Today’s post is a little different from my usual tester posts. I’m joining a wonderful group of bloggers for a series called “Ease In to Motherhood“, a sewists’ celebration of motherhood and the changes it brings to our lives. Throughout the month of July, these amazing women are sharing how incredibly hard it is to become a mother, to rise to our own expectations and do the best for our children, while simultaneously being good spouses, adults, friends and finally, to take time for ourselves.
Motherhood and I
The hard truth is, I have never thought of myself as particularly maternal. I had never been around babies up until I had my own, and I didn’t really know what to do with them. I wasn’t even sure I wanted them. My husband is great with kids, so I decided to go with the flow, and our move to the US meant that I would be a stay at home mom for sure. Crafting – knitting, crochet, sewing, jewelry making – those were my calling, my raison d’être. I have spent hours on end sitting in one spot on the couch, knitting a sweater. Dreaming of hand-dyed yarn and luscious fabric. So how would kids fit into this life of compulsive creating, I wondered. Well, it was so different from anything I could have imagined.
Motherhood has been one long anxiety attack. Since my daughter was born, I suffered from mild postpartum anxiety, which went undiagnosed until she turned about two. She had undiagnosed reflux and probably food allergies, which meant she would cry and scream constantly. There were days when I wouldn’t even shower, walking around like a zombie, running to pick her up at her every cry. Days I couldn’t stand to look at my husband because I shamefully longed for the days before I had a baby. Those were dark, dark days. My husband has been amazingly supportive, incredibly understanding and patient. Things got better slowly, as I got into the groove and my daughter was about a year old. We never had a babysitters, since with my anxiety I could just not relax and allow someone else to look after her.
Oddly enough, I found kinship in Facebook groups for sewing, where women were creating all the loveliness I wished I had the energy to dream up. There were strong friendships being built while we all gushed over hard-to-find Euro prints, the latest scammer who took everyones money and didn't deliver fabric, the cutest pattern releases. Slowly I began to learn that becoming a mom doesn't come with all the answers, you just do the best you can do with the tools you're given. My friends comforted me, helped me out with their experiences, and became my "village".
With my son’s birth I have been vigilant about taking time for myself, regularly showering (so important!), meeting up with friends, and making time to sew. Both my kids aren’t great sleepers, probably because I don’t like the crying and soothing process, but I know every step I take is in all our best interests. I vent to my online friends when baby doesn’t sleep and they vent to me when their kids get bullied.
My Sewing Process
Before I got pregnant with my first, I would happily spend all day sewing. I would tackle incredibly labor-intensive patterns, with boning and lining and hand-hemmed circle skirts. I would cut the pattern tissue, iron it lovingly, iron my fabric and starch it, pin the tissue to the fabric and carefully cut the pattern out with scissors. Now? Ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat.
I cut print, tape and cut a pattern while my kids play, cut fabric while my son naps and my daughter is at school, and sew at night after everyone is in bed. It’s not fast or efficient or meticulous, and rarely do I ever choose a pattern that needs to be lined, but I’m still sewing, I’m still soothing my soul.
I now use a rotary tool and a self-healing mat, it’s sped up my cutting time tremendously. I cut five patterns out at a time, bag the pieces together and put them in my sewing room in a queue. I snatch precious moments here and there to sew them up, and because they’re in individual bags I don’t lose any pieces. I’ve been known to jettison a project because I lost a piece in the past, don’t judge!
Sewing For myself Postpartum
With my second, I was back to my pre-pregnancy size (except for my bust as I am nursing), within six weeks. However pants still fit awkwardly, as I suspect a huge change in my crotch curve. I tested a pattern for Made for Mermaids right at four weeks pp, and I’m sharing a photo here. I do look different, no? Those dark circles reflect my zombieness appropriately.
I’m trying not to lose weight because my supply tanks fast. I’m hoping once we start solids I can start eating healthy but for now, I need my calories. Weight loss and vanity can wait.
Being a mom is hard. Spending time with them, giving them all your attention without social media or tv is almost herculean. But harder still is maintaining a delicate balance between your needs and wants and those of your family. Don’t give up one for the other, because you need to be strong and fulfilled to continue to give to them. If you’re an emotional zombie with no time to decompress, what do you have left to give the kids? Remember, above all, you are loved. Take time to love yourself.