Cameron Rogers doesn't believe in presenting a picture-perfect depiction of motherhood that glosses over all the hard work, emotions and stress that go into it. Being a mom to 1-year-old son Liam is "the greatest thing that has ever happened to me, but also the hardest thing I have ever done," the Freckled Foodie podcaster and blogger says. As such, she's committed to being honest about the highs, the lows and everything in between.
Speaking to Yahoo Life's The Unwind, the content creator says she had high expectations about pregnancy, something she'd built up as a "glorious gift" she couldn't wait to experience herself. But while she counts herself lucky to have had a healthy pregnancy and the luxury of working from home during that time, the experience was otherwise "really freaking difficult" for the first-time mom. Rogers says she felt "wildly unprepared with all of the physical changes that were happening to me," including constant nausea.
"I went into pregnancy really excited," Rogers says. "I felt like I had been sold this story that it was the most incredible, heroic, glowing, magical time. And I think that was part of the reason why I struggled the most during pregnancy, because my reality was so far off from my expectations. I personally did not enjoy being pregnant. I felt nauseous for almost every hour of every day for the first 20 or so weeks. I was starving at all times during the day, but no food was of interest to me. I felt just physically uncomfortable. It just really wasn't what I thought it was going to be."
By contrast, childbirth left her feeling "empowered," though Rogers now sees herself as perhaps focusing so much on preparing for labor that she was caught off-guard by how the postpartum period would affect her. As someone who had been diagnosed with general anxiety disorder, and had continued taking antidepressants throughout her pregnancy, she was aware of the possibility of experiencing postpartum depression; she'd even discussed it with her therapist. What she didn't expect was just how it would manifest in her. Being in "survival mode" and zeroing in on her baby's needs wasn't the problem; it was juggling those responsibilities with work, and friends and all the other aspects of her pre-baby life.
"All we have to do is focus on getting the baby fed, getting ourselves fed, sleeping and everyone going to the bathroom," she remembers of that newborn period. "And it was such a routine that it was like, I could live in that world. I could live in the survival mode, keep my head down, just keep going. Yes, I was emotional. Yes. I was hormonal. Yes. I cried a lot, but I was able to do it all in that world.
"What really was hard for me was when I started to re-enter my past world and still live like I had one foot in each of these realms," she continues. "So I was trying to see friends. I was trying to socialize. I was trying to get back into work. And at the same time I was up all night breastfeeding. I was not sleeping. I was trying to keep this human alive. And it was so confusing for me because I felt like I could live in his world, but I had a really hard time living in my world with him. And it wasn't until around four months [postpartum] that I think I really noticed how depressed I was and how sad I was and how much I was struggling. And I just remember feeling completely drained, not having the energy or interest in doing anything. I just wanted to sit in silence any moment I could. And my husband said to me like, 'I don't think this is great ... I feel that this has taken a bit of a turn.' And I completely agreed with him."
It was advice from her own Freckled Foodie podcast that also led to Rogers finally making an appointment with her psychiatrist, who was able to adjust her medication. She recalls a guest observing how "the strong thing is not to put on a brave face and keep showing up and living through these dark days without asking for help; the strong thing is to admit that you're struggling, to seek help and to try and make the change." The new mom realized it was advice she needed to take for herself.
Weaning after five months of exclusively breastfeeding also made a big difference in her mental health. Just weeks after weaning, she says "it felt like a completely different world for me."
"I was emotionally, physically and mentally tapped out," Rogers says of nursing. "I really hit a breaking point. I'm so grateful that I was able to produce milk. I'm so grateful that, after taking a while of figuring it out, we were able to latch. I'm grateful that my body was able to do that, but I also was very grateful for the fact that we have formula. ... I'm a big believer in 'fed is best.'"
In the spirit of "choosing joy" every day, the content creator also decided to reintroduce therapeutic practices and small things she loved back into her regular routine. Among those things: meditation, journaling, exercise, therapy and cannabis, the latter being something she's discussed openly with her audience about using. Rogers didn't use cannabis during her pregnancy or while nursing, and missed the effect it had on both her creativity and her ability to unwind and live in the moment.
Rogers, who has recently stopped drinking alcohol, acknowledges that people "have a lot of opinions" about her cannabis use, something she feels is unfair given the acceptance and lightheartedness surrounding so-called mommy wine culture. Though she doesn't think moms should be shamed either way, she considers herself "a way better mother when it's cannabis rather than wine."
"I also think that there is a complete misunderstanding when we talk about cannabis," she adds. "The majority of people think of someone who is completely stoned on their couch, unable to function and diving into five bags of potato chips and binging, like, a funny movie and unaware of the world. That, yes, is a potential for many people if they're partaking in cannabis, but that is not the common result when I talk about my use, and I think when many other parents are talking about their usage. I'm a fully functioning person. When I am partaking in cannabis, it is just helping calm my brain a little bit, spark my creativity, help with physical things — such as menstrual cramps, now that I have my period again — and tremendously helps with my anxiety and depression."
That said, she does have established rules around her cannabis use, the main on being that she won't partake when her son is awake. Before adopting her current booze-free lifestyle — a term she prefers to sober or sober-curious — she also wouldn't drink alcohol or be drunk in front of Liam.
Rogers recently marked 100 days without a drink. She made the decision to cut back after realizing that even the occasional glass of wine in the evening would trigger bad moods and anxious thoughts. And then there's the torture of parenting with a hangover.
"It makes parenting 10 times harder. And for me, as someone who loves my child and loves being a mom, and I think I'm really good at it, I was experiencing these days where I was like, I don't want to mom. I love being a mom, but I don't want a mom. And I don't love that feeling. Do I think it's common? Do I think 99% of women feel it at some point? Yes. But I want to experience it the least amount possible."
She thought she'd go back to drinking after a week. Months in, she says her moods are brighter and her parenting is better.
"I'm not saying that I'm never going to drink alcohol again," she says. "I don't know [how long it will last], but I do know for me right now, this is the absolute best thing I could have done for myself. And I think I am a much better mom because of it. I'm more present with my son. I am more excited by things. I'm more willing to do things with my child. I am happier. I'm more fun. I don't know how else to put it other than I'm just a better mom."
Whether people agree with her cannabis use or not — and she doesn't care either way — Rogers knows that she's a "really good mom," something she admits sounds strange to say. "We put out this narrative that women aren't allowed to feel confident about themselves ... and I'm really, really proud of the mom I am," she says. The secret, she says, is giving herself the permission to take care of her own needs and mental health.
"When I have time to do stuff for myself — whether that's a date night with my husband or a getaway with my girlfriends, or simply waking up an hour before my son and giving myself time to do my morning routine so I can start the day on the page that I wanna start it on — that's when I'm the best mom," she says.
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