Updates: Riverside Retreat Progress + Motherhood

I’ve been meaning to share updates on our progress at the Riverside Retreat, but we’ve been a bit preoccupied with a newborn and trying to figure out our new normal. We’ve hired out some help and have been DIYing the rest, but we are wayyy behind our original schedule to complete this house as priorities have shifted.

I had so much more time and energy when I was 9 months pregnant, ha! I’m trying not to beat myself up about it as I know one day this will all be a distant memory, but it’s always tough when you’re in the thick of renovations with seemingly no end in sight.

Fortunately, things are wrapping up soon with our new master bathroom! Weeks ago I shared our Blue Lagoon Design Plan:

Quick recap—this is a tiny master bathroom we’ve created from scratch by adding walls in an adjacent bathroom and bedroom:

When I say tiny, I mean the smallest room I’ve ever worked with—33 square feet and just large enough for a pedestal sink, toilet and shower. But what it lacks in size, it certainly makes up for in personality!

Before bringing this bathroom to life, first thing was first: building a new closet from scratch:

Followed by a complete remodel of the main bathroom:

Over the summer we made (slow) progress on the new master bathroom, and I’m happy to say we’re nearing the finish line. There are no before photos to share since this room didn’t exist, but here’s Day 1 of demo, opening up the wall in the old bathroom (you can see the master bedroom window on the left):

Here’s the view from inside the bedroom, looking into the open space that would become both bathrooms:

A lot of work needed to be done, including repairing the foundation, replacing joists, running all new plumbing and electric. We basically had to start from scratch. Once all the not-so-fun demo stage was over, it was time to start adding walls! First up was the wall separating the bedroom (you can see the opening for the door on the left and new closet on the right).

Followed by the walls to separate this bathroom from the main bathroom…

We also opted to add a 2’x4′ window to let in some much needed light and prevent this small room from feeling like a closet.

Next came the floors…

A shower curb was constructed and hardi-backer hung…

We ran into a situation with the plumbing for the sink, and our installer decided it would be best to construct a 2×4″ frame rather than break into the block wall to recess it. We opted to limit the bumpout to just behind the vanity, as we couldn’t afford to lose 4″ of wall space in this already cramped bathroom.

Fortunately, it ended up working out quite nicely because it gave me the idea to run a shelf ledge all the way across the back wall for much needed storage.

Our Cloe blue tile covers the wall below the shelf ledge, and continues floor to ceiling on the back wall and around the shower.

Drywall/backer board install is always one of the most exciting parts, when you can finally get a sense of space!

While the size makes it difficult to capture much in one photo, we were pleasantly surprised to find the room didn’t feel as cramped as we’d imagined in person.

The next big milestone: tile! These pebble tiles require some artistic ability to install, as you have to constantly step back and rearrange individual stones to avoid seeing the seams.

Fortunately, grouting does help to minimize the lines and even things out. We used Mapei sanded grout in Alabaster.

Next came the statement-making Cloe tile…

We used the same Alabaster grout here to help blend the tiles a bit.

We also installed the shelf ledge across the vanity wall to provide some counter space. I plan to stain the wood in a light-medium tone (still deciding on the color).

The small pedestal sink ended up being the perfect size, and how bout those lovely swans?!

I’m digging it.

We still need to finish the trim, paint, hang the mirror and light and artwork, install the shower faucet/drains, shower curtain, hooks and accessories.

This room is nearly impossible to photograph even with a wide angle, so you’ll just have to come see it in person 😉 The Cloe tile is absolutely gorgeous in real life—perfectly imperfect with a lovely translucent quality.

I’ll have to share a video tour in my Instagram stories so you can get a better sense of the space once it’s finished. Watch for that in the coming weeks!

Next up is the kitchen…

It’s not looking like much right now, but we’re slowly getting there. I shared the design plans in this post and our progress in this post. Since then we installed the butcher block counters:

And tested out green paint swatches for the lower cabinets.

