I can’t believe its been a year already. I mean, we just brought her home, like so little ago! Now she is one. ONE you guys!!! How could one feel so huge?
I have been racking my brain trying to figure out what to get Baby O (or should I call her Little O now?) on her first birthday. She is beautifully uncomplicated. Would rather play with Tupperwares + keys + boxes + TV remotes, than most toys. Simple things. They make her totally happy.
New cute clothes + hair accessories + shoes, those things would only be for me, she’d rather be naked!
So, I stayed up late writing her a heartfelt, teary-eyed mommy to daughter letter (the first of a lifetime of birthday letters I supposed).
Here I go.
To my beautiful daughter on your first birthday,
You turned ONE! Un añito mi pequeña malvabiscos.
I always thought that at your first birthday party I’d be sitting in a dark corner sticking nails in my eyes in protest of you turning one. Of course, it’s bitter sweet to see how quickly time is passing + how fast you are growing up, but it’s also so incredibly exciting to witness you bloom. So, for the time being, I will hold off the protesting in exchange of watching you become you.
It’s been a heck of a year.
I‘ll never forget the first day we brought you home from the hospital. You were so teeny tiny, remember? I was afraid to get you out of the car seat… I was panicking about walking you up the stairs to your room… I was terrified to be left unsupervised + expected to keep you alive.
Your dad + I were like, “Alright, we’re a family of three now. We’ve got this.” Of course, we really had no idea what we were doing. I sure had no idea what I was doing or what being a mother truly meant. My! How quickly things have changed.
With each new day + passing milestone, I would say, “OH! This THIS is my favorite stage!” Then I would find myself saying the exact same thing the next day. And the next. And the week after that. I quickly learned that each day is better than the day before when you’re around.
In a way, we all grew together over the past year. You learned many things, we learned many things.
You learned to laugh, and I learned that your giggle is my new favorite sound in life.
You learned to point point point your finger at things, and I learned that you are a girl who knows exactly what she wants.
You learned to say “papapapapa” + “mamamamamamamama”. Then you learned to say “agua” + “Peppa Pig”, and I learned you are one smart cookie.
You learned to nurse, and I learned that breastfeeding you on demand for 12 months wasn’t a sacrifice at all. It was the greatest gift. Despite the social pressures + awkward interrogations, I cherish the memories of having you so close to me, wrapped in my arms. Our happy place.
You learned to push doors + open drawers, and I learned that nothing could ever get in your way. You’re surely on a mission. And I’m psyched to be Hand of The Queen.
You learned to eat solids, and I learned you don’t care much for spoon planes or purees, you would rather grab your meal with your own chubby little fingers, don’t you? So I channeled my energy at researching every nutritional fact about every food + cooked for you every day so you could grow strong. Did you know, petit pois, your favorites, are very high in fiber, which is essential to ensure regular bowel movements? But let’s leave poo for another time, shall we?
You learned to push your little cart everywhere, go places by yourself, and I learned to stop chasing you, learned to let you go. Mi vasquita, you are so painfully independent, yet always find a way back into my arms.
You learned to roll over, to crawl, to sit up, to take your first steps, and I suddenly learned that you wouldn’t stay a baby forever. That’s alright! No matter how many candles you blow, as long as I’m your momma, in my heart my baby you will always be.
It’s been a heck of a year.
Funny thing is, in many ways, you taught us more than we taught you.
Each day I watch you learn + explore the world around you + I find myself getting excited about the simple joys in life again.
The love you have for the wind…
The way you gaze at the trees…
How you light up when you see a bird…
Your need to ring every door bell + flicking every light switch…
Your pull towards grandma’s coo coo clock…
The fascination you have with swimming pools…
Your obsession with my office supplies…
Your intrigue at whatever dad’s eating. (By the way, that’s how we get you to try most things, we just put it on daddy’s plate. Works every time!)
Enjoying the little things with you was been the bestest!
I’ve learned to see the world through your eyes + suddenly, everything is even more amazing.
I love being your personal jungle gym.
I love being your favorite pillow.
I love being your safety blanket.
I love loving life with you!
I have been determined to soak up every day with you, especially since you waste no time growing up.
It’s been a heck of a year.
I took you to the ocean, and you crawled straight into it, fearless, with purpose. You are a total beach babe. That’s why daddy calls you Sirenita (translation: Little Mermaid). You love the water so much, since day one.
I took you to the movies to see The Force Awakens dressed up as R2D2. The force is strong in you child. Feel it. It’s calling to you!
I took you on playdates with your besties Isa Mar + Martina. You shared with them your Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs set, which is your fave. I saw you. And I was so proud of you baby.
I took you to Puerto Rico + flew you on an 8-passenger charger to Vieques to attended your first wedding par-TAY!!!
I took you to Disney World + dressed you up as Snow White, the cutest princess in the magical kingdom. We then sailed away on the Disney Cruise through the Caribbean + dressed you up as the cutest pirate in the seven seas.
But mostly, we spent our days in “goofball island”, which happens to be my favorite also.
You love playing “pick a boo”. You will look me in the eye, grab the closest pillow or blanky you can find, cover your face with it, hold still for a second, then remove it really quick, and surprise me with the biggest giggle. Donde esta Olivia??? Allí esta Olivia!!!
You love books, specially the ones with animals. The lion is your absolute favorite. How do I know? Cuz you “rooooar” when we land on the African safari page.
You love banana bread. Makes you incredibly hyper, so we only feed you that on rare occasions.
You love circling coffee tables like an Olympic athlete doing laps. And while you’re at it, you make sure to knock every piece of decor in your reach + rearrange it to your liking. It’s a skill.
You love Barney. I swore an oath I would never endorse that purple dinosaur in my house, but you LOVE IT. I mean LOVE IT. Okaaaaay. You win.
You love cruising around with movable furniture + making me chase you.
You love tickle fights. And sword fights (ahem ahem, I mean paper straw fights) too.
You love when your grandparents come to visit, so much. And your God Mother too. Heck, you love when the entire clan of comes over.
You love to kidnap our phones + pretend to talk on it. Alooooo!!!
