Family planning · Life · Work life balance

Goal setting postpartum

‘Back when all my little goals seemed so important.

Every pot of gold fill and full of distortion

Heaven was a place still in space not in motion 

But soon

I got you 

I got everything 

I got you

I don’t need nothing more than you

I got everything 

I got you’

This is an excerpt of Jack Jhonson’s famed song, I Got You, that has now become the lullaby I sing to our baby girl every night. It rings true to me, and perhaps every other new parent. Life has changed after her arrival, and so have my goals. 

My thoughts on work, life and the balance that lies in between have also evolved. This is a post on the goals I have set for myself for the next few months. 

  1. Get stronger 

My mom says that going through labor and delivery for a woman is like birthing into a new life. She’s talking about a new life for the woman, not just the child. In Hindi, this is called ‘punhar janam’. I used to dismiss things like that in the past but I see it differently now. Some things change within your soul when you become a parent. Let me explain how. 

One of my favorite onscreen performers is Mindy Kaling. I first fell in love with the actor due to her hit TV series, The Mindy Project. The entire series follows her through life’s many trials and tribulations as she pursues true love. All while juggling her career as an ObGyn, life in NYC, and her higher than average BMI. It is the last little fact that makes her a realistic character. A few years ago, Kaling birthed her own two children. Suddenly, we were seeing pictures of her having dropped several pounds, and looking healthy!  She credited her transformation to her children. She said she wanted to be healthier for them. I loved learning that story and can attest to it now that I am a parent myself. 

Breastfeeding has brought many challenges with it. I have suddenly started experiencing wrist and mild back pain. Wrists hurt because I hold our baby’s head throughout the day, and back because I sometimes am hunched over her, to help her latch. Perhaps if I were not a dentist, I would have let these mild aches and pains go. But, because I know I am returning to work in less than 2 months, and need to be in shape prior, I am prioritizing my health now. My goals are to get my energy back, have my core toned and feel stronger. Mainly, so I can lift our baby up and not feel tired. Once she is running around, I can run behind her, not huffing and puffing. 

I am using a combination of regular yoga and massages to achieve this goal. Getting back to pre pregnancy ‘weight’ may take several months. Having that as a goal, while possible, can also be extreme and jeopardize the intentionally slow nature of postpartum recovery. So my goal instead is to get stronger and feel more energetic. Similar to how I was pre pregnancy, and hopefully, even better!

  1. Be present 

Initially when I began breastfeeding, the nerd in me thought that the time spent breastfeeding a newborn was unproductive. Here was my thought process: each feed takes nearly an hour. That’s close to 8 hours in the day. In an effort to stay ‘productive’ I would do errands during feeds. Such as grocery shopping (Instacart) or buying needed items (Amazon) over the phone. I also purchased a subscription to Masterclass thinking I could watch a video or two during the feed and still be learning something new daily. 

6 weeks in, after reading a few books on child development and advice from my mom, I now know that those 8 hours a day are precious bonding time. Talking to your baby, reading them stories and singing songs helps them learn language, develop cognitive skills and improve communication. The first three years of their lives, especially infancy, are critical for brain development. Infants who are talked to do better at school and hence reading 1 hour a day starting from birth is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

I don’t do 8 feeds a day anymore. Some feeds are done by our nanny and one is done by my husband at night. The remaining 4-5 I try to be as present as possible with our baby. Two of the feeds I read to her. Surprisingly, reading children’s books has actually been a lot of fun. There’s a wide variety of books available! We were given several books by our sisters, that their kids have outgrown, and purchased many others. Books ranging from Hindu mythology and Indian festivals to world history and geography. The feeds where I read to her happen to be my favorite now!

  1. One thing at a time 

Although we have more help at home, the decision to breastfeed has left me with little time during the day. Luckily, A is sleeping 6 hour stretches at night and eliminated one of my hour-long feeds. Even though I am no longer feeding her at night, I am still pumping milk at that time. While my supply remains high, pumping helps me reduce the risk of engorgement, and build up a freezer/fridge stash. I will start traveling for CE in July and want to keep the baby prepared for that. 

Effectively, I am still getting close to 1-2 hours a day to myself. There was a day on which I tried to accomplish more than 2 tasks and failed miserably. I was on the customer service line over the phone doing one errand, and staring down at my laptop with 3 open tabs for other errands. It was overwhelming. 20 mins later I had to go to calm A down, who had woken up crying and feed her. Mission aborted. 

Achieving one goal in the day and devoting any additional time (if it is there) to relaxing, playing with the baby, or catching up with mom/B/friends/nanny is more realistic. I had a spare hour yesterday and decided to sit in the sun, enjoying a cappuccino and talking to the nanny. It was great to be getting that vitamin D and a tan, while immersed in conversation with our nanny and seeing our baby basking in the sun. 

Yes, these goals are different from what you are used to seeing written here before, but they are still goals just the same. They will change over time, but for now, I am immersed in this sweet moment of life. 

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