Motherhood is a journey. It’s not just a journey that starts once that little babe is out in the world, but begins much sooner. The moment we think, “Maybe we should start trying…” is when that journey really begins. For some, that journey seems effortless. For others, the journey is filled with sorrow almost from the start. The point is that every single journey is different – and sometimes we don’t talk about those hard moments. #RealMotherhood isn’t meant to be a series solely based on the painful, tough parts, but it is meant to be a glimpse into some of those pieces of the journey that aren’t as often talked about or reflected on a new mama’s face. Is motherhood wonderful? You bet it is. But it can also be one of the most challenging things this world has to offer.
So I have gathered some mama’s who are willing to share their stories. Many of them untold prior to now because of the pain it takes to share them. For others, like myself, untold because sharing felt like admitting I’d failed in some way… So buckle in, because these posts will be long, telling, and personal. But my biggest hope is that they encourage other mama’s out there – You are not alone!
The journey to getting pregnant, for me and Dave, was not a difficult one. I know I am so blessed to be able to say that (at least this time around) because for many people the path is full of obstacles and painful moments. I know so many people – family and friends – who have experienced extreme difficulty in getting pregnant and/or the loss of a child while still pregnant. Here are a few mama’s who shared stories of their journey to pregnancy:
It came out of nowhere. Between a special photo shoot, sharing a mutual due date with a best friend, a trip to see family, and finally revealing our big secret to our loved ones and friends. “Two years apart is the perfect age gap between children,” many had commented. I smiled and nodded in agreement. I felt great physically and was excited about a new addition to our family. One day I was pregnant and the next day I was not. One day we were planning, dreaming, and anticipating our new little one’s arrival and the next day there were flowers, messages, casseroles and cards. A brief life vanished in a moment.
It was the changing of seasons between autumn and winter that lined up with the loss of our child. From cold to colder, a reflection of my heart and soul as the days following the miscarriage went by. I felt more pain and less joy with every passing day. A series of ultrasounds and blood tests confirmed and then reconfirmed the absence of life within me. I had never felt so vulnerable and weak. Baring the most delicate parts of me, lying on a bed with invasive ultrasound equipment inside my body, waiting for what felt like hours between being poked and prodded by various medical professionals. Then I was left in a cold hospital room to dress myself and gather my belongings with the words, “You’ve had a miscarriage,” ringing in my ears.
I returned home and collapsed onto my bed where my husband and I wept and held each other. We were both grateful for one another, but were grieving our mutual loss. We had just begun entrusting this area of our lives to God. Instead of trying to hold onto the control of when we were going to have another child, we let the reins go. We got pregnant and then we miscarried. Everything felt empty and dull. We felt let down by God.
It’s still hard for us. The initial fog has lifted, but the memory lingers. We know we can trust God to guide our lives, but we have a hard time realizing His will for us can include let down and tragedy. We see cute babies when we’re out and we both long for another squishy sweetheart of our own. We turn off episodes of TV shows where miscarriages happen. It’s just too painful. We aren’t clear on whether or not we will have another child, but we hug the smart, vivacious, and strong girl we do have just a little bit tighter. What I am clear on is the fact that I will never suggest to someone what perfect looks like in reference to having children. Life is fragile and is not in our control. –Liz R.
Pregnancy number 2… First came extreme morning sickness, and the days were long – especially having a 2 year old who was full of energy, but we got through it! At my first ultrasound at 9weeks 3days I went alone (it was just a dating ultrasound) when we discovered to our surprise that we where expecting fraternal twins!! We kept guessing what babies where going to be and thought that this explained the extreme nausea and fatigue. In our excitement, we announced our expected arrivals to all of our friends and family. Everyone was so excited for us. We then went in for the 12 week ultrasound. I was the last appointment of the day and we were so excited to see both of the babies. The scan started and within a minute or so something felt off. The tech excused herself and came back about 10 minutes later. She then finished the scan and brought Kyle in and we could tell something was wrong. She started off by showing us baby A, and then gave us the very sad news that baby B hadn’t continued to develop beyond about 10 weeks. She told us baby A was growing so very strong and everything seemed on track there. But we where completely devastated. We left the building, got into the car and cried in the parking lot for an hour. I kept saying, “I don’t understand… Why us? What did I do wrong? How is this possible? What if something happens to the other baby?” Needless to say that was the hardest day ever.
