Expecting and the Unexpected Vol.3 // Becoming a Mom Through Change and Anxiety
I am so excited to introduce you all to my good friend Vanessa. Her story of becoming a mother is one many women can relate to. Despite her “textbook” pregnancy, she was left wrestling with feelings of not being enough, feeling out of control and figuring out how to be flexible when life threw her some curve balls. She expresses beautifully what Mom’s everywhere so frequently struggle with. Vanessa is also an ACSM certified personal trainer, she is passionate about clean living (and sells amazing Beauty Counter products), and her blog has been published on Parent Co. Make sure you check her out and follow along! You can find links to her site and social media at the bottom of this post. I hope you all are as blessed by this post as I was!
"I'd never taken a pregnancy test before. I followed the instructions casually, placed the test on the bathroom counter, and proceeded to get ready for work - slightly anxious, but fairly certain that I'd see only one line. My period was a few days late, and while we planned to start "trying" over the next couple of months, we hadn't started quite yet.
We had just moved halfway across the country for my husband’s job and I wanted some time to get settled in first. I simply was not up for anymore surprises. In fact, I generally don't like even minor changes in my plans. I much prefer the facade of control and preparation, even if in my heart of hearts I know that's all just an illusion.
I planned to stop at Starbucks that morning, but like the responsible woman I usually attempt to be, I wanted to be sure I wasn't injecting my potential embryo with my usual Tall Pike Place...and suddenly I started to panic. We had just returned from visiting family and friends on the east coast for Thanksgiving, which meant lots of unhealthy food, staying up late, about one or two drinks a day, and a steady flow of coffee.
As dread and guilt overtook my entire being over not being more careful, I ran into the bathroom discretely, so as not to tip my husband off to anything suspicious. Two lines. Two dark, bold, clear, lines. My hands shook as I took deep breaths and attempted to ground myself. Tears filled my eyes and I'm quite certain that in that moment I had every possible human emotion welling up inside of me.
In line with how I normally process change, it took me a couple of weeks to accept a new plan. And I realized that even though I said I was prepared to start soon, I wasn't really. Yet, I am abundantly grateful that God's plans are always better than mine - even if it doesn't always feel that way in the moment.
My pregnancy was as healthy as could be. I had just the right amount of morning sickness, typical weight-gain, perpetually normal test results, and a thriving baby.
The delivery was textbook. I went into labor at midnight on my due date. The time between my first contraction and holding my son in my arms was just under 12 hours. He was nine pounds, 21 1/2 inches long. No pain killers or epidural were given due to the speediness of his arrival.
Breastfeeding was a breeze. He latched on immediately and my supply was more than sufficient for him. He fed frequently and with ease, and I had hardly any pain after the first few days.
Physically, motherhood came naturally to me. I felt such a high after the childbirth experience - as though I was on top of the world. My body did exactly what it was supposed to do and that left me in awe.
Mentally and emotionally, however, was a different experience altogether - particularly during the last three months of my pregnancy and the first 6 months of my sons' life.
Unexpected changes for our family did not cease at conception. In my third trimester, the house we went to purchase fell through two weeks before close. Our current apartment was already rented out to new tenants, so we had nowhere to live with no family in the area. We wound up moving to a new place over the course of a week - one that didn't feel like home at all.
One month after moving in, my husband got offered a job back on the east coast. We prayed, I cried a lot, and then we decided to accept it. So when our son was three weeks old we drove halfway across the country, back east to another rented apartment that we tried our best to make feel like home.
Getting re-assimilated with a newborn was challenging to say the least, and we often found ourselves feeling tossed around in the wake of all the change. Sometimes even good change can make you sad.
On top of all this, it's worth noting that some experts believe motherhood to be the greatest emotional and psychological change a woman can ever, and will ever experience.
As a first time mom I was so consumed with my pregnancy, including such fear regarding the delivery, that I gave insufficient thought to what being a new mom would mean for me. I loved my son with all of my being, yet I did not anticipate that such a love could feel so good and also hurt so much at the same time. At best, I feared that I wasn't a good enough mom, and at worst I felt like I couldn't do anything right. Sleep deprivation left me angry, irritable, and anxious as my hormones leveled off to some "normal" range. Whatever that is.
And marriage. I didn't fully consider how content and comfortable my husband and I were until our way of living life changed. Our life together pre-children looked a lot like traveling, living on a whim, trying new restaurants, etc. We still do those things, but the activities are now modified and slightly more complex. We had to find new ways to connect as our life together began to take on a different shape. Albeit, a more beautiful one.
In addition, becoming a mom has had a way of forcing me to face certain parts of myself that I haven't had to before. Some parts are surprisingly beautiful, and some not so much. I find myself digging deep into my own formative years, identifying why I am the way that I am. It's both productive and painful. I'm now reacquainted with the importance of working on me, so that I can help my son to grow in positive ways and develop a healthy sense of self. So I spend my days learning to balance self-care and selflessness, a constant filling up and pouring out.
Life is ever changing in both big and little ways. As uncertainties swirl around us, I'm reminded of the promises given to us in Christ - that God is working all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28), that I can have courage because He never leaves me (Deuteronomy 31:6), and that He offers us peace that surpasses understanding in spite of our circumstances (Philippians 4:7). Yet, I must remember that in order to fully grasp this peace, I must also relinquish my right to understand. I daily lay down the fluidity of my family's lifestyle and trust that it is for our best.
I've held on to that pregnancy test - hidden in a little bag in the back of our medicine cabinet. No one in my family knows it's there but me. When things get challenging I look at those two little lines, and I look at my son, and I am reinforced and confident in the fact that I don't have the final word - God does. And I couldn't be happier about that."