These were the Valspar test samples I used for the main bathroom since I already had them on hand, and I was most drawn to #3 (Valspar Alpine Top). However, cabinets require special paint and after much research, I opted to use Benjamin Moore’s Advance paint which is made for cabinets. Valspar also has a cabinet enamel which I’ve heard good things about, and I would have gone that route, except they only offer it in a semi-gloss finish. Come on, Valspar! I prefer to use satin, so Benjamin Moore it is.

I went to my local Ben Moore and picked up a sample of their closest color match, Peale Green. It’s the HC-121 swatch on the bottom right.

Here’s Peale Greene painted on the front sample board, next to Valspar’s Alpine Top (#3). It’s a bit more olive and not quite as saturated as Alpine Top, but I don’t mind. I’m not trying to match a specific color exactly, so I’d rather stick with an off-the-shelf color vs trying to custom color match, to keep things simple.

We purchased a paint gun and respiratory mask and have the cabinet doors in the garage, ready to go. There’s a lot of prep work, priming and drying time involved, so it won’t be a quick and easy process, but that’s next on our DIY to-do list.

Last weekend, we ordered a range hood insert and Lucas built a custom vent hood surround (you can see it here, pre-installation):

I opted for a simple square design, but I’ve got something fun and very unique planned for the finishing touch. I’ve never seen it done before and it’s a big experiment, so you’ll have to stay tuned to see what it is 🙂

The box was built out of cabinet grade 3/4″ plywood and 2×4’s, and attached to the studs.

A hole was cut at the bottom for the vent, which was then attached to the plywood. Easiest DIY ever!

I looked everywhere and found this insert to be the most affordable with the best reviews. It can be vented to the outside or recirculated (with a charcoal kit)—we plan to run the vent up to the roof for maximum efficiency.

There’s still a lot that needs to be done as you can see, but just like every messy stage of life… this too shall pass.

Switching gears to a more personal topic now—let’s talk about motherhood and work/life balance. Our Esmé is almost six weeks old and I will say, no one can prepare you for the shift that happens once they place that baby in your arms. Shift doesn’t even describe it—more like a magnitude 10 earthquake that shakes everything to the ground and forces you to rebuild a new life. I expected this, of course, but didn’t quite expect the massive hormone drop in those first weeks and the complete lack of productivity even though I’m awake 20 hours a day.

Shannon Renee Photo

That second part is what gets to me most—those days, weeks and months on end of constant projects and progress, abruptly coming to an end. They’ve been traded for non-stop nursing, pumping, cuddling and calming. Quite the transition, and I don’t take it for granted, but at the same time I feel disconnected from the world and my old self. It’s tough to scroll through Instagram and see the amazing projects everyone else is working on while ours have been stalled for weeks. It’s hard to stay inspired and motivated to keep going when you’re so exhausted and limited, both physically and with your time.

Shannon Renee Photo

I get the most fulfillment when I’m bringing my creative vision to life and accomplishing goals, and those are on the back burner right now. I worry I’ll never be highly productive again… Esmé will always need my attention during the day, I can only be gone for so long (without paying for child care). I can’t imagine balancing more than one child—I don’t know how you other mamas do it!

Shannon Renee Photo

There are a few silver linings on the horizon, though. Tomorrow I have my six week checkup and hopefully I’ll be cleared for exercise, which means I can finally get out of the house for mommy & me workouts. I am so looking forward to being active again, stepping outside and socializing with other new moms. I know it will be invaluable for my mental health and overall wellbeing.

Shannon Renee Photo

The other hope I’m holding onto is the fact that 6-8 weeks seem to generally be the most difficult peak for newborns (as far as crying, sleeping, digestive issues, etc) and that her sweet little personality will continue to develop. There’s nothing better than newborn coos and ear to ear grins—they’re what keep me going all day!

