Restoring Yourself as a Mother With Emily Ratzke
Thank you for being part of a second interview with us, Emily! You opened to us the last time we spoke about your personal experience with anxiety and postpartum depression after giving birth to your first. You mentioned a lot of your anxiety was triggered by lack of sleep, social media, and being the only one in your friend group with a little one. Since we last spoke, how has your support system been, and how are you feeling?
There have definitely been some challenges since we last spoke, but I think I have some momentum to start really feeling better. None of my close friends still have kids but are super understanding. Until you have kids, though, you’ll never truly understand. I struggle with feeling like the only thing that is my personality is being a mom and how boring that could be. In terms of my depression and anxiety, I am still working to find the best medication or treatment that works best for me. Often, when I talk to my doctors about feeling down or depressed for absolutely no reason, they suggest taking more antidepressants. I strongly believe in the intersection of Western medication and alternative therapies to help battle mental illness, so I am just trying to find the right balance. I am working on feeling better and am extremely fortunate to have amazing friends and family that help me every day.
You also mentioned you’re taking online classes the last time we spoke. How has studying for school been while having a toddler at home? Or do you have him enrolled in childcare some days? Did that trigger any of your past anxiety if he is in school or with a nanny?
I am lucky and privileged to have two days of childcare through a daycare that my son loves. I wouldn’t have made it without those two days every week. I have completed my classes now, so I am really looking forward to getting back into the workforce as I really crave going back to work. I wouldn’t say it triggered any past anxiety as that never really goes away. It is always a buzz in the background for me, but I think the potential of going back to work has helped ease some of my anxiety.
What was the breakthrough you experienced that helped you find self-love?
I am still working on this, as I am sure most people are. I think self-love really comes when you eliminate comparing yourself to other people and their experiences and the image they may present. I think a breakthrough for me is just awareness. This means that I am more aware of taking care of myself to take better care of others. I get in my head about if what I am doing and how I look is enough, but just stepping back and being aware of that self-doubt can help minimize those thoughts.
In your opinion, does motherhood and sexy still exist?
Absolutely. Feeling beautiful or sexy is a mindset that comes from our women’s power. I have a vivid memory after just having my son, I think I was three days postpartum, walking to get him diapers, and still wearing my diaper after giving birth. I was crossing the street and felt at peace with who I was and how I looked. It was empowering to think of what my body could do, which made me feel extremely sexy, which I still do. Anytime I am struggling with my self-image, I try and take myself back to that moment and remember what that felt like.
You feel most beautiful when?
Honestly, it depends on my mood and how much overthinking I’ve done that day. It is a fine line between being makeup-free at the gym and going out for cocktails with a best friend while getting lost in a conversation. I don’t think I can give a specific scenario where I feel my most beautiful, but it is often surrounded by people who get me and can make me laugh.
What advice would you give to moms who are currently struggling with self-love?
Umm, call me? I would love to know their experiences and their struggles. But maybe, like I previously mentioned, awareness of them struggling and what certain triggers they have observed can be eliminated. Self-love takes effort and commitment and is a daily practice that we as women have been told is self-indulgent and selfish. Knowing that being a priority in your own life may be the greatest gift we can give ourselves.
You are very familiar with Bravado Designs! I am so excited to see you wearing their new Restore Bra. It’s specially ribbed so you can stretch further to give you the perfect fit free from constriction, and it celebrates women on any journey in their life, from pregnancy to breastfeeding and non-nursing. I think it’s a perfect bra since your nursing journey has ended. How was that emotionally for you, and was it a lot easier than you expected it to be?
I find myself missing nursing sometimes. But we still have such a special bond without that physical one, so I try and comfort myself knowing that. IT WAS SO OVERWHELMING when I was breastfeeding. It is the only thing my son wanted or needed. I am so happy to have nursed him for just over a year and am grateful I could for as long as I did.
Which Bravado Designs bra would you recommend to mothers still breastfeeding, and which one is your favorite?
The restore or ballet bra is so comfortable and can transition post breastfeeding. I wear the restore bra to the gym, too- very versatile.
Can you take us through a typical day for you with a toddler?
Depending on his mood or sleep, we get up anytime between 6:30 to 8 am, cuddle in bed, watch cartoons, and have breakfast. We usually do something active, like go to the beach and run around or go for a walk, then lunch and nap. After a nap, we do something again active, have dinner, a bath, and then bed. I am a very scheduled person, so I find comfort in a similar cadence every day. It helps manage my anxiety/ depression, which helps me be more present every day. Lately, sleep has been a large opportunity with Henry, so he has been waking up most nights wanting me, but hopefully, this will be resolved soon.
Do you often get asked if you and your partner are planning on having a second baby, and do you feel there is still this pressure for women to defend their decision to have more or one child?
Absolutely- I am typically the one that gets asked as people often think they can have an opinion on a woman’s body and what she does with it. At this time, I don’t think I could mentally handle being pregnant again, and I feel the need to defend the “why” behind that. I would love to give my son a sibling, but we make a choice regardless of any external pressure.
Lastly, What are your daily affirmations?
Comparison is the thief of joy. I am worthy and able and be kind.
This article was originally published on Mother-muse.com