On the Importance of Self-Love

Today’s my 28th birthday. And, as I kick off the day (and approach this year), I’m making a concerted effort not only to practice gratitude and positivity but also to practice a lot of self-love.

Honestly, I’ve always been that kind of person who puts other people and their needs first. You can ask my husband. Or my parents. I tend to give and give, without expecting anything in return.

Not that generosity is a bad thing. Or that I expect to become someone who gives only conditionally. But I do recognize that taking care of others is fruitless if you’re not taking care of yourself: you can’t love fully if you’re not full yourself (I’ve unpacked this a lot during therapy so I won’t go into it a lot here…).

Motherhood amplified my tendencies for extreme selflessness. Which makes sense, given that this little person’s well-being is entirely dependent on me. Of course, it’s a lot of responsibility, but it also provides a lot of opportunities to really stop thinking about myself, in even the most minute ways.

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Coming to Terms with My Postpartum Body: My 2018 Fitness Goals

2017 was an intense year, both for the world and for me. All craziness aside, though, the year also brought me one of the greatest blessings of my life: Micah.

Bringing my child into the world meant enduring countless emotional, mental, and physical changes. Emotionally, the first few months of Micah’s life were a rollercoaster. Mentally, assuming a new identity as “mother” led to some pretty profound shifts in my priorities: with a child, my intent this year and in all future years is to live my life in a way that makes not only me happy, safe, and fulfilled, but also my little family (especially my son).

Physically, 2017 proved to be an interesting journey.

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On the Anxiety of Watching My Kid Alone for the First Time

The first time I had to watch my son Micah by myself, he was four weeks old. And I was terrified.

My husband Reggie had a tattoo appointment in San Francisco’s Mission District. The appointment had been on our calendars for nearly a year, and we had agreed that I’d make the necessary arrangements so I’d have some childcare help while Reggie was gone. This was a plan we had agreed upon months ago.

But, of course, in the midst of all the newborn chaos, I forgot to ask for some help.

I realized the unfortunate oversight the night before Reggie’s appointment, and I started to have a panic attack at around 11 p.m. Sensing my anxiety, Reggie offered to cancel his appointment — but I felt bad for making him walk away from something that he was planning for so long. The morning of his appointment, he even offered to call my mom or my sister on my behalf to see if they could come to our apartment last-minute — but I felt guilty for asking them to venture so far into the East Bay to keep me company.

You may ask: why was I so reluctant to accept some help when I so obviously needed it? Well, for starters, I hated the thought of inconveniencing someone so last-minute. And I didn’t want Reggie to give up something that he obviously wanted.

And, to be honest, I despised the fact that I was panicking so much about watching my own child.

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On the Anxiety of Venturing Out into the World with a Newborn

My son Micah is officially two months old today, but I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve left the house with him (not including doctor’s appointments and visits with lactation consultants).

I can blame my reluctance to venture into the outside world with him on a few tangible things:

  1. His current lack of immunization. I tell myself that I’m keeping him safe from any airborne pathogens or potential sickness by keeping him indoors.
  2. The fact that it is now flu season. See above.
  3. Pure exhaustion. Getting Micah and all his belongings ready for some time away from home is a huge production, and — more often than not — I simply lack the energy to do so.

But, when it comes down to it, all those excuses (while slightly valid) are still excuses. Sure, there’s a risk in taking Micah out when he hasn’t had his first round of vaccines, but there are still places we can go and precautions we can take that limit his exposure to potential sickness. And, yes, I’m tired — but, as I tell everyone who asks how I’m doing: How can I not be tired when I’m taking care of a newborn? There’s really no reason why I shouldn’t be able to leave the apartment with him.

So, if I’m being 100% honest with myself, I’m not really scared about leaving because Micah might get sick; I’m just scared about being responsible for a young human life on my own, out in public.

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Welcome: Why This Blog Exists

Dear Reader,

Welcome to “beanbrain,” my personal pregnancy and parenting blog. Before we get things started, I first want to share some things about motherhood and me:

(1) From a young age, I’ve always envisioned myself as a mother.

I know there are some women (and men) who never consider having or simply don’t want to have children. I was never that person. Whatever the reason, I always knew I wanted children of my own. One day.

(2) I had zero expectations in terms of how I would feel about and tackle pregnancy and parenting.

When I first announced I was pregnant, people would ask me the same few questions. What are you excited about? Nervous about? Do you want a boy or a girl? My answer to all of the above: “Honestly, I’m not thinking too much about anything.” As a first-time parent, I knew that I wouldn’t have the slightest clue as to what I would be doing once my child came into the world. My closest friends and family also warned me that the reality of pregnancy, childbirth, and child-rearing would be drastically different from anything I could imagine or expect. So, as I entered pregnancy, I vowed to live my days as open-minded and open-hearted as possible.

(3) There were so many times throughout my pregnancy and during my first few weeks of parenthood where I thought or said, “I wish people talked about this…”

Despite my lack of expectations, there were a few things that happened during my pregnancy and in the early days of motherhood (from a miscarriage scare at the beginning of my second trimester, to my reaction to learning that I would need to deliver via C-section, to the struggle I had with breastfeeding) that made me feel anxious, frustrated, and — above all — alone. Only by talking to other women in my life did I realize that these experiences (and their accompanying emotions) were more common than I thought.

And that’s why this blog exists. This is designed to serve as a safe space not only to share my thoughts and emotions with you but also to confirm that we are not alone when it comes to the less-than-pretty aspects of pregnancy and parenting.

Every week, I hope to share different reflections and personal experiences on a variety of topics, and I invite you to share your own experiences with me. So here’s to figuring out motherhood together!

All the best,
Sarina, a.k.a. beanbrain