Shannon Renee Photo

So that’s where I’m at, nearly six weeks into this motherhood journey. More difficult than I anticipated, but I love this baby more than life itself and I know we’ll eventually find our rhythm. And it helps to know I’m not in this alone—I feel such a connection to all of you other mamas!

PS—our photographer captured the sweetest little video for our girl. You can watch it here 🙂

More to come…

53 thoughts on “Updates: Riverside Retreat Progress + Motherhood

  1. You’re doing a great job, mama. You will find your groove again – be patient and kind to yourself. Also, it’s hard to see it now, but your life won’t always have to be planned in two hour increments. Find small ways of fulfilling that need to create until then. Promise it gets so much better!

    1. Thanks Nicole, I’m definitely holding onto that hope and I know this is all temporary! No one prepares you for how hard these first months are!

  2. Your candor about your first few weeks of motherhood really resonated with me. Like you, I found them to be a challenge. I was a high performing executive who loved her job and loved taking on new challenges. When I had my first daughter I struggled because I felt that I had lost my identity. Deadlines and strategy sessions had been replaced with diaper changing and floor pacing as I was bleary eyed and craving sleep. I no longer had the sense of accomplishment that came from completing initiatives and marking things off on my to do list. I was envious of my husband’s time at work and felt diminished when I talked about my day which seemed monotonous and unchanging from one day to the next. Yes, I had those wonderful moments when my daughter was in my arms gazing up at me. But, they did not give me the same thrill as closing a deal. I knew that I was incredibly fortunate to not only have a child, but also have the time to be at home with her. I can’t say that there was a seismic shift where things miraculously changed. However, day by day I found my footing as I navigated my way through the rocky road of motherhood. Being able to get out and about will be your first step. Recapturing those things that make you uniquely you (exercising, working) will smooth things out. As Esme grows and sleeps more reliably you’ll be able to have some of those moments where you do cross things off your list and where you will feel accomplished again. Incorporate “to dos” that include her- take Esme to the park, switch out Esme’s newborn clothes for 3-6 month clothes- however small it doesn’t matter. Motherhood is very hard and everyone experiences it differently. Just know that by loving Esme you are doing it right and you will find your groove again. Sending much comfort your way.
    And meanwhile, look around at the beauty that you have created. Your work is incredible and you dazzle us all with your creativity, inspiration and design.

    1. I needed to hear this today, thank you Kimberly! Sounds like you went through the same journey I’m on. It’s definitely better now than it was just a couple weeks ago, and I do feel the adjustment becoming a little easier each day. It really just takes time to adapt to this enormous life change!

  3. It’s awful, that feeling that you’ve lost your old life. I would argue that it’s worse than labour or sleep deprivation. But it gets better, I promise. One of the things I had to learn with my first is that you and your baby will always be changing. Next week will be different and the week after that again. You kind of find a new normal (think months, not weeks, though). It won’t be the same as before, but it will be good too. Good luck!

    1. Thank you so much, Carla! I know time will go by fast (even though the days feel so long right now) and eventually I’ll miss these days… at least parts of them 😉

  4. Thank you sooo much for your honesty!! I hope you feel supported by the communities you’ve built for yourself — family, real-life, and here on the internet.
    Does it help to know that your worries are everyone’s worries? So many people — myself included! — worry they’ll never be productive again . . . that there will be no time for life in between feedings . . . that they will never be able to handle more than one kid. But as a previous commenter said, you find a groove! The baby gets a little more self-sufficient — even the difference between 6 weeks and 12 weeks is HUGE for newborns.
    You will sleep again, I guarantee it. You will be productive again. And when the time is right, even though it’s laughable to think about now, you will be able to handle another one, if you so choose.
    You’re doing great. Just take care of yourself and sweet Esme, and try not to stress about what you feel like you aren’t getting done. After all, there’s a reason maternity leave exists and is so important. Even though your job doesn’t lend itself well to maternity leave, like every other mother of a newborn, you’re just trying to survive right now, and that’s OK.

