Guest of the Month-- Everyone meet Holly!

Hey there, I am Holly! I am beyond flattered to do a guest blog with ChattyMamas! When Leigh reached out to ask if I would like to share my perspective of motherhood, I was ecstatic! Being a mother is by far the greatest thing I have ever done. 

When I first became pregnant, it came as a pleasant surprise. I was 29 years old, recently engaged, working on my career in a male dominated industry and hadn't planned on having a baby for another couple years. The initial shock was big but after a few days I found myself constantly day dreaming of what my sweet baby would look like and welcoming her into the world, getting to hold her and kiss her and snuggle her up, touching her tiny little fingers and toes. My life has changed dramatically since she was born as I have been fortunate enough to be a stay at home mama. Our sweet Alayna is 10 months old now and she is the light of our lives- she's a daddy's girl and her mama's world! A bright eyed, happy baby who enjoys bath time, playing with Kit Kat (her kitty,) and going new places. Let's face it, as mothers, we could talk about our children all day long, so without further ado, Six Things I Didn't Expect to Feel After Becoming a Mother:

1. From the moment you go into labor, things rarely goes as planned!

Birth plan? I had envisioned a dreamy scenario.. sort of like you see in the movies.. being at home baking cookies and my water suddenly breaking, excitedly yelling for my fiance, grabbing our hospital bags and hitting the road. After a few hours of labor and contractions, I would naturally birth my sweet baby girl into the world. And then the angels would sing and my hair would be on point and make up would still look flawless and I was Kim Kardashian..?? *shrugs shoulders*

What actually happened is at 37 weeks, we discovered my baby had turned sunny side up aka breech. Devastation ensued. I was crushed because this meant I would have to have a scheduled C-Section and I wouldn't get to experience any of the dreamy birth experiences I had hoped to. I cried a little then accepted it realizing that the only thing that matters ultimately is my baby's health, no matter how she made her grand entrance into the world. So, we scheduled it for the day before my Due Date.

But wait. Another Twist. Two nights before my scheduled C-Section, my water broke at home! Yes! My baby girl was on her way! I was so excited! I did a little bit of last minute tidying to make sure the house was perfect for when we would come home for the first time as a family of 3. Then I woke my fiance up, we grabbed our bags and headed to the hospital. I spent a few hours laying there in the hospital bed on cloud 9 knowing I would meet my baby very soon. The contractions became stronger and stronger and the next thing you know, I was being wheeled back to surgery, My beautiful, sweet baby was born at 5:35 am the morning after my water broke, It was by far the best day of my life! 

 And ever since then, nothing has gone quite as planned! Acceptance and realization that life is actually much more pleasant and thrilling when you just go with the flow.

2. ALL THE LOVE. Indescribable, Overwhelming LOVE. 

You know the love you have for your parents? The love you have for your siblings? Your favorite little fur baby? Take that a multiply it by infinity (and beyond!) I knew I would love my child... but I honestly was not prepared to feel a love so intense, so deep as the love I feel for Alayna. Other mothers had told me about this but it's just one of those things you don't know until you experience it for yourself. There is literally nothing that I could have read or watched that could have prepared me for it. It came crashing down on me like a ton of bricks...Literally, I cried for a few weeks after she was born from just being so in love and in awe of her! Just looking at her, memorizing every little feature about her, her tiny little voice, her beautiful hair, her skin was so soft, her mesmerizing newborn scent, praying I would forever remember every detail of every moment I had with her. I just thought, how in the world could I ever be worthy to be this perfect little being's mother. How lucky am I? Just complete and utter amazement. 

3. You will Cry. A lot.

Giving birth changes you. Not just the physical changes you expect to go through during and after pregnancy. (Oh, but girl, that is for real! My body still hasn't fully recovered and I have a feeling that once I finally drop these annoying last 10 pounds of baby weight, my body still won't look the same as it did pre-pregnancy. :| ) But it changes you mentally and emotionally. I have become this overly sensitive person. Like, who even am I? A few examples: Anytime I see birthing videos/photos of a baby entering this world and that incredible look of enduring love on the mother's face, I cry. I lose it and ugly cry every single time. Or seeing news reports involving children and terrible circumstances, I FEEL it. I feel it inside, like a million knives stabbing me right in the heart and I cry. Heck, I can't even part with Alayna's newborn clothes- I tried it once, and you guessed it, I cried...and immediately put it in a storage tub in the shed for "safe keeping."  I cried when Alayna turned 3 weeks old because how was time flying by so quickly? Thinking about her moving out of the house at 18- I cry. So, just sum this paragraph up to a lot of crying. 