You love Iker, your big cousin, the greatest baby sitter of all time. It’s the only time you ignore us. No complaining. We gladly use this moment to sit by the sidelines + catch our breath + have a cocktail with an umbrella.
Oh! And you LOVE music. You dance + hum anytime you hear it. You love when Abuelo Cutito plays the guitar + sings to you. And you love drumming to the beat on papa bears belly so much.
It’s been a heck of a year.
For the record, you’ve never been a great sleeper. You have too much to look at + do for any of that nonsense.
We joke, “Winter is coming” every time the sun is setting.
Yeah. Bedtime has been difficult. I just try to remember how hard it must be to be for you, being so new in this world, thought most of the time I wish you would just fall asleep already for 8 hours straight, preferably in your own mattress, ideally in your own room.
Then it dawns on me that one day you won’t want me singing 12 lullabies or reading 5 books. And that day, I’ll long for the nights I used to rub your little back to help you fall asleep. But mostly, I will miss watching a tu papa check your breathing every 3 minutes to double check you’re still alive. It’s hilarious.
So for now, we’re okay with Plan B: Letting you sleep in our room tonight.
It will soon be over.
It’s been a heck of a year.
Oh! And do you know why we call you Terremotin (alias Mounstrito)? Because changing your clothes, or diapers for that matter, is like wrestling with a greased Tazmanian devil. You are so not a fan of being still, let me tell ya’.
And you absolutely love being naked! I let you once, be all clothes-less + diaper-less, but it didn’t end pretty. About 30 seconds in I found myself wiping up pee off the floor. So until you’re all potty training will hold off on being naked, alright?
It’s been a heck of a year.
And have I told you how stunningly beautiful you are? Your Minnie Mouse lashes + gorgeous dark blue eyes have, literally, stopped strangers in their tracks. (What a beautiful baby!)
But even more mesmerizing than your looks, is the beauty of your personality. It amazes everyone that meets you. Wherever we are, you wave + throw kisses + give high fives + clap your hands, as if you were part of the welcoming committee. Everyone wants to be around you. It’s a pull. You’ve got it.
It’s been a heck of a year.
We did it, Miss Olivia. We survived the first round!
As you can probably tell, forty weeks inside my belly wasn’t enough time to prepare my heart for the magnitude of “motherly love”. I’m convinced that’s why moms cry so much, ya’ know? Cuz we have so much love in us, it can’t possibly fit all inside our bodies, so we overflow. That’s what tears are, joy exploding out of our eyes like liquid confetti.
I guess what I’m trying to say is: I am so grateful that you chose me to be your mommy Olivia. You know I asked for you too, right? Dad + I both did. We wished for you… dreamed about you… waited our whole lives for you. You are our bucket list. I want you to know that.
Thank you for the lessons + the laughter + the wake up calls of what’s truly important in life. Thanks for changing me forever + bringing out the best in me. You make me want to be better + do better, not only as a mother but as a wife + sister + daughter + friend. You’re like a lil’ performance enhancing happy hippo pill.
I hope when you’re able to read this letter, years down the road, you will smile, and know that the day you were born was the happiest day of my life. And my first year as a mother my greatest adventure!
Happy 1st b-day sweetheart!
Your dad + I love you very VERY much.
Te amo infinito,
The other day I was talking to my friend Farideh about the challenge of being a new mom + an entrepreneur. She shared with me this quote, which pretty much sums it up: You want to work like you never had children and you want to be a mom like you don’t have a business.
Every mom/entrepreneur in the room is shaking her head up + down right now. I know it.
For months I’ve been dreading this day. The day I had to pick up my slack + get back to the office. The day I had to become both a girl boss AND a mom, like, AT THE SAME TIME. I mean, cuz I know how to do the girl boss thing on it’s own. Even mastered the mommy thing during maternity leave. But! BOTH. Damn it!!!
For months I’ve been dreading this day. The day I had to embody the challenge of wanting to work like I didn’t have a baby to love + wanting to be a mom like I didn’t have a creative empire to run.
It’s the whispers that affect me the most, ya’ know? The little voices inside my head that tell me what I could or should be doing. The gremlins that lure me out of gratitude + happiness. The mental script that teases me into comparing myself with strangers on the Internet. Those moms that are making homemade play dough + wearing Baby & Me matching outfits, while I’m here all like, “I got out of bed + brushed my hair. Go me!”
I guess it all comes back to fear. Fear of missing out. Missing out on being good enough. A good enough CEO. A good enough mom. It’s my struggle, and I suspect in some ways, it’s yours too. That fear of falling into the cracks of mediocrity… of abandoning our path… of walking out of our true calling… of giving up those precious moments that hold meaning to us so we can prove that we aren’t missing out.
And of course we know inside our hearts that we are everything. E-VERY-THING. That we are exactly where we need to be. On course. On track. Right here. Except when we skip a nap or breakfast because we said YES when we really meant NO. Those times, we really do miss out, on our own live.
Know what I discovered? That we cannot trade living life for what-if, because we’re afraid to miss out a big opportunity, the one that could be our big break. You know what my biggest break was this week? Watching Olivia say “PAH-pa-pa-pa-pa-PAAA-pa” for the first time.
In a way these past months have been about finding the courage to enjoy NOW for what is.
This is a stage. Just a stage. The checking-to-see-if-Olivia-is-still-breathing stage + the car-seat-tantrum stage + the shhhhhh-the-baby’s-sleeping stage. It’s all a stage. Everything’s a stage. And every stage has a beginning + an end. Just a couple of weeks ago we got over the sleeping-in-two-hour-intervals stage, and I tell you the truth: I miss it a lil’ bit because it means my baby’s all grown up. She was so tiny, like, yesterday. What happened?
The years are long, but the days go by so so fast you guys.
Maybe we become. Slowly. Perhaps at some point down the road we all the sudden become worthy to be called “ma-ma-ma-ma” + wear the superhuman boss boots.
Or maaaay-be we unbecome. Gently. Perhaps we unlearn how to be Robocop-woman, and we just are the journey.
I think it’s the latter.
I trust it’s the latter. Because everyday I close my calendar of perfectionism + give myself permission to stay one more hour in my pijamas (or three) + to snuggle Olivia until we both become one breath + to watch one more episode of Modern Family with hubby (or a whole season) + to have a grilled cheese sandwich in bed… it gets easier. Life does.