    1. I couldn’t survive this without support! And I’m even more grateful that I waited so long and didn’t have kids in my 20’s. I don’t think I would have been the best mom with no family/support system around and much less patience/life experience. Everything happens for a reason!

  5. I can’t wait to see how those rooms continue to improve! Motherhood is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and that definitely includes renovating homes and getting an engineering degree. Be gentle with yourself! This is a really big transition. You WILL get your groove back eventually. You’ll have easier days (around 6-9 months when they can play a little by themselves and take longer naps!) and then it will get harder again when they are older and more mobile and dumping crackers everywhere and OMG, WHERE DID YOU FIND THAT LIPSTICK?! Don’t be ashamed or too proud to ask for help! We can’t do it all. Maybe it’s a cleaning service, maybe it’s part time care so you have a few uninterrupted hours of dedicated work time. Maybe it’s a laundry service or meal kits.

    1. Thank you for the reassurance, Sarah! I’m really looking forward to the days where we can communicate with her — even though that comes with its own set of problems 😉

  6. I hope you are embracing the ways in which you are highly productive today that are different than six weeks ago. Nursing, pumping, caring, and cuddling are all productive and necessary activities. Those activities will require less time as Esme gets older and will open up space for you to do the highly productive things that fill you up. In the meantime, make sure you are carving out time in your day that is meant only for you. Maybe it starts as 15 minutes, but engage in something that makes you feel like yourself again. I’ve found in my own life, that doing it consistently everyday makes a big difference in my mental health and how I handle stress (and makes me a much better mother!) Now that my kids are older, my goal is 60 minutes per day. Exercising again will also help. Sending you hugs and solidarity in this awesome and sometimes awful journey. 😉

    1. Very true, I’m doing exactly what I need to be doing right now! It has taken a while to accept that but I’m slowly coming around 🙂 Fortunately Lucas has been a huge help and I’ve been able to escape for some “me time” when needed.

  7. It does get better! Those first few months are so hard. I think it’s great you are speaking about it so openly. All the things you are feeling are so normal! You will find a balance once you are able to get out. Try and find a La Leche group in your area or mommy exercise groups. You are doing a great job! It’s the best and hardest job of your life!

  8. Beautiful video! As a mother of two grown children, enjoy this time. It may seem that you are not accomplishing as much as you like, but you are!! You are taking care of the most precious design project there is.

  9. Here to say… I’m in the thick of it with a 4 week old. Everyone tells me this is a season – and since they’ve survived it I’m finding myself clinging to that. You’re not alone in this experience and I’m grateful for women who are honest about how it’s hard. Struggling doesn’t mean lack of a grateful heart.

  10. Good Morning Jenna! I loved reading about your project updates. And thanks for sharing your honest spot 6 weeks postpartum. It is a RIDE for sure. So many emotions, and a new identity that you are suddenly born into over night: mama! While still trying to be who you’ve always been. Give yourself grace. You will find your new normal. After 4 babies, I find that I start to feel more like myself around the 3 month mark- life finds a rhythm- baby is sleeping a bit better, and I feel more confident as a mom and reading my baby’s needs. It’s all different, and it’s all normal 😉 If that makes sense! Blessings on you both!

  11. HI,

    I’m farther into this parenting thing than you, and I’m here to say hang in there! It may not get easier, but you will get better at it. No one learned to walk without falling down a few times, right? Or as my ob-gyn put it, “Of course you’re having problems nursing! You’ve never done it before.” Not helpful advice in the moment, but years and babies later, it is.


    1. That’s so true Mari! Things haven’t gotten any easier since she came along, but I can feel myself getting used to it and handling it better.

