Ever since I was a child myself, I knew I wanted to be a mother. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, a mother was the only true answer I ever had. So when I became pregnant early last year, I was ecstatic. I was finally getting what I had always wanted, but it definitely didn’t come easy and this first year of motherhood has been HARD. But I survived it and I came out better on the other side. Here’s a few things I’ve learned.
Don’t Try and Plan for Anything
When I was pregnant, I decided that I wanted to do an all natural birth at a birth center rather than going to the hospital. I loved my midwives and was so confident in myself about being able to get through labor unmedicated. The idea of the empowerment that would come from having the strength to get through labor was so enticing, plus I absolutely did NOT want to have a c-section.
However, at about 35 weeks, we discovered that my baby was frank breech – meaning that rather than having his head at the birth canal, his fat little butt was there. And breech almost always means having to have, you guessed it, a c- section. I was devastated and even asked my midwife if it was possible to deliver him vaginally anyway. She strongly advised against it and those next few weeks I tried everything to get him to turn around – laying upside down, doing handstands in the pool, and even an external version – but he was not budging. So we scheduled my c-section and I had my baby on Election Day. And guess what? He’s just as wonderful of a baby as he would have been if he had been born any other way. Plus it turned out that he had a 99th percentile head, so my vagina thanked me for not having to go through that.
Be Ok With Changing Your Mind
Another thing I really had my heart set on was breastfeeding. I had read all the articles about it’s benefits, taken the classes, and was convinced it was the best thing for me and my baby. However, though breastfeeding got off to a great start with Ezra latching perfectly right away, it wasn’t long before things went downhill. The second day in the hospital, my husband noticed that Ezra was super jittery, so the nurse took his blood and we discovered he had really low blood sugar. Apparently my milk had not come in yet and my poor baby was starving. Because it was days later until it did come it, we had to start him out on formula to keep him stable. My heart broke for my little guy and suddenly formula was no longer the bad guy, but the thing that was keeping my baby alive and healthy.
Once my milk did come in, I tried to reestablish breastfeeding, only to discover that I absolutely hated it. I dreaded it each time and would get so frustrated with how Ezra would fall asleep after about 2 minutes on the breast, because I knew he’d wake up 30 minutes later and want to eat again. And that pattern would just repeat and repeat all day. It felt so never ending and I was so tired and I just felt so depressed over it. I remember crying in bed feeling like a terrible mom because I just didn’t want to breastfeed anymore. I tried switching to pumping instead, but that didn’t last long either (pumping is the worst). So Ezra got two months of breastmilk and then we switched to formula and I am honestly so glad we made that decision. Switching to formula made me a happier person, which in turn made me a better mom. So while I’ll continue to praise the benefits of breast milk, I’ll even more so praise doing what’s best for yourself and your child. (P.S. Ezra is not obese, is right on track with his development, and didn’t have a single ear infection in his first year of life, so he’s doing just fine.)
Give Grace Over Judgement
Before becoming a mom, there were many times I judged moms for their parenting. Whether it was judging them for feeding their kid McDonald’s, judging them for their screaming child in the store, or judging them for yelling at their kids in public, I did a whole lot of judging. And I was so so wrong for that. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, it’s so much easier now to see there’s a whole story to every mom I encounter in public and rather than judging, I can now only offer a kind smile, hopefully a little help, and some words of encouragement. No mom has the ability to be the perfect mom always and also kids are totally insane. As long as you’re loving your child the best that you can, you’re doing it right.
Marriage is Hard Work
Over and over again in pre marriage counseling, I heard that marriage is hard work and that the first year is often the worst. My husband and I are both fairly easy going people and our first year of marriage was absolutely amazing and then so was our second, so I kind of just figured our marriage was a little easier than most marriages. Gosh I can be naive. Our third year of marriage was our first year of being parents and man this last year has really been tough. We are both tired, we are both being stretched in new ways as parents, we are both readjusting to a different lifestyle, and it has resulted in us not always being as kind or as thoughtful to each other. I often felt like with juggling work and motherhood, that my marriage was the last thing I was tending to. We’ve had a lot of hard conversations and have actually had to work at making sure we connect with each other, but we’ve made it through this first year and we are stronger for it. I love my husband more and in new ways and I could not be more grateful for him, but ya, marriage is hard work!
It’s 100% Absolutely Worth It
Motherhood is everything I could never have imagined but could have always wanted. My son thinks I’m his whole world and I get to create his. I get to be the reason for his smiles, the comforter to his hurts, and the shaper of his life. Hearing his squeals of laughter, rocking him to sleep at night, holding his hand while he explores, and so many other moments I have with him are the greatest, purest gifts from God. I am so lucky that I get to be his mama and I can’t wait to see how motherhood continues to grow and shape me.