I trust that a place in a galaxy not that far away exist, where I don’t have to give up my passion projects + I don’t have to say good-bye to those chubby little hands that like crawling up my chest from 9 to 5 from Monday through Friday. I don’t want to.
I believe there is a place where girl boss meets super mommy, for tea + ginger cookies. And they get along.
The girl boss has the backbone to stay on course + the firmness to keep going for her dreams. The super mommy has the softness to be grateful + the heart to stay grounded. We need both to guide us home.
The girl boss reminds the super mommy of her mission in this world, which is greater than herself. And the super mommy reminds the girl boss that the world doesn’t need more successful people, what it needs is more unconditional lovers + more people who read “Once upon a time…” stories.
They need each other. The girl boss + the super mommy do. I really believe that now.
My Top 20 Comeback Tips
Coming back to work after hibernating in maternity la-la-land has been sweet n’ sour.
After a long adjustment period, I really feel like I have found my happy rhythm. I don’t know that I’m quite there yet, since I still catch myself saying things like “I survived” or “Winter is coming”, but I’m definitively getting somewhere that’s not bad at all.
If you’re looking to return to work after a a sabbatical + you’re freaking out a little (or a lot), I made a list of a few things that helped me transition back into the keyboards. Smoothly. Without hyperventilating.
Here are some handy tips to make your return from maternity leave easier from a momma who’s just been there:
1. Plan It
If you don’t already run your life around a calendar now is the time to start. David and I both work + have a very hands-on approach to raising Olivia, so it’s nice to schedule date nights + trips. Things to look forward to in between the craziness of building our own brands + parenthood.
Of course, every family’s tolerance level is different. Ours, for example, doesn’t do well on a fixed hour-by-hour routine or controlled feeding feeding/napping schedule, but we have learned that we cannot go more than a week without a movie + we start to get really cranky if we don’t go to our beach house for long stretches of time. So, we make fun plans all the time. And those plans are locked down on the calendar.
We have also become very guarded of our social schedule + only plan for things we really REALLY want to do.
2. Share the Load
Whether you return to work 10 hours a week or 50, you will need to enlist the help of others to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Since we can’t add hours to our day when we return to work or have a Time-Turner like Hermione, we must make adjustments to our existing schedule to fit it all in.
I’m a big advocate of bring family onboard. I literally assign missions to everybody who offers a hand. My mom-in-law helps with the groceries. My sister is great at taking the night shift. Mom babysits during date nights. Auntie Kari distracts Olivia while mommy has lunch. Everyone has a role, an important role. It’s because of them that I’m still sane.
Like the saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I see it unfolds in front of my very eyes everyday.
Don’t hesitate to ask for help. It will not make you any less of a mother. I promise.
3. Find the Right Job
When I was returning to work, I made the mistake I see a lot of my gal pals make when going back. I undervalued myself. “I’ve been gone for 6 months.” “Everyone’s forgotten who I am.” “I have nothing to offer.”
Within weeks, I had mastered the art of working while Olivia was rolling around on her foamy play-thingy or family came to visit (ahem, ahem, babysit). Quickly I was feeling underutilized + bored. I had underestimated myself.
Being a mom doesn’t mean you’re all the sudden handicapped or sick. It just takes some re-adjustment + fine tuning.
Take some time to think about what you want to do + what your skills are + what your goals are for returning to work. Is this a return to full-time work that means pursuing a career until retirement, or is this a smaller return to increase your income while still prioritizing your family? What do you like to do? How much time can you give to a job? Can you work from home or would you rather separate the two?
Find a job that’s right for YOU. This is something you will want to talk with your partner, since it affect the whole family. So make sure to carve out time to involve hubby in the process.
4. Pass The Torch
Because I’m the boss of my own time, I tend to leave too many slots available for others people’s agendas + urgencies. I tend to overcommit. I’m that super volunteer people call when there’s an auction or a bake sale. It sucks.
Being a mom has taught me to let go of a few responsibilities, pass them on to someone else if you will. It’s been nice to finally have an excuse to excuse myself. Not that I needed one, but oh well.
5. Hire Help
Get someone in regularly to help out with cleaning + laundry + cooking or any day-to-day task that you dread doing now that time is of the essence.
Her name is Cati, our savor. She comes in weekdays from 8 to 5, and at the end of the day my floors are clean + the plants get watered + there’s homemade almond milk in the fridge. It’s AWESOME.
Plus, not only does hiring help alleviate your burden, you get to help out another working mom by hiring her. Extra AWESOME!
6. Don’t Worry
Try not to worry too much. Your baby will be fine + will not hold your ‘working mommy’ status against you. In fact, you well may turn out to be her role model. Take care + be kind to yourself. You deserve it!
7. Find Trustworthy Care Giver
Finding someone you can trust to take care of the baby in your absence is a big one. I feel very blessed to have family close by that I can count on to look after baby O when I have a doctor’s appointment or business meeting. You can always hire a nanny or find a close-by daycare, if family is not an option. But! Do your research + check references. Muy importante.
8. Pick the Feeding Method That’s Suits Your Family
I made the decision long ago that I wanted to breastfeed Olivia on demand. After overcoming a very rocky + painful start, I’m finally at that point were I really enjoy nursing. I LOVE that it requires no preparation, other than buttoning down my shirt. I LOVE that food is always available as long as we’re together. I LOVE how I feel when I see what my body is capable of doing.
Like that time we went to Vieques. Packing was so easy. And not having to worry about milk temperatures or sterilizing bottles at a remote hotel was lovely indeed.
Or like that other time we were stranded in traffic for 4 hours and 40 minutes coming back from the beach (a trip that usually takes us 1 hour + 20 minutes). No problem. Daddy just pulled over every time Oli wanted a little snack (wink). That was nice.
I really encourage expecting moms to think ahead + pick a feeding method that fits their lifestyle best.
Everyone knows I’m an avid list maker. Except now, besides making to-do lists, I make sure to circle in red the items that are top priority.
I’ve learned that not everything is an emergency, like updating my Facebook fanpage or alphabetizing my cookbook collection. If something can be done later, I put it on the back burner without guilt or shame. It’s an art. I think it comes with the hormones.
