My 7 Month Review of Motherhood

I meant to do this post a month ago, which would have made this my 6 Month Review of Motherhood and that just makes more sense.  But the holidays, the travel, the stomach flu, the black hole in Target, yadda, yadda, yadda… I just didn’t get around to it.   So, this is my 7 Month Review of Motherhood instead.

Look at it this way, I’m one month smarter now.

On June 1, 2009 I became a Momma for the first time to my beautiful, strong-willed, bossy, self-assured, lovable, squeezable, kissable Beanie.  And in one instant my entire life became brighter.  Everything in my life became brighter.  My marriage was no longer a relationship, it was the foundation for a family.  My job was no longer a paycheck, it was financial support for my family.  My family were no longer just parents and sisters and grandparents, but now grandparents and aunts and great-grandparents.  In that one instant, everything became just the slightest bit better in life.  Bean is literally the reason I get out of bed in the mornings (and sometimes the reason I get out of bed in the middle of the night, too…).  They tell you all about this incredible love that you’ll have for your children, but it is just a fairy tale until you actually experience it.  And then its such a big love that there aren’t enough words to really describe it.

Quite simply, it is the most magical thing in the whole world.

I think Chris and I were fairly prepared for Bean’s arrival, for as prepared as new parents can be.  We didn’t go crazy with the baby books during my pregnancy, but we knew enough to get through it all and what we didn’t know we’ve picked up in the past seven months.  But this review isn’t about what I’ve learned about Beanie.  This 7-month review is about what I’ve learned about myself.  What I’ve learned about being someone’s Momma.

  • I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I never knew how strong I was before I became a mother.  There were times in those first three or four months when I didn’t think I could be any more tired.  When my head hit the pillow at night, I thought to myself that if I didn’t get a full nights sleep, then surely I would just shrivel up into a pile of yoga pants and burp cloths and die.  And I’d tell myself that if Bean woke up in the middle of the night, I was just going to have to let him cry tonight because there was no way I could physically drag myself out of bed.  But then he’d cry.  Not often, (because Bean was an excellent sleeper from Day One) but every couple of days he’d have a night where he’d wake up a few times.  And every single time I would hear that cry, it suddenly felt like I had just slept for 12 hours, taken a shower, had a Red Bull, and was ready to face the day.  It didn’t matter if I hadn’t bathed in a couple days, if I hadn’t slept in a couple days, if it was 3:00 AM in the morning, if I was sore from the c-section, or exhausted from being a mom.  That one little cry provided all the energy I needed and I was there for him.  Ready to go.  And I wasn’t bitter about it and I never blamed him.  In any other area in my life, I would have immediately complained about the effort that it sometimes took to simply keep that little pile of goo from crying, but I seemed to have endless amounts of patience with Beanie.  And I was – and still am – so proud of that in myself.

  • My relationship with Chris has become much deeper and more intense than it ever was before.  And not just deep and intense in a serious way.  It just feels like whatever we’re going through on any given day – happiness, silliness, anger, frustration – we feel it so much more intensely now.  When we laugh, we really laugh together.  When we yell, we really yell together.  When we cry, we really cry together.  We may not always see eye to eye, but we definitely share emotions more strongly now.  And I think its because now, more than ever, we are really in this together. We had said that for years before, “We’re in this together, Pookey!  Its just you and me!”  But in retrospect, we were in it side-by-side before.  And there’s not a thing in the world wrong with that.  That’s how wonderfully strong foundations to marriages are made; brick by brick and side by side.  But with Bean in the picture now, we are even closer than side-by-side.  We’re actually in the exact same pair of shoes for the first time in our lives.  We have a common purpose, a common interest, a common goal.  And its been quite an experience to walk together with Chris down this path.  I never knew I could love him this much.

