Back to Work After Baby: Natalie Fitzgerald
Heading back to the swing of things after babe can sometimes make first time mamas a little unsure of themselves. What is there to expect? Are we making the right decision?
We caught up with Natalie Fitzgerald, sleep consultant and 3rd time mama who shares her experiences of returning to the workforce after birth.
How are you feeling?
It’s been a little over one year since giving birth for the third time, and I feel pretty good! This was my first unmedicated birth, and I felt like the recovery all around was much smoother than my two previous, which involved long labors and lots of medication.
What were some things you didn’t expect would happen after the baby was born?
I didn’t expect the rollercoaster of emotions I felt, which later learned is very common and many conditions fall under a term we call PMADs in the birth world. PMADs stands for Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders, and I had NO clue about this before having babies! Most commonly discussed is postpartum depression, but there are a lot of other conditions that fall into this category, that can be very serious and also very treatable. Emotionally I still struggle with postpartum anxiety, but knowing the signs and how to best manage it for me, I’m able to navigate that more easily now than I did after having my first baby.
How do you balance work and baby? How do you prioritize mom life and work life?
This is tough for me! I love being a mom and I also love what I do for work. Because I choose both, I am constantly multitasking – groceries in one arm, a baby in the other, responding to a client text, thinking of a solution to a client’s nap issue, wiping a toddler booty, tying a shoe…and usually on a time schedule with getting my kids to or from some place…my hands are literally always full and my day is very scheduled. I often work when my kids are sleeping (and they sleep a lot!) During naps and after bedtime, and usually I stay up late working, not necessarily because I have to but because I want to! I also only take on a certain number of clients at any give time because I want to offer my clients my best, and I realize that overbooking myself doesn’t allow me to do that.
Easiest thing about being a mom and working for yourself?
I love the flexibility, creating my own hours and client load so I’m also able to be a full time mom as well. I get the best of both worlds!
Hardest thing about being a mom and working for yourself?
Shutting things down! There is always more to do.
What are 3 things you wish you would have known that you’ve learned along the way?
- Try to let some of it go. If you’re an organizer, perfectionist, type A like me, try to do what you need to do each day to keep up, and let the rest of it go. I let these things get in the way of many moments I could have been enjoying with my kids, and I have a different perspective now. Having three kids, there will always be more dishes to do, laundry to fold, floors to clean. Your kids won’t remember any of it. What they will remember, however, is how you made them feel and the special time you spent together.
- Parenthood will constantly change, and constantly challenge you. It’s a journey! I have loved learning so many parenting tips and styles over the years, and using what works for me and each of my kids as they develop.
- Embrace your experience, and enjoy it. I wish more women shared positive birth experiences, or perhaps more women can look at their births through a different lens. I was terrified of giving birth for the first time. Many of these fears came from other people’s stories. And that’s exactly what they are – stories. You have your own story, and every woman has a different birthing and parenting experience. Embrace your own.
What are some things that you thought, while pregnant, that you can’t wait to do?
- Drink wine!? Ha!
Any tips you can give?
Relax! I wish I would have been more relaxed with my first baby. Babies pick up on your energy, and the more relaxed mama is, the more likely baby will be relaxed as well. Accept help. Welcome it with open arms!
Take time for yourself. I still struggle with this too! But, it is SO IMPORTANT. Go for a walk. Get a pedicure. Have lunch with a friend – without your baby. Go for a drive alone – roll the windows down and blast the music. Do you. Your kids will thank you for it later!