10. Learn to Say NO
When it comes to setting priorities + boundaries, I say NO many times. I’ve made it a habit.
Make NO your default setting. I know it sounds horrible, but look at it this way: Saying NO to stuff that’s not aligned with your big picture only means you get to say YES to what’s truly important. It’s called living with intention. And living in authenticity with your values is a beautiful thing.
11. Give Your Baby Quality Time
When I started taking a few clients here and there + getting back to blogging + going back to work in general after maternity leave, I made a pack with myself:
- Work stays in my studio.
- Set decent working hours.
- I will not take work home.
When I’m at work, I’m fully present. In my creative flow. The time I step out of my studio + enter my home, I devote it to my family. No working after dinner. No bringing my laptop to the beach. No inbox clean up in bed. No exceptions.
I think that’s one of the main reasons I don’t feel guilty about working or guilty about spending all this time with Olivia. It’s because I enjoy every instant I have with my virtual community + every slit second I get with my familia.
12. Have A Plan B
Sometimes, the best-laid plans can unravel. Tell me about is sistah!
It is possible that your nanny gets ill or the abuelita couldn’t get out of the office + cannot look after the baby as planned. Have a backup plan for such situations. I keep a little black book of options in case of emergencies – that friend you can always count on… that family member who keeps asking if you need an extra hand… that babysitter who can come to the rescue. It’s good to have options.
13. Look Your Best
You may have to buy a new wardrobe! Under no condition should you attempt to fit into your pre-pregnancy clothes. That’s a great recipe for disaster! Don’t go trying to stuff yourself into your pre-pregnancy clothes. Pick up some new clothes that will flatter your new body. You can also go for a haircut. Now will be a great time to try a new hairstyle. And while you are at it, get a facial + manicure + pedicure too!
14. Sleep, You’ll Need It
Once you return to work after maternity leave, you’ll truly understand what exhaustion feels like. Juggling work + family is one of the toughest jobs in the world. So, sleep whenever you can. That dirty bookshelf can be dusted later. That movie can be watched later. That pantry can be organized later. That homemade cake can be baked later. But you need sleep, NOW!
15. Practice Makes Almost Perfect
Before you jump into the workforce, do some practice runs. Let the babysitter try giving the baby milk out of a bottle. Let the nanny try bathing the baby without you. Let grandma put the baby to sleep without your aid. See what happens. Make adjustments. This will get you ready for the real thing.
16. Remember Why You Are Working
It may be because you need the money or because you need to work to stay sane. Whatever be the reason, remind yourself of it whenever you feel overwhelmed.
17. Let Go Of Momma Guilt
Guilt comes with the territory for most moms. Let go of it. Thousands of working moms manage to bring up amazing babies. My mom is a very successful lawyer. And I think she did pretty good.
Don’t beat yourself up. Be kind to yourself if you decide going back to work is the right thing for you.
18. There Is Life Besides The Baby (Hard To Believe, I Know)
No matter how much you love your baby, don’t make it the topic of all conversations. Your life may revolve around your baby, but others have different priorities.
Don’t blame your colleagues for not being interested in what your baby ate for dinner. Don’t blame your friends for not asking you to show them baby pictures. Don’t blame your husband if he wants to talk about something other than the baby’s poo color that day.
19. Don’t Compare Yourself With That Other Moms
Parenting is hard. Don’t compare. Make the best of the situation you + your partner picked. You will soon get into a routine. I promise it gets easier. I swear it gets easier.
20. Get Comfortable With The Stillness
My biggest shock getting back to work was realizing I would never be back, like as the Mayi from before Olivia I mean. Cuz, I used to be one of those bosses that was on call all the freaking time. For e-mails. For customer orders. For comments. For social media questions. For interviews. For round ups. For blog tours. For all nighters. For a catch up chat on Google Hangouts. I was there. Busy busy busy.
By removing all that busy work from my schedule I feared that my brand would fall apart. That I would no longer have friends. That I would PUFF, disappear from the radar.
For the first time in my life, I was forced to make room for emptiness. For alone time. For introspection. For my thoughts. Like when I’m nursing Olivia, I literally can’t do anything else. Don’t believe me? Go ask my Coordinator of Messy, Amanda Sue Howell. It’s true. Every time I try to send her a voice note to catch up on work while I’m breastfeeding or playing with Olivia, she let’s us know she’s not having the multi-tasking thing on her watch.
Being present requires work. Not busy work. Soul work.
In the words of Paul Jarvis (if you’re not signed up to his newsletter, you’re missing out big time): “When your work requires you to be creative, you need to be alone with your thoughts. You can’t get around it. You need the mental space to create.”
We prefer to fill up our days with social media + e-mails + WhatsApp messages + chores. It feels productive. But busyness rarely equals creativity.
Motherhood brings with it mandatory calmness. And with it the boundless possibility of an imaginative mind + an innovative spirit. We must sit though the discomfort, sometimes minutes… hours at a time just watching the baby sleep or ironing cute little clothes. It’s part of the job. And it pays creative dividends.
Stillness is not the ultimate punishment. It feels like it, but it’s the necessary path to true creative work that matters. Just wait + see all the stuff that I have lined up for us from all this quite time. Stay tuned!
Ultimately thou, there is no amount of preparation that can fully prepare you for the transition from full-time momma bear to world domination biz lady. I think the hardest part with any comeback is always the learning-to-trust-the-mess part.
Trust your husband to take care of things in my absence. So what if he put on the diaper wrong? Let him bond with the baby while you catch your breath!
Trust your mom/mom-in-law/sister/nanny to take care of things in my absence. So they don’t sing like you or dance like you or play like you? Do not micromanage! Your baby doesn’t need mommy clones. What your baby needs is a fun grandma. A crazy aunt. A silly God Mother. A loving cousin that sometimes doesn’t want to share his toys. That’s what will ultimately prepare the baby for the world. Diversity will.
Trust yourself to take care of things to the best of my abilities with a sense of worthiness. If you feel like you are not being as productive at work as you were before, don’t worry. You have just become a mother for God’s sake. It is a HUGE accomplishment. Give yourself time. And talk to other women who are going thought this process. It helps.
