We're so grateful to share these honest thoughts with you from our guest Michaela Petersen as she shares about her motherhood journey. We hope it's a gentle reminder that you're not alone and that her perspective brings you some encouragement in your own motherhood journey!
What was one of your greatest challenges in motherhood?
I would have to say one of my greatest challenges in motherhood was staying connected with myself separate from my role as a mother. The day I became a mom, my whole world began to revolve around my children. They became my first priority. Staying connected with my former self, before children, has been a struggle. I no longer tend to do a lot of the things I loved to do before children.
What was one of your greatest joys?
Every day of motherhood is a joy. Not every second of every day may be enjoyable but at the end of the day, I tend to look back at the small things. Whether it was looking back on the first social smile, their first word, their first steps, the way the sunshine hits their hair or eyes, the way they say I love you, them asking for a hug, wanting to shower with you, having to be in the bathroom with you, etc. The list goes on and on. My daughter tends to be extremely clingy, constantly clinging to my legs or wanting to be held. And as much as it annoys me at the time. It really is my greatest joy knowing I am her safe space.
Tell us about your postpartum journey. What caught you by surprise? What was your greatest struggle and how did you work towards overcoming it?
The postpartum journey with my first was much easier than with my second. I had my first vaginally and my second was by c-section. Although, I do not think it was the c-section that made the second postpartum journey harder, I believe there were other things that contributed to a harder journey. I think one of the hardest things for me was the guilt. I felt that I wasn’t able to snuggle my second baby as much as I was able to snuggle my first, as I had to also chase around a toddler. As well as the feeling that I was devoting all of my attention to the new baby and my first born was just pushed to the side.
Although, once we were finally able to figure out a schedule, the guilt feeling eventually subsided. While the baby napped I spent the time to play, read, and snuggle my first born. My first born tends to sleep in in the mornings, so this is the time I spent to rock, snuggle, and cherish my second baby.
One of the things that surprised me the most was how bad my back hurt after a c-section due to the spinal block.
Tell us about your breastfeeding journey. Something you learned, something you struggled through, something you loved?
My breastfeeding journey with my first was a breeze. She latched on the first day and we had absolutely no trouble. I nursed my daughter till about two years of age. We struggled a little bit more with my son. He had to be in the NICU for two weeks, so me not being there 24/7 he had to take bottles quite frequently. Which he then started to prefer more so than breasts. I was pumping about every 4 hours for the first four months, which I absolutely hated doing! All of a sudden at 4 months of age, he started to refuse bottles and wanted to breastfeed constantly. I was definitely doing a happy dance! My son had a VP shunt placed at 10 days old, and I have read other mothers who have said the same thing! Their children refused to breastfeed, then all of a sudden they switched and refused to bottle feed!
There are so many things to love about breastfeeding, including all of the wonderful benefits. Although, I would have to say my favorite thing about breastfeeding is the bond it creates between mom and baby.
Have you heard of the benefits of breast massage and did you give it a try in your breastfeeding journey?
Yes, breast massaging has amazing benefits! I constantly massage my breasts while pumping, as it results in about 40% more milk!
What one piece of advice would you give to new moms?
Ask for help. I am one of those that absolutely hates asking for help. Whether it be to watch the kids for an hour, drop the kids off at day care, bring over a meal because you have had a long day, do a load of laundry, wash the dishes, etc. Just ask for help, It took me the longest time to learn to ask for help. But I can tell you after I learned to ask for help, my burnout/fatigue lessoned, my mood changed for the better, and I felt more connected with myself.