I am so glad to have my good friend Amy. She is super talented. We went to high school together and had lots of fun! I hope you enjoy her super sense of humor.
Hey friends! I’m Amy. I’m so happy to guest-post here on Bensen Street! So, Emily and I knew each other back in the good ol’ high school days: she was always kind to everyone and easy to talk to and I was the art geek who was scared of boys. Ha! Today I’m going to share a bit about how I became a momma. Well…ok, maybe not HOW (Um, I’ll spare you the birds and the bees talk…awkward!) but more how my life changed when my son was born. Many of you are mommas…I hope my story takes you back to your first days with your first baby. And for those who aren’t yet mommas, my goal is for my experience to give you a realistic but hopeful look at how it really is to become a momma. Thanks!
My son Hayden, was born March 25, 2012, and I was scared. I liked kids and spent hours with my piles of nieces and nephews…but newborns? Um, YIKES. I was terrified I’d drop them or not support their floppy little necks. Therefore, after years of avoiding infants, I had little confidence in my baby-whispering abilities.
But…I knew I wanted kids and that my husband and I would find the greatest joy in becoming parents—we had lots of love to give. The catch: to have the kids, I had to first have babies.
So, we took a leap of faith and decided to start a family. A year later, right before my 26th birthday, Hayden was born. Oh, how I loved my little son, but we definitely had a rocky first couple weeks. (more like months.)
First, I need to say, I worry about sharing this story—I don’t want you to think that I’m not grateful for my son. I love him so much my heart aches! And, I don’t want you to hear my story and say, “Thanks for the warning sistah, I’m NEVER having a baby.” Being a mom is hard, but SO full of love. I never want to be mistaken as another voice in society’s “motherhood sucks” chorus.
Despite these worries, I want to be real about my struggle. Many mommas can identify and some are going through this right now. As a new mom, I often felt alone, like I was the only one struggling. I don’t want anyone else to feel that way, so now I offer support to others! And, though this story isn’t cheery-sweet, it has a happy ending!
Like I said, we struggled. My baber screamed his whole first week home from the hospital…and I cried almost as much as him. Luckily, my mom was in town helping me. Looking back, that time is just a blur of worry and exhaustion. Nursing always ended with him screaming and refusing, and me crying in frustration (he had a weak suck and never latched well). My husband (who was in the middle of a brutal finals week right before graduation, along with working full-time), my mom, and I took shifts all through the night holding Hayden, bouncing on the exercise ball. (His one solace.) He was orange with jaundice, in pain from reflux, and couldn’t nurse.
Things were not going well.
I was distraught: “What the crap have we done?! Who was I to think I could hack it as a mother?!”
Everything about caring for this little person was more difficult than I could have dreamed. I pictured moms nestling their babies to their breasts, feeding and bonding…but that was nothing like my reality. I wondered, “Wasn’t this supposed to be beautiful and fulfilling?” Our pediatrician referred us to an Occupational Therapist for his weak suck and I switched to pumping and bottle-feeding full time. This was time consuming and uncomfortable, but, at least he was finally full, though he continued to scream from the reflux.
I had expected that having a baby would be hard, but I didn’t know I’d be tired to my bones. Every waking (and sleeping) minute was commanded by this tiny, hollering tyrant. I wanted to reason with him, “Give me a break, child! I’m new at this, and I’m trying my best!”
In a nutshell, life was freakin ROUGH.
There were several reasons why this time was so emotionally crappy. After giving birth, your hormones are out of whack, making you a crazy person. Plus, lack of sleep makes you stupid-tired. I cried over EVERYTHING. I knew I was being ridiculously dramatic but I couldn’t stop it! Those first weeks, my goal was to get through a day without crying…over and over, I wouldn’t make it. My baby’s cries sounded in my ears, “You’re a failure.” “You’re no good at this.” and worst of all, “You can’t even make your own baby happy. So much for having a motherly instinct.”
