to you. I’m sure most people reading this aren’t about to have a baby but maybe you are an entrepreneur. Maybe a cake decorator like I was. The most hard-working and underpaid people I know.
But maybe you’re not a cake decorator. Maybe you just run your own business. Maybe you’re working a full-time job but you’re trying to build your side-hustle. Or maybe you just work a regular job and just need to pay the freaking bills. It’s hard to think about taking time to heal when there’s food to buy and a mortgage to pay. I get that.
Life comes in waves. Sometimes it’s good and you feel productive and like you can take over the world. Other times it can feel daunting and hard and downright depressing. Times where you can’t bear the idea of working on anything. Those are the times you need to rest and heal whenever you can. Whether it’s 5 minutes or 5 days.
There are all kinds of trauma that affect us. The physical trauma of having a baby. Losing a family member. Financial struggles. Sadness and depression. It goes on and on. We as a society tend to reward each other for smiling through the pain or working through it without complaint. You don’t have to smile. You don’t have to work through it. Give yourself permission to heal from trauma.
Now I truly understand that my work circumstance is unique. Not everyone works at home with their husband or has any sort of emotional support. Not everyone has a parent or a grandparent nearby to help in tough times.
But take your moments where you can. Instead of getting that post done for social media, go for a walk. Instead of making sure you answer all your emails, read a book. Eat dinner with your family. Take a nap. Cry with a friend on the phone. Do whatever you need to do in a free moment to heal. And don’t feel guilty about it.
Give yourself permission to heal. No matter how long it takes.
If you’re reading this and you’re in a good place, you can be there for those that aren’t. Don’t ask what you can do. Just do it. People hate asking for help because it’s seen as weak. Just show up with food. Hire a cleaning service for a friend. Get on the phone and listen. Even if all you have to offer is emotional support, it can mean the world. Let’s just stop the glorification of being over-worked, stressed out and on the verge of a mental breakdown.
I fully plan on taking my babymoon with no guilt. I’ve been working extra hard to prepare for this break by making more content than usual to drip out but now that I’m 30 weeks, it’s getting harder and harder to stand for long periods of time. So if I run out of content for my YouTube channel and I have to go a few weeks without posting. Oh well. Life goes on. If my Instagram doesn’t grow because I haven’t posted in a month. Oh well. What does that number really even mean? My business will not fall apart in 2 months time.
What matters right now to me is learning to be a family of four instead of three. And I feel good about that.