This interview is part of a series we’re doing to support and encourage one another by sharing the challenges we face as mothers, and how we work to overcome them.
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How many children do you have?
One (so far!) He is 5 months old.
How have you changed since becoming a mother?
There is a contentment and a peace in the work I am doing now that I didn’t have before. Even though it is harder than I ever thought, I find myself noticing that I am just so much happier than I was when I was only working for myself in the corporate world.
Everything I do, however seemingly mundane, has a profound purpose because it is in service of raising my son and building a family for Christ. Also, watching my son grow and discover new things is a complete delight.
What is one challenge you have faced as a mom, and how have you worked through it?
When my son was first born, we had a rough start with nursing. Breastfeeding was something that was incredibly important to me: I had always dreamed of nursing my babies, for the health benefits and for the bonding. But those first weeks were nothing like the blissful bonding experience I had envisioned.
I knew something wasn’t right: as it turns out, my son had a tongue tie, a lip tie, and two buccal ties, in addition to just being overall small with a small mouth. Combine that with what I now realize was postpartum anxiety, and I would dread every feeding session, afraid of the pain and worried that my baby wasn’t getting enough to eat.
Even after getting his ties revised, we still had weeks of learning and trial and error, and many, many tears (on my part) before we figured things out. There were so many times I wanted to give up, but with my mom cheering me on and my husband’s full support, we persevered.
In that process, I felt myself raw, broken down, and vulnerable in a way I never had been before. I had to very honestly face my pride and preconceived, judgy notions of “I would never do [fill in the blank] if that was my baby” that I definitely had prior to my son being born. It was a big dose of humble pie and I hope that will stay with me for a long time as a mom.
A mama wiser and more experienced than I, shared with me that the babies who seem to be the “neediest,” and require the most effort, end up being the ones you are most bonded to.
I needed to hear that so desperately. I only have one baby, so I have nothing to compare, but I find that has so far been absolutely true with me and my son: he is a total delight and we are 100% bonded, not because everything went perfectly, but because of the love, stretching, and growth he asked of me right from the start.
No matter what your journey is in those first weeks and months of motherhood, I think that is the universal beauty and truth behind the struggle and sacrifice: you are given the baby that you need, and that is how you become the mom that your baby needs.
Do you have any favorite memories you’d like to share from your time as a young family?
Well, it’s only been a few months of post-utero bonding with my son so far, but a favorite memory definitely has to be when we went hiking with my husband to celebrate our first wedding anniversary as a family. We got the hair-brained idea to hike with a 3 month old in a “carpe diem” type moment of inspiration, and I am so glad we did. Despite some postpartum anxiety, turns out hiking with just one little one is totally doable and I know will only get more complicated as he gets older.
The car ride to the hiking spot did not bode well for the trip, as I was coming down with a migraine and my son was fussing the whole drive there (does not love the car seat). At one point my husband asked if we should just turn around and drive home, since this wasn’t looking like a great start to our day-long hiking plan.
Although anxious, I decided that we should persevere and give it a try, and if the baby continued to be miserable then we could always turn around. Fifteen minutes of hiking is better than nothing, I thought.
I’m so glad we did, because as soon as we got on the trail, our little nugget fell asleep in the baby carrier, my headache subsided, and my husband and I were able to get moving, get outside, and reflect on a whirlwind first year of marriage.
The little man woke up at just the right time to see a waterfall and was so happy to be outside with so much to look at. Being 3 months postpartum with my first child, it was one of those moments where I felt like we were emerging from the crazy blur that is newborn-land and living our life as a family.
Before my husband and I had our son, going for hikes and getting outdoors had been one of our very favorite things to do together. It was such a special memory to get to do that now with a little one in tow, reminding ourselves that, although they require crazy sacrifice, there is a lot of life we can still live with children! Turns out, our baby loves hiking too.
What do you and your son enjoy doing together?
We love going for walks around our neighborhood (the Lakeview area of Chicago is wonderful for strolls), bath time (typical kid, loves water), and side-lie nursing in the morning after Daddy has left for work. The morning snuggles are my favorite.
What is one piece of advice you’d have for a new mom?
To get a haircut before giving birth! It’s my one piece of unsolicited advice for pregnant friends.
But in all seriousness, I wish I had known that falling in love with your baby can take a little time, and that’s okay. You’re meeting a stranger who you love immediately with an all-consuming, self-sacrificial love, but the warm fuzzies and infatuation come as a result of that love, and from getting to know your baby. Be patient with yourself and your child.