Motherhood and Me

Joey Livingston Pregnant.jpg

When I first found out I was pregnant with my first child, I was terrified. My husband, calm, cool, and collected, of course. Neither of us knowing what to expect. Each day was a new adventure. Like most first time mothers, I spent my time reading and following all the “What to Expect” guides that I could get my hands on. I asked the women in my family questions about every single thing I was feeling. Questions like “Why am I crying at Pepsi commercials?”, “What does it mean when I eat a pancake whole without chewing?”, and “Why every time I feel the extreme need to go to the bathroom and then nothing happens?” I did my best to get my advice from other mothers. I found it odd and slightly offensive when people who didn’t experience pregnancy and motherhood would attempt to advise me on what I should and should not be doing. One time I was at a Starbucks getting a coffee. (Yes, my doctor allowed me to have a regulated amount of my favorite drink on the planet) This woman gave me a look of disgust as she rotated her gaze from my belly to the cup-a-joey in my hand and said “I sure hope thats decaf, you could harm your baby”. It took every bit of patience and grace in my body not to act out what was going on in my head. I literally roasted her via imagination while my lips just formed a fake smile and walked away. 

I also did my best to stay away from the horrible thoughts that creeped through, all the “what if’s” of pregnancy that permeate on occasion. They usually led to a google search that you’d soon regret.

My mother gave me a piece of advice that I took seriously. She told me “How you carry your baby during pregnancy, is indicative of how he or she will be when they’re born”.

Meaning that if I was an emotional wreck, my baby likely would be too. If I was zen mother-to-be then my baby would be calm as well. Clearly I did my best to be zen to the max. I did everything from meditation and reading, to prenatal yoga. I have to say the hardest part of being pregnant is the psychological changes you go through. I could handle the physical changes, although I cried profusely the first time my boobs touched my growing belly when I sat down. ( my husband had no clue how to react to that one.) But it took some serious mental strength and exercise not to go crazy over random things. One time my husband came to bed and the smell of his body wash made me irate. I asked—well demanded, that he go take another shower to wash off the body wash. Looking back now he was a trooper for sticking it out during those few months of hurricane Joey. 

"The experience of giving birth is one I could not capture in words. It was the most special time of my life and forever my greatest accomplishment. "

As nervous and terrified as I was, I had been oddly calm during the entire process. Once my daughter was born, our whole world changed.

"I couldn’t believe they let us leave the hospital with a little human and no supervision. It felt surreal to bring our baby girl home and we looked at one another like, “Now What?” 
Tyler Marie Livingston.jpg

Every child is different, and every parent is different, but one thing that is constant throughout is that it takes A LOT of work. Sometimes I stop and think to myself how amazing it is that I am responsible for teaching her how to do everything from blowing her nose, to using her 5 senses. It really puts things into perspective for me because I spend less time worrying about things that don’t relate to the life of my child. So what the dishes aren’t done, so what the laundry is piling up, I will get to them. What takes precedence is her happiness and well being, and my sanity.

There is no satisfaction for me in trying to be perfect. I already carried a baby for 10 months and gave birth, I have proven I am a superwoman.

Now the challenge for me is finding balance. Balance between being a mom, a wife, and a woman. I remind myself that my sanity comes first so I do what makes me happy when I get a free moment. Whether its a manicure, a workout, time to read a novel, or a quiet lunch alone. I realized quickly that if I don’t do for me, then I can’t possibly do for anyone else in my household. 

It’s true what they say, nothing can prepare you for motherhood. My daughter is now a year old (and still nursing but that’s another post) and there are days that are so much harder than others. Once they are mobile you enter a whole new level of crazy. But I can confidently say that at the end of each one I am thankful and grateful for this wonderful little person. She adds so much joy to our lives and teaches me more about myself than I ever thought possible. She challenges me to be better, and makes strive to be a woman she can look up to, lean on, and learn from. I have so much to learn, but so far the long days, cold coffee, lack of sleep, dirty diapers, crusty clothes, endless cleaning, and snotty noses are worth every second of love and comfort that we give each other. 

Hats off to all the Mamas out there. There is no handbook for a reason, because you have to do YOUR thing, in YOUR way to provide what’s best for YOUR child. I never give unsolicited advice on motherhood but if asked I would say this…

Take all advice with a grain of salt. It can be helpful to hear about other mom’s experiences, but know that your experiences will be different and unique. 

IT REALLY DOES TAKE A VILLAGE. Having family, friends, support groups etc. around you is crucial to a mothers mental health. It’s a blessing to have other people in your life that teach your child things that you can’t or don’t, it’s not a weakness. It also provides an atmosphere for your baby that teaches them how to interact with other people. For me it allows her to explore her instincts of energy, what she feels around people. I feel this will help her throughout life navigating her relationships and relying on her gut. Your baby is also different when alone with just mommy. To be quite honest, I think we get a little sick of each other every once in a while. That's when we head out for an adventure or just some fresh air at the park. 

BREATHE!! When you’re up to your nose in shit (literally) and your baby is crying endlessly, the dog is barking, and the doorbell is ringing simultaneously, remember to breathe. Three deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth will force you to slow the moment down and get back to a calm state. 

And lastly, Don’t be too hard on yourself. We have enough responsibility as Mom’s to make sure our kids aren’t eating the dog’s food and playing with knives. Don’t be hard on yourself if things go a wry. Chances are they will every now and then. Don’t stress over the things you can’t control. Just do the best you can. 

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