When You Put Away Your Maternity Clothes

There is a certain sadness that comes when you put away your maternity clothes. You pull the dresses and shirts from their hangers and run your fingers along the stretches of fabric that once held your bump. You think about the months you spent growing into these clothes. Each item has its own story to tell. You wore this one at your toddler’s second birthday party (a dress that made you feel pretty); this one was your favorite shirt–it fit perfectly till the very end; and this one–this one you wore on your way to the hospital when contractions finally took hold of you.

Your body ached when you wore these clothes but not in the same way it aches now. There is always an aching, it seems, in the metamorphosis that is motherhood. Whether it’s the aching for a baby before you read those strips on the stick or the aching through first trimester sickness. Then of course there are the heavy aches of the third trimester when it feels as though you are a submarine moving so… slowly… through high-pressured waters, forever wondering: are we there yet?

Now your body aches in all its most vulnerable places. Sometimes these aches make you cry. You wonder if you’ll ever be the same again and the answer is no. But that’s not a bad thing, and you’ll appreciate this sentiment a lot more later, when you are healed from the enormous feat of having just given birth. You hear your toddler singing in the next room and you are reminded by how much you have conquered as a mother and will and can conquer again.

Your maternity clothes lay strewn across your bed, mere echoes of a tune you spent months humming. And in their place new clothes emerge. Clothes with one requirement only: comfort. Because like your new baby you too need to feel hugged into your own kind of swaddle. You too need to feel loved and soothed.

The early days of postpartum, clothes are an interesting game. When you had your first baby you naively thought you could slide right back into your favorite shorts. You thought you could just pick up where you left off, reunite with the wardrobe of pre-mother you as though you had just returned from a brief vacation.

But your body isn’t the same and won’t be for a while. Having just had your second baby you understand this a little better now. You give your body the grace it deserves and admire it as you fumble with your old clothes, trying them on in front of the mirror. You touch the soft belly where your child used to be, just as you touched your hard belly a few weeks ago in front of this same mirror.

You miss those weeks of wondering who your baby would be in the same way you love the smell of your new baby’s head as you snuggle him against your chest in the middle of the night.

You miss delicious sleep… the freedom of staying up as late as you want, to watch whatever you want, because you know sleep is guaranteed (even if it was interrupted by frequent bathroom breaks). You miss this freedom in the same way you love to watch your baby sleep.

You fold your maternity clothes and tuck them into their storage bag wondering if you’ll ever see them again. You say goodbye to each piece, trying to remember the last time you wore each one. You wonder if you bought too many maternity clothes but this is only a fleeting thought. Once the clothes are put away and you return to your closet, wondering when you’ll feel comfortable in your body again, you close your eyes and breathe.

You breathe in your aches and the tugs in your heart. You breathe in the sound of your baby asleep in the bassinet nearby. You breathe in the songs of your toddler in the next room. You breathe in the stinging in your eyes from lack of sleep. You breathe in the relief that your baby is here. You breathe in the mounds of laundry that need to be folded (because laundry these days is nonstop). You breathe, like you breathed through each contraction that brought you here. You breathe like that’s the only thing you have to do. You are reminded that one day, very soon, you’ll be moving into yet another new chapter, folding and putting away another kind of clothes. Tiny baby clothes. You breathe. You breathe because the seasons are so short, and because no number of photos you take can truly capture these moments.

The Importance of Doing Nothing (Sometimes)

I made a peanut butter banana smoothie earlier, and the blender, emptied of its contents, is waiting for me on the kitchen counter.  I can’t see it because I’m in my living room right now, but I know it’s there.

The plates from lunch are also there, waiting. And there may be a block of Swiss cheese under one of them that I forgot to put back in the fridge.

My baby’s bib is crumpled up on her high chair, also in the kitchen. Just another item in the long list of things waiting to be cleaned. It’s one of those long-sleeved full body bibs that has saved me from having to wash her clothes after every mealtime (we do baby-led weaning, which is extremely messy). The bib, however, as I’ve just noted, needs cleaning, so really there is no escaping constant washing and cleaning when you have a child.

My baby is finally asleep and I haven’t picked up the toys strewn upon the living room floor (that my dog lazily assesses from the couch). And I haven’t folded the clean clothes that have been sitting in the laundry basket since last weekend (today is Saturday).

I’m sitting here with my dog contemplating all these things I have not done, and these things are making me feel claustrophobic. I start to get up… then I decide to ignore them and do nothing. (How glorious!) My dog is quite the expert at happily doing nothing, so I’ll just take my queues from her tonight. She never judges—she understands.

Here are some things I did do today though:

I went to a car dealership (didn’t get the car I wanted but it was a cool learning experience).

I played with my baby. Marveled at her as she crawled—everywhere. Watched her raid my bookshelves and very much enjoyed the entertainment she provided removing every book and tossing it on the floor.

I watched a weird kids movie called Gnome Alone. Not sure how I feel about it. Wasn’t the most intelligent kids movie I’ve seen.

I fed my baby, bathed her, told her I loved her as I kissed her toes.

When I first sat down after she finally went to sleep, I felt guilty that I didn’t accomplish any of my chores that I had set out to do when the day first started. I felt guilty for sitting down instead of turning to the next thing that needed my attention.

Something always needs my attention. (The books she tossed on the floor? Still there.)

But sitting here doing nothing (well, now I’m writing) is bringing me a peaceful kind of joy.

And joy needs nurturing.

A blogger I follow tends to say “being present is being productive” when she talks about motherhood. I really like this mantra, especially on Saturdays like today, when I spent so much of my afternoon just being with my baby instead of putting her in her playpen so I could run around the house doing chores.

Saturdays—weekends in general—are the holy grail of “when I’m going to get things done.” But sometimes Monday comes along and I look back at my would-have-been productive weekend and I sigh and push everything to the next weekend.

In the midst of doing so many things=, all the time, on high speed, on auto-pilot, or on copious amounts of caffeine, it’s really good for the mind to do nothing sometimes. A healthy dose of not doing can help you achieve balance when you spend so much of your time doing. Self-care, self-preservation, protecting your sanity—whatever you want to call it and whatever that looks like for you—doing nothing should be a necessary part of the week.

The dirty blender and plates in my kitchen? I know they’ll greet me tomorrow morning. The clothes in my hamper? Sure, they may be wrinkled, but at least they are clean. The toys on the floor? They will be played with again tomorrow.

All is well. All is okay.

I simply can’t do everything all the time.

Sometimes, I need to do nothing.  I need to. And as my dog would agree, it’s a perfectly fine way to pass the time.