Y’all. I’ve been pregnant six whole times in 8 years. Sometimes even saying that out loud blows my mind. I can’t even fathom it honestly. Like when did that even happen? It all feels like a blur. And right now, I have so many friends who are currently pregnant or just had babies in the last few months. Even my sister is due in a week or so. And all these pregnant bellies and newborns really just got me thinking about how much is NOT talked about regarding pregnancy, delivery and the newborn stage. I just had a conversation with a sleep deprived mom of a six-week-old talking about all things baby. I can remember going through every single thing she shared with me and honestly sometimes all you need is someone to tell you is, “hey friend, I’ve totally been there too” or “Sister! That is totally normal!!” Well, let’s be real that’s probably not all you need. First and foremost, you need a nap, a shower, and a live-in maid who’s great at cooking (I’ll take one of those please!). Buuuuut I can’t help you there. My hope is that you’ll read this and laugh, and possibly learn a thing or two if you have never done the whole mom thing yet. So, grab a drink and some chips and salsa and let’s get real with each other! Disclaimer-I’m about to get veryyyy real with you guys, so if you don’t want to know the whole truth, just move along people!
I’ve learned quite a bit from the past 6 pregnancies and deliveries. The last 2 pregnancies I went completely natural. Honestly, that was always my plan but when you are 21 years old delivering a baby, sometimes pain wins and you choose the epidural (and that’s okay!). And you can read ALLLLL the books and do the classes but I don’t think reading about labor can prepare you for labor. It can help but for me personally, I had to experience it for myself. Once I learned how I labored and that each time was very similar and just got quicker and quicker, I knew that I could do it. And after having epidurals and going natural, I’m totally pro-natural because of the complications that came with the epidurals (migraines for weeks, numb hip for 6 months, etc). But I will say this, what I chose for me, may not be what you choose and that’s 100% okay. It’s your choice! I get asked this all the time, “did going natural hurt?” UM. HECK. YES. I don’t even understand these awesome mommas that are like “Having a baby natural was the most euphoric experience and I loved every second of it.” NOPE. Not me. I mean if that’s you, YOU. ARE. A. ROCKSTAR. But that was not me. And obviously it was worth it. I did it 5 more times after my first! But let’s be real here, you just pushed a HUMAN out of your VAGINA. It’s going to hurt for a while. Right after I push those babies out and they place them in my arms, I ask for 2 things—ICE and pain meds (and that ice is not to munch on OR for my head). I mean yes, of course when they hand you that baby, the pain fades (ever so slightly) and you cry every tear because they just handed you the most precious baby that you have been carrying for TEN months (40 weeks people) for the first time. I mean how incredible that we get to partner with God to create life and carry them until they are ready for world. It never gets old, ever.
So, if you know me, you know I’m a pretty candid person and tell it like it is. If you’re sensitive, this may not be your jam! Maybe that’s why I never found a book that prepared me well enough because I want to know ALL THE THINGS. So here we go… Okay after you deliver that baby, you will have the glorious opportunity to see what your lady parts look like for the very first time post-delivery. YIKES. There will be swelling, I repeat, lots of swelling! Let me tell you, it will go back to normal and it will not stay that way!! BUT, I can remember after delivering my first, Ava-Kate, yelling out from the hospital bathroom in horror “OH MY GOODNESS! WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY BODY? JAKE! DO NOT COME IN HERE!” My lady parts looked like the work of a balloon artist…in training. I mean you just forcefully pushed a watermelon out of your va-jj, it’s going to take a second to go back to normal, ok? Keep that ice on rotation! Then you will be handed the “essentials” from a dear nurse. A squirt bottle to cleanse your swollen nether regions, a pad the size of a fluffy pillow, and mesh panties that will double as lingerie. Those mesh panties will accentuate your rear (that has tripled in size over the last 9 months mind you) and resemble a face being pressed up against a screen door. Your husband will be totally into it. Just go with it. KIDDING, obviously, but seriously Jake and I have had countless laughs over those infamous mesh panties. And which book told me about mesh panties, fluffy pillow pads and squirt bottles? NONE. So, you’re welcome. Or…I’m sorry.
