Hi friends! Welcome to another installment of #MotherhoodMondays. As I mentioned in the first #MotherhoodMonday post, I plan to be completely transparent in this series in hopes of creating a space where we can have an open conversation about all things motherhood. For today’s post, I wanted to share some honest reflections on what life has been like as a new mom.
While I finally feel like I’ve started to adjust to my role as a mom, it has not been easy. Becoming a mom is a huge life change, and for me, it’s been a journey of learning and personal growth, of good times and of bad. Have I loved every minute of it? No. But has it been worth it? Yes, because the precious moments have far outweighed the trying times – both of which I’m sharing below.
The Trying Times
The first six weeks
Honestly (I said I was going to be honest here ;), the entire first six weeks were a trying time for me for a number reasons. First, Andrew’s five week early arrival really threw me for a loop. We were NOT prepared for him to come this early. We had no car seat, no diapers, nowhere for him to sleep, and since he was so little, no clothes. On top of all that, we had been planning to move apartments before he was born. Instead, we had to move when he was a week old. The combination of these two things completely overwhelmed and stressed me out. Our life was in disarray, and I was stressed out. Thankfully, we did have plenty of help from family and friends during these early weeks or else I would have lost it more than I already did!
I thought once we were all moved in and settled, I’d feel like I had this motherhood thing more under control. I quickly found out that nope, I still felt helpless. As any other new parent, I was exhausted. I felt like I couldn’t even think straight most days and wondered where my life and my sanity had gone. I would cry, get mad at Patrick for no reason, and would be frustrated with Andrew, especially since all he wanted to do was eat, eat, eat! I may have gotten maternity leave, but I picked up a new full time job and it was breastfeeding. Since Andrew was so little and we were trying to get him to gain weight, the pediatrician recommended I supplement him with a bottle. I could do formula or breastmilk and since I desperately wanted to exclusively breastfeed him, I started pumping just 2 weeks after he was born. Throw in a couple growth spurts when he was eating EVERY HOUR and I swear it felt like either Andrew or a pump were connected to my breast 24/7. I plan to do an entire #MotherhoodMonday post on breastfeeding ,but for now, I’ll just say I am so thankful Andrew is breastfeeding and I know it’s worth it, but man, it’s hard work!
Finaly, a part of me was also mourning my life before motherhood. I think this was exasperated by a number of things:
- I was stuck in the house every day – I was afraid to take Andrew out early on since he was so little, plus, it’s not exactly easy leaving the house with a newborn in tow!
- I couldn’t workout – I will be the first to admit, I’m slightly obsessed with working out, but mainly because it’s such a great escape for me. Waiting the prescribed six weeks was making me crazy, especially since I felt fine, so I honestly started doing light bodyweight workouts around 3 weeks postpartum. This really helped me feel more like myself.
- I couldn’t even feed myself! I felt like every time I went to make myself something to eat, Andrew would cry or be ready to eat again. I remember constantly thinking, how do women get through each day with more than one kid?!
Thankfully, the majority of these challenges passed. Almost like magic on the six week mark, I felt more confident in my ability as a mom and felt like I was starting to regain control over my life. I began working out for real, attending classes at my Crossfit gym. Andrew was also getting bigger, and I was feeling more comfortable with taking him out. We went on our first lunch date to my favorite place (Upbeet) and even made a Target run! Motherhood was finally feeling like a part of who I was and not a replacement for who I had been.
The first (and hopefully last) 911 call
First, let me start this off by saying Andrew was and is fine. On a Sunday morning when Andrew was about two weeks old, he woke us up crying. His crying quickly stopped, however, and he started reacting in a way that I had never seen before. He threw his little head back, stiffened his body, became extremely red, and began making this noise like he was gagging or choking, we couldn’t tell. He was acting as if he was in a lot of pain and really struggling to get whatever was in his throat out. Patrick tried to suction him and a thick mucus would come out but it didn’t seem to be helping. I was sure he was choking and started to panic, telling Patrick to call 911 immediately. Seeing his little body in pain and trying to fight whatever was happening, was the scariest moment of my life.
During the twelve minutes that we were on the phone with the dispatcher until the paramedics came, we managed to calm Andrew down and clear his throat of whatever was bothering him. By the time they were in our house, Andrew was wanting to nurse. Since he seemed to be fine, we declined the ambulance and decided we would take him to the hospital ourselves later that day.
When we took him to the hospital, they monitored his heart and oxygen levels. Since those came back clear – his oxygen levels were at 100% – the doctor was not worried about sending us home. He also pointed out that since Andrew was red and stiff during the episode, he was still breathing just irritated. He said if Andrew ever turned purple and limp that would mean he wasn’t getting oxygen. With that he suggested we visit our pediatrician the next day to follow-up with our concerns.
