A New Addition

With a newborn at home, Erica Rodefer Winters realizes that her definition of self-care has changed.
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With a newborn at home, Erica Rodefer Winters realizes that her definition of self-care has changed.

I have dried milk on my shirt, a poop stain on my yoga pants, bags under my eyes, and a big grin on my face. That's because about a month ago I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl and entered a new phase in my life all in one amazing, surreal moment (OK, the labor part lasted a little longer than a moment, but you get the picture). In that "moment" everything changed.

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First of all, I became a mom. Aside from being completely awed that the universe decided I was ready for such a giant blessing (and giant responsibility), I'm pretty stoked that my new title makes me seem a little less like a crazy dog lady and gives me clearance to say things like "because I said so"—both topics for another blog post.

Yes, there are many new and exciting things that come with being a mother for the first time. One of the most profound is that after years of writing about how important it is to make self-care a priority no matter what, I finally understand why so many mothers stop doing even the smallest things for themselves. Showering and putting on clean clothes everyday seem like daunting tasks for me right now—much less make time for little luxuries such as date nights with my husband, outings with friends, and yes, yoga classes. And suddenly, even though I know it sounds a little crazy, it doesn't matter if I look like I haven't washed my hair in weeks or bothered to launder my own poop-stained clothes, as long as my little one is a healthy, adorable vision in pink ruffles. Just days before I went into labor I recall telling my husband I didn't want to neglect myself, and yet here I am.

When I once obsessively refreshed my email to check for new messages, now I obsessively inspect my amazing little girl just to make sure she's breathing, warm (but not too warm), and safe at all times. I don't want to take my eyes off of her … What if she does something cute and I miss it? Or worse, what if she cries and I'm not there to scoop her up and comfort her?

But just as I know my yoga poses will change and shift as I get older and my body changes, I realize that things will change and shift as I enter new life phases. I'm new to this whole mommy job, and it makes sense that I would be a little over protective about this little being that I grew from scratch in my own body (can you believe that?!). As with anything, balance is key. And while this new responsibility is sure to take up lots of time and energy, I know that eventually I'll have to find a way to squeeze in more of the things that energize and fuel me into the day too—like my yoga practice. But for now, I think I'll just enjoy the fleeting moments when my daughter is a newborn and realize that self-care doesn't always have to mean a long asana session, a massage, or even a hot shower—it can just as easily be a short nap cuddled up with someone you love. Because right now, there's nothing else I'd rather do.