Trust. Takes practice.
To wrap up, here’s my final confession: I’ve changed. I’m more loose in the joints + chubbier on the cheeks + my eyes are a bit more wrinkly. In a lot of ways I’m uglier. Except to people who understand. Who get it. Who know what I’ve been through. To them, I’m prettier than ever before.
I’ll take it. It was all worth it.
It’s been therapeutic to write this. It really has. Thanks for sticking around till the end. Means so much to have a space to share this metaphorical Everest climb with.
Now I would like to hear from you. Are you returning to work after maternity leave? What is it you are worried about the most? What has helped you make the transition easier? Share it in the comments!
*This post is sponsored by Kate Spade NY. All content + ideas + words are my own.
Oh my goodness, I’ve been meaning to write this post for the longest time.
On June 26 at 1:06pm we welcomed into the world our lil’ munchkin Olivia Larrinaga Carles. When our hearts saw her for the first time, right there n’ there, we instantly knew that life was now finally even better than our wildest dreams. Like that Armageddon song goes, “I don’t want to close my eyes, I don’t want to fall asleep, cuz I’ll miss you baby and I don’t want to miss a thing.”
She weight 7 pounds 10 ounces + measured 49 centimeters long, our little viking, leaving everyone wondering, “How the heck could such a big baby come out of such a small mama.” It must have been the late night banana milkshakes or daddy’s pasta parties, for sure. In any case, Olivia is the most darling little bundle ever. I know every mother says that, but it’s true, baby O truly is the beautifulest thing I’ve ever seen.
In this blog post I want to share with you a glimpse of what life with Olivia has been like this past month – my birth story + the challenges + the awesome parts.
Despite my best intentions to have an all-natural labor + all that pre-natal yoga training n’ medicine ball prep work, I ended up having a C-Section. Olivia’s umbilical cord was strapped across her chest like a Miss Universe name banner (or a seat belt) + every time she wanted to come out, the cord pulled her back in.
Worried about Olivia’s safety, I made the call I never thought I’d make… to allow my doctors to interfere.
I won’t lie, it was hard letting go of the birth I had prepared for + planned. I really wanted to be one of those moms who could proudly say, “Oh yeah, I experienced every emotion of going into labor without an epidural.” I’m not.
I wasn’t even able to keep Olivia with me, kiss her, hold her, rub her tiny little chest against mine, right after she was born. I had to wait it out in the recovery room. And that made me sad. It made me feel guilty. Ashamed to share my birth story even. I wanted to feel it all, not because of any societal pressure, but because I wanted to. I couldn’t.
In the end (and these might be the hormones speaking now), I feel so incredible blessed for the opportunity to be a mom to a perfectly healthy baby girl whose lashes would even make Minnie Mouse jealous. My princess, who grew symbiotically inside my body for 40 weeks + depends on my nourishment, nothing is more sacred + profound + challenging + surprising + exhausting + tender + loving or life-giving as this evolutionary impulse. And no C-Section was able to take that away from me.
I now know that all moms, no matter the type of birth their babies end up choosing, have the hardest and yet the most rewarding job in the world. We should never feel guilty or ashamed, because we are doing our best. And that is ALWAYS enough.
- C-Section Aftermath: Because of the operation, I’ve been a bit handicapped. I can’t do many of the thing a normal human being is meant to do, like bend over + take the stairs (I live in a two-story house) + pick up stuff from the floor + cook + drive + carry things, which is insane, considering I must care for a newborn, who obviously needs things that always seem to be located at the bottom drawer LOL.
- Breastfeeding: Don’t even get me started with breastfeeding. Breastfeeding makes labor day look like child’s play. I had a dream: To breast feed my mini Tetosaurus Tex exclusively. What Google + every lactation book I read didn’t tell me was how HARD + PAINFUL this would be. Thanks to nipple creams + nursing tea + More Milk Plus capsules + H2O + moral support + hubby’s back massages + mom’s famous “Resbaladera” recipe (which I posted on my Instagram @mayicarles), I’ve been able to survive, one day at a time, without ever having to sterilize a bottle or use formula, but not without meltdowns.
- Oh No! Spilling Milk: I have nightmares about leaking milk while showering. Dumping that milk down the drain is the most painful thing in the galaxy. Feels like I’m washing away liquid gold. Definitively tear worthy.
- Sleep Deprivation: These days alarm clocks are a thing in the past. Now, I’ve got my very own wake up cutie pie. And she comes with a revolutionary 100% fail-proof anti-snooze system. If I’m lucky, I’m able to sleep 3 hours a day – 15 minutes here + half an hour there. Olivia sleeps just fine, for 2 hour stretches during the day + 3-4 hour stretches at night, but momma is too excited sewing Frida-style headbands + pinning baby clothes + reading about breast milk storage techniques to sleep when baby sleeps. I need to keep working on this one because I don’t think mama zombie is very sustainable.
- Unused Furniture: Yeahhhh, so Olivia hates her crib. That can be a problem, right? If you know a good spell to fix that please dial email@example.com or leave a comment below. I will be forever grateful. And the crib will too, she’s feeling so unloved right now. In the meantime, the three of us will happily continue to co-sleep in our king size bed.
- Nights are Scary: Days, I feel like I can always manage. Oh man but when the sun is setting + the moon is rising I feel like “Winter is coming”, and hell will break lose. One night, the power went off + I swear to God I didn’t think I was going to make it. I must have breast feed Oli though her ear + put on her pajama backwards. I can’t believe I survived to tell the tale.
- Not So Basic No More: Even the basic things like eating + showering have become a luxury affair. I can’t remember the last time I sat down for a nice meal without being interrupted by a diaper change or the last time I had spare time to shave my legs in the shower.
- Clock is Always Ticking: Now that Olivia is born, I feel like I have a constant mental clock running in your head. OK, I just fed the baby + laid her down, so that gives me 2 hours to grocery shop. Start the time NOW.
- Limited Wardrobe: I was looking forward to fitting back inside my not-fat clothes after pregnancy, but now days the only outfit criteria is: Will I or will I not be able to get my boob out of my shirt successfully without spilling milk everywhere or damaging myself in the process? Looks like I’ll be wearing that one shirt I’ve got with a zipper + that other button down dress A LOT. Maybe this earns me the right to go online shopping, don’t you think?
