She's walking down the street wearing her pajamas and a baby in a carrier, and sharing it in her Stories. It's a side of Ali Fedotowsky-Manno we didn't see on TV or in the carefully curated photos in her Instagram feed, but it's real and wonderful, and not always easy.
The Bachelorette turned blogger is now mom to 2-year-old daughter Molly and 2-month-old son Riley, and she tells Motherly adding a second child to the mix has been a challenge in more ways than one, and means her life does look different in some very real ways.
"I used to always say, when I only had one kid, "I don't know why people say they don't have time to shower, I just put her in the bassinet when she's sleeping and I jump in the shower," Fedotowsky tells Motherly.
"'Cause now when Riley's sleeping and I can put him in the bassinet or in the sleeper in the bathroom and jump in the shower, Molly's doing something else and running around going crazy."
In a lot of ways, going from one to two has been a big adjustment. She admits she and her husband, radio host Kevin Manno, haven't been able to sleep in the same bed since their son was born, as they balance Manno's morning show schedule (he's got to be up and off to work at like 4 o'clock in the morning) with the needs of a newborn and a toddler. So when Manno gets home from work around noon, it's not uncommon for there to be a parental shift change so that Fedotowsky can eat, nap or just take a minute for mama.
"He'll walk in the door and I will literally hand him the baby," she explains.
Some things are easier the second time around
But at the same time, Fedotowsky says that life as a second-time parent does have its perks. Having been through babyhood before, she and Manno are more relaxed this time around, which means they are more able enjoy those rare moments they do have alone together.
"With Molly, we never left the house the first nine months of her life, we never went out together. We've already been to a wedding together since Riley was born, where we left Riley with [Manno's] mom in a hotel room 'cause it was out of town, and we went to the wedding for the night," she explains, adding that when you add a second child to your life, you just have to chill on some stuff.
"I feel like I go with the flow a lot more, trust myself more, I definitely let things go. I'm like, 'Okay, there's a sink full of dishes and those are gonna sit there for the next 12 hours because I don't have time to get to them.' Or, you know what? I don't have time to cook, so we're gonna have take out again tonight. I think I just don't judge myself," she says.
Loving her postpartum body
With the arrival of Riley, Fedotowsky has become less critical of her own parenting and her own body. She recently shared a set of Instagram images showing how her body changed after her second pregnancy, which has been very different than what happened after her first pregnancy. She says two months after giving birth to Molly, her stomach was flat again, but it's not been anything like that this time around.
"I was like, 'oh my gosh! This breastfeeding thing is magic, melting the pounds away!' This is my best body ever. But it just has been the exact opposite with my son. The pounds aren't coming off. The initial weight, the first 30 pounds came off really easy. I have a good 15 pounds, my pants don't fit, I'm still wearing maternity jeans and maternity shorts. I currently have maternity shorts on right now."
So it wasn't an easy thing for Fedotowsky to put on a bikini and share her stomach (stretched skin and all) with the world via Instagram. But she's glad she did it.
"Honestly, it's been overwhelming, and I mean that in the absolute best possible way. When I first decided to put my postpartum body out there on the internet for everybody to see, I knew it would be impactful. I knew it would resonate with some moms and hopefully help a few people, but I had no idea. Within seconds of posting it, I had thousands of comments on my Instagram post," she explains, adding that she hopes to continue conversations with fellow mamas in her #mamalouges social media series, a project she does with Philips Avent.
Sharing her experience on social media and hearing other mothers' feedback made her realize how important it is for moms to see regular, real mom bodies in the media.
"They needed to see someone be vulnerable in that way, and put out maybe a part of their body that society would call a flaw. Even though I don't look at my belly as a flaw at all, and I truly mean that, I was just overwhelmed."
She may be overwhelmed by the response from other moms, but Fedotowsky is taking steps to not let herself become overwhelmed by being a mom to two. With all her family back on the east coast, Fedotowsky recently "broke down" and got some part-time help with childcare for Molly ("just in the morning to help me while Kevin's at work") and highly recommends fellow moms accept childcare help from family, friends or professionals when they need it.
"Literally, it is changing my life," she explains.
Enjoy your pajama-clad morning walks with Riley, Ali. You deserve it.