I’m writing this because I have maybe ten minutes that I can before my daughter starts crying again. I’m writing this because I’m a little stressed and just want an outlet to get a few things out. I’m writing this because one day, I’ll read this and probably look back and laugh; I’m sure I’ll miss this and wish I could go back and live it. I’m writing this because I want to explain myself.
I am a mother.
It’s funny now to me thinking about it. All those days I used to look at these women toting their kids around at the park. I looked at them and felt like they looked so old, and so “adulti-ish”. I thought for some reason, delusional me, that one day I would feel like an adult, and when that happened so would the rest. Careers, marriage, kids; those were all things I was so convinced would be a million years away from me, if ever. That’s the funny thing about life though; it seems to happen when you aren’t prepared for it.
You see, what’s funny looking back on it is, I can’t even pin point when it happened. One morning I woke up and looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize myself. I didn’t feel any older, I didn’t particularly look any older (to me I’m sure), but I was. I was now one of those women with her baby. I guess I thought it would feel different. I suppose I thought I would feel more prepared, and more “adult-ish”. That’s the thing kids don’t realize about their own parents. We are still just kids to ourselves, we just look like we have it all together.
This morning I looked in the mirror. In sweat pants and a hoodie; it was noon. I looked closely at my face with not a stitch of make-up on mind you. Not because I don’t need makeup, because trust me, I need it, but because I had zero time or energy to put any on. Especially these days when sleep is a commodity and something I’ve just completely given up on. I looked at my dark circles under my eyes. Something that ten years ago I was convinced I actually had, so I would spend hundreds of dollars on different versions of lotions and serums in an attempt to make them disappear. They never did. Why? Because they weren’t actually there, but now they are. Newborns have a way of helping you realize how trivial your life was before they were there. I looked at my hair in the mirror; in a top bun on my head, held back with a yoga headband. Even though I had not been to yoga that morning. The truth is, if the 21 year-old me could see me now she would be disappointed. She would quickly remind me of all the rules I’m breaking, that I swore I never would.
She would tell me, “Rule number one: never let your husband catch you without make-up. He’ll lose interest. Rule number two: sweat pants are for the gym and maybe never at all. If you’re wearing them at home you better be on your death bed or headed to the gym. Rule number 3: NEVER LET YOUR MAN CATCH YOU WITHOUT MAKE-UP ON. Always make your bed. Always have your hair perfect. Don’t order take-out. Make sure you go to yoga. Always have a job, something to keep you interesting. Yoga pants are for yoga, make sure you’re always dressed to impress…” That’s about when I would punch her in the face. The truth of the matter is, yes, I haven’t slept in over three months; It’s been closer to seven if you include pregnancy. I’m completely worn out, but I have never felt more alive in my entire life. Yes, true I’m in sweat pants and it’s noon, but it’d the easiest thing to feed my daughter in, and just about everything I do revolves around making her happy now, and I love that! No, I haven’t been to the gym, but I’m convinced between walking around the house with a 12lb weight all day and constantly being one step away; I’m sure I’m getting my 10,000 steps. No, I don’t wear make-up, but hey it’s better for my skin, and frankly I’ve never felt more alive,empowered, and beautiful in my entire life.
I am a mother
I am a strong, beautiful, intelligent, mother who daily puts everything about herself on hold to take care of a little being that is pure innocence and can’t take care of herself. It is the most beautiful, life-changing, self-sacrificing, amazing thing I have ever done or will ever do. And to the 20-something me who sneaks in thoughts of doubt and judgement daily; you can do this! I have never felt more born to do something in my entire life. Raising a child is such a privilege. I am now one of those “child-toting moms” who obsesses over the latest cloth diaper and wet bag, and I love it! I wish I knew then what I knew now, and maybe becoming a mom wouldn’t have been so scary to me.