  • I wish I had known that recovering from childbirth – no matter what method of childbirth – is a long road.  I had a c-section and it took me about eight to tell full weeks to physically recover.  But I still find things sometimes that are different in me now than they were before I gave birth.  Some of them are pleasant surprises (I now love ALL babies and I was never really a baby person before) and some of them are taking a little longer for me to adjust to (I get overwhelmed easier now than I did before).  Emotionally, I am still trying to get back to a balanced life.  I can feel my hormones still adjusting and some days I get really sad or really angry for no real reason.  I’ve never experienced mood swings like that before, but I think its just part of the process.  It doesn’t scare me or make me run to my doctor.  Instead, I remind myself that I just went through nine months of putting my body, mind, hormones, and emotions through hell and its going to take some time for everything to get back into place and some things might end up settling in new places altogether.  I had a hard time dealing with my post-pregnancy body.  I still have a very poor self-image right now.  I’m a good three clothing sizes bigger now than I was before I got pregnant and even if I don’t necessarily look that much bigger, I feel it and I know it and that grates on me.  Its a small price to pay for such a wonderful gift in my life now, but its an adjustment that I’m trying to cope with.  Everything you read during your pregnancy talks about what your body will go through before the birth and then you get a little literature for what will happen immediately in the weeks following the birth, but I wish there had been more information out there on how long it takes for your whole being – body, mind, and spirit – to adjust and re-adjust.

  • I had heard a lot about priorities shifting after you have a baby.  And I assumed that things were going to change to a certain extent.  But in my head, I thought that any change would be a bad change.  Chris and I loved our pre-baby life so much that when someone said, “Your whole life is going to change,” I would get defensive and insist that Chris and I were working to bring this baby into OUR lives and not the other way around.  The truth is that our lives changed drastically when we had a baby.  But I think that when people say “Your whole life is going to change,” they are forgetting to add the best part to that sentence.  “Your whole life is going to change in the most incredible ways that you have absolutely no idea what kind of excitement and amazement and happiness is in store for you!”  Since having Bean, I’ve learned that change isn’t a threat.  And that if you open yourself up to it and just go with it, change can take you to extraordinary heights that you never imagined before.  I’ve also learned that these life-altering changes that everyone talks about come pretty naturally.  My life would have changed drastically in one way or another and I wouldn’t even notice it for a couple weeks!  Its a really easy and comfortable change if you let it happen.

  • I was probably most relieved to learn that daycare isn’t such a terrible, horrible thing like I had thought it would be.  Its been seven months and I still sometimes get sad when I drop him off on Monday mornings after a particularly good weekend, but I can see how good it has been for Bean developmentally and I am glad that we made that choice.  Bean is much more willing to go to other people than I think he might be if I stayed home with him.  He adjusts well to schedules because sometimes at daycare things get a little out of order.  He can fall asleep with any noise around him because he’s used to that in his classroom.  And I have come to really love his teachers.  I love that they are impartial witnesses to what an incredible little person he is.  They don’t have to love him, but they choose to and that just makes my heart glow.  At the end of the day, Beanie is always glad to see me and he wants me to pick him up right away, which puts a smile on my face every single afternoon.  But in the mornings when I drop him off, he goes happily to the teachers and I can see that the stability of that nursery gives him a great routine and wonderful socialization skills.  As hard as those first few weeks were, I definitely think we are doing what is best for our family.  Daycare was important for me as a person, too.  It gave me time to focus on other things besides Beanie.  At the end of the day, I have stories and interactions and experiences all of my own and for me personally, that is really important.  I have learned that I can live my life for my baby, but my world doesn’t have to revolve around him.

