The Simple Sacrifices of Motherhood
"There are so many adjustments that we have to make as parents and it’s amazing see yourself thrive in spite of them."
Everything changes when you become a parent; most people realize that. We make decisions from the start of the journey that are unique to our beliefs, education and family situations. Although it’s insignificant, any candid conversation with a pregnant woman will include her countdown for food, drinks and activities that she can’t wait to indulge in again after her new baby arrives. For me it was most challenging to say goodbye to my friends Pinot Grigio, Shiraz and Rosé.
Everyone has a different approach to alcohol during the various “new mommy” phases . Many strong-willed women stop drinking alcohol when they start trying to conceive (if they’re “trying” that is) and some will stop when they see those life-changing lines on the test. Some women trust that it’s safe to have a drink on occasion in the 3rd trimester, while some would never even consider it. Then when baby arrives there are all sorts of various beliefs on what is appropriate while breastfeeding: 1 drink max, 1 drink plus a 2 hour wait, no drinking all or “pump and dump”. Some parents may consider any alcohol consumption, regardless of breasting feeding, to be unsafe in terms of your coherence and ability to take quality care of your baby. As women starting this new Mommy journey, we each plan how we’ll handle these various situations and picture our lives post-baby in a certain way. If you’re like me, you imagined that first sip of your favorite drink to be oh so good (and no that doesn’t make us alcoholics).
Considering that a nightly glass of wine was a part of my after work relaxation ritual, it was important for me to find ways to maintain that relaxation time. During pregnancy I continued that ritual with alcohol-free wine and enjoyed the calming placebo effect. Regardless, I couldn’t wait to go back to enjoying my REAL drinks once the baby arrived, even if it would have to be strategically timed around nursing.
Strategic timing was a pipe dream. When I packed my hospital bag I added a bottle of champagne so that my husband and I could toast our new life upon our daughter’s arrival. This was the start of my ill-informed plan for post-baby drinking...
- When my daughter arrived I was much too tired to remember that I had even brought champagne with me. I was lucky to remember my own name at that point.
- By the second day my husband reminded me about the champagne; however, we realized after I had a sip, that I was taking painkillers (for obvious, body-ravaging reasons) and I couldn’t mix the two. Whoops!
- Once I was finished taking painkillers, my milk had come in and I was in the panicked, early stage of breastfeeding. Basically I was hyper-aware of staying well hydrated and I didn’t want to compromise my milk supply with something that would dehydrate me.
- After I was convinced that my milk supply was solid, I finally had a glass of wine one evening! The story doesn’t take a happy turn though because I realized, in my sleep-deprived state, that the last thing I needed was something that would make me even more tired! Cue total disappointment. I never thought I would be so responsible but when sleep becomes a precious experience, you don’t fuck with it.
- Finally once my daughter started sleeping through the night I felt rested enough to have a drink, but not guilt-free. I will have a drink before bed but worry that she will wake back up and will need to nurse. I could realistically feed her a bottle but it wouldn’t soothe her as quickly as the breast and could cause a whole night of ciaos.
So essentially the list of possible complications and guilt are never ending and the relaxation is hard to come by.
Although in the grand scheme of motherhood alcohol doesn’t matter at all, it’s just one more thing to add to the list of experiences to mourn from pre-baby life. There are so many adjustments that we have to make as parents and it’s amazing see yourself thrive in spite of them. For me these changes are validation that I’m a good mom and that biology and instinct can make you see things so much differently than you could have imagined. There are many bigger changes to handle as a new mom but I think that focusing on the simple conveniences that we sacrifice makes motherhood feel more real and not so generic. There is nothing generic about motherhood and your sacrifices will probably go unnoticed by everyone but you, so pat yourself on the back while it’s top of mind.
We deserve it!