I wish I could tell those people that say, “Travel now, because once you have a kid, it will be hard to do…” that yes, maybe it will be harder, but watching your child see something for the very first time, something new and exciting, is something miracles are made of. It makes the journey there so worth it. Seeing a genuine smile, no faking, no jaded view of the world, just genuine happiness and a smile, is something that is rare and should be treasured. And to the “there goes your love-life” crew, that thinks it’s funny to say to new parents. To you I will say how dare you. First of all, the female anatomy is MEANT to do this. Believe it or not, it does go back to “normal,” and you’re not helping anyone by scaring everyone. Also, if you’re not making sex a priority in your relationship, that speaks more to your marriage than having children. Yes, having children may limit your time a bit (no more hanky panky wherever whenever) but if it’s important in your marriage and your spouse is important, you WILL make time. It will still be amazing, and feel amazing; dare I say even more so. You will share a closeness you will not be able to share with anyone else ever. And to the rest of you that scare people with nightmares of no sleep, and walking mombies… why, seriously why. Okay, yes,you will not get very much sleep that’s just a fact. But next time explain to us why?! Try saying, “you will bring that little baby home and be so completely consumed with love you’re heart will explode, and you will spend probably the first month just staying up starring at this little being you have made and be in awe. Once you do fall asleep, you will be so overcome with mama bear instincts that the slightest irregularity in their breathing or sounds will make you dart out of bed to come to their rescue. And in the morning when you wake up from what ever amount of sleep you were able to allow yourself to have, yes you will be tired, but you will have such a renewed self purpose everyday you won’t even care or barely miss the sleep you will weren’t getting, because what you are getting instead is so incredibly amazing and worth it.”
As for child birth…Women…I’m speaking to you here..why! Why do we do this to each other? You know who you are. To all those women who think it is somehow appropriate to tell the expectant mother, or woman who is trying to conceive, your horror stories of labor and delivery; I know where you live. Not really, but come on ladies! Why must we do this to each other? First of all, you are the exception. Most women have a perfectly normal and beautiful labor and delivery. After all we have a few things working in our favor. Number one, oh I don’t know, maybe biology! I mean we are the only creatures on the entire planet that are capable of being scared of child birth! Most animals have zero complications giving birth and they do so without pain medications and 9 out of 10 times without veterinary assistance. Has it ever occurred to anyone perhaps we have created a lot of these anxieties, fears, and dare I say tears, because our brains have been hard wired to literally fight against nature? We continually tell each other our one off scenarios of tragedy and pain, and forget to tell each other all the positives! Well for me personally, I went into preterm labor, but I had other factors involved and I was pretty sure going into my pregnancy that I would go into preterm labor. With that being said, once my water broke I had zero complications. None, zip, nada. In fact, it was such a perfect delivery and baby that although she only weighed just under 5lbs she didn’t spend one minute in the NICU. She came home with us the next day, no assistance breathing, no IV, nothing. The most perfect little package. Back to my delivery though, when they finally told me to push, it was the most exciting moment of my entire life. I will never forget the feeling of knowing in moments, you will meet your baby. Words honestly cannot describe. As for epidural or no epidural. Okay, I labored pretty much the whole time with no drugs. Now, it’s completely doable. It’s not the end of the world. Don’t mistake me here, it hurts like complete hell, but it’s doable. I mean your carnal instincts kick in like no other, and you become super woman; I’m not kidding. So you can totally do it. But somewhere about 6cm I thought to myself, “why, why am I doing this. What is the point when they have perfectly good, effective, safe drugs, that will make me pain free?” And that’s about the time, as I was being wheeled into my delivery suite I SCREAMED for someone to give me and epidural. Now, things I wish I knew:
The epidural takes about 30 minutes to administer; they want everything to be completely sterile.
The longer you wait to get the epidural the harder it will be for them to give it to you. I was almost 8cm dilated by the time they began administering it to me, and labor was progressing fast. In order for them to give it to you, you have to sit upright and then arch your back like your about to hug your knees. Then sit extremely still for the next 30 minutes. Doesn’t seem to hard until you are having the most gut wrenching painful contractions. Just take my word for it. Either get an epidural early on, and enjoy yourself, or power through. Either way, it’s doable and you WILL BE FINE. But you’ll thank me for saying, get a game plan, and stick to it.
Epidurals do not make you more likely to tear. This was something I read while I was researching child birth prior to delivery, and it’s just not true. The truth is, most first time mamas tear. It is what it is. However, its not scary. You will be so overcome by excitement, joy, and a carnal instinct I PROMISE you, you won’t feel it. It will heal. You will be okay. Promise.
You can still feel things with an Epidural. Okay now this is a weird thing to explain. So I could still feel my legs, and move them around. I was able to hold my legs up and move them into position for labor, and you can still feel someone touching you and the baby moving down and out, however, the pain is gone. Now I know that seems impossible, but its not. You will be able to feel the contractions and when to push, and you will be able to bare down no problem, and feel when your baby is coming out, but it will just feel like a lot of pressure and the stingy pain will not be accompanying it. Sounds amazing right? Well it is, and why people are so scared of it I have no clue. Think- dentist office and getting a filling. They give you that shot of novocaine and you can still feel the dentist inside your mouth but you don’t really feel pain, just pressure, and it’s very isolated to either the top or bottom, or one side. In this case, your vagina. So I highly recommend, but that’s just me personally.
