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We recently kicked off a new series you will see regularly on our blog, on Facebook and on Instagram featuring the moms of Bump Club and Beyond from across the country and their stories of motherhood. Thank you to everyone who has contributed, we look forward to sharing your vision of motherhood with the world.
The Raw and Real of Motherhood.
I became an aunt when I was 13. I started babysitting when I was 12 and worked my teen summer babysitting for my neighbors. I felt prepared and somewhat knowledgeable about kids and when I found out I was pregnant at 23, I felt confident that being a mom was going to be a breeze.
Insert- I really had no idea what I was doing- rude awakening. I started off my pregnancy being as healthy as I knew how. I was working out and trying to eat salmon and veggies for dinner. I was going to have a fit pregnancy and nothing was going to stop me from being the perfect pregnant woman. Then, one day while I was sitting in my office, I felt my eyes start to get extremely heavy and I couldn’t keep them open. I had this intense need for pizza and cucumbers. I could smell everything! And I wanted to eat anything that was food and crossed my blood hound nose.
It was definitely eye opening to realize I was not void from any ailments pregnancy would bring on. My pizza need became un-feedable. I ate pizza at least three times a week, and slept more than a newborn. I literally had a chunky pizza baby. Sadly, my perfectly planned delivery was far from perfect. A recent return-from-retirement doctor, whom I had never met, was going to be the doctor on call. He strongly encouraged me to change my birthing plan. My baby boy came out blue, not breathing and definitely not crying. I was miserable, and didn’t get to hold my sweet baby for what seemed like eternity. He was sent to the NICU and with several breathing and feeding issues, 8 days later we were able to take him home on oxygen.
The next week and a half felt like a year. Our home had some major water damage issues, and a renovation was in process, so a baby on oxygen would not be safe in our home. We stayed in a hotel until the house was ready for his little lungs to be safe.
I remember feeling so overwhelmed, so tired, and so crazy. I didn’t want anyone to hold him. I didn’t want visitors, except for my mom. I didn’t know that I was battling and struggling with postpartum depression. Not me, the always optimistic and energetic girl…I was only a smile away from fixing everything by myself. Not true.
I cannot even tell you how much un-asked for advice I received that only added to my feelings of inadequacies. I struggled nursing, and cried so many times over how much pain I was in because of it. Nursing is not a piece of cake. I had men asking me how my breastfeeding was going and women down my street talking to me about how to get my baby to sleep. I felt like I was letting everyone down if I didn’t choose their methods or if I disagreed with them. I pumped my boobs out for 3.5 months and lived on a 3 hour schedule. I literally felt like a zombie, emotionless and empty.
Finally, I realized that my son slept better, which meant I did too, if I gave him a formula bottle. I could have more hands on deck to help me and allow me to take a breath and not miss out on the most important time in my son’s life. I was not a terrible mom if I didn’t breastfeed him. I was a better mom because I was able to function and be there to watch him and help him grow, instead of being sleep deprived and stressed.
When I got pregnant with my second child, my daughter, I recommitted to a healthy pregnancy. I was 20 pounds lighter than my first one, and felt really great. My delivery was exceptional and I felt like round 2 was 1000 times better than round 1.
However, child 2 was not easier. She ended up being very colicky, and again, my hormones were so out of whack and I was SO sleep deprived, that I felt everyone around me was somehow out to get me or hurt my feelings. I yelled at some some very unaccepting people for some very minute and infinitely unreasonable issues, that only now looking back I can see the crazy oozing from me. I literally sounded like a crazy person, but I never saw or wanted to admit that I needed help.
Now, as I am pregnant with my third child at age 31, and I’ve had years to reflect over my different pregnancies and deliveries, nursing vs bottle feeding, I feel it’s safe to say and admit that I am going to need lots of help. I started feeling extremely sad and anxious about halfway through this pregnancy. It was obvious to me and my spouse that my pregnancy hormones and I don’t get along. I talked with my doctor who was able to prescribe me some anti-depressants to help me refocus and rebalance my life and help me prepare for another overwhelming dose of crazy.
I want other mom-to-be and moms to know that if you are feeling overwhelmed and unable to ask for help, that I’ve been there. It is a hard and lonely road to walk alone. There are hands waiting and willing to help you. Asking for help does not make you weak or less of a mom. Nursing your child or bottle feeding your child does not define what kind of mom you are or will become. How you diaper your baby, and how your train your child to sleep is all between you and your baby. You have to learn how to take advice with a grain of salt (and maybe a shot of what-the-hell) and throw it away if you do not feel comfortable with it.
Being a mom is one of the hardest, most trying and joyful experiences ever. I wish someone would’ve told me that it’s ok to let people know you need help. It doesn’t make you any less of a mom to have someone else snuggle your baby while you shower, eat a hot meal, run a quiet errand or sneak in a 3 hour nap. Soon-to-be mom, please realize you are amazing. You can do hard things, and don’t ever feel like you can’t ask for help. You deserve to be happy and your baby deserves to have a happy mama. There are doctors and nurses who can help, and if you are not near family, search our your church family and neighbors. Reach out to people around you because 9 times out of 10, someone wants to help you! Staying inside, in the dark, feeling sad is not healthy. Asking for help is!
–Alicia A., BCB Mom
Photo credit: Ashley Mackay Photography
If you have a photo and story that you want to share, showing what motherhood means to you, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration. If your photo is used you will be gifted one year of enrollment to BCB VIP, Bump Club and Beyond’s Parent Perk Program (value $100). If your photo is taken by a professional, please include a photo credit.