My son Stanley entered this world in October 2017, six days after I turned 29. Like many women, I had dreamed my whole life about becoming a mother, which came with a list of expectations I had for pregnancy, the delivery and being a mom. Some of the expectations were correct, many were not, and a few things caught me by surprise.
1. Everyone talks about mothers judging each other, but I’ve found I am my own biggest critic.
I don’t read a lot of mommy blogs, but have seen enough on social media of women bashing each other for not breastfeeding, not vaccinating, or using whole milk vs. almond milk etc. This is all ridiculous and I knew I would not let anyone else make me feel bad about my decisions as a mother. I stayed true to this, but what I did not expect was how hard I have become on myself. I am a working mother, and unfortunately, due to a series of circumstances, I had to go back to work six weeks postpartum. Fortunately, I am a nurse working three days a week, but this was still difficult. I found myself feeling less-than other mothers who were able to stay home with their children; and then felt even MORE “less-than” when I realized I would go crazy staying home with my child seven days a week. Once Stanley began going to a babysitter a few days a week I began to envy what a “perfect” mom our babysitter was to her daughter. Decorating the house, and having surprises ready for her child for Valentine’s day, planning the perfect crafty things for her daughter to do every day, and now color-coordinating outfits for her toddler and newborn. I admire her so much for this – and know it is the type of mother I will never be. I am trying to learn to give myself a break and not beat myself up for not being that “perfect” mom. I hope in Stanley’s eyes I am perfect.
2. Once I became “Mom” I didn't stop being “Phoebe."
While this is part of the mom-guilt I feel, this is also something I am proud of. While I strive to be a perfect and attentive mother to my son, I realized that once I had him my dreams and goals did not go away, or shift to solely involving him, although I expected that maybe they would! While I was always a driven person, having Stanley in my life motivated me even more to run towards the goals in my life. When he was three months old I started graduate school, when he was five months old I began working a second job for my mother’s consulting company, and when he was ten months old I began the journey of developing and launching our company, Bra in a Box! While this heightens my sadness of not being a perfect, “my child has never left my side” mother, I choose to believe that accomplishing these things will lead to a better life for Stanley, and once he’s old enough will serve as a great example for him to follow.
3. My respect for single parents has exploded a million percent!!!
Before having a child, I always respected single parents (any parents really), but had no frame of reference for this. Since becoming a parent, I seriously want to kneel and kiss the sore, sore feet of single parents! I have NO IDEA how they do it and am in awe of them. I feel like I’m barely keeping it together with an amazing, devoted husband and father at my side. The single parents that somehow make it through deserve the world, and I want them all to know, “I see you.”
4. I saw my spouse in a new way and realized that I underestimated how much I would need him.
I have always adored my husband (obvi) and that is why I married him. After being together for ten years prior to the birth of Stanley, I absolutely knew he would be an excellent father, and he has proven me right. What I didn’t think about was the amount of emotional support I would need from him to be a good mother, especially in the first few months. Having a newborn was very hard for me. Back to the self-imposed mom-guilt; some mothers I know seem like they were born to do this. They can have two hours of sleep and still be happy and beautiful and breast-feed a bouncing baby. I was not. I have always required more sleep than I would like, and also had a hard time sleeping when I became a mother, for fear the baby was about to wake up. While I never felt I was “bad” enough to seek a doctor’s opinion, I do feel I had a certain level of postpartum anxiety. The lack of sleep, breastfeeding issues, and seemingly immediate return to a stressful job compounded this. My husband truly supported me emotionally, and in so many ways became a much better first-time parent than I could ever be. He woke up with Stanley for overnight feedings the nights before I had to get up to work a 12 hour shift, always listened to my anxiety-ridden ramblings and would remind me, “this too shall pass.” Today he continues to make me laugh everyday over the ridiculousness our lives have become chasing a naked toddler around the house.
5. My body changed some, and I really don’t care!
Circling back to Bra in a Box, nipples, and women’s breasts, I now feel that I can relate to women who have seen their bodies go through the "miracle and/ or nightmare of pregnancy and childbirth.” I went into pregnancy saying I was going to be this super-healthy pregnant person and work out until I was eight months pregnant . . . . yeah, that didn’t happen. I enjoyed the one time in my life I could eat WHATEVER I wanted without regret. That being said, I made sure myself and the baby were always healthy; my blood pressure and blood glucose were always under control. I gained 45 pounds by the end of my pregnancy. While I was lucky I did not develop stretch marks, (thank you, Mom … and your genetics!) my breasts did get gigantic and my nipples became huge and dark. I read this happens so they look like a bullseye to a baby’s undeveloped eyesight. (LOL!) Then once I stopped breastfeeding I went back to my usual B cup. This resulted in my once perky breasts looking deflated and uneven. What surprised me is that I really don’t care. I realized I was less vain then I thought I was. It was after the birth of my son that I discovered and fell in love with Nipcos . . . even with my not-so-perfect breasts. Something in me feels proud of them because they're the part of my body that shows the physical signs of the journey I went on to 'grow' my son. I also feel like I can represent Bra in a Box from the perspective of a woman who is not 20 years old with perfect breasts . . . and show that women whose bodies have done amazing things can still wear Nipcos and feel confident and comfortable!
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