  12. First off, she’s beautiful! I had a huge transition to infancy and I really struggled to get myo grove. I felt even worse because I thought I should “do it better” or be able to run my life better. So, I just want to encourage you to hang in there. You are such an inspiration and your projects are amazing. You accomplish more than most people and I am always amazed by your stamina and motivation. So maybe this season is a bit slower, but it’s temporary and we’ll all be here waiting for your new projects.!

  13. Hi Jenna, first and most importantly you are so talented and such an inspiration! 🙂 Thank you for sharing your ideas and work with us. Like others, I really relate to what you have said about motherhood.  Thank you for your honesty.  The first several months to half a year were very hard for me as well, even though I was overwhelmed with love for my daughter and felt very happy while I was struggling.  I cried a lot of tears and felt, at times, very sad and lonely during maternity leave.  I want to validate all of your feelings.  They are real and they are reasonable.  <3 My daughter was not at all a sleepy newborn, so I also really relate to your struggles on that front.  I remember feeling so isolated during my maternity leave because my newborn wouldn't sleep on the go, and she needed to be sleeping a lot at that age! Overtiredness builds up fast in newborns and compounds thanks to adrenaline. An overtired baby has an even harder time sleeping — takes longer to fall asleep and sleeps less. Ugh! Conversely, my best friend's newborn was the sleepiest, sleepyhead ever and would zonk out anywhere and everywhere. It was soo hard seeing how free and breezy things were for them compared to us.  Our first 3 months of parenthood were profoundly different even though we were experiencing it simultaneously.    Like you, I am a very high energy, creative person, working as an artist, DIY renovator, and lawyer.  I am back doing all of it, albeit in a different way, but it took some time to get there.  My daughter is now 19 months old.  We bought a new flip 1.5 months ago and are spending weekends living there and working on it with her in tow, and taking turns during the week going over individually while one of stays home with her. I am still practicing law. I still sew and paint.  We've taken a family ski trip, family camping trips, go hiking, have visited lots of friends and family out of state. You guys will find your groove and life will continue with your little partner in crime, and it will be great. Nothing in life is static, thankfully. And time alone is VERY important, as is time alone with your partner and time with your friends. No guilt about taking care of yourself!! Airplane oxygen air mask, so to speak. 😉
     P.S. I know you've received a lot of input on baby sleep already, and I also know that advice can become irritating.  I mean this as a form of support because~ shooo, i remember those days, and as a testimonial for what worked for me/her/us. Our daughter's issue wasn't just gas or reflux, although she did have a bad period of gas. We used the Windi and did lots of baby leg bicycles and just road it out; some days were bad, others were fine. It went away with time (most likely just due to the maturation of her intenstines). Her bigger issue was awareness — even from a few weeks old she couldn't relax in an interesting, bright environment. We had to accept this reality and figure out how to set her up for success. I learned a lot about the science of infant sleep (natural circadian rhythms, age appropriate awake vs sleep needs in a 24 hour period, etc.), created a plan and an optimal sleep environment.  It was not luck, it took effort and a really disciplined focus, but it did work & honestly saved my sanity and her health. She was a terrible sleeper and I was desperate. She's a GREAT sleeper now, and has been for a long time. I read several books but recommend this website and community as being the most user friendly (start with the "featured" post when and if it feels right):
    Most importantly, just very good luck. Esme' is gorgeous!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story and the great resources, Tamara! That thread is such a wealth of knowledge. It’s a lot of the same info as the Taking Cara Babies newborn course I took, but reading through it has confirmed to me that Esmé’s sleep issues are because she’s overtired. I’m so glad to hear things are easier/better for you now and I’m sure we’ll get there someday soon! <3

      1. So much depends on what kind of baby you have! My first two were twins and sleeping through the night by 8 weeks, all on their own. We’re on a schedule and generally very easy babies. Then my third came along when the twins were 2 and he was a devil baby!!! I hated anyone whose baby didn’t scream nonstop and who nursed easily. The youngest is about to be 3 and the twins 5 and my youngest is still demanding but an absolute joy and things are soooooooooooo much easier. Hard babies are flippin HARD!! Hang in there! The kids all do projects with us now and I think you’ll really enjoy that part of parenting when the time comes!

