By Charlie Emilia
This millennial content creator, social media geek, part-time healthy person and now first-time mom is coming back to her original roots as a writer. Formerly a radio show, “Chill Out with Charlie” was a peek into my life and what I had going on. Since leaving the airwaves, my journey has taken an extreme turn. For updates on what’s been happening, sit back and chill out with me as I navigate these new paths in a whole new way.
Hey there! I wanted to start this week by thanking each and every one of you, my readers, who supported me and congratulated me on my baby. Following my delivery, I have been getting used to “mom life” and just trying to make sure I raise a healthy, happy individual, who will hopefully grow up to be interesting and take care of me in my old age.
I joke about this, but it’s been a genuinely eye-opening experience trying to keep this tiny human alive. Let me explain...
“Miss, you have to take better care of yourself if you’re going to do the same for your baby.” I swear I’ve heard these words every two minutes since I first got pregnant. This was my little Nugget’s first check-up at the baby clinic.
Is this really what I got up at 6:00am to get ready and leave my apartment to hear? Thankfully, it’s been said so much I’ve formed a callus over the words and they no longer send me into a fit of tears and distress.
I sat quietly as the nurse went on with her chiding. My partner sat behind me in silence, finally vindicated in what has become the new mantra in my home. My eating habits; or rather, my forgetfulness regarding food has caused me more stress in the past few weeks than in all my years on this earth.
As a child, I was never picky about eating vegetables; and growing up, I was blessed to have never had an eating disorder. Food is my love language. I feed the people I love. I make sure they are fed and happy, and this is what gives me joy. I also love food. However, there are moments when I can forget to eat because I’m caught up in a project or taking care of someone I love.
Presently, my responsibility toward breastfeeding also includes not being distracted and ensuring I consume enough food so that Nugget will have food and won’t get gas. Even the most novice of breast-feeders knows that if you don’t eat, you can’t produce milk. If you can’t produce milk, you can’t feed your baby; the rest does not need to be said.
How is it that my best intentions to protect and care for this little life are leading to negative outcomes? In that moment, I was annoyed at this woman.
I’m not sure if you’re a mother or not, but the pressure to be everything to one person is immense. My old lifestyle behind me, I am no longer operating in the same ways I did when it was just “me” and not “we”.
I have been given the responsibility of keeping this little girl alive. I am her source of food, care, education, everything. She isn’t able to speak, so I have to interpret her desires and fulfil them. She is physically and emotionally delicate and I must be careful in every aspect. Honestly, it’s scary; but I do love it and I love her. However, devoting myself so fully to my Nugget is causing me to neglect my own self-care.
Although it grated me to think I could mess up and let this woman tell me about my affairs, her words began to ring true. As if to add emphasis, as I was about to feed my baby later that day, I thought back to when my last meal was and realized that I had had nothing to eat all day, as I had been out and about running errands.
Knowing I hadn’t eaten meant that there was no way I could allow Nugget to feed at that moment, so I ended up making her formula. Sitting there with engorged breasts that felt like they were trying to rip their way off my chest and form planets, I knew I had to do better, be better to myself in order to be there for my baby.
From then on, I have been working at making sure I am eating better. Honestly, it didn’t get better immediately, because soon after that, I got mastitis from not eating and not being able to feed her and not expressing my milk, because I was too busy.
If you don’t know what mastitis is, it’s the very painful effect of not breastfeeding. Think rock-hard breasts, fiery pain in your areolas and heat from a fever – all making you want to cry. Once I hit rock bottom, I made an even better effort to walk with snacks and food, so I wasn’t hungry, which allowed me to feed her wherever I was, and avoid engorgement.
Once I started eating more, I also started treating myself better in other ways, like allowing my partner and the people around me to give me more help.
With that, instead of filling my time doing laundry and cleaning, I focused more on doing small things for myself while Nugget was asleep. It’s weird. When I got into this, I was determined to be the best at this motherhood thing, but as much as I had researched, I was unprepared for how much being a mother means.
It’s not just obsessing over your baby and keeping a clean house, it also means so much more for yourself. In my first few weeks, I pushed myself to do more and be better; but it wasn’t until I started accepting more help that I unlocked my true potential. It’s scary, because you don’t want to be lazy, or seem like you can’t handle your load. It’s scary because this little person needs you and you want to do everything in your power not to let them down.
It was hard to accept help and separate myself from my baby in order to give myself time to rest and eat, but the upside to all of this is that I am making progress. I recently let my partner take over for the day while I did laundry with my own mother. Yes, I texted all day and remotely logged into her crib monitor a few times, but I made it through the day.
It went so well she’s going to be spending the weekend with her grandparents – a whole weekend; an entire weekend with them. She will be without me, as in, I won’t be able to see her first thing in the morning or last thing at night for two days – two entire days. I’m not panicking! You’re panicking! I pray I get through this without making a scene, but I make no promises.
Make sure to follow me on Facebook.com/LikeCharlieEmilia or my Instagram Chvrl13. I’m open to questions, comments and any concerns you may have about your own health; but please remember I am not a doctor. My column is strictly for entertainment, and although I may try my utmost to give accurate information, it should in no way replace a visit to your healthcare provider.
Until next time, drive safely!