Cue the engorged milk filled boobs. I never in my life thought that my boobs would get THAT large. I can remember after my first, sitting on the edge of the bed with my sister staring in awe at these cantaloupe sized boobs that appeared overnight. They were rock hard and I wanted to cry they hurt so bad. Holy COW (pun intended). And for the record, the milk squirts out of multiple holes, not just one. Who knew? Not this girl. Oh, and your “let down” is also quite uncomfortable, it’s like when your leg falls asleep and then starts tingling and you walk all weird until it feels normal. Yea, basically it’s the same thing, just replace your leg with your boob. It’ll get all weird and tingly right near your nipples. It’s basically when your boobs tell you it’s time to feed again, although your boobs can be quite wrong. A stranger’s crying baby can cause the “let down” and send your boobs into a tingling frenzy. And I hope you’re wearing breast pads because otherwise all of Target will see you just leaked through your shirt. And that’s definitely NOT embarrassing. At. All.
Let me just say that breast feeding was never easy for me, and I had a lot of chances guys. (we will call it BF for short from here on out, not to be mistaken for “best friend” because it’s more like an frenemy in my case) Ha. Okay, but seriously, NO one told me how painful it would be! And for all you people who say “If it’s painful then your latch was wrong”…LIESSSS. Let me just say that I have had ALL the lactation consultants, who told me it was in fact correct and it still HURT. With this many kids, I really mean ALL of them. I probably had every single one from Lafayette to Nola. There was bleeding people! And black and blue colors that should not appear, ever. Now don’t get me wrong I think BF is amazing. I prayyyyed and prayed that it would work, my journals are full of that prayer. I SO wanted to be the mom that could pop a baby on and not have to worry about them unlatching. I had to hold my boob with one hand, then hold their head with the other making sure they didn’t unlatch. And it took at minimum one hour. I can remember psyching myself up to work up enough nerve to start the initial latch. I would put their pacifier in my mouth, bite down hard and let out a little shriek as they latched while a rogue tear streamed down my face (while Jake was probably cheering me on in the background). I started out BF my first 4 kids, but they all ended up on formula at some point because I had to supplement. So, when I found out I was pregnant for Isabella (that’s a whole other blog in itself), I really prayed about if I was going to BF her or not because it was such a source of stress for me. I mean how many times had I asked myself over the years “Am I producing enough?” “Did I eat something that is upsetting her stomach?” “Did she actually eat enough or is she still hungry?” I mean those questions alone can drive you crazy second guessing yourself. I remember reading an article titled “Fed is Best.” It was a great article that talked about how sometimes your milk supply doesn’t actually come in, despite what people will tell you and feeding your baby is the best. For me, I knew that was my answer. So, for Isabella I went straight to formula and it was the best decision I could have made for US. I still had four other children to care for and my track record with BF-ing was not something I could have physically done and cared for my family well. Can other moms do it? Absolutely. But for me, I couldn’t so… I didn’t. And I let go of that momma guilt (and this took me months!!!). And I want so badly for those first-time moms to hear, LET GO OF THE MOM GUILT! Mom guilt is FIERCE people. And it’ll hold onto you like a vice. Surround yourself with wise mommas who will call it out and tell you to let it go. Let’s encourage each other and support each other’s decisions without being all “judgey” acting like our way is the best way, k? We all know how hard motherhood is so let’s just support each other along the way. A mom needs all the support they can get, especially those first few weeks.
The first few weeks of having a baby are really tough. At least for me they were. I call it the “newborn fog.” My body hadn’t yet recovered from the trauma from delivering the baby and I’d be up all hours of the night trying to learn just what this sweet baby needs. I would learn their cries (hungry, tired, gassy, mad) eventually, but hadn’t quite mastered them. Days are no longer days, you will basically just count the hours. Everything will be based on their next feeding and how much time you have to do the mile-long to-do list in the mean time (when Lord knows all you really want to do is nap). I dreaded the nights. Maybe not as much with my first baby because I knew I could sleep when they slept the next day. But definitely did when I had more than one kid. Because then the option of sleeping while baby sleeps isn’t an option. I would anticipate how hard the night time would be, dread the lack of sleep and fussy moments. And I was doing all of this while trying to work towards getting the baby on a schedule. I’m 100% a “get your baby on a schedule” person. It has worked best for my family and I need my babies to be sleeping through the night at 6-8 weeks and most of them did just that. I need them to sleep through the night, because I need to sleep through the night. I’m just not a super nice person when sleep deprived.