  • Looking back, I am so incredibly thankful for this blog.  I have a daily account of my pregnancy and my marriage right here for me to look back on anytime I want.  I sometimes spend hours reading back through posts about my pregnancy, remembering things that I had already forgotten.  And I spend even more time reading back through posts right after Bean was first born.  I get to see pictures of him as he grows and read about little stories that I might not have remembered if I hadn’t written them down.  Its such a lovely way to spend an afternoon for me now and I can only imagine how thankful I will be for it years from now.  I would encourage anyone who is pregnant or a new mom to think about keeping some type of journal – a blog, a notebook, a photo album – anything where you can chronicle your journey.  Because those little moments at 3:00 AM during a particularly sweet feeding can get lost quickly in the shadows of much bigger events, like baptisms and first solid foods, but that doesn’t mean that those memories are any less precious to me.  And don’t worry about being a good writer or a bad writer or having blurry pictures.  Those are just the insignificant details that come with remembering perfect moments.

  • I wish someone had told me that becoming a mother doesn’t immediately give you all the answers.  I used to hate in those pregnancy and parenting books when the authors would say, “You’ll just know…” or “A mother just knows…” because, yes, its true that after a couple months of parenting a mother knows how to take a temperature correctly and she knows how to wash the baby’s hair without getting water in his face and she know how to change his diaper in the middle of the night without waking up the baby,  but in the beginning all mothers are students of their children. Every single one of them.  So, all those people who can make you feel like you’re just not as good of a mother as they are?  Well, at one point they changed their baby’s diaper and forgot to pull the ruffles out around the baby’s leg and the baby pooped everywhere.  And at one point, they spent half an hour with a screaming baby on their hip trying to figure out how to work those bottle liners.  Yes, a mother does just know.  But what no one told me was that they don’t just know right away.  We learn as we go and we get better and better at our job until one day, seven months later, we wake up and LOOK AT US!  We’re a real mother!  And we finally do just know.

I’ve learned a lot about myself in the past seven months.  I’ve learned a lot about my Bean and a lot about my husband, too.  And when I stop and look back at my life before I was a mother, I can honestly say that I was always reaching for something.  A better job, a better house, a better vacation, a better book to read.  Something was always better just beyond the horizon, I was sure of it.  But now?  I don’t really think there’s anything better over that fence because here in my pasture I have a family that will continue to grow up together.  And while there might be stuff over on the other side that I might like, if there’s no Chris and no Bean?  Well, then that’s just not my pasture after all.

Motherhood has changed my life in ways that I couldn’t have even imagined.  I feel full now.  Full in that perfectly content way that makes you want to stretch out and take a nap while watching a football game.  Just perfectly whole.  And if I can feel like this after only seven short months then I can’t wait to see what the rest of this adventure brings.

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24 Thoughts to “My 7 Month Review of Motherhood”

  1. Amy

    Katie, this is so lovely. Makes me want to call my mom. 🙂 I’ve been reading MC for about a year and a half, when a coworker sent me a link to a post about dog doors. You’ve grown your little blog into a funny, honest, and relatable portrayal of your life and family, and it’s been so much fun to read along!

  2. Jen

    This post made me cry! I found your blog while you were pregnant, and I read the full thing on a road-trip (I laughed, I cried, it was better than cats!). I can honestly say that its been a pleasure to have this blog to escape to on a busy work day, or a hectic family reunion (thank god for internet phones!).
    Thank you for sharing your fabulosity with all of us!
    Happy 7 months beanie! & Happy 7 months MOMMY!

  3. Theresa

    What a beautiful post! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Ella

    I love this post! Thanks for sharing your journey into motherhood & beyond.

  5. Keshet

    I love this post. You mentioned that there’s not much literature about what it’s like to adjust to a baby long term, but this blog is providing that kind of literature for future moms like me!

    I’ve been lurking for some time, so this might be my first post, but I just couldn’t help but comment on this one:)

  6. HeJo

    And thank you for sharing with your reader “friends”. Most of us have never met you, but I can guarantee we feel like we have.

  7. I understand how you are feeling as far as body image. I too am 3 sizes bigger. Some days I am okay with it; other days–not so much. I feel like I respect my body so much more now since I grew a person inside of it…but I would still like to fit into my old wardrobe, know what I’m sayin’?

