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.
I’m going to start this post by saying that I truly do not want any sympathy. I am merely sharing my experience so that I can spare a future mama from being hit with something they never expected.
Motherhood is amazing. Amazingly beautiful, amazingly trying, amazingly wonderful, and amazingly difficult. I’ve only been a mother for a whopping 3 months and I can already tell you this. I am beyond grateful for my little one, for my pregnancy, and my birth experience. I honestly would do everything all over again, even the 4th trimester (trust me it ain’t no piece of cake).
When I got pregnant I began reading many books on what to expect during pregnancy and what will happen after the baby arrived. My doctors discussed some of these expectations and possibilities at length with me. Towards the end of my pregnancy, and after giving birth to my baby girl, postpartum depression or PPD was constantly brought up. I was screened (although if you ask me a few vague questions don’t really seem like enough to me) and told I wasn’t suffering from any PPD. I knew that wasn’t the case, so this didn’t shock me.
What did worry me was the way I started feeling every night before going to bed since about a week after I gave birth. I would get the baby ready for bed, brush my teeth, say goodnight to my husband and hop in bed. All of a sudden my chest would tighten, my mind would race, and I would feel as tho I couldn’t catch my breath.
I had never dealt with anything like this, but coming from a family who deals with a lot of anxiety, I knew that this is what it felt like.
Why now?! I had literally never dealt with anxiety EVER.
I kept asking myself what I was anxious about. Was I failing already as a mother? Am I already unraveling? Is it the fact that I will have to return to work and leave my baby with someone else 3 days a week? Is it because my husband and my relationship will ultimately never be the way it was before children? Was it all of these things?
I honestly couldn’t pinpoint any reason for it. All I can tell you is that I had no clue where it was coming from or why.
Not a single doctor or person I had come in contact with said anything to me about feeling anxious after the baby. Not one. So I really didn’t know it had anything to do with it.
Many of my girlfriends, and my husband, and family had asked me how I was doing. They said if you have any feelings of depression please talk to them. No one said anything about anxiety. So for a while I said nothing about it.
My husband has been extremely supportive and helpful through my entire pregnancy, and my postpartum journey. He consistently would ask how I felt, and to please talk to him if I felt off in any way.
One night after getting the baby to sleep, I was very overwhelmed with my anxiety. I couldn’t keep this to myself any longer. I went out to my husband and told him how I had been feeling. I said no one said anything about anxiety, they just stressed the signs of depression.
He urged me to google it.
Lowe and behold, PPA popped up. Postpartum anxiety is a very real, very common occurrence. How did no one tell me about it?
From what I was reading online, many women in forums had no idea about it either. Some of these women didn’t even know that’s what they were going through until years later.
I was not alone. This immediately made me feel better, not completely, but better.
I found forums of women discussing their anxieties and what they were doing to treat them. I was encouraged to talk about everything on my mind, and to share it all with a loved one. I found links to get help and seek therapy if it was so severe I couldn’t get through it on my own.
Here is my question: why is this not talked about? Why are we only focusing on PPD when PPA is just as prevalent?
This is why I am talking about it. May is Maternity Mental Heath Awareness month, and I hope that by talking about my own experience I can help someone else in theirs.
If you are pregnant, or a new mama and you ever feel any symptoms that don’t quite fit into the PPD category but you know aren’t normal to you, talk to someone. You are not alone.
PPA is very real. You don’t have to do it alone. Reach out to a loved one, a fellow mama, a therapist, anyone. For me just talking about my feelings has helped tremendously, but that may not be the case for everyone.
Please never feel unworthy of asking for help, and getting it. You deserve it mamas. You give your all everyday for your family. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup!
I hope in the future doctors will open the discussion for not just PPD but anxiety as well and any other postpartum mood disorders not discussed. Until then, it is our duty to help one another out and share our own experiences.
If I can help just one woman know that she isn’t alone, and there is help for her out there, then I am happy.
You are worthy of happiness, you are worthy of help. You are worthy mama. Don’t ever forget it.