Today on the blog, I am featuring Kelsey Baldwin’s Mama Story.
Can you imagine your pregnancy beginning with divorce? Well, despite not being what most mom’s envisioning, that is how Kelsey’s started. And I am so glad to be able to host a post that delves into the topic.
Because guess what? Being a single mom is still being a mom. Sure, some of the challenges may be different that when you are parenting with a partner, but many are the same.
I hope you enjoy Kelsey’s story and make sure you check out the special gift she has hidden in there for you! Hint: she is a brilliant graphic designer so the gift is gorgeous AND practical
To sign up for the entire series of Mama Stories, click here.
My pregnancy started off with an unexpected conversation about divorce.
It started with my husband moving out of our house, and leaving me to take on this pregnancy alone.
It continued as a roller coaster of emotions and heavy hearts.
I used to dream of pregnancy as being a blissful time spent with your spouse, friends, and family oo-ing and ah-ing over the precious new life that was about to enter the your world.
I dreamed of seeing a newborn baby nestled in my husband’s arms, with nothing but pure joy exuding from both of us.
I imagined coming home and settling in as a family of three.
But unfortunately, that’s not what my experience looked like.
My pregnancy ended with a bittersweet labor and delivery – the joy of welcoming a beautiful baby coupled with the unmistakeable division of a family.
My postpartum experience was one of difficulty and sadness as I navigated the waters of newborn parenting alone.
But the positive experiences? There were plenty.
I loved being pregnant.
I loved watching my belly grow, and feeling my daughter flip around inside me.
I loved delivering her naturally, without medication, and feeling an instant connection with every other mother, past and present.
I loved holding my sweet Penelope for the first time and feeding her from my own body.
I loved bringing her home to her four-legged, dog brother and watching them interact.
I have loved learning how to be a mother, and the selflessness that emerges from it
I have loved watching her grow and develop into such a spit-fire of a personality.
Despite my circumstances, being a single mom is still being a mom. And that is a dream come true.
I knew from Day 1 of my pregnancy that I was going to be a single mom, and that I was going to need help.
I’m honored to be able to share some practical tips today that helped me get through my postpartum phase as a single woman.
I hope these can be an encouragement to other new moms, single or not. (Stick around until the end for a special free download from my digital Newborn Planning Kit!)
First, don’t be afraid or too proud to ask for help.
This is the number one piece of advice I could give a new single mom.
In the weeks after giving birth, motherhood can feel really lonely.
As the excitement starts to wear off, families start to get back to their routines, and the high of having a new baby turns into the reality of having a new baby.
And that reality is TOUGH.
As a new mother, you’re physically exhausted from giving birth, sleep-deprived thanks to your new tiny human, and emotionally drained from the crazy postpartum hormones.
This is the perfect time to call in some back up.
For me, my mom was my biggest support.
In the weeks after I brought my daughter home, my mom came over to cook, clean, do laundry, wash dishes, take care of my dog, do some more laundry, and hold a sweet baby so I could nap and shower.
I had a lot of other friends and family reach out to help as well, and instead of giving a standard “thank you,” I often replied with, “when can you be here?”
Being a single parent is definitely empowering, but it’s important to recognize that you can’t do it all.
And guess what? People actually want to help!
It’s not work for your friend to sit and hold a sleeping baby while you take a nap.
It’s not a job for them, even though sometimes it feels like one to you.
Second, prep for night feedings before you go to bed.
This little trick became a life saver for me, especially living alone.
If they say “Everything with a baby takes twice as long,” then everything with a baby and no partner takes four times as long!
While my daughter’s night time feedings were still going strong, part of our bedtime routine became prepping everything I would need for that feeding before I put her to bed.
I would set out the new diaper, a new wipe and the spray bottle (I was using cloth wipes), a bib for her and a snack and drink for me (nursing mamas, we’re hungry all the time, right?!).
I’d even keep an extra binky on the side table in case she fell asleep in my arms.
If I needed to pump after a night feeding, I would have the pump hooked up and ready to “strap in” at the kitchen table.
I’d even have the bags dated, open, and ready to fill. Probably with another snack nearby 🙂
Doing all this prepping took an extra few minutes each evening, but it meant less thinking and a tiny bit more sleeping in my groggy middle-of-the-night haze.
Third, record and share memories and milestones, the good and the bad, no matter how small.
When you experience all the little things your baby does alone, it can feel bittersweet and sometimes even sad.
I quickly discovered the importance of documenting my daughter’s milestones and silly moments through pictures and videos, and sending them to loved ones or sharing them online with friends.
It made the whole experience less lonely and helped these moments to be more sweet than bitter.
The same goes for the not-so-fun moments.
When Penelope was having a screaming fit during a diaper change, it was common for my tears to flow right along with hers.
But if my mom was there during a screaming diaper change, we could laugh about it.
Something about experiencing the bad with another person made it seem less like a big deal. I tried to remember that in those moments, even if no one else was there.
After the moment had passed, I could text someone and tell them about the craziness, and somehow it made me feel a little better.
The important thing to remember during postpartum is that single motherhood doesn’t have to mean lonely motherhood.
Figure out some systems that work for you and your baby, ask for help when you need it, and share the good and the bad with loved ones who can enjoy them with you.
And cut yourself some slack! No mother is perfect, single or not.
As I was learning how to be a mom to a newborn, I developed one of my favorite products in my shop, the printable Newborn Planning Kit
This solves the problem of baby brain and helped me keep track of everything for my little bundle of joy.
Head over here and download a free page from this kit, the Daily Newborn Log. This page was my savior in those first few months of mommy hood!
I hope it helps you worry less about your baby’s day-to-day schedule so you can enjoy this sweet season of life!
Kelsey Baldwin is the owner and designer at Paper + Oats, an online shop selling organizational printables and stationery and providing graphic design services for other creative entrepreneurs. She’s a single mom to an adorable 10-month-old girl Penelope (aka Poppy) and a crazy border collie named Cooper. She lives in Springfield, MO, but is getting ready for her next big adventure, moving to Nashville, TN. Kelsey has been a designer for nearly a decade, working both for an agency and as a freelancer, and loves helping creative small businesses put their best foot forward. Her brand new blog The Oat Bar launched May 2015, and features topics on single motherhood, creative entrepreneurship, and productivity. Learn more about Kelsey and Paper + Oats at www.paperandoats.com and follow along on Instagram @paperandoats for a behind the scenes look at life as a “mompreneur.”