First of all, let me start by saying, it is incomprehensible to define the role of a mother by using one word. So I’ll simply state, being a mother means putting the needs of someone else before your own, day-in and day-out. From the moment of conception life is no longer about you. You cease to be the No. 1 priority. You are thrust into a new world of responsibility. You are accountable for making the right decisions for your child. By the way, is there really such a thing as one right answer? We form this thing for lack of a better term, called “A Mothers Playbook.” Before your child is even born you are changing your habits to better suit the needs of your child. From what you are allowed to eat and drink, to what activities are safe to perform during your pregnancy. Every decision is crucial, as every move you make has the potential to alter your child's life for better or for worse.
The Perfect Plan
I recall the day I discovered I was pregnant with Jayden. I must admit that it took seeing a positive sign on all five over-the-counter pregnancy tests to finally convince me that I was expecting my first child. After the initial shock I was quite thrilled. I was young and still in college, but I had an unbelievable support system.
After scrupulous research I made the decisions that I believed were best for my son and family. My birth plan in a nutshell? Go as natural as possible and pass on the epidural. Breastfeed without supplementing. Use Pampers vs Huggies diapers. Vice versa on the diaper wipes. I wanted everything to be perfect for him. His clothes were washed and hanging up, and his entire room was set up months before he was due to arrive.
It seems as though I had every detail of his life planned out, only to find out that's not really how it works. Sure, you can plan the way you would like things to go ideally. Life, however, has an amusing way of turning things around on you.
On August 30, 2013, after a surprise induction (and epidural), I gave birth to a healthy and beautiful baby boy. I truly feel as though that was the moment my life began. I was blessed enough to have no problems following my plan to breastfeed, only to have him decide at six months he no longer wanted to.
When it came time for him to eat solids, I homemade all his foods, only for him to decide as a toddler that he only wants to eat pizza and fruit. I wanted him to sleep on his own and all night, only to have a toddler that has never been a good sleeper. I learned to run off of caffeine and minimal sleep. I also learned a new meaning for the term all-nighter. But, most importantly, I learned the meaning of true love. Things don't always turn out the way you hope, and that's okay.
Baby No. 2
When Jayden was a little over a year old, I found out I was pregnant with Ariana. Even though I was excited, I quickly began to feel overwhelmed. Jayden kept me on my toes and so busy, I had no idea how I was going to take care of another baby. My entire pregnancy and outlook had changed so much.
Although I was hoping to not be induced this time around, the pain I endured with Jayden was enough for me to want an epidural from the beginning. The one thing that remained the same was that I was positive I wanted to breastfeed. Even though I was only able to breastfeed Jayden for six months, It was an incredible bonding experience that I will never forget. I no longer had a preference in diapers and wipes, because let’s face it, they all get the job done.
Instead of buying numerous outfits she was never going to get the chance to wear, I bought the basics and necessities. It's funny how much you think you need the first time around, only to look back and realize you were way too over prepared. I loved having a little boy, and couldn't have been more excited to finally have a little princess. I was confident in the fact that I knew what to expect this time around and was completely prepared to have her join the world. Or so I thought ...
On May 17th, I had a final baby shower. I started feeling some pain earlier in the day but brushed it off. Later that night, the pain seemed to increase, but of course I had a toddler who wanted to run and play.
The longer I ran around, the less tolerable it became. At 11:25 that night, I drove myself around the corner to the hospital while I was having contractions. Although at the time I wasn't positive that's what they were. I wanted to get an epidural as soon as I could so I could sleep a little before my baby girl arrived.
When I got to the hospital I was already 4 cm dilated. My contractions increased dramatically and as much as I wanted something to control the pain, they had to follow protocol. I am so thankful that while Tevin was in OTAs, my mother was able to be there with me. I have a high pain tolerance, but this was a kind of pain that is indescribable.
I kept begging for an epidural and it was finally about to be my turn -- the anesthesiologist was in the next room. Just like that it hit me, I felt the urge to push and my water broke. After only two hours of being at the hospital, it was time. I had gone from 4cm to 10cm in just two hours. I was scared. I panicked. I thought there was no way I could face that kind of pain without any medicine.
The doctor told me to push and with one push, she was out. A beautiful baby girl, born at 1:36 am on May 18th, 2015. To this day I look back and am in awe that my body knew exactly what to do, even though I thought it wasn't possible.
I can't tell you how many times I heard that I was going to spoil my babies by holding them, but I just couldn't get enough of their cuddles. People would say, "Don't run to their every cry, you're teaching them bad habits."
I don't think you can spoil a baby. In fact, statistics say that you give them a sense of security and -- in the end -- develop a more independent child. I have two children who are complete opposite of each other, and there was not one thing about taking care of them that I did differently.
Jayden would let me hold him all day if I could, Ariana loves to be left alone. Even though what I did was the same, they have two different personalities and I can't change that. I wasn't worried about spoiling them, all I wanted them to know was love.
A Mother's Playbook
In this day and age, articles and information are literally at your fingertips. In any given situation you have infinite advice and tips on what you should be doing. The only problem is that we, as mothers, feel like we're doing something wrong if our child differs from the idea of a perfect baby.
A playbook, by definition, is a stock of usual tactics or methods. The truth is, “A Mothers Playbook,” doesn’t exist. How could it? There are no two children alike, so there’s no way one clear-cut answer could work for each and every child. Develop your own playbook based on what works for you and your baby.
Jodi Picoult once said, “The very fact that you worry about being a good mom means that you already are one.” That statement couldn’t be more true, trust that you are doing the best you can be doing. Even though you may feel like every decision you make is so consequential to your child's well-being, it’s not. The most important thing you can do for your child is to be there. I once read somewhere that children spell love, t-i-m-e.
If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. - Woody Allen
When I was a child, I wanted to be a professional soccer player. I had so many things planned for my life, when I had to quit soccer I was devastated. It wasn't until later on that I realized God always had a greater plan for me than I had for myself. I now have no doubt that I was meant to be where I'm at right now.
Being a mother is one of the most empowering things I have done as a woman. I found new strength in myself as a mother. I know that my body was designed to create, house, birth and sustain a life solely for the first two years of life. Although I plan to start my last year of college soon, the hardest and most rewarding job I will ever have is raising my children.
"She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future." Proverbs 31:25