Former whiskey-slinging bartender and current registered yoga teacher, Jessica Knight is the go-to life coach (and personal development junkie) for 20 to 30-something year old women who want to figure out who they are and what they want…and then start getting it. When she found out she was pregnant just days before her wedding she was in shock.
We were lucky enough to find out more about her parenting journey…
How did your parenting journey start?
With a surprise! I learned I was pregnant 3 days before my wedding in March, 2016. We were purchasing a few last minute candles from Target when my husband suggested grabbing a pregnancy test because we thought my period might be late (I was never good at tracking it). We said I would take the test after we got back from the honeymoon (yea, right!)
When we got home that day I promptly walked into the bathroom and took the two tests immediately. I was pregnant.
My pregnancy was fairly easy and I was able to maintain a steady CrossFit regimen. Don’t get me wrong – I was very uncomfortable, peed every 5 minutes, was fairly claustrophobic and sometimes felt like my stomach was actually a cast, but I’ve heard pregnancy horror stories and do feel like I had an easier route. That doesn’t mean I enjoyed being pregnant…I HATED it (and hated everyone who said “I LOVE BEING PREGNANT!” I loved feeling the baby move, but I hated everything else that went along with it and would often say “I can’t believe I will probably choose to do this again.”
Charlotte was born two weeks late. I had to be induced (which was a doozy) but once they gave me the drugs to start the labor process my body took over. 24 hours later, Charlotte was vacuumed out into the world and I was a Mom.
What were your expectations?
I thought the early days would be easy. Everyone always talked about how hard it was and said things like “sleep now” but I really thought to myself “how hard could it be? Don’t these things sleep all the time?”
I had a list of things I have been wanting to accomplish and was totally certain I would complete all of them during maternity leave.
I even thought I would be able to work with clients (I am a life coach) while she was asleep!
I remember looking at this time while pregnant and thought that I would be in yoga clothes and LOVE IT.
How do you feel about those expectations now?
OMG I WAS INSANE! My baby wasn’t one of those babies that sleep all day, she was an awake baby that wanted to be held all day. The trade off was that she slept through the night at 2 months old (that ended at 6 months), so I was super grateful for that, but I was never able to get anything done throughout the day. If I wasn’t feeding her I was pumping.
I was a mess. I didn’t realize how much of a workaholic I was prior to popping out my kid but I was totally turned upside down. Instead of relaxing through the early weeks, I worked while the baby slept on my chest. If I didn’t, I had an overwhelming sense of guilt that I was doing something wrong – but doing this also made me feel like I was doing something wrong.
In case you are wondering, that to do list STILL hasn’t gotten done.
What has been the easiest part?
I think the easiest part was loving her. I know that sounds strange, but I really wasn’t sure if I would be overwhelmed with love for her when she came out. I worried about it and worried about how I might feel if she was up all night. Luckily, the love was very natural, which helped me through the hardest moments.
“Momming” was also easier than I thought in the sense of developing a Mom instinct. I was afraid I wouldn’t know how to do anything and would struggle through it all and find myself on WebMD all night. But from her early days I somehow knew what was best for her and was able to give her that.
Where have you struggled the most?
As I mentioned before, I am a workaholic. I knew this before having my baby but I didn’t know how bad it was. This is how bad it is: I worked for an hour IN THE HOSPITAL after giving birth. Truth is, I AM the only person who could do the job, and it needed to get done, but I didn’t have to feel so guilty about ONLY working for an hour and just be there, in recovery, with this baby.
I couldn’t figure out how to let go of the guilt when I wasn’t working. I felt like everyone, including myself, was judging me.
I also never wanted to breast feed. I went to breast feeding classes to try to normalize it for myself but I never felt comfortable with it and secretly hoped my child wouldn’t latch. Well – she did, immediately after birth. After my doctor placed her on me the nurse noticed she was trying to eat and suggested I give it a try, telling me its very rare babies do that. I did it and one year and two days later she is still breast feeding. I still hate it.