On The Bright Side
- This New Workout Rules: While my friends are busy doing an hour of spinning or Zumba, I’m here laying on my couch, watching So You Think You Can Dance + nursing. And guess who’s burning more calories? That’s right! Breastfeeding, the only weight-loss program that increases your breast size.
- License to Eat: Through the miracle of breastfeeding, those hamburgers I’m eating are finally going to someone else’s thighs.
- Smells Like Heaven: The house smells like baby’s bottom. What candle can do that?
- Ready For Anything: In the event of a zombie Apocalypse, knowing I don’t have to run to the store to buy formula because all Olivia needs are my boobs makes me feel pretty darn epic!
- I Get To Play Doll Everyday, All Day: Matching dresses with headbands is my new occupation.
- Look At All Those Gifts My Goodness: I already knew Olivia’s aunties + friends where awesome, but seriously, the amount of gifts she’s received from all over the world is ridiculous + pretty amazing. We’re beyond grateful for all the love + thoughtfulness.
- Seeing My Mom n’ Dad Get Promoted to Grandparent: Priceless.
- Best Excuse: I have the best exit strategy in the world. Saying “No Thanks” to things that are not top priority right now has never been so easy + guilt-free. Not that I needed an excuse to say “I’ll pass” in the first place.
- Look I Can Eat With Only One Hand: Cirque Du Soleil be like… holy Guacamole she’s pretty good!
- Funny Moments: Like that one time (or more like five times) I realized I’d been walking around the house for half-an-hour with one boob hanging out. Oopsie daisies! Or that other time when hubs had to babysit Olivia for 7 minutes without supervision + when I came back Olivia had chocolate in her hand. WTF?
- Pediatrician Check-Ins: Felt amazing to see Olivia getting weighed at the doctor’s office + gaining 2 pounds in just one month. Yeah! Look what I did! Mom’s milk power, baby! Cue cheering in my own head as I leap onto an imaginary pedestal + accept my gold medal for most powerful breast milk ever.
- Support: Motherhood has connected me with so many moms out there. It’s a beautiful thing to compare victories + letdown times with other mothers. Makes me feel like I’m not alone. Like we’re in this, together.
- I Love My Family: I love my family for making sure my fridge has food + my bathroom has toilet paper. I love my family for caring for Olivia while I’m brushing my teeth or publishing a new Life is Messy Bootcamp lesson. I love my family for guarding the door like Navy Seals so no unwanted guests (like people who are coughing or have dirty hands) could move pass the front line to visit Olivia. I love my family for showing me how to be a mom, not telling me, but SHOWING me. I love my family more than ever!
- Date Nights Feel Extra Special: They say that when mom + dad are happy, baby is happy. It’s soooo true. There might be a million things changing around us since we became a party of three, but not our commitment to one another. David + I have even made a pact to go on at least one date a week. Going to the movie theater or checking out a new pizza place in town has never felt so romantic + momentous.
- My Heart Grew BIGGER: I never knew how much I loved my husband until I saw how much he loved our baby. I truly fell even more in love with David when I saw him become a father. Watching him watch her has been the most amazing gift.
- Magic Powers: I think of breast milk as magic. If my baby is crying + fussy + whimpering + angry + tired, or otherwise not acting like her normal happy self? Time to nurse! Boom, whole new baby. Magic.
- Doing Nothing: Maternity leave is my fave. Can you say guilt-free Instagram time?
Thanks for letting me share this magical moment with you. After all you’re my virtual family!
I’m not exactly sure where this new chapter will take me or the natural evolution this blog will undergo, but I’m excited to use this down time with baby Olivia to explore all the abundance that’s possible. Hopefully, you’ll wanna come along for the ride with us, because it won’t feel the same without ya’.
This is it for now.
I’ll be back (said like Terminator).
In case you’re wondering, I’m due any day now!
How do I feel? Well, I’m alternating between crazy excitement about finally meeting baby O + crazy panic about OMG, we’re finally going to meet our little princess and they’re going to expect that we take her home and like, keep her alive n’ stuff.
Last night we went to bed at 2am picking out baby lullabies for Olivia. And David finally made his hospital bag. We’re making progress.
Speaking of progress, I’ve been working on Olivia’s nursery for a few months now. I wanted so badly to finish the room before our little girl arrives, but yesterday I realized: “This room is never gonna be COMPLETELY FINISHED” (Picture me inhaling deeply + exhaling like Drogon from Game of Thrones).
What is a recovering perfectionist to do? I decided to show you Olivia’s nursery anyways, the first of many tours, cuz done is better than perfect, right? Right? Riiiight?
If you’re a mom-to-be like me, or a newish mom who’s still shopping for baby essentials + nesting, I hope this post is somewhat helpful to you. David + I still haven’t tested things out, but after a ton of research + advice from family, close friends and readers, we feel confident Olivia will L-O-V-E her room + all the goodness hidden inside.
Hope you enjoy Olivia’s Nursery Reveal!
But first, let me show you some hideous “Before” pics of the abandoned room, which served the purpose of Room of Requirement (Harry Potter fans raise your hands up high) – a room that magically transformes itself into whatever the seeker needs in that moment in time. To use it you must walk past the area of the door three times, thinking of what you need.
For example, when my biz partner came to visit it was a guest room. Then it mutated into a home office for David. Later it morphed into a trash can… I mean a storage room.
Take a look.
Now, are you ready for the “After” shots? Come on in! No need to tippy-toe just yet, there is no sleeping baby inside just yet.
I wasn’t interested in having anything too theme-y or puke pink all over the walls, so I kept it simple with a hint of whimsical, with lots of happy creative things + personal touches made with love, some by yours truly, other by my very talented friends.
Bear Door Decal from The Gatherer Store
Industrial Wooden Wagon Storage from Restoration Hardware Baby
Daydream Green Wallpaper by Julia Rothman from Hygge & West
You Got A Friend in Me Mixed Media Painting by Mayi Carles
Wooly Plush Rocking Animal from Restoration Hardware Baby
ABC Changer from Pottery Barn Kids.
