Highs + Lows of Motherhood--We Interviewed Each Other!

Lewis Co-Founders Liz Libre and Lizzy Ott

 

We've known each other for over 20 years, but only recently as Moms. And while we talk all the time (#workwife !!) we still have questions for each other. So, in honor of Mother's Day, we sat down to chat about our hardest newborn moments, family rituals and me-time.

Liz Libre and her babies at the park in Brooklyn, New York

Liz Libré: Mom of Three, Co-Founder


Lizzy:
So much of our generation stops at two kids (unlike our parents generation!). What was the hardest part of transitioning from 2 to 3, and what is the most rewarding about a bigger family?

Liz: James was a dream baby. A few times, we even forgot he was in the room! So, I was surprised when the early days (weeks, months) didn’t feel crazy overwhelming as they had with the first two.  As James has become his own little person and is in pre-school a few days a week, the hardest part now is managing all the schedules—play dates, activities, dr appointments, school events. It means more juggling during the week and then more dividing and conquering for John and I on the weekends-and less of all five of us together, but we make it happen if we can. We all like to go to Griffin’s baseball games together for example. If the weather is nice, we have a picnic and play on the sidelines. Louise is genuinely a huge help for me. She loves playing with James and loves taking care of him. (Just this morning, she showered with him and then got him dressed- diaper and all! And all before John and I were up! She’s seriously my secret weapon.) I often think about how different James’ life is than Griffin’s at this age, and the beauty of a sibling taking care of you like that. There are also of course not so sweet moments like James being introduced to potty humor at age 2. His favorite phrase right now is “Poopy!! I not say that!” But the sibling influence is mostly amazing. They don’t know life without each other, in each others’ space 24/7, stealing each others’ toys, helping each other get dressed, saying things that hurt feelings, saying things that boost confidence. I am so happy they have each other and remind them often how fortunate they are for that. 

Lizzy: Describe your favorite day the five of you have spent together. What made it your favorite?

Liz: So tough to pinpoint one favorite day! A recent favorite was a Sunday that started out with Louise’s first soccer practice of the season. She was nervous. And I was nervous she wasn’t going to like it. I took her, and she loved it. Eureka! We went home, quickly changed, and all five of us went to a Mets game. I wasn’t sure that the kids would hold up. Actually, I was fairly confident we’d leave early. Baseball games are long! And can be slow, even when you understand the basics of the game and like it. But they blew me away. They didn’t seem particularly interested in who was winning or losing, but they really seemed to enjoy the whole spectacle–the crowd, the fanfare, the food + drinks in the seats, the Wave, Mr + Mrs Met, the foul balls flying into the seats! It was a big show. It was one of those really warm early spring days, so it felt AMAZING to be outside all afternoon. As we left the stadium, James was chanting “Go Mets! Go Mets!” I wasn’t sure we were ready for a full-family baseball game–or really that we’d all enjoy the experience, but it was a blast. The best days are always the ones that surprise me!

Lizzy: Three babies later, what was your hardest infant moment, and what is a takeaway from it for new moms?

Liz: It’s been three years, and the old saying that you forget the brutal baby stuff is so true for me. I know there were countless nights spent rocking a baby who wouldn’t sleep or stop crying—and not being able to do anything about it was nearly soul crushing and brought me to my knees. But I can’t say one moment stands out. (There were so many!) One major challenge I will never forget is having to give up breastfeeding when Griffin was 3 months old, and allllll the baggage that came with that. When Griffin was 10 weeks old, I got c. diff as a result of a compromised immune system from taking tons of antibiotics after repeated bouts of mastitis. I eventually got healthy again many months later, (a topic for another time!) but I had to give up breastfeeding, which was SO emotional. The c. diff made me feel horrible, and the medicine the GI specialist put me only helped manage my symptoms, but it didn’t cure me. I had no energy, on top of having a newborn and being a new mom. I had continuous infections as a result of breastfeeding and a golf-ball sized abscess on one breast that was so insanely painful, the lightest weight t-shirt touching it felt like hot skewers impaling my chest cavity. The breast specialist I saw for the abscess was the first person to suggest I stop breastfeeding, and I’ll never forget the feeling of incredible relief when he said that. Of course, it didn’t come without crippling guilt–not only for what I considered to be a massive personal failure but also the guilt of feeling relieved at all! My first intro to mom guilt! But looking back, I should have just listened to my instincts and quieted the noise around me. I should have just said enough is enough. But it was all so new. I didn’t know what I was doing! The next time around, when I gave up breastfeeding Louise at 2 months, I still cried big tears (but just one day!) and had just a teeny little cry with James, but mostly felt like a QUEEN. I had the confidence to finally be like, I’m the boss of my own body. The mastitis has arrived, like we knew he would, so we’re all done here. That’s a wrap. And you, my sweet little baby, will be just fine. I hope anyone in a similarly tough spot can absolve themselves (as much as possible) of any guilt, trust their instincts, and get help when you feel things caving in around you.

