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Motherhood, Parenthood, Pregnancy

What I’ve Learned from my First Year of Motherhood

I always wanted to be a mom, for as long as I can remember.  Maybe it was because my mom was a mother of 4 (and she was pretty awesome at it!) or maybe it was just something built into my DNA.  If there was a baby doll, I was taking care of it; if there was a doll house, I was playing “house.”  When I was a teenager, I would daydream about my life one day: living in a cute, little house with Matthew-loud, full of love, and full of babies.

After Matthew and I had been married for about a year and a half, I started getting baby fever.  I began asking him month after month, Hey babe, do you want a baby?  Hey, don’t you think a baby would be soooo cute?!  ha!  It was pretty funny the stuff I came up with to try to convince him to want a baby.  But I patiently (okay, maybe impatiently) waited until he was ready.  And one day, he just decided he was ready, and we weren’t together at the time because he was working, and he told me in a text.  I actually love that he did because now I have this memory to keep forever.

I remember the feeling of elation and pure excitement I felt in this moment knowing we were going to grow our nest.  And 2 months later, we got those 2 pink lines!

 

When Avary came into this world, life changed in an instant.  I cried the moment they laid her on my chest.  This baby, this little person-designed by God-was nurtured by my body and came from me and my husband.  I love that Avary is a tangible representation of the love Matthew and I share.  How incredible!  She is our love wrapped up in her sweet little self.

I think motherhood has taught me more about myself than any other experience I’ve had in life.  It has shown me that I am way stronger than I ever thought I was.  Going through the tiring work of growing a human being, to the exhausting work of labor and delivery, to the long and sleepless nights with a newborn, motherhood has shown me that I have strength and endurance!

Motherhood has taught me about sacrifice.  Giving up my body again after pregnancy to commit to breastfeeding was a true sacrifice.  Becoming a stay-at-home mom, many times I have to sacrifice the things I want for the things we need.  Motherhood has transformed my way of thinking.  Instead of a self-centered way of thinking, being a mom has shown me that I can make someone else #1 and that it is okay.

Motherhood has shown me that life is messy ( ^) and imperfect and doesn’t always go they way we think it should.  That in the midst of endless days and sleepless nights, poopy diapers, constant spit-up, colic, reflux, nose-sucking, sleep training, babywearing, breastfeeding, nap-skipping, tantrum-throwing days, we can rest in the fact that our job-as “Mom”-has meaning and value beyond the ‘every day.’  We are not just “babysitting” tiny humans; we are raising world-changers!  The love, time, and attention we pour into our little ones all day long is shaping their minds.  The values we instill are shaping their hearts.  The struggle of motherhood-trying to find a spare moment to go to the bathroom alone, microwaving your coffee 3 times because it went cold before you could drink it, going Hulk-crazy on the dog for barking during naptime-that’s life.  I’ve learned that I can let the upsets confuse me, frustrate me, and derail my whole day or I can just go with the flow, laugh at the madness, and embrace the crazy mess.

I recognized the truth in the statement ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’ because friends, IT DOES!  Motherhood was not meant to go at alone.  You need support.  I learned that when I tried to do everything on my own and hold myself to an unrealistic, Tumblr-type standard of perfection, I failed miserably.  And, I made myself miserable in the process.  Reach out and reach up!  Until I started reaching out to my husband, my mom, my sisters, my friends, other moms, the online community and looking to God for help and guidance, I was drowning in my role as a mother.  I’ve since learned to surround myself with a #tribe and not do this motherhood thing alone.

What I learned from my first year of motherhood is that love at first sight does exist. . .  The love that I have for my little girl is beyond anything I expected.  The moment I laid eyes on her, I felt like I knew her all my life and I loved her instantly.  She holds my heart in her hands.  I am so thankful that God entrusted her to me, that she made me a mama, and that I get to experience life with her.  She is forever my heart-changer, my mini-me, and my baby. . .

I love you, Avary Layne.

 

Motherhood, Pregnancy

DIY Pregnancy Survival Kit

A friend of mine recently told me she was pregnant, and I could not be happier for her and her husband!!  (Does anyone else feel like EVERYONE they know is pregnant right now?!  Gives me all kinds of baby fever!)  She was also telling me that she was experiencing terrible morning sickness, all day every day.  I felt so bad and wanted to do something to celebrate her pregnancy and maybe help her out with the morning sickness.

When I was pregnant with Avary, I had morning sickness but rarely ever threw up.  It was mostly constant nausea all day long (which I feel is almost worse!  I just wanted to throw up and feel better!).  Anyways, I found a couple things that helped me out a little bit, so I wanted to pass that on to my friend.  I made her a little pregnancy survival kit!

