Mama Stories: Tonya Vivian
We caught up with Los Angeles dancer and choreographer, Tonya Vivian as she embarks on her new journey in motherhood.
Read more on her take on the first couple months of being a mom and how she’s striving to live her best life, one pirouette at a time.
How are you adjusting to motherhood? How have the first couple months been?
Motherhood has been equally amazing and exhausting. I have so much love for my daughter. Ophelia is truly a miracle and the best thing that has ever happened to me! Having said that I had no idea the transition into motherhood would be this hard. I spent so much time reading about the stages of baby and breastfeeding, but no one seems to talk about the transition moms endure. I was extremely lucky to not have postpartum depression but there are so many difficulties that all moms face. Our girl is a big eater especially with dad being 6’4 and me 5’8. She’s in the 99th percentile for height. There were times she would be eating 10 hours a day, not sleeping through the night, and I was trying to figure out why I wasn’t functional! A huge help for us was being able to introduce her to oats and rice at 4 months while continuing to breastfeed. It still feels like she eats all the time but this has been a huge help. I assumed the first couple months would be difficult but now I know it’s an ongoing journey. I wish moms talked about this side more. I was definitely too hard on myself for not feeling normal after only three months. It has been a slow process adjusting to motherhood, but I am finally starting to feel like myself almost 6 months in.
What’s been the best thing about being a new mom?
I never knew I could love someone this much. I look at her and I’m just in awe that we created this little human. Watching her grow and change and conquer so many milestones has been exciting, but the best thing is our bond. Now that she is almost 6 months she is really starting to grow into herself. She is so curious. She already has such a great personality and a contagious laugh. I never thought I could be so connected to someone who hasn’t started talking yet. It’s such a special connection.
Were there any situations you thought you were prepared for that you actually weren’t?
I honestly thought I was prepared for the lack of sleep. But then 6 weeks goes by of sleeping in small increments and suddenly everything goes out the window. It’s like we all know new parents don’t sleep but living it is a completely different story. Between 6 weeks and 3 months she slept through the night and we thought we had made it out the other side...until she started teething and we were suddenly back to square one. Now we are in the stage where we don’t know what we are gonna get. 6 or 7 hours is amazing, but sometimes she wakes up after 2 or 3.
As unpredictable as it is, I must say it’s all worth it.
You’re an active dancer/performer in LA.
How DID you see yourself integrating life as a working dancer with motherhood, OR DID YOU?
As a dancer there is really no rule book and I didn’t know a lot of dancers who have had kids, so I have been creating my own plan. I officially went back to work at 4 months. Choreographing, performing, and auditioning. It’s funny how your goals and motivations completely change post motherhood. I remember feeling rejuvenated and ready to get back to work around the
three month mark, but the reality was I simply wasn’t ready. I’m still nursing and building my strength and physicality back. That was the hardest part; pacing myself and really taking the pressure off thinking I should be bounced back by now. The best thing about my career is I can choose how much I work and when I work. My boss’s and agency have been so supportive of me the entire time which I’m so grateful for. It doesn’t make going back to work easy, but it sure helps.
What are you doing for the holidays? What are you excited for with the new babe?
It’s just so exciting that everything is the babe’s first! Thanksgiving was so special! A year ago I was three months pregnant and now here I am with a 6 month old. There is so much to be thankful for! Today was extra special picking out our Christmas tree and decorating with her! I can’t wait for Christmas morning! I’m like a kid all over again. We have been so blessed to have family continue to come out and visit. We are staying in LA for the holidays. I’m excited for all the little things.
Strolling her around The Grove, decorating our place, and just showing her all the magic and love of Christmas.
Any advice you can give to expecting mamas?
Aside from getting lots of sleep while you can and eating healthy, I would say try to stay as active as you can during your pregnancy. Walking changed my life! I took so many walks and it would make me feel better and boost my energy. Listen to your body and doctors orders but I was always encouraged to walk as much as possible. I am used to a high endurance lifestyle being a professional dancer and of course there were days that were a no go, but I’m glad I pushed myself. It kept me in great shape and prevented me from going crazy especially the last few weeks when you start to feel like you just can’t do anything. It was a great way to keep my stamina up which helped me get back into shape post baby.
What are your New Year’s Resolutions?
It sounds funny to say after just having a baby, but keeping it real I need me time. Whether it’s a spa day, quiet time, or just reading more. I would also love to start doing mini trips with her and showing her some of our favorite places in California. Laguna Beach, where we had our babymoon, San Fran, Santa Barbara, and Malibu. And of course always trying to get into better shape. Instead of losing weight I’m trying to eat even healthier and be a good example for our babe.