Our baby was just 5 weeks old when the Coronavirus pandemic broke out. She is our first child, and we were anxious even before we had to contend with a deadly plague. The CDC tells us infants are less likely to get sick from COVID-19 than other demographics, but that’s hardly reassuring. I really can’t be sure if my anxiety is just the usual new-parent paranoia, or a legitimate response to the virus storming the world.
On the upside, having a baby is a crash-course in relenting to factors outside of your control. So when the crisis hit I was probably better mentally prepared for it than I might have been pre bébé.
Having said that, I would be lying if I said I’m doing ok at the moment. I’ve had frequent bursts of anxiety, stress, anger, and bouts of deep rumination. I recognize that this is an ultra stressful global situation even without having to contend with my raging postpartum hormones and being stuck indoors with a baby in a tiny space for months on end. But for the sake of mine and my husband’s mental health I decided to prioritize self-care and stress management as much as taking care of the baby. Here’s how I make time for it.
All day therapy.
I keep Tata Harper’s Irritability Treatment Roller Ball within arms reach, as well as Herbivore’s Rose Mist which can supposedly quell anger. I have no idea if they actually work but they take a second to use, they’re baby-safe and make me smell like I’ve taken a stroll through a fragrant garden. I also keep a tin of the alcohol-free version of the “Rescue Remedy’ Bach flower pastilles to pop in my mouth whenever I feel overwhelmed (which is always). Other therapeutic activities: cuddling the baby, staring deeply into the baby’s eyes, and petting the dog.
Morning and Night rituals.
Every morning, and every night I take 3-5 minutes to meditate or do some Pranayama breathing. I lay in bed, plug in headphones and follow along on the HeadSpace or Breathe app. Meditation helps me calm down and relax and the yoga breathing energizes me.
I take Moon Juice’s SuperYou supplement and throw their Spirit Dust into my morning smoothie along with protein powder, MCT oil, cacao, spinach, stevia, probiotics and almond milk. Nutrition + gut health + anti-anxiety adaptogens that I can sip while simultaneously feeding the baby? Yes please.
We save all the bones from our meals in a freezer bag and chuck them in the InstaPot to make broth. This is great on its own as a nutritious soup or as a base for stews and ramens in a jiffy. We also make tubs of hummus and whipped tahini to dress up vegetables or dip crackers into. But best of all – we freeze big batches of Butter and Brioche’s Dark Chocolate, Walnut and Halva cookie dough. Then, we just bake a few cookies whenever we get a craving (daily).
No time to work out? Kayla Itsines’ postpartum workouts take just 15-20 minutes and I can do them while the baby lays next to me on her play mat for tummy time. Haven’t got time or free hands for calls? I use Zoom video-conferencing while I’m breast-feeding. No time to read? Buy a strapless pumping bra et voila: hours of reading time.
NPR’s “Songs For Newborns” playlist was compiled from thousands of suggestions from people for the first song a newborn should hear. I started playing it for the baby but quickly realized that it’s a great mix of upbeat, calming, mesmerizing picks across genres and centuries that I love to listen to as well.
Beauty. In parts.
I don’t have time for a blowout or a full on mani-pedi in one sitting. But I do have 5 minutes here or there. So I’ve started doing things in mini sessions. I’ll cut my nails on one day and paint them on another. (Tip: Seche Vite clear top coat is bone dry in under 3 minutes.) I’ve invested in a home IPL hair removal device so I never have to visit a salon again, and I learnt to do my own DIY eyelash extensions in under 5 minutes. Finally, I use MAC’s LiquidLast eyeliner for a permanent cat-eye that doesn’t budge for 4 days even through showers and face-washing.
I shoehorn in “me” time.
I hand the baby over to my husband and take a long hot shower every single day. It’s the only time I get to be truly alone and it also doubles as postpartum healing when I add in a sitz bath, breast massage or an epsom salt soak.
I say thank you every day.
We are healthy. We are safe. My husband lovingly cooks me meals, takes care of the house and helps with the baby. Gratitude and perspective have never been more important than right now. I am very aware of just how lucky we are.
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