When we went to the pediatrician on Monday and explained what happened, she let us know that it was most likely acid reflux. Since he was premature, he was more likely to suffer from it than a full term baby. What was happening was his stomach acid was coming back up his esophagus since his esophageal flap isn’t fully closed yet, and the acid was irritating him thus the episode of going red, stiff, and trying to clear his throat. She assured us that he would be fine even if this episode happened again and put him on an acid reflux medicine – Zantac.
For the first few days after this, I was terrified of another episode happening. I knew the pediatrician said he would be fine, but I did not want to relive that experience. Once we put him on Zantac he started spitting up a lot after every feeding which led us to be concerned about putting him to sleep – would he choke on his spit up? For about a week while he was on that medicine, I think one of us was almost always up checking on him as we were so concerned something would happen to him in his sleep. Thankfully, now that he’s gotten bigger, his acid reflux has not been as irritating to him, and we have also realized that even if he spits up in his sleep, he will be fine – that’s one of the reasons it’s important to put babies on their backs! Despite his reflux being better, our sleep has not improved, which leads me to the third trial…
Even to this day, Andrew eats every two hours, day or night. During the day, I don’t mind it, but at night, it leaves me with about an hour of sleep at a time, which leads to an average of about four to five hours for the night. Each time I get up with him, it takes thirty minutes to eat, then I have to burp him and maybe change his diaper, rock him for a bit and then lay him down, crossing my fingers that his reflux isn’t bothering him. I then crawl back in to bed, only to do it all again in an about an hour. I like to joke that it feels like his nine weeks of life has just been one long day due to this consistent hour cycle.
At first, I was so exhausted that I couldn’t do much during the day but nap. Now, somehow, my body has adapted and I have been able to get through most days without napping. I’m still more tired than I’ve ever been in my entire life, but I’m functioning. We had our two month checkup today and our pediatrician thinks he’s still eating this frequently in order to catch up on his weight. We are all thinking and hoping that he’ll do some longer stretches soon. His continued weight gain should help and he’s doing great at that – he weighed in at 9 lbs 11 oz today!
The Precious Moments
While the very first smile was not intentional, it was one of the sweetest things to witness. When he finally smiled at me for the first time with purpose that was pure magic! Now, he smiles at me multiple times a day when I talk to him, sing to him, feed him, or simply smile back at him and the magic has yet to wear off.
During those first six weeks of breastfeeding, I felt like Andrew could care less who he was getting his food from. But now, when I nurse him, I know he recognizes and “appreciates” that it’s me. He locks his baby blue eyes with mine (until he falls asleep) and gives me the softest smiles every now and then. He also wraps his little arm around my back and traces his fingers up and down, which to me feels like the most precious loving caress. I know I said breastfeeding is hard work, but these special bonding moments that only I get to share with Andrew makes it completely worth it.
Watching him grow
When Andrew was born he was 5 lbs 1 oz. He’s now 9 lbs 11 oz! In just nine weeks, not only has he doubled in size, but he’s also changed so much mentally. He’s more engaged with us and more aware of his surroundings. He loves to look at the toys on his play gym; he makes little sounds like he’s trying to talk; and he moves around so much more! I love seeing his little legs kick and see him slowly try to figure out how to use his hands and arms. It feels like almost every day he does some small, yet completely new thing and it’s so much fun to see him grow and change.
Rocking or cuddling him to sleep
I don’t think I have to explain this one too much. A soft, warm, squishy, adorable baby falling asleep in your arms. Is there anything more precious?!
Seeing Patrick, my husband, in him
It’s hard to comprehend that Patrick and I (with the help of God :), created this person! So when I look down at Andrew and see Patrick in him, it reminds me what a miracle and a blessing it is to have created this new life with the man I love so much.
The times you feel like you’ve got this motherhood thing under control!
Successfully changing a diaper without getting peed on; arriving to church on time; making a homemade dinner. These things don’t happen often, and they’re often followed up with a diaper blowout or a week’s worth of dishes and laundry, but when they do happen, you feel like you can take on the world or potentially have another little one 😉
Altogether these experiences make up my beautifully imperfect journey through motherhood. While I don’t wish for more trying times, I know that the precious moments will always outweigh the challenging ones (look there were already 3 more precious moments then trying times!), and I can’t wait to see what else gets added to that precious moments list.
If you’re a mom, I’d love to hear some of your trying times and beautiful moments as well. Feel free to share in the comments!
Photos by Paige Molina Photography.