Kristen Martin (She/Her), who goes by Kem, is a new mom to a 7 month…
Juanina Kocher (She/Her) is a certified yoga teacher, health and wellness coach, and creator of Flex Flow Wellness. Juanina offers wellness coaching, membership-based yoga flows, meditation and breathwork, as well as quick and easy recipes to accommodate a busy lifestyle. Her philosophy is that consistent baby steps are big steps towards achieving your health and wellness goals. Learn more about Juanina @juaninakocher and visit www.flexandflowwellness.com.
How postpartum are you?
I MEAN, AFTER HAVING A CHILD AREN’T YOU ALWAYS AND FOREVER POSTPARTUM…
How have you transformed since becoming a parent?
OMG. How haven’t I transformed?
Before having Tristan I did what I wanted when I wanted and any mama knows that freedom changes quickly. I’m definitely more responsible. I want to be my best self for him (not that I always am but I try!) so I am very aware of what I’m doing and how things will affect me.
I am also very careful about my time. Once you become a mother you get stretched SO thin that you really “cut the fat,” if you will, on everything from your friends, hobbies, and even other family members. You only have so much space and energy to give and your kids take up so much of it. All of this said, I’m also that much more aware of ME needing time for ME. Like pure alone time.
The two expressions that hit me the most after becoming a mama are 1) You can never pour from an empty cup and 2) The days are long (oh so long) but the years are short. Sigh.
With the little solo time you do get, what’s your favorite thing to do?
Ohhhhh great question. This depends on the amount of time. If we’re talking less than an hour then I would say a yoga flow and/or meditation. If we’re talking an entire evening (squeal!) then I love to make a little dinner for myself and just watch something that I know I can only watch alone. Like bad reality TV or a super romantic chick flick. OR if I’m feeling spicy, dinner and drinks with girlfriends is the BEST!
If you could describe your postpartum experience in one word, what would it be and why?
HARD. I had no idea WTF I was doing and what to expect. I thought I read all of the things and I had my sister fill me in (she had two kids before me), but I think all postpartum experiences are so different for everyone.
I thought I would be able to nurse. I couldn’t. I had the hardest time. I thought it would be sweet and magical. It wasn’t. Tristan was a horrible sleeper and was borderline colic those first three months. It was brutal. I had almost no help. My husband is a first responder so he wasn’t home much. And when he was home he was a hundred times more clueless than I was.
I battled with wanting to be more of a stay at home mom (I come from a pretty traditional household in that way) but with the costs of living in NYC that just wasn’t an option for us. I was dealing with having to prepare to go back to work in the middle of my postpartum depression. Ugh. It was really just so hard.
What’s something that caught you off guard during the first 3 months of parenthood?
The sleep deprivation. Nothing could have prepared me for how hard that was. I’m the type of person that really really needs her sleep or I’m frankly a monster.
On a scale of 1-10, how supported did you feel as you navigated healing and learning how to take care of your baby? Why?
3 — I had friends and my mom and sister to call upon, but I found that once kids start to get a little older, mamas start to forget how hard those early months are. Maybe that’s why we keep having more…if we really remembered we would never do it again. JK (kinda).
But really, I did find support with my girlfriends who were starting families at the same time. They were honestly my biggest support systems because we really felt and understood what the other person was going through.
If you could dream up the perfect postpartum journey, what would it look like and feel like?
Ohhhh I mean if we’re talking perfect, then I would imagine not stressing about returning to work. My husband would have paid paternity leave. I would have had my mom living with me to help (she’s literally like a baby whisperer).
I would have been MUCH more prepared for nursing and what that would look like for me. I would have asked for help more. I would have done so many things differently. I would have wanted to feel grateful and happy and connected. I, at the time, felt none of these things.
What’s the #1 piece of advice you’d give a brand new parent?
Go with your gut. Don’t spend your nights googling all of the things. Like everything, there is so much information out there. So many “you should” or “you shouldn’t” when it comes to parenting.
I know now for a fact one of the reasons T cried so much was because I wasn’t feeding him enough. Everything I read was saying you shouldn’t feed your baby more than X ounces of formula. I was trying so hard to stick to that. My mom was like, he’s a big baby Juanina if he’s crying just feed him. She was right.
I would say this is good advice for parents in general. Do you. It’s hard with so much information and judgement but you need to do what you think is best and what works for your child and the rest of your family.