Motherhood has been the most incredible transformation of my life. In so many different ways it has changed me for the better. For one, it has completely changed my relationship with my body.
If you’ve followed me for a while, you may have heard me discuss the fact that I had a very unhealthy relationship with my body. For most of my high school years I struggled with disordered eating. I would restrict my calories to about 500 a day, and workout for an hour a day after school in my bedroom to burn off as much of that as I could.
When I went to college, I did the exact opposite. I numbed myself with alcohol and ate my feelings. I went from calorie restriction to binge eating and drinking.
No matter what I would look in the mirror and dislike what I had to see. It didn’t matter when people told me how great I looked, or my boyfriend (now husband) would tell me how beautiful he thought I was.
It wasn’t until I was 23, and my husband encouraged me to work on my relationship with my body, and get healthy that I began to heal my relationship. I learned how to fuel my body instead of deprive it, and how to exercise my body healthily instead of punish it. Healing my body helped me to heal my my mental health too.
My deepest healing came however when I became pregnant with my first child. I remember worrying that my unhealthy habits or thoughts would creep back up as I watched my body change drastically and quickly. Instead I found myself in awe of my beautiful new body and the life it was creating inside of it.
That feeling only continued after birthing my daughter. This past pregnancy, the love I have for this body grew even more. I watched it once again blossom into a beautiful home for another lovely little girl.
I saw it’s power as it labored and birthed her quickly and powerfully. I sit in awe of it now as I watch it shrink slowly back down. I cannot believe how after 9 months of housing a little human and birthing that tiny person, it is capable of caring for 2 children day in and day out as it continues to heal.
The other day, my two year old daughter saw me getting dressed after taking a shower. She has started to become super curious about the human body since she saw my tummy shrink since her sister was born.
My last pregnancy I didn’t have a single stretch mark, while this time I gained quite a few. She innocently touched them and asked me “mom…. what are these?!”
I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t a little upset when I first saw them appear on my belly a few weeks before my baby was born. I mourned the fact that I would never wear a bikini or crop top again, and complained about them to my girlfriends and husband. That being said, I have made it a mission only to talk about my body in a loving, positive way in front of my daughter. I know that the way I look at, and talk about my body is how she will in the future.
Without even thinking I responded to her “these are my Super Mama stripes! I earned them by growing two incredible little ladies in my belly!”
She got the biggest smile when I said that and asked “Wow! Can I have those too?!”
This made my heart so happy. I explained to her that yes, someday she can earn them too. She looked so proud that her body could do the same thing mine had just done, it made my day.
I couldn’t tell you where that explanation came from, it just flew out of my mouth. I can tell you that it not only made my toddler proud of my body, but it has actually made me more proud as well. Now every time I look into the mirror, I no longer see ugly stretch marks. Instead, I see my Super Mama stripes, reminding me how amazing and powerful my body truly is.
Motherhood has taught me many many things. I am so grateful that becoming a mama has taught me to truly love my body, and appreciate it for all its beauty.
So moms, next time you look in the mirror and don’t recognize that body staring back at you, know that this body in front of you has transformed from human into a super human. The body you miss has now created and birthed life, it shouldn’t look the same.
Think of Spider-Man, Captain America, Captain Marvel and all the other superhero’s who have come before you. We are just like them. So be proud of your new body, and of your Super Mama stripes!
If you have been following my blog since the beginning, you’ll know that two years ago this past February I had my first child. If you read that birth story, you will know that I had planned for an unmedicated hospital birth, and how the second I was admitted to the hospital they threw those plans right out the window.
I still had a great birth experience, and a very healthy baby, despite my best laid plans being squashed. However, I still held on to the dream of that beautiful oxytocin high I had read about after an unmedicated birth.
Well, flash forward to this summer. On July 3, 2020, after a few days of feeling a little out of sorts, I took an early pregnancy test. Two days before my missed period, a faint line appeared on a pregnancy test, and I jumped for joy.
We began this pregnancy with the same OBGYN practice I had had my last child with. I expressed to my husband my concerns with the practice. They’re c-section rate is one of the highest on Long Island, some of the doctors’ bedside manor was pretty subpar, and it’s hospital roulette to see who you get when you are admitted to deliver.
Last pregnancy I had been so obsessed with pregnancy and birth that I researched non stop! I had educated myself as much as possible. I learned about all the birthing options, their pros and cons. I watched countless birth videos, and birth stories to prepare myself, and read books from cover to cover.
At one point, early on in my first pregnancy, I had asked my husband what he thought about switching to a midwife and having a home birth. From all my research, including books written by obstetricians, I had learned that home birth is essentially just as safe as a hospital for a low risk pregnancy.
