Finding my Voice Through Motherhood

It’s not a secret that becoming a mom literally changes everything.

Your schedule is no longer about you, you have to think of a little persons needs before your own, you can’t just leave the house at a moments notice, and last minute plans just can’t happen anymore.

What may surprise you is how much you change inwardly once you become a mama

I remember saying to myself “I’m not gonna be one of those moms that let’s motherhood change them!” I’m pretty sure most, if not all of us, say this at some point. We all picture ourselves continuing on being who we were prior to motherhood, just with this little baby tagging along for the ride.

While I’m pleased to say I never fully lost myself, (although, like all moms I have certainly had my moments), I am definitely not who I was prior to becoming a mom.

I’m not so different that I’m unrecognizable. I’m not so different that if I were to hang out with my friends without kids they wouldn’t know what to do around me. However, deep down I am changed forever.

Yes I’ve changed in the normal ways you expect. I’m not out until 1 am with my friends anymore…. I honestly don’t even know what 1 am looks like anymore. I’m not getting my nails done every two weeks, or getting together every weekend with my girlfriends for a glass of wine. I’m genuinely happy to spend my weekends with my little family watching my toddler explore snd learn.

But there’s one way I’ve changed that I LOVE, and that’s truly surprised me.

I’ve found my voice, or at least I’m finding it!

My whole life I’ve been the girl who did as she was told (with a few rebellious spurts in my younger years). I’ve never really been one to say no when someone asked a favor, even when I really wanted to. I would never rock the boat if I disagreed, because I HATE confrontation.

Once I became a mother, that has slowly started t shift. Ask my husband… Almost instantly after becoming pregnant with my second I have pretty much no fear speaking my mind.

If someone asks me to do something now ,and I really don’t want to, or in my gut I feel like it’s a bad idea, the answer is no. No more people pleasing.

That doesn’t mean it’s anything personal against the person asking for the favor, or inviting me to something. Time just becomes a precious commodity once you have another human to care about. They tend to take up the majority of your time, especially when they’re so young. Adding more events, or favors to your plate can be stressful.

Personally, I know I am a better wife and mother when there’s a sliver of time in my day carved out for myself, and if that means saying no to a night out with friends so be it. I can’t pour from an empty cup, and sometimes the best way for me to fill my cup is an hour of alone time. For this reason, I am super comfortable saying no to plans. After all, once you’re a mama alone time is so hard to come by.

I’ve also experienced the fun of postnatal anxiety. So saying no to things involving my kid when in my gut they just don’t feel right has become second nature now. I know that if I follow my intuition I won’t regret it; but, saying yes when my my head is screaming no always results in anxiety.

I really found my voice recently at the pediatricians office. A doctor I don’t normally see, but have had to with limited staff, tried to pressure me into multiple vaccines at once. I delay and space them out as a matter of preference.

I found myself being lectured… no more like bullied, by the doctor about why I may have a point but she didn’t think it was correct. Now, normally when someone of authority talks to me like that, I cower and just agree so the argument ends. This time, mama bear snapped.

I nicely, but firmly, told her it was my preference, and that while I appreciate her opinion, I’m doing what I personally feel comfortable with. She huffed and puffed but eventually gave in. Ever since, she’s been kind and understanding when I say no to something she suggests.

When it comes to my own personal beliefs, and the beliefs of others, I’ve always wanted to remain respectful. I was raised to treat others as I would want to be treated. I personally don’t want someone shoving what they believe, or their ways of doing thing down my throat. Therefore, I try to do the same.

My personal code of ethics is to keep my beliefs to myself unless you seek me out. If you genuinely want my opinion I’m happy to give it. I’ll talk personal beliefs all day with anyone open to it.

At some point during your pregnancy, (pretty much as soon as you announce it to anyone), it’s almost like a sign is tattooed on your forehead. It reads: “unsolicited advice welcome here!” It’s not really welcome here, but it’s given to us anyway, and it doesn’t stop after the baby comes. It just gets worse.

