“I Don’t Care What Anyone Says — After A Baby, Your Body Is Different”

Much of the parenting conversation has centered on the notion of having it all, but anyone who has even some of it knows that it’s less about “having” and more about “doing.” In our series Mother's Day, we ask some of the most highly functioning parents we know exactly what they fit into a typical day, and how the hell they do it. For Jamie, 37, how she does it has a lot to do with an equal division of labor at home. As in, her husband does a lot, too. She's a manager at a high-end restaurant in Minneapolis, working long — and late — hours and living outside the city. Her husband comes home early to do their son's evening, dinner, and bedtime routine. But don't call this "helping out." Ben is the lead parent when Jamie's at work. When she's home during the day, she's parent No. 1. There's still quite a lot of balancing going on to establish this gender-stereotype-defying equilibrium, and they aren't without struggles (Jamie's a gym rat whose workouts have fallen by the wayside, and their sex life is, well, a work in progress). See how they do it, ahead.
Job: I am a private dining manager at a fine-dining restaurant in the city. I work roughly 40 hours a week, sometimes 45. I work service three nights a week, and have admin-type hours two days a week. I have worked for the company for over 15 years; it’s incredibly supportive (I got six weeks paid maternity leave, for example, which is rare for a restaurant).

Parenting with:
My husband, Ben; he is an amazing father and plays an extremely engaged role in parenting. He knows more cartoon jingles than I do. We only have a babysitter for six hours on Wednesdays ($12/hour, and she cooks and cleans, too — country living is amazing), and Miles goes to Grandma's house on Thursdays.
Ben's the one who gets up at the crack of dawn every day. He leaves for work by 5:30 a.m to get home by 2:30 in the afternoon; one day a week I leave right when he gets home. It’s a hustle to keep even close to the quality of life we had before the babe. I so enjoy being a mom and am very present, but I work so we can keep up with life. People see Ben as "Mr. Mom" — but gender stereotypes are overrated and exhausting to us. We divide things as need be to keep the household running and Miles taken care of.
My mornings start at 7:15 a.m. when Finn, our 6-month-old German short-hair puppy, gets up. I get him breakfast and put him out in his kennel. At that point, Miles is rising. I get him up, usually grab a bowl of Cheerios, some fruit, and a cup of milk; we then head for the sofa where he eats his breakfast snack, and I slowly wake up curled around him because chances are I only have slept for five hours. Lots of times he's still in PJs until his late morning nap (we like to keep it comfy).
I usually take 20 minutes to get ready: quick shower, brush teeth, get dressed. I rarely do my hair, as it's naturally curly and long. I am a big fan of a bun. I have never really been one to dedicate a ton of time to primping, but pre-kid I probably would've taken a longer shower. This makes me sound rather frumpy, but I feel pretty amazing regularly rocking what I've got. I have also fully embraced bright red lipstick. Sometimes I throw on a little fragrance if I am not working service (it gets in the way of people's dining experience), another quick step that is just different from plain-Jane mom.
After maybe half an hour I make coffee and toast, then we head out for a three-mile walk with Finn. When we get home, there are a million things we may do: nap, go to the beach down the street, play tower-building, a good old-fashioned dance party, read some books — in general, we party. When Miles is having lunch, I will prep a handful of salads for the week, so I know my husband and I are eating somewhat decent. I used to be a much bigger eater, but I was also going to CrossFit two to four days a week; I don't need to power up like that anymore.

Sometimes I feel over-the-top accomplished; other times I feel like a complete failure. I try to find the happy medium between the two, which still makes me feel like a superhero.