4. Everyone has an opinion and you WILL hear about it.

OK, so remember during pregnancy how people you knew well and complete strangers and literally everyone in between would have some sort of advice, opinions, articles, remarks, and horror stories to share with you regardless of whether you had asked for it or not? Well, that is merely a warm up lap for what is to come the second you deliver your sweet baby. Everyone has an opinion, advice, remark to give you about how you are parenting your child. Most of them are doing this out of love and are sincerely trying to be helpful. However, to some of these people there is only one right way to do it, literally no other way... and that way is, you guessed it- their way. There will always be that one or two someone's who will make some sort of negative remarks about what your parenting choices that will rub you the wrong way. I've learned to just reply, "thanks" or "interesting," and move on. Trust me from personal experience, it's just not worth your energy to get upset over. Easier said than done though. Trusting your instinct is key. And having a great pediatrician is crucial. 

5. A Mama Bear is Born

A protective instinct fires from deep within your soul and suddenly you have a 6th sense. You are basically Keanu Reeves from the Matrix and you can sense any possible threats and will do whatever it takes to protect your child... Even at the expense of possibly insulting or offending others... You will, at some point, become that "overprotective" mom. To be quite frank, when it comes to your child's well being, safety, needs and feelings, no other grown person's feelings on the subject matters. You would go to great lengths to protect your child from any physical or emotional harm. Some random kid gives your kid a mean look, you instinctively give them the stank don't even realize you're doing it, you've become so stealthy at it. Mama Bear always protects her cub.

6. #NormalizeBreastfeeding

This is a seriously touchy subject for a lot of mothers. First, let me say that whether you breastfeed, exclusively pump or formula feed or a combo of any of the three, you go mama! You are lovingly providing your child with nourishment so he or she can grow and be healthy! At the end of the day, all that matters is your child is being fed. 

I remember during my pregnancy I would have relatives, friends and strangers ask me if I was going to breastfeed. My reply was always something along the lines of, "I hope to be able to breastfeed but if I can't or decide not to, I'll gladly use formula." Women would share their stories and opinions of what they did and thought was best and why or why not. Sometimes I would leave feeling empowered and other times I would leave feeling discouraged. I was told on several occasions by other women that women who breastfeed should not do it in public, or if they do they should cover everything, I was told that women should not share pictures of them breastfeeding on social media because they are merely seeking attention. This left me feeling puzzled.

Once Alayna was born, we struggled the first couple attempts at breastfeeding but within a few hours we had both learned how to do it successfully. Over time, we became pros at it and within a couple months it was second nature. We have been very fortunate and blessed to have been able to breastfeed this long as I know that is not the experience with many mothers who so desperately wished to breastfeed their little ones. But what was shocking to me was how many people, men and women alike, would ask me questions like, "When are you going to stop breastfeeding?" "You should probably stop breastfeeding now, she's 6 months old, that's plenty long enough." "Doesn't it feel strange to breastfeed, you knooow, with your boobs?" Or when some women would ask, "Are you breastfeeding?" and I would simply reply, "Yes." They would become visibly defensive and go into their story of why they didn't breastfeed. But the thing is, they had asked me a very personal question and yet they seemed somehow offended at my answer... After many times of this happening, I started seeing that women who breastfeed are often times made to feel like they shouldn't do it or even speak about it, that they should go hide to nurse their babies in secrecy. This was alarming to me to see that so many people are still very uncomfortable with women nursing their young. Something so natural, yet so controversial. 

It empowered me to start proudly and openly talking about it, come out of hiding and nurse in public, post pictures about it on social media with the hashtag #NormalizeBreastfeeding, attend local Breastfeeding events such as the Big Latch On, and so on. I started finding more and more mothers who felt similarly and we began encouraging one another, sharing stories of both disappointment and triumph. Breastfeeding is, in the very least, extremely physically demanding and it takes the utmost dedication, patience and devotion. It's no wonder women feel a sense of accomplishment to have been able to do it whether for a day or for 6 years. 

Ultimately, what has been reinforced through my motherhood journey is that women should always empower other women, regardless of whether they breastfeed, exclusively pump, or formula feed...C-Sections vs Vaginal Delivery, Pain Meds vs All Natural Birth, Stay at Home vs Working Mom, Disposable vs Cloth Diapers, Homemade Food vs Store Bought,  Public School vs Homeschool, etc.. the differences and choices are endless but different does not mean worse or better, we should embrace our differences! So, high five to all of you mamas out there doing the best you can for your tiny humans! If someone hasn't told you today, you're doing a great job! 

Holly D
Mother, Fiance, Daughter, Sister, DIY'er, Music & Outdoor Enthusiast, Chattanooga Native.

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