Hampen Rug from IKEA
Whimsical Felt Mushrooms (custom made) by Felted Decorations
Red Mushroom Ultrasonic Air Humidifier from Duux
Domesticated Trinket Dish from Anthropologie
SoundLink Color Bluetooth Speaker from Bose
Pom Tassel Curtain from Anthropologie
Speckled Wood Curtain Rod from Anthropologie
Queen Bee Tieback from Anthropologie
Bobby Pin Art Print by Rifle Paper Co.
Single Ladies Art Print from United Thread
Pink Pig Art Print by Cori Dantini
Bear and the Bees Art Print by Becky Down
Olivia Fabric Letters (custom made) by my super talented friend Jenny Perez Lee
Fridusha Art Print by Mayi Carles
And Then They Became Three Art Print by Mayi Carles
Mini Felt Cactus Hoop by Mayi Carles
You Are Our Bucket List Sign by Mayi Carles
Love Tree Flag by Mayi Carles
Two Mini Paintings (still in progress) by Mayi Carles
Waiting for Olivia Photograph by Sarah Tyler
Melon Rocking Chair “borrowed” from my mom – This was THE rocker my mom used to breastfeed me! Can you believe it? I just restored + painted it.
Antique Brass Zinnia Handles from Anthropologie
Parisian Side Table from Restoration Hardware Baby
Cloud Pink Pillow from BlaBla
Knit Cotton Pouf from Restoration Hardware Baby
Sparrow Crib from Oeuf
Gold Dot Bedding by The Land of Nod
Felt Tassel Garland by Mayi Carles
Star Wars Mobile by Pink Cheeks Studio
So, how did I do? I think I did pretty good for my first time. I’m really happy with how everything is coming together. Even wrapping up this post is making me cry tears of just the most overwhelming happiness. This is truly the HAPPIEST I’ve ever been in my whole entire life.
Thank you so much for sharing this special part of my life with me. It means so much to be able to put all of this out there so publicly + receive so much kindness back. I’m so grateful for your loving comments + e-mails + gifts in the mail. I feel so blessed to have you in my life… that you’re family. And very very very soon our tribe will be PLUS ONE!!!
I was celebrating my 32th birthday when I second guessed myself before ordering a third round of mojitos. “It’s been a while since the last time I’ve used my Kotex pads in my beach bag”, I thought to myself.
The next day we were flying to Orlando, Florida to go to Halloween Horror Nights + Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival, so I did what any slightly paranoid human being would do. I took a lab pregnancy test.
It came out positive.
That’s the moment my life changed. In an instant. One minute, I was extremely excited about wine tasting + upside down roller coaster riding. The next, I could only think of one thing:
I’m going to be a mom!!!
I’M GOING TO BE A MOM!!!
I’M GOING TO BE A MOM!!!
Everything else took the passenger seat.
Now I must confess, before I found out I was expecting, I knew pretty much nothing about pregnancy. I mean, only the basics – the possibility of morning sickness + the importance of belly oils to avoid stretch marks, but other than that, I was clueless. Clue. Less.
Being so close to the finish line, Olivia could pick her birthday any minute now, I wanted to share with you a few things I’ve learned about pregnancy + becoming a mom + expanding my tolerance for a lot more mess in my life and business. Whether you’re a mom-to-be + new-mom + pro-mom + mom-of-a-furry-creature-or-cactus or wish-to-be-a-mom-one-day, I think you’ll find something of value in this list. Or at the very least you’ll get a good laugh out of some of these.
Here I go, the things I’ve learned while carrying a little pea inside my pod named Olivia Larrinaga Carles:
1. Being pregnant is a freaking miracle. We lost our first baby. He’s teeny tiny heart stopped beating around the 3-month ultrasound. The pain we experienced, David + I, was inexplicable. It was the first time in my life I couldn’t “fix” what had happened. And that was very hard for me. That feeling of complete impotence. When we got the news we had been given another chance to be parents, we didn’t care if we were having a girl or a boy, if we were having twins or triplets, if the baby was a Scorpio or a Gemini. Nothing mattered but our love for this new life, this MIRACLE, that was growing inside of me. We just felt so incredibly blessed. They say, babies that follow a loss come from the rainbow. I absolutely believe it now!
2. Pregnancy is the happiest reason to feel like crap. Every leg cramp + every food aversion + every sleepless night + every emotional tantrum + every ninja kick that took my breath away in the wee hours of the night… all of it feels irrelevant. I know this may sound masochistic, but I swear, these have been the happiest days of my life.
3. My patience is a limited + precious resource that I now guard with my life. These days, the little patience I have left is exclusively reserved for my family + my community + top priority projects. No guilt or shame about it either. I’m not even looking to optimize my patience or apologize for losing my cool when my buttons are pushed. I’m actually enjoying this new “I give a darn about you, if you’re not worth my energy” attitude. Try it, it’s liberating.
4. Other peoples bad moods + insults + attitude problems no longer ruin my day. It was about time, right?
5. I actually don’t like Oreos that much. I only craved Oreos when they weren’t allowed. When I found out I was pregnant, I let my internal Yedi Council guide my choices. When I removed restrictions + punishment from the equation, I was pleasantly surprised to find out I’m not the Oreo Monster I thought I was. I’m much more of a homemade carrot cake kinda girl. Big revelation.
6. Surrounding myself with people who I like + like me back is so important. Having a loving support system of crazy aunties + grannies to laugh about pregnancy symptoms or ask stupid questions, like whether or not I could take bubble baths while expecting, was the biggest blessing. Simultaneously, I divorced every relationship that cost too much effort + time + head aches + constant disillusionment to maintain. Olivia truly gave me the courage to embrace petite committees and fire every whiny + pessimistic + energy sucking vampire in my life who is dimming my glittery eyes without feeling bad about it.
7. Life is not that complicated. We complicate things by saying “yes” when what we really wanna say is “no”. I thought it would be hard to clear my calendar + stop overcommitting + make room for baby Olivia. It wasn’t. People are actually pretty cool + understanding when you tell them, “I’m flattered beyond measure that you would think of me for _________, but as you can probably tell my priorities are set on baby making right now. I apologize I can’t do this amazing project justice.”
