Next in our series on pregnancy, birth, and motherhood is Liz. Liz is the mother of two, and writer behind Freckles in the Fog – a hilarious, straight talking, heartfelt blog in which she recounts her adventures mothering her adorable son and daughter in a small coastal town in California. Here she describes her favorite baby gear, the importance of joining a mothers’ group, and the value of trusting and letting go.
What were the most difficult aspects of pregnancy?
I always assumed that I would be one of those women who LOVED being pregnant – loved my changing body, loved feeling the baby grow and move inside me, loved the connection I would feel from the very beginning. Not so much. To my surprise, pregnancy was just not my thing. I had two very healthy pregnancies. I just never felt like me. I puked a lot (that whole, “just wait til the 2nd trimester thing,” was bullshit as far as my pregnancies were concerned) and had horrible heartburn and don’t even get me started on “swamp mouth.” From literally the moment of conception, I felt like something was taking over my body, and honestly, my mind.
The first time around, I felt sort of sad that I wasn’t enjoying my pregnancy, and very worried that I would struggle to connect with the baby once it arrived. But as soon as Evie was born everything changed and it was as if I finally understood the point of what I had been through.
What gave you strength through the birthing process?
I trusted my doctors–and, even more importantly, the nurses–100%. I think that was honestly one of the best parts of the entire experience. I had this moment during my 1st delivery in which I realized that, as much as I had a plan and ideas about how I wanted things to go, at the end of the day, I needed to trust these people who had been through it thousands of times before. And I did. Don’t get me wrong, I still had a voice and made my desires known and asked questions when there were things I needed to understand more. But I chose to give up control and let someone else lead the way and for me, and that worked incredibly well.
How do you divide up the work of caregiving with your partner?
I have to say it’s been a big change since kiddo #2 arrived. The first time around, it took my husband, Ari, a bit of time to find his groove. And that’s not for lack of interest. It’s just that at the beginning, it was all about me and the baby. We exclusively breastfed, and since I was working from home there was no reason for me to even pump and introduce the bottle. All of that being said, once our first child didn’t need to eat every 20 minutes (because that’s what it feels like at the beginning), Ari started having lots of one-on-one time with her.
Their favorite shared activity from about 6 months old on, has been to go on a hike in our beautiful coastal town. When she was younger, he’d put her in the hiking backpack and hit the trail, and she would take a nap and hum as he trekked up and down mountains. It was a great break for me and also really special time for them. Now that she is older, they still escape to the mountains or to the beach for kite flying fun. With the arrival of kiddo number two, Ari took the lead in taking care of our big girl, taking her to school, scheduling special adventures and being in charge of bedtime. Such a huge help.
Can you offer any practical parenting advice?
Join your local mothers club! It feels so awkward and forced at the start, but these women are living and breathing exactly what you are going through. The listserv and Facebook groups literally got me through those 1st few months of round the clock breastfeeding. It has brought me so much comfort to log-on while sleep training and to see that I’m not alone at 2am. I’ve learned so much from these women and felt so supported and over the last several years a couple have become my very closest friends.
Any life saving baby gear you can recommend?
The rock and play sleeper – by far – best purchase. Both my kids hung out in it during the day and slept in it at night for the first few months of their lives. You can rock it with your foot when they fuss. And it’s so easy to just fold up and take with you when traveling. LIVE SAVER!
What do you wish you had known before getting pregnant / becoming a mom? What did nobody tell you? What would you tell your not yet pregnant self?
Shit is about to get real. I mean, I feel like people told me that, but I didn’t listen. Someone needs to sit you down and tell you, Law and Order interrogation style, this being a mama stuff is no joke. There’s no break and there’s no way out and it’s gonna be tough. But you’re gonna get through it and it’s going to be amazing. Also, you know how lots of people say sleep when the baby sleeps? That’s ridiculous. I felt like such a failure because on top of everything else, all the things I was trying to get done, I wasn’t sleeping when the baby was sleeping (I was doing laundry, or cooking or taking a shower or…). Do what you need to do to get through it. That’s all. No expectations.
What is the most fulfilling part of being a mom?
Such a hard question because there is so much. There is no way around it, this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But the rewards are completely overwhelming. I think it’s mostly the little things – when you see your kid treat others with kindness, when she learns something new, when he smiles so big it literally causes him to shudder and squeal. The relationship that my kids are forming with one another is really special too. It’s been pretty amazing to watch that develop from the moment he was born and continue to watch it grow.
Thank you so much, Liz, for so honestly sharing your insight, experiences, and advice! Your kids are too cute. I look forward to continuing to read all about them and your life on the coast, over at Freckles in the Fog!