It was our first child, and my husband, who like most of us, had always heard that hospital was the safest place for a baby to be born. He quickly let me know how uncomfortable he was with the idea of our baby being born at home, God forbid anything should happen. I obliged and dropped the subject.
This time around I was much more comfortable expressing my desire to go the alternative route…. especially after one of the doctor’s from the practice started pushing a c-section at only 20 weeks. At my 20 week scan she looked at my sonogram and informed me my baby was transverse and that she was worried about her position. Did I mention I was only 20 weeks?!
To any pregnant mamas, this isn’t concerning that early on in pregnancy. Baby’s typically don’t turn or get into position for birthing until 32 weeks or after. Some don’t even turn until right around their due date. Research shows that only about 4% of babies remain breech at the time of birth.
She started alluding to me that we should discuss a possible c-section. That was my breaking point. I knew there was virtually no reason I would need to discuss, or even entertain the idea of a c-section at 20 weeks. After all, I had no signs of hyper tension, no protein in my urine and from the anatomy scan and all other tests, baby was growing quite well and healthily.
I had already had a bad taste with most of the doctors in my practice, after I brought up many times my desire for natural unmedicated birth. They had all basically rolled their eyes or scoffed at me. One even said “a lot of moms want that but we have to be realistic”.
At this point I had already been researching midwife groups, preparing information, and planning to bombard my husband with the fact that I will no longer see my OB group. He was hesitant at first, but after finding an amazing group of midwives (shoutout to Gaia Midwives), and a lovely consultation with them, he agreed.
At the meeting, they explained to him how they have the option to deliver at Stony Brook Hospital if that would make us more comfortable, or at home. He liked the hospital plan, while I secretly planned to sway him to stay home.
Home just sounded so relaxing to me. Dimmed lights, a warm tub to birth in, my favorite songs playing, being able to eat and drink whatever I wanted, and labor and birth in any position I chose, just sounded like a dream come true. It took a lot of convincing, a home birth zoom call where home birth mamas told us their experiences, oh and rising numbers of Covid-19, my husband was finally coming around. Finally, after watching the film The Business of Being Born (highly recommend), he agreed to trying a home birth.
My group of midwives Michele, Colleen, and Ashley were super supportive about either decision. Each of them assured us that if at any point in my pregnancy or labor things looked remotely unfavorable, that we would be having the baby at the hospital. That made him feel much better.
Well, once I had his blessing, my husband and I began planning for our home birth. We got a pool, snacks, packed our hospital bags just in case. I made my labor playlist, ordered some essential oils to set the mood and we made plans with our parents for dog and child care.
My due date rolled around on March 17th, and no baby in sight. I was slightly frustrated as my first daughter came the day past her due date, and this little girl showed no signs of coming. That night we blew up our birth pool, just in case. Turns out that was a good move, because my labor went quite fast as you’ll find out in a bit.
Three days later, no baby in sight I found myself very cranky and uncomfortable. The day was absolutely gorgeous out, so I demanded a long hike through one of our local trails. When we finished that I demanded a spicy lunch.
We went to bed later that night and my husband asked if I thought that night was the night. I told him “Nope! I’m gonna be pregnant forever!” I said the same thing the night my water broke with my first.
I had been having some minor contractions but nothing regular, or intense, and that had been going on for weeks. I went to bed around 9pm, pretty confident I would be pregnant for at least another week.
At 10:45pm that night I woke up from a contraction. I lay in bed a few minutes to see if another would come. Sure enough 5 minutes later I had yet another painful contraction. I waited again. The next one was so painful I couldn’t lay in bed any longer. I got up, called my parents, and sent my husband to drop our dog at their house.
My next call was the midwives. Thankfully, within a few minutes Michele picked up and assured me she would be on her way and at my house within the hour. That was music to my ears because I could feel that things were happening fast. I called my doula next, she helped me breath through my next contraction and told me that I should fill my pool immediately because it sounded like that baby was coming quick.
My husband was gone all of 15 minutes, and by the time he was back in the door my contractions had gone from every 5 minutes to every 2 minutes and gotten very intense. He began filling the tub, and applying counter pressure on my back through my contractions.
I remember looking at him right before the midwife walked in the door, knowing I was in transition and feeling my baby girl descending. I said to him “this is the point in my last labor that I wanted the epidural! I honestly don’t want one at all right now!”
Now, if you have read my first birth story, you’ll have read that I had been put on pitocin, artificial oxytocin, to speed up my labor. If you have even been on pit, you will have experience the crazy contractions they produce. I like to refer to them as contractions on crack.
