How I'm Finding Time To Reconnect With Myself During My Maternity Leave
Words: Blessing Adesiyan
Our newest Instagram Takeover mom explains how she's making space for herself and her desires while she's on her maternity leave.
On mater mea's Instagram page, we regularly have moms from around the world take over our account to give us a sneak peek into their lives or to drop some knowledge about a topic that matters most to them.
Blessing Adesiyan, is a chemical engineer, MBA student, and mom of two, currently on maternity leave after giving birth to her her second child. It isn't easy, but Blessing is finding ways to balance her needs with those of her family.
* Captions slightly edited from original post.
HELLO My name is Blessing Adesiyan @motherhonestly and I will be taking over mater mea today. I am currently in maternity leave and it’s been quite the journey. Nothing prepares you for this ladies.
I am originally from Nigeria and I came to the United States for college. I attended the University of Florida where I studied chemical engineering and became a mom my senior year of college. Yep! It was the most exhilarating, exhausting, and absolutely amazing thing that ever happened to me. And, like I love telling everyone, I was already awake before having my daughter, but the birth of my daughter Omotayo woke me up!
I went on to have an amazing career working for Fortune 100 companies—HP, Microsoft, PepsiCo, DuPont, and now BASF.
I got married and divorced early, and now I am married again to the love of my life. I like to think that I am living my best life yet especially with our new addition Ade, who is an absolute joy.
Motherhood saved me over and over again, and I hope I can encourage you, no matter where you are in the journey, that there is joy and abundant blessings in this journey.
So quick check in. Where are you in your motherhood journey? How are you, and I mean how are you really doing mama?
POSTPARTUM When I was pregnant, I thought to myself that once the baby comes, things will get better. Because nothing compares to those final months of pregnancy. Nothing. So post-baby, I would exercise five times a week, eat lots of veggies, run around our new neighborhood, plan date nights once a month with my husband so we don’t lose ourselves in this journey called parenthood, and get my eyebrows and nails done.
Well, none of that happened the first eight weeks. Instead, I spent time recovering from my cesarean birth, caring for my newborn and 9-year old, cooking, and cleaning. All of my expectations were not met. I was experiencing motherhood on steroids and sometimes it was pretty like when we sit together for breakfast. And sometimes it was downright poop-puking ugly.
It was especially hard for me because I wanted to do all the things I loved doing + be a mom + wife—it was tough. I got patient with myself because this is seasonal. I reminded myself that my son won’t be this young anymore, so I really needed to slow down and enjoy this time with him. So my postpartum was beautiful and messy. It was filled with laughter over home-cooked meals and poop blowouts and sore nipples, but I wouldn’t change any aspect of it. .
What aspect of postpartum is/was the hardest for you? Breastfeeding, insufficient sleep, or recovery?
PAID MATERNITY LEAVE My daughter is nine years older than my son for a very ridiculous reason: I could not afford to take the six-weeks unpaid maternity leave that was offered by my previous employer. I saw friends saving up so they could stay home an additional six weeks and I kept telling myself I would save up too but I never did, and so I never got pregnant.
Fast forward to working with my current employer who offered me 16-weeks of paid maternity and parental leave, and an opportunity to add on my four-weeks of vacation. That basically means I am taking December-April off to care for myself and my son. I will not return to work until May and for that I am super grateful. .
And while I know some companies are making these major shifts, it really bothers me that most are not. Maternity leave should be a right, not a privilege. So, we must continue having this conversation in various spaces. At our workplace, communities, and so forth. And if your employer offers a superb parental leave, feel free to drop those names below and thank them for supporting women in the workplace. .
Just to increase our awareness. Can you comment on how many weeks of paid maternity leave you were entitled to? And if you are an entrepreneur, how many weeks did you give yourself to truly recover and enjoy motherhood before diving back in?
BREASTFEEDING I decided to exclusively breastfeed, and while I feel grateful—because not everyone can provide for their babies this way—it is tough! My son was born 7lbs 14oz and at only 9 weeks weighs about 17lbs. He wants to eat and poop around the clock. At the same time, I pump so that I can have enough stash when I return to work in May. It’s is physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing.
While I am a huge advocate for breastfeeding, I did use some formula with my daughter and I am so glad I did because I was able to get through the tough final year of chemical engineering. I run the parents group at my office and what I normally tell new moms about breastfeeding is to never give up and:
1. Get a really, really good portable pump.
2. Fight for your rights to a nursing room.
3. Look for shortcuts and develop a routine.
4. Schedule pumping sessions into your calendar. You will be glad you did!
5. Get a hands-free nursing bra. I just got mine and it’s amazing to be able to use my hands while pumping.
Do you pump at work? If so, what advice would you give to a nursing mom going back to work?
BEYOND MOTHERHOOD Something that I think about often as an ambitious woman and mother is what now? Now that the kids are quiet and in bed, what about me? Am I okay? .
These days I am constantly trying to balance my role as a person, mother, wife, and professional. Oh and if I am allowed to add, a student. Yes, it’s true, I am that mom who takes MBA classes two-days postpartum. After a c-section too—my boss called to tell me I’m crazy. I am currently a student at the UNC Kenan-Flagler business school. I am taking the online program, so it’s flexible enough to combine with my job and now newborn. I successfully completed this quarter and I start my fourth quarter next week. .
As mothers, we need encouragement. I don’t want to make anyone feel like they are behind on life, but mama let me tell you, your kids will be fine. Go after those ideas you locked down months or years ago. .
May I step in real quick and remind us all that we must be well-rounded, centered, and grounded in our own being in order to be the best mother or parent we can be to our kiddos? We all have dreams, desires, and goals before becoming mothers, and I hope you are still pursuing them because they are worth it.
I know there’s been so much talk about self-care and self-love lately, and it sounds like a “feel-good” concept, but it’s really needed in our community of moms. It allows us to take care of our mental, physical, social and emotional health so that our children are not our sole source of happiness. So that we can continue to thrive in our careers, businesses, community and churches.
How are you prioritizing yourself beyond motherhood? I am not talking about your recent visit to the park with the kids, I am talking you sans kids. I’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments.
GOODBYE Friends, it’s been lovely chatting with you ladies. This little guy is asleep and my 9 year old went to bed at 8:00 p.m. already. This mama has some “me” time to herself. Hubby and I plan on watching the last episode of Scandal. I’ll sip on some chamomile tea and relax before my next breastfeeding session. My maternity leave has been all that I had hoped it would be. And thanks to you, I’ve spent the last few hours energized and beyond happy reading and responding to your comments.
I hope you have an amazing rest of your week and it’s been my pleasure to connect here with like-minded women today. Thanks for being the authentic community that you are. And thanks @matermea for the opportunity.