It will not impact breastfeeding- my premature baby breastfed within 10 minutes of birth. She was not any more or less drowsy, and the epidural did not impact her. Again think dentist office. That would be like getting a molar filled, and then worrying you weren’t going to feel your leg. Not related areas. Side note- opt for kangaroo care if you want to breastfeed and delay everything like shots, bath ect. We had zero problems with latch and feeding, and I credit it to doing that.
I just had to put those things out there, since they were things I wish I would have known.
Oddly enough, when I think back on my labor and delivery, I get excited. It was one of the best days of my life, preceded only by my wedding day. I don’t think about the pain, I don’t think about much other than how amazing it was. How I was so excited, and how I couldn’t wait to start pushing. I think about how much love I never knew existed inside me, but the second my daughter was born I just knew I would never love anything more. I think about how funny I must have sounded worrying about all this stuff, when everything was so easy and fine, and amazing. I think about how I worried I wouldn’t feel a bond to her, or would I look like an awful parent because I don’t cry, and I swore this would be no different. Oh how I was wrong; I’ve never cried more in my entire life then the moment my daughter was born. Yes, it will change your world, but for the better, in every single possible way.
Postpartum, I promise your body will return. As I have said, we were designed to do this. Our bodies are amazing things, and things will return to their previous state. In my case, I got huge boobs after. Which all things considered, I take as a bonus. Will I most likely want a boob job to make them look a little better? Maybe so, but who knows. You will feel like yourself again soon, and soon you will stare at your baby thinking, “Holy cow, I made that” “she was just in my tummy.” Being pregnant feels like it takes forever, but after their born, everything happens so fast it’s insane! You WILL become one of those women who daydreams about feeling that little one kicking inside your womb. I think about it all the time, mostly because I wish she would slow down a bit. I already feel like time is slipping away from us and I want to relive every moment with her again and again.
As for recovery in your nether-regions. Okay a couple words to the wise:
a)Just wait the whole 6 weeks. But don’t get overly cautious, 6 weeks is plenty long enough for most women. Your doctor will tell you otherwise.
b)It WILL go back to normal after about 10 weeks (size wise).
c)Even if you never used lube before, invest in some scent free all natural lube, just for the first couple weeks at least. It will take a few romps before things feel quite right.
d)Mine looks the same. This was other horror stories I heard, and let me put your mind at ease; at least for me, things look and feel exactly the same.
e)The first time will feel uncomfortable and MAY hurt a bit- that’s totally normal… Keep trying, go slow, and it will get better each time. I recommend woman on top (I used to hate that position, and now I wish I would have done it sooner post baby) that way you can control everything. Pretty soon you will be back to whatever crazy sex fetish suits your fancy. For me, this took about 3 months to fully feel normal again, but like I said, I recommend beginning to get back in the sack at 6 weeks. I tried at 4, just trust me, wait till 6 but not more than 8.
I am a mother, but I’m also a wife, and a woman. I am STILL the same person, but now I am a complete person. The areas of my world and life that were superficial, and nonsensical now have meaning and are more real. The parts of me that had something to prove, now have nothing to prove and feel empowered. I still laugh at all the things I worried about, and how selfish it all sounds now. I’ll never be the same, and I wouldn’t want to be. For now I will just be wonder woman is disguise, wearing my yoga pants, sweatshirt, and sunglasses to big enough to hide my face. One day I’ll conquer the world, but for now I’m creating a new one made out of bath time bubbles, hours of snuggles, millions of kisses, and nighttime lullabies. And to the women like me that don’t have it all together yet, and on occasion wake up doubting themselves and feeling worn down; I salute you! Take a breath, and breath deeply. Remember how amazing you are and don’t forget what a privilege this is. To be a woman and create a life that without you, wouldn’t exist; It’s truly a miracle and something only we share, and only we can do, and only we get to experience. Trust me, you have never looked more beautiful or sounded sweeter to anyone else in the world, than you do to your baby. Just in case no one else tells you this today, you can do this! You are perfect. You are irreplaceable. You are beautiful. You make this look good. You’ve truly never been sexier, yoga pants and all. That’s why I’m writing this because…
I am a Mother.