On Wednesdays, the sitter gets to the house at 9 a.m., so I can get to work by 10. It's a long, sometimes 15-hour day; I have restaurant admin and service wrapped into one day. I do everything from planning our private dining events and making the staff schedule to serving tables, bartending, running service, and participating in organizational meetings. I think about Miles a lot, but not in a worrying way. More like, hm, I'd rather be playing right now. I'm usually in meetings until around 2. Miles goes to Grandma's on Thursdays, which is my admin day at work, keeping up with day-to-day things that keep the restaurant doing what it does. I care so much about the health and happiness of my family, but I'm working as much as I always did — and I think we've found our groove. Sometimes I feel over-the-top accomplished; other times I feel like a complete failure. I try to find the happy medium between the two, which still makes me feel like a superhero.
My husband gets home by 2:30, and four nights a week does the afternoon, dinner, and bedtime routine solo. We haven't exactly mastered house-cleaning yet. It's a big mess right now, and I don't even really care. (I hope to devote some time to this when the restaurant closes for a project soon.) On Tuesdays and Saturdays I'm just getting into the restaurant around this time for busy service waiting tables, which can last until around 1 a.m. I talk about Miles pretty frequently; staff is always curious as are regulars (a lot of my customers have known me since I was 20). Talking is one thing, but I don't spend time on any "mom" duties while at work.
On Thursdays, when I get over to my mother-in-law's to pick Miles up, she has dinner made and the table set. It’s kind of amazing. Miles goes straight to bed once we get home. There are usually no naps at Grandma's, and he is exhausted. This also gives Ben a night to himself. We are a bit older parents (I'm 37; Ben's 43). Alone time is something we both miss — him a bit more. The two nights we have together we make sure to sit down to a family dinner with no phones. We try to eat dinner as a family. I would say we make most dinners at home, from fresh ingredients, no boxed foods. I shop for produce, meat, and dairy at our local co-op, and dry goods at a box store. We eat a handful of meals out during the week; since I work in the restaurant business, giving up meals out is really hard for me.
At about 8 p.m., regardless of who is home, we get PJs on Miles, read a book or two, sing a song, and have some quiet giggles. Then into the crib, and he falls asleep effortlessly; we are a bit spoiled with that, but we started a bedtime routine when Miles was about 8 weeks old. Apparently kids are into routine and react well to it. Miles sleeps through the night, averaging 11 hours.
I personally get into bed sometime between 8:30 p.m. and 3:00 a.m., all over the place. The three nights we have together, after Miles is in bed, we usually have a beer or two, chat about just life in general, maybe watch something we have DVR'd or some Netflix. The nights I work: I get home between midnight and 2:00 a.m, I take out the dog, check on Miles sleeping, brush my teeth, and slip into bed. I am usually exhausted at this point, and sleep comes quickly.

I don't care what anyone says — after a baby, your body is different.

I absolutely can’t do it without... my husband; he is the most supportive partner and creative parent I could have ever imagined. I am so grateful for what we have as a family. Beer, wine, and potato chips might be a close second. My No. 1 resource for parenting info is… my own intuition. We (as in humans) have been raising families for centuries, so I do what feels right and works for our family. I never went to birthing class and I haven't read any parenting books. I call the doctor if I'm worried about a health concern, and sometimes check in with my mom. Otherwise, we are just trying to raise Miles to be a good human being, not our best friend. I think we will be good friends, though... How do you feel about your body now, and how is that different from your self-image pre-baby?
My self-image is the same, I am just trying to adjust to a somewhat different body. I don't care what anyone says, after a baby your body is different. I mean, childbirth is a serious body trauma, although an amazing one. I was an avid CrossFitter and yoga-goer before baby (I was at CrossFit the day before I went into labor). Not so much anymore. But I'm not caught up with the fact that I am not going to the gym and the fact that I don't have a super hard body right now. I am enjoying running around, swimming, and frolicking with Miles. Though, sometimes I sure wish I had a personal trainer who'd just show up at my house after Miles goes down for a nap. What postpartum symptoms are you still dealing with, or did you struggle with after having Miles?
I didn't really have any. I cried a few times when he was really little because I couldn't believe the amazing weight of my new responsibility.

When did you feel proudest to be a mom?

I feel proud every day; proud of the fact that we are all happy and healthy and engaged as a family. I love when we sit down to a meal, and there are giggles and conversations and moments of learning. I am proud of the love that exists in my life.

Your body is so necessary for your baby that it doesn't feel like your own at times. I think this is one of the hardest things to be real about.

When did you first have sex after childbirth? What is your sex life like now compared to pre-kid?
Our sex life is different but good. It's definitely less regular. I find us looking to be more adventurous, but I'm still a little shy about it. However great I feel about my body, it's different, and I am still getting used to feeling desired. Your body is so necessary for your baby, especially if you are nursing, that it doesn't feel like your own at times. I think this is one of the hardest things to be real about. As a working family that doesn't use much child care, the second we have down time, it's time for laundry, dishes, preferably a beer, and then all of a sudden you are passed out by 8:30 if you aren't at work. We're working on this, for sure: finding time to be intimate, and making sure it doesn't feel like a chore. Sadly, you forget this should be a regular priority. What have you felt the least prepared for so far? Anything you think working moms NEED to know?
Making sure my spouse and I each have alone time and time together away from our child... It's a hustle; you get so caught up in the day-to-day and then realize that you haven't had grown-up fun for a week or more. Parents need attention, too, and need to have fun. We have a sitter come every few weeks so we can go out. We don't plan big to-dos or things like movies. We sit at our local bar and have a few beers and laugh at each other's jokes (preferably dirty ones and not the kind that revolve around our toddler), and just enjoy each other's company. We decided to have a family together, so making sure that family has a happy base is very important. Working moms need to have fun, and if you have a partner, make sure to have fun together, too. Ed. note: Names have been changed.

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