  14. Now weeks look like years for you. It overwhelming but it will pass. Esmé is here to teach you to pause. Take this opportunity, you will grow and will realize that these moments, that are now eternal, will not come back again. Not with her.

  15. You are not alone. I had the same thoughts and feelings; I think all new moms do. I remember describing it as being hit by a truck – not physically, but mentally. Motherhood is a whole new identity, and it takes time to incorporate it into your other identities as a woman, wife, entrepreneur, etc. Carving out little bits of time alone, even though it’s hard to be away from your darling daughter, will help to rediscover yourself and make it easier to absorb the motherhood identity. Hang it there – it really does get better and better. And congratulations!

  16. Your projects turn out beautifully as always! I would argue that being a mom will make you even more productive as you go forward. I wouldn’t have understood that before I had kids, but now that mine are 6 and 3 I’ve learned that no one hustles harder than a mom. No one gets more done, is more efficient, or tougher than a mom. I look at my mom friends and am blown away by what they do – I’d hire a mom to do any job! So you may not be as productive with work as you’re used to, but I know for sure that this will only make you stronger! Hugs!

  17. I know every mother has a unique experience but this post really resonated with me. As a mom of a 4 year old, I can say with confidence that the zombie/survival stage was limited to my first year and then it’s so much easier and fun. Don’t try to do everything yourself and it’s okay to ask for help, even if you’re a type “A” DIY’er personality. 😉 One simply cannot thrive on mere hours of sleep. I cannot imagine more than one kid either. That’s why our family is now complete and life is full and good. Try not to worry about what the future will bring. Things evolve and solutions are discovered. Sending out light and love to all the fellow mamas out there.

  18. Don’t worry! It will get better! I have 4 kids (10,8,4,and 2) and I work full time and flip houses. During the first 6 weeks of my first child I never would have been able to do what I’m doing. It’s a completely new experience that no one can prepare you for no matter how much someone talks to you about it or how much you read about it. You will never be who you were but soon you will look back and realize you wouldn’t ever want to go back to being that person. I have all girls and each one of them coming into our lives has changed us and our dynamic but it just keeps getting better. My girls even help me stage houses and do projects now! It’s so fun! 😉

  19. I appreciate how honest you are about missing your old self. I definitely felt this, more with my second than my first for some reason, but was afraid to say it aloud to somebody because babies are supposed to be so great and wonderful (which they are!). I’m glad I’m not the only one feeling this way! Wish I could have read this about 12 weeks ago! There is SO much truth in the saying “the days are long (so long sometimes), but the years are short.” Keep up the great work momma. We’ll get back to ourselves in no time!

  20. Loved your post, both parts!
    As Esme grows through her difficult period, so will you with all your hormone flucuations. It is hard to see things clearly and it all looks daunting when you are tired and feel overwhelmed. It will change and you will get used to a new normal with all the gifts of motherhood attached. Be gentle with yourself and don’t worry if the house is always picked up!

  21. As they say, the days are long but the years are short! This too shall pass. Meanwhile, we need to know the name of that lippy! 🤪

  22. I promise it will get easier, and you will find your way back to some version of your old self. Mom friends are invaluable and are what got me through some of the hardest times! The sheer fact of knowing you aren’t alone always helped me feel better. It took you 9months to create that little angel so give yourself at least that amount to heal mentally and physically. I have been following you since your first Florida home and it’s been so fun to watch your journey, good luck mama I am sending you some sleep vibes!