About a week passed and I was sent for blood work, the results came in quickly and we were sent for further testing. At that point I became an anxious and terrified person. Every little thing scared me. Finally at 19 weeks we where told that our baby was healthy, strong and thriving well!! They explained that most likely the other baby had a disorder that prevented it from developing. This information really helped us be at peace with everything. We could go on with the rest of the pregnancy knowing that our baby girl was going to be okay. Kendall is now 11 months old and the sweetest baby ever! Her 9 months in the womb where the most stressful and difficult months of my life. However, our girl will always be that little bit extra special because she was a fighter! Days are tough with two kids, I honestly couldn’t imagine how it would be with 3. I do try to always look at the positives of my life and am thankful for the health and well-being of both my children! But some days are harder than others. Seeing twins puts a little spot on my heart and mind and I am reminded of our loss. -Kayla V.
It the old story of waiting until you’ve past that 12 week mark to tell people you are pregnant “just in case”. I waited and waited and finally got to the point and was ecstatic to be able to tell my friends. Everyone was so happy for me and by the evening, everything went from great to heartache. I knew something was wrong and we headed straight to the hospital. After hours of test and more waiting, all I remember is them telling me it was “no longer a viable pregnancy”. At that point, everything else went silent and my entire world crumbled around me.
I remember crawling in my bed and crying harder than I had ever cried and beat myself up for hours wondering what I done wrong and why I couldn’t have held on to this pregnancy. This feeling would not go away for a very long time and sometimes it still creeps back into my world.
When I finally became pregnant again with my son, I was terrified through the entire 9 months. I didn’t want anything to happen to this pregnancy. Every little ache and every little pain, I worried I was going to lose him. And exactly one year later, I woke up that morning remembering the one I had loss and by that evening, I had my “rainbow baby”, the love of my life. –Cathy G. www.aboyandhismom.com
When I was pregnant with Mason, I envisioned motherhood very romantically — kind of the same way I think that a lot of us dream about being married when we are young, too (haha). My pregnancy wasn’t overly difficult, but the toughest part for me was that I didn’t have this feeling of “Oh, I just LOVE being pregnant!” like I had heard so many of my other friends or family say in the past. I felt, already, like I was missing out on some beautiful part of pregnancy between the morning sickness, inability to sleep the way I wanted, and a whole lot of unreasonable tears. Courtney shared with me her experience in this moment of the journey:
Becoming a mom has brought much joy to my life. From first seeing those pink lines to bringing our baby girl home. Yet in between those high moments and joyful tears, there have been a decent amount of other types of tears and very low moments.
Beginning with pregnancy (which is not an easy or always enjoyable endeavour) I got very sick around week six and this continued well into my second trimester. I was throwing up about 10 times each day. I couldn’t keep anything down, I had no appetite and was utterly exhausted. At my lowest points, I would collapse into bed after being sick and just cry. I wondered if I would ever feel like myself again, how my husband could even find me attractive after seeing me puke over and over and why this had to be so hard.
Of course, I was elated to be pregnant but at times I just couldn’t handle getting sick one more time. Especially because I was trying to finish my final year of university. I was under a lot of stress with assignments, papers, group meetings and exams. Since I was still in the early stages of pregnancy most people had no idea I was battling intense morning sickness.