8. Pregnancy is not 9 months, it’s closer to 10 months. I’m kind of neurotic about timing + planning, so finding out the process was an additional month was an unexpected curveball.
9. WOW I’m not completely incapacitated. Pregnancy is not synonymous with being sick. What a breakthrough! Of course I’ve had my Unnecessary Freaking Out Over Nothing Episodes post eating the entire Christmas buffet table or a big ass-burger the size of my face all to myself, but other than that, I was very happy to find out I was able to go about my day-to-day things as usual. Although I’ve noticed I get more doors opened + everyone seems to want to help me at the grocery store. That’s been nice.
10. Watching Game of Thrones while pregnant is a terrible idea. Baaaaaad indeed.
11. Every dementor has a patronus. All of the changes that happen during pregnancy are so weird that it’s easy to assume there’s a scary new symptom + ache + pain around the corner. But the thing I found surprising is that even the toughest hiccups have remedies. For example, in my 26th week I started experiencing shortness of breath when sleeping on my back. It freaked me out. My doctor recommended adding more pillows + my auntie Aurita gave me this magical Nikken blanket. PUFFF!!! Problem solved! Just like that. I learned that there is always a charm for every curse that stand in the way. Always.
12. Some people… GOSH, are seriously annoying. People suddenly felt like it was appropriate to comment on everything, whether it was my weight + the size of my belly + my diet + even my lifestyle decisions for when Olivia is born. If I need breastfeeding tips + morning sickness tricks or any sort of advice for that matter, I’ll seek it – Google it + enroll in a course + hire a mentor + e-mail a friend or ask my mom. Thank you!
13. People who don’t give unsolicited advice are my favorite kinda of people. Seriously you guys are awesome!
14. People notion of boundaries shift when they find out you’re pregnant. Why? Strangers would randomly grab my stomach + others would over share every detail of their horrifying birth stories. It’s bizarre + I had to keep reminding myself not to take it personally.
15. If I didn’t plan for it, it didn’t happen. I was so forgetful about taking my folic acid + my prenatal vitamins until I got a 7 Day Weekly Pill Box Organizer to store my required supplements. As it turns out, just like with any other important project in life, if it’s not scheduled it doesn’t exist.
16. Having a baby belly is a lot like having Aladdin’s magical lamp, but better. I’ve asked for frozen yogurt in the middle of the day. Granted. I’ve asked for back massages with lavender oil. Granted. I’ve asked for a very specific color of turquoise napkin for my Life is Messy Kitchen Book Launch Party. Granted. I’ve asked for M&M milkshakes. Granted. I’m gonna miss this for sure.
17. Furry creatures know something was up. We have a labrador named Hagrid – Keeper of Keys and Ground of the Larrinaga Carles Headquarters. He’s the size of a jumbo jet + has the personality of an unsupervised puppy dog on sugar high. I was a little nervous when I found out I was pregnant, because he has the tendency to knock you over when he sees you coming with a frisbee. Actually, when he sees you coming, period. But even before we knew a little baby girl was coming, Hagrid strangely became so gentle with me. He stopped tackling me. He suddenly just wanted to cuddle + lick my feet. Something changed that we can’t explain, but I swear, he knew, before we did, that Olivia was coming.
18. Belly oil is my BFF.
19. Changes are gradual. I assumed that changes to my body would happen suddenly, to the point where it would be difficult to shave my legs or get out of bed. While both of those tasks are becoming increasingly challenging, the changes have been slow. One time, when I was brushing my teeth, I noticed that I was splashing water everywhere. I thought that maybe something was wrong with the faucet, but realized it was my bump that was getting in the way LOL.
20. My choices sculpt our future. There is something about creating life + bringing that life into the world that gives you perspective. Perspective ladies + gentz. I believe our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past + present. And with each insensible decision + every act of kindness, we give birth to our future. Which is why I’ve been making more environmentally friendly choices, like picking cloth diapers over disposables + installing bamboo flooring instead of something Made in China, and taking greater interest in impacting positive changes in order to leave our Earth a better place for my daughter.
21. As my belly grows, so does my heart. While I’ve always considered David to be sweet, I wouldn’t have necessarily labeled him as a particularly sensitive guy, before I got pregnant. But he was overwhelmingly supportive of me every step of the way + watching him whisper into my belly every morning + sing songs to Olivia (her favorite “La Espera” from Cultura Profetica) + play Deepack Chopra audiotapes on fatherhood + take an interest in the smallest details of our baby’s life, brought out a new side of him that I’m absolutely head over heals about. I didn’t think I could love him any more, but seeing him in his new role as a dad has made me realize I was wrong.
22. Babies erase your loser scripts. I’ve always been a little self-conscious about my thighs. About my spider veins. About cellulite. About how I look when I put on a bikini. Any body issues or insecurities vanished the second I found out we where gonna be a mommy. Olivia just makes those silly thoughts fly away, like clouds with the wind.
23. You really do glow. It’s not just me + my new found over-confidence. Yes moms are excited about becoming moms, but it’s more than that. As it turns out, glowing skin is a very real thing for pregnant women. While pregnant, the amount of blood in our bodies will increase by 50%. The extra blood ends up showing through the skin in many areas, particularly the cheeks. On top of this, our preggo hormones cause the oil glands to become more active, resulting in a softer, shinier appearance. The result is a noticeable glow (aka Mayi feeling like a goddess).
24. The father-to-be is also a little pregnant. You should see us at every wedding we go to. We attack that dessert table like a lion attacks his prey. You could swear we are both pregnant. And David heartburn is nothing to joke about either. Call it sympathetic pregnancy or whatever you want. It’s real And, I happen to think it’s the cutest thing ever!
25. Pinterest is dangerous. Baby clothes + nursery projects + dressing the bump… oh my! It’s already too late for me, but if you can, safe yourself. Run the other way. That place is a trap.
This mama-to-be might have missed out on the mojitos + said sayonara to sushi for nine months, but it was worth every single second of waiting for Olivia. Every. Single. Second.
What about you? What lessons did you learn while expecting? Any funny revelations or big aha moments? Leave a comment below + let me know!