A C-section, 8 weeks of mat leave + a new baby later, I’m back at work

Last week I went back to work. After eight weeks of maternity leave, a C-section and a brand new baby, I had to return to the real world. I had to put away my over-sized sweat pants and ratty t-shirts. I had to get my dress clothes out from the back of the closet. I had to find my makeup and hair dryer. I had to start taking showers regularly. I had to pull it together.

It was intense and I learned A LOT about myself in that first week back:

Going back to work is very emotional

I thought that pregnancy and a C-section were hard. But then I went from spending every waking moment taking care of my tiny baby boy to actually having to take care of and think of me. I definitely shed a tear or two. I worried that I was going back too soon.

But, you know what? It was really nice.

It made me feel like the old me again. The me that sort of had her stuff together and left the house with a bra on. I successfully emerged from the dark hole of new baby survival mode. I was a human again. A functioning human that wore real shoes and outfits that matched.

Exhaustion is real

I missed eight weeks of work. My first day back I had over 400 emails. I spent my first week catching up, responding to emails, taking phone calls, attending meetings and trying to squeeze in a lunch break.

By the time I got home each night I was so exhausted I didn't know which way was up. But then I had to revert back into mom mode and play, snuggle, bathe the babies, read bedtime stories and get everything ready for the next day. By the time both kids were in bed I thought I was going to fall asleep standing up. There was no energy left to even catch up on Project Runway. I was in bed by 9 pm each night.

A few times I sat there and wondered if this is what my new normal will be. Will I always be this exhausted? I don't have the answer to that yet but I'm praying it gets easier week by week.

I shouldn't feel guilty for working full time

My first week back to work was absolutely insane. But I loved it. I enjoyed myself. I talked to people that could actually talk back to me. The truth is, I love to work and I'm good at it. It felt amazing to do something I excel at again. I felt like an adult. I felt like myself again. I know that I might miss lunches with my kids and a field trip or two, but that's okay. I have to do what is best for me sometimes.

I'm kind of amazing

I can juggle being a mom of two little boys and working full time like a freaking champ. It's not easy. But I did it. And I just proved that I can be a mom and an awesome career woman at the same time. You don't have to pick one or the other. Because you know what happened? BOTH of my kids got pink eye on Monday and Tuesday of my first week back. BOTH! Seriously?

But in between sending emails, taking phone calls and attending meetings, I managed to make sure they were both picked up by the sitter, taken to the doctor, got their prescriptions filled, and taken care of until I could pick them up later in the day and give them hugs and kisses while still keeping a safe distance from their swollen, gooey eyes. #MomWin

I am deserving of grace

Moms make mistakes. No one is perfect. Besides sending both my kids to the babysitter with pink eye, I also made other errors.

I forgot to pack a pacifier in the diaper bag for my newborn.

I sat through an hour of a meeting before realizing I had baby poop on my hand.

I fed my toddler expired yogurt.

I wore two different shoes to work one day.

I don't think I had an actual conversation with my husband all week.

I left an important bill in my car for five days instead of mailing it.

I drank so much caffeine to stay awake that I could have picked up a car.

But you know what? We are all still alive. No one got food poisoning or lost an appendage. My husband realized my life had been insane. And I granted myself some grace. Because I deserved it.

What a week. I have come to realize that I really underestimate myself sometimes. I am capable of so much. I can be a mom, a career woman, a housekeeper, a chauffeur and juggle a million other balls.

Don't ever underestimate yourself. Because you are a bad ass too. You can do this. You might think you can't. You can cry. You can cuss. But you can do it. Because you are a mom and moms get it done.

Mom life demands efficiency. Because while the amount of hours in the day are the same as before kids, now a sizable chunk of that time is spent caring for and loving on those little people. Compromises happen—and let's just be honest, the old beauty routine is one of the first things to get cut.

But, wait! You don't have to sacrifice putting on mascara or, worse, skipping the SPF. Instead, why not flip it, reverse it, and look at the bright side? Here's your opportunity to streamline your morning makeup routine. With some savvy skin care and beauty hacks, you can get your radiant glow on in record time.

Here are our tried-and-true hacks passed down from Motherly mamas:

1. Embrace multipurpose items

If the most pressing issue is limited time, consolidate multiple steps of your beauty routine with a multipurpose item. For example, instead of starting with a SPF moisturizer, followed by spot concealer and a blendable foundation, you can take care of all of that in one go with one of our favorites: Earth Mama's 3-in-one Lady Face™ Tinted Mineral Sunscreen. The beauty stick also allows you to easily fold SPF 40 into your routine, because Lady Face doubles as super-safe, clean sun protection. Even better? The sunscreen blocks blue light from those ever-present digital screens with a ray-scattering, non-nano formula.

2. Revive dried mascara

Especially after a sleepless night (#motherhood), mascara can make a major difference in how well rested you appear to be. If you realize your tube of mascara is dried out, don't write it off as a lost cause. Simply soak the sealed tube in warm water to loosen up the mascara — or add a drop of a multi-purpose saline solution into the tube. That should do the trick until you have time to buy a replacement. (But let's face it: You're a mom. It's okay if you're tired.)

3. Keep coconut oil handy

Coconut oil isn't just for the kitchen. From a DIY hair mask to an in-a-pinch lip balm or naturally removing makeup at the end of the day, coconut oil's cosmetic hack-list is long. For summer, we especially like adding a thin swipe of organic extra virgin coconut oil to the cheekbones at the end of the makeup routine for a bit of an extra glow.

4. Multitask while deep conditioning

If your hair needs a bit of TLC, consider applying a natural, paraben-free deep conditioner before doing chores around the house or even a short workout. By working up a bit of a sweat, the conditioner will set even better before you rinse off in the shower.

5. Start your hair care routine the night before

As you work to find your new normal morning routine, it can help to simply reschedule a task or two—like hair. If you shower the night before, get a jumpstart on your look by blowdrying, straightening or even braiding it for loose waves in the morning.

6. Even out your skin tone

Between multiple wake-ups during the night and wavering hormones, complexion issues can become a thing for most mamas. Thankfully, the hack for managing that is as simple as finding a great foundation that goes on smoothly and doesn't cake or crack through a morning of momming. Scope out the ingredient list for naturally nourishing components like coconut oil, shea butter or beeswax — and skip the stress (and the return process if the shade doesn't match) by going for something that easily blends with most skin tones.

7. Find brands your feel great about

As a mom, you might find yourself considering bigger life questions: Are my cosmetics safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding? Are they helping the world my children will grow up in? Can I trust the ingredients and mission? Pro tip: read the ingredients on all your personal care products, memorize the ones you want to avoid, and look for third-party certification to ensure the product is actually what it says it is. When you find a brand that walks the talk, you're going to want to be loyal.

8. When in doubt, go for a bold lip

With happy hours swapped for play dates, your daily routine may look a bit different than it used to. But who says you have to leave your personal style behind? If you've always been a fan of makeup and going a bit glam, keep going for it, mama! The extra 60 seconds it takes to apply lipstick or whatever else gives you a bit of pep in your step is well worth it.

This article was sponsored by Earth Mama Organics. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.


Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.


Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.


Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.


boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.


Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.


Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.


Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this


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