  23. I have been in your shoes as far as the baby and it was SO HARD. I felt like an entirely different version of myself and so exhausted it would make me nauseous. For me it got easier at 3 months, 6 months and so on. I also went on medication for a short while because I felt like I constantly had a gray cloud over my head which I had never felt before on my life. PPD is real. Both my kids were the fussy, up all night, digestive issue having, hard to soothe types off babies. Our pediatrician assured me a fussy baby does not equal a fussy toddler or kid and he was so right. Now they are DREAM kids in every way. Focus on getting through each day. Carve out some tiny pockets of time for yourself. A small break works wonders. Wishing you the best.

  24. OMG I am in love with all the awesome quirky details in this house like the swan faucets!! It is going to be incredible when it is done! I am also in love with how supportive mamas are in this online community – I had my first daughter almost 18 years ago and the seismic shift I experienced left me with Post Natal Depression (which still carried a stigma back then). I am absolutely positive that had this type of open and supportive online community existed back then I would have found my footing so much faster! I wholeheartedly agree with all the previous commenters to be gentle with yourself and you WILL find your groove 🙂 I went on to have two more daughters and I had to laugh at your comment about having multiple kids to look after – when my third was a baby I used to wonder what the heck I did with all my “spare” time when I only had one ROFL.

  25. I think you will love the BM Advance paint. I’ve used it on two kitchens, numerous vanities, and miles of crown molding, baseboards and doors. I’ve rolled it, brushed it and sprayed it, and it always comes out looking great. The only tricky thing about applying it, is learning not to brush it back and forth if you have to brush it on. I used it in a rental home five years ago that’s occupied by a single Dad, and three young children that are very rambunctious, and it has held up beautifully.
    And on the Mama front…….don’t be hard on yourself. You’re productivity has just taken a temporary detour. You’re producing literally everything your beautiful daughter needs and doing it 24/7. As a mother of three grown men and grandmother of nine, I promise it will get easier.

  26. Those newborn weeks are so hard!! Esme is the cutest little sweetie but it’s a real challenge, no doubt.

    I would encourage you not to completely write off child care in the future. The vast majority of those amazing bloggers you see employ either part-time or full-time childcare behind the scenes, and some of them admit to it. (I know that both Emily Henderson and Chris Loves Julia have a full-time nanny.) It’s just not possible to fit everything in otherwise. I work in a fairly traditional outside-the-home job, and I’ve never regretted sending my daughter to daycare. Make your time at home with your child count, and know that work is often part of making the best life for your family. Not just monetarily, but professionally, mentally and emotionally for you.

    Too much of America is invested in WAAAAAY too much mommy guilt. Working moms are lambasted for spending too much time at the office and SAHMs are lambasted for not being productive enough. I SAY CUT THAT OUT.

    You do what works for your child and your family. If that includes childcare and full-time work, you do it! If that involves some cutting back of your overall productivity in favor of the best arrangement for your child, do it! And don’t let yourself feel guilty.

  27. Hi Jenna! You are going through what all moms go through so don’t worry! It can be frustrating to not have the time to accomplish even small projects that make you feel productive (and this is super important to your mental health!) so as a now seasoned homeschooling mom of a 4 year old and 1 year old as well as a super driven, creative, productivity loving person, I would suggest looking for other women in your community that you could trade services for babysitting. Maybe you could offer design services to them or help them beautiful their homes in exchange for coming over and watching Esme’ while you work. I think this is a super important thing to do because your frustration with not accomplishing projects will cause you to get even more frustrated that you are not fully enjoying these fleeting moments with your baby to the fullest. This is my suggestion as I’ve been there 🙂 Also set aside some time for your hubby too, like once a week, so you don’t get frustrated that things aren’t the same with him either 😉 The most important thing is to have patience and know that you are going through the exact same thing as everyone else in your position :). Strategically plan and you will be satisfied on all fronts 🙂 Also, one last thing: reduce your “to do” list to one thing a day and be OK with that until she is 2 🙂

  28. I would say put all of those projects on hold, but I know that in addition to them being an important part of your high achieving identity, they are also related to your financial life and that’s pretty important. But go as slowly as possible, as much as you can afford because if you push too hard right now, you’ll end up sick and be in a more difficult spot to recover from.

