Motherhood, For Better or For Worse

I am hopping on Kelly's idea for a post tonight, because it interests me and I thought it might interest you too.  Since I became a Mommy, I feel like I live in a whole new universe.  There are many things that are just like I thought they would be, but there are so many other things that are totally different.  Some things have come easy and some things have not.  But, for better or for worse, they are what motherhood is all about.  So, now that I have almost 5 months of mommyhood under my belt, here is a list of what has been challenging to me and what has been a breeze...
Things That Have Been Easier Than I Thought:

-Childbirth.  Yes, I said it.  It was much easier than I ever thought it would be.  I totally remember thinking, I can't wait to do this again while I was in labor.  The whole thing just amazed me and was nothing like I thought it was going to be.  Granted, I chose an epidural, for which I will always be thankful!

-My physical recovery.  Again, I think I prepared myself for a much harder time, so I have been pleasantly surprised at how quickly I recovered and how minimal any pain was.  

-Being a Mommy.  I honestly know God created me to be a Mom!  I have had motherly instincts just oozing out of me since junior high :) It is very fulfilling for me to take care of Ava.  She brings me such joy, my heart is often overflowing with gratitude.

-Taking her places and getting out of the house.  This is when my experience as a nanny has come in handy.  I have never been fearful of taking her out or overwhelmed at all the work!  I know it's good for both of us, so we have been active from the very beginning.  I love exploring the world through her eyes.  There are so many things I can't wait to do with her!

-Staying at home.  I LOVE to be at home and I LOVE spending so much time with Ava.  It has been a wonderful gift to have the freedom to spend our days together at home and to be able to set our own schedule.  I will still work here and there with my wedding business and I'll do a little nannying, but nothing like I've done in the past and for that I'm extremely grateful.  After so many years of taking care of other people's kids, I am so happy to be taking care of my own :) 

-Getting her in a routine.  I almost don't want to say this, for fear or jinxing it :) but she has responded so well to my schedule for her.  She naps well, sleeps well, eats well...honestly, she's been a really great baby.  We had our difficult days in those early weeks, but ever since she was 6-7 weeks old, she has been so much easier.  I do constantly draw on my experience with other babies and try to remember what worked for each of them.  I am a lover of routine and so is she.  Plus, it's been good for me to know that all babies cry sometimes and if you stick with something long enough, they'll eventually get it :) 

-Loving her!  My heart almost can't take it. No matter how crabby she is or how badly she needs a nap, I just look at her and I'm amazed all over again about how good God is!  She is such a blessing to me, such a reminder of His faithfulness.  I just can't believe she's mine sometimes.  I am LOVING this season of life.  
-Letting go of things that just don't matter.  Somedays I feel like I'm being pulled in a thousand directions, with no end in sight.  But, Travis and Ava are my priority, my ministry for this season.  It's been freeing to say "no" to so many things I would have taken on before.  I know these days are fleeting, these days of her being "little" will one day be behind us, so I am cherishing my time with her.  And it has come much easier than I thought to do so.  She is the perfect excuse for not doing something.  After all, I don't want to miss photo-ops like this one!
Things That Have Been Harder Than I Thought:

-Breastfeeding.  Ava didn't really have any problems, but I did.  Not physically, but mentally and emotionally.  I enjoyed it at first, but not nearly like I thought I was going to. It was very hard for me to feel so tied down and to never feel like I got a break.  I thought it would be such a bonding thing for us, but really it became more of a burden.  I hung in there as long as I wanted to and then Travis and I agreed it was time to let it go.  And then, like only every mother knows, the guilt crept in.  But I'm grateful for such a supportive husband who encouraged me let it go and not feel badly about it.  It's much easier for me now, but I honestly never thought I would already have her on formula.  It goes to show you that even the best "plans" are really just ideas about how we think something will go.  Reality is often a much harsher wake-up call!

-Not feeling like myself.  Although my recovery was better than I expected, I still don't really feel like I am who I used to be.  I suppose that's ok, because I'm not the same, but I'm surprised at how often I long to go back to "her."  I don't have time for myself anymore, so I think that's part of it, but I also don't look like myself either, and that's the hardest part.  I have work to do on this body and no motivation/energy to do it.  It's been kind of a depressing summer to deal with the "new me."  Every picture I see of myself makes me want to cry or scream.  Not easy.

-Dealing with my house, which never, ever seems to be clean.  In my dreams, it would be clean and organized at all times, but I've hard to learn the hard way, that will only be true IN MY DREAMS!  I cannot stay on top of things the way I used to.  In some ways, this has been really good for me.  I needed to let some of my obsessive stuff go.  But, it's also frustrating to not have the time to just do what I need to do.  I thought it would be easier for me to keep things picked up, have the laundry done, and keep the fridge full, but it's just not.  Usually I have to pick one thing that I want to get done that day and then just live with that.  

-Making time for Travis.  No worries, we aren't drifting apart or anything, but I see how easily that could happen.  When he comes home everyday, we spend all our time with Ava.  When he calls, we talk about Ava.  When he's at work, Ava and I meet him for lunch.  All of these things are a blessing, but I do miss our time alone together.  I miss lazy afternoons, late night dinners, hours at coffee shops.  It takes more effort than ever to put our relationship first and to make our marriage a priority.  Plus, after mothering Ava all day, sometimes I forget that I'm not his mother too!  Making that mental switch is hard.  Harder than I thought.  5 and a half years together, before Ava, has given us a good foundation, but it's also created some habits and preferences that I miss.  Date nights are something we need to keep doing.

