The Day I Became a Mother

Every year on my birthday, my mom calls to tell me the story of my birth. It started when I was a little kid, sort of turned into a joke as I got older, and is just part of my birthday tradition now. It’s no surprise to me that I still love reading and hearing other women’s birth stories – there’s something about how childbirth is both wholly miraculous and completely universal that simply captivates me.

When it came time to birth my own baby, I drew strength from all those stories too. I could hear my mom’s words describing my entry into the world as I labored to bring forth my son, and I leaned on the knowledge that I was following in the (sweaty, bellowing, breathless) footsteps of millions of women before me.

Now that almost two years have passed since that day, I’m finding that some of the details are fading from memory. I realized that even though I’ve written a lot about motherhood, I’ve never written about the day that started it all for me. So, here it is, and I hope it finds its place in the wonderful community of birth stories to encourage generations of laboring mothers to come.  Continue reading “The Day I Became a Mother”

Tell me a story…

What will your children learn about you?

“Tell me a story from when you were a little girl.”

This was one of my favorite requests for my grandmother, my Mimi, when I was a child. And unfailingly, she would oblige.

There was the time her family moved for the umpteenth time – her father worked in the oil field, so moves were frequent – and she was told to take all of her things and put them in two piles, one pile to keep and one to burn. So she did, and her older brother accidentally set fire to the wrong pile.

Or the story about when she was living on Lake Caddo as a child and had to take a boat to get to school, and on one of the trips a snake fell from an old cypress tree into the boat with them. (She had never been a fan of snakes, but I really think that snakes falling from the sky will seal the deal on a lifelong phobia.)  Continue reading “Tell me a story…”

The Feminist Homemaker

Can you be a feminist and a stay-at-home mom at the same time?

I am a stay-at-home mom. I am also a licensed mental health counselor. One of those sentences fills me with pride, the other makes me cringe a bit. Can you guess which is which?

Technically, I should say that I used to be a counselor since I’m no longer seeing clients (unless you count the toy disputes that I mediate between my dog and toddler), but I can’t quite bring myself to use the past tense. It feels like a failure, like I’m surrendering part of my identity or betraying the ideals of feminism if I admit that – for right now – I’m just a stay-at-home mom.

Even now, I compulsively qualify my statements. I set an imaginary time limit (“for right now…”) or minimize the role itself (“just a stay-at-home mom”) so that I don’t risk appearing too content with my choice. Can I call myself a feminist and a modern woman if I’m happy – or even proud – to be a homemaker?  Continue reading “The Feminist Homemaker”

4 Benefits of raising my child without religion

What I gained from taking religion out of the parenting equation.

Before I wade into a potentially thorny issue, allow me to give you a little context. Religion is a touchy topic, so I’ll try to provide some background so that you can understand where I’m coming from.

I was born into a strong religious tradition (Southern Baptist, to be specific), and you would be hard-pressed to find a family who went to church more frequently than we did. Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesday evening, plus various extracurricular activities (visiting people’s homes, mission trips, choir, pageants) – you name it, we did it.

I also hold a degree in Religion from a prestigious Baptist university, so it’s safe to say I know my way around religious topics!  Continue reading “4 Benefits of raising my child without religion”

The moments of motherhood

These are the small moments that make up motherhood.

Yesterday I felt impatient. It was one of those days that most (probably all) stay-at-home mom experience occasionally, when you’re frustrated because it feels like you can’t get anything done.

I had been working on a post, and my brain had finally come up with the perfect way to describe something: the paragraph that would finally take my writing from okay to brilliant. Every time I tried to type it out, however, my son would come crawling toward my computer at breakneck speed and an up-to-no-good glint in his big blue eyes. After a few attempts, I sighed and shut the laptop, realizing that my brilliance would have to wait till naptime. By then, my perfect words had vanished, sacrificed on the altar of fifteen repeat readings of Dr. Seuss.  Continue reading “The moments of motherhood”

Great Expectations: My first year of motherhood

One Mama’s tale of pregnancy struggles, labor woes, and the unconditional love for her baby that makes it all worthwhile.

Many people say that motherhood starts when you become pregnant. This terrified me, because boy oh boy, did I ever hate being pregnant.  Continue reading “Great Expectations: My first year of motherhood”

Baby won’t sleep? Don’t blame yourself!

