How I Recovered From Birth With a Fabulous Pair of Fancy Shoes

When nothing else but the shoe fits, it better be a fabulous pair.

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For nine months I didn't feel like myself, and yet somehow thought I'd magically become "me" again after giving birth. Oh, how I was wrong.

As a self-proclaimed fashionista with a walk-in closet brimming with fedoras, colorful silk blouses, and about 30 pairs of jeans, few items fit my new post-baby body. Instead, day-in and day-out I grabbed the same pair of sweats and baggy tanks. Part of this new routine was because I was breastfeeding my daughter—the other was that my body was completely different.

Then I put on a pair of fancy Italian-made leather mules. These slip-ons didn't go with my regular old pair of sweats, so I was forced to try on something new for a change.

I started to see myself—albeit a new version of myself— in the mirror again.

There are hundreds of articles that talk about the pressure new mothers go through to bounce back after birth. And while it’s hard to avoid succumbing to those pressures thanks to social media, my desire to get back to my “normal” wasn’t necessarily in response to that. In the days following my daughter’s birth and first few weeks of maternity leave, I felts as though I had lost of bit of myself.

I felts as though I had lost of bit of myself.

My new routine catered to my daughter’s needs, which made me feel like a milk machine on speed dial. Every hunger howl was mine only to solve. Every wet diaper was mine to change. Every waking minute was spent assessing her needs. I didn’t want to ask for help, since I made the assumption it was my job (and only my job) to handle it all. I was her mother, after all.

But just a few weeks into my new routine—where leaving the house meant sitting on the patio to read, putting on pants meant changing from the sweats I slept in to the drawstring maternity pair from my closet, and my idea of healthy eating meant I only had one cookie instead of the entire box—I felt a little lost.

No, I didn’t have any desire to get back to the gym or start writing, but I wanted to see myself in the mirror again.

The one thing I could control was what I put on everyday.

Of course, I had to start dressing for my new body. And that came with some new challenges. A combination of maternity clothes and pre-baby (pre-pregnancy) stuff helped the transition. A new routine was slowly built.

Then, one day, I swapped sweats for jeans. Eventually, I added a favorite button-down.  

But a pair of fancy slip-on mules, stylish and comfortable, were something I knew was always going to fit. They became my go-to pair of shoes when I needed a little pick-me-up.

I took these shoes to yoga, the grocery store, and even walks around the neighborhood. The first time I left the house on my own—to a lactation support group, of all places—I had on those shoes (and boy did I stand out).  

A pair of fancy slip-on mules, stylish and comfortable, were something I knew was always going to fit.

As a way to keep wearing the shoes on a regular basis, I started to try on more and more from my closet. Eventually, I started to actually look (like, really look) at myself in the mirror again. Seeing myself as a new mom meant appreciating my stomach’s new stretch marks as a sign of achievement for all I had carried, or my hair loss as just another milestone I had yet to conquer.

Though the transition to “me” was hardly complete, I finally felt like I was making strides in the right direction.

My morning routines these days—seven months into this motherhood thing and three months officially back at work—start much like they did before. After showering and applying makeup, I’ll stand in front of a closet full of clothes, coffee mug in hand, and figure out what to wear for the day. The only difference is that the day starts an hour earlier, and I only get dressed once I’ve nursed my daughter.

In those (super early!) moments I have to myself, I forget for a moment that it’s not just me anymore, and that’s ok. The fancy shoes that cost too much (but will always spark joy), was a little gift for a job well done. They’re a promise to keep loving myself—even when I miss the drool on the shoulder of my sweater until I get to work or I snooze the alarm for an extra 30 minutes, which means another day of dry shampoo and ponytails.  

Meaghan Tiernan is a San Francisco Bay Area-based writer and editor who covers food, travel, and style. She welcomed her baby girl in August. Follow along in her journey balancing work and motherhood on twitter.