    By the way, the watery blue tile is lovely!

  29. I’m going to chime in and echo what everyone else is saying. Patience and you will get used to this new life Jenna. It is a learning curve for sure. And I would dare to say that after the second baby, things do get easier. Sending you lots of love!!

  30. Sooooo you will never be that productive again, I hate to say! 😆 I understand how you feel, like you’ve lost a bit of yourself. I still feel that way sometimes. It does get better as they get older. I’m a stay at home mom and even though 2 out of 3 are in school, I still don’t get much done on a daily basis beyond what needs to happen for our normal functioning. But I do get my diy stuff done, it just takes longer 😬 Hiring care for a few hours is nothing to feel bad about! Do it if you need it!! Oh and that bathroom looks gorgeous!

  31. Sorry, I already commented but I wanted to say that the newborn/infant stage was my least favorite so far but I still kept having kids. Now 3! So it’ll get better!

  32. Hi Jenna. What a beautiful stream of comforting comments, truly touching and, I think, enabling.
    Your amazing pre-baby creativity is still very much present, bolstered by a new form of inventiveness and accomplishment. All these fellow mothers proclaim this, even if it’s difficult for you to see it right now. You can be as proud of your current daily mom victories as you ever have been or will be of your home projects. You are a star.
    Loved that sweet video. Also love the bathroom tiles.
    Now, try to get a little rest! ❤

  33. I’ve been thinking about you and and about this post the past few days and worked up the nerve to break out of my shell and leave a comment. I just want you to know that you are not alone, being a mom to a newborn is hard, not only the first time but also especially the first time. While it is this wonderful, life changing event, it is also an exhausting, life (and by life I mean energy) draining event. I love being a mom to both of my children but after giving birth to my first I was hit with a level of exhaustion and loneliness that I was not expecting nor prepared to handle. I also breastfed and distinctly remember feeling in those first weeks that I would have to be attached to my newborn with no break for at least a year, if not more. No one talks about these things when you are pregnant. No one tells you just how tired you will be, just how many sleepless nights there will be, just how lonely you will feel with those middle of the night feedings even with your partner by your side. All this to say, this will pass, it does have its wonderful moments but in that we must also recognize the difficult moments. In those late night wakenings remember, you are not alone, we are here to support you, every few weeks she will sleep and grow and change and you will adapt to a new normal. She is beautiful, you are doing a great job, you are not alone!

    1. I appreciate you taking the time to respond, Vickie! It’s crazy how fast life changes in those first few weeks, and just over the past week I’ve felt much more normal again. I think it will only continue to improve!

  34. Thank you so much for having the guts to share the not so pretty side of motherhood. I experienced postpartum depression with my first child, and I would encourage you to reach out for help if any negative feelings continue to develop or deepen. Our society is somewhat cruel to women in the fact that for the first 20-30 years of our life, it says “do you” and pursue your passions. This itself is not wrong, but it definitely does not prepare us for motherhood which is the exact opposite. Motherhood – especially for an infant – is all about selflessness and putting someone before yourself. It is no wonder so many women experience depression and trauma when faced with such a 180.

    1. It’s so true, Elizabeth! You really have to change so much of yourself in an instant, and for those first few weeks it feels as if you don’t even exist anymore. It can’t be easy for anyone, no matter how much you try to prepare mentally. Thankfully it gets better, and it has gotten so much better for me now <3

  35. Jenna,
    The video was so moving! Sniff, sniff! Motherhood the first year is especially difficult! I was incredibly amazed at everything you accomplished during the entire pregnancy! I was physically a mess especially that last trimester. Life is completely changed when baby arrives and is completely dependent on you. So much healing is happening with your body which takes a lot longer than 6 weeks. It won’t be long before you will feel more like yourself again. She is the most incredible creation you’ve shared💕

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