  8. I love this post!! Everyday I check your blog; I am excited to read about your journey as a Mom and a Wife. I anticipate the cute pics you will post of your sweet little Bean and the funny stories about your dogs. Thank you for writing honestly and from the heart. I can always count on a smile when I log onto Marriage Confessions!

  9. Jessica

    Beautiful post, Katie!
    My mom kept a journal all about me when I was young – from before birth to maybe 8 years old, with more entries when I was real small. The extra special good thing she’s done with it is for the last couple years, added little excerpts from that journal to letters she writes me. Awesome! I’ve never seen the journal itself yet, but she doles out little examples pretty frequently.
    It is great fun for you now, and will be fun for the kid when he’s old enough to appreciate his mom’s mushiness and journey. awwwwww.

  10. Katie, thank you so much for posting this. I know I will be referencing it over and over in the months to come. Thank you for always being so honest and open!

  11. What a lovely retrospective.
    I am thrilled I stumbled upon your blog a few days ago; I’m slowly working my way through your archives. As a soon to be mom (May 5th) reading real accounts from real, honest, moms is like striking gold. Thank you!

  12. Katie, you had me all choked up at work reading this! I will definitely keep a journal when it’s time for Donald and me to embark on this particular adventure together. I feel the emptiness, the hole I’m trying to fill and I just know that our children will fill it perfectly. It has been a long wait and I hope not too much longer. Thank you so much for sharing your journey and kudos to you for doing such a fantastic job! I hope the Bean feels better!

  13. Thanks for this great post. I’m due in May and while I feel as prepared as one can be, my one big worry is tiredness – I don’t do well when I’m tired and I get mean and cranky . . . but I love how you describe being tired but overcoming it in this seeming supermom kind of way. I keep hoping that *something* will make me get up when every inch of me wants to stay in bed and sleep, so it was really great to read that you found the energy – AND you weren’t bitter or angry about it. This was really helpful to read.

  14. Jen

    What a lovely post. Thank you for bringing back my own memories of those first months as a new Mom.

  15. Terri A

    What a great post! You made me cry-in a good way!

  16. Carolyne

    Oh, so well said!!!

    Bravo!!

  17. Wonderful! Great review! I look forward to it for myself one day 🙂

  18. Kate

    I am also a redheaded Katie and I found your blog from following a PW link. I just wanted to tell you that this was the most wonderful posting! My husband and I are looking forward to one day being parents (we are just newlyweds still) and your writing makes me so excited for the time when we can share this wonderful experience together (although I don’t know if his size 13 feet will fit into my size 8.5 shoes 😉

  19. Zoe

    This is just so lovely 😀

  20. Kate

    I love this post so much! I am 8 months pregnant with my first child and this was so refreshing to read. And I love that you brought up the “your whole life is going to change” thing — everyone does make it sound like doom! I’m excited for the change! I’ve been reading your blog since November and I just adore it. Congrats on the 7 month milestone!

  21. Lisa

    Beautiful post Katie…I am very nervous of all of the changes that parenthood will bring so we keep putting off the baby talk but reading your blog and seeing how well you and Chris have adjusted to life with the Bean makes it a little less scary! All of your adorable pictures of Beanie makes it a bit harder to not think about having children soon 😛

  22. Thanks so much for your great posts and insight. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and after reading this post I just HAD to leave you a comment and tell you how much I enjoy reading your website. My husband and are trying to get our family started and some days it really scares me to think about changing our lives so much. Reading your website makes me feel less scared and more excited for this next phase of our lives. You have so many of the same thoughts as me on lots of these issues and you are so good at articulating what I am thinking! Thanks!

  23. Jennifer in CA

    I couldn’t agree with you more about the feeling of content that washes over you once you’re a mother. My daughter is 2 months old and things that were important prior to her birth are not as important as I once thought they were. You have a way with words and descriptions that I easily connect and identify with. I am looking forward to reading more of your blog.

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