With all that said, my biggest struggle was identity. I didn’t expect this – and I didn’t read anything about it on the pregnancy blogs or apps. I didn’t have the name for “identity” for some time so I called it “i am falling apart.” Even though I woke up, went to the gym, ate food, and took showers, I had no idea who I was anymore. My body didn’t look the same and my mind didn’t feel the same. I thought it was a phase, or hormones (a dreadful word in my vocabulary), but I think it was simply this: I DID have a new identity, and this identity included taking care of a new human and myself – at the same time. It didn’t help that I quit my full time office job to build my coaching business a month into Charlotte’s life. I had everything I wanted, but I was absolutely miserable.
Have you always felt supported?
No, not even a little bit. It got to the point where I didn’t even tell others how I feel because their advice made me cringe: “nap when she naps!” “get a babysitter!” “you need a date night!”
A date night? I needed a long shower and a cup of water.
I didn’t feel like anyone understood. It wasn’t their fault, many people in my life were pregnant a long time ago or not at all, so they didn’t know how to help me or what to say. But many people who did only talked about their experience and couldn’t meet me where I was.
I also didn’t know what I needed or how anyone could help. It took me 3 months to be able to realize that I was going insane because I was dehydrated and told my husband to make sure I had water.
Around 6 months into Charlottes life I got a therapist who allowed me to bring my baby to sessions. She helped me humanize my issues. I remember walking into her office and called myself a bad mom for letting Charlotte cry in her crib while I showered. “Bad mom?” She asked, “sounds like you are surviving motherhood, and doing a great job, you realized you can safely leave her in her crib.”
The biggest sources of support were new moms, friends from past lives (highschool, college, a year ago…) that reached out to me and offered all support. They were there for me at 3am when I was awake, crying, and needed someone to talk to that wasn’t a cat or a male.
What helps you get through the tough days?
A few things. In the early days The Real Housewives of New York was a good distraction, but now that Charlotte is a year old and I have been living this life I have a few things that help:
– I shower every day. Even if that means Charlotte cries in her crib for 5 minutes I make sure I have that time to refresh myself.
– I got to CrossFit almost every day. I go when I don’t want to go and when I am “too tired.” It helps me remember that I am a person and centers me.
– I schedule babysitters to come while I work – and often ask them to come a little early so I can clean up a room, make myself lunch, or even just reply to a text without little hands on my phone.
– I attend baby classes with Charlotte. I wish I did this earlier on. We go to swimming, music, and a mommy and me developmental class each week. It gets us both up and out of the house and around other tired moms and babies.
– I still go to therapy and have a coach and talk about my challenges. In fact, my therapist asks me each week how Charlotte’s sleep is. Even when I say “I feel like I am going crazy” she reminds me that I am not crazy, and that it is ok to feel crazy.
– When I am going the craziest I splash water on my face, put down all devices (phone, computer) and focus on Charlotte. I bring out a new toy or uncover a lost one and focus on it with her for a few minutes. The light in her eyes always brings me back to earth.
– What makes you smile?
Recently it’s watching Charlotte chase around my cat Lucy. She follows her under the bed and says “Hi, At!”
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Yeah – and it’s that I noticed myself holding back the first time I responded to these questions because I didn’t want to air out the truth but after thinking about it I realized that there is probably a new mom out there with the same struggles that would really benefit from not feeling alone.
In one of her many past lives, Jessica was a yoga-teacher-mentor who guided other teachers to find their own unique style, but has since made it her mission to help women from all kinds of vocations find their voices and make their unique mark on the world. As a blunt-but-loving New Yorker who knows the ups and downs of early adult life very well, Jessica truly “gets” her clients and is delighted to use her hard-won lessons in love, career and all things “finding” yourself for good.
When she’s not rocking clients worlds with her wildly candid and vulnerable approach to coaching, you just might find Jessica sweating bullets in CrossFit, devouring (yet another) self-help book or chasing her 1 year old around the coffee table. To find out more about Jessica and the services she offers, click here.
You can also find Jessica on Instagram.