17 May 2012

Erica: She Rocks

Hi! My name is Erica. I've been following TOI since back in October and I'm very excited that she started this series. I'm stoked to be a part of it! (Thanks TOI!)

As I write this, I have been a mother for exactly 18 days. I have been also been a law student for just short of three years. You may wonder how (or why) on earth I’m taking the time to write this, and the answer is it is because I feel that it’s important. One of the most important (and challenging) things about being a woman is finding a balance.

I learned that I was pregnant the summer before my last semester in law school. I was ecstatic. I was ready to start a family with my husband of 5 years. But at the same time I was nervous. The baby was due in March- two months before graduation. Was I going to have to put school on hold? I had spent the last 17 years of my life in school (elementary school, high school, college, and law school) and I was finally approaching the light at the end of the tunnel- would I be able to cross the finish line with a Juris Doctorate degree and a newborn?  I decided that it was worth a try- and 8 months later, here I am in the thick of it. 

Monday morning, two days after delivering my beautiful baby girl, I packed my school books, climbed in my truck, and drove myself to school. None of my classmates expected to see me there. Despite seeing my big round belly at school everyday for the past few months, I don’t think anyone thought I could actually finish what I had started. But there I was- sleep deprived, probably smelling like spit-up, and missing my baby like mad- but I was there. I really didn’t have a choice. Law school is much different than college or high school- attendance is mandatory and absences will affect your grade. 

Oddly enough, one of the toughest challenges I’ve had to face in balancing law school life and new mum life is my decision not to breastfeed.

After all, one of the reasons formula was invented was to “empower” women so that they could continue to work after childbirth. However, it seems that women who choose to formula feed are chastised by the same people who advocate equal status for women. I am constantly bombarded with articles and comments from people that make me feel as though I am a terrible mother for not breastfeeding. Some go so far as to say that formula feeding is poison or a form of child neglect.

Yes, I know that breastfeeding is best, but the logical part of my brain also knows that formula feeding is okay, too. My husband was formula fed, and he is one of the most healthy, athletic, and smartest men I know.  The emotional part of my brain, however, feels guilty for not breastfeeding. I wonder if I could find time to pump between classes or function with even less sleep so that I could nurse. It weighs on my mind and stresses me out every single day. And instead of finding support and encouragement from women who admire the fact that I’m taking on law school and new motherhood, a feat that would have been unheard of a generation ago, all I find is criticism and condescension. But I guess another part of being a woman is keeping my chin up, recognizing that I can’t do everything perfectly, and simply doing the best I can. It’s finding a balance. 

Yes, part of being a woman is mastering the art of balance. Before becoming a mother, I balanced schoolwork, housework, personal time, personal hygiene, and fitness. I always scheduled my day in a way that would allow me to exercise, put on makeup, go to school, do homework, tidy the house, and have dinner on the table all the while squeezing in some time to write, surf, or do other activities for my personal well-being. I may not have been able to do all these things flawlessly, but I still took pride in being able to balance them. It made me feel good about myself as a woman. 

Now that I have a baby, I’m having to learn how to re-organize and re-balance my life without the luxury of a schedule (the nemesis of newborns). It hasn’t been easy, and most days I simply can’t do it all. I haven’t been able to get back to the gym yet or keep up with my favourite blogs. My house is a bit messy and my hair seems to look like I just got out of bed no matter what time of day it is. I also haven’t been able to be the mother that newborns deserve- the one who is there 100% of the time in those few weeks; to hold, to comfort, to nurse. Being away from my newborn daughter for hours (up to 8) at a time absolutely KILLS me, but I know that she is in good hands with her father, who has been able to take time off work while I finish school. I also know that in time, the woman in me will be able to piece this new life together in a way that works for me and my new little family. Because that’s what women do, and that’s what makes us great. We take the demands in life- both the traditional and the modern- and we find the sweet spot that works for us.

{that’s why the woman in each one of us rocks}

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erica

Erica is a 25-year-old law student and Marine Corps wife living in Hawaii. She welcomed a baby girl in March 2012 named Evangelina Pilar. She blogs about pregnancy, newborn life, and fitness over at Mi Todo (My Everything)

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Just five words  {She lives in HawaiiI, HAWAII}! just for this reason you should check out her blog, plus she has an adorable newborn baby girl and also she is very nice. Please stop by her blog to show some womanly support :)

10 comments:

  1. I like what you said! "...we find the sweet spot that works for us." That is perfect. Thanks for sharing...you ROCK!

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  2. You do rock! I hate that women are not supporting your decision about breastfeeding, but I have gone with the philosophy of whatever works for your family is best. It sounds like you are doing a great job, good luck with the last couple months of Law School!

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  3. you absolutely rock. i can't even imagine taking on the final stretch of law school with a newborn. that just goes to show that as women we have this innate ability to do what needs to be done. rock on!

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  4. You do rock indeed for makin the decision that was best for your baby and your family:-)

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  5. Erica thank you so much for submittting this great piece. you really show how strong and powerful women can be

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  6. thanks everyone! i'm glad that i could share my experiences. :) i love this series!

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  7. I can understand that being away from your new born must be very hard!!! and totally agree that breastfeeding is the way to go!

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  8. I love this. It really is all about balance. I feel like my life has been (and continues to be) a constant quest for balance. Thank you for being bold about your choices. I was formula fed and I consider myself to be a smart individual. I breast feed my kids, but there are plenty of reasons why I would switch if needed. My sister has formula fed some of her kids and breast fed others and they are all advanced for their ages (must be genetics!). The most important thing is that we make the best decision for ourselves and our families and then go forward with out guilt or second guessing. Thank you for a great post with a strong, uplifting message!

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  9. I love Erica and I'm amazed at how she has managed to keep all the 'promises' she made to herself, such as graduating, going back to her pre-pregnancy weight, and being the best mum she can be.

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  10. "mastering the art of balance"! Love that!! So true!

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