I also realized it’s possible to feel multiple emotions at once. Like when you are sleep deprived and exhausted to the point of delirium. It’s 3am and you’re up bouncing and “shh-ing” the baby to try desperately to get them to stop crying because it’s been an hour and they haven’t stopped… You’ll probably be crying with them and even a bit angry that they won’t stop and you don’t know how to get them to stop. You can love them so much it hurts, be sad and angry all at the same time. And a lot of it is just hormones mixed in with the lack of sleep. It can really do a number on your sanity. And this is the perfect time for the enemy to come and whisper lies in your ear “You’re a terrible mom because you don’t even know what she needs. You can’t even soothe her.” DO NOT believe these lies. I tell all first-time moms, staying inside your mind can be a really dangerous place. Why is it we have a tendency to stay inside our head having endless conversations but sometimes it can feel so hard to open our mouths and talk about what’s going on with us? I promise from experience the longer you stay inside your head listening to all the negative talk, the longer it takes you to get yourself out of it. Talk to your spouse, your friends and most of all Jesus! Find someone who has been through it and let them encourage you through it (and if their advice makes you feel worse, stop listening, BYE!). Isolation is the worst place to set up camp during motherhood. And let me just state for the female record, our husbands cannot read our minds. Sometimes they may, but most of the time they do not. Which means you will have to open your mouth and tell them exactly what you need from them in this crazy time. If you are BF and they can’t help with that, ask them to help out with the laundry or cooking. Whatever you need from them, try to be specific. Jake was always really great at this, and a lot of the time anticipated my needs before I knew what they were. Umm… like the time he locked me in our room at 7pm and told me to not come out until I had slept for at least 12 hours. Josiah was 2 weeks old and probably my hardest baby. I hadn’t slept and was a walking hormonal time bomb. He knew I needed sleep. And he took the baby for the night in the guest room. Pretty sure that’s way sexier than a bouquet of roses. So, the moral is communicate with your man a whole lot and then maybe he’ll start knowing what you need before you know yourself.
I could probably write a whole book on all of this, but I’ll leave it here for now. Motherhood is the most sanctifying process ever. If you let Jesus in on the journey, He’ll keep bringing you closer to himself. And that’s the goal, right? People tell me all the time, “I don’t know how you do it with all those kids.” My answer? A whole lot of Jesus (and coffee…and wine…). If motherhood has taught me anything, it’s that I know I can’t do it all on my own. I have to rely on Jesus to give me ALL THE THINGS—wisdom, patience, strength, patience, grace, patience… have I said patience yet? But truly, He’s been so close in those moments but I had to allow Him in. So, allow him in, let him guide you and bring you close. It’ll make all the crazy moments a little less crazy and the sweeter moments even sweeter.
And, find your tribe. Find the people who will speak TRUTH to you and do it in love. Ask them for help. Take naps and forget about the laundry. Leave the baby with dad or grandma and go to Target alone, walk those aisles aimlessly with coffee in hand, even if you don’t need anything. Why does Target feel like a vacation without kids?? Get a sitter and go on dates with your husband, I PROMISE your baby will be totally fine without you. When you are still in your pj’s from the day before, covered in spit up, hair a mess, and he walks in and tells you, “You look beautiful”… say thank you! Do not reject the compliments. If you are feeling your worst, allow your man to speak encouragement over you. Just don’t forget to come up for air when you are immersed in everything baby for the first few months. Take the time for yourself and I promise you’ll feel much better. We are in this together!
Here are a few scriptures to hold onto throughout that newborn fog, when the sleep is never enough and the nights are hard:
God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.
He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.
And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired… -Isaiah 40:31 (MSG)
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. -Isaiah 43:2 (MSG)
Trust in the Lord completely,
and do not rely on your own opinions.
With all your heart rely on him to guide you,
and he will lead you in every decision you make.
Become intimate with him in whatever you do,
and he will lead you wherever you go.
Don’t think for a moment that you know it all,
for wisdom comes when you adore him with undivided devotion. -Proverbs 3:5-6 (TPT)
So here’s what I’ve learned through it all:
Leave all your cares and anxieties at the feet of the Lord,
and measureless grace will strengthen you. -Psalm 55:22 (TPT)
God, you’re such a safe and powerful place to find refuge!
You’re a proven help in time of trouble—
more than enough and always available whenever I need you.
So we will never fear -Psalm 46:1-2 (TPT)
Refine my heart and probe my every thought.
Put me to the test and you’ll find it’s true.
I will never lose sight of your love for me.
Your faithfulness has steadied my steps. -Isaiah 26:3 (TPT)