-Feeling lonely some days.  We have so many people in our life, so many friends at Church, so many family members that love seems ridiculous.  But I miss having someone in the same exact stage I'm in and relating to them on a deeper level.  Lots of our friends have older kids and several at that.  We don't know very many people who are on their first baby and I miss the support that brings.  I'm hoping as the fall starts up and we get back in the swing of things at Church that we can meet some other couples in our shoes.  I need that and "we" need that.  I think because we are in the student ministry world with so many younger, single or newly married volunteers, it just feels very isolating at times.  
So there you go, for better or for worse, I am incredibly grateful to be this little girl's Mommy.  I'll take the easy days and the hard ones too, if it means I get to watch her grow up right before my eyes.  She is worth the struggle and certainly worth the joy!  

No one ever said being a Mom was easy, right???


AJT said...

Hi, I founf your blog through Kelly's Korner, and I honestly think it was a "God-thing!" I just randomly clicked on your link and started reading your list on your blog. I quickly found myself in tears, because it is like you were quoting me! It was so nice to feel like someone else has a hard time with making their husband a priority and especially with finding the new "me" after a baby. Thank you for sharing and for your honesty - you really encouraged me today!

Toni :O) said...

Oh my goodness is it hard....some days are definitely better than the rest but I hear you. My husband and I have been married for 16 years, have two kids, one 10and one 6. We waited five years before having our son...I certainly miss our lazy, independent days before children. However, they grow so incredibly fast that I know I only have eight more years and my son will be in college....those lazy and independent days will come back, that I know. We were the first in our batch of friends to have a baby and I remember how lonely it was to not be able to share that with anyone else my age. However, when I had my daughter, my best friend and I were pregnant together and she had her son two weeks before I had my girl. It was a MUCH better experience and brought us so much closer as friends even though we were great friends before that. I feel blessed to be able to go through this and though it's super hard, harder with gradeschoolers than newborns I think, I know this too shall pass and I'll look back on this time and just smile. My hubby and I do what we can to have monthly date nights and we get away for a weekend around every wedding anniversary at least, I encourage you to try and do that, your marriage is totally worth it and you'll have happier kids too because the parents are happy! You're doing a great job and sweet Ava is a lucky little gal to have such great parents!

petrii said...

Oh my sweet Stephanie,
Being a mommy is certainly not easy some days, but you hang in there. You are such a beautiful lady. I love you in ALL your pictures ~~

That last picture of Ava just cracks me up. She is taking it easy, Miss Personality!! What a doll baby.

Thank you for being transparent dear one.

Have a Blessed and Beautiful weekend,

Nicole Fuchs said...

HI, we had our babies at the same time and I've been 'stalking' your blog since March. I hear you about the 'new me' comment. I remember feeling that keenly with my first. My five month old is my second and with her I decided to hire a personal trainer to get my strength back as efficiently as possible. Yes, it's expensive, but worth it. My baby was always included in our twice weekly work out, and we both enjoyed it. I had my last session this Monday and am finally happy with my strength, flexibility and (oh, shallow me) pictures. Maybe you can find a trainer who has just gotten engaged and you can exchange wedding flowers for a set of training sessions? :-) Good luck!

Heather said...

After reading Kelly's post last night I totally thought I would do mine, too!!! All of us new mommas are great minds that think alike!
have a great weekend, Steph!

Jessica said...

Hi, I found your blog a long time ago through Kelly's Korner. I clicked on your link because you were due just a couple of weeks before me. We had a little boy on April 25th. I hear you on the breastfeeding thing. We did have problems, however, and I started him on formula at 3 months. Like you, I had hoped he would be breastfed longer, but it just wasn't working. (I really didn't enjoy either, the whole never getting a break thing killed me) I beat myself up about it and still sometimes do, but really, it's ok. It's encouraging to know that someone else went through it as well because it seems like everyone else I know is breastfeeding!! Everything else you said is pretty much how I feel too. The house not being clean, this new body that no clothes will fit, finding time for your husband. I'm right there with you. Thanks for sharing, it was really encouraging to me to know that I'm not alone!

Miz Jean said...

I hear you on not loving breastfeeding. So many women told me beforehand that I would "just love it" and it would be such a wonderful bonding experience. Yeah, I hated it and felt guilty about it for MONTHS until one of my friends told me she never liked it either but just stuck it out. It appears that those of us who breastfeed but don't LOVE it are too shy to say so. But I am here to tell you that I breastfed Reagan for 4 months and didn't love it. I am breastfeeding Madison and cannot hardly wait to be done.

And Steph, if you and Travis lived closer you and I would start some kind of postpartum rehab fitness thing together! :) Because even though I fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes, they aren't fitting correctly or all that well. I intend to do something more about it later on - for sure after breastfeeding. I, too, am hating all of the pictures of me. Sad, but true. I feel your pain even though I think your beautiful self looks fantastic in all your pictures.

Kelly said...

Such cute pictures! I agree with you posts! :)

Emily said...

Steph, Thanks for the post. These are already many of my fears and worries. I'm so excited to be a mom, but it will be such a change, I sometimes get worried. Glad to know you have gone through and felt the same feelings. I totally know what you're saying about working with youth and feeling islolated. Our head youth pastor just quit, so Keith and I are now head of all MS and HS. Just Pray :-) It will be fun, but very time consuming. Have a great rest of your summer. Emily Sandison

Peggy & Ron said...

Easy? Hardest job ever! But best job ever!YOU will do a stunning job.