This advice, and outspoken opinions, come from a well meaning place… usually anyway. A loving family member or friend gives you a piece of information they personally found helpful. They truly want to better your experience with their suggestions.

Sometimes this advice, suggestion, or the belief they are unknowingly pushing on you, just doesn’t align. Sometimes it may seem, or even BE critical of the way you do things, or what you believe. I used to smile and nod, again, trying to remain the peacekeeper.

These days, if it rubs me the wrong way, or feels too pushy, I shut it down. I don’t do this in a rude way. Instead, I politely say “thank you, but this is how I’m doing it”, or point out where my boundary is, and respectfully ask that it is followed.

I cannot tell you how freeing this is.

Motherhood is the most challenging, wild, experience of my life. It’s also been the most beautiful transformation I’ve ever experienced.

Yes, I’ve had my moments where I look in the mirror and don’t know who I’m looking at anymore. Yes, I’ve had days where I need a break and want to rip my hair out. More than anything though, I feel like I am more myself than ever before.

Motherhood has made me stronger in my convictions. It has made me realize that speaking my mind, and standing up for myself, and the family I’ve created is much more important than keeping the peace. It has been more freeing than anything.

When I birthed my little girl, I was born again too. I became a mom. Mothers are warriors. We love hard, and we fight hard for our families.

The greatest gift I’ve received as a mother is my little girl. The second greatest gift I received was my voice. I’m still finding it, and learning to use it, but I will forever be grateful for it.

So from one mama bear to another, don’t ever be afraid to let someone hear you roar. It is a gift, so never be ashamed to use it.

Letting Go of Plans: My Birth Story

The past few months have been a whirlwind, but they do not compare to the past two weeks. I have left this passion project of a blog unattended, because I was very pregnant, busy, and far more focused on preparing for the little bundle of joy that was to join us!

You see I am a gal who likes a plan. A nice solid plan. This is something that occasionally drives my husband nuts (like when it’s Saturday we have no plans and I get up at 6 am contemplating things to do, and demand he start planning the day with me as soon as he wakes up). I can’t help it! I like to know what I am doing, and what I need to get done.

Nesting hit early on in my second trimester, which was terrible timing because farm life was still in full swing and the husband and I were both working 7 days a week. Come November I had my husband painting walls and building cribs before he had a chance to think otherwise!

Once that third trimester kicked in, I was sure to finish my Hypnobirthing home course, and assign my husband homework and readings from it as well. I wanted to be thoroughly ready for what lay ahead, and my husband had to be too. My birth plan was written, proofread, and had 3 copies printed and strategically placed in different bags just in case by 36 weeks.

In my head I planned that this baby just wouldn’t make it to 40 weeks! She had dropped by week 34 and was 7mm from my bladder and resting her head on my cervix since 37 weeks.

Well I learned pretty quick that planning was about to fly out the door!

The week before my due date I had a routine check. The doctor examined me, told me I was 80% effaced and 1 cm dilated. “From the looks of it you may not make it to your due date, but just in case go ahead and schedule an appointment for that day.” That comment basically gave me the green light on my plans to have this kid before my EDD.

Well then my due date came, and at that appointment the doctor said “OK. Nothing has changed from last week. I would schedule a sonogram for next Friday, and have you scheduled an induction for the 42 week mark yet? Because I think you should just in case.”

This was the beginning of my plans shattering. I walked out of that office with two new appointment cards: one for a sonogram in case my stubborn baby was too big to wait until 42 weeks, and one for an impending induction. My heart deflated and my ego took a big hit. My plans to be a mother by that evening had flown out the window.

I dramatically texted my family saying “No baby, I am just gonna he pregnant forever.” That was the new plan. I even came home and declared it to my husband. “Well since she doesn’t wanna come out, I’ll be induced on the night of February 18th and she’ll be born on the 19th. It’s ok though because I got to pick who will deliver her.”