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What I included in the basket:

Premium Saltine Crackers.  Guys, I can’t even tell you how many boxes of these crackers I went through in the first trimester of my pregnancy.  I never want to another saltine cracker until the next pregnancy! (haha)  But seriously, I stashed these right next to my bed and would eat a cracker before I even sat up in bed in the morning.  I would be extremely sick in the morning if I woke up and got up on an empty stomach.  I kept these crackers with me at all times; because, sometimes when you’re pregnant, nothing sounds good, nothing tastes good, the sight of food makes you want to vomit. . . If I could just stomach a few of these crackers, it usually made me feel better.

Gatorade.  You really do lose a lot of electrolytes and other vitamins and minerals when you throw up, so I always liked to have Gatorade available.  It made me feel like I had some kind of energy put back into me when I couldn’t manage to eat much.

Ginger Ale.  I have always found ginger ale to ease my upset stomach, so I included that as well.  I definitely didn’t use this every day when I was pregnant, but if crackers and Gatorade weren’t helping, I would try this.

Tums.  I don’t know about you, but I do not like Tums!  The chalky texture just makes me want to gag, and for some reason, they just remind me of my childhood when I wasn’t feeling good (my mom must have given me too many Tums!).  When I started getting heartburn during pregnancy, I was dreading buying those colorful little chalky discs!  But then, I stumbled across the peppermint flavored Tums!  I knew I had read that peppermint flavors can help put morning sickness at bay so I decided to try those.  I don’t know what it is about this particular flavor, but they are so so much better than the original!  They are still chalky, but it is somewhat masked by the flavor.  Instead of feeling like you are eating a piece of fruit flavored chalk, it just taste like a weird kind of mint! (Much better!)

Peppermint Essential Oil.  I also added in a little bottle of peppermint essential oil since it is supposed to help relieve nausea.  I can’t say that it necessarily “helped” me, but if I was feeling nauseous, I would smell it or rub a little behind my ears.  I think it helped distract me from how I was feeling more than make the nausea go away, but hey, I tried everything!

Tea.  I added lots of tea in this pregnancy survival kit!  I personally love tea and drinking something warm always makes me feel better.  I drank Mother-to-Be tea while pregnant because it had a good blend of herbs that are good for expecting mamas.  I also gave her a little bedtime tea; because. . . well, why not?  Also, raspberry leaf tea!  If you are pregnant, look this tea up!  It is recommended that you don’t start drinking this tea until the last trimester of pregnancy, and you always want to check with your doctor or midwife before starting it, but this tea is so great!  It is a kind of uterine tonic, so it works to help strengthen your uterus making it healthy and stronger.  This, in turn, will help during labor-making contractions more effective-and during delivery-making it easier and more manageable to push.  I know everyone has a different experience, but I only pushed for 30 minutes with my first baby and attribute some of that to this tea helping strengthen my uterus!

Fiber One Bars.  Granola bars were definitely a go-to for me during pregnancy.  I always had one in my purse, in my house, by my bed, because I was bound to get hungry.  The regular chocolate chip Fiber One bars are delicious, and I made it a point to get plenty of fiber in my diet while pregnant to avoid dreaded hemorrhoids and such, and I didn’t get a single one.

Gum.  It was always helpful to have gum during pregnancy, as well.  Especially in that first trimester, having something in my mouth helped with the morning sickness feeling.  So I was always usually chewing gum, sucking on a mint or a Preggo pop.

Palmer’s Cocoa Butter.  I know lotions and stretch mark creams and oils are kind of overrated (I slathered them on all pregnancy long and still got stretch marks), but it is so important to keep your skin moisturized!  Your skin is going through the trauma of being stretched to the max, and it needs some TLC!  Palmer’s cocoa butter was just something I used as part of my daily routine.  It always made my skin feel moisturized and relieved any itching from my growing belly.

EOS lip balm.  I really don’t know why, but my lips were always dry while I was pregnant!  Anybody else?  This is just my favorite lip balm so it is part of my survival kit.  Also, during labor and delivery, you are going to want some lip balm.  It is essential!  With all the breathing and panting and moaning and screaming, your lips get dry and cracky.  This definitely comes in handy.

LUSH bath bomb.  I’m telling you the truth when I say that in my last trimester, I took a bath every single day.  My body was just so sore in that third trimester.  I also had planned on having a water birth so, as part of my nighttime routine, I would take a bath and put on my Hypnobirth and just practice relaxing and visualizing my birth.  Every now and then, I would throw in a LUSH bath bomb and just pamper myself for the night.  I haven’t had a bath since sometime during my postpartum recovery and my baby is 7 months old now.  Enjoy your baths and your bath bombs, ladies!!

What to Expect When You’re Expecting.  It is a classic and an essential.  I think every new mom reads this book either online or flipping through the pages.  While no pregnancy is cut-and-dry, it is always fun to see what is happening at different stages in pregnancy and to see how baby is developing.  I loved using their app while I was pregnant!

That is all of the stuff that I included in my DIY pregnancy survival kit.  I know I used a lot of other things, but I thought this little basket was cute and fun for an expecting mama!  What were some of YOUR essentials while pregnant?  Did you have a survival kit on hand?  Leave your comments below and help all us mamas out!

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