It didn’t help that I was in the house more than ever. My pregnancy walking-at-the-gym routine abruptly ended, and it was too windy and cold (hello, Idaho!) to take my babe out for walks; I sorely missed those natural “working out” endorphins. I was no longer teaching Jr. High and high school art. I missed my interaction with students and teachers, along with the feelings of accomplishment and recognition that my job had brought me. I went from feeling successful, to feeling like a big-time failure at my new job of momma. Also, I was lonely. My husband was a great support and adored Hayden (thank goodness one of us had experience with babies!) but he was very busy managing a restaurant and had to be gone a lot.
And last of all, heavy guilt hung over me, for not “loving every minute”. At times I caught myself thinking, “This sucks.” Swear words would pop into my head when my baby woke for the 7th time in one night. I hated feeling this way, especially since I knew couples who would give anything for their own child. To top off my guilt, I heard other moms say things like, “Oh my baby is just growing up too fast!” Meanwhile I’m over here reassuring myself, “Only 5 more months and he will be half a year old. Things will be better then. We will survive.” Then, like a bitter taste in my mouth, that familiar guilt would wash over me for wishing this time away. I was too ashamed to admit my feelings to anyone, which caused me MORE isolation, even when I had people around me.
Thank goodness, amidst all this, there were beautiful moments. Holding my baby on my chest while he slept. And, when he first smiled at me…oh I was in heaven! These moments kept me going. Also, prayer was my lifeline. I was raised in a Christian home, so praying has always brought me strength and peace. I figured, if anybody knew about worrying for their children, God did! He sees his kids constantly fighting and hurting each other. Plus, He gave me this child, so I expected Him to help my husband and I raise him.
Through everything, I had the support of my husband, family, and friends. This sounds a bit dramatic, but I felt like their visits saved my life.
First, my mom and Patrick’s mom each stayed with me for a week after Hayden was born. My mom told me, “He’s definitely not an easy baby.” Oh good–if even a veteran mom (of 6 kids!) knew he was difficult, maybe it wasn’t just me!
My angelic momma friends commiserated with me, offered encouragement, and told me their own heart-wrenching, hilarious new-momma tales. These stories were like gold to me; they meant that I wasn’t the only one who sucked at this! They shared practical advice about nipples, post-baby bodies, babies, and nursing. And they gave me hope: “See?” I thought, “They’re normal! I won’t be a zombie forever.”
I also loved visits from my friends and former roommates who weren’t moms…they came and gushed about the cuteness of my son, (how can any mom help but love that?) we told stories about old times, and laughed our bums off! It was so good to know that the old me was still there, somewhere under the spit up, gray sweats, and baggy belly. The new “mom” version of me could still be funny! People still liked being around me! Hallelujah!
Things slowly improved. Hayden’s reflux subsided, his sleeping got better with time, and being Hayden’s momma just keeps getting better!. Contrary to popular belief, your life is not over when you have a baby– though for the first couple months, it SURE feels that way.
Don’t get me wrong, every stage has the crappy with the awesome. But, since I adjusted and my baby stopped screaming—life is good! I’m crazy about my babe! He is so much fun to sing with, laugh with and chase around the house. Oh and…he sleeps from 8pm to 8am every night…which make me wanna hug strangers.
Sure, he throws fits when he doesn’t get his way, but now his happy times far outweigh his crying times. It’s exciting to see the little person he is becoming. He waves to everyone, loves reading books and going for walks. Life has a daily rhythm, and I do things that make me feel human again. I use facebook to keep in touch with old friends, I blog to reach out to other women (Swag on, momma! WOot! Come check it out!), I’ve made new mom friends, joined an amazing book club, and I teach art lessons to kids from my home a couple times a week.
My husband and I laugh our heads off at our silly son; we feel so much love for our little fam.
Though life as a mom is different, it is still fun and good, and it’s worth it. I have found my momma groove. We still have rough moments, but when my son beams his freakin’ adorable two-teeffer smile at me, it makes my heart so full I kinda wonder why it doesn’t burst.
Those who aren’t yet mommas, remember there will be rough times, but there will also be a ton of joy. Like, boatloads! When you feel that the time is right to start a family, go for it! DO’t let fear stop you. And, new momma, you and your baby will make it! Just keep trying every day. Reach out to others, do your best, and stop guilting yourself–your best is enough!
Ps. Moms, how was it for you when your first baby was born? I’d love to hear. And, ladies who aren’t yet mommas, what are you excited for/scared about when you become a mom?