My natural contractions were nothing like them. They were intense, don’t get me wrong, but my hypnobirthing breathing techniques helped me through each one with ease. I was also laboring in any position that felt good to me, unlike the last time where they wouldn’t let me leave my bed or a chair. If you’ve ever labored sitting or laying down… it feels like down right torture. This time I was on my knees, with my arms and head draped over a birthing ball, and it was so much easier in that position to breathe through it.
Around midnight my angel midwife and the doula walked through our front door. My husband told her that I wanted to get in the tub. What I hadn’t told my husband was the increasing pressure I had been feeling on my cervix and perineum, because why make the man nervous until the midwife arrived?
Within about ten minutes or so of Michele arriving, I exclaimed “I feel like I have to poop!” If you’re a mama, you will know that means baby is almost here and it’s time to push. She gently asked if I wanted to have the baby on my living room floor or in the tub.
I jumped up in between contractions and hopped in the warm water. It was like instant relief. The pressure eased up, and the contractions became so much more bearable.
I’m fairly certain in between contractions I looked at Michele and said “oh my God, this is awesome! Why doesn’t everyone do this?!” It is literally the home birth epidural, which is exactly what she called it.
Within what I would say was 10 to 15 minutes in the pool, I felt something absolutely amazing. My body began pushing all on its own. I had an epidural with my first so never got to experience the Natural Expulsive Reflex I had read about in all my natural birthing research. That’s right mamas… your body will push your baby out all on it’s own if it’s given the chance! It is awesome! My midwife encouraged me to lean into it, and do whatever my body felt like doing.
A few pushes later, at 12;57 am on March 21st, my baby girl was born. Michele caught her and gently passed her to me under water, and seconds later she was on my chest letting out her first cry. I felt the wave of oxytocin wash over me just like I had read about and suddenly I was in new mama bliss. That afterbirth high is so real and so amazing.
Within 30 minutes I birthed the placenta, I cut the cord myself (which was pretty damn cool too), and we were whisked off to my bed to recover and check our vitals. My husband got to do the honors of weighing our daughter, Michele took her measurements, and check mama for any tearing. I checked out well! No tears except for two small abrasions that required no stitches. Baby girl weighed in at 8 pounds 4 oz. and a whopping 22.5 inches long! All had gone smoothly and beautifully, and in only 2 hours and 12 min total.
It was possibly the greatest experience of my life thus far. I felt the most strong and powerful I had ever felt. I hope every women gets a chance to feel that way at some point in life.
I highly recommend researching, reading or watching positive birth stories, and birth affirmations to any pregnant ladies out there. In my experience, I truly believe birth is 90% mental and 10% physical work. Every time I slowed my brain down during a contraction and focused on my breathing, and relaxing my body, it was 10x easier to get through.
I would absolutely tell anyone looking for alternative care, to look into midwifery. My experiences were night and day. My midwife team made me feel listened too, empowered and cared for at every single appointment. Gaia Midwives have just been absolute pregnancy fairy Godmother’s to me. They’re a text away when I have any questions or concerns, and take their time to check in and make sure I’m comfortable and doing well.
Instead of one 6 week postpartum appointment, I have already had two within my first week and am scheduled for two more. Their level of care is unparalleled in my opinion. They are highly educated, give you all your choices, and allow you to make your own informed decisions, because it is your body and your pregnancy. That level of respect felt amazing to me.
I just want to say, that no matter how you birth mama, know that it is beautiful, and wonderful. All birth is beautiful, and everyone has the right to choose how and where they feel most comfortable birthing. For me, that was home this time.
Would I choose home birth again? Absolutely. It was the most empowering, beautiful, experience of my life. Is it for everyone? No, and that’s ok! No matter which way you choose to go, make sure it is safe for you and baby, and one that makes you most comfortable. That is top priority.
I had one medicated hospital birth, and one blissful home birth experience, and I am beyond proud of and loved both. In the end, all that matters is having that sweet baby placed into your arms, and the lifetime of love ahead of you both.
Birth is a beautiful miracle. I feel so blessed to have gotten to experience it twice, and in two completely different ways. I hope reading my birth story is helpful to any mama considering home birth, and to any mama with fears around birthing at all.
To any pregnant mamas worrying about birth, just know that you got this mama. Your body was literally made to hold life and birth it. It may not look exactly how mine did, because literally every birth is unique, but it is possible.
Women, you are amazing, and absolutely magical. Never forget that, and if you need a reminder, search “positive birth videos” on YouTube. So, now I’m off to nurse my new little baby, and probably watch the video of her birth for the 100th time this week, to remind my very tired newborn mama self the exact same thing.
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.
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.