Baby won’t sleep? You’re not alone (and you’re not to blame!)

It was no secret that my little one was not a good sleeper. I couldn’t have kept it a secret if I’d wanted to; the bags under my eyes outed me the minute I staggered out the door. (Concealer is great, but it’s not a magic wand.) He is worlds better now, usually sleeping about twelve hours a night without interruption (see that light at the end of the tunnel, mamas of terrible sleepers? It’s there!).

But since he still has that reputation as a non-sleeper, I still hear from people about how they plan to sleep-train, and I just love the way they say it. “Well, I’ll leave the TV on.” “I’ll vacuum while the baby is asleep.” “I’ll make sure that he’s used to noise so that he becomes a good sleeper.” Well, God go with you, sister. Because I did those things (not the vacuum thing really, but that’s simply because I don’t like to vacuum), and sometimes babies are just babies and sometimes babies aren’t great at sleeping no matter what you do. I wish those new mamas well, because having a baby is really hard, and having a baby that doesn’t sleep through the dog barking at the mailman just makes it a thousand times a million times infinitely harder.

But I would also like to point out something—I didn’t make my baby a “bad sleeper.”  Continue reading “Baby won’t sleep? Don’t blame yourself!”

Breastfeeding + Dairy Allergy = No fun

Bloody diapers, dairy-free cooking, and the worthwhile sacrifices of motherhood.

“Don’t freak out. Don’t freak out. Don’t freak out….” That’s what I kept telling myself as I totally and completely freaked out. There was blood in my baby’s diaper. I thought I’d seen something suspicious in the last couple of diapers, but not sure enough to let myself panic. I’d call the doctor on Monday and see what she said. Well, that was blood, and I was now fully prepared to panic.

Do kids ever get sick during the week? Or even during the day during the week? Nope. It’s like they keep a copy of the pediatrician’s office hours stashed in their onesies. So, Sunday afternoon found us on the road to the ER, my husband driving, me in the backseat next to the car seat as if there was something I could do by just sitting next to my baby. My husband dropped us off while he parked so I could start the check-in process. I nervously rocking the baby carrier as I filled out the paperwork. He wasn’t crying. He was just sitting there looking all tiny and helpless.  Continue reading “Breastfeeding + Dairy Allergy = No fun”

The “Perfect” Birth

Hard-earned lessons on letting go of perfectionism and embracing the messy realities of becoming a mother.

Y’all, when it comes to birthing, I was perfect. I had a vaginal, un-medicated birth and my daughter was healthy and beautiful. Aren’t you impressed? Well, hang on just a sec and let me give you a little context for my “perfection.”

When Rue came out all slippery and purple, the midwives placed this strange squish on my chest and I remember feeling… relief… then… not much. Lots of women talk about feeling a rush of overwhelming love when their babies are born, but not me. I was mostly just glad it was all over, and then everything else was a disconnected blur. I remember speaking in a voice that didn’t sound like my own. I remember staring at the swirl pattern her ears made. And I remember the disappointment. Everything, including my beautiful baby, looked perfect, but it felt far from it.  Continue reading “The “Perfect” Birth”

Breastfeeding, exclusive pumping, and beyond…

One Mama’s journey from breastfeeding to exclusive pumping to formula, plus all the feelings along the way!

“Whee ooh whee ooh whee ooh whee ooh…”

The sound of my Medela has been a constant companion for the past five months, so it was only fitting to write this post while pumping. I’m halfway through the weaning process, so I’ve dropped from 5 pumps to 3 pumps a day, which already feels like an enormous amount of freedom. However, I think the hardest part is still ahead of me, both physically and emotionally. I’m ready to have my body back, but I feel guilty about weaning when I still have a full supply of milk.

I know (I think?) that it’s the best thing for me, to be happy and free to enjoy my baby rather than resentful about the time spent at the pump. I know that I’ve picked a good formula for him, and that he’s thriving and full of joy and life and sturdy and strong as ever. I still feel guilty that I’m not giving him the “best” that I can give him, and I feel especially ashamed that so many women give so much to continue to provide breastmilk for their babies, while I’m throwing in the towel and working harder to quit that I would have needed to work to continue.  Continue reading “Breastfeeding, exclusive pumping, and beyond…”