Well that night our daughter had other plans. After a delicious eggplant parm dinner (a labor induction suggestion from a friend… who knew!), at 12:30 am on February 9th my water broke.

It wasn’t like a scene out of a movie where I immediately went into labor and we rushed to the hospital. I had been sleeping and was actually terrified that the whole loss of bladder control thing everyone had been telling me would happen, had finally occurred. But nope, my water had definitely broken. I phoned the hospital, they told me to wait til 6 am or until my labor had started and I was having good contractions 5 min apart for 1 hour.

At 7:30 that morning my husband and I were rushing out the door to go have our baby girl! I had been having strong contractions every 4 min for 1 min straight for 2 hours by the time we got to the hospital, so naturally my husband and I thought this was gonna be it! I’d be delivering by noon, just like we’d hoped for the past month! An afternoon baby, and lots of naps for the rest of the day! (Hahaha now I can really laugh at that because I’ve lived the new baby hospital life and know that naps are hard to come by there).

The doctor examined me and informed us that my water had indeed broken and she’d be back in a few to check my cervix.

I was so excited! I must be well on my way right? The contractions although pretty painful, and super close at this point were bad, but my hypnobirthing breathing techniques were really helping! I was about to have the all natural, beautiful, non medicated birth I dreamt of!

The doctor then checked me, and informed me that while I was 95% effaced, I was still only 1cm dilated. My water had been broken for almost 9 hours and if I went much longer, the baby and I would both be put on antibiotics because we would be at risk of infection. She suggested I be put on a pitocin drip (synthetic oxytocin) to speed things up.

My birth plan had entailed no pitocin unless necessary… but starting my baby’s life with antibiotics or risking infection outweighed my desire to naturally progress. I agreed, they started my drip, and things certainly sped up. My husband asked me if I wanted to show the doctor my birth plan… I said no that’s ok, confident that I would get the rest of my natural birth!

The first 4-5 hours my breathing techniques worked wonders… but then we entered the transition period. I was about 7-8 cm dilated and the contractions were coming every minute or less, and due to the pitocin were lasting 120 seconds instead of 60 and were super intense. I was in so much pain that I couldn’t breath or relax my body if I tried.

Enter the drugs. I remember looking at my husband who I told “don’t you let me take the epidural”, and pleading with him not to judge me. I knew that if I didn’t take it, I would not have the energy to push this baby out on my own. That mattered to me more than anything. My husband of course supported my decision. What felt like an eternity later, the anesthesiologist showed up and took all the pain away!

After a brief hour long nap, I started feeling a serious pressure and my contractions once again. The doctor checked me, told me I was at 9.5 cm and that she wanted to wait one more hour so the baby could descend a little further on her own. Whelp then she noticed I was feeling my contractions once again, and that the epidural had snapped out of my back! “Ok time to push!” She announced.

About an hour later my little girl was placed into my arms. Our lives were changed forever… and all plans have gone out the window!

We planned to “get some rest” that first night, but as soon as I’d feed the baby, and change her and shut my eyes a nurse would come in to check one or both of us. So we planned on napping the following day, but we were flooded with excited and happy loved ones who came to wish us well.

(Keeping it real:this picture truly captures how exhausted I was the day after giving birth)

It’s been a week and a half since our baby girl was born, and I can honestly say I have woke up everyday knowing full well there will be no planning happening. I’m ok with this now. The only plans I have every day now are to feed, clothe, and give my baby girl all the love she deserves. That is truly the only plan that matters anymore.

Whoever first told me to “plan to throw your plans out”, you were so right. I am so at peace with this idea of a plan free day, because all I really want to do anyway is spend as much time with my girl as I can.

It’s only been 11 days since the birth of my daughter, and time already seems to be speeding by.

Life is just too short to make plans. Instead I will choose to soak up each and every moment I get with my child, so I can cherish them one day when I’m free to plan away again.