Lizzy Ott and her two babies in park in Manhattan, New York

Lizzy Ott: Mom of Two, Lewis Co-Founder

 

Liz: How do you balance (don’t worry I’m not going to say “being a working mom”!!) your acute sense of aesthetic with the reality of being a parent to two very young children?

Lizzy: Not very well at the moment I don’t think ! I have many moments when I look around our toy covered apartment or at myself in spandex as I dress India and Major well, and say to myself “pre-mom me never would have been okay with this!” I’m trying to have a sense of humor about the way the wheels seem to come off so often, and the way I can’t be the center of my routine. My mom loves to tell people that I used to sit in front of my closet for ages trying to decide what to wear even when I wore a uniform to school (should I be too embarrassed to say that?) ! So I think in some ways stripping this over attention is a healthy dose of reality. It has also helped me streamline my wardrobe and apartment. I buy less obscure clothing that would take an hour to get just the right look with, and I’ve given away a lot of things that were only right for very certain situations. I now know what pieces in my closet work easily with others, and usually stick to unfussy outfits. I buy nothing for or apartment that can’t take an extreme beating and isn’t 100% necessary. What I do buy is usually all in neutral tones so that a space stuffed with toys can be as light and airy as possible. While I would love to have more time for all things aesthetic, the net positive is that I’m more practical and cohesive when it comes to aesthetic choices. I like to promise myself that all in due time I’ll be able to put in more of a creative effort into aesthetics and things I can do with free time (free time??), like write and bake and sew.

Liz: Has any part of being a Mom so far totally surprised you in the best way? Has any part surprisingly been a bummer?

Lizzy: So many things in the best way ! And I think if we’re all being honest, a few surprising bummers too. Lena Corwin wrote on an Instagram post recently about how intertwined her body is with her sons' bodies. And that while she had longed for her own personal space when they were very young, it's now hard to imagine that closeness dissipating as they get older. This really struck a chord with me and helped me see so clearly the closeness and sameness that these early years inherently foster. You go through life from middle school on wanting autonomy and space and privacy. I think even the most intimate adult relationship can’t hold a candle to the closeness we have with these little bodies. There really is no line where India or Major’s body ends and mine begins. There is no state they could see me in right now that would ever embarrass me or vice versa. It really is this amazing bond of trust and love that means there are no boundaries. I’ve always been one to like a little personal space, but somehow I love the lack of it with these two sweet little creatures. This doesn’t mean I don’t savor a shower I get by myself or a run where I don’t have to answer to anyone, but it does mean holding Major in the middle of the night with his face pressed into my neck, or India being attached to me (at meals, walking around, even on the toilet) feels so lucky and wonderful. I get impatient and frustrated parenting, but any time I step back and think about how lucky I am to have these two little love affairs I really am awe-struck, and I thank God they are mine.

Way less important but a big bummer nonetheless, is how hard it is to not feel like yourself for so long after birth. Before I got pregnant with India I really prepared myself for my body changing and not feeling like my own during pregnancy, but I never considered the giant squishy belly you go home from the hospital with, or the months until you fit into your clothes. In the grand scheme of things it might sound superficial, and is certainly low on the totem pole if you’re winning at everything else, but I think it’s worth mentioning, because I don’t think I’m alone in feeling the shock of how hard that can be. Your identity has already been completely changed overnight, and it’s hard to function when you don’t feel like you (add sleep deprivation and a lack of showers to this). When I think of whether or not I’ll ever be pregnant again I think about how I can handle the 10 months of pregnancy pretty easily, but that time immediately following was tough round one, and tougher after a Cesarean.

Liz: Take us through your ideal Saturday as a family of four.

Lizzy: I love this request because picturing some of my favorite days makes me so happy ! We haven’t had quite as many as a family of four since Major is so young, and since the first few months can be so intense… However my favorite Saturday’s are those where it’s just the four of us, we’re somewhere new and visually stimulating (locally or not), and we have very little agenda. So much of our time feels scheduled these days, and even if we have a day with only one or two things to do it usually involves rushing to be on time, turning our apartment upside down to get out the door, and there is so little enjoying of the actual thing. We also spend so much time with friends + family which I wouldn’t trade, but it makes the off days feel that much more special. Last year on Mother’s Day we had a leisurely morning at home (it probably involved me making pancakes because I usually do on leisurely mornings), and we slowly collected ourselves to get in the car and drive up to Stone Barns at Blue Hill. We got there and sat in the rain with covered tables and enjoyed a lot of their goodies from their cafe. Then we wandered around the property for hours in raincoats and showed India all the animals and listened to the farmer’s talk about their greenhouse plants. We got lost on the property, and it didn’t matter because we had nowhere to be. After we were done exploring I browsed through the gift store by myself while Josh played with India. There wasn’t one time of day we had to be anywhere, and we were somewhere new to see new sights, smell new smells, taste new food. Sometimes I feel guilty for not scheduling 900 touristy activities on every vacation day when we’re away, but my soul is really fed exploring other cultures through everyday life (in this country or internationally), and having a chance to just calmly experience things. I feel the stress disappear from my body when we’re not going to be late to meet someone and we just get to enjoy our family and that moment.

 

 

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