To say the least I was overwhelmed by everything going on in my body and mind. A lot of days I just laid in bed or on the couch feeling miserable. When I did have to go out I dreaded it. Although I had an incredibly supportive husband who brought me Ensure drinks when I couldn’t eat or ginger ale and my mom who washed my hair and was the only person who truly understood what I was going through it was a very tough time. –Courtney Kramer
I wasn’t truly prepared for how I would feel after Mason’s birth, either. I went into early labour on the Thursday evening before Mason was born on the Friday late afternoon. After almost 24 hours of labour and 2 hours of intense pushing, I was told I needed to go in for a C-section because he just wasn’t coming down into the birth canal. I was exhausted, frustrated, and sad that I couldn’t have a “regular” delivery. But what I didn’t realize is that these feelings would stay with me for weeks after Mason was born. I was going into motherhood tired already, and knowing that I wouldn’t be sleeping much in the beginning made it really hard. I am so thankful my mom stayed with us that first week because I could barely move, was in tears everyday multiple times a day, and – TMI – definitely thought my nipples were going to fall off.
I felt like I was supposed to be head-over-heels in love with this little creature, and I should never feel the frustration (and honestly, sometimes anger) I felt towards him when he wouldn’t sleep or stop crying for seemingly no reason at all. Trust me when I say I did love Mason – it just wasn’t that ooey-gooey romantic feeling I thought I would have immediately. The other emotions often seemed to overtake the love, and I was left feeling ashamed and like I was already failing as a mom. My first weeks into motherhood were just so different than I anticipated – much like Maria:
I found day 5 with baby was the hardest and it came on like a ton of bricks. On day 5 I cried at everything – happy, sad and otherwise. It probably didn’t help that my husband went back to work on this day, I had no one come visit me and I didn’t go out. I remember getting thoughtful texts from friends seeing how I was doing and I would break down crying uncontrollably and have no idea why. I thought something was wrong with me. I was terrified because I was such a mess and couldn’t seem to calm myself down. Not to mention it was only the 5th day of 365 of my maternity leave with this ‘little miracle’ that was my responsibility! I ended up calling my husband near the end of his work day in tears saying I couldn’t do this and could he please come home and help me. I remember reading about this huge shift in hormones soon after giving birth, but never how it could take such control of your emotions and make it feel like you would never have control over them again. -Maria
Speaking of emotions… you think you have a lot of hormones during pregnancy, just wait until that baby is born! As I mentioned earlier, I cried multiple times a day for the first couple weeks after Mason was born. It is both a hormonal thing and just being completely exhausted and overwhelmed. But it is GOOD to get out those tears, mama’s! Tell someone how you are feeling so you don’t have to go through it alone.
I will never forget the morning I sat crying on my kitchen floor, baby in arms and toddler running wild around me. I was staring up at the sink full of dishes feeling completely overwhelmed and exhausted. It would only take 10 minutes to clean up, so why did it feel so hard to do?
After I had my first child, I can honestly say I eased my way into motherhood pretty effortlessly, even with a baby who was pretty intense!
It wasn’t until I had my second child that things took a turn for the worst. She was a dream baby sleeping through the night at 4 months and barely cried. But for some reason I felt overwhelmed all the time. I would burst out crying at the most random times and was plagued with constant headaches and anxious feelings. I put on a pretty good front that everything was all right, for fear of what others might think. I want moms to hear my story, because I think when a woman has a great experience with their first, they may assume that the second will be that way. Reach out and know that there are people happy to support you, so you’re not suffering alone. I know it’s been said over and over again, but it really does take a village! –Lauren Schmelzle, www.braidedbrunette.com
As you have read, so many mama’s with different experiences but all ring with a similar theme: Motherhood is full of unexpected challenges. But it is also so rewarding. We adapt, we move forward, even if it just feels like surviving sometimes. And now, over 5 months in, I can truly say that I LOVE being Mason’s mama. I love watching him grow, develop, and explore. I love that sometimes he just wants me – not because he’s hungry, but just because I’m his mama. Alright, I’m getting ahead of myself… But I hope these untold stories, now told, at the very least helped you know that what you’re experiencing isn’t abnormal, unhealthy, or